Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EPCOT, at 30

With the 30th anniversary of EPCOT just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to reminisce about EPCOT of the past.  When EPCOT opened on October 1, 1982 it was initially named EPCOT Center.  In 1994, the "Center" was dropped from the park's name, and by 1996, the park was simply named Epcot.  However, for me it will always be EPCOT (spelled with all capital letters).  EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow which was the original name of Walt Disney's concept for a Utopian-style community of the future.  Walt envisioned building a place that would be a test bed for the ultimate model for city planning and organization.  Walt Disney died before he could develop his vision of EPCOT, and with the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and that park's operation, Walt Disney's concept was put on a back-burner.  But, they say that no idea ever dies at Imagineering, and with the success of the Magic Kingdom, plans for an EPCOT-themed park developed.  And the rest they say is "history".

Things have come, things have gone, and some things have return at EPCOT since 1982.  We've lost Horizons (one of my favorite), World of Motion, the original Dreamfinder, and Kitchen Kaberet, among others.  But we've gained, too.  Norway and Morroco were not original World Showcase countries.  Soarin' and Mission Space have taken us to new places, and we are anxiously awaiting what's in store for Test Track.  But I'm not here to argue what should have gone, what should have stayed, or what should return.  Let's just have fun taking a look at pictures from the past.  I think the thing that stands out most in my mind is how much the landscaping of the park has changed over the years.

Early park map

Spaceship Earth, 1984
Fountain of Nations

The America Pavilion
World of Motion
The Land Pavilion

Spaceship Earth, 1987
Spaceship Earth, as view from Horizons

Imagination Pavilion

Spaceship Earth, viewed from inside Imagination Pyramid
World of Motion
World of Motion

World of Motion

Entrance (and a very skinny me), before those
hideous Leave a Legacy stones were installed
Canada.  I don't believe the shoreline is the same?

Spaceship Earth, 1989
The Living Seas (before Nemo)
Imagination Pavilion
Somewhere in World Showcase?
Norway opened in 1988

So, what does the next 30 years hold for EPCOT?  Who knows?!?  But if it involves this guy, then I'm all for it!

Spaceship Earth, today.  The future is
so bright, you got to wear shades.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street

As you enter the Magic Kingdom, just past City Hall, tucked away in a corner of Town Square between the Car Barn and the Emporium, you can find a little barber shop.  The Harmony Barber Shop has been a fixture in the park for years, but because it's not advertised and somewhat hidden in the corner, it's overlooked by the vast majority of guests that step through the gate.  I suppose that's part of it's charm.  I've always known the barber shop existed but until our last trip, I never took the opportunity to step inside and see.  


The shop is set up as to look like a turn of the century barber shop complete with three old fashioned barber chairs, black & white tile floor, an antique cash register, pin-striped wallpaper, a wooden wall phone, and a pot belly stove.  The first word I can think of to describe the place is "quaint".  The place is tiny, but comfortable.  With children in all three chairs, you have parents vying for a spot to capture the best picture, but it's all in good fun.

The shop offers cuts, and up-dos, and specializes in baby's first haircuts.  For children who get their first haircut here, they received special Mickey Ears with "First Hair Cut" embroidered on the back.  We chose a day during our most recent trip to have my son's hair cut and get my daughter the glitter treatment.

If you time it right, I've heard that the Dapper Dans stop in about noontime to serenade the guests.  One of the Main Street parade female dancers stop in during our visit for a chat with the guests.

During the summer of 2012, children's cuts cost $15, with gel & glitter $5.  Specialty children's first haircuts runs $18, and adults cuts are $19.  At those prices, I find this experience to be one of the best values on property.  It's fun for the kids and parents.  Reservations can be made by calling the Disney dining reservation line or talking with your resort concierge.  We walked in shortly after the park opened one morning without reservations and got in with no wait.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Snow at Wilderness Lodge?

OK, so not really, I was playing with my camera filter settings during a hard downpour one afternoon and got those shots.  

Although, we may have not really gotten snow, we did get a double rainbow which was a spectacular sight!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hoop Dee Doo

Memorable Dining Experience

Welcome to those of you joining me from Mommy Mouseketeer and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today on our Magical Blogorail, we are talking about our most memorable Disney meal.  So, what should constitute a “memorable” dining experience?  The food, the atmosphere, the company your with, a special occasion, or the entertainment?  I flipped-flopped on my pick several times because I’ve had great food at one place, but enjoyed another meal because of the atmosphere; and I’ve had memorable dining experiences with special people and enjoyed great entertainment at another.  After thinking on a while, I decided to go the entertainment route and pick The Hoop Dee Doo Revue as my most memorable Disney meal.  Now if you’ve been to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue or HDDR (shorten in Disney vernacular), you know what I mean.  The show is like no other on Disney World property, save for the long retired Diamond Horseshoe Revue.  Billed as “an old-fashioned dinner show that includes foot-stompin' music, nostalgic comedy and an all-you-care-to-eat dinner”, the HDDR is the longest running show at Disney World.  I dare anyone to not leave the show without a smile on their face.  It’s corny, silly and fun!

Pioneer Hall
The HDDR takes place in Pioneer Hall at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, just a short boat ride from the Magic Kingdom.  The show opened in 1974 and has run almost continuously since, making it one of the longest running musicals in America theatre history.  The show itself is a Frontier theme vaudeville-style dinner show full of singing, dancing and comedy routines.  Pioneer Hall has a stage at the front of the room, with tables on floor level with additional tables in a balcony that overlook the main floor.  Food service includes an all-you-can-eat salad, ribs, fried chicken, assorted sides and strawberry shortcake served family style at your table in metal buckets which are plopped down in front of you when you least expect it.  Unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tea, milk, beer, wine and sangria are also included.  For the kids that may not like ribs and chicken, typically Disney child-friendly food is available for the asking.

Metal plates, bowls & buckets
It's as big as her head!

HDDR performers
The show consists of the three female and three male character performers: Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew (comic relief), Jim Handy and Flora Long (the singers), and Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune (the dancers).  The entertainers interact with the audience throughout the show, and even serve dessert at the close of the show while singing the Strawberry Shortcake song!

The Hoop Dee Doo is memorable because for me it embodies all things “Disney” - great showmanship in a family friendly format.  The characters are memorable (who can't forget the giggle?), the jokes (while corny) are funny, the actors are talented, and the laughter is contagious.  I’ve seen the show 5 or 6 times, as a kid and an adult, and it never changes but is still just as good as the first time.

For the first time guest, I would recommend the HDDR only if you have time.  The show runs close to 2 hours and with travel time; you can expect it to burn an entire evening.  Have an Advanced Dining Reservation and plan accordingly, but give it a try sometime.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back Tuesday, October 9th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

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 ~ The Disney Point
2nd Stop ~ Return to Disney
3rd Stop ~ Mandas Disney Blog
4th Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
Final Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad