This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World. Nobody enjoys eating at “The World” more than us. From outrageous snacks like the King Cupcake at Pop Century, to Disney food trucks, to table service restaurants like Bongo’s Cuban Cafe or ‘Ohana, food may have actually replaced attractions in what we look forward to the most on our Disney vacations. Can you blame us though? WDW has some of the greatest restaurants you will ever go to, with several one-of-a-kind experiences that you will never get back at home. So today we’re going to take a look the six most unique dining experiences on property, starting with…
# 6 – Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
The Animal Kingdom Lodge just may be our favorite resort at Disney, and one of the biggest reasons is how much we love Sanaa. Located in Kidani Village, this is the only restaurant at AKL that has a view looking out into the beautiful savanna and all the animals. The decor is fantastic, with the chairs having backs echoing tribal shields and lighting fixtures based on nests that Weaver birds would make in Africa. The dining room floor has beautiful representations of acacia trees while the entire room is filled with art, which is appropriate since Sanaa is the African word for artwork. Sanaa is hands-down one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Orlando.
The famous Sanaa bread service while seated next to the Savanah. (photo by Brandon Glover)
There are plenty of places at Walt Disney World to get chicken fingers and hamburgers, but Sanaa (along with other AKL venues such as Jiko and Boma) is where you can expand your culinary palate and try dishes you normally wouldn’t. It is worth making an ADR for Sanaa based on their bread service alone. There are five different types of Naan and you can choose up to 9 accompaniments to go with the bread. From a gamut running sweet to spicy, there is a dip for everyone in your party.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Events That Will NOT Be On Any Theme Park Calendar. We here at the Saturday Six offices are huge fans of the special events that take place in Orlando. Whether it’s admiring the topiaries at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, screaming during Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, or enjoying Santa and the rest of the Christmas parade during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there seems to be something to enjoy every part of the year. But today we’re going to go in the other direction. We’re going to take a look at six events which we won’t be seeing anytime soon, starting with…
# 6 – Night of Juggalo at the Magic Kingdom
Each year Disney holds its Christian music celebration, Night of Joy, in the Magic Kingdom, but what about other types of music? What about the Insane Clown Posse? The Night of Juggalo event would be a weekend celebration that would totally change up the Magic Kingdom. During the party, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique would offer tattoos and piercings with their offerings. Instead of LeFou’s Brew, Gaston’s Tavern would serve Faygo from its taps. And the Dapper Dans would use their four part harmony to sing tunes from the songbook of Psychopathic Records. It’s an event that no party goer will ever forget, no matter how many counselling sessions they go to.
The Insane Clown Posse playing in front of Cinderella Castle. WHOOP WHOOP! (And seriously, how DO magnets work?!)
With Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J in charge, rules will be a bit more “relaxed” during party nights. We all miss Flash Mountain, right?
This week’s SATURDAY SIX includes the Top Six Food Items at Fast Food Boulevard. Replacing the International Film & Food Festival in 2013, Springfield’s Fast Food Blvd has quickly become one of the most popular dining locations within the Universal resort. Complete with items taken directly from The Simpsons television show, this “food court” style eatery offers a wide array of items to appease everyone in your party. While it was almost impossible to narrow the list down to just the six items – in fact it was almost painful to leave off the Clogger Burger and the Sideshow Bob Foot Long – we now present to you the best of the best…
#6 – The Ribwich at Krusty Burger
The Ribwich. (photo by Brandon Glover)
As a longtime fan of The Simpsons show, the minute it was announced that Fast Food Blvd was going to open I was hoping there would be a Ribwich. Hilariously mocking the McRib from McDonald’s, on the show Krusty Burger described its creation of the Ribwich with the following, “We start with authentic, letter-graded meat, and process the hell out of it.”
Unlike its television counterpart, the Ribwich is nothing like the McRib and is more in line with a pulled pork sandwich. Topped with coleslaw and served with seasoned “Kurly” fries and a pickle spear, the Ribwich was definitely a menu item needed within Universal Studios Florida, with pulled pork being such a staple of Florida dining. In fact, while you can find pulled pork within CityWalk’s Margaritaville, and Hard Rock Café, Krusty Burger is the first to offer it within either of the Universal parks. The combination of the cool coleslaw on top of the warm pulled pork makes for a flavorful experience.
[EDITOR’S NOTE – In case you missed it, there was a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX this past Wednesday featuring The Six Worst Attractions at Walt Disney World According to Our All-Star Panel. Please check it out as it features the results of voting from 40 Walt Disney World experts including Len Testa, Jim Hill, and Tom Bricker. So today we are going to go back in the Wayback Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman to fix earlier editions of the SATURDAY SIX that were written before your humble author could grasp the complexities of WordPress. Welcome to the first edition of SATURDAY CLASSIX…]
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Disney Obsession We Just Don’t Understand. As resident theme park fans, we here at the Saturday Six understand obsessions. We collect park maps. We save our old hotel room keys. We get a new Disney ornament for our Christmas tree every single year. However, there are some Disney obsessions we don’t quite understand fully, and today we’re going to look at six of them. (PLEASE NOTE: these views have been determined after an exhaustive study by the Saturday Six staff and do not necessarily reflect the view points of TouringPlans as a whole or any other individual, especially Len Testa who thinks we are nuts with # 3…)
# 6 – The Turkey Leg Phenomenon
Turkey Leg Sweatshirt
Now, the Turkey Leg made our list of the Top Six Most Iconic Snacks at the Magic Kingdom, but what we don’t understand is all the ancillary products that have also come out for the turkey leg, including wallets, hats, t-shirts, pins, sweatshirts, and air fresheners…yes, AIR FRESHENERS.
Who is buying this stuff? Who outside of Oscar Meyer himself wants his car to smell like a turkey leg? Even the legendary Dole Whip doesn’t seem to have a fraction of the merchandise that the turkey leg does. May we suggest an immediate stoppage of any future turkey leg products and instead look at other food items on Disney property, including the cronut, the macaroons in the France pavillion, zebra domes at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or school bread in Norway?
This week’s special April 1st edition of the SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Worst Attractions at Walt Disney World. Our All-Star Panel was exhausted after voting for the best attractions at Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, but we weren’t done with them yet. No, now it was time to look at the other side of the coin. What are the worst attractions at Walt Disney World? This exercise was a lot tougher than you think, because certain attractions jump to mind, but the more you think about it, the more others start to emerge. Did you know that the Leave a Legacy monuments are considered an attraction at WDW? Ellen’s Energy Adventure takes a lot of heat, but what about the #INCREDIBLESSuperDanceParty in Tomorrowland (and yes, that’s it’s actual name. It should get a vote just based on that.) This was going to be a true challenge so our all star, blue ribbon panel was made up of 40 members comprised of some of the most exceptional people in the theme park community (a full list is available at the end of the article.)
The numbers were crunched, and then re-crunched by the Saturday Six computers.
The Criteria: Each of the 40 experts voted on what they consider to be the six worst attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points.
When the results were tabulated we then reached out to the great wise man of the theme parks, Jim Hill.
Jim Hill – When Derek invited me to take part in this particular Touringplans.com story, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Mostly because — after over three decades of interviewing the people who actually build & design the rides, shows and attractions for the Disney theme parks — I know for a fact that there isn’t an Imagineer on this planet who gets up in the morning and says “I want to create something crummy today. I want to do something that disappoints people.” Every ride, show and attractions starts out with the best possible intentions. It’s just that — between the “Blue Sky” phase and Opening Day — somehow that ride winds up going off the rails for reasons that are completely beyond WDI’s control. So to counter all of the snark found in today’s article, I thought I might try and give you a bit of background on each of the attractions that wound up on the “Worst” list:
We got 40 Disney experts. We got Jim Hill. We got the a list of the worst attractions at WDW. Who’s ready?!
The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX WORST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.
Len Testa (Co-Author to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and owns a Space Mountain Themed Kitchen) – Let’s start this off by saying that despite having absolutely no driving or mechanical talent of any kind, I can watch car shows like Lionel Richie: all night long. I’ve seen every episode of Top Gear, including the rare pre-James May Series 1. And I’ll watch Two Guys Garage for hours, even though there’s a better chance of a Chevy small block v8 falling on me than me rebuilding one.
So you’d think I’d love the extreme driving of the Lights, Motors, Action! show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, right? Well, no. To quote Mr. May, it’s rubbish. Why? How? Let me count the ways.
To be fair, it could be worse…
First, there’s the opening. It’s the best part of the entire show, and it’s two and a half minutes of excellent stunt driving, drifting, and automotive choreography. The problem is that this 150-second snippet shows virtually every key element of the production, which somehow continues for another half an hour. If LMA was CSI:Miami, you’d know in the opening credits that the butler did it, see how it was done, and then spend the next half hour watching everyone talk about the crime. Which you saw. In the credits. At the beginning.
Next, there’s the super-in-depth discussion of how each movie scene is set up, including multiple camera angles, cinematography, editing and special effects techniques. This may have been mildly interesting a decade ago, before every 8-year old in the audience had a GoPro, and a YouTube account. But today? Dear Lord, half the audience can edit videos on their cellphones. We get it. As philosopher S. Roy Hagar said in Das Beste aus zwei Welten: “That which is understood need not be discussed.”
And that leads into the third big problem with the show: the pace is slower than 60-weight motor oil in a Boston snowstorm. For every minute of action, there’s something like 3 or 4 minutes of talking. It’s like watching C-SPAN debate fuel economy regulations, without the tin-foil hat voicemails for entertainment.
But the show manages to get even worse by pandering to small boys via the Lightning McQueen segment. It’s obvious, dull, and vapid. You know what would be better? Putting cameras in the cars and letting the drivers talk while doing some stunts. Sure, you’d have to get drivers with personality, but I happen to know of a foursome that is seeking gainful employment. Might be worth a phone call.
JIM HILL (Jim Hill Media)- It’s important to understand that when the Imagineers originally proposed this outdoor arena show for the Walt Disney Studios Park at the Disneyland Resort Paris, it was supposed to celebrate the James Bond films. EX: The pre-show area was to have taken Guests through Q’s Lab. More to the point, this stunt show was to have featured Bond doing battle with some of the more memorable villains from this film franchise (i.e., Jaws, Oddjob). But when the Broccoli family wanted The Walt Disney Company to pay a ridiculous high fee in order to use the James Bond characters in a theme park setting, the Imagineers were forced to drop all of the hi-tech spy stuff that would have actually made this arena show entertaining and then go instead with a generic stunt driving show that wasn’t tied to any film franchise. So no Bond equals bland.
The turtles are popular now, but in the late ’80s and early ’90s they were a phenomenon. Cartoons, video games, movies, comic books, breakfast cereal, traveling stage shows, and enough merchandise that would make even Anna and Elsa jealous. Starting in 1990, TMNT performed a stage show in New York area of Disney-MGM, followed by a meet-and-greet. TMNT left Disney in ’96, but the Turtles have proven the test of time, connecting with each new generation of kids. While both Disney and Universal could score a coup by having the turtles in their parks, right now they can be seen at the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando
The heroes in a half shell with April O’Neil in the Streets of America. (photo by PopRewind)
But one of our favorite events of the year takes place at Universal Studios Florida and is included with regular park admission. We’re talking about Mardi Gras, and today we’re going to look at six reasons why this is the best party outside of New Orleans itself and we’ll start off with….
# 6 – The Walk Around Characters
Get your cameras ready because there are a ton of colorful characters throughout the party, and all of them would love to take their pictures with you. From steampunk inspired cowboys to court jesters and everything in-between (including jazz bands), there is something for everyone.
The King and Queen of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration welcome you to one of the best theme park parties of the year. (photo by Brandon Glover)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Theme Park Questions For the Magic 8 Ball. Theme park fans have a lot of questions. In fact, the mailbag at the Saturday Six offices is stuffed with letters from fans asking about their favorite Orlando parks. Unfortunately, thanks to TV being our babysitter growing up, our reading comprehension isn’t that great. We hired some interns to handle the mail, but they are even worse because of YouTube, Vine and Twitter (enjoy life now because we’re all doomed when this generation takes control of things.) So we did the only thing that we could do given the circumstances….we made up our own questions.
# 6 – What will Avatarland do in the area of merchandise?
A Na’vi makes the bond with 15.99% APR. (photo by Matt Cleary)
Disney has slowly been giving us information on the upcoming Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom, including the groundbreaking ceremony in early 2014 in which Imagineers used 10 foot shovels. Several attractions have been vaguely teased, and the point is always stressed that this land is attempting to be one of the most amazing experiences in theme park history. It’s James Cameron and Walt Disney Imagineering, two of the best in the world at what they do.
However, one thing that hasn’t been mentioned at all is what kind of retail opportunities there will be in this land, if any. Avatar is the most successful movie in the history of cinema, but it does not lead itself to the traditional methods of merchandising that Universal has used for its Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The third act of Avatar is hinged on the fact that the humans have nothing to offer the Na’vi, because the natives of Pandora have no use for materialistic things. What are those materialistic things? Shirts, action figures, magnets, and pretty much anything else you would find in a theme park gift shop.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands. MagicBands. We all have ‘em. They multiply faster than Tribbles on the USS Enterprise or selfie sticks at a theme park. But what do you do with all the extra MagicBands you have lying around your house? Throw them away? Seems wasteful in this era of going “green,” and besides, we have more important things at WDW to take to the dump. Sell them on eBay? Good luck, the only thing with less value is a share of SeaWorld stock. But, there has to be something we can do with all these bands… right?
Have no fear, the crack team at the SATURDAY SIX offices got together and came up with six ways you can use MagicBands in your everyday life. This is life hacking meets theme parks and we’ll start it all off with…
# 6 – Pet Collars
Pet owners around the world have been forced to buy expensive pet collars from the Big Chains for years, but did you know that you can reuse your MagicBands as the perfect* collar for the Aristocats or 101 Dalmations in your household?
“I’ve got 8 lives, do you? May want to sleep with one eye open for a little while pal.”
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Attractions at Walt Disney World. Hot off the heels of our All Star Panel getting together and voting for the Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort, it was only natural to take a look across the street and get to the bottom, once and for all, of what the six best attractions at Walt Disney World were. But this is The World after all. The Vacation Kingdom. The most popular theme park resort on Earth. So naturally we had to go big. We contacted 25 experts for Universal? Well we’re getting 50 for Disney! And after negotiations that took so long that Disney could have taken down two Sorcerer’s Hats in the same time, we finally heard back from some of the most well known names in the Disney Universe. An all star, blue ribbon panel made up of members from some of the best Disney podcasts (Disney Hipsters, WDW Today, Radio Harambe, and the Mighty Men of Mouse), the most amazing Disney photographers (including Tom Bricker, Morgan Crutchfield, Brandon Glover, and Dirk Wallen), the greatest Disney bloggers/authors (Epcot Explorer, Sam Gennaway, FoxxFur, and Jim Hill), the nicest Disney fans we know (Scarlett Litton, Daisy Lauren, and Drunk At Disney), the meanest Disney fans we know (Tom Corless and Josh Humphrey), legitimate members of the Theme Park Media Elite (Orlando Sentinel’s Dewayne Bevil, Attraction Magazine‘s Banks Lee and Matt Roseboom), and the only guy in the entire world who admits to liking Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Matt Hochberg).
SATURDAY SIX staff tabulating votes.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maureen Deal of Autism at the Parks? Here. Gary Bruckner, creator of the Frost Bitten Rum Cider at the Dolphin’s Todd English bluezoo? Here. Fan Favorite Disney Twitter accounts? How about Mearn, Mark Diba, and Adam Roth. Not to mention both Jenn and Tim Tracker! They’re ALL HERE, and many more.
The Criteria: Each of the 50 experts voted on what they consider to be the six best attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Anything that was holiday exclusive – such as the Boo to You! parade, Happy HalloWishes, or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – were not eligible. Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. The votes were then sent to a top secret location in Florida and counted no less than 22 times. (We’ve had some problems in the past. We can’t apologize enough, Mr. Gore.) The results are in, and we now proudly present….
The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX BEST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.
# 6 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (12 points)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (photo by Tom Bricker)
Laurel Stewart (TouringPlans Disney Cruise Queen) – Opening Date – 1980: Big Thunder has it all – story, visual puns, theming, great effects… a bluegrass soundtrack. It’s not as great a coaster from a technical standpoint as Expedition Everest (Yeti aside, which it turns out, was a mechanical overreach on Disney’s part) or Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. And it’s not a thrill ride by any means – there are more intense coasters all over Orlando. But this one is Disney at its best. It anchors Frontierland in a way that I don’t think Disney has come close to in years with the exception of Everest in Animal Kingdom’s Asia, which I think is its successor (and my would-have-been number one pick except that the ride is way too short). Because it opened in 1980, I never had to worry about the height requirement and was able to ride it from the start. Which I did, because I LOVE ROLLER COASTERS. On the other hand, my younger brother may have been tricked onto it when I told him it was “just a train ride, like the one at Main Street.” Suffice it to say, I have plenty of nostalgia for Big Thunder and love it just as much today as 35 years ago. And if you don’t take my word for it, take it from the French. Big Thunder Mountain is by far the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. And the French are never wrong. Just ask Jerry Lewis.