Top 5 or 10: Jim Henson Muppet Characters (2 of 2)

Yesterday I posted my picks for numbers 10 to 6… now here are the Top 5!

5. Swedish Chef

Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue, Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!

Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue, Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!

What separates the Swedish Chef from the other characters who didn’t make it into the Top 5? Is it the fact that he exuberantly and gracelessly destroys things (including his ingredients) left and right while cooking?  The fact that he speaks something similar to gibberish but with a mock Swedish accent? Is it the mustache?  Actually, in my mind, it’s the fact that he has live human hands.  The rest is just gravy. Also there’s the recurring gag that if he is not being a Chef, he is inevitably running a projector. (“The Muppet Movie”, “The Muppets Take Manhattan”, and “MuppetVision 3D” all show this to be the case!)

4. Cantus the Minstrel

This is Cantus's winter wear look. (I'm not kidding, either.) He really rocks the fingerless gloves.

This is Cantus’s winter wear look. (I’m not kidding, either.) He really rocks the fingerless gloves.

What’s this!? A show with Muppets that is NOT the Muppet Show???  But yes! Many Muppets aficionados may remember Fraggle Rock, a Jim Henson Co. production from the 1980s.  Jim was heavily involved behind the scenes, but rarely performed – he was not one of the regulars, but he did have two recurring characters (not in more than a handful of episodes each, as I recall). Of the two, Convincing John and Cantus, I prefer Cantus… he’s sage, laid back, full of “implacable calm”, and also delivers sage, laid back, implacably calm verbal smackdowns whenever the Fraggles require it. 😀  In addition, his songs are usually really beautiful.

3. Ernie

What can I say about Ernie? I've always just kind of wanted to hug him.

What can I say about Ernie? I’ve always just kind of wanted to hug him.

The other not-The-Muppet-Show TV series that Jiim was really heavily involved with: Sesame Street.  AS IF I could not have Ernie in the top 3!  I knew Ernie before I knew ANY of Jim’s other Muppets (although I know I was aware enough to hear Kermit and Ernie sounded the same).  I’ve always thought of Ernie as a friend. He was like somebody I just knew liked me. He’s also, I realized as I got older, a merciless prankster and total pest to his friends (or at least, to Bert). But he gets away with it because he’s always so happy!

2. Rowlf

OK this one time I saw one of the original Rowlf puppets on a museum tour and OMG. Life. Made.

OK this one time I saw one of the original Rowlf puppets on a museum tour and OMG. Life. Made.

Rowlf the Dog is my number 1 Muppet. I love his voice, his delivery, his piano-playing, and his fluffy fur.  I also love it when he meets other dogs who can’t talk and he communicates in Dog. “Oh yeah, Woof Woof! Yeah, Bark Bark!”  Rowlf, like many of Jim’s best characters, is kind of laid-back and cool, not prone to stressing out.  Because he’s not among the higher-strung characters, he gets a lot of “reaction” lines to other characters who ARE a bit more… insane… and he plays off of them really well. But for me, Rowlf’s highest moment is still way back in “The Muppet Movie” when he befriends Kermit and Jim Henson sings a duet with himself, “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along”. 😀 

“Stay away from women… that’s my motto.”
“But I can’t.”
“Neither can I. That’s my trouble.”

Rowlf is a very “adult” character, which is not to say that he’s profane or inappropriate for kids, only that he follows an adult sensibility. And, well, he does get away with a few risqué lines here and there.  But you don’t notice because you’re just sitting there thinking, “I wish MY dog could play the piano!”

1. Kermit

I really have nothing in particular to say except Hey Look! It's Kermit The Frog!

I really have nothing in particular to say except Hey Look! It’s Kermit The Frog!

Even though Rowlf is my own personal #1, I cannot fake it. The real life truly true number 1 HAS to be Kermit.  I don’t really totally subscribe to the idea that Kermit IS (was?) Jim Henson, but regardless, he came to be the most strongly associated with Jim and there’s clearly an identification there.  Kermit was initially just another odd little puppet created for “Sam and Friends” in 1955 and over the years ended up making at least an introduction or something in nearly all of the Muppet productions up through the mid-80s.  He never appeared in “Fraggle Rock” but he interacted with the Fraggles anyway, in “A Muppet Family Christmas”.  Kermit is the “brand” Muppet, the leader, the top banana, the boss; he holds together chaos and does it with, at least, some semblance of understanding.  And what Kermit really wants is not to be rich and famous – he understands that other people want that and he’s happy to help them, but it’s not his thing. He wants to make millions of people happy, and I can’t believe that Jim Henson would’ve given that as Kermit’s motivation if it were not, at heart, what he really wanted as well.

Thanks, Kermit and Jim, for making me happy. 🙂 

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Top 5… or 10?: Jim Henson Muppet Characters (1 of 2)

On the heels of my biography post about Jim Henson, I thought I’d try to do a Top 5 of his best characters!

…Only all his characters are great so it’s kind of a fail. And I have to make it a Top 10. And then I had a really hard time ranking them. So if you disagree, just remember, I struggled with this! 😉  Here is the first half, numbers 10 to 6.  Top 5 will follow tomorrow!

10. Link Hogthrob

I just noticed that his design makes him part Kirk and part Spock. :D

I just noticed that his design makes him part Kirk and part Spock. 😀

 

Link is a wonderful character, because he is attractive and masculine – I like the fact that the majority of the most stylish and attractive characters on The Muppet Show are pigs – and also self-adoring and dumb as a post.  His voice just kills me.  After rising to fame as the Captain of the Swine Trek on “Pigs In Space“, Link showed up regularly backstage and in the background of other sketches; he was also in the 2011 movie, performing a barbershop quartet rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  The other thing that amuses me most about Link is how Miss Piggy seems not to be able to stand him.  I guess it’s the battle of the egos. 😀

9. Muppet Newsman

And now, a Muppet News Flash!

And now, a Muppet News Flash!

Semi-ubiquitous, the Muppet Newsman was usually in extremely brief skits where he’d come in with breaking news and fall victim to the news as the punchline. In genuinely ridiculous ways, like “the worst blizzard in 60 years, barometers are falling sharply!” and then a bunch of barometers fall on him. Not a lot to say about a quick recurring gag, but he’s a sharp dresser, and evidently dedicated to his job. 😀

8. Mahna Mahna

What a fluffy guy!

What a fluffy guy!

So here’s a secret: as a kid, Muppets with eyes like his (or like Floyd Pepper’s) freaked me way out.  I later decided that Floyd’s eyes must have been dark glasses (which may have been wrong, but it helped me get over my fear of the character as a kid), but I still don’t know what Mahna’s are. I mean he blinks, so… not glasses?  ANYWAY! The slightly growly voice is a standard of Jim Henson’s (there’s not a huge difference between Mahna and Rowlf, for instance), but the design sets this guy apart.  That and the fact that all he ever really says is scatting. 😀  He’s just basically a big furry… music-lovin’… free spirit!  I think he might be kind of a hippie mountain man who loves jazz! Or something. 😀  It doesn’t really matter, does it?  He tried to follow the rules, but the love of music and rhythm keep leading him down into improvisation and the melodies filling his head.  What a joy!  Rules, schmules!

7. Dr. Teeth

Golden teeth and golden tones, welcome to my presence.

Golden teeth and golden tones, welcome to my presence.

Teeth is among my favourite characters ever, anywhere (but attempts to remain unbiased put him into the second half of the top 10 instead of closer to #1).  Iconoclastic and lyrical at all times, Dr. Teeth is the perfect front man for Electric Mayhem.  He’s loud, showy, and kind of a guru.  Love, man!  It’s all about love! And peace! And probably some stuff that the kids shouldn’t know about. 😀  He’s a born leader and has a pretty amazing sense of fashion. I can’t say “style” but I can say “fashion”! So what are those on the top half of his eyes: eyelids, or lenses?  It’s a pretty amazing design touch: even though his eyes don’t close per se, he always has a sort of relaxed look to him when the ‘lids’ are down. And they can be raised to give him a change of expression. I always loved the Muppets who had moveable eyelids, but Teeth’s are an extra step of cool.  Even cooler: his general look is based on Dr. John, the blues musician from New Orleans.

6. Waldorf

Waldorf is the shorter one. With the mustache.

Waldorf is the shorter one. With the mustache.

Waldorf, of course, is one of an inseparable pair so if you just hear the name “Waldorf” you could almost be like “Huh? Who dat?” And then you hear “Statler and Waldorf” and you’re like “THE OLD GUYS IN THE BALCONY!” of course.  Since Waldorf is just half of the “character”, basically, it’s hard to single him out as one of the best; but their role is one almost everyone loves.  These two guys have devoted their entire twilight years to planting themselves wherever the Muppets are performing, and heckling them mercilessly. They get no greater pleasure in life than telling the Muppets how unfunny they are. They especially love tearing Fozzie apart, possibly because Fozzie really is just not funny, and because he takes all of the comments so personally. In addition to having an entire balcony seat dedicated just to them every week on “The Muppet Show”, they have travelled to Hollywood to view (and mock) the screening of The Muppet Movie, entered and won (or lost?) a contest to attend Muppet Vision 3D, and now spend much of their days watching Muppet YouTube videos and mocking those as well. 😀  Some trivia: Statler and Waldorf were each named for famous New York hotels (Waldorf-Astoria, and Statler – later renamed Hotel Pennsylvania).

Tune in tomorrow for the top 5!

Top 5: Favourite Disney With Me posts of the 1st year

This is a weird, self-congratulatory post, eh? 😛  I just thought it would be a fun way to revisit a few old faves. 🙂  And by the way, THIS will be my 200th post once I put it up there!  Woohoo! 😀

#5: Hidden Kitties: the Feral Cats of Disneyland.

Not this kind.  Probably.

Not this kind. Probably.

I don’t remember who suggested this topic. I want to say it was from the Mickey Mutineers but it was a long, long time ago so all I remember is that it was a guy. XD  I wrote that I needed suggestions for an interesting blog topic and he wrote back, “Write about the Disneyland feral cats! Is that a true thing?” and I thought “OK! Research time!” Turns out it’s true, and it’s an amazing example of Disney, as a company, turning something that could have been a huge problem (WILD ANIMAL INFESTATION!) into an asset.  Nearly-free pest control AND they get lauded for their humanitarian efforts!  This is one of my faves because it actually was really fun to look into.  I don’t do nearly enough blog posts that require real research. 🙂

#4: Top 5: Sherman Brothers songs.

I found this on Tumblr but couldn't find a source. If it's yours pls. contact me and I'll either credit you or remove it if you want.  It's freaking awesome and I want you to have credit.

I found this on Tumblr but couldn’t find a source. If it’s yours pls. contact me and I’ll either credit you or remove it if you want. It’s freaking awesome and I want you to have credit.

Actually picking a Top 5 post in here is hard, hard, HARD work. Oh my gosh.  I have so much fun doing some of those Top 5 posts.  I also love the “Cars that aren’t from Pixar’s ‘Cars'”, the “Too Controversial Blog Topics”, and several others.  I’m going with this though, because I love the Sherman Brothers and their music. When I started getting (possibly far too) into Disney as a whole big THING, it initially was just the parks, then it spread to some of the classic movies, then it spread from there to the park music, and from there it was ALL the music. Falling into the music was essentially like falling into the Sherman Brothers.  Although, in a fangirly way, I actually prefer Ashman/Menken’s collaborations** (shhhh!), the Sherman Brothers really ARE Disney music.  The best of the classic movies, the best of the classic rides, it’s all from them.  Just like picking a favourite Top 5 post was hard, so was picking only 5 Sherman Brothers songs when they’re all wonderful. (Okay okay. NEARLY all. I’m not going to say it but you’re thinking it, I can hear you from here, so I’ll give you that one. And that. But come on, NEARLY all!)

#3: Return of the Hatbox Ghost?

So this was entirely speculative/rumour on my part, based on the appearance of a Hatbox Ghost (from the Haunted Mansion) animatronic sample being tossed out at the D23 conference.  Part of what I liked was having inspiration for a timely blog post; most of what I liked was getting silly in the writing of it and naming him “Hatbox Harold” for no particular reason.  In case you haven’t noticed it yet, I enjoy stream-of-consciousness humour and occasionally I get a kick out of letting my silly streak out and seeing what comes out as I type.  Naming the Hatbox Ghost was one of those. ;D  I think you can also chalk this post up to my getting comfortable in having a “voice” for the blog… it took me a while to let myself relax enough to be humourous, which I actually usually am in spades when I’m being casual.  But for quite a while I wasn’t sure whether I wanted this blog to be factual reporting, personal opinion, or somewhere in between.  I think I’ve settled on “between with a healthy dose of my personality smeared over it”. ^_^

#2: All my trip report posts.

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could've tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could’ve tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I’ve said this multiple times in the past year but my daughter and I have a special WDW bond… right before she was born I began putting money away for her first trip, just in time for her 5th birthday. We all went (including her father and her younger brother, then 1 1/2), but it’s for certain that the ones who got the most out of it were her and I; I’d spent 5 years pumping her head full of Disney, after all.  I taught her to say “Daddy, I want to go to Disney World!” when she was learning to talk.  We had such a great time that I started immediately planning a trip for just the two of us, and we finally got to go on that one, a year later than I’d intended it, this past October.  I’ve been writing out the trip reports for three months now and I’m just over halfway done. XD At this rate I either won’t finish or I’ll forget it before I can finish… but I like prolonging it. 😀

#1: Things I’ve Learned From Miss Piggy.

Keep believing, keep pretending.

Keep believing, keep pretending.

I mentioned this earlier in my “Happy Birthday” post, but yeah, this has been the single most popular post I’ve got just for standalone hits. OK, granted, I think a lot of them come from people doing image searches instead of actually reading the blog but I’m still getting hits! ;P Anyway, I thought about it, and I do like this post a lot. It wasn’t really planned out that far in advance but I got the chance to do several things I like to do: deconstruct a character; act wise, like I know a lot about a lot instead of very little about a little; and talk about Muppets. Oh, and empower women, I kinda do that in there too. ;D  I don’t view it as any kind of an “agenda” post, but I think when you look hard at what Miss Piggy has been, in the past, there are things to admire. These things kind of get lost b/c it’s easy to overdo her and hard, at times, to see the reality of a person, which Frank Oz did actually strive to create, at least a little.  There are some good things, beyond just “She’s a DIVA and can do whatever she wants!!” to get out of Piggy, and they’re real things, and I don’t know.  I just enjoyed writing it. 🙂

So that’s it… Thanks for reading my blog! I hope I’ll have more and more posts in the weeks, months, and even years to come. ^_^

 

 

**My preference for Howard Ashman is probably almost entirely due to the fact that the Sherman Brothers, to the best of my knowledge, never made this face:

howard

Top 5: Disney Cars (Who Weren’t in Pixar’s “Cars”)

Heck, I haven’t even seen “Cars”. But heading off to that well is just the EASY way to do this top 5 list, and heaven knows, I never do anything the easy way!

Now… we just need to see if I can actually come up with 5 cars from Disney movies or shows.  Good luck. 😛  On the plus side, while I can’t say for certain this is a topic no one else has done, I CAN say I don’t think it’s been done all that often!

5. Herbie the Love Bug

Herbie actually is the star of his own live action movies. And there are several.  AND he’s at the All-Star Movies Resort in WDW!  …Having said all that, I’m not sure I can really say much more about Herbie that is that positive.  I’ve never felt inclined to watch a single “Herbie” movie, not even the one with Bruce Campbell in it.  But one thing you can say for Herbie, he’s got stage presence.

You weren't expecting me to put up a pic of Lindsay Lohan here, were you?  BRUCE. CAMPBELL.

You weren’t expecting me to put up a pic of Lindsay Lohan here, were you? BRUCE. CAMPBELL.

4. Lightcycles from “Tron”/”Tron Legacy”

Cheating, I know. These are not cars.  There ARE light cars in “Tron Legacy” but frankly I prefer the light cycles.  The cars aren’t cool enough to make this list. 😉 All I can say is, if I could find a bike that left a big tangible trail of light behind me I would ride it EVERYWHERE.  All the time.  I’d ride it around and around people so that I could tie them up in light-ribbons.

Old school...

Old school…

...New school.

…New school.

3. Goofy’s Car

You’ve seen Goofy’s jalopy, right?  Right?!  That jalopy just screams Goofy.  It’s all big and clunky and falling apart, carelessly slapped together and always essentially serving the same purpose as Goofy, to make a mess of things. 😀  If you haven’t seen it anywhere else, I know you have seen it in Mickey’s Trailer.

2. The Motorcars from “the Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”

The “putt-putt-putt” noises that the early motorcars make are so entrancing to Mr. Toad that he can’t stop thinking about them even before he’s driven one.  The cars in this film are completely inanimate, but regardless they serve as an important character in the story, as Mr. Toad’s motivation for a few very bad decisions.  Motor MANIA!

 

 

1. Susie the Little Blue Coupe

This is kind of a forerunner of Cars, in terms of design at least, but it’s a sweet little Disney short that you can’t help but smile over.  If you’re over a certain age, you’ve probably seen it a number of times on the older Disney Channel – you know, back when they showed classic cartoons? 😉  Susie is a peppy little blue coupe who hits hard times when she gets a bit older, but finds a happy ending before it’s too late.  And it’s narrated by Sterling Holloway, so no complaints here!

Got any other cars to add?  I’m always interested in your comments!

Top 5: Forgotten Disney Princesses

So sometimes I wonder what the criteria is to get into the official line of Disney Princesses.  The main roster is pretty self-evident and makes sense: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora/Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana, Rapunzel, and now Merida.  Okie-dokie!  Less marketed, but still “Official”, are Pocahontas – okay, still with ya there – and… Mulan.  Which is where I stop and say “Wait, what?” because Mulan isn’t a princess.  Like, at all. She’s a rural peasant who saves her nation but she’s still not actually royalty.  Not even by marriage.  Not like nobody else has ever pointed this out, or anything, and I like Mulan so I’m not trying to dis her at all, but she’s just not a princess.  So why is she there, but others aren’t – let’s say, Alice, or Wendy, or… or Mary Poppins?  Well, it’s not really relevant to the rest of this article, so let’s let that one drop. 😀

Anyway, what really is odd to me though is the fact that they brought in Mulan but they leave out a few actual legit princesses.  More than a few really, they have numerous princesses over the years – official princesses – who just haven’t been interesting, main-character-ish, or – let’s go ahead and say it – profitable enough to rate official inclusion in the Princess line.  So with all that said, here’s my Top 5 Forgotten Princesses (plus an Honourable Mention, because I can do that when I want to!).

YEAH princess!  She's got it down.

YEAH princess! She’s got it down.

Honourable Mention: Charlotte LaBouf (Princess and the Frog).

Yes, Tiana is the ACTUAL Princess by the end of the movie, and as I always like to point out, she has the best princess dress design EVER (lily pads!!); but let’s not forget that her friend Charlotte is a princess, in more than one way, quite before Tiana.  Enough so that she even fulfills the “Kiss A Princess” rule, albeit temporarily!  Okay, Charlotte is really a princess wannabe, but she lands the role for 24 hours anyway, and she’s been living the lifestyle for pretty much her whole life.  This one doesn’t really rank, b/c she’s a backup in a movie that HAS a “legit” Princess, but hey. I love Charlotte almost as much as I love Tiana, and I’d like to see her more.  So there! 😀

Now on to the real list!

#5: Tiger Lilly, Peter Pan

Damsel in distress?

Damsel in distress?

Indian Princess Tiger Lilly is really a background character with no actual lines (except half of a word), and she’s really not “glamourous” the way the official Princesses have to be. Plus I suppose they’ve already got Pocahontas filling out the “Native American” requirement.  But let’s be fair, if Poca counts then Tiger counts too!  She fills all the typical requirements of her time: rescued by the hero, remains noble, even gets a little kiss in by the end. 😉  Despite my jab at first about her lacking the glamour factor, I think it would be kind of nice to have a young princess get some attention in this line.  Without being glittered up like they tried to do with Merida.  Never happen, but it would be a message I’d like to see from the Princess line, which I find a little – um, questionable in certain aspects.  You can be a Princess, hold yourself in high esteem, be valued and respected, and be YOURSELF. (Okay… I confess I’m glossing over the less-PC aspects of the portrayal of the Indian tribe in Peter Pan.  I don’t care to go into it with this particular Top 5 list, but it’s a legit complaint in terms of example being promoted, and we’ll leave it at that.)

#4: Eilonwy, The Black Cauldron

C'mon! She totally looks the part!

C’mon! She totally looks the part!

There is actually a good chance you have no idea who this is. 😀  That is, if you haven’t seen “The Black Cauldron”, the – well, the animated flop from the mid-80s.  It’s based on a rather good series of books fantasy books, but they didn’t do the best adaptation of all-time.  A bit on the boring side as I recall.  Eilonwy is a fun character – more so in the books, they kind of defanged her a little in the movie – but she is indeed a princess, and a bit of an enchantress, too.  And she’s cute as a little firecracker button, she is!  She’s got a temper and a giant stubborn streak in the books, as I recall, though she mellows over the course of them; in the movie, she’s just a bit feisty, if I’m remembering right.  I’d like to see her again, regardless.  I like her name, her design, and her general Eilonwyness.

#3: Megara, Hercules

The only potential "princess" to wear a glower half the time. And look really good with it on, too.

The only potential “princess” to wear a glower half the time. And look really good with it on, too.

C’mon. Megara. Megara, guys.  She’s got one of the best songs of any Disney film out of the later half of the 1990s, she’s a great conflicted character, and really now… wife of the son of the king of the gods?  You’re going to tell me that doesn’t count as a princess?  FEH.  Megara ought to be represented here. You know why she isn’t – because she doesn’t have a big poofy dress.  THAT’S WHY.  Well, maybe it’s also because she spends half the movie working for the bad guy, or because she’s quick with a sarcastic quip, and maybe Disney decided that wasn’t the “image” they were promoting with their Princess line.  That makes more sense than the dress thing, I guess.  If you ask me, that’s WHY she should be included in the Princess line.  DIVERSITY, Disney!  Not all princesses have to have good attitudes all the time!

#2: Kida, Atlantis

Kida is as upset as I am that it is really, REALLY hard to find good screencaps of her on the internet. :(

Kida is as upset as I am that it is really, REALLY hard to find good screencaps of her on the internet. 😦

I haven’t seen this movie since it came out. I’m not even joking.  I haven’t seen it since 1999 or whenever it was released. 1998? I don’t know. I was looking forward to Atlantis and I was more than a little let down by it, though I enjoyed it, I guess. I don’t remember it that well since I haven’t seen it since. 🙂 But I still think Kida honestly should be recognized here, even if it’s just as a “backup” the way Pocahontas is.  She’s got an interesting design, she’s powerful, independent, smart, and maybe kind of dangerous.  But kind.  She’s a very different kind of princess, one with experience and wisdom, and I bet she’d be the oldest member of the Princess line if she made it on there.  I’m not just saying that because she has white hair, I know that’s just cosmetic. 😉  But weren’t the inhabitants of Atlantis all, like, hundreds of years old?  Oh well.  Bring out Kida.  Her movie should be given another fair shake, and I’ll tell you why: Because the guy who plays Father Guido Sarducci is in it, and I could listen to him read the phone book and still laugh.

#1: Giselle, Enchanted

The only real-life gal on our list! She wins for singing in the middle of a park.  That is my FAVOURITE THING.

The only real-life gal on our list! She wins for singing in the middle of a park. That is my FAVOURITE THING.

Okay, if I’m honest, Giselle doesn’t meet the standards for Princess-hood either (see my complaint about Mulan).  But she SHOULD.  Sure, she isn’t actually a princess at the start of the movie, but really, all that’s missing is the formal title! She talks to animals, wears floofy dresses, has flowers in her hair, and breaks into spontaneous song in public parks.  And manages to get others doing the same.  Everyone else on this list is debatable, but Giselle IS a Disney Princess, and Disney knows it.  She was a walkaround character for a while and nearly was added to the permanent pantheon.  However, what I’ve read (might not be true, this is the internet) is that, because she was portrayed by a living person, Disney did not own the intellectual copyright on her appearance and would have to pay royalties to Amy Adams, the actress who portrayed her, if they wanted to use her image.  Since this is a unique case among their princesses, they removed her from the lineup instead. 😦

So!  Share your thoughts in the comments!  Please don’t pick any PC arguments though. It’s not a matter of whether or not I think they’re valid, I’m just not going after that right now. 🙂  I’ve mentioned before that I like to keep this blog mainly positive, and if I’m going to debate things like Disney and PC, I’m going to do it in a different post.  Thanks for being respectful! 🙂

Top 5: Really Controversial Top 5 Topics

So, my first “Top 5” list was “Best Disney Princesses”.  That being such a matter of personal opinion, it got me thinking about how many controversial “Top 5” lists there are out there and how choosing the wrong topic could be playing with fire.  And THAT made me want to do another Top 5 list! XD  So these are my best choices for “too controversial for a Top 5 list” topics… got any to add?

#5: Worst Disney Princesses

I have to say Cinderella looks kind of confused. It's not raining, Cindy!  You're inside!

I have to say Cinderella looks kind of confused. It’s not raining, Cindy! You’re inside!

Actually, in retrospect, I’m almost surprised that “Best Princesses” wasn’t too controversial. LOL! Every princess has at least one fan and at least one hater.  But *I* love my picks and that’s all that matters! 😉  No, but there are certainly plenty of blogs that could get away with a “Worst Disney Princesses” list and either not offend its readers, or just not care… I’m not going to go there.  Would it surprise you to know that I probably could find 5 princesses to put on the list? I’m not 100% sure I could do 5 but I know I could do 3.  No, I’m not going to say who. 😉

#4: Politicians Who Are Like Disney Characters

I figured this was kind of a safe one. *lol*

I figured this was kind of a safe one. *lol*

I mean this is just asking for trouble. 😉 I actually can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, I was just fishing for some topics likely to offend someone. XD

#3: Disney Attractions That Should Be Replaced

This is actually a fun topic, and a lot of blogs have covered it – podcasts, too.  It’s a topic I don’t find offensive at all, because it’s all in fun, and even when one of my favourites is mentioned I usually react with “LOL nooooo!” 😉 However, like I said in #5, I like to keep it positive.  It’s just not the direction I want my blog to take, but that doesn’t mean I don’t *have* opinions, I  just end up not – OH OKAY GET RID OF STITCH’S GREAT ESCAPE already.  There. I said it. I regret nothing. 😉

#2: Disney Films I’d Like to Forget About

*cough* I didn't say anything. (OK, OK, I haven't seen this movie. It's just the one that most people agree on, is all.)

*cough* I didn’t say anything. (OK, OK, I haven’t seen this movie. It’s just the one that most people agree on, is all.)

Guaranteed to offend SOMEONE.  Every single one of my least favourite Disney films has at least one hugely die-hard fan. So I tend not to speak out about the ones I dislike. *g*

#1: Reasons Why “Song of the South” Should/Should Not Be Released

I still haven't seen this. Guess there's a good chance I never will.

I still haven’t seen this. Guess there’s a good chance I never will.

I just… ’nuff said. XD

Top 5: Sherman Brothers Songs

Richard Sherman was a guest at the 2013 D23 Expo and gave a concert with Alan Menken on Saturday (and how I’d loved to have seen that!); in honour of that, and just in recognition of how wonderful are so many of the songs he wrote with his brother Robert, this week’s Top 5 list is all about Sherman Brothers music.  Now, there’s a  good lot of it, and it’s hard for me to rank it into just the five best.  I’ll admit: I have a predilection for the music that’s played in the theme parks.  Not that all of it is my favourite, but considering that they’ve written a lot more for movies than for the theme parks, my list is kind of park-music-heavy.

You’ll survive. ;D

#5: The Best Time of Your Life

AKA, Carousel of Progress theme #2.  Written after “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, when GE requested that the message in Carousel of Progress be a bit more on the lines of “Buy things NOW! Not tomorrow, NOW!!”  This song personifies a lot of what I like about the Sherman Brothers music, which is their ability to take a direct message (like WHEE! Capitalism!) and make an actual great song out of it.  When you hear this song, do you feel like you’re being urged to go out and buy things, or do you just feel like the world is a kind of happy place?  It’s not exactly inspired, but it gets the message across without hitting you over the head with it.  With the Sherman Brothers, the goal is first to write a SONG, and if there’s a message to it it is – usually – couched pretty deeply within it.

#4: The Tigger Song

The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers!

The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers!

You know, “The wonderful thing about Tiggers/Is Tiggers are wonderful things!”  This song is so much FUN.  All the songs in “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” are good, but this one is exactly what its subject presents himself as: fast and silly, flouncy, bouncy, and fun-fun-fun-fun-FUN.  I commend them for having written a song that automatically makes me feel like bouncing in my chair when I hear it.  Again, what a great skill, to be able to write music for a subject that is undeniably a song first, but also completely presents what it is about.

#3: A Spoonful of Sugar

Is there anyone more practically perfect than Julie Andrews? I ASK YOU.

Is there anyone more practically perfect than Julie Andrews? I ASK YOU.

Actually, I feel that all the music in “Mary Poppins” is inspired.  It’s all clever, the lyrics are amazing, the melodies are beautiful.  It was hard to choose what song should be on this list.  And I very nearly wanted “Feed the Birds”, because that song has so much going for it… beautiful, meaningful, and again the message is very subtle.  But why did I go with Spoonful of Sugar instead then?  I’ll tell you: because this song has a wonderful simple complexity to it.  It’s tricky while still being easy to sing and to remember.  It creeps into your head and you don’t realize that it’s got that middle section that plays off itself.  The other thing I like about this song is that it’s really a quintessential Sherman Brothers song…  You can tell this, because there are a few other songs they’ve written with the same sort of jolly marching song sound.  “Step in the Right Direction” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a good example.

#2: One Little Spark

AKA the Figment/Journey Into Imagination song!  The more I hear this song, the more I like it.  It’s just catchier and catchier and catchier every time.  Part of that is certainly the voices performing it, but it’s really a great tune too, evidenced by how often it shows up in Disney World’s musical “legacy”.  Even just the music behind the melody, supporting it, is full of whimsy and cleverness.  I think there is a reason this song has wormed its way into the hearts of so many people, and Figment and the Dreamfinder are only part of it.  (Click here for a picture I REALLY wanted to put here, but it’s copyrighted, but you just HAVE to see it on Tom Bricker’s Flickr page!)

#1: Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

I found this on Tumblr but couldn't find a source. If it's yours pls. contact me and I'll either credit you or remove it if you want.  It's freaking awesome and I want you to have credit.

I found this on Tumblr but couldn’t find a source. If it’s yours pls. contact me and I’ll either credit you or remove it if you want. It’s freaking awesome and I want you to have credit.

Well, and there it is.  I kind of fell in love with this song the first time I went on the Carousel of Progress, and it really hasn’t diminished any over the past however many years.  I taught it to my kids, I sing it whenever I can.  Amusingly to me, it’s one of the “jolly marching” songs like Spoonful of Sugar.  I love that this was the original song, then was removed for my #5 choice, then came back.  I love that Walt had Robert and Richard come and perform it in the video to GE to get more funding.  I love that it was based on “WALT has a dream, and that’s the start”.  And I just love the message, that we can do whatever we put our mind to, and all it takes is time, and the future is guaranteed to be optimistic, better and better.

The sheer volume of the songs that the Sherman Brothers have contributed to Disney’s musical legacy is staggering, and this is a small sample.  There’s a good chance that ANYTHING you say “You forgot such-and-such!” I’ll say “I didn’t forget it, I love that one!” But I only had five possible slots.  So there we go. 😉

What’s your favourite Sherman Brothers tune?  Leave a comment and let’s reminisce!

Just a dream away!

Just a dream away!

Top 5: Best Attractions for Young Children at the Magic Kingdom

Caveat: this list does not include Fantasyland.  Why?  Because CHALLENGE!  Because if it did everything in the Top 5 would be in Fantasyland!  Because EVERYTHING IN FANTASYLAND IS GREAT FOR CHILDREN YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE.

 

Is that enough caps for you? Probably more than enough, no?  Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of my Top 5 Attractions for Young Kids, so here’s a refresher of the criteria I make my lists by: I’m listing things that aren’t necessarily just made for children, so much as things that families can enjoy.  So I’m not looking at things like play areas, designed with young children in mind, because I can’t participate with my kids there. But I’m also ruling out rides with strict height requirements that would rule out a child of 2, or things that have a high scare factor.  So this is not a “Top 5 Best Rides”, or that, sort of thing, but rather my list of rides I consider really great for kids in, let’s say, a 2- to 6-year age range.  It’s based partly on my own experience with my kids a few years ago, partly on my own judgment, and partly on… uh… well, that covers it, actually. 🙂  As with anything there is room for lots of variation, as all kids are individuals and have their own tastes.  This is just a general guideline!

So here we go!

#5: All of Main Street, USA

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Is this cheating?  Well, I make my own rules, so I say NO! 🙂  Granted, in WDW, there aren’t really any attractions on Main Street (aside from the train station that is!).  But the land itself is the attraction here.  The shops are classic – the Emporium, the Bakery, the Barbershop – but even without that, this area is just such a great introduction to the Magic Kingdom, or Walt Disney World in general.  Take some time with the kids and let them soak in the atmosphere.  You walk in and you’re immersed in a completely different place!  You’re surrounded already by characters, balloons, vintage vehicles, the train, the classic music… take your time here, and don’t just rush through on your way in and out of the park.  Really enjoy all that Main Street has to offer!  Remember, just around the corner is a Fantasyland… and it’s not going anywhere. 🙂

#4: Tie between the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, and the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

Both are classics, both are somewhat “secondary” attractions in their areas, but both have lots of story appeal.  (Note, I don’t equate “secondary” with “overlooked” – nobody could call the Jungle Cruise overlooked!  But in WDW, it IS secondary to Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland!)  The Jungle Cruise is just plain fun, with the corny jokes and the great décor.  Although the animals aren’t live, that certainly has its appeal, because you’re guaranteed to see them doing just what you want them to do!  Since there’s no possibility of disappointment, this is a great option for kids who are just INTENT on seeing some hippos wiggle their ears today.  Carousel of Progress, meanwhile… I refuse to believe that anyone, especially kids, could dislike this attraction.  What does it have in its favour?  Let’s just say everything.  Excellent animatronic design, a room that rotates, a catchy song, and mercy me, Jean Shepard!  Yeah, okay, the kids aren’t going to care about that one. 😉  But between the song, and following the family through the years along with appliances that seem to come alive at times, this one is silly and goofy and sweetly nostalgic, even the ending.  My daughter requested to watch movies of it when we came back from our trip, she enjoyed it that much.

#3: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Adventureland

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it's mine, if you were wondering.)

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it’s mine, if you were wondering.) Actually I don’t know the people in that picture but I love them! That baby with the mouse ears on! I could not have planned this shot better 😀

OK, if you have kids and you’re going to go on a spinning ride, you’re probably going on Dumbo. Right?  Well, don’t overlook Aladdin.  Essentially the same ride, but typically with less of a line (I can’t speak to how it is now with the new dual Dumbo, plus they’ve really improved the queue on that ride now; but PREVIOUSLY in the Magic Kingdom…), this one also has… spitting camels!  DadadaDAAAAHHHH!  No, but seriously, it is equally fun and an equally big hit.  If you find you just can’t make it over to the elephants, go see Aladdin.  He’s got seventy-five golden camels.

#2: Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This was a tough choice, and I realize I’ve heavily loaded this list with Adventureland choices and not as many choices from the other lands.  Well, believe me, a lot of thought really did go into this list and I’ll first defend my Adventureland choices with the fact that they meet more of my height requirement requirements (all the Mountains are out), and my daughter had no interest at all in the Country Bears which she found a little freaky.  She did like the Hall of Presidents but my son would not have sat through it.  And although the Haunted Mansion was a fave of my daughter’s at age 5, and my son was too young to find it scary, AND it’s my absolute treasure of all WDW rides, still, I left it off this list because it is just spooky enough that it might be too much for some kids so I leave it to your discretion as parents.  ‘Pirates’, though – it has a couple of skeletons and dark moments, but once you get through those, most kids are swept away by the pirates pillaging the town and singing their hearts out.  No children can resist that song!  I can’t resist that song! 😉  For the record, my daughter loved it and my son slept through it 2 out of the 3 times we went on.  The time I took him on SO THAT he would go to sleep though, OH no.  Wide awake and wiggling around so he could see EVERYTHING.

#1: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland

Good luck getting a candid photo that's not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

Good luck getting a candid photo that’s not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

 

You might be asking – Why???  Even if you love this ride you might still be asking that.  You might be saying “Hey, I love this ride, but Rebecca – you put this HIGHER than Pirates?”  Yep!  And I have Reasons.  Remember, I’m not saying this is the Best Ride.  I’m not even saying it was my daughter’s favourite, or my son’s, but it has no height restrictions, it’s not scary, it’s fast, it’s fun, and you can enjoy yourself on it even if you’re too young to shoot that gun.  It may not be anyone’s literally #1 favourite (and then again it may be! That’s not my point), but it’s a safe bet that most kids will enjoy it. I tend to go on it twice in a row every time I’m there!

And remember: you really can’t go wrong with Fantasyland, either old or New.  There’s no ranking it!

Time for a New Top 5! D’s Top 5(6) Epcot attractions!

In preparation for our trip, I’m making my daughter do all kinds of planning stuff without actually telling her we’re going for sure.  Because she lives in a perpetual state of “maybe we’ll go soon!” anyway, and I feel like giving her a specific day is going to drive her nuts. 😉  I’m going nuts enough for the both of us!

 

Anyway, last night we made our first “Must Do” list, which since I’m me and I love Top 5 lists, we made as Top 5s. Not that she has any idea what a Top 5 list is.. yet.  Oh, but she will soon enough. 😉  I asked her which park she wanted to look over, and she picked Epcot; I found the results really interesting and not exactly what I had expected!  The first two were actually exactly what I had expected, but then she kind of deviated from what I thought a 7-year-old would gravitate towards…

 

Oh, and you totally know the ride is exactly like this, right? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Oh, and you totally know the ride is exactly like this, right? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

1: Soarin’.  Boy did she love Soarin’ last time!  We used a baby-swap so she got to ride twice in a row, once with me and my friend Amanda, then again with her father and Amanda (lucky Amanda, lol).  I’m not sure if she’ll take well to not getting on twice in a row this time. 😉  In spite of her excitement for Soarin’, she doesn’t actually remember it all that well, though she remembers the idea.  She loves to hang out of the car window – as much as we’ll let her, anyway – so I can see why this one holds a big appeal for her.  So this was not a big surprise, though I was taken by surprise that she chose it for her #1… I had thought that the #1 slot would go for the next one.

 

Test-Track-Pavilion1

Photo credit from disneyspectrum.com.

#2: Test Track.  For weeks, nay months, nay YEARS, this was D’s favourite Disney World attraction.  She thought it was the greatest thing she’d ever seen!  Again, that whole ‘Hanging out the car window” appeal is showing. 😉 I’m not sure why D’s ranking changed slightly when we made this list, but it might just be because the memory is fading and she likes the idea of “flying” now a little bit more than a fast car ride.  She also is aware that the stuff she remembers from the first trip isn’t there anymore – well, most of it.  The part she remembers best is the loop outside, and I know that hasn’t gone anywhere. 😀  She still does refer to Test Track as her favourite ride, but it doesn’t seem to be the one she’s most anticipating anymore, that’s all.

 

Yeah, I know most people don't remember Living With the Land for this scene. But my daughter does. *G* Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Yeah, I know most people don’t remember Living With the Land for this scene. But my daughter does. *G* Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#3: Surprise number one: her next choice was Living With the Land!  I recall she had liked this ride a lot when we did it before but I didn’t think it would stick with her.  I mean everyone likes being on a boat (I, well… that’s a generalization, but you know what I mean), but when you’re making your “MUST DO!” lists, and you’re the kind of kid who enjoys sticking her head out of moving cars, do you put a slow-moving boat ride in your precious limited space?  Apparently you do if you’re D, who remembers the ride going past the Garden Grill restaurant and thinking that was just SUPER COOL.  She also likes the whole scene with the buffalos where the storm is in the background.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing on Living with the Land in any way, shape or form. I love it! And I think it’s a great ride for kids! But I expected her to pick, like, The Seas with Nemo or Mission Space or something.  Nope!

 

#4: Surprise number two, D turned the rest of her attention to the World Showcase for the remainder of her list. So no Seas with Nemo at all!  Her first choice? “O Canada!” in the Canada pavilion. 😀  Since her father is Canadian, I’m not surprised, but I am pleased. 🙂

Enjoy this full-size image from , because I say so!

Enjoy this full-size image from interactivewdw.com, because I say so!

 

My American Adventure awaits! Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

My American Adventure awaits! Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#5: And the final choice was, without hesitation, “The American Adventure” in the America Pavilion.  You know what?  I have NEVER SEEN THIS.  So it will be a first for both of us together. 🙂  I love that she wants to celebrate and explore her dual heritage by poking around Epcot’s World Showcase.  I love that she wants to poke around World Showcase to begin with!  This is a reminder to me that kids naturally *do* want to learn.  It’s often up to parents and other adults to keep that interest in learning going, instead of assuming “Oh, she’ll think that’s boring” and letting it extinguish.  D surprises/reminds me of this all the time.

 

I think it's completely understandable that I would want this. Who wouldn't want this?

I think it’s completely understandable that I would want this. Who wouldn’t want this?

#6: Well, she insisted on getting a bonus one. But she couldn’t pick what other World Showcase country she wanted, and I told her I was still going to do my list so why didn’t she see if there was another Future World attraction she liked.  Then she remembered Journey Into Imagination with Figment, so TA-DA!  I think D likes this ride more because I love and repeatedly sing the theme song than because of the ride itself. Though she certainly does remember the scene with the skunk smell. XD  I have a weird sort of pendulum emotion towards this ride.  I don’t recall ever having gone on the original, but I’ve become obsessed with the Dreamfinder.  I miss him without having any idea what he was like in the ride. 😛  So I like this ride but I feel like it’s sorry in comparison with what it was… which I never experienced.  Oy.

 

For the sake of comparison, here’s my list (done after hers, so not too much crossover):

#1: Spaceship Earth
#2: Soarin’
#3: Mexico/Gran Tour Fiesta
#4: Norway/Maelstrom
#5: Universe of Energy

 

We intend to walk through the full World Showcase this time too, since we barely set foot in it last time, but we’re making a point to definitely do the ones on the lists this trip.
Got an Epcot Top 5?  Favourite World Showcase country?  Any comments at all?  Leave me a note! 🙂

Top 5: Most Overrated Places to Eat at WDW

 

Some weeks ago, I asked friends for ideas for blog posts.  Specifically Top 5 ones.  I got two ideas and it’s taken me forever to get around to writing up just the first of the two… but here it is.  On the advice of a friend who cared enough to bother to suggest a topic, here are the Top 5 Most Overrated Restaurants on Disney Property!  … Kind of.

I haven’t eaten at that many restaurants on Disney property.  Most of the ones I have eaten at, I’ve enjoyed.  So this isn’t based on experience – mostly – but rather, on research and opinion and conjecture.  Hey, it worked when I did a Top 5 Places to get Cupcakes, when I’ve never eaten a single cupcake at WDW!  In any case, this list isn’t meant to give REVIEWS of the restaurants.  Just because a restaurant is on this list doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. It just is a way of saying that it doesn’t live up to the buzz of expectation, whatever that expectation may be.  It might be a perfectly good and enjoyable restaurant but if it has a reputation that makes you expect more than you will necessarily get, it’s potentially overrated.  That’s what its inclusion here means.  So it’s very possible that if you adjust your expectations somewhat, you’ll enjoy it more.  OR maybe not! Maybe you can keep high expectations and they’ll be met!  Things change all the time at WDW and they certainly want to please their customers, so someone’s previous letdown experience does not equal an absolute.

In other words, however much research I put into this, it remains my opinion (often based on the opinions of others). I can say I did not ever just say “Hmm, I don’t know, I’m going to just pick any random restaurant and stick it on here”, I only put things on this list for a reason; but I can also guarantee that you don’t agree with me 100% so your favourite restaurant might be on here and you might be like, fighting down the urge to strangle me while reading this.  Please calm down and remember this is just a blog post and I’m not actually reviewing, nor am I telling anyone to avoid these restaurants. I encourage everyone to try each Disney restaurant for themselves and make up their own minds!

And now, on with the show. 🙂

Because this is totally what my kitchen looked like when I was growing up. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Because this is totally what my kitchen looked like when I was growing up. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#5: 50s Prime Time Cafe (with runner up, Sci-Fi Dine-In)

Okay. I said it. Be it known that I actually like 50s Prime Time, quite a bit actually, though I have only eaten there twice and the last time was in 2005. The first time was fantastic – after a long wait where we then learned that “Mom” had lost our order, our waitress/big sister was so apologetic that we actually got half our meal comped and then were presented with a free banana split for dessert before we left. We were all stuffed, but agreed that since it was free and such a nice gesture we should eat it anyway, which we did, and although I probably felt like throwing up afterwards I only remember the kindness of it.

More recently though, we learned the rule of 50s – the staff won’t necessarily play with you. See, I’m shy and I don’t initiate interactions well in real life; my husband is a lot better about it, but when I took him to 50s, it was just the two of us, we were both on the quiet side, so the waitress/our cousin just… waited on us. I even deliberately sat with my elbows on the table when she walked by just to see if she’d say anything, but nada. 😛 She played a lot with the larger table near us, even making one of the party go stand outside for not eating his green beans, so it wasn’t her spirit. She just had us pegged as not interested in the games, which wasn’t true, and I had NO idea how to get around that.

So, you know, that’s enough to get me to put it onto The List. It’s not that it’s a bad restaurant, but the danger with a themed restaurant is that you go in expecting a particular experience, and you may not get that experience. I didn’t actually, believe it or not, go for the food. *G* The food is not BAD, by the way. (My meatloaf was good, but a little sweet, which might have been b/c I was pregnant and things sometimes tasted weird to me at the time.) And it’s not like it’s over-priced. This is just a pure experience-based overrating, and it’s completely disputable b/c many, many people will have a different experience.

If you always have exactly the experience you want at 50s, well, worry not; I’m also including Sci-Fi Dine-In on here as a tie/runner up. And Sci-Fi is actually among my favourite restaurants. But I like it explicitly for the atmosphere, not the food. Again, food is not bad, it’s just not the focus. You’re really there for the setup and decor, the whole “inside/outside drive-in” thing. I love it. My husband, not so much. Sci-Fi tends to have its very loyal fans, like myself, and then the people who really cannot stand it, and that’s just how it is; and frankly, I’ll be honest, anything that is so divided is perfectly suited for an “overrated” list. Because I can honestly recommend Sci-Fi due to my love of it, but I also know there’s a good chance the person I recommend it to will find it very underwhelming. Them’s the breaks. *g*

If it is good enough for Tina Fey then it is GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME I tells ya.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

If it is good enough for Tina Fey then it is GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME I tells ya. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#4: Yak & Yeti.

You can't call it just another Chinese restaurant! I bet you've never been in a Chinese restaurant with this décor! Photo (c) the Walt Disney Co.

You can’t call it just another Chinese restaurant! I bet you’ve never been in a Chinese restaurant with this décor! Photo (c) the Walt Disney Co.

My disclaimer applies here; I haven’t eaten at this restaurant. I’ve only been to Animal Kingdom once since it opened. But this is going purely from reviews, and from what I’ve seen people mention on social media. And from what I’ve heard Y&Y is another divided opinion: some people swear by it as one of the best in-park restaurants, and some people say it’s just your average chinese/asian food. I’ve read reports that the food is overcooked, overseasoned, or just not interesting. I’ve heard that the crispy honey chicken (was that it?) is amazing, and also that it’s disgusting.

So, keeping in mind that this list isn’t a *review*, precisely, more of a “your experience may vary from what you might expect”, and also in that I’m trying to put some variety into the places that the restaurants come from (like, not ALL from Epcot), here’s Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti. Buyer Beware, I guess. I’ve also heard from people who say that they just don’t bother with it b/c they don’t even like Chinese food, which is an important thing to keep in mind, heh. But mainly, if you’re promised a restaurant experience that is better quality than what you’d get from a food court stand in the mall, you know, you want that to live up to it. I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether Yak & Yeti pulls that off.

#3: Chef Mickey’s.

I still maintain that this is somehow reminiscent of an airport... photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I still maintain that this is somehow reminiscent of an airport… photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I have eaten here. It was extremely expensive and I was struck by the fact that they have you wait to get your picture taken with a prop – not a character but a prop – then that is not even included in the price. Akershus, you get a picture with Belle and it’s included! But Chef Mickey’s it’s not? I was disappoint.

The food was fine, it was your standard very huge breakfast spread, nothing fancy or special; I feel like usually when you do a character breakfast buffet, your expectations for the food are not the important part. You’re not going for the food above all else, or you’d have gone someplace else. You’re going to meet the characters. Right? Well, I will say, the characters were great. 🙂 We didn’t end up doing any dances, and actually my daughter missed most of them – not her fault, she was in the bathroom and in fact later that day it turned out she got sick 😦 – but they spent a LOT of time with my 18 month old son, even sitting down at the table to hang out with us.

Still it felt like we were missing something, somehow. The restaurant is so HUGE, and I couldn’t go get food without being afraid we were going to miss the characters going by. And really, I’m still kind of miffed over the cost NOT including the photo. I know that’s minor (and it wasn’t that great a photo anyway), but it’s the start of the whole thing and it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

#2: Coral Reef.

I will admit, I do like the impression that you are actually Unda Da Sea, as it were. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I will admit, I do like the impression that you are actually Unda Da Sea, as it were. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This is another one I haven’t eaten at, but I’ve been hearing this in terms of reviews forever, now. I love seafood, and I’d actually love to eat at Coral Reef just for the experience and decor; it’s a lovely idea to be surrounded by live fish durin your meal. But what I keep hearing is that the food itself is actually just standard. You’re not getting terribly great selections, the portions are small, and it’s expensive. You’re basically paying for the atmosphere – well, OK, and granted that’s what you’re doing at Sci-Fi. 😉 But the price difference between Sci-Fi and Coral Reef is a pretty significant one, so there’s that.

Here’s a review that showcases what I’m talking about, on the DIS Unplugged website: http://www.disunplugged.com/2009/04/02/the-coral-reef-review/

Here’s a less negative one that still mentions that the food is by far the low point: http://goflorida.about.com/od/wheretoeat/fr/wdw_epcot_coralreef.htm

And here’s a nice positive one from the Disney Food Blog, because I want to remind folks that every visit is different, and every expectation can’t always be met, so you may very well have a TERRIFIC time anywhere you go at Disney: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2012/02/15/guest-review-coral-reef-restaurant/

Again, my only point here is not to dissuade or give negative reviews, only to say… well, this might be a bit built-up based on how it’s presented. 🙂

#1: You probably know what I’m going to say. When I was researching for this list, the same restaurant kept coming up over and over in every article I read (and I had already put this restaurant onto my list before I started the research, just based on what I’ve heard).

Le Cellier Overrated House? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Le Cellier Overrated House? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot.

If you’re at all familiar with fine Disney dining then you have probably already heard this complaint. I myself have never eaten at Le Cellier (it’s too pricey for my range, and too fancy even when I’m on the DDP), but I’ve heard buzz about it being overrated for YEARS now. To be on the fair side, I made sure to find as recent reviews as I could just to make sure that this was up to date, because Disney revamps its restaurants all the time – changing menus, prices and experiences.

And this is what I’ve heard. Essentially, Le Cellier was always expensive. This made it a good selection if you were on the DDP, since you’d get more for your Dining Plan money. The food was generally good, though from what I’ve read, not brilliantly great, but good enough to deserve the prices it had. It was/is a fancy, nice restaurant. A few years ago, though, Disney elevated it to Signature Dining status for dinner; meaning that on the DDP, you’d have to use 2 credits to dine there in the evening, instead of one. They also upped the prices without changing the food.

Many people who liked the restaurant but not enough to put down two credits/extra cash continued to go for lunch, which was all well and good, until the past year or so when Disney did away with the lunch/dinner menu and went to single dining menu. Meaning same prices all day, or two DDP credits all day.

So now the consensus is that, again, the food is not BAD. It’s just not Victoria-&-Albert’s-level GOOD, either; so there is a high percentage of people who consider it very overrated for the status it’s achieved. Whereas I NEVER see anyone say that about V&E. So we’ll see.

Some reviews: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/le-cellier-review/ (very recent, April 2013, from the Disney Tourist Blog)
http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2011/03/27/review-new-le-cellier-signature-dinner/ (From 2011, just after they got Signature Dining Status for dinner, by disney Food Blog)
http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-restaurant-review-le-cellier/ (Mouse Savers review, very positive for the food but does note the “spendy” aspect of the restaurant)