By Jeff Elliott
Editor's note: Before I turn it over to Jeff, allow me to interrupt to note that NBC's Today show has cancelled its planned Friday broadcast from Universal Orlando. No word on whether Universal or the Today show made that call, or why. So we're left to keep waiting for an announcement on when Diagon Alley will open at Universal Studios Florida. And now, on to Jeff, though we'll start by sticking with more Harry Potter news.Tweet
Universal Studios Japan – The park reported that attendance at this park was up 7.7% to 10.5 million guests during an off year where no new attractions opened. I take that back. There was a new attraction. Funny enough it was the same attraction that Universal Studios Hollywood has this year… construction. An extra 700,000 guests went to the park to see how much progress was being made on the Harry Potter expansion. I get the feeling that the summer opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to be met by a massive cosplay riot that breaks out between the Slytherin and Gryffindor students while the Ravenclaw students figure out a way to get into the park early and the Hufflepuff students get lost in the parking garage.
Is that now really popular? What would happen if Spiderman and Elsa held hands? Who would win if they battled it out? What if they were to team up and have the webbing strengthen the ice like Pykrete? Their kids would be scary… Maybe we should vote on this…
Six Flags Great America – A family of five who had season passes last year to Six Flags Great America jumped at the opportunity to renew their season passes in December. Tragically, in January, the father was diagnosed with cancer and lost his fight to the illness in March. The mother, while trying to sort things out and get the family’s business in order, called up Six Flags and tried to get a refund for the unused and never would be used season pass. But, Six Flags has a no refund policy. They were willing to transfer it, which I also believe is also against their policy, but completely unwilling to give the grieving widow back the $72 for the season pass. The media outlet she contacted was able to get the woman her $72 back, which means that there was some leniency in the rules, but only if you holler really loud. Why would Six Flags want to put their reputation on the line for a stinking $72? Why would you take the risk that jerks like me will pick up the story and make Six Flags look like a bunch of greedy stooges?
What this shows is that Six Flags doesn’t care about listening to specific mitigating details that could factor into a decision because they have hard and fast rules that they are not allowed to deviate from. For $72, Six Flags was completely willing to burn four other year-over-year customers before the media caught onto this. Yes, I am aware that loose policies have been abused. But there is nothing wrong with listening to the circumstances and making the right decision whether it is on a company policy statement or not. Other companies are successful because they build a culture of customer service, and not eternal suspicion.
By Matt McDonough
This past week I fortunate enough to attend a conference in Chicago and inadvertently stumbled upon some remarkable history. The trip was to be a short 3 day event where I presented a paper, listened to some panels, and flew back home. Instead, I saw some of the coolest Disney memorabilia on the planet.Tweet
While many of my fellow attendees like to grab drinks and relax after presenting, I jumped at the opportunity to head to the local museum. I had heard good things about Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, especially for the fact that they have the only German World War II U-boat in the country on display. Upon my arrival I also discovered that there was another special exhibit entitled “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive.” It sounded promising, so I purchased my ticket and hoped for the best.
Wow. The submarine was cool but the artifacts on loan from Disney were truly impressive. They had authentic movie costumes:
As well as props and miniatures used in some of their older classics. Including the coonskin cap made famous by Fess Parker and even the model used in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea:
They also had an impressive display regarding the construction of Disneyland and some of its denizens, such as a poster for Pirates of the Caribbean:
Some of the hitchhiking ghosts,
The always creepy medusa portrait.
And then a large map detailing the original location of each land in one of the earliest drafts of Walt’s planned park. I stood there transfixed. While we are all intimately aware with how the park looks now it was intriguing see where each land would be located.
The central spoke idea was still intact but instead of one major body of water there were two with the second one featuring a pirate ship (this would eventually be used and then removed but in a different location). In addition Tom Sawyer’s Island looked to have the Swiss Family treehouse on it.
Some of the proposed areas even included Holiday Land and Lilliputan Land.
The entire exhibit was well worth the cost of entrance and as an added bonus they even offered patrons a chance to practice their doodling skills and draw some of their favorite Disney characters. Granted I was unable to match every stroke of the instructor but I think I just may have created the finest depiction of Goofy every made.
For those who are in the Chicago area be sure to check this impressive exhibit out but hurry as it only runs at this location until May 4th.
By Robert Niles
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom got some new passengers today, as the park ran the new roller coaster for a commercial filming session.Tweet
"Visitors" (actors or cast members) were seen riding the coaster today, along with Dopey, as a crew filmed the ride in operation.
If you were in the Magic Kingdom today and got a photo or video, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (That goes for anyone in any park at any time who sees a new ride in operation!) We'd love to share your images and video.
What we don't know from today's filming is whether all the stuff inside the mountain is operational, or how close Disney is to allowing non-employee guests to ride.
By Robert Niles
Looking for something to do with all that leftover Easter ham? Why settle for a boring old ham sandwich when you can make the world's best theme park ham sandwich instead?Tweet
If you live in Southern California, you could go to Disneyland for an authentic Monte Cristo, but that would defeat the purpose of using those Easter leftovers. So here's how to make a Disney-style Monte Cristo at home.
For years, I tried making Monte Cristos at home by putting together what I thought a Monte Cristo to be: A ham, turkey and cheese sandwich on French toast. But the result never tastes like a Disneyland Monte Cristo. Which should have made sense, because a Disneyland Monte Cristo really isn't just meat and cheese between two slices of French toast. Instead, you should think of it as a quartered ham-turkey-and-cheese sandwich that's been battered and fried. (Heck, there's only one-fourth of an egg per sandwich in a Disney Monte Cristo!)
For a Easter-leftover version, let's ditch the turkey and just pile on more ham. Ultimately, the fillings are up to you. Disneyland also offers a three-cheese version without any meat — just Swiss, Brie, and Mozzarella, instead. Too rich for my taste, but if you don't have any Easter leftovers and are hankering for something indulgent, go ahead!
The key here is the batter, and getting it fried just right. Disney's published this recipe many times — my copy comes from a 2003 edition of the now-defunct Disney Magazine. Set aside some time to whisk this batter to an airy consistency to get the best results.
Monte Cristo Sandwiches
To make the batter: whisk the egg and water in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder, whisking until smooth and airy.
To assemble the sandwiches, place two slices ham and a slice of cheese each on four slices of the bread, topping with the remaining four slices of bread. Quarter each sandwich by slicing from corner to corner.
Heat the oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F. Dip each quartered slice into the batter, coating it completely, then allowing the excess to drip away. Then slip each sandwich piece into the oil to fry, 3 minutes on each side. (In a 12-inch skillet, you should be able to fry all four quarters from a single sandwich at once.) Once fried on both sides, carefully remove the sandwich pieces and let sit to drain on a paper towel-lined plate for a moment before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.
Options: Replace half the ham with turkey to create a more authentic Disneyland Monte Cristo. Or replace all of the meat with Brie and Mozzarella to create the Three-Cheese Monte Cristo.
You can decide how many people these four sandwiches, served as 16 slices, will serve. In some families, that's lunch for four. In my family, this is more like lunch for eight. ;^) Happy eating!
Keep reading: April 2014 Archive
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