Last weekend we had the 10th Annual THEME PARK TURKEY OF THE YEAR AWARDS. That article had a headline drawing by artist Brian Cooper which was loaded with Easter Eggs and hidden details. To explain them all, we followed up with the 2023 TURKEY ADDENDUM, looking at every single reference in the drawing.
The 2023 Turkeys were also blessed with an amazing drawing by artist SonderQuest as well. This artwork paid homage to the iconic Norman Rockwell painting Freedom From Want, and – like Brian Cooper’s headline drawing – was filled with specific references from the theme parks. Today we’re going to look at the process SonderQuest went through to create this artwork, as well as examine all the details in the drawing. Along the way we’ll even have some quotes from SonderQuest himself that give an insight into why certain people or items were included in the artwork!
First we’ll look a bit at SonderQuest’s process. The black and white sketch below was done with pen on paper. The blue sketch below was the first digital illustration, to get an idea of where to position people along with the food on the table.
The drawing continued to evolve…
…until the finished product.
Okay, let’s take a look at everything on the list, starting with…
Bio’s inclusion was a no-brainer. Aside from Derek, I can’t think of anyone in the community that has delivered a more important look at the state of the parks on a consistent basis than Bio. An unparalleled eye and dedication that is truly inspiring. He’s the reason I’m in this community and my first choice of who to bring to the SAT SIX Thanksgiving table. – SonderQuest
2: Emory Alvardo
One of the kindest persons I’ve met directly through connections made by making an illustration. Emory has been a constant source of support in my quest to improve my skills as an amateur artist and I’m always delighted to see the success that has come her way. – SonderQuest
In the artwork, Emory is wearing a Lil’ Boo earring, because she is the artist behind the creation of this cute and lovable pumpkin.
Lil’ Boo became an instant fan favorite at Halloween Horror Nights and joined Earl the Squirrel in being one of the most popular characters created for the Universal parks, spawning a full line of merchandise.
3. David – From TouringPlans’ David & Derek series
As mentioned in the 2023 Turkeys Addendum for Brian Cooper’s headline drawing, the David & Derek series is my personal favorite thing to do at TouringPlans. The series applies the concept of “Goofus & Gallant” to the theme park world, with one character doing things “the right way” and the other character doing things “the wrong way.” The character of David – who does things the right way – was based on David Davies, an employee at TouringPlans who is mostly working behind the scenes making sure the website and app performs as it should. Here are a couple examples of David in the strip David & Derek looking at the Do’s and Don’ts of Vacation Planning.
4. Digital Maestro Scott Walker
A hilarious wit and editing skills to match, Scott’s presence at the Sat Six table is almost a requirement thanks to the many contributions he’s made over the years. On many occasions, there’s just no way to process how bizarre a situation is until you’ve seen Scott put an amazing edit together. They perfectly encapsulate the humor in some odd moments in this community and when it comes to the Sat Six, truth is funnier than fiction. – SonderQuest
Scott’s digital mastery is awesome to behold and shows the power of what happens when a razor sharp sense of humor is combined with photoshop. Here are some of my favorite images that Scott has created over the past couple years, including his addition to the scale model of the water tower at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure…
…MagicBand+ interacting with Harmonious when it caught fire…
…and maybe a famous painting or two himself.
Bacini is the official dog of DisTwitter and has joined me on many theme park trips over the years, from a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness to being treated like Rock Royalty at the Hard Rock Hotel and everywhere in between. Trust me, this is one spoiled pup, not only does he prefer to order room service while on vacation, but he once had a suite at Best Friends Pet Hotel that was bigger than my room at Disney’s Pop Century!
Earlier this year Bacini became the first player in history to score 100,000,000 points playing Universal’s Minion Blast, becoming the # 1 ranked player All-Time and joining the Vicious 6 (thanks to his friend @bioreconstruct)
You may remember a previous article we did looking at one of my favorite attraction scenes in any theme park, the Dog with Key scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. SonderQuest was also inspired by that scene for this drawing featuring Bacini and Professor Daniel Miller, who at the time had just had his Twitter handle (@DrunkATDisney) locked by Twitter (you can read about that wild story in the 2020 In Memoriam.)
6. Derek – From TouringPlans’ David & Derek Series
Of course, our master of ceremonies has to be included at the head of the table. For the 10 years that the Turkeys have been going on, Derek has taken up a monumental task. Trying to organize a compendium of oddities in the theme park community that would get lost to the clutter of time by the end of the year. Were it not for his diligent preservation work, we’d have lost track of countless bizarre decisions & products that come & go before the public really has time to process what happened. – SonderQuest
Let’s go back to the David & Derek series. When I first started writing and drawing them, it was before we had Bacini in our family (check out this David & Derek on the Do’s and Don’ts of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.) In fact, it was that David & Derek on Galaxy’s Edge which made me swear off drawing the series forever, despite the fact I loved doing them so much. I was so frustrated trying to draw the Millennium Falcon that eventually I just gave up and begged artist Sterling Denham to draw the ship for me. Months later, Brian Cooper graciously agreed to help draw the strip, and by that time Bacini and I were BFFs. So I decided to add Bacini into the mix, and be the “moral compass” to the character of Derek, sort of like the old Davey and Goliath stop motion animation shows from the 1970s. Bacini would always be trying to help Derek do the right thing…unless snacks were involved.
Here is a look at the Derek side of the article on the Do’s and Don’ts of Vacation Planning…
Brian has also used the characters of Derek and Bacini in other artwork such as this one for the 6 Reasons We’ll NEVER FORGET 2020…
7. Brian Cooper
Thanks to his immense contributions to the turkeys for the past 5 years, Brian Cooper inspires me to bring the best work I can contribute. His banners have been a sight I look forward to every year and they’ve never disappointed. It’s an honor to be involved in a project with him.
If I somehow came across Aladdin’s lamp and had access to three wishes from Genie, one of those wishes would be for me to be able to draw like Brian Cooper. I’ve been a fan of comic books – and art in general – my entire life, and I would do anything to be able to draw in his style. Its exactly what I envision in my head when I picture how I want a drawing to turn out.
In the drawing, Brian is serving a giant Turkey Leg, a food item that is synonymous with theme parks.
The obsession with Turkey Legs at Disney has always fascinated me and I’m truly shocked by the amount of merchandise made for Turkey Legs over the years including wallets, hats, and even boxer shorts!
I mean who seriously is buying TURKEY LEG HOME DECOR?!!!!!
8. Len Testa
The Grand Poohbah of TouringPlans, Len is one of the true Good People in the entire theme park industry.
9. Alicia Stella
Alicia has done so much great work covering the theme park Industry news as it evolves but also shares a generous heart with the community as well. Her work on the Park Stop Stop Hate charity campaign and desire to make sure everyone feels supported is the sort of kind hearted behavior that deserves to be championed. – SonderQuest
10. Ian Kauffman
Alicia’s podcasting right hand man with a heart of gold. Ian has been wonderfully supportive and someone I felt would be a required invitation if I ever held a theme park community Thanksgiving. – SonderQuest
12. Awful Tees
Derek is wearing the unbelievably awful Dog with Key scene from Pirates of the Caribbean shirt (how is this real?!!)
While Brian Cooper is wearing one of the many t-shirts Disney produced when MagicBands made their debut. This line of Magic Band shirts probably sold about 3 total.
For the David & Derek series, Derek is always wearing one of the shirts you would see in our Disney Merchandise Hall of Shame, such as this one below that looks like it was an air-brushed knockoff shirt you would see sold on the Jersey Shore for $5.
Nay Nay. This was an actual shirt sold inside the Disney theme parks.
13. HHN Tribute Comic
Hanging on the wall is the Derek & Bacini cover from the HHN 32 Tribute Store. This came about after Universal advertised that guests could get themselves featured in the store by submitting a picture. The only direction from Universal was that you looked scared in the photo.
So we got Brian Cooper to draw Derek and Bacini for our “photo” and submitted that (while crossing our fingers and paws.)
Universal accepted the drawing, and the cover featuring Derek & Bacini was featured inside the Tribute Store.
A who’s who of theme park celebrities visited the comic to pay their respects, including Len Testa himself.
14. NASCAR Sports Grille Fan Fueler
Okay, time to check out the items on the table, and first up is the NASCAR Sports Grille Fan Fueler. This was a souvenir cup offered by the NASCAR Grille at Universal CityWalk and is one of the most ridiculous items ever made. THAT SAID, it is always my favorite item ever made.
In fact, I am the proud owner of this amazing piece of artwork painted by Kaila Olsen-Alsonso. It is currently displayed prominently behind 3″ thick bulletproof glass.
15. Galaxy’s Edge Spork
One of the biggest surprises of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was the popularity of the Spork created for Docking Bay 7. No one knew that these sporks were coming to the land, and these were an instant hit! However, they did not last long…
…as within days of the land opening, the sporks were replaced with normal plastic forks. Disney did not give any reason for this change, but word on the streets is that most of the sporks “walked away.” In fact, many of them walked straight to eBay. A check of the auction site reveals that many of these stolen sporks are being resold to the highest bidder. Not just sporks either, if an item wasn’t nailed down, someone has taken it and tried to resell it.
Later, the sporks would return, except this time Disney was going to make guests pay for them. The sporks would include their own bag.
Of course Bacini and I had to have this!
16. Disneyland Paris “Mickey” Pizza
For those who don’t know, I’ve done reviews on pretty much every single Disney Sing Along Songs DVD, but by far and away my favorite was DISNEYLAND FUN. Why? Because I accidentally discovered that when you choose the French Audio on the DVD, it plays a SHOT-FOR-SHOT remake of Disneyland Fun using DISNEYLAND PARIS instead of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
This BLEW MY MIND.
While the normal Disneyland Fun feature had a segment on The Haunted Mansion, the French language version used Phantom Manor from Disneyland Paris. It was absolutely amazing and I love every second of it (again, you can see the full review by CLICKING HERE.)
In the French language version of the DVD, they featured different food items than we saw in the English version. One of these food items was a Mickey-shaped pizza!
I made sure to include the ridiculous Mickey Pizza from Disneyland Paris as that was one of the first illustrations that I made that got my paintings noticed by Derek. I think it set the tone of exactly what kind of ridiculous contributions I was looking to make to the SAT SIX and I’m grateful for that phenomenally low-effort pizza. – SonderQuest
17. Darth Maul-sa
Long before the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland there was an even more questionable decision with the Star Wars brand, and it happened during the fabled Star Wars Weekends (SWW) at DHS. In fact, the last year in which SWW was an annual event it went out with a bang, as it introduced the Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience, an overlay to Backlot Express. Inside the Hangar there were a whole bunch of neat – even if completely random – Star Wars elements including awesome propaganda-style posters done for The Empire. The backstory to the Rebel Hangar was that it included discarded remnants from over a hundred planets, so it was essentially a Star Wars Outlet Store.
The “highlight” to the Rebel Hangar was the food. The entire menu was themed to Star Wars and ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, filled with puns (including The Dark Fried, a variation on chicken and waffles) and some nonsensical items (such as Ensalada Naboo). Universal and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter went one way with Butterbeer and Chocolate Frogs, immersing guests into the film world they loved; while Rebel Hangar went in a completely different direction with a bonkers-looking Chips and Sith and the disgustingly named Dagobah Swamp Juice.
The Chips and Sith was supposed to look like Darth Maul, but instead looked like someone who got a bad tattoo.
18. Animal Poop Snacks
The Babe Ruth of bad Disney snacks.
In June 2015 at Zuri’s Sweet Shop in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, four new snacks debuted that were made to resemble animal droppings. That’s right, poop. The Match The Species snack series featured food designed to look like Elephant, Hippo, Giraffe, and Cotton Top Tamarin poop. You have to give credit where credit is due, that’s a unique presentation.
19. Mr. Toad Burger
For the 50th Anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World, we were blessed with the return of favorite items from years past along with some awesome tributes as well. These included the long-awaited return of the Teriyaki Burger in Adventureland, the debut of the amazing Uncle Orville Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Sundae in Tomorrowland, and the opening of Steakhouse 71 in Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
We also got the Mr. Toad Burger.
The story for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride includes guests being hit by a train, dying, and being sent to Hell. As luck would have it, Hell is exactly where the test kitchen that created this burger was located!
Mr. Toad Burger memes were found throughout social media once people saw this culinary delight in person.
20. Gertie Holiday Cookie
Because how cute is this?!!!!
21. Galaxy’s Edge Coke Bottle
The spork was the biggest surprise of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but one of the other great food & beverage products that arrived with the land was the Coca-Cola bottles that were presented like thermal detonators!
This was a stark difference in how Coke was sold in Pandora: The World of Avatar. An elaborate backstory was created for every single thing you see while “on” Pandora (the storyline is that we are visiting another planet.) From the unique lighting, to the various plants, all the way to the various food and drink served in the land. Everything had a “story.” Everything that is, except soda. Pandora had the same soda served in the same paper cups that we drank back on Earth.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge said, top this.
Now, it happens every so often on DisTwitter when everyone is minding their own business, and all of a sudden a bomb is dropped on the community. In this particular case, one person lived near a store that was selling cases of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge soda bottles for just $6.99. That’s right, an entire case for less than $7!!
An entire 12-pack of the SWGE soda cost $6.99, the price of a single bottle when purchased inside the “planet of Batuu”. At the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando, this is the type of super discount we usually see reserved for items from Pandora: The World of Avatar. This was CRAZY, and it was being sold at a supermarket in the middle of nowhere in Alabama.
Seeing this incredible deal, a member of DisTwitter said “Feet don’t fail me now!” and made the pilgrimage up to score a case, only to discover a horrifying fact….
We found out what happened to all those sodas in short order.
22. Carn-evil Hot Dog
From this past year’s HHN 32 comes a hot dog that looks like it came from the dream journal of your 6-year-old nephew.
23. St. Patrick’s Day Hot Dog
Speaking of next-level bonkers hot dogs, how about this green corndog that Disneyland produced for St. Patrick’s Day? This was the promotional version…
…and this is what people actually got.
24. WDW 50th Coke Bottle
For the WDW 50th Anniversary, special Coke bottles were made that featured the Icons of all four WDW theme parks.
25. PizzeRizzo Slice
With the Permit Princess Alicia Stella being the unofficial brand ambassador for PizzeRizzo in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it would make sense that she would bring her own slice to the Thanksgiving table.
You can read Alicia’s passionate defense of PizzeRizzo in one of our favorite Theme Park Hills to Die On articles, by CLICKING HERE!
26. PopTart Sandwich
No, you are not seeing things. What you are looking at actually existed. Yes, at one time the Everything Pop food court at Disney’s Pop Century Resort offered what was once was thought of as an urban legend. The Pop-Tart Breakfast Sandwich featured egg, bacon, and cheese on a strawberry Pop-Tart.
The egg was more of a hockey puck in (possibly) edible form. The cheese and bacon were melted together in a scene straight out of the classic horror film The Fly. We’d like to tell you how this tasted, but we did not dare eat it as the Pop-Tart sandwich
probably should have been thrown directly into the fiery pits of Mordor.
What’s interesting is that Pop Century didn’t even make the Pop Tart Sandwich the same way every time. Above was the version I got, while below is the version another person got, with the frosting on the inside of the sandwich.
My Pop Tart Sandwich review…
27. WDW 50th Anniversary Disney 100 Chocolate Dessert
This year the Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort offered the Templo Delicioso chocolate pyramid. As you can see in the ad below, this Templo Delicioso features the Disney 100 logo.
So the chocolate pyramid comes and it is adorned with the Disney 100 logo. However, there seems to be another large number right above that…
…and lo and behold there is a large number “50” on the pyramid as well, just covered by a thin layer of chocolate.
Why is that number 50 there? Because this design originally appeared back in 2021 during Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration. You can’t make stuff like this up.
28. Space 220 Milky Way
Originally announced back in 2017, the Space 220 Restaurant finally opened its doors in September 2021. The “220” is in reference to the 220 miles guests “travel” above the Earth to eat at the space station restaurant. Space 220 went an interesting way with their cocktails and mocktails. On one hand, most are very colorful and give the same vibe you would see in drinks served in movies such as Star Trek or Star Wars. However, several drinks on the menu are served with items attached to them via clothespins. This is not a joke and is 100% real.
So at the SATURDAY SIX Testing Kitchen, we created our own signature drink, the Beaver Blastoff, featuring orange Tang and a chocolate bar from Buc-cees, the greatest store in Florida.
29. Baked Potato Hot Dog
Even when seen with your own eyes, there are some things that it’s hard to believe are true. Case in point: the Idaho hot dog. Part of a line of gourmet hot dogs that was available in – of all places – the Grand Floridian, the Idaho dog was served inside a baked potato (in lieu of a bun) and was topped with shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits, chives, and sour cream. Ever wonder why you never heard of someone putting sour cream on their hot dog before? One bite of the Idaho dog and you’ll know why.
30. Universal Themed Butter
Heaven needed a condiment.
8/20/19…a day that will live in infamy. The day Universal removed themed butter from its restaurants.
The first time I saw themed butter, it left me wondering if anything in my life had ever been this perfect and knowing at the same time that it hadn’t. I was in love, and the feeling was more wonderful than I ever imagined it could be. – Nicholas Sparks, probably
This is how butter is served now.
One day in the future I will be able to tell my grandkids that I was able to see these gorgeous pats of butter on my plate at restaurants such as Mythos and Lombard’s Seafood Grille, and I will do my best to describe the wonder and beauty of the Universal Orlando Resort logo stamped onto butter. Such a perfect representation of what separates the theme park world we all love from the crappy world we all live in. Alas, like pogs, Alf, and everything else that was too good to be true, themed butter was not long for this mortal world.
31. Pog Juice
The glass in front of Bioreconstruct is filled with POG juice (my favorite at the Poly) which is orange, referencing the color of leukemia awareness ribbons in support of Bio. – SonderQuest
32. Hurricane Box
In early October of 2016 , the state of Florida had its biggest weather scare in almost a decade with the oncoming Hurricane Matthew. Most of the models used by meteorologists had Matthew slamming into the East Coast, and then continuing straight up through the center of the state hitting Orlando. Seemingly playing a weird game of chicken, Disney and Universal both waited until just about the last possible moment to announce their hard ticket events of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Halloween Horror Nights would be canceled for Thursday, October 6th, and all the Orlando theme parks would be closed on Friday, October 7th.
With the storm bearing down on Florida, food everywhere was being cleared off the shelves at Walt Disney World. Lines appeared at the hotel food courts that seemed impossible to believe were true (but they absolutely were.) The food court at Port Orleans French Quarter was in the process of being refurbished, and there WDW was offering a $12.99 boxed meal that included a sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a cookie. Pictures of the paltry boxed lunch hit social media and news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, with most of the reaction being very unfavorable to Disney.
There are some people who believe that guests had several days to prepare themselves for the likelihood of a major storm, and deserve what they get. Others saw this as Disney price gouging, taking advantage of a situation where the guests had pretty much nowhere else to go at the time. I can tell you that on my vacations, both at Disney and Universal, I am pretty much inside “the bubble” with very little interaction with the outside world. So I can understand how many guests would be caught completely unaware of any possible danger, even the day before. I don’t watch the news in my hotel room, I watch Stacey J and the “Must Dos.” I don’t read the newspaper at Disney, in fact I don’t even know where you would buy one.
Thankfully, especially to those of us Floridians such as Your Humble Author who live on the coast, Hurricane Matthew veered to the East before striking land. This meant that the effect on central Florida ended up being minimal compared to what people had feared.
33. Perfectly normal hand holding an Apple Pencil allegedly rendered by flawless AI software
My hand at the bottom right is holding an Apple Pencil and has six fingers in reference to the recent controversies with AI artwork, and the whole kerfuffle where people are accusing the recent Disney version of this Norman Rockwell illustration of being made with AI artwork. I myself personally do not think it was made with AI artwork though it is noticeably uncanny & unsettling. – SonderQuest
That’s everything folks! Hope you enjoyed this look at all the hard work that SonderQuest put into this amazing piece of artwork. Be sure to check out his ARTIST SPOTLIGHT feature to see even more of his incredible work.
Other Addendums You May Enjoy:
The 2021 Turkey Addendum (NBA Experience Closes, VelociCoaster Opens, ParksCON and more)
The 2022 Turkey Addendum (Bob Chapek fired, Dead Coconut Debut, “Unfavorable Attendance Mix” and more)
The 2023 Turkey Addendum (Ollie at Jollywood Nights, Mythos Banner, DISFLIX and more)