Sunday Brunchies and
Crunchies (with Gurgi, Lumiere, Mickey
March 20, 2011
One of the greatest things about
dining in the
Disney theme parks is getting the chance
to dine in an environment themed to a specific
Disney character or movie.
One can sample
Mickey Mouse's cooking at
Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort
or get a taste of some old western burgers at
Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn in
Frontierland. Also in
Magic Kingdom, guests can enjoy Italian
Pinocchio's Village Haus in
was lucky enough to have guests visit his own
themed restaurant since the park opened in 1971
and to this day his name remains.
Other Disney characters were not so lucky
and though they had the chance to "operate" a
particular eatery at the park, their time was
Having a very King Arthur-esque
theme, the surrounding shops and eateries in
Tournament Fantasyland were aptly named such as
The Round Table and The Lancer's Inn,
both opening with the park in 1971.
Before Pinocchio started serving pizza in
recent years, Fantasyland guests knew to satisfy
their pizza cravings at the Lancer's Inn, the
tiny counter service restaurant next to The
Round Table, an ice cream stand, and Mr. Toad's
Here is The Lancer's Inn
provided by photographer King Coco, found on the
Widen Your World
Facebook Fan Page.
Widen Your World (http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/wyw.htm)
is a terrific website that takes a look back at
the history of Walt Disney World.
Over time, Fantasyland was
freshened up and changes were made to stay
relevant to Disney's animated film library at
the time. In 1986, the
Lancer's Inn was closed and reopened on October
26 as Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies.
"Who the heck is Gurgi?" you ask.
Many guests in the late 1980s and early
1990s didn't know either.
Luckily, today there's a cult audience and
hardcore Disney fans who know that Gurgi is the
furry little creature who was always hungry for
"munchies and crunchies" in Disney's 25th
The Black Cauldron from 1985.
Unfortunately, the animated epic fantasy
was a production nightmare taking 7 years to
make and had a disappointing return at the box
office, losing out to animated fluff like
The Care Bears Movie.
Black Cauldron Theatrical
Despite all this, the Imagineers
chose to retheme the Lancer's Inn with their
most recent fantasy themed adventure in efforts
to promote the film and stay true to the
Fantasyland theme. Though the
film was quite dark, Gurgi's was a kid friendly
kids meals with chicken nuggets and
grilled cheese sandwiches in a fun meal box with
a toy (sound familiar?), though adult items were
also available. The
restaurant was decorated with a full color mural
of characters from The Black Caulrdon
with the fairfolk and King Eidilleg flittering
around the condiment station.
Fearing I would find nothing about this place in
my research, I was quite please to stumble upon
Disney fan Scott Osborne's blog, where he wrote
about his experience working at Gurgi's in 1991
for his Disney College Program.
You can read how he constantly had to
explain to guests the Disney reference to this
restaurant at his blog "Disneyphemera" and also
see some great vintage photos of the restaurant
Here is a taste of what Scott
Osborne has documented of his time at Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies.
Check out the awesome
mural! Image from Scott Osborne's Disneyphemera
This incarnation of the Fantasyland snack stand is
probably my favorite because the name is so witty and fitting and it
references an easily forgotten Disney animated feature.
Unfortunately, just as guests today and even back in the
1990s do not understand this legitimate Disney reference, the
Imagineers knew they had to update the eatery again.
After 6 years, Gurgi was traded for a more popular and
recognizably Disney character: Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast.
Lumiere's Kitchen opened on February 13, 1993, serving up a
similar menu to Gurgi's while The Round Table was converted into a
cupboard where Mrs. Pott's took over ice cream duties.
Lumiere's Kitchen sign, from
Mrs. Potts' Cupboard sign, from Reuben G.
Mrs. Potts proved to be a great saleslady while
Lumiere's Kitchen began the terrible fate of seasonal status and
soon it simply stopped opening at all, disappearing from park maps
all together in the early 2000s. The lights were
out for Lumiere, but by 2006 the original Lancer's Inn had changed
names again. This time, no character had taken
its place, but instead a corporate partner.
Around the late 1990s, Disney had established a 10-year contracted
McDonald's, agreeing to have McDonald's sell Disney toys with
their happy meals
and Disney to sell McDonald's food at their resort.
The identity crisis Fantasyland
stand was reopened to be a location selling hot dogs and McDonald's
and Disney wanted to make sure you knew it. Since
there were no McDonald's in the world of Beauty and the Beast,
Lumiere could not return, so the stand was given a generic name, the
Village Fry Shoppe. With a new name, a new sign
was needed and the famous golden arches were incorporated into the
That's shoppe with pe because it's the
olden days. Image from
As with the box office blunder of The Black
Cauldron, the evils of corporate politics found another way of
leaching into Fantasyland, so the Village Fry Shoppe was bestowed
the shortest lifespan of all the Fantasyland
stand incarnations. Around 2008/2009, Disney's
contract with McDonald's had ended and due to the decade's health
related movements against the fast food corporate empire, Disney
chose not to renew it. With this action, Mickey
Mouse needed to erase any evidence that his parks were ever
associated with Mickey D's.
The most recent and most surprising change occurred
in 2009 with the axing of the golden arches and instating a friendly
Fryer-I mean Friar. The Village Fry Shoppe found
a new French fry supplier and owner, so the name changed to what we
know today as The Friar's Nook. It's odd that
Disney didn't take the chance to go for a recent or even upcoming
film-this time they went backwards to honor a Disney classic while
being witty at the same time. Kindly, old Friar
Tuck of 1973's
Robin Hood came out of retirement to be a friar fryer for
Fantasyland's fry shop. I mean shoppe, it is
Fantasyland after all.
The Friar's Nook sign, from Reuben G,
features Friar Tuck and the date MLXXI or 1071, around the time the
story of Robin Hood took place. The 71 is
probably in reference to 1971, when the original Lancer's Inn
Only time will tell how long Friar Tuck will be
operating the fry stand, but for now, let's hope he's here to stay.
The Lancer's Inn/Friar's Nook is only one example of name
changing as a result of times changing. Perhaps
over time, Pinocchio will get the boot to make way for a Magic
Kingdom version of the Snugly Duckling from Tangled!
Just kidding, I wouldn't want that to happen.
Overall, it's great to see that this most recent change was
not in the direction of promotion of the latest movie, but a result
of the Imagineers being smart about what classic Disney characters
are best suited for the environment.
Alison, Mousketeer. Walt Dated World. n.d. 18 March 2011 <http://waltdatedworld.com>.
Osborne, Scott. Disneyphemera.
26 July 2010. 18 March 2011 <http://disneyphemera.blogspot.com/2010/07/gurgis-munchies-crunchies-photos.html>.
Tallarico, Tony. This Day in Disney History. n.d. 18 March
Weiss, Werner. Yesterland.com: McDonald's Food at WDW. 2009.
19 March 2011 <http://www.yesterland.com/mcwdw.html>.
Lancer's Inn Photo
Credit: Widen Your World's Facebook Page
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