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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > October 2012: Edition One


October 2012
Edition One

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Autumn is officially here, and with it another edition of the INTERCOT Insider. In this edition we go coast to coast checking out a new land at Disney's California Adventure, learning how to dine with a very special Guest from the Animal Kingdom, find out great places to eat at Epcot's World Showcase, and start to unlock a treasure trove of Magic Kingdom trivia. Hang on to them hats and glasses, cause this here's the most informative ride on the internet!

<<West Coast News with TinkWest>>

-- Buena Vista Street --

Welcome to the newest “Main Street” in the Disney Parks family - Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

I finally had a chance to see the new entry to Disney California Adventure after watching and waiting for years. I was in the area for a completely different reason so only had a short period of time to rush over to DCA for a look-see. Besides my limited time I was dealing with 100+ temperatures which slowed me down and wore me out! So, really, this was a quick visit.

When I entered the Park I immediately felt relaxed, with a notion to stay for a while. As I passed the buildings during my walk up the tree shaded sidewalk toward Carthay Circle I truly got a feeling of being in 1920s or 1930s Los Angeles. The tile work, wrought iron, and art deco design is impressive. Even the restroom and locker areas blend in beautifully. It was such a contrast to the architecture used in the original “postcard” entrance area known as Sunshine Plaza where each store, food vender, and area icon had been something unique but just didn’t blend together to form a special feeling. Today’s Buena Vista Street felt like a PLACE to visit and come back to.

Like Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, Buena Vista Street is mostly shops, shops, shops – such as Kingswell Camera Shop, Julius Katz & Sons, Atwater Ink & Paint, Elias & Co., Big Top Toys, Los Feliz Five & Dime, and Oswald’s Gas. Within these stores you can find just about anything – photo albums, kitchen items, clothes for all ages, toys, souvenirs, hats, and more. The interior is gorgeous dark wood and each area is meticulously themed to match the name for that particular store front.

A wide variety of food, going from treats to signature dining, is mixed in with the shops. Trolley Treats, Mortimer’s Market, and Clarabelle’s Ice Cream offer on the go snacks. Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café has sandwiches, bakery items and Starbucks! There is quite a bit of seating inside. I thought there might be a separate line for Starbucks only purchases, but everyone gets in one line for all food items sold here. These food service areas have the same decorative feel that the shops have.

I did not venture in to the Carthay Circle Theatre Restaurant at the end of the street, but have seen the current menus. The menus vary between lunch and dinner but the descriptions on both are on the fancy side and prices reflect it. However it all sounds delicious and I look forward to giving it a try.

I saw several of the “citizens” of Buena Vista Street – Molly the Messenger and Calvin the Cop. And I heard Five & Dime performing jazz tunes near the Carthay Circle Fountain. There are quite a few citizens roaming the Street and musical entertainment coming and going throughout the day. I picked up a copy (free!) of The Buena Vista Bugle. You can find them on counters in several of the stores. It’s a four page newspaper with articles and ads focusing on the attractions, entertainment, and offerings at DCA. It even had a comic by Mr. Walt Disney himself. The paper stayed true to the time period of the area. A fun souvenir!

I took a ride on the Red Car Trolley, which made me think of my Mom who used to ride the Streetcars as a kid in Los Angeles. If you’re in a rush skip this one-way, 20 passenger attraction because it is quite slow and has several stops. But if you have time give it a go. The conductors are full of information and Disney trivia to keep you entertained as you make your way from the beginning of Buena Vista Street to the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Land. I thought it was a relaxing and fun break on the hot day that I was there.

Finally I stopped to admire the Mickey and Walt “Storytellers” statue near the fountain. It is a nice addition to this beautiful new area. So glad I finally got to experience this street that has been hidden behind construction walls for so long. It was worth the wait. Can’t wait to go back.

<<A Taste of the World with Mickey'sGirl>>

--EPCOT's World Showcase --

The Cast: Dear Husband Brian - Turning 45 on this trip; Dear Son Harry (14) - Celebrating graduating from Grade 8;
Dear Son Euan (8.5) - Celebrating his Half-Birthday because we can’t go down in January, Me – Just happy to be making the trip with my guys!

Rose and Crown Dining Room

Atmosphere: I think the inside seating at the Rose and Crown is pretty accurate. We enjoyed reading the cartoons framed on the walls! 4/5

Food: Brian had the Fish and Chips, where were good and not greasy. Harry had the Pub Burger (without the shallots), but didn’t eat the fries (Harry is not fond of fries), Euan had the kid’s beef slider and I had the Ploughman’s lunch - carved ham, cheese, roast chicken, egg, branston pickle, radishes and salad greens, not really the traditional lunch I have had at pubs in Europe, but it was very good. Harry and Brian ate my ham, and Harry ate my cheese and Euan ate my roll, but there was plenty left for me to enjoy! Brian had the beer sampler with his meal, and I had a pint of Strongbow (drink of champions!). 3/5

Service: We had a very nice server from Gosport, England (birthplace of my evil ex-brother-in-law), who was prompt with our drinks, and very pleasant to talk to. Tables were cleaned and turned over well. 4/5

We periodically go to the Rose and Crown. The experience is not so different from experiences we have at home, and when we travel to Europe, so we will often go elsewhere when at Epcot. We enjoyed our lunch, and love the bar offerings, so we will likely return again. Overall rating - 3.5/5.

Tokyo Dining

Atmosphere: I love the straight lines and clean minimalistic décor of Tokyo Dining. We were seated in the area in front of the sushi chefs. Tables are well spaced. 5/5

Food: We really love sushi in our house, but whenever we have dined in “Japan” at Epcot, we have always opted for Teppan Edo. Our decision to go to Tokyo Dining was spur of the moment and based on Euan taking on an Agent P mission in Japan. It was a great decision! As before, we shared several sushi dishes to start, California rolls, cucumber rolls and salmon rolls (so Euan would share), also some spicy rolls and chef’s suggestions, and some Edamame. It was really lovely, and we enjoyed watching the chefs prepare the sushi. Harry had the sushi combination platter for his main course - tuna, yellowtail, salmon, izumi-dai, shrimp, Masago and California Roll, Brian had a beef and noodle bento box, I had a bento box that had tempura vegetables, avocado and salmon salad, Philadelphia rolls (salmon and cream cheese sushi) and teriyaki beef. The salmon and avocado dish was particularly fabulous. Euan had a kids meal of tempura shrimp, green beans, carrots and rice. It was served on a monorail plate, and he thought it was the best thing EVER. 5/5

Service: I have always said that I always feel special after eating at a Japanese restaurant, and Tokyo Dining made me feel even more so. Everyone is so polite and respectful, it is really lovely to experience. Like at Tony’s, we saw all of the staff pitching in to get things done. When a table was vacated, everyone available went and cleaned it off and got it prepared for the next guests. It was quick and efficient, and really the way people should work together. Our server was very good, and attentive to the boys. 5/5

This was a fabulous last minute addition to our eating roster. We were all tempted to go back the next day because we enjoyed it all so much! Overall Rating - 5/5

<<Tours and More with Strmchsr>>

--Dining with Animal Specialist --

I have to admit, I'm not a very adventurous eater so the idea of eating at Sanaa wasn't all that appealing to me. However, 11 year old, Caleb, is an animal fanatic so Renae and I decided to do this special lunch as a treat for him. Caleb and I did the Dine With An Imagineer 3 years ago and really enjoyed that, so we hoped for similar results here.

We arrived at Sanaa early. Some of the rest of the group were late, so we were able to walk out to the savannah and enjoy the view. There were 10 in our group for the day which wasn't bad. Once we were seated we were introduced to Chris, one of the head animal specialists at DAK, who would be our host for the day. After introductions we were all seated and Sanaa's head chef came out to explain to us the basic concept behind the restaurant (reflecting a traditional African marketplace) and his thoughts behind the meal we would be served. Given that Renae and Caleb are both foodies, just hearing the chef give all of his insights was treat enough. He spent about 15 minutes with us talking about the different influences on African food and how we would experience that during our meal.

Instead of ordering from a menu, the meal was done "sampler" style. As each course was brought out to us the cast member explained what each thing was, how it was created, and a little about the part of Africa it comes from, including the influences from other cultures that helped create the dish (Africa is quite the melting pot of cultures!). The first course was a bread course. I enjoyed some of that. The second course was our salad/appetizer. We were given some chickpeas with a variety of sauces, beets (the only thing all meal I just couldn't eat) and fresh watermelon soaked in lime juice. Very refreshing and tasty. Before we had started eating I was talking to a CM from South Africa. He said his biggest problem with being in the USA was the food was so bland. After this salad course I understood what he meant. The foods really had a variety of flavors. The main course was actually awesome. We had a chicken dish soaked in a tomato-type sauce, a shrimp dish with lemon, and some other seasonings, and rice. Again, not huge amounts of any of this so we never felt too full. Finally a dessert sampler was brought out with fruit and chocolate. I had such low expectations for this meal, but it was actually excellent and I'm pretty much a straight meat and potatoes kind of guy.

While we ate we had a great conversation with Chris. She explained to us the various ways the animals are cared for, how they train them, how DAK is helping with breeding and endangered species programs all over the world, and all of her experiences with the animals. She also let us ask all the questions we wanted. Even my 6 year old, Cole, was able to ask about his favorite-giraffes. With the meal and discussion we spent about 2 hours around the table. Then Chris took us outside and introduced us to one of her favorite animals and let us get up close and personal. Caleb and Cole were beyond excited.

The Animal Specialist meal hasn't been as widely promoted as the Dine with an Imagineer program, but to me it was one of the best "behind-the-scenes" things you can do at Disney. The food and staff at Sanaa were top notch, Chris was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and we learned a lot. If you're an animal lover, or just want to have an adventurous experience, I would highly recommend this tour and meal.

<< Fun Facts with Imalismom>>

-- Magic Kingdom: Part One --

-The entire length of Main Street is bordered by red pavement, as if the RED CARPET has been rolled out for you.

- Fire Station Number 71 is a clever nod to 1971, the year magic Kingdom opened.

-Imagineers are not allowed to sign their work. Instead they sometimes place little symbols of themselves, other in the form of initials or birthdates, cleverly disguised to blend into the environment. You will see many of them as your tour the parks.

-Pay attention to the street lamps down Main Street. They begin as gas lamps near the Emporium, but by the time you reach Casey’s corner restaurant they have progressed to electric lamps – you have been moving through time.

-Marty Sklar, former vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, holds the distinction of being the only person who has attended the opening day of every Disney Park worldwide

-The PM flag ceremony on Main street typically involves veterans or people associated with 9/11/01 – after the ceremony they’re presented with the flag they have just taken down and they get a special pin.

<< Conclusion >>

It's time for us to make like a tree a leaf. We hope this edition made you excited to see the new sights at the Disneyland Resort and has given you some great ideas for your next Walt Disney World trip. We'll be back in a few weeks with an inside and out look at the dining in and around the Magic Kingdom. See ya real soon!

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