Page 3 of 5

March 24, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part Three of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


Last Thursday I discussed the architecture of the Agrabah section of Adventureland and The Flying Carpets of Aladdin, the Sunshine Tree Terrace, tiki gods, and why Pirates of the Caribbean was added to the Magic Kingdom as an afterthought. Today I'll continue where I left off.

I have never written an article about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and I probably never will. The topic is just too large to cover in a two or three-part blog. In fact, an entire book has been written on this subject. If you're interested in a detailed history of this attraction, check out Amazon and look for “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” by Jason Surrell. I have this book and it is very interesting and chock-full of wonderful information and illustrations. Although I won't be writing about the attraction and its history here, I would still like to point out a few interesting facts found in this area.

The structure that houses Pirates is called Castillo del Morro. The Imagineers based many elements of this fortress on Castillo de San Felipe del Morro located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior

Pirates of the Caribbean Exterior


The clock tower is named Torre del Cielo. This means Tower of the Sky. It is styled after a Caribbean-style watchtower that guarded many island harbors.


Torre del Cielo

Torre del Cielo


If you remember your Disneyland history, you know that an AudioAnimatronics barker bird was placed near the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room when the attraction first opened to help draw guests inside.


Tiki Room Barker Bird


The Imagineers did the same thing with Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. Here, they placed a peg-legged, tattoo sporting parrot near the ride's entrance to help lure guests onto the ride. With “"Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)” playing in the background, this salty ol' mate said such things as:

Heave to, maties! There be long boats waiting down by Pirates Cove (whistle) ... waitin' to take ya to the Spanish Main! (squawk) Right this way! Through the arches and down past the dungeons, in the old fortress. (whistle) We sail with the tide, sail with the tide! (squawk) Don't miss the boat, maties!

If you be seeking adventure and salty old pirates, (squawks) salty old pirates, salty old pirates! (whistles) We pillage and plunder! Rifle and loot! Yo ho, me hearties, yo ho! (squawks and whistles)”


Pirates of the Caribbean Barker Bird

Pirates of the Caribbean Barker Bird


Alas, the barker parrot was removed in 2006 and moved to the “Boys Apparel and Toy” section of the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. But a more recent remodeling of this shop has seen him disappear completely.

At the same time they removed the parrot, the Imagineers also did away with the original attraction sign and replaced it with a ship's mast and crow's nest. Stationed high above is a skeleton with spyglass, checking on all those who dare to enter his lair.


Old Pirate Exterior

New Pirate Exterior

Crow's Nest


Another fixture that was removed were two pedestals with ornamental brass plates, advertising the attraction.


Pirate Sign

Pirate Sign


Even though the basic Pirate attraction was scaled down from the original at Disneyland (Disneyland 15:30 minutes / Magic Kingdom 8:30 minutes), the Magic Kingdom's version had by far the superior queue. In fact, at the time, it was the most elaborate queue ever imagined for a Disney attraction.


Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue

Pirate Queue


The queue is two sided and the sites and props are different depending on which one you enter. One bit of Disney trivia can be found on the right side. Through one of the dungeon cell windows are two skeletons playing a game of chess. Legend has it that Marc Davis carefully arranged the pieces so that any move would result in a stalemate. As neither proud player would admit to a tie, they died playing the game and are here to this day. Sometime in the 1990's, the attraction received a major refurbishment and the chess pieces were moved " and no one knew how to correctly replace them. Then, as luck would have it, someone found some of Marc's original sketches and the game was restored.


Chess Game

AdventureMarc Davis Diagram


This story has its share of doubters. I browsed one website were an individual had taken numerous photographs of the cellmates, month after month, year after year. The chess pieces were forever moving as janitorial and other influences disturbed them. If this story was really true, why weren't the pieces glued to the board?

On another site, someone knowledgeable of chess claims that the “correct” placement does not end in a stalemate. They also state that the “correct” placement of the pieces would be impossible to achieve in a true chess match.

I have no idea what is and isn't true here, but it is a wonderful Disney legend none the less.

As with so many Disney attractions, guests exit Pirates of the Caribbean through a shop. Naturally, a wide array of pirate merchandise is available. And with the arrival of the Pirate movie franchise, even more goodies are here to tempt your children.


Pirate Shop

Pirate Shop


Next door to this shop is Pirates League. This is the male version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Here, boys and men (and girls and women) can receive a buccaneer makeover. I received a new persona when this spot opened in spring, 2009. To learn more about my experience and this shop, click here.


Pirates League

Pirates League


After exiting the shop, take a look around. Next to Castillo del Morro, the Imagineers have created a seaport town reminiscent of the British and Spanish colonies of the 17th and 18th century West Indies.


Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol


Across Plaza del Sol is the only establishment where guests can purchase a full meal in Adventureland. Originally called El Pirata Y el Perico (The Pirate and the Parrot), this spot was recently renamed Tortuga Tavern to tie it into the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Notice how the exterior of this building looks like multiple businesses, with the main entrance resembling a tavern where pirates might have enjoyed a glass of grub and grog.


Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern


Tortuga Tavern is a counter service restaurant that sells Americanized Mexican food. A nearby topping bar allows guest to create their own taco salads and embellish other items. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. This restaurant is open seasonally. To see their menu, click here.


Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern


Hanging near the food ordering station is a sign announcing the Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct. After each “official” rule is a handwritten addendum. As I know most of you will never read this sign while visiting Adventureland, I will post the rules here.


Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct


Every man has equal title to fresh provisions " iffin he has the gold

Ye fair ladies shall be treated in a favorable manner " wenches be not fair ladies

A witness shall be present for gaming at cards or dice " Short Drop and Sudden Stop for cheatin scallywags

Duels by cutlass or pistol shall be taken outside with witness " ye witness must have one good eye

Damages unto an establishment shall be paid in gold, doubloons, or pieces of eight " parrots be not legal tender " ye be warned


As you might know, the Imagineers like to pay homage to old attractions and facilities when they are replaced by something new. Tortuga Tavern continues this tradition. In the rafters you'll find the old El Pirata Y el Perico keg that once was the marquee for this establishment.


El Pirata Y el Perico keg


There is an interior walkway that connects the Tortuga Tavern dining room with the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café dining room, however, it is not always open. When it is, it makes searching for a table a little easier on busy days.

Next to Tortuga Tavern is La Fuente de la Fortuna (The Fountain of Fortune). This represents the town's well where families fetched their daily bucket of water and gossiped with their neighbors. Today, the fountain seems to be a little overgrown.


La Fuente de la Fortuna


Next to the fountain is the Plaza del Sol Stage. Several times a day, Jack Sparrow and his first mate entertain guests with their antics in a show titled “Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.”


Plaza del Sol Stage

First Mate

Jack Sparrow


Once the show gets underway, Jack selects four children from the audience where he will teach them the “Jack Sparrow” technique of swordsmanship.


Pirate Tutorial

Pirate Tutorial

Pirate Tutorial


When the swordplay concludes, Jack selects about 20 more children from the audience to come up on stage. They are all given scrolls and then they must swear their allegiance to Jack and the pirate way of life.


Pirate Tutorial


During the 20 minute performance, a Disney photographer is on hand to capture the moments. When the show ends, she hands out PhotoPasses to all that wish them.


Disney photographer


Although adults will appreciate some of Jack's jokes, this show is more aimed at children. If your child wishes to be picked as one of the four swordsmen, then I suggest arriving a few minutes before the performance. It seems that children standing in the front row have the best chance of being selected. Check your Times Guide for times.

The Imagineers purposely chose Spanish influenced architecture for this section of Adventureland. This helps provide a seamless transition between this part of the park and the Spanish influence American West of adjoining Frontierland.

Technically, this arch represents the end of Adventureland and the beginning of Frontierland, but there is one more Adventureland attraction on the other side.


Adventureland/Frontierland Arch


For years, a shop called “The Crow's Nest” was located in a small, standalone building just beyond the arch. It sold Kodak film and assorted souvenirs.


The Crow's Nest


After Kodak ended its Disney sponsorship, this shop was converted into a new attraction, “A Pirate's Adventure " Treasures of the Seven Seas.”


A Pirate's Adventure ��

A Pirate's Adventure ��


“A Pirate's Adventure” is similar in concept to “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” on Main Street and “Phineas and Ferb” at Epcot, except this game is confined within Adventureland.

Guests enter this building and discover they're in a map room. The walls are covered with maps, charts, and navigation tools. A cast member instructs one person of your party to place their wristband or admission ticket on a starfish design found on one of the maps. This action will select one of five treasure maps for you to follow.


Map Room

Map Room

Map Room


Each map contains four to six treasure locations. Each location is marked by a special emblem. Some of these are a skull & crossbones, a parrot, a snake, palm trees, and a cannon. After reaching your first location, you tap your wristband or ticket on the emblem. This activates some activity or voice, giving you clues to the next location to visit. Some of these clues are vocal instructions, but others feature simple AudioAnimatronics. You might see a parrot talk, skeletons appear from beneath the water, or a treasure chest open wide.


A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure

A Pirate's Adventure


When you have found all of the treasure on your map, you can go back to the starting point for another hunt until you've completed all five adventures. It takes about 15 minutes to complete one treasure search.

Beneath the Adventureland/Frontierland arch, several businesses have set up shop. One of these is Arribas Brothers. These enterprising fellows sell crystal works of art and jewelry. Across the way, another merchant sells hand-crafted rings. Here you can have you name or initials carved into brass, sterling silver, and gold.


Arribas Brothers

Ring Cutter

Ring Cutter


This winds up my look at Adventureland. As you can see, there is a lot to offer in this section of the Magic Kingdom. Walt's original idea for a jungle cruise based on his True Life Adventure films sparked quiet an elaborate undertaking. So next time you visit Adventureland, slow down and smell the roses. Try to walk to Pirates of the Caribbean, not run, and notice some of what I've pointed out here.


March 20, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part Two of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


In Part One of this article I discussed the history of Adventureland, the entrance into this exotic land, the Adventureland Verandah restaurant, and Aloha Isle, home of the Dole whip. Today I'm going to continue my journey through this colorful area of the Magic Kingdom.

The Swiss Family Treehouse was an opening day Magic Kingdom attraction. Although it is skipped by many, others consider it a “must see” on every visit. This simple walk-thru attraction can also be found at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland offer a similar attraction with Tarzan's Treehouse. Since I have written an entire article on the Swiss Family Treehouse in the past, I will not be covering it here. To find out more about this Disneyodendron eximus (out-of-the-ordinary Disney tree), click here.


Swiss Family Treehouse


One of the busiest set of restrooms at the Magic Kingdom can be found in the breezeway that connects Adventureland with Frontierland. Recently updated and expanded, these facilities are convenient to most of the nearby attractions. In addition, the breezeway is one of the best areas for those waiting for friends and family to finish their business. Even on the hottest days, it's usually somewhat comfortable inside this corridor.


Adventureland Restrooms

Adventureland Restrooms


To the east of this breezeway, the buildings have a tropical feel (as seen in Part One of this article). To the west they take on an arid quality that might suggest Northern Africa.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Inside these buildings are Island Supply Imports and Zanzibar Trading Company. These convincingly themed shops carry a wide variety of tropical and explorer-style clothing. And unlike so many other shops, you can also find a decent selection of non-Disney merchandise. Of course, the typical souvenirs are also available.


Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops


As we continue exploring the north side of Adventureland, the buildings take on a distinctive Middle Eastern look. Merchants have set up colorful tents to tempt the passing caravans.


Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops

Adventureland Shops


Elephant Tales can be found beneath these canopies. Besides more Disney souvenirs, this shop offers exotic items like drums, bamboo wind chines, and rubber snakes.


Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales

Elephant Tales


When browsing any of the Adventureland shops, be sure to look up and notice the ceilings. Just like everything else, they are themed appropriately.


Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings

Adventureland Shop Ceilings


Next to Elephant Tales is Agrabah Bazaar. This is a meet-&-greet site for Aladdin and Jasmine.


Agrabah Bazaar

Agrabah Bazaar


While in this area, be sure to look at the ground. Jewels, tiles, and coins can be found imbedded into the pavement.


Adventureland Pavement

Adventureland Pavement

Adventureland Pavement


And while you're looking down, don't forget to look up again. There is an abundance of details to be seen on the second stories and roofs.


Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs

Adventureland Second Floors and Roofs


Of course, this section of Adventureland didn't always look like this. Before 2001, this area had a completely different feel -- a feel more of Africa than Agrabah. In fact, if you look closely at the third picture below, you just might be able to make out the word “LION” as in “LION KING.”


Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland

Early Adventureland


On May 24, 2001, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin opened. With this new attraction came a re-theming of the surrounding buildings. Now the mysterious Middle East would be included in this land of adventure.


The Magic Carpets of Aladdin


Although the courtyard here was large, it wasn't quite large enough to hold this new attraction. A sizable planter and tree needed to be removed and part of the rockwork lining the Tiki Room had to be repositioned before construction could begin. Although I applaud the decision to add a new attraction into Adventureland, the area is now tight and very congested on busy days.


Tiki Room Remodel


Based on the 1992 film “Aladdin,” The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is a ride similar in design to Dumbo. Here, a rotating center pylon supports 16 flying carpets, each capable of holding four guests. The front seat features a joystick that controls the height of the carpet and the backseat has a lever that regulates the forward and backward pitch. The ride lasts approximately ninety seconds. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin opened on May 24, 2001 and was recently added to the FastPass+ roster of attractions.


The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin


Positioned around the attraction are two spitting camels. One aims for passing pedestrians while the other targets those flying by. Don't worry. The camels are smart enough to stop their mischievous ways when the weather is cool.


Spitting Camel

Spitting Camel

Spitting Camel


Check out this two minute video of the Flying Carpets of Aladdin.



Across from The Flying Carpets of Aladdin is a unique outdoor-foods cart. This one sells both pork and vegetable eggrolls (and corn dogs). The eggrolls taste pretty good and are definitely a change from so much of the other quick service food found around the park.


Outdoor Food Cart

Egg Rolls


Further down the pathway we come across six tiki gods designed by Disney Legend Marc Davis. When originally installed, these humorous fellows were simply a show piece with no water feature. However, rain, humidity, and human contact took their toll on these wooden fellows and eventually they needed to be replaced.

Within WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering) is a program called SQS (Show Quality Standards). It is these operating standards that insure that any replacement, change, or addition made within the parks is consistent with the original design intent.

When it came time to replace these tikis, the Imagineers knew they wanted to retain the humor Marc Davis was going for when he created them years earlier. However, the Imagineers also knew they wanted to “plus” the exhibit. Working with Park Operations and SQS, they crafted new tikis out of more durable fiberglass. They also enhanced the tikis with the ability to create a steamy backdrop and squirt passersby with streams of water.

If you look closely at the first two pictures below, you can see a few differences. The first picture depicts how the exhibit looks today. The second shows how it looked a number of years ago. Notice the color difference. Also notice that the first picture has a drain hole for the water while the second does not.


Tiki Gods

Tiki Gods

Tiki Gods


The tikis offer another wonderful photo opportunity. By the way, that's a much younger me in the second picture.

These tiki gods act as a tie-in to Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room which is located just across the walkway. They were/are a transition from the African/Middle Eastern backdrop of the plaza area to the more tropical environment of birds, flowers, and more tikis found in the nearby attraction.

At Disneyland, the Tiki Room was tucked into a small space just past the Adventureland entrance. Considering it was the first real Audio-Animatronics attraction, its location was rather uninspiring. When it came time to build the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers wanted to give this attraction the exterior façade it deserved. To that end, an eight-story pagoda was created to anchor the show. In addition, the exterior walls were ornately decorated with a South Pacific tribal motif.


Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior

Tiki Room Exterior


The finials on the roof of the Tiki Room are another great example of Disney detailing. Since they would be seen from both Adventureland and Frontierland, they had to be appropriate for both locales. But how do you make the South Pacific blend with the American West? By placing water buffalos on the roof peaks. From Adventureland, they fit in perfectly. And in Frontierland, where they are only seen from a distance, they resemble longhorn steer. The first two pictures were taken from Adventureland, the next two from Frontierland.


Water Buffalos

Water Buffalos

Water Buffalos.jpg

Water Buffalos


Since I have already written an extensive article about the Tiki Room, I will not be discussing it in detail here. To read this piece, click here.

Next to the Tiki Room is the Sunshine Tree Terrace. This is a wonderful place to grab a bite to eat and a refreshing drink. Their specialty is the Citrus Swirl (orange slush with vanilla soft-serve ice cream). It's kind of the “orange” version of a Dole Whip. To see their full menu, click here.


Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace


Located next to this establishment are a few tables and chairs. Note, this is a popular place and finding a vacancy here can be tricky. While enjoying your Citrus Swirl, be sure to look around and notice some of the detailing. Some of it is rather macabre.


Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace


You might also notice a cute little bird perched above the restaurant's main sign. This is the Little Orange Bird and it pays homage to some of Adventureland's early history.


Orange Bird


In 1970, WED Enterprises created the Orange Bird character to serve as the Florida Citrus Growers' mascot at the park and in other promotional advertisements. The Orange Bird could often be seen at the Sunshine Tree Terrace greeting guests and posing for pictures. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song about our feathered friend and Anita Bryant recorded it.


Orange Bird

Orange Bird


Notice in the above picture, the Orange Bird is standing where The Magic Carpets of Aladdin sits today.

Florida Citrus Growers ended their sponsorship in 1986 and the Orange Bird slipped into Disney history. However, this character had a resurgence at Tokyo Disneyland in 2004 to coincide with Japan's annual Orange Day celebration held on April 14th.

To help recognize Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary in 2011, the Orange Bird was brought back in a small way at Sunshine Tree Pavilion with souvenir Orange Bird cups. Other new merchandise can be found in the nearby shops.


Orange Bird Cup


Next to Sunshine Tree Terrace is a cut through to Frontierland. This can be a handy route in which to traverse between the two lands.


Walkway to Frontierland


Behind the Marc Davis tikis is a large expanse. This is another example of the Imagineers greatly increasing the Magic Kingdom's version of Adventureland as compared to the original Disneyland edition.


Jungle Cruise Expanse


Some of you might have noticed a small shack in this area. Called “The Oasis,” this stand sold soft drinks and sandwiches in the early years of Adventureland.


The Oasis

The Oasis


Behind this shack is a body of water. This “river” was originally used by the Swan Boats as they circled Swiss Family Treehouse on their way back to the Hub. Years later, this waterway was cordoned off and Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats was installed.

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats allowed wannabe skippers the ability to pilot miniature boats via radio controlled remote controls. Captains would pilot their boats through a number of obstacles and of course, try to ram other boats while in the process. This attraction was not included in the basic admission price and required additional funds to play.


Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats


Several years ago, Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats was closed and removed. It was a tired attraction and Disney needed this space for stroller parking. If you look around, you can see the original signpost for Shrunken Ned's, minus the lettering.


Stroller Parking

Former Shrunken Ned's Sign


To the west of this waterway is one of the most famous of all Disney attractions, the Jungle Cruise.


Jungle Cruise Entrance


The Jungle Cruise is a very popular attraction. However, in the morning, most guests skip it for the more popular “Mountains of the Magic Kingdom.” This attraction is usually a “walk on” for the first 30-45 minutes after park opening.

Like the Swiss Family Treehouse and the Tiki Room, I have already written about the Jungle Cruise in detail. To check it out, click here.

Note, the old FastPass distribution area near the entrance to the Jungle Cruise has been converted into a FastPass+ distribution area.

Leaving the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room, we stroll down a long walkway towards Pirates of the Caribbean. Because of the proliferation of strollers over the years, Disney has had to dedicate a large section of this area to their parking. If you want to capture a picture of this section of Adventureland without strollers, you need to do it first thing in the morning.


Stroller Parking

Stroller Parking


Next to the stroller parking is another yummy outdoor food cart. This one sells cinnamon glazed almonds. They're delicious.


Outdoor Food Cart

Cinnamon Glazed Almonds


Pirates of the Caribbean was never intended to be a Magic Kingdom attraction. The powers-that-be felt that Orlando's proximity to the real Caribbean would lessen the appeal of this Disneyland classic. Instead, the Imagineers wanted to build Western River Expedition, an “E” ticket attraction to be located in Frontierland.

This next picture is an excerpt from the first souvenir map sold of the Magic Kingdom. As you can see, there is nothing in the area that would someday be occupied by Pirates of the Caribbean.


First Magic Kingdom Map


Western River Expedition would have been similar in scope and design to Pirates of the Caribbean. But instead of featuring swashbucklers, it would showcase cowboys and Indians in numerous comical scenes, many designed by Marc Davis. Guests would ride in boats through the American West and encounter a brand new set of characters unique to the Magic Kingdom. The attraction would have been part of a huge complex to be known as Thunder Mesa. Western River Expedition would have been located at ground level and Big Thunder Mountain would sit on top. However, things didn't work out that way.


Western River Expedition

Western River Expedition


From day one, Guest Relations was inundated with complaints about the omission of Pirates of the Caribbean. When it became obvious that these negative comments weren't going to subside, Card Walker (Disney CEO) decided to put the Thunder Mesa complex on hold and build a scaled down version of the California Pirate attraction in Adventureland. Plans were hastily drawn up and within six months of the Magic Kingdom opening, the announcement was made that Pirates of the Caribbean was coming to Walt Disney World. To help spread the news, the cast members working in City Hall started wearing buttons that said, “The Pirates Are Coming! Christmas 1973!" And sure enough, they opened just in time, December 15, 1973.


Pirates of the Caribbean


That's it for Part Two. Check back Monday for Part Three.


March 17, 2014

Magic Kingdom's Adventureland - Part One of Three

Jack Spence Masthead


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Adventureland had been located on the east side of the Magic Kingdom? To walk the length of Main Street and then turn right if you wanted to ride on the Jungle Cruise. There was no reason the Imagineers couldn't have done this. After all, the Walt Disney World property was all virgin land. The planners could have arranged things pretty much anyway they wanted. Given this scenario, perhaps the Polynesian Resort would sit where the Contemporary now stands to add a tropical background to this exotic land. Well, this possibility isn't as farfetched as you might think. It could have happened. As we know, the Imagineers used Disneyland's basic layout when planning the Magic Kingdom.

But you're saying to yourself, Disneyland's Adventureland is located in approximately the same vicinity to the Hub as the Magic Kingdom's version of this land " on the west side of the park. But this almost wasn't the case. The concepts for Disneyland's Adventureland began their existence on the east side of the park. This can be seen in an early Herb Ryman sketch and a Marvin Davis map. If you could actually read these maps, you would see that “True Life Adventures” (what would become Adventureland) is to the right of the Hub, approximately where Space Mountain and the Autopia sit today. Circus Land was slotted to be where the Jungle Cruise would eventually be located.


Disneyland Concept Map

Disneyland Concept Map


So why did the Imagineers change their minds and move this land? Two reasons: space and a stand of eucalyptus trees.

As ideas for “True Life Adventures” increased, it was realized that Adventureland would need more space to hold all of Walt's ideas. The Ryman sketch had this exotic land squeezed between “World of Tomorrow” and Main Street. This area was far too confining.

After the property for Disneyland was purchased, planners found a windbreak of giant eucalyptus trees that had been planted around the turn of the century. Ironically, these trees helped determine the location of Main Street as it was decided that they would make a nice backdrop behind City Hall and help delineate between “civilization” and the “jungles of the world.” Thus, Adventureland was moved to its current location on the west side of the park.


Disneyland City Hall


These eucalyptus trees still stand today.


Disneyland City Hall


One of the original ideas for the Jungle Cruise had guests traveling down only one river, the Suwannee if Africa. But Harper Goff knew that the attraction needed more variety and pitched the idea of a skipper taking guests down a collection of exotic rivers found all over the globe. The working name for this attraction was “Tropical Rivers of the World.” This proposal transformed Adventureland into a non-specific location. During the design phase of Adventureland, Walt said:

“The spirit of adventure is often linked with exotic tropic places. To create a land which would make this dream reality, we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa. The result is Adventureland, ‘the wonderland of nature's own design.'”

The vast majority of the land set aside for Adventureland was taken up by a single attraction, the Jungle Cruise. This left very little pedestrian space to convey the vast exotic locales Walt wanted guests to experience. All Adventureland really consisted of was a narrow walkway that led from the Hub to Frontierland (now New Orleans Square). There was very little space in which to excite your senses. The Swiss Family Treehouse and the Safari Shooting Gallery didn't' open until 1962 and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room didn't debut until the following year. Even today, Adventureland's main thoroughfare is a very confining area.


Disneyland's Adventureland

Disneyland's Adventureland


When planning the Magic Kingdom's version of Adventureland, the Imagineers wanted to correct this shortcoming and create an area that allowed guests to be immersed in the faraway lands that most of us only dream of experiencing. To that end, they created a much larger pedestrian expanse where visitors can be totally immersed in their surroundings.

The Crystal Palace acts as the transition piece that ties Main Street and Adventureland together. Based on the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, New York's Crystal Palace, and Kew Gardens in England, this Victorian structure helps visitors prepare for the colonial architecture they're about to experience around the next corner.


Crystal Palace


The main entrance into Adventureland is via a wooden bridge radiating off of the Hub. Up until a few years ago, this bridge was arched to allow the Swan Boats (1972-1983) to pass beneath. The bridge's wooden planks were also ribbed to reduce guests slipping when the walkway was wet. This made for a noisy and difficult journey for those in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. However, when age dictated that the bridge be completely rebuilt, this arch was removed and the ribbing eliminated. This created a level walking surface with no annoying obstructions. Now it is a much easier journey into Adventureland.

If you look at these next two pictures carefully, you can see the rise in the bridge in the first picture and the flattened surface in the second. It's more obvious if you look at the railing.


Adventureland Entrance

Adventureland Entrance


But before you get to this bridge, the entrance to Adventureland has another welcoming landmark. To the right of the pathway is a planter made out of volcanic rock. This is a wonderful spot to pose group pictures. And just like the bridge, this planter has gone through a few changes over the years.

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the planter sported a prominent “Adventureland” sign. In subsequent years, the sign was moved to a less obvious position at the back of the planter and several tiki poles were added. Today, the sign is gone completely.


Adventureland Entrance Planter

Adventureland Entrance Planter

Adventureland Entrance Planter


The Adventureland entrance arch has also undergone a few changes. The current incarnation (third picture) features a more sinister look with a large collection of spears and the addition of human skulls.


Adventureland Entrance Arch

Adventureland Entrance Arch

Adventureland Entrance Arch


As you enter Adventureland, you'll find Bwana Bob's to the left. This outdoor shop sells a few Adventureland-themed items, but mostly generic Disney souvenirs. Bottled water is also available.


Bwana Bob's


Across from Bwana Bob's is a lovely covered patio. This area has been used as a meet-&-greet area in the past, but currently this space offers a FastPast+ distribution point.


FastPast+ distribution point

FastPast+ distribution point

FastPast+ distribution point


Next to this patio is “Tinker Bell's Magical Nook.” This is the spot to meet Tink and some of her fairy friends.


Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook


Inside these doors guests wait in a switchback line until it's their turn to enter the magical world of fairies. Usually on hand are two of these enchanted creatures and families are given ample time with both to pose for photos. As always, a Disney photographer is on hand and can take pictures with either their camera or your own. This meet-&-greet area often has a long line. If this venue is on your kids' bucket list, arrive early.


Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook

Tinker Bell's Magical Nook


Thematically, Tinker Bell's Magical Nook has no business being in Adventureland. What do fairies have to do with the “adventurous” climes of the world? This attraction belongs in Fantasyland. However, Disney had an unused building going to waste and decided to fill it with a popular commodity.

So why is this building hear? In the early years, this space was occupied by a counter-service restaurant called Adventureland Verandah. It featured indoor and outdoor seating, the outdoor being on a “verandah” that overlooked the Swan Boats as they passed by. Much of this verandah has since been boarded up (decoratively).


Adventureland Verandah

Adventureland Verandah


Adventureland Verandah was an opening-day restaurant that served fried chicken and hot sandwiches. In 1977, Kikkoman took over sponsorship and the food took on a Polynesian/Asian-ish flavor offering items such as teriyaki hamburgers topped with pineapple slices.

In 1993, the Adventureland Verandah began closing two days a week. Soon after, it was open only seasonally. And in 1994, it closed for good " almost. In 1998, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café closed for an extensive refurbishment and the Adventureland Verandah opened for a few months to fill this void with a limited menu.

I miss the Adventureland Verandah. It was perhaps the most relaxing spot in the Magic Kingdom to enjoy a meal. The energy level was subdued here. When sitting on the verandah, I felt miles away from the hustle and bustle of the throngs rushing around just beyond the Swan Boat canal. The only other spot in the Magic Kingdom that came close to this relaxed atmosphere was Aunt Polly's on Tom Sawyer Island, and sadly, it is gone too.

Across from Tinker Bell's Magical Nook is the smoking area for Adventureland. It is positioned behind planters to create a wide separation from those that partake and those that don't.


Smoking Area


This is a good time to start appreciating the architecture found in the area. It would be difficult to pinpoint any one locale or nationality's influence on these structures for these buildings represent the colonization of Africa and Asia by many European nations.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Having grown up with Disneyland's rather simple Adventureland, I was always impressed with this next structure. Its intricate detailing always amazes me. If I ever were to move to a Caribbean island, I would want my house to look like this. Notice if you will, this structure has seen several different color schemes over the years.


Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture

Adventureland Architecture


Tucked in amongst all of these buildings is one of the Magic Kingdom's best resting places. Covered, protected from winds, and fan cooled, this hideaway offers guests a wonderful spot to get off your feet and give your aching dogs a rest. Disney tour guides also use this spot to stop and explain Adventureland to their followers. If you time your respite right, you can listen in on some of their interesting facts.


Resting Spot


Of course, no discussion of this area would be complete without mentioning Aloha Isle, home of the famous Dole Whip. Loved by many, detested by some, this spot always has a long line. Personally, I don't think they're worth the wait, but I know many, many people would disagree with me. For those few of you unfamiliar with this taste treat, it is soft-serve pineapple sorbet. It can be served float-style, with pineapple juice, or all alone. To see their full menu, click here.


Aloha Isle

Aloha Isle


That's it for Part One. Check back Thursday for Part Two.



March 13, 2014

“I’d Ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”

Jack Spence Masthead

Yesterday (March 12, 2014) I was an invited guest at a special event held at Raglan Road located at Downtown Disney. For those of you not familiar with this establishment, Raglan Road is an authentic Irish restaurant and pub. It is owned and operated by Great Irish Pubs Florida, Inc., an Irish-owned company. If you're looking for authenticity in Irish cuisine, this is your place.


Raglan Road

Raglan Road

Raglan Road


The purpose of this event was to kick-off a new cookbook written by Neil Cubley and Kevin Dundon (recipes by Kevin Dundon). But before I get to that, I would like to describe the event.

I arrived a little before 1pm and was shown to the press table, which was meticulously set for the four-course meal we were about to enjoy.


Table Setting

Table Setting


A few moments later, Chef Kevin Dundon appeared on stage and introduced himself. He has a disarming smile that immediately makes you like him and feel at home.


Chef Kevin Dundon

Chef Kevin Dundon


Kevin is an award-winning Irish celebrity chef, television personality, and author. He has been featured prominently on both the “Guerrilla Gourmet” and “Heat” television series. He is also the author of “Kevin Dundon Great Family Food,” “Recipes that Work,” “Full on Irish: Contemporary Creative Cooking,” and “Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food.” Needless to say, he knows his way around a kitchen.

Kevin began the afternoon by creating Espresso of Courgette & Almond Soup. This was paired with a glass of Domaine Chandon, Brut from the Napa Valley. Each step of the cooking process was explained in detail and projected on a nearby screen.


Kevin Dundon

Kevin Dundon


One thing you learn about Kevin very quickly is that he likes butter. Lots and lots of butter. He used it generously in several of the dishes he prepared. (I don't know how he stays so thin.)

Once he finished his demonstration, the waitstaff presented us with our own serving. It was scrumptious.


Espresso of Courgette & Almond Soup


For those of you who don't know, anytime soup is served in a bowl or cup with handles, it's perfectly proper to forgo the spoon and drink it " which is how I enjoyed my serving.

The second course was Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Seared Scallops & Crispy Pork Belly. This was paired with a glass of Voceret, Estate Bottled, Chablis from France. Once again, Kevin walked us through the cooking process.


Kevin Dundon

Kevin Dundon

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Seared Scallops & Crispy Pork Belly


I like scallops, and these were good. But the potato gnocchi was to die for. I could have forgone the scallop altogether and made a meal on the gnocchi alone.

Since both the gnocchi and scallops were seared during preparation, Kevin used this opportunity to tell us about his personal brand of cookware. His pans have a non-stick surface that allow budding chefs to cook without oil. When I had a chance to chat with Kevin after the event, I asked him where my readers could learn more about and purchase his product. Not surprisingly, he has a website. If you're curious about his pots, pans, bowls, and utensils, click here.


Kevin and his Cookware


The main course of the afternoon was Pulled Corned Beef & Cabbage Infused with an Asian Broth. This dish was paired with Chalone Estate, Pinot Noir, Chalone, from the Monterey region of California.


Pulled Corned Beef & Cabbage Infused with an Asian Broth


When I think of corned beef and cabbage, I think of a heavy meal. This definitely was not. It was quite light and flavorful. Kevin said this meal goes well with a hangover as it is something your stomach can face after imbibing a little too much. I agree.

Dessert was Upside-Down Steamed Orange Pudding with Caramelized Clotted Cream. Kevin used oranges, since that is what Florida is known for, but he said that any number of fruits could be used instead. This was served with Inniskillin, Ice Wine from Canada.

As one server placed the dessert in front of us, another followed close behind ladling on the clotted cream. This dish really was heaven on earth.


Upside-Down Steamed Orange Pudding with Caramelized Clotted Cream


I know. It's a tough job. But someone has to go to these tastings. LOL

After lunch, those of us in the press party were taken into a smaller, private room. Here we were each given a copy of Raglan Road's newest cookbook, “I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”


I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma


I admit, the cover of this book and the title are a little different. But let me explain it to you as it was explained to me.

It seems that in Ireland, hungry children will often beg their moms for a snack before suppertime. A common appeasement there is a butter and jam sandwich. But when mom doesn't necessarily believe their hunger is all that great, the child will counter with something like, “I'm so hungry ma I could eat the back door buttered.” I have to admit, it's a cute story and the book's cover would definitely get my attention.

Like most cookbooks, the recipes are broken down into their appropriate categories like Soups, Salads, Fish, Chicken, etc. But unlike many cookbooks, the pages of this book are not glossy, but rather have a matte finish. This gives the accompanying photographs an understated appearance. And by using under saturated colors, the pictures become works of art rather than pictures of food. The photographs are very appetizing.


Cook Book Pictures

Cook Book Pictures

Cook Book Pictures


But “I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!” is more than just a cookbook. It is also an anthology of stories and poems about Irish life, food, and traditions. This is a “real” book that someone could sit down and read and learn about Ireland.

“I'd ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!” will be sold in the Raglan Road gift shop and also through their webpage. At the time of this article, other retailers had not been determined.


Raglan Road Gift Shop


March 10, 2014

Shootin' Galleries

Jack Spence Masthead


Shooting galleries have been a part of county fairs, carnivals, boardwalks, and amusement parks for over two hundred years, and Disneyland would be no exception to this tradition. The Happiest Place on Earth would eventually host four such attractions.

The first shooting Gallery opened on Main Street in July 1955. However, it only featured eight guns and demand quickly outpaced its capacity. In addition, the noise and theming of a shooting gallery really didn't fit the quaint city life depicted on this thoroughfare. It closed in 1962.

To increase capacity, the Frontierland Shooting Gallery opened in July, 1956. This arcade featured twice the shooting opportunities with 16 rifles. Guests were given 14 shots.

The Safari Shooting Gallery opened in Adventureland in June 1962 and featured 12 rifles. This arcade offered more variety of targets than any other shooting arcade in the United States. During its run, this venue was renamed Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery and Big Game Shoot.


Adventureland Big Game Shoot

Adventureland Big Game Shoot


The early Disneyland shooting galleries featured traditional chain-driven targets that moved back and forth in front of an appropriate backdrop. The rifles fired lead pellets and cast members would reload the rifles between rounds. Every night after park closing, the entire target area was repainted, requiring several gallons of paint and eight hours of labor. After all, this was Disneyland and Walt wanted his park to look brand new at opening the following day.

MacGlassine Guns had supplied Disney with their rifles from the park's opening, and in the 1970's, MacGlassine began tinkering with a new arcade rifle that shot infrared beams of light rather than bullets. When a marksman hit a target with one of these new electronic beauties, music, lights, and motion would ensue.

The advantages of this new system were obvious. First, the targets were much more interesting to hit and watch. Next, it would take fewer cast members to man the attraction. Then there was the matter of maintenance. The arcade would not need to be repainted nightly. But most important was safety. The lead pellets had a tendency to bounce off their targets and hit guests. (Do I hear lawsuit?)

By the time the electronic age came to firearms, the Adventureland gallery had already given way to a shop, leaving only the Frontierland Shooting Gallery to tempt marksmen. This pellet driven western arcade bit the dust in September 1984 for a major refurbishment. When it reopened the following year as Frontierland Shootin' Arcade (later, Frontierland Shooting Exposition) it featured these new-fangled infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shooting Exposition


The Davy Crockett Arcade in Frontierland was the fourth and last to join the Disneyland shooting arcade roster and was geared to young rifleman and riflewomen. It entertained guests from 1985 to 1987 and also used the new, infrared rifles.

On a related but different topic, Disneyland scaled back the number of fake guns seen and sold in the park after the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre. In 2001, the California legislature passed a law requiring all toy guns be manufactured in a way that there was no mistaking them for the real thing. This saw the end of the 1800s-style wooden rifles sold in Frontierland as they were pulled from all Disneyland stores. However, plastic space and pirate guns remained on the shelf as they were easily seen as fake. In 2010, Disney once again began selling western rifles due to the many guest requests and the availability of plastic firearms that could not be mistaken for the real thing. As Florida had no such law at the time, wooden rifles were never banned in the Magic Kingdom. However, those sold in the Magic Kingdom today are brightly colored and are obviously toys.


Fake Rifles at the Magic Kingdom


The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has only ever had one shooting gallery, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade. And like Disneyland, it too once used lead pellets to knock down targets (1971 to 1982). Once again, safety and the 2,000 gallons of paint used each year to repaint this attraction had a lot to do with its conversion to infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


The shootout setting for the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade takes place in a surreal recreation of 1850 Tombstone, Arizona -- Boot Hill to be exact. The scenery includes a hotel, bank, cemetery, livery stable, and jail. When one of the 97 targets is hit, a vast array of activities ensue. Owls hoot, bank robbers emerge, vultures flap their wings, mine cars appear, tombstones rock, and much, much more.


Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill


Unlike most other attractions in the Magic Kingdom, this one is not included in your admission price. It costs $1 for 35 shots. The machines to activate the rifles take quarters (not tokens) and a change machine is located nearby.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


It's interesting to note, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade and the Tomorrowland Video Arcade are not listed on the current Magic Kingdom guide map. I suspect this is because these attractions require an extra charge.

Although the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade is a favorite of many children, countless adults also find the targets challenging and the ensuing animation entertaining.


Adults Shooting


Check out this one minute video of the Frontierland Shootin' Gallery.



And if target shooting isn't your thing, a rustic checker board can be found nearby.


Checkers


Now if your kids aren't too particular about actually hitting real targets with a rifle, the Magic Kingdom also offers another opportunity for sharpshooting. Over at Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island, marksmen can take aim at the Liberty Belle Riverboat, Thunder Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. The rifles do not fire pellets or laser beams, but they do make a “shooting” sound.


Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn


At Tokyo Disneyland you can test your skill at Westernland Shootin' Gallery. Here you fire one of 19 Winchester-type rifles at targets found within a saloon recreation. Just like at the Magic Kingdom, the targets react when hit. For example, shoes will dance, bottles jump, and the piano plays.


Westernland Shootin' Gallery

Westernland Shootin' Gallery


At the completion of the game, you receive a score card with a message from Goofy. The cards are printed in both English and Japanese. If you're fortunate enough to get a card that says “lucky,” you also receive a gold sheriff's badge. And if you can hit 10 out of 10 targets, you receive a silver sheriff's badge.


Sheriff's Badge


Like the Magic Kingdom, the Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery at Disneyland Paris offers targets within a recreation of Boot Hill. However, the two arcades look nothing alike. Once again, lasers are used to activate targets.


Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery


Hong Kong Disneyland opened without a Frontierland. In 2012, Grizzly Gulch was added and is this park's answer to the American West. However, no shootin' gallery was included with this expansion.

As details for Shanghai Disneyland are scarce, I have no idea if this newest Disney Park will include a shootin' gallery.

That's it for this time, partner.


March 3, 2014

Hodgepodge 3

Jack Spence Masthead


Occasionally, I have a topic I wish to discuss, but it's not long enough to make up an entire article. To remedy this, I've created my Hodgepodge series. In these, I will discuss, two, three, or four unrelated subjects. Today I'll be writing about Highway 429, Disney World Aromas, and Restaurant Cards.


Highway 429

The following is a driving tip for those of you who travel to Walt Disney World by car and motor down Florida's Turnpike (Highway 91). This suggestion has been shared in the AllEars newsletter in the past, but it bears repeating.

Since I've moved to the far west side of metropolitan Orlando, I now frequently use Highway 429. This relatively new stretch of toll road runs from Orange Blossom Trail down to Interstate 4. Also known as the Daniel Webster Western Beltway, Highway 429 is never busy. Even during rush hour, this four lane stretch of road is practically deserted. It was constructed prior to the Great Recession in anticipation of the housing boom that is only now beginning in this area in earnest.


Highway 429


Most people traveling to Disney World via Florida's Turnpike stay on the turnpike until they come to Interstate 4 (heading west toward Tampa). Although traffic on Interstate 4 ebbs and flows during the day, it is always busy and often stressful to drive. However, you can avoid this hectic stretch of road by exiting the turnpike onto Highway 429 (south) about 9 miles north of Interstate 4.

Once on Highway 429, it's about a 14 mile drive to the Western Way Disney World exit. Here you'll encounter the quintessential Disney sign as you enter Western Way. This road travels behind Disney's Animal Kingdom and deposits you near Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.


Disney World off-ramp

Disney World off-ramp

Disney World off-ramp

Disney World Arch


I would definitely consider this route next time you're driving to Walt Disney World from the north. It can possibly save you time and it will definitely save you driving frustration.

Here is an interesting side note… In the months just prior to the Great Recession, Disney announced a major development for the land surrounding the Western Way off-ramp. The project was called Flamingo Crossings and was to feature a value-oriented, themed tourist district. Here guests would find lodging, restaurants, timeshares, and shopping opportunities. Most of these businesses would be non-Disney enterprises.


Flamingo Crossings


Land preparation and roadways were completed for Flamingo Crossings, but unfortunately, when the economy turned south, this project took a backseat to other, more pressing ventures. Today, all you can see of this development are beautifully landscaped streets, painted fences, and vacant land. Since the website for this endeavor still exists, let's hope that someday this project will be resurrected.


Flamingo Crossings

Flamingo Crossings


Disney World Aromas

When I worked at Disneyland (1971 " 1980), the Imagineers employed a sneaky trick to entice guests into their Main Street Candy Palace. They placed bowls of vanilla (or other fragrant aromas) near air vents and had fans blow the smell out into the passing throngs. If you look at this next picture, you can see the vents below the windows.


Main Street Candy Shop


As we know, smells can evoke memories and produce strong emotions. The Imagineers know this and use aromas in ways other than selling candy. For example, when designing Spaceship Earth, the Imagineers wanted guests to instantly know they were going to experience the “ages of time.” To do this, they created a musty odor that greets time travelers the moment they enter the loading area. It's subtle, but if you pay attention, there is no mistaking this smell.


Spaceship Earth Loading Area


A not so subtle odor can also be experienced later in this same attraction. When we travel through the burning of Rome tableau, the smell of smoke is very strong.


Burning of Rome


Of course, we all remember smelling oranges as we passed by the desert farm in Horizons.


Horizons Farm


This same scent can be experienced today on Soarin' as we fly over a California citrus grove. This attraction also produces the smells of a pine forest as we glide over a mountain river and the aroma of the raging surf as we wing over the Pacific Ocean.


Soarin'

Soarin'

Soarin'


It's interesting to note, these scenes were each placed well over a minute apart so the fans and air conditioning could remove one aroma before introducing the next. In addition, the air conditioner needs to be able to entirely remove all odors before the next group of hang gliders arrive.

The same is true over at the Imagination pavilion. When Figment introduces the foul smell in the Journey into Imagination with Figment attraction, the air conditioner must suck out all of the offending aroma before the next group enters the room.


Figment


By the way, this foul smell is actually a modified coffee aroma. Disney couldn't really use a truly obnoxious smell or guests would complain. In this case, Disney tricks us into thinking the smell is actually bad. First we see Figment as a skunk, then Dr. Nigel Channing says, “That really stinks.”

Disney uses another unpleasant aroma in an attraction at the Magic Kingdom. In Tomorrowland we find Stitch's Great Escape. Here, Stitch burps and we're subjected to his chilidog breath. I don't know what this smell actually is, but most guests find it unpleasant and groan when it is released.


Stitch


Over at Mickey's Philharmagic in Fantasyland, audiences are treated to more pleasant aromas. On this attraction we experience the smell of champagne and pie. At one time, the scent of jasmine (the flower, not Aladdin's girlfriend) was used during the magic carpet sequence. However, it was discovered that many people are allergic to this smell so Disney discontinued its use.


Mickey's Philharmagic


Disney also uses the sense of smell in It's Tough to be a Bug at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here, a stink bug bombards the audience with his potent defense mechanism. Later in the show, an insecticide scent is sprayed into the air.


It's Tough to be a Bug

It's Tough to be a Bug


Distinctive smells are not just limited to the theme parks. The hotels also have their individual odors. For years, I've noticed that the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary has a distinctive odor. I always assumed it came from the various building materials used during constructions. But of course, over 40 years later, these smells would have dissipated. So when I learned that Disney also manufactures aromas for their various hotels, I wasn't surprised. So the next time you walk into the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or other Disney hotel, take a deep breath. You'll notice a pleasing smell that is unique to that establishment.


Contemporary Resort


As we know, Fantasia was a ground breaking film with the use of Fantasound in some theaters, a sound system that eventually evolved into stereo. But this wasn't the only innovative idea Walt had for the movie. He also wanted to release aromas into the theater during different segments of the film. For example, the smell of incense was suggested for the Ave Maria piece. He proposed having ushers walk up and down the aisles with spray bottles to release the appropriate scent at the appropriate time. But this method of distribution was impractical and it wasn't feasible to install mechanisms to do this automatically.


Fantasia


There are also the unintentional aromas that captivate us. Who doesn't get a craving when walking by the popcorn machine? Or the smell of burgers can be alluring over by Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe.


Popcorn Wagon

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe


And thankfully, Disney restrooms are kept clean enough as to not offend us with obnoxious odors. LOL


Restaurant Cards

Whenever I visit a Disney resort, I always pick up the free paper goodies that are available to guests. These include resort maps, theme park guide books, brochures, and anything else I can lay my hands on. While rummaging through my Disney paper goods recently, I came across a short-lived handout that was available at any of the concierge desks located around Walt Disney World " restaurant cards.

The front of each card featured the name of the restaurant, its logo, and the phone number for Priority Seating. Inside, guests could find an abbreviated menu with no prices. The back cover offered a brief description of the restaurant or its offerings. These cards were small and could easily fit into a pocket, wallet, or purse. Closed they measured 3½“ x 2”. When open, they measured 3½“ x 4”.

Below is an example of a Brown Derby card:


Brown Derby

Brown Derby.jpg


These cards were displayed in a special rack and were available to anyone walking by -- just like the Theme Park Guides are today. They offered guests a way to learn more about Disney World restaurants without having to wait in line to speak to a concierge.

I thought it might be fun today to take a look at some of the restaurants that no longer exist. This is a great way to learn a little about Disney World's past and perhaps stir up a few memories.

Flagler's " Citricos replaced Flagler's in 1997 at the Grand Floridian. Flagler's was named after Henry Flagler, the man who brought the railroad and resort hotels to the east coast of Florida.


Flagler's

Flagler's


Concourse Steakhouse " This moderate-to-fine dining restaurant was located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary on the Grand Canyon Concourse. It was replaced by a quick-service eatery called Contempo Café. A new restaurant, The Wave, opened on the first floor of the resort to fill the void left by Concourse Steakhouse.


Concourse Steakhouse

Concourse Steakhouse


Coral Isle Café " This casual dining room was located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian. In 1998, this space was remodeled and reopened as the Kona Café.


Coral Isle Café

Coral Isle Café


Tangaroa Terrace " This other casual dining spot at the Polynesian was open until sometime in 1996 when it closed permanently and was not replaced. Today this space is used for special functions.


Tangaroa Terrace

Tangaroa Terrace


BonFamille's Café " Located at Port Orleans (now Port Orleans French Quarter), this lovely restaurant was open for breakfast and dinner. It closed permanently in 2000.


Bonfamille's Café


Bonfamille's Café


Fireworks Factory " The Fireworks Factory was located on Pleasure Island when the original backstory was in place. As the story goes, this was an industrial wharf began by a man named Merriweather Pleasure. The Fireworks Factory was one of the businesses that had taken up occupancy here. This restaurant closed in 1997 and was replaced by Wildhorse Saloon in 1998. Today this building has been completely razed in preparation for Disney Springs.


Fireworks Factory

Fireworks Factory


Ariel's " When the Yacht and Beach Club Resort first opened, the Yacht had a steakhouse restaurant (Yachtsman Steakhouse) and the Beach had a seafood restaurant (Ariel's). In 1996, the Boardwalk opened nearby with the Flying Fish Café. Soon after, it was determined that there just wasn't a need for two seafood restaurants in the area and Ariel's close in 1997.


Ariel's

Ariel's


Captain's Tavern " The Caribbean Beach Resort was the first moderately priced hotel to open at Walt Disney World. The Imagineers did not think a full-service restaurant was needed and opted to create only a counter-service eatery. Unfortunately, they misjudged their audience and hastily converted a nearby lounge into the Captain's Tavern. In 2002, this establishment was closed and completely remodel. It reopened as Shutters at Old Port Royal.


Captain's Tavern

Captain's Tavern


That's it for Hodgepodge Three. Check back next week when I discuss the Shootin' Galleries.


February 25, 2014

Aulani - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead


Welcome back to my discussion of Aulani, a combination hotel/Disney Vacation Club (DVC) located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Yesterday I gave you an overview of the many wonderful amenities this resort has to offer. Today I'm going to answer the $64,000 question. Would I recommend Aulani to first-time visitors to Hawaii, specifically first time visitors to Oahu?

Maybe.

If you're DVC member then the answer is easy. You've already bought and paid for your points. You might as well use them here. There is no way around it, Hawaii is very expensive. Why pay for another non-Disney hotel if you've already got a place to stay. But if you're not a DVC member, the answer is not so easy.


Disney Vacation Club


There is no denying, Aulani is a beautiful resort. If it was located anywhere in the Waikiki area, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. But it's not. It's located in a somewhat remote section of Oahu, an area with not all that much to see and experience. And other than the J.W. Marriott Ilihani hotel that neighbors Aulani, there is very little within walking distance. Maybe in the future there will be, but not now. I understand that there are a three restaurants across the street, but this wouldn't offer most guests the variety needed to fill an entire week's stay. That means that if you want to eat anywhere besides the immediate area, you're out of luck unless you rent a car or take a taxi.


Map to Aulani


How about shopping opportunities? First, there is the limited selection of goods to be found at the Aulani shops. There are also a few shops down the road at Ko Olina Station. But this second option is lacking in retailers and requires a car for transportation. There are a few shopping opportunities within a five mile radius of Aulani, but again, the variety of goods is limited and some sort of transportation is required to get there.

On the other hand, Waikiki and other venues in South Oahu have an abundance of shopping opportunities worth your time. Kalakaua Avenue, which parallels Waikiki Beach, is a shopper's paradise with countless clothing shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, camera and electronics retailers, souvenir stands, and anything else you can imagine. The Ala Moana Shopping Center (over 290 shops and restaurants) is another favorite of those with money to spend. By the way, no first-timer should miss shopping for an aloha shirt at Hilo Hattie's or a tacky souvenir at one of the dozens of ABC Stores found all over the island. Sure it's touristy, but that's part of the fun.


Kalakaua Avenue

Kalakaua Avenue

Ala Moana

Hilo Hattie's

ABC Store


Honolulu and Waikiki are also the areas to find an abundance of restaurants. This includes everything from fast-food chains to first-class establishments and everything in-between. The options are endless.

To further illustrate my point, I picked up one of those glossy tourist magazines promoting Oahu while I was in Honolulu. Most of the magazine is made up of advertisements placed by the various tour companies, hotels, shops, and restaurants found on the island (including a full-page back-cover ad for Aulani). Also contained in the magazine is a legitimate tourist guide and maps that tries to give first-time visitors an idea of what there is to see and do here. This guide has divided the island into five sections, North, South (which contains Honolulu and Waikiki), East (which contains Aulani), West, and Central. Over half of the magazine is devoted to the South section of the island. The rest of the magazine covers the other four sections.


Aulani Full Page Back Cover Ad


So let's say you decide you want to drive from Aulani to Waikiki for a meal or shopping. Well as I said at the beginning of this article, it's about 27 miles away. That may not sound so bad, but this equates to at least a 45 minute drive when traffic is good. And believe me when I say, Honolulu has bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour just like any other major city (metro population: 953,207). Maybe even more so due to the congested nature of this small island. So a trip to Waikiki during busy times will take you an hour plus. And by the way, the scenery is not particularly picturesque along this route. A taxi will cost you between $75 and $100 one way depending on the time of day. A taxi from the airport to Aulani will run between $50 and $75. Ouch. If you rent a car, good luck finding a parking space in the Waikiki area.

So why is Aulani located so far away from everything?

Disney is a very late comer to the Hawaiian vacation game. All of the islands' prime real estate locations were snatched up decades ago by their competition.

Of course, staying at Aulani doesn't mean you can't see and do all of the wonderful things offered to you on Oahu, it's just going to take more time, more money, and more effort to do so.

Another thing I don't like about Aulani is its lack of a swimmable beach on the ocean. If I just flew five hours across the Pacific to get to the islands, I would have bodysurfing on the mind. I want to swim in the ocean with real waves. Aulani's pristine cove is very beautiful, but its waves wouldn't knock a learning-to-walk toddler down.

To Disney's credit, they have steered Aulani away from the stereotypical Hawaii clichés that some of the other Hawaiian resorts sometimes perpetuate. You won't find tiki torches, Elvis singing “Blue Hawaii,” or plastic leis at Aulani. But on the other hand, some of this kitsch can be sort of fun on your first trip to the islands. Once again, it's touristy, but that's not always a bad thing depending on what you're looking for. After all, the Polynesian Resort at WDW has tiki torches and fake leis.

I know it might sound trite, but a lot of people dream of seeing Diamond Head in the background while they swim, eat, and shop. Only a handful of rooms at Aulani can even see this famous volcano. And for those that can, it's so far away that it loses much of its charm. You can't see Diamond Head at all from the Aulani pool, ‘AMA ‘AMA restaurant, or beach cove.

On this most recent trip to Oahu, I made reservations to eat dinner at Hula Grill, an upscale restaurant located at the Outrigger Hotel on Waikiki Beach. Besides enjoying one of the most scrumptious meals and Mai Tai I've had in ages, this is the view I had from my table.


Hula Grill

Hula Grill


Here is a picture of me taken from the Hanohano Room on the 30th floor of the Waikiki Sheraton. I'm the indistinguishable blur at the bottom of the picture " but the view of Diamond Head is magnificent. You can't take a picture anything like this at Aulani.


Hanohano Room


What scares me about recommending Aulani is the Disney Marketing Machine. I've seen this entity convince an amazing number of first-time cruisers that the Disney Cruise Line is the best line afloat. I've talked with countless people who have never, and would never sail on anything other than Disney.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Disney Cruise Line is excellent. I've sailed on both the Magic and the Wonder. They have a fantastic product and I recommend them often. But contrary to what Disney will have you believe, their competition is also excellent with a lot to offer. Notice I sailed on Princess Cruise Lines on my latest vacation.

I'm afraid this same “cruise line” mentality will take hold with Aulani. I'm afraid Disney will convince first-time Hawaiian vacationers that if they don't select Aulani, they're settling for something less. After all, Disney implies that they have “a touch of magic” that everyone else is lacking. Trust me. I have stayed at several Hawaiian resorts that are far more elegant and luxurious than Aulani " and their employees equaled any Disney cast member in terms of service and friendliness. These resorts might not have had Mickey Mouse and a lazy river, but that's not why I vacation in Hawaii. I go to Orlando and Anaheim for Mickey and the gang. I go to Hawaii to experience Hawaii.

Here are a few pictures of the resorts I've stayed at in the islands.

Sheraton Waikiki


Sheraton Waikiki

Sheraton Waikiki


Hilton Waikoloa


Hyatt Regency Waikoloa

Hyatt Regency Waikoloa

Hyatt Regency Waikoloa

Hyatt Regency Waikoloa

Hyatt Regency Waikoloa

Hyatt Regency Waikoloa


Kauai Marriott Resort


Kauai Marriott Resort

Kauai Marriott Resort

Kauai Marriott Resort

Kauai Marriott Resort


Hyatt Regency Maui


Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui


Taking this thought even further, Disney wants you to return to Aulani year after year. Don't believe me? Here is a direct quote from that full-page back-cover Aulani advertisement I picked up in Honolulu:

“Write your own storybook vacations year after year at Aulani, a family paradise with a touch of magic.”

Visiting Oahu year after year would be like visiting the Magic Kingdom year after year and never trying Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Oahu is a fantastic island and probably the best choice for first-time visitors. But the other islands also offer tremendous opportunities for fun, excitement, exploration, and relaxation. If you decide to return to Hawaii for a second vacation, then you definitely should skip Aulani and travel to Maui, Kauai, or the Big Isle. Here are just a few of the activities I have engaged in on the other islands.

I saw the sunrise from the top of Haleakalā. Then I mounted a bicycle at the top of this 10,023 foot high volcano and rode all the way to the sea (it was almost all downhill so anyone can manage it). It was a great way to spend the day.


Haleakalā

Haleakalā

Haleakalā


I took a helicopter ride on Maui and was treated to a view of one of the most spectacular collections of waterfalls on the islands.


Maui Waterfalls

Maui Waterfalls

Maui Waterfalls

Maui Waterfalls


On Kauai, I took a zodiac rubber raft and sailed inside volcanic lava tubes that opened onto the ocean. This is the area of Hawaii where “Jurassic Park” and “South Pacific” were filmed. The scenery in this part of Kauai is breathtaking.


Zodiac Raft

Zodiac Raft

Zodiac Raft

Zodiac Raft

Zodiac Raft

Zodiac Raft


I've played on black-sand beaches on the Big Isle.


Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach


I've taken a helicopter ride over molten lava spewing from Mount Kilauea. I could feel the heat rising as we flew over.


Mount Kilauea

Mount Kilauea

Mount Kilauea

Mount Kilauea


I swam with dolphins and actually got to hug one.


Jack with Dolphin


I've taken a catamaran from Maui to the island of Lanai for a picnic lunch and snorkeling on a nearly deserted beach.


Catamaran to Lanai

Catamaran to Lanai

Catamaran to Lanai


Would I stay at Aulani if I was returning to Hawaii for a week-long vacation? Possibly, if my destination was Oahu. The resort is wonderful if all you want to do is relax by the pool and do little else. As I mentioned yesterday, I've already vacationed on Oahu twice and I've seen most of the major (and many of the minor) attractions here, so laying by a pool for a week is something I would consider. But I'd still have to give it a lot of thought. Aulani is a long way away from everything, including other dining options. I could not eat 21 meals at Aulani over a week's time " even if I had a DVC unit and could cook some of my own meals.

But in all probability, I would not return to Oahu, but rather Maui for a week-long vacation. Many people familiar with Hawaiian vacations prefer Maui. I'd go back to Kāʻanapali and stay at one of the deluxe resorts that line a real beach, not a man-made cove. At Kāʻanapali it's possible to walk along the seashore to about a dozen other resorts and sample their restaurants and shops. In addition, the quaint Whalers Village Shopping Center is smack dab in the middle of it all.


Kāʻanapali

Kāʻanapali


In closing, I would like to ask you to do the following before you start planning your first trip to Hawaii. Ask yourself why you want to travel to the islands. Is it simply because Disney has built a new resort here? I hope it is more than that. Hawaii has so much more to offer than Disney.

Put your prejudice in favor of Disney aside. Don't let Disney decide for you. Ask yourself what you really want to see and do while on Oahu. Then use the internet and/or a travel agent familiar with Hawaii to determine what the right resort for you really is. Do your homework. Read a few tour books. If it turns out you decide to stay at Aulani, fantastic. I know you'll love it. But you might find that other resorts are also fantastic and fill your needs better.

Whatever you decide, a Hawaiian vacation can be incredible. And if you're like most people, you'll fall in love with the islands and want to return again and again.


February 24, 2014

Aulani - Part One

Jack Spence Masthead


Before I made my first trip to Hawaii, I asked my friends who had already visited for some advice. I received the same words of wisdom from them all. “Do not let a travel agent or tour operator talk you into visiting two or three islands in one week's time. Each island has more than enough activities to fill an entire vacation and traveling from one island to another can eat up the better part of a day.” I took their advice and I am glad I did. While I lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I made six trips to the islands. I visited Oahu and Maui twice each and Kauai and Hawaii (the Big Isle) once each. Every time for a week.

Last month I visited Hawaii again, but this time on a Princess Cruise roundtrip from San Francisco. After four days of crossing the Pacific, I visited these same four islands again, each for one day " hardly enough time to experience what the 50th State has to offer. But then, I didn't take this vacation to visit Hawaii, I took it to relax and enjoy an extended cruise (15 days). Since I had visited Oahu twice in the past, I decided to use my short time in this port to visit Aulani, a relatively new Disney Vacation Club (DVC). I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about and report back to you in a blog.

Before I get into my review, I need to post a disclaimer. I was only at Aulani for approximately three hours. During this time I did my best to soak up every bit of information I could and take as many pictures as possible. But please be aware, there are probably gaps in my descriptions and possibly errors in my information. Also, I did not visit any of the hotel's guest rooms. If you have questions after reading this article, feel free to ask me. But I'm not sure that I will be your best source of information.

First let me give you some background as to Aulani's location. This DVC property is part of a massive master-planned resort called Ko Olina, which is located about 27 miles northwest of Waikiki Beach. To create Ko Olina, a huge parcel of land was cleared and a marina dredged. In addition, four crescent shaped lagoons were cut into the earth, each with openings out onto the Pacific. Three to four hotels will eventually be built around each of these lagoons. In the first picture below you can see the overall layout of the resort. The second picture shows a close-up of Aulani and its neighbor, J.W. Marriott Ilihani. Aulani opened to the public on August 29, 2011. Its price tag is estimated to be around $800 million. Like the Boardwalk Resort at WDW, Aulani is a combination hotel and DVC (359 hotel rooms and 481 DVC units).


Ko Olina

Ko Olina


I'm sure that many of you want to know if Aulani offers the same atmosphere as the Polynesian Resort at WDW. Absolutely not! Even though they both share a Polynesian theme, it's obvious that the Imagineers tried to create a completely different experience.

Before arriving at Aulani, you can see the massive hotel from the road. This view alone should convince you that this is not the Polynesian.


Aulani from a Distance


As you enter the Ko Olina resort, beautiful volcanic rock waterfalls greet you before you pass by a security booth and guard. I was not stopped or asked for any identification.


Lava Waterfall

Guard Booth


Several signs point the way to Aulani and I easily found the resort's parking garage. The price of parking is $35 a day. However, I was able to have my ticket validated as I spent over $35 at lunch (more about lunch later). It was a short walk from the garage to the porte-cochère. Near the main entrance, cooling fruit flavored water is available for thirsty guests. Take a look at the citrus slices.


Porte-cochère

Fruit Flavored Water


Many hotels in Hawaii have open-air lobbies and Aulani is no exception. Since the weather here is near perfect year-round, there is little need for protection from the elements. But of course, there is always the rogue storm so hidden retractable doors are available when needed.

The lobby is impressive. As you enter, you can see through this room and out to the massive playground the Imagineers have built for your amusement.


Aulani Lobby

Aulani Lobby

Aulani Lobby

Aulani Lobby

Pool Area as seen from the Lobby


One can't help but notice the architectural similarities to Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at WDW.


Kidani Village


In the lobby, tiki gods stand sentinel at ground level while Hawaiian legends are depicted in colorful paintings around the ceiling.


Tiki Gods

Hawaiian Murals


Flanking the lobby to the right and left are massive hallways with impressive ceiling arches.


Lobby Hallway


Off of the right hallway you'll find the concierge desks, the check-in desk, a sitting area, and a children's waiting area.


Front Desk

Lobby Lounge

Children's Waiting Room


The resort's shop, Kālepa's Store, can be found off of the left hallway. This mercantile offers a wide array of Aulani branded merchandise as well as a small selection of the typical souvenirs that we're all familiar with at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.


Kālepa's Store

Kālepa's Store

Kālepa's Store


It's also in the lobby area where you'll encounter your first menehune, a mischievous, troll-like creature native to Hawaii. Menehunes are tricky fellows and have hiding places all over the resort. It's great fun to try and discover some of their more concealed locations. This is Disney's Hawaiian version of finding Hidden Mickeys.


Menehune


Below the lobby is Makahiki. This buffet restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner and offers character dining. While I was there, Minnie and Goofy were making the rounds but I understand Donald, Chip & Dale, and Lilo & Stitch also make appearances at the resort. This eatery offers both indoor and outdoor seating.


Makahiki

Makahiki

Makahiki

Makahiki

Makahiki

Makahiki


As you exit Makahiki, Mickey can be found in a lovely courtyard and is available for pictures. Just like at Disney World and Disneyland, a photographer is on hand to capture the moment. He can use his Disney camera or your own. Although I wandered through the exit accidentally after taking pictures of the restaurant, Mickey was more than willing to pose with me.


Mickey Meet & Greet

Mickey and Jack


Hawaiian-themed works of art can be found throughout the resort, both inside and out.


Hawaiian Works of Art

Hawaiian Works of Art

Hawaiian Works of Art

Hawaiian Works of Art


Here are a few pictures of the hotel's towers where the guest rooms are located.


Aulani Towers

Aulani Towers

Aulani Towers

Aulani Towers


The two tower buildings of Aulani create a horseshoe shape that wrap around the pool area. As with any hotel, some rooms have better views than others. Since everyone who comes to Hawaii wants to see the ocean, it's common for hotels here to have angled openings out onto the balconies to maximize views. Aulani is no exception and used this architectural design on many of its rooms.


Close-up of Balcony


Within this horseshoe, the Imagineers have created a Hawaiian paradise of sights and activities. “Water” is definitely the theme here. Take a look at the koi pond found on the doorsteps of Makahiki restaurant.


Koi Pond

Koi Pond

Koi Pond


Perhaps the most unique feature of Aulani is their 8,200 square foot pool complex. Here you'll find two slides, an artificial snorkeling lagoon, a combination jungle-gym/splash area, and a “lazy river” reminiscent of Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (only shorter in length). Here are a few pictures of Waikolohe Stream, the lazy river.


Waikolohe Stream

Waikolohe Stream

Waikolohe Stream

Waikolohe Stream

Waikolohe Stream


When I stumbled across Menehune Bridge, the jungle-gym/splash area, I said out loud “Wow!” This is a magnificent water play area for kids that makes adults envious of their children's youth. I know I wanted to run beneath these pylons and get wet.


Menehune Bridge

Menehune Bridge

Menehune Bridge


Rainbow Reef is where guests can get a taste of snorkeling. An underwater viewing area allows for some great photos of your friends and family.


Rainbow Reef

Rainbow Reef

Rainbow Reef

Rainbow Reef


Rainbow Reef is not free. One-day use is $15 for adults (10 and up) and $10 for children. Length-of-Stay use is $20 for adults and $15 for children.

As nice as Rainbow Reef is, PLEASE, do not go back to the mainland and tell your friends that you went snorkeling in Hawaii if this man-made lagoon is all you've experienced. There are too many real snorkeling adventures available in the islands that are far superior to this Disney offering.

Here are a few pictures of Waikolohe Pool, the family fun pool.


Waikolohe Pool

Waikolohe Pool

Waikolohe Pool


The “infinity” pool makes it look like this body of water goes on and on forever and connects with the Pacific Ocean. But this is just an optical illusion. The fresh water and sea water are actually quite a distance apart.


Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool


The Ka Maka Grotto is another jaw-dropping feat of engineering. The Imagineers did a fantastic job of making a man-made structure look natural and oh so inviting.


Ka Maka Grotto

Ka Maka Grotto


Tucked away in the corner of this massive swim area is an adult's only pool and bar. Although nice, compared to the other pools, it lacks imagination.


Adult Pool

Adult Pool


At the other end of the age-scale is a splash area designed especially for toddlers. The kids I saw here were having a great time.


Toddler Pool


There are a few poolside cabanas that can be rented for your own private group.


Cabanas


Located around the pool are a number of food stands and bars where you can grab a quick bite to eat or drink. One of the more interesting of these is The Lava Shack. This establishment is tucked into the man-made volcanic mountain and is themed to be a Hawaiian surf shop of the 1930's.


The Lava Shack

The Lava Shack

The Lava Shack


If you want more than just a snack, check out Ulu Café. This spot offers a wide variety of food options and features a grill where you can order a hot breakfast or lunch. You can opt to eat at tables near the restaurant or take your food back to your lounge chair. Ulu Cafe is comparable in concept to Captain Cook's at the Polynesian at WDW.


Ulu Café

Ulu Café

Ulu Café


Since I wasn't an actual guest of Aulani, I wasn't sure if I would be allowed onto the property. To insure that I could check things out legitimately, I made advance reservations to eat lunch at ‘AMA 'AMA, the resort's fine dining establishment. As it turns out, Disney doesn't care who stops by, just as long as you can afford the $35 parking fee.

‘AMA 'AMA is a beautiful, open-air restaurant. Tables on the lanai are afforded a stunning view of the lagoon in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the background. ‘AMA 'AMA serves both lunch and dinner.


‘AMA 'AMA

‘AMA 'AMA

‘AMA 'AMA

‘AMA 'AMA


I mentioned menehunes earlier. It seems that two of these little trolls have hiding spots in the ‘AMA ‘AMA rafters. I have to be honest, I had the hostess help me find them.


Menehune

Menehune


For lunch I had a pulled-pork sandwich which was served on a special Hawaiian bread. Each of the three mini-sandwiches offered a different, distinctive flavor. My friend Donald had a Caesar Salad with grilled shrimp. We were both more than pleased with our selections.


Pulled Pork Sandwich

Caesar Salad with grilled shrimp


For dessert we shared a pineapple crème brûlée. Although it was attractive to look at and large enough for two, we were both disappointed with the flavor and the fact that it didn't have a caramelized topping. Overall, it was pretty bland.


crème brûlée


By the way, if you think prices are high at WDW, they're just as high if not higher in Hawaii. A note to Disneyland and Walt Disney World cast members, bring your cast ID, you get a discount here.

First time visitors to Hawaii are often struck by the large amount of Japanese tourists they encounter here. As it turns out, the islands are a major vacation destination for our Asian friends. In fact, many signs and advertisements in the islands are written in both English and Japanese. I understand that rice cookers are a standard kitchen appliance in the DVC units at Aulani.

Next door to Aulani is a beautiful wedding chapel (not run by Disney). While enjoying lunch, I spotted Japanese newlyweds on the beach, posing for pictures. I was so struck by the romance of the moment, I just had to snap a few pictures. I used my telephoto lens as to not intrude.


Japanese Couple


Also while enjoying lunch, I got to watch the Navy conduct exercises from nearby Pearl Harbor. This ship passed by several times during my visit.


Naval Ship


Near ‘AMA ‘AMA is a large fire pit where Hawaiian tales are told in the evening.


Fire Pit


The white-sand cove is shared by all of the resorts that line its boarders. Currently, this is just Aulani and the J.W. Marriott Ilihani. A resort room key is needed to open a gate for reentrance back onto Aulani grounds from the cove. Fortunately for me, this security measure was not working on the day I visited. This allowed me to enter the beach area and take pictures without getting trapped out there.


Beach Cove

Beach Cove


A long grassy area separates a meandering walkway from the sugar-sand beach. Wooden lounge chairs are available for sunning.


Beach Cove

Beach Cove


A Beach Rentals shop is nearby for guest who wish to rent a variety of flotation devices and surfboard-type craft.


Beach Rentals

Beach Rentals

Beach Rentals

Beach Rentals


Several floating “islands” are anchored a short distance from the shore for additional fun.


Floating Island


The wave action in the crescent lagoon is minimal. This is a very calm body of water.

Pay attention to what I have to say next. You cannot access the ocean from this cove. A warning rope blocks your path. And even if you could get to the ocean, you would find the jagged volcanic rocks more than you would want to contend with. So if it's your dream to frolic in the waves, surf, or bodysurf in Hawaii from your resort's doorstep, Aulani is not a good choice.


Cove Opening onto the Ocean


(Note, I photoshopped the above picture by adding additional buoys. I wanted to accentuate the cove boundary as the rope was not obvious in the picture. However, the line that I have created here is accurate.)

Also found in the cove area are a number of stone markers. These contain the names of the original Aulani DVC members. A similar recognition can be found at Bay Lake Tower at WDW.


Aulani DVC Recognition

Aulani DVC Recognition

Bay Lake Tower DVC Recognition

Bay Lake Tower DVC Recognition


As with all DVC's, Aulani features a Community Hall. Known as the Pau Hana Room, this spot offers an abundance of activities for DVC members. Some of these include hula lessons and beginner Hawaiian language classes.


Pau Hana Room


Here is what an Aulani cast member name tag looks like. I found it interesting that it is the same shape and size as a WDW name tag, but has an entirely different look and feel.


Aulani Cast Member Name Tag


Aulani is a beautiful hotel. It's obvious that Joe Rohde and his team of Imagineers wanted to create an all-inclusive destination resort and they pulled out all the stops to do so. Only the most jaded of persons would not be impressed on some level with their efforts. Click here for the official Aulani webpage.

That's it for Part One of my Aulani overview. Check back tomorrow when I'll answer the $64,000 question, “Would I recommend Aulani?” My answer might surprise you.



February 17, 2014

Walt Disney Family Museum

Jack Spence Masthead


In a number of my blogs, I have encouraged my East Coast readers to make a trip to Southern California and visit the Disneyland Resort. I've explained that Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure are worth your attention and time. I've also mentioned that there are many other worthwhile sights to see and experience in the area and a family could easily fill a week touring the Los Angeles basin. Today I want to expand your West Coast vacation with an additional four to six days in San Francisco and its neighboring environs.

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are few other metropolises that can top the romance, excitement, and loveliness found in the City by the Bay. San Francisco offers first class dining, shopping, and entertainment. Man-made tourist attractions abound with the likes of Fisherman's Wharf, the cable cars, Alcatraz, and China Town just to name a few. And if you feel like experiencing more natural surroundings, the giant redwoods of Muir Woods and the vineyards of Wine Country are just an hour's drive away across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, San Francisco can easily fill a week of your time. But if all this wasn't already enough, a new shining star in the city's roster of tourist attractions opened on October 1, 2009, The Walt Disney Family Museum.


Walt Disney Family Museum


Cofounded by Walt's older daughter Diane Disney Miller and other heirs of the Disney family, The Walt Disney Family Museum is located at 104 Montgomery Street found on the historic parade grounds of the Presidio, a retired army base near the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. The museum takes up residence in three refurbished and retrofitted buildings of the base's glory days. It encompasses 40,000 square feet on two levels and offers a chronological telling of Walt's life. The museum is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and is not formally associated with the Walt Disney Company. However, it is obvious from the exhibits that the two entities cooperate with one another.

I was recently in San Francisco for a day, waiting to set sail on a cruise to Hawaii. (Check back next week for my review of Aulani.) I was staying at the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill and unsure of how to reach the museum from this location. An inquiry at the concierge desk provided me with three choices: Rent a car " and then try to find a parking space. Take the bus " which would gobble up an hour of my time getting there. Or take a taxi " which is what I did. The fare and tip came to less than $20 and I was there in 15 minutes. And believe me when I say, a taxi ride in San Francisco is and “E” coupon experience.

Just inside the museum's main doors is the reception desk and information center. It is here that you purchase your tickets. The prices are as follows:

Seniors (over 65): $15
Adults: $20
Students (with valid ID): $15
Youth (6 " 17): $12
Children under 6: Free when accompanied by an adult

The museum accepts credit cards and is open seven days a week from 10am until 6pm (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). The last tickets are sold at 4:45pm.


Reception Desk


Please note, I visited the museum on a busy Saturday afternoon. I was not always able to take the pictures I desired due to the many patrons viewing the exhibits. And for those of you who have visited here before and wonder why I have any pictures at all, a recent policy change rescinded the “no picture” rule.

Behind the reception desk is a collection of 248 awards that Walt received during his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This area can be viewed without purchasing a ticket.


Disney Awards

Disney Awards

Disney Awards


The sight of one award caught me off guard and brought a lump to my throat. There, in all its beauty, was the special Academy Award Walt won for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” As Shirley Temple said, “Isn't it bright and shiny?”


Snow White Academy Award

Snow White Academy Award


Another stirring exhibit is also found in this room. Here you'll see the actual chairs that Walt and his wife Lillian sat in while enjoying time in their apartment located above the Fire Station at Disneyland.


Walt's Disneyland Apartment

Walt's Disneyland Apartment

Disneyland Fire Station


A tribute to Diane Disney Miller can also be found nearby. The illustrations are of Diane and her sister Sharon and were done by Norman Rockwell.


Diane Disney Tribute

Diane Disney illustration

Sharon Disney Illustration


Everything from this point forward requires a ticket. Before entering this section of the museum, a docent will explain the walking path, tell you where the restrooms are located, and ask if you have any questions.

One of the first exhibits you encounter is a pictorial and written account of Walt's family tree. At these displays you can learn some interesting facts about Walt's ancestors. For example, his father Elias loved music and taught himself to play the fiddle. As a teenager, he became proficient enough that he began performing at nearby dances. However, his parents were opposed to music for religious reasons. When his mother Mary caught wind of his activities, she showed up at one of these events, smashed his fiddle, and lead Elias home by the ear.


Disney Family Tree

Disney Family Tree

Disney Family Tree


Around the corner we find a reproduction of the ambulance that Walt drove during WWI in France.


Walt in France

Walt in France


Still pictures and film presentations give us a glimpse into Walt's early Alice cartoon series.


Alice Cartoons


The museum also pays homage to Ub Iwerks, the man who took Walt's ideas for Mickey Mouse and put them on paper. Contrary to the popular story, Walt did not actually draw Mickey while on the train returning from New York after losing the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This is where he came up with the concept for Mortimer, then to become Mickey at Lillian's suggestion. It was Ub who took pencil to paper and turned Walt's concepts into reality.


Ub Iwerks


Ub was a prolific animator. He was able to turn out as many as 700 drawings in a day, a figure that made him legendary in the industry. The wall pictured below contains 348 frame enlargements of his work on Steamboat Willie. Some of these drawings are motionless while others actually show animation. These drawings represent less than 15 seconds of action.


Steamboat Willie Animation


Within this glass case pictured below is a fantastic collection of vintage Mickey Mouse toys, books, records, and more. The sale of merchandise like this helped keep the company afloat. Mickey and his friends brought in untold amounts of cash to keep a struggling studio going.


Disney Collectibles


The Silly Symphonies are introduced to us with an animated display of “The Skeleton Dance.” An animator's desk is also on display nearby. Additional exhibits explain the use of maquettes and new animation tools.


The Skeleton Dance

Animator's Desk

Animation Display


As the tour continues, the animation process is discussed further. The switch from black & white to color cartoons and other more advanced animation techniques are brought to life in a number of displays. A multi-plane camera can be seen from the second floor. From this vantage point, a viewer can look down through the various layers of animation and visually see how this technical marvel added depth to a scene. (The first picture below is of the multi-plane camera from above. The second was taken at ground level near the gift shop on the first floor.)


Multi-plane Camera

Multi-plane Camera


Although the museum portrays Walt in a very positive light, the telling of his life story is not all sugar coated in this exhibit. One example of this is the discussion of the artist's strike that drove a wedge between Walt and many of his animators.


Artist's Strike


Next, the museum looks at Walt's foray into live action movies, the first being “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


As we continue, the idea of Disneylandia is discussed. This concept of Walt's would feature a series of miniature dioramas, each depicting a historical moment in American history. The tableaus were to tour the country in a specially outfitted train. However, due to a number of technicalities, the project was never realized. Here we see a number of the miniatures that Walt personally collected over the years in preparation for this undertaking.


Disneylandia

Disneylandia

Disneylandia


Around the next corner we're treated to a non-Disney surprise, a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. No matter how many times you see this magnificent structure, it still inspires awe.


Golden Gate Bridge


For you model railroad enthusiasts, the museum will not let you down. On display is Walt's Carolwood Pacific Railroad. In addition, an overhead view of Walt's Holmby Hills home is shown, complete with the entire train track layout that circled his property. Seeing this diagram makes you appreciate what a loving and understanding wife Lillian must have been.


Carolwood Pacific Railroad

Carolwood Pacific Railroad

Carolwood Pacific Railroad

Carolwood Pacific Railroad


Pictured next is a reproduction of the press event ticket for the opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.


Disneyland Opening Day Ticket


Hanging from the ceiling we discover the original eleven-camera CircleVision camera developed by Ub Iwerks and others on the Disney team. It was later discovered that eleven screens made the audience feel woozy and a nine-camera setup worked better.


CircleVision Camera


When designing the museum, the architects and planners discovered a 12 foot circular area that had no planned use. To fill this space, an elaborate scale model of Disneyland was commissioned. However, this model does not represent Disneyland as it ever existed, but rather a composite of attractions that Walt saw to completion or at least dreamed of their addition to Disneyland. So attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain are not included and the original Fantasyland is displayed rather than the refurbished land of the 1980's. Of course, this creates some incongruities. For example, the House of the Future never existed at the same time as Space Mountain, yet they both appear on this model.

The attention to detail on this replica of “The Happiest Place on Earth” is stunning and it pays tribute to Walt's love of miniatures. One subtle detail deals with lighting. When viewing the model, viewers will notice the park transitions from day to night and back again, allowing us to see Disneyland come alive “after dark.” I took almost 60 pictures of this miniature Disneyland. Here are just a few.


Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model

Disneyland Model


Of course, no story of Walt would be complete without a mention of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Pictured below is a model of the final scene of Carousel of Progress, the 1960's era.


Carousel of Progress Model


Further down the line we find a bank of television monitors. These are showing some of the many shows that Walt was responsible for. For those of us old enough to remember you'll feel nostalgic about seeing Spin & Marty, the original Mickey Mouse Club, and Zorro.


Television Monitors


Several more exhibits are presented before entering the room devoted to Walt's death on December 15, 1966. This next picture displays the many magazine covers and editorial cartoons depicting a saddened world.


Walt's Death


As with every museum, the Walt Disney Family Museum has a shop at the end of the displays. Here you will find some upper-end merchandise that you may already be familiar with from Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are also some unique pieces created especially for the museum. A Fantasia-inspired state-of-the-art digital theater is located on the lower level of the museum which screens Disney classics daily.

I have only shown you a sampling of what this museum has to offer. There is easily ten times more for you to experience.

I spent about two hours touring the Walt Disney Family Museum. You could see it in less time, but that would require missing a lot that is offered here. You could also spend much, much more than two hours. There are literally hundreds of plaques to read " almost too much to take in in one visit. It's obvious that the designers put the same quality and love of detail into this museum that Walt demanded of his own projects.

For those of you who have read any of Walt's biographies, you won't discover any new and revolutionary stories about his life here. However, the many exhibits make the tales we are familiar with come to life. After visiting the museum, there is a sense that you've somehow become closer to a man that you probably only knew through his appearances on television. I don't believe in ghosts. And if I did, I believe that Walt would haunt Disneyland, not this museum. But his presence can be felt here none the less. I highly recommend a visit to San Francisco and a trip to the Presidio and the Walt Disney Family Museum. You'll be glad you did.

To visit the official Walt Disney Family Museum website, click here.



February 10, 2014

Restroom Evolution

Jack Spence Masthead


We all know that much of Disneyland's success was due to its innovative theming and storytelling. No other amusement park before Disneyland featured the attention to detail that this new Anaheim park offered. But that was only part of the formula to success. Cleanliness was another major component to the “Disney Difference.” Walt wanted his park to be spotless, and this included the restrooms.

If you're like me, you hate to use a public restroom. But of course, spending eight or more hours in a theme park necessitates stops to answer the call of nature. Thankfully, Disney restrooms are usually immaculate. And on the rare occasions when you do find a problem, all you have to do is mention it to any cast member and they will see to it that the issue is taken care of.

In the early years, the exterior of the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom restrooms were themed, but their interiors were still very basic. They were clean, but contained nothing except the bare necessities to get the job done. But to Walt's credit, he was innovative in one aspect of restroom design. He insisted that his restrooms be free of charge and he would not install pay toilets which were common in the 1950's.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of an early Disneyland restroom to share with you. Who takes pictures inside lavatories? That would be creepy (and use expensive film). But in order to write this article, I had to be a little creepy and do just that. So I arrived at the Magic Kingdom at opening and dashed from restroom to restroom and snapped some photos before guests needed a health break. I always made sure that no one was inside as I knew it would be disturbing to someone to hear the click of a camera and see a flash of light while they were doing their business. Because of this limitation, I was not able to take as many pictures as I might have liked in some facilities.

Over the years, as wear and tear dictated, Disney restrooms have been remodeled. Gradually, the theming that Disney is known for has made its way inside these facilities " and that's what I'm going to be showing you today.

The most basic and uninspired restroom I could find is located at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Even the exterior here is lacking.


TTC Restroom

TTC Restroom


However, compared to the 1950's, this uninspiring restroom is fantastic. To begin with, the sinks are contained within a counter. This looks nice and gives you space to set your belongings while washing your hands. In the early years, each sink was a separate basin. As for appearance, the floor tile is decorative and the listello adds a nice accent near the ceiling. In the “old days,” all restroom floor tile was somewhat industrial and the wall tiles were always white with no accent.

The first restroom many of us use in the Magic Kingdom is located between City Hall and the Fire Station. The exterior of this lavatory has always been beautiful.


Main Street Restroom

Main Street Restroom


Upon first glance, you might not appreciate this restroom, but if you look closely, you'll see that it is themed appropriately. First, notice the light fixtures. They are keeping with the Main Street theme. Next, take a look at the red, accent tile walls. These coordinate with the real red brick found on the building's exterior. And finally, see the intricate tile molding along the ceiling. This hints at crown molding and is keeping with the Victorian theming of Main Street.

One of the largest restrooms in the Magic Kingdom is located in the breezeway that connects Adventureland with Frontierland.


Adventureland Restrooms

Adventureland Restrooms


This recently refurbished facility is beautiful. Besides the impressive tile work on the wall, the floor also is extraordinary as it uses large tiles around the exterior of the room and smaller tiles that create a mosaic in the center of the room.

One of the most hidden restroom facilities of the Magic Kingdom can be found off of the shop adjacent to Pirates of the Caribbean. I also think this is perhaps the most elaborate of any the Magic Kingdom lavatories. The tile work in here is magnificent!


Pirate Restrooms

Pirate Restrooms

Pirate Restrooms


The “Pirate” restrooms also are some that use clever signage to indicate “Men,” and “Women.” But for those of you who don't read Spanish and are uncertain which to use, don't worry, there are also male and female stick-figures to help you out.


Restroom Sign

Restroom Sign


In the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, the Imagineers hid many of the restrooms in less trafficked areas of the park " like the “Pirates” restroom mentioned above. I'm not sure why. I guess they thought that restrooms were one of those “unmentionable” topics that should be tucked away in some obscure corner of the park. It's interesting to note, one of the most often asked questions of cast members is, “Where are the restrooms?” But things are different in the 21st century. Take for instance the newest restrooms to find their way into Fantasyland. Here, the Imagineers have built an entire mini-land around going to the bathroom.


Tangled Area


Located between “it's a small world” and the Haunted Mansion, this area is based on the Disney animated film, “Tangled” and reproduces a small section of the Kingdom of Corona. Here the Imagineers have created a park-like setting with benches, tables and chairs, charging stations for your electronics, overhead lanterns, and of course, bathrooms. In the distance is Rapunzel's tower. But the detailing doesn't stop on the outside. The restroom interiors are also nicely detailed.

The men's room is located inside one of Corona's local diners (which I think is an odd choice in which to house a restroom). Just inside the door we see wanted posters of some of the characters we're familiar with from the movie. Above the sinks are pans used in the establishment's food preparations. Even the stall doors were given an extra dash of detailing with simulated wood planks and hinges.


Tangled Men's Room

Tangled Men's Room

Tangled Men's Room

Tangled Men's Room


Another thing we're seeing in more and more reimagined Disney restrooms is the latest in hand blowers. These work much better than the old models that hung on the wall.


Hand Dryer


The lady's room can be found next door and is housed in a Corona shop. Since I could not enter this facility, I have borrowed some of AllEars blogger Kristin Ford's photos.


Tangled Women's Restroom

Tangled Women's Restroom

Tangled Women's Restroom

Tangled Women's Restroom

Tangled Women's Restroom


Disney did make a few mistakes when building the Magic Kingdom and the restrooms located in Liberty Tree Tavern are a good example. Here, the facilities are located up a narrow stairway on the second floor of the restaurant " with no elevator. You see, back in the late 1960's when Walt Disney World was being planned, no one gave much thought to those guests with mobility issues. Unfortunately, there is nothing the Imagineers can do to rectify this problem today. If you're in a wheelchair and need to use the restroom while eating at Liberty Tree Tavern, the closest facilities are the ones found in the breezeway connecting Adventureland and Frontierland.

A reader has informed me that Liberty Tree Tavern now has a handicapped restroom under the stairs.


Liberty Tree Tavern


However, the Imagineers have also corrected some oversights of the early years. Today, almost every restroom is equipped with a baby-changing table. This even applies to the men's rooms. At least one sink has been lowered for children and for those in wheelchairs. And Companion Restrooms are available to those guest who need assistance from a friend or relative. This is a godsend for single parents who have young children of the opposite sex that cannot go into a restroom alone.


Baby Changing Table

Lower Sink

Companion Restrooms


The restrooms near the exit of Splash Mountain are pretty basic when compared to others in the Magic Kingdom. They are definitely a bit stark.


Splash Mountain Restroom

Splash Mountain Restroom


The restrooms next to Pinocchio Village Haus are also rather plain when compared to the Pirate or Tangled restrooms. But notice how a little color and wall molding warms up this facility when looked at side-by-side with the Splash Mountain bathrooms.


Pinocchio Restroom

Pinocchio Restroom


I love the exterior of the restrooms found behind Gaston's Tavern. And the inside is pretty nice as well. Here the Imagineers used dark tile on the walls and tile-wood planks on the floor. This room's beauty is deceptively simple.


Gaston Restrooms

Gaston Restrooms


I've reported on this next restroom in a previous blog. Over at Storybook Circus we find a train turntable and tracks radiating from this central location. Some of the train tracks aim toward the roundhouse, were the restrooms are located. If you pay attention to the floor inside the restrooms, you'll see that the track is continued and reproduced with tile.


Storybook Circus Restrooms

Storybook Circus Restrooms

Storybook Circus Restrooms


Over in Tomorrowland, we find a rather unimpressive exterior hides a beautifully detailed interior. This “restroom of tomorrow” uses multiple shades of blue and space aged light fixtures to give guests the feeling of the future. I especially like the brushed metal look found on the towel dispensers.


Tomorrowland Restrooms

Tomorrowland Restrooms


There were always restrooms beneath the Tomorrowland Skyway Station, but when this attraction was retired, these facilities were neglected as the building sat for several years before this structure was reimagined. When construction was complete, guests found that these restrooms had been enlarged and given a nice, futuristic design.


Skyway Restrooms

Skyway Restrooms

Skyway Restrooms


The last restroom I will mention in the Magic Kingdom is located between the Plaza Restaurant and Tomorrowland Terrace. Once again, by today's standards, the exterior is somewhat uninspired for a facility with such a prominent exposure. The inside is nice, but nothing to write home about.


Plaza Restrooms

Plaza Restrooms


Although this article is about Magic Kingdom restrooms, I have to mention one recently refurbished facility at Disneyland. Next to the Alice in Wonderland attraction were the old “Prince” and “Princess” restrooms. These have been given a makeover and now offer an “Alice” theme with “King” and “Queen” designations. Notice how the tile work incorporates the colors of black, red, and white " the colors of playing cards. Also look at the stall doors that resemble playing cards. (My thanks to AllEars blogger Jason for the pictures.)


Alice Restrooms

Alice Restrooms

Alice Restrooms

Alice Restrooms


Over the years, two changes have come to all Disney restrooms. The first because of technology. In the late 1980's, the automatic flushing toilet was invented. It wasn't long after that these wonders started appearing at Disney parks and hotels. Now we don't have to touch the toilets with our hands " thank you very much! Not that I've kept track, but to my knowledge there are no hand-flush toilets to be found in public restrooms at the Disneyland or Disney World Resorts anymore. And we're also starting to see more and more automatic paper towel dispensers. Hurray!

Unfortunately, the other significant change to Disney restrooms came in 2001 during the anthrax scare. At that time, Disney immediately eliminated all powdered hand soap in favor of liquid. This required temporary bottles of soap be left out on counters until each restroom could be retrofitted.

Although there are interesting restroom decors in the other Disney World parks, none have gone through as many transformations as those at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Believe me when I say, even the most dull and unimaginative restroom today is a lot better than the originals of 1955 and 1971.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to go off topic for a moment. But I promise to tie it back into Disney if you'll just bear with me.

Trivia buffs will often tell you that the first toilet ever seen on network TV was on the “Leave it to Beaver” show. Well, this fact is only partially true. In the episode titled “Captain Jack” (October 11, 1957), Beaver sends away for and receives a baby Florida alligator. Knowing his mother June would not approve, he and Wally search for a place to hide it. Since the gator needs water, the first thought was to hide the critter in a sink or bathtub. But this wouldn't do as June would be certain to find it. So they settle on the toilet tank.

When the episode was filmed, the scene depicted the entire toilet, tank and bowl. But the censors of the day and CBS would have nothing to do with this offending porcelain necessity. In fact, they didn't even want a bathroom shown at all. Remember, people of the 1950's never spoke of such topics (or so the censors thought). The censors insisted that the episode be shelved until a solution could be found. After much wrangling, a compromise was reached and the scene reshot with only the toilet tank being shown -- not the “offending” bowl.


Leave it to Beaver


The next time a toilet was referenced on TV was during the run of All in the Family (1971 to 1979) when Archie flushes his offstage commode.

Now I'll bring this back to Disney…

As we know, Walt was often ahead of his time. And this was also the case with bathrooms, at least when the subject was relevant to his attractions. Even though the censors of the day didn't want the public to see a bathroom or toilet on TV, Walt was more than willing to feature these facilities at Disneyland if it educated and/or entertained.

On April 5, 1956, the Crane Company began sponsoring the Bathroom of Tomorrow attraction located in Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Even though the majority of the exhibit featured a collection of valves and clear pipes that guests could open and close to control the flow of water, there was a display of a modern bathroom, complete with a lemon yellow tub and toilet.


Bathroom of Tomorrow

Bathroom of Tomorrow


A little over a year later on June 12, 1957, Disney and Monsanto opened the House of the Future. This dwelling constructed of plastic featured two bathrooms, complete with toilets for all the world to see. It's estimated that during its ten year run, 20 million people toured this home of “1986.”


House of the Future

House of the Future


But it's one thing to display a toilet in an exhibition/advertisement. It's quite another to display a toilet in an honest-to-goodness attraction. Enter the Carousel of Progress which debuted at the New York World's Fair in 1964. In Act Two of the show, we're introduced to Cousin Orville soaking in the tub. Also in this room was a toilet. Now the Imagineers could have easily omitted the commode or hidden it from view if they had wished, but instead, used it conspicuously for humor. If you look closely, you can see that Orville uses it as a table to hold his cooling beverage. And in Act Four, we hear from Cousin Orville a second time as he flushes an offstage toilet. Did the writers of All in the Family steal this joke from Disney?


Cousin Orville

Cousin Orville Flushes


Once again, it demonstrates that Walt knew the public better than the so called experts " the censors. Audiences were not shocked by the sight of a bathroom or a toilet. Instead, they were entertained by it. But then, Disneyland was completely under his control and he called all the shots. On the other hand, Walt did have to deal with censors and ABC when making the Disneyland TV show and the Mickey Mouse Club. I don't ever recall Annette excusing herself to go to the bathroom.

Well, that's it for my rundown of the evolution of Magic Kingdom restrooms. I know I always tell you to slow down and smell the roses. But maybe on this occasion, we should just “look” and not “smell.” LOL



Page 3 of 5

Return to Blog Central

Categories