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What’s in a Name: Walt Disney World Roads

by on December 10, 2014

I never used to think much about Walt Disney World roads. I simply followed the purple signs and got from one place to another or relied on Disney transportation. Once I became a local resident, suddenly road names were important to help me figure out how to get from point A to point B on and off property. At that point, I realized I how many roads had names that sounded like they must have a story behind them.

Some roads, like Epcot Center Drive or World Drive are pretty obvious where they got their inspiration. Other roads, like Dopey Drive back in the distribution center district, are both obvious for their inspiration, and fun names for roads in general. Besides those, there are quite a few road names that may not be obvious but, like many things Disney, have wonderful stories behind them.

Three guesses which theme park Savannah Circle East can be found at. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Three guesses which theme park Savannah Circle East can be found at. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway

Also known as US Highway 192. If you are staying off property, chances are you are probably very familiar with this road. It is named after Irlo Overstreet Bronson, Sr., a politician and rancher who owned a lot of property in the Disney area. His grandparents had moved from North Carolina to Florida in a two-wheeled ox cart in the 1860s and accumulated large amount of cattle ranchland. As the family ranches were passed from generation to generation, Irlo’s father (George W. Bronson) had more than 50,000 acres. Irlo added more land, but eventually sold 8380 acres for around $100 an acre to Disney, much to the ire of his family. Some say that he sold it at such a low price because he recognized that this would build a better future for Central Florida, but whether that was his actual motivation or just some rewriting of history is the subject of opinion and debate. Regardless, the sale of the ranch lands did allow for the development for Walt Disney World, and so Irlo Bronson’s name is memorialized in the highway running along the south side of property.

Osceola Parkway

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Walt Disney: The Humble Beginnings of the Man Who Started It All

by on December 5, 2014

So many ideas, memories, and feelings come to mind when you think about Disney. But before Disney was synonymous with fun and laughter, princesses and pirates, movies or even a mouse, Disney was just a man. Walter Elias Disney, the man who started it all. And to celebrate what would have been the 113th birthday of the Disney empire’s founder, we are taking a look back at the humble beginnings.

Chicago

Walt's parents:  Elias & Flora.  Courtesy of Yesterland

Walt’s parents: Elias & Flora. Courtesy of Yesterland

Walt’s father, Elias (1859-1941), was a Canadian born son of Irish immigrants. He married Flora Call (1868-1938) January 1, 1888 and they soon after moved to Chicago, IL. Elias, a carpenter among other professions, built the family home on a 25’ x 125’ lot at 1249 Tripp Avenue in Chicago. Here their family grew to include sons Herbert, Raymond, and Roy.

The church tied to Walt's name.  Courtesy of Yesterland

The church tied to Walt’s name. Courtesy of Yesterland

In 1900, Elias built another structure one block East and one block North of the family home at 2255 N. Keeler Avenue. This was the home of St. Paul’s Congregational Church (now Iglesia Evangelica Bautistat Betania). Elias’s close friend, Walter Parr was pastor. When Parr was away, Elias would lead the church services, and Flora worked at St. Paul’s as the treasurer.

A year later, on December 5th, 1901 Flora gave birth to their fourth son, Walter Elias, in a second story bedroom of their family home. The famous Disney was named for Elias’s close friend Pastor Walter Parr and himself. Elias and Flora would have one more child, a daughter Ruth, in the Chicago house.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 2: Grand Marnier Orange Slush at Epcot

by on December 2, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWO: Grand Marnier Slush at Les Vins des Chefs de France (Epcot)

25DrinksOfXmas_GranMarinerSlush

Grand Marnier Orange Slush. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Who doesn’t love a good Slurpee/Slush Puppie/Squishee? Well, it turns out you can make these frozen drinks even better by adding just one more ingredient…alcohol. Available at the Les Vins des Chefs de France kiosk in Epcot is the tasty Grand Marnier Orange Slush. Similar in taste to an orange sorbet with just the right mix of Grand Marnier and Grey Goose vodka, this slush is absolutely delicious and the perfect drink during a hot touring day at Epcot.

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My New Favorite Disney World Souvenir Finds

by on October 29, 2014

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

I don’t know about you, but souvenir shopping is a huge part of my Disney World Vacations. I always enjoy browsing through the stores at the parks and resorts for new merchandise; and during my past few trips to Disney World this year, I have discovered some magical, new items. So take a look at just a few of my new favorite Disney World souvenir finds!

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears – $19.00

As a huge Little Mermaid fan, I was thrilled when I came across these Little Mermaid Mouse Ears! I had seen the Belle and Cinderella themed Mouse Ears before, but this design is by far my favorite. I especially like the pearl accents! Surprisingly, I only found this twist on Disney’s classic headgear at Epcot’s Mouse Gear and Downtown Disney’s World of Disney Store during my most recent trip to Disney World, but hopefully that has changed. After all, who wouldn’t want to sport these ears around the parks, right?

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Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of Fantasyland

by on October 26, 2014

newfantasylandSo much has changed in Fantasyland over the past three years that it was impossible for me to write an article talking about the music, since I didn’t know the new music! Luckily, I timed this post to follow my trip to Walt Disney World so that I could wander around Fantasyland and get the lay of the…land.

Obviously, the music of Fantasyland derives greatly from the various fantasy movies that Disney has put out. That’s not to say that the instrumentation is directly from the movies themselves. Sometimes the music is taken from the setting of a movie. Other times themes are explored in a different way. And in a few areas of New Fantasyland, there isn’t any music at all! Let’s take a walk through a much-improved area of Magic Kindgom park:

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Menu Monday: Snacks from the World Showcase: China!

by on October 20, 2014

Epcot's Iconic Spaceship Earth, on our snacks from China Quest

It’s a perfect day to search out snacks! © Disney

It’s Menu Monday! Today we are looking once again at packaged snacks that are available in Epcot’s World Showcase, and we have already visited JapanCanadaUnited Kingdom, France, and Germany. Only a few stops remain on our snacking tour, so let’s check out what’s available as we explore today’s stop, China!

Snack Rules

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

Let’s see what we can find!

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Street Performers at Disney Hollywood Studios

by on October 16, 2014

Visiting Hollywood Studios but not a fan of the amusement rides? I’ve got a solution for you: Live actors mingling with guests throughout the park. Yes, walking (and even driving) about; interacting with you. We make it a point every visit to seek them out and enjoy their shenanigans, um I mean, their shows.

Just your average Citizen. - Courtesy of Disney

Just your average Citizen. – Courtesy of Disney

The Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood, or Streetmosphere characters as they are otherwise known, are characters that perform every day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can usually find them on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. The characters range from aspiring actors to directors and even to police officers. They perform a variety of skits that generally have us rolling with laughter and are a great source of family-friendly entertainment. The skits are always different because the crowd they are interacting with constantly changes.

A Brief History:     Streetmosphere has been a part of Hollywood Studios since its opening day in May 1989. The entire idea of Streetmosphere was created by C. McNair Wilson, who would later become an Imagineer at Disney. Wilson was one of the directors of a street theater company, SAK Theatre, which performed at renaissance festivals throughout the country. In 1982 Disney Imagineers asked the group to perform in the Italy pavilion in Epcot. They were quickly extended to performing in the United Kingdom pavilion and then Future World. By 1985, they were performing 45 shows-a-day in Epcot in four different locations. That year they were brought into the plans for the upcoming Hollywood Studios Park as part of the planned 2-hour Backstage Tour show. Once Disney decided to go in another direction, Wilson still was inspired to make SAK part of this expansion. Wilson presented a collection of 40 characters that would make the guests feel like they were actually in Hollywood. The Disney executives were won over and presented Wilson with a budget for 23 characters.

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Where to Find “Real” Sweet Tea at Disney World

by on October 13, 2014

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

If you’re from the South, you know that there’s a big difference between sweetened tea and “real” sweet tea; and if you have been to Disney World, you also know that it can be quite a challenge to find this Southern staple.

Now for those of you who don’t know, “real” sweet tea is Black Tea that is brewed with sugar while it’s still hot, as opposed to adding the sugar later. This process creates a smooth, blended sweet taste and consistency that can’t even compare to fruit flavored tea or the Gold Peak Tea found throughout the parks and resorts.

But if you’re like me, and sweet tea is your go-to refreshment after spending the day trekking through the parks, I have uncovered a few places at Disney World where you can enjoy a Southern-style Sweet Tea!

Starbucks – Starbucks locations have been opening up all throughout Disney World this past year, beginning with the Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom, then Fountain View at Epcot, followed by two locations at Downtown Disney, and soon, a new location at Hollywood Studios. Now I know that Starbucks is all about coffee; but for me, it’s also a go-to for a sweet tea fix. Each Starbucks at Disney World now serves a Shaken Sweet Tea, which has all the flavor of real, Southern Sweet Tea. Plus, the variety of Starbucks locations means that I can grab a sweet tea almost anywhere at Disney World now with prices ranging from the smallest size at $1.99 to the largest at $3.29. Check out the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery’s menu here!

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Most Quotable Disney Attractions

by on October 5, 2014

Arriving at our favorite vacation destination is always a surreal experience for me. I often find myself hovering in an odd emotional space of feeling like I’ve never left and also like I can’t believe I’m finally here! Disney has a wonderful way of welcoming back old friends that encompasses all of the senses. That “finally here” moment can happen when we first see the Train Station or the Castle in Magic Kingdom. Or it can happen when we smell the Confectionary on Main Street or the burning of Alexandria in Spaceship Earth. It can even happen when we step off the plane and feel that classic Florida warmth and humidity. But Disney can always welcome us home with what we hear. I often have that “finally here” moment when it’s triggered by some of the lines from Disney’s classic park attractions.

In no particular order is a list of some of the most quotable Disney attractions and some of their standout phrases. I’ve limited this list to the top ten most quotable attractions, because otherwise this article would go on forever and eventually include every attraction, show, parade, and even safety warning.

Disney Transportation

You may be lucky enough to find your favorite Disney quote on a t-shirt.

You may be lucky enough to find your favorite Disney quote on a t-shirt.

Before you even step foot in the parks, you’re immersed in the “Disney bubble” with the cleanliness, service and details Disney is renowned for, even on the transportation to the parks.

The Monorail safety spiel is so popular, it even has a cult following t-shirt. Whenever I hear: “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas”, I know I’ve arrived!

I also love being greeted by the safety spiel on the Disney Transportation shuttles:

“Hello everyone, and welcome aboard the Walt Disney World Transportation system. We’re on our way to insert Park name here. For your safety and the safety of others, please remain seated while the motor coach is in motion. If you’re standing, we encourage you to use the handrails above or to the side and remain clear of the doors and stairwells. We also ask that you refrain from eating, drinking or smoking while onboard the motor coach. And now we invite you to relax and enjoy the ride.”

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The Most Underrated Walt Disney World Attractions

by on October 3, 2014

t_logo_fbWell, you did it. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. We weren’t the first to pass that way, but soon we’ll be the last, because Maelstrom, the troll-tastic boat attraction located in Norway at Epcot, is officially closing its doors on October 5th 2014 to make way for a new themed area celebrating “Let it Go.” But as sulky as I and others may be about it, it makes you realise something. The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Test Track at Epcot. The bag check line at the front gate. There are a lot of Disney World attractions that people tend to think of immediately before any others, and for good reason. They’re big, flashy, exciting, and Patrick Warburton’s voice is like buttah. But it’s easy to get stuck on the big ticket thrill rides, or just the attractions with the most flash and that new magic smell and think of the rest as “filler.” Kids can basically be dazzled by just about anything, but teens and adults are harder to win over if something doesn’t involve at least three inversions and an animatronic yeti. Most of the time, when people talk about Disney World attractions, there’s a handful that always get brought up, and some that, well, just don’t as much as they should. Here’s a list of just some of the best, most underrated Disney World attractions the parks have to offer, and why you should make every effort to catch them on your trip, too. As for the most overrated attractions, well… that’s a whole ‘nother flame war, and my flame-retardant suit is in another castle.

And hey, when you’re done reading and you’re back from your trip, make sure you fill out the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World Survey to help refine our ratings and our information for the future. Teens, nobody but us needs to know you really thought Wishes was the most spectacular thing ever… your cool, detached demeanor is safe with me.

Disney's Maelstrom at Epcot's Norway Pavillion

Disney’s Maelstrom at Epcot’s Norway Pavillion

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Is it cheesy? Yes. A little goofy? Sure. But this 21 minute long animatronic show located in Magic Kingdom is still one of the most impressive things Disney World has done. Guests sit down in theater style chairs on a revolving floor that takes them through a series of scenes following a family through the seasons, and through the years. The characters don’t age, but the emphasis here is on, well, progress. Little things, like how the icebox works, the cost of food, travel times, all of it is presented in such a way as to provide a great example of how much things have changed. All of this is narrated and acted out by a series of remarkably well articulated animatronic folks. (Still not as creepy as CGI Jeff Bridges.) Most amusing of all, the most “recent” era the show will take you through is going to feel pretty recent indeed thanks to new technology like the Oculus Rift and even “smart” ovens, despite being something the show clearly intended to be futuristic. Light-hearted, silly, and yet still relevant and interesting, it’s a great way to relax. Just don’t expect to get that song out of your head anytime soon.

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