Sunday, September 11, 2016

Goofy’s Kitchen as Goofy and “Campy” as a Summer Camp Dining Hall

By Ron Baxley




Gawrsh! Who wouldn't enjoy a fun-filled breakfast or dinner with Goofy as your host? Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel welcomes you to the eatery where boisterous fun is the order of the day. It's a place where you can come and enjoy all you care to eat while snapping memorable photos with Goofy and the gang. In today's new article, new contributing writer Ron Baxley takes us with him on a recent trip to the restaurant and offers his review of this memorable dining location you won't want to miss...




(c) Ron Baxley




During my first trip to Disneyland in 2015, I obtained a reservation and dined (more like “scarfed” in and guffawed) at Goofy’s Kitchen, I was reminded of fond memories of summer camp as a kid.

I remembered with fondness my time working in an outdoor education program as a teacher and camp program as a counselor as well as going to summer camp as a kid and thought of how those experiences related to Goofy’s Kitchen, which is located quasi-diagonally from the Disneyland Hotel. However, the restaurant of one of Mickey Mouse’s classic, oldest friends possessed much better food and a non-rustic setting (we will leave the rustic setting to the Wilderness Explorer/ “Up”-themed area of California Adventure). I eventually thought of three major reasons why I found Goofy’s Kitchen to be “campy” in a good way...


1)  THE GOOFY CAMP COUNSELORS

Goofy’s Kitchen quite literally has a goofy camp counselor, Goofy himself, dressed as a chef in a toque blanc (a white chef’s hat somewhat comparable to those in the Disney Pixar film “Ratatouille” but shorter in this case) and chef’s white attire but with colorful, over-sized buttons which makes it stand out. Goofy’s Kitchen is, of course, one of the character greeting restaurants of the Disney Parks, so this is the reason Goofy greets guests as they come in. When I misplaced a receipt during my visit, Goofy put his gloved hands over his mouth and black bulbous nose on his snout and shook his head. He did this after doing a big ta-da gesture when I came in, showing off his colorful kitchen complete with faux stove and house-ware décor.




(c) Ron Baxley




He intentionally stumbled around in his kitchen décor-filled entranceway a little and posed for photographs just like my camp counselors were always willing to do. I also was always willing to pose for photographs with kids as a Nature’s Classroom outdoor education program teacher in Massachusetts and LifeTech Ventures Discovery Teacher (more like an educational camp counselor for the latter). Anyway, it turns out my lost receipt was in my camera bag, so Goofy shook his head and pantomimed guffawing in good fun and patted me on the back when I found it there. (Bring your own camera as I did and take shots of Goofy and of the other characters.)




(c) Ron Baxley




Other characters served as my entertainment at my rounded off, Toon Town-esque booth there as outdoor education program teachers or camp counselors often do at kids’ tables in dining halls. I found myself reaching reminiscent tears when Minnie hugged me. Back in the 80s, camp counselors could hug us kids in, of course, a platonic way. What I was tearing up at more than remembering camp counselor hugs was memories of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and visits with them from when I was three onward at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. Show me a grown man who has fond memories of Disney as a child and introduce him to Mickey or Minnie, and I can guarantee the camp bus diesel fumes will get to him (this used to be my excuse for getting a little teary eyed when kids left the outdoor education program for the week, and I got upset a la Harry Potter’s Hagrid. This is in contrast to my reaction to the diesel fumes at the ticket center at Disney World… I used to say there jokingly as I sniffed the air, “I love the smell of diesel fumes in the morning… it smells like Disney!”) By the way, I still have my photo to remember Minnie by.




(c) Ron Baxley




Next up came Pluto, and I was remembering my Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ziggy back home, who I had to board because I did not want to fly him out due to the conditions for pets. (This was about six to seven months before Ziggy, who I adopted in 2013 from a shelter, would officially become my emotional support dog and could get his own airplane seat.)  I petted Pluto as I remembered Ziggy back home and had that diesel fume moment again. Of course, many camps do not have dogs but some do. And Pluto is anthropomorphized anyway. What I did ask Pluto to do that I did as an outdoor education program counselor was sign a napkin or piece of paper for my niece who was not with me (I highly recommend bringing a journal or purchasing an autograph book for kids to get signatures on. They even have them on sale at the waiting area and the registers located just before Goofy’s entranceway). The other characters signed autographs for my niece as well. I think I had even asked Minnie for hers. Pluto also posed for a photo.




(c) Ron Baxley




Next, dogs are not prevalent at camps, but chipmunks certainly are in some regions as they were in the outdoor education program and camp where I worked in Massachusetts. We even referred to a kind of mascot at times, Chippy the Chipmunk, there. Chipmunks in New England, in contrast to the more squirrel-prevalent camps in the South where I attended, scurried about everywhere in logs and trees and sometimes made their way into cabins if kids smuggled in food. Speaking of food, as I was eating mine at my booth (more on the food later), I felt someone staring at me. I had that feeling of eyes figuratively burning the back of my neck. Just like an animal would, Dale, one of the Disney chipmunks, was staring silently behind me right at my plate. I did the quick, classic double-take. Then, I nearly jumped out of my skin but then had a big laugh with Dale who did his bent-over chuckle in pantomime over his playful prank. I was reminded of the antics of counselors with this silliness. Chip also came by later, and both signed autographs and posed for photos.




(c) Ron Baxley

(c) Ron Baxley




I was able to have visits with five major characters at Goofy’s Kitchen, and the characters were definitely reminders of past camp counselors and my own time as one and of critters there at camp. (Imagine the joy this gives to kids if it made a sentimental big kid like me happy.) A plethora of characters entertained me at my table just as my past camp counselors did and I did as an outdoor education program counselor myself years later.


2) THE CAMP GAMES AT THE TABLES
Camp games at tables are treasured memories at summer camp or outdoor education programs. Running around the table if somebody puts their elbows on the table, weighing food waste and doing a conga dance to give a report of it, and entertaining kids with a pepper shaker with a butter knife with a salt shaker lying beside it and stating dryly, “A salt with a deadly weapon.” Kids eat this stuff up more than they do the standard fare served in camp dining halls. Goofy’s Kitchen has its own camp game-style tradition. Whenever the master of ceremonies, Goofy, has greeted his last customer with reservations, he comes into the dining area and with prompting from cast-members and announcements, adults and kids are encouraged, as tribute to Goofy, to take their cloth napkins off their laps or tables, raise them above their heads, and rotate them in a circle above to the tune of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. Where else but camp and Goofy’s Kitchen can playing at the table be encouraged? To answer my own rhetorical question, during a quick two day birthday visit to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World this year, on the monorail, I went through the open architecture of the Contemporary Resort and could see the people at Chef Mickey’s at about a tenth scale size. As I was never able to go there for a character breakfast as a child (I am not whining or crying… I had plenty of Disney experiences through the years), I never saw the tradition there. Sure enough, in about tenth scale size from my vantage point of the monorail car were adults and kids hurling their napkins above their heads – presumably for Chef Mickey. I thought of the classic Internet meme caption, “Now there is my tribe.” This is one that just has to be “pictured” in person.


3) THE BUFFET-STYLE FOOD (Better at Goofy’s Kitchen Than Camp, Though)

Not many people like the food at camp. The food at the outdoor education program was much better than most camp fare. However, a lot of camp cooking reminds one of the “Eggs Erroneous” dish from “Ernest Goes to Camp” (yes, I watched that as a kid in fifth grade around 1985… don’t judge me). The eggs at Goofy’s Kitchen were well seasoned (but not with 17 spices smuggled in by Tibetan monks), not runny, and did not taste powdered nor coupled with the secret ingredient of yellow modeling clay a la “Eggs Erroneous.” What made the food at Goofy’s Kitchen like camp food is it was served buffet style with trays and plates. One basically served one’s self.

I enjoyed the Mickey waffles there. They were crispy and buttery and made me smile with the duplication of my favorite character’s face.








My mushroom and cheese omelet from the non-Goofy chef was just firm enough yet melted in my mouth and the cheese was well-melted and the mushrooms well-cooked too. The bacon there was salty and maple-y, and they had tons of it. The sausages had a nice snap to them and were well-cooked and slightly spicy, and many excellent breakfast food choices were available in the all you can eat buffet setting. (I have cooked for myself and others for many years since I was 10 and learned by watching my neighbor and late grandmother and mother. I have for the past couple of years done a lot of cooking as a care-giver. Also, I used to host a few author dinner parties in my thirties. Long before then, I even worked as a cook for two years to earn money during university. Therefore, I know good food.)








Goofy’s Kitchen even had macaroni and cheese and other lunch fixings such as hot dogs and salad with fixings out at around 10:30 or 11 (I think breakfast and lunch foods are available together most of the day). I tried some of the macaroni and cheese, and the pasta was al dente yet tender, and the cheese was suitably acrid yet sublime. Other additional lunch foods were available.








Those are all the reasons Goofy’s Kitchen was like being at camp. Being there brought back a lot of childhood memories and even memories of being an adult camp counselor and adult education program teacher. Keep in mind that if you are going, much like with camp, you have to plan ahead. You have to have reservations for this character breakfast/lunch venue. (Call the Disney Reservation line or see Guest Services.) To bring back your own childhood memories and introduce more camp-style ones to your kids, a trip to Goofy's Kitchen is highly recommended.






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S.C. native author and former 15-year educator Ron Baxley, Jr. has visited Disney World since he was three in 1978. His mother, Marleen Baxley, was originally from Jacksonville, Florida and had family there who facilitated going to Disney World. Ron has been invited as a guest author at Oz festivals and science fiction cons since 2010 and was recently awarded the honor of a lifetime membership by the International L. Frank Baum and All Things Oz Foundation in Chittenango, New York, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, in June for his lifetime Ozian achievements. Within the past year, Ron posted a social media article with photographs entitled simply “Dad and Disney” in which he compared a lifetime of experiences in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World with his Dad including his first-time experiences in Disneyland after attending as an authorial vendor at OzCon in San Diego in 2015. From having a plush Mickey Mouse as his favorite, earliest toy to watching Disney films, Ron has been a Disney fan as long as he has been a fan of “The Wizard of Oz.” If he is not occasionally traveling to the closest Disney Store outlet in Concord, N.C., he enjoys yearly trips to the Disney Parks and collects different types of Mr. Potato Heads there and elsewhere.

Ron is an Oz, fantasy, science fiction, children's, and young adult author of 25 years and part-time correspondent/reporter for the Orangeburg “Times and Democrat” in Orangeburg, S.C. He has most recently had an article on Eugene and Eulie David, former M.G.M. Wizard of Oz “Munchkin” actors and brothers who lived in his hometown of Barnwell, S.C. published in the August - October 2016 issue of the glossy national magazine “Filmfax” after it appeared in three newspapers. He placed this article and a fictionalization of it as well as stories which followed his previously published Oz books in a brand new Oz fan-fic collection, After Th’Oz, available from Amazon. A full listing of his Oz, co-written Oz/Wonderland, fantasy, and science fiction books (some of which were traditionally published from Maple Creek Press) can be found by clicking here and information on his other projects and updates can be found at his author page, here

4 comments:

  1. A fun article about a fun place with delightful photos

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  2. Ron Baxley Jr. is such a joy to talk to. His writing peaks your interest and makes you laugh. Go take a look and see.
    Mary Fortner Smith

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  3. Wonderful article that was spot-on, and captured the true fun and delicious food you'll get dining at Goofy's Kitchen! I especially loved when Goofy and the gang would break out the music and do a group dance around the buffet. It's a special not-to-miss Disney experience, and I agree that it appeals to adults and kids alike. I went with my aunt, sans kids, and we had a blast! I look forward to reading more from Mr. Baxley-what a great addition he is!

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  4. Wonderful!.... as are all the works by Ron that I have had privilege to see.. Ron has the best sense of humor.. I love to laugh with Ron !

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