For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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Category — A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis

Fridays with Jim Korkis: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

BIBBIDI BOBBIDI BOUTIQUE

In the Disney animated feature Cinderella (1950), the Fairy Godmother appears to help the young girl go to the Royal Ball and with a wave of her magic wand and the magic word “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.” The Fairy Godmother transforms the rags Cinderella is wearing into a magnificent ball gown. In addition, she also helps with makeup, hairstyle and accessories.

It was a scene that always made Walt Disney cry because he told people it reaffirmed that if you work hard and have a good heart that you would eventually be rewarded. It was also a scene that resonated with many young girls over the decades who watched it and who wanted to be a princess with a magnificent magical ball gown.

The Disney Princess brand was created in 2000 by then Chairman of Disney Consumer Products Andy Mooney. That first year the brand brought in three hundred million dollars in global retail sales and just three years later, it was generating close to two billion dollars in yearly sales.

So the idea emerged to design a specific location at a Disney theme park to sell princess themed merchandise, and perhaps re-create that magical moment in Cinderella when an ordinary girl becomes a princess.

Senior Concept Designer Jason Grandt designed Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. He said his specific goal was to design a location where guests might imagine that Cinderella would show up at any minute.

(c) Disney

He added storytelling details like a scroll announcing the Duke’s Ball that evening, the very same event to be attended by Cinderella and Prince Charming. The colors of the curtains in the location were selected to match the colors of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.

The first Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique opened at Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) on April 5, 2006, followed by ones in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland on September 10, 2007, the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel on July 8, 2008, in the former Once Upon a Time – The Disney Princess Shoppe at Disneyland on April 17, 2009, and, with the name My Little Princess, at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel on May 23, 2009.

For the first time outside the Disney Parks and Resorts, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique opened November 25, 2013 at the world-famous Harrods department store in London but closed in 2017.

A version of the boutique premiered inside Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland on June 16, 2016. A Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique opened July 1, 2019, in the Storybook Shoppe in Fantasyland at Hong Kong Disneyland, followed by a location at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World, which opened on August 6, 2019, replacing the Ivy Trellis Salon.

The Disney Cruise Line offers some different options, such as the Star Wars makeovers that tie in with Star Wars Day at Sea sailings, in addition to the traditional princess transformations. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique started with the Disney Fantasy in 2012 and followed by the Disney Magic and the Disney Dream in 2015 and the Disney Wonder in 2016.

Guests (usually girls) ages 3-12 that must be accompanied by an adult receive the royal treatment, getting transformed into a favorite Disney princess with the help of their own Fairy Godmother-in-Training, and take a royal oath.

Several different options are offered, and the price can soar to several hundred dollars especially with the addition of a princess dress. Of course, additional accessories are also available for purchase.

Boys are welcome, and can choose to be transformed into a knight or a prince. The transformation takes roughly about a half hour or more and includes photos and a gift bag of items in a tiny salon decorated with items to suggest an interior room of a castle.

Despite the deluxe price, the experience has proven to be so popular that Walt Disney World is home to three different Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques.

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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 new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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September 3, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Buying Disney’s World

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

YOUR PERSONAL DISNEY LIBRARY (43)

By Jim Korkis

With Walt Disney World celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary in October, I expect that there will be many books released recounting the creation of the Most Magical Place of Earth.

One of the first ones in this category is Buying Disney’s World, a breezy, cursory look at the birth of Walt Disney World. At roughly 150 pages of text (ten of those pages devoted to a transcription of the narration of the famous Epcot film, and others with full page illustrations that are sometimes interesting and sometimes unnecessary and difficult to read), it omits many people, stories, details, subtleties and facts.

For instance, there is no mention of landscaper Bill Evans who shaped the horticultural atmosphere of the property, or of Bob Gurr who was responsible for many innovative vehicles including a new version of the monorail for WDW, or of Imagineer John Hench, who was responsible for so many design elements, especially a color palette that was different than Disneyland.

In fact, the number of names of people important to the creation of Walt Disney World who are omitted might have easily filled an additional 150 pages.

I was also concerned by the sources the author cited for the book. He seems to rely heavily on Robert Foster’s unpublished manuscript The Founding of a Kingdom but did not consult obvious sources like Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti or Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City by Sam Gennawey, both known for their accuracy and valuable perspective.

In fact, off the top of my head, I could probably mention at least another half dozen other books and dozens of easily available documents about the making of Walt Disney World that I could recommend and trust that the author did not clearly use when doing his research on the topic.

Certainly, the Foster manuscript noted above is important, because Foster was the lawyer responsible for the purchasing of all the future Walt Disney World land in Florida, and he had personal contact with many of the key players involved in the Florida project. However, Foster’s was only one perspective of what was going on, and the author has not obviously done any cross-checking to verify the Forster information.

Author Aaron Goldberg has written three other books about Disney topics, and he certainly has his appreciative fan following. The information he provides for the most part is accurate, although it doesn’t always tell the whole story, and personally I was saddened that he didn’t give Roy O. Disney more credit and attention for his sacrifice and leadership in trying to make his younger brother’s dream a reality.

In his haste to finish the book, the author devotes less than three pages to the opening of WDW, the three day dedication ceremony, and the immediate reaction to the new resort. I would assume that many readers would have found those events even more fascinating than some of the previous material.

This brief overview will satisfy some readers, but I look forward to a book with a more diligent recounting of the story of Walt Disney World and better use of existing source material to provide a new perspective.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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August 27, 2021   No Comments

Fridays with Jim Korkis: The Music of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE MUSIC OF STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE

By Jim Korkis

Inside Oga’s Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the droid DJ R3X spins favorites from around the universe, and nearly all were written and recorded specifically for the attraction.

Among those tunes are tracks by fictional acts Gaya (performing Oola Shuka), Chaka Mater Laka featuring MW-59 (Batuu Boogie) and Junee Veech featuring Gubz (Bai Tee Tee). There’s even a cut that adapts John Williams’ familiar Cantina Band theme from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Adam Dorn was handpicked to take on the task of remixing the tune synonymous with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker’s first meeting with Han Solo and Chewbacca inside the Mos Eisley cantina.

Dorn told media representatives that he vividly remembers being six years old and sitting in a movie theater in Philadelphia watching Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time. “When the cantina scene came on, I was transfixed. I will always remember this piece of music and every time I hear it, I still smile.”

Original composer John Williams listened to Dorn’s version and commented, “Well, that was perfectly lovely.”

Matt Walker, executive in charge of music for Walt Disney Imagineering, said that since the Batuu outpost didn’t exist in the films, it would need “its own score, one that belonged to it, but of course lived within the universe of John Williams’ music for the films but the last thing we wanted was to feel like you’re walking in and hearing, you know, any kind of music that was being pumped into the land as background.”

Instead, the aural backdrop of the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu is the buzz of space bugs, radios tuned into pod-race broadcasts interspersed with in-universe commercials, and X-wings flying overhead. Like in real life, music is faintly heard coming from apartments, the market, or piped into restaurants and restrooms.

Nearly 300 individual soundscapes were produced for the land, from the rustle of creatures in the bushes to the trembling roar of a First Order ship preparing to fly off.

Yaron Spiwak, senior music producer at Imagineering, said that for the songs in the cantina, “We took several types of world music, like a Chinese erhu, and mixed it with African drums, and on top of that put something Middle Eastern, and then put it in a Pro Tools session and filter it and reverse it, and then basically if you can’t recognize the instrument, or the style, that’s how we kind of made it out-of-worldly. Some of the aliens have like 20 fingers, or some of them have weird embouchures or mouths, so obviously they would play instruments differently than we do. It was kind of fun to imagine how that would sound.”

Walker added, “We started with the known alien languages established by Lucasfilm, and that was the springboard. And then we wanted to encourage the writers to have fun and to create their own alien languages. But then of course we would have to make sure that those alien languages that were created by our writers didn’t inadvertently mean something questionable in Brazilian Portuguese or other languages.”

Spiwak stated, “We had great partners in Lucasfilm, and we partnered with Margaret Kerrison [managing story editor at Walt Disney Imagineering], Matt Martin [creative executive, Lucasfilm Story Group], and we had two great guys from LucasFilm, Matt Wood [supervising sound editor, sound designer, Lucasfilm] and David Collins, that helped us write the lyrics for some of these songs. Especially the songs in Huttese. And also we had a Jawa song called Utinni, so that’s in the Jawa language.”

The overall goal, Walker said, was to create an authentic-sounding exotic locale, “weaving in musical textures, being careful not to overuse John’s thematic material. It’s a very textural approach to the source music.”

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Thanks, Jim! For more on the music of Galaxy’s Edge, see this. And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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August 20, 2021   No Comments

Fridays with Jim Korkis: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Overture Suite

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE SYMPHONIC OVERTURE SUITE

By Jim Korkis

When it comes to a Star Wars experience, one common thread defines it, and that thread is the celestial, swashbuckling music of John Williams.

So when it came to the fourteen-acre Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land, the Imagineers knew they had to incorporate that John Williams music into that location, but as Matt Walker, head of music for WDI said, “We wanted to create something that was new and unique, but we wanted something that belonged in ‘Star Wars’. There is no other composer, as far as we were concerned, that could come in and create and truly support a sense of place than John Williams.”

Williams composed the scores for nine of the main Star Wars films as well as an original theme for Solo: A Star Wars Story. In addition, Williams announced he was now finished with the franchise and wouldn’t write any more music for it but turn the work over to other composers.

When the eighty-seven year old composer was initially approached by Disney to write something new for the land, his reaction was that there was plenty of his existing work to choose from and adapt. In fact, he had written more than sixteen hours of Star Wars music over the years.

“Williams has always assigned themes and leitmotifs to new characters and planets,” argued John Dennis, executive creative director of music at Imagineering. “You wouldn’t go to Mos Eisley spaceport without hearing that theme. Those are the things we talked to John about, saying … Batuu needs its own identity to give people the emotion that you gave them in all those great cinematic experiences.”

Williams was invited to Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale for “an in-depth series of meetings,” Walker says. The composer was shown elaborate models, given detailed descriptions, saw artists’ drawings, and was generally introduced to the Black Spire Outpost and its two planned rides, Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance.

“We wanted to enhance the immersive-theater quality of the land with a new composition, and that seemed to intrigue him,” says Walker. “It didn’t have anything to do with money or legacy or anything. It was about: Oh, there’s some unfinished business there.”

He went off and composed, in Walker’s words, “a five-minute symphonic tone poem” filled with brand-new themes and motifs. William Ross recorded that suite with the London Symphony Orchestra, who were the original interpreters of “Star Wars” music at Abbey Road Studios from 1977 to 2005.

(Among Ross’s other credits including conducting parts of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Ross was responsible for adapting Williams’ music from the “Star Wars” films for the Star Tours attraction, fireworks shows and other Disney projects.)

In July 2018, John Williams delivered “this five-minute symphonic suite with multiple themes, development of those themes, counter-melodies, even a fugal moment,” Walker said. “The suite just fit the land perfectly. It was mysterious and kind of haunting, but parts of it were powerful and noble.”

Williams, who was in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, at the time of the recording, was linked to Abbey Road, enabling him to hear the sessions and offer specific notes about the performance. Williams said he hoped “listening to the music will take us out of the corporeal world for five minutes…just as these films have done.”

Williams won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for the five-minute Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite that is used in short excerpts throughout the land. Conductor Ross recorded the five-minute suite, a two-minute reduction of the main theme, and various shorter pieces based on Williams’ original composition, all totaling about an hour of music.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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August 13, 2021   No Comments

Fridays with Jim Korkis: The Trolls of Norway in Epcot

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE NORWAY PAVILION TROLLS

By Jim Korkis

In June 2021, the beloved giant troll who is a favorite photo opportunity location for guests returned to its original location in the Fjording shop after some extensive renovation of the store in the Norwegian Pavilion at Epcot.

Scandinavian folklore has two kinds of trolls: the giants (often called jontar) and the smaller folk called huldrefolk. The jotnar borrow their name and many of their characteristics from the mythology of the ancient Norse ice giants.

They tower above an average person and have rugged features with wild hair. Generally, they were considered primitive, dim-witted creatures. They have a total of eight fingers and eight toes.

That giant troll in the shop, sometimes referred to as “the forgetful troll” because he never remembers when the morning arrives his name or that he came to life during the night, was designed by artist Bjorn Schultze of Ny Form Trolls, a company started in 1964 that specialized in making authentic handmade trolls.

There are ten other huge duplicates of this same troll found around the world, including one on display in Voss, Norway at the Flam Railway, except that one is fully painted and has hair.

Trolls are very common in Scandinavian myths and tales, and are generally unpleasing in appearance. They often live in mountain caves, under bridges, or at the bottom of lakes. A huge variety of trolls roam Norway and some can have up to nine heads.

(c) Disney

An entire section of the shop is devoted to different trolls that can be purchased, but trolls are also hidden throughout the Norwegian pavilion.

At one point, Disney publicity told the media that more than twenty trolls were hidden in the pavilion but they often changed locales. The press release also emphasized that while trolls are known for mischief and pillaging, “all of Epcot’s trolls are friendly and those that might be feisty turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.”

The official opening and dedication of the Norway Pavilion was on Friday June 3, 1988. Then-Crown Prince Harald V (who has been King since 1991) and his wife Sonja of Norway dedicated the location.

“We think the pavilion will make Norway much better known,” said Gunnar Jerman, president of NorShow, a group of eleven different companies sponsoring the pavilion along with the country.

NorShow gave the Imagineers a list of items they wanted shown in the Maelstrom attraction that they felt uniquely related to the story of Norway including Vikings, a fishing village, a polar bear, an oil rig and, of course, a troll.

The Three-Headed Troll appeared during the troll country scene of the Maelstrom attraction when guests enter the domain of the Jotunn. When it became aware of the human mortals that had trespassed, it became angered and its heads began talking to one another.

The troll uses its magical abilities on the boat and the vehicle begins to move briefly outside over a waterfall and then back into the attraction and rapidly backwards thanks to hidden conveyor belts. Its design was inspired by the artwork of early 20th century illustrator John Bauer.

The troll’s magic effect was repurposed in the new Frozen Ever After attraction for the magical powers of Elsa. A tapestry within the Royal Sommerhaus where Arendelle royalty can be found depicts the trolls. The tapestry shows the troll’s three heads looming overtop of a waterfall with the rock-troll from the ride at the bottom of the falls. The swirling magic of the trolls appears overhead of them.

The Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe offers the Troll Horn, a sugar-coated cone-shaped pastry shell filled with jam and whipped cream. It was originally known as a Cloudberry Horn, filled with cloudberry jelly.

As the Disney merchandise proclaims: “The only way is Trollway.”

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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 new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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August 8, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

YOUR PERSONAL DISNEY LIBRARY (42)

By Jim Korkis

Sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle, who thought he had slept for a few hours, but it turned out to be years. It seems that when I was not looking and blinked my eyes, the marketplace was flooded with both official and unofficial books filled with recipes of food items from the Disney theme parks.

Certainly, food is a major factor not only in enjoying the Disney parks but also in making them unique from some other entertainment venues.

If Walt Disney World Resort was an independent food service company, it would rank 45th among the world’s largest restaurant chains. As an example, 10,000 dessert soufflés a year come out of the oven at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios serves 720 pounds of pasta every day. At least 125 orders of meat loaf and mashed potatoes are requested every day at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe at DHS.

Walt Disney World produces huge quantities of its food items every day. When you try to recreate one of these items at home, you quickly find it takes a huge investment of time, labor and expense as well as not quite tasting the same as it does in the parks.

Also be advised that you might need some additional kitchen items to complete a recipe. It is cheaper and easier to just get it at the park. However, if you are unable to go to a Disney park to get your favorite treat, these recipe books are a good alternative.

I picked The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook to review because it focuses on the parks with over a hundred pages (divided into Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Animal Kingdom) of its 229 pages devoted to just Walt Disney World.

The other two chapters are for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The first forty or so pages of the book are devoted to a short history of each Disney park in the book and the tools that will be needed in your kitchen to make some of the recipes. Scattered throughout the book are occasional “Did You Know?” paragraphs.

I also picked this book because it had over five thousand five-star reviews on Amazon. The few negative reviews for the book were buyers who tried the recipes and were disappointed for a variety of reasons.

Primarily the negative concerns were that quantities for some ingredients were incorrect, or that recipes were not done from scratch but rather made use of pre-mixed things. I am not a cook nor a baker, so I have not tried to make any of the recipes in this book.

I found the price for The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook very reasonable considering it features one hundred recipes and the interior is beautifully designed. The color photos are of Ashley’s creations of the Disney food and not every recipe features a photo.

The recipes are generally for the simpler items like Dole Whip, Blue Milk, and Turkey Legs. In addition, the vast majority of recipes are desserts rather than savory treats.

Author Ashley Craft grew up in Anaheim, California with frequent visits to Disneyland. When she was older she did two internships at Walt Disney World. She has her own blog AshleyCrafted.com where she began sharing recreated Disney park recipes.

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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 new books Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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July 30, 2021   No Comments