By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



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Category — A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Turkey Legs

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

TURKEY LEGS

By Jim Korkis

One of the iconic food treats at Walt Disney World is the infamous, enormous Turkey Legs that made their debut in Frontierland in the late 1980s.

Originally, they were sold at only one food cart location, but the demand grew so large that they expanded to other Disney parks including Disneyland.

Weighing roughly one and half pounds each, the legs have a taste that vaguely resembles ham thanks to being cured in a similar salt and sugar solution. The legs cost up to twelve dollars each.

Each leg is roughly 730 to 1,136 calories with a minimum of 36 to 54 grams of fat, according to the size of the leg. Orginally, Disney sold legs that were 22 ounces but today the “jumbo” leg is closer to 34 ounces.

The Turkey Legs are not unique to Disney and are sold at carnivals, state fairs and other amusement venues around the United States.

A persisent urban myth was that the legs were so huge that they couldn’t possibily be from an actual turkey and must be from another bird like an emu or an ostrich.

“People are accustomed to Thanksgiving turkeys, which are female birds, or hens which are traditionally much smaller; the males, called toms, are bigger — up to fity pounds apiece — and their legs are the ones that Disney serves,” said Keith M. Williams, a vice president at the National Turkey Federation, an industry trade group. Federal law prohibits the use of steroids to make turkeys and their legs meatier. However, farmers are raising larger turkeys because of demand and so the legs are larger as well.

Turkey legs are a favorite food of Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods:

“With the turkey, I can walk, I can gnaw, I can pull pieces off, I can put it down. And I just love salty, smoky, meaty. … It’s an American classic. It’s Americana.

“I can put everyone’s mind at rest. It can’t be emu. I’ve eaten emu. It’s too big, And the meat would be a little more beefy. Emu has the consistency of turkey leg but the flavor of roasted veal. It’s got mild beefiness to it and a little more metallic.”

In general, an emu leg would be about eight times the size of a turkey leg.

Marc Summers of Food Network’s Unwrapped: Walt Disney World stated,

“Many guests aren’t familiar with smoked poultry, so they pick up on the salty flavor. Disney injects their legs with a salt water cure for moisture, then smoke them. Turkey legs have pink meat because of the six-hour smoking process. It flavors the legs and keeps the inside meat pink and moist.”

The food treat became so popular that in 2010, Disney created a line of merchandise souvenirs including hats, pins, magnets, t-shirts and even air fresheners featuring an image of the item and the slogan “Nice & Juicy!” Disney bakeries even produce Rice Krispie Treat versions with chocolate icing as the skin.

By 2013, it was estimated that in Disney’s North American theme parks over two million of the jumbo turkey legs were sold and consumed each year. Turkey legs are no longer available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since March 1, 2016.

Disney has stated that the legs are meant to be shared and that the average park visitor walks about seven miles during a visit or enough to burn most of the calories from eating the leg. They state that the popularity of the food item is due to its novelty and its “comfort food” factor.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

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February 17, 2017   1 Comment

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Sir Mickey’s

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SIR MICKEYS’ IN FANTASYLAND

By Jim Korkis

When EuroDisneyland (now Disneyland Paris) opened in April 1992, one of the merchandise shops in Fantasyland was Sir Mickey’s Boutique. The Imagineers created a delightful mash-up of two of Mickey Mouse’s most popular cartoons, Mickey and the Beanstalk and The Brave Little Tailor, to create the medieval-themed location.

(c) Disney

(c) Disney

The Brave Little Tailor (1938) was an adaptation of the classic fairy tale with Mickey Mouse in the role of the peasant tailor who is mistaken to be a killer of giants and sent to deal with a giant bothering the kingdom.

Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947) is a twist on the famous story of Jack and the Beanstalk with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy climbing a magical beanstalk to confront the giant who has stolen the magical singing harp that brought happiness to Happy Valley.

The end of the cartoon has Willie the Giant who has fallen off the beanstalk visiting the narrator’s house and pulling off the top of the roof to peer in and ask where Mickey Mouse is.

This clever idea for a merchandise shop was adapted for Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland.

Prior to becoming Sir Mickey’s, the location had actually been two separate shops that had opened during the first year the Magic Kingdom welcomed guests. One was a merchandise shop called The AristoCats. The other shop was Merlin’s Magic Shop selling magic tricks and novelties. In 1986, this shop was converted into Mickey’s Christmas Carol Store.

In 1996, the two shops were rehabbed and merged together as one shop called Sir Mickey’s, featuring wonderful little touches that referenced both of Mickey’s medieval tales. What makes this shop special isn’t the merchandise but the design and theme of the store itself.

The shop has one of the most beautiful facades, blending in perfectly with the fantasy medieval courtyard, with its turrets, stone-like brick construction and the ancient looking glass in the windows.

However, the most prominent feature is the ever-growing beanstalk as it twists and turns inside and outside the cottage pushing itself skyward. The monster vine has even ripped the Sir Mickey’s sign off the front of the building and is starting to carry it along.

The southern wing is obviously the armory where knights are suited for battle. Heavy beams and candle-filled iron chandeliers dominate the room. Scattered about are a selection of shields, armor and weaponry awaiting use to battle the giant. The low ceilings make the large space feel more intimate.

This area flows into the northern section where the exterior signage and window displays pay more homage to the tale of Mickey as a tailor. Even the image of Mickey leaning on large shears is inspired from publicity art for the short cartoon. His eyes are the famous pie-eyes from when the cartoon was made.

One display window depicts Mickey’s workshop with sewing table, shears, fabrics and threads, along with a clever hand lettered sign proclaiming “Out Giant Hunting. Back Soon!” There are even sketches of garments he has made or plans to make.

Interestingly, this shop used to provide custom embroidery on items like Mickey ears, a service quite in keeping with the theme of a tailor shop. The clocks have hands that are the blades from a pair of scissors. However, there are also elements from the Beanstalk cartoon including a framed picture of Happy Valley and a set of keys that were instrumental in the rescue of the harp.

The windows feature three-dimensional figures of the Disney characters all attired in medieval clothing from Princess Minnie to Donald Duck as a bold knight in armor.

Inside the shop, Mickey, holding a lantern is standing on a bend of the beanstalk while Willie the Giant, just like in the original cartoon is lifting the roof to peak inside.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

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February 10, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Flags of The American Adventure

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE FLAGS OF THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE

By Jim Korkis

The flag flying over the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase has fifteen stars and fifteen stripes. It was this version of the flag that writer Francis Scott Key wrote about in the poem The Star Spangled Banner in 1814. The song became the national anthem in 1931 by an Act of Congress.

The original Star Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry that Key saw proudly waving after an all-night bombardment by the British during the War of 1812 was given to the fort’s commandant, and is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History.

This version of the flag became the official flag of the United States in 1795 replacing the original thirteen stars, thirteen stripes flag adopted in 1777. The original plan was that an additional star and stripe would be added for each new state entered into the union. This remained the official U.S. flag until 1818.

It quickly became apparent that if this continued, the number of stripes would not be appealing. So, the decision was made to just add a star to the star field and keep thirteen stripes to recognize the original thirteen colonies.

By the way, the 14th and 15th stars and stripes represented the states of Kentucky and Vermont.

Jim Korkis on the Flags of the American Pavilion from yourfirstvisit.netFrom the main lobby in Epcot’s World Showcase, guests proceed to the American Adventure theater by going up escalators or climbing up stairs through what is referred to as the Hall of Flags (and sometimes called by Disney the Corridor of Flags). Hanging above the guests in rows of three as they make their journey to the upper floor is a collection of over forty flags that have flown over the United States over two centuries.

This collection of flags include Revolutionary War flags, Colonial flags, and even foreign flags of countries that once had claim to some sections of the land.

In July 2015, one of the flags was removed. It was the third and last official flag of the Confederate States of America. It was a white flag with a red stripe on one end and a small representation in the opposite corner of the most familiar battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia that people normally associate with the Confederate flag that is generally used in opposition to the civil rights movement.

This was a reaction to various businesses and state governments removing the battle flag as it has come under recent scrutiny as a symbol of racism.

The following is an alphabetical listing of the flags originally displayed, and their date of adoption:

Alamo Flag – 1824
Appomattox Courthouse Flag – 1865
Army Commander in Chief’s Flag – 1775
Bedford Flag – 1690
Betsy Ross Flag – 1777
Bucks of America – 1777
California Republic – 1846
Centennial Flag – 1876
Colonial Jack – 1701
Connecticut Second Regiment – 1776
Continental Colors – 1776
Dutch West India Company – 1655
The 50 Star Flag – 1960
First Navy Flag – 1777
Fort Moultrie Flag – 1776
Fort Sumter Flag – 1865
48 Star Flag – 1896
45 Star Flag – 1896
Frémont Flag – 1856
French Ensign – 1700
Green Mountain Boys – 1776
Hawaiian Royal Flag – 1800
Hayes Flag – 1860
King George III’s Flag – 1607
Massachusetts Navy Flag – 1776
Mexico – 1800
Navy Commander in Chief’s Flag – 1776
New Hampshire Second Regiment – 1777
New Sweden – 1638
New York Third Regiment – 1777
Old Glory – 1865
Perry Flag – 1813
Russian-American Company – 1700
Spanish Bourbon Flag – 1513
Stamp Act Protest Flag – 1774
Star-Spangled Banner – 1795
Stars and Bars – 1861
Taunton Flag – 1774
Texas Flag – 1836
Tricolor – 1789
The U.S. Flag – 1959
Washington’s Life Guards Flag – 1776
Whiskey Rebellion Flag – 1794
White Plains Flag – 1776

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

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February 3, 2017   1 Comment

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SEVEN DWARFS MINE TRAIN

By Jim Korkis

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened at the Magic Kingdom on May 28, 2014 as the centerpiece of the New Fantasyland expansion. It is a steel roller coaster designed to resemble handmade wooden mine carts that sway and tip back and forth as they wind their way through the landscape of the world of Snow White at up to thirty miles per hour.

Jim Korkis on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train from yourfirstvisit.netThe innovative, patented ride system was designed by Disney Imagineering and manufactured by Vekoma to take the place of Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride that closed on May 31, 2012.

Unlike that attraction, this version tells the story through the perspective of the dwarfs with Snow White only making a short cameo experience in the cottage at the end of the attraction. Outside the cottage, the Old Hag Wicked Witch peers menancingly through a window watching Snow White and the dwarfs happily dancing inside.

It was designed as a family friendly experience with tame 31-foot and 41-foot drops, no upside-down turns, and the elimination of the familiar clacking sound that usually signals an upcoming massive drop during its span of roughly 2,000 linear feet of track.

The rustic looking ride vehicles are mounted in cradle-like pivots and sway independently as they swing around the track with each twist and turn. During its journey, the cars rock to the left and right, but the G-forces go right down through the seat making it a smooth ride.

The journey winds its way through the countryside and then into the mine where the dwarfs are working and singing. The fabricated rocks were put together in six foot pieces that precisely correspond to the film.

The dwarfs are a new generation of audio-animatronics figures. The faces contain an internal rear projection system that enables Disney to better replicate the faces and expressions more realistically.

The jewels seen throughout the mine come in four different sizes and six different colors: red, green, amber, purple, blue and clear.

Next to Doc’s workstation is a carved wooden clock with the figures of two miners striking an anvil that’s an exact replica of the one seen in the film and also signals the start of the song Heigh-Ho.

The shadows of the dwarfs marching homeward were painstakingly rotoscoped (traced from the original film footage frame by frame) from the movie.

At the top of the second lift, guests can clearly see Maurice’s Cottage and Beast’s Castle. Then as the track drops, the mine cart passes under a trestle and loops around the mountain crossing. At the foot of the mountain, the train goes back to cross a pool at the bottom of a waterfall.

The ride ends at the famous cottage in the woods. The cottage’s exterior is a meticulously detailed representation from the actual film, right down to the wisteria vine and the birdhouse at the front door.

The film was carefully studied to get just the right color combinations for the roof shingles, the slope of the roof’s eaves, the shape of the lanterns and the etched woodland creatures that decorate the house’s architecture. The walkway features impressions left by forest creatures, acorns and sticks.

Scattered throughout the attraction are at least 450 props, including picks, shovels, barrels and hoists. There are even places where the dwarfs have carved their names into the wood.

The figures of Grumpy, Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, and Happy, seen in the cottage near the end of the attraction, originally appeared in Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The two vultures perched on the jib crane near the mine entrance originally appeared in that attraction as well.

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Thanks, Jim! My review of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is here. And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

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January 27, 2017   1 Comment

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Shades of Green

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SHADES OF GREEN

By Jim Korkis

Shades of Green originally opened as a Disney-owned resort known simply as the Golf Resort in December 1973 with 151 rooms. The Golf Resort was located in the middle of the Palm and Magnolia golf courses and was meant as an amenity for golfers using the courses.

It was designed to look like a two story country clubhouse and originally did not have any guest rooms. Guest wings were added in 1973 as part of Walt Disney World’s Phase 2 expansion that was also meant to include three other Magic Kingdom resorts that were never built.

The resort was generally known for its dessert of French Fried Ice Cream served in the Magnolia Room restaurant (later the Trophy Room) that also included live entertainment. In addition to golf, the resort had two lighted tennis courts for night time play and a pool.

Unfortunately, Disney guests did not consider it a resort since it was off the monorail loop so it suffered low occupancy. In February 1986, Disney expanded the resort and renamed it The Disney Inn in hopes of attracting more than golfers, promoting it as having the intimate and rustic charm of a quiet country inn.

In 1988, it was re-themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in hopes of reinforcing the Disney connection. The snack bar was called “The Diamond Mine” to make the connection with the dwarfs. There was also a Diamond Mine Arcade. However, the resort still could not match the popularity or attendance of the other WDW resorts.

A that time, the U.S. military was looking for a continental America location to build an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) and surveys showed that Orlando, Florida was the highest ranking location for its service members.

On February 1, 1994, the US Department of Defense to Disney’s delight at declining attendance leased the resort and the land it sits on with a 100-year lease to use for the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) program and limited the resort to eligible guests.

Eligible guests active and retired members of the U.S. military, National Guard and Department of Defense as well as their families. Others who are on vacation with an eligible sponsor are also allowed. Room rates are based on rank and pay grade.

In 1996, the resort was purchased outright, for $43 million, due to the high success of the resort, although Disney still owns the land on which the resort sits.

In the process the resort was renamed Shades of Green referring to the colors of the different uniforms. At the time, all war-fighting uniforms had some shade of green.

The resort was completely remodeled and expanded during 2002-2004. Those renovations by KBJ Architects included a new five story wing featuring an additional 299 rooms, a 500 seat Magnolia Ballroom, a fitness center, pools, tennis courts, new restaurants and dining areas and a new lobby featuring a vaulted ceiling, fireplace and veranda.

Jim Korkis on Shades of Green from yourfirstvisit.netThe front entrance overlooks a large, natural pool with plants, rockwork and five waterfalls, with each flume representing a branch of the U.S. military.

The architects designed the new building and surrounding area to blend with the existing resort to create the feel of a Floridian lodge. Its new five story parking garage was a first at a WDW resort.

The U.S. military funded the expansion project, coordinating its efforts with Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney World leaders.

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Thanks, Jim! I’ve stayed at Shades of Green multiple times (thanks Dad!), and a complete review is here. Steve Bell, military moderator of this site, is the master of Shades of Green.  His web-based material is here. His book for military visitors is here.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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January 20, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Raglan Road

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

RAGLAN ROAD

By Jim Korkis

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs is owned and operated by Great Irish Pubs Florida, Inc., the company of Irish partners John Cooke, Paul Nolan and celebrity chef Kevin Dundon.

(c) Disney

(c) Disney

The restaurant that opened in October 2005 has both a loyal local and international following and has won numerous national and local honors. Each March, Raglan Road hosts multi-day St. Patrick’s Day events. Over the four day Labor Day weekend, it hosts the Great Irish Hooley Festival.

Traditional and contemporary Irish music, storytelling and dance are featured nightly and guests are encouraged to participate.

“Having built more than 400 Irish pubs in the four corners of the world, we believe that this is our best expression yet,” said Paul Nolan, “We are incredibly proud and excited to continue bringing the best of Ireland to Disney Springs

The name Raglan Road comes from an actual road of the same name in Ballsbridge, Dublin, Ireland. The real Raglan Road is on the south side of Dublin.

In 1946 the lane was made famous by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh considered one of the foremost poets of the 20th century. He used the melody of the old poem “The Dawning of the Day” for his poem entitled “On Raglan Road.” The poem was written about his unrequited love for a young woman.

In the 1960s Irish folk singer Luke Kelly first put the poem to music. “(On) Raglan Road” has become a seminal Irish song and has been covered by such artists as Van Morrison, Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler and U2.

Kavanagh was always seen sitting alone on a park bench by the Grand Canal in Dublin so when he passed away in 1967 after a long battle with cancer he was commemorated with a statue by the banks of the canal.

Today, the only replica of this bronze statue of a man sitting alone on a bench thinking of his lost love, specially commissioned for this location, is found outside the front door of Raglan Road in Disney Springs.

That’s why there is a crumpled hat placed next to him and the seat is not flat but slanted inward so it makes it awkward for a guest to try to sit next to him for a photo while he is looking down and pensively remembering what might have been.

Kavanagh is remembered by three plaques in Dublin. Two of them are at locations where he lived while the third plaque is beside his bronze statue sculpted by Peierls at the location by the canal where some say he found inspiration for his work. The lines on this plaque read: “Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal, pouring redemption for me.”

The four aged mahogany and walnut bars that feature marble adornments, leaded glass and ornate detailing were handcrafted in Ireland for old Irish bars and churches more than 130 years ago and shipped to Florida. In addition, Raglan Road’s furnishings, lighting and wall coverings were all created and built in Ireland. Authentic Irish antiques, ornamentation and bric-a-brac complete the authentic décor.

The works of Irish artist Graham Knuttel have found homes among Hollywood celebrities and on November 11 2011, the restaurant unveiled his commission painting for the restaurant based on Kavanagh’s poem.

It depicts a pub scene in which more than two dozen unconventional Knuttel figures that include Kavanagh, Kelly, Irish rockers Bono and The Edge and writers James Joyce and Brendan Behan are celebrating. Looking closely, admirers may discover a photo of a child wearing mouse ears in the painting.

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Thanks, Jim! Here’s the review of Raglan Road from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit:

Jim Korkis on Raglan Road from yourfirstvisit.net

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

January 13, 2017   No Comments