/ Friday, May 31st, 2013

by Richie McNanna

Hello Friends,

A few weeks ago I introduced the idea that I love to eat at restaurants back in New Jersey that remind me of my favorite Disney dining spots.  I’m pretty sure this is because these restaurants succeed as the ones in Disney do by creating culinary experiences that engage many senses…or, maybe more simply,  they contain common sensory details that hold me over until my next trip to Orlando.

Either way the following example comes from an experience not in New Jersey,  but “across the pond” as they say.   In it,  a certain “man” and his wife demonstrate this idea of a “Disney food portal” if you will…


LONDON. December, 2011. –

A married couple walks through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets that is the West End theater district, rushing a bit to find a place to eat before the house opens at a nearby playhouse.  Against all odds, this particular evening fit the stereotypical Hollywood image of a foggy, dreary London which is so common in films like Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and The Great Mouse Detective – the type of atmosphere debunked by historians as mere legend or the product of overly-polluting factories in the Victorian era.  Famished to be sure, the man and woman are so excited for their first night on the town in “Jolly Old England” that their hunger pangs fail to detract them from appreciating the winding streets and unique pub storefronts.  The Coach and Horses.  The Argyl Arms.  The Dog and Duck.UKPav

Then it happened.

Up ahead, looming on the next corner,  the man spied a particular pub that would have blended in with the rest were it not for the lone beam of lamplight which cast an ethereal glow from above like some holy halo singling it out and making time stop.

“Oh. My. God.” The man stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the bar as if staring into the face of God.  “I can’t believe it!   It…it looks just like the Rose and Crown in Epcot!”

“What?” responded Mrs. Disney-lover.  “Good Lord.  Don’t you kinda mean that the Rose and Crown in Epcot looks just like that place? This is the actual, gen-u-ine England and all.”

“No.  I said what I mean, and I mean what I said.  That place looks just like the Rose and Crown, and we shall eat there.   Tally ho!”

With a knowing sigh and a slight shake of the head,  Mrs. Disney-lover followed her husband, three paces behind, as he raced to the dark wood and stained glass front doors of “Any Pub”, London, England.
Several Boddingtons and a pair of fish-and-chips orders later, the woman was ready to put her jacket back on and make her way to the show,  and Mr. Disney-lover was ready to get in line for Mission Space…except he couldn’t because he was several thousand miles away from it.


Well, as you might have guessed,  the couple in this anecdote are my wife and I, and, yes, it is a true story.

And for the record,  the pub fare was a crispy and delicious as the Rose and Crown,  and the beer was as refreshing as an early evening slug fest  during the Food and Wine Festival.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  As always, please share any similar experiences below;  I’d love to hear from you.

Next time: a steak house in New Jersey that is a combination, Main Street USA, Le Cellier, and the film The Happiest Millionaire.


Rich McNanna is a seventh grade language arts teacher and avid Disney, baseball, and food fan from Westfield,  New Jersey.  He is a regular columnist sharing his passion for Disney food experiences and an avid listener and reader of the WDW Radio world. He and his wife dream of one day purchasing a Disney Vacation Club membership so that they can take their baby boy to the greatest place on Earth at least once a year…just for the churros.




5 thoughts on “Mickey to Go: The Inspiration behind the “Food Portal””

  1. John and Karl says:

    Hi Rich,
    Great topic, considering we are sort of neighbors up here in NW NJ. We love Disney so much that we bought a vacation/future retirement home about 40 mins. from WDW.
    It’s funny how certain things bring back vacation/Disney memories. Just last week we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a breakfast sandwich/donut (car food) on our way to PA for the day. Well, to our surprise, we were briefly transported back to Florida. You see, our Magic Kingdom routine always requires a Dunkin Donut stop for a breakfast sandwich/donut (car food) so we don’t waste time eating breakfast at the park and can get on all the Fantasyland rides before the crowds hit. Even a “food routine” can help you re-live those great Disney-related memories!

  2. Richie says:

    Hey neighbor!
    And that’s exactly what I’m talking about…making a simple Dunkin Donuts run can totally take us back to Disney..a testament to how gaga we are for the place!
    I’m writing about a steakhouse in the Morristown area in two weeks!

  3. John and Karl says:

    Hey Rich,

    We probably think about Disney/Florida every day! We even have the 103rd Dalmatian named Holly! Just this morning when I went outside to walk Holly, the smell in the air reminded me of Florida! I work in a psychiatric hospital – perhaps I need to be admitted 🙂 We have found over the years that you either GET DISNEY or you don’t, and it’s still shocking to us when people come back from WDW and say, “it was just ok” – WHAT??? Very sad indeed.
    Very often we have entered a themed restaurant and said, “this reminds us of Disney” – Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, etc. Of course, no one does it like Disney!

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Take care,
    J and K

  4. Richie says:

    I COMPLETELY know what you mean…people who cavalierly state, “Ah, I think I’ve been there once,” or call the parks in Florida “Disneyland”…Ughhh!
    I’m so happy you like the entries…see ya soon!

  5. Claire says:

    I don’t travel a lot, but Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to so far! So sometimes I find myself going onto YouTube and typing in “Carousel of Progress” or “It’s a Small World” in order to just “ride” some of my favorite Disney rides once again. I know it’s not the same as actually going to Disney, but at least there are some really great quality videos!