Walt Disney World is full of detail, stories and trivia. No matter what park you go to, almost anything; be it a picture, a date on a window, a building or even music in the background, has a reference to something Disney. For the savoir-faire guest, there is a treasure-trove of exciting information staring them right in the face! Some quick examples; going on the Living with the Land Boat ride, as you pass the farmhouse, you’ll note the sign RFD #82 in front, the “82” referencing the date EPCOT opened. Or for the really trivia minded, in front of Min and Bill’s Dockside diner, you’ll find a stack of crates. On one of the crates you’ll see…”Ship to Rick Blaine, Rick’s Café Amercain, 112642 Rue Renault, Casablanca, Morocco” This clever inscription is in reference to one of Warner Brothers Studios hit films, “Casablanca” The film won three academy awards and is on the list of the Greatest films of all time.
Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart owned the Café Amercain in Casablanca. The address is the date the film was released. The Street is actually the name of one of the characters in the movie, Louis Renault, played by actor Claude Rains. This is just the tip of the ice burg so to speak. There are uncounted similar examples, but as you can see, they are crafty and ingenious, just waiting to be discovered! Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Nee MGM Studios) is the one park that celebrates Hollywood’s Golden Age, the 30’s and 40’s. From the stars of yesteryear, Movies, Musicals and how Hollywood makes pictures and creates special effects, it all can be found here. And all these “References” gives the nod to actual events, performers, buildings and other notable happenings that occurred during that golden age.
Although many may not have seen nor heard of the film, but “Min and Bill” is a comedy-drama film released in 1930 which starred Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler, which was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. The film centered on a dockside innkeeper Min (Marie Dressler) who had adopted a daughter Nancy as an abandoned child. Bill (Wallace Beery) is the captain of a fishing boat who lives at the inn. At first you would think Bill is a possible paramour, but he is not. Although not in love, their relationship mirrors a romantic one and is important in Nancy’s life. They are trying to protect Nancy whom was abandoned at the inn as an infant by her alcoholic mother. As the police and truant officer believe Nancy would be better off in a less savory environment, her mother returns, along with the fear that Nancy would be taken away, adding to the drama.
The film became a hit which resulted in a sequel, “Tugboat Annie” again with both stars. Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner is patterned after an architectural style what is called “California Crazy” Prevalent during the first half of the 2oth century, these eye-catching buildings were scattered all over southern California, all geared to catch the attention of travelers and customers. They are replicas of cameras, buildings with hats (Does the Hollywood Brown Derby ring a bell?), animals, musical instruments and such. And Min and Bill’s is no different. Although in the movie it was a dockside inn, the Dockside Diner is a wonderful representation of the style.
And the restaurant is a nice change of pace from the usual counter-service fare. Offered is a Chicken Caesar Sandwich, Hotdog in a pretzel roll, Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and a Caesar Salad. Beer and hot and cold beverages are also available. There is no indoor seating, but with patio tables around with umbrellas, like the sign says…”Drop Anchor for a Snack” It’s a great place to take a break. The next time you are in the studios, look all around, there are names of famous movie theaters (Just walk down Sunset Boulevard) Grauman’s Chinese Theater, home of the Great Movie Ride and much more. See if you can find this gem, it’s around the Echo Lake area on a door. “Holly-Vermont Realty” Now that is a true Disney reference! So you can see, Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner is a bit more than a place to have lunch.
Contributed by: Bill I. (NDH #35). Bill is our resident historian.