Sunday, October 19, 2014

Disney Park Details. Disney Hollywood Studios, Unclaimed Luggage.

Looking toward Hollywood Blvd.
One of my favorite things to do in the parks is to take pictures of everything.  My thinking is that once your home you can take a look at all of those pictures and catch some great detail or fact or a piece of the story.  Well here is a great detail.  As we were walking down Sunset Blvd. at the Disney Hollywood Studios we came across some luggage in front of the Villains Vogue shop.  That place has some really great stuff.
My first thought about the luggage as I tried to move it was that perhaps this was a permanent prop for the Streetmosphere performers who often do shows around there.  I've seen their version of the dating game show here and I've also seen the guys from Public Works set up near here.  There were labels on the bags so I shot a picture of that also hoping that I would have time down the road to figure out if there is a story here or if it is random. 
     I'm happy to say we've got a winner here.  A definite tie in to what is going on further down Sunset Blvd.  As you can see from the luggage tag we've got a gentleman with the name of Gilbert London.  Well, with a little research I found the connection. "Caroline Crosson was a glamorous aspiring actress, and Gilbert London was one of her many male admirers." And both were at the Hollywood Tower hotel that fateful night. 
That's right, Gilbert was the well dressed gentleman on the Fated Elevator.  I was only able to find one source on this that gave more information than just naming the characters.  That was a USA Today article, so you can take that with a grain of salt.  If what the article says is true, this was a really bad night to finally get that date with Ms. Crosson.
     Now the question; why is Mr. London's luggage down the street from the hotel?  This is close to the Cab stand, could they have been behind that night?  Your guess is as good as mine at this point.  Here is an extra bonus.  Note the Phone #, 4-1031.  I'm not sure about the 4. Maybe # 4 of 5 people in the elevator that night.  1031 makes sense in that it was on October 31 that those 5 people perished.
    When I find these details I like the satisfaction of knowing how well facts and details are laid out around the parks.  It's kind of the thrill of the new discovery.  What have you seen or found while at the Disney parks that ties into a story?  Leave a comment and let me know.  This stuff is great and Jackie, I'll abstain when you use your version of this picture in your Where in the Parks game.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Staying On-Site or Off-Site, That is the Question...

One of the biggest questions I'm asked about going to Walt Disney World is where do I stay, on or off property.  Well this trip I did both and I thought it would be a perfect time to do the comparison.  I stayed three nights at the Disney Value resort All-Star Movie resort.  The last two nights I stayed at the Gateway Ramada located on 192.
Let's start with location, check out this map.  Note how you can see both hotels in the same shot.  At the bottom left of the picture is the Ramada and it is about 1/4 mile down from the exit onto World drive from 192.  The   All-Star Resort is the hotel at the top right of this picture.  So as the crow fly's very close location wise. If you have a car it's a wash.  If not, then you are kind of limited if your staying off-site.  They do have a shuttle, but it only goes to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  The thinking there is that you can take bus to other parks from those two parks.  At the resort you have the buses.  However, at the All-Star movies, you are at the end of the stops for the busses from all parks except for the Magic Kingdom.  So they do get crowded and sometimes take a little while.
Next category is room size and accessories.  I'll let the pictures do the job here.  The first two are, of course the All-Star Movies.  The room was nice and well decorated.  There was a slight smell, but eh. I
did not get a picture of the bathroom, but it is past the TV, through the curtain.  This was my first night so the room is still in good shape.  Fridge is under the TV.  The rooms at the AS Movies are all outside entry.  The food options are pretty large.  From a full service food court that has cooked to packaged food options.  Also a selection of snacks in the gift store.
Before I go any further I have one note to make about the Ramada Gateway hotel.  There are really two hotels in one on this property.  There is the tower and the motel.  The motel itself is a little run down and truly shows the age of the place.  The tower was renovated about 8 years ago and is great.  Where the motel has your door opening to the outside, the tower has hallways.  The room itself is really nice.  Here are a couple pictures.  The TV here had 3 HBO's and Comedy central and of course both had Stacey.  There was also a ton of outlets in the Ramada.  They have a Restaurant in the lobby, a BBQ place.  And they had a snack bar/Ice Cream counter where you could get cereal, chips, and other snacks.  The other big difference was the kitchen area that had a small sink and fridge and a microwave.
There is always something about taking leftovers back to the room but not being able to heat them up.  Very conducive to only taking desserts back and that does not bode well for the diet.  And to keep the comparisons going the towels were much bigger and softer at the Ramada.  The same goes for the soap and shampoo at least in my opinion.  The Front Desk staff is somewhat limited at the Ramada as opposed to the AS Movies, so you need to be a lot more self-sufficient.  There are a lot of fast food and mini super markets right nearby and getting on and off 192 is no issue.  
So I've left the biggest difference for last.  The price per night.  The AS Movie was, for me this trip, due to Jimmy working his magic, $119 a night.  The Ramada was $58 a night.  The determining factor for me is how long will I be in the hotel.  A trip like this one where I was meeting up with different people throughout the trip meant  I would be spending very little time at the hotel.  Although, it made it much easier to coordinate meets we were running by being on site.  So it was worth the extra price.  If I had no events like that I would have stayed the whole time off-site.  True, I do not get to take advantage of EMH, but I can work around that easy enough.
It all comes down to doing your research and reading all the reviews you can about the off-site hotels.  I like the Disboards and forum boards like the most, but Tripadvisor is not bad.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Country Bear Jamboree CSI

One of my favorite old time attractions at the Magic Kingdom is The Country Bear Jamboree.  This, to me, is the epitome of what Walt Disney had in mind for an attraction.  Something that both young and old can appreciate and cramming as much animatronics as possible into one show and making it work and appear seamless.

As I mentioned I really like this attraction and on this last trip there were a lot of changes since my last visit.  Nothing major, but for a Disney Nerd such as myself, enough to have me re-examining the entire show.  That usually is my go to answer when I get asked the question that I'm sure you get all the time, "How do you go back to the same parks and do the same rides all the time?"  They're always changing them up.  However, that will be a later post, we have a more serious question today, that needs an answer.

The crime scene was spotted as we were walking through Frontierland.  As you approach the Country Bear Jamboree (CBJ) building you notice the colorful sign announcing the attraction and as you let your eyes wander up you note a beautiful rack of antlers on the second floor balcony.  As your eyes pan back, you are affronted with what could only be described as terribly grizzly either side of the bone white antlers, splayed out and nailed to the outside of that building, where two full-sized, adult, brown bear skins.

Once you get over the horror of the barbearitty of this kind of display, you start asking the questions.  What is up with that?  Did those bears lose a fight?  Ex-band members?  What in the storyline of the attraction could account for that kind of taste in outdoor d├ęcor?

We interviewed the usual suspects, the CBJ cast members with no luck.  Most were un-committal but one did give us the brush off as in saying, "Don't dig too deep, you won't like what you find." Or it was just that he was busy parking baby strollers.  And as far as getting information from Melvin, Buff, and Max, well, they just kept repeating themselves no matter how many times we came back to talk to them.

So here is the mystery to solve.  Was there fowl play involved? (all chickens refused comment) Are those Bear skins a warning to a Pirate band of Bears out there somewhere?  Or was that something that bear fans of the Country Bears put into their wills for after they're dead?  Kinda like the whole sprinkling your ashes over WDW when super-fans die?  I'll continue my research, but what do you think?  Comment below and let me know.  I really want to hear your thoughts on this.