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May 7, 2012

World Showcase Quiz - Questions

jack-spence%27s-masthead4.jpg


World Showcase Quiz

Over the last year, I have written a number of blogs about Epcot's World Showcase. Today, I'm going to test what you've learned by reading my blogs. But don't worry; I'm going to make it an "open book" test as all of the answers can be found within my blogs. To help make things easier for you, I have provided you with the link to each article.

Mexico

Norway

China

The Outpost

Germany

Italy

American Adventure

Japan

Morocco

France

International Gateway / World ShowPlace Events Pavilion / Showcase Plaza

United Kingdom

Canada


Let's begin.


1. Mexico

What civilization's culture is most represented on the pyramid found in front of the Mexico Pavilion?

A. Aztec
B. Mayan
C. Toltec
D. Inca
E. None of the above


Mexico


2. Norway

There is a wooden statue of a Viking in front of the Stave Church. Who does it represent?

A. Rögnvald
B. Eric the Red
C. Olaf II
D. Leif Eriksson
E. None of the above


Norway


3. China

What is the name of the gate guests pass beneath to enter the China Pavilion?

A. Gate of the Golden Sun
B. Gate of Long Life
C. Gate of Good Fortune
D. Gate of the Dragon
E. None of the above


China


4. The Outpost

What make of truck is the woodie seen at Refreshment Coolpost?

A. Ford
B. Chevrolet
C. DeSoto
D. Dodge
E. None of the above


The Outpost


5. Germany

What company sponsors the Karamell Küche shop located at the front of the Germany Pavilion?

A. Nestle
B. Werther's Original
C. Brach's
D. Goofy's Candy Kitchen
E. None of the above


Germany


6. Italy

What angel is depicted in the statue found in the Italy Pavilion courtyard?

A. Michael
B. Raphael
C. Uriel
D. Gabriel
E. None of the above


Italy


7. American Adventure

Who did the Imagineers choose to join Ben Franklin and Mark Twain as the third host of the American Adventure, but was later dropped from this role?

A. Bob Hope
B. Theodore Roosevelt
C. John Muir
D. Will Rogers
E. None of the above


American Adventure


8. Japan

What company sponsors the department store found in the Japan Pavilion?

A. Mikimoto
B. Shinkansen
C. Mitsukoshi
D. Teppan Edo
E. None of the above


Japan


9. Morocco

What facility once occupied the spot now inhabited by Tangierine Café?

A. Center of Tourism
B. Gallery of Arts & History
C. Fez House
D. Madina Arts
E. None of the above


Morocco


10. France

The bridge leading into the France Pavilion was inspired by what Parisian overpass?

A. Pont au Change
B. Pont d'Austerlitz
C. Pont des Arts
D. Pont de la Concorde
E. None of the above


France


11. International Gateway

What is the name of the shop found at International Gateway?

A. Disney Traders
B. World Traveler
C. Port of Entry
D. Gateway Traders
E. None of the above


International Gateway


12. United Kingdom

Who regularly entertains in the Rose & Crown Pub?

A. Pearly Band
B. The Hat Lady
C. World Showcase Players
D. "Ye Haa" Bob Jackson
E. None of the above


United Kingdom


13. World Showplace Events Pavilion

When this venue opened on October 1, 1999, what was it called?

A. Millennium Central
B. Showplace of Nations
C. Epcot 2000
D. Millennium Village
E. None of the above


World Showplace Events Pavilion


14. Canada

What is the name of the island that Moosehead Mine and the O'Canada 360 CircleVision movie are located on?

A. Salmon Island
B. Chinook Island
C. Trout Island
D. Rocky Island
E. None of the above


Canada


15. Mexico

Who are the three stars featured on the "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros" attraction?

A. Donald Duck, Juan Carlos, and Pájaro
B. Donald Duck, Juan Carlos, and Panchito
C. Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Pájaro
D. Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Panchito
E. None of the above


Mexico


16. Norway

What is the name of the movie seen at the end of the Maelstrom attraction?

A. The People of Norway
B. Spirit of Norway
C. Maelstrom Movie
D. Fjords of Fun
E. None of the above


Norway


17. China

What structure in Beijing is the centerpiece of the China Pavilion based on?

A. Temple of Heaven
B. House of Good Fortune
C. Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
D. The Royal Summer Palace
E. None of the above


China


18. The Outpost

Disney recycles many of its paper products by sending them to what African country where they are transformed into beads?

A. Kenya
B. Senegal
C. Uganda
D. Ivory Coast
E. None of the above


The Outpost


19. Germany

What company's trains and structures are used on the garden railroad that sits next to the Germany Pavilion?

A. Lionel
B. Atlas
C. LGB
D. Bachmann
E. None of the above


Germany


20. Italy

The cart and donkey seen at the Italy Pavilion represents those found where?

A. Sicily
B. Sardinia
C. Tuscany
D. Aosta Valley
E. None of the above


Italy


21. American Adventure

What is the name of the a cappella group that performs at the American Adventure?

A. Voices of Freedom
B. Voices of Independence
C. Voices of America
D. Voices of Liberty
E. None of the above


American Adventure


22. Japan

Tori gates are associated primarily with what religion?

A. Buddhism
B. Shintoism
C. Confucianism
D. Taoism
E. None of the above


Japan


23. Morocco

In what city did Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle plan European strategy during WWII?

A. Casablanca
B. Rabat
C. Marrakesh
D. Fes
E. None of the above


Morocco


24. France

What animated character chats with guests at the Les Chefs de France restaurant?

A. Belle
B. Remy
C. Marie
D. Cogsworth
E. None of the above


France


25. United Kingdom

What is the motto of the Rose and Crown?

A. Otium Cum Dignitate (Leisure With Dignity)
B. Totus Es Exspectata (All Are Welcome)
C. Porro Ago Rex (Long Live The King)
D. Amicitia Ut Totus (Friendship To All)
E. None of the above


United Kingdom


26. Canada

Canada ranks _______ in size among the countries of the world?

A. First
B. Second
C. Third
D. Fourth
E. None of the above


Canada


27. World Showplace

What attraction was once planned for this area?

A. Communicore
B. Innoventions
C. American Adventure
D. Imagination
E. None of the above


Showcase Plaza



May 8, 2012

World Showcase Quiz - Answers

Jack Spence Masthead

Hey everyone,

Here are the answers to yesterday's World Showcase quiz. Since this was an "open book" test, I'm sure you got them all right. However, for those of you who decided to wing it, here is the grading scale.

24 - 27: A
20 - 23: B
16 - 19: C
12 - 15: D
11 and below: F


1. Mexico

What civilization's culture is most represented on the pyramid found in front of the Mexico Pavilion?

A. Aztec
B. Mayan
C. Toltec
D. Inca
E. None of the above


Mexico


A. The 36 foot high pyramid is a composite of Mesoamerican motifs dating back to the 3rd century with an emphasis on the Aztec civilization. The serpents' heads represent Quetzalcoatl, the god of the priesthood, learning and knowledge, and guard the structure. The stairs lead to the temple of the high priests. These men were skilled in astronomy and mathematics and were unequaled in pre-Columbian cultures.


2. Norway

There is a wooden statue of a Viking in front of the Stave Church. Who does it represent?

A. Rögnvald
B. Eric the Red
C. Olaf II
D. Leif Eriksson
E. None of the above


Norway


C. As a young royal, Olaf Haraldsson took park in Viking raids throughout Europe. During his travels, he converted to Christianity and then returned to Norway, where he subdued his rivals and proclaimed himself king in 1015. He unified the country and forcefully completed Norway's conversion to Christianity. In 1028, angry Norwegian noblemen rallied around Knut the Great (King of Denmark and England) to force Olaf II from the throne and exile him. Two years later, Olaf II was killed in battle while attempting to regain Norway's throne. Today "Saint Olaf" is regarded as the Patron Saint of Norway and a symbol of national independence.


3. China

What is the name of the gate guests pass beneath to enter the China Pavilion?

A. Gate of the Golden Sun
B. Gate of Long Life
C. Gate of Good Fortune
D. Gate of the Dragon
E. None of the above


China


A. Guests enter the China Pavilion by walking beneath Zhao Yan Men or Gate of the Golden Sun. This gate is a reproduction of one found at the Summer Palace located nine miles north of central Beijing. Construction of the Summer Palace began in 1750 and covers an area of approximately 1.8 square miles. The Summer Palace contains a lake, hills, gardens, pavilions, halls, and temples. The purpose of the Summer Palace was to provide an escape for royalty so they could rest and entertain in lavish style. Today, the Summer Palace is open to the public and is a popular tourist destination.


4. The Outpost

What make of truck is the woodie seen at Refreshment Coolpost?

A. Ford
B. Chevrolet
C. DeSoto
D. Dodge
E. None of the above


The Outpost


B. In the area around Refreshment Coolpost are a number of crates ready to be shipped to faraway lands, all of them labeled Coca-Cola in the destination's native language. This area obviously has a bottling plant nearby and the Outpost acts as a distribution center. This can be deduced from various details. First, several of the crates are labeled FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE, and KEEP ICE COLD. From these messages we have to assume the crates are filled with bottles of Coke. If these crates contained kola nuts, no such labeling would be necessary. In addition, an old Chevy woody is loaded up and ready to make local deliveries.


5. Germany

What company sponsors the Karamell Küche shop located at the front of the Germany Pavilion?

A. Nestle
B. Werther's Original
C. Brach's
D. Goofy's Candy Kitchen
E. None of the above


Germany


B. The Karamell Küche shop is sponsored by Storck USA, makers of Werther's Original Caramels. This candy company was founded in Werther, Westphalia, Germany in 1903 by August Storck. This store also has the distinction of being the only freestanding retail location for Werther's in the world. A close observer might notice that a current TV commercial for Werther's begins with an exterior shot of their shop here in Epcot.


6. Italy

What angel is depicted in the statue found in the Italy Pavilion courtyard?

A. Michael
B. Raphael
C. Uriel
D. Gabriel
E. None of the above


Italy


D. Angels were a common theme in art during the Holy Roman Empire and no depiction of Italy would be complete without a statue of one of these spiritual beings. Here we see the Archangel Gabriel. An observant eye might notice that this angel is an exact copy of the one perched atop the campanile.


7. American Adventure

Who did the Imagineers choose to join Ben Franklin and Mark Twain as the third host of the American Adventure, but was later dropped from this role?

A. Bob Hope
B. Theodore Roosevelt
C. John Muir
D. Will Rogers
E. None of the above


American Adventure


D. The Imagineers wanted the American Adventure to have three hosts, one for each century. The first two selections were somewhat easy to agree upon. Benjamin Franklin was chosen as a spokesperson for the 18th century and Mark Twain was selected for the 19th century. But when it came to the 20th century, the task became more formidable. A number of names were thrown into the hat, but for a variety of reasons, there was always something controversial about each selection. It was finally decided that Will Rogers would fit the bill as he didn't carry any problematic "baggage." However, when the Imagineers conducted focus groups with potential audiences, the vast majority of the public did not know who Will Rogers was. It was finally decided to stick with just Franklin and Twain, and Rogers was relegated to a minor role.


8. Japan

What company sponsors the department store found in the Japan Pavilion?

A. Mikimoto
B. Shinkansen
C. Mitsukoshi
D. Teppan Edo
E. None of the above


Japan


C. For more than three centuries, the Mitsukoshi Organization has striven to impart the spirit of "Hospitality with Sincerity" in every aspect of their business. Today they are a leading department store in Japan with an impeccable reputation. One of their branch stores is located in the Japan Pavilion.


9. Morocco

What facility once occupied the spot now inhabited by Tangierine Café?

A. Center of Tourism
B. Gallery of Arts & History
C. Fez House
D. Madina Arts
E. None of the above


Morocco


A. In the early years of Epcot, the area now occupied by Tangierine Café, was home to "Center of Tourism." At this spot, guests could obtain literature useful in planning a vacation to Morocco. They could even book flights on Royal Air Maroc (commonly known as RAM), the official airlines of Morocco.


10. France

The bridge leading into the France Pavilion was inspired by what Parisian overpass?

A. Pont au Change
B. Pont d'Austerlitz
C. Pont des Arts
D. Pont de la Concorde
E. None of the above


France


C. Guests touring World Showcase counterclockwise enter the France Pavilion via a pedestrian bridge. This overpass recalls the old Pont des Arts, the first metal bridge in Paris.


11. International Gateway

What is the name of the shop found at International Gateway?

A. Disney Traders
B. World Traveler
C. Port of Entry
D. Gateway Traders
E. None of the above


International Gateway


B. International Gateway features one shop, World Traveler. The exterior of this shop combines elements from the Belle Epoque (the beautiful age) of Paris with an old style European customs house that might be found at a port of entry. The interior of this shop is designed in the Art Nouveau style. The merchandise sold here consists of Disney souvenirs and some refrigerated bottled beverages to cool down with.


12. United Kingdom

Who regularly entertains in the Rose & Crown Pub?

A. Pearly Band
B. The Hat Lady
C. World Showcase Players
D. "Ye Haa" Bob Jackson
E. None of the above


The Hat Lady


B. One of the highlights of the Rose & Crown Pub is the Hat Lady. This eccentric American has made the United Kingdom and hats her passion. Her collection of headwear is extensive and each has a tale. During her performance, she will select a hat then regale the audience as to how it came to be in her possession and sing an appropriate melody. She also knows a long list of the best loved pub songs and encourages the bar patrons to sing along.


13. World Showplace Events Pavilion

When this venue opened on October 1, 1999, what was it called?

A. Millennium Central
B. Showplace of Nations
C. Epcot 2000
D. Millennium Village
E. None of the above


Millennium Village


D. When Millennium Village opened on October 1, 1999, more than 50 countries had signed on to be part of the celebration. Some exhibits consisted of little more than a small area where cast members could chat with guests about their homeland. Other countries presented interactive exhibits where guests could play games, watch movies, or participate in some sort of cultural ceremony.


14. Canada

What is the name of the island that Moosehead Mine and the O'Canada 360 CircleVision movie are located on?

A. Salmon Island
B. Chinook Island
C. Trout Island
D. Rocky Island
E. None of the above


Canada


A. On Salmon Island guests enter Moosehead Mine. This is the preshow area for the O'Canada movie. Inside the mine you'll find the remains of the Klondike era. Picks and shovels line the walls and old timbers hold back rock and earth.


15. Mexico

Who are the three stars featured on the "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros" attraction?

A. Donald Duck, Juan Carlos, and Pájaro
B. Donald Duck, Juan Carlos, and Panchito
C. Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Pájaro
D. Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Panchito
E. None of the above


Three Caballeros


D. On January 2, 2007, "El Rio del Tiempo" closed to make way for an updated attraction. In its place came "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros" opening on April 6th of the same year. This new ride is much lighter in concept and features Donald Duck, José Carioca (the parrot), and Panchito (the Mexican charro rooster) from the 1944 Disney animated film "The Three Caballeros." For the most part, the three-dimensional portions of the ride remained, only the film strips were changed.


16. Norway

What is the name of the movie seen at the end of the Maelstrom attraction?

A. The People of Norway
B. Spirit of Norway
C. Maelstrom Movie
D. Fjords of Fun
E. None of the above


Norway


B. For the Norway Pavilion, the Imagineers decided to reverse things and place the film (Spirit of Norway) at the end of the movie to better continue the modern story of Norway. Unfortunately, this didn't work out quite as well as they had hoped. If riders disembarked just as the six minute movie was beginning, they were forced to stand around in the seaport waiting for the doors to open and the next showing to begin. This did not please people. Once the theater doors finally opened, over half of the guests dashed through the hall and skipped the movie altogether. Recently, the Imagineers decided to leave the theater doors open all the time, allowing guests to either exit the theater immediately or take a seat and enjoy the show. And since the movie doesn't really have a storyline, you can start viewing at any time without losing continuity.


17. China

What structure in Beijing is the centerpiece of the China Pavilion based on?

A. Temple of Heaven
B. House of Good Fortune
C. Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
D. The Royal Summer Palace
E. None of the above


China


C. The centerpiece of the China Pavilion is a reproduction of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests which is part of the Temple of Heaven complex located southeast of central Beijing. The complex was built between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who also oversaw the construction of the Forbidden City. The temple is constructed completely out of wood and was built without nails. It was here that the emperor would make sacrifices and pray to heaven and his ancestors at the winter solstice, asking for a good a harvest in the coming year. The circular blue roof represents the sky and heaven. Red is the color of royalty.


18. The Outpost

Disney recycles many of its paper products by sending them to what African country where they are transformed into beads?

A. Kenya
B. Senegal
C. Uganda
D. Ivory Coast
E. None of the above


The Outpost


C. The latest vendor to set up shop in the village takes up residence in Bead Outpost. This entrepreneur arranges for old Disney guide books and other out-of-day Disney paper products to be sent to his family in Uganda. Here, the paper is hand rolled into beautifully colored beads which have been strung into necklaces and bracelets. The finished product is extremely durable and water resistant and makes a wonderful gift for yourself or a friend. You can actually wear a bit of recycled Walt Disney World with these pieces of jewelry.


19. Germany

What company's trains and structures are used on the garden railroad that sits next to the Germany Pavilion?

A. Lionel
B. Atlas
C. LGB
D. Bachmann
E. None of the above


Germany


C. LGB stands for Lehmann Garten Bahn (Lehmann Big Railway) after the company's founder, Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk. All locomotives, track, and accessories are built to run in rain and snow - which is why the Epcot train continues operating even during summer downpours. LGB trains are "G" gauge (scale), meaning the track's rails are 45 mm (1.772 in) apart. During the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, LGB often has a booth in this area selling their wares, along with some specially designed Disney engines and cars.


20. Italy

The cart and donkey seen at the Italy Pavilion represents those found where?

A. Sicily
B. Sardinia
C. Tuscany
D. Aosta Valley
E. None of the above


Italy


A. Another site seen around the Italy Pavilion is the Sicilian cart and donkey. Ornately decorated carts like this one were introduced to Sicily by the ancient Greeks and reached their peak in popularity in the 1920's when thousands could be seen traversing the island. Horses were used primarily in urban areas where roads were readily available. Donkeys were used in the country where rough terrain was often encountered. The carts were used for hauling miscellaneous light loads, such as produce, wood, wine, and people. They were also put into service at weddings and festivals.


21. American Adventure

What is the name of the a cappella group that performs at the American Adventure?

A. Voices of Freedom
B. Voices of Independence
C. Voices of America
D. Voices of Liberty
E. None of the above


American Adventure


D. Usually between the hours of 12 noon and 6:30pm, an a cappella group called the Voices of Liberty performs in the rotunda. This group of 8 or 9 singers usually begins their performance 15 minutes before the American Adventure show. Dressed in elaborate period costumes, they sing patriotic and inspirational songs that delight the audience. Although some numbers are sung at every performance, others are rotated throughout the day. The lead singer will encourage guests to move forward and sit directly underneath the dome, claiming the acoustics are better here. Take his or her word for it. The music does sound better in this location. This is one of the most popular acts at Epcot and is a "must see" show.


22. Japan

Tori gates are associated primarily with what religion?

A. Buddhism
B. Shintoism
C. Confucianism
D. Taoism
E. None of the above


Japan


B. Torii gates are associated with the Shinto religion and are commonly found at the entrance to Shinto shrines. However, some Buddhist temples also incorporate the torii gate into their designs. Torii gates symbolically mark the transition from the "profane" to the "sacred." It is believed that walking or sailing beneath a torii gate purifies the individual and makes him or her worthy to enter sanctified ground.


23. Morocco

In what city did Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle plan European strategy during WWII?

A. Casablanca
B. Rabat
C. Marrakesh
D. Fes
E. None of the above


Morocco


A. Morocco also played an interesting part in the history of WWII. From January 14 to 24, 1943, the Casablanca Conference was held in the Anfa Hotel in Casablanca. Here, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle planned the European strategy of the Allies. Joseph Stalin was also invited to this conference but he declined to attend due to the ongoing fighting in Stalingrad.


24. France

What animated character chats with guests at the Les Chefs de France restaurant?

A. Belle
B. Remy
C. Marie
D. Cogsworth
E. None of the above


Remy


B. The three founding chefs of this establishment were recently joined by a fourth epicurean prodigy. Chef Remy (from the Disney-Pixar film "Ratatouille") now helps out in the kitchen six days a week. He can often be coaxed out of the kitchen four times a day to mingle with the patrons. He is accompanied by one of the restaurant employees who helps translate his squeaky voice. And just for the record, he's more than happy to say "cheese" when posing for a photograph.


25. United Kingdom

What is the motto of the Rose and Crown?

A. Otium Cum Dignitate (Leisure With Dignity)
B. Totus Es Exspectata (All Are Welcome)
C. Porro Ago Rex (Long Live The King)
D. Amicitia Ut Totus (Friendship To All)
E. None of the above


Leisure With Dignity


A. The Rose and Crown bears the Latin motto 'Otium Cum Dignitate' ('Leisure with dignity').


26. Canada

Canada ranks _______ in size among the countries of the world?

A. First
B. Second
C. Third
D. Fourth
E. None of the above


Canada


B. Canada is the second largest country in the world. It spans six time zones and offers outstanding scenery from coast to coast. The Imagineers decided to use this boundless expanse and capture the natural elements of Canada's sprawling landscape rather than focus on architecture. Yet, the structures that were selected are unique to this vast land. I think the Imagineers did a fantastic job. There is no mistaking the identity of this northern jewel among the World Showcase nations.


27. World Showplace

What attraction was once planned for this area?

A. Comminicore
B. Innoventions
C. American Adventure
D. Imagination
E. None of the above


American Adventure


C. Showcase Plaza is located at the entrance of World Showcase. This is the area surrounding the two Tower Shops. Early plans for Epcot called for a modern structure to be located here that would house the American Adventure. However, the Imagineers didn't want it to look like Disney was showing favoritism to the United States and eventually moved this attraction to its current location at the back of the park.


May 14, 2012

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa - Part One

Jack Spence Masthead


Have you ever wondered why the body of water in front of the Magic Kingdom is called the Seven Seas Lagoon?

When Walt Disney World opened in 1971 the Imagineers had a five-year plan that called for additional hotels to be built along the shores of the lake and lagoon. These included the Persian, Venetian, and Thai/Asian resorts. When added to the existing Polynesian Resort, these hotels would give the area an international flavor; thus, the name Seven Seas Lagoon was born. But for a number of reasons, these other resorts never materialized. For many years you could see a square piece of land jutting out into the water that was earmarked for the Thai/Asian Resort.


Seven Seas Lagoon


A third Disney hotel, the Golf Resort (now the Shades of Green) opened in 1973. But other than that, Disney failed to build any new resorts during the first decade of operation.

In the early 80's, Disney fought off several hostile takeovers. To the company's rescue came the Bass Brothers of Texas and Roy E. Disney (son of founder Roy O. Disney), and in 1984 they hired Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to turn the corporation around. One of the many directives the new executives were given was to develop the vast, unused acreage of Disney World.

Any casual observer could see that other companies were cashing in on Disney World's success by building their own hotels and motels at the Mouse's doorstep. During this same time, Disney's three existing hotels were running at near capacity year-round. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that one of the first things that should be done was to build more Disney owned and operated resorts on their property.

Since the original five-year plan called for three more resorts to be built on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, this was the logical place to start construction. However, Epcot had opened in 1982 and featured an International playground called World Showcase. This pretty much ruined the idea of building "international" hotels anywhere else on property. Disney didn't want their guests to experience the same sights and sounds in two separate areas, so a different concept needed to be developed. To help this new direction take shape, the architectural firm of Wimberly, Allison, Tong, & Goo (WATG) of Newport Beach, CA was hired and told to come up with a "deluxe" hotel that could be considered the "flagship" resort of Walt Disney World. For inspiration, the design team visited the Bellevue Biltmore in Clearwater, FL, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, and the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. In the end, a luxurious Victorian era hotel grew on the west shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon and has been wowing guests since its opening on July 1, 1988. Here are some construction photos I snapped in1986.


Grand Floridian Under Consturction

Grand Floridian Under Consturction

Grand Floridian Under Consturction


This aerial shot shows how the original square plot of land was modified slightly for the Grand Floridian.


Aerial Shot of the Grand Floridian


This next picture is of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. The similarities are striking.


Hotel Del Coronado


Guests arrive at the Grand Floridian via Floridian Way. Beneath the porte-cochère guests are greeted by bell services personnel who will help them with their luggage and direct them to the lobby. Also in this area are a lovely carriage and a 1929 Cadillac that can be rented for weddings and other special occasions. Behind the Cadillac in a secluded courtyard is a topiary of Mary Poppins. This is an uncrowded spot that allows for great photos.


Grand Floridian Entrance

Grand Floridian Entrance

Bell Services

Carriage

1929 Cadillac

Mary Poppins


The check-in desk is located just inside the main doors and to the right. The concierge desk is located to the left.


Main Doors

Check-In Desk


When entering the hotel's five-story lobby for the first time, most guests look up in awe. The delicate balustrades, the stained glass ceiling insets, the massive chandeliers, the ornate furniture, and the abundant artwork combine beautifully and make you long for a bygone era when women wore bustles and men donned top hats. But then you come to your senses and realize that you can still enjoy this lush atmosphere in your shorts and sandals as the Grand Floridian may be elegant, but it allows for 21st century theme park casualness.


Lobby

Lobby


The recently added marble floors greet guests with the resorts "GF" logo and a few Disney characters.


Grand Floridian Logo in Marble

Mickey Mouse in Marble


After the initial astonishment wears off, you start to notice the many details that make this hotel special. Located on the ground floor of the lobby is a large Chinese-styled aviary that was crafted in Spain. For many years, this birdcage housed a pair of lovebirds, but alas, today it sits empty. On the other side of the room is an equally elegant "cage" elevator that transports guests between the first and second floors. And beyond the elevator is a sweeping staircase worthy of Tara from "Gone with the Wind." Often, bridal parties can be seen on these steps, posing for elegant photos. Be sure to notice Cinderella's coach woven into the carpet.


Birdcage

Cage Elevator

Grand Staircase

Cinderella Carpet


The majority of the lobby's ground floor is comprised of numerous seating areas where you can relax and soak in the atmosphere. In the center of it all is a concert grand piano where a musician plays melodies suitable to the surroundings. Requests are also honored. As evening approaches, a ragtime/jazz band called the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra joins in and plays alternate sets with the piano player.


Lobby

Lobby

Piano

Grand Floridian Society Orchestra


The Grand Floridian uses more flowers than any other resort at Walt Disney World. Lush bouquets are everywhere.


Flowers

Flowers


The Grand Floridian is the only Disney resort to have dedicated men's and women's clothing stores. Summer Lace, located on the first floor, features designer fashions for the ladies, along with perfumes, jewelry, swimwear, and Grand Floridian logo items. Commander Porter's, located directly above on the second floor, offers men's designer clothing such as Tommy Bahama and Ralph Lauren Polo. Men's fragrances, golf apparel, and gift items are also available here. Both shops are open daily from 9am to 10pm.


Summer Lace

Summer Lace

Commander Porter's

Commander Porter's


Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop offers a large array of Grand Floridian logo merchandise. And if you enjoyed the music heard in the lobby, CD's of the pianist and ragtime band can be purchased at this location. Also sold here are drinks, snack items, postcards, stamps, wedding items, and a limited selection of reading materials. This shop is open daily from 8am to 10pm.


Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop

Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop


On the second floor of the lobby you will find M. Mouse Mercantile. Disney souvenir items including children's apparel, toys, books, pins, and watches can be purchased here. This shop is open from 8am to 10pm.


M. Mouse Mercantile

M. Mouse Mercantile


Also on the second floor is Basin White. Decorated to look like a giant, old-time bathroom, at this shop you can stock up on a wide variety of bath salts, soaps, and shampoos. Although operated by the same folks who run the Basin shop at Downtown Disney, it is my understanding that the merchandise sold here is slightly different and of a higher caliber than its more pedestrian cousin. The hours of operation are from 10am to 10pm.


Basin White

Basin White


Next door to Basin White is Ivy Trellis Salon. Men, women, and children are welcome here. Services range from a simple haircut to a complete styling. Manicures and pedicures are also available. Appointments are recommended and the shop is open from 9am to 6pm.


Ivy Trellis Salon

Ivy Trellis Salon


All of the rooms in the Main Building of the Grand Floridian are Club Level accommodations as are those in the Sugar Loaf Key lodge building. Guests staying in one of these rooms are given a gold room card-key that grants them access to the upper floors of the Main Building and entrance into the Sugar Loaf Key lodge building. All guest use Club Level elevators in the Main Building for access to the first and second floors, but only guests with Club Level privileges may access the third through fifth floors.


Club Level Elevator

Gold Room Key

Main Building

Sugar Loaf Key

Sugar Loaf Key


The Main Building contains both suites and standard rooms. I've never stayed in one of the suites at the Grand Floridian, so I can't tell you much about them. But I have stayed in a standard Club Level room twice. Actually, the Club Level rooms are roughly the same size and configuration as the rooms located in the lodge buildings. I'll discuss this in more detail later. But it's not the rooms that make the Club Level special. It's the extra amenities and services guests receive on these floors.

One of the first perks of Club Level is a dedicated concierge staff. Only seasoned cast members with extensive knowledge of Disney World man these posts. And they're here to help make your vacation whatever you want it to be. From restaurant reservations, personal tours, and suggestions you have never even imagined, these well-informed hosts and hostesses are there to make you happy.

Need private tennis lessons? They can arrange it. Want to rent a cabana at the beach pool? They can arrange it. Want an elegant picnic lunch to take out on a pontoon boat? A lavish cocktail party for 40? An intimate dinner for two on your balcony? They can arrange it. If you've got the bucks, they can arrange it.

For those of you who must work while on vacation, these trained cast members can also help you fax documents and conduct other business functions. And because these individuals are serving a much smaller number of guests than the staff assigned to the rest of the resort, they often have more time to spend with you. In the Main Building, the Club Level concierge staff is located on the third floor. In Sugar Loaf Key they can be found on the first floor.


Main Building Concierge

Sugar Loaf Key Concierge


The other great perk of Club Level is the "free" food and drink offered throughout most of the day. Coffee and juice service begins each morning at 6:30. From 7am to 10:30am, a wonderful continental breakfast, called Grand Beginnings, is available. Served is fresh fruit, a large selection of breads and pastries, hot and cold cereals, and cheese & cold cuts.


Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings


From 11:30am to 3:30pm, cookies and cold beverages are available. Afternoon Tea is served from 2:30pm to 4pm.


Soft Drinks

Cookies


Twilight Refreshments are served from 5pm to 7pm. This selection of appetizers is amazing and offers enough variety and quantity that you can make a meal out of what is served. An assortment of cheeses & crackers, raw vegetables & dipping sauce, canapés, and hot hors d'oeuvres are displayed beautifully and make resistance impossible.


Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments


From 8pm to 10pm, Cordials and Desserts are served. The sweets include everything from cupcakes to chocolate covered strawberries with miniature tarts and cream puffs thrown in for good measure. And the cordials are first rate with Drambuie, Courvoisier, and Grand Marnier just to name a few. Beer and wine are also available.


Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts


In the Main Building, the Club Level lounge is known as Royal Palms Club and can be found on the fourth floor. Many tables are situated next to windows and offer great views of the monorail or the manicured grounds. This is a wonderful area to sit and relax and converse with friends. There is a sense of wellbeing here. The cares of the outside world seem to melt away when you're sipping Kahlua & Cream, while being attended to by an ever so attentive staff.


Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club


At Sugar Loaf Key the Club Level lounge is called Sugar Loaf Concierge. Here, about ten tables have been tightly arranged in the lobby area of this building. The serving counter is located nearby. Although Sugar Loaf Concierge offers the same selection of food and drink as Royal Palms Club, it lacks greatly in charm and sophistication. The tables are spaced too close together and the area is dark. This room feels like an afterthought with no real design or direction. Disney needs to rethink Sugar Loaf Concierge and come up with a larger, brighter, and more convivial facility.


Sugar Loaf Concierge

Sugar Loaf Concierge


To see a video of the Club Level amenities, click on the picture below.



Another advantage of staying on a Club Level floor of the Main Building is the convenience offered. It's only an elevator ride away to the monorail, bus stop, shops, and all but one of the resort's restaurants. On rainy, hot, or cold days, this is a big plus.

The monorail station is located on the second floor above the porte-cochère (near M. Mouse Mercantile). This is your mode of transportation to the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Epcot (transferring at the Transportation and Ticket Center), and the Polynesian. Hours of operation are posted nearby. The bus station is located on the first floor, just to the right of the porte-cochère as you exit the building. Buses take you to Downtown Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the water parks.


Monorial

Monorail

Bus Stop


The Grand Floridian has one other transportation option, a boat that sails between the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, and the Magic Kingdom. The dock is located at the north-east end of the resort, just past Narcoossee's Restaurant. These cute little vessels are not meant for speed and efficiency, but rather as a wonderful way to enjoy a leisurely excursion across Seven Seas Lagoon. A trip from the Grand Floridian will make a stop at the Polynesian before continuing on to the Magic Kingdom. If you're in a hurry to get to the Magic Kingdom, these boats are not your best option. Opt for the monorail instead. But if you're in the mood to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case, the lake air, then by all means, board one of these charming boats, sit back and relax.


Boat

Boat


People often ask me if they need a car when visiting Walt Disney World. I always say "No, you don't need a car. Walt Disney World transportation is reasonably efficient." However, a car can make things easier, as you won't be dependent on the buses and boats that usually only arrive at a given station or dock every 10-20 minutes.

Before I continue, I want to say that the Disney buses are very clean, maintained extremely well, and are driven by exceptionally courteous and knowledgeable cast members. These drivers have to be ready to answer an array of unbelievable questions - time and time again - all day long. But keep in mind, the buses at WDW are "mass" transit, not "rapid" transit. If you want to get someplace fast, the bus isn't necessarily your best bet. This is especially true if you plan on eating dinner at another resort -- there are no direct buses from one hotel to another. You must catch a bus to one of the parks (or the monorail to the Magic Kingdom) and then transfer to a different bus. In these cases, driving your own car is probably the better option.

However"

The Grand Floridian was designed for guests to valet park. This costs $12 per day plus gratuity each time you leave and return. This can add up. Free, self-parking is available at the Grand Floridian, but it's inconveniently located across the street from the resort in a less than attractive lot.

I suppose if you can afford to stay at the Grand Floridian, you can afford to valet park every day. But for those families who have saved their pennies for years and staying at the Grand Floridian as a once-in-a-lifetime event, then parking costs must be considered.

The majority of the rooms and several suites can be found in the five lodge buildings. Each is named after an island in the Florida Keys and includes Sago Cay, Sugar Loaf Key, Conch Key, Boca Chica, and Big Pine Key. Guests enter these buildings through nicely appointed lobbies where you'll find more fresh flowers.


Lodge Building Entrance

Lodge Building Lobby

Lodge Building Lobby


Standard rooms are approximately 448 square feet and sleep five. Dormer rooms (those located on the top floors) are slightly smaller and sleep four as they do not have a daybed. In addition, the balconies on the dormer rooms are significantly smaller than those on the standard rooms. However, I feel that the vaulted ceilings in the dormer rooms add a lot of charm and are worthy of consideration if you can do without the daybed.


Balconies

Dormer Room Balcony


Guests enter the rooms via a small hallway. On one side is a spacious closet. Club Level rooms have mirrored doors. Inside the closet you'll find a large safe that locks and unlocks with a four digit code. Also in the closet are two Grand Floridian robes. If you find you're taken with these, plusher copies can be purchased for $100 at the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry shop. An iron and board, luggage racks, and the hairdryer can also be found in the closet.


Mirrored Closet Doors

Open Closet

Safe


Opposite the closet is the spacious bathroom. A large marble counter affords plenty of space for your toiletries and two sinks allow a family to get ready for their day all the quicker. H2O+ products are provided and two large bars of soap are a welcome relief from the slivers so often used in other establishments. These products can also be purchased at the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry shop. The towels at the Grand Floridian are the thickest and fluffiest found at Walt Disney World. And I especially like the hamper where you can toss the used towels rather than leaving them on the floor or over a hook.


Bathroom Sinks

H2O+ Products

Towels

Hamper


In the standard rooms, the toilet and tub/shower are located in a separate room. In the Club Level rooms, the tub/shower is slightly bigger and along with the toilet is located in the same room as the sinks. The shower head has three settings, soft spray, hard spray, and pulsate. Also, the shower curtain rod bends outward at the top so you have more room when standing in the tub. In addition, all bathrooms come with a telephone for those calls you simply must take at inconvenient times.


Shower Tub

Shower Tub


Another perk of the Club Level room is the Keurig coffee maker. This is perfect for those of you who aren't fans of Nescafe which is served almost everywhere else on property.


Keurig Coffee Maker


The wallpaper in the bathroom is especially fun. The Super Six make a visit in topiary form.


Wallpaper


The sleeping area is bright and airy and has a Victorian elegance. Yet the design is not so heavy-handed and frilly as to make you feel like you're visiting an aging dowager who would smack your hand if you dared touch any of her bric-a-brac. The wallpaper has a delicate pattern, but it's subtle. The carpet uses colors of gold and green and displays a leaf pattern. The furniture is stained in mid-tones that are neither light nor dark. Disney did a wonderful job of combining the charm of a bygone era with the 21st century.

Most rooms have two queen-sized beds; however, rooms with one king are also available. A "king" room needs to be requested when making your reservations. As I mentioned earlier, a daybed is also part of the furnishings unless you're staying in a dormer room. Once again, if you need a daybed, request a non-dormer room when making your reservation.


Two Queen Beds

Two Queen Beds


The beds are VERY comfortable - and they're also for sale. If you'd like to purchase one, check out this website for more information.

www.disneyresortcollection.com

A trend I see spreading among deluxe resorts is the use of a third sheet. This sheet is used to cover the top of the blankets. Once the bedspread has been turned down (a nightly service provided at the GF - complete with chocolates) this third sheet covers the bedding. You never need touch blankets that have been used by a hundred other people before you. I like this A LOT!

Opposite the beds are a chest of drawers and a desk. The desk is especially nice as it "nests" and allows for easy laptop use. Free WiFi is now available throughout the Grand Floridian. Above the desk is a wonderful picture that requires close examination to find all of the Disney references. Sitting on the desk is the most elegant Mickey Mouse lamp you'll ever see. Donning a top hat, Mickey's head sits atop a faux marble column. A white shade tops it off. If you want one of these marvels for your own home (I know I did), they can be purchased by visiting the webpage I mentioned earlier.


TV and Desk

Desk

Picture

Mickey Mouse Lamp


Once flat screen TVs hit the market, they took over like wildfire. And just like the rest of the resorts at Walt Disney World, the Grand Floridian now offers these modern wonders. Below the TV are four drawers and a small refrigerator.


TV

Chest and Refrigerator


A number of views are available when booking a room at the Grand Floridian. Some look out at Seven Seas Lagoon with views of either the Polynesian or the Magic Kingdom. Others look into the resort's marina, while some view the manicured grounds and pool.

The first picture below was taken in 1989, one year after the Grand Floridian opened. I had requested a Magic Kingdom view from the Main Building. If you look closely, you can almost make out Cinderella Castle in the distance -- however, I could see the fireworks from my balcony with no problem. The next three pictures were taken on my most recent visit where I had a view of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Polynesian Resort.


View of the Magic Kingdom

View of the Wedding Pavilion

View of the Polynesian

View at Night


I like the rooms at the Grand Floridian. As I mentioned before, they are elegant without being stuffy. I doubt that anyone would be put off by these comfortable accommodations.

To see a video of a Club Level Dormer Room, click on the picture below.



To see a video of a Standard Dormer Room, click on the picture below.



That's it for today. Check back tomorrow for Part Two.



May 15, 2012

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead


Thanks for checking back for Part Two of my review of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Let's get started.

The Grand Floridian has two swimming pools. The Courtyard Pool is the larger of the two (at 300,000 gallons) and is the more relaxed and dignified of the two. It is flanked by the Main Building and three of the lodge buildings. The Courtyard Pool is open 24 hours, however, it is NOT manned by lifeguards at any time.


Courtyard Pool

Courtyard Pool

Courtyard Pool


Courtyard Pool Bar sits adjacent to the pool. Besides the usual selection of Coke products and alcoholic beverages, this spot also serves turkey, ham & cheese, and PB&J sandwiches. Nearby tables offer a wonderful environment to sit and enjoy an alfresco lunch.


Courtyard Pool Bar

Courtyard Pool Bar


Near the pool is a lovely fountain. This water feature offers great photo opportunities.


Fountain

Fountain


The newer, Beach Pool can be found south of the resort on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and is the better place for energetic kids. An in-ground fountain, waterfall, and water slide add a lot of excitement that the Courtyard Pool lacks. In addition, the Beach Pool also offers zero access entry for toddlers and those in wheelchairs. Unlike the Courtyard Pool, the Beach Pool is manned by lifeguards during most of the day. However, this pool is not open 24 hours. Check with the concierge desk for current times.


Beach Pool

Beach Pool

Children's Play Area


Drinks and sandwiches are available at the nearby Beach Pool Bar. Private cabanas can be rented through the hotel's concierge desk. Besides having upgraded lounge chairs, the cabanas offer televisions, refrigerators, and a host of other amenities. This is truly the way to pamper yourself.


Beach Pool Bar

Cabana


The white sandy beach that surrounds the Grand Floridian is the perfect place to relax in the sun and watch the Magic Kingdom ferry boats sail by in the distance. Covered lounge chairs dot the beach and add a touch of class found nowhere else on property. Please be aware, there is no swimming in any of the Disney lakes and canals. This is also the spot to watch the Electric Water Pageant presented each night at 9:15.


Grand Floridian Beach

Grand Floridian Beach

Grand Floridian Beach


It's interesting to note, the sugary sand of the Grand Floridian beach was found beneath the muck that was once a swamp before Disney cleared this area to create Seven Seas Lagoon.

As you may or may not know, Disney is currently building a new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) just south of the Grand Floridian that will feature the same style and architecture as its nearby neighbor. The resort is schedule to open in late 2013.


Grand Floridian DVC Concept Art

Grand Floridian DVC Concept Art

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction


Because of this construction, the Grand Floridian Spa is temporarily closed and will not reopen until sometime later next year. However, the Grand Floridian Health Club remains open and offers state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weight-training machines 24 hours a day.


Health Club

Health Club

Health Club

Health Club


Toward the north end of the Grand Floridian, located next to the Conch Key and Sugar Loaf Key lodge buildings, is the Captain's Shipyard. This is the spot to rent a pontoon boat for a leisurely afternoon on the water or a mini-speed boat for zippy trip over the waves. Fishing excursions can also be arranged and leave from this spot

For a truly distinctive Walt Disney World experience, consider chartering the Grand 1 yacht birthed at the Captain's Shipyard. This craft is 52 feet in length and can accommodate 18 people (17 if a butler is in service). This is a wonderful way to enjoy an elegant night out on the water and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Of course, when cruising aboard the Grand 1, you would want more than just a boat ride, so Disney has created a number of packages that include all sorts of wonderful hors d'oeuvres and beverages to tempt your appetite. For more information as to what is available, click here.


Captain's Shipyard

Captain's Shipyard


There are a number of restaurants at the Grand Floridian, each worthy of a full review. However, due to a lack of time and space, I'm just going to briefly mention them here.

I'm often asked, "What's your favorite Disney World Restaurant?" My answer always begins as follows, "If you don't count Victoria & Albert's, it's""

But if you do count Victoria & Albert's, then this is hands down the finest restaurant at Walt Disney World - and probably all of Central Florida.

Victoria & Albert's, or Vicky & Al's as we regulars like to call it (just kidding), has won the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award for the last eleven years. At this Grand Floridian restaurant, guests enjoy a two to three hour culinary experience within an elegant dining room. As your butlers tend to your every need, a harpist serenades in the background. Imported crystal, fine china, personalized menus, long-stem roses for the ladies, and a host of other elegant touches make an evening here an experience to remember for years to come.

Located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert's offers a prix fixe menu that includes six courses of sumptuous food served at a luxuriously slow pace. Nothing is left to chance and the service is flawless. Chef Scott Hunnel selects seasonal foods from around the world and the menu changes from day to day. After your meal, you can select a brandy or cognac from the well-stocked cordial cart.

Beginning on June 1, 2012, the price will be $135.00 per guest with wine pairings adding another $65.00 per guest. (Pricing does not include tax and gratuity.)

Dinner jackets are required for gentlemen (tie optional) and dresses or pants ensembles are recommended for ladies. Valet Parking is available at no additional cost. Children under the age of 10 will not be served.

Victoria & Albert's is a fantastic restaurant. If you have a special birthday or anniversary coming up, think seriously about splurging and giving this restaurant a try. You will not be disappointed. Reservations are an absolute must.


Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's


I'm often asked, "What's your favorite Disney World Restaurant?" My answer always begins as follows, "If you don't count Victoria & Albert's, it's""

Well, if you don't count Victoria & Albert's, I have two favorite restaurants at WDW, and one of them is at the Grand Floridian. In fact, it's located right next door to Victoria & Albert's - Citricos.

The Citricos dining room is elegant, yet playful. There is something fun about this spot, yet it reeks of old-world sophistication. The tables and chairs are traditionally styled, yet the surroundings are whimsical. It all combines wonderfully and I feel very comfortable here.


Citricos

Citricos

Citricos


When Citricos first opened, the menu was to be Mediterranean inspired with all dishes containing some sort of citrus flavoring - thus the name Citricos. But today, this citrus "gimmick" has been down played and now the restaurant focuses on American dishes inspired by the cuisines of Provençe, Tuscany and the Spanish Riviera. Oak-grilled steaks, pastas, seafood, and their signature braised veal shank are just a few of the delights to tempt you - all prepared in an open show kitchen. To see the current menu, click here.


Citricos Kitchen

Citricos Kitchen


Citricos is considered a "Signature" restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan and requires two credits. This restaurant is open for dinner only. The dress code is Resort Casual. Not allowed in the restaurant are tank tops, swimwear, hats for gentleman, cut offs, or torn clothing. Reservations are highly recommended. In addition, Citricos has a one-day cancellation policy. When booking, guests must provide a credit card to hold the reservation. If the guest cancels within one day of the reservation or if the dining party is a no show, a fee of $10 per person will be charged to the credit card used at the time of booking.

Narcoossee's is the other "Signature" restaurant at the Grand Floridian and all of the above Citricos caveats apply here as well.

Narcoossee's is the only Grand Floridian restaurant not located in the Main Building of the resort. It can be found on the water's edge of Seven Seas Lagoon near the boat dock.


Narcoossee's


Narcoossee's has a subtle nautical/New England theme. Dark wood flooring, white paneled walls, shutters, and seating that resemble cruise ship deck chairs combine to create a casual environment.


Narcoossee's

Narcoossee's

Narcoossee's


Narcoossee's is a seafood restaurant and offers such specialties as seared-grilled scallops, crab-crusted halibut, grilled wild king salmon, and steamed whole Maine lobster. However, beef, chicken, and vegetable dishes are also available so everyone should be able to find something to their liking. To see the current menu, click here.


Window tables at Narcoossee's offer wonderful views of Seven Seas Lagoon, Cinderella Castle, and the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks. But be warned, guests not seated at a window table will venture out onto the verandah shortly before the fireworks begin and obstruct the view of those sitting next to a window.

You might be interested to learn, Narcoossee's has a small stage located above the bar. When the restaurant first opened, combo groups would entertain guests from this perched area. However, there are no "soft" surfaces at Narcoossee's and the music was overpowering. Eventually, the live entertainment was discontinued.


Narcoossee's Bandstand


I have eaten at Narcoossee's a number of times. I have always been pleased with my food and service. However, I still find this eatery a little too noisy for my taste. When I'm paying Narcoossee's prices, I prefer a quieter atmosphere.

The Grand Floridian Café is located on the first floor of the Main Building and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This charming spot offers a more casual atmosphere than Citricos or Narcoossee's, yet it still radiates elegance and charm. Fresh roses adorn each table and massive, lace curtained windows look out onto the manicured gardens. Flowered wallpaper, marble table tops, and delicate cushioned chairs complete the mood.

The Grand Floridian Café offers American favorites at all three meals. I especially like the Grand Sandwich (open-faced hot turkey, ham, bacon and tomato, with a rich Boursin cheese sauce and Fried onion straws) served at lunch. It's loaded with calories and loaded with taste.


Grand Sandwich


Reservations are suggested, but often not necessary. To see all of the Grand Floridian Café menus, click here.


Grand Floridian Café

Grand Floridian Café

Grand Floridian Café


Character dining is also available at the Grand Floridian. 1900 Park Fare serves a Supercalifragilistic Buffet Breakfast from 8am to 11am where Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and other Wonderland friends stop by your table to say hello and pose for pictures. From 4:30pm to 8:30pm Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner offers a fairy tale-inspired evening meal. Cinderella, Prince Charming, and their storybook friends stroll through the restaurant and chat with guest. All meals are served buffet style.


1900 Park Fare

1900 Park Fare

1900 Park Fare


Dominating the upper portion of the restaurant is Big Bertha. This organ was built over a hundred years ago in Paris by Gavoli & Co. and used from 1909 to 1955 in Ramona Park, an amusement park in Grand Rapids, MI. The instruments include pipes, drums, bells, cymbals, castanets, and a xylophone played by a piano-roll score. Periodically during your meal, a short concert is played to the delight of children and adults.


Big Bertha


The 1900 Park Fare Character Meals are intended for children or for those adults who love characters and never miss an opportunity to interact with them. The atmosphere here is festive (or maybe chaotic would be a more appropriate word. LOL). The energy level is high and so is the noise level. A great time can be had here, but you need to be aware that this restaurant does not offer an intimate experience. It offers "fun" in abundance! This being a Character Meal, reservations are absolutely mandatory! A one-day cancellation policy is in effect here.

Gasparilla Grill & Games is a 24 hour, counter service restaurant that offers freshly made sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads, and pizzas. Also available are a large selection of beverages, sweets, fruits, and other snacks. Gasparilla is located near the Captain's Shipyard. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Also, a number of arcade games are at hand for the young ones.


Gasparilla Grill

Gasparilla Grill


Mizner's Lounge is located on the second floor of the lobby, just behind the bandstand. This spot is open from 4:30pm to midnight and offers light snacks, a full bar, and vintage ports and brandies. In the evening, this lounge is dark and cozy and allows for intimate conversations. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra adds to the mood with their ragtime and big band melodies.


Mizner's Lounge

Mizner's Lounge


The Garden View Lounge plays host to two tea services. From 10:30am to noon, "My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party" is held for the enjoyment of young ladies ages 3 to 11. At this event, a character named Rose Petal plays host and entertains with stories and songs. The girls are made to feel like princesses and are presented with an 18-inch My Disney Girl doll dressed in a matching Princess Aurora gown with accessories, her own ribbon tiara, princess link bracelet, fresh rose, special princess scrapbook page, and a "Best Friend" certificate. The price is $250 for one child and one adult. Additional children run $165 each. Reservations are mandatory.

From 2pm to 5pm, guests can engage in an age-old tradition and partake in a traditional English-style tea. As you might expect, a large selection of tea is available and served "very properly." A number of other menu options are on hand to accompany your tea like finger sandwiches, scones, jam tarts, strawberries and cream, pastries, and an array of English cheeses. I know that many of you might be put off by the "formality" of this event, but I can assure you, Disney always does everything possible to make their guests comfortable in every situation and this dining experience is no exception.


Garden View Lounge

Garden View Lounge


Believe me when I say, I've only scratched the surface when talking about the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I can think of a dozen other items of interest that I didn't mention, but there simply isn't room in my blog to do this resort justice.

The Grand Floridian is the most expensive resort at Walt Disney World. Is it worth it? Maybe. That depends on your taste and especially your budget. I'm certainly glad I've experienced this resort several times. It was nice to spend a few days in the lap of luxury. But I can't say I'd want the Grand Floridian as a steady diet. Often when I've been on an extended cruise, eating rich food every night, I can't wait to get off of the ship and have a meal at Burger King. That's not to say I didn't enjoy everything about the cruise, but I like variety as well. Disney World has a lot of great and unique places to stay. For me, I enjoy the All Stars, the Grand Floridian, and everything in-between.

For more information about the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, check out the AllEars Fact Sheet by clicking here.

As always, I have created a video of the Grand Floridian Resort. Enjoy.




May 21, 2012

Cast Members Only – A Quiz -- Questions

Jack Spence Masthead


Walt knew he was creating something unique when he was designing Disneyland. Everything about his new park would be groundbreaking - including the nomenclature used within the five realms he was crafting. Disneyland would not be called an amusement park, but rather a theme park. Disneyland would not have rides, it would have attractions.

Walt thought of Disneyland as a giant celebration that he was personally hosting. The people attending this celebration would be considered guests. And the individuals who worked at Disneyland would be the hosts and hostesses that would welcome and entertain these guests.

Since Disneyland was designed as a movie set, he would not be hiring employees, but casting actors into roles. Thus they became cast members as well as hosts and hostesses.

Although this subtlety would be lost on much of his audience, Walt knew it was the details that would make his park stand out among the rest.

This "movie set" nomenclature was continued with the words onstage and backstage. Onstage would be the areas of Disneyland where guests would interact with cast members and be entertained by the show. Backstage would be the areas restricted to cast members only. However, backstage areas needed to be clearly marked so guests wouldn't accidently wander where they didn't belong. Since Disneyland did not have employees, an "Employees Only" sign would never do. Instead, the "Cast Members Only" and the "Host and Hostess Only" signs were created.


Cast Members Only Sign

Host and Hostess Only Sign


As Disneyland, and now the other Disney parks, became more elaborate and detail oriented, the Imagineers decided to start designating backstage areas with signs better themed to the area. For example, you might see a "Critters Only" sign somewhere on Splash Mountain. Yet, the Imagineers knew they had to come up with terms that the guests could not apply to themselves. For example, you cannot have a sign in Fantasyland that says "Prince and Princess Only." Today, there are too many guest/princesses wandering around the park.

In the past, when I've selected a topic related to theming, like my bench, lamppost, and pavement blogs, I've discussed the merits of each photo. However, I really don't have a lot to say about the unique "Cast Member Only" signs I'll be presenting today. For the most part, they speak for themselves and anything I would add would be superfluous. So instead, I've decided to turn this blog into a quiz and make you guess where each sign is located.

All of the signs were found in one of the four Walt Disney World parks. As always with my quizzes, no winners will be announced and no prizes awarded. This is just for your own amusement. So cut yourself some slack when grading yourself tomorrow. If you were able to narrow the sign down to a "land" or "section of the park," that's good enough.

Check back Wednesday for the answers:

(Check back tomorrow for a special blog.)

Enjoy!

A.


Home Team Only Please



B.


Authorized Trek Guides Only



C.


Flight Crew Only



D.


Flight Crew Only



E.


Flight Crew Only



F.


Hotel Staff Only



G.


Servants' Quarters No Entry



H.


Institute Staff Only



I.


Stage Staff Only



J.


Research Staff Only



K.


Kitchen Staff Only



L.


Backstage Personnel Only



M.


Do Not Enter



N.


Train Crew Only



O.


Galactic Federaton Personnel Only



P.


No Admittance



Q.


Human Relations

Human Relations



R.


Camp Councelors



S.


Bakery Staff Only



T.


Shopkeepers Only



U.


Shopkeepers Only



V.


Shipmates Only



W.


Crew Members Only



X.


Hard Hat Area



Y.


Deliveries Only



Z.


Tamafunga Closed




May 22, 2012

New Fantasyland Model

Jack Spence Masthead


As reported last week in a blog under Disney and Central Florida News, a model of the new Fantasyland expansion is now on Display at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the One Man's Dream exhibit. Since I promised you that I'd keep you posted on any new happenings for this much anticipated development, I stopped by and snapped a few pictures. Most of these are close-ups in an effort to give you a better idea of what this new area will look like when completed.

This first picture is of the entire model. The second is the gateway that will greet guest as they leave the older section of Fantasyland for the new and expanded area.


Model of the New Fantasyland


Entrance to New Fantasyland


This next picture is of Belle's cottage and will house the "Enchanted Tales with Belle" story area.


Belle's Cottage


Although somewhat difficult to make out, you can see the pathway leading up to doors that will enter Beast's Castle and the "Be Our Guest Restaurant."


Beast's Castle


In this next picture we see Belle's village. On the left side will be "Gaston's Tavern" and on the right "Bonjour! Village Gifts."


Belle's Village


To the east of "Bonjour! Village Gifts" is Prince Eric's Castle and the entrance to "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid."


Prince Eric's Castle


These next several pictures are of "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train."


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train


Here we have the entrance to Storybook Circus.


Storybook Circus Entrance


In these next to pictures we see "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" and "The Barnstormer."


Dumbo

The Barnstormer


"Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station" can be seen in the following photo. This is located just beyond the roundhouse (restrooms).


Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station


The blue tent will house "Big Top Souvenirs" and the orange tent will be the home of "Pete's Silly Sideshow."


Circus Tents


In a separate display, a detailed model of "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid" is presented.


Journey of the Little Mermaid Model

Journey of the Little Mermaid Model


After seeing these models, I'm all the more excited about the New Fantasyland. Disney has said that the rest of Storybook Circus will be opening sometime in July. The moment I hear the plywood walls have come down, I'll try to be there and snap more pictures for you all.

If you're visiting Disney World this coming summer, be sure to stop by "One Man's Dream" to check out this wonderful model.


May 23, 2012

Cast Members Only – A Quiz -- Answers

Jack Spence Masthead


Here are the answers to the "Cast Members Only" quiz. I found it interesting that I came across the fewest uniquely themed signs in the Magic Kingdom and none at all in the World Showcase section of Epcot. I'm assuming that the lack of interesting signs in the Magic Kingdom has to do with the age of the park. It's possible these signs were not common in the '70's and the practice of theming "Cast Member Only" signs came about in later years.

I suspect I found no unique signs in World Showcase because it would be nearly impossible to come up with a plaque that would allow cast members access backstage yet deny the general public. For example, a sign that read "Canadians Only" would not forbid access to backstage areas to our northern neighbors.

Anyway, here are the answers to the quiz. I hope you did well.



A.

This sign was found at Casey's Corner in the Magic Kingdom.


Home Team Only Please

Casey's Corner



B.

I found this sign in several areas of the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom. However, this particular sign was located near the Harambe Train Station.


Authorized Trek Guides Only

Harambe Train Station



C.

The Imagineers seemed to like the "Flight Crew Only" sign as I found it on three different attractions. However, I felt there was enough difference between them that you could figure out their locations. The first "Flight Crew Only" sign was found at Mission Space in Epcot.


Flight Crew Only

Mission Space



D.

This next "Flight Crew Only" sign was found at the new Star Tours attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Flight Crew Only

Star Tours



E.

The final "Flight Crew Only" sign is part of the Soarin' attraction at Epcot.


Flight Crew Only

Soarin'



F.

This one should have been easy. Yes, there are a few other "hotels" within the parks, but Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios was the obvious choice.


Hotel Staff Only

Tower of Terror



G.

This one should have also been somewhat easy. How many attractions would have servants? This sign was found within the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom.


Servants' Quarters No Entry

Haunted Mansion



H.

The cast members who work at the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot are part of the Imagination Institute.


Institute Staff Only

Imagination Pavilion



I.

Inside the shop of the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster you'll find this sign keeping the Aerosmith audience from venturing backstage.


Stage Staff Only

Rock 'N' Roller Coaster



J.

I actually found two different signs on the Dinosaur attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The second sign read "Funded Research Staff Only" and it did not display the Dino Institute logo.


Research Staff Only

Dinosaur

Funded Research Staff Only



K.

This sign can be found in the outdoor seating area behind the Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I was hoping the Southeast Asian font at the bottom of the plaque would clue you into its location.


Kitchen Staff Only

Yak & Yeti Restaurant



L.

I think it was pretty obvious that this sign was taken at Disney's Hollywood Studios. But the real challenge was to figure out where, within the Studio it can be found. It was taken at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show.


Backstage Personnel Only

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show



M.

This very "official" sign posted by Pork Security can be found all around the Muppet*Vision 3D attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Do Not Enter

Muppet*Vision 3D



N.

There are several trains at Walt Disney World. But this sign can be found near the exit of Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom.


Train Crew Only

Expedition Everest



O.

Once again, I think this one was pretty easy. This sign can be found on a gate leading to the backstage area of Stitch's Great Escape.


Galactic Federaton Personnel Only

Stitch's Great Escape



P.

If you remembered that the Pangani Forest Conservation School and Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom, you might have been able to figure out that this sign can be found on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.


No Admittance

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail



Q.

This one was difficult. If you were able to figure out the reference to Monster's Inc. you would probably think of the Laugh Floor at the Magic Kingdom. But these signs can be found at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the back lot area for a Monster's Inc. photo op.


Human Relations

Human Relations

Monsters Inc. Photo Op



R.

This one was a gimme. Where else could this sign be located other than Camp Minnie-Mickey at Disney's Animal Kingdom.


Camp Councelors

Camp Minnie-Mickey



S.

This sign can be found at the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom.


Bakery Staff Only

Main Street Bakery



T.

This sign really didn't offer too many clues. If you guessed anywhere in the Animal Kingdom, I would give you credit. But to be specific, it was taken inside the shop located in Chester and Hester's Dinorama in the Animal Kingdom.


Shopkeepers Only

Chester and Hester's Dinorama



U.

Although a similar sign as the one above, this one does offer a clue. Once again, the Southeast Asian font should have told you it was located someplace in Asia in the Animal Kingdom. Specifically, this sign can be found on the restrooms located on the pathway to Expedition Everest.


Shopkeepers Only

Asian Restrooms



V.

I can think of several places where this sign might be appropriate, but I found it on a door leading into the kitchen of the Columbia Harbour House at the Magic Kingdom.


Shipmates Only

Columbia Harbour House



W.

I was hoping that the blue coloring of the sign would help you figure out that this plaque can be found at the Sea with Nemo and Friends in Epcot.


Crew Members Only

Sea with Nemo and Friends



X.

These two signs stop guests from entering the backstage area of Test Track at Epcot.


Hard Hat Area

Test Track



Y.

Before Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom was converted to a buffet, this door would be used to enter or exit the restaurant. Now guests are restricted from entering this establishment via this doorway.


Deliveries Only

Tusker House



Z.

This "Closed" sign can be found on an out-of-the way door next to the Ziwani Traders in the Africa section of the Animal Kingdom.


Tamafunga Closed

Ziwani Traders

Ziwani Traders




May 28, 2012

Discovery Island Trails at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Jack Spence Masthead

Before I begin today's blog, I need to bring you up to speed on an incident that occurred last month. After the Animal Kingdom had closed, a small branch (approximately 5 pounds) fell from the Tree of Life. It landed in an uninhabited area and no persons or animals were harmed. As a safety precaution, Disney closed "It's Tough to be a Bug" and the Discovery Island Trails while the experts determined why this happened and check the remaining limbs. "It's Tough to be a Bug" has since reopened and portions of the Discovery Island Trails are once again accessible. However, several of these pathways are being retrofitted with a protective covering.


Protected Pathways


In order to give myself some cushion, I write my blogs 4 to 6 weeks in advance. I photographed and wrote this blog several days before this incident occurred. Because of this, some of the Tree of Life photographic vantage points I discussed may not be available in the future.



In past blogs, I have commented that it frustrates me when I hear people say that the Animal Kingdom is a half-day park. It is only a half-day park if you skip half of the attractions. Some people seem to think that after they've ridden Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Dinosaur, and seen Festival of the Lion King, that nothing else is worthy of their attention. This makes me sad. The Animal Kingdom is about more than rides and shows -- it's about nature and animals. And that's where today's blog comes in.

I suspect that many of you have never experienced the Discovery Island Trails. Now I admit, part of this is Disney's fault. They haven't marked all of these trails with signs. But this was done intentionally. The Imagineers wanted guests to "discover" these hidden areas as if they were out hiking in the real world. They hoped that guests would explore and uncover the magic of the Animal Kingdom.

The first area of exploration can be found at the foot of the bridge that leads from The Oasis to Discovery Island. This area is marked by a sign, which upon first glance, could be mistaken for an old tree stump. But upon further investigation, you'll discover it complements the Tree of Life as it has a number of animals ingeniously carved into its surface. You are now entering the "Tree of Life Garden."


Tree of Life Garden

Tree of Life Garden


The Tree of Life Garden offers some of the best vantage points for photographing the Tree of Life. Kodak agrees and has marked this spot appropriately. Notice the head of the Lady Bug on the Kodak sign is a camera.


Tree of Life

Kodak Sign


Before we go any further, I want to remind everyone, DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS. This includes the native Floridian birds and squirrels that have made the Animal Kingdom their home.


Do Not Feed the Animals


There are a number of animals to discover in this area, the first is the Cotton-Top Tamarin. This cute little primate is native to South America. They are among the smallest of the primates and communicate with chirping sounds, whistles, and high-pitched trilling. Unfortunately, they are highly endangered due to deforestation. It's estimated that only about 6,000 remain in the wild.


Cotton-Top Tamarin


Disney places colorful markers near each animal. These signs identify the creature and provide a few interesting facts about its behavior -- in rhyme. That's right; these informational markers are written in verse. This makes them perfect for a parent to read to a child.


Animal Information Sign


Here is the verse for the Cotton-Top Tamarin:

When we are born,
(We're usually twins),
It's truly a family event.
Our mom keeps us fed,
And dad gives us treats,
Sweet fruit just to
Keep us content.

I'm carried by parents and siblings,
Right from the very first day.
It's part of our family values,
The cotton-top tamarin way.

At the base of the Tree of Life is the home of the West African Crowned Crane. These birds have an unusual method of scavenging for food. As they walk, they pound their feet on the ground. This startles nearby insects, causing them to jump into the air. The crane then catches the bugs before they fall back to earth.


West African Crowned Crane


Also in this same area is the White Stork. This migratory bird travels between Europe and Africa, but avoids flying over the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, it opts for a route over the Straits of Gibraltar. When returning to Europe, they seek out the same nest year after year.


White Stork


As we leave the Tree of Life Garden and travel up the pathway leading to Africa, we come to a nicely shaded area. This is the spot to view the Lesser Flamingo. Found primarily in Southern Africa and parts of Southern Asia, the Lesser Flamingo number in the millions and is the smallest of all the flamingo species. Their pink color comes from the carotene in the shrimp they eat.


Flamingo View Area

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo


A little further up the walkway is one of my favorite animal viewing spots. It is at this location that you can see the Asian Small-Clawed Otter. There are actually two viewing spots to observe these cute animals. One is located outside where you can watch them romp on their island and swim above water. The other viewing area is found within a cave and offers views of the otters swimming underwater.


Otter Viewing Area

Otter Viewing Area


The Animal Kingdom is home to two Asian Small-Clawed Otters who happen to be brother and sister. These animals hunt by detecting movement in the water with their whiskers. Besides eating fish, they dine on crustaceans, mollusks, and amphibians.


Asian Small-Clawed Otters

Asian Small-Clawed Otters


Four times a day, a trainer enters the otter enclosure and encourages them to perform rudimentary tasks. This is the perfect time to get some great pictures. The training times are not posted so if you're interested in seeing one of these sessions, check with guest relations for the current schedule.


Otter Training


As we venture further up the path toward Africa, we come to the first of two nearly hidden pathway entrances. It is located on the right side of the walkway (closest to the Tree of Life) and is recognizable as this is a wide spot in the road and populated with a few tables and chairs. Occasionally, Flik and Princess Atta from the movie "A Bug's Life" can be seen in this area posing for pictures.


Discovery Trail Entrance

Discovery Trail Entrance


At the beginning of this trail, a Paroon Shark-Catfish can be spotted on the left side of the walkway. This fish is native to Southeast Asia and are so named because of the dorsal fin on its back. They can grow to six feet in length and weigh as much as 650 pounds.


Paroon Shark-Catfish


This path doesn't offer many animal viewing spots, but it does wind its way around the Tree of Life and through some beautifully landscaped gardens. There are a number of benches along this path where you can stop, relax, and soak in the surroundings.


Discovery Trail

Discovery Trail

Discovery Trail

Discovery Trail

Discovery Trail


This path also travels beneath the boughs of the Tree of Life and presents a number of great photo opportunities. I have found that close-up shots of the carvings can be especially interesting.


Tree of Life

Dragon Fly

Seahorse

Squirrel

Ant


One of the animals that can be found along this pathway is the Red Kangaroo. Native to Australia, the Red Kangaroo is the largest surviving marsupial and the biggest indigenous Australian mammal. Although controversial, the kangaroo is harvested for their skins and meat. Kangaroo meat is very lean with only about 2% fat.


Red Kangaroo


The far end of this trail deposits you near the entrance to the "It's Tough to be a Bug" attraction. But before we discuss this show, we're going to retrace our steps and head back toward Africa.

The second Discovery Island trail is equally difficult to find. It is located just south of the bridge that leads into Africa and once again, can be recognized as a wide spot in the road.


Trail Entrance


The first animal we encounter along this trail is the Saddle-billed Stork. These birds make their home in sub-Saharan Africa and are the tallest of all the stork species (although not the heaviest). I was intrigued to learn that the males and females can be differentiated by their eye color. Male Saddle-billed Storks have brown eyes while the females have yellow.


Saddle-billed Stork

Saddle-billed Stork - Male

Saddle-billed Stork - Female


Located nearby is the Painted Stork who lives along the swampy shores of Discovery River. This bird gets its name from its pink tail feathers. Found in India and Southeast Asia, the Painted Stork is very social and will often intermingle their nests with those of cormorants, ibises, spoonbills, and herons.


Painted Stork


Still in the same vicinity is the African Crested Porcupine. This member of the rodent family uses its quills as its defense. When threatened, the porcupine will charge its attacker, rear-end first, trying to stab him with his quills. These attacks have been known to kill lions, leopards, hyenas, and even humans. The African Crested Porcupine is nocturnal, so if you happen to see him during your journeys through the Discovery Island Trails, consider yourself lucky.


African Crested Porcupine


Further along this trail we come to a viewing area for the Nene Goose and the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.


Animal Viewing Area


The Nene Goose (pronounced ney-ney) is the state bird of Hawaii and makes its nest within the crevasses of lava rock. The Nene evolved from the Canada Goose which is believed to have migrated to the Hawaiian Islands 500,000 years ago, shortly after the island of Hawaiʻi was formed.


Nene Goose


The Giant Galapagos Tortoise is the largest species of the tortoise family and can weigh up to 800 pounds. In the wild, these predator-free animals can live over 100 years. In captivity, one such tortoise lived 170 years.


Giant Galapagos Tortoise


As we continue along our trail, we come to a large waterfall. Its mist is especially refreshing during the summer months.


Waterfall


This is another good spot to take some close-up pictures of the animals carved into the Tree of Life.


Orangutan

Lion

Monkey

Owl

Turkey


It's at this point the trail joins in with the exit route of the "It's Tough to be a Bug" attraction. If you reach this area as the show is letting out, stand back and wait for the crowd to clear. Although there are no animal lookouts on this remaining portion of the trail, it is beautifully landscaped and if you're mixed in with the departing throngs, you'll miss much of this area.



Near the end of the trail is an offshoot pathway. It is marked by a sign that reads "MEET THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW" and refers to the bugs seen in the "It's Tough to be a Bug" attraction. At the end of this secondary path is a secluded area where a cast member will spend some one-on-one time with you discussing various insects.


MEET THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW

MEET THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW

MEET THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW

MEET THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW


This area opens at 10am and highlights a number of bugs throughout the day. When I visited, a tarantula and giant cockroach were on display. William was manning this post and he spent several minutes talking with us about these two insects and helped us understand the role they play in nature. He also discussed several of the "no longer active" insects on display.


Giant Cockroach

Tarantula

Display Bug


For those of you squeamish about bugs, don't worry. They are enclosed in special cages for their safety and yours.

The insects only spend about two hours in the display area before they are taken backstage and replaced with new species. The insects are delicate and extended observation time can be stressful for them. During their time in the public, ice packs are placed under their cages (on hot days) and the temperature of their enclosures is constantly monitored.


Bug Enclosure


Another display in this area is giant insect heads. Kids can place their faces inside these heads and look through the creature's compound eyes and get a good idea of how a bug sees the world.


Bug Head

Bug Head


To help children get more out of the Animal Kingdom, Disney has created the Kid's Discovery Club. Within each "land" of the park are Activity Stations where kids are introduced to educational games and fascinating encounters. These locations are marked with a "K" on the park guide maps. The Bug Encounter mentioned above is the Discovery Island location.

After finishing their first activity, children will be given a membership card with that location stamped. As they visit other Activity Stations, they receive additional stamps. Once they collect all 6 stamps, they can receive a special bonus for completing all the activities. This is a great way to get kids involved in the Animal Kingdom and it makes learning fun.


Kid's Discovery Club

Kid's Discovery Club


As we continue our clockwise circle around the Tree of Life there are several other inlets and short pathways that offer animal encounters. One of these features the Ring-Tailed Lemur. This little guy is native to Madagascar. His species is highly social with females being the dominate sex. The Ring-Tailed Lemur is extremely intelligent and can understand basic arithmetic operations and tools based on function.


Ring-Tailed Lemur


The Lappet-Faced Vulture is native to Africa. Like many other species of vultures, this variety has a bald head. This is because its head would get bloody while eating and it would be difficult to keep clean.


DIT%20063.jpg


Continuing on, we reach the entrance to the "It's Tough to be a Bug" attraction. This show recently discontinued FastPass and the ticket distribution machines have been removed. This area is now used as a character meet-and-greet spot. Currently appearing are Russell and Dug from the Disney/Pixar movie "Up."


Russell and Dug


I have only mentioned about half of the animals that can be discovered around the Tree of life. Here is a somewhat complete list of all the creatures awaiting your attention in this area:

Abdim's Stork
African Comb Duck
Agouti
Asian Small-clawed Otter
Axis Deer
Blue & Yellow Macaw
Cape Teal
Capybara
Demoiselle Crane
East African Crowned Crane
European Polecat
Eyton's Whistling Duck
Galapagos Tortoise
Greater Flamingo
Green-winged Macaw
Hadada Ibis
Red Kangaroo
Ring-tailed Lemur
Saddle-billed Stork
Salmon-crested Cockatoo
Silver Teal
White Stork
White-faced Whistling Duck
Woolynecked Stork
Wood Stork

I know I can be a harpy on this subject, but the Animal Kingdom is definitely a place to slow down and smell the roses. I spent almost three hours along the Discovery Island Trails researching this blog and taking pictures. Now I realize, no casual visitor would ever spend this much time in this area. But I do think it's possible to spend the better part of an hour viewing the animals and talking with cast members in this area.

When I was photographing the Giant Galapagos Tortoise, one family approached the area in a straggled manner. Dad was the first to see the tortoise and said to the group, "Hey everyone, come look at the giant turtle." Everyone ran over, uttered a few "wows" and "cool" then they were on their way in less than 30 seconds. Somehow I imagine that they won't even remember this encounter once they return home.

Expedition Everest is a fantastic, not-to-be-missed attraction! But so are the animals. Once you discover the animals of the Animal Kingdom, you'll learn that this is definitely NOT a half-day park.

Next week I'll be discussing the Tree of Life and the "It's Tough to be a Bug" attraction.



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About May 2012

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in May 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2012 is the previous archive.

June 2012 is the next archive.

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