Thursday, July 29, 2010

Test Track Safety Postcard...FREE

One piece of Disneyphemera I really like are postcards, especially free postcards from the parks. Here is a free postcard from Epcot's Test Track. You can pick this up at the GM information desk in the showroom at the exit of the ride. The front has a cool picture of the attraction's vehicle.

On the back it has a little safety reminder, actually, more like a contract with drivers. Then, when you mail your card to your family or friends, the safety message is passed on, along with an advertisement for Epcot and GM of course. This makes a great souvenir and scrapbook piece from the most popular ride in Future World.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gurgi's Munchies & Crunchies Photos

While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of my fellow College Program cast members. While looking through her pictures, I found a couple of of photographs of Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies in Fantasyland. The first picture is from the summer of 1991...yes, that is me. This second photograph is of one of our friends.

These photos show a lot more of this inside of this bygone counter service restaurant. I posted a much longer blog with other pictures on my previous blog Destination: Disney. I'm including the post below for your convenience. I'm hoping that as I reconnect with former cast members from the College Program, I'll be able to get some more pictures of Gurgi's, and other lost attractions. Enjoy!

From the October 9, 2009 Destination: Disney blog entry:

When I was on the WDW College Program in the Summer of 1990, I worked in Fantasyland Foods (FF). The flagship restaurant was Pinocchio's Village Haus, known
as Pinoch's in Dinsey lingo. The other restaurants that fell under FF were Troubadour Tavern (Troubs), Round Table, Tournament Tent (Tent), the Pretzel wagon, and the place I spent most of my time, Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies (Gurgi's).

In July 1985, Disney released its 25th animated feature, The Black Cauldron, based off a series of books by Lloyd Alexander called Chronicles of Prydain. Probably the most recognizable and lovable characters from that film was Gurgi, a dog-like creature that not only talked, but had quite an appetite and provided comic relief to this rather dark picture by Disney standards. Ok, maybe he wasn't a dog-like creature, but, he was furry and he was funny and he always said, "munchings and crunchings", which, made him the appropriate character for the naming of this restaurant. Unfortunately, this film was a far cry from a box office hit. But, like Disney does for all of its animated films, it incorporates them into the parks in some fashion. The Black Cauldron was no different.

On October 26, 1986, Gurgi's Munchies & Crunchies opened, taking place of Lancer's Inn. A question I received frequently from guests while I worked at Gurgi's was, "what movie is this place based off of"? More often than not, when I'd tell people it was based off of The Black Cauldron, their response was, "I've never heard of that one". And, unfortunately, at that time, The Black Cauldron had not been released on video, so, guests really had no way to go view it. But, this provided me an opportunity to talk to guests, so, I'd give them a quick synopsis of the movie.

Now, if you aren't familiar with this restaurant's location, it is across from Dumbo and Pooh's Playful Spot. This was a walk-up counter service restaurant with five registers, two queues per register. Out front were maybe half a dozen umbrella covered tables for guests to relax and dine. The design of the restaurant was the same style as Pinoch's except themed to the lighter side of The Black Cauldron. The sign out front was very similar to the Lumiere's Kitchen sign, except it had a picture of Gurgi and had Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies scrolled on it. I have scoured the Internet and have yet to find any photos of this extinct restaurant. And, I've said it many times in previous posts, but, unfortunately, we didn't have digital cameras back then. And, as a college student, I didn't "waste" my photos on restaurants, to my regret.

But, while looking through my photos from my 1990 experience, I did come across a couple of pictures that show this very small location. In the first picture, to the far right, you can see a door which led backstage to the ice machine. Judging from the locaction, I believe this cast member was on the middle register. You can catch a partial glimpse of the drink menu right above his head in the background. Of course, you can see the Fair Folk, including the Santa looking King Eidilleg flying with a cup cake. In the window, you can see some of the food items ready to be delivered.

Here are the drink items sold at Gurgi's that I can see on the menu and can recall from my memories:
Soft Drinks: Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta Orange, and Fanta Root Beer (I think they were Fanta)
Orange Juice and Apple Juice boxes (Minute Maid I believe)
Hot Tea and Hot Chocolate
100% Colombian Coffee
Decaffeinated Coffee
Whole or Chocolate Milk
Lowfat Milk

As for the food items, what I can recall and can see in the window are the following:
Kids meal: Grilled Cheese or Chicken Nuggets (4 I think)
Chili Cheese Dog (yellow styrofoam container)
Chicken Sandwich (blue-green styrofoam container)
French Fries
Chocolate Chip Cookie

The kids meal came with a cookie, chips, and a Disney PVC figure. Of course, I do recall us also using those Mickey Mouse straws on occassion when we ran out of the figures. The summer of 1990 had those yellow boxes as seen in the pictures. I believe that was supposed to be Mickey's house. I remember that Mickey's nephews, Ferdy and Morty, were on the box. I wish I had saved one of those.

The next summer, 1991, the kids meal boxes were Disney Afternoon boxes. I actually did save an unused one of these. This is yet another example of Disney promoting one of its properties in the Disney parks as the Disney Afternoon was just taking off. The box has the Gummi Bears, Tailspin, DuckTales, and Rescue Rangers on it.

The second picture is basically the same as the first, but, just a little more to the right. In the background, you can see where we put all the condiments which included ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, bar-b-que sauce, and honey mustard sauce. Although these pictures don't show a whole lot of this tiny establishment, it is currently the only pictures I've seen in the past 18 years. I'm hoping that some of my former cast members have them. I've contacted some of them and if they do, hopefully, they will send them to me. If you have any, I'd love to see them.

Now, I've got many funny stories from working there, but, a couple of specifically food related tales. First, almost every day, we would have Germans come and ask for beer. I'd tell them that there was no beer sold in the Magic Kingdom. Then they'd point at the sign behind me and said, "beer". For the first few weeks this went on, I'd spend a few seconds trying to explain to them that this wasn't beer. Then, I learned. As soon as they'd point to the sign, I'd grab a little cup, put some root beer in it, and hand to them. Without flaw, they'd make a grimacing face and say, "MEDICINE"! That never got old to me and I got quite a chuckle, as did the guests.

Another common occurrence dealt with the kids meals. And, when I say common, I mean about every fourth kids meal order. Parents would come up and say, "I'd like a Chicken McNuggets kids meal". I'd reply, "I'm sorry, we don't have Chicken McNuggets", with an emphasis put on the "Mc" part. They'd look at me with a blank
stare, and then after a couple seconds, they'd get their gaffe and start laughing. Just goes to show the brand identity McDonald's has on chicken nuggets in our culture.

Gurgi's finally closed February 13, 1993, and then re-opened as Lumiere's Kitchen, followed by The Village Frye. To Disney's credit, it is amazing that a location based off of such a little known picture lasted about 6 1/2 years. And, to my knowledge, this was the only attraction, show, shop, or restaurant based off The Black Cauldron. In my opinion, it really is too bad that more attractions aren't based off of some of the lesser known animated features.

As for the stories of my time as a cast member at Fantasyland Foods...I think I'll save those for future posts.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Save That Counter Service Trash!

One of the most unique and fun pieces of Walt Disney World ephemera I like to collect are items I get from the counter service restaurants. You can find most of these at any counter service restaurant at any of the four theme parks. But, the best place to get them is at the food court at the value resorts such as Pop Century or the All Stars. That way, when you are done, ya can just boogie over to your room, clean them up real quick, and set them out to dry while you head off to the parks.

These plates, cups, and napkins you can find at any of the counter service restaurants. I really like the colors and how the evoke the them of "What will you celebrate"? which has been the motto of the parks the past two years. Written on the cups are 'Celebrate Today', while the plates have 'Where Dreams Come True' scrolled across them.

At the food courts, the kids meals can come with apple sauce and a half pint carton of milk, both featuring Chef Mickey. He even has a personal message for kids on the milk:

Drinking at least three glasses of milk a day helps give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs to be active.

Chef Mickey

And, finally, if you buy a large 16" pizza, it will come in a cardboard box with the Fab Five. Now, this is kind of a large item, and if you choose not to keep the whole box, you can either cut off the top, and recycle the rest. And, if you still think it is too large, then you can always take a picture and recycle the entire box. Either way, it is a very unique piece of disneyphemera!

Some of the other items you can find at counter service restaurants include hamburger baskets, fry holders, fruit cups, and hot dog holders.

Now, what I really like about these items, besides them being free, is they change almost every year. You can look forward with each vacation on adding new items to your collection. And, they even change during different holiday seasons celebrated at WDW such as Halloween and Christmas. I'll show some from Halloween in a future post.

Just like any piece of disneyphemera, a great thing about these items is they make for very interesting pieces to put in your WDW vacation scrapbook. All you have to do is simply flatten them for a couple days under a stack of books and have a super cool item to display in your WDW scrapbook for everyone to enjoy. So, your next vacation to Walt Disney World, whether you are enjoying your Mickey waffle or just taking a break from the heat sucking down a soft drink, take a look around and see what new disneyphemera you can add to your disneyphemera collection, or better yet, to your magical memories.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back from WDW & Transportation Cards

Well, I'm back from a three week summer vacation. We spent our first week down at Walt Disney World and then on to Siesta Beach for a week. After that, we headed up through Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas to land in Oklahoma for a few days to visit family. Then, we headed on over to a small town in Missouri near Joplin for a few days before heading back home. It was quite a vacation, but, it is good to be back home. And, now that I've had a week to rest after driving over 3300 miles all by myself, it is time for me to get back to blogging.

One of the things I really like to do at WDW is to pick up a lot of ephemera. Sure, I save the normal items like guide maps, room keys, and receipts. We take plenty of family pictures. But, what I also like is to pick up other items that most people don't think about saving, or better yet, don't even know is available for free at Disney. So, over the next few weeks, I'll be sprinkling in posts of some of the items I picked up while on vacation and hopefully give you some ideas and tips for your next vist to The World.

So, to get this started, we'll start with a neat souvenir that you can get pretty much as soon as you get to WDW. The item is a series of cards known as the Official Walt Disney World Transporation Collector Cards. I did a post on these cards on my previous blog, Destination: Disney, and, for convenience, I am reposting that blog entry below.

From the September 6, 2009 Destination: Disney blog entry:

One of my recent favorite Disneyphemera items is the Official Walt Disney World Transportation Collector Card series. There are 18 cards total in this series covering the three WDW modes of transportation. The breakdown includes 12 monorail and three each of the boats and buses. These cards are fantastic looking by any standard. Bright, colorful, detailed, and educational. Each card has a beautiful illustration of a different WDW vehicle. And, it doesn't stop there. Each illustration also has a hidden Mickey! Go ahead, click on the images and see if you can find them.

Accompanying the vehicle is a different Disney character ranging from animation shorts to features to Pixar and even to our favorite Epcot character. The back of the each card has a trivia question relating to the Disney character as well as three facts about the particular mode of transportation. This is just a fantastic series.

Now, for the really good news. These cards are absolutely free. This is a great way to get your kids involved in the Disney magic early in the day before you venture to a park. All you have to do is politely ask one of the transportation cast members if they have any of the transportation cards. This also offers a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with the bus driver, boat captain, or monorail driver to find out more about the vehicles, WDW, and even about them and their job. This has become one of those magical moments for our kids. They love asking for the cards and get excited about seeing if they get a new one to complete their collection. In fact, it is very common for the cast member to give out one of each type they have to the kids. But, you better do this early in the morning as these cards usually go
fast. Happy collecting!