Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Family Traditions

Welcome to those of you joining me from the Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

My family tradition comes from a tradition of my youth, and that is paying homage to the delicious and ever-popular Citrus Swirl/Dole Whip.  If you’ve never experienced this tasty delight, you can find them at the Aloha Island and Sunshine Tree Terrace (seasonally) in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom Park, or at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort.  The Citrus Swirl is the original soft-served orange sherbet concoction sold in the Magic Kingdom when the sponsor of the Sunshine Tree Terrace was the Florida Citrus Growers.  As the sponsorship changed over the years, Dole took over and added the Dole Whip, a soft-served pineapple sherbet, to it’s menu line-up.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, whenever my family vacation at Disney World, we had to get our Citrus Swirls.  We looked forward to the tasty treat on every trip.  Back then, it was sold at the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland.  Over the years, getting our Citrus Swirls developed into a tradition.  It was something we all looked forward to.  It also represented a nice break mid-day, to get off our feet and relax in Adventureland.  Before the Magic Carpets of Alladin ride was placed smack dab in the middle of Adventureland, the area in front of Sunshine Tree Terrace and the Enchanted Tiki Room was a scenic, quiet, peaceful space to rest.  Prior to 1991, this area was filled with planters, benches and table seating.  There was scenic terraced pool that fed out of the Tiki Room’s eastern wall that provided a soothing backdrop.  With the incorporation of the Magic Carpet ride in the early 90's, the open seating adjacent to the Sunshine Tree Terrace was removed, and the architecture of the Adventureland Bazaar was transformed into the Agrabah Bazaar.  Now it’s noisy and crowded…I just don’t like the space taken up with that ride.   The atmosphere is lost.

We’d spend time cooling off with our frozen citrus swirls, listening to the tiki drums and the barker bird out front of the Tiki Room.  “Come to the Tiki Room…Fly to the Tiki Room”, he would call out.  If I hear the barker bird on one of the online Disney radio stations, it brings back so many great memories!
I think there's a sugar 
rush coming soon!
Now that I’m older, I gravitate toward the Dole Whip more than the Citrus Swirls because I like pineapples, but I think the tradition is the same.  I introduced my daughter to her first Dole Whip Float in 2009 and she loved it!  Now every time, we are in the Magic Kingdom, stopping by Aloha Island and picking up our Citrus Swirl, Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float is, as Stacy from the Disney resort channel would say, “a Disney must-do” and a family tradition!

Because we love the Cirtus Swirls so much, we managed to photo-document the numerous trips to get the treats.  Why?  I have no idea!
You've got to try this! 

Dad, bring me a Citrus Swirl!
Mom, smile with your Citrus Swirl!
More Citrus Swirls coming up!
Mom, don't trip in that puddle and spill the swirls!
Mom, could you smile just once?  
Bringing home the Citrus Swirls!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is TThe Disney Chick.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
2nd Stop ~ Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World
3rd Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
4th Stop ~ The Disney Chick
Final Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remember River Country?

This day in history, in 2001, River Country closed at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Gosh, it seems like such a long time ago, but yet we remember the place like it was yesterday.  The slides, the tire swing, the rope climb, the tube slide and the nature trail.  Oh, the little fishes and the smell...that Bay Lake smell.  

Positioned on the shore of Bay Lake across from Discovery Island, River Country was part of Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and matched its rustic wilderness theming, complete with rocks and manmade boulders similar to what you see around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom.

Billed as an "old-fashioned swimming hole". The water park featured a sandy bottom and unique water filtering system using water from the adjacent Bay Lake, which was dammed off creating a natural-looking man-made lagoon. 

Attractions at the park included:
  • Whoop 'n' Holler Hollow, two water slides, 260 ft (79 m) and 160 ft (49 m) long that emptied into Bay Cove
  • Bay Cove, a half-acre (2,000 m²) sand-bottom lake which featured a tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and T-bar drop.
  • Slippery Slide Falls, two water slides that emptied into Upstream Plunge, a 330,000 US gallon (1,250 m³) clear-water pool.
  • White Water Rapids, a 330 foot (100 m) long inner tube river.
  • Cypress Point Nature Trail, a trail among trees beside Bay Lake.

The water park opened on June 20, 1976 and closed on September 1st, 2001.  There man (unconfirmed by Disney) theories for the closing of River Country.  
  • Lack of attendance.  Even though the park was popular during the hot summer months, the majority of the water was unheated and River Country would often close for refurbishment in early fall.  
  • The addition of two larger water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
  • The Bay Lake water was corrosive and made maintenance of the park costly.
  • The potential presence of an amoeba (Naegleria foleri) that can cause Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis in people with compromised immune systems.  One of the reasons cited as to why you can't swim in Bay Lake.  
Whatever the reason, River Country now sits abandoned in place on the shores of Bay Lake.  It's sad to see it there, but I sometimes wonder if I would be sadder to see it torn down.  Even in it's current state, I can't help but to smile and point out to my kids how "that" used to be a water park that Mommy would go to.  It's funny, though, I don't think they believe me.  

Satellite map of the park in it's current state