June 2012 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the May 29, 2012 Issue #662 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the past few months, AllEars.Net has been 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 at 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, the final in our series, we learn about Walt Disney's goals for the Disney World project.

The Florida Project
by Sam Gennawey

What would motivate somebody as successful as Walt Disney to take on one of the most difficult challenges that anybody could tackle: the reinvention and renewal of our urban spaces? Could it be, after changing the world of animation and the amusement park industry, he felt he had a higher calling?

Walt Disney said, "I don't believe that there's a challenge anywhere in the world that's more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities." Walt felt that something was wrong with the way cities were designed, and he believed that, with the proper application of new technologies and creative thinking, he could create a city that would demonstrate to others how they could solve their urban planning problems.

Walt was not a fan of cities, and he really could not understand why anybody would want to live in one. He felt that his growing up in the country had given him a sense of independence, individualism, and democratic character. Perhaps because he spent a lot of time on the streets of Kansas City as a boy, his image of city centers was that they were overcrowded, unclean, sometimes dangerous places, and always filled with visual chaos. Walt was especially disappointed with the way Los Angeles was becoming choked in urban sprawl. Walt sensed that many American cities and suburbs were disorienting and inefficient.

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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According to a recent press release from Disney, sweet sales are soaring in U.S. restaurants. Last year at Walt Disney World Resort alone, pastry chefs used more than 865,000 pounds of sugar. Which Disney desserts are your favorites? Here are some longtime bestsellers — if you haven't tried them yet, be sure to put them on your "Must" List for your next Walt Disney World trip!

  • Silky chai cream with tea tuile at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
  • Warm berry cobbler at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge — seasonal fruit and a sugary crust served with vanilla ice cream.
  • Old-fashioned s'mores at 50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios — graham crackers, chocolate square and marshmallows, served warm, just like the campfire days.
  • A Florida favorite, the Key lime pie at Olivia's Cafe at Old Key West Resort.
  • The legendary grapefruit cake at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios, made from the 1920s recipe shared from the original Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood.
  • The satiny creme brulee with a crisp brown sugar topping served at restaurants at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
  • The Kona Kone at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Resort: a giant waffle cone filled with ice cream and served with cotton candy and M&Ms.
  • The Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, a wonderfully sinful sundae meant for sharing with a gallon of ice cream, multiple toppings and an entire can of whipped cream.

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Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeyGuy.com, features a few cool Hidden Mickeys for you this month:

1. Admire a female mannequin inside the Tren-D Store at Downtown Disney Marketplace, Walt Disney World. She moves around sometimes inside the store, but when you find her, you'll know she's the one. A tiny black classic Hidden Mickey is on her cheek, under her left eye. Now that's an attractive freckle! (Thanks to Nancy Blevins, Marli Worden, Jordan Taylor, and Sharon Dale.)


2. Outside T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney Marketplace, WDW, check out the inside rear of the truck parked at the right of the restaurant entrance. A classic Mickey is traced as a clearing in the dirt or sawdust on the covered truck bed. (Thanks to Clara Rosadas, and Dave Gallant.)


3. At ESPN Wide World of Sports, walk past Champion Baseball Stadium, the Field House and several multipurpose Sports Fields to the Track and Field Complex way in the back. A clever classic Mickey forms the base of the discus throwing launch pad. The photo below was taken from nearby bleachers. (Thanks to Michael Nemeroff.)


You can find a selection of past Hidden Mickeys Alerts 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 Mama Melrose's, which is located at the Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Mama Melrose's is a full service restaurant. AllEars® reviewers give it an average rating of 7.7 and it is recommended by 88% of reviewers.

From recent reviews:

Food: "all of our meals were too salty"; "pasta was very undercooked"; "husband ordered the steak which he did really enjoy"; "gnocchi… were heavy and tough"; "was really good and plentiful"; "cheese pizza, which we all sampled, and it was AMAZING!"; "had the Chicken alla Parmigiana, and wow! I've never had chicken that was as tender and juicy as this."; "clam dish is one of my past favorites and it did not disappoint this time"; "steak was perfectly cooked, tender and flavorful"; "Everyone enjoyed their food immensely"; "food was excellent and a nice surprise"; "chicken parm, grilled chicken flatbread and margherita flatbread were all served hot, fresh and delicious"; "had chicken campenelle and potato gnocchi — both delicious"; "food was very good"; "stuck with the flatbreads. Thumbs up on the wild mushroom arugula and margherita; big thumbs up on the carne d'italia. It was spicy and flavorful."; "Only thing not great was the caesar salad; it had a ton of anchovy oil on it that overpowered all other flavors"; "salad was fairly bland"; "Chicken Campanelle… was very good"; "Oven-baked Chicken all a Parmigiana… was good, but nothing to write home about"; "ordered the pizza which was disgusting"; "husband got the Carne pizza and I got the Margherita pizza. Both were huge and so tasty that we ate up almost the whole thing."

Desserts: "what is up with the chef's choice-shared dessert. You don't pick your own dessert anymore. The chef sends out his suggestion on one plate and everyone shares it. It was a poor idea."; "desserts were pre-plated since we were on the (Fantasmic) package and included all chocolate offerings"; "tiramisu and cheesecake… were great"; "had pound cake and DH had the chocolate cake with nutella filling — he said it was the best dessert he had all week"; "kids loved their spaghetti and meatball cupcake. It was huge and they could not eat the whole thing."; "dessert was our favorite part – a chocolate cheesecake!".

Service: "disappeared for long periods of time and was inattentive"; "really good service"; "server was the sweetest man ever (he was new, too) and he knew the menu well in order to give us a few pointers on what was good"; "waiter Kevin was wonderful!"; "best service we had the whole time we were there"; "was very attentive without being intrusive, we would definitely ask for her again"; "helped tremendously in finding us something on the menu we would like"; "was excellent"; "server was not very friendly"; "had ADRs and when we arrived (early), we were told they were running 45 minutes behind".

Atmosphere: "loved seeing all the different things hanging from the ceiling: flamingos, grapes, lights… truly magical! This restaurant has a story to tell!"; "interior waiting space is woefully inadequate"; "decor is great".

Overall: "always pleases"; "best Fantasmic bang for your buck"; "will likely avoid it in the future"; "cannot wait to head back next year"; "has become our favorite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World"; "will eat here again!"; "this place is a hit or miss".

If you have recently eaten at Mama Melrose's, we'd love to have your review!

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The Sounds Like Summer concert series is held annually at Epcot's America Gardens Theatre, featuring "tribute" bands that cover music by popular artists. Entrance to the concerts is free with paid admission to the park. The 2012 series (subject to change) runs from June 10 through July 28. Bands set to appear in June are:

  • June 10 – June 17: Hotel California (Eagles tribute band) (pictured above)
  • June 18 – June 23: Mike Delguidice & Big Shot (The Ultimate Billy Joel Experience)
  • June 24 – June 30: Stayin' Alive (tribute to the Bee Gees)

Showtimes are 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. nightly.

Internationally recognized artist Larry Dotson, known for his oil paintings of scenes around the Disney parks, will be at Walt Disney World for a series of special appearances and signings in the coming months:

— May 31-June 3: Animation Gallery, Disney's Hollywood Studios
— June 30-July 6: Main Street Gallery, Magic Kingdom

Dotson's work can be found at the four Walt Disney World theme parks, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney Golf Course Pro Shops, Art of Disney Galleries, and on the Disney Cruise Line.

Watercolor artist David E. Doss is also appearing at Walt Disney World June 18 – July 3: Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Check with the individual locations for exact times.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Weekends Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through June 10. James Arnold Taylor, who provides the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi for the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, serves as the Official Celebrity Host of Star Wars Weekends 2012. Ashley Eckstein, the voice of The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano, is Celebrity Host of "Behind the Force," a show that gives fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


Downtown Disney

The second Car Masters Weekend is June 2-3. The event will celebrate the Disney-Pixar "Cars" films, with meet and greets with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Finn McMissile, as well as a Cars movie marathon at AMC Downtown Disney 24.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The ESPNHS Girls Showcase , a weekend sports festival event formerly known as the ESPN RISE Girls Showcase, runs May 31-June 3. The Showcase at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World features the best female athletic talent in basketball, softball, martial arts, gymnastics and volleyball. Designed to provide the female athlete with training to help improve her game and mentoring that inspires her, this four-day event will feature select high school athletes on the national and international levels.

Orlando Gay Days — This is event is NOT affiliated with The Walt Disney Company in any way. It has been held in the Orlando area since 1991. http://www.gaydays.com


Don't forget to check our Events page for current updates: http://allears.net/pl/events.htm



Magic Kingdom

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin will be closed briefly for refurbishment June 27-29, 2012.

The ongoing Fantasyland expansion project continues, with the next phase of openings slated for July 2012. The Disney Parks Blog posts periodic photo updates, such as the recent post revealing images from the new library that will be part of Enchanted Tales with Belle:


Disney's Hollywood Studios

The American Idol Experience will be closed for refurbishment June 14-15.


Test Track in Epcot's Future World closed for refurbishment April 16, 2012. It is expected to reopen as Test Track Presented by Chevrolet in fall 2012. The re-imagined attraction will transform into the "Chevrolet Design Center at Epcot" with interactive design and styling workstations at which you will be able to create custom concept vehicles. Also included will be a "SimCar" ride vehicle experience where you can put your design through its paces on the Test Track circuit. The post-show area will feature the latest Chevrolet vehicles in an all-new, state-of-the-art showroom, as well as lots of special effects. While Test Track is closed for refurbishment, a number of special experiences will be added to the entertainment schedule. The Test Track Allstars, a travel-themed a cappella group, is now performing daily in the area near the Test Track pavilion. In addition, the Epcot Character Spot, Soarin' and all attractions, merchandise locations and grab-n-go food and beverage offerings in The Land will remain open until 10 p.m. on a trial basis.


The Nature-Inspired by Design Segway Tour at Epcot will be discontinued as of July 3. Until then, you can continue to book the tour by contacting 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687). The remaining dates for the tour are: June 5 and 19; and July 3 (final day).

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom is undergoing some 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, safari-goers will have more of an opportunity to see them. The audio-animatronics "Little Red" elephant and related "poacher" set pieces have been removed and a new savanna space, including a watering hole for live animals, will be added. Work began in March; construction is scheduled to be complete in fall 2012. Kilimanjaro Safaris will remain open during the construction.

The Affection Section located at Rafiki's Planet Watch is closed for refurbishment through June 8, 2012.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

The first wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort is set to 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 Cars wing is set to open June 18; Lion King wing opens August 10; Little Mermaid wing is slated to open September 15. The resort will be home to 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.

EDITOR'S NOTE: AllEars.Net's Deb Wills and Kristin Ford will be staying at the new resort when it opens. Watch for photos and reports on AllEars.Net beginning May 31.

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 Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Building repainting is expected to conclude in August 2012. Also, accessories and linens ("soft goods) are being replaced. The project is expected to last through spring 2013. Note that all refurbishment dates are estimates only and exact project dates may vary.

For some photos of the rehab: http://allears.net/acc/g_ss_refurb.htm


Downtown Disney

Splitsville at Downtown Disney West Side is expected to open this fall, combining bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife. Splitsville will include 45,000 square feet with 30 lanes on two floors. Bowlers can feast on hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi, hand-cut filet sliders and other menu items served right at the lane, all while enjoying an entertaining atmosphere. The all-new day-and-nighttime venue also will be available for birthday parties and corporate events. Splitsville will join other new offerings at Downtown Disney, such as BLINK by Wet Seal, Apricot Lane, a completely redesigned Sunglass Icon by Sunglass Hut, an extensive renovation of Basin and an exterior remodel at Rainforest Cafe (see below).


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.


A complete list of rehabs can be found here: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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Donald E. Brockman: On April 30, 2012 I was selected at random while in Magic Kingdom at Disney World to retire our Flag at 5PM. What an honor! This is something I was wishing to happen upon going to Disney World in 2006, 2009 and 2010. On April 30, I was wearing my American Legion shirt with the writing of our Post on it. I went back to the Contemporary Hotel and retrieved my American Legion Hat. I was very proud to represent Milwaukee, Wisconsin wearing Milwaukee Police Post 415 American Legion hat. Many photos were taken during the ceremony. One shows me holding the proclamation, including the Disney pin with inscription "Veteran of the Day." The Disney photographer also had Jaclyn and I showing the happiness with the Disney theme for this year on our faces "Let the Memories Begin!" With all that happened within the 30-40 minutes – the cast members, the band, the quartet with their colorful hats vests and pants, and the Security trio of blue, with their precision movements – participating in this solemn ceremony will be a remembrance forever!

Donna L. Carollo: When my parents and I took my daughter Marissa to Disney World for the 5th time, she was very shy. We took her on the Jungle Cruise, a ride that I had been on so many times before, even as a little girl myself with my parents. They started out the same as before, but shortly into the ride, the driver asked if my daughter wanted to drive the boat. She hesitated, but when we urged her, she accepted the invitation. The cast member gave her a few quick instructions and she took the wheel. I have never seen her dimples show more and the pride on her face was amazing. She told everyone about it for weeks. Only the magic of Disney could make an 8-year-old feel like she was driving a boat. After that point, she felt like she could accomplish anything. This brief moment in time helped her with the confidence to excel at school and all she did from that point forward. Who would think that such a simple thing could improve your outlook on life? I wish I had taken down that cast member's name so that I could thank him. He will never know what he did for my daughter. An "If you dream it you can do it" plaque with Mickey Mouse hangs above her bed to this day, and I look at it every night when we say good night. Walt Disney was right.

The Leming Family: We recently took our 3-year-old son for his first visit to Disney World. While there, we had dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Our son loved it! Unfortunately, the dinner ended badly when my son knocked his sundae off the table. He began wailing, so I grabbed him and got him to the bathroom to clean him up. More tears ensued as we headed outside to wait for my husband. My husband soon appeared with… a new sundae! He told the waiter about the accident so that someone could clean up the booth. The waiter was more concerned with our son though, and asked if he was upset. My husband said yes and the waiter told him to wait while he went to the kitchen. He returned with the new sundae. It's those little things that make Disney such a special place.


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: allearsnet@yahoo.com

Thank you all for sharing!


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.