Friday, March 30, 2012

Time to be Movin’ Along

Today’s topic: What attractions at Walt Disney World should be put on the chopping block?  

Many of you are probably going to consider this concept sacrilegious, I’m sure. You feel that Disney should only add, never subtract.  But look at it this way: Every attraction costs money to run – electricity, cast members to man it, etc. And there is a finite amount of each space in the four parks. Is every attraction really deserving of this prime real estate?  Let’s look at each park and see where some of these resources might be better utilized.

Magic Kingdom:

1. Tomorrowland Speedway – Yes, it’s an opening day attraction. Yes, it often has long lines. You know what? I don’t care. This attraction is not worthy of the name “Disney”, in my opinion. There are similar attractions in pretty much every amusement park in the country, sometimes even with better theming. There’s nothing that makes this a truly Disney attraction, and I really don’t see how it fits in Tomorrowland (unless in the future, all cars are only going to go 7 MPH. In that case, shoot me now.)  A Cars overlay would make a huge difference (along with redefining this as a Fantasyland attraction), but word has it that the Disney’s Hollywood Studios people don’t want to see that happen, because they are hoping to get an entire Cars Land in a few years. As far as I’m concerned however, internal WDW politics should not stand in the way of progress.

2. Stitch’s Great Escape – When the highlight of the show is someone burping chili dogs in your face, it’s time to rethink the attraction. Why not go back to Alien Encounter?  You did it with Enchanted Tiki Room and Captain EO.

* Dishonorable Mention: Tom Sawyer Island – I feel a little guilty including this, because I’ve never actually visited this attraction. But doesn’t the fact that I’ve been to WDW around 20 times but never felt the need to venture over there tell you something?


1. Captain EO – Nostalgia is all well and good, but enough is enough. Not that I think a return to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience would be any better. This is the Imagination! Pavilion, Disney. Perhaps you should put your imaginations to work and come up with something new. (But for goodness sake, don’t go back to that idea of a trip through Michael Jordan’s mind that Jim Hill once mentioned. That’s just about the worst idea ever.)

2. Any of the World Showcase Films – Films about a country are awesome when you’re in a junior high Geography class and don’t want to do any real work.  They are not what I’m wanting to do when I’m paying about $100 per hour for entertainment. World Showcase needs some bona fide “E ticket” attractions, period.

* Dishonorable Mentions:  The Circle of Life – As far as edutainment goes, this is too much “edu” and not enough “tainment” for me.  Also, the Wonders of Life Pavilion and the Odyssey Restaurant; Disney should be embarrassed about these empty buildings. And I don’t even want to hear about a lack of sponsors. I might have bought that line of reasoning when theme park tickets cost $15 dollars per day, but not at today’s prices.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1. Sounds Dangerous – It’s never open anyway. Why hang onto it?

2. The American Idol Experience – It was cool to see my husband perform in this a couple of times, but I’d never spend part of my day in the park watching complete strangers compete. And is anyone really still all that interested in American Idol?

*Dishonorable Mentions: Studios Backlot Tour, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show – All of these fall into the “one and done” category for me.  I wouldn’t miss any of these at all.

Animal Kingdom

This one is really easy: all of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.  Yes, I know this is the feel they were trying for. Yes, I know it’s deceptively expensive to make something that looks this cheap and tacky. I don’t care. I find the whole area completely unappealing. I like Dinosaur, and that’s it. Maybe if they’d have gone ahead with the planned Excavator attraction that was originally supposed to be included, this area would have a more cohesive theme and might appeal to me more. As it is, I wrinkle up my nose in distaste whenever I see it, just as I would a real roadside attraction. That’s a level of authenticity I just don’t need.

So, how much do you want to strangle me now?  Have I served up anything you love on my plate of “extremely disposable”?  What attractions do you think should retire? Feel free to post them over at Just don’t lay a finger on my Country Bear Jamboree! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

♪ I Don’t Know When, I Don’t Know How…♪

We all have that list, right?  That list of things we want to do at Walt Disney World, but short of a lottery win or an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist, it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. Some people call it their “Bucket List.”  That’s a little morbid for my taste, so I call it my “I Don’t Know When, I Don’t Know How List”. A little unwieldy perhaps, but Part of Your World is absolutely stuck in your head right now, isn’t it? ;)

So what would I do at Walt Disney World if I had unlimited funds?  Funny you should ask. I just happen to have this little countdown:

7. Any Tables in Wonderland experience that happens to be going on while I’m down there. They create private meal events in some really cool places – inside theme park attractions, closed restaurants, even giant warehouses full of Disney props. Costs vary, but are usually $100-$150 per person.

6. Parasailing - Flights set sail from the Contemporary Resort. The flights last between 8-12 minutes each and go up to from 450 to 600 feet.  Take off and landing is from a boat, so you do not end up in the water at all. (This part is very important to me. There are snakes, alligators, and brain-eating amoeba in Bay Lake. It’s true; I’ve seen them.  Well, maybe not the amoeba, but I’m willing to take that one on faith.) And it’s not cheap:

  • Single Flight :
    Regular - $95+ tax per flight (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
    Deluxe - $ 130+ tax per flight (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)
  • Tandem Flight:
    Regular - $170+ tax per flight (8-10 minutes at 450 feet)
    Deluxe - $195+ tax per flight (10-12 minutes at 600 feet)
 You must be at least six years old to participate. All fliers must be at least 130 lbs. and no more than 330 lbs. total weight in the parachute. If a flier is under the minimum requirement, he or she may accompany another flier to reach the minimum weight. Minors under the age of eighteen must have an adult present to sign waivers prior to departing on your trip.

5. Dine with a Disney Imagineer - Join a member of the WDW creative team for an informal, one-on-one lunch chat at the Disney's Hollywood Studios' legendary Hollywood Brown Derby or dinner at the Flying Fish Restaurant located at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. You'll get a fascinating glimpse of the creative process as these talented men and women share what it's like to work in the most magical place in the world. In addition, each party will receive a souvenir designed exclusively for this experience that can be personalized by the Imagineer. Lunch at the Brown Derby is $60.99 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $34.99 for children (3-9).  The Flying Fish dinner is only recommended for ages 14 and up, and runs $85.00, plus tax and gratuity. You can add wine pairings for an additional $30.00, and get a commemorative plate for $75.00.

4. Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour highlights the fascinating history of Walt Disney World Resort and provides backstage access to secret areas of Magic Kingdom theme park. This 4.5-hour tour explores the stories behind the creation and growth of Magic Kingdom theme park. Hear the intriguing story of Walt Disney and learn how his innovative ideas, revolutionary visions, creative philosophies and amazing accomplishments brought the park to life. The journey includes stops at backstage facilities and a variety of favorite attractions. One unforgettable highlight is a trip below Magic Kingdom theme park into the service tunnels known as the Utilidors. Guests must be at least 16 years of age, and the cost is $74.00 per person.

3. Wild Africa Trek - Journey through Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a three hour tour (♪ a three hour tour ♪). Travel deep into Pangani Forest on a thrilling, privately guided expedition featuring close encounters with exotic wildlife species. Adventurers are fitted with an expedition harness that attaches to an overhead track. Once your group reaches the riverbank, get a stunning look at the hippos, just 10 feet below. After a seemingly precarious trek across a rope bridge dangling over a throng of enormous crocodiles, experience another unbelievable view as you hang over the crocodiles' riverbed lair! Venture on to a VIP safari across an open savanna teeming with incredible views of everything from towering giraffe to powerful rhinos. A Disney photographer captures your experiences along the way. When you return home from your visit to Walt Disney World Resort, you'll receive a photo CD in the mail, which included in the cost of the tour. It should be, considering the tour will cost anywhere from $189-$249, depending on the season.

2. Backstage Magic Tour - On this 6-8 hour tour, guests get an in-depth look at the creative and technical operations used behind the scenes to bring innovative special effects, world-class entertainment and elaborate attractions to life. You go behind the scenes at Epcot and tour the Utilidors under the Magic Kingdom. Take a break with a family-style lunch at the Whispering Canyon Café inside Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Then, see how horticulture and landscape design play a starring role in creating an endless variety of uniquely themed environments at the Walt Disney World Nursery & Tree Farm. Head to Disney's Hollywood Studios and see how Walt Disney Imagineers combined cutting-edge design with breakthrough technology to create the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. You'll also learn how the Creative Costuming team outfits the performers in Disney parades and shows. Finally, wrap up your day at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park with an up-close look at Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade. All of this for a “mere” $229.00 per person (ages 16 and up).

1. The Chef's Table at Victoria & Albert's is a signature dining experience at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Enjoy a private dinner within the kitchen of Victoria & Albert's and interact with the restaurant's head chef, Chef Hunnel. An 11-year recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award, this is the premiere restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort, blending fine contemporary cuisine and world-renowned wine pairings from an award-winning cellar with personalized butler service and an elegant setting. Go behind the scenes and dine at a special table located inside the kitchen, where you can watch and speak with Chef Hunnel and staff as they prepare a 10-course meal. Each unique menu is brimming with ingredients culled fresh daily from the world market just for you. During the approximate 3-hour dining experience, Chef Hunnel offers culinary tidbits and tasting samples, catering the mouth-watering meal to you and your party's dietary preferences. A wait staff of two—a butler and a maid—are on hand to tend to your every whim. And with the Royal Wine Pairing, the sommelier selects superb vintages for each portion of your unique meal.
Menu Prix Fixe begins at $210.00 per guest, and wine pairings from $105.00 per guest. (Excuse me for a moment, while I go cry quietly in a corner.)
So, how about you? What are your “someday” experiences at Walt Disney World?  Please share over at!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Munching with the Mouse

One of my favorite ways to relive the magic at home is by recreating some of my favorite Walt Disney World dishes. Here’s a personal favorite from Epcot’s Restaurant Marrakesh, Couscous Salad. First I’ll give you the straight Disney version of the recipe, and then I’ll tell what improvements changes I’ve made.

Disney’s Recipe:


Olive oil
1/2 of a red onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 of a sweet red bell pepper
1/2 of a sweet green bell pepper
1/2 of a chopped zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste
Cinnamon to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup orange juice
12 ounces cooked plain couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup tangerine segments or mandarin orange segments
 Mint sprig for garnish  

Method: In a large nonstick skillet, sauté onion, garlic, sweet bell peppers and zucchini in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to vegetables along with raisins, chickpeas and orange juice. Toss vegetable mixture with couscous and pan juices. Add parsley and gently fold in citrus segments. Mound mixture onto a serving platter and garnish with mint.

Teri’s Version:

Olive oil – 1 to 2 Tablespoons
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 of a sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of a sweet green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of a chopped zucchini or maybe just the whole thing, because what am I going to do with half a zucchini?
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste I start with 1 tsp. Kosher salt and ½ tsp. pepper, and increase from there
Nutmeg to taste - ½ tsp.
Cinnamon to taste - I start with about 1 ½ tsp. and go from there
Cayenne pepper - ¼ tsp. - I like how the little added kick plays with the sweet and savory flavors that are going on in this dish.
1/2 cup olive oil – Are you kidding? That’s a lot of oil, which means a lot of extra calories. I cut this down to ¼ cup.
1/4 cup raisins - I go for closer to ½ cup (because I like raisins), and I use regular or golden. When I cook the couscous, I just increase the recommended liquid by about ¼ cup and add the raisins right in there. It plumps up the raisins beautifully.
1/4 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – I leave these out because I’m not a big fan, so why add the calories?
1 cup orange juice – Pineapple juice tastes great, too. I use whichever I have on hand.
12 ounces cooked plain couscous – I use 10 ounces, because that’s what comes in a Near East box. I prepare according to package directions, plus the raisins and a little grated lemon or orange peel, just to jazz it up a little.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup tangerine segments or mandarin orange segments - I usually at least double this. I like mandarin oranges.
Mint sprig for garnish - Unless I have mint on hand for something else, that is not going to happen.  

Method: In a large nonstick skillet, sauté onion, sweet bell peppers and zucchini in olive oil. Add the garlic during the last minute or two of sautéing. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to vegetables along with the juice. Toss vegetable mixture with couscous, raisins, and pan juices. Add parsley and gently fold in citrus segments. Mound mixture onto a serving platter and garnish with mint (or not). I love this warm or cold. Enjoy!