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Published Oct. 13, 2005

What hath Walt wrought? Disney's more than 150 restaurants pretend to be a dozen countries, Cinderella's castle, Polynesian islands, frontier saloons, '50s kitchens, heyday Hollywood and studio commissaries, all cooked up by Disney designers and chefs. Newest fantasy environments go back to the '50s again _ and further, back to the old South.

The Sci-Fi Snack Bar in Disney-MGM Studios puts diners in replica car seats in an imitation drive-in to watch trailers for classics like The Amazing Colossal Man.

If that sounds like a rerun of nostalgic diner food, consider the scariest item on the menu: Creamed popcorn soup called The Big Bang (puns and movie jokes run amok on this menu). Really, consomme, onions, carrots, celery, nutmeg, and popcorn AND marshmallows.

Fun and nostalgia aside, menu and format reflect increased emphasis on low-fat healthful food, with sloppy joes made of turkey and more salads and vegetable plates ("The Red Planet" consists of vegetables in tomato sauce on spaghetti). Sci-Fi is also one of the first non-smoking restaurants; revamped Steerman's Quarters in Empress Lily is, too.

Outside the studio, Disney's newest artifice of themed landscaping and architecture is Port Orleans, a 1,000-unit three-story mega-motel styled as the French Quarter, complete with cobblestone streets, lacy ironwork, flat-bottomed boats, waterways and, of course, a Creole restaurant, Bonfamille's Cafe. Dinner starts at $5.75 for sandwiches and ranges to $16.75 for the top steak, again with veggie plates and low-fat options. The complex will also have a food court called Sassagoula, with a Mardi Gras theme and fresh beignets.

If that's not enough, Port Orleans will soon lead to Dixie Landings, 2,000 more rooms divided between plantation homes and tin-roof Cajun cottages, complete with backwaters and cypress trees. There'll be more restaurants and a catfish pond for children.