Disney At the Movies – Day 1

Snow White Movie Night

photo by Martin Blanco

Since we’re social distancing for the long haul, we thought it would be fun to watch the entire canon of Disney animated films in chronological order.  We’ll begin with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and work our way to Frozen Two.

I saw many of these films in summer re-releases.  They would often be part of a double feature which included a live action comedy or nature adventure and sometimes they would begin with a Disney cartoon.   We thought it would be fun to recreate the complete movie theatre experience, so with each Disney animated classic, we’re going to make “pairing” suggestions.  We’ll recommend a Mickey Mouse cartoon, a Silly Symphony cartoon and a live action film that we think will pair well with the animated feature.  Of course you don’t have to watch all of them (or any of them), but we’re going to have as much fun crafting the presentations as we are watching them.

Thanks to Disney+, many of you will have unprecedented access to most, if not all, of our suggestions.  So break out your popcorn maker and DVD player or streaming device and join us at the movies.

Let us know what you think.


Disney at the Movies – Day 1

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Steamboat Willie and Flowers and Trees
  2. Main Feature       Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  3. Live Action           The Absent-Minded Professor


The main feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was the first full-length animated feature film.  From the moment of its world premiere on December 21, 1937, the film was a triumph.  It established a level of excellence that changed both animated and live action motion pictures. The financial success gave the Walt Disney Company the capital, and Walt Disney himself the clout, to continue to develop projects that would forever change the world (for the better I would argue). I’ve watched this film more than a dozen times, and I never tire of the stunning artwork, the rich details, and the brilliant storytelling.

While Snow White… did not win any Academy Awards by election, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw fit to honor it with an award for what they called “significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field.”

But before watching Snow White…, we suggest opening the evening with the black-and-white short Steamboat Willie, another cinematic landmark. It has the distinction of being the first official Mickey Mouse cartoon, and was the first cartoon ever to employ the use of synchronized sound.  This little film is culturally important enough to be on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History.  You’ll meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and my favorite foil of all time, Pete. It premiered at the Colony Theatre in New York City on November 18, 1928.

The next short, Flowers and Trees, is part of Disney’s Silly Symphony series and another landmark cartoon.  It was the first cartoon from that series to be filmed in color.  The color process was created by a company called Technicolor and marked a great improvement on what was the current standard.  Flowers and Trees was released on July 30, 1932 and won the Academy Award for Best Cartoon.  It was a technological bridge to the more substantial Snow White…, particularly a sequence in which the frightened Princess is fleeing for her life in a dark, foreboding forest.  The animators anthropomorphized the fauna to make her escape that much more harrowing.  Similarly, Flowers and Trees anthropomorphized the plants and trees and you’ll see right away that the forest sequence in Snow White. . . owes much to its predecessor.

Finally, we suggest for our live action “pairing” The Absent-Minded Professor.  It was released on March 16, 1961 and it’s hard not to like this endearingly goofy film.  It centers around the follies of Professor Ned Brainard, a brilliant man of science, but a clumsy, naïve simpleton in every other aspect of his life. Brainard is played to perfection by Disney Legend #1, Fred MacMurray. Even though the good Professor can’t remember to attend his own wedding, he accidentally creates a substance that can defy gravity. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel and a reboot decades later with Robin Williams playing Brainard. Serious Disney fans will appreciate that The Absent-Minded Professor features the first song written by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman for a Disney film, “The Medfield Fight Song.” While the film is no great work of art, it is as funny as it is earnest.

The corn is popped and we are ready to embark on Day 1 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#Snowwhiteandthesevendwarfs #steamboatwillie #flowersandtrees #theabsentmindedprofessor #sillysymphony #disneymovienight



Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library


c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco,  and Disney at Home

April 21, 2020

“One Hundred and One Dalmatians” – The Novel

IMG_7971dalmatians61 (2)photo: Martin Blanco


I first saw Disney’s 101 Dalmatians almost 29 years ago during my honeymoon and it has remained a sentimental favorite ever since. Followers of this blog (and you both know who you are) know I enjoy reading the original stories that inspired so many of the Disney movies that we love.  A few years ago, I came across the novel 101 Dalmatians on a give-away table at my local library. I snatched that “puppy” right up and read it during week four of sheltering at home. It is an endearing read that should delight any fan of the movie and most pre-middle school children.

The novel was written by Dodie Smith and originally published as a serial titled “The Great Dog Robbery” in Woman’s Day in 1956.  Smith was born in England in 1896 and died nearly one hundred years later in 1990.  She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but her career as an actor was as short-lived as it was undistinguished (much like mine).  She worked at a furniture story for a while, but then enjoyed a fair amount of success as a playwright.  During the Second World War, she and her husband lived in the United States and traveled cross country on several occasions with their dalmatians.

Both the original novel and the Disney film were successful.  The novel subsequently adopted the name 101 Dalmatians and was published by Camelot, a division of Avon, in 1967 with a second printing in 1969. This is the edition I have.  The Camelot/Avon edition comes with many delightful pen and ink drawings by Janet and Anne Grahme-Johnstone.  These drawings are an excellent enhancement.

The 1961 Disney film is faithful to the original story in both plot and tone, but there are some noteworthy variations.  Disney’s songwriter Roger was originally a “wizard of finance” named Mr. Dearly.  Dearly is credited with solving the national debt crisis and is rewarded by a grateful country with income tax abatement for life.  In the novel, Cruella de Vil is married.  Her wimpy husband is, not surprisingly, a furrier. The book has a few intriguing episodes that do not appear in the movie.  One is a little bit of a ghost story and another involves the joyful celebration of Christmas.

The lead character is the dalmatian Pongo, but he is married to Missis, not Perdita.  Rest assured there is a Perdita in the story who joins the family as a wet nurse to help feed Mississ’ litter of fifteen puppies. The name “Perdita” refers to a character from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Smith makes no bones about the reference.  In the novel, Mrs. Dearly explains to the nannies that the name Perdita is derived from the Latin word for lost.  Smith’s Perdita is sort of a rescue dog who experienced loss and her journey with the Dearlys is symbolically like that of Shakespeare’s Perdita.

The Baddun brothers, Cruella’s henchmen hired to kidnap and eventually murder the puppies, are named Horace and Saul (not Jasper).  As in the film, they are exceedingly dim and love television.   They are almost hoping to get caught so they can appear on the popular reality show of the day, What’s My Crime. Dodie Smith is nothing if not attuned to post-war pop culture.

And speaking of the war, the overriding spirit of the piece celebrates the tenacity, courage and patriotism exhibited by England during the war, particularly with respect to the evacuation of Dunkirk and the nightly endurance of the air raids during the Battle of Britain.  The Twilight Bark, the animal military regiments and the discipline (even that of the 97 puppies) are metaphor for the national virtues that secured Britain’s triumph over fascism.  Given our current circumstances, there is much we can learn from these splendid dogs, especially that love coupled with determination can triumph over evil.

101 Dalmatians comprises familiar elements that fill the pages of British novels from Austen to Tolkien.  The fields and pastures are lovely.  Homes are named and take on life of their own.  Dogs and humans alike cherish the simple blessings of a good fire, ample food, and hot tea. Essentially, the novel is comfort food for the entire family.

c. Martin Blanco and DISNEY AT HOME April 16, 2020


all drawings by Janet and Anne Grahme-Johnstone/photos by Martin Blanco

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Kids Are Home from College – Disney World is Closed – Time to Reboot DISNEY AT HOME

2015 through 2018 maybe 1060 (2)photo: Martin Blanco

We hope that you are all healthy and successfully maintaining the social distancing required to mitigate the spread of COVID 19.

It’s been two years since our last post.  This project began when our children were in middle school.  It began as an extension of our annual visits to the Walt Disney World Resort.  Not only did we have great fun at Disney World, but the visits also inspired us to do well in school, pursue our interests with passion, and cultivate curiosity about the world.

While we never developed a large following, we had a lot of fun and learned a great deal about blogging and web pages.

Once the children moved to college, the project faded.  From time to time, we talked about writing some more posts, but we were busy with other commitments. Now we find ourselves in a curious situation.  Because of the global pandemic, the children are completing their college semesters at home.  Also, Disney World is closed.

So, while the parks are closed and while most families are hunkering down, we thought we might once again share some of our experiences.  I hope you enjoy our offerings and if you like, write back with some of the things you do to nurture the magic of Disney World in your home.

c. DISNEY AT HOME April 15, 2020

Top 5 Disneyland Attraction LP Records

I was a child of the vinyl era and learned about the world through listening to record albums.  I had a small but eclectic mix of LPs (as they were called) which included works by Mr. Rogers, Bible stories read by James Mason, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and several recordings by Disneyland Records.  Some of the Disneyland recordings were soundtracks from films and some were soundtracks from attractions at the parks. Many of these albums enticed listeners with the following nomenclature “A magnificent full-color illustrated book and long-playing record.”  Even though I never visited the Magic Kingdom as a child, I was often able to virtually visit through the Disneyland recordings with “magnificent” illustrations. As an adult, I frequently played these records for my children, and listening to them was part of our family life particularly between visits. Here are my Top 5 Disneyland Records theme park recordings.

  1. Walt Disney World’s Country Bear Jamboree 

Dinseyland Record #3994 c. 1972 Walt Disney World Productions

Side One comprises the soundtrack from the show.  Side two comprises music from The Mile Long Bar.  According to the D23 website, The Mile Long Bar was a saloon that served non-alcoholic drinks and remarks that “an ingenious use of mirrors makes the bar seem like it was a mile long” (D23, https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/  accessed 25 Feb 2018).thumbnail_IMG_2933 The first one opened in October of 1971 in Frontierland in the brand new Disney World resort.  A year later saw additional openings in Bear Country in Disneyland and in 1983 in Westernland in Tokyo Disney D23, https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/  accessed 25 Feb 2018).

Many artists are credited with composing the songs, but Disney music veteran George Bruns presumably had creative control and is credited with being the conductor.

None of the voices are credited on the album, but one can clearly hear the distinct voice of Thurl Ravenscroft.

This album brings us the Country Bear Jamboree and with the help of the music from the Mile Long Bar, transports us to the heart of Frontierland.



  1. It’s A Small World

Disneyland Record #3925 c. 1964 Walt Disney Productions

We all know the song. We all know the iconic attraction which was created for the 1962 World’s Fair and has since become one of the most beloved rides for the Disney theme parks.  The album presents the soundtrack from the boat ride.  It is sparsely narrated by IMG_2931Winston Hibler, who from time to time alerts us to the different countries we are passing through.  While the melody is ubiquitous, the orchestrations mercifully change to reflect the ethnomusicology of the cultures we are visiting.

The voyage begins on Side 1 and continues on Side 2 until we are docked where we began. The album ends with the recording of the song.

There’s nothing spectacular here, but just as is the case with the ride, the joy is in its simplicity.

Winston Hibler wore many hats for the Walt Disney Company during his almost four decade career.  He was a cameraman, writer, lyricist and producer.  He also voiced the narration for the Disney True-Life Adventure Series.

As you all probably know, the song was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

  1. The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Record #3947 c.1969

Side 1 of the album begins with the familiar organ notes that can only mean Disney’s Haunted Mansion. You’ll hear music and sound effects from the attraction, but the album also tells a story.  Narrated by the great Thurl Ravenscroft, the album contrived a story about Karen and Mike, who stumble across the Mansion during a storm, and they, like you, are compelled to take a journey through this ghastly home.  By the way, Ravenscroft’s sonorous bass voice is used in the attraction and his likeness is seen as the bust in the graveyard that resembles Walt Disney.   Side 2 is more satisfying.  It includes much more of the soundtrack from the ride IMG_2938including Madame Leota’s appeal to the spirits, the ghastly organ music of the ballroom, and the heartbeat of the ghostly bride in the attic. The young couple escapes unscathed, but right before they exit safely, we hear the anthem of the graveyard jamboree, “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”

Karen is voiced by Robbie Lester. Her voice graced many Disney recordings.  She appeared in many Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and did the singing for Eva Gabor in Disney films such as The Aristocats and The Rescuers.  In addition to her Disney work, Lester was a highly sought after voice artist.  Mike is voiced by Ronny Howard.  If you are wondering, yes that is the same person as acclaimed film director and portrayer of Opie Taylor, Ron Howard.

They used the soundtrack for Madame Leota, so you will enjoy the distinctive voice of Disney animated film veteran Eleanor Audley as conjurer Madame Leota.  You’ll recognize Audley’s voice as that of the wicked fairy Malificent from Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella’s evil stepmother.

The one disappointment is the absence of the voice of Paul Frees as the Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansions in California and Orlando.  In Mouse Tracks The Story of Walt Disney Records, authors Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar note that “Performance fees prevented the use of Paul Frees from the attraction soundtrack. . .” (Hollis 188).

Frees is one of the most accomplished voice actors of the twentieth century.  In addition to the Haunted Mansion, his is the voice of the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean, The German parrot in The Enchanted Tiki Room and the character of Professor Ludwig von Drake.  He is also the voice of many cartoon characters including Boris Badenov from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and The Burgermeister Meisterburger from Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

The ghost host is voiced by Pete Renaday, who does an excellent job save for not being IMG_2940Paul Frees.  Renaday was another celebrated voice actor who was in fact the voice of Mickey Mouse for many years for Disney records and cassettes (Hollis 119-120).

The music for the attraction and the accompanying song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” was composed by Buddy Baker. The lyrics for the song were written by X. Attencio. You could write a book about their contributions to the Disney brand, but take note that they also wrote the popular song from The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).”





  1. Walt Disney’s The Enchanted Tiki Room

Disneyland Record  #ST 3966 c.1968 Walt Disney Productions

This album is a double treat as Side 1 includes the music from The Enchanted Tiki Room show and Side 2 takes us on a narrated Jungle Cruise journey.

Admittedly, The Enchanted Tiki Room is not among the most thrilling attractions at the thumbnail_IMG_2920 - CopyDisney parks, but it is not without its whimsical charms and enjoys legacy status as it is the very first attraction to feature audio animatronics.  The audio animatronics were exotic birds that sing and tell jokes.

The avian ensemble comprises a chorus and four hosts from different countries, Jose from Spain, Michael from Ireland, Pierre from France, and Fritz from Germany.  Fritz is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft.  Jose is voiced by Wally Boag, one of the stars of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Review.  Boag is a multitalented performer who sings and dances, plays banjo, moves like a rubber band, and folds balloons the way Michelangelo sculpts marble. Boag was also an early inspiration for the brilliant Steve Martin.

There are several songs in the show from other sources, but enthusiasts will aver that the only song that matters is the theme song “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” by Richard M. thumbnail_IMG_2921Sherman and brother Robert B. Sherman.  It’s hard not to like, and even harder to forget. The music for the attraction and album was arranged by George Bruns.

Side 2 takes us for a journey on the Jungle Cruise.  This attraction has no soundtrack so Disney Records used the narration from the ride itself coupled with exotic music titled “Adventureland Suite” to bring the experience to your home.  Once again, Disney Records called upon the talents of Thurl Ravenscroft to play the boat skipper. You are

Ravenscroft strikes the perfect balance between stentorian authority and high camp. The music is composed and conducted by Salvador “Tutti” Camarata. Camarata, as he was often called, was involved with Disneyland Records from the early days. He was a gifted musician who was skilled at creating soundtrack albums for home enjoyment.  According to Mouse Tracks, Annette Funicello credits him as “the force that shaped her successful recording career” (Hollis 50).




On the front of each of these albums, not as prominently placed as the album title but still noticeable, are the enticing words “A magnificent full-color illustrated book and long-playing record.” The combination of the illustrations and the soundtrack will transport you to the Magic Kingdom in an instant.




  1. The Official Album of Disneyland/Walt Disney World

Dinseyland Records #2510 copyright 1980

thumbnail_IMG_2916I found this record at a tag sale somewhere in Cos Cob Connecticut in the early nineties. It’s a wonderful collection of ambient music from the two Magic Kingdoms as well as some of their attractions.





Side 1:  “Main Street Electrical Parade”

Pirates of the Caribbean

Music of Main Street

The Enchanted Tike Room

Country Bear Jamboree

Side 2: The Disneyland Band

“It’s a Small World”

The Steel Drum Band

The Haunted Mansion

The Royal Street Bachelors

America Sings

The Fife and Drum Corps

The Hall of Presidents – Mr. Lincoln

Are these the five absolute best?  No, for who’s to say which are the best. There are dozens of worthy albums to choose from but my selections are all excellent and are special to me. You can find these Disney treasures at tag sales or on eBay. Disney has released a lot of theme park attraction soundtracks on cd and the internet has access to an exhaustive supply of Disney theme park music. Go find some that you and your family will enjoy.


article and photos by Martin Blanco  c. March 18, 2018


The following sources were used for this piece.

Mouse Tracks The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar published by The University Press of Mississippi, c. 2006.


The D23 Website https://d23.com/a-to-z/mile-long-bar/

Today’s Disney recipe pick: Grilled Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Polenta from Chef Mickey’s Cook Book!

Restaurant: Mama Melrose

Type of Food: Italian Bistro

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios near Muppet Vision 3D

Cooking your favorite Disney dishes from the parks, resorts, and even cruise lines is the perfect way to keep the disney magic alive at home. Stay tuned for next weeks Disney recipe!

Grilled Chicken with Polenta

By: Matthew Blanco

Photo Credits: Matthew Blanco

CHIHULY: Glass Flowers Reminiscent of Pandora


While we’re home in Connecticut, my family and I are always on the lookout for nearby locations where the innovative spirit of Disney is at work. Living near New York City, we are fortunate that such locations are in abundance. One such location, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), is enhanced with its current exhibit – CHIHULY. Artist Dale Chihuly constructs fanciful glass structures in a variety of vibrant colors. His pieces have been displayed around the world, including at several botanical gardens. This current exhibit displays pieces made specifically for the Botanical Garden, as well as some of his early works, paper designs, and a few comparatively small pieces for sale (at a hefty price) in the gift shop. The way these pieces marry technology and nature to create immersive art experiences is not only in line with the mission of the Disney parks – it is the sort of creative enterprise that Walt himself would have drawn from.

This experience brought to mind two Disney experiences in particular. EPCOT’s flower and garden show brings Future World to life with a variety of flora and related exhibits that explore innovative growing techniques, enticing visual displays, and creative recipes. This celebration of plant life and its relation to our daily lives is celebrated in a similar manner at NYBG’s CHIHULY exhibit. But even more strikingly, Disney’s new Animal Kingdom land, Pandora, features bioluminescent plants of fantasy interspersed with natural flora. It’d virtually impossible not to spot a strong resemblance to the two – Pandoran plants and Chihuly’s creations twist and undulate in creative ways that suggest life and motion, and both exhibits challenged the line between nature and human creation. Ultimately, I think the exhibits best speak for themselves:



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by Kathryn Blanco

Photo Credit: Kathryn Blanco

The Little Mermaid Movie Night


Tonight’s movie night is The Little Mermaid, a classic Disney movie released on November 17, 1989. The plot follows a young sixteen year old mermaid named Ariel, voiced by the talented Jodi Benson, as she desperately dreams to experience life on land with the humans. When Ariel meets a human prince named Eric and falls in love with him, a love that her father king Triton forbids, she makes a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula that will change her life forever. The brilliant score composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman is masterful and will have the whole family singing along.

Items required for theme:

. Dinglehoopers (forks)

. Starfish

. Feathers

. Assorted jewelry (rings, necklaces, watches, cool looking rocks, fake diamonds etc.) and odds and ends (jars, candlesticks, hourglasses, ship model etc.)

. Little Mermaid DVD or movie rental

. Seashells

. Figurines (Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder)

Food required for theme:

. Gummy dolphins

. Swedish fish

. Assorted goldfish (Smore’s, cheddar, mixed)

. Oyster crackers

. Popcorn

. Clams Casino

Pandora – The World of Avatar scheduled to open up on May 27, 2017

Pandora – The World of Avatar is scheduled to debut in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park on May 27th. This project has been years in the making under the direction of Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde. Disney has begun working on this project with Avatar’s director James Cameron after the premier of the original movie and in light of the coming sequels. The new land will take the place of Camp Minnie-Mickey, an area for character photos in the park. The guests once crossing over an old military bridge into the land will experience the exciting and magical new world of Pandora set years after the original movie, guided by the futuristic tour group Alpha Centauri Expeditions. Once there you will be able to immerse yourself in the Na’vi culture through their, language, world, food, and customs. In Pandora you can soar on the backs of your own Banshee in the Avatar Flight of Passage attraction, take a boat ride through the bioluminescent forest in the Na’vi River Journey attraction, or even walk under floating mountains towering above your head.

Shopping in Pandora is unique just to the land. In Windtraders you can find everything from bioluminescent shirts to your own robotic banshee with unique sounds and actions. You can even make yourself into your own Avatar! And when you get hungry there is a perfect way to satisfy your stomach at Satu’li Canteen. Here you can experience traditional food made from the natural ingredients found in Pandora. And if you’re thirsty, go head over to Pongu Pongu or “Party Party” in the Na’vi language, where you will find a unique new drink and snack experience like no other on Disney property. So go check out Pandora – The World of Avatar on May 27th this year and be sure not to miss it!






Candy Around the World

candy around the world 2

Much as I believe the spirit of Disney is the best souvenir, physical remnants, too, can be helpful, especially when they contribute to an experience. We decided to take the “eat around the world” tradition of EPCOT home by gathering a sampling of unique candy from each country, nation by nation. Fair warning: we may have waited a bit too long after returning home to enjoy these treats, and this combined with the several changes in temperature the candy endured on the journey caused the chocolate-based treats to lose a great deal of texture and flavor. We do intend to carry out this little experiment again (what a sacrifice!), but in the meantime, here you go: our candy-around-the-world-at-home experience!

We started out with China, figuring we’d work our way around to the more familiar desserts. The Choco-Rolls, which I would describe as a cylindrical white-chocolate Kit-Kat, were a huge hit. From Japan, we enjoyed the banana-flavored Hi-Chews (though from past experience I prefer green apple), which are a bit like gum except that they melt in the mouth. The colorful, round sucking candies with little flowers in the middle of them, whose label we couldn’t read, were sweet but had no flavor. One of the drinks, which again we couldn’t identify, was similar – it tasted like a generic sweet soda but had no particular flavor. The matcha love, on the other hand, had plenty of flavor – I described it as string bean water with an aftertaste of green tea, my friend described it as string bean water with an aftertaste of string bean water. I’ll just chalk that one up to our unsophisticated palates, though.

From Morocco we sampled the Turkish Delight, something I’ve always enjoyed eating ever since seeing Disney’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (this is the treat Edmund requests from the White Witch). This box, from the Galil company, came in surprisingly powerful flavors of rose, mint, and lemon. From the UK, we sampled wine gums, which were tasty enough but I can’t attest to how accurate the flavors were, for obvious reasons. The Ripple bar probably would have been delicious, if it hadn’t been flattened, melted, and refrozen in transit. The only unique candy we could find from Canada was a maple lollipop, the taste of which we were all familiar with. We also tried Italian amoretti cookies – light, crunchy, almond-flavored biscuits wrapped in colorful paper. There were tiny chocolates wrapped with the colors of the Italian flag as well, but these chocolates, too, underwent abuse over time that made them inedible. The same went for the Toffifay from Germany, though the caramel and hazelnut layers of these round treats were still tasty. We also tried some classic Werther’s caramel ($0.10 each!) which were, of course, delicious. In Norway we picked up Troika, layers of marshmallow and jam coated in chocolate. It was decent, and a favorite of my dad’s, but not to my taste since I don’t always enjoy fruit-chocolate combos. The Daim, a crunchy bar of caramel coated in chocolate, was a bit squished but still enjoyable. The caramel, salty and crispy, tasted more like toffee to me than caramel.

In France, we were surprised by the sparse selection of candy, since the pavilion focused heavily on baked goods instead. We did taste a honey-nut nougat bar, which was, once again, squished but enjoyable. Finally, in Mexico, we tried out several unique treats. Pulparindo, the spicy, salty tamarind paste, was a bit of a rude awakening, but not necessarily bad. It seemed to be one of those foods that’s an acquired taste. The same goes for the Gloria’s goat milk pecan candies, though these were less jarring. The bar of cinnamon dark chocolate did not, unfortunately, remain fresh or particularly appetizing, so we took a pass on that one, but the coconut roll was uncomplicated and tasty.

There you have it! The Choco-Roll was the best find of this haul, but I’m excited to try the Toffifay and Turkish Delight again – and, of course, to sample some new candies from around the EPCOT world. Though we transported treats from Disney for this particular activity, it’s perfectly possible to collect interesting desserts like these by scouring supermarkets and local ethnic groceries. We might just try compiling our own candy around the world next time, and I encourage you to do the same! Although it’s a simple thing, I feel that getting a taste of day-to-day life in foreign countries is an important part of learning about other cultures, and very much in the spirit of exploration that EPCOT fosters.


Moana Makes a Big Splash This Thanksgiving


 This week, Disney’s new princess movie, Moana, hit the theaters. While it doesn’t follow the conventional format of a traditional Disney princess movie, it is a amazing experience suited for the whole family. The movie follows the story of Moana while living with her tribe, from babyhood to adolescence. Moana has always dreamed about sailing and has felt a calling to the ocean. However, her parents warn of the dangers of sailing past the reef, and refuse to let her try. But after talking with her grandmother and making discoveries about her people’s past, she sets sail on a journey to save her island and the entire planet. Along the journey, she receives help from the self centered demigod, Maui, and her pet chicken, Heihei. They bond on their quest throughout many adventures and encounters with coconut pirates and even a giant crab. Moana is an intriguing new twist on the classic Disney princess movies, starting with the fact that she is not technically a princess, but rather the daughter of the chief. It includes beautiful intricate animation of characters and especially scenery. The tropical aspects are visually appealing and really tie together the whole movie. The music, however, was very much stereotypic of the new generation of princess movies that are steering further and further from the brilliance of the Sherman brothers and Allan Meinken, but is certainly on the higher end of that category with creative songs evocative of music in south pacific cultures. The storyline is very well planned and keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats waiting for more. All in all, Moana is a huge success – it’s funny, it’s thrilling, it’s masterfully executed, and I would recommend going to see it no matter your age or preference. Also, see if you can find references to Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, Sven from Frozen, and even Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph.

Written by Matthew Blanco with contributions from Kathryn and Martin Blanco