March 2012 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 28, 2012 Issue #649 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the next few months, AllEars.Net will be highlighting exclusive excerpts from Sam Gennawey's book, Walt and the Promise of Progress City. The book explores the process through which meaningful and functional spaces were created by Walt Disney and his artists, as well as how guests understand and experience those spaces. It also takes a look how Walt wanted to change the public's expectations about city life in the same way his earlier work had redefined what it meant to watch an animated film or visit an amusement park. In this month's excerpt, we learn about the signature building blocks that make Disney the innovators in theme park physical design.

The Building Blocks of Disney Theme Park Design
by Sam Gennawey

The Berm

At Disneyland, Bill Evans built a 20-foot mound of earth -- or berm -- that completely surrounds the park. A berm is a narrow ledge or shelf generally made of dirt with the top or bottom of a slope planted with trees and plants to control a view. Along the top edge is a dense layer of plant materials. At Disneyland, the berm is one of the defining physical features; it is what separates the theme park from the rest of the adjacent development and from the world. The use of the berm was adopted from both the Burbank studio and Walt's home in Holmby Hills. The berm allowed Walt to control the environment, create a more intimate setting, and prevent visual and sound intrusions. Bill Evans taught Walt: "Trees alone won't do that. It takes about a hundred feet of dense trees to block sound, but you can do that with about 20 feet of earth."

Referring to the berm at Disneyland, Norman Klein says in The Vatican to Vegas, "Technically a berm was the shoulder of earth that obscured Anaheim from visitors. As a narrative, the berm was the proscenium arch, marking the reassuring boundaries of the scripted space." The berm created a horizon for many of the vistas within the park. In the 1990s, the Disney Imagineers expanded the definition of the berm so that they could apply it to the stores and other indoor environments. Today, they consider the berm to be "the threshold... isolating the visitor from the street, and inviting a theatrical suspension of disbelief."

The Wienie

At the end of each pathway that radiates out from the Plaza Hub is what Walt called a "wienie" -- typically a strong vertical physical element that functions as a view terminus. Walt observed that people move toward things that are inviting, and, borrowing from silent-era comedy films, he coined the term 'wienie" to refer to such things. Why wienie? In The Vatican to Vegas, Norman Klein quipped, 'The movie dog jumps on cue because someone wiggles a frankfurter off screen. That is what Walt Disney meant by a wienie." John Hench defined a wienie as 'A beckoning hand [that] promises something worthwhile; its friendly beckoning fingers say, 'Come this way. You'll have a good time.'" Historian Steven Watts says wienies 'were the large visual attractions in each 'land', which caught the eye and drew people along preordained routes so that the crowds flowed smoothly." Wienies build memories and make for repeat visits. They are the centerpieces of the scripted space...

Read the rest of this excerpt in the AllEars® Guest blog:

Interested in Walt and the Promise of Progress City? Order it through the AllEars.Net Amazon store:

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Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of, encourages you to check out these hidden images the next time you're on WDW property. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

1. Take a boat ride on the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans French Quarter to Downtown Disney Marketplace. When you pass under the first bridge on your journey, look to your right and spot a classic Mickey made of coiled rope lying on the ground. I hope this great Hidden Mickey stays around for a while! (Thanks to Beth Higginbotham, Matt Holley, and Frank Marando.)

2. On the Sassagoula River boat ride to and from Port Orleans French Quarter and Downtown Disney Marketplace, study the windows of the Treehouse Villas for small, white classic Hidden Mickeys. You'll probably spot several of these awesome Hidden Mickeys. (Thanks to Nancy Blevins.)

3. Meet Mickey Mouse in his Magic Greeting Room on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom and look around for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was an early creation of Walt Disney, and the rights to Oswald were recently reacquired by the Disney Company. He's drawn on a piece of paper on a bulletin board at the rear of Mickey's greeting room. Say hello to Oswald!

You can find a selection of past Hidden Mickeys Alerts here:

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by Emily Woesthoff
General Manager for BabyCakes NYC at Downtown Disney

It should only make sense that three of the most vegan-friendly restaurants exist within the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We've already talked about Boma, and Sanaa (located in Kidani Village), but have yet to explore the wonder that is Jiko. One of the greatest things about Jiko is that it has a "regular" menu, a vegetarian menu, and a vegan menu, much like Sanaa does. Having a separate vegan menu really takes the guess work, and question-asking out of ordering a vegan meal in Walt Disney World. Though this menu only boasts two entree selections, there are five different appetizer options that are vegan. The Roasted Mushroom Flatbread could almost stand as an entree by itself. It's essentially pizza with mushrooms and onions instead of cheese, and olive hummus instead of tomato sauce. The crust is thin, crispy, and delicious. Another great appetizer option is the Taste of Africa, which features four different dips to accompany the Lentil Pappadum and Whole Wheat Lavosh bread. The Lentil Pappadum is a wafer-thin cracker, perfect for dipping! The portion sizes are excellent, so even these two appetizers can stand in for an entree. If you choose not to get an entree, though, you'd really be missing out. You can't go wrong with either of the two options Jiko has to offer: Curried Summer Vegetables, and Egyptian Kushari. The Curried Summer Vegetable option is served over coconut basmati rice and boasts some definite kick factor, kick-ey enough to make your nose run. If you're not a fan of spice, you'll want to try my favorite, the Egyptian Kushari. This dish is very couscous heavy with chickpeas, tomato sauce, almonds, and a light vinaigrette. It's flavorful and very filling! The prices are comparable to Boma, and even though this is not an all-you-care-to-eat experience, the portions are pretty immense. If you have room for coffee and dessert afterwards, Jiko serves a delightful Kenyan coffee (which is also available at Sanaa) that rivals the Polynesian's Kona Coffee. They also offer both sorbet, and Rice Dream Ice Cream for dessert, too! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to dine on property. Even during busier times of year (ahem, I ate here on Christmas Day), it's not too difficult to book an ADR at Jiko. Enjoy!

Missed previous Vegan Tips from Emily? We're compiling them here:

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Compiled by AllEars® Team Member Cathy Bock

In this monthly featurette, we take a look at recent comments made in the AllEars.Net Rate & Review section about a particular restaurant, resort, event, etc. This month, we examine what AllEars® readers are saying about Columbia Harbour House, located in the Magic Kingdom.

Columbia Harbour House is a counter service restaurant serving lunch and dinner. It is recommended by 96% of reviewers and has an average rating of 8.5.

From recent reviews:

Food: "great salads and sandwiches"; "ordered the Lobster Roll... bread was fresh and was stuffed with lobster salad"; "food is very good with nice fish and chicken lunch"; "If I wasn't on the dining plan, I would have been disappointed with the three fish sticks and two pieces of broccoli"; "servings were huge and could easily share"; "loved the clam chowder, the bacon added nice flavor and flair"; "shrimp basket was yummy as ever and didn't disappoint with 10-12 good sized shrimp"; "tried the tuna sandwich and the hummus/broccoli slaw sandwich, both were large and yummy"; "lobster rolls... almost as good as the rolls we get in Cape Cod"; "food was hot and tasty"; "the lobster roll... sounded good, but I was disappointed"; "got the clam chowder and it is so tasty!"; 'tuna sandwich... was fresh and tasty"; "always have the Lighthouse sandwich. It's delicious!"; "DH had the fish basket and was not amused to have it come with broccoli"; "had the fried shrimp and a salad, both were good."

Desserts: "apple dessert was not worth eating"; "apple crisps were the favorite of the counter service desserts"; "very good -- an apple tart"; "got the Chocolate Cake for dessert. It was actually pretty good for a pre-packaged dessert."

Service: "members of the staff that I talked with were so friendly and welcoming"; "were having a whale of a time goofing around behind the counter, ringing the service bell and yelling out to each other... a little too much like fooling around"; "little mix-up with our order as some orders placed after ours came out before we got our food -- but when we called attention to it, the servers worked on getting our order out to us as quickly as they could."

Atmosphere: "enough seating and is in a great location"; "very nice air conditioned, semi-secluded upstairs dining"; "very clean, with good clean restrooms";"like the abundance of seating upstairs, away from the crowds"; "when I pulled the chair out to sit, my hand nearly stuck to the accumulated grease and grime"; "ample seating upstairs, it's fairly quiet and was very clean"; "atmosphere really shows Disney attention to detail"; "nice views if you can get a table by the windows upstairs."

Overall: "would certainly visit this restaurant again"; "one of our favorites"; "never had a bad experience dining at the Columbia Harbour House"; "nice spot to stop and rest"; "favorite place to eat lunch at MK."

If you have recently dined at Columbia Harbour House, we'd love to have your review!

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Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival -- The 19th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will run March 7-May 20. An eight-foot-tall floral Sorcerer Mickey topiary will greet guests at the entrance to Epcot, standing atop a 12-foot-tall floral mountain cliff and towering above the park's front-entrance topiary bed. The rest of the display will include manicured shapes of dancing broomsticks, buckets, mushrooms, hippos, alligators and elephants straight from the classic Disney film, Fantasia.

The 2012 Flower Power Concert series lineup for March is as follows (subject to change):

--March 9-11: Jose Feliciano
--March 16-18: Starship Starring Mickey Thomas
--March 23-25: The Guess Who
--March 30-April 1: The Spinners

Shows are performed every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at America Gardens Theatre in Epcot, as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Showtimes are 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. (There is no separate admission charge for these shows.)

HGTV designers and personalities will make presentations at the Festival Center at noon and 3 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Festival. The presentations for March are:

-- March 9 - 11: John Gidding, HGTV's Curb Appeal: The Block, presents "Designing for Curb Appeal"
-- March 16 - 18: Sabrina Soto, HGTV's The High/Low Project, presents "Decorating Design Tips, Tricks and Savvy Shopping Secrets"
-- March 23 - 25: Jason Cameron, DIY Network's Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves, presents "Working Makeover Magic for Desperate Landscapes"
-- March 30 - April 1: Camille Styles, Entertainment contributor, presents "Planning Garden Parties That Are Simple, But Not Your Garden Variety"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read Kristin Ford's interview with HGTV's Brandon Johnson on the new season of "My Yard Goes Disney":

Disney's Hollywood Studios

--Mickey's Railroad Adventure Cel Release and Artist Signing will be held Saturday, March 17, at Studios Animation Gallery, Disney's Hollywood Studios. Special guests will be Ink & Paint Artists Erin Magill, Theodora M. DeLaney, David Rippberger, Lynn Rippberger, and Sharon K. Vincent. Times: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. For more information on the cel release and special ordering:

2012 Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine -- March 8-11, 2012. Disney's Dreamers Academy will honor 100 students, selected from thousands of applicants. Students selected will participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to career paths ranging from Animation to Zoology. Each participant learns important interview skills, communication techniques and networking strategies.

The Disney Honors -- February 28 - March 3, 2013. A non-competitive experience for middle and high school choirs, concert bands and orchestras ensembles that focuses solely on education and artistic growth.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

-- Atlanta Braves Spring Training at ESPN Wide World of Sports is underway for the 15th consecutive year. This year Walt Disney World passholders have two opportunities to see exhibition games from the suite level of Champion Stadium: March 11, when the Braves play the Toronto Blue Jays; March 31 when they play the Detroit Tigers. Both games begin at 1:05 p.m. Admission includes passes to get on the field for batting practice before the game, a full ballpark buffet (served noon to 1:30 p.m.), a chance to see Mickey Mouse, and an opportunity for children to run the bases after the game. Space is limited; call 407-938-3223 for reservations. Prices: with on-field passes -- $99 adults, $89 ages 3-9; without on-field passes -- $87 adults, $77 ages 3-9. Individual game tickets are also available through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000 and ) and at the sports complex box office. For more information about Atlanta Braves Spring Training games:

-- March 10-11, 2012: The 2012 UCA/UDA International All Star Championship . The weekend competition will include all star cheer and dance teams from various levels/age groups. Competitors will range in age from 4 years to 18 years of age. The cheer competition includes mini, tiny, youth, junior, senior international open, limited coed and coed categories. This event is sanctioned by Universal Cheerleaders Association and Universal Dance Association, of Varsity Brands. For more information or to Register. Visit or

Downtown Disney

--Downtown Disney Marketplace's Disney's Pin Traders will be hosting monthly events with Disney Design Group artists over the next several months. The artists, who are behind the creation of select Walt Disney World pins, will be meeting with fans and signing pins from 5 to 7 p.m. on the following dates:

-- March 23: Adrianne Draude (designed the "Piece of Disney Movies - Monsters, Inc." pin)
-- April 13: Alex Maher
-- May 25: Adrianne Draude
-- July 27: Adrianne Draude

--Downtown Disney Pleasure Island will celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend with live Pleasure Island stage performances by The Wyndbreakers, Florida's own "neo-traditional, pub-rockin', guitar pickin' Celtic" musicians; Celtic Wave, with its own traditional Irish flair; and Celtic Nova, putting its own twist on popular lrish tunes. Family-fun activities will include face-painting and stilt-walkers, and there will be plenty of St. Patrick's Day souvenirs available.

--Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island is hosting a number of St. Patrick's Day festivities, beginning with a four-course kickoff Luncheon and Culinary Demonstration March 15 at 1 p.m. in the restaurant's Grand Dining Room. Chef Kevin Dundon will demonstrate how to create each course, including a Loin of Traditional Irish Bacon with Irish Mist Glaze. To book a table at the Signature Lunch ($45 per person, plus tax and gratuity), call 407-938-0300 or 407-WDW-DINE, or visit

Disney Trading Nights, a free activity open to all ages for trading such items as pins and Vinylmations, will be held on various evenings throughout the year. The next event is set for March 2, 2012, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Disney's Contemporary Resort - Fantasia H Ballroom.


Don't forget to check our Events page for current updates:



Magic Kingdom

Construction on the New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is well underway. For a current set of construction photos:

Dumbo the Flying Elephant closed January 9. One-half of the new attraction is due to open in its new location along with several other attractions (including the Barnstormer with the Great Goofini) in the Storybook Circus section of the land in late March.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be closed for an extensive refurbishment, January 9 until May 27, 2012.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland will be closed for refurbishment February 26 until March 10, 2012.

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is under refurbishment and may be closed until March 27.


Tutto Italia in the Italy pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase is currently closed for a refurbishment. Its reopening has been postponed until April 28, 2012. Later this year, the Italy pavilion will also introduce the Gusto Wine Bar. A brand new Italian food kiosk is serving to-go eats and wine in Epcot's Italy. This spot is temporary during the refurbishment of Tutto Italia. You can get Food and Wine Festival-inspired items like baked cheese ravioli, spicy shrimp with angel hair pasta, panini, and soup; prices range from $7-$10 for savory entrees. Italian beer and wine are also available. Finish off your meal with a chocolate cannoli.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure in Disney's Hollywood Studios will be closed February 13 through March 10, 2012.

The Studio Backlot Tour will also be closed for refurbishment February 13 through March 10.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

-- Beginning this spring, Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom will undergo some wild changes, aimed at giving guests the opportunity to see more of their favorite animals, specifically zebras, during the 20-minute open-air ride. Though zebras have long been part of Kilimanjaro Safaris, they are often overlooked because of their location on the savanna. By creating a new habitat for the zebras, Guests will have more of an opportunity to see them. The audio-animatronics "Little Red" elephant and related "poacher" set pieces will be removed as the theme park adds a new savanna space, including a watering hole for live animals. Work will begin in March and construction is scheduled to be complete in fall 2012. Kilimanjaro Safaris will remain open during the construction.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

-- The first wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort will open on May 31, 2012. Located near Pop Century Resort, the new resort will offer 1,120 family suites (including a bedroom and living room) themed after "The Lion King," "Cars" and "Finding Nemo" animated films, as well as 864 guest rooms inspired by "The Little Mermaid." The current opening timetable has the "Finding Nemo" wing opening May 31, the "Cars" wing in late July, and "The Lion King" wing in late September. The final wing, themed after "The Little Mermaid," will debut in late 2012. Although the resort is still several months away from opening, it's already set to break records by planning the largest swimming pool at the Walt Disney World Resort (aside from the water parks). This pool will be located in the "Finding Nemo" wing, and will measure 11,859 square feet. The resort also will feature two other pools and a children's water play area. Disney's Art of Animation Resort will be a "value" category of lodging, with nightly rates similar to Disney's All-Star Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort.

Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside Resort

-- Royal Guest Rooms are now under construction in the Magnolia Bend section of the Port Orleans-Riverside resort. Opening in early spring 2012, the Royal Guest Rooms allow princes and princesses of all ages to stay where Disney royalty have stayed. Guests find regal touches left behind by some of their favorite Disney characters -- fiber optics special effects above ornately decorated beds, gold and crystal accents, custom linens and drapes, and in-room art and details including Princely banners and Princess friends. The 512 Royal Guest Rooms start at $189 per night, and are booking now.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

-- The spa at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa closed on September 19, 2011, for 18 months as part of a planned renovation at the resort, and the addition of Disney Vacation Club units. During this downtime, enhancements are also being planned for the spa. As an alternative, you can purchase spa services at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. If you are staying at the Grand Floridian or the Polynesian Resort and you book a spa treatment at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, complimentary transportation will be provided for you. Note that the health club at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is still open. In addition, the Ivy Trellis Beauty and Barber Shop remain open in the main building of the Grand Floridian.

Disney's Polynesian Resort

-- The Nanea Volcano Pool slide at Disney's Polynesian Resort will be under refurbishment from January 30 - April 1, 2012. Guests may use the Nanea Volcano pool; however, the slide will be down for four weeks beginning February 6, 2012. Guests wanting access to a pool slide can take pontoon transportation to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Disney's Old Key West Resort

-- Disney's Old Key West Resort is undergoing a number of refurbishment projects. Repairs and repainting of resort bus and picnic shelters is scheduled to run through March 30, 2012. Meanwhile, several buildings at Old Key West's Hospitality House are scheduled for roof repairs. This project encompasses the main lobby and Olivia's. The roof repairs are scheduled to last through May 16, 2012. (All refurbishment dates are approximate.)

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

-- As Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa -- From February 9 through April 24, 2012, the rockwork at the High Rock Spring pool will be painted. The pool and slide are expected to remain open throughout the painting project. From February 21 to April 12, the Carriage House lobby will be repainted. In addition, each of the 18 resort building exteriors is being repainted. The building repainting is expected to conclude in August 2012. (Exact project dates may vary.)

Disney's Bay Lake Tower

-- The Bay Cove Pool slide at Bay Lake Tower closed February 20 for a month-long refurbishment. It is set to reopen on March 17:

Downtown Disney

-- At West Side, construction is underway on Splitsville, a 50,000-square-foot upscale entertainment center that combines bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife. On Pleasure Island, some buildings have been removed, but plans for the site are being reevaluated, which means previously announced construction plans have been delayed.

-- Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney is undergoing refurbishment. During the renovation, the restaurant will remain open. Upon completion in October 2012, a new lounge area, exterior updates and an updated volcano will be unveiled.

Typhoon Lagoon water park will be closed through March 17 for its annual refurbishment.


A complete list of rehabs can be found here:

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tlm1993: It was our first day in the World and we had time for one more ride before dinner, so decided to take a nice relaxing ride on "it's a small world." When the ride stopped in the last room, the kids started aggravating each other. My son ripped my daughter's glasses off her face and threw them in the water. My daughter has a very strong prescription with bifocals. It takes about two weeks to get her glasses made. The ride attendants let my husband ride with them to see if they could spot the glasses in the water and get them out with a picker. They did explain with the currents in the water they could be anywhere in the ride or could have gone in the track and been destroyed.They did not find them, but said they would tell the maintenance crew, took our phone numbers and told us to fill out a lost and found slip at City Hall. My daughter loves Epcot so we headed there -- of course we would do anything for her at this point. We walked around Epcot for a while, then I got a phone call from a maintenance engineer named Phil. He said he was holding a tiny pair of glasses that belonged to a very sad little girl who could not see. He said he would bring them to our hotel when he got off of work that night. We told him we didn't want to inconvenience him, but he insisted. We could not thank him enough. We filled out an employee recognition form for Phil going above and beyond to make our trip wonderful and my daughter wrote Phil a thank you letter. When my daughter grows out of this pair of glasses they will go into our scrapbook for 2011 with the tale of "it's a small world."

Jim and Susan: On the very last day of a five-day trip to WDW, our family entered Hollywood Studios somewhat exhausted and slightly frantic to cram in a little more magic before we had to catch a plane that afternoon. Our 6-year-old daughter had been searching for Pluto since we first set foot in the World and had yet to find him. A cast member greeted us as we entered the park and I told him that my baby just couldn't go home until she hugged Pluto. This kind gentleman -- who walked with a cane and limp -- said, "Let me see what I can do about that," and made his way somewhat laboriously to a customer service station to ask some questions. He then got on his walkie-talkie to ask some more. About three minutes later, he told us when and where Pluto would be making an unscheduled appearance that day. I could have hugged him! We were at the designated spot on time and, sure enough, here came Pluto! I have the most precious photo of that hug. That one moment made our daughter's entire trip! And the kind cast member who went above and beyond to help a tired mom fulfill a wish -- well, that made mine.

Connie Norman (AKA Gamma): We love taking our grandson Peyton to WDW. He is infatuated with Peter Pan. On his third trip to WDW, he wore his Peter Pan costume seven of the nine days of our trip. On the first day, we started out by going to his favorite ride, Peter Pan, of course. We got in line and the cast member came up to Peyton and said, "Peter, please come with me, you cannot wait in line for your ride!" Peyton looked at me, like, "should I go or not?" I said, "Go ahead Peyton, we will follow you." The cast member took us to the front of line! When we got off the ride, there was another cast member waiting, who asked "Peter" how many people were with him. He said four, and the cast member gave us eight Fastpasses for the day!


We just bet you have a story to tell about an unforgettable moment during your Disney vacation! Please send your favorite memory for inclusion in a future AllEars® to:

Thank you all for sharing!

We've also compiled a collection of photos from readers sharing their Magical Moments via digital images in the latest Wandering the World.


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.