Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm Going to Need a Minute Here

If you are one of the few readers who check The Disney Obsession on a more or less regular basis, you'll notice a definite lack of activity during the next few days. I'll be away. I'll be in Walt Disney World for a few days, then sailing aboard the Disney Dream, then back in Walt Disney World for a few more days. Yep, they call it, "a vacation".

I am not technically savvy enough to have photographs from my iPhone populate directly into my blog, but I do have a Facebook account that I'll post photographs to, and you can always look at the right margin here and see updates via my Twitter feed. Or go one step further, follow me on Twitter at

Mind you, I don't tweet a great deal, but I will be trying out my new toy this trip so there may be a few more tweets in store.

So, I'll be away. But I hope to come back with some good stories and some great photographs. I hope each of you have a great week and I'll see you real soon!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dining with Doc: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

It has been awhile since we've visited the kitchen.

Every month I get together with a group of Disney friends. Nothing formal, not too serious, just a group of friends who share a passion for Disney. There is usually food involved and we spend the evening noshing and talking. A nice way to spend a Saturday evening.

For 2011 we've decided to try and theme our get gatherings and decided that Epcot World Showcase would be a nice place to start. So each month we'll visit a country and for the month of January we began our journey, starting counter-clockwise along the promenade, and started in Canada. For music, Off Kilter played in the background and we all enjoyed a bowl of Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.
The recipe for this LeCellier staple is found on page 8 of the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs Cookbook*. The ingredients include:

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups milk
3/4 pound grated white cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup warm beer
Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish

To begin, you take a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven and cook the bacon, stirring over medium heat about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. I found that I needed to cook it a bit longer so that the bacon fat would have more time to cook. Once you have the bacon prepared add the red onions, celery and butter. Saute until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
Following this, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. I have to pause here and say that for me, this was the "what have I done wrong" phase of the preparation. I reread the recipe several times trying to determine if I had missed a step as I looked upon a blob cooking away in the Dutch oven. I didn't see how what was staring back at me could possibly be the same soup that I can not wait to order whenever I eat at LeCellier. But, I found that in preparing Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, one should enjoy the journey as much as reaching the destination. You can also say, "it doesn't like much now, but just wait."
So after coming to grips with the mass simmering on the stove, and hearing the clock buzz indicating that 15 minutes has passed, you then add the milk and continue to simmer for additional 15 minutes. Do not boil after you add the milk. I'll add, that it is during these 15 minutes that I am getting vigorous work out as I am using a whisk to break up the clumps of everything that preceded the adding of the milk. This is what, for me, makes things look more like a soup.

After 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth. Stir in warm beer. If the soup is too thick, add some warm milk.
Serve the soup hot, garnished with chopped scallions or chives.

This is recipe that I am so glad that I tried. I watched video some time back about preparing this soup and was somewhat intimidated by the process. In preparing this recipe I did not seek any video previews. On one hand it may have got me through the 'blob' phase easier, but then, it may have been off-putting again. Now that I, Mrs. Doc and our friends have enjoyed the soup, there is a very good chance I'll prepare this again. Just as it is in the Canadian Pavilion, it was just that good!

* edited by Pam Brandon, copyright 2004 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Disney World After Dark: The View from Italy

Some of the pavilions on the World Showcase just come right out and slap you in the face! They deserve; they command your attention. France is one of those pavilions for me.

Other pavilions are like a fine wine or a properly aged cheese, they are subtle and they take time so as to be truly enjoyed. Morocco and Italy are those pavilions for me. The more time I spend in each of these the more I come to appreciate the artistry and intricacies in their design. Mosaic tile work in Morocco and the Italian Gothic style of the Doges Palace replica. The elaborate stonework on the palace is enough to give pause on most any journey around the Showcase.

Also, not to be missed is the view across the water. From your vantage point by the water, you are looking over 658* years in time to Spaceship Earth. From here, you can take in a panoramic view of Epcot. Please, let me recommend you take a pause in Italy during your travels. Enjoy the view and enjoy the quietness that this area often provides.

More to follow...

* The Doges Palace was completed in 1324 and Spaceship Earth was completed in 1982.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the Survey Says... Cinderella Castle

I wish I knew how many photographs are taken of Cinderella Castle each year. I wish I had a nickel for every one of those photographs. If I did, that would be...

Well, it would be a lot! It would certainly give me a down payment (and then some) on some property in Golden Oak. The Tuscan Village style home if you please.

So, if that were not hint enough, the survey says your favorite park icon is Cinderella Castle!
The Castle led this weeks voting by a huge margin. Of the 18 votes cast, it tallied 13, or 72% of the votes. Coming in second was the Tree of Life with 3 (16%) votes, followed by Spaceship Earth with 2 (11%) votes. The Sorcerers Hat received no votes.

At first I was a little surprised with the 2nd and 3rd place votes. Not so much that these two icons came in 2nd and 3rd, because let's just admit, nothing says Walt Disney World quite like the Castle, but the order in which they finished. I would have thought Spaceship Earth would have placed second, but then I thought, it is was it is, a collection of isosceles triangles. The variations of colors on the triangles will change with lighting, but still, it is still a collection of isosceles triangles. Now lest you think I am discounting Spaceship Earth, let me assure you, I am not. It is a favorite and I am going to ride the enclosed attraction two or three times during every visit. But, thinking over the 2nd place, there is so much involved in the Tree of Life that I can see the appreciation.

Now, on to this weeks poll. Turning our thoughts from Walt Disney World and Disneyland, let's look abroad. If you could visit one park not on U.S. soil, which park would it be? Would you visit Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Studios Park, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, or Hong Kong Disneyland. I think this should be interesting.

Note: the poll will run for the two weeks, as next Sunday I'll be boarding the Disney Dream. I feel fairly confident that blogging will be a little far from my mind then.

And as always, please feel free to leave a comment on why you voted the way you did. I think it would be interesting to know why people choose certain parks for specific reasons.

More to follow...

Something On A Sunday

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace 04.20.09

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Sign Its Saturday

With the diet I have been enduring this past month or so, I spend a little time now and then thinking of foods I miss, or foods I want to eat when I am having one of my "indulgence" days. As for the Boulangerie Patisserie, I'll have the French Baguette and a Cheese Plate if you please. For dessert, the Chocolate Eclair.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where In The World

On January 10 we posted this picture asking where in the world would you find it.
We had a few opinions, but sadly, not a correct one. Admittedly, this one may have been a little tough. While it is in plain sight if you are in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, the lighting and the fact that it is only a part of the whole, may not lead you to think it is a giant Crayola Crayon. But it is. Another factor may be that if you're in the World without children, you may not make Honey... a regular stop during your theme park tour. I don't. I just happen to be there when I took my grandson to Walt Disney World in October '09.

There is a good chance I'll be visiting Honey... again in April when I take my granddaughter.

But, thanks to each one of you who considered what it was and who posted a guess.

Now, let's try another. Where in the World would you find this?

Monday, February 14, 2011

What's Up?

Lately I have been making excuses about how busy I've been and how that may be keeping me from updating the blog on a regular basis. While it is a excuse, it is the truth. My job, as I am sure most people's jobs, keeps me rather busy at times. There are some weeks when I may have 2 or 3 meetings that will take me in to the early evening. No complaints - it is just the way of it.

But, there is also something else that keeps me out of my study at home. Here is a hint...
My wife and I will be sailing on the Disney Dream on February 27th as part of the WDW Radio Dream Cruise. Counting down the days actually. But as part of our cruise preparation, my wife and I joined a gym with the intent of trying to get in better shape. Not that we'll ever be the way we were when we were younger, but better than we have been. We've hired a personal trainer, we're exercising and we're on a fairly strict diet, which of course, will go right out the door when we land in Orlando on the 25th. Hey, who is going to pass up an opportunity to have dinner at LeCellier? We may not look a great deal different when we walk across the gang plank, but we will feel a great deal different.

This is all a vast departure for me. I have often said that I felt that health was highly over rated. Ask around. It's true. Seriously, we joined a gym in August '10 and I walked into the gym for the first time in January '11. Health - not a high priority for me. But my mind is changing on this. I can't deny that I am getting older and though I would like to live as thought numbers don't matter, my age, my height, my weight, I know that they really do. If I want to continue loving my wife, playing with my grandchildren, being with friends, and yes, making regular trips to Walt Disney World, then perhaps I had better start being more considerate of my health.

But the cruise is less than two weeks away. What will be my motivation to continue? True, I'll need to work off some of the weight I'll put on during the cruise and the two days before and the two after in the parks. That may take a month or so, but what after that?

Now before I make this next statement, let me say that this is not an official announcement nor should not in any way be construed as a commitment on my part to fulfill this thought. But here is the statement:

I am very seriously considering running the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon!

There I said it. But again, it is only a consideration at this point. And after some of the cardio sessions I've had on the treadmill these past seven to ten days, I am begin to wonder if my senses have totally left me for even having such a thought. Perhaps so. But it doesn't change anything. I am still carefully, and prayerfully, considering this as my motivation to keep on going to the gym long after the Disney Dream has docked.

In my heart I know I really want to do this, but my mind is battling with the notion. So, it is day-to-day, setting small goals. Such as, being about to consisting cover a mile in 16 minutes or less. I have done that once and it was a great night, but it was only over a two mile stretch. Getting to 13.1 is still a ways away.

In the weeks and months to come, I'll keep you posted on this. If you're so inclined, send a thought or two my way every now and then. I really encourage your comments from time-to-time as those will encourage me also. After all, until last month I could actually recall the month, year and location of the last two times I ran. One was in '96 and the other in '05. Nothing to be proud of true, but it is what it is.

Oh, and about those tennis shoes, I suppose I'll be spending more for a really great running shoe in the next week or so. Any suggestions?

More to follow...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

And The Survey Says... Epcot

I have been a little late updating the last poll we took on The Disney Obsession. We asked the question "What is your favorite park once the sun goes down?" No, there wasn't an article that included the question (I checked, it was a casualty of being busy), it was just a question in the right hand margin. Yet, without an article, fourteen readers took part in the poll. And the results show that 8 of those 14 (57%) prefer Epcot. Five people (35%) preferred the Magic Kingdom while one vote (7%) was cast for Disney's Hollywood Studios. Disney's Animal Kingdom received no votes, but this comes probably from the fact that not many people have the opportunity to experience it after dark. You have to travel to Walt Disney World when we are not in Daylight Savings Time and also have a chance to be in the park with Evening Extra Magic Hours. As often as I go, I have only been able to get into the Animal Kingdom one time after dark. It was magical!
While my choice after dark is Epcot, it is not an easy choice. Each park takes on a different atmosphere once the sun goes down. Whether you prefer Main Street U.S.A. and Tomorrowland, the Art Deco of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Strip, or the countries of the World Showcase in Epcot, lighting does something to each. It changes the way we experience an area of the park as we look at things specifically illuminated to evoke a response from our senses. The Eiffel Tower at night looks much different than it does under the full glare of the sun. And Tomorrowland? Tomorrowland is a completely different feast to the eyes once the sun sets.

Now, let's more on.

Last week I placed a stand-alone poll asking "What is your favorite park icon?" The choices are Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, the Sorcerer's Hat and the Tree of Life. Before time ran out on the original poll, I extended it another week. So, visit the margins and vote for your favorite park icon. And as always, feel free to leave a comment and let us know why it is.

Hope you have a great week!

More to follow...

Something On A Sunday

Nashville 05.05.07

There are few things in life that can compare to spending time with my grandchildren! It is also such a joy to have three of them living just across the street from me. So getting together, playing, watching Disney movies, and just plain goofing off, is something that happens on a regular basis.

I love being a grandparent!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Sign Its Saturday

I have long sang the praises of this little corner of The World, so in preparation for a visit towards the end of the month, I'll spend this month in France. February is a month in which we celebrate love with Valentines Day and Paris is city known for amour. And after all, it was a February some years ago that my wife and I spent our honeymoon in Paris. Yet more memories I can associate with this part of Epcot.
La vie est bonne!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Sign Its Saturday

Let's spend a little time in my favorite part of my favorite park; Epcot World Showcase.
Le Maison de Vin may be an ordinary sign along a small street, but I like it. Not so much for the sign but for its location. It is just below a window that evokes certain memories, and yes, certain dreams I once harbored as a younger man. Perhaps I read too much Somerset Maugham in those days.