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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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Skipper Canteen

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.

SKIPPER CANTEEN

By Jim Korkis

One of the gags in the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland for decades was guides pointing out that the name of the dramatic waterfall that the boat narrowly misses is Schweitzer Falls named after…Dr. Albert Falls, rather than the expected Dr. Albert Schweitzer, noted for his humanitarian work in Africa.

One of the newest Magic Kingdom restaurants is named the Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. Skipper Canteen. It is operated by Alberta Falls, the granddaughter of the fictitious Dr. Albert Falls. This 222-seat restaurant is located in the former Adventureland Veranda area across from the Swiss Family Treehouse and is home to “World Famous Jungle Cuisine”. It opened December 16, 2015.

The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. which operates the Jungle Cruise boats was started by Dr. Falls on April 8, 1911. His granddaughter Alberta, who is the third generation owner, has repurposed the company’s tropical headquarters into a restaurant in order to generate additional revenue from the hungry cruise passengers.

Dr. Falls had a son who married a woman from India and they had a daughter who they named Alberta in honor of her grandfather. When she was eight years old, she was sent to live with him and learn the business. The company was originally a tropical river cargo shipping venture (“and logistics services”) but as business declined Alberta opened up sight-seeing cruises for passengers. A banner states that the inaugural cruise was October 1, 1931.

The restaurant includes three dining rooms. The Crew’s Mess Hall (which servers point out is not actually messy at all) is the largest one, and includes wall hangings of photos, documents, native musical instruments, and other expedition mementos gathered by the skippers on their travels.

The Jungle Room, which was the family parlor, is a more intimate location and features memorabilia culled from the Falls’ family archives. The third dining area is behind a bookcase, and was actually the secret meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A., an organization of which Falls was a member), and features artifacts from the mysterious organization.

The menu features cuisine inspired by the rivers of the world locales on the attraction including Asia, South America and Africa.

Alberta has even enlisted the skippers to interact with the guests when they are not on a cruise. The servers are encouraged to share the same corny humor, quips and “groaners” that guests loved on the attraction. A waiter will say, “I’d like to point out some of the highlights of the restaurant.” He then points up to the overhead fixtures. “There’s a light. There’s another one. That one is pretty high.” Another waiter might add, “I don’t want to mention the elephant in the room” and then point at an elephant statue on a shelf.

In a typewritten letter affixed to the menu, Alberta briefly explains the history of the Jungle Navigation Company and the restaurant. She concludes it by writing, “We enjoy having you and we hope you enjoy being had. Please relax, enjoy your meal, then get out.” Her postscript adds: “I’m sorry that was rude… Please get out.”

The area was previously used as a Pixie Hollow meet-and-greet area for the fairy characters. When the characters moved out, Imagineers considered several options for a themed Adventureland eatery including Tarzan, Aladdin and pirates.

As a tribute to some of the Imagineers responsible for the original Jungle Cruise, there are three offices on the upper floor for Skipper Marc (Davis), Skipper Harper (Goff) and Skipper Bill (Evans). On Jungle Cruise, Davis was responsible for the visual gags, Goff designed the waterway and the boats, and Evans did the landscaping.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, his 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.
The 2017 easy Guide

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August 18, 2017   No Comments

Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary, Seven Night Variant

Below is a seven-night variant of my FastPass+ based Disney World itinerary for lower crowd weeks.

Updated in August 2017, it includes guidance for the new Avatar: World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is adapted to the closure of Ellen’s Energy Adventure and the Great Movie Ride, and the shift of the Festival of Fantasy Parade to 2pm.  On its first Animal Kingdom day, it uses a Rivers of Light Dining Package to save a FastPass+. Note that this package is available sometimes only 3-4 months ahead, rather than the 180 days ahead that most dining is available.

I’m not keen on this itinerary, as it has little rest time. Moreover, to see both evening shows at Hollywood Studios, you need to add an expensive Park Hopper to your tickets.

This itinerary does not work all dates, and some dates that it mostly works it may need some little adjustments. Use the comment form below to check with me on your dates.


As in all images and tables on this site, click it to enlarge it.

The recommended dining reservations and FastPass+ that make it work are in the To-Do List.

Daily agendas are in the links:

The 2017 easy Guide

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August 17, 2017   No Comments

To-Do List for Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary, Seven Night Variant

This To-Do List is for the Seven Night variant of the Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary. For To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.

 

(Note that a good travel agent, such as Kelly at Destinations in Florida at 980-429-4499 or at Kelly@DestinationsInFlorida.com can do almost all of this for you, for free. If you use Destinations in Florida as your travel agent and tell them you came from this site, then they share a bit of the pixie dust they get from Disney with me.)

A. MORE THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR PLANNED ARRIVAL DATE

1. Confirm your budget, planned dates, intended hotel, kids’ development and heights, and your transportation choice and its availability for your planned dates.

2. Make your plane reservations, if flying. Make any other needed transportation arrangements.

3. Create your My Disney Experience account here and add your family members to it

4. Set up your hotel and tickets. Call 407-939-7675 (preferred, because this allows you to tell the reservationist which building at your resort you wish to be in), or click here to use Disney’s online system.  (Note: if your dates are later than what the online system permits, see this.)

  • If you are following this itinerary, you want the hotel you’ve picked for seven nights, eight day no hopper tickets, the Dining Plan, and Disney’s Magical Express if you are flying
  • Note that you have the option Thursday night of returning to Hollywood Studios to whichever of the two evening shows you missed Monday night. If you wish to do this, you will need to add a Park Hopper–which you can do on Tuesday after you have a feel for the park

B. 181 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.net

Login to your MyDisneyExperience.com account, click the “Things to Do” tab at top right, under Dining hit “Make Reservations,” and practice trying to reserve restaurants (hint: use the search box at the upper right).

This may well drive you crazy, but the site works better than it used to…and is likely the only way you can get your Cindy reservations done! (as the site opens up a new reservable day at 6a, whereas the phone reservation line opens at 7a).

Collect your restaurant reservations together. You will want to do them online in order of hardest to reserve first. This is how they are listed below.

C. EXACTLY 6am EST, EXACTLY 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

Be on the restaurant website by at least 5:50am EST, and have your Cindy reservation all set up on the page. Keep refreshing, as you will be let in as soon as Disney’s system decides it is 6a.

Make as many of the following as you have patience for (try to get through at least Tusker House), in the exact order listed–but note that sometimes the Tusker House Rivers of Light Dining Package is not available until 90-120 days before:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Thursday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Wednesday 6.15p show. The later time will keep you up later than you need to be, OK if all you can get. Avoid the earlier time–it’ll cut into your park time too much
  • Chef Mickey’s (dining plan, one credit) Wednesday 11a.  Later is OK, but not a whole lot earlier–no earlier than 10.30a
  • Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining Package (dining plan, one credit). Tuesday 5.30p. You can schedule for as late as Disney will allow you to do so, but not earlier.
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan, one credit): Saturday 6p if you can; earlier OK, but not later

For those you don’t make online, make them by calling call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)

D. 60 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

Liking the Name on This MagicBand1. Be on your MyDisneyExperience account by 7a and set up the following FastPass+

  • First Sunday afternoon and evening at Epcot: Tier One: Frozen Ever After. Tier Two: Spaceship Earth. The Tier One FastPass+ is your priority. Set the Tier Two times for when your travel plans permit you to be in the park. If you can book just one because of your travel schedule, choose Frozen Ever After
  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Toy Story Midway Mania; Tier Two: Star Tours and the Frozen Sing-Along. Set Toy Story for 2.30-3.30p, Frozen for the 4.30p show, and Star Tours for 1.30-2.30p
  • Tuesday at the Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids. Set Na’vi for 10-11a, Nemo 11.30 to 11.45 for the noon show, and Kali River Rapids at 12:40p
  • Wednesday at the Magic Kingdom:  Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Jungle Cruise. Set Space Mountain for 12-1p, Buzz Lightyear for 1-2p, and Jungle Cruise for 3.30-4.30p
  • Thursday at the Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and the Haunted Mansion. Target Seven Dwarfs for 1-2p, Belle for 2.30-3.30p, and the Haunted Mansion for 3.30-4.30p.
  • Friday at Epcot: Tier One: Test Track. Tier Two: Mission: SPACE and Turtle Talk with Crush. Set Mission: SPACE for 9a-10a, Test Track for 10a-11a, and Turtle Talk with Crush for 12.30p to 1.30p.
  • Saturday at the Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain. Set Big Thunder for 11.30-12.30, Pirates for 12.30-1.30, and Splash for 1.30-2.30.
  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage and Festival of the Lion King. Set Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a, and Festival of the Lion King for 10.30-10.45a for the 11a show.

2. Do online check in, requesting as you do special location points

3. Customize your MagicBands

E. NOTES ON PACKING ETC. BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Bring your MagicBands in your carry-ons

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport unless you arrive late in the evening/at night or are an international traveler. Disney will get them for you and, eventually, deliver them directly to your room. Your bags may arrive hours after you do; so, depending on the weather forecasts, have a carry-on with an appropriate change of clothes for Orlando weather on Saturday, as you will almost certainly go to Epcot on Sunday before your checked bags arrive.

3. Follow the instructions in the Magical Express packet you will receive in the mail regarding both tagging your bags pre-departure, and where to go at the Orlando airport to find your transport to your resort.

4. Bring a copy of your room reservation, confirmation numbers and any tickets for special events you may have received in the mail.

5. Pack breakfast utensils, as they are not always available in the gift shop: bowls, spoons, napkins

6. When you arrive at the hotel, look for the special “On-line Check-in” line, and get into it.

The 2017 easy Guide

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August 17, 2017   No Comments

Epcot Day 1 Seven Night Itinerary For Lower Crowd Periods at Walt Disney World

(Note: this is from the Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary, Seven Night Variant.)

EPCOT DAY 1: FIRST SUNDAY AGENDA

Check in, get settled if your room is ready, and be at Epcot as soon as you can.

FIRST THINGS

  • Arrive at your hotel, following the instructions in your Disney’s Magical Express packet if you are using it to get from Orlando International to your Disney Resort. Check in
  • Unless you are arriving late, your room will likely not be ready, but you can leave your bags. First change into clothes more appropriate for the weather–which your To-Do List reminded you to pack in your carry-ons. You can ask to be called or texted later to find out your exact room
  • If your room is ready, and if you have time–you want to be at Epcot as soon as you can–get food and supplies (bowls, napkins, scotch) for your breakfast in the morning, which you will be eating out of your room. Also get (from the counter service restaurant)  “Refillable Mugs,” which you will be able to re-use at your resort for free drinks over your entire stay
  • Head to Epcot as soon as you can

Belle at Akershus from yourfirstvisit.net

AT THE PARK

  • Your plan today is to see as many of Epcot’s attractions as you can to free time on your second visit, see parts of World Showcase that are most fun in the evening, see the Frozen Ever After in Norway, and see Epcot’s park-closing spectacular IllumiNations.
  • You should have FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth and Frozen Ever After, and dinner reservations for either Akershus or San Angel Inn at around 6p. Those arriving late may have to thin the below to just dinner, Frozen Ever After, World Showcase, and Illuminations
  • Go through the turnstiles and pick up a park map and “Times Guide”–a schedule. Use your Spaceship Earth FastPass+
  • Head to World Showcase, and while keeping an eye out for your dinner reservation at around 7p, see the pavilions starting with Mexico and going clockwise.
    • Each pavilion will have some or all of shopping, special exhibits, a ride, a movie, and other special events—such as acrobats in China.
    • Check your map, times guide, and the pavilion itself, to see what each pavilion has.
    • For scheduled events like the acrobats, etc., sequence what you do when among items that are not scheduled (shops, exhibits, and rides), and bounce back and forth between nearby pavilions, so that you don’t have to wait long for the scheduled item
  • Have dinner at whichever you chose to reserve between San Angel Inn inside the Mexico pyramid or the Akershus Royal Banquet  Meal in Norway at 7p
  • Continue touring World Showcase clockwise until about 8:30p, using your FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After
  • Pick a spot for Illuminations as near its FastPass+ area on the Spacehsip Earth side of the lagoon as you can find
  • Watch Illuminations, and if you are parked, taking the monorail, or taking a bus back to your hotel, immediately at its end start walking briskly to the park exit (on the far side of Spaceship Earth) to beat the crowds.
  • Return to your hotel

BACK AT THE HOTEL

Buy food, supplies (bowls, spoons, etc.) and refillable mugs for breakfast in your room at your hotel counter service or gift shop, if you did not have time, or a room assignment, earlier.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

You will spend the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You have an early morning–you want to arrive by 45 minutes before open. Check with your concierge on transport (likely buses) and what time you should be at the bus stop.

The 2017 easy Guide

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August 17, 2017   No Comments

Hollywood Studios Day Seven Night Itinerary For Lower Crowd Periods at Walt Disney World

(Note: this is from the Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary, Seven Night Variant.)

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: MONDAY AGENDA

Today you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

You should have FastPass+ for Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, and the Frozen Sing-Along. You have no scheduled dining today.

FIRST THINGS

Arrive at the Studios by 45 minutes before open.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage from yourfirstvisit.net

AT THE PARK

  • At park open, grab a times guide to double-check show schedules, head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and ride it
  • Then see Tower of Terror
  • See Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • See Walt Disney Presents (formerly Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream)
  • See Star Wars Launch Bay
  • See the 11a Beauty and the Beast
  • See the noon Indiana Jones
  • Have lunch
  • See Muppet Vision 3D
  • See Star Tours (FP+)
  • See Toy Story Mania (FP+)
  • See Disney Jr Live on Stage
  • See the Frozen Sing-Along (FP+)
  • Book an additional FastPass+–for Fantasmic if you are seeing it and FP+ are available, otherwise something you want to re-visit
  • Have dinner
  • Decide between Fantasmic and the projection/fireworks show–Star Wars most of the year, Jingle Bell Jingle BAM from mid-November through December. Note that you can pay for a Park Hopper and return to the Studios Thursday night to see the other of these shows
  • Be at your selected show 30-45 minutes before showtime.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you will begin your visit to the Animal Kingdom.

The 2017 easy Guide

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August 17, 2017   No Comments

Animal Kingdom Day 1 Seven Night Itinerary For Lower Crowd Periods at Walt Disney World

(Note: this is from the Disney World Lower Crowd Itinerary, Seven Night Variant.)

ANIMAL KINGDOM DAY 1: TUESDAY AGENDA

Today you begin and end your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which you will return to next Sunday morning. You should have dinner booked at Tusker House as the Rivers of Light Dining Package.

You should have FastPass+ for Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo, and Kali River Rapids. Bring spare socks and shoes to change into after Kali River Rapids.

MORNING PLAN

  • Arrive at the turnstiles 45 minutes before open
  • At open, head to and ride Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • See Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • See Na’vi River Journey (FastPass+)
  • Explore Pandora
  • Have an early lunch
  • See the noon Finding Nemo: The Musical (FastPass+)
  • See the Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • See Kali River Rapids (FastPass+)
  • See the 1.30p Flights of Wonder
  • See it’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Head back to your hotel for a nap and dinner

EVENING PLAN

  • Be back in the park in time for your Tusker House Rivers of Light Dining Package dinner.
  • See Rivers of Light (FastPass+)—be in the FastPass+ line 30 minutes before show start
  • Explore Tree of Life Awakenings and Pandora: World of Avatar after dark
  • Ride, if you wish, Expedition Everest and/or Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark
  • Head back to your hotel

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you begin your visit to Magic Kingdom, and get to sleep in a bit.

The 2017 easy Guide

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August 17, 2017   No Comments