Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rabbit Tales

WDW's Splash Mountain queue is loaded with items to keep your attention while waiting in the stand-by line for hours on end. One of my favorite visual distraction concepts is 'Rabbit Tales', a take on the Uncle Remus folktales written by Joel Chandler Harris, a newspaper editor and short story / anecdotal writer who penned his stories in Atlanta following the Civil War. (Reference here.)

If the Imagineers intended to honor Harris, then the front page news articles surely do the trick. Not only can you find them in the ride queue, as depicted above, but also outside the queue, as you approach the attraction from the Frontierland Railroad Station, as seen below. While the item above serves more as a warning (yes, you will get wet!) the storyline below provides information other than the obvious.

Written by the Rabbit Times' industrious Jasper P. Woodchuck, this front page headline provides readers with quite a bit of information, ranging from the demise of Chick-a-Pin Hill and the creation of Splash Mountain (Rickety Racoon's still was the culprit), its effect on the Beaver Brothers, Brer Rabbit's house, his story, and the encroachment of "human-type critters' on Splash Mountain. And, yes, even this article, without saying it, makes it abundantly clear that you will get wet.

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Frontierland Details

The row of store fronts in Walt Disney World's Frontierland is full of wonderful details and signs that truly add to the ambiance of this section of the park. If I were lucky enough to win a Disney lottery and become an Imagineer it's this area of Graphic Design I'd ask to spend all of my time on; both here, in Frontierland, and in Liberty Square. As a professed Disney geek regarding signage (apologies to George and Dave) this is heaven on a stick.

The first image, shown above outside of the Frontier Trading Post, is for a carriage shop. The sign specifically asks potential patrons to view the lace and a pony phaeton on display in the window located on 57 Church St. (Link courtesy of Summit View Carriages website.) If this phaeton looks familiar, think about the mansion on the hill at the end of Liberty Square.

This public notice, also located outside of the Frontierland Trading Post, decries the manner in which patrons of Dawson's Barbary Coast Saloon are both entertained and fed. The tongue-in-cheek text is in keeping with the signage outside of Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe and I, for one, would love to see a restaurant in Frontierland that served crab, shrimp, oysters, sourdough sandwiches alongside beer, wine, and spirits. Come to think of it, sounds a lot like Cap'n Jack's, over in Downtown Disney. Here's hoping May the fifth refers to next year and the opening of Dawson's. (Apologies to Jeff.)

This gem is located a bit down the path, towards the Country Bear Jamboree. This sign, most likely representative of many a horse auction in America's western frontier, is interesting in both its placement, which is intentionally stuck in a corner to do absolutely nothing but provide a bit of 'good show' in this area, and the fact it refers to horses as [live]stock, a term usually reserved for animals which are intended for human consumption. Times must be rough in this area of Frontierland.

Lastly, what good cowboy isn't in need of some soap?

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café

Situated in the bright light of day in Walt Disney World's Frontierland, halfway between Splash Mountain and the shuttered Diamond Horseshoe, is the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café. The stalwart of counter service aficionados the world over, due to its famous fixin's bar and popular fare, Pecos Bill feeds in excess of 3.8 million visitors annually. That's a lot of burgers and chicken sandwiches, friends.

Originally called Pecos Bill Café when the park opened in 1971, this restaurant underwent a major refurbishment in 1998 when it was combined with the Mile Long Bar to become the new Pecos Bill. Along with the refurbishment came some new details including 'artifacts' and a back story, as Jeff Pepper lists on his 2719 Hyperion Blog.

Plagued by long lines (which counter services restaurants in the parks aren't?) Disney decided to use Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café as a test site for the new point of service kiosks now found elsewhere on property, notably Captain Cook's at Disney's Polynesian Resort. This new self-order system was already in production at Disney's California Adventure's Taste Pilot's Grill and at Pecos Bill has reduced overall wait times by 21%, wait times at the order stations to an average of nine seconds, and improved overall efficiency when compared to CM staffed order stations by 17%; these numbers led 'QSR Magazine' (quick-service) to award Disney its 2008 first-place prize for applied technology with these guest-activated terminals. (Reference here.)

To help with the mad rush of diners, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café shares its main seating area with El Pirata y El Perico Restaurante, located directly in back of it in Adventureland. While the kitchens are connected, the Pirate and the Parrot serves up empenadas and tacos and is only open seasonally. The seating area is rather basic but if you're lucky enough to grab an outdoor seat facing the parade route there's fewer places to wait out a hot summer's day.

The 1878 on the outside of the building above the word saloon, as seen in today's first photo, is an interesting reference. Pecos Bill, the Disney character, first appeared in 1948's 'Melody Time' (a classic if I do say so myself) along with Slue-Foot Sue, Widowmaker, and, in another section of the film, Johnny Appleseed. Pecos Bill, the literary character, first appeared in stories published by Edward O'Reilly in 1916 and borrowed from cowboy stories but should not be confused with the real-life exploits of the Civil War General Bill Shafter, also known as Pecos Bill. Can anyone shed some light as to the significance of the 1878 date?

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-kind

Located just inside the entrance at Disney's Hollywood Studios is Sid Cahuenga's One-of-a-Kind store. Refreshing in that it offers so much more than the standard Disney fare when it first opened, Sid Cahuenga's truly set itself apart as a one-of-a-kind shop that featured movie memorabilia of all kinds. In a park ostensibly devoted to Tinseltown Sid's was an early version of a 'buy it now' e-Bay, full of previously owned baubles, garments, and other memorabilia of the stars.

As the park shifted to more of a Disney movie focus Sid's did also; gone are many of the larger props and really offbeat items but it remains almost attraction-like in its quality, presentation, and uniqueness. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this store is the interior which looks more like a queue than a retail establishment. Next time you're in the park, be sure to stop by and take a look. If you're lucky, you might take home a piece of Hollywood with you.

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2007.