Happy Birthday Epcot!

If you listen to Theme Park Thursdays, you know we often discuss just how old Frank is. I’m here to tell you, it’s completely true. BUT he’s not as old as Magic Kingdom (yet). I, on the other hand, share a birth year with Epcot.img_6161

October 1, 1982 Spaceship Earth welcomed us to Walt Disney World’s second park. I was 9 months old. Future World and the World Showcase brought Walt’s vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to life.

In 2004, I was lucky enough to begin working in Epcot. Not only that, but my job was to share current and future technologies with guests. Was it a coincidence that I began working in the park that opened the same year I was born? A cosmic connection? Fate? Perhaps. Either way, I am thankful I had that opportunity. Today, I get to share Walt Disney World with my children. Growing up with Disney as our second home, it’s quite a surreal experience to share it with a new generation.

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*Photo credit: guide-to-disney.com

 

I leave you now with Walt’s vision for Epcot:

“But the most exciting and by far the most important part of our Florida project… in fact, the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World… will be our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow! We call it E.P.C.O.T. 

E.P.C.O.T will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. 

And E.P.C.O.T will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise. I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin… how do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we’re convinced we must start with the public need. And the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a special kind of new community. 

So that’s what E.P.C.O.T is… an experimental prototype community that will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else in the world. Everything in E.P.C.O.T will be dedicated to the happiness of the people who will live, work, and play here… and to those who come here from all around the world to visit our living showcase. We don’t presume to know all the answers. In fact, we’re counting on the cooperation of American industry to provide their best thinking during the planning and creation of our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow…. 

And most important of all, when E.P.C.O.T has become a reality and we find the need for technologies that don’t even exist today, it’s our hope that E.P.C.O.T will stimulate American industry to develop new solutions that will meet the needs of people expressed right here in this experimental community.”

Share your Epcot memories with us on Twitter! You can find us @dillosdiz!

 

-Jen aka Sister Dillo

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La Hacienda de San Angel

On today’s podcast, I discussed La Hacienda de San Angel as one of my 3 favorite first time experiences from our Dillo Extravaganza last month. I promised you more details and pictures soooooooooooo

Drum roll please…

La Hacienda de San Angel

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Boom. This is the view throughout the entire restaurant. World Showcase as your dining experience backdrop. You can see why this is an Illuminations Viewing location hot spot! Very few views within Walt Disney World compare in my opinion, except probably the California Grill.

Even better? The food is great!

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Chips and Guac to start? Yes please!

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Costillas en salsa de Chile

This was my hubby’s dinner pick and it was so good I wish I had gotten it.  Translation: Braised shorts ribs topped with Chimichurri (parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar) served with potato puree and chile de árbol sauce.

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Luckily I chose a good pick as well!

Tacos de Camarones: Fried shrimp, Chipotle-lime aioli, cabbage, lime and salsa verde, all served over flour tortillas.

Yummy Yummy Yummy!

Click here to check out more about La Hacienda de San Angel and their menu! Oh and bonus: you can also take a Margarita to go for your nighttime stroll around World Showcase!

 

Sister Dillo

 

Side (Main) Street Immersion

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

 

One of the goals of my Diz trips, whether a quick two day excursion or a week long with an almost two year old who you give your focus to, is to take a little time to stop an take in my surroundings. EPCOT at night (the fountains!), standing on Hollywood Boulevard (the sounds of the traffic signal!), sitting back on the Peoplemover are all past examples where I try to take that opportunity.

On the final day of our trip, we marathoned morning to night at the Magic Kingdom. Said two year old surprised us all and took her longest nap of the week (was the ambient noise of the park a little too familiar for this NYC kid?). The final leg of the nap we found ourselves on the east side street of Main Street USA, and this is where I got to take a little bit of that time in an unexpected location.

When I was eleven, I spent a day doing one of the kid friendly behind the scenes tours of WDW. I received sketches from an artist, saw the utilidors for the first time, and received a history lesson in the second story windows throughout the “opening credits” of the Magic Kingdom.

Even on most recent trips where we sat curbside eating foot longs from Casey’s Corner, I didn’t spend the time I should have re-familiarizing myself with the imagineers, the legends, the pioneers behind the happiest place on earth.

If you get the opportunity, check out the (small but) fantastic book, ‘Windows on Main Street’ by Chuck Snyder, for a thorough guide to the names behind these very deserving acknowledgements.

And if you’re wondering if this location is an optimal nap location for your toddler… depends on the number and energy level of children discovering the scavenger hunt based Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom spot.

Brother Dillo

 

moNOrail: The Fate of the Highway in the Sky In 2018

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

Boy, the Walt Disney World Monorail has one bad trip on its three and a half mile journey to EPCOT where its an absolute must to stand clear of the (open) door… and it’s bedlam!

The second weekend of January 2018 began with rumors that the Walt Disney World Monorail would be going away permanently. Of course, the instant reaction from this family steeped in nostalgia, tradition and the like to shake our fists at perhaps the greatest change of them all.

The end of the highway in the sky cannot be nigh… or can it?

After several deep breaths and existential meditation, the idea that the aforementioned TTC-EPCOT track could go away… is possible. We’re from Long Island, so changing at the TTC for EPCOT always felt like changing at Jamaica for the train to Penn Station on the LIRR. What I’m saying is that this change never felt convenient. And yet, when I stayed at the Polynesian Village for the first time in decade in February 2017, the walk to the TTC to catch the Monorail to WDW’s second theme park felt more convenient than I recalled. THAT being said, you could argue that frequent buses available from the Great Ceremonial House may have felt just as accommodating if available.

Now…

THERE IS NO WAY THAT THE MONORAIL CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE MAGIC KINGDOM RESORT LOOP.

Boats, or short walks, or ferries aside, the Monorail defines the Poly, the Grand Floridian, and especially the Contemporary Resort. It always seemed to me that the jump in price for those three resorts was mainly because of the accessibility via the train. I know a big fan of Disneyland who visited WDW for the first time over the holiday. He basked in the wonder that was how the monorail ride provided the ultimate reveal of the Magic Kingdom. Listening to him tell the story of his journey up World Drive, through the toll plaza, parking at the TTC, and finally onto the monorail… that was the very definition of Disney magic.

I understand that the extra magic hours and quick turnover have not been kind to the monorail over the years. This is no longer the 9am-6pm days. Perhaps the new gondola system coming is Diz dipping the toe in the monorail removal waters.

It shouldn’t be. Let’s just not have more occasions where the express monorail fails and pushes all the early morning traffic to the ferry, okay. My conspiracy theory brain goes into motion when that happens.

Brother Dillo

https://youtu.be/YCiDEfmJpRs

Unique Epcot Mornings

Meant to post this in October….but here we are….

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Fun Fact: Me and Epcot have the same birth year. Buuuuut I’m much more excited for Epcot’s 35th than I was for mine.

For two years I worked with a Disney Business Partner. While in this position, I helped in the planning and execution of events and the majority of them took place in Epcot. Like most guests, event spaces in the theme parks were never something I thought about while visiting. However, there are very cool spots to host events tucked away in the theme parks. So if you have a company and you’re looking for a unique location-be sure to check it out!

The Dillos love many things about Disney and of course have often talked about Disney nights, a deluxe resort bed and the almighty Disney breeze. But Disney mornings, before the crowds build up, with the morning dew and watered down pavement….there’s something just as magical about that.

I loved getting to walk around the countries or Future World before the park even opened. Leading Business Guests into these tucked away locations was probably way cooler for me than them, since I was internally geeking out. Although those were long days on my feet, it was definitely worth the unique experience.

 

EPCOT 35 Thoughts

What is it about EPCOT that makes your face tingle to the point of smiling?


1. The classic entrance music.

2. The fountains.

3. That shade of purple that’s only possible when nightfall hits Future World.

4. The Figment of your Imagination.

5. Those trips when Mousegear has better merch than the Emporium.

6. Turning up the speed on Test Track.

7. The memory of Horizons.

8. The lesson of dreaming it & doing it.

9. Punishing yourself with the Italian variety of Coca Cola.

10. The first time you went on Soarin’ and your instructions from Patrick Warburton connected you to your sense of child like play.

11. The simplicity of The Seas w/ Nemo & Friends somehow doing the trick.

12. Having visited Turtle Talk more times than Animal Kingdom.

13. The French pastries.

14. ‘Midtown’ UK, the most underrated of World Showcase pavilion immersions.

15. The International Gateway to the EPCOT resorts; wings at the ESPN Club or a shake at Beaches & Cream.

16. Mitsuokoshi subliminally telling you to learn the shamisen and to change your decor.

17. How for a few seconds of every hibachi experience you have you transport yourself to Teppan Edo.

18. Knowing that fettuccine alfredo was ruined forever because you had it when the Italy pavilion’s main restaurant was Alfredo’s and you were eleven.

19. How it took until number 19 to mention drinking around the world.

20. When the debate is so great about having a beer either at Germany or the UK because you’re not drinking around the world.

21. How in the late 90’s, I would order Nine Dragons take out because this New Yorker could not tolerate ANY Chinese food in Orlando.

22. Watching Illuninations from the top of the Mexico pavilion (state secret).

23. How the original Illumnations made me this manager at a classical music hall a classical music lover.

24. How your daughter’s first attraction will be the Gran Fiesta Toir with The Three Caballeros, even though it’s still El Rio de Tempo The River of Time to you.


25. How when Gran Fiesta opened, you approved of any future Disneyfying of World Showcase pavilions.

26. How the loss of the post Maelstrom film power nap was sometimes more important than the Universe of Energy drool fest.

27. Mexico.Pavilion. Margarita. Frozen.

28. Glancing over at the Odyssey Restaurant and brainstorming how they could reopen it someday.

29. Praying in those last 30 seconds of Mission: Space that you don’t get sick.

30. Where you can isolate all the noise around you and just listen to the monorail circumnavigating the park.

31. Traveling back in time on Spaceship Earth.

32.  The birth of theatre in Greece.

33. The burning of Rome (and that weird projected chariot turning the corner so haphazardly).

34. Standing in the middle of the Sistine Chapel at The Vatican and saying, ‘behold the majesty of the Sistine Ceiling’ like Walter Cronkite narrated in 1988.

35. Being Tomorrow’s Child and the Future was born today… born today.

You have one? Comment below or tweet us @DillosDiz

Stupid Judy. Stupid Energy.

*DillosDiz would like to welcome David Boyarsky, aka @FigmentsWorld on Twitter, as our guest blogger! David took a final ride on Ellen’s Energy Adventure and ended up having his own adventure!

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Last week, Disney committed attraction murder in the worst possible way.  Not only did they kill off 1 classic attraction, they killed off 2!  Both attractions had been operating for several decades and developed quite the fan base and oddly enough, both employed the way-ahead-of-its-time traveling theater car concept.  Coincidence?  I think not.  You see, whenever an attraction becomes a ‘classic’ Disney loves to pull on our heart strings and tease us with rumors of altering or shutting down completely.  Unfortunately, we lost the battle for both The Great Movie Ride and the Universe of Energy, all in the same evening. This day also happened to be my sister’s birthday.  So when the news quickly spread of the imminent closing, we both jumped at the chance to pay our respects and achieve our goal of traveling back in time with Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Stupid Judy one last time.

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Why the Universe of Energy you may ask?  This attraction meant so much to us.  I still have fond memories from a trip in 1994 when we rode the original energy attraction.  Everything was going well for little Figgy until a large Elasmosaurus shot out at me and I thought I was going to die.  My ride was ruined and I was in tears so I can’t really recall what happened during the second half of the 45 minute journey.  However, by the time we went back in 1998, Ellen’s Energy Adventure had taken over and this scary snake-like creature was attacking an Ellen audio animatronic instead of me!  Boy was I relieved and thus began a love affair with the most underrated attraction that ever existed in a Disney theme park.

Fast forward to August 13, 2017: final day of operation for the Universe of Energy. My sister and I had one goal: be on the very last public ride of the Universe of Energy. However, we couldn’t wait to experience the attraction so we had to ride it in the middle of the day as well (plus who could resist a mid-afternoon nap).

 

20907154_10101597383268285_1861505839_oSo after enjoying our day around Epcot, we approached the Energy Pavilion at around 6:30pm as the Universe of Energy was set to shut its doors at 7pm.  To our surprise, we weren’t the only longtime fans who showed up, so much so that Disney set up a staging area for 500 people to wait for the very last ride.  At 7:15pm, the crowd was let in for the last 8 minute preshow ever.  To say the crowd was emotional is an understatement.  Here in this room were 500 diehard fans who knew every punchline, every witty response, and every time Ellen would call her old college roommate, “Stupid Judy!”

 

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The audience responded to Ellen on screen like she was really there and started chanting for Bill Nye when he walked in.  At the end of it all, a huge standing ovation and round of applause commenced for both the film and the Cast member who delivers the safety spiel.  It was a truly magical experience that only a closing Disney attraction could ever convey.

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500 guests bolted for theater cars for the final time to get the perfect seat.  The theater rotated and the big bang portion of the film began, not a dry eye in the house.  Afterwards, as has happened for the last 35 years, the theaters magically travelled out of theater one and into the dinosaur diorama without a single track on the floor.  As the dinosaurs came to life and the theater cars broke apart, Ellen’s dream was suddenly interrupted.  Lights flashed on and off, theater cars halted, and the crowd went wild!

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As most people who have ridden this attraction know, this ride was quite possibly the most prone to breaking down and today, the final day of operation on the final ride, was no exception.  But something magical happened that night.  You see, instead of being ushered out of the building by Cast Members and being told to put our cameras away, they opened our theater car doors and looked the other way for Energy’s most diehard fans.  Yes, that’s right, they actually had no objection to us walking through the entire Dinosaur diorama, touching, feeling, smelling it all for one last time because come Monday morning, it was all heading to the dumpster.  So while we were figuratively still stuck in Ellen’s dream we got to interact with the entire attraction like never before and bid our fond farewells in one of the most unique ways possible.

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There were some hopes about possibly fixing the attraction and letting us ride again but eventually it was decided that the battery pack in one of the vehicles was too faulty and they just couldn’t wait to scrap the whole thing in the morning.  It was a bittersweet moment.  While we never got to complete Ellen’s dream that night, we got to see off one of the greatest classic Epcot attractions in the most truly fitting way, through one last e-stop and ride evacuation. This was the night that the Universe of Energy ran out of energy but as Ellen and Bill Nye taught us, our brain power will never run out and our fond memories will always live on.

I leave you with these pictures from our exploration of the dinosaur diorama as I am getting very tired.  “Stupid Judy.  Stupid energy.  Maybe the universe needs energy but I don’t.  I’ll take a nap for a hundred.”  ~Ellen the uh… Just Ellen I guess

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What are you looking at?!

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Still fighting over if the Universe of Energy or Horizons was the better attraction

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I’ll miss you the most despite the fact that you sneeze on me every time I see you

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It’s a Dino-celebration party 220 million years ago, give or take a day

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Boy I bet Ellen really wished she figured out how to work that clicky thing earlier

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Beach Club at 25: What’s in a Color

This three part series just became four parts!

A question I always pose to myself when daydreaming of being poolside at Disney’s Beach Club Resort (I’m not about to go throwing the Vacation Club moniker in there) is… If I stayed in the Yacht Club first, would I love the Yacht Club more than the Beach Club?

No.

Why not?

Because the Yacht Club is grey and the Beach Club in the brightest of light blue. A light blue that accentuates the cream colors of the lobby and the chlorinated water. Walking from Yacht to Beach is like unto walking from Kansas to Oz – and the shipwreck in Stormalong Bay was from a tornado…

Wait, was that part of the design? Did I hear that some place before?

Is that an Imagineering choice?

::Googles::

No immediate luck (that’s to be continued).

There is something about that New England Cape Codian blue that to this day defines the Beach Club and sets it a part from every single resort in WDW. Every. Single. One.

The Polynesian is hidden within the lush tropics. The Grand Floridian looks out of your league. The Contemporary is an icon. Wilderness Lodge appears to be in a nook. The Boardwalk wants to be a theme park.

The Beach Club is inviting.

That light blue calls to you.

I have to go back!!!

The Beach Club at 25: Happy Birthday!

Something I haven’t talked about before is my favorite alarm clock in Disney World. The best sound to wake up to is that of the Friendship Boats while sleeping in your Beach Club bed.

As Brother Dillo blogged previously in: The Beach Club at 25, “Within two years, the Beach Club Resort would surpass the Polynesian as the favorite Dillo Resort (perhaps Sista Dillo thinks that’s a bold statement).”

Bold? Perhaps. But somewhat true.

For me, The Beach Club Resort represents the second half of my Disney vacationing life. The Polynesian represents the first. These two hotels made us fall in love with Disney, with Deluxe resorts and of course, spoiled us for life.

We can walk past The Beach Club and point out which rooms we stayed in. We can tell you about the corner room right next the quiet pool that was probably our favorite because…um, it was next to the quiet pool! We could leave our room through our patio doors and there we would be. We can also tell you how we were sad to see the shrubbery that was planted because it meant that future guests of that room couldn’t do the same.

We can tell you about celebrities we shared the elevator with, the ones we walked behind and the pictures  that hung on the wall of Beaches and Cream of all those that stayed there.

Time out for Fun Facts:

  • You used to be able to see MGM from the back of the Beach Club!
  • It took me years to go down the slide in Stormalong Bay.
  • The air conditioning of the lobby…I mean come on.

Beaches and Cream used to connect directly to the game room. We could play basketball and knock hockey and then walk right through for some burgers and ice cream. Now you have to go outside and back in again (its the little things we miss).

We have blogged many times of the serenity of the quiet pool. The place of baptism for my son (Disney baptism). A body of water to cleanse our soul and breathe in the Disney air. A pool where our family came together and relaxed.

Dillos don’t love change and changes have been made at this resort that we don’t love. But it doesn’t take away our love for the resort.

Happy Birthday Beach Club Resort!

>Why You Should Make Time for the Pool or a Nap!Sista Dillo

 

The Beach Club at 25: Storming Along

Disney’s (Yacht &) Beach Club Resort turns 25 this week, so Brother & Sista Dillo are taking a look back (and into) what has made the Beach Club my (if not our) favorite WDW Resort over the past quarter century.

Stormalong Bay

Without question, one of the perks of steering away from what are now called Magic Kingdom Resorts and towards EPCOT Resorts was the three acre mini water park that connected Disney’s Yacht Club to Disney’s Beach Club. Stormalong Bay presented just enough liquid elements to keep this teen of the 90’s invested when not inside one of the (then) WDW theme parks.

Having never visited River Country and Typhoon Lagoon still on our soon-to-visit radar, the closest experience had with a water themed thrill was the mini Polynesian Village slide at the main pool.

Stormalong Bay was a significant upgrade: a lazy river, a sand bottomed pool, a swirling pool, and a 230 foot slide down the mast of a shipwrecked… Ship.

Back in the day, as the oldtimers say, there was no checkpoint to gain access to the nearly 800,000 gallons of water at your disposal. You could run down and jump in – or run up and slide down. After some time, and multiple visits… and multiple scartches on my back sliding down the mast of a ship, the Resort became more crowded and the Bay area became less inviting.

On top of that, the real perfect storm called to us. An alternative to this mini water park nestled within these New England themed Resorts.

This alternative would change the way we Dillos defined tranquility.

This alternative would change the way we Dillos defined serenity.

This alternative became the chicken soup for our soul. 

Brother Dillo