Today's article will be a little different that my usual entries. Instead of one, lengthy topic, I'm going to be covering several, unrelated subjects including some nostalgia, a restaurant recommendation, an editorial, and a juicy rumor. Let's start with nostalgia.
As a young man of 18, I had the good sense to save my first paystub from my job at Disneyland. I knew someday that I would find it of interest and it would rekindle memories. A few years ago, I went looking for it to include in one of my blogs. I opened box after box of my Disney paper-memorabilia collection, but my paystub could not be found. Discouraged, I gave up looking for it. A year later, I decided to look for it again, thinking I just missed it the first time around. But alas, it was nowhere to be found. I reasoned it had somehow been inadvertently thrown away.
Last month, I had movers arrive at my house to pack up most of my belongings for storage and move a selected few pieces of furniture to my apartment. One of these items was a chest of drawers. In preparation for the move, I emptied everything out of the drawers. And no, I didn't find the paystub in one of the drawers -- yet.
Later that night at the apartment, I started refilling my chest with clothes and other belongings. When opening one of the bottom drawers, I found my paystub. Apparently, when the movers upended the chest and placed it on their dolly, it dislodged the paystub from some hidden spot for me to find. Hurray.
I thought you might get a laugh at the dollar amounts. Although my hourly wage as a Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper would be $1.71 per hour, I was paid an astounding $2.15 per hour to attend Orientation (called Traditions today). I was also given a meal payment of $1.50 that bought a full lunch at the company cafeteria.
I've turned the paystub on its side so the check would be larger and you could see the amounts better. My, how things have changed in 42 years.
Because this is a "hodgepodge" blog, this will not be a full restaurant review, but rather a restaurant recommendation.
Splitsville is a new bowling alley that opened at Downtown Disney Westside last year. Even though I'm not a bowler, I had to check it out simply because it is on Disney property.
Splitsville is not your father's bowling alley. This is a sophisticated entertainment complex with one foot in the 1950's and the other in the 2010's. Here is what is offered:
"’ 30 Bowling Lanes
"’ Upscale Food, including 2 sushi bars
"’ Live Music
"’ Outdoor Patio Dining
"’ Billiards Tables
Even though I don't bowl, I still wanted to experience Splitsville, so I decided to have lunch with some friends one afternoon. When we arrived, we were asked if we wanted to sit indoors or out. Since it was somewhat cool, we opted for one of their very attractive indoor booths.
We were all impressed with the service. Our waiter arrived promptly and was attentive without being overbearing. He remembered who ordered what when bringing us our food - a major grading point for me when evaluating service.
We were all very impressed with the food. Along with traditional bowling alley fair such as pizza, burgers, nachos, and fries, gourmet selections such as Mahi Mahi with Voodoo Shrimp, California Roll, Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, and Steak Chimichurri are also on hand. To see the complete menu, click here.
I was impressed enough that I decided to return a week later. This time, the weather was remarkable. Because of this, I chose to sit on the second story balcony.
It's this balcony that I actually want to recommend in this article. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink and a good meal when it's nice outside. To me, food always tastes better alfresco. And take a look at the view. This is a wonderful place to surreptitiously people-watch. I've been back to the balcony several times since my first visit up here.
Even if you're not a bowler and you don't want to eat here, I strongly suggest dropping in next time you're visiting the Westside. This is a wonderful spot and worthy of Walt Disney World.
Two weeks ago, Disney announced that over the next three years, Downtown Disney would receive a major makeover and become "Disney Springs." Although the majority of the upgrades would be made to the current Pleasure Island section, the Westside and Marketplace would also receive enhancements. The overall project calls for the doubling of the number of shops and restaurants, revamping the parking lot and adding two parking structures, and a bridge that will cross a portion of Village Lake to ease pedestrian traffic.
I am absolutely thrilled with this announcement. Because Downtown Disney was built in stages over the years, there was no continuity between the Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and the Westside. And although these three areas will still remain as separate "neighborhoods," the plans call for a more cohesive and inclusive design that will help add unity to the area.
I am thrilled that Disney will be adding more shops. The plans state that the majority of these will be selling non-Disney merchandise. This is good. There are already more than enough "Disney" shops selling the same merchandise over and over again. It will be nice to have other goods and products to browse through when visiting here.
I am thrilled with the announcement that the parking lot will be redesigned and parking structures added. Currently there are not enough spaces near the Marketplace and the overall design of the parking lot is horrendous. It can be a nightmare trying to find a spot during busy periods.
I am thrilled that the bus stations will be consolidated. The current bus stop across from Pleasure Island is an embarrassment. It is not up to Disney standards and its location is ill-conceived.
I am thrilled that a pedestrian bridge will connect the two sides of the Marketplace. The walkways in this area are always congested and this new thoroughfare will greatly improve people flow.
However"¦ I am not thrilled with the name "Disney Springs."
As we know, the Imagineers like to begin each project with a backstory. This helps bring continuity and interest to the finished product. So this tried-and-true practice was applied when planning began on the refurbishment of Downtown Disney. This is what they came up with.
"The story of Disney Springs begins at our new Town Center, which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area. From there, the town grew to encompass three additional neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace and West Side - each with its own distinct charm and atmosphere."
Here are my problems with the name "Disney Springs."
The backstory is not original - not even to Disney. If you remember, they used this same backstory in the movie "Cars." Stanley Steamer discovered a spring in the middle of the desert and set up shop. The town of Radiator Springs grew around this spring.
There are already too many "springs" at WDW. We have two resorts containing this word: Coronado Springs and Saratoga Springs. Although I've never heard a backstory for either, wouldn't it be logical that their names were also derived from a nearby spring. And over at Blizzard Beach one of the water slides is called Teamboat Springs.
And finally, the name "Disney Springs" doesn't tell visitors what to expect. A first timer to WDW might just think it's another resort. The word "downtown" was far more descriptive. In most cities across the U.S., the word downtown is associated with the business district -- the area where you'll find restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. Disney Springs conjures up none of this for me.
Two years ago, Disney announced "Hyperion Wharf," an earlier plan to refurbish Pleasure Island. But construction never began. Today, Disney freely admits that upon further thought, they realized they could do better and went back to the drawing board.
Now I don't expect the Imagineers to change the backstory they've come up with for the revitalized Downtown Disney, but I hope they realize that they could do better when it comes to a name. What's wrong with keeping the name Downtown Disney? People are already familiar with it and know what to expect.
So what do you think? Do you like the new name of Disney Springs or do you prefer Downtown Disney? Or do you have another name you'd like to see? Write a comment and let me know. Then check back every couple of days to see what others have posted.
On a related topic, I'd like to speak to the Disney copy writers in regards to the following sentence found in one of their press releases:
"Drawing inspiration from Florida's waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront."
Springs don't flow. A spring is the spot where water bubbles up from beneath the earth. From there the spring becomes a brook, creek, or stream. Brooks, creeks, and streams flow, but not springs.
I don't usually report on rumors. They're just too unreliable. But in this case, I just have to. I have it on good authority that a pretty big announcement will be made in mid-April. I was even able to obtain some concept photos/art to share with you.
It seems that Disney has decided to build a dome over the Magic Kingdom. This has been on the drawing board for years, but it's only been in the last five years that technology has reached a point to make this possible.
Of course, the first advantage of a dome is climate control. Disney will be able to maintain a constant temperature throughout the year. Now, the tiring effects of humidity will be a thing of the past. And the sudden downpours of summer will no longer hamper your touring plans. This will help greatly now that Disney is implementing advance-FastPass and total-day touring plans.
The dome will also shield out ultraviolet light. No more sunburns.
The covering will also use a "transition" type material that will darken and lighten depending on the time of day and lighting conditions.
In case you're concerned, the fireworks will still be shot off from behind the Magic Kingdom (outside the dome), but still clearly visible from within. In fact, Disney has some surprises in store for us as they will use projections and fiber optics on the dome in conjunction with the firework display.
Construction will probably begin in September, after the summer crowds have gone home.
For more information on this, scroll down.