Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An EPCOT Generation Manifesto

"If we build all this correctly, if we build it beautifully, if we can set an example for the world, we can change the whole damn country." - Ray Bradbury
There are no photos of me at EPCOT Center.

There are photos of me at Epcot '95 and Epcot 2000 and just plain old lower-case Epcot - that lower case is so appropriate, so pallid for a diluted theme park - but my time as a youth in EPCOT Center has left no physical trace - no maps, no pictures, and it's all receded into my memories. It may not have ever happened at all.

Actually, there is one signifier of the impact EPCOT made on me, and it's this blog. I clearly remember returning home from EPCOT in 1990 with "One Little Spark" on a loop track up in my head. The part I remembered best was:

"Imagination! Imagination!
A dream can be a dream come true
With just one spark in me and you!"

I wrote that out of a sheet of paper in crayon at a cheap plastic "art" desk my parents bought me for Christmas. I had been told at EPCOT that one little idea in my head was the start of everything new in the world. I suddenly realized that I could create. I started to draw things. I drew lots of Haunted Mansion, another formative influence. I drew lots of stuff from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. A few years later, I was turning microwave boxes on their side, elevating one panel up into the interior to make a slope, and hanging little handmade targets inside the box. The targets would be made of cut-up cereal boxes. You'd throw marbles at the targets, which I controlled with string. The sloped interior floor naturally returned the marbles to you, saving me the need to obtain more than the four I was working with. I made ten of these little shooting galleries. Many were themed to movies, like Gremlins or The Goonies. From there, I started building walk-through haunted houses in my basement. I was a backyard Imagineer before I was old enough to know what the internet was.

At the same time, I kept writing, and drawing, a reading, and eventually I cultivated a sensibility which motivated me to move across the country to Orlando, get a job at Disney, thereby enabling me to start writing this blog, which set in motion a chain of events which spiraled into the widening circles which bring us together today.

This blog is one of the children of Journey Into Imagination. The closure of that attraction in 1998 was absolutely devastating to me. Coupled with the shock of losing two other personal favorites, Mr. Toad and Dreamflight that same year, I withdrew from all Disney topics with the exception of Haunted Mansion for almost four years. This coincided with the typical disastrous "too cool for Disney" phase all teenagers eventually contract. Once I returned, the rules on the ground had changed. EPCOT Center was just a memory. A wand loomed over Spaceship Earth. Guys in kilts were the big thing to see in World Showcase. I kept asking myself: what happened to this place?

EPCOT Center turned 30 this month, and it is sad to report that the greatest single act of themed design in the history of the form has been reduced to a pin stand and a well-themed bar district. We can argue semantics about Walt Disney's original vision for E.P.C.O.T., the political and cultural reasons these were transformed into a theme park, so on and so on but the fact remains that the guiding principle behind E.P.C.O.T. and EPCOT Center remained the same; like Captain EO, it was here to change the world.

And EPCOT did change the world, actually. This is no lie. Very soon hand-wringers would surround the project and announce its' impending doom: EPCOT was out of touch, outdated, uncool, not right for kids. And, to be completely honest, Disney had made many mistakes in the creation of EPCOT Center. They had grossly overspent despite obtaining the economic assistance of around twenty companies, including one major corporation in almost every sector of the American market. They had grossly overspent so much, in fact, that the company's value was destabilized and the regime in power was swept out. Some EPCOT attractions were too vague in some ways or too specific in others; half of the statistical information presented in The Land pavilion was outdated in just months. Disney formed alliances with regimes of corporations on their way out, assuring that the support for these highly expensive attractions would be but short-lived. Truthfully, EPCOT was a mad grasp for the brass ring that was already a cultural dinosaur - the very last gasp of old-fashioned optimism before mass culture went permanently ironic.

Look at it this way: Walt Disney gambled that the public would want something they had never before seen in 1955 at Disneyland. They did, and so Walt Disney Productions survived. Had Disneyland failed, Walt Disney's personal wealth and company would have ceased to exist. Walt Disney gambled, and Disneyland became a household name. Walt Disney Productions gambled just as large on EPCOT Center - a theme park unlike any built before or since - and their big gamble meant that EPCOT Center became a household name - but even they were finally swept under.

But every child of the eighties or early nineties who passed through those wide turnstiles and squinted up at the glare of the Florida sun off that big geodesic sphere left the park permanently marked with its message. Those catchy theme songs, so easy to dismiss as irritating simplifications, got into our DNA. They became homilies. How many kids eventually discovered the name Buckminster Fuller and connected his writing to the social concerns espoused by the theme park just because Disney name-checked one of his most famous ideas as the title of the park's iconic attractions? How easily we can come up with phrases like "nature's plan will shine above", or "the future world is born today", or "if we can dream it, then we can do it", or "one little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation" - all genuinely good advice, and all from EPCOT? These sound like notations not from a theme park, but from something like "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth".

Oops, I made the connection clear, didn't I?

Just as Magic Kingdom and Disneyland taught us how to be savvy navigators of cultural mythology, EPCOT Center was an indoctrination into world citizenship. How many have been introduced to the writings of Steinbeck, Twain , Wolfe or Franklin, to the ideas of Frederick Douglass, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Will Rogers and Susan B. Anthony through the American Adventure? How many have thrilled to the conceptual beauty of Ray Bradbury's immortal opening line "Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time - and for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers"? Once you open up the doors on things like that - even if it's things in the form of a fun and fast theme park experience - the flood gates have already opened. The thing about learning is that once you have a little of it, you want to have more.

In short, EPCOT Center was training for the forthcoming Information Age - before it really even started to get underway in mainstream society. Millions of children exited EPCOT better equipped than when they entered it, and they had fun. Most of us first handled things like computers, portable phones, and face-to-face video conversations at EPCOT - what is Skype or FaceTime but the newest version of WorldKey? Allow for a generational shift - and one happens about every twenty years - and these same kids have now grown up, had jobs and kids of their own, and they all see that EPCOT Center has not kept pace, but fallen into a sort of coma.

It's easy to retrospectively take the micro view - that the Universe of Energy was beholden to the corporate demands of a crude oil corporation, that the end of World of Motion was problematic, that Journey into Imagination eventually ran out of ideas - and lose track of the macro view, the big picture. And the big picture is that EPCOT Center was mission accomplished. We aren't living underwater or building big glass pyramids everywhere, but EPCOT Center did change the world, and if you're reading this, chances are very good that you are part of the EPCOT Generation, the swath of kids who were deeply personally affected by their experiences there.

The public discourse about EPCOT Center has for the last twenty-plus years been largely dominated by its many hiccups and failures. Many of these reflected the fact that an entertainment company was tackling very big issues in what was (and still is) seen as a disreputable media format: the amusement attraction. The distance between a carousel and the ennobling American Adventure could not be greater, but still, EPCOT was seen as a dumbing down of material, much as films which deviate even slightly from source novels are still scowled upon. Both of these attitudes proceed from the unspoken cultural assumption that one media "text" is intrinsically inferior to others.

Yes, it had problems. Yes, it was a huge success. There's no faster way to become the fodder of critical disdain than to be populist, flawed, and hugely successful. But to continue to debate how successful this attraction was or what caused that to close is to continue to obsess over trivia. What's really missing from EPCOT today isn't just Horizons, it's the whole package of information, of inspiration, the message of hope which cumulatively moved us all.

So it's time to change that discourse after 30 years. We are the EPCOT Generation, and we know that the park was not a failure, because it was absorbed into us on some deeply felt level into us. After thirty years, it's time to collectively stop apologizing for what the park has meant to us and start re-committing to a brighter future for the "21st Century of 1982".

The simple fact is that nobody has walked out of an EPCOT Center attraction in over a decade. The park has experienced massive identity shifts since 1994, pulling it further and further away from the ideals it began with - the ideal to make the world a better place through education, art, and culture. The issues that EPCOT Center tackled in 1982 - communication tools, energy conservation, man's frontiers, transportation technology, human creativity, land use, sea exploration and global culture - all of those are things we see in the newspaper every single day. After thirty years, we're still chasing the same ghosts as we were in 1982. It isn't that EPCOT Center was outdated, it's that it was ahead of its time. In an era when American politics and culture were sinking into hedonism and corporate enslavement, EPCOT Center reminded children that they didn't need to make the same mistakes their parents had.

What's "not right for kids" about that? Isn't that a message we all want to pass on to the next generation? And what better media format to tell it in than a place where you can be inspired and have fun - not a museum, but a theme park? With a singing dragon?

As an EPCOT child, that's what I find most troubling about Epcot The Theme Park - not that X or Y specific component is now missing, but that the message of the theme park isn't getting out there. That enrichment is fun. Learning is lifelong. That we are all "tomorrow's children".

That's why I'm most crushed that Journey Into Imagination closed - because I'm a real life example of the power that attraction wielded. That the next generation of creative children won't have their "little spark" awoken by such a rich, sumptuous experience.

That's the real tragedy of what Epcot has become - once the name signified something, all capital letters, bold and burdened with significance. Now it's been demoted to a noun. It's no longer about the idea behind EPCOT Center, but the place itself, another place to ride thrill rides and drink heavily. Just because it says "Epcot" doesn't mean that it means EPCOT.

It's time to stop committing to Epcot as a system and embrace it as a sign - as an idea. For eighteen of the park's thirty years, the mission has wavered. The park has been cluttered with neon and metal debris. The attractions have been content to gloss ideas and images or present uninformative, pedestrian amusements. And the EPCOT babies have all vanished along with the acronym.

This needs to begin somewhere. If not with a re-commitment to the ideals of the park itself, than perhaps starting just with the name: EPCOT Center. It was never an easy name, not at all like "The Magic Kingdom". EPCOT Center makes you think as you say it, the acronym hints at a larger context, the "Center" implying something both important and grand. Epcot is a person, place, thing, or idea; you smile when you say it. EPCOT Center is a bar to reach, a title worth living up to. Perhaps if the park were once again called EPCOT Center, the various units, attractions and displays would once again strive to be worthy of the name. Bit by bit, the components of the park could once again lock in step and flow and move and spin and circle their message of harmony, peace, and idealism.

Yes, I'm a dreamer and an idealist. EPCOT taught me to be this way.

This blog and this writing and my whole creative core is a product of the EPCOT generation, and the EPCOT generation is all of us who were moved by that park, and now we are the ones in a position to vote with our money and write with our voices and tell Disney what a EPCOT Center is and should be. Because EPCOT, as a creative entity, has moved us all. One of the greatest theme parks ever built was also, in the final assessment, amongst the most successful. It actually achieved its' laudable goals.

We are the EPCOT Generation. And it's up to Disney and it's up to us to make sure that we won't be the last.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How It Was Done: Part Four

(from Institutions / Volume Feeding, October 1972)

A striking view of the Contemporary Hotel. The structure is topped off with the very popular "Top of the World" restaurant. The floor just below is exclusively suites - and was the only guest floor built not using the modular construction system.

Disney: Design for Tomorrow

Design for Walt Disney Productions means setting the stage to complement the show. Every new act requires a new set. This philosophy is carried out at Walt Disney World, too although the shows here are more magical than Hollywood.

The two hotels in operation right now, the Contemporary and the Polynesian, were constructed by U.S. Steel with modular components. Both are of outstanding design and give the guest a clear feeling that this will be a different experience. With its 1047 rooms, the Contemporary is the largest hotel and will remain so. Business meetings and conventions, which account for 30% of hotel business, are usually held at the Contemporary since it has more meeting and banquet rooms than the Polynesian. Future hotels probably will not be this large, since most of top management agree that a hotel as large as the Contemporary is just not "right" for Disney. It is too large to give guests the individual attention and service Disney people feel is necessary.

The Contemporary is a 14-story A-frame with a monorail running through its core at the fourth level. This floor houses a large restaurant. Diners, young and old, stop munching their hamburgers or twisting spaghetti to watch the sleek transportation of the future whisk quietly by.

The next stop on the monorail is the Polynesian Village, which offers the visitor an entirely different world. The Polynesian theme and design was selected because most guests at WDW have never been to, or will never get to, Hawaii. In some ways, the hotel is more "Hawaii" than our 50th State could ever be. Vegetation and the sound of water dominate the public areas. As you leave the monorail your immediate impression is of peace and leisure. There is none of the hustle bustle you sometimes feel at the Contemporary. Even the employees sense this. As Assistant Manager Jim Raymond explains, "When I first started, I was at the Contemporary. When I was assigned here, it was different. You absorb the atmosphere as you walk around, it is so much more relaxed. It even shows in the housekeeping staff." Jim is so enthusiastic, he claims that guests stay longer at the Poly.

Polynesian Village Hotel Room, 1972
The 492 guest rooms at the Poly are basically the same as those at the Contemporary. "The biggest difference is that bathrooms in the Contemporary have two sinks, a bath/shower combination and another shower. The Poly rooms have only one sink and a bath/shower, making the sleeping/living area slightly larger. Rooms in both hotels are furnished in similar manners. Colors and careful fabric selection have been chosen to emphasize the theme of each hotel.

Because of heat, high humidity, strong sun and other factors inherent to central Florida, all materials in the park and the hotels have been selected for durability and easy maintenance. What appears to be wood to the casual observer might actually be a very durable plastic that will not warp. The majority of furnishings in the hotels were developed by Monsanto. While they are not the types of furnishings most people would purchase for home, they are extremely durable and practically indestructible-a hotel-manager's dream.

Disney designs for the future even though the setting might be a prehistoric cave. The most immediate plans for expansion include a small (probably no more than 150 room) hotel adjacent to the golf course and clubhouse. Right now, guests are not using the clubhouse facilities to full advantage- some do not know it is there, others do not know how to get to it because it is not a stop on the monorail. By building a hotel there. Disney will make the golf course more of a "center." In time, at least three other hotels will be built in other areas, all based on themes.

Every night at the Polynesian Village, there's a luau which is not only popular, but practical. By utilizing outside facilities, the foodservice facilities within the hotel are relieved, although they're still packed. Presently under construction is a huge canopy where luaus can be held even when it rains. Believe it or not, once in a while it dares to rain on WDW.
The city of Lake Buena Vista is also contained within Disney's 27,000 acres of property. Already four hotels are under construction, at least one renting rooms before the paint is barely dry. Dutch Inns, Howard Johnson's, Royal Inn and TraveLodge have all leased land from Disney and are building high-rise showplaces. WDW refers business they can't handle to these four.

There is a "Townhouse Community" with several residents already. Large companies have been buying the townhouses to entertain customers, to use as business retreats and as sales incentives. All sorts of special services come with the town-house: travel arrangements, car rentals, dinner reservations at WDW. Tour arrangements and tee times at the golf course are but a few of the numerous extras. Meals and cocktail parties can be catered and pantries, refrigerators and bars will be stocked on request. Townhouses can be leased on a one or two year basis, furnished or unfurnished. The Buena Vista Club will be completed soon. Residents will have first crack at membership. The Club will have all the social amenities of any first class country club, but with the Disney flair.

Eventually there will be condominiums and, hopefully, an entire community at Lake Buena Vista. Of course, Disney will maintain ownership of all land. The ultimate goal is for EPCOT (Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), which will be the city of the future. Motorized vehicles will travel underground. Homes and offices will be designed with experimental equipment and furnishings, and the lifestyle will be far ahead of its time.

The Poly Pool is always crowded - and a special treat is a natural waterfall, where swimmers climb the rocks and slide down into the pool.
In the Magic Kingdom, the future holds a wealth of ideas. Some will be implemented and some will probably never get off the drawing board. Everything is planned to please people. "If you think back to when you were a kid, there was always something you dreamed of doing but you never did. Or maybe you did something once but you've always wanted to do it again. It could be riding rapids or swinging down on a rope and splashing in the water or exploring a pirate's den. These are the kinds of things we want to do." says Dick Nunis. One thing is for sure. Disney World and Disneyland will never be finished. A visit to either is not meant to be once in a lifetime. Things are constantly changing so there is always something new to capture interest and enthusiasm, and most importantly, to encourage a desire to return.

Hopefully, if the legal hassles ever end, Mineral King (a year-round nature and recreation facility) will begin to be developed in California. Back in 1965, the U.S. Government asked for proposals on how to create a recreation complex in this area. Based on their proposal, Disney was awarded the job. Since then, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have tied the project up in court and a lot of people seem to look at Disney as the villain in the dispute. Eventually, they will probably go ahead with plans, but as Card Walker said, "in the meantime, we have enough to do."

Two examples of Disney's flexibility: elegant dining or drinking at the Top of the World - or full-scale, elaborate banquet scene.
Disney has been approached by several foreign governments, the most recent being Taiwan and Yugoslavia. It seems a lot of countries want a Disneyland of their own. The possibility has not been ruled out. But Card Walker is adamant about the fact that they will never franchise a park or turn it over to a third party. "We find outsiders can't even run a restaurant for us.  They always need to make money and they don't have our values."

Within 11 short months, over ten million visitors have passed through the gates of WDW. This figure exceeds the projections made before the opening day, but then it is hard to project any Disney endeavor. The hotels are running at close to 100% occupancy and turning down 1000 reservation requests daily. The state of Florida has collected over $200-rrillion in tax revenues that they really hadn't expected. The Orlando area has become one of the hottest growth areas in the country with a building boom that won't stop for a long time to come.

Certainly this is change and progress. To a large degree, it can all be attributed to Disney. Walt Disney World is the first total leisure experience center in the world. It won't be the only one for long, Marriott will provide competition with their complex outside Washington, DC. Dick Nunis has that "Marriot will be a very fine competitor and we enjoy competition. I just wouldn't want their weather."

As long as there's imagineering within the Disney team, there is bound to be a bright future. What direction the future will take is hard to determine, but with the people involved, it's bound to be the right direction.

(Navigation: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How It Was Done: Part Three

(from Institutions / Volume Feeding, October 1972)

Coca Cola is one of over 30 "participants" at WDW. Companies are permitted to test market new products and, of course, to sell their products or service. At Disneyland, during 1971 alone, enough soft drinks were consumed to fill a 5 acre lake 10 feet deep.

DISNEY: "Food as Fun" Package

Walt Disney Productions got into the foodservice business not because they wanted to, but because they more or less had to. Foodservice at Disneyland was originally contracted out to a subsidiary of American Broadcasting Co. In 1965, Disney bought out ABC for $7.5-miliion so that they could do things their way. Disney reasoned that concessionaires tend to look on profits with individual units in mild and will, therefore, cut corners if need be to maintain their profits.

Today, foodservice at both Disneyland and Disney World is "a part of the show." Food is part of the total experience and should be fun. Good value is part of the Disney philosophy, and this means quality food. Food prices at WDW are surprisingly low considering the quality and presentation of the menu. The food is simply good food that appeals to the various markets that WDW serves. The hamburgers aren't laced with Mickey Mouse ears, nor are scrambled eggs presented in the shape of Donald Duck. Each foodservice unit, whether in the parks or the hotels, is designed with a theme in mind, and the menu is designed to strengthen the Total Show.

But gimmicks are minimized. If, to create this total atmosphere setting, one unit runs in the red, that's all right. Another unit or attraction probably has a high enough profit to balance it out.

Jim Armstrong heads up the Food Division and is responsible for both ends of the country, John Cardone, food production manager, and Dean Penlick, operations manager, keep things moving at WDW. The plans for foodservice facilities for WDW were supervised by people who knew they would be transferred to Florida. As Cardone puts it, "we couldn't afford to make mistakes because we knew we would have to live with them on a day to day basis."

There is a Central Food Facility (never referred to as a "commissary") which receives all shipments and maintains inventory. Meat and produce are purchased by carloads. All foods are processed and portioned at the Central Facility. The kitchens in the Magic Kingdom are strictly for finishing and holding. There is a complete, underground transportation system- eight acres of tunnels and basements for service and supply facilities- so that guests never see food being transported or employees "out of costume."

As with any operation serving 80,000 meals a day- an awkward size that's more meals than a local restaurant but not as many as a national packer- finding the right equipment is a real problem. After many adjustments and modifications, the present hamburger machine can cook 2,000 4-oz. patties per hour, and toast the buns as well. Cardone is big on crepes and likes to incorporate them into as many menus as possible. He now has a machine that can produce 900 crepes per hour. The search for capacity in equipment is constant and right now is concentrated on a steak cooker.

WDW has 21 new food facilities scheduled to open throughout the park within the next 24 months. The Central  Facility, which is amazingly small- 48,000 sq. ft. - for its output- preparing food for 80,000 meals a day a day- will have to be expanded, too. And expansion means people. There are presently 130 Central employees, 1000 back of the house and 2400 front of the house. There are at least 14 middle management openings in foodservice now and that should increase to about 35 openings 10 months from now.

"To hell with expense - experience is the most important thing." At the Crystal Palace, interiors cost a cool $1 million - but families can get a good meal here for about $1. Service is cafeteria style.
In the food division, as in all divisions, many management people come from within the Disney ranks. There are six area managers in foodservice. Six years ago, one was an ice cream scooper and another a bus boy. This kind of advancement gives employees something to look forward to: fringe benefits give them something for the present. Hourly employees are reviewed every three months, ticket books for theme park attractions are received with pay checks four times a year, and help is offered in educational pursuits for permanent employees. These inducements help keep turnover down. Bowling, sailing, boating, theatre workshops, and film festivals are but a few of the organized activities for employees. Meals are heavily subsidized by Disney and employees receive food prepared specifically for them, no leftovers.

Right smack in the middle of all the hub-bub in the main lobby of the Contemporary Hotel is the Grand Concourse Restaurant. Guests sit under colorful plexiglass trees - and everyone stops munching when the monorail whizzes through the lobby. The restaurant is open until midnight - and a limited menu is complimented by a buffet, if desired. Elsewhere on the same concourse floor are shops, a bar, a liquor store - and anything your heart may desire. The main lobby is ten stories high, and a focal point is a huge, tiled mural.
Quality, regardless of price, is constant. One of John's "specialities" is Macadamia Nut Pie, which sells for 75 cents a slice. The nuts alone are running $4.80 a pound right now. Hardly a profitable item!

Since most people coming to WDW are from East of the Mississippi, Duck Nunis felt that a good old New England Clambake with lobster would be fun. When John was asked if the fluctuating, high price of lobster didn't bother him just a wee bit, he replied, "of course it does, but if he wants it, he'll get it, and for the right price."

John has changed the menus for WDW eight times in 11 months. It took him 2 1/2 years to plan 11 basic menus. That means a lot of care and planning. Serving 80,000 meals a day requires a master plan which Disney management follows. Menu items have to fit the plan. A beef & cheese sandwich on marble rye is called the Moonsteer in Tomorrowland and the Jouster's Choice in Fantasyland. Very few items are used exclusively at any one location, unless a particular thing is absolutely necessary to maintain the atmosphere. This is the case at King Stefan's, where individual loaves of onion bread are served. What is the trick to opening 40 restaurants at once? Cardone says, "You've got to be crazy not to want to do it. You'll never get that kind of challenge again."

At the Central Food Facility, the cook isn't fixing up a batch of Witch's Brew. Throughout the facility, the most modern of equipment has been installed.
All food is prepared at the Central Foods Facility - cakes and pastries are prepared from scratch early each morning. Sandwiches are big sellers but the 4 oz. hamburger patties is still the Number One favorite. Volume has exceeded expectation - and the CFF will be expanded next year.

Sanitation is another very important facet of Disney foodservice. Can you imagine 60,000 guests leaving the park, all of them sick? Inspections are made continually as preventive maintenance. Equipment is kept spotless, as are the streets and walkways. Guests are shamed into throwing refuse into litter containers because the surroundings are so clean they would feel guilty if they threw a cup or gum wrapper on the ground. Menus are planned with maintenance in mind, too. Pizza and cotton candy are just two examples of foods not found in any unit. They connote a carnival atmosphere with people walking around eating food with their fingers and then littering with what they don't finish. With the exception of popcorn, which is a very high profit item and also very good, there is little else that people can stroll with and eat at the same time.

Per capita, more food is consumed at WDW than at Disneyland and by far more people want breakfast. They arrive at the Magic Kingdom at 6 A.M. and they are hungry. Several of the Park units have had to add eggs to their menu.

Buffets have been a blessing to the hotels. On a typical evening at the Polynesian, 1800 guests can be served in 40 minutes by means of an outdoor luau. This has been so successful that a protective enclosure is being added in order to serve  the luau even if the weather is not the best. Two areas are reserved daily in the Contemporary Hotel for buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Buffets seem to work very well in letting Disney people exercise their expertise as people movers. Things seem to flow more smoothly, making for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Disney even has its own unique approach to purchasing. Cost is not really considered. For example, if a fruit cocktail is to be selected, the purchasing department will get samples of several brands. They will be served, unidentified, to chefs and other management personnel. A vote is taken and whichever of the products wins out, that's the one that is ordered. That is Disney Democracy!

Hamburgers at the CFF.
No one goes to Disney World just to eat and no one goes especially to tour the kitchen. You go there for the total experience you can find nowhere else. The food is good, in some cases great. But if you are looking for the epitome of commercial foodservice you'd probably be better satisfied at Maxim's in Paris. Layout and design of kitchens and equipment is good, functional, and gets the job done, but you wouldn't call it avant garde or revolutionary. It simply gets a big job done. As John Cardone says: "We're in the entertainment business. We work while people play." The amazing thing at Disney is that people seem to enjoy their work so much that even though it is hard work, it seems more like they are playing along with the guests.

Crepes are popular in any form, and at any meal, from entree to dessert.

(Navigation: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four