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Old 02-14-2013, 12:54 PM   #346
AGPrincess
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Every Bite Took Me To Italy (part I)

With my family, a large part of the joy of Disney vacations is revisiting all our old favorites - whether they be meals, rides or resorts. We know what we like, and we like to go back and do it again - and again and again and again!

So it can sometimes be hard to squeeze in time to try new Disney things when there are so many lovely old favorites. This trip, however, I am glad to say that we made time for several new experiences that we absolutely loved. And one of those was the meal I am about to tell you about.

But first we have to set a little background.

In January (one year ago), Mama Snob and Dart came down to WDW while I was still working there for a quick but fun trip to celebrate my birthday. I had to work part of the time they were in, and one day while I was diligently checking guests in and out, Mom and Dart went to lunch at Via Napoli.

They came back in absolute raptures. Mom had most kindly not finished all of her entrée and brought some of the white lasagna back for me to try. It MELTED in my mouth. And this was cold lasagna not even fresh out of the oven!

So I was SUPER excited to be trying it properly on our summer trip.

We dragged ourselves away from Art of Animation (thats the hard part about staying at nice resorts...you dont want to miss a minute of resort time - but then when are you supposed to get your park time?? Such a Disney dilemma.) and soon were four-wheelin it in this baby.



Disney parking lots can be a nuisance, but as soon as you get out of your own car and into Disney transportation, its all good. How does that work??



Hello Spaceship Earth you darling. You look gorgeous.



Ferb is always popular with the ladies. Also note how three of the little girls are matching! People watching at Disney World is one of the most interesting occupations.



Brothers before me...



And brothers behind me! I cant believe they smiled for this picture - they look so nice! I mean, of course they ARE nice, it's just they don't usually like posing for photos. lol.

Looking at these photos from a cold, shivery February night, that blue sky looks absolutely perfect. But sadly it was blazingly hot, and we decided rather than trudge halfway round World Showcase, we would take the friendship which was most conveniently just pulling up.



Please tell me I am not the only person in this world who, whenever they see a friendship or other retro Epcot sights, thinks of the old Barbie Birthday Party video tape. (I can't remember if I've mentioned the Barbie Epcot video in my trip reports before. If I have you're just going to have to bear with me.)

The Barbie's Birthday Party video was my first introduction to Walt Disney World. I was about five when I used to watch it I dont think I quite realized that it took place at Disney World, a real place you could actually visit. I just knew the cassette came in a bright pink case and everything in the video was bright pink the limo, the cake, Barbie's outfits - and a bright pink dinosaur of a Barbie cellphone. I had a toy phone just like it. How could a tv program get any better?

The first time I went to Disney World was a few years later, at the age of nine, and it took me a bit to fully realize that it was the SAME PLACE as in the Barbie video. Tragically, the Magical World of Barbie show featured in the video was no longer running at Epcot then, but it was still a pretty fun discovery.

ANYway, the girls in the video go all around Epcot and at one point board the friendship as they hurry to get to the Barbie show on time. For some reason that image of the boat with its bright stripes always stuck in my mind. Of course I have plenty of new memories and associations with the Friendship now, but theres still that first one that started it all.

Ah, the days of my youth.

Something about hurrying to catch the friendship that day made me remember the Barbie movie - they also eat in Italy in the show, so maybe that was partly it too.

Alright, reminiscing over. Coming back from the 90's to the present...



We sat near the front of the boat, where we could occasionally feel a breeze coming across the water.



It was actually quite gusty, and when the captain put down that clipboard and some papers, it looked like they might fly away! We were highly entertained by this one second we would all gasp because it seemed the wind was going to steal the papers away, but the next it would die down. Maybe we should have said something about it, but it was too fun to watch - and Athos was hoping they would blow away so he could dive dramatically after them.

I know. What can I say. We're just amused by the little things.

Eventually the captain noticed and picked up the papers, and by that time it was time to disembark in Italy!



How else would one arrive in Venezia other than by water?



There was no time to stop and smell the roses we were headed straight for Via Napoli to check in in time for our reservation.



Because I am still, in some respects, the same as my five-year old self, I STILL love things that are pink, and I think this is why I am so fond of the Doge's palace.



Passing by the newly refurbished Tutto Italia. It looks pretty swanky!



But THIS is what were here for. HELLO VIA NAPOLI! I love this façade it looks so impressive.



And the mismatched ceramic jars overflowing with bright flora, lining the way!

The really bright colors, however, are waiting for you inside! As soon as you step through the portico, you are greeted by this impressive chandelier&





It still looks Italian, but sort-of modern Italian. If that makes any sense. I also loved how the entry area to Via Napoli had glass walls, so you could see beyond into the restaurant and be immediately excited about the meal and the gorgeous place youre going to sit!



One wall was all lovely and rustic but still light and airy in blue and green. If you follow the weekly Disney World trivia I do on my blog, you might recognize this particular scene!



Down the center of the restaurant runs a looong counter with seating on both sides and festive tiles decorating the countertop, depicting different sights in Italy.

It is my mothers ambition someday, many years hence, to come back to Via Napoli with my brothers and I and our families and have enough children and spouses and grandchildren to completely fill up that counter. I think it sounds pretty fun.



I absolutely adored how airy and cheerful Via Napoli was with its light colors and high ceilings. This was the view of the main dining room from our table - in the distance you can see the EPIC ovens with their fearsome faces, which there will certainly be more photos of shortly.



Travel posters of Italian cities lining the walls. But honestly, with as sweet a spot as Via Napoli, I had no desire to be anywhere else at that moment!



Even the glasses were cute and colorful! Our server was nice I wish I could remember her name, because it was so pretty and foreign sounding. And of course, like most cast members at Epcot, her hometown was some great old city like Firenze (Florence) or Pisa that I want to visit someday.



Its decision time! There were so many tasty-sounding things, but I felt I HAD to try that lasagna verde. It is lasagna in a rich, creamy white sauce with spinach, parmesian, and besciamella. We were using one of Aramiss CM discount coupons, so we ordered twenty-dollar entrees and drinks with reckless abandon. Normally all we have is tap water, but I was super excited to try the aqua fresca.



Doesnt that just SOUND refreshing? AQUA FRESCA. Love it.



I had the strawberry aqua fresca, and it tasted even more refreshing that it sounds and looks! It was like strawberry juice and so perfectly smooth and fruity.



I should make this my desktop background.

I decided to use the time while we were waiting for the food to get up and have a look around.

CONTINUED NEXT POST

Last edited by AGPrincess; 02-14-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:06 PM   #347
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Every Bite Took Me to Italy (II)



A nearby table digging into their pizza.



At Via Napoli, the kitchen is open to the dining room, and the three ovens are the centerpiece. Their names are Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna - the names of volcanoes in Italy.



I liked the ovens, but I was more interested in all the food going by! Here a chef is cutting into some DELICIOUS looking lasagna.



It was amazing to watch them tossing the pizza dough - it looked like fabric rather than dough, it was so fine and thin!



Tasty bowls of pasta.



Dishes were set here on the counter, waiting for the servers to pick them up. Everything that went by looked so tantalizing!



Looking away from the kitchen, back at the dining room. Sorry this pic is so grainy and dark...I must have had some setting on the camera wrong.



Soon some of those tastiful dishes were heading towards our table! This was the AHMAZING lasagna verde. Mom, Aramis, and I all got it, and Im glad we didnt decide to share because we each ate ours all up!



MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



It was a thing of beauty.



Athos considers himself something of a connoisseur when it comes to eggplant parmesian. How he acquired this taste I have no idea, although as odd a plant as an eggplant seems to fit his odd personality just right. I tried a bite of the "tortino di melazane" and thought it was delish - Athos liked it, but surprisingly it wasn't his favorite ever.



Porthos and Dad split a pepperoni pizza. I surrendered a corner of my precious lasagna in exchange for a slice, and Im glad I did - I thought it was really tasty pizza!

I was going through some old papers recently, and I came across a scrap that I had written some quotes from the trip down on. One of them I had no difficulty recognizing from our meal at Via Napoli.

"Every bite of my entree took me to Italy." Porthos said. And he spoke the truth.

It was an absolutely delicious meal, although we werent so full that we couldnt consider a little...



Dessertage!

When I had strolled over to have a look at the kitchen, I had seen one of the chefs frying up the zeppole di caterina, the little fried doughnut balls filled with ricotta, and I really wanted to try them!



The zeppole came with a little dish of chocolate sauce and a little dish of whipped cream.



They were very delectable. I wouldnt necessarily say it was as epic as the lasagna, but it was certainly enjoyable.



Now who would be so inelegant as to lick the chocolate dish clean?



Oh yeah, that was me.



Not a drop was left of the aqua fresca was left either!

At the very end of the meal I had to use the restroom, and I gave Athos strict instructions NOT to take any photos of himself. Throughout the trip, whenever I was misguided enough to let him handle my camera he would take tons and tons of ridiculous self-portraits and clog up my memory cards!

So when I got back from the bathroom, it was to find that Athos had in fact NOT touched my camera, but Porthos had been good enough to do a photo shoot with him. So this is what I got on my memory card:





Oh, Athos. At least he keeps life interesting!



A few last pics as we were leaving...this was that long counter seating I mentioned.



Close-up of the tiles. Love all the details like these!



One of the dining rooms that was off to the side. I loved the main dining room, but it would be fun to sit in there someday too!

Via Napoli was a wonderful experience - the decor, the food, the atmosphere - definitely a new favorite I look forward to going back to! Pleasantly full from our delicious meal, we headed back out into Epcot...


Last edited by AGPrincess; 02-14-2013 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:27 PM   #348
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I am obsessed with Via Napoli! I have only gotten the pizza there, but that lasagna looks simply divine. I kind of secretly wish I could order one of everything off of that menu! You got some great pictures of the restaurant too! With a toddler it's hard to get pictures of the restaurants we visit because we are so busy keeping him from getting his hands on everything on the table! It is a really beautiful restaurant though, with so many details that beg to be captured in a photograph.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:40 AM   #349
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ok so my favourite pic ever in that update... that one from the tram. I realise it's not the amazing looking food but seeing that view makes me so happy. Gah it's just so perfect

In other perfect news, that food looks amazing! My family have been kinda against eating in Italy because we eat Italian all the time but I'm desperate to persuade them because it looks incredible! You're pictures have just confirmed that!

And that aqua fresca looks so delicious! Yummy!
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:09 AM   #350
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khertz View Post
I am obsessed with Via Napoli! I have only gotten the pizza there, but that lasagna looks simply divine. I kind of secretly wish I could order one of everything off of that menu! You got some great pictures of the restaurant too! With a toddler it's hard to get pictures of the restaurants we visit because we are so busy keeping him from getting his hands on everything on the table! It is a really beautiful restaurant though, with so many details that beg to be captured in a photograph.
YES - that would be so perfect, to be able to sample everything! Everything sounds and looks so delicious - and once you have one favorite, it's hard to give it up to try something else, even if you really want to!! Thanks! There were so many lovely details in there. And I'm sure I didn't even notice everything...a reason to go back!

Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyhockeymad View Post
ok so my favourite pic ever in that update... that one from the tram. I realise it's not the amazing looking food but seeing that view makes me so happy. Gah it's just so perfect

In other perfect news, that food looks amazing! My family have been kinda against eating in Italy because we eat Italian all the time but I'm desperate to persuade them because it looks incredible! You're pictures have just confirmed that!

And that aqua fresca looks so delicious! Yummy!
Awww, I'm so glad you felt that way, cause when I posted it I thought it might be a little plain, just of the parking lot, but I love it! It's like, there's the Epcot ball, and your day at Epcot is about to begin.

My family's local restaurant is Italian, so I know what you mean. But Via Napoli is just on a different scale - plus it's DISNEY Italian! And the aqua fresca was just delightful.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:29 AM   #351
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Ahhhh, Via Napoli. I haven't been there since 2010 and I really want to go back! SO GOOD.

I love all your pictures! So pretty. That place is gorgeous.

AQUA FRESCA. That DOES sound refreshing... and delicious!!!
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:24 PM   #352
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I love VIA! The atmosphere is great and the food is really yummy! Love you pictures!
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:39 AM   #353
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marDgreen88 View Post
Ahhhh, Via Napoli. I haven't been there since 2010 and I really want to go back! SO GOOD.

I love all your pictures! So pretty. That place is gorgeous.

AQUA FRESCA. That DOES sound refreshing... and delicious!!!
Thanks! It is so pretty. lol, and the aqua fresca totally managed to live up to its beautiful name!

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I love VIA! The atmosphere is great and the food is really yummy! Love you pictures!
Via is such a great place!
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:37 AM   #354
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Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of an update on Monday. I am getting one ready to go for today, though, and it should be up by this afternoon!

In the meantime, if you're craving some Disney reading, I just put up a blog post all about Ariel's castle and grotto and the new Journey of the Little Mermaid Ride in New Fantasyland. Check it out: Fathoms Below: Ariel's Corner of New Fantasyland!
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:01 AM   #355
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Two Disney Snobs Went Up Rocky Top...

Upon departing from our yum-yum-yum-delisioso lunch at Via Napoli, I was feeling that God was in his heaven and all was right with the world. In fact, I was feeling rather like this...



Disney has a way of doing that to you.



Italy was looking quite lovely, as always. Although I sometimes wish there was more to do here. I like the shops and the restaurants, but it'd be nice if they had an Italy ride - or even an Italy movie would be fabulous!



Admiring the flora. Seeing all the lovely flowers and gardening at Disney World always makes me wish I was a better gardener.



Dad and Dart looking out over World Showcase Lagoon. We strolled around over by the bridges, got a few photopass pics, and contemplated our next move.

It was HOT, and as you may have gathered by now, we're kinda wimps when it comes to the Florida heat. Put me in a snowstorm, and I'm happy as a clam - the day I was born it was -14 degrees. But in the heat I just wilt.



We stopped by the American Adventure , without much meaning to go in. But the AC was beckoning, the Voices of Liberty were going to be performing in a few minutes, and Dad wanted to look at the exhibits. So in we went!



Inside the exhibit on Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, and some other important American figures too. Note Twain's quote: "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow just as well." Love it. I think I saw on twitter that they're going to be doing a new exhibit in here soon, should be neat to see.



Getting inspired by the various quotes on the walls...



There are also lots of paintings on the walls. This one especially intrigued us because we were going to embark on a trip west shortly after the Disney trip - it was my dad's sabbatical, so we were going to see some historic sights and follow the Oregon Trail for a bit.



In preparation for this, we had (naturally) been playing the video game Oregon Trail - only this was a new incarnation of it for the Wii. Dart and I had named the kids in our wagon party "The Duke" and "Fancy." Fancy would constantly come down with cholera or break her arm or stub her toe, to the point where it got ridiculous and became a running joke. We decided that that little girl in the picture, looking rather put out, was an excellent depiction of our Fancy!



Soon the Voices emerged, in their awesome Victorian outfits. Sometimes I wish I could become a Voice of Liberty just so I could wear one of those dresses. I wonder if you get to pick a different dress everyday? Or do they make them custom, just to fit you? I think I like the yellow and golden one best, with all the flounces.

Our decision to turn into American Adventure to see the Voices of Liberty proved to be a fateful one...for this was the first time we heard...Rocky Top Tennessee.

I do not know why that particular song struck such a chord with Athos and I, but it did. We just really liked it. And the Voices of Liberty sang it with such zest and vim! Athos subsequently declared that he would like to have the Voices of Liberty perfom at his wedding. I heartily approve of this notion and hope his future wife will as well. I've seen pictures of a wedding reception held in the American Adventure atrium - I'm sure they could bring in the Voices too!

They sang some other songs too that afternoon, but Rocky Top was the one that stayed with us. We sang it quite frequently on our trip west...it just seemed to fit the occassion. Athos and I will frequently, to this day, start singing it apropos of nothing. Athos knows two full verses and has memorized the little speech that goes before it:

"America has 50 great states, and you know there are so many wonderful songs about them. Here's one of our favorites."

Rocky Top has such a cheerful melody, but then you listen to the words: "Two strangers went up Rocky Top, looking for a moonshine still. Two strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top...reckon they never will!"

Good old Rocky Top.

Soon the performance was over; the audience applauded enthusiastically, then we all immediately forgot the performers and rushed en masse to get in line for the movie, which was about to start.

Sometimes human beings are a lot like sheep. Competitive sheep...



The stairs up to the American Adventure are so impressive, with all the flags!



Downstairs we had the Voices. Inside the theater upstairs we have the Spirits! I love these statues.



From this picture it looks like, surprisingly, we actually did get to sit in the middle of the theatre. I usually like going all the way to the end of the aisle though - that way I can beat the crowds out when the show's over!



We joked that Benjamin Franklin had been annoyed that he was excluded from the Hall of Presidents, where so many of his other friends got to hang out (Washington, Jefferson, Adams...basically the first six or so presidents), so Franklin managed to weasel his way into the American Adventure instead.



Back out into the sunshine! Probably Athos had his mouth open to burst into a verse of Rocky Top when I took this picture. Chances are...



As we were strolling out I noticed this little table with the box. It looked like a rather secret box that might be full of adventure, so naturally I had to see what was in it.

Ok, so I didn't really expect there to be anything, but surprisingly there was a PHONE! That was unexpected.



Epcot is just such a beautiful park! It gives you such a different feeling from the castle, but seeing Spaceship Earth across the water is still so quintissentially Disney.



As we passed through Morocco, we admired the sea of green leaves filling the flower beds by the water.



More flowers, this time in France...

I managed to talk the family into Impressions de France!!



I'm not sure why I have such a strong love for this film. I think it was acquired while I was working at Disney...the Boardwalk is closest to Epcot, so before or after work I would sometimes come over, and the France pavilion is right there next to the International Gateway, so I just ended up seeing this movie a lot. It got to the point where I can recite a bunch of the scenes from memory.

The scenery is so pretty (oh my goodness...and you know the part with all the pastries just filling that big circlevision screen??), the music is SO GOOD, and I love the disembodied French voice... "In distant towns and quiet villages, in the heart of all my people dwells...the secret vagabond."

Seriously. The SECRET VAGABOND. How awesome is that??

Luckily Porthos shares this absurd love of Impressions de France with me. We frequently quote the poet Bodelair together.

Ok, not really. Or not yet.

If you read my blog this is old news, but I'm headed over to visit Porthos soon (he's the brother studying abroad in London), and during his spring break we're going to travel through France and visit as many sights from Impressions de France AS POSSIBLE.

Fortunately there's a wikipedia page that lists them all. Score!

Even on a trip to Europe, we can't escape making as many references to Disney World as possible. What can I say? It's who we are. lol.

ANYway, after our seventeen minute jaunt through France, we started heading back for the park entrance.



Passed this shirt going through Canada, in which Goofy is exhibiting how to be a Mounty. I love the Disney shirts like this, customized to World Showcase or a particular pavilion!



Doesn't that sky look like it's been painted there? Epcot skies are the best.



So pretty! When you have such colorful surroundings about, it's easier to ignore the heat. But once we got out to the parking lot, it was deadly.



Our row seemed to go on forever and ever. Disney parking lots just seem to induce a feeling of despair.

At length, however, we did locate our car; and soon we were driving back to this place...

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Old 02-22-2013, 10:28 AM   #356
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What a great meal you had in Italy! Then a lovely tour of some of Epcot's best! I absolutely LOVE the voice of Liberty. Their singing of such patriotic songs always brings me to tears.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:31 AM   #357
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I share your love of the Voices of Liberty, The American Adventure, and Impressions of France. For one reason or another I think I have seen the later on each of my last 5 trips. Something so soothing in the narration.

I know there is a phone at the AA in the entrance way. My DH and I had anniversary pins on during one visit and the CM opened that box and told us we had a call. It was Mickey wishing us a happy anniversary. So unexpected.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:00 AM   #358
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Great Update! Can't wait to read what's next!
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:02 PM   #359
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Thumbs up Voices of Liberty

Quote:
Originally Posted by AGPrincess View Post
Sometimes I wish I could become a Voice of Liberty just so I could wear one of those dresses. I wonder if you get to pick a different dress everyday? Or do they make them custom, just to fit you? I think I like the yellow and golden one best, with all the flounces.

Our decision to turn into American Adventure to see the Voices of Liberty proved to be a fateful one...for this was the first time we heard...Rocky Top Tennessee.

I do not know why that particular song struck such a chord with Athos and I, but it did. We just really liked it. And the Voices of Liberty sang it with such zest and vim! Athos subsequently declared that he would like to have the Voices of Liberty perfom at his wedding. I heartily approve of this notion and hope his future wife will as well. I've seen pictures of a wedding reception held in the American Adventure atrium - I'm sure they could bring in the Voices too!

They sang some other songs too that afternoon, but Rocky Top was the one that stayed with us. We sang it quite frequently on our trip west...it just seemed to fit the occassion. Athos and I will frequently, to this day, start singing it apropos of nothing. Athos knows two full verses and has memorized the little speech that goes before it:

"America has 50 great states, and you know there are so many wonderful songs about them. Here's one of our favorites."

Rocky Top has such a cheerful melody, but then you listen to the words: "Two strangers went up Rocky Top, looking for a moonshine still. Two strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top...reckon they never will!"

Good old Rocky Top.
I was told by a VOL CM that performers are drawn from a working pool of about two dozen under contract.

In terms of pay, in WDW, both the Voices of Liberty, as well as the Dapper Dans, are an AEA gig (Actors Equity Assoc.), which means that the job, while only a yearly contract, does pay a living wage. BTW, I have also heard (albeit secondhand) that Hoop Dee Doo Revue is also an Equity gig. Real pros, for sure.

The things you learn about Disney...
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:33 PM   #360
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I wish there was a little more to the Italy pavilion, too! It's beautiful but it's lacking in my opinion.

Good old Rocky Top, indeed!

I know you've told me this before, but I really need to see that French movie! It sounds perfect. Your trip will be so much fun!
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