May 2012 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the April 24, 2012 Issue #657 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, we learn how Walt redefined the public's expectations for a clean and cared for environment.

A New Standard for Clean
by Sam Gennawey

Before Disneyland, most amusement parks were rather seedy places. The operators thought of the customers as "marks" and were not above a little bit of shady play if it would earn a little more money. If somebody left with a dime in his pocket, the operator was not doing his job well enough. Trash was tossed anywhere and little attention was paid to the landscaping or architecture.

"By 1952, amusement parks were often identified with the tarnished world of film noir, of scandal beneath the big top, and carnies," according to Norman Klein. Patrons felt unsafe in many areas of a traditional amusement park. Walt said that he wanted Disneyland to be different from the "dirty, phony places, run by tough-looking people." When Walt described the idea for the park to his wife, she asked, "Why would you want to build an amusement park? Amusement parks are dirty. They don't make any money." Walt's reply was, "That's the whole point. I want a clean one that will."

Walt sensed there was a change happening in the American culture. Families in the 1950s had begun to reset their expectations for what was meant by progress. There was a growing national consensus that proclaimed that cleanliness and uniformity was a sign of progress. With the spread of freeways, people preferred to patronize modern, familiar motel chains and eat in clean coffee shops housed in space-age Googie23-style buildings. Walt assumed correctly that they would want to visit a different type of family amusement park as well. Karal Ann Marling noted, "If Disneyland was a place of amusement and escape, it was also, in its own way, a kind of pre-EPCOT utopia, a better, cleaner, more pleasant and resonant American place than 1955 afforded the average urbanite who drove to Anaheim on the Santa Ana Freeway." When Walt gave a tour of the park, a journalist commented that everything would soon be covered in litter. Walt curtly replied, "It'll never happen." "Why not?" asked the reporter. "Because, we're going to make it so clean people are going to be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground," was Walt's reply. Walt was right. Disneyland had validated people's expectations for cleanliness of public spaces, and the park would in time redefine the standard.

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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by Emily Woesthoff
General Manager for BabyCakes NYC at Downtown Disney

Delicacies from the United Kingdom are not typically synonymous with excellent vegan fare, which is why it was surprising to hear so many great recommendations about dining vegan at Epcot's Rose and Crown. The menu does not boast anything that looks remotely vegan or vegetarian friendly, so feelings of trepidation are totally normal. Excited to order the most raved-about dish, I requested the Curry to be made vegan (essentially, the Slow-Cooked Chicken Curry sans chicken). It was surprising to learn that, though the curry had formerly been vegan, the chefs now cook chicken in the curry base. Unfortunately, there were no other options on the menu that could be modified to be vegan. The vegan dish ended up being far from traditional British fare, a variety of sauteed vegetables and a side order of white rice. Though not what I was expecting, the chef and manager did try their best to accommodate my dietary request. The view of IllumiNations made this visit to Rose and Crown worth the trip. I would recommend, however, trying to speak with a chef or manager directly before making a dining reservation here if you prefer a vegan meal.

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

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Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of, highlights a few Hidden Mickeys that are fun to find when you're on Disney property:

1. In California Adventure's "a bug's land," check out the front of the Fun and Fruity Drink stand for a classic three-circle Mickey made of cherries. Thanks to Rosemary and Neil, Mehlanie Kayra, and Josh, Alyssa and Melody Hadeen.)

2. At WDW's Downtown Disney Marketplace, a large dark brown circular rock and two smaller rocks for "ears" form a classic Mickey on the middle side of the "chimney" inside the Disney's Days of Christmas store. You'll see Dalmatians on the mantelpiece around this chimney. (Thanks to Sharon Dale.)

3. Inside the Breezeway of the Beach Club Villas, a tiny full-body silhouette of Mickey Mouse is in the middle of a large painting, which is on the left wall as you enter from the front doors of the Villas lobby. Mickey is standing at a first-floor central window. (Thanks to Jay Stonefield and Christine Murphy.)

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 Rose & Crown, which is located at the United Kingdom Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase.

Rose & Crown is a full service restaurant/pub. AllEars® reviewers give it an average rating of 8.1 and it is recommended by 89% of reviewers.

From recent reviews (although the menu here has recently changed somewhat):

Food: "enthusiastically endorsed the fish and chips"; "had the new Surf & Turf… done to perfection"; "house dressing was wonderful"; "had the Pork Duo… pork with the white sauce and mushrooms was cooked perfectly… pulled pork with the red wine sauce over the mashed taters was very good"; "got the Sunday roast… enjoyed very much"; "boys (all three) really enjoyed the Fish and Chips"; "all the adults ordered the fish and chips. We all thought it was very good"; "drinks were awesome… hubby was very happy with his Guinness on tap."; "food was good and we both enjoyed our meals".

Desserts: "Sticky Toffee Pudding and Bakewell Tart. Both were very good"; "Sticky Toffee Pudding… was small but rich"; "decided to order the sticky toffee pudding for dessert not knowing what it was… pleasantly surprised, it was very good, almost like a bread pudding"; "shared a dish of sticky toffee pudding and we both enjoyed it".

Service: "waiter… one of the best we had this visit"; "server seemed more interested in chatting to the people by our table"; "server was very nice, but a little slow"; "was really awesome and helpful"; "server was wonderful!"; "had a few food allergies and the chef came to our table and made sure we were given the rundown on the menu"; "servers were friendly and we got to know a little about their homeland, as well as some info about the architecture of the building itself".

Atmosphere: "view on the water was terrific"; "great place to see IllumiNations"; "only good thing about this restaurant is the IllumiNations viewing"; "seated outside right along the water, which was lovely"; "seated outside and had a great view of IllumiNations"; "a very nice night and we were seated outside"; "love the atmosphere!"; "seated outside on the patio which was really nice as it was very loud inside".

Overall: "one of our must-stops"; "Great job!"; "will continue to go back"; "we'll definitely try this place again"; "always a good spot for some really good beer"; "very much enjoyed this meal and were glad that we came!"; "Love this place!"; "Everyone left full and happy"; "would definitely dine here again".

If you have recently eaten at Rose & Crown, we'd love to have your review!

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AllEars® Disney Fantasy Group Cruise will set sail May 19, 2012! The itinerary is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise.


19th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues through May 20 with its largest-ever front-entrance topiary, an illuminated Haiti produce garden with marketplace and a stellar cast of HGTV design celebrities. Along with the brilliant horticulture displays, the 75-day festival includes gardening demonstrations, hands-on workshops and the Flower Power concert series (see below). The festival is included in regular Epcot admission. (See "NEWS" below for special activities featured this weekend.)

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Weekends Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 18 through June 10. James Arnold Taylor, who provides the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi for the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, will serve as the Official Celebrity Host of Star Wars Weekends 2012, when the event returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios this May. Ashley Eckstein, the voice of The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano, will act as Celebrity Host of "Behind the Force," a show that gives fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Both Taylor and Eckstein have served in similar roles for previous Star Wars Weekends.


Expedition Everest Challenge, May 5, 9:30 p.m. — Expedition Everest Challenge, a race adventure with some bite, is coming Saturday, May 5, 2012 to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Just after sunset, individuals and teams of two will brave the mysteries of a thrilling 5K trek held in the shadows of the Forbidden Mountain. Teams will have to overcome treacherous obstacles lying in their path and scavenge for clues along their journey to be able to solve the mystery of the mountain in the end. But beware of the Yeti, the abominable snowman that guards the Forbidden Mountain! Escape from the clutches of the Yeti and celebrate conquering this Everest Challenge with an exclusive after-hours party at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

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.

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. Artist Adrianne Draude will be meeting with fans and signing pins from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 25.

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 3-7: Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace
— May 16-20: Art of Disney, Epcot
— May 31-June 3: Animation Gallery, Disney's Hollywood Studios

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, May 8-20: Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Check with the individual locations for exact times.

The next Disney Trading Night, a free pin-trading activity, will be held on May 11, 2012, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Disney's Contemporary Resort – Fantasia G Ballroom.


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



Magic Kingdom

Storybook Circus in the New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom soft-opened on March 12, 2012. Other areas of Fantasyland will open in phases throughout this year and next.

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

Snow White's Scary Adventures in Fantasyland will be closing May 31, to make way for the new Princess Fairytale Hall meet and greet location. While the attraction will not be relocated, a new roller coaster with a Seven Dwarfs theme (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) is set to open elsewhere in the land in 2013.

The Liberty Square Riverboat has been moved into dry dock for refurbishment. It is scheduled to return into service starting May 21, 2012.

The Magic Kingdom's Fairytale Garden is closed as it receives a Scottish Highlands-inspired makeover in anticipation of hosting, Merida, the red-haired heroine from Disney-Pixar's upcoming animated feature, "Brave" (which opens in theaters June 22, 2012). Merida will begin appearing at this location in mid-May, and the new setting will have an area in which those waiting to meet Merida can get archery lessons and participate in other activities until it's their turn. Joining Merida will be the three mischievous bear cubs from the film. Note that Rapunzel is no longer greeting visitors at the Magic Kingdom's Fairytale Garden. Instead of moving to the Adventureland Veranda, as initially reported, she has taken up temporary residence next to City Hall on Main Street USA. Flynn Ryder is not appearing with Rapunzel at this location, but he does appear with her in the afternoon parade.

For the latest trailer of "Brave":


Tutto Gusto, a new wine bar adjacent to Tutto Italia Ristorante in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, is set to open in early May. It takes over the former lobby space of Tutto Italia and extends back toward the pizzeria, Via Napoli. With just 96 seats, Tutto Gusto will be an intimate space patterned after an Italian wine cellar, and will feature stone walls and floors, vaulted ceilings and a fireplace in the dining room. The small-plate menu has six sections: Affettati (cured, sliced meats); Formaggi (Italian cheeses); Panini (sandwiches); Piccoli Piatti (small plates); Cavatappi (a type of pasta), and Dolci (sweets). Menu items include such Italian favorites as prosciutto de Parma, creamy burrata cheese and mussels with white wine. The three pasta dishes are made with cavatappi, a corkscrew-shaped pasta: tomato and bufala mozzarella; shrimp, chilis, garlic and tomato; and arugula, potato, pancetta, tomatoes and asiago cheese. There will be more than 200 Italian wines, including sparkling, reds and whites, and beers such as La Rossa, Moretti and Menabrea. Grappa will also be available, as will espresso and cappuccino. Tutto Gusto will be open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will accept the Disney Dining Plan.

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: May 5 and 15; June 5 and 19; and July 3 (final day).

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is closed for refurbishment from April 29 – May 2.

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 will be removed as the theme park adds a new savanna space, including a watering hole for live animals. Work began 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." Construction on these other sections is ahead of schedule, and new opening dates were recently announced: the Cars wing is now set to open June 18; Lion King wing now opens August 10; Little Mermaid wing is now 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.

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 Old Key West Resort

Roof repairs are scheduled to last until May 16, 2012. Note that all refurbishment dates are approximate. Exact start and end dates may vary.

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Building repainting is expected to conclude in August 2012. The "soft goods" room refurbishment at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has begun. Accessories and linens will be 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:

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:

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Corinne McMurray: When visiting with our son Tommy for a celebration of his 6th birthday and his first trip to Disney World, we were amazed at how outgoing each and every cast member was when looking at his pins for 1st Visit and Birthday Celebration! One of the most special moments was during the Main Street Electric Parade. As we stood on the sidewalk waiting patiently for it to begin, a cast member was coming by greeting everyone. She stopped and asked him his name and which birthday he was celebrating. We were so used to cast members recognizing his birthday by now, we didn't think anything about it. Much to our surprise, during the parade the Pete's Dragon float — with Pete way atop of Elliott –stopped right in front of us. Pete waved at us and yelled down, "I hear it's your 6th birthday, Tommy! Happy Birthday, Buddy!" It was a truly magical moment that they would know exactly where Tommy was standing in the group of thousands of people and they made a special stop to acknowledge his special day.

Shannon Parker: It was our first day at Disney World, and we were on our way to get in line to see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider when we happened upon someone's lost autograph book lying on the ground. I remember how important my then 4-1/2-year-old's autograph book was to us (well, me mostly!) so I just knew we had to turn in the missing one. I promptly and easily located a cast member, handed over the lost autograph book to her, and to our surprise and delight she quickly escorted us to our first character meet-and-greet of the trip… with Cinderella's evil stepsisters! The meet-and-greet was either just ending or beginning, but we were taken to the front and felt very important. This was the first of many character meetings on our trip; we filled up my daughter's entire autograph book! Disney World is truly a magical place and we can't wait to return!

The Amico Family: We were at the Magic Kingdom and one of our Disney dreams came true. While talking to a very friendly cast member (Michelle) in Guest Relations, we were soon joined by another cast member (Brick). The conversation turned to Brick asking us questions about the Magic Kingdom parade and what we liked about it. He then announced that he chose our family to be the Grand Marshals of that day's MK parade. He told us to meet him at the MK Firehouse a half-hour before the start of the parade. We each received a set of Mickey Ears with our names engraved on them and had family pictures taken by a Disney photographer before the start of the parade. We were then taken "backstage" to board the beautiful old-fashioned and open-aired white official Grand Marshal Parade Vehicle. The simple instructions given to us were to smile and wave to all the guests along the parade route as we led the parade through MK. We've watched numerous WDW parades over the years, but it was truly a magnificent experience seeing it from the other side. Thanks to two very amazing cast members, we had a Disney Magical Moment experience we shall never forget.


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: Caught Napping edition.


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.