It’s hard for “the kids today” to understand what it was like to be a Disney fan in the days before the internet. For those of us outside the Disneyana hotbed of southern California, pretty much all we knew about the parks came from what Disney deigned to tell us in its official publications. This meant a new picture book about the parks every five years or so, and, of course, the much-anticipated quarterly arrival of Disney News.
For those of us on the east coast, who were unlikely to even know anyone who had ever been to Disneyland, any real impression of that park whatsoever had to come from one of two sources. First, there were the re-runs of Walt’s old Wonderful World of Color shows that aired on the Disney Channel and every afternoon on the local syndicated station. Every once in a blue moon, if you were lucky, you’d catch something like From Pirates of the Caribbean to Tomorrowland, and that would give you a hint of what the park had been like in Walt’s day. Most then-current news of what was going on at Disneyland, however, came from Disney News. With only a couple of articles a year focusing on some aspect of the park, though, any picture or bit of information had to be picked apart obsessively to try and get a feel for the park as a whole. And with so little information to go on, it’s bizarre what little details would stick in one’s mind.
That brings us to today’s post. “Disney Serendipity” was the name of a feature that ran in Disney News during the early to mid-1980s. Photographed and (presumably) written by the mysterious Dawn and Max Navarro, these two-page spreads covered, in the words of the column, “Serendipity – that wonderfully rare word used to describe the finding of valuable or agreeable things that you really weren’t looking for, but were happy to have found.”
These features focused on the more obscure aspects of the Disney park-going experience, typically involving shopping or dining (and never failing to mention the corporate sponsors of each shop or restaurant). When most news tended to focus on major new attractions or park entertainment, these “slice of life” pieces were a real window into what the real Disneyland and Walt Disney World experience was like for visitors. Maybe that’s why they made such an impression on young readers, who thought “Wow – the restaurants in Disneyland are different than they are in Walt Disney World!”
Here’s a column from the Fall, 1984 issue of Disney News.
Disney News continues its series on Serendipity – that wonderfully rare word used to describe the finding of valuable or agreeable things that you really weren’t looking for, but were happy to have found. This issue concentrates on tasty treats, unique in their Disney presentation in a Disney theme park; presented to park visitors in association with noted corporate participants.
Let Your Nose Be Your Guide
That irresistible buttery aroma can only be coming from one of the brightly painted popcorn wagons serving Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn. Golden fresh corn … popping, popping, continuously! In convenient locations throughout the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Magic Kingdoms.
The Bear Necessities
When you’re hungry as a bear and looking for the bear necessities, scout out the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Frontierland at Disneyland Park. Snuggled away amongst the trees of Bear Country, this outdoor eating place offers lunches and dinners in the log cabin-like atmosphere of a wilderness setting overlooking the Rivers of America, where the Mark Twain glides silently by. Before or after enjoying that foot-stompin’, country-western revue called Country Bear Jamboree, yer gonna welcome somepin tasty in yer tummy! How about a Paul Bunyan burger, crispy Gold Rush chicken, corn dogs, Huskie Pups, Forty-Niner charbroiled chicken, turnovers, Log Jam Taters (French fries), Golden Nugget fried onion rings, iced tea, soft drinks, or a chef, tuna or fruit salad? Steaks in the later afternoon (seasonal). Fresh bread and buns are from Wonder Bread. And it’s all “paw-lickin'” good.
A spontaneous decision may be to lunch at the Heidelberger’s Deli (hosted by Hormel) while shopping in Walt Disney World Village. But choosing what you want in the way of a sandwich isn’t that easy. The wow selection of sandwiches starts with four different kinds of breads and five types of rolls, and a wild assortment of meats and cheeses will provide any sandwich combination you may desire. Each comes with one more decision: potato salad, cole slaw, sauerkraut, or dieters’ applesauce, cottage cheese or special cucumber salad. Domestic beers and soft drinks will quench your Florida thirst. Eat indoors, or on the outdoor terrace framed in blossomed crepe myrtle tree foliage. And save room for the final selection; marble cheese cake, fresh pie, brownies or fruit. Decisions. Decisions.
Sara Lee’s Wonderful Kitchen Surprises
No visit to Main Street, USA in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World is complete without sampling the old-fashioned flavor and atmosphere of the Sara Lee bakery. A delightful little tearoom with cozy round tables and cane chairs sets the mood for a light breakfast or a well-deserved coffee break. Try a Danish, pastry, brownie, coffee cake, or a slice of scrumptious whipped cream cake. There’s a Sara Lee bakery in the Walt Disney World Village too.
Did You Say Mickey Mouse Pancakes?
Have breakfast with Mickey… Mickey Mouse pancakes that is (although Mickey himself may surprise you with a visit here). These big-eared treats are the main attraction of the buffeteria at River Belle Terrace, hosted by Hormel, in Disneyland Park. The Terrace serves other breakfast specials too, overlooking the water’s edge between Frontierland and New Orleans Square. You can watch the Mark Twain puffing its way past Tom Sawyer’s Island. Also enjoy lunch or dinner – outside under bright umbrellas or indoors in a pleasant solarium with white lace iron work and garden motif. Join writer Mark Twain in spirit with a Tom Sawyer sandwich or, a Becky Thatcher serving of Spaghetti with Smoked Sausage. For the youngsters, there are River Captain specials. Since breakfast is served all day, with a delicious array of morning delights, you may want to start your day all over again.
Carnation Ice Cream Parlor
Imagine the Matterhorn attraction covered with whipped cream instead of snow. Then order a giant Matterhorn Sundae at the Disneyland Carnation Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street, USA, and introduce your fantasy to reality. Other super creamy delights are the Victorian Banana Split, Town Square Soda and Black Cow. All served in old-fashioned ice cream parlor glass containers on lacy paper doilies. Tasty pita bread and hearty sandwiches are served here too, just in case you don’t want to begin your meal with an ice cream aperitif. Relax outside beneath giant red and white umbrellas, or turn back the calendar seated at the turn-of-the-century soda fountain. The cool atmosphere is as delicious as the ice cream, hot fudge, nuts and cherries. Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmm! Carnation!
Coke Is It!
Coca-Cola, created by J. S. Pemberton in 1886, is right at home in the nostalgia of the Disneyland Park’s Main Street, USA Coke Corner (and also at the Refreshment Corner of Walt Disney World). This popular refreshment is served in a stylish turn-of-the-century parlor with Coke memorabilia and white wrought iron soda fountain chairs. A pianist plunks out familiar tunes on a white upright piano. Try a Coke with a traditional hot dog and chips. In contrast, Coke is served as the drink of the future at the Tomorrowland Terrace where you may enjoy this contemporary favorite while listening to live musical entertainment. Coke is it… a timeless refreshment.