Saying Goodbye To A Legend

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Source: The Walt Disney Company

Source: The Walt Disney Company

 

Sending out thoughts and love to the family, friends and fans of Robin Williams.

Mr. Williams was a tremendous talent and gave us the gift of laughter through his characters both on the big screen and on television.

He will be greatly missed.

 

Journey Into Your Local Comic Book Shop

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Growing up a Walt Disney World vacationer in the 1980’s was truly a gift. We got to experience Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and the first (and greatest) version of Epcot’s Journey Into the Imagination.

Thanks to an outstanding artistic and writing team at Marvel’s Disney Kingdoms, we can relive some of our childhood through their highly successful new comic, “Figment”. This series is already so popular that Marvel did not print enough copies of the first issue to keep up with demand. I had to place an order through our local comic shop for the second printing and received my copies of issues #1 and #2 today…and may or may not have torn into them as soon as I arrived home.

In the first issue we are introduced to Blarion Mercurial, who was known as the Dreamfinder in the original ride at Epcot. Mercurial has been actively experimenting with ways to harness new sources of energy, per the demands of a tyrannical Chairman at The Academy Scientifica-Lucidus in London. Issues arise, however Mercurial is set on discovering energy through brain power. Our favorite little Disney sidekick appears in this issue as well and entertains and enlightens.

I don’t want to give away too much about this comic series.
There are several nods to the original ride in the issue and the steampunk edge of the artwork is really something special. The storyline is interesting and headed into an unexpected direction. Fantastical would probably be the best word to describe the comic series.

I would say this is a must-read for any Epcot fan or those who enjoy a good sci-fi comic series.

Planning the Perfect Disney Honeymoon

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Winnie Honeymoon

Walt Disney World is one of the most sought after and romantic honeymoon destinations not only for its location, but the many resort offerings. With themed restaurants and hotels, couples are sure to find a place to stay that is both relaxing and memorable. Prior to booking your Disney honeymoon, make sure to take the time to plan out both your budget and discuss your expectations for the trip to decide how you will allot your money and where you will spend your time.

Where to start?
Create a honeymoon budget. Be realistic and decide how much you want to spend on your room, entertainment (including park tickets), food and travel.
Disney vacations can be quite costly, so knowing your budget will ensure you are getting the best value and you will avoid the dreaded overspend.

Once you have created your budget, then comes the fun part…deciding where to stay.

Do your research.

Prior to contacting Disney’s Reservation line or booking your vacation online, do some test planning through Disney’s online reservation site. Put in your requested dates and decide on hotels that fit closely within your budget. If you contact Disney prior to having a basic game plan for your stay, the cast member may hear the word “honeymoon” and start offering rooms that are not only pricey, but wayyyyy too large for a party of two.

When planning my honeymoon a few years back  I called the Disney Reservation Line and after the cast member heard the word “honeymoon” the first hotel option I  was given was  a town-home style suite at Disney’s Beach Club that would cost us over $4000 for the week. Ouch! The place was enormous and more suited for a family or royalty so I knew going forward to plan a head and have a basic understanding of the price range and hotel theme we would consider.

For honeymooners, I would suggest avoiding the value resorts if possible. These hotels are themed out for families and young kids and offer nothing in the way of romance. There are several resorts in the moderate cost range that are more adult friendly and quieter than the value resorts. For moderate hotel honeymoons, I suggest Port Orleans French Quarter or Riverside and Coronado Springs. All of the Deluxe resorts offer accommodations that are excellent for a honeymoon week with a variety of themes and amenities. My favorites are the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The Swan and Dolphin resorts are reasonably priced hotels located on the WDW property; however are not owned by the Disney Company. They are generally frequented by convention-goers and have a more corporate feel. You won’t find over the top Disney themed decor, however the resorts do have access to transportation and some even boast excellent views of the fireworks at Epcot.

Plan your meals.

Disney permits guests to book their Advance Dining Reservations 180 days prior to your arrival. Decide where you would like to dine by using Disney’s dining search tool and keep in mind which parks you will be visiting each day.

Think about scheduling at least one table service meal per day. This will give you time to relax and enjoy spending time together without the hustle of running around the parks. Romantic dining locations can be found throughout the resort. **Be sure to explain to the Dining Reservation Agent (or make a note if you are planning through the website) that you are celebrating a special event.**

Some of my restaurant picks for honeymoons and date nights include:

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Ask for the Wishes seating so you can have dinner and enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the hotel’s observation deck. We recently enjoyed an anniversary here and were completely impressed with the service and attention to detail. They even gave us a few special surprises to make our event even more magical.

Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort. This waterfront gem serves seafood and has an exceptional view of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Consider booking your reservation later in the evening to enjoy both the Wishes Fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant.

For those who want to splurge a lot and have a one of a kind dining experience, Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian is the most intimate restaurant on site. With a strict dress code and limited seating, the location is the perfect setting for an evening out for two.

The Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk Resort serves seafood and offers some interesting seashore inspired desserts. Have dinner at the restaurant, then take a stroll on the Boardwalk and enjoy the sights.

Tokyo Dining at Epcot has quite possibly the best view within the park. Book your dinner close to IllumiNations Reflections of Earth and enjoy the fireworks spectacular from one of the large windows of the establishment.

Don’t overbook your days.

Because there is so much to do within the Walt Disney World Resort, guests have the tendency to plan out their stay and go… go… go… the entire time. Not only is this exhausting, but it doesn’t allow for honeymooners to relax and enjoy their stay.

Keep your days simple. Think of a few rides and experiences that you want to enjoy each day, and then plan for some downtime whether that be your meals, pool time at your hotel or even just a few minutes sitting on a bench within one of the parks and chatting.  Trust me, the last thing you want to do is to run around a park all day and then be so exhausted that you don’t enjoy your dinner or the fireworks.

Consider the other happenings at the resort.

The WDW resort has some neat activities outside of the parks that are fun for couples hoping to make lasting memories. Sure some of them cost extra, but just think about the stories that you can tell when your vacation ends.

Enjoy a high flying adventure on the Characters in Flight balloon in Downtown Disney. Soar hundreds of feet in the air and look at the resort below. For an extra special touch, think about taking your flight during the fireworks to watch them like you never have before.

Go golfing. Disney has two mini golf courses on the property; Fantasia Gardens, themed out with the characters from that beloved film and Winter Summerland,  a Christmas themed golf experience with a Summer course and a Winter course. Play a round of golf or two…take lots of photos and enjoy the friendly competition.

Take a spin. Canoes, mini motorboats and sailboats can be rented for a fee from various locations throughout the resort. Take a spin on the lagoon and take in the views of the sprawling landscape.

Stroll around and explore the resort. One of my favorite memories from our honeymoon was walking from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to our resort after park closing. We avoided the rush at the buses and boats and just casually walked the paths and reveled in the quiet time. We ended up at the Boardwalk…played some carnival games…grabbed a funnel cake and sat on a bench for a while. There are many fun little pathways and trails and are best enjoyed in the evening hours when the temperatures have dropped.

Let’s go to the movies! The Downtown Disney AMC 24 is a Dine-In theatre experience that offers guests the option of having a meal while they watch a film. Enjoy a sandwich or pizza  and a beer as your watch a blockbuster movie in a comfy theatre setting.  After your movie, explore the shops of Downtown Disney. It is the perfect place to handle all of your souvenir shopping!

Why don’t you take a picture…it will last longer.

You will want lots and I mean LOTS of photographs to remember your honeymoon. Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers can be found throughout the parks and sometimes are located in the hotels. Plan out where you would like your photos and think about getting at least one photo in front of a major location at each park. The musts are Cinderella’s Castle, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom and the Sorcerer’s Hat at Hollywood Studios. The PhotoPass site has some handy maps with locations of photographers so you can better plan your day.

If you purchase your MemoryMaker PhotoPass prior to your vacation, you will save $50. Log in to MyDisneyExperience.com for current pricing. The MemoryMaker can be added to your MagicBand and you simply allow the photographer to scan your band before each photo. Although the cost of this option is daunting, it is significantly more cost effective than purchasing the photos individually. (I learned that lesson the hard way on a prior trip)

Think about some fun photo ops…get creative and you can even bring along small props to make it more fun!

 

The best advice that I can give you regarding honeymoon planning is to just be realistic with your time. Plan exciting entertainment options that you will both remember.  Remember that sometimes what seems to be the simplest of moments can really be what is most memorable about your trip.

Wishing you a magical honeymoon!

- Winnie

 

 

I’ve Got 999 Problems But Haunted Mansion Merchandise Isn’t One

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Haunted Mansion Winnie the stew use this

Hold on to your DoomBuggies!

After months of rumors swirling, The Disney Parks Blog finally announced that there will be an entire line of Haunted Mansion related merchandise introduced at the parks within the upcoming months to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the ride. For those of us who are beyond obsessed with the ride, this may be the best news since the new interactive queue was introduced in 2011.

Over 100 new items will be sold in the parks and includes artwork, t-shirts, bookends, jewelry and shoes bearing the wallpaper design from Mansion. Even the illusive Dooney and Bourke bag that sells out every time it is replenished will be available as well as a wristlet and letter carrier purse.

Two of the most buzzed about items are the t-shirts that look like the castmembers’ maid and butler uniforms. They are truly a remarkable recreation of the costumes and would make the perfect addition to any Disney fan’s wardrobe. There is always room for one more t-shirt….mwah haha!

Another interesting item is the bookend set that bears the likenesses of the ghost writer busts from the library scene. Just imagine being creeped out every time you go to grab your favorite novel and thinking to yourself, “Are they watching and following me?”

The merchandise will be rolled out within the next couple of months and some of the items will appear on the Disney Store website.

Look alive and head on over to the Disney Parks Blog website to take a look at the photos of some of these haunting items…there’s no turning back now.

 

 

 

 

Talking To Your Family About Theme Park Safety

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Preparing for a Disney vacation is part of the excitement. The packing….the planning…the anticipation. Everyone in the household counts down the days and checks everything twice to make sure it is ready to go for a fun-filled week.

Vacation safety is often a topic that is left for those hurried minutes while running around a hotel room preparing for the day. Ensuring that the family is safe and prepared for most events can be  part of your planning process. Consider setting aside one evening before your trip to talk to your family about vacation safety.

Here are some of my suggestions for topics of discussion….

Keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times:

We have heard this phrase on hundreds of occasions at theme parks, but the warning is not simply Mickey Mouse trying to ruin your day.

There are real dangers in sticking a limb outside of a moving car or boat during a ride experience at the parks. Sure, that water on It’s a Small World looks tempting, but there are hidden tracks and moving parts under the boat that could cause some serious bodily harm. Talk to your family about the need to stay seated and keep their limbs in the cars of every ride, boat and transportation vehicle. Perhaps appoint a “safety expert” in your family whose job is to remind everyone of the rules before boarding each ride and keeps a close watch of the little ones.

Stay close to the family:

Crowds at Disney can get overwhelming. I have to admit that there have been times that I have gotten lost in a sea of people while looking for a family member. Talk to your family about sticking together; especially in largely populated areas.

What to do if you are lost:

Create a plan of “what-to-do” in case a member of the family separates from the party. Mobile phones are great for connecting; however for the little ones, it is important to tell them where to go if they become lost.

Cast members can be found at the beginning of each ride queue, in stores, kiosks and walking around the park. Instruct children to seek out a cast member if they should become lost. Cast members are recognized by their oval nametags and have training to handle lost family member situations.

The new MagicBand bracelets used in the parks identify family members and when scanned, gives the contact information for the family; including a phone number and resort information. Make sure when checking into the hotel, that you give the cast member a contact number for the mobile phone you will be taking into the parks.

Only go near the water when an adult is present:

There is water EVERYWHERE at Disney. Lakes, rivers, pools, lagoons….water is a plenty!  Instruct the little ones to hold the hand of an adult whenever they are around a body of water and to wait for the go-ahead before jumping into a pool.

The guard rail is there for a reason:

Balcony and guard rails look like a fun playground….especially at the themed resorts and lakes where the views are glorious. Talk to your kids about balcony and railing safety and instruct them to only go outside or go near a railing when an adult is present. The resorts have a security lock on the sliding glass door, but setting the ground rules prior to the vacation can be helpful in stopping unaccompanied balcony adventures.

Stay hydrated and cool:

The Florida sun is hot and standing in lines in the blazing sun can take a lot out of you. Make sure that each family member stays hydrated throughout the day. We take a backpack with water into the parks so when we need a quick drink, it is available. Monitor the little ones to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids and instruct them to tell an adult if they are feeling overheated and need to take a break.

Cool down in an air conditioned theater or shop. I keep a list of attractions that are indoors or have ride queues that are housed inside that we can visit when the heat is unbearable.

Sunscreen is a necessity:

I am sure we have all witnessed a sunscreen meltdown. A child comes back from a splash ride and doesn’t want to put the fun on hold for another sunscreen application. Talk to your kids about the necessity of sunscreen and how a sunburn could ruin an entire vacation. Sunscreen should be applied every 2-3 hours or after a water ride or splash in the pool.

 

Stay safe…stay informed….stay connected…..and your vacation should be a magical experience!

Are there any tips that I missed?  Please feel free to share them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney’s Forgotten American Classics

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I am so excited to share that my friend, Paul Poole who has a wealth of knowledge regarding Disney Classic films and shorts will be contributing some posts to the blog.

 He has some great information about the history of Disney cinema and I am happy to welcome him to the Winnie the Stew team!

I know you will enjoy Paul’s posts as much as I do and I encourage feedback for future postings!

- Cara “Winnie”

Disney Classics

As a child lucky enough to have the Disney Channel back in the early 80’s, I’ve come to feel very fortunate. You see, I remember a time before The Little Mermaid. Back then without loads of new merchandise driven animated “Masterpieces” and “Classics”, we were treated to multiple decades worth of Disney History. Vintage Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro and of course lots of vintage theatrical shorts. Y’know, DISNEY CARTOONS! On the Disney Channel? Yeah, hard to believe! The point of this, hopefully the first of many articles on the rich history of a Disney long before little girls (and boys….and their parents) went around singing “Let It Go” at the tops of their lungs, is to share some Disney magic!

This first rambling feature will focus on Walt Disney’s “American Legends” type of output. Just the cartoons. I could be here all day discussing Zorro, Davey Crockett, Swamp Fox and the Reverend Dr. Syn. Since these cartoons don’t package quite as nicely as the Mickey, Donald and Goofy shorts, they can easily fly under the radar of the casual Disney fan. This is a shame since they’re a lot of fun!

Note: If you are interested in adding any of the following animated classics to your home DVD library, click on the title to be redirected to Amazon.

CASEY AT THE BAT (MAKE MINE MUSIC): Based on the 1888 poem written by Ernest Thayer, this 1946 short tells the classic tale of Mudville’s favorite ball player. A segment in the “Make Mine Music” film, and narrated by the distinctive voice of Jerry Colonna, this great old timey baseball story evokes Walt’s love of  “Mainstreet U.S.A.”. To say anymore would spoil too much.

Casey at Bat posted to YouTube by Reykjavik1992

JOHNNY APPLESEED (MELODY TIME): Walt Disney’s 11th animated film, “Melody Time” was released in 1948. The next two shorts I’ll discuss called this anthology film, home. Johnny Appleseed tells the story of real life, John Chapman. John Chapman traveled the frontier planting apple trees with only himself, a pot for a hat and his bible. Quite a delightful story with good messages for us all. What sets Johnny apart from the others on this list? He’s no obvious hero. He’s small, lanky, timid and makes a point to never hurt an animal. A historical side-note… The type of apple the real life Johnny planted were generally considered too bitter for good eating. They did however make fantastic hard ciders and adult beverages. Admit it, Johnny Appleseed just got a lot cooler in your book. He brought booze to the pioneers!

Johnny Appleseed posted to YouTube by Disney Educational Productions

PECOS BILL (MELODY TIME): Also appearing in Melody Time, Pecos Bill tells the story of a man who was, “quite a cowboy down in Texas. And the western Superman to say the least…”. A raucous, fun tale told and sung by Roy Rogers and the Sons of The Pioneers. An orphan raised by coyote’s, Bill grows up to be truly the West’s Superman. From riding tornadoes to creating the Gulf Of Mexico, Bill has done it all. Alongside his best friend and trusty steed Widowmaker, Bill easily stands shoulder to shoulder with any other hero of tall tales and legends. That is until a beautiful catfish-riding cowgirl comes between Bill and his jealous horse.

Sadly this is no longer available in an uncensored form. What’s so offensive to Disney? The portrayal of Native Americans? No, that appears to be OK. Bill’s enthusiastic love of the second amendment? No, lots of gun-play in this. So what then? In a 1948 cartoon about an 1800’s cowboy, Pecos Bill has the nerve to…gasp…smoke. Yep. One verse of the song has been completely removed showing him casually rolling a cigarette while lassoing a tornado. They’ve even digitally removed a smoke from a later scene leaving the casual viewer wondering why Bill’s mouth looks “off”. Seriously. That’s right kids, your parents may smoke. Someone in your family may smoke, but by golly a cowboy from over a hundred years ago MUST be censored. Unedited versions can be found easily on YouTube.

Pecos Bill posted to YouTube by George Harper

THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: As J. Thaddeus Toad’s story is very British, we’ll leave his segment of this 1949 film for another time. The Disney studios’ 11th feature film adapts Washington Irving’s classic, “Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” into animated form. Probably the most well-known of these, this classic became a Halloween regular on TV. You know the story… schoolteacher Ichabod Crane’s late-night encounter with the legendary Headless Horseman, who frighteningly turns out to be all too real for the cowardly pedagogue. Narrated, voiced and sung by the great Bing Crosby, this one has a lot of fans. Every one of them well deserved. If you haven’t seen this, good lord! Do so! If it’s been a while, treat yourself to another viewing.

THE BRAVE ENGINEER: Jerry Colonna narrates and sings this 1950 cartoon about the legendary railroad engineer, Casey Jones. Determination is the theme of this classic short, as nothing, not outlaws, floods,cows or other trains will stop the famous Casey Jones from delivering the western mail on time (Almost)!

The Brave Engineer posted to YouTube by Nuri Gokcek

BEN AND ME: Based upon the book of the same name, Ben and Me tells the story of how the famous Ben Franklin met the not at all famous, Amos Mouse. The interesting part of this 1953 cartoon is that Amos Mouse is actually the one responsible for all kinds of Ben’s famous inventions! Of particular note to classic Disney fans, listen for Disney veterans Sterling Holloway as the voice of Amos, and Hans Conreid as Thomas Jefferson. You know them better as Winnie The Pooh and Captain Hook.

Ben and Me posted to YouTube by Nikesh Gada

CASEY BATS AGAIN: Disney returned to Mudville in 1954. Taking up shortly after “Casey At The Bat”, this time it’s up to Casey’s daughters to redeem his name. If you’re a fan of A League Of Their Own, you may enjoy the women’s ball team’s story. For every guy who kept trying for a son, this one’s for you. Casey ends up with enough daughters to fill a team roster, with himself as manager of course!

Casey Bats Again Posted to YouTube by ToonDiz

PAUL BUNYAN: This 1958 short tells the story of the mightiest lumberjack of them all. Voiced by Thurl Ravenscoft, well known for voicing Tony The Tiger and singing, “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch”, Paul’s voice looms large over the countryside, much like his “Sixty-three axe handles high” stature. From infancy to retirement, you’ll learn his story. Like an American Hercules, Paul creates mountains, straightens rivers, clears thousands of miles from land and all with the help of his giant blue ox, Babe. Paul seems unstoppable until he comes face to face with the one thing none of us can stand in the way of; progress.

Paul Bunyan posted to YouTube by Daniboi80

THE SAGA OF WINDWAGON SMITH: The Sons Of The Pioneers who sang their way through Pecos Bill earlier, returned in 1961 to lend their voices to the tale of Windwagon Smith. This western tale tells of a seaman who decides to ply his trade across the great plains. Building a cross between a wagon and a wooden tall ship and intending to haul cargo faster without horses, Smith sets sail out of Kansas, and into legend.

The Saga of Windwagon Smith posted to YouTube by ToonDiz

One of the common themes that I find so entertaining about these is the fun musical narration and quick wit about so many of them. Snappy banter and classic themes make these fun for all ages, but especially with older kids and parents who tire of Mickey’s sweetness and optimism. They are also all very American. This isn’t a bad thing. For the most part all the Disney Princesses are very European tales. Not surprising coming from their European roots. One thing all kids should learn at an early age is that for most of us, our ancestors came to the United States because they were fed up with Monarchies. In all the Princess films we’re shown that Kings and Queens are nice to have. I guess Snow White would disagree, but I think you get my point. This country was founded by people who couldn’t have disagreed more.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy are very classic “American”. Optimism, a dash of irreverence and sarcasm, hard-working, and very “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” characters. In that sense, Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan would feel right at home. It’s important to know that Disney tried all kinds of things. While I love most classic Disney, a step away from the intersection of Mickey Mouse and Cinderella can be a very rewarding journey. Don’t be afraid to seek out Disney’s Old West, Colonial America, or mid-western ballparks. You might just fall in love with Disney (and the USA) all over again.

- Paul Poole

 

Get “Frozen” This Summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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From July 5th through September 1st, characters of  the smash hit “Frozen” will be making appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Some people are worth melting for….and the cast of “Frozen” surely is worth waiting for in lines out in the hot Floridian sun!

The Disney Parks Blog announced today that there will be some fantastic “Frozen” special events throughout Hollywood Studios which include:

Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome- Every morning at 11:00 AM, our favorite royal team (including Kristoff) will arrive in Hollywood Studios and ride down Hollywood Boulevard in a horse-drawn sleigh. The procession will also include skaters and those famous singing ice cutters. The procession ends at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage with a welcoming ceremony.

Olaf on Summer Vacation- In order to celebrate Olaf’s first summer experience, guests can pick up their own Take-Along Olaf from various locations in the park. Snap pictures with our favorite snowman and post them to social media using the hashtag #OlafSummerVacation. Some guest photos from each day will be selected to appear during each evening’s grand finale celebration.

For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration- Can’t get enough of those ditties from the movie? Join characters from the film at the Premiere Theatre for a retelling of the history of Arendelle and special sing-along moments. This is an interactive show you are not going to want to miss.

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland- Soundstage One will be turned into a play area with cool weather activities, photo ops and even ice skating demonstrations. “Frozen” merchandise as well as foods and beverages inspired by the movie will be available for purchase.

“Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party- Every evening at 5:30 PM, a DJ and live band will be stationed at the Sorcerer Hat Icon Stage. Get your groove on as they play classic hits, contemporary tunes and medleys from the movie.

“Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular- Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf join at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage for a spectacular end to a day at the park. The fireworks display will be complimented by the incredible music from the film.

Disney did not give any details regarding the possibility of FastPasses for these events, so my best advice to you is to keep checking your My Disney Experience App for any “cool” new additions to the daily FastPass offerings.

Are you excited about the cast of “Frozen” appearing in the parks? Will this change your summer plans?

 

 

 

 

Build Your Disney Side Decal

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Weeks ago, Disney announced via Facebook that they were offering free family decals as a way to promote the “Show Your Disney Side” campaign.

Guests can log in to the Build Your Disney Side website and customize a decal.

The website allows guest to choose their background; which consists of the famous icons at each theme park. You then select your family members (pets too) and add accessories and clothing.

Once finished, you are given the option to have a decal mailed within 4-6 weeks. Guests can also save the picture and use it on social media profiles.

After weeks of patiently waiting, our sticker arrived yesterday. I was like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he got the decoder pin…so excited that I was tearing open the envelope right in the driveway!

The contents were a personalized marketing brochure highlighting the Show Your Disney side campaign and it encourages vacation planning…along with ride suggestions that may be of interest.

The decal itself is not at all what I imagined. It is more like a bumper sticker, so guests cannot place it on the rear window of their car. I can’t say that I was disappointed (because it was free) but it just wasn’t what I expected.

I had some car magnets that were purchased from a craft store a while back and ended up cutting the decal and sticking it to the magnet. This way, if we decide to display it on our car, it can be easily removed when needed.

If you have not created a Build Your Disney Side family decal yet, I would highly recommend the process.
It is a lot of fun and makes for a fantastic Facebook profile picture!

Celebrating Donald Duck

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Our favorite sailor suit wearing duck is celebrating his 80th birthday this month!

Donald Duck made his big screen debut on June 9, 1934 in Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies cartoon titled, “The Wise Little Hen.” Since then, he has undergone several makeovers and his lengthy career has delighted generations of fans.

In honor of this milestone event, I interviewed my good friend, Paul Poole who is both a movie buff and a Donald Duck enthusiast. He owns an extensive Donald Duck memorabilia collection and has an appreciation for his career in both comic books and film.

So without further ado….I give you my exclusive one-on-one interview with Donald’s number one fan.

Winnie: Donald Duck has appeared in over 150 theatrical films and cartoons. What in your opinion has been the pinnacle of his career?

Paul: With that much screen time under his belt …wait, Donald doesn’t wear pants! With that much screen time you want me to cite his best?
I’m partial to “The Band Concert” from 1935. It’s most famous for being the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon, but I love it because throughout the short, Donald keeps one-upping Mickey. Donald’s a bit of a born loser, but in this early appearance he wins big.

That being said, 1942’s “Donald’s Snow Fight” has it all. It’s all about Donald getting into the most over the top snowball fight, make that snowball war with his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. The gags come fast, the nephews were front and center and Donald’s popularity was sky high during the war years.

Winnie: What is it that you love so much about him?

Paul: We can all relate to Donald. He’s got a temper. He’s a bit arrogant. He rarely comes out on top, and usually it’s his own fault. However at times he can be the hero, and I think that’s a reflection on all of us.

He was Disney’s workhorse. Most people forget how few Mickey cartoons there were. Once color cartoons began, Mickey was already losing steam. He’s too pure. Too innocent.
Most people also don’t know how often Disney was in financial trouble. Snow White was a huge hit. His next several films were not. We may consider them classics now, but at the time this wasn’t true. Throughout the lean times, Donald was Disney’s go-to star. Much funnier than the other characters and easier to write. Mickey sells T-Shirts. Donald sells cartoons. It’s easy to forget this now with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. They sort of push Donald aside a bit.

Winnie: Over the years we have been introduced to Donald’s nephews, girlfriend and even a grumpy miserly Uncle. Which character stands out as your favorite?

Paul: Easily Scrooge McDuck. By far the most fleshed out character in the entire Disney pantheon of characters, old “Unca” Scrooge made his debut in 1947. Created as a one-time character by classic Donald story-man, Carl Barks, it quickly became clear that the World’s Richest Duck could work as a springboard to send Donald and the nephews on adventures.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Scrooge became so tremendously popular that he spun off into his own comic book series that by 1960 was the best-selling comic book in the world. Outselling Superman, Batman and well….everyone else. Over a million copies of each issue were devoured by readers.

Carl Barks wrote and drew Scrooge stories from 1947 until his retirement in 1967. Barks left behind a legacy of over 500 Duck stories widely hailed by critics as the best comic stories ever written. Years later, his adventure comedies would inspire the hit DuckTales animated series.

The story of Scrooge is long, inspiring and complex, but to be brief, it’s an amazing immigrant story about a poor young Scot inspired to work hard and endure countless hardships and heartbreak on his way to become the richest man in the world. He gains it all and does so by earning it all honestly but in the process loses a bit of his soul….until his nephew and grandnephews come into his life to reignite his adventurous spirit and regain his family.

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Winnie: Donald appears in comics and newspaper strips and has been drawn by several artists. Do you enjoy one artist’s rendering of Donald over the others?

Paul: Carl Barks is known as “The Duck Man” for good reason. From his early days as a story and gag man on the classic Duck shorts of the 30’s and 40’s to his retirement in 1967, Barks is the gold standard.

Barks helped in the creation of the nephews and was responsible for slowly transforming them from bratty little hellions into the wunderkind Junior Woodchucks. Other creations owed to Barks are Duckburg itself, the aforementioned Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s supernaturally lucky cousin and foil, Gladstone Gander, brilliant yet impractical inventor, Gyro Gearloose, sorceress Magica De Spell, relentless criminal family the Beagle Boys, and Scrooge’s dark mirror image and World’s Second Richest Duck, Flintheart Glomgold.

The only other creator in my opinion to truly carry on Barks’ brilliance would be Don Rosa. Beginning in 1987 and recently retired, Don Rosa took his love of Barks’ tales and finally told the full origin of Scrooge, his Number One Dim, the Beagle Boys, and even introduced Donald’s mother and Scrooge’s sister, Hortense. The story of Scrooge’s life, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”, won the prestigious Eisner award… no small feat for a “talking animal book”.
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Winnie: As you know, Donald has graced many products with his likeness. Which do you think are the strangest?

Paul: One of my favorite items in my personal collection are the 1950’s Sunshine paper drinking straws. The most bizarre items I have were both found by my wife at dollar stores. One is a hand warmer the other a washrag. Have to keep those tail feathers clean!

Winnie: When were you introduced to Donald and what about him sparked the idea to start your collection?

Paul: I really have no idea when I was introduced to him! I was born in 1976 and I know I received a 1977 Hasbro Romper Room Dancing Donald Duck doll for Christmas in ’77. So I guess somewhere around there! When it comes to collecting Ducks, I actually started out collecting Uncle Scrooge items and it exploded into all the Ducks soon after.

Winnie: How many pieces of Donald memorabilia do you own?

Paul: Between movies, figures, statues, pencil sharpeners, comics and art, I lost count after 400.

Winnie: What is your prized Donald keepsake and why?

Paul: My most prized Donald item would be the previously mentioned Dancing Donald Duck doll. I had honestly forgotten about it until I stumbled onto one on EBay and the memories came flooding back.

My most prized Duck item in general though would be the 8×10 photo of Uncle Scrooge signed and personalized by Alan Young, the actor who provides Scrooge’s voice. He’s in his 90’s and still providing the voice. That’s pretty amazing!

Winnie: Where do you find the pieces for your collection?

Paul: I find things on EBay mostly. Craigslist a few times. Friends seem to find things when Christmas or my birthday come around.
My wife, Dawn, finds lots of it by searching the local flea markets with my son while I work most Sundays. She’s great like that. I’ll come home and she’ll have a plastic bag filled with stuff and I’ll ask how much. Somehow she never seems to spend more than 5 bucks!

Winnie: Are there any figures that you wish you could add to your collection?

Paul: YES! Donald and family are extremely popular in Europe still. Short attention spans seem to be an American thing.
In Europe the ducks have always been the most popular Disney characters, and that popularity has never waned. In Italy they released a large series of Disney figurines designed by Disney comic artists and strictly stuck to Donald, Mickey and Goofy and their friends and enemies. They aren’t too pricey, but the cost to ship them over here is often more than the figurines themselves.

I stick to the Ducks of course, and for some reason I have never been able to come across a Magica De Spell. Oh! And in Italy she’s known as “Amelia”. Go figure. I guess that one was popular. Perhaps because she’s Italian despite the Russian voice June Foray gave her in the DuckTales cartoons.

As a side note, Flintheart Glomgold isn’t Scottish like Scrooge. Nor was he supposed to live in Duckburg. He’s from South Africa.

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I want to thank Paul for taking the time to share about his collection and some really cool facts about Donald Duck.

Here are some additional photos that Paul shared of his memorabilia and art work that he has collected over the years.

What a collection!

What a collection!

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Frozen Inspires Norway Tourism

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Not only has “Frozen” sparked a merchandise frenzy, it has also increased travel to the homeland of Anna and Elsa.

Norway is a beautiful country that boasts bustling cities as well as indescribably scenic landscapes in the fjord regions.

Time Magazine reports that tourism is up 37% from 2013 and tour operators are seeing a 40% sales increase.

Disney is also taking advantage of the Frozen fury by introducing Adventures By Disney tours that are inspired by the film.

Tourists will be treated to a rafting trip, folk dancing and tours of sites that inspired the film. You can get more details on the experience here.

Those who do not want to make the trek across the Atlantic can always visit the Norway pavilion at Epcot.

The Maelstrom ride allows guest a tiny glimpse into the history and folk lore of the country.

The Puffins Roost shop offers wares that include keepsakes, quality Norwegian sweaters and even trolls!

Dine at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and experience a character meet and greet inside a castle with cathedral ceilings and Norwegian inspired cuisine.

Will “Frozen” inspire any of your upcoming vacation plans?