A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Casey’s Corner
By Dave Shute
CASEY’S CORNER AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM
By Jim Korkis
When Disneyland opened in July 1955, at the end of Main Street just at the beginning of the Hub was a quick service food and beverage restaurant called the Refreshment Corner, sponsored by Coca-Cola. It was so popular and beloved that when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, a similar shop was put in the same location on the end of Main Street, also sponsored by Coke.
Originally, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were served at both Disney theme parks, but in 1982, Coke made arrangements to become the sole provider and has remained so for over the last thirty-five years.
When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, the traditional shop was instead dubbed Casey’s Corner, referencing the 1888 poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer about the fictional over-confident ballplayer for the Mudville team who famously struck out. Disney even made an animated cartoon based on the poem as part of the compilation feature Make Mine Music (1946).
The Casey’s Corner concept for the venue that sold soda and hot dogs was brought to Florida with the renovation of the northwest block of Main Street and the opening of the revised shop on May 27, 1995. The outdoor sign even incorporated the 1888 date of the Thayer poem in the baseball since it also aligned with the turn-of-the-century theme to Main Street.
Every detail in the newly rehabbed restaurant was to help reinforce the connection, from the Cast Member vintage baseball player costumes (with umpire style aprons) to the “Enter” and “Exit” signs made to look like baseballs and the vintage baseball and Coca-Cola memorabilia displayed throughout the space. Classic Coke light fixture chandeliers decorate the interior.
Many of the props on display, including jugs of Coca-Cola syrup and baseball team mugs, trading cards and pennants, are authentic antiques from around the turn of the 20th century.
One of the framed photos on the wall depicts a team wearing jerseys representing more than one team and even women players poorly disguised as men. These people are the Imagineering team who worked on the Casey’s Corner (and Main Street Athletic Club) project in 1995.
In addition to Coca-Cola products, the location also serves traditional hot dogs (a popular treat at baseball games) and gourmet designer dogs like chili dogs, Chicago-style dogs, and BBQ pork slaw dogs at a premium price. Also available are corn dog nuggets, French fries, cotton candy, ballpark nachos and Cracker Jacks, just as someone might find at a ball game concession stand.
Originally, there was a big screen running a loop of excerpts from Disney animated cartoons that were sports oriented and with bleacher seating for people to watch and eat.
In 2014, that screen and bleachers were eliminated in order to expand the indoor eating area with more traditional seating. At the same time, the outdoor eating area doubled its size, with new walkways and red and white umbrellas representing the colors of Coke.
Outside, two fiberglass lifesize statues of old-time baseball players provide a photo opportunity. Also outside, just like at Disneyland, is a piano where a performer occasionally tickles the ivory keys and entertains the guests with ragtime music and familiar Disney tunes.
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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!
In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Gremlin Trouble! The Cursed Roald Dahl Film Disney Never Made, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.