I had trainer training today, and I met some great new people from Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Café in Frontierland. (Yep, trainer training is a thing. I’m being trained to be a trainer. Trainerception. Yay, responsibility!)
Cast Members are my favorite breed of people because they have this weird passion for Disney fun facts, and it’s kind of a pride thing. He who has the most facts wins. Usually. And it is a sign of superiority to share these facts with the less knowledgeable, eventually ending up in a conversation just comparing fact against fact. “Did you know–?” “Of course! That’s basic information. We covered that in Traditions. But did you know–?” “Yeah, I read that. Speaking of, didn’t you know…?” “Yes.” (Even if you don’t know the answer, say yes. Trust me.)
Today as I sat eating “lunch” in the Mousketeeria (and I use the term “lunch” loosely–it was 9:00 am. Training began at 7:00) these Pecos Bill Cast Members began the conversation every CM eventually ends up having. The Fact Debate.
They were trying to convince me Pecos Bill’s was better than Columbia Harbour House. (Another rule: even if you loathe your location with every fiber of your being, you defend it to the grave.)
They shared the Pecos Bill backstory.
“Pecos Bill,” they began, “was the wildest of the wild in the west. The best and straightest shot, the hardest rider. He was raised by wolves. He had a horse named Widowmaker, and he was a brave soul. Once, he rode a twister like a bucking bronco. He dug out a path to create the Rio Grande river during a drought in his beloved homeland of Texas. He shot out all the stars in the sky except one, which is why Texas is called the Lone Star State. And, one day, with the encouragement of his friends, he opened a restaurant, a watering hole called the Tall Tale Inn and Café. It became tradition for all his friends to leave a token during their visit, like Paul Bunyon leaving his giant axe behind. And that is the story of Pecos Bill’s.”
They smirked at me.
“Okay, Caballeros,” I responded, folding my arms across my back-of-house chef uniform. They knew Columbia Harbour House didn’t really have as much of a thought-out story as other locations. “You think CHH is a bit of an unknown, don’t you?”
They waited for me to continue.
“I’m about to bombard you with fun facts,” I warned.
Their eyes dared me to share something they didn’t know. And I, the fun fact collector of Disney World, opened my mouth to unleash a torrent of knowledge. I verbally assaulted them with trivia.
“It’s a bit sad most people don’t know these,” one said at the end of my rant. “Probably because most of them don’t really know about Columbia Harbour House. No offense.”
He’s right, I thought. Most people think we just smell fishy and that’s about it.
But that is why I’m blogging to you today: to share with you a list of obscure facts about the little-known restaurant between Liberty Square and Fantasyland. Ready for your daily dose of fun facts? Good. Put on your galoshes, you’re about to be hit with a wave of trivia.
1. Columbia Harbour House sits between two lands, Fantasyland and Liberty Square. Between the two, a breezeway provides some shade and a nice transition. What you didn’t realize is that it also symbolizes your journey over the Atlantic Ocean, with CHH providing a harbor on both sides.
2. There are no bathrooms in Liberty Square because indoor plumbing wasn’t invented in the colonial era. Luckily, CHH sits perched between two lands, and bathrooms are located only on the Fantasyland side of the restaurant.
3. The restaurant is one of the only locations left in Magic Kingdom with custom trash cans.
4. CHH is one of the only locations that caters to vegetarians (vegetarian chili and the vegetarian Lighthouse Sandwich are on the menu) and is the only Magic Kingdom location that offers fish.
5. Directly across the street is the Haunted Mansion, where a wall painting in the queue line depicts a skeletal captain with a fishing spear. Cross the street and look above the cash registers in the rafters of the restaurant–we have the same spear hanging in a fishing net. Coincidence? I think not!
6. Each room is inspired by a sunken ghost ship. (Also a Haunted Mansion tie-in.)
7. Our pride-and-joy Hidden Mickey is a world map in the shape of Mickey’s head.
8. CHH is one of Disney World’s original features, opening way back in ’71 as Nantucket Harbour House. It was renamed shortly afterwards.
9. We have a skylight.
10. Often known as a ‘secret,’ yet shared with abandon, few people bother to check out the second floor of the restaurant, which is quiet and cool and very peaceful. Plus if you sit on the breezeway you can spy on Peter Pan and Wendy’s current meet-and-greet location. Woohoo!
Despite the fact we don’t have any heroes that ride twisters like bucking broncos, Columbia Harbour House is an unusual Disney classic that is so easily overlooked even I didn’t know it existed until Disney called and told me I’d be working there. But I’m so glad I get to work in an unusual, hole-in-the-wall, classic location. It’s a tad off the beaten path (which is why we literally have a bell ringer standing outside to alert people of our presence) but it is certainly worthwhile.
And at the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I love all Disney restaurants and all Disney Fun Facts with a passion. If you’re in the mood for something delicious during your next trip, hit up CHH. And then share your fun facts with anyone who will listen! In true Cast Member fashion, the person with the most facts wins.
(You now have the CHH advantage, 10 to 1.)