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.

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Category — A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Boundless Realm by Foxx Nolte

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 (38)

By Jim Korkis

Before I purchased this book, I asked the same question that some of you may be asking: Is there really a need for another book about the Haunted Mansion when both The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic  by Jason Surrell and The Unauthorized Story of Disney’s Haunted Mansion by Jeff Baham already exist?

Both of those books are accurate and insightful explorations into the iconic Disney theme park attraction, and I include them as valuable references on my bookshelves and recommend them.

Admittedly, this new book does not strive to be a definitive primer on the attraction, but rather to focus on a more personal observation of just the Haunted Mansion attraction at Walt Disney World. In fact, the author assumes the reader already knows the basic history and operation of the attraction.

The author is a long-time fan of the attraction, spent some time actually working on the WDW attraction and refreshingly admits that she disliked the tedium involved with the role.

I found Boundless Realm very well written, enjoyable and felt my money was well spent. I’ve always enjoyed the author’s work on her Passport to Dreams Old and New website that she has been operating since 2006, and her different perspective on things.

She has been a true Disney historian in every sense of the phrase for years. I must admit that some of her opinions in Boundless Realm opened my mind to new possibilities to consider.

One argument that particularly intrigued me was that WDW’s Haunted Mansion does not exist in the Hudson River Valley but it is more likely to be on the Atlantic coast near Boston. The discussion of the architecture of a “sea wall” along the river and the revelation that a Columbia Sailing Ship like the one in Disneyland was originally meant to be included, which is why the nearby restaurant was called the Columbia Harbor House, is very convincing.

Because of actually working in the mansion and having the opportunity to personally explore the nooks and crannies, the author comes up with some technical information that does not exist in the other two books, including a lengthy explanation of the moving lights effect in the windows of the mansion. That’s just one of the reasons if you are a Haunted Mansion fan you need to include this book with the other two.

I also liked that while the author intends to confine her discussions just to the WDW Haunted Manion, that when necessary she makes connections to the other Disney theme park Haunted Mansion experiences, and how the effects are created differently there.

The author’s genuine affection for the attraction and her curiosity about why things are they way they are and how they have changed (not always for the better) is evident on every page. She has done her research, and more importantly, has done first hand original research. I especially appreciated her making historical connections to sources like films and the Pretzel Amusement Company.

Boundless Realm is over three hundred pages long and has five appendices as well as fourteen pages of additional notes, so that it is overflowing with information. The book also includes many black-and-white illustrations and photos.

This is her first book and without hesitation I would buy any other book she chooses to write in the future.

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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 two new books,  Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

 

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March 26, 2021   No Comments

Famed Disney Character Orally ASSAULTED

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

EATING MICKEY MOUSE AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

By Jim Korkis

One of the most creative appearances at Walt Disney World of Mickey Mouse is not in the stage shows, parades, his own attraction, merchandise or even the countless Hidden Mickeys, but in multiple food offerings at the parks and resorts.

Certainly, Mickey Mouse’s three-circle head silhouette is one of the most recognizable shapes on the planet, and it appears in the form of everything from ice cream to pasta to vegetables to pancakes and much, much more. It all began with Mickey Mouse pancakes in Frontierland at Disneyland in 1955, expanded to Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, and has since grown into a lengthy menu.

At Walt Disney World, Mickey Mouse-shaped food can fill a breakfast, lunch or dinner, and several desserts.

Each year guests consume roughly three million Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, one million Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, over 700,000 Mickey shaped pats of butter, and about 50,000 pounds of Mickey pasta.

(c) ABC

Walt Disney World Executive Chef Michael Pythoud said that the trend will continue and expand, but with some limitations. “The food is successful with the kids and adults but we don’t want to overfill how many food items are Mickey-shaped because if the guests see Mickey Mouse everywhere, it’s not as much fun or special anymore.”

Product Developer for Attractions Merchandise Sheila Hamblen said, “It just adds that extra touch to what we do. Guests love it when they see it.”

Chef de Cuisine Brian Piasecki feels the food is a major guest satisfier: “It’s really a kind of ‘wow’ factor or ‘look how cool that is’ kind of thing. It’s all about the guest and if we can adjust presentation or produce something fun with that Mickey-shape, it really enhances the guest experience, which is really what our job is. It definitely brings a smile to faces.

“At Epcot, we’ve done things like working with Horticulture to create a mold that grew cucumbers into a Mickey head-shape, and serving kids’ food on a Mickey-shaped plate.

“Even at Rose and Crown we’d pipe mashed potatoes into the form of a Mickey head onto the plate for the kids. Every opportunity that we can use to incorporate that Mickey shape into the food has really always been our practice.”

Among the many items that can be purchased across property include Mickey-shaped pasta salad, macaroni and cheese, waffles (most places also offer a gluten free version), sandwiches, birthday cake, Rice Krispies Treats, brownie, cookies, pretzels, cupcakes, sugar cubes, pizza, cinnamon roll, lollipop, funnel cake, candy apples, cake pops, donuts and even a Mickey Mousse as part of a dinner buffet.

In The Land pavilion, the Mickey head shape in the mold is extruded throughout the length of the growing cucumber, so that when the lumpy and odd-looking cucumber is sliced, each flat slice resembles Mickey Mouse’s head. That began in 2003. In addition, The Land has since produced Mickey Mouse head shaped pumpkins (starting in 2004 and some weighing up to 80 pounds) and watermelons.

Some of these items come in different varieties and it has been conservatively estimated that over sixty different Mickey food items are available at WDW. Long time Walt Disney World guests also know that if a Mickey-shaped treat is only offered on the children’s menu, an adult can still order and enjoy it.

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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 Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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March 19, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats

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

SHRUNKEN NED

By Jim Korkis

A totem of Shrunken Ned’s head is hung in Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, where his voice is provided by Imagineer Brandon Kleyla who designed the location.

Few Disney fans know that Shrunken Ned was a character that actually originated at Walt Disney World. I wrote a book, Secret Stories of Extinct Walt Disney World, about things that no longer exist at the vacation destination, but I wasn’t able to include this story.

Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats, a remote control miniature boat experience, existed next to the Jungle Cruise attraction in Adventureland from 1997 to 2012. It occupied the area between the Jungle Cruise and the Swiss Family Treehouse and was eventually replaced in spring 2013 by stations for the interactive game, A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas.

A sign identified the game as the “Jungle Expedition Skipper Training School, established 1854”. Named for and apparently owned by Shrunken Ned, the attraction gave guests a way to experience maneuvering miniate models of the famous Jungle Cruise launches through a variety of obstacles.

The game was not part of the regular admission to the park but cost two tokens (with a nearby machine exchanging one dollar for one token so it cost two dollars to buy time to play with the boats) and featured sixteen individual control stations each featuring a big steering wheel and throttle.

Each station was numbered and corresponded to the same numbered boat.

Guests could attempt to navigate through an obstacle course containing such features as a volcano, spears, Tiki God statues, an Elephant Shrine, ancient ruins, and headhunters. A path to guide the boats was lined with the spears sticking out of the water. Guests could steer the boat in any direction along the designated path.

It was so popular that a similar experience called Safari Adventure was operated at the Disneyland Hotel from 1999 to 2010.

The boats were named Amazon Annie, Congo Connie, Bomokandi Bertha, Mongala Millie, Ganges Gertie, Kwango Kate, Volta Val, Nile Nellie, Orinoco Ida, Ucyali Lolly, Sankuru Sadie, Rutshuru Ruby, Irrawaddy Irma, Senegal Sal, Wamba Wanda and Zambesi Zelda.

Shrunken Ned was meant to be play on the words “shrunken head” that also referenced that guests were playing with shrunken boats. The Walt Disney World attraction sparked a mythology behind the named character.

Colonel Nedley Lostmore was a British colonist, reportedly from the late 1800s/early 1900s, who had some connection to the company that ran the Jungle Cruise. It is surmised that he had something to do with the training and possible hiring of new skippers. He had a distinctively huge white mustache and wore a monocle.

At some unknown point in time, Ned was decapitated and had his head shrunk–but in an unusual supernatural process. His sentient but preserved shrunken head was mounted in the South Seas Traders shop at Disneyland’s Adventureland.

Apparently the experience somehow helped him to become a fortune-teller and witch doctor. He identifies himself as “The Jungle’s Only Self-Service Witch Doctor”, diagnosing guests with strange jungle diseases and offering equally strange solutions.

He might diagnose a guest with some type of fever who is hallucinating that he was in Disneyland, when he is just lost in the jungle and sleepwalking.

He is one of four fortune telling machines found in Disneyland park, and his voice is provided by Imagineer Eddie Sotto.

Dropping two quarters into his “office,” Ned prompts the guest to place their hand on a carved hand-shaped plaque in front of the glass. Guests will feel an eerie pulsing heartbeat and then be told to take the prescription card that is produced. There are twelve different versions.

One one side is the face of Ned and on the other the advice on twelve different cards.

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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 Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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March 12, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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

KIDANI VILLAGE

By Jim Korkis

In 2009, Kidani Village opened near Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a Disney Vacation Club resort.

Kidani is the Swahili word for “necklace,” and was chosen because of the resort’s distinctive shape. It was designed as an African necklace with vacation villas forming the beads, walkways creating the knots in between, and the lobby representing the ornament or jewel at its center.

The lobby and the villas extend outwards and resemble the curlicue shape of a water buffalo’s horns.

With the opening of the resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was renamed Jambo House, and the two resorts are now collectively know as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Kidani Village offered it own unique savanna view of giraffes, elands, impalas, greater kudus, wildebeests, marabou storks, flamingos, waterbucks and more. There are two savannas, each with a different variety of animals, Sunset and Pembe, and guests are given a Wildlife Spotting Guide.

It has its own lobby and registration area as well as Samawati Springs pool, Uwanja (meaning “play area”) Camp water-play area, Survival of the Fittest fitness center, a table service restaurant Sanaa (“African inspired cuisine with an Indian touch”) and Johari Treasures merchandise shop.

Kidani Village was designed with three themes, Fabric, Proverbs, and Art from various African cultures. The art does not refer to just paintings hanging on the wall but also hand-carved masks, tribal symbols, sculptures and statuary in alcoves and on recessed shelves specifically designed for them.

The proverbs hold special significance due to their importance in African life. One of the most notable that is inscribed at the resort’s main entrance comes from the Asante people of Ghana: “Proverbs are like butterflies. Some are caught. Some fly away.”

Referencing this proverb’s philosophy a bronze-cast butterfly can be found next to each proverb located at the resort. Other proverbs include: “Truth keeps the hands cleaner than soap” (Nigera), “Life is like a ballet performance danced only once” (Mali) and “You must judge a person by the works of their hands.”

The “fabric” theme is very prominent in the lobby. The major patterns used throughout Kidani Village are from the fabrics of the kente cloths of Ghana and the kuba cloths of the Congo.

“Beyond the obvious natural beauty of Kidani Village, the story and attention to detail created by Walt Disney Imagineers is truly amazing,” said Kim Marinaccio who was the general manager of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas. “The themes of art, fabric and proverbs play an important part in telling the story of the African people and Kidani Village.”

Kidani Village was designed by architect Peter Dominick Jr., who designed the original resort, and it is clear that the style is much the same. The towering ceiling, rich dark wood and grand windows are similar, but the artwork and smaller size of public spaces imparts a cozier feel.

Cultural representatives from Africa are the Lobby Greeters, Savanna Guides and Restaurant Greeters, and share information about life in their country and their personal journey to WDW. They also share African folk tales each night at the Arusha Rock firepit.

However, in addition to authentic African culture, images of Simba, Rafiki, Timon, Pumbaa and others from Disney’s animated classic The Lion King appear throughout the resort, especially in the rooms.

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Thanks, Jim!  There’s more on Kidani Village beginning here.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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March 5, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis DisneyBound by Leslie Kay

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 (37)

By Jim Korkis

I have been part of Disney fandom for decades and sometimes it is challenging to keep up with everything new that pops up and gathers a following.

When I was growing up, the big hobby was collecting Disney buttons, usually ones that were offered for free at Disneyland connected to special events or anniversaries. Fans traded or bought buttons through newsletters, conventions, on park visits and more. Today, I doubt whether anyone actively collects buttons although I still do when I can.

Let’s not forget Disney Beany Babies that sparked violence at Disney Stores and in the surrounding parking lots and was going to be a fan’s 401K plan. Or what about limited edition seri-cels that were going to be priceless in the future? In a way, they did become priceless since nobody seems to be able to get a decent price for them today, let alone recovering what it originally cost.

Those Disney fans investing heavily in pins, Vinylmation and Tsum Tsums today should remember that there is no intrinsic monetary value in any of them so the best advice is to collect what you enjoy and can reasonably afford.

I am also old enough to recall when Disney cosplay was born and fans dressed up in elaborate re-creations of Disney characters both human and animal for conventions. As a fan, vendor and guest at many a San Diego Comic Convention over the years, I saw that fascination grow in enthusiasm and improve in craftsmanship.

However, I was surprised when roughly nine years ago, a Disney fan named Leslie Kay asked herself the seemingly harmless question, “What would Rapunzel wear if she were a girl just like me going to the mall?”

The result was the beginning of Disney Bound, basically an outfit that was not a full costume but was inspired by a particular Disney character and could be created from items in a person’s closet or easily purchased at a clothing department. Kay’s blog was an inspiration and focal point for many fans, and in her book DisneyBound she helps explain what Disney Bound is and how a reader can become part of this group of Disney fans.

This is the first time in my life that I have ever described a book as “perky”, an obvious reflection of the spirit of the author. Interestingly, the book is an official release from Disney Editions and that gives it a seal of approval along with a foreword by Disney authority Jeff Kurtti, who confesses he was as clueless as I was when I first heard about Disney Bound.

Filled with colorful pictures of regular people and their creations, someone complained DisneyBound is just a scrapbook of her many friends, but I don’t see that as a flaw because it reinforces the fact that anybody can participate. All it takes is a little imagination and some cleverness, and nothing is more Disney than that. In addition, you can see the great joy on the faces of everyone included.

Besides the helpful “how-to” instructions, including the tip that small accessories can help complete the entire “look”, there are chapters devoted to individual characters like Minnie Mouse, Mr. Smee, Mulan and so many more, including a Dole Whip.

As I went through the pages, I was continually impressed with the thought and effort that went behind each outfit. I was also impressed that Disney Bound is also Disney “bonding” as a community that has developed around the concept and rather than being competitive, joy is shared by everyone.

DisneyBound serves as a fascinating documentation of this newer Disney phenomenon and as a wonderful introduction for those people who may be interested in exploring it, or are just a little curious.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his two new books,  Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

 

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February 26, 2021   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Roses of Walt Disney 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.

THE ROSES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

By Jim Korkis

Walt Disney’s wife Lillian loved roses, and they were prominent in her home garden. They were one of the reasons Walt had to build an underground tunnel for his Carolwood Pacific railroad–so as not to disturb Lillian’s rose garden.

As a result, roses were prominent at Disneyland from its opening, and are in abundance at Walt Disney World.

The Rose Walk Garden at Epcot was initiated for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in the 1990s, and was such a crowd pleaser that it was maintained year-round, although roses are cut back part of the year.

Another popular Walt Disney World location for roses is the lawn side wedding courtyard at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Roses and gardenias surround a gazebo, creating an intoxicating scent and just the right touch of romance for an outdoor wedding.

Unfortunately, with the expansion and redesign of the Hub at the Magic Kingdom in 2014, the beloved Plaza Rose Garden that had delighted guests with its beauty and tranquility since 1980 was removed.

A few of the first roses planted in that garden were All American Rose Selection 1980 winners Love, Honor and Cherish and 1981 winners White Lightning, Bing Crosby and Mariana. Over the years, the garden also displayed St. Patrick, All That Jazz, Betty Boop, Barbara Bush and Candelabra, just to name a few of the many roses that brought a smile to guests.

The garden was located between Cinderella Castle and the entrance to Tomorrowland. Many different species of roses could be found along the winding pathway that led to a covered area with benches that used to be the dock for the Swan Boats.

The garden was the recipient of the July 1985 All-America Rose Selections Inc.’s Public Rose Garden Award given for contributing to the public interest in rose growing through its efforts in maintaining an outstanding public rose garden.

Disneyland Rose
(c) Disney

Shrub roses in different shades of pink were also on display in front of the castle, and old fashioned Louie Philip roses were in the broken planter in front of the Haunted Mansion. Those at Haunted Mansion challenge the gardeners to make the plants look neglected and overgrown.

The process of keeping roses pristine on property includes a soft-cut back in October and a hard cut-down in February or March, saving only four to six of the best branches for fertilization.

When it is warm again, the roses appear in full bud. A drip-line irrigation system is used to ensure that each root has its own water emitter with drainage at the base of the rose, as opposed to a traditional overhead irrigation system.

Walt Disney World garden specialist Allison Brooks said, “They like a well-drained environment in soil that doesn’t retain excess water at the base. They are sprayed weekly for pest control and with fungicide which helps also keep away those unsightly black spots and helps to keep them beautiful and romantic all the time.

“The rose is an easy flower to take care of, since you can plant it and let it grow with minimum trim. We are lucky in Florida, because it’s warm here most months, so the roses will bloom here throughout the year.”

Some of the myriad of rose varieties that can be found on Walt Disney World property include Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas. A particular Floribunda that can also be found is the Disneyland Rose.

Disneyland Roses were first bred in the United States in 2003 by Dr. Keith Zary in conjunction with John Walden. It was introduced to the general public the following year by Jackson & Perkins. Disney fans can purchase a Disneyland Rose directly from them.

This wonderful floral creation was the product of cross breeding the Hot Tamale rose with the rose Sequoia Gold. The result is an extremely colorful blend of orange and pink hues. Despite its beautiful color, it has only a slight fragrance, but what it does have is light and spicy. It continues to change color as it matures so it may start out apricot or copper in color.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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

 

February 19, 2021   No Comments