This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins, and today we even have a special guest author in Steve Bloom. Now Steve is a statistician by trade so he brings the one thing we’ve never had in the two years of writing this fine blog, a brain. In fact, because of Steve’s experience in numbers we are going to officially dub this the first ever edition of the STAT SIX. So without further ado, take it away Steve!
Fort Wilderness is the largest resort at Walt Disney World. The rustic themed resort opened with the park itself in 1971 and covers 750-acres. The original Wilderness Homes were added in the ’80s. The current cabins started to replace the Wilderness Homes in the late ’90s. The resort currently has 800 campsites and 409 cabins. Disney classifies the cabins as moderates, but they are really in their own category. 96% of the Unofficial Guide readers would stay at the cabins again, so let’s look at six reasons many of them feel this way, starting with…
At the bike barn, you can rent canoes, kayaks, bikes, and tennis rackets. At the marina, you can rent water crafts to explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Tri-Circle-D Ranch offers pony rides, trail rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides. From the beach, you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant. There are miles of trails, including a 2.3 mile exercise trail to Wilderness Lodge. There are two pools, a quiet pool, and the larger Meadows Pool with a slide, hot tub, and kid’s splash zone. Scattered across the resort are sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, and playgrounds. There are even Segway tours!
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six GREAT Easter Eggs in Disney Animated Movies. We here at the SATURDAY SIX offices listen to a lot of theme park podcasts, but one that caught our ears recently was Episode 87 of The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill. The show is focused on Disney villains, and over the course of the discussion Jim Hill and host Len Testa cover a variety of topics including the disastrous Villains Unleashed hard ticket party at DHS last year. Always filled with interesting tidbits, one thing that was new to us was the reveal that the character Ratigan in the Great Mouse Detective was based off the former Disney President and CEO Ron W. Miller. Most of you reading this are probably like us and LOVE watching Disney animated films, and it’s always fun to find out new information or see an Easter Egg hidden in the movie that you never caught before, even after watching films 20 times. Today we are going to look at six of our favorites that we noticed over the years. So sit back, be sure to have a quick finger on that DVD pause button, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse in Little Mermaid
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, kids today have it too good. The overall quality of animated films today is higher that it has ever been, many of which (Up, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon) are as good as any live action film. But believe it or not there was a time when animated films weren’t doing all that well at the box office, including the ones made by Disney. In the mid ’80s we were at the nadir of the animated film industry, but that all changed in 1989 with the debut of The Little Mermaid. A smash success with a crowd pleasing soundtrack, Mermaid was so popular that fans wanted an attraction based on the ride 20 years after the movie came out. No offense to Big Hero 6 or Wreck It Ralph – both of which were awesome movies – but do you really see fans in a fever pitch to get attractions based on them 20 years from now?
After watching Mermaid approximately 1,000,000 times on VHS (and DVD, and blu ray, and now digitally on our iPhone) you start to catch every little detail in the film, such as the Big Three of Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck among the crowd that King Triton glides by near the beginning of the film. There also looks to be a mermaid wearing a pair of Mickey Ears in the bottom right of the screen.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Theme Park Related Comic Books. To steal a phrase from Forrest Gump, comic books and theme parks go together like peas and carrots, especially Disney. In fact, the Disney characters that we love to meet in the parks so much starred in their own comics going back all the way to 1940. Despite switching publishers several times over the years, Disney comics continue to be produced today, most recently by Marvel and IDW Publishing. To celebrate the launch of their new line of Disney books, IDW has been releasing variant covers on all their Disney titles focusing on the theme parks.
Epcot themed covers.
These covers are absolutely amazing and done by the artists Derek Charm, Amy Mebberson, and James Silvani. We are going to spotlight these variant covers throughout the article because we love them so much, but the SATURDAY SIX itself is going to look at comic books over the years whose stories have dealt with theme parks directly. So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Mickey and Goofy explore the Universe of Energy (1985)
This is more than likely the one book on the list which most readers have seen because it was a giveaway at Epcot back in 1985. The comic features Mickey Mouse and Goofy exploring the Universe of Energy pavilion, better known today as Ellen’s Energy Adventure. From the attraction’s beginning up until 2004, Exxon was the sponsor and the comic is little more than propaganda for the fossil fuel industry.
The comic starts with Mickey and Goofy in the Universe of Energy pre-show and boarding the ride vehicle. These are my favorite parts of any theme park comic book. Forget the story, I just love seeing the landmarks and attractions drawn on the page. The pair even travel into the portion of the ride with dinosaurs, which made me very happy. Mickey and Goofy then spend the rest of the book talking about the history of energy consumption, how we currently get fuel, and what we can do in the future. In one great scene from the book, as Mickey describes to Goofy that gas could become expensive if we were cut off from foreign oil again, Goofy fears the day of gas sky rocketing to $1.27 a gallon. I wonder what ol’ Goof would think of $5.99 a gallon gas near the Disney Outlet Store?
Mickey Mouse references the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. Hey Kids! Comics!
While some lip service is paid to finding alternate sources of energy, the book is mostly focused on highlighting the true heroes of industry: people who drill for oil. Drilling in Alaska, drilling off a ship, deep sea oil platforms, basically anything Exxon is involved in. In another wonderful scene, Mickey shows Goofy a map and explains how a pipeline leads oil from Prudhoe Bay in the northern part of Alaska down to Valdez in the southern part. Hmmmm, the Exxon Valdez…where have I heard that before? In the end, this is a comic book about learning, which – for kids – is like getting socks for Christmas.
# 6 – Carrot Cake Cookie at the Writer’s Stop (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
We’ve heard the negatives, so let’s spend a minute and talk about what’s right with Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It has the consensus Best Overall Attraction at Walt Disney World, one of the most unique dining experiences you’ll find on property, and also has one of the most overlooked gems inside the parks with the Writer’s Stop. Almost hidden inside DHS is a quaint little coffee shop that offers you the opportunity to just unwind and sip on a coffee while reading a Disney book. While the Writer’s Stop offers a bunch of treat options, the signature Carrot Cake Cookie is why you want to go out of your way to stop by on your next vacation. The layer of cream cheese between two carrot cake cookies is going to have you make audible sounds of joy as you bite into it. Take a minute to relax, and feel free to grab one of the many Disney themed books on the shelves, or bring one of your own to enjoy (we suggest The Unofficial Guide 2016 or Sam Gennaway’s Universal vs. Disney book.)
Carrot Cake Cookie at The Writer’s Stop. (photo by Brandon Glover)
The Writer’s Stop, as of this writing one of the few things remaining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (photo by Brandon Glover)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at The Six BEST Souvenirs at Walt Disney World. Last week we took a look at some of our favorite pieces of merchandise available at the Univeral Orlando Resort and today we are going to cross the street and see what the very best souvenirs are at Walt Disney World. This is a much harder task because as we mentioned previously, Universal only ramped up their merchandise game with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in 2010. Disney, on the other hand, has been producing great souvenirs from Day One. In fact several items on this list are as synonymous with a Disney vacation as Cinderella castle or Mickey Mouse himself. So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Mickey Ears
The classic Mickey Ears are THE iconic souvenir at Walt Disney World and one whose popularity has exploded in the last decade. Besides the classic black ears, there are now Mickey Ears for almost any part of the Disney fandom: princesses, pirates, Muppets, Star Wars, World Showcase, and almost any Disney character you can imagine. Who hasn’t seen a newlywed couple at the parks wearing bride and groom Mickey Ears? Getting a pair of Mickey Ears has become part of the Disney experience itself.
You can’t help but smile wearing a pair of Mickey Ears. (photo by Stacey Lantz)
There’s a pair of Mickey Ears for everyone, no matter what they like. (photo by Brandon Glover)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Great Souvenirs From the Universal Orlando Resort. After two straight years of covering The Disney Outlet Stores each and every month for this fine blog, you can assume that we are pretty big fans of theme park merchandise (that or we did something awfully bad in a previous life). While exiting into a gift shop has become a running gag for many theme park guests, browsing those stores is actually something we here at the SATURDAY SIX offices look forward to almost as much as the rides themselves.
Today we are going to look at great souvenirs found at the Universal Orlando Resort. Until the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in 2010, it was actually rare to see guests walking around with merchandise bags, but today it is more rare NOT to see someone carrying around loads of souvenirs. But how to determine the best theme park souvenir? Sparing no expense, we used the Arnim Zola algorithm (along with such factors such as price point, usage in actual movies/TV, and theme park exclusivity) to break down the best of the best on property. So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Bort Keychain (Kwik E Mart, Universal Studios Florida)
No one has mercilessly attacked the world of theme parks with sharper wit than The Simpsons television show. One classic moment when they turned the screws on the parks we all love happened way back in 1994 with the episode “Itchy & Scratchy Land.” One of the more memorable gags from the show was Bart Simpson running into one of the most ubiquitous pieces of merchandise at any theme park, the gift with YOUR name of it. In this instance, Bart was looking at personalized mini-license plates and found the names Bert, and Bort. What happens after is even better but the capper comes later in the episode when it is revealed the park has sold out of Bort license plates. Universal’s own Springfield USA pays tribute to that classic moment with a Bort keychain found in the Kwik E Mart gift shop.
Bort keychain at the Kwik E Mart.
They even have more personalized items with Bort!
Bort, the Kwik E Mart’s employee of the month. (photo by Darren Schmidt of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of Our Emotions Coming Out Of the D23 Expo. Last week we gave our D23 Expo Preview and can proudly announce that we were the only blog on the entire planet to call Disney involving Stan Lee in their Parks and Resorts presentation. While some would call us The Nostradamus of Theme Parks, we’d like to remind you that we are just your humble servants striving to provide the best possible article in the history of mankind.
With that out of the way, what a D23 Expo it was! Hopefully you caught some of the excellentD23coverage by TouringPlan’s own Guy Selga (who has lovingly been referred to as a poor man’s Tom Bricker, or a rich man’s Tim Grassey). There were so many things to come out of of the Expo, but we’re going to take a page from this summer’s blockbuster hit TomorrowlandInside Out and express our emotions via the very characters in the film! So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – JOY: Star Wars Land is finally announced!
Our long national nightmare is over. STAR WARS LAND IS COMING! From the day Star Tours opened in the 1980s we’ve all wanted more Star Wars in the theme parks and now we’re actually getting it. The man in charge, WDI’s Scott Trowbridge, is also the very same man behind one of the all time greatest rides in theme park history, Universal’s Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. While details were scarce, what we do know is a jaw dropper. The land will be spread out over 14 acres, have an attraction that sees guests piloting the Millennium Falcon, and cast members will stay completely in character, similar to the witches and wizards inside Diagon Alley.
Do you believe in miracles?! (photo by Andrew Marchese)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Worst Case Scenarios That Could Come Out of the D23 Expo. Coming along once every two years, the D23 Expo is not just a Disney Convention, it is THE Disney Convention. In fact the D23 Expo is such a big deal that Hollywood powerhouse Marvel Studios is holding their annual presentation at the Expo instead of last month’s gigantic San Diego Comic Con. Already big news is coming out of the Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, including the public display of the incredible scale model of Pandora, giving us a glimpse of what will soon be coming to Animal Kingdom. Movie posters for TheIncredibles 2 and Cars 3 made their debut along with the first ever footage shown for Captain America: Civil War. But what theme park fans are interested in is the presentation taking place on Saturday featuring the Parks and Resorts division. It is here where we will find out what is coming to the Disney parks across the world.
Rumors have been flying for months leading up to the Expo of what will be talked about at the Parks and Resorts presentation, and more importantly, what won’t be talked about. Theme park fans in Florida have watched as Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been slowly shutting itself down, which is surely leading to an announcement for what’s coming, right? Frozen Ever After will be the first new attraction in Epcot’s World Showcase in over two decades, we’ll surely get information on that, right? Everyone is hoping for the best, but to borrow a phrase from our dearly departed friend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper: we’re here to chew bubblegum and pop pixie dust…and we’re all outta bubblegum. We here at the SATURDAY SIX are taking our rose colored glasses off and thinking aloud “what’s the worst that could happen?” So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Frozen Being Expanded in Epcot’s World Showcase
Last year Disney weathered the storm during the #SaveMaelstrom movement. In 2016 Epcot will debut the new Frozen Ever After attraction along with one of the most detailed meet and greets in the company’s history, and imagine the ground that covers. So if Frozen and the fictional country of Arendelle were shoehorned into Norway, why not just keep going? The Mexico Pavilion is right next door, so instead of a ride featuring characters from a Disney animated movie that no one under the age of 50 has even heard about let alone seen, how about we focus on the star of one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of all time, the lovable snowman OLAF!
The newest Tier 1 FP+ selection in Epcot! (photo by Matt Cleary)
But that’s not all! It’s widely known that – at best – The Morocco Pavilion’s Spice Road Table has underperformed since its debut, even after a radical change to its menu. So let’s give it a quick Frozen makeover: a Queen Elsa inspired name along with a menu featuring a mix of “Arendelle” food items from the Electric Umbrella and the BoardWalk Pizza Window, and Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo! The new Ice Road Table has a longer line than the Candlelight Processional.
From taking walk ups to needing ADRs 180+10 in advance, just like that. (photo by Matt Cleary)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons This Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Can’t Wait To Get Back To Disneyland. Over the course of the SATURDAY SIX’s award winning run we have done many articles on how much we love the Walt Disney World attractions, restaurants, and resorts. However, over the years we have been told constantly how great the Disneyland Resort is, even despite TripAdvisor recently ranking Disney’s Hollywood Studios higher than Disneyland (which surprisingly was not an April Fool’s Day prank.) With all the apotheosizing about these parks we figured that we’d have to get to the bottom of this, so we bought crack staff photographer Brandon Glover a first class plane ticket to California. Because Brandon is from Titusville, Florida, this was literally like an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. What would this Walt Disney World Annual Passholder for well over a decade…a man who would lay down in front of a tank for EPCOT…think of the park That Walt Built? The answer may surprise you. So sit back, sip on a mint julep, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Dining Inside the Parks Is Better
When contemplating where to find the best food during a WDW vacation, the most likely conclusion will be to choose a restaurant in World Showcase or one of the many resort locations across the property. For the seasoned WDW veteran, quick service options are usually bypassed for something of better quality. Most quick service locations serve similar fare to their counterparts located around the parks, which many find to be less than stellar across the board. One thing I was looking forward to in Disneyland was trying the variety of quick service foods, of which I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews. Right from the get go, this proved to be a wonderful truth. Not only was the food appetizing and delicious, but I was amazed at the variety of options available: Flo’s V8 Cafe features a Chicken Tamale breakfast and the biscuits and gravy from the River Belle Terrace provided a salivating reminder of home. Love New Orleans Style food? The French Market had a bit of Cajun flavor to spice up our night.
Monte Cristo sandwich at the Blue Bayou. (photo by Brandon Glover)
There are themed snacks and then there are themed snacks. This is the latter. (photo by Brandon Glover)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Best SHOWS at Walt Disney World. Here at the SATURDAY SIX we have done several articles looking at the best-of-the-best attractions, resorts, and restaurants at Walt Disney World, but we haven’t spent much time on one area they do better than any theme park in the world: shows. The live shows across the WDW parks range from the smaller scale and intimate experience of the Dapper Dans singing on Main Street USA, to the elaborately choreographed Trolley shows, all the way to the Broadway caliber Finding Nemo – The Musical at Animal Kingdom. So grab a seat – hopefully in air conditioning, and let’s begin the countdown of the absolute best shows starting with…
# 6 – Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Sorry to disappoint any Shia LaBeouf fans, but one reason for Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectaculars‘ amazing 25+ year run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is because it is based around the iconic Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc film. The show recreates several famous scenes from the movie while explaining how they were accomplished. It is a fascinating look at the movie making process (one of the only things of its kind at a “studios” park) and has a fair share of good natured humor along the way. It speaks volumes to the overall quality of the show that it has remained almost completely unchanged since its debut in 1989 and regularly packs its 2000 seat stadium.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (photo by Brandon Glover)
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (photo by Brandon Glover)