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Category: Magic Kingdom (page 2 of 2)

Quick Bites: The Anchors Aweigh Tuna Sandwich At Columbia Harbour House

The sandwich is a good size and really fills you up!

Tucked away between Fantasyland and Liberty Square you’ll find Columbia Harbour House, a busy counter-service restaurant that is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. 

On a recent visit, I decided to stop in and try their tuna fish sandwich, aptly named the Anchors Aweigh ($8.99), considering they serve almost all fish dishes. Unfortunately, the sandwich left me walking away disappointed. 

It’s is described on the menu as “white tuna with lettuce and tomato served on a toasted multi-grain bread. Served with chips.” I loved that the lettuce and tomato were both crisp and fresh and that the sandwich is a very good size that easily fills you up. But the bread was over toasted, making it dry on top of an already dry tuna which needed extra mayonnaise. It also appeared to not have been seasoned at all and just tasted “flat” on my tongue. I suppose if you’re used to a more bland tuna sandwich you would enjoy this, but most people would do better choosing something else from the extensive menu.

Despite my disappointing experience with the Anchors Aweigh, I like this location for a quick bite and would return again.

Columbia Harbour House is one quick service credit on the Disney dining plan. 

EWDW Guide to Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain


A log-flume ride through the animated world of Br’er Rabbit. One of the three mountains at the Magic Kingdom, Splash always commands a long wait and will have you singing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah for the rest of the day. The drop can be pretty intimidating and can make you very wet. Many consider this to be the ultimate Disney experience.

Technical Specifications:
Theme Park: Magic Kingdom
Land: Frontierland
Opened: October 2, 1992
Capacity: 8 per log
Type: Log Flume, Dark Ride, Disney Classic
George’s Rating: 5 Ears

Height Restriction: 40″

The Attraction
Chickapin Hill looms in the distance as you cross into Frontierland. You can hear the screams of the riders and you can see the splash as they reach the briar patch. You cross over the bridge in front of Splash Mountain to get a close up view of the riders as they hurtle into the water. This is definitely a not-miss attraction!

Located on the west side of the Rivers of America, Splash Mountain appears to share space with Big Thunder Mountain. The deep-hued oranges and greens of the mountain give it more of an animated feel, almost as if it were taken from a cartoon world.

A Note from Imaginerding
Eisner is credited with naming the attraction as well as suggesting it be presented as a mountain. Its working name was the Zip-A-Dee River Run. Marty Sklar recalls Eisner wanting to name the ride after the surprise hit Splash with Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah that Disney lucked into. He even suggested adding Hannah’s mermaid character to the attraction. Imagineers waffled on the name but held fast to the long understood and respected “Darryl Hannah ruins any attraction….guaranteed” mentality that permeated flume ride construction methods since the early 1400’s.

Splash Mountain at Disneyland opened three years earlier than its counterpart at the Magic Kingdom. The Disneyland version features single-file seating while the Magic Kingdom has side-by-side seating. In January 2011, lap restraints were added to the Florida version.

The Queue
Being a signature attraction at the Magic Kingdom, it is one that you will want to get a FastPass for. The Magic Kingdom has so many fantastic rides that the crowds will almost always go to Splash, Big Thunder or Space Mountain first thing.

Tip: If Splash is your must-do attraction, grab a Fastpass first thing and then head over to Big Thunder Mountain for one of the first rides of the day.

The queue for Splash Mountain has three separate areas. It starts underneath the Frontierland Train Station in an outdoor courtyard area that is set up with traditional cattle call stanchions and posts. You meander through a semi-shaded area with treehouses of the denizens of the ride. The second part of the queue is in the barn. This is also where you will have to climb a set of stairs. If you have any mobility issues, make sure to speak to a castmember. The third part of the queue signals that you are getting close. You enter the mountain, itself, and you immediately notice the cooler air, darkened tunnel and rockwork. The queue also slopes slightly down as you make your way to the load area.

The load area is one of my favorite parts of the attraction. Take a moment to look at the buildings that surround you and take in their details. The castmember will ask you the number in your party and assign you a row.

Tip: Deciding where to sit can make the difference in how wet you get. Usually, the second seat gets the wettest. If there are heavier people sitting in the front, then they will take the brunt of the water.

The Ride
There are four drops that separate the various scenes in Splash Mountain. When you board your log, you go up the first lift hill and you are taken around the Chickapin Hill. This is a great place you get an up close view of other riders taking the plunge down Chickapin Hill. Disney experiments with the water cannons in this area. In 2010 and earlier, the cannons shot water on every other log before the second lift hill.

Tip: Before you head up the second lift hill, you get the opportunity to wave at people waiting on the bridge. The bridge is a great spot for family members (especially kids too short to ride) to watch for friends and family.

The first drop is called Slippin’ Falls and takes you into the first major portion of the ride. You meet Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox; during this section, you also meet the other critters that make Splash Mountain their home. How Do You Do and Laughin’ Place are the two major songs played in this area. You will be singing these songs the rest of the day.

A Note from Imaginerding
You will come across a show scene with Br’er Bear caught in a trap. Make sure to notice the book on the ground. It is
How to Catch a Rabbit by Br’er Wolf.

To the Laughin’ Place Drop is the second drop. It is in the dark and it is my personal favorite. This is also where the tale turns a little bit for our friend Br’er Rabbit. The third drop is a double dipper-drop and takes you to the lowest point of the showbuilding. Jumping fountains, pop-up gophers and spinning turtles sing Laughing Place to you.

The final drop is next after you ascend to the highest point. Make sure to pay attention to the buzzards and the show scenes as you head up. The view at the top of Chickapin Hill is one of the best in the entire park. Do your best to keep your eyes open to take it all in. The final drop is 52 feet long and at a 45 degree angle. You reach a top speed of 40MPH. There is also a ride photo opportunity, so make sure you are smiling!

At the bottom of the Briar Patch, you head around the mountain and back inside for the finale.

You have to see it for yourself.

Best. Ending. Ever.

As you head out, there will be bathrooms past the gift shop. That way you can try to dry off, if you need to.

What if Your Children are too Short to Ride Splash Mountain?
If you are travelling with children that might be too short or not ready for Splash Mountain (or adults that don’t want to get wet), there are some other things in the area you can check out while you wait.

Toddlers will enjoy the Laughing Place play area.
  • Visit the Laughing Place! Toddlers and very young children will enjoy this small play area under the Frontierland Train Station. It is a small house the kids can walk through. There is also a small slide. Most kids will enjoy this for about 10 minutes.
  • Watch Chickapin Hill! Stand on the bridge in front of Splash Mountain and watch the logs as they disappear into the briar patch. This is also the best place to wave at friends and family as they start their ride.
  • Shop at the Briar Patch! Between the bridge and the entrance is a quaint shop that sells merchandise based on Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh. Make sure to point out the theming located on the back wall.

Make sure to look up while you are shopping at the Briar Patch.

  • Enjoy a snack or dessert! Head across the bridge towards Pecos Bill’s where you will find a few food carts serving popcorn, churros, cookies, hot dogs and the ubiquitous turkey legs. You can sit by the Rivers of america and watch the boats go by.
  • Visit the Forntierland Shootin’ Arcade! Spend some time practicing your shootin’ at this infra-red shootin’ gallery. You get 35 shots for a dollar.
  • Take the Grand Circle Tour! The Walt Disney World Railroad departs from the Frontierland Station every 15-20 minutes and takes about a half hour. If there is a long wait for Splash, this is a great alternative to just waiting.
  • Tom Sawyer Island. I am a big fan of Tom Sawyer Island, but it can take 15 minutes just to get there on a busy day. Also, the island is fairly big and it might be difficult to meet up. I would choose this option for older kids that don;t want to ride Splash Mountain and need to burn off some energy.

More about Splash Mountain

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Christmas 2011 in the Magic Kingdom.

The Christmas holidays are underway at Walt Disney World.  Even if you can’t get down there right now, grab some hot cocoa and enjoy these pictures from my good friends Bob and Donna.

The big Christmas tree in the Magic Kingdom won’t go up in Town Square until after the Christmas parade taping ends on December 5th, but this display of wooden soldiers in makes a nice photo op until then. 

Close-up of one of the wooden soldiers.
A nice close up of some of the decorated greenery you’ll see.
These Christmas stockings with the Mickey, Pluto, and Minnie on them will delight kids on Christmas morning.
For all you collectors, this year’s souvenir popcorn bucket is a cute snowman.
Even Tomorrowland’s Christmas trees get a futuristic, 1960s-style.
I secretly want a tree like this at home!

Whatever you do, don’t miss the nightly castle lighting ceremony. It’s truly breathtaking and worth braving the crowds for. It takes place every night as soon as it gets dark. Be there at around 6:00 just to be safe. 

Scenes from the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom.

Photo courtesy of my good friend Bob.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting  up with friends and celebrating the Magic Kingdom’s 40th birthday. The event was pretty low-key, but fitting, I think. In ten years, I know I will be there for the 50th!

We could tell from the entrance that it was going to be crowded, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits. How could you not be? You’re going into the Magic Kingdom!

The train station, decked out for the 40th with Fall colors.
Once you got inside, Main Street was pretty manageable up until the 10:00 a.m. parade.  We managed to get a good spot right off the Hub, next to the popcorn stand.  

That moment when you first walk into the park never gets old for me.

One of the events scheduled for the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom was a character parade.  It lasted about 10 minutes, but in that short amount of time, we saw lots of characters you don’t normally see. It was a fun moment in a great day.

Mr. Smee came out to say hello.
Do you think Jiminy Cricket is making sure the always-exuberant Aladdin is behaving?
It was nice to see so many of the princesses in one place, especially down
on the parade route rather than in a float.
Why hello there, Pluto.

Everything wasn’t perfect. The crowds were really high and 40th anniversary merchandise sold out almost immediately. Getting one of these cupcakes? Almost impossible.  It was at least a 30 minute wait.

They also came in yellow and blue.
After the ceremony, we rode a few attractions with very little waits and then headed over to Epcot for Food and Wine.  We came back later that night and I’m so glad we did.  The weather was perfect and there was a special add-on to Wishes that night that went almost all the way around the park. It was really spectacular.  If you’ve seen the 4th of July fireworks, it was similar to that.
Thanks again to my friend Bob and his talented wife Donna
for these pictures
If you get a chance to go to a special event at Disney, take it. Yes, you’ll deal with crowds. But it was really special to be part of the history of the Magic Kingdom, a simple place that has brought joy to so many people.
See you at the 50th in ten years!

Will the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Be Cancelled?

I like fun Disney gossip, but this certainly isn’t welcomed news. There’s a rumor going around right now that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride that was scheduled to be part of the new Fantasyland expansion might be scrapped.  Disney fans have been hearing grumblings for weeks now that the engineering behind the ride just wasn’t working, which in turn meant that they couldn’t design the track or even the building itself.  Now we’re hearing that the entire ride is being cancelled.

You might remember the announcement that came out of Disney last year that elements of the Fantasyland project were being tinkered (sorry) with. The elaborate Pixie Hollow was out, as were several princess meet and greets.  Why? Well anyone who looked at the original plans could see that the area was too centered around little girls. And while Disney recognized that the whole princess trend is huge, and very profitable, focusing on a very small segment of the guest population to that extent just didn’t make sense.  Besides, how many meet and greets do you need? 

One solution that fans readily welcomed was the addition a dark ride right in the middle of the expansion.  While the characters were taken from a fairytale, this wasn’t another princess ride. Instead, by using the Seven Dwarfs, Disney added characters into the expansion which have widespread appeal, both for the casual fan and those who recognize the role of  the movie Snow White is Disney history.  From a ride perspective, the ride was to be a bridge between Goofy’s Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, sort of an opportunity for younger guests to try out a “big kid ride” before going on Thunder Mountain.  And the concept seemed appealing, even for adults.

As much as I find the collective hand-wringing and concern among Disney fans interesting, it’s highly unlikely that the Mine Train ride is going to be cancelled in favor of going back to the original plan for meet and greets.  Disney doesn’t want that kind of gaffe out there.  They’ve promised a ride. It wasn’t just a rumor.  Therefore, a ride is coming.  I think what we’ll see is a re-design of the original idea if these reported problems are true.  We always knew that the ride was going to be one of the last completed in the expansion and you have to expect little bumps along the way. No one wants  repeat of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey debacle over at Universal, where the seats had to be re-designed. Better to fix those problems now than later.

Reader Email: When do the Christmas lights on Cinderella Castle go up this year?

This question comes from Nicole, who asks:

We’re visiting Disney world in early November.  Can you tell me if the Christmas lights will be up at that time? 



Nicole, thanks for your question and for reading here.  The “castle dream lights,” as they are officially known, are scheduled to have their first showing on November 7 this year.  Installation will actually take place starting on September 12 and run through September 26.  Guests visiting the Magic Kingdom at this time will see a crane in the park as cast members begin the time-consuming process of installing the over 200,000 LED lights.  The “memories” show is not expected to be effected by the castle lights.

You can see the castle lighting ceremony each night around 6:30.  It’s a wonderful way to cap off your day in the Magic Kingdom.

Bidding Good-Bye to the Watery Depths of Pete’s Garage.

Tomorrow marks the last day you can visit Mickey’s Toontown Fair, which is being cruelly demolished (okay, I exaggerate) to make room for the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion.  It’s also the last day you can venture into Pete’s Garage, also known as the worst bathroom in Walt Disney World.

Pete is a somewhat shady character, but I would argue that he is also the possible victim of  a pervasive anti-feline sentiment prevalent among Disney cartoonists for decades (see:  mouse worship). Given what we know, then,  it probably makes sense that his face and name ended up being splashed on the side of a bathroom.  Where else would you put your cat scapegoat? That’s right, you’d put him in a bathroom populated by potty training toddlers.

The obvious pun is that it’s a bathroom disguised as a garage, which is perfect given Pete’s supposed proclivities. Anyone who’s ever driven a car knows that sinking feeling as you hand over your debit card to a mechanic who just fixed your car:  Did he overcharge you?  Perform unnecessary repairs?  Is he mocking you right now?  Why yes, I believe he is.

No one knows where Pete will end up once he’s given the eviction notice, but I hope he gets a more fitting tribute than a bathroom.  Until then, good-bye Pete.  Good-bye bathroom floor covered in a thin film of water or . . . something.  Good-bye cast members gamely cleaning up mess after kid mess.  You tried, you really did.  Good-bye Toontown. You were secretly one of my favorite places in the Magic Kingdom.

The Plaza Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom Reviewed

The most over-looked table service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom has got to be The Plaza Restaurant on Main Street. Most people do not even know it is there! The Plaza sits on the corner of Main Street facing the castle and right next to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. It is quaint and old-fashioned with Victorian accents throughout the restaurant. The menu consists of the standard fare, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, but the desserts are what stand out the most here. On a recent visit, our group had one of everything! The brownie sundae was AMAZING and one of my favorite desserts of the week. No one in our party of 6 had any problems finding something enticing on the menu and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. At The Plaza, the portions are huge and the prices are low. This is a great option for anyone not on the dining plan. For just a few dollars more than counter service, you can have a great meal and a break from the heat as The Plaza is well air-conditioned.

Celebrations are plentiful at The Plaza. During our visit, there were several birthdays and anniversaries that were given much fan-fare, including decorated tables with pixie dust. The cast members were wonderful and treated each celebration as if it were the most important event that day.

One never knows what will happen when at Disney World and we experienced this first hand. Unbeknownst to us, a cast member had been talking to our son Jacob, 8, during our meal and we thought she was just being friendly but apparently she was on a mission! Jacob was surprised when he heard his name being called out by a man decorated with a sash and an old fashioned hat. He was given the honorary distinction of Junior Mayor of the Magic Kingdom for the day by none other than the Mayor himself. He received a ribbon, a certificate and a fast pass for 6 to be used anywhere in the Magic Kingdom that day! The look on his face when he realized what was happening is a memory that we will remember forever!

Sample Menu items include:

Angus Chuck Cheeseburger – Served on a flour-dusted Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Choose from the following toppings: Cheddar, American cheese, bacon, grilled mushrooms, or grilled onions. Served with your choice of broccoli slaw, homemade chips, or French fries. Veggie Burger available upon request. – $11.99

Grilled Reuben – Thinly sliced corned beef on grilled marble rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. Served with your choice of broccoli slaw, homemade chips, or French fries. – $10.49

Chicken Strawberry Salad – Fresh garden greens, grilled chicken breast, fresh strawberries, and Gorgonzola tossed in a White Zinfandel Vinaigrette dressing. – $12.99

Vegetarian Sandwich – Fresh mozzarella, hummus, basil pesto, cucumber, roasted red pepper, tomato, and lettuce on freshly baked focaccia. Served with your choice of broccoli slaw, homemade chips, or French fries. – $10.49

Brownie Sundae – Vanilla ice cream and a fudge brownie toped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry. – $5.99

Original Banana Split – Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream topped with hot fudge, strawberry sauce, crushed pineapple, chopped nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry – $6.49

Creamy Hand-Dipped Milk Shakes – Ice cream flavors: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, no sugar added raspberry sherbet, no sugar added butter pecan, or nonfat chocolate-vanilla swirl. – $4.69
Ice Cream Float
– Vanilla ice cream served with choice of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, or Root beer. – $4.49

Debbie Matullo

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Carousel of Progress.

1950s scene, my personal favorite.
Every Disney fan has his or her favorite underrated attraction. For me, it’s  Carousel of Progress, located in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom.  The COP is a rotating theater which carries the audience to four different scenes in a family’s life during the 20th century, from the days before electricity to more modern times.  It’s narrated by the father, who is accompanied by the family dog. 
The family doesn’t change much physically during the span of the century:  Grandma and Grandpa are still there, the annoying little brother grows up a bit in the 1990s, but the big sister stays in her late teens/early 20s and is as sarcastic as ever.  What does change are the family appliances and their lifestyle, and it’s fun to watch them acquire modern conveniences that make their lives easier or sometimes harder, as when the Father blows a fuse which shorts out the whole neighborhood. Again.
The COP, then known as Progressland, was originally designed by Walt Disney for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, where it quickly became the most popular attraction.  It was later moved to Disneyland, where it stayed for several years until being moved permanently to Walt Disney World in 1975.  At Disney World, the COP debuted with the song “The Best Time of Your Life,” a catchy little tune which I still like.
The newest version, which was changed in 1994, has an added final scene and some dialogue changes.  It also went back to the original song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” and was renamed “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress,” to pay homage to its creator.
To me, the COP is a lot of different things. It’s entertaining, sometimes unintentionally funny, and yes, it’s kind of corny, but it the best possible way.  It’s also part of Disney history and in that respect, it’s part of my history of the park too.  I love the familiarity of it and hope it will always be there. 
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