Friday, December 25, 2009

Into the New Year with The WED Page...

A few months ago I started this blog at the recommendation of a few friends.
I had been posting a bunch of old, "vintage" photos for Disney World trips along with a few stories from vacations of long ago as "Notes" on Facebook. Some friends suggested that, since I had so many old photos and stories to share, that I should start a blog and write a little something each week.
While it has been a mere 6 months since the page started, I have been having a great time and have met so many new friends here online. In that time I have also written for a few of my friends blogs and webpages as well.
About 3 months ago, while down in Walt Disney World, I met up with a good friend, whom many of you already know, Ryan Wilson.

Ryan writes The Main Street Gazette. He is one of the most prolific writers I have ever met. He post an article on The Gazette every single day...he also writes on other blogs occasionally and is often a guest on several podcasts. Along with his daily Gazette Articles, he also works on a number of other projects...needless to say, he is very busy creating new, fun stories for all of us Disney Geeks to dig into each week.

Ryan was telling me about his hectic schedule, as well as his hopes and plans for The Main Street Gazette, moving into the new year. I was adding how I much I enjoyed my own writing and how I would love to do even more with my own page in the future.

During this conversation we discussed that it might be fun, and beneficial to both of us, to bring our projects together.

To make a long story short, after much discussion and planning, we are now trilled to announce that as of January we will be working together to bring The WED Page into the folds of The Main Street Gazette.
The Gazette will continue to bring a variety of fun and exciting Disney News and perspective to everyone. Ryan will continue to bring his wonderful stories to you all and I will continue to bring the vintage photos and fun of The WED Page content over to The Gazette each week, and I will be contributing additional articles each week as well.

Starting in January, here is what you can expect on a daily basis from the Main Street Gazette:

PERSPECTIVE (Mondays) – Personal reflection on a Disney topic. Thoughts on art, shopping, underexplored areas, changes, anything that sparks the imagination. This will also include the occasional roundtable discussion.

THE WED PAGE (Tuesdays) – The history of Walt Disney World. The stories, lighthearted and/or documented accounts, covering the past forty years of Walt Disney World.

DISNEY DELISH (Wednesdays) – Restaurant reviews, the design of dining establishments, home cooked Walt Disney World recipes, if it has to do with food and Disney, you’ll find it here.

PHOTO SAFARI (Thursdays) – A photo article detailing the highlights of a specific area or a mass quantity of photographs pertaining to a specific topic.

THE WDW RECORD (Fridays) – The detail resource the Main Street Gazette is going to be creating will take time to develop. This section will highlight a single entry once a week.

Ryan and I are both very excited to be working together, bringing new, fun content to each and everyone who craves their Disney "Fix" each week.

You can read more about our new project in Ryan's new article on The Main Street Gazette at the following link:

I thank Ryan for the opportunity to join his wonderful webpage and hope that everyone who has supported The WED Page over the past months will come on over to The Gazette and see how much more we have to offer moving ahead into 2010.

Also, if you are a member of The WED Page's Facebook Fan Page, I would love for you to stop by and join us at The Main Street Gazette's Fan Page at:

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Wonderful and Exciting New Year!!!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gardens of The World...Topiaries of the Kingdom.

Our Walt Disney World vacations of the 70's and 80's had a very different "feel" than they do nowadays. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

In the early days our family would head down for an 8 to 10 day trip to a Walt Disney World that consisted of ONE park and just TWO resorts.

By today's standards, there wasn't much to do, but at the time we were always entertained and were just as saddened by the last day of our vacation as we are now.

One of the up sides to the "One Park World" was that we had plenty of time to slow down and check out all that they had to offer. One thing that is often overlooked today, by the hoards to visitors who rush from attraction to attraction, is the landscaping and gardens.

Today's article will focus on one of my very favorite landscape attractions at Walt Disney World...the topiaries.

There are still a few topiaries to be found on a regular basis at The World.

The Sea Serpent of the Magic Kingdom is still patroling the lawns around the Hub in front of Cinderella's Castle.
There are also a few to be found around EPCOT, especially during The Flower and Garden Festival, when they all but take over the park.

But back in the day, if you wanted to see a fantastic collection of topiaries you would have traveled to the area between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. There you could find a wonderous collection of these fantastic "beasts" and even get up close and personal for a few photographs.

In these photos, taken around 1979, you can see my brothers and I, along with our Mom, standing with the Elephant Parade Topiaries.

These sculpures were along side the road, and I remember seeing people posing with them nearly every time we drove past.

Here is another photo from that very same "Photo Shoot" of my brothers and I posing with the stork and "obelisk" topiaries near the Transportation and Ticket Center. (Note the matching Mickey Shirts, complimented by the vintage Mickey Socks...I'd still wear those, if only I could find them!!!)

This photo, from the 1992 book, The Gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort, shows what appears to be those same elephant topiaries some years later, in a different location. Now surrounded by flower gardens, you could no longer walk up to them to pose for a photo op.

Here is another Elephant sculpture. (apparently, elephants are a hot property in the topiary world). As you can see in the photo, this handsome fella lives at the TTC as well.

There were also many other topiaries which lived right beside The Transportation and Ticket Center as well as any other number of floral creations which were scattered about the area.

I suppose my special memories of these topiaries are not so much about the plants themselves, but more about a time in The World's history where there was less offered but perhaps more to be discovered, simply because you had the time to do so.

Here are a few more vintage topiary photos which were sent in by our good friend Ryan Wilson of The Main Street Gazette.

Here we see Ryan's parents posing, very stylishly might I add, in front of a few of the topiaries which were found at the Transportation and ticket Center, circa 1980.

A special thank you to Ryan for allowing us to see these rare gems from his family collection.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lake Buena Vista Village: Before there was a Lego Store...

Today we are going to take a quick trip back in time to visit one of my old favorites, Lake Buena Vista Village.
Who doesn't love to take a stroll past The LEGO Store in The Marketplace? The huge sculptures, created with the Duplo or Lego bricks are awesome.

But back, long before that store existed, there were often displays of Lego creations strewn about the village, here and there.

As you would walk around, they would be mixed into the gardens and grassy areas, on display.

Often, they would have a placard which stated the number of bricks used as well as the time it took to build each sculpture.

I have not had much luck researching these displays, but I do have quite a few photos from one particular showing that was held there back in the fall of 1980.

Please excuse the quality of these photographs. They were taken by yours truly, with my very own 128 camera, at the tender age of 9 years old....perhaps that will add, just a bit, to the charm of this long lost attraction.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Extinct tastes from around "The World"

With the arrival of Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, guests of World Showcase are being treated to all sorts of delicious taste sensations from around the world.

I have been down to this event on a number of occasions, and have actually taken a trip around World Showcase already this Fall. As I was perusing some of the literature on this event and was looking forward to sampling foods from around the world, I began to think about some of the "Lost Dining Treasures" from around Walt Disney World.

While there are many restaurants that have since moved on and disappeared, in this article I will focus more on the smaller samplings that were available, and have since move on into "extinction". I do realize, that some of these treats may still be available at other locations...but once they left The World, it was like they would never be the same anywhere else!

Starting out with a favorite of my entire family...The Beavertail.

This tasty treat was available in EPCOT, at kiosk outside of the Canada Pavillion.

A fried pastry, it was available sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, covered with apples and cinnamon or strawberries with whipped cream, with hazelnuts and chocolate or drenched in Maple and Chocolate topping (my personal prefered method).

It was tasty and beloved...pair it up with a hot cup of coffee on a cool winters evening and all you needed to add was a choice viewing spot for IllumiNations!!!

My brothers and I were crushed when we discovered the kiosk was no longer being used for dispensing this yummy goodness...but such can be life at Walt Disney World!

Another wonderful, "extinct" taste sensation was available over at the Boardwalk Resort area...Crepe on a Stick.

This taste sensation could appease the sweet-toothed traveler or those in search of something savory.

Available in a number of toppings, including fresh strawberry and powdered sugar, apple and cinnamon-spice, Swiss milk chocolate, banana and cinnamon sugar, smoked turkey and cheddar or ham and cheese, this delight was always a hit with our group.

I remember one particular trip where my brother and cousin must have eaten over 4o of those bad boys between the two of them.

The last of the extinct treats I want to bring back was actually less about the treat and more about the container.

Available at the Sunshine Tree Terrace, the Orange juice Oranges were a staple of each and every visit we made to the Magic Kingdom.

While it was just "regular, old orange juice", the plastic orange with the green leaf/straw top was a major hit with us as kids.

We would drink it several times on every visit and would continue to enjoy drink our juice, as well as just about any other beverage we consumed, in these little gems for some time after the trip when we returned home.

I wish I still had one of those containers, but alas, they were strictly utilitarian to us as kids and we used them until the were no longer suitable to hold liquids.

Since I can't seem to get my hands on any pics of the orange juice containers, I figured I would just throw up a pic of The Orange Bird himself...besides, who doesn't love this guy???

These are but a few of MY old favorites, I am sure that there are many more out there, that you all can remember. If there is anything you can think of from your trips to The World back in the day, PLEASE be sure to drop me a note and let me know...nothing better than exploring the past of our favorite, magical place, together!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Extinct Attractions: A Childhood Favorite.

When it comes to extinct attractions, there are a few that pass quietly into oblivion and then there are others that leave sadness and longing in their wake. One of the later, at least for me, was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

As a young boy, who grew up, not only as a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, but also as a huge fan of Disney's Live Action films...20,000 Leagues was a favorite on many levels.

I remember the excitement of boarding the subs and completely buying into the "dive" as we desended down into the murky depths of the ocean. The fish looked fake, you could see the waters surface above, the ride itself was cramped, dank and damp and the "animatronics" were sketchy at best.....but to an 8 year old it was MAGICAL!!!

And, no matter who you were, the giant squid was AWESOME!!!!

The ride opened on October 14, 1971, just a few short weeks after the World itself.

The ride was "temporarily closed" for renovations on September 5, 1994, never to reopen again.

20K's run was offically halted in early 1996, when it was announced that it would not be re-opening.

Speculation as to why it was closed abounds to this day. Some say it was the high cost of maintanence, others claim that it lacked facilities to accomodate wheelchair bound guests.

Either way, and for what ever the reason, it is gone and will always be missed.

For those of you who think back fondly on this classic attraction, and for those who have never had the pleasure of riding, I have attached some video's below, which I found on YouTube and was produced by Bobaiken.

I have also included a couple of photos from Disney's Collection, that were just too good to leave out!!!

Take a look...and as always, I hope you enjoy the ride!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Diamond Horseshoe: A Rootin' Tootin' Good Time!!!

Stepping back in time, once again, we find ourselves at a Magic Kingdom Show that was always a family favorite back in the day, The Diamond Horseshoe Revue.
Situated on your left hand side, as you rush from Liberty Square toward Frontierland's gate-buster attractions, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon now sits quietly, often empty, with most Magic Kingdom visitors not even noticing it is there.

That was not always the case, when I was a kid, I can remember Dad rushing ahead to the building on Main Street USA, where The Art of Disney is now situated, to be sure that he was able to get a reservation for the family to attend the show. While tickets were complimentary, popularity demanded that you reserve them early so as not to miss this extravaganza.

The original show was called The Diamond Horseshoe Revue, and while the name (as well as the performers) changed a few times over it's 22 year run, the show was esentially the same. A wild west saloon show, with comedians, Can-can girls and musical performances.

When the Magic Kingdom, in Florida, first opened, Wally Boag, "The Clown Prince of Disneyland", was brought in and performed for the first three years of the show's run. Wally was the star of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue and while I do not personally remember his performances, his portrayal of Pecos Bill was always once of my parents' favorites.

My family always looked forward to the Revue, as a kid I can remember my youngest brother Jimmy, being brought on the stage be part of the show.

The look on his face as the drummer's rim shot signaled the opening of a trap door beneath his feet (which was just a joke) will be etched in my mind forever. He did, however, get some nice (and highly coveted by his two brothers) parting gifts for being part of the performance. A certificate stating his participation as well as a huge, Mickey head, topped pencil.

This wild west style show, in one or another of it's various forms, ran through February of 2003.
I will always remember it fondly and think about it each and everytime I walk through Frontierland, it was a huge part of my Magic Kingdom experiences as a kid and will be missed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Character Meals..."Where it all began"

What Walt Disney World Vacation would be complete without at least one visit to a Character Meal?

If you are looking to sit down and have a meal in the company of Live Disney Characters, choices abound! There is a meal to suit nearly every taste...from dining at Cinderella's Royal Table in the presence of princesses to an African Style Safari with Donald and the gang at the Animal Kingdom's Tusker house, the choices range far and wide.

Today's trip back in time will take us to where it all began, the character breakfast that is, on a fun filled journey aboard The Empress Lilly Riverboat.

Located on the banks of Lake Buena Vista, The Empress Lilly, currently home to Fulton's Crab House, was at one time home to four restaurants and five separate lounges.

The Baton Rouge Lounge, had a full bar and live entertainment, performed by The Riverboat Rascals, who brought Dixieland Jazz and singalongs to guests.
Other lounges included, The Starboard Lounge, The Promenade Lounge, The Texas Deck Lounge and The Empress Lounge.

The restaurants were known as "The Steerman's Quarter's", a steak house which was located on the aft section of the Main Deck, "The Fisherman's Deck", obviously, a seafood restaurant, forward on The Promenade Deck, The Captain's Table, where private groups would be able to hold their events and the flagship restaurant known as The Empress Room was also located on the Promenade Deck and offered a more lavish dining experience.

While I remember quite a bit about the Empress Lilly, lounges not withstanding as I was just a boy at the time, the thing that we loved most about dining aboard her was the "Disney Character Breakfast"!

Located in what I believe was The Steerman's Quarter's Restaurant, this was the very first character meal available at Walt Disney World. Not a buffet, like so many today, it offered a plated, served meal available at either one of two seatings each morning.

The atmosphere, at least in my recollection, was for more festive than the character meals of today. Perhaps it was the fact that it was a one of a kind experience back in those days...or perhaps it was just one little boy's perception of the experience.
Mickey shaped balloons were everywhere, we would each receive a felt Disney Character Breakfast pennant as well as souvenir cups emblazoned with Captain Mickey himself.

The following photos are from back on August 26th, 1981, while we were aboard The Empress Lilly to celebrate my brother Frankie's 8th birthday.

The characters seemed to spend a bit more time " getting to know you" back in those days. Walt Disney World was a much smaller place and with only one park to visit during a 10 day stay, we certainly seemed to take more time to enjoy the little things The World had to offer.

Now, don't get me wrong, I still absolutely love to take my little ones to the character meals...heck, even before my little ones showed up, I always made time for at least breakfast with Mickey.

I will, however, always have a special place in my heart for the meals I had aboard the beautiful Empress Lilly. Meals that took place in a simpler world, in simpler least for me!