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November 2, 2010

Time for a Nap

We're all accustomed to seeing children at Walt Disney World asleep in a stroller or in their parent's arms. That's to be expected. Most youngsters just don't have the stamina it takes for marathon touring. This sight always brings a smile to my face.

But what really makes me grin are adults who crash long before they make it back to their hotel room. They have underestimated the energy it takes to tour park after park, day after day.

Some people make no qualms about their exhaustion and spread out into a reclining position in order to maximize their catnap. It doesn't matter that the surface they are lying on may be rock hard.

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Others never really intend to nap, but once they sit down, they lose the battle with the sandman and their eyelids become heavy and eventually their body's slump over.

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

Sleeping at Disney World

To my knowledge, I've never slept in a public area like the people in the above pictures. But I know for a fact that I have slept in more than one dark theater at Disney. Carousel of Progress and the American Adventure are two of my favorite napping places. Please don't get me wrong, I LOVE both of these attractions. But there is something about a dark, air-conditioned room and a cushioned chair that allows me to temporarily lose the battle with fatigue.

So here is my advice to you. If you're staying at a Disney hotel, or relatively close to Disney property, think about returning to your room midday for a nap, some down time, and maybe a dip in the pool. This will allow you (and your children) to return to the parks in the evening refreshed and ready to enjoy all that is offered. Because when you think about it, Mickey's PhilharMagic loses a lot of its allure when you sleep through it or the guy sitting next to you snores.

So let's be honest, tell me what places you've slept at Walt Disney World besides your hotel room?

November 8, 2010

Beaches & Cream

Unless you've stayed at the Yacht or Beach Club Resorts, you may not be aware of one of the most wonderful spots at Walt Disney World. Tucked away near Stormalong Bay, the main swimming pool, is Beaches & Cream, the quintessential 1950's malt shop. This spot is charming, captivating, and once you've dined here, irresistible.

Beaches & Cream Exterior

Beaches & Cream Exterior

The first thing you'll notice upon entering Beaches & Cream is its small size. And that's what gives this place its charm. There are only three booths, seven small tables, and a counter with seating for ten.

Beaches & Cream Interior

Beaches & Cream Interior

Beaches & Cream Interior

Beaches & Cream Interior

The interior is decorated in pastel pinks and blues. The floor is covered in old-fashioned hexagon tiles and the ceiling is tin with ornate designs. The walls are adorned with mirrors, tiles, and glass artwork. Be sure to notice the ice cream cone wall sconces.

Beaches & Cream Floor Tiles

Beaches & Cream Ceiling

Beaches & Cream Mirror and Artwork

Ice Cream Cone Wall Sconce

The kitchen is located behind the counter, just like in the good old days. Everything is prepared in plain sight. In fact, I sometimes prefer to sit at the counter because it is so entertaining to watch the talented chefs keep up with the orders.

Beaches & Cream Grill

Beaches & Cream Chef cooking Burgers

Beaches & Cream has a jukebox that plays such favorites as "Rum and Coca Cola," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Earth Angel." The selections are random, but if you have a favorite, you can browse through the directory and pick your own song - at no charge. At one time, you could also make selections from the auxiliary jukeboxes found at the booths, but alas, no more.


Music Directory

Auxiliary Jukebox

As you would guess, ice cream is what this restaurant specializes in - and it's fantastic. Here is a picture of a hot-fudge sundae I had recently.

Hot Fudge Sundae

And if you like malts (I'm not talking milkshakes here, I'm talking good ol' fashioned malts), Beaches & Cream delivers. Topped with real whipped cream and a cherry, the chocolate malt is dusted with chocolate shavings and the vanilla malt is sprinkled with white chocolate. Plus, you're served the "extra" in the metal cup used to mix the concoction.


For a group, you might want to indulge your sweet tooth and order a Kitchen Sink. Here you get eight scoops of ice cream, all the toppings, and an entire can of whipped cream.

The food menu is limited, but excellent. In fact, the hamburgers are so good that Hurricane Hanna's Grill out by the pool recently had to change their recipe to match Beaches & Cream. My picture of the burger is a little out of focus, but trust me, it was outstanding. The onion rings are an up-charge. The second picture is of the turkey sandwich which my server suggested I have grilled. This was a wonderful recommendation. Although I've never had the Caesar salad, my neighbor tells me it's delicious.

Hamburger and Onion Rings

Turkey Sandwich and French Fries

Beaches and Cream is open daily from 11am to 11pm. If you're the first party of the day, you're group is escorted into the restaurant while everyone else waits outside. The lights are dimmed and flashing beacons are activated. All of the servers make a big ta-do about your arrival and you're seated at a booth, complete with a tablecloth and cloth napkins - accoutrements not normally used during the day. You're made to feel quite special.

First Table of the Day

Your charming server is responsible for making your ice cream delights, not the chef. Remember this when it comes time to add the gratuity.


There is also a walk-up window for take-out orders. Sundaes, cones, malts, shakes and Coke products can be ordered here. Food items are only available in the restaurant.

Take-out Counter

Take-out Counter

There are a number of tables outside. Especially cute are these ice cream cone models.

Ice Cream Cone Table

Beaches & Cream is on the Disney Dining Plan. Malts and milkshakes count as a dessert, not a beverage. Tables in Wonderland is also honored here.

Okay, now for the bad news. Beaches & Cream does not take reservations. Add to this that the restaurant is VERY small and VERY popular. If you show up anytime between noon and 8pm, expect a 30-60 minute wait if you want to be seated at an indoor table. However, if you're willing to sit at the counter, this can sometimes be more expedient. If all you want is a basic ice cream dessert, consider the walk-up counter.

I cannot recommend Beaches & Cream enough. I often say that Disney should expand this establishment to increase capacity. But in reality, this is a bad idea. Part of what makes this spot so special is its intimate atmosphere. If they enlarged it, something would be lost.

Beaches & Cream is good enough that I would recommend that guests staying at resorts other than the Yacht and Beach consider making a trip over here just to sample the goodies. But be prepared for a wait. Also, in case you think you can kill some time in the nearby pool, think again. Stormalong Bay is open to Yacht and Beach Club guests only and cast members check for proper identification before granting admittance. While waiting for a table, you will be given a pager with limited range. Beaches & Cream is located next to an arcade so your kids can be entertained while you enjoy the company of your party at one of the outside tables.

As I said at the beginning of this article, Beaches & Cream is charming, captivating, and once you've dined here, irresistible.

Menu: http://allears.net/menu/menu_bc.htm

Visit our Rate and Review Area - Share your experience with others - read what others have to say about Beaches and Cream!

November 15, 2010

Letter Perfect - Magic Kingdom - Part 1

Without signs, we'd be lost. We need them to navigate through life. They give us directions. They label places and things. They educate. They are a necessity.

We also take signs for granted. We use them all the time. However, the moment we understand the message, we move on without a second thought. But signs can do more than just impart a particular piece of information. They can help tell a story if designed correctly. And who tells a story better than Disney?

Today's blog will not focus on the signs at Disney World as much as the lettering used on them. The Imagineers could use "Courier" or "Arial" fonts on everything, but this would be boring and unrealistic. For centuries, new typefaces have been created to grab our attention. And as time passed, these typefaces became associated with the era in which they were created. Other fonts are not as time-driven as they are object driven. For example, a font that is trying to invoke the feel of Hollywood might form the letters out of filmstrips. Without even realizing it, the "letters" as much as the "words" convey an atmosphere. Let me give you two examples of how the wrong font and colors send our brains mixed signals. Take a look at this first picture. The moment you see these familiar names, you know something is wrong.

The Wrong Font

Now let's try the same thing again, only this time, I'll use the same fonts and colors, but put them with the appropriate name. Better?

The Right Font

In this blog series, I'm going to tour the four theme parks at Walt Disney World and showcase some of the fonts used in various areas. But before I do, let's start with the name of the resort, Walt Disney World. It has seen two (and a half) designs since its inception.

The first font used had a clean, forward-thinking feel about it. When you compare this to the font used at Disneyland in 1971, you'll see a stark difference.

Old WDW Logo

Disneyland Logo

There is a reason for this difference. If you remember your Disney history, the Magic Kingdom was to be just one component of Walt Disney World. Plans called for additional hotels, an airport, and eventually EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT was to be a futuristic city, so the name "Walt Disney World" needed to convey this characteristic from the beginning. Take a look at how similar a font was used when EPCOT Center opened (as a theme park) in 1982.

Epcot Center Font

As the years progressed, the Mickey Mouse in the middle of the "D" was dropped.

WDW Logo

For Disney's 25th anniversary, the Imagineers decided the resort name/logo needed a new look. In an effort to remember the company's founder, "Walt Disney" was written in a script that resembled his handwriting. "World" was written in "Times New Roman" to set it apart from Walt's name.

New WDW Logo

We'll start our tour of the parks in the Magic Kingdom. Used on printed material, this name has also seen two fonts. However, the lettering that graces the Train Station has remained constant for 39 years.

Old Magic Kingdom Logo

Current Magic Kingdom Logo

Magic Kingdom Sign

Like all guests who visit the Magic Kingdom, let's start on Main Street. The fonts used here are fancy and elegant. America was prospering in the 1890s/1900s and the typefaces used in this era had a rich feel about them. Almost without exception, the lettering used on Main Street are serif fonts.

For the most part, text-type fonts can be divided into two categories, serif and sans-serif. A "serif" is a detail that is added to the ends of the strokes that make up the letter. "Sans" means "without" in French, so a sans-serif font lacks these details.

Sarif and Sans-Serif

Here are few pictures of Main Street Signs. Look how elegant they all are. Also, notice the use of gold lettering.

Main Street Fonts

Main Street Fonts

Main Street Fonts

Main Street Fonts

Main Street Fonts

Tomorrowland was planned in the mid to late 1960's. At that time, our concept of the future featured clean lines and an abundance of concrete. There was almost a sterile quality about it. So the lettering on some of the original and early attractions carries on this feel, even if the font for the given attraction has changed over the years. Take a look at these examples - all using sans-serif fonts. Also notice the choice of color. All are "cool" featuring blues and greens.

Space Mountain Font

Carousel of Progress Font

People Mover Font

But Tomorrowland has evolved over the years. Several of the new attractions have taken on a playful feel. For the most part, sans-serif fonts are still used, but the straight lines seen on the older rides have given way to slight curves and thicker letters on the newer additions, giving the words a playful characteristic. Cool colors are still predominant, but "warm" colors play a bigger part of the design.

Buzz Lightyear Font

Laught Floor Font

Stitch Encounter Font

It was also important to coordinate the signs for "Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor" and "Stitch's Great Escape." Since they are located across the walkway from one another, they must blend with and complement each other.

Signs in Tomorrowland

Disney even created a font specifically for Stitch called "Space Encounter." An example of it can be seen in the "Stitch's Great Escape" attraction. You can search for it on the internet and download it to your computer.

Space Encounter Font

But not all fonts used in Tomorrowland have been sans-serif. When Delta Airlines sponsored "Dreamflight," it was decided that a script typeface would better represent the attraction. After all, dreams should be "soft" not futuristic.

Dreamflight Font

Fantasyland was designed with a medieval European atmosphere. Sans-serif fonts would definitely be out of place here. This was a time when monks labored for years copying books by hand in elegant calligraphy. So it's only fitting that the typefaces found in this enchanted land mimic this ancient art form.

Peter Pan Font

PhilharMagic Font

Snow White Font

Sometimes, one font isn't enough to tell the story. In the following picture we see an ancient typeface combined with a hand-painted sign. We have to assume one of the seven dwarfs added this piece of timber as an afterthought.

Snow White Font

But not all of Fantasyland is medieval. As we head toward Mickey's Toontown Fair, the attractions take on a more playful tone, as do the fonts.

Mad Tea Party Font

Winnie the Pooh Font

Take a look at the typeface in the following picture.

'it's a small world' Font

This is the same font that was used when this attraction played at the New York World's Fair from 1964-65. By the way, the correct way to write this attraction's name is in all lowercase (small) letters with quotes. "it's a small world"

Formality reigns in Liberty Square. This land calls for dignity and decorum. The entrance sign is stately and contains a flourish reminiscent of John Hancock's signature.

Liberty Square Entrance Font

John Hancock Signature

The Hall of Presidents attraction features a simple serif font with "The" and "of" in a semi-script typeface. The gilded letters against a blue background make the words stand out in an impressive manner, befitting of the presentation seen inside.

Hall of Presidents Font

Disney created a special typeface for the Haunted Mansion. These letters portray a stately, yet somewhat sinister message. The font is called "Ravenscroft" and was named after Disney Legend, Thurl Ravenscroft (Tony the Tiger). If you like this font, it can be downloaded from the internet (Google: Ravenscroft font).

Haunted Mansion Font

Thurl Ravenscroft provides the voice of the lead bust in the graveyard scene. However, I've always wondered why the font wasn't named "Frees." Paul Frees provided the voice for the Ghost Host and has a much more prominent presence throughout the attraction. Maybe the Imagineers were playing on the fact that "raven" is contained in the name "Ravenscroft."

At a first glance, the "Sleepy Hollow Refreshments" sign is unremarkable. But if you look closely, you see that the scroll and letters have ragged edges. This is subtle, but it still imparts a message of spookiness.

Sleepy Hollow Font

Sleepy Hollow Font

The font for Liberty Tree Tavern is also rather basic. But by painting the letters in two colors, a three dimensional quality is achieved. This adds a more formal feel to the sign.

Liberty Tree Tavern Font

The Old West was rustic and many of the fonts used in Frontierland are simple and crude. However, the good citizens of this area wanted to make a positive impression on visitors and created a welcoming sign using a typeface that was popular during this era.

Frontierland Entrance Font

The "Frontierland Shootin' Arcade" uses a similar font.

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade Font

The "Frontier Trading Post" and "Country Bear Jamboree" have taken this basic western font and added some flourishes and curves to liven things up.

Frontier Trading Post Font

Country Bear Jamboree Font

"Big Thunder Mountain Railway" reverts back to the basics, but color and shadow effects make this sign come alive.

Big Thunder Mountain Railway Font

There are a number of wooden crates scattered around the queue of "Thunder Mountain." As you would expect, stencils and cheap paint were used to identify their contents.

Wooden Crate

It's obvious this next sign was created by one of the prospectors in the area. Whitewash paint and an old board were all that was needed to convey his message.

Prospector Font

The font used for "Splash Mountain" is ideal for this attraction. Look at the "S." It looks like splashing water. And the line between the "M" and "N" suggests a flowing river. Then of course there is the critter paw print in the "O." This simple sign provides the reader with a good idea of what's in store for them if they continue in this direction.

Splash Mountain Font

Exotic and tropical locales can be found in Adventureland. And this mood is instantly conveyed to the guests as they pass under a sign made of woven matting and bamboo letters.

Adventureland Entrance Font

Adventureland Entrance Font

The first attraction you come to in Adventureland is "Swiss Family Treehouse." But you won't find a tropical font here. The Imagineers wanted there to be no doubt that the inhabitants of this home were from Europe and used an Old World typeface to convey this message.

Swiss Family Treehouse Font

The story of Aladdin takes place in medieval Arabia. On this next sign the Imagineers used a font that ever so slightly hints at the Arabic alphabet. In addition, this is the same font used in the "Aladdin" movie. This provides us with continuity between the story being told on screen and the one being told in the Magic Kingdom.

Aladdin Font

A different, but equally exotic font can be seen nearby at the Agrabah Bazaar. Here too a Middle Eastern feel is captured in the lettering.

Agrabah Bazaar Font

Both the "Sunshine Tree Terrace" and the "Enchanted Tiki Room" use fonts that we associate with Polynesia. But a rascally element has been introduced by Iago with his hand painted sign. This addition tells the guest that mischief is in store inside the attraction.

Sunshine Tree Terrace Font

Enchanted Tiki Room Font

The "Jungle Cruise" presented a problem in that the attraction simulates travels through three continents, South America, Asia, and Africa. What typeface would represent all three? In the end, a font that could be either tribal African or South American was selected. In this case, the mask helps set the locale.

Jungle Cruise Font

The final font we'll talk about in the Magic Kingdom is at the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction. This typeface takes broad strokes. It's unafraid. It's in your face. Much like the swashbucklers found inside.

Pirates of the Caribbean Font

That's it for Part One of this series. Check back tomorrow when I discuss the fonts of the Animal Kingdom.

November 16, 2010

Letter Perfect - Animal Kingdom - Part Two

Yesterday I discussed the typefaces used in the Magic Kingdom. Today I'll explore the fonts of the Animal Kingdom.

The logo for the Animal Kingdom uses three fonts. "Disney's" is written in a script that resembles Walt's hand writing. "ANIMAL" uses block letters but only the "A's" have serifs. Although it's difficult to make out in this picture "ANIMAL" has rough edges, giving the word a "natural" feel. "Kingdom" uses a relaxed serif text-type font.

Animal Kingdom Logo

A large sign announcing the park graces the entrance. The letters are block with ever so small serifs.

Animal Kingdom Entrance Sign

The Oasis has very few signs so we're going to jump ahead to Discovery Island. This section of the Animal Kingdom is not supposed to represent any particular place on the planet, yet it still celebrates animals. To accomplish this, the buildings use whimsy and bright colors to invite guests inside.

The typefaces used on Discovery Island are interesting and appropriate, but nothing outstanding. It's more about the signs than the fonts. Here are two examples.

Discovery Island Fonts

Discovery Island Fonts

Discovery Island Fonts

However, some imagination was used on these next three signs. The "Pizzafari" marker resembles a pizza. The "Creature Comforts" sign uses snakes to create the "C's". And the "Flame Tree Barbecue" sign uses letters that look like branches and they're painted the color of BBQ sauce.

Pizzafari Sign

Creature Comforts Sign

Flame Tree Barbecue Sign

Along the nature trails, there are a number of signposts describing the various animals. All of these signs use the same font for consistency. Once again, the font is interesting, but doesn't suggest a particular location on the planet.

Nature Trail Sign

As you head toward Africa, a caricature of a giraffe can be seen holding an "AFRICA" sign. The colors and style are keeping with the playfulness of Discovery Island. But as you continue on your journey you come to a set of gates announcing your arrival to the Dark Continent. This time, a serious tone is imparted with carved wood and natural colors.

Africa Sign on Discovery Island

Africa Fonts

Wood is scarce in Harambe. Because of this, many of the signs are painted directly on the walls of the buildings. In most cases, this has been done by the owner and the lettering is crude. Although in one case, the individual tried to be somewhat professional and used a stencil.

Afrcian Wall Sign

Afrcian Wall Sign

Afrcian Wall Sign

Even when a merchant can find wood, he usually still can't afford to pay for a skilled sign painter. Some signs show talent, others do not.

Hand Painted African Sign

Hand Painted African Sign

This next hand-painted sign tells a story in its simplicity. You know exactly what type of transportation lies ahead when looking at this billboard.

Train Station Sign

Professional signs in Harambe still lack the sophistication we're accustomed to in more prosperous regions of the world. A lot of care was taken when creating these signs, but they still have a primitive quality. In all probability, they were created by a talented artist who lacked formal training.

Professionally Painted African Sign

Professionally Painted African Sign

Professionally Painted African Sign

The entrance to Asia is marked with a large arch. Notice how the Imagineers gave the Latin letters an appearance of Asian characters to help set the mood.

Asia Entrance Sign

Even if Coca Cola wasn't written in English in small print, you would know in an instant what this merchant was selling. This logo and font is one of the most famous in the world.

Coca Cola Sign

Like Harambe in Africa, Anandapur in Asia is also a poor community. However, in many respects this village seems closer to prosperity. Much of this is evident by their signage. Although some writing can be found on walls, more of it is on wood and even metal. In addition, the lettering is far more professional.

Asia Sign

Asia Sign

Asia Sign

Notice how the shadowing and colors on the lettering suggest water on the "Kali River Rapids" sign.

Kali River Rapids Sign

Another indication that Anandapur is prospering can be found next to this advertisement. It seems that one gentleman is able to make a living painting signs.

Hotel Sign

Sign Painting Advertisement

The "EXPEDITION EVERST" sign hints at the NΔ"pālΔ« alphabet. Once again, this helps set the mood on a subconscious level.


Dinoland U.S.A. can be divided into three areas, the Dig Site and Lodge, the Dino Institute, and Chester & Hester's Dinorama. Each has its own distinct lettering style. Let's start with the Dig Site and Lodge.

Grants are hard to come by and money is usually tight when unearthing dinosaur bones. Hand-painted signs are common, quick, and cheap.

Hand Painted Sign

This next sign uses neon tubing to form the letters and immediately conveys an era and atmosphere. Signs like these were common along the highways of yesteryear and pointed the way to a greasy spoon.

Eat Here Sign

Before dinosaur bones were discovered in the area, a hunting lodge could be found nearby. In the years that followed, the paleontologist and college students took over the building and converted it to their needs. A generic "restaurant" sign was transformed with the addition of a corrugated metal sheet and hand-painted lettering.

Restaurant-asoarous Sign

The Dino Institute has backers and money. There is nothing cheap or second rate about the signs used at this establishment. Top dollar was spent on advertisements and plaques. The "Dinosaur" poster features a font with ragged edges, befitting of the explosion taking place behind the letters. The Institute plaque and Gift Shop sign use narrow sans-serif fonts that look sleek and modern.

Dinosaur Sign

Dino Institute Plaque

Dino Institute Gift Shop Sign

Chester & Hester's Dinorama is a carnival. Bright, garish colors and blinking lights make up most of the lettering here.

Chester & Hester's Dinorama Sign

Chester & Hester's Dinorama Sign

Chester & Hester's Dinorama Sign

The font used for "Finding Nemo, The Musical" is identical to that used for the movie posters and advertisements. Once again, this adds continuity and allows the guests to easily identify with the show inside.

Finding Nemo, The Musical Sign

The final land at the Animal Kingdom is Camp Minnie-Mickey. Many of the letters here are formed with twigs and branches - as if the kids attending the camp had created them.

Camp Minnie-Mickey Fonts

Camp Minnie-Mickey Fonts

Two different fonts are used for the "Festival of the Lion King" show; neither resembles the typeface used in the movie. This was done intentionally to help guests separate the film from the show. In the movie, we're told the story of Simba. At the Animal Kingdom, we celebrate Simba with music and pageantry. These are two very different presentations. However, there is a similarity between one of the Animal Kingdom fonts and the Broadway poster.

Lion King Signs

Lion King Signs

Lion King Signs

Lion King Signs

Throughout the Animal Kingdom are signs with arrows pointing the way to the various attractions and facilities. However some of these arrows have been given details that make them look like fish.

Fish Arrows

That's it for the Animal Kingdom. Check back tomorrow when I discuss the fonts used at Epcot.

Pollo Campero - Fresh A-Peel

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of McDonald's. So when their contract expired and they pulled out of the four Disney World theme parks, I was thrilled. Disney offers decent counter service fare and McDonald's fries weren't really needed.

However, I've always felt that McDonald's filled a void at Downtown Disney. Although there are several kid-friendly spots like Rainforest CafΓ© and T-Rex, there is a severe lack of eating establishments that offer inexpensive options for the entire family. So when McDonald's closed their doors at Downtown Disney earlier in the year, I was concerned -- but I didn't need to be.

Several days ago, Pollo Campero - Fresh A-Peel opened in the vacated McDonald's building in the Marketplace section of Downtown Disney.

Pollo Campero Exterior

Pollo Campero Exterior

Pollo Campero Sign

The first Pollo Campero restaurant opened in Guatemala in 1971 by the Gutierrez family. Their chicken was hand-prepared every day and marinated with a special blend of Latin herbs and spices - a tradition that continues to this day. The restaurant was an immediate success and additional locations began to spring up. In 2002 they opened their first U.S. location in Los Angeles. Today there are over 320 Pollo Campero restaurants in a number of countries around the world.

I stopped by today with my friend Donald for a look around. For those of you familiar with the old McDonald's, you can see that the basic floor plan is much the same, but the restaurant has received a makeover and has a completely new and fresh feel.

Ordering Stations

There are two food-ordering stations. Pollo Campero serves the traditional Latin chicken recipes and Fresh A-Peel has healthier choices. Pollo Campero offers four individual meals, traditional fried chicken, citrus grilled chicken, chicken strips, and a fried or grilled sandwich. These come with one side. Or, a family-size serving is available (feeds 3-4) and comes with several side orders. Here is a picture of their food counter.

Pollo Campero Food Selections

Fresh A-Peel offers healthier selections. Here you can order a hamburger with hormone-free ingredients and a fat-free "secret sauce," an all-beef hot dog on a multigrain bun, and a number of freshly made salads and wraps.

Fresh A-Peel Food Selections

I ordered the mini-burgers (with a side of fries from the Pollo Campero counter) and Donald ordered the traditional fried chicken with a side of black beans served with tortilla chips. We were both pleased with the taste. Donald said the fried chicken had a distinctive flavor that he enjoyed. And I would never know that the "secret sauce" on my burger was fat free. My only complaint was the size of my beef patties. I felt they could have been a little larger.

Chicken Meal


Small Beef Patty

A topping bar is located in the middle of the dining room and offers Onions & Cilantro, Roasted Chipotle Salsa, Pico de Gallo, JalapeΓ±os, and Green Tomatillo Salsa.

Topping Bar

Soft drinks (Coke products) are ordered at the cash register and filled at the beverage station.

Cash Register

Drink Station

A Latin Drink Bar offers such delights as fruit smoothies, watermelon sangria, and beer. An adjacent outdoor bar offers table service for al fresco imbibing.

Latin Drink Bar

Outdoor Latin Drink Bar

Outdoor Seating

Another truly unique offering in this establishment is the Bakery sponsored by Babycakes NYC. All of their mouth-watering vegan/kosher desserts are:

Refined sugar free
Gluten free
Wheat free
Soy free
Casein free
Egg free

Here it's possible to be bad and good at the same time! No permanent menu is posted as the selections change daily.



Here are few pictures of the dining room.

Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating

Pollo Campero is open daily from 8am to 11pm. At the moment, I do not have their breakfast menu, but I'm working on it. Currently, this establishment is NOT on the Disney Dining Plan or Tables in Wonderland. This may come about in the future, but I can't give you any timetable.

Donald and I enjoyed our meals and would return in the future. The prices are reasonable and I think picky kids would enjoy the chicken strips and fries. So next time you're at Downtown Disney and would like a quick meal without sacrificing flavor for convenience, give Pollo Campero - Fresh A-Peel at try.

November 17, 2010

Letter Perfect - Epcot - Part Three

Today I'll be discussing the various typefaces used at Epcot.

Epcot Center Font

Epcot went through several name changes. First there was EPCOT Center. Then, in 1994 the named changed to Epcot 94 and the following year, Epcot 95. But it's expensive to change a park's name annually so in 1996 a new logo was introduced. The font went from a bold sans-serif typeface to a thinner serif font with some creative artwork thrown in for good measure. The "O" became a globe and the "C" became the bracket holding the globe.

Epcot Font

In the early years, only one font was used in Future World to designate all of the pavilions. Although the colors and presentation would change from building to building, the letter's shapes remained constant.

Future World Fonts

Today, all of the pavilions sport their own, individual fonts, but the directional markers found throughout Future World still use the original typeface.

Signpost Font

Let's start our tour of Future World with Spaceship Earth. In some respects, this font is similar to the original EPCOT Center font - thick, sans-serif letters. One of the most obvious changes is they are slightly italicized. Of course SIEMENS, the attraction's sponsor, uses its corporate typeface.

Spaceship Earth Font

Spaceship Earth Font

Innoventions recently received a new font. It's playful and inviting and hopefully will make you curious enough to venture inside.

Innoventions Font

Once inside Innoventions, there are a host of activities to enjoy. Here are just a sample of the interesting signs and letters you'll encounter.

This first sign is pretty straightforward. "Where's" and "the" both use hot colors and the word "Fire?" has flames drawn one each letter.

Innoventions Font

The Velcro Exhibit is silly and calls for a cartoonish style. Notice that all three words use a different typeface.

Innoventions Font

Check out this next sign. Note how the letters look like they're being blown by the wind.

Innoventions Font

This next font plays double-duty. First, the title calls for a grand typeface. This is a "great" adventure and it requires impressive letters. But in addition, people take their money very seriously. Even though the attraction uses a cute piggy bank, the font still represents stability - something you want when trusting someone with your hard-earned cash.

Innoventions Font

The "Electric Umbrella" has two distinct signs. The interior sign appropriately uses neon lighting inside the letters to play up the "electric" element of the name. The exterior sign also highlights this feature, but in a more subtle way. Take a look inside the letters. You can see "current" drawn in.

Electric Umbrella Font

Electric Umbrella Font

Besides the obvious gears incorporated into the "Mouse Gear" sign, the letters are made out of a textured metal to emphasize the industrial nature of the name.

Mouse Gear Font

"Club Cool" uses a "cool" font. It's that simple.

Club Cool Font

The lettering for "THE SEAS with Nemo & Friends" is the exact same font used in the movie posters for "FINDING NEMO." The letters' colors were selected because they match clownfish Nemo. This allows guests to easily associate the film with the attraction.

THE SEAS with Nemo & Friends Font

Although the letters are thinner, much of the lettering inside the pavilion is very similar to the title out front.

THE SEAS with Nemo & Friends Font

Bruce the shark lives in an area of the ocean that contains quite a bit of junk, including a sunken submarine. He's labeled his home with a collection of discarded signs. If you look closely, the middle sign once said "Club" and the "Cl" has been painted over with an "S" to create "Sub."

THE SEAS with Nemo & Friends Font

At one time, "The Land" was sponsored by Nestles. Although not identical, the typeface used on this pavilion is very similar to its former underwriter. But more than shape, color plays a part in this sign's story. "The" uses green letters. "Land" sports brownish-orange letters. And the background is blue. All of these are "planet earth" colors.

The Land Entrance Sign

"Soarin'" uses several tricks to make us think of flight. First, the letters are blue to indicate the sky. A darker shade than "skyblue" was selected so the characters would contrast better against the white clouds. The font leans to the right, giving us the feeling of movement. And finally, an arc reaches to the clouds, symbolizing flight.

Soarin' Sign

Color and letter placement help tell the story of the "SUNSHINE Seasons" food court. The word "SUNSHINE" uses a very thin, sans-serif font to signify the rays of the sun. "Seasons" uses green letters to represent plantlife and is set atop autumn colors.

SUNSHINE Seasons Sign

This sign out front of the Imagination Pavilion is designed to look like a giant camera lens. The word "IMAGINATION" uses a very thin, sans-serif font. This was done so the letters would match the calibration hash-marks on the opposite side of the lens.

Imagination Sign

The font used on the "Journey into Imagination" attraction is a bold sans-serif font. Normally, such a typeface would be enough to grab our attention. But in this case, the letters are downplayed in favor of other factors. First, the white letters are placed on a colorful background with a grid that matches the pavilion's pyramid. The banner is placed slightly askew, giving it a feel of informality. And finally, Figment can be seen adding his own touches to the sign.

Imagination Sign

The "ImageWorks" sign uses one of the most ingenious fonts at Walt Disney World. A collection of gizmos, gadgets, and things have been woven together to create crazy letters. This lets us know a world of exploration lies ahead.

ImageWorks Sign

The font for "Test Track" is simple. However, the fact that the letters lean to the right makes our mind think motion. Also, the letters are supported by a structure that creates the look of a roadway.

Test Track Font

A second typeface is used at the "Test Track" pavilion. This lettering has a slight stencil look to it. This forces our mind to believe that this is an industrial facility.

Test Track Font

Test Track Font

"Mission: Space" has a very futuristic font. Notice how the "S" and "P" and the "C" and "E" are joined together at the top.

Mission Space Sign

A second, more contemporary font was created for the "International Space Training Center." On it's own, you probably wouldn't give this lettering a second glance. It's the surrounding artwork that gives it a galactic aura.

International Space Training Center Sign

The typeface for "Universe of Energy" is simple and clean - just like we wished energy could be.

Universe of Energy Sign

On the other hand, the font used for "Ellen's Energy Adventure" is fun, as the Imagineers hope you'll find the show.

Ellen's Energy Adventure Sign

Coming up with fonts for the World Showcase nations would not pose too much of a challenge. Dozens already existed that conveyed the charm and feel of these far off locales. But coming up with a typeface that would project an international flavor without singling out a particular nation would prove a little more challenging. Below is the logo selected to represent this area of EPCOT Center in the early years.

World Showcase Font

Unlike the pavilions in Future World, most of the countries of World Showcase do not have signs out front designating their nationality. The Imagineers hoped their design would be sufficient to tell the guests where they are. The first stop in our journey around the world will be in Canada.

The "O'Canada!" movie has two fonts. The first is the clean lettering found out front of the pavilion. Notice how "Circle Vision" curves downward in the middle. This helps guests understand that the movie is presented in 360Β°.


O'Canada is shown deep in a mine so it's appropriate the signage look like it was created out of old timbers.


The large hotel in the Canada Pavilion is representative of those built by the national railroad as the country expanded westward. These were elegant hostleries which offered fine accomodations and services. The font for "Le Cellier" Steakhouse reeks sophistication and style.

Le Cellier Sign

"Victoria Gardens" are manicured and formal. Not a blade of grass is out of place nor a bloom left on a branch after it's time. The letterface here is stately and dignified.

Victoria Gardens Sign

The "United Kingdom" has numerous signs - far too many to display them all here. The "Rose & Crown" sports a somewhat formal font in gold letters. This style is commonly seen on such establishments in England.

Rose & Crown Font

A number of the shops in the UK Pavilion display decorative signs. The typefaces used could be considered "Old English" or "Old World."

United Kingdom Font

United Kingdom Font

"The Queen's Table" recalls royalty and demands an elegant font. A script seems to fit this bill nicely.

Queen's Table Sign

The France Pavilion represents the Belle Γ‰poque or Beautiful Age. The architecture here recalls the designs of Baron Georges Eugene Haussman and represents the last half of the 19th century. All of the lettering is authentic to this era and a great variety is used.

France Font

France Font

France Font

Art Nouveau fonts, similar to that used on the Paris Metro signage, can also be seen on several signs in the France Pavilion.

France Font

France Font

A few of the signs in the Morocco Pavilion use a stylized form of traditional Latin letters to give the feel of the Arabic alphabet like at the Tangierine CafΓ©.

Tangierine CafΓ© Font

Other signs list the name of the shop or restaurant in both a stylized font and in actual Arabic.

Morocco Font

Morocco Font

Morocco Font

Mitsukoshi is the predominate participant in the Japan Pavilion. They sponsor the Department Store, Teppan Edo, and Tokyo Dining. In all three cases, the Latin letters barely hint at Asian characters. However, notice the variance in the actual Japanese letters. These are two different forms of writing used in Japan.

Mitsukoshi Sign

Teppan Edo Sign

Tokyo Dining Font

On the other hand, Yakitori House uses a much stronger stylization in its lettering.

Yakitori House Font

If you study this exit sign closely, you'll notice it looks like it was written on rice paper.

Japan Exit Sign

Although several different "stately" fonts are used in the American Adventure, it's more interesting to note the signs' coloring. For the most part, all of the signs in this area are white with gold lettering. This is even true inside the pavilion.

American Adventure Font

American Adventure Font

American Adventure Font

In Morocco, Japan, and China, most Americans are unfamiliar with their words and alphabet, but that's not the case in the Italy Pavilion. Here, the Imagineers used Italian terms since Americans can usually pick out a word or two that is similar enough to understand.

Italy Font

Italy Font

Italy Font

Italy Font

Unlike the Italy Pavilion that uses many different styles of typeface, the Germany Pavilion almost exclusively uses "Old World" fonts. But similar to Italy, an American can often pick out a word that helps them understand the merchandise inside.

Germany Font

Germany Font

Germany Font

African Outpost is a poor area. The signs here use old wood and in many cases, are hand painted.

African Outpost Font

African Outpost Font

Notice how this entrepreneur used the existing "Outpost" sign and with a little paint created a new merchandising stand.

African Outpost Font

It's also obvious by the many crates and machines scattered around his establishment as to what product the merchant specializes in.

Coca Cola Font

This largest sign in the China Pavilion uses a simple serif font for all of the words except China. "China" looks as if it was painted with a brush using an ancient art form of calligraphy writing called Shuta.

China Font

Other signs in China use stylized Latin letters alongside Chinese characters.

China Font

China Font

A number of the signs in the Norway Pavilion used stylized fonts to make you think of Scandinavia while others are extremely plain and simple.

Norway Font

Norway Font

Norway Font

Norway Font

Like the many other nations at World Showcase, the Mexico Pavilion uses stylized typefaces to transport us South of the Boarder.

Mexico Sign

Mexico Sign

Mexico Sign

That's it for Epcot. Check back tomorrow for my final blog about fonts at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

November 18, 2010

Letter Perfect - Disney's Hollywood Studios - Part Four

Yesterday I discussed the fonts used at Epcot. Today I'll be looking at the typefaces used at Disney's Hollywood Studios. But first let's take a gander at the old logo for this park.

Three fonts were used for The Disney/MGM Studios. The names "Disney" and "MGM" used their official corporate typeface while "STUDIOS" used a font called Marquee.

Old Studio Logo

The new logo uses a typeface extremely similar to a font called Playwrite. These letters have an Art Deco feel which is consistent with the architecture found on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

New Studio Logo

The letters at the front of the park uses another Art Deco font.

Park Entrance Sign

For the most part, the signs on Hollywood Boulevard continue to use clean and stylish sans-serif fonts of the Art Deco style. But what sets this street apart from other locales is the illumination of the letters with neon tubing. The origin of tubular lighting is in dispute, but it is generally believed it came into existence at the end of the 19th century. Common use of the neon signs began in the early 1930's and caught on quickly.

Neon Signs

Neon Signs

Neon Signs

"Oscar's" is a fun sign. It's round like a wheel and uses a tire to make up the "O." And I also have to wonder if this designation was selected because the word "car" is contained in the name.

Oscar's Sign

Sunset Boulevard is lined with movie houses. Although neon lighting and Art Deco fonts are popular here, much of the signage is placed on the theaters' marquees. Simple black letters that can easily be changed from week to week look down on the guests from an illuminated white background.

Theater Marquees

Theater Marquees

Theater Marquees

The Sunset Ranch Market was once a working farm with horses and cattle. So it is befitting that the font used to designate this now open-air market is a rope that was once used to maintain the animals.

Sunset Ranch Market

Fonts come in many shapes and sizes, including nautical signal flags. Have you ever wondered what the pennants spell at Catalina Eddie's? CATEDDIES

Catalina Eddie's

Catalina Eddie's

The "Tower of Terror" uses two fonts. First, there is the stately serif font that represents the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Then there is the Twilight Zone font. This is the same typeface as used in the CBS television show by the same name at the beginning of each episode.

Tower of Terror

The font used on "Rock 'N' Roller Coaster" looks fast. The slanted letters and underlined words tell the guests they're in for a high-speed journey.

Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

An ingenious combination of two letters creates the logo for G-Force Records, the recording studio that houses "Rock 'N' Roller Coaster."


The first Brown Derby Restaurant opened in 1926 and its whimsical architecture became synonymous with the Golden Age of Hollywood. Disney's version of this famous eatery is based on the second Brown Derby and is designed in the Spanish Mission style. However, the original eye-catching logo is still used.

Brown Derby

A number of street signs can be seen along Hollywood Boulevard, including one of the most famous of them all. So it's no wonder that a restaurant would borrow the name, look, and font to create a catchy sign.

Hollywood and Vine

Hollywood and Vine

The insignias over the S.S. Down the Hatch alternate between flags and pennants. The flags represent letters, the pennants represent numbers.

The flags spell out: D O C K S I D E D I N E R

The numbers are: 7 8 2 5 6 2 8 9 6 3 5 4

I have no idea the meaning of the numbers.

Dockside Diner

Dockside Diner

Everything about this next sign reeks 1950's America. The shape, the clock, and especially the fonts all recall a simpler time. If you'd like to add a font to your computer similar to "PRIME" as seen on this sign, Google "Cheap Motel Font."

'50's Prime Time Cafe

Both "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular" and "Star Tours" use the same fonts that were seen on movie posters and theater marquees. This helps guests associate one to the other.

Indiana Jone

Star Tours

Near the "Indiana Jones" show is a quick service restaurant and a souvenir stand. These establishments use a military stencil on their signs to tie them into WWII, the era in which Indy was fighting the Nazis.

WWII Stencil

Other souvenir stands around the park promote a movie theme by cleverly placing letters on a film strip.

Film Strip Font

Tatooine is the home planet for Anakin and Luke Skywalker. It is a dry planet and moisture farming is a way of life here in order to survive. So it's fitting that the Tatooine Traders sign is etched into rock. Both English and Tatooine lettering is used.

Tatooine Traders

Although not advertising a place or product, these Muppet-painted signs effectively set a mood of zaniness and mischief.

Muppet Painting

Muppet Painting

Once again, continuity is extremely important. The lettering used for the Pizza Planet Restaurant is exactly the same as the pizzeria Buzz and Woody head off to in the movie "Toy Story."

Pizza Planet Restaurant

There is a wide assortment of signs and lettering on the "Streets of America." All are apropos of a big city.

Streets of America

Streets of America

Streets of America

This New York subway sign uses the same font and symbols as the actual transit signs in the Big Apple. And it's no accident that the "W" and "D" lines were depicted here.

Subway Sign

Sometimes the words overshadow any font used.

Funny Sign

As in a number of other attractions, slanted letters give us the illusion of speed on the "LIGHTS, MOTORS, ACTION, Extreme Stunt Show" sign. In addition, a tachometer has been substituted for the "O" in "MOTORS" to accent this point.

Lights Motors Action Sign

The font on this giant clapboard looks like it was handwritten in chalk.


What better typeface could there be than Alphabet Blocks and Scrabble Letters to create the signage for Toy Story Midway Mania.

Toy Story Minia

If you're going to tell the story of Walt Disney, what better lettering could you use than his own handwriting? By the way, if you'd like to download the Disney font to your computer, Google: Walt Disney Script

One Man's Dream

Both "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage" use their theatrical and television fonts. Once again, continuity helps tell the story.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Playhouse Disney

Well, that's all I have for fonts at the four theme parks. In these four blogs I've posted over two hundred photographs, yet I've barely scratched the surface on this subject. Signage and lettering are extremely powerful storytelling tools and I hope my article has helped you realize this. As I've said so many times, Disney puts a tremendous amount of thought into everything they do. No detail is too small.

November 21, 2010

The Spice & Tea Exchange

A new addition has been added to Mickey's Pantry at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Occupying a corner of this store is "The Spice & Tea Exchange."

Mickey's Pantry

The Spice & Tea Exchange

Finding unique shops for Downtown Disney isn't easy. Disney strives to discover distinctive stores, unlike those that you'll find in "Any Mall U.S.A." So "The Spice & Tea Exchange" is a great addition to the Marketplace.

Founded in 2003 under the name "Old Florida Spice Traders," Clay Freeman endeavored to bring his customers a large selection of gourmet spices - everything from A to Z. His store carried an array of salts, teas, sugars, spices, and blended rubs. In addition, accessories designed to support the product were available. In 2007 franchises were sold and there are currently seventeen stores scattered around the country with more on the horizons.

The store at Mickey's Pantry is small but packs a lot into a tight space. There are six display sections, each featuring a different product line. These include Salts, Teas, Sugars, Custom Blends, Kids Corner, and the Blending Area.

Salt Display

Tea Display

Sugar Display

Custom Blend Display

Kid's Corner

Blending Area

The best part of "The Spice & Tea Exchange" is that it's a hands-on experience. Or should I say "a nose-on" experience. Every tea, spice, and blend is contained in a large glass jar. Guests are encouraged to pick them up, take off the lid and enjoy the aroma. If this doesn't sell the product, I don't know what would. If you like what you smell, consumer-sized packets are hanging directly above the jars.

Jar with Samples

Jar with Samples

Jar with Samples

Because the sense of smell tires easily, I had to give my nose a rest after experiencing several samples. But the aromas were intoxicating and I had to go back several times for additional sniffs.

Let me give you just a small example of some the unique products available:


Green Chili


Almond Cookie
Cinnamon Spice
Bombay Chai
African Nectar


Backwoods Hickory
Crazy Chicken
English Roast
Jamaican Jerk


Black Truffle
Chardonnay Oak Smoked Sea Salt
Cyprus Black Lava Sea Salt
Bolivian Rose

A number of the blends are packaged in containers with built-in grinders.

Built-in Grinder

In the Kid's Corner you'll find interesting information about the origins and history of spices. In addition, a "Match Game" that plays like Concentration is available. Kids can turn the various panels looking for matching spices.

Kid's Corner

Kid's Corner

A knowledgeable cast member is on hand and is full of answers to your many questions. Some of the products are quite interesting and an explanation adds immensely to the shopping experience.

If you enjoy cooking, I strongly suggest you visit "The Spice & Tea Exchange" on your next trip to Walt Disney World. This is a unique shopping experience and I seriously doubt that any gourmet will leave this shop empty handed.

Mickey's Pantry and "The Spice & Tea Exchange" opens at 9:30am daily. The shop closes at 11pm Sunday through Thursday and 11:30pm Friday and Saturday.

For more information about "The Spice & Tea Exchange," check out their webpage:


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About November 2010

This page contains all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in November 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2010 is the previous archive.

July 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.