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Podcast 18 – Thanksgiving At Walt Disney World – Enjoying Despite The Crowds

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Podcast Episode 18

Thanksgiving At Walt Disney World – Travelling With 15 People During A Busy Time

Thanksgiving week is busy at Walt Disney World. On this episode Katie and I catch up about the trip she was planning the last time she was on the podcast.  15 family members on a Disney vacation during peak season?  We cover where they ate, how they handled the crowds and how they made the most of their time!

Show Notes and References:

Katie’s Most Delightful Thoughts Podcast here

Katie’s Most Delightful Thoughts Group on Facebook here

Episode where Katie and I talked about her planning this trip:  Episode 9

Join our Pixie Dust Fans Facebook group:  Pixie Dust Fans

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

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Baby Yoda T-Shirts From Mandalorian

Baby Yoda T-shirts

 

I am in LOVE with Baby Yoda from the Mandalorian series on Disney Plus.  Seriously – it isn’t the ‘actual Yoda’, but a baby of the same species as Yoda.  (For the record… I recognize it seems weird to say the ‘actual Yoda’ – like Yoda was real… but he is real to so many of us!)

We KNEW that this would be a shopping frenzy – who DOESN’T want something baby Yoda related?   I had already planned to scour the shops at Walt Disney World next week for baby Yoda merch – but Amazon has come through with all sorts of fun merchandise.  Being the total T-shirt addict that I am, I was so excited to see this selection.  Now the question is – which one(s) will I buy for myself?  Or put on my wish list??   They have a variety of colours and sizes – so many choices!!!

Take a peek at these!  Click the pictures to shop the Amazon store.  The store is a .com link – if you live in Canada, don’t worry – they will ship to Canada, but you need to use the .com link to shop.

There is an entire shop for Mandalorian with all sorts of great stuff to buy.  How will you decide?  What will you put on your list?

This article contains affiliate links

Podcast 17 – 9 Reasons To Visit Disney During The Holiday Season

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Podcast Episode 17

9 Reasons to visit Walt Disney World over the holiday season

The holiday season is a really magical time at Walt Disney World. Here are 9 things you don’t want to miss at Walt Disney World during the holidays!

Show Notes and References:

Join our Facebook group:  Pixie Dust Fans

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 16 – It’s Hard Being A Canadian Disney Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Podcast Episode 16

It’s Difficult Being A Canadian Disney Fan

Sometimes it’s really difficult being a Canadian Disney Fan.  There are some special challenges for those of us that live outside of the United States.  On this episode Carrie and I explore all of the things that make it hard for Canadian Disney fans like us.

Show Notes and References:

Canadian Disney Addict Blog

Video clip so you know who Walter is!

Off Duty Movers – Facebook Page

Join the Facebook group:  Pixie Dust Fans

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 15 – My First Thoughts On Disney Plus

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Podcast Episode 15

My first thoughts on Disney+ 

10 Million people subscribed to Disney+ on November 12th – and of course I was one of them!

I was overwhelmed and couldn’t wait to share with you my first thoughts on the service.  What I didn’t expect was what my nephew Andrew thought about the service and the new Star Wars show – Mandalorian.  

Show Notes and References:

Join the Facebook group:  Pixie Dust Fans

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 14 – Where Disneyland Has An Edge Over Walt Disney World

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Podcast Episode 14

Where does Disneyland have an edge over Walt Disney World?

It’s the great debate – Disneyland vs Walt Disney World.  Carrie and I always have this discussion… Her favourite is Disneyland and mine is Walt Disney World – but we both love them BOTH.

In this episode we talk about the places where Disneyland has an edge over Walt Disney World! 

Show Notes and References:

Carrie’s Disneyland Vloggers:  Best Life and Beyond

Our Facebook group:  Pixie Dust Fans

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Gift Ideas For A Disney Fan

What do you buy a Disney fan?

It’s that time of year again, when you start the conversations of “what do you want for Christmas?”.

Personally, I dread these conversations every year.  

It was different when we had little ones to spoil and there were so many different things you could buy them.  There was always the one or two toys that were difficult to get – the “IT” toy of the year that required lining up at stores at midnight to get one of whatever the thing was!  In my day it was a Cabbage Patch Kid, but more recently it has become special video games or consoles.  Either way there was always the excitement of trying to get that ONE thing that was so special.

Now that the kids are grown and we’re buying for adults – it’s much more difficult because we don’t NEED anything.  If we needed something, we would have bought it for ourselves.  So that rules out stuff we need – what about stuff we would like??  

For the Disney fan, there is always stuff we would LIKE but maybe don’t NEED?  I had some fun searching online for some stuff that would be fun to have… but I probably wouldn’t buy for myself unless I had some extra money lying around!  Click any of the pictures for the links to buy!

For more recommendations and to support Pixie Dust Fan – visit our Amazon Stores

AMAZON.CA

AMAZON.COM

I’m Done Adulting I’m Going To Disney Wine Glass

Truth be told I don’t even really like wine all that much, but I think these are fun for when you’ve got company over?  Just to show a little Disney side?

Disney T-Shirts

A girl can NEVER have enough tshirts… seriously!  And this one ‘speaks’ to me of course!  I have a lot of Disney T-shirts, but I try to refrain from buying them outside of the parks or else my collection will REALLY be out of hand.  I try to limit my purchases to the parks and sometimes the Disney Store – but these shirts online are really tempting me!

Disney Dooney & Bourke

I have a thing about Dooney’s … and I have enough of them – well more than enough, but I love this Orange Bird one!  I would never buy it because I have too many blue purses – but this one is so cute!

A Disney Kitchen Gone Wild!

I already have a full on Disney kitchen – but there are some other items I could ‘clutter’ my countertop with happily!

The Fruit Basket

I don’t buy fruits because well…they go bad in my house long before I would eat them, but this is just too cute!  And affordable… if I had fruit I’d want it.  But maybe it doesn’t look so good empty?

A Cake Pan

How fun would it be to bake a cake with Mickey baked in?  If I could bake… or cook at all – this would be fun.   

Mickey’s Lunch Box

Again… if I took my lunch to work on a regular basis – this would be something I would buy.   At this point I have 4 or 5 different lunch bags and all the tupperwear I can handle – and I still don’t take it to work often enough to justify buying this.  But if I WAS going to buy a new one – this would be it! 

Millennium Falcon Waffle Maker

Here’s another one – how do you even make a waffle?  But I might learn just to have a Millennium Falcon shaped waffle on a Saturday morning.  I mean how cool is this?  Maybe it’s like pancakes?  Do they make the boxed stuff that you just add eggs?  I need to investigate this – and now you know how useless I am in the kitchen!   

Mickey Mouse Chocolate Fountain

 It’s Mickey Mouse and chocolate – enough said?  Do I need to really sell this one?  I think the big danger for me here would be that I might never leave the house… I’d be eating chocolate covered everything.  Well MAYBE that’s how I start eating more fruit??  hmmmmm… there could be a case made here for this!  laughing

Disney Art and Collectibles

I may have quite a bit of Disney art already in my house.  In fact, I think I have art upstairs that I haven’t even hung up yet – but I can’t help it… good art and collectibles just tug at my heart strings and I want them all.  I have to practice restraint with some of them because they’re not like t-shirts, I can’t afford to buy that many!

Mickey’s Creative Journey

This is such a fantastic piece – Mickey through the years.. but notice each Mickey has a ‘hand’ in the next?  I love it – and I am sure I could find a place to hang it in my house!

Winnie The Pooh Tree Climbers

Winnie the Pooh holds a special place in my heart for so many reasons.  This one is so fantastic because it’s long and thin… would fit perfectly in so many places in my house that traditional stuff does not.

False Window Frame Mural

Wouldn’t you love to be able to stare out the window at home and see the castle?  I would – if I thought I could put this decal up properly I would be buying it!

Peter Pan Wall Decal

And even though this is shown in a nursery – I would TOTALLY have it in my house!!  I love this… but I do fear I wouldn’t get it stuck on properly?  Have you ever done one of these?  Was it easy?

RARE Disney Collectibles

Walt Disney loved trains, and if money wasn’t an issue – this would be a fantastic piece to have in my house.  It’s quite the collectible with a limited edition of only 1,000 made and the details look incredible on it.  Wouldn’t this be a great conversation point with visitors at your house?  I guess only if they were Disney fans!  This one is NOT available to be shipped to Canada.  Sometimes it’s really hard being a Canadian Disney Fan!

Disney Accessories

It’s always fun to have some Disney touches in your accessories – and this Mickey Mouse sterling silver necklace is perfect!  There’s also a Minnie version if you’d prefer to have a bow! 

I am of course addicted to Alex and Ani as well, those bracelets are always a fun souvenir!  Carrie and I talked about those on the podcast about souvenirs because they are the perfect way to remember your trip every day when you’re wearing them!

What about a watch for him?  These Mickey Mouse watches are the perfect gift for the Disney guy in your life!   

Our Own Droid

Admittedly, this one is WAY out there…. And I have NO idea what I would do with it, or even where I’d put it – but it’s cool.  If I had a bigger house and lots of money… I would have my own voice activated R2D2!

A Trip Of Course?

When in doubt – gift cards that will help me GET to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or on a Disney Cruise is always welcome!

Disney fans aren’t REALLY that hard to buy for.  We’re easy to please – something that reminds us of our happy place and all of the memories is all we need!  Oh… and a little Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust?  ……. I couldn’t resist!

While you’re buying gifts for your loved ones, consider donating to a local charity to pay it forward… everyone could use some extra Pixie Dust.

For more recommendations and to support Pixie Dust Fan – visit our Amazon Stores

AMAZON.CA

AMAZON.COM

 

Podcast 13 – Crazy Disney Fans and Magic Kingdom Fun

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 13

Crazy Disney Fans & Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Chat

Sometimes Disney fans can be over the top!  In this episode Carrie and I cover the craziness over the missing ketchup and Fuel Rod swapping charges.

We also eventually get to talk about Fastpass+ at the Magic Kingdom and what 3 attractions we would pick if we could only get 3 Fastpasses for the week.

Show Notes and References:

What’s a Fuel Rod Blog

Charges for Fuel Rod swapping called off

Bob Iger’s Audible Book – The Ride Of A Lifetime

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 12 – Visiting Walt Disney World With A Non-Disney Person

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 12

Visiting Walt Disney World With A Non-Disney Person – Top 5 Suggestions

Not everyone is excited about going to Walt Disney World for the family vacation.  I know right?  Hard to believe?

What do you do when you’re visiting Walt Disney World with someone who maybe isn’t as thrilled to be there?  My friend Aydin and I share our top 5 suggestions of things to do that are a little ‘less Disney’.

Show Notes and References:

Find Aydin online:  Website, Facebook & Instagram

Top 5 Date Night Activities Blog

Full review of afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

If you’re going to try the Void – read my review here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 11 – Shopping at Disney Springs

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 11

Shopping at Disney Springs

 Disney Springs is like a whole other destination at Walt Disney World!  In this episode Carrie and I talk about the stores that we absolutely don’t want to miss when we visit Disney Springs.

Oh… and Carrie spills the beans on her bucket list Shaquille O’Neal selfie!

Show Notes and References:

The Void – you have to check it out!

We Like Theme Parks Podcast

Leave a review for us on Apple Podcasts here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 10 – Quick Service Meals In The Magic Kingdom

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 10

Quick service meals in the Magic Kingdom

Eating quick service meals when you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom can be overwhelming – how do you choose?  Here I’m sharing my favourite spots to grab a bite in the Magic Kingdom!

Show Notes and References:

Mobile Order Blog

My Michael Iceberg YouTube video

Leave a review for us on Apple Podcasts here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes, or to support Pixie Dust Fan shop here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

A Walk In Walt’s Footsteps

Walk In Walts Footsteps a Self Guided TourDuring a Disneyland vacation in December 2017 Carol and I decided to avoid the Anaheim theme parks on the weekend, knowing that they’d be terribly busy.  We decided to designate Saturday and Sunday as “Walk In Walt’s Footsteps” days . . . not the tour in Disneyland that goes by the same name . . . we did that years ago.  Instead, we hopped in our rental car and drove around the Los Angeles area seeing sights that had a special Disney significance.

Our first stop was only about two miles southwest of Disneyland; the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village at 12174 Euclid Street.  The historical village is operated by the Garden Grove Historical Society and is the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio.  When Walt and Roy first arrived in Los Angeles in 1923 they roomed with their uncle, Robert Disney and set up their studio in his garage.  In 1984 that historic old garage was donated to the Garden Grove Historical Society and moved from 4406 Kingswell Avenue to the village on Euclid Street.

Stanley Ranch Museum

The society does not have a web site, but when I did an Internet search the night before Tripadvisor.com indicated that they opened at 9:00 a.m.  We arrived at about 9:15 a.m., eager to kick off our ‘Disney day’.  As we walked from the small parking area toward the entrance of the historical village we were stopped by a lady who was stretching a flag-draped rope across the entrance, to block access to the village

“Are you here for a tour?” she asked.

“No,” I replied, “we’re looking for Robert Disney’s garage.”

“We’re closed right now.” she replied, “You’ll have to book a tour and come back on the first or third Sunday of the month.”

We were disappointed as we hopped back in the car and drove north about 30 miles, through Los Angeles, to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.  We were trying to track down Walt’s grave site near the Court of Freedom.  Forest Lawn is a huge cemetery, about 300 acres, and the receptionist who greeted us at the entrance gate was very helpful.  She highlighted our route on a map of the grounds and gave us some helpful driving hints.

Within a few minutes we arrived at the Court of Freedom and began our brief search for his final resting place.

If you stand at the back of the Court of Freedom building and see the wall and statue pictured below, Walt’s grave is in the corner to your right.

For a man who had such a profound impact on so many people, who left such a rich legacy behind, we were surprised at the humble family plot.

The Disney Family Plot at Forest Lawn

The Disney Family Plot at Forest Lawn

Forest Lawn Disney Headstone

Forest Lawn Disney Headstone

We spent a few minutes paying our respects to this incredibly gifted man, then carried on to our next stop.

A quick 3-mile drive took us to Walt’s old home at 2695 Lyric Avenue.  He built it in 1926; in fact, Walt and his brother Roy built identical homes side-by-side on Lyric Avenue.  Roy’s home at 2697 Lyric was a mirror image of Walt’s!

Walt Disney's house built in 1926

Walt Disney’s house built in 1926

 

Roy Disney's 1926 house - next door to Walt

Roy Disney’s 1926 house – next door to Walt

On our way to our next stop, about three miles from Walt’s first house, we had a terrific view of the famous Hollywood sign.  That’s no co-incidence since our next destination was the stone gates built in 1923 to mark the entrance to the new real estate development known as Hollywoodland.

The sign originally read Hollywoodland, but it deteriorated over the years, and when it was first refurbished in 1949 the last four letters were dropped, creating the iconic Hollywood sign we know today.

Hollywoodland Gate

Do you see the bus in the picture above?  It’s the same bus as the one in the picture below.  It’s parked at a bus stop right beside the 1923 stone gates we were looking for.  They’re just steps from the corner of Beachwood Drive and Belden Drive.

Look carefully at the picture . . . do the gates look familiar?

Close your eyes and imagine that you’re at Walt Disney World and you’re approaching the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  On your left you should be imagining a stone building that used to house the FastPass dispensing machines.  On the right you should be picturing a stone tower that houses restrooms.

That’s right; those buildings in Florida are replicas of these old 1923 structures in Hollywood.

Next time you’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida look around and you might just find a replica of this brass plaque that has marked the Hollywoodland entrance in California for almost a century!

Our next stop was only two miles away at 1660 North Highland Avenue, just around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard.  It is only steps from Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, Disney’s Soda Fountain, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards.

Max Factor Building

Max Factor Building

The building pictured above, at 1660 North Highland Ave., was purchased in 1928 by Max Factor who was the most sought-after cosmetologist in tinsel town!  The building was totally transformed in Art Deco style and re-opened in 1935 as the Max Factor Makeup Studio.  Today the taller portion, on the left, houses the Hollywood Museum and the shorter portion, on the right, is home to Mel’s Drive-In.

Does the building seem familiar to you?  Next time you’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios look very carefully at the buildings along Hollywood Boulevard as you walk toward Grauman’s Theatre.  In the midst of all those Art Deco facades on the left you will find a replica of the Max Factor building.

Around the corner from Max Factor was the stop Carol had been looking forward to!  Disney’s Soda Fountain has recently been renovated and is now operated under license by Ghirardelli’s. 

El Capitan and Ghirardellis

El Capitan and Ghirardellis

We spent a few minutes walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard looking at the stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  These Disney-related stars are all within a block of the El Capitan Theatre and the Disney-Ghirardelli Soda Fountain.

Snow White Hollywood Boulevard Star

Snow White Hollywood Boulevard Star

Mickey Mouse Hollywood Boulevard Star

Mickey Mouse Hollywood Boulevard Star

Richard and Robert Sherman Hollywood Boulevard Star

Richard and Robert Sherman Hollywood Boulevard Star

Roy Disney Hollywood Boulevard Star

Roy Disney Hollywood Boulevard Star

Directly across the street from the El Capitan Theatre is the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards, and beside the Dolby Theatre is the familiar building pictured below.

Graumans Chinese Theatre

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has been a Hollywood landmark since it opened May 18, 1927.  The handprints, footprints and autographs of nearly 200 Hollywood celebrities are pressed into the concrete of the theatre’s forecourt.

The replica of Grauman’s Theatre in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has housed the Great Movie Ride since the park opened in 1989 but closed in 2017 and is scheduled to re-open soon as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Our last ‘Disney’ experience of the day was a quick drive-by at 5370 Wilshire Boulevard where Carol snapped the picture below as we slowly cruised past ‘The Darkroom’.

The Darkroom

The Darkroom

The building’s facade features a 9-foot tall replica of a Minolta Camera and it has been a Hollywood landmark since it opened as a camera store in 1938.  Today the building houses a restaurant, but if you want to see how it looked back in 1938 look for the replica at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  It’s a remarkably good reproduction!

We enjoyed a quiet evening back at our Anaheim ‘home away from home’ the Candy Cane Inn.  The next morning we were up bright and early, enjoyed a relaxed breakfast beside the pool then took it easy until about noon.

Our first stop was at 6671 West Sunset Boulevard, the Crossroads of the World.  This one should look familiar to every Disney fan.  This is the first thing you see after you enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The only difference is that the Florida version is a bit taller and Mickey Mouse stands on top of the globe.

Crossroads of the World

Crossroads of the World

The Crossroads opened in 1936 as a shopping mall and office complex.  Today it is primarily offices, most of them associated with the entertainment industry.

From the Crossroads we drove around the western side of Griffith Park to visit the Los Angeles Live Steamers Club and see Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.

Since the barn is only open on the third Sunday of each month we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get close to the barn or see inside, but we were hoping to see it from a distance.  As we walked through the entrance gate there were other guests buying $3.00 tickets for a ride through the property on one of the model trains.

Live Steamers

The picture above, from the Steamers web site, shows a model train similar to the one we rode.

We asked the two people in the ticket office if we would be able to get a glimpse of Walt’s barn from the train ride, and they said that we would see it twice, once from the front and then again from the rear.

As we bought our tickets we explained that we were visiting from Canada and wouldn’t be around to see the barn when it was open on the third Sunday but we’d be happy if we could get even a glimpse of the barn from a distance.

A few minutes later, as we waited in line to board the next train, the lady who sold us the tickets called out to us through the ticket window.  I went back, and as I leaned down to listen, she whispered, “If you go to the back door of the office my partner Jack will walk you back to Walt’s barn.”

Yes, even though it wasn’t open to the public we were going to get close to Walt’s barn!  We were flabbergasted!  I don’t know how many times we said thank you . . . but it was a lot!

Carol and Jack at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn – Griffith Park

As we walked toward the barn our guide Jack, who was a fairly new member of the Steamers, explained about the trains and artefacts we passed by.  He told us about Walt’s barn.  It’s registered as an official museum and designated as an historic site so it will be preserved for eternity.  The barn is administered by a special sub-group within the Steamers organization, sort of a ‘club within a club’.

We spent about 15 minutes with Jack, walking around Walt’s barn, and taking in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.

(Don’t tell anyone, but Carol and I actually touched the barn!)

We even had the chance to talk to a few of the other railroad buffs who were busy tinkering with their trains.  As we gazed around we got a sense of what a dedicated bunch they are.

The props and detailed scenery around their track network are all wonderfully done.  There are a lot of man-hours, no doubt all volunteer, wrapped up in the scenes alongside those tracks!

After thanking Jack for the fortieth or fiftieth time we lined up again for our train ride.  The circuit took us for three complete loops around the property which contains about 4 ½ miles of track in two different gauges.

Doesn’t she look happy?

The lady in that fuzzy picture above (shot from our moving train) had just finished decorating her train for Christmas and was taking it out for a joyride.  Doesn’t she look happy?

Our train had an ‘engineer’ up front operating the locomotive and a ‘conductor’ at the rear who explained the sights and exhibits as we passed them.

Walt's barn as seen from the train ride

Walt’s barn as seen from the train ride

There were bridges, tunnels, trestles, turntables, water towers, ghost towns and so much more . . . all built by dedicated train fanatics.

If you have a few hours to spare in Los Angeles, take a trip to Griffith Park and enjoy a train ride.  We had a blast!

Oh yeah – Jack, thanks again for the special tour!

We took a leisurely pace as we Walked In Walt’s Footsteps.  We could have seen all the sights in one day but we stretched it over two days; we wanted to take our time and savour the experience.  We are always fascinated to see the same places that Walt saw and to understand the things that influenced him a little more clearly.  I hope you enjoyed riding along with us!

There are plenty of other locations in the Los Angeles area that we also hope to visit, places that are meaningful for all Disney fans.  This blog just gives a small sampling, based on what Carol and I did that weekend a few years ago.

We’re really hoping to get back to the Los Angeles area on the third Sunday of the month so we can visit Uncle Robert’s Garage and see the interior of Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.  They’re both still on our bucket list!

When you want to take a short break from the theme parks in Anaheim there are plenty of other ‘Disney sights’ for you to see.  You can probably uncover some ‘Disney magic’ that Carol and I haven’t discovered yet!

 

 

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

Podcast 9 – Living Close To Disney And Travelling With 15 People

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 9

Living close to Walt Disney World & Travelling with 15 people!

Chatting with the delightful Katie about what it’s like to live so close to Walt Disney World that you can drive there for the night!  Also, what’s it like to plan a Disney trip for 15 people?  Ya, we chat about it all!

Show Notes and References:

Katie’s Delightful Podcast is here

Find Katie on Instagram @katie_c_miller

Katie’s group on Facebook 

Astro Orbiter Review

The Alice Network Book & The Huntress Katie’s suggested books!

Tim Horton’s Steeped Tea Bags

Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian Review

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 8 – Disney attractions I miss and one I’m glad is gone!

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 8

Disney Attractions I Miss & One That I’m Glad Is Gone!

With all of the changes going on at Walt Disney World these days it got me thinking about the attractions that I miss, the ones that really helped me fall in love with Disney all those years ago.  Some of them bring back so many great memories but there is one attraction that I am so glad is gone.  I can’t BELIEVE it was EVER in a Disney park.

Show Notes and References:

Old home movies of Walt Disney World here

Blog on If You Had Wings here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 7 – Highlights Of A Coast To Coast Disney Adventure

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 7

Top 3 things from a coast to coast Disney adventure!

Carrie and I are talking about the top 3 highlights from our coast to coast Disney adventure! Disneyland AND Walt Disney World in one epic trip, it was really hard to narrow down to 3 things each – but we did it!

Show Notes and References:

Blog on Gran Destino Tower including the link to the YouTube video is here

My portable desk fan here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Fairy Tails Epcot Pin Event 2019

As soon as they announced last year that the theme of the 2019 EPCOT Pin Event was to be ‘Fairy Tails’ and the pins would feature all of Disney’s lovable animals, I was ready to pack my suitcase and go.

They always announce at the current event what the next years event will be, what they don’t tell you is when it will take place.  It wasn’t until April 5th that we found out the event would be held August 9th & 10th, with early registration and pin trading night on Thursday August 8th.

We then had to wait in anticipation for the merchandise catalogue which was posted April 25th… then we waited for the announcement of the registration date.

That was posted April 30th and told us that registration would open at 1 p.m. on May 7th.  So we continued to wait.  Pin traders do a lot of waiting!

This year Disney offered something new, a tiered level for participation.  There were 100 tickets sold as ‘Best in Show’ and the remaining 1150 tickets were Furry Friends.  The Furry Friends event ticket was $150 and the Best in Show was $250.  The registration link, when opened, would put you in a virtual queue so that you knew where you stood in the registration process.

On May 7th I was at my computer, signed in and waiting for the link to open, Carrie, my travel partner for pin events was sitting at her computer.  We also had other devices open; we were going to do everything we could to get the Best in Show package.

At exactly 1:00 p.m. the virtual queue opened and I nearly fell off my chair.  I was number six!

With shaking hands I messaged Carrie to let her know I was registering us for the VIP package.  Carefully and slowly I completed the registration, fearful that I would do something wrong and get booted out.  Finally I was able to hit the golden button – SUBMIT – and sigh with relief . . . I had a confirmation number.

Final Itinerary

This year the event sold out in under an hour; that has never happened in the 19 years Disney has been running this event.

The next part of the routine was to complete our Random Selection Process pin orders and submit them by July 1stThen we all waited until July 15th to find out what we were awarded from the first RSP.  One of the perks of being in the Best in Show category was that you were guaranteed everything on your 1st RSP.  That was not the case on the 2nd or 3rd RSP.

Fast forward to Tuesday August 6th . . . Gary drove my travel companion Sue and I to Syracuse New York.  We had a flight at ‘stupid o’clock’ in the morning so we were spending the night at the Best Western Hotel adjacent to the Syracuse Airport.

Wednesday August 7, 2019

Sue and I were up well before dawn and boarded our flight to Orlando as the sun appeared on the eastern horizon.  About 2 ½ hours later we touched down in Orlando.  Sue was rooming with one of our other friends Cheryl so, after I picked up a rental car, I took her to Disney’s Pop Century Resort where we were all staying.  Sue got checked in and headed to a theme park; Cheryl wasn’t arriving until late that night. 

Meanwhile, my roomie, Carrie, was on a flight from Buffalo so I headed back to the airport to pick her up.

By 1:00 p.m. Carrie and I were back in the car and heading toward The Boathouse, a restaurant in Disney Springs.  We met some friends for a wonderful lunch that lasted until about 5:00 p.m. when we said our goodbyes and parted ways.  

Carrie and I had to get back to Pop Century to unpack and get ready to go to Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue with some other friends.  It was a great show, as always, and a wonderful evening with some very special people.  At the end of the day, Carrie and I were both tired and ready to turn in.

Fun with friends at the Hoop-Dee-Doo

Thursday August 8, 2019

Thursday morning we were up and running early!

We had to be at the Coronado Springs Convention Centre for the annual Breakfast with the Artists.  This popular event is organized by Janis Lavender and John Rick of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Trader group and it’s the perfect way to start the weekend.  This year it was held in the Monterrey room at Coronado Springs.

This was a great location as the registration for the pin event is also held at Coronado Springs so that meant we could go directly from the breakfast to the registration area without leaving the building.

Artist Breakfast

The food was great and the interaction with the artists was wonderful.  We were also each give a keepsake button.  Each year there are several artists who join us from the Disney Creative Group (formally called Disney Design Group).

 I really enjoy the opportunity to hear directly from the talented people who design the pins I collect!

When the breakfast concluded at 11:45 a.m. we headed down the hall of the convention centre to the event registration area.

The Registration Line


[caption width="480" id="attachment_32619" align="aligncenter"] Each attendee received a nice ‘Welcome Gift’

The $25.00 gift card was cute!

The special lanyard medallion for Best in Show – a Limited Edition of 100

Attendees could purchase a special Magic Band

 

It’s a tense time as we open our Mystery Boxes.  These mystery pins usually become the most coveted ones of the entire weekend.

This year the mystery box pins were lovely and I wanted them all.

There were 16 pins in total, 2 per box.  We were shown 8 of the pins and the other 8 were the “chasers”.

Mystery Box Revealed Pins

Mystery Box Chasers

The 8 ‘revealed’ pins are limited release and the 8 ‘chaser’ pins are Limited Edition pins with an Edition size of 450.  You can see where the challenge is.

I was lucky with my mystery boxes; I got several chasers and all of the revealed pins.  I was able to work my way around the trading room and get the complete set.

Carrie and I left the trade area a bit early and headed to the Beach Club for a 6:30 p.m. reservation at Beaches & Cream.  It was so good!  Afterwards it was back to the room to get good nights sleep so that would be ready for the big day Friday.

Beaches and Cream

Friday August 9, 2019 

Friday we arrived at EPCOT a bit early.  With all the construction going on at the security and bag-check area they did not have a special area for us to go through.  It was a slow process as the security agents have to check all the pin bags.  When we were finally through bag-check we were happy to see that there was a special entrance into the park for event attendees.

There Was A Special Entrance!

We did the fast and hot walk over to World ShowPlace, the large convention venue that is hidden behind a gate between Canada and England. 

Cheryl and Sue got in their long line and Carrie and I found the much shorter short VIP line for the ‘Best in Show’ registrants.  It was a wonderful perk to have.

Best In Show Credentials

When the doors opened at 9:30 a.m. we ran straight to a regular trading board.  We were able to get 2 pins each and they were great pins.  The boards were loaded with some pretty awesome pins this year.

Then we walked across the room to our Best in Show line; it was short and the pins were very good. 

Best in Show Line

We spent the morning wandering around and stood in one more pin line before lunch.

As always, the World ShowPlace Conference building was lavishly decorated and I really enjoyed this year’s theme.

There were classic scenes from many of Disney’s animated films and each scene depicted one or more memorable Disney animals who were featured on the event pins.

It has been my tradition for years to make an Advanced Dining Reservations for both days, at noon at the Rose & Crown.  It is nice to get away from the event for an hour or so, see daylight and have a good meal.  I make the ADR for eight people and whoever wants to join is welcome.

Rose & Crown lunch

When we received our credentials the day before, we got our trading tabs.  Similar to last year, we each received 4 trading tabs per day, however the Best in Show got an extra two for the special VIP line, so Carrie and I had to make up a bit of time!

We were happy to be able to get in a shorter line that led to some trade boxes.

An RSP pin

My ‘top wants’ from the RSP

We were both done our trade lines well before the end of the day. 

We were also given a scavenger hunt map that could be completed over the two days.  Carrie and I decided we would forgo doing the actual hunt and just handed in our tab for the pin set.  It was quite nice, a boxed set of Pascal pins, all in different colours.

As the first day of the event came to an end we decided to take the slow, hot walk to the parking lot and go for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes.  It’s an off-property favourite of ours.  Carrie and I also took some of our Canadian friends pin bags with us to the car so that they could go and spend the night playing in the parks.

Sweet Tomatoes

Saturday August 10, 2019 

Saturday was pretty much a repeat of Friday . . . lines to the trading boards, lunch at Rose & Crown, pictures of the decor, visiting with friends and trading pins as we stood in line.

There are always several games going on throughout the event and we had two fellow Canadians chosen to participate.  Congratulations Gwenn and Kevin.

During the afternoon there was a Disney Artist Panel where the artists answered questions that had been written out by guests earlier in the day.  There was an Artist Pin Signing table where you could have the artist that designed your pin sign it for you.

Through out the entire two days the Pin Partners had Product Previews set up showing the upcoming pins from Walt Disney World, Disneyland California, Shanghai Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Imagineering.

Theme for 2020

More samples of the amazing decor!

During the Artist Panel the announcement was made that next year’s event will be called ‘2020 Celebrating 20 Years of Pin Trading’..  I will be interesting to see what the pins will be.  Maybe a highlighted pin from each of the previous 20 events? 

We also received a parting gift, a four pin boxed set of some really cute Disney pets.

Parting Gift

I was thrilled with the pins I got off the boards this year, plenty of limited editions and artist proofs.  Some will go into my collection and some will go into my trade bag.

Carrie and I left the event and headed back to Pop Century, we decided to try out the food court at our resort, get packed for our trip home Sunday and just relax.

No park visits during this trip!

Sunday August 11, 2019 

We had a leisurely morning and by 11:00 a.m. Carrie, Sue and I were at the Orlando airport waiting for our flights home.  Carrie was heading back to Buffalo while Sue and I were returning to Syracuse, with a lay-over at New York’s JFK airport along the way.  Gary was waiting to pick us up when our flight landed at 7:00 p.m.

The event was over for another year.  I give this years event high marks; I enjoyed the theme and decorations, I thought the photo-op setups were fun and the pins were great.  Having the Best in Show package was definitely worth the extra cost.  Depending on when the event is held next year, I hope to be there.

Carol Cruise

Carol Cruise

Carol is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada with her husband Gary. She is a self-proclaimed certified Disney nut who visits the parks a number of times each year.  Carol is a collector who has a variety of collections that include Artist Teddy Bears, Music Boxes, Disney Memorabilia, Coffee & Tea Pots, Bird Houses, Hallmark Ornaments, Dept 56 Christmas Village, Stamps, Buttons and Disney Pins.  When she is not visiting a Disney destination, Carol enjoys gardening and spending time with her beloved dogs.

Podcast 6 – Hurricanes at Disney and a 24 hour trip?

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 6

Hurricanes at Disney and a 24 hour trip!

In this episode I get to chat with Jenn about what it was like being in Walt Disney World as Hurricane Dorian was headed to Orlando.  We’ll cover all of the confusion and flight craziness – along with a 24 hour whirwind trip that was totally NOT planned!

Show Notes and References:

Jenn at Pure Magic Vacations Facebook here

Pixie Dust Fan Cruise here

Pixie Dust Fans Group here

Pure Magic Vacations Make A Wish Donation Page here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Dayton Disneyana 2019

Thursday June 6, 2019

When we tell our friends that we’re heading back to Disney on vacation . . . many of them roll their eyes!

We can tell by their expression that they’re thinking, “Not again!”

Most of our family and friends ‘just don’t get it’ when it comes to our passion for Disney!

The ‘eye-rolling’ is not so obvious when we say we’re going to Dayton Ohio for the weekend . . . if only they knew that it’s just another way to get our ‘Disney Fix’!

If you are anything like Carol and I . . .

If your friends and family groan and roll their eyes when you mention Disney . . .

You need to find a place filled with people who understand your addiction . . .

You need to go to Dayton Disneyana!

Disneyana 2019 Map

It’s a 632 mile trip from our home in Kingston Ontario to Dayton Ohio but Carol and I look forward to the trek every year!

Once we arrive in Dayton we pause and reflect that ‘This is our place . . . These are our people!’

Every Disney fan should try to experience Dayton Disneyana at least once.

We left home at about 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning, crossed the Thousand Islands Bridge into the USA and followed the south shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. There were quick stops in New York State, shopping breaks at Watertown and Syracuse, then a lunch break (Chik-fil-A of course) at Buffalo. After a fuel stop at Erie Pennsylvania we turned south near Cleveland and stopped for the night at Mansfield Ohio. After a nice dinner at Olive Garden Carol fiddled on the computer while I watched the Stanley Cup playoffs!

Friday June 7, 2019

We were up bright and early and after a quick coffee in the room we hit the road again at 7:25. It was a short hop, past Columbus to Dayton and we pulled into the Hope Hotel, adjacent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at 9:20. Our room was ready!  Holy cow . . . that was unexpected!

By 10:00 a.m. we were all settled in our room so we headed down the Conference area and found several members of the Dayton Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club busily setting up for the weekend event.

Lucy and Carol

The room they use as an office and ‘staging area’ for all the goody bag, raffle prizes, and materials needed for the weekend was buzzing with active worker-bees!

 

Goody Bags For The Early Birds

Trinkets to be given away

Carol and I pitched in and helped get things ready!

During the year I made three Disney-themed wreaths to contribute to the live auction. Two had a Halloween motif and one was meant for Christmas.

Halloween wreaths

Minnie Mouse in a Christmas wreath

The live auction and all the other fund-raising events throughout the weekend support the work of Pirate Packs, a program to help feed needy school children in the Dayton area.

Over the years the Dayton club has raised a lot of money to support this worthy cause and we are always happy to pitch in!

This year we carried about 15 or 20 pounds of Kraft Peanut Butter along on our journey. We hope that some happy kids in Dayton are thinking, “Wow, this Canadian peanut butter is really good!”

At noon we broke for a quick bite of lunch at Packy’s, the restaurant/bar in the hotel, directly across from the big conference hall. I left about 12:45 to join a tour leaving at 1:00 p.m. for the National Museum of the US Air Force.

Wow! What a place.

Air Force Museum

We spent a couple of hours walking through the four huge hangars that house the museum. There are close to 300 military aircraft on display covering the entire age of aviation. They are real planes, not reproductions and they range from the Wright Brothers original flyer to old tri-planes and bi-planes and they span the decades up to the most recent stealth bombers!

Walt Disney drove an ambulance similar to this in WWI

Our guide Dennis in the Goofy hat

It’s an astounding display and we merely skimmed the surface as we looked at the dozen or more displays that have a distinct Disney connection.

Roy Williams from the Mickey Mouse Club TV Show

George Lucas spent a lot of time studying this aircraft. Do you see some elements of the Millennium Falcon in it?

A recent addition to the museum – The Memphis Belle

George Lucas studied this one too! Can you visualize a young Anakin Skywalker riding it?

From biplanes to Stealth technology, it’s all at the Air Force Museum!

You could easily spend several days in the Air Force Museum and not see it all. If you’re ever in the Dayton area be sure to stop here for a visit!

It takes a lot of effort to transform an empty banquet hall to a Disney shopping Mecca! While I was exploring the aircraft displays Carol was helping some friends set up their tables full of merchandise in the vendor room. It’s always a rush for the merchants to get moved in and organized in a single day!

I joined her back in the Vendors Room at 3:00 p.m. and spent a few minutes getting pictures of some of the displays. There is always an amazing variety of Disneyana and collectible items for sale in Dayton!

Uh-Oh! Carol likes collector plates!

By 5:30 it was taking shape!

The quarter auction began at 6:00.

If you wish to bid for any auction items you start by purchasing numbered paddles for $1 each. You can buy as many paddles as you like. Each paddle allows you to bid one quarter on the items being sold.

When an item is held up for display, you quickly decide how many quarters you want to bid, then hold up one paddle for each quarter and pay the quarters into a bucket as the auctioneers walk past.

As soon as all the bids are collected they begin drawing paddle numbers at random and calling them out. If the number of a paddle you are not holding up is called you yell out “No bid.” and they draw again.

Once the number of a ‘paid-up’ paddle is called, that person is the lucky winner!

The quarter auction was a lively event and in about two hours raised over $1,800.00 for Pirate Packs. (That’s 7,200 quarters!)

After the auction a group of us went to Packy’s for a snack. It turned out that almost all of the Canadian contingent was there. We all had a nice chat over dinner and drinks.

Gary stayed at Packy’s and enjoyed another cold drink with a few friends while Carol grabbed her pin bag and headed off to the pin trading room.

By 11:00 p.m. we were both back to our room and ready for bed!

Saturday June 8, 2019

We were up at the crack of dawn!

Michelle is eager to get started!

Carol was one of the 100 people who paid $35.00 to be an ‘Early Bird’ so that she could begin shopping at 8:30 a.m. and spend 90 minutes scooping up bargains before the rest of the guests were allowed to enter the hall at 10:00!

She wanted to be well caffeinated and ready for action, so we headed to Packy’s for coffee!

Hotel registration includes a complimentary hot breakfast each day and buffet served at Packy’s is quite nice, but for some reason on this weekend neither Carol nor I ate breakfast. We discovered on the way home that we still had all four breakfast coupons.

Goody-bags for the Early-Birds

These folks are ‘keeners’ and are at the head of the line!

Down the hall and around the corner is the Canadian contingent.

Latosha is ready for the onslaught . . . and so are all the other vendors!

Oh look! There’s Tim Horton’s coffee and donuts!

Just before the clock struck 8:30 a.m. Anita warned the vendors that 100 Disney-crazed maniacs were about to arrive. Then she threw the doors open and they swarmed in.

Carol was in the middle of the pack so it was a couple of minutes before she arrived . . . but she got right to work!

Pam also went straight to the raffle tables!

This year the vendor’s raffle prizes were all together on tables at the rear of the banquet hall rather than on the individual vendor’s tables.

That was good because it allowed folks to find the raffle items easily and do some ‘comparison shopping’ of the raffle alternatives.

“Jay, we’re going to have to rent a truck for the trip home!”

 Diana from TD Collectibles in Kissimmee Florida had plenty of pins and lots of collectibles!

Mickey ears can also double as a bow tie! Who knew?

It was bad because you had to decide whether the shopping or the raffle took first priority!

I think most people really preferred to have the raffle items displayed in a separate area!

“There’s Disney stuff EVERYWHERE!”

As usual, Carol had most of her shopping done by 10:00 a.m. when the ‘Early Bird’ opportunity ended and the rest of the crowd entered the hall.

I had already carted a couple of loads of her new-found treasures back to our room while she continued to focus on scouring the aisles!

At 10:30 my favourite part of the Dayton Disneyana weekend began! They always have a terrific line-up of Disney speakers and this year was no exception.

Special Guests: Marian Maher, Kaye Malins, Tom Nabbe, Inez Johnson and Alex Maher

Alex Maher was the first speaker and he told us the story of his determination, from a very early age, to become a Disney artist. He fell in love with Disney when his Kindergarten class took a field trip to the library. He was mesmerized by some Disney illustrations in a book he found in that Miami area library. To this day Alex describes himself as ‘the world’s greatest fan of Walt Disney.’

After high school Alex enlisted in the US Navy and after his hitch in the military worked at a couple of graphic arts jobs in south Florida . . . but during all those years he was applying again and again to Disney.

In 1991 he took a daring leap of faith! Alex decided that if he really wanted that dream-job at Disney he should be living in Orlando. So with no job waiting for him he quit his job heading the Art Department at a small Miami college and moved his wife and two children to Orlando.

Disney was hiring bus drivers at the time, so Alex applied. Seems that the supervisors in the Transportation Department didn’t want to train a bus driver only to lose him at the first opportunity to the Art Department, so Alex didn’t get that job.

He worked briefly at another theme park just down the road but it wasn’t Disney and the magic just wasn’t there.

Then the day he had dreamed of finally arrived. It had taken years and years, but his diligence paid off. Alex was initially hired by Disney, in 1991, on a freelance basis and in 1993 became a permanent employee. He is a Senior Character Artist in the Walt Disney Attractions Merchandise Department.

So what does a Disney Design Artist do? The short answer is, pretty much everything, other than animation. Their work revolves around merchandise, any kind of merchandise and you can see it on shelves all over the parks. If you buy a coffee mug, a print, a figurine, a t-shirt or a cloisonné pin, the concept for the piece sprang from the imagination of a design artist. The more complex pieces require a “four position drawing” showing the piece from four different viewpoints.

Alex was one of the original members of the “Pin Team” established in 1999 to design trading pins and two decades later cloisonné pins still make up a good portion of his designs.

When you listen to Alex speak it is impossible to miss the reverence he has for Walt Disney and the joy he experiences in his day to day working life.

He is proof that dreams can come true. As Walt Disney said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’

Today Alex, his wife Marian and their two children are all employed by Disney!

If you ever get a chance to meet Alex Maher and hear his story, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. He’s a talented artist, a sincere Disney fan and a truly fascinating speaker.

Between the speaker’s presentations Carol and I headed to Packy’s for lunch. She had spent a few hours bouncing between the Pin Trading rooms and the Vendors Room and was pleased with her pin trades!

The annual Costume Contest was taking place when we finished lunch. There are always some creative costume ideas, all Disney related of course!

This year there was a large Star Wars group to augment some of the familiar characters from all those Disney animated features.

At 1:00 p.m. Tom Nabbe kicked off the afternoon session and related another fascinating story of determination.

He told the story of his varied career at Disney . . . and it was fascinating.

Tom began selling newspapers outside the Harbor Gate to Disneyland in 1955 when the park was still under construction. The image below shows an opening day, July 17, 1955 Disneyland ticket that actor Danny Thomas gave to Tom’s mother.

In the next slide you see newsboy Tom standing outside that Harbor Gate, flanked by Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis.

Tom standing outside that Harbor Gate

By 1957 young Tom had persuaded Walt Disney to hire him to portray Tom Sawyer on the newly opened Tom Sawyer Island. The next picture shows Tom, in his Tom Sawyer persona, sitting on a rock at Tom Sawyer Island.

The final picture shows his Main Street Window dedication at Walt Disney World in 2003.

It’s not often that you get a chance to speak one-on-one with an authentic Disney Legend . . . but it happens regularly at Dayton Disneyana!

The next speaker was one that Carol and I had not met before. Kaye Malins was born and raised in Marceline Missouri, the town where Walt spent his formative years.

Kaye is Executive Director of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and she’s a true Disney historian and a unique storyteller. Her connections to The Walt Disney Company can be traced directly back to its founding fathers, Walt and Roy Disney. Kaye first met Walt and Roy when they returned to dedicate the Disney Municipal Park and Pool Complex in their boyhood hometown of Marceline.

Walt and Roy in 1956 at their old Elementary School

Roy and Walt pass a sign that reads ‘City Limits – Marceline – Population 3,172’

During that trip Walt, Lillian, Roy and Edna were honoured houseguests of Kaye’s parents Rush and Inez Johnson. Those treasured days in 1956 sparked a family friendship that lasted a lifetime.

Kaye’s mother, Inez Johnson, joined her onstage and gave us a hilarious first-hand account of that visit by the Disney family in 1956. Walt and Roy had decided to honour the town where they grew up funding construction of a new municipal park and swimming pool complex. Then it came time to dedicate the new park and pool, so naturally the city fathers invited their benefactors.

Kaye’s father Rush Johnson was a city councillor and the arrival of the famous Disney brothers created quite a stir at the regular council meeting.

“These are very wealthy and famous people, where will they stay?”

“We’re a very small town; we don’t even have a motel.”

After a great deal of active discussion it was decided that the Disney families would simply have to stay at the only home in Marceline that had air conditioning. That was the home of Kaye’s parents Rush and Inez Johnson.

Inez kept us all in stitches as she told us how Rush came home from that City Hall meeting and rather sheepishly explained that some very famous celebrities were coming to stay in their home. I haven’t laughed so hard in quite some time!

Kaye told us about the Walt Disney Hometown Museum where she serves as Executive Director.

Like so many small towns, Marceline lost its rail service years ago and the station sat vacant for years. Every avid Disney fan knows that Walt Disney was a huge railroad fan. It couldn’t be more appropriate that the museum in Marceline is located in the former train station.

It has been beautifully restored and revitalized and after hearing about it, Carol and I have added Marceline MO to our Bucket List.

Have you heard about Walt’s ‘Dreaming Tree’?

Roy and Walt at the Dreaming Tree in 1956

Walt’s father Elias didn’t think much of art and sketching and animation. Real work, work of any value involved manual labour and physical exertion. So Walt did his chores on the farm and contributed his effort and sweat as required, but whenever possible he would grab his sketch pad and pencils and sit under his ‘Dreaming Tree’, a huge cottonwood tree down by the creek.

Alas, the original Dreaming Tee is now dead and decaying. But a new Dreaming Tree sapling, germinated from a seed of the original tree was planted by one of Walt’s grandsons and as the old tree decays the new one is gaining strength and vigour!

Read about the Dreaming Tree and much more on the Walt Disney Hometown Museum’s web site here: https://www.waltdisneymuseum.org/ 

The Live Auction began at 4:00 p.m. as soon as Kaye and Inez finished their presentation.

There were a number of very nice items donated and folks rushed in as soon as they could to see the treasures that were available.

The two one-of-a-kind original sketches that Alex Maher had drawn that afternoon were very popular and each of them earned several hundred dollars for Pirate Packs.

I have donated a Mickey Mouse lamp post for the auction for the past few years and this year I decided to create a few Disney themed wreaths. The one below featured Minnie Mouse all dressed up for Christmas.

The Jack Skellington wreath Randy is holding below is one of two Halloween ones I made.

I wasn’t sure how popular they might be, but it turned out very well. The three of them brought in over $300 for Pirate Packs. I’ll be sure to create a few more for next year!

The illuminated 3D Lenticular piece on drew some aggressive bidding and sold for over $200.

Then came the item that Carol really wanted. She explained to me earlier that she really, REALLY, REALLY wanted it. It was pretty clear that I had my instructions! It was a Bradford Exchange set of four Mickey Mouse pieces. They were cast china pieces, like a china dinner plate, except they were flat and rectangular. Each depicted a couple of decades in Mickey’s history and each had a 3D Mickey Mouse image projecting from it. All four pieces fit into a nice wooden frame to hang on the wall.

I opened the bidding and it soon boiled down to a two-horse race, I was bidding against Rene Barnett, a Dayton Disneyana Committee member and a hard-working volunteer at the event every year. I felt bad bidding against Rene . . . but I had my instructions! We won the plates and frame with a $100 bid and Carol was delighted.

The last item up for bid was the Mickey Mouse lamp post I donated. You can see part of it in the picture of the illuminated 3D Lenticular above. This also quickly boiled down to a two-horse race, Lucy who is also a member of the Dayton Disneyana Committee and a volunteer at the event was bidding aggressively against Mike and Tina from Windsor Ontario. Lucy was thrilled when she won with a $235 bid!

Over the course of the weekend Dayton Disneyana raised a total of $5,000 for Pirate Packs, and of course there was also hundreds of pounds of food donated to this very worthy cause as well!

There was a short break before dinner so we headed back to the room for a few minutes, then headed back to Packy’s.

The dinner format was a bit different this year, and it was wonderful. They called it ‘Part of Your World Dinner’ and there were only 32 tickets available at $65 each. The dinner itself was a buffet and it was much better than I had expected. Much better than the ‘rubber chicken’ you usually find as similar events.

But the food was secondary to the company . . . and the company was great! They had cordoned off a section of the restaurant for us and set up 4 tables of 10. Each table had space for 8 ticket holders and 2 of our special guests. Every 30 minutes it was like musical chairs, the special guests got up and moved on to another table.

What a great concept! We started off sharing our appetizers and some fascinating conversation with Alex Maher and his wife Marian.

It was tough to see them go after a half hour, but then Tom Nabbe joined us and the fun began again.

Next to join our table were Kaye Malins and her mother Inez . . . the laughter continued!

The last to sit with us were event organizers Gary and Anita Schaengold who were filling in for Jim Hill who normally acts as emcee for the weekend. Unfortunately Jim had to cancel at the last minute, but Gary and Anita filled in admirably!

The ‘Part of Your World Dinner’ is a terrific concept; I hope they repeat it next year. It’s a nice way to spend some time with Disney celebrities in a small group without all the noise of a ‘convention’ in the background!

After dinner Carol headed to the pin trading room while I stayed at Packy’s for a drink with a few friends. We were both in bed early; it’s another long day on the road tomorrow!

Sunday June 9, 2019

Things are a lot less rushed on Sunday morning. There is no rush to get to the Early Bird session and the Vendor Room doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m.

Carol wanted to take another lap around the tables full of merchandise before we pulled out to head home so that gave us time for a leisurely breakfast at Packy’s, followed by several cups of coffee.

It’s probably the only laid-back part of the weekend for us and folks seem to all congregate in the restaurant for some friendly chatter before the doors open for shopping.

The vendors would rather sell it than pack it up! There are bargains available on Sunday.

We made a quick round of the sales floor, thanked the organizers, said goodbye to friends and got on the road heading home at about 10:45.

Yes, we survived another weekend in Dayton! And we had a great time.

We take the same 632 mile route home, but the trip is always quicker . . . we seem to make fewer stops when we’re northbound. Maybe that’s because the adventure is behind us rather than waiting for us. We just want to get home! We made a few quick stops along the way to stretch our legs and fill up with gas but the stops were minimal.

We arrived home about 9:00 p.m. and carried all of Carol’s new treasures into the house!

So, let’s take a look at what she brought home to add to her Disney collection!

These were all free items included in the Early Bird goody bags or won in the raffles.

Carol’s other purchases . . . all destined to find a new home in her Disney Room!

As I described before, picking up this beautiful piece in the live auction was the highlight of Carol’s weekend!

Will we see you in Dayton next year?

Check their web site for full details: http://daytondisneyana.org/

Follow their Facebook page for breaking news: https://www.facebook.com/DaytonDisneyana/

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

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Podcast 5 – The Disney Difference

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 5

The Disney Difference

In this episode I get to chat with Carolyn about what the Disney difference is! Here we’re talking parks, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney!  We may get a little off topic and chat about a whole bunch of stuff!

Show Notes and References:

Pure Magic Vacations online here

Pixie Dust Fan Cruise here

Pixie Dust Fans Group here

Visit our Amazon store for items we talk about on any of the podcast episodes here

Carolyn’s Massage Therapist here

Joe Rhode Instagram here

Michael McIntyre’s “Send To All” with Jamie Oliver here

This episode is dedicated to our friend Ed Day.  Ed was our friend who passed away earlier this year.  Ed was a huge supporter who encouraged both Carolyn and I to take risks, do things outside of our comfort zone and see the positive side of everything.  Ed was a friend to everyone he met.. and we miss him all the time.  

This one is for you buddy – I couldn’t have done this without you.  

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Podcast 4 – Disney Pin Trading

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 4

Disney Pin Trading

Thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 4!  In this episode Carrie and I chat about pin trading at Disney!  We cover how she got started, how it works and what these big “pin events” are!  

Show Notes and References:

Visit our Amazon store for some of the items we talk about on the podcast here

McDonald’s mobile ordering here

Loblaws Click and Collect here

 

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Disney Steps Up After Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian has ripped through the Bahamas and left immense devestation in its path.  Anyone watching the news coverage has been overwhelmed by the images – I can’t imagine the distress for the people who live there.  Homes and businesses completely destroyed, it’s destruction like we haven’t seen before.

The Walt Disney Company has a special connection to the Bahamas.  Disney Cruise Line ships are registered in the Bahamas and Nassau is a frequent port on the itinerary.  Disney has two private islands in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay and the NEW Lighthouse Point.

Given the ties and love for the Bahamas, The Walt Disney Company led by Disney Cruise Line has committed to donate more than $1 million to help relief and recovery efforts. 

The statement from the company read in part:

“This commitment includes a $1 million donation to non-profit relief agencies who will be undertaking recovery and rebuilding efforts, as well as the provision of supplies – including food staples and basic construction materials – to those in impacted areas.

Earlier today, our Chairman and CEO Bob Iger shared, “The Walt Disney Company stands with the people of The Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.” He went on to say, “We hope our $1 million donation will provide much-needed relief and help our neighbors, colleagues, and all those impacted by this devastating storm begin the long process of recovery as they work to put their lives and communities back together.” 

The Walt Disney Company is a great example of a community leader who stepped up quickly to offer support.

There were questions about Castaway Cay and the cast members who live there, but Disney has confirmed that all cast were safe during the storm.

The cast members were in a storm shelter that was constructed specifically for hurricanes and the winds measured were no worse than a tropical storm.  The logistics of removing the cast from the island would have included boat trips as well as planes to get them out of the bahamas – these were all factors I’m sure in the decision to leave them on the island.  It’s always safety first with Disney.

The president of Disney Cruise Line, Jeff Vahle said:

“The Bahamas is such a special place to us and our guests, and we have watched the devastation created by Hurricane Dorian with concern and heartache.  We stand with the Bahamian people, and especially those in Abaco and Grand Bahama, as they recover from the worst storm to ever make landfall in The Bahamas. As the needs in these communities are assessed, we are prepared to aid the relief and recovery efforts through funding, the provision of supplies and by providing support to our Bahamian Crew Members.”

There are many reasons to love the Walt Disney Company – this is just one more great reason in my opinion.

Hurricane Dorian – Impact on Walt Disney World

Hurricane Dorian has been creating chaos in for a few days now, and with good reason – this is one powerful storm.  The hurricane is making it’s way through the Bahamas and has had devastating impacts to the residents there.

With the storm moving so slowly, forecasters have had trouble knowing when the storm will hit Florida.  The Orlando Airport was first to say they were going to cease operations due to Dorian.  On Friday August 30th they posted they would close on September 1st ahead of the storm.  

This was rather surprising given it was so far in advance – and the forecasters were unable to predict it’s path.  Airlines would not cancel the flights, they were still holding out hope that the path would change and it did.  Orlando Airport decided it would delay the closure until it had more information.

Now that there is a better indication of when the winds and storm will impact Florida – the airport and Theme Parks are altering their operations.

On Tuesday September 3rd – Walt Disney World will have altered operating hours.  The operating hours have changed since the first release of information and you should check the official Disney sites for the most up to date information.

Disney has released the information here and states that there is nothing more important than the safety of the guests and cast members – and that is true.  SAFETY is always first at Disney – ALWAYS.  You should always be checking on any updates to the schedule from Disney directly.  If you are staying at a Disney resort you will get a lot of communication and information – your TV will have updates too.

I was able to witness first hand how Disney handles things during a storm – I was there during Hurricane Irma, and I couldn’t have felt more safe.  They took GREAT care of us, kept us informed and really made sure that first and foremost we were SAFE.

It was an incredible experience, being from Toronto we don’t get that kind of weather.  We were at Bay Lake Tower during the hurricane and rode out the storm and the curfew there.  Here’s a video of what it was like waiting for the hurricane.

Here’s a little tour of the Contemporary grounds after Irma came through.

If you HAVE to be in Florida during a hurricane, you want to be at Walt Disney World.  I know many locals pack up and head to the resorts to ride out the storms.  

If you need information on storms from someone who does NOT try to scare everyone for ratings – THIS is the guy you want to follow on Facebook.  He’s calm, reliable and surprisingly accurate!

For the accurate information on hurricane policies – visit Walt Disney World’s offical site here.

Make sure that you follow the official Walt Disney World page on Facebook for updates on closures and timelines.  

Have you been in Walt Disney World during a hurricane?

Podcast 3 – Top 5 Disney Souvenirs

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 3

Top 5 Disney Souvenirs

Thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 3!  In this episode Carrie and I chat about what our favorite Disney souvenirs are and what we always buy.  Here we reveal what our top 5 Disney souvenirs are – and why we love them!

Show Notes and References:

Visit our Amazon store for some of the items we talked about on the podcast here

Good Food Subscription here

Art Supplies Subscription here

5 Guys Burgers here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

It’s Funny How The Universe Works

It’s funny how the universe works isn’t it?  Somehow it brought a bunch of Disney fans together – for a whole new reason.

I have been struggling ever since I quit smoking, I expected to feel better instantly.  I really thought the reason I didn’t feel good all these years was because I was a smoker, and when I quit – I would feel better.  I had all the promises of a ‘healthier you’ and I was really looking forward to walking quickly AND talking at the same time – without sounding like I was going to collapse.  I thought things were going to change fast, I would see the benefits and feel so great – just like I did before I started smoking.  Only problem with that?  I was 30 years YOUNGER when I started smoking and quite a few pounds lighter!

Of course as you age your body doesn’t respond the way you think it should.  In my head I’m still in my 20s, but my body with all of it’s fantastic challenges reminds me EVERY DAY that I am no where near my 20’s.  From the CPAP machine I wake up with to the aches and pains that I just accept when my feet hit the floor.  I have all these dental issues and the RING that doesn’t fit on my finger because of swelling is driving me crazy, yes – I’m getting old.  While I know that I am far from healthy – I also know that the state I’m in is not only because of my age. I’m not taking care of ME.  I take a fist full of vitamins every morning because I want to feel like I’m taking action – but I know it’s not enough.  If I REALLY wanted to take care of ME, I would do more than take a fist full of vitamins every day.

I recognize my metabolism is slowing with age, my digestion is not what it used to be and when I don’t get enough sleep it shows ALL over my face.  My sleep patterns are so different now, I don’t have the desire to party all night long anymore!  I was chatting with my friend the other day about how we now plan for BBQs at 2pm so we can have beer, chat and be home in our beds on the Saturday night by 10pm!  Ya… that’s the glorious life I have now, and I love it!  BUT – it could be better… it could be better if I took CARE of myself and put some focus on ME.

I know all of this intellectually, what I need to do to get healthy – but it STILL wasn’t sinking in!  The Universe had not given up on me though….it was going to MAKE me see the importance of taking care of me, that I needed a little focus … even if I didn’t want to.

So this Friday morning I’m doing my Instagram post – my casual Friday Disney shirt.  What shirt am I wearing?  My Disney snack shirt… to match my Disney snack phone case… I love Disney snacks.  Well… I love ALL snacks which may be part of my problem.

I post the pic to Instagram and scroll facebook before I leave the house – I see a video clip of Mel Robbins telling someone “I don’t believe in diets – I believe in getting healthy”.  I still don’t get it…

I leave the house and get in the car to drive to the Doctor – I’m listening to Tony Robbins tell people that you get stuck in your comfort zone.  That once you define yourself a certain way and SIZE – you will continue to be that way unless you change your thoughts about yourself.  Ya… that’s true I thought… I know a lot of people like that.  I’m still not thinking of ME…

I’m sitting at the Doctor’s office in the waiting room – I needed to just pop in to see him about something for my dentist.  I’m scrolling Pixie Dust Fans group on my phone and I see the most heartfelt post from one of the members – talking about how she was motivated to lose weight after seeing her Photopass pics from her Disney trip, but that she had gained some weight back and knew that the Pixie Dust Fans would be behind her as she focused on getting healthy.  I see a comment that suggests we should create a pixie group for this kind of support.  Imagine that – a group on getting healthy created by ME?  It’s almost laughable…The universe chuckles – “you’re not LISTENING”

I get called in to the room, the Doctor walks in and IMMEDIATELY gives me sh*t for not seeing him over the last 3 years.  He says to me “why are you not taking care of yourself?  I’m proud of you for quitting smoking – but you NEED to have your yearly physical and regular blood work!”.  Ya, ya… ok – I’ll book the physical and do the blood test… whatever to get you off my back. He walks me to reception and MAKES me book the appointment.  Then the Universe drops the hammer.

I get in my car, driving to work and the next podcast comes on.  It’s Pat Flynn talking about about building a community and serving those people who follow you online.  The penny drops – the timing has all been orchestrated for me to realize I need to do this.  I have to create a place for people to support each other to be healthier and maybe then I will be healthier too?

Light. Bulb. Moment.  

It is ALL connected – the podcast, the group, my page – it’s about having more Pixie Dust in your days and FEELING BETTER.  Emotional and physical health… we all want that!  It’s time we support that in each other in creating that in our lives.  This group HAD to be created, and along came Pixie Dust Fans Get Healthy

My mother always said – “old age doesney come alone” (in her Scottish accent) and she was right.  The aging process brings with it a whole  bunch of STUFF that I was not prepared for, but it also brings the wisdom of knowing what you need to do to make your day to day LIFE better!  What a great ride this can be when you share it with a supportive community!  Let’s ALL take care of ourselves – we can DO IT together!  Thank you so much Lauar and Jennifer for inspiring!!

Get Inspired – 8 Travel Bloggers Share Vacation Ideas

What happens when you ask a bunch of expert travel bloggers to share some of their favourite vacations?  You get a whole mixed bag of fantastic information and ideas for your vacation!  

I always find it so fascinating to get different opinions and perspectives given that we all experience vacations differently.  It’s interesting to see what pieces were important to the author and what they focus on.  I think it’s these details that help you find people to follow, when you connect with someone that shares similar views.  I had someone tell me she liked my YouTube room tours because they focus on details that are important to her, but other videos had glossed over.  Funny what little things bring people together!

So if you’re looking for some different perspectives and vacation ideas, I have 8 blogs below that might inspire you!

1.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Food And Drink by Didi

This post spoke to me – of COURSE it did, it’s about Star Wars, food and drink – how could I not be all in?  Didi had a fantastic visit to Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland when it opened and I have used her post to narrow down the list of things I want to try on my visit.  Surprisingly the beer isn’t calling to me – but the Yub Nub is! 

Check out Didi’s full review here.

2.  Beaches near Disney by Jen

When I was younger we always had a ‘split stay’ vacation in Florida, we would spend a week at a beach and a week at Walt Disney World.  Since I am usually going to Florida for Disney only, I have neglected and sort of forgotten about all the wonderful beaches nearby that you can visit outside of the theme parks.  Why don’t I do this anymore?  

Jen has some great insight in to Siesta Key, read it here.

3.  Jekyll Island with kids by Kayla

So, I have to admit – I had never even HEARD of Jekyll Island until Kayla’s post.  While she focuses on visiting this gem in Georgia with kids, the pictures look so lovely I think I want to go!  It’s obviously a different vacation than I’m used to, but it’s so easy to forget sometimes that there are great places outside of Florida!

Find out what Kayla loves about Jekyll Island here.

4.  White Island Tour by Albion 

This is a trip that’s WAY out of my typical adventures, but it does sound incredible!  An active volcano would be amazing to see up close, but when you look at these pictures you realize HOW CLOSE this tour takes you.   If you’ve got a trip to New Zealand in your future – this is something you really don’t want to miss.  Imagine the stories those kids were telling their friends when they got home?

Read all about Albion’s adventure here.

5.  Tokyo with Kids by Allison

Allison let her tween and teen plan her vacation to Tokyo and you won’t believe the stuff they did.  From a Pokemon Center to the Bullet Train, they spent a full 10 days there exploring.  There are so many things to experience and Allison has listed her 12 things to do in Tokyo with kids.

Find Allison’s List Here

6.  Universal Orlando – Visiting with a family, Lisa’s perspective

Universal is a big tourist destination in Orlando, but a very different experience from Disney of course.  Lisa has some views on why you shouldn’t wait until your kids are older to experience Universal.  I had not tried Mel’s Drive-In when I was visited – this was a great reminder!  

Lisa’s overview of visiting Universal Orlando is here.

7.  Embarkation on Disney Cruise Line from Carrie

From your day bag to security to having your camera ready, Carrie has some great tips and reminders for your boarding process. I have enjoyed so many Disney Cruises that I can’t imagine sailing on any others.  The process, customer service and class – it’s just top notch!

Carrie’s embarkation tips are here.

8.  Disney Cruise Line Spooky Sailing review by Sarah

Sarah shares her insights and reviews from her Halloween on the seas sailing in 2016!  From boarding the ship to being ON the cruise for Halloween night, what a treat!  I have yet to do a Halloween cruise – might have to get one of those booked!

Read Sarah’s review here.

So what did you think?  Have you got some vacation inspiration now?  

Call my friends at Pure Magic Vacations to help you plan your next adventure!

Pure Magic Vacations Ad

Podcast 2 – How To Be Friends With A Disney Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 2

How To Be Friends With A Disney Fan

Thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 2!  In this episode I am sharing with you the tips and tricks that “non-Disney” friends need to know in order to navigate a friendship with a true Disney fan!  You don’t want to miss this top 10 list!

Show Notes and References:

Disney Purses here

Disney Cutlery here

Katie’s Most Delightful Thoughts Podcast:  http://themostdelightfulthoughtspodcast.libsyn.com

Westjet Mastercard can be found here

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 1 – Welcome And Introductions

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 1

Welcome & Introductions

Thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 1!  In this episode I will share a little about who I am, how I became a Disney fan and what you can expect for future podcast episodes.  It’s a bit nerve wracking – but exciting to share my love of Disney with you in a different way!

Find the podcast on iTunes

Show Notes and References:

Who is Pixie Dust Fan:  https://www.pixiedustfan.com/pixie-dust-fan/

Katie’s Most Delightful Thoughts Podcast:  http://themostdelightfulthoughtspodcast.libsyn.com

Jenna Kutcher’s Podcast:  https://podcast.jennakutcher.com 

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Disney Themed Movie Nights At Home

Alice In Wonderland themed night at home in Nova ScotiaHow do you keep some Disney fun in your days when you’re at home?  When you’re not in the parks, it can take some pretty creative ideas to feel the Disney magic and some Pixie Dust in your house.  One of our Pixie Dust Fans in our Facebook group was sharing how she brings some Disney fun home to Nova Scotia and I thought this was so awesome, I asked her to share it with all of you!  Here’s how Erin brings a little Disney to Nove Scotia.  

Pixie Dust Fan Amazon Store

Click Here To Shop From My Favourite Disney Stuff From Amazon!

Ever since our family first visited Walt Disney World back in 2016, we have been captivated by Disney magic. We have gone back twice since then and are currently planning our fourth family vacation there in as many years. It is safe to say we are hooked on pixie dust! While we found that planning our Disney vacations was a favorite pastime, so was our desire to keep that Disney magic alive.  So, we created a way to do just that.

Coco themed family night with churros and salsa

Coco themed night with churros and salsa

We started to have “Disney Dinner & Movie” nights. We picked a Disney movie that we wanted to watch and then chose recipes to match the theme. For our Beauty & the Beast night, we chose French onion soup (a la Be Our Guest), as well as steak au jus and pomme frites (we may have added cheese curds and gravy – a nod to our Canadian roots!) We used simple décor to add a little extra, like a vase turned upside down with a rose in it.

Dumbo themed family night

Dumbo themed family night

Snow White Family Night

Snow White Night

Our Dumbo night was complete with a circus tent and included circus foods like popcorn, peanuts, and corn dogs. For Coco, we made homemade churros and salsa. When it was time for Peter Pan, we all wore our pjs and had brunch that included that delicious hash brown casserole from Akershus! Our Lady & the Tramp night was (obviously) spaghetti and meatballs! Most recently, we had an Alice in Wonderland tea party inspired by the Grand Floridian’s tea menu. We have had so much fun researching Disney inspired recipes, creating simple décor, and sometimes even dressing the part!

Lady and the Tramp Family Night

Lady and the Tramp Family Night

Next up for us? We are aiming to recreate some of the spring rolls from the Adventureland Spring Roll Cart (buffalo chicken and cheeseburger spring rolls? Yes please!), as well as a Polynesian night for Moana. We have yet to attempt Dole Whip…but it is going to happen!

Rapunzel Themed Family Night

Rapunzel Themed Night

Rapunzel hair coming from the tower

Even had her hair coming down from the tower!

This is a fun way for us to cook up some Disney magic to go along with our family movie nights, and one of our favorite ways to sprinkle some pixie dust into our daily lives!

Erin Mosher

Erin Mosher

Erin lives in Eastern Passage, NS with her husband Andrew and 8 year old son, Caleb.  She works as a teacher in her community, but dreams of someday being Winnie the Pooh at Walt Disney World 😉
When she’s not planning her next family vacation to Walt Disney World, she enjoys spending time with her extended family.  Erin also enjoys volunteering with Dreams Take Flight, an organization that takes deserving children to Walt Disney World.

Disney Pin Trading In New Jersey


One of the highlights of Carol’s pin-trading year is the trip to New Jersey each Spring for the “Trade ‘Til You Fade” pin trading weekend hosted by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders.  She just loves getting together with other traders and CJDPT always puts on a first class event!

The group was founded by John Rick in January 2002 and since then they have held regular pin trading meets.  The schedule of events is accessible on their web site at:  http://www.cjdpt.com   All of their meets are held at the Comfort Inn 255 Davidson Avenue, Somerset, NJ.  There are Friday evening events, Saturday afternoon events and two week-end-long events in the Spring and Fall each year.  John’s wife Sheila and their good friends Janis Lavender and her husband David are actively involved in all aspects of the group’s activities.

We normally travel to New Jersey with a group of Canadian pin traders, most of them from the Toronto area.  Even though I am not a pin trader, I have joined in a few times. The trip is an adventure for Carol and I.  Our travel day is usually Thursday and we often stop at the Syracuse NY Disney Store on the way; many of the Disney Stores in Canada have closed and we sure miss them! The store is conveniently located about two hours into our trek so we can stop and stretch our legs.  It’s a 364 mile trip from our home to the Comfort Inn but we have a bit of a head-start on our companions from the Toronto area who have to drive a little further, it’s about a 500 mile trip for them.

Missing pin on a milk carton

Pin trading is serious business – milk cartons showing the missing pins!

You might expect that we Canadians, since we are foreigners, travel furthest to get to New Jersey but that’s actually not the case. Folks drive from as far away as Miami FL – 1,270 miles but I think the overall the distance award has to go to the dedicated trader from Seattle WA who, a few years ago, flew 2,800 miles to trade pins!

Even though trading activities don’t officially start until Friday evening there are already some pin traders set up at the tables in the breakfast area adjacent to the lobby by the time we arrive Thursday evening.  We always stop and renew acquaintances but it’s normally a short night for us.  It has been a long drive and Carol needs a good night’s rest to get her ready for a gruelling week end!

We try to plan some other “Disney” activities for Friday morning.  This often involves a commuter-train ride to New York City’s Penn Station or a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.  Over the years our adventures in The Big Apple have taken us on a couple of double-decker bus tours of Manhattan, to Times Square many times and to some fabulous NYC delicatessens for lunch.  We’ve browsed some amazing shops along 5thAvenue and taken a peaceful horse-drawn-carriage ride through Central Park.

Carriage ride in Central Park before the Disney Pin event

Carriage ride in Central Park before the pin trading event!

But, of course, we have to be back to the hotel in New Jersey by late afternoon!  The event kicks off Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. when the registration desk opens and folks line up to check-in, pick up their name-tags, goody bags and tickets for several random draws.  There are three trading areas, two hotel meeting rooms fill with traders first and once breakfast is over the trading activity spills over into the room where the complimentary breakfast is served each morning.  The Comfort Inn and their staff are extremely accommodating.  The hotel staff all join in the fun by wearing Disney themed clothing and they allow the group to post Disney posters and signs throughout the common areas of the hotel.  It is a very festive and fun filled place!  They even allow the group to bring in coolers filled with their own drinks on ice.  Most traders bring bottled water, sodas or juices to add to the communal drink coolers and there are also plenty of traders who contribute “snack-food” items which soon fill the counters in the breakfast area.  It quickly transforms from a complimentary breakfast into a veritable junk-food buffet!

The breakfast room

Carol always does her best trading on Friday nights. This year she traded from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and was delighted with the 20 pins she picked up.  Yes, pin traders are an oddly nocturnal group!  I have no idea what time things actually wound down but a friend reported that the crowd was thin when he left at 3:00 a.m.

Saturday morning we headed down for breakfast at 8:15. Many of the night-owls had returned, looking remarkably fresh and eager.  The two meeting rooms were open and trading was in full swing again but, of course, the breakfast room was set aside for breakfast.  Traders who want to set up in the breakfast room once the meal is done simply park their pin cases and pin bags along the wall in the corridor and establish their order in the line.  Then at 10:20 or 10:30, when the area has been cleaned up after breakfast, they are given the “all-clear” to file in.  Once they settle and get set up they are established for the day and trading resumes in earnest.

One of the meeting rooms

The traders who come to these events are not at all like some of the ones you used to meet at those tables outside Pin Central at Downtown Disney.  Many of them made their living trading pins and they could be very aggressive, sometimes ruthless.  Not so at CJDPT events.  The traders here are nice people who are anxious to help you complete your collection. Trading is easy, fun and free of stress. Carol really enjoys this week end; she looks forward to it every year.

This was probably about the 30th“overnight event” CJDPT has hosted and the hotel was fully booked by pin traders.  The organizers always negotiate reasonable group rates with the hotel; Carol and I had a two-room suite with a king bed and the rate was only $79.00 plus tax.  Our bill for two nights was only $181.10 including a complimentary breakfast each day!  Wow!

The Comfort Inn New Jersey Disney Pin Traders

The Comfort Inn welcomes us!

Registration fees for the pin trading event are quite reasonable as well.  Guests registered at the hotel pay a fee of $5.00 to register for all three days.  If you are not a hotel guest your fees for all three days will not be more than $18.00.  There were 97 people trading pins on Friday night and local traders who “drop in” for a few hours during the weekend swelled the total registration number to almost 200 people.  It’s a very popular event!

There are special games, activities, quizzes and raffles throughout each day and night with prizes for all the winners.  It’s non-stop trading and there is always a fun-filled diversion of some kind.  It’s not always about pins; people also trade vinylmations and other Disney collectibles!

Explaining the rules for the gift exchange

One of the highlights is the Saturday night gift exchange. It’s purely voluntary and not everyone participates but it’s always fun for those who do get involved.  It’s one of those exchanges where gifts can be “stolen” and folks can get quite aggressive and quite entertaining as they seek out their favourite gift! 

Sunday morning is generally very quiet; those who have travelled a distance are packing up and checking out to start the trip home.  We always have breakfast and yak a bit before saying our goodbyes.  We strive to be on the road by 10:30 so that we arrive home by about 6:00 p.m.   Many folks stay and continue trading until the event officially closes at noon.  Every year we see the plenty of familiar faces and several new ones.  Carol has always found the group easy to trade with and she always completes a few sets and comes home with some new treasures!

Raffle Prize

If you are a pin trader and you want experience a fun filled week end with your peers, New Jersey is the place for you.  Check out their web site at: http://www.cjdpt.com and make plans to join in a pin week end soon.

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

Here you can see Gary at the pin trading event manning the booth while Carol trades pins!

Disney Friends Keeping The Magic Alive

Disney Indy Meet 2We all know that Disney vacations are filled with magic . . . but how do you keep that Magic alive between trips? How do you enjoy Disney magic when you’re not at the parks?

One way that Carol and I have found is to share time with other Disney fans at several ‘Disney meets’ each year. We really enjoy this sort of fan get-together. For us, they are an easy way to keep the magic alive without making that long trek south!

When we talk to friends about some of the local Disney get-togethers we have attended we often hear things like:

· “I wish I had known about this, I live very close by.”

· “I would love to know when this is next year!”

· “That sounds like so much fun; I’d love to go some time.”

So if you’re looking to spend some happy times with fellow Disney fans, people who share your Disney addiction, here is a list of a few of those “non-theme park events” coming up in the not-too-distant future.

These local events can help you put the maximum “Disney Magic” in your life!

1. Southern Ontario “Canadian Disney Fan” Meets

In June 2015 twenty-four strangers met at a Denny’s restaurant in Whitby Ontario. The only thing we had in common was a love of all things Disney. We spent a wonderful afternoon talking about our happy place, sharing ideas, trading Disney pins and Vinylmations and most importantly, making new friends.

Canadian Disney Fan Meet

Canadian Disney Fan Meet 2015

That first meet was so much fun that we have continued to get together about every three months and sometimes as many as 100 die-hard Disney fans have joined us! That first event has now spawned several active groups which meet regularly at locations across Southern Ontario. Each has a Facebook page where you can find specific information about the next meet.

2. Trade ‘til You Fade – Somerset, New Jersey

This weekend-long event, organized in April or May each year by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders, is a fun-filled experience for those who collect and trade Disney pins. There are games, raffles and even an optional gift exchange which can be hilarious! Full details are available on the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site HERE.

3. Dayton Disneyana – Dayton Ohio

Another wonderful weekend-long event, however this one caters to Disneyana collectors. The Dayton “Plane Crazy” Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club does a terrific job organizing this annual bonanza for Disneyana collectors. A hotel ballroom is chock full of vendors tables overflowing with high quality collectibles. This is not a flea market, these are real collectors selling quality product. There are always a few interesting speakers who pass on some fascinating tidbits of Disney history and gossip during afternoon and evening seminars.

Dayton Disneyana 2015

Dayton Disneyana 2015

Carol enjoys browsing through the collectibles, I enjoy listening to the speakers. When I have a chance to spend one-on-one time with Disney Imagineers, Disney artists and Disney Legends it’s like having a back door into Disney lore and legend.

There are smaller meeting rooms near the ballroom all set up with tables and chairs, where attendees can trade Disney pins or simply mix and mingle.

Full details are available on the Dayton chapter’s web site HERE.

4. Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet – Lynnwood Washington

Carol and I have not attended this annual event held near Seattle; it’s a long way from where we live! But we’ve heard very good reviews from friends who have been there. There are always some top-notch speakers and interesting activities.

Bob Gurr

Bob Gurr – PNWMM

You can read about arrangements and plans for upcoming events on the PNWMM web site: HERE

PNWMM Marty Sklar

Marty Sklar – PNWMM

5. Indy Disney Meet – Hamilton County 4H Fairgrounds Noblesville Indiana

This is another event Carol and I have not attended but it sounds wonderful. It’s family oriented, it’s free and they have raised a lot of money to support Give Kids The World. It sounds like a great way to have fun and support a worthy cause, all at the same time. Check out their web site HERE

Indy Pin

Indy Pin

6. Swap ‘til You Drop – Somerset New Jersey

Another fun-filled weekend-long event, organized in October each year by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. The format for this event is very similar to the Trade ‘til You Fade event held each spring. Refer to their web site HERE.

So . . . if you’re feeling blue because you can’t get to one of the Disney parks . . . why don’t you plan to attend one of these locally organized fan events!

Disney fans always make a fun-loving group; imagine how easy it is to make new friends when you are surrounded by kindred spirits.

Maybe Carol and I will see you there!

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

Why I Watermark My Photos

Why I watermark my photosA question that I get asked is ‘why do you ruin a good picture by putting your logo on it?’.  My response is usually ‘so people know the source and hopefully come find my blog if they like the picture’.  That’s my politically correct response, but it’s only part of the reason.

The other reason is – people will steal my content.

Just this weekend I created a piece of content for Mother’s Day.  I spent time gathering my magic bands, setting them up (they kept falling over!), just to get the shot of the different ones.  Then I spent time in the photo editor I had making the graphic, deciding on the fonts to use and color filter to apply.  I debated putting lots of logos on it because I thought it was a clever graphic, but I decided my logo at the bottom and my website across the picture was good enough.  I didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the picture as some would say of others I’ve done.

This was my post:

My original Mother’s Day Post. My logo at the bottom and my website in the middle

That same day – I had friends send me this post from a group:

Mothers Day Stolen Content post

The group content

Yes – that is the graphic I spent my time making, and someone deliberately cropped my logo from the bottom AND COVERED my website on the top.  

It was reported to the group admins who replied that the person who posted wasn’t deliberately trying to steal the content – they were following the group rules.  I assume that means the group rules prohibit links/references to other pages and groups.  I get that… but then please don’t share it at all.  

The post was reported to Facebook and eventually the admins removed it from the group.  But not before the post has been downloaded and uploaded again elsewhere… without my logo.  Once the image is out there – it’s done.

Now the altered image is making the rounds instead of my original content

As a creator, I’m thrilled when I see my content being shared and people respond and relate to it.  I just wish that the people who were interacting with it knew where it came from so that they could find me and enjoy more of it.

Some fans have downloaded and uploaded my pictures.  While the social platforms don’t recognize it if it isn’t shared, these individuals do leave my logo there so that others know where it’s from.  I am grateful for that.

This one appears with my logo

What really irks me are the big pages who know better, and are just lazy. I spent hours creating this post because I thought it was fun and engaging:

How fun is this? I had some great comments!

Only to see this post from a page with over a million followers who did this:

Even some people commented “Hey that’s Pixie Dust Fan’s post”

It was not the only time this particular page has taken my content and manipulated it or just copied it.  I didn’t blur out their name because hey – I wouldn’t want to cover their logo, let’s give them credit.

I debated if I was going to comment, post or say anything on Facebook but I decided a blog post was better.  I will reference this blog every time I get the question ‘why do you ruin your pictures’.  It will also serve as a good reminder to me – I need more watermarks that are harder to cover up.  

I appreciate all of the support that I have and people that share my original content.  

THANK YOU Pixie Dust Fans!

15 Disney Facebook Group Posts That Irritate Me

Disney Facebook GroupsIf you’re a Disney Fan, you probably belong to a bunch of Facebook Groups dedicated to Disney.  I’m sure you would agree that some are better than others, but it’s more than just the admins that make them good or bad, it’s the members.  I had to remove myself from a handful of these groups because I was so irritated by some of the posts that were becoming more and more frequent.  

Here are the top 15 posts that irritate me in Disney Facebook Groups

1.  And GO! 

This is a post I see in a lot of groups, not just Disney.  Something like “Where should I eat dinner tonight?  AND GO!”.  What does this mean?  Go where?  Did you just start a race to answer your question?  Where is the “On your mark, get set” part?

#IWontGo 

Disney Race

2.  Has anyone ever….

Think about your question for a moment.  You’re in a group of DISNEY FANS – asking ‘has anyone ever eaten at Be Our Guest’, the only acceptable answers are “Yes” and “No”.  You didn’t ask for our opinion, you didn’t ask what our favourite dish is – you asked if we had eaten there.  Yes, we have.

#AskAFullQuestion

3.  Bye Felicia Posts

I actually had to google this to find out why this was a thing (apparently it’s a line from a movie).  We’ve all seen it, a post gets heated and the original poster says “I’m leaving” and 200 other people come back with stupid memes that say “Bye Felicia”.  It drives me crazy!  They are leaving your group – let it go and move on!  Why keep the post alive so you can all demonstrate how ‘cool’ you are by not caring about the stranger online who doesn’t want to talk to you anymore?

#MobMentality #YoureNotCool

4.  The . or “following”

You do NOT have to add a comment to get notifications on a post.  Go to the top right corner of the thread, pull down the box and “turn notifications on”.  For those of us that HAVE turned the notifications on, I don’t want a notification of your ‘following’ post.

#Facebook101 

Turn On Facebook Notifications5.  There is garbage in my room!!!  What do I do??

Okay – so you’re in Walt Disney World, and the garbage in your room was not emptied by Mousekeeping when they made your beds.  Should you:

1.  Go to your favourite Facebook Group online and ask 7,000 people for their opinions?

2.  Pick up your in-room phone 10 feet from where you’re standing and ask to speak to someone in Mousekeeping so they can come and empty it?

3.  Wait until you get HOME from your trip and then go to your favourite Facebook group and ask 7,000 people what you should do about it?

You would be surprised how often this post appears in some groups!  They usually turn in to an argument when there are 3000 opinions that vary from “You’re in Disney, be happy about that” to “I would demand a full refund because that ruins your stay!”.  The debate gets heated and the Bye Felicia posts start or the bullies come jump on the bandwagon.

#HelpYourself #SolveYourProblem

6.  I’m not selling posts

When you post a picture of the t-shirt you made with “I’m not selling it” and include a link to where you can buy it, you’re selling.  Don’t try to say you’re looking for opinions or feedback – it’s obvious.

#WeArentStupid 

7.  Guest Shaming

Yes it is extremely rude to take your shoes off and put them on the furniture – but I don’t need a picture of it.  The topic has been done 7,432 times and apparently (based on the comments) the people in the group would NEVER do this so you’re not providing a public service here.  Move on and stop sharing random pictures of stranger’s feet!

#KeepYourShoesOn

8.  Seats on the bus  

How many times have you seen the post “I was on the bus and my mother was standing and no one offered her a seat!  I’m outraged!”.  I was raised to give up my seat to anyone who looked like they needed it, many other people were too – you just didn’t get one of us on your bus.  The people who are at home and replying to your post are not offering any solutions or making it better.  Unfortunately there are inconsiderate people everywhere, this is a transit problem, not a Disney problem and could be debated till the cows come home.

#NotEveryoneIsConsiderate 

Standing Room Only

If you want a guaranteed seat, get a Minnie Van.

9.  “Why is it so expensive”

Ummm… what kind of answer are you expecting?  Did you really want me to detail the attractions, parks, resort benefits and food quality to explain the price?  Or do you just want me to click your Go Fund Me link to donate so that it isn’t expensive for YOU?  You need to figure out how to afford your own trip.

#DonationsArentHappening 

10.    Can I break the rules?

“Can I put 6 people in a room that they say only sleeps 4 people?”

“Can I add lifts to my kids shoes so he’s tall enough for the ride?  He really wants to try the big ones.”

No.  Just no.  The room is a fire code and the height requirement is there so your child doesn’t get HURT.  The rules are there for a reason – follow them.

#SafetyFirst

Disney_Facebook_Group_Irritates_Me

11.  I know you’re not supposed to, but…..

‘How can I use the pool at the Beach Club?  I’m staying at All Stars’

‘Can I park for free at the Contemporary Resort and walk to the Magic Kingdom?  I don’t want to pay for parking at the park’

‘How can I stay in the Magic Kingdom for the Christmas party if I didn’t buy a ticket?  Can I just wait in the stores till the parade?’

If you want a deluxe pool, stay at a deluxe resort.  If you want to park at the Contemporary, stay at the Contemporary.  If you want to go to the party, buy a ticket.  It’s really that simple.  Stop asking people to help you find a loophole to do something you know is wrong.

#TheyWillFindYou #YouGetWhatYouPayFor

12.  What’s the weather like?

Honestly – it depends what weather forecast you look at as no two are ever the same.  Try Google – and decide which one you want to believe.  I can guarantee you that most of the responses you get are screen shots of weather apps and sites that people found on google.

#TryGoogle. #GoogleIsYourFriend

Weather at Disney

Unless you’re at the Christmas Party of course!

13.  Cross Posting

When you’re a big Disney fan you belong to a bunch of different groups.  So when someone posts the SAME post in 6 different groups, I see the post 6 different times!  Please just pick one group and post it in there, or at the very least change the question slightly so it’s not so obvious it’s a duplicate?

#DontCopyAndPaste

14.  I need Pixie Dust

I know this might sound harsh, but the endless posts from people asking for Pixie Dust for their sick mother, dog, uncle or friend is sad.  It makes me sad to read those stories and see the pain that people are in.  While I don’t want to dismiss their pain, it’s not why I joined a Disney group.  I joined the Disney group to remind me of my happy place, not feel sorrow for strangers in their most difficult times.  I do have empathy for you, but this isn’t the place.

#IKnowItsSelfish #ThisIsWhyIDontWatchTheNews

15.  I need a name…

So you got a dog, cat, fish or turtle and need a ‘Disney Name’ for it.  Congratulations on your pet!  If you’re responsible enough for a pet – I trust you can handle the responsibility of naming it.  If you need suggestions – google “Disney Dog Names”.

#BeCreative

My biggest fear when I started my Pixie Dust Fans group was that it would turn in to one of ‘those’ groups.  I knew that I didn’t have enough time to moderate it, but fans of my page were asking me to create one.  It turns out that it’s a fantastic group of people who have no drama, all fun and are really NICE to each other.  I’m so happy to watch it grow and only hope I don’t get too many of these posts!

How many of these drive you crazy too?  Leave me a comment and let me know if I missed any!

Disney Dollars – A Rare Disney Collectible!

Disney Dollars Cover

You’ve probably heard it said that Disney has a license to print money! Well, that’s true . . . not long ago they actually did print their own money!

Disney Dollars could be purchased in plenty of Disney locations and guests could spend them in a variety of ways!

1990 $1 Bill D

Almost a decade ago I wrote a blog about Disney Dollars. I asked readers to imagine they were at the Happiest Place on Earth with a pocketful of cash!

What could be better? How about being at the Happiest Place on Earth and that pocketful of cash had pictures of your favorite Disney characters!

1990 $5 Bill D

I asked them to imagine that they had a pocketful of Disney Dollars. How cool would that be? Almost like a pocketful of Pixie Dust!

My wife Carol used to keep Disney Dollars on hand to use for special gifts . . . sometimes when friends or family were heading on a Disney vacation, their birthday or anniversary gift from us would include a small envelope stuffed with a few Disney Dollars. Everyone was always delighted with a gift of Disney Dollars.

1990 $10 Bill D

Alas, that all came to an end in 2016. The last Disney Dollars were sold on May 14, 2016. Those wonderful little sheets of spendable Pixie Dust were replaced by plastic gift cards . . . most Disney fans said “BAH HUMBUG”!

Can I still buy Disney Dollars?

Yes, but not from Disney.

2001 $10 Bill A

Disney Dollars used to be available at Guest Relations in all the Florida theme parks and water parks. At Disneyland they were available at one cashier location in The Emporium.

There is, however, an active market where Disneyana Collectors can buy old specimens. Check out a few online shopping sites, like e-Bay or Amazon to see how valuable Disney Dollars have become.

2002 $1 Bill A

Can I still spend Disney Dollars?

Yes, you can . . . but I don’t recommend it!

The last I heard, Disney Dollars were still accepted at ticketing locations, food & beverage venues, merchandise locations, recreation areas, resort concierge desks, resort front desks and Guest Relations at all theme parks and water parks. Since they haven’t been in active circulation for several years I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you got a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look from some of the newer cast members when you present a Disney Dollar to pay for something.

2002 $5 Bill A

I’m sure they are still accepted at Guest Services . . . but don’t forget, they are worth a lot more than ‘face value’ to collectors.

Let’s look back at the history of Disney Dollars.

They were first released to the public on May 5, 1987. The bills came in $1 and $5 denominations from 1987 to 1989 but in 1990 they added the $10 bill to the list.

2003 $10 Bill A

As I said earlier, they very desirable items for Disney memorabilia fans. Naturally Carol is an avid Disney collector so she has set aside a nice variety of Disney Dollars in her permanent collection. You can take a closer look at her collection here: http://www.carol-anne.ca/Disney Dollars.htm

Over the years some of the series featured specific themes such as park anniversaries or pirates and princesses. The Disney artists who designed the notes never missed a trick as they strove for the “cuteness factor”.

2008 $10 Bill A

Disney Dollars were printed on high quality bank note paper and incorporated anti-counterfeiting features such as microprinting, and hard to scan/copy reflective ink with embossed imprinting on the front and back of the bill. In addition the bills were printed with serial numbers and letters which were unique to each bill. Disney Dollars created for Disneyland in Anaheim bore a serial number beginning with A and those created for Walt Disney World in Florida and The Disney Stores began with D and T respectively.

In 2005 only, Disneyland (A) and Walt Disney World (D) released $50 bills that were designed by Disney artist Charles Boyer for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Mr. Boyer personally signed a number of these bills and a signed copy is a very valuable collectible indeed!

New Disney dollars were been produced every year from 1987 to 2014, except 1992, 2004, 2006 and 2010. In 2011 the only bill produced was the $1 denomination.

2011 $1 Bill F

Disney Dollars have even been portrayed in cloisonné pin form for Disney Pin Collectors . . . and yes, Carol has quite a few of these too!

Disney fans everywhere were disappointed when Disney announced the end of this truly unique form of currency back in May 2016. These wonderful little bits of Disney magic were permanently replaced by dull plastic gift cards.

Trading Pins 1

Of course, Disney are masters at marketing . . . and they’ve discovered that if gift cards are cute enough, they too can become collectible . . . so those dull plastic cards have brightened up a great deal over the past few years!

Trading Pins 2

Do you have any Disney Dollars tucked away in your collection of Disney memorabilia?

If you do, be sure to take very good care of them because they’re quickly becoming irreplaceable!

 

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

 

The Tickle Trunk – A Big Box of Disney Memories

Carols_Tickle_Trunk_coverMy wife Carol has a Tickle Trunk. It’s filled with wonderful Disney memories!

Most Canadian readers will remember Mr. Dressup, Casey, Finnigan and that magical Tickle Trunk . . . but for those of you who grew up somewhere else, I will explain…

Mr_Dressup

Mr Dressup, Casey and Finnegan

Mr. Dressup was the star of a children’s television show which ran on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network from 1967 to 1996.  His sidekicks were two hand puppets, Casey and Finnegan, a child and a dog who lived in a treehouse in Mr. Dressup’s back yard.

In most episodesMr. Dressup would pull a costume out of a big, brightly-painted steamer trunk which he called his Tickle Trunk.  The costume might be for an animal, policeman or fireman. Donning the costume (after all, he was Mr. Dressup), he would play the role suggested by the outfit.

The Tickle Trunk appeared to be charmed – it always had the right costumes, in the right sizes, neatly folded at the top.  That simple steamer trunk really was mystical and magical; it transported a few generations of Canadian children to some very imaginative places for three decades!

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood aired in Canada too, but if you ask any Canadian kid of that era they will assure you, “Mr. Dressup was waaay more fun! 

Like many Disney fans Carol saves every piece of paper from each Disney trip.  Tickets, park maps, resort check-in packages, brochures, flyers, napkins . . . you name it, she probably has it!  When she gets home all of that material finds a permanent spot in a big wooden trunk – Carol’s Tickle Trunk!

Carols_Tickle_Trunk

Carol’s Tickle Trunk

Of course, Carol’s Tickle Trunk is mystical and magical too!  Whenever she opens the lid we are instantly transported to our happy place!  The best of memories come floating out!

As you might expect, the trunk has been full for years.  It takes some management!  When we get home from a trip some new treasures go in and some older treasures get culled and placed in new homes.

Disney Club News January 2003

Disney Club News January 2003

When Carol started collecting pins in earnest in 2001 she scoured the Tickle Trunk and pulled out some classic old pins. They now have a special place of honor in her pin collection.

Her collection of Disney buttons, acquired over the decades, now live in a button bucket!

The resort registration packages from each Disney trip, along with park maps, timetables, and plenty of other paper now fill a filing cabinet drawer.  Each trip is in its own folder.

Magic_Years_Magazine_Winter_1993

Magic Years Magazine Winter 1993

But there’s still plenty of treasure in that magical wooden trunk!

Carols Tickle Trunk Open

Inside the tickle trunk

A year or two ago I was writing a blog about Disney park tickets, so naturally we had to go to the Tickle Trunk to find a few old ones.  On the way to the bottom of that trunk, where those Walt Disney World tickets from 1977 live, we uncovered some buried treasure!   

What did we find?  Here’s a small sampling:

Ten Old Copies Of The “Walt Disney World News”

This four-page newsletter was produced by Disney, a fresh copy each month in the early years, and included in check-in packages at all Disney resorts.  The tabloid sized papers are full of fascinating information!

WDW_News_Jan_1981

Walt Disney World News January 1981

Walt Disney World News 1992

Walt Disney World News 1992

Magic Kingdom Club/Disney Club Membership packages

Who knew Disney had so many clubs . . . The Magic Kingdom Club, the Magic Years Club and the Disney Club. Carol has old membership cards, brochures and magazines for all of them!

Club_Membership

Club Membership

Dinner ála Disney & Breakfast ála Disney Tickets

Before there were character meals there was Dinner ála Disney! Dinner was served in the Trophy Room at the Golf Resort, now known as Shades of Green.  Breakfast ála Disney was served aboard the Empress Lily, which later transformed into Fulton’s Crab Shack and is now known as Paddlefish.  There were no character meals in the Magic Kingdom in those early years.

Dinner_a_la_Disney

Dinner a la Disney

River Country / Discovery Island Tickets

River Country was the original Disney water park, located beside Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.  Two slides dropped guests into a man-made pool. The rest of the water adventures took place in the natural waters of Bay Lake.

River_Country

River Country

River_Country_Tickets

River Country Tickets

Just across the water from River Country was Discovery Island, a tropical paradise filled with exotic birds and blossoms.

Discovery_Island_Tickets

Discovery Island Tickets

Disney Matchbook Covers

In days of yore cigarette smoking was allowed in most areas at Walt Disney World and most resorts and restaurants had matches available for guests.  Carol’s collection lives in a pretty metal box in the Tickle Trunk.

Match_Tin

All the match books!

Children’s “Wonders of Walt Disney World” Books

This program of day-long seminars was offered by to children from 10 to 15 years of age.  Son Rob went on two of the four seminars they offered in the early 90’s and Carol has the proof!

Disney Wonders Brochure

Wonders_Text_Book_Cover 

Disney Post Cards

Yes, there are postcards. Lots and lots of Disney postcards.

Disney postcards

Disney Postcards_2

But there’s something all those things have in common.  All of that stuff, all those oddities and curios which remain in that trunk; they are all filled with fond memories of happy days.  Sweet recollections from magical Disney trips!

You probably have a Tickle Trunk too! To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “A Tickle Trunk by any other name holds memories that are just as sweet.”

What’s in your Tickle Trunk?

Gary Cruise

Gary Cruise

Gary is a retired banker who lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1977 and has returned many, many times over the years. Since retiring he and his wife Carol enjoy the parks a number of times each year. They especially like staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground with their Shetland sheep dogs.

runDisney Virtual Series Celebrating 80 Years Of Marvel

Calling all superheroes: It’s time to begin training to save the world… or at least earn some hardware that would make The Collector jealous!

 

Registration for runDisney’s 2019 Virtual Race Series opened on March 29, 2019 and I jumped at the chance to register for this awesome challenge with incredible bling. runDisney is hosting the Virtual Series this summer, celebrating 80 years of Marvel with incredible Iron Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel themed medals. But what is a virtual run?

runDisney Virtual Run

The virtual series allows you to participate in one or all of the virtual 5Ks from wherever you are. There is no race course, no race day, and no travel required. You can choose to run, walk, or jog your 5K around your neighborhood, on your lunch break, or even on the treadmill. You are given one month to complete your 5K, for example: the Captain Marvel themed 5K has to be completed between June 1-30, 2019. Completion is based on the honor system, but you can submit your time on runDisney’s finisher website and download your race certificate once you’re done.

 

The virtual series is made up of 3 Marvel-themed 5K’s: Captain Marvel in June, Iron Man in July, and Black Panther in August. You can sign up for any of those runs individually or you can sign up for the Virtual Series Challenge where you completed all 3 and earn a bonus 4th medal for the Challenge.

RunDisney Dopey Medal

This was my bling from the runDisney I did at Walt Disney World!

The runDisney Virtual Series is a great introduction to runDisney events and a great way to bring a little Disney magic to your summer while at home. It is also a good way to train for other races, kick-start a new goal, or build up your walking stamina for those long park days in your future. If you’re new to running or new to runDisney events, I promise once you received your first medal, you’ll be hooked. The bling alone is one of my favorite reasons to run!

 

I love the simplicity and inclusivity of these virtual events. It allows you to participate from wherever you are, gives you the flexibility of a month to fit one 5K into your schedule, and can be done at whatever fitness level you are at.

runDisney Medals

I have participated in a ‘few’ runDisney events!

I signed up for the runDisney Virtual Series Challenge and I can’t wait to share the details with you throughout the summer. I would like to challenge you to sign up for one of these events with me! If you’re up for the task, sign up for any of the 2019 runDisneyVirtual Series events or the challenge. I’ll be checking in throughout the summer months and if you complete any of the events, I’ll enter you in a draw to win a fun, Marvel themed prize at the end of the summer!

Are you with me??  Who is IN?

Let me know on my Facebook Page if you’re going to join the challenge!

 

RunDisney Jamie Patrick

Showing Mickey my medals!

To book your next magical vacation with Jamie – contact her at JamieP@puremagicvacations.ca

 

DIY Mickey Mouse Lamp

DIY Mickey Lamp Disney fans everywhere do what they can to bring some Disney magic in to their everyday lives.  For some of us, that includes decorating our homes with Disney touches.

It can be as simple as a tea towel in the kitchen or bathroom, or a collection of ornaments or art work.  The possibilities are endless.  

You could choose to go full on Disney decor, or more subtle touches that only a true Disney fanatic would notice.  I like to think that I’m subtle – but the truth is, I’m not.  My house screams “Disney Fan” from the moment you walk in the door!  

Disney Decor

A few Disney decorations around the house!

So now I’ll say, “OK, maybe I’m not so subtle… “ and just admit it.  I have not-so hidden Mickey’s everywhere.  Which is why I’m surprised that I’m missing such a fabulous piece of Disney decor – why don’t I have one??

I’m talking about these fantastic lamps!

These lamps are perfect for indoor and outdoor display, they’re fully functional AND make some great decorations over the holidays!

Halloween Mickey Lamps

Where you buy one?  You don’t – you MAKE one!  They are a total Disney DIY project, that doesn’t seem to be as hard as you would think, or it’s just that my friend Gary has spelled out the step by step instructions so clearly that it seems easy?

Check out Gary’s post here – full instructions on how to make your own AND a full video tutorial too.  Can’t get any more in depth training than that!

Who is going to make a Mickey lamp for their house?

Disney Cracking Down On Merchandise Resellers

Disney Shopping AddictionIs Disney finally cracking down on resellers and personal shoppers?  According to the Orange County Register, Disney has quietly been penalizing those who resell merchandise from the parks.

Personal shoppers and resellers have become more prevalent in the Disney community in recent years.  The Disney marketing machine has created a frenzy around many limited release items ranging from $30 popcorn buckets to $400 purses.  Some people have chosen to capitalize on this new trend of Disney collectors and will buy up all of the inventory they can so that they may sell it at an unbelievable profit.

Personal shoppers are a little different than the resellers.  Generally a personal shopper has an order from a client who can’t be at the parks (like myself in Toronto) when these items are released.  They are buying for clients with a standard mark up that is established before the shopping takes place.  For example, a personal shopper would use their annual pass for a 10%-20% discount on the item and then will sell it to you for 10%-20% above the regular price.  It’s expensive, but not astronomical.  A reseller will do the same and charge multiple times the regular price depending on how ‘hot’ the item is.

Disney has apparenlty started cancelling the annual passes of some who participate in these practices in Disneyland.  The Orange County Register spoke with Samantha Cudnohufsky, an Annual Passholder who had a small personal shipping business. She received a letter recently advising that her Annual Pass had been revoked for a year.  In a phone call a few days later she was told her “pass was revoked because [she] was purchasing items, selling them and making a profit against Disney.”  

Disney clearly states in the pass holder terms that “benefits and discounts are for personal use only and may not be used for any commercial purpose including, without limitation, to obtain or purchase items or services with the intent to resell such items or services.”  

So far this has been reported in Disneyland, but I am hopeful they start the crack down on Walt Disney World as well.  I have written about this before, read my blog about why you shouldn’t buy from eBay here.

Maybe then I’ll find a Haunted Mansion Dooney Satchel that I really don’t need.

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you used a personal shopper or bought merchandise from eBay?

D23 The Official Disney Fan Club For Who?

D23 Fan ClubUPDATE AUGUST 20, 2018 –

Just when you start to feel like Disney has let you down, they make it RIGHT!  Canadian fans, UK fans, Fans from everywhere BUT the US were upset when Disney announced on August 16th that gold memberships could only be sold to those living in the US.  We were all upset and disappointed, how could they turn their backs on us?  Don’t they value us?  I knew there had to be more to the story.

On August 20th Disney sent an email explaining – this was due in part to the new privacy regulations and they are working to find a solution.  In the meantime, they are adding an additional 12 months to existing memberships at no cost!  This means that there will be no issue purchasing or attending D23 events and expos.

August 20th Email

Disney – you really know customer service.  We get it, things happen… but I can always count on you to make it right.  Thanks for continuing to be a company that makes me feel like a valued fan!

 

*** ORIGINAL BLOG POSTED AUGUST 16 BELOW ***

I have come to accept that it’s not easy being a Canadian Disney fan.  There are so many things that make it harder for us, from the inability to have our magic bands and other great merchandise shipped across the border to the actual shipping costs of the things we can get!  But despite the challenges, we are always loyal and committed to our addiction.

One of the things that us crazy Disney fans love is to feel is like you’re part of the ‘club’, the official club of Disney fans.  For years, it was sort of a society that we created, where we found each other and knew we had a shared a love of all things Disney.  Back in 2009 Disney embraced us all and created a real OFFICIAL Disney fan club, D23.  We were all thrilled to sign up.

Oswald D23

Over the years D23 has grown and includes different tiers of membership tied to different benefits.  The basic membership is free and includes email newsletters and the opportunity to declare that you’re part of the club.

The real ‘gold’ is in the GOLD membership.  The gold membership includes D23’s Annual Member Gift, the quarterly publication magazine, access to exclusive D23 events, discounts and more.

D23 Gold Member

Being a Gold Member made us all feel special, even though we paid crazy amounts in shipping for those publications – we were happy to do it, because it meant we were included.

In the email sent on August 16th, D23 advised that they would no longer be able to offer gold memberships to those members outside of the United States.  They indicated that they were ‘exploring options’ and ‘updates would be provided when a solution is identified’.

D23 Email

Disney does not release statements without carefully considering the language and I choose to believe that something out of their control has required them to make this change.

Fans on Twitter have been expressing their frustrations

 

 

Clearly something happened – I can’t imagine that Disney would create this PR nightmare voluntarily!

For now, I’ll take a deep breath and wait for word to find out when I can join the ‘in crowd’ again.  I just hope they don’t take too long to figure this all out – there are some events I would like to attend!

Were you a D23 Gold Member?  What do you think happened?

 

What is Adventures by Disney?

 

ABD Great Wall Of ChinaGreat Wall Of China

With the recent excitement surrounding the 2019 Adventures by Disney itineraries here are the answers to the most common questions I have be asked in the last few weeks.

Adventures by Disney provides group guided family vacations to various domestic and international destinations with the Disney Difference, and is a fantastic way for families to travel throughout the world with ease.  Unlike other tour companies, Adventures by Disney (ABD) specializes in family travel. From the moment your adventure begins all of the logistics of the trip are looked after so that you can be completely immersed in the culture of the destination and will travel in luxury.  An ABD is more than just the places you visit…. there’s magic, friendships, and fun! Everything is so easy when you are on an Adventures by Disney vacation. It’s a true holiday, especially for parents!

Will my kids get bored?

My family has travelled to Australia, China, Italy and parts of Northern Europe with Adventures by Disney and I haven’t seen a bored kid yet!  The Guides are all fabulous – establishing a rapport with the Junior Adventures almost immediately is priority for them.  All the kids feel welcomed and included.  Special Junior Adventurer experiences built into the tour ensure that the Junior Adventurers remain engaged throughout the tour – learning is fun!  When were in Florence last summer touring the Uffizi Gallery, the children were offered the option to become Art Detectives while the adults enjoyed a privately guided tour. All of the kids in the group, even the teens, opted for this choice.  It was a fun way for them to see and learn about the important pieces in the gallery in an interactive way. A year later, my daughters can still identify several of the paintings they learned about that day.

ABD Spear Throwing

Learning to throw a spear in at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Queensland, Australia.

Family travel is great, but we will have any alone time?

The Junior Adventurer activities give parents some space and on every adventure we’ve been on a Junior Adventurer movie night with a corresponding dinner for the adults was scheduled.  When we were in Australia snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, our youngest decided she had had enough of it after only 5 minutes. Had we been travelling on our own, either my husband or I would have had to leave the reef to be with her.  Not on this adventure! Glenn, one of our fabulous Guides, helped her out of the water, wrapped her in a blanket and got her an ice cream cone, which she happily ate, while the rest of the family happily continued exploring the reef.   

ABD Italy

Jumping into the Tyrrhenian Sea in Capri, Italy and the Amalfi Coast

 

Is it worth the money?

Absolutely! Adventures by Disney offers a great value for a unique premium product for families.  From the moment you arrive at your destination, you are truly on holiday.  The experiences are culturally authentic and immersive. The itinerary is meticulously planned. The hotel accommodations are outstanding and centrally located.  The meals are at amazing, culturally representative restaurants (don’t worry, there are always options for picky eaters and those with dietary restrictions).  Privately-guided tours, private events, admission tickets and more are all included in the price. And if that isn’t enough – all the logistics are looked after too! Luggage is magically transported for you. Internal flights, which are often such a hassle when travelling on your own, are a breeze. Everything that could go wrong doesn’t…and even if it does – the Guides have a back-up plan ready to go.

ABD Room In China

Our room at The Peninsula Shanghai, China

 

Is it just for families?

Not at all. Adventures by Disney offers several Adult Exclusive itineraries in addition to the family focused offerings. However, couples and singles are welcome on every Adventure and we have made some great friendships with couples travelling this way on all our Adventures.  The adult demographics on this tour tend to skew towards middle age, which is a plus for many couples and single travellers who are interested in luxury group travel, but want to travel with people who are closer to their age.

All of the Adventures look amazing, which one should I start with?

All of the Adventures are indeed amazing, but they are not all the same.  Some Adventures are very leisurely, some are very active.  Some have a lot of very early start times or multiple internal flights, while others do not. Which one to choose depends on your travel style and interests.  You can join this Facebook group of serious ABD travellers to help narrow down which one is for you.  However, no matter which one you choose you are sure to have the Adventure of your life.

ABD Helsinki Finland

Hanging out with James, our wonderful Adventure Guide in Helsinki, Finland – 7-Night Magic of Northern Europe Cruise 

This review was written by Monica Loberto, a travel agent who specializes in Disney destinations.

For more information or to book your Adventure, contact Monica today at Monica@puremagicvacations.ca

 

 

 

Google Street View of Disney Parks

Google has released street views from inside Disney Parks in Orlando and California and they are awesome!

These views allow you to see the park as you would if you were standing in it.  It will help people who are planning get a real look at how the parks are laid out and show first time visitors how BIG they are.

For those of us that need a Disney ‘fix’ while we’re at home, you can literally walk around online using the Google Street view of some of your favourite places!

Some of the street views you can find:

Magic Kingdom

Pandora – The World Of Avatar

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Epcot

Disney Springs

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park 

ESPN Wide World of Sports

California Adventure

Disneyland Park

Downtown Disney

You could spend hours exploring these street views and looking inside restaraunts, seeing the attractions and wandering World Showcase.

I have spend a “little” time exploring today and I have to say, I’m addicted!

Some of my favourites:

Seeing Chewie at Star Wars Launch Bay 

Remembering my fabulous dinner at Carthay Circle in the table on the left here

Or visiting my favourite snack place in Epcot

There are SO many things you can explore with these views!  I think I’m addicted!

What’s your favourite thing you’ve found on the street view?

 

What I Have Learned From Pixie Dust Fans

Lessons from Pixie Dust FansYou can be scared, but do it anyway.

That’s what I wrote a year ago as one of the 5 things I had learned.  I had launched my new website and decided to focus on Pixie Dust Fan, I was terrified.  What if it was a failure?  What if no one liked it?

I decided to try anyway and my Facebook page grew from 1.5k followers to almost 24k!  It was beyond what I thought was possible, and so many surprises along the way.  It has been an incredible journey, but what I never expected is how much I would learn from all of you.

Here are the 5 things that YOU taught me this year

1.  Strangers Are Kind

Most of you don’t know me personally, yet so many of you have offered me kind words and encouragement this year.  It is your support that has given me the motivation to keep going.

Have faith in your dreams

 

2.  Social Media Is Exciting

I spend a LOT of time preparing posts for social media to share with you all and waiting to see what ones resonate with you is fascinating!  I have spent hours creating memes that I thought were funny only to have them flop – then a simple picture of my tea cup gets a ton of buzz!  It’s always a thrill to see people engage with a post and comment about what is going on in their lives that connects with the post.

3.  I Need New Experiences

Getting feedback from you has made my vacations better!  Hearing your feedback and stories has inspired me to try new things and revisit some old ones while I’m at Walt Disney World.  I am always keeping my eyes open for things to post and I’m motivated to try new experiences so that I can share them with you.  Some of the recommendations you’ve given me have become my new favourite things.

Mr Kamals Fries At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

4.  I Don’t Have To Be Perfect

When my video is a little shaky or I tape it with my thumb in front of the lense for the first 2 minutes (true story), you still watch and forgive my amateur status.  When my grammar and spelling isn’t perfect, you don’t write hateful comments or correct me.  You have told me you’re happy to share the Disney passion and it’s okay that I mess up, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me!

 

5.  Disney Fans Need Pixie Dust In Their Days

I have a friend at work who always says the way to get me out of a bad mood is to talk about Disney.  She wishes that she had something similar that could instantly change her mood and brighten her day.

That’s what Disney is for so many of us, something that lifts our spirits and takes our minds off of the negative stuff that surrounds us every day.  It might just be a picture of a mug or a discussion about fastpasses and ears, but it brings a moment of joy in to our days.

I am truly humbled by all of your support this year, and grateful for the lessons you have taught me.  You all are the Pixie Dust in my days.

I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2018 with many magical moments to celebrate!

 

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Disney Parks Merchandise On Ebay

Rose Gold Ears EbayDisney releases new merchandise all the time at the parks.  There’s a different pin, popcorn bucket or Dooney purse for every season.  Occasionally – although it’s becoming more frequent, there are items that are just next to impossible to get!  These items are all over social media and everyone is going crazy to get their hands on the newest “must have” thing.   While I totally get the “I have to have it!” mentality – I am urging you NOT to buy these items on sites like eBay.  Here’s why.

1.  These items are marked up – drastically

Have you seen the hype about the Rose Gold Ears?  Honestly, I can’t figure out what’s so great about them – but many people have asked me to pick them up a pair when I’m there.  These things sell for $24.99 at the parks and $75 online (plus shipping!).  Why would you want to pay 3 times the value of an item from a seller who probably has an annual pass and only paid $20 for them?

2.  It’s because of the eBay sellers you can’t get these items for yourself

I have been in the parks when the latest and greatest craze was going on and you can see the resellers stocking up, buying as many of the items as they can carry.  As soon as they get information that shelves have been restocked, they are at the park clearing those same shelves.  THIS is why you can’t get one for yourself.  When you buy from these sellers, you’re keeping them in business and the circle continues.

oogie boogie popcorn bucket

$85 For a popcorn bucket! Don’t forget the $65 shipping!

3.  The personal shoppers are more reputable

While some may do both, the vast majority of the personal shoppers at Disney are only buying these items for clients who have already ordered them.  They are not buying 30 in the hopes that they can sell them later.  They’re also not selling them at an astronomical mark up – they have a small fee that is the same for all of their purchases and are not taking advantage of the newest hot topic.

4.  Disney will always have more if you’re patient

Remember those Haunted Mansion Dooney bags?  I really wanted one of those, so much that I was tempted to break my own rule and pay the crazy $1000 for a bag that was $200 in the parks.  But I didn’t.  While there were some days where I was panicking thinking I’d never get one – I stood my ground.  In my last 3 trips there have been HUNDREDS of these purses all over the parks.  Disney is not going to stop making things that people want, it might just take them some time to get the inventory out.

I can only hope that at some point Disney puts a limit on the number of these items that someone can purchase.  It wouldn’t stop these sellers, but it sure would slow them down so that others can get a chance to buy these fabulous for ourselves!

Have you bought anything on eBay?

 

Fireworks For The Visually Impaired

Tactical FireworksWhat if there was a firework show that the visually impaired could enjoy?  How would that even work?  Leave it to the minds at Disney Research to come up with a solution – a firework show you can feel!

We know that Disney is always looking for innovative ways for all guests to enjoy magical experiences.  Service animals are frequent visitors at the parks and provide assistance to those who need them.  For the hearing impaired they provide sign language interpretation for live shows and handheld captioning devices at the parks.  You can find out more about what they offer for the hearing impaired here.

Fireworks on the other hand are a show that you ‘see’ – but it looks like they may have found a way for guests who are visually impaired to enjoy them in the future!

In an article on Disney Research

“We present Feeling Fireworks, a tactile firework show. Feeling Fireworks is aimed at making fireworks more inclusive for blind and visually impaired users, in a novel experience that can be shared by all. Tactile effects are created using directable water jets that spray onto the rear of a flexible screen, with different nozzles for different firework effects.”

Based on the information provided in the article it looks like this is still in the early stages of development, but it’s fun to think of all of the possibilities!

Imagine that – I think it should be filed under “what will they think of next”.

Check out the video below:

Disneyland Cast Member Retires After 60 Years

Oscar Martinez DisneylandThe longest-tenured Cast Member at the Disneyland Resort has retired after 60 years of service.

Oscar Martinez began working in the Fantasyland quick service locations but spent the last 50 years working at the cafe on Main Street U.S.A.

On January 19th, 2017, Oscar was presented with an award that was created for him at Walt Disney Imagineering – to celebrate his achievements with the company.

Oscar had many fond memories of his years spent at Disneyland, especially watching Walt himself walk the park.

After 60 years, Oscar retired on September 27th, 2017.

 

Disney To Pay Workers For Lost Wages From Irma

Contemporary Resort IrmaThe damages at Walt Disney World due to Hurricane Irma were not as bad as they could have been.  There were lots of downed trees and debris – but nothing that couldn’t be repaired.  For the most part, all resorts were operational the next day with the exception of Fort Wilderness which had been evacuated before the storm.

Many of the Cast Members though weren’t so lucky.  They have homes that are damaged and/or flooded.  A few of the Cast Members I spoke to at The Polynesian Resort were happy to come to work where there is air conditioning.  Missing 2 days of work when the parks were closed means lost wages for some when they are trying to rebuild and replace after the storm.

Disney has confirmed that they will pay the union and non-union members for their shifts for the two days that the parks were closed.

Contempoary Resort Irma Damage

Disney had already announced they would donate $2.5 million to help those impacted by Hurricane Irma.  During the storm Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line donated meals, provided storage for supplies and power-utility vehicles, donated bedding to shelters, and made rooms available for first responders.

It’s a great gesture from the Disney company and kudos to the executives that made those decisions to take care of their employees as well as the community.

 

The Calm Before Irma At Disney

Hurricane Irma WDW Before the StormIt was a gorgeous night at Walt Disney World after the showers earlier in the evening.  The clouds had gone and the severe humidity had passed, it was very comfortable.

As we were out watching Happily Ever After from our balcony at Bay Lake Tower, 2 notices were delivered to our room about the approaching Hurricane Irma.

The first was the Resort Impacts outlining important details we needed to know.  It included advice on dining, snacks and bottled beverages as well as the channel we should be watching for updates.  Disney also has offered complimentary Disney films on the in-room TV until further notice.

The second was our room impacts.

This outlined the operating hours of the parks for Saturday September 9th, 2017

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be closing at  7pm
  • Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Springs will be closing at 9pm
  • All nighttime spectaculars have been cancelled
  • All Theme Parks and Disney Springs will be closed Sunday September 10th and Monday September 11th.

The notice also advised that guests could may be confined to their rooms fro 24 to 48 hours until any curfews are lifted.

Hurricane Irma Room Impacts

Disney is doing everything to ensure the safety of guests and cast members while waiting for Hurricane Irma’s arrival.

 

The Wisdom Of Walt

Jeff BarnesThe Wisdom Of Walt is a look at the success and failures of Walt Disney as he relentlessly pursued his dreams.  The author, Jeff Barnes, has captured Disney history with his own unique storytelling and personal experiences to provide insight in to how we can make our own dreams a reality.

Jeff Barnes is a Disney fan as well as a history buff, university professor and author.  He took his passions and combined them together to write his first book The Wisdom of Walt, leadership lessons from the happiest place on earth.

Jeff outlines actionable lessons using Disney storytelling to help you succeed in your own life, you will want to read it more than once.  His personal reflections provide a connection that make him both relatable and inspirational.

From the very first chapter of “Sitting On A Park Bench”, Jeff takes us through Walt’s earliest vision for Disneyland and both the success and challenges he faced.  Jeff’s ability to relate these stories to things that you can incorporate in your own life make it a blueprint for dreamers everywhere.

It is important to remember that before you achieve your dreams you will fail.  This book offers the perfect balance between hard reminders and motivation to continue chasing your dreams.

As I move through my own journey, I will always remember Jeff’s quote “You can’t Fastpass success”.

Jeff’s newest book Beyond The Wisdom Of Walt will be available October 1, 2017.  I can’t wait to read the next one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Life Luke Skywalker X-34 Landspeeder

Luke Skywalker landspeederLuke Skywalker’s landspeeder was revealed at Comic-Con in San Diego in early 2017.  This kid-sized vehicle has realistic details that has Star Wars fans excited.

Designed for children ages 4 and up, the landspeeder seats 2 pint-sized passengers weighing up to 130 pounds.  The exterior has all of the trimmings you would expect to find on an landspeeder, including distressed paint and a big dent on the nose, just like Luke’s.

Although it has a very close resemblance to the X-34 landspeeder from Star Wars: A New Hope, it rides on wheels.  There is no hovering, but it’s still the coolest thing in this galaxy.

Inside of the vehicle is an interactive dashboard with lights and sounds from the movie.  Among the sounds you can hear the engine, R2-D2 or dialog from Luke Skywalker himself.

“Look it, theres a Droid on the scanner.  Dead ahead.  Might be our little Artoo unit.  Hit the accelerator!” – Luke Skywalker 

 

The gear shift allows for speeds of 2 or 5 mph in the forward position or 2 mph in reverse.  Running on a rechargeable 12V battery, it’s much smaller than the original would have been, weighing just 59.9 pounds.

Star Wars landspeeder_console

Built by Radio Flyer, the landspeeder was originally only available at Toys R Us. It’s a little more expensive than a kid-sized Ferrari, but has all of the features an aspiring Jedi would want to have.  When you are battling Darth Vader, you need more than a lightsaber and the force, you need the right vehicle.

 

When Star Wars first hit the movie screens in 1977, we all aspired to be Luke, Han or Leia.  We reenacted movie scenes in the playground and used our little red wagons and Big Wheels to simulate landspeeders and the Millennium Falcon.  I suspect many of us who had this playtime ritual are now trying to figure out how to ‘fit’ in the new landspeeder and take it for a spin.  Maybe I could drive it to work one day, imagine how jealous my friends would be?

 

Toy Story Faces For Your Apple Watch

Woody Pixar Apple WatchApple’s Worldwide Developer Conference had some great news for Disney and Pixar fans!

There was plenty of great stuff at the conference, you can see it all here. but it’s the Pixar stuff that I think is the most exciting!

Apple announced that as part of the features of the watchOS 4 this fall, they would be creating several new watch faces in featuring Toy Story characters!

Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear were shown with full animation displaying their own personal behaviors.

 

If you have an iWatch like I do – it will be great to rotate out the Mickey Mouse face once in a while and mix it up with some other great characters.

iMac Pro Pixar Lamp

I love the partnership between Disney and Apple and would love to see more collaboration. Maybe the reference to the Pixar lamp in the iMac Pro ad is a hint of what’s in store?

Do you have an Apple Watch?  Are you excited about these new faces?

 

 

Laundry At Walt Disney World

Laundry room at Bay Lake Tower Walt Disney WorldDoes anyone WANT do laundry at Walt Disney World?

No, but sometimes it’s necessary.

During a trip last year there were a few ‘mishaps’ where I needed to change outfits a few times one day. It might have been chocolate icing from my cupcake, mustard from my burger or my Pina Colava (okay, it was all 3), but they ended up on my clothes. I knew I needed to do laundry.

I gathered up all of the dirty clothes and headed to the laundry room at Bay Lake Tower where I was staying. I purchased my soap from the machine for $1 each with my credit card. So far so good.

I loaded up two machines (might as well wash all of the dirty clothes we had), then I saw the sign.

Laundry Instructions Disney

Disney laundry is high tech!

Using the website laundryview.com/Disneyworld I was able to view the progress of my washing. I could set up an alert to let me know when it was done, or I could just keep checking online. No need to sit in the room or remember what time I put the load in. My vacation brain does not let me monitor time well and this was exactly what I needed.

Doing laundry was a great excuse to have some down time outside of the parks and enjoy the pool or resort.  I chose to enjoy my balcony with an afternoon cocktail and relax in the sun.

Laundry View Website WDW

About 40 minutes later, I checked the status and the laundry was ready to move to the dryer. I could see online that there were 4 dryers available for use before I went back to the laundry room. I purchased my dryer sheets from the machine, turned on a couple of dryers and had another little break.

Laundry Machine Disney

Before I knew it, the site was saying the dryers were done. Within 20 minutes I had folded the clothes, brought them back to the room and put them away. I felt relieved, now I didn’t have to worry about any ‘spills’ during future meals. Doesn’t that happen to everyone? Put on a white shirt and immediately spill ketchup on it? Happens to me ALL THE TIME, especially on vacation.

While I dreaded the thought of laundry while on vacation, it turned out to be a relaxing afternoon that we now plan for almost every trip. If I know I’m going to do laundry on vacation, I don’t pack extra clothes for the inevitable spills. I save valuable space in my suitcase for all of the stuff I buy, and I’m guaranteed a couple of hours at my resort, sitting in the sun with a drink in my hand.  Somehow doing laundry at Disney isn’t as painful as it is at home!

Do you do laundry on your Disney vacation?

 

Where To Buy Disney Bags, Wallets and Backpacks in Canada

Loungefly-Tinkerbell-ToteBeing in Canada, it’s expensive to buy quality Disney bags, wallets and backpacks.   Our Disney stores don’t have much ‘adult’ inventory aside from some T-shirts, so we are left with ordering online. Between the exchange rate on the US Dollar, shipping fees and duty, I struggle to justify my online purchases.

I’ve recently discovered the beauty of shopping on Amazon!  I had no idea the selection of Disney items that were available – with many shipping to Canada!

From luggage to bags, you can find everything at Amazon.ca – it’s my new go-to online shopping!

 

 

 

The other great place that I have found in Canada is Hot Topic!  They have a bunch of locations in Toronto and I always find something

Aside from the Loungefly bags – they have really different T-shirts and merchandise that you don’t see anywhere else.

LOUNGEFLY DISNEY QUILTED MINNIE MOUSE

Where is your favourite place to shop?

Leave us a comment so we can all spend some money 🙂

 

When Disney Decorating Takes Over Your Home

Disney SignI know that most people don’t have to mention their décor when they have guests over. They don’t say, “just to let you know, my house is decorated with a mid-century modern style” as part of the invitation. So why do I tell people before I invite them over that my house is Disney decorated?  I try to avoid the “I can’t believe how much Disney stuff you have” conversation with those who just don’t get it.

It started out in my 20’s when I had my first place. I had a few mugs, maybe a poster or two and some bedding. I was happy to have my own space to decorate just the way I wanted. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but I loved every piece I had. Most of my stuff was hand me downs from my parent’s house, or cheap trinkets that I could afford at the time.

With maturity and a decent job, my collection has grown. It’s a far cry from what it used to be and includes some more ‘collectible’ items vs. the mugs and toothbrush holder I had.  Disney decorating has become another addiction!

Disney Collectibles

Now my house is overrun with Disney stuff, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Every piece of cutlery or dishes I own has Mickey ears. From serving plates to my kettle, it’s all Mickey.

Disney Kitchen

All artwork on my walls has some reference to Walt, Mickey or a Disney attraction or film.

Disney Art

Behind my front door you will find a photo of me as a ghost along with a sign that welcomes foolish mortals. The bathrooms have a little more subtle touch. I have Mickey hands that hold all of my towels and soaps. The alarm clock in my bedroom is Mickey colors, but it’s Donald Duck singing that wakes me up in the morning!

Disney Bathroom

Can you have too much Disney in your house? I don’t think so, I think I need more! There’s used to be a great store in Disney Springs that was perfect for home décor.   Sadly it’s not there anymore and you have to visit ALL the different Disney stores for collectibles.  Check out what D-Living used to have, I miss it!

Is your home Disney themed? Leave us a comment below!

 

11 Things You Need To Know To Be Friends With A Disney Addict

Carousel of Progress FriendsI have been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember, it is who I am and my friends have accepted this about me.  While my ‘non-Disney’ friends don’t share my passion, they know what to expect from me because we have known each other for years.  For new people that come in to my life I have put together the top 11 things they need to know about becoming friends with a Disney addict.

1.  No matter what, I will always be wearing something Disney related.

It may be as subtle as an Alex & Ani bracelet or Mickey Mouse watch, or it may be something more obvious like my Disney Dooney bag or my Mickey tattoo.  If we are going somewhere in casual attire – you can safely assume that some kind of Disney t-shirt will be worn.  The only acceptable comment about any of this is “that is awesome”.

Disney Dooney

2.  If you visit my home, you will feel like you walked in to a place decorated by the Imagineers at Disney.

Yes my cutlery is Mickey shaped, YES those are Mickey’s hands holding the soap in the bathroom and YES I will welcome you as a foolish mortal.  If you don’t know what something is, ask me!  I will be more than happy to explain the small piece of metal that is directly from Walt Disney’s train tracks in his backyard.  It may look like a scrap of metal to you – but it is one of my most prized possessions!  Unless you’re going to say “I love it!” – I don’t want to hear from you.

Disney Mice Decal

3.  I will manage to bring something “Disney” in to almost all of our conversations.

Somehow I will relate our inability to find a parking spot at the grocery store to how efficient the parking is at the Magic Kingdom.  I will tell you about the design, why the car doors don’t get ‘dinged’ and how they locate your car if you can’t remember where you parked.  It’s fascinating stuff – you should be listening!

4.  You can’t be embarrassed when we’re out in public and my phone rings.

When my phone bellows ‘Do not pull down on the safety bar please, I will lower it for you’, it makes me feel like I’m in the Haunted Mansion.  This is my ringtone, it makes me happy and I don’t care who hears it.  This also applies to the text notification from Star Tours and the email sound of Soarin – they are my little piece of ‘home’ and I love them.

5.  My news feed on Facebook and Instagram will be 90% Disney stuff.

Yes, there will be the occasional family picture or a joke, but for the most part it’s all Disney.  When I’m on vacation – I’ll be posting even more and checking in at a bunch of attractions. You may not like it, but my Disney Facebook friends will love it!  Scroll by if it annoys you… but don’t tell me it did!

(Find me on Faceboook and Instagram @PixieDustFan)

My Disney Dreams

6.  When you get in my car, chances are you will hear Disney music.

If I’m driving – I’m in charge of the tunes… so sing along and let it go…. but never roll your eyes!  THIS is how I stay happy in traffic.

7.  Don’t ever send me ‘dirty’ Disney jokes.

Don’t send me comics about naked princesses or Goofy doing something gross.  Making fun of Disney is like making fun of my family.  There’s a line – don’t cross it.

8.  Don’t say to me “You’re going to Disney AGAIN?  You need to see the world!”

Yes.. I am going again, and it won’t be the last time.  Just an FYI – I’ve seen the world, I walk around it every time I go to Epcot.  I eat in different countries, stop for drinks in each one and even do a little shopping for souvenirs.  I’ve been there, done that – and I’ll do it again.

9.  Asking “Isn’t Disney for kids?” is a completely unacceptable and offensive question.

Unless you want a 20-minute tirade from me and a full run down of what the Food & Wine festival is, don’t even go there.  Believe me, you’ll be sorry you asked.

Disney Springs Isn't For Kids

10.  Don’t ask me how I afford it.

I don’t ask you how you pay for the car you drive, the food you eat or the clothes you wear.  I prioritize my Disney trips over other things that you may find important.  It’s my choice, my life, and none of your business. (I finally gave up and wrote a blog about how I afford it because I was sick of the questions!)

I Work To Pay For Vacation

11.  When you’re feeling down I will quote Walt Disney.

I will also send you text messages full of Disney emojis and gifs, and then tell you to watch a Disney movie.  All of these things make me happy and I will assume that they will do the same for you.

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re friends with one of us, but there are some great things that come with our friendship too!  Aside from the fact that we believe in magic and know what makes us happy, it’s really easy to get us to start singing!  Just say to a Disney fanatic “there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow” and watch what happens!

If you can dream it you can do it

Have you shared this with the people who need to know how to be friends with YOU?

Tell us what they said!

 

When The Deal May Be Too Good To Be True

Disney ParadeI’m scrolling through Facebook tonight and reading the random posts on various pages when I come across one that is posted to the official Walt Disney World page.  It’s a post from a couple that have allegedly been ‘scammed’ by a Disney Cast Member.

In their claim, they say they directly paid a Disney cast member $1900 to book a vacation for them.  The cast member told them that she got a promotion and could no longer help them and would request a refund for them.  After limited communication – they reached out to Disney to confirm the refund was coming and were told that the reservation was made – but was never paid for.  It was then clear to them that the cast member stole their money.

This couple have taken to social media to complain that Disney will not reimburse them for the money they allegedly gave to the cast member.

After reading the posts and the couple’s responses, there are a few things that bother me about this story:

  1. They clearly gave this person money because they believed they were getting some kind of deal – maybe a cast member discount?  Does that mean they knew the cast member personally?  Why else would they give the money directly to this person vs. through a travel agency or Disney itself?
  2. They paid them through pay pal – I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay large companies via pay pal.  I don’t shop at Best Buy, The Disney Store or Alamo and submit my payment that way.  If they asked for a pay pal payment – I’d be suspicious, but that’s just me.
  3. Disney isn’t accountable for what their cast members do when they’re not on the job.  If this cast member was ‘on the job’ – they wouldn’t be paying for their vacation through pay pal (see point above).  This is like asking McDonald’s to pay a bank that their employee robbed.  Would you ask a movie theatre to reimburse you for the bootlegged video you bought from their ticket taker?  I think not.

If this cast member really does work for Disney and was using that privilege to scam people – you can be sure that they won’t be working there for long.   That is what Disney will and should do to address the situation.

If in fact these people lost their money, I feel bad for them.  It’s a horrible thing to be robbed and $1,900 is a lot to lose – but how it that Disney’s fault?  There are many people on social media posting that Disney is supposed to be ‘all about customer service’ and they can’t believe they aren’t ‘making this right’ – but it isn’t Disney’s to fix.  This is a matter for the police and if they have all of the receipts and communications that they say they have, the police should be able to handle it quickly.

Too often people think they can force a company like Disney to pay for their mistakes by bashing them on social media, and they may just get what they want. While $1,900 is nothing to a company of this size, it speaks to the larger issue of guests believing that no matter what goes wrong “in the name of Disney” – that they will fix it.  This isn’t a culture that Disney should encourage, and I hope that they don’t give in.

Disney Emoji Blitz Makes Me Text More

Emoji BlitzI confess, I am shamefully addicted to playing games on my phone. It started with Candy Crush years ago and has carried on to many different Disney themed ones.  The problem is, I start playing a game and a few weeks in, I have lost interest in them.  That is until I found Disney’s Emoji Blitz.

I like to play these games on my phone or iPad when I just need to ‘zone out’ for a few minutes.  It’s a great way to focus on something that really doesn’t matter and take my mind off of everything else.

Disney’s Emoji Blitz is perfect.  It’s a matching game where you’re matching 3 or more characters in a row or column.   It features a wide range of Disney characters with plenty of opportunities to unlock new ones.   As you complete challenges – you’re rewarded with Disney Emojis you can download to your phone!Emoji Blitz Screen

My favorite Emojii that I have so far is probably Mickey with his sunglasses on.  As I get new ones, I’m always looking for someone to text so that I can send it.  This has become my new ‘happy face’ reply!

Some beginner tips to help you unlock more:Mickey Sunglasses

  • You can login to Disney Emoji using Facebook and compete with your friends for high scores.  Each time you surpass someone’s score there are rewards.
  • Aim for the bottom when you can – it creates a chain reaction at the top and you might get some matches you weren’t even targeting.
  • Don’t forget to go in and spin the prize wheel!
  • Pop the floating balloons at the end of a game for extra coins.
  • Use your emoji’s special power.  Some of them will give you power ups.

Ice Cream BarThere are in-app purchases available in the game.  Unlike so many other games, I haven’t had to purchase them to get farther.   Maybe it’s my continuous and consistent game play that keeps me stocked with coins and gems!

Download it today on iTunes or Google Play

Is That A Monkey At Epcot?

Epcot Spaceship Earth from the monorailJust when I thought I had seen it all, I see a video I can’t believe…

A Monkey.  In a diaper.  At Epcot.  

Really.

You can’t make this up.  If you don’t believe me, the video is below.

Disney’s official website says “At Walt Disney World theme parks and Resort hotels, a service animal is defined as any dog or miniature horse trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”

What was the conversation at the gate when they walked in with this animal?  What will we see next?  Snakes, frogs, mice?  What about a bearded dragon?

When is Disney going to say “NO” to some guests?  People are clearly pushing the envelope and taking advantage. This will eventually  spin out of control and Disney will have no choice but to start putting restrictions on the service animals in the park.  The only people that will suffer are those who really need their service animal with them.

What do you think?  Should Disney have prevented them from entering the park?

5 Things I Learned This Year

Once Upon A TimeIt’s December 31st and I have spent most of the day cleaning.  My Mum always said that if your house was dirty at midnight – it would be dirty all year.  It’s funny how those things never leave you.

As I was cleaning, I was thinking about the year that has passed and realized that I learned some valuable lessons along the way.   I decided to take a break and jot them down.

Here are 5 of my ‘ah-ha’ moments from this year

1.  My full time job is not my life

It’s taken me a long time to figure this one out, but my corporate job is just a job.  Witnessing the layoffs of talented individuals I realized that no matter how good we are – we are all replaceable, and some day they will replace me.  I take pride in my work and love the people I work with, but my life exists outside of that office.   My job isn’t who I am and it isn’t a measure of my success as an individual.  I no longer live to work there; I work there to live. 

2.  Google can make you more independent

What do you do when your washing machine breaks and you live alone?  Or what about when you need to replace your shower head or fix the leaking toilet?   I discovered this year – you Google it!  Everything you ever needed to know about repairs, home renovations, plumbing and electrical – it’s all there with great videos to walk you through it!  I have fixed so many things by myself this year, all with my laptop propped up next to me while watching step-by-step videos!  It really felt good to be able to do these things myself.  Want to know what else Google did for me?  It helped me find the snow removal company so I don’t have to shovel my driveway… Yes – Google is MY friend!

3.  Technology can save me valuable time

Almost 90% of shopping that I did was online.  Penguin Pick Up and Loblaws Click & Collect saved me so much time this year!  We even have an app at work that I can order my Tim Horton’s tea ahead of time so it’s ready when I get to the counter!   Syncing my phone to my car allows me to listen to podcasts on my drives or call my friends for a catch up.  I don’t go to the bank anymore, I do it all on my app and have not waited in 1 single bank line all year!  Embracing technology more thank before has really paid off.

4.  Money is made to be spent and I need to treat myself

I made some different choices this year.  I didn’t invest in the painting I need done in my house, or fixing the big dent I put on my car, I took that money and splurged a little on myself.  I cruised concierge on the Disney Dream, I upgraded to business class on a couple of flights and I paid to have someone ELSE shovel my driveway.  While I’m sure my sister is reading this thinking “YAY – she’ll splurge on a cabana again at Castaway Cay or buy that house in Florida” – I need to remind her that I’m only going to splurge on what I can afford to!

5.  You can be scared, but you need to try anyway

Launching my website was scary, what if people didn’t like it?  What if it was a flop?  What if I wasn’t good at it?  Too many WHAT IFs!  I spent so many years being afraid of what people would think, and truth be told – I was afraid to fail.  This year I decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and take a chance.  It was the best decision I made all year.  Have I failed?  Yes – I have had many ‘failures’ in this adventure, but I have learned from every single one of them.  Were some people mean?  Yes – the Internet has trolls, but it is also full wonderful people who have encouraged and supported me along the way.  For that, I will always be grateful.

Now, I’d better get back to cleaning… I can’t risk a dirty house all year!

Thank you for following, I hope my site brought some Pixie Dust in to your days.  I have enjoyed every minute of connecting with you all.

Wishing you all a magical new year!

All the best,

Pixie Dust Fan

 

5 Reasons Destination D Was Better Than I Imagined


I have always wanted to attend a D23 (official Disney fan club) event, but the dates never seemed to line up with my vacations.  I finally managed to arrange a trip so that I could attend #DestinationD this year.  I was excited about the guest speakers, exclusive merchandise and announcements that would be part of this fun filled weekend, I knew that it would be magical and it did not disappoint!

After I got home, I realized that there was something amazing that I got out of the event that wasn’t even on the itinerary  – spending time with Disney friends.

When you share a weekend with people who have the same level of passion for Disney that you do – there is so much to appreciate!

Here are the top 5 things that I loved about spending time with my Disney friends

  1.  No one asked me why I love Disney

When I tell people in my everyday life that I’m going to Disney they ask:

“How old are your kids?”

“AGAIN?  Weren’t you just there?”

“Don’t you want to go somewhere different?”

Being surrounded by other fans like me, no one was asking those questions!

  1.  I never felt the need to ‘defend’ anything about Disney

You know how it’s totally acceptable for you to criticize your family but no one else can?  It’s because you know that you love them regardless of the complaints.  That’s exactly how I felt chatting with these friends.  We could have an honest conversation about changes happening at Walt Disney World that we don’t like, yet no one felt the need to defend them.  Why?  Because we are all part of the same family who love Disney regardless of the flaws we see.

  1.  Different perspectives

We all experience our Disney vacations very differently.  Some Disney friends are park warriors who will arrive at rope drop and keep going until 2am.  Others like to spend days at the resorts and Disney Springs without ever setting foot inside of a park on a visit.   Then there are those who love Pin Trading and spend their time making sure that they get that illusive pin to add to their collection.  When you get all of these people together, you get very different perspectives and opinions on things that you might have missed, overlooked or hadn’t experienced in a long time.

  1.  They knew who the really important people were

When telling my friends from ‘real life’ about this event, the only name that everyone knew was James Cameron.   I tried to explain to them the thrill of listening to Joe Rohde and Marty Sklar – but they didn’t ‘get’ what the fuss was about.   It was maddening trying to explain what a fantastic experience it was to listen to these Disney legends.

  1.  No one made fun of my ‘star struck’ moment

I have been a fan of www.AllEars.net forever.  I have always admired how Deb Wills created the site and a career doing what she loves.  AllEars MeetingI have followed her journey and always appreciate her strength, passion and determination.  She represents herself with class and honesty, and is a leader I respect in the Disney community.

We registered for the event at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the Friday afternoon.  As we were gathering our loot bags, Deb Wills was chatting with some of my new Disney friends.  They knew how much it would mean to us to meet Deb and called us over for an introduction.  Not only did she talk to us for a while, she let us take a picture with her!  All I kept thinking was ‘be cool – don’t look too excited’, but it was a total fan girl moment!

The next day, my sister and I were coming off of the monorail when we saw Deb again.  We didn’t want to bother her so we were just going to walk by when she said “hey, I know you two!”.   We cheerfully said hello and told her to have a great evening.  When we walked away, we were like two teenagers who had been invited to the cool table at lunch!  We just kept saying to each other “OMG – Deb Wills remembered US!”

To all of the wonderful people I spent the weekend with, thank you.   Thanks for sharing my star struck moments, my excitement about buying a shirt that said “Imagineering” or not judging me when I cried a little during the tribute to If You Had Wings.   You are all very special people and I look forward to many years of friendship, adventure and Disney!

Destination D Gang

Let us know in the comments what YOU appreciate about your Disney friends!

 

 

3 Reasons To Get An Owner’s Locker At Walt Disney World

Owners LockerTravelling to Walt Disney World as often as my sister and I do, it always bothered me that I kept lugging the same stuff back and forth.  Every trip I would pack the same things to take with me, things that were just used in Disney.  Eventually I just stopped taking them OUT of my suitcase when I got home so I didn’t have to put them back in for the next trip.  Then my sister found the incredible Purple Box.  If you’re a frequent traveller to the Orlando area, you might want to check this out.

So what is this mysterious Purple Box?  It’s a storage container (20” x 22” x 13”) that keeps all of the things we don’t want to bring home, but will need on our next vacation.  Our Owner’s Locker is stored in a secure, climate controlled facility until one of us returns to Walt Disney World.  When we are ready to visit again, we go online and give them the details for our arrival and our locker is waiting for us at bell services when we get there.  It’s that simple.

Our Owner’s Locker provides a convenience that I never anticipated.  I was originally against this idea of paying to store shampoo, but my sister insisted and got one.  Over the years, our storage needs have evolved, but there are 3 major reasons why I now love our Owner’s Locker.

1.  Tea is important to me.

It sounds silly, but I can’t function without a really good cup of tea in the morning.  I don’t like having to go to the food court when I wake up and I need at least one cup of tea before I do anything.  The coffee makers in the rooms might be good for coffee, but they don’t boil water for tea.  In our locker we have a big box of Red Rose tea bags, an electric kettle and sugar.  We order a fresh carton of milk each trip from Garden Grocer and voila – I can enjoy a perfect cup of tea in my jammies each morning.  While I’m happy to have my kettle, I know others who store crock-pots, Brita water jugs, and French press coffee pots!

2.  Saying I’m overweight at the airport isn’t fun.

Sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, sandals, running shoes, walking shoes, the list goes on!  All of these things can be pretty heavy and take up valuable room in your suitcase.  The ‘travel size’ toiletries seem to be more expensive so we buy the bigger ones and leave them there for next time.  We leave extra shoes, rain ponchos and hats that we know we won’t need at home.  No need to worry about our suitcases having enough room or being overweight!  Somehow we always have more stuff coming home than we did going there, hmmm – too many souvenirs?  Nah…there is no such thing!

3.  When we don’t finish stuff…

Sometimes we like to sit on the balcony or in the room and have a nightcap, we currently have half a bottle of vodka in our locker that we picked up at the duty free on the way down.  We buy the mix (or get it at the food court) and can enjoy a mixed drink (or two) in our room.  At the end of the week sometimes there is beer, wine or bottles of water left over that we can save for next time.  Okay… truth time – there was only 1 time that we didn’t drink all of the bottles of Rosa Regale we bought ….

Over the years I have come to realize that my sister was right (don’t tell her I said that) and the Owner’s Locker has become a necessity for us.  The convenience is something I didn’t expect and it has saved us money in baggage fees through the airlines.  The service has been stellar and they host informal meetings at Epcot every week so that you can stop by and meet the team.   While we haven’t managed to make it to one of these yet, I’m planning to stop by on my next trip to check it out!

 

 

Riu Antillas Aruba – 9 Reasons To Visit

ArubaI did it!  I went on a vacation that was not Disney!  Yes, I have been known to venture to Scotland to visit family, but otherwise – it’s Disney destinations only!  This year I had a very special friend who wanted to travel to Aruba to celebrate her birthday with her husband, myself and another friend.  We decided on the Riu Antillas in Aruba and were very excited about a week of sun, drinks, good company and fun.

 

So how was it?  It was a good week – I enjoyed the company and my friend enjoyed her birthday!  Would I recommend the Riu?  It depends on what you’re looking for.

 

Here’s 9 reasons you should check it out, and 3 reasons you you might want to stay elsewhere.

1.  The Beach

You can’t deny that the beaches are gorgeous in Aruba and the one in front of the Riu is no exception!  Yes, the wind is a little rough when you’re on the beach and you get sprayed with sand, but the birthday girl thought it was so relaxing to float in the water.

2.  The Pool

We spent our days at the ‘bigger’ pool.  The water was refreshing and the fountains were a great way to cool off when you didn’t want to go all the way in.  Sometimes the wind was enough to create a little ‘spray’ of the water around the pool that kept you nice and cool.

3.  The Activities

They had a bunch of stuff going on in the pool during the day.  You could participate if you wanted or stay at the other end of the pool and relax.  There was a lot of participation by the guests and the staff made sure everyone was having fun.

4.  The Staff

The staff at this resort was incredible.  The bar staff around the pool were attentive and the activity staff made sure everyone was having fun!  Somehow they even talked my friend in to bingo, water aerobics (complete with the beer in her hand) and volleyball.   They were always coming to check on us and joked around with everyone.  They definitely were the best part of the resort.

5.  The Food

We had talked about trying to get in to all of the a la carte restaurants on the resort before we went.  Surprisingly, after the first night at the buffet we were so happy with our meals that we ate there every night after!  We had such delicious meals – and now I’m wishing I had taken pictures of them!  The desserts were delicious too, they had something for everyone.

6.  The In Room Fridge And Bar

I drink a LOT of water, especially when it’s hot – so it’s no surprise that I was very thankful for the bottles of water in the fridge!  The bar was stocked with liquor and the fridge had beer, pop and water.  When we ran out of anything, we made a call and within 15 minutes we were completely restocked.

7.  The Wi-Fi

There was Wi-Fi all over the resort, including the beach!  Each room was entitled to have 4 devices connected to the free Wi-Fi.  Upon check in you’re given a user name and password for your room and while you get kicked off it periodically – when you were connected, it worked really well.

8.  The Store

We all needed to buy the large insulated mugs because the drinks weren’t big enough and got warm very quickly.  The little store in the resort had mugs, towel clips (that everyone needs because of the wind), sun tan lotion, muscle cream and cold medicine.  Maybe we didn’t need a lot – but when we did need something, it seemed that this little store had it.   It’s the small things that make a difference!

9.  Night Time

There were a variety of things to do in the evenings to suit everyone.  The lobby bar or the beach bar, the shows or the coffee house (which had a good cup of tea!), the club or casino, you could be as active or relaxed as you wanted.  The Casino was fun, but I had to leave after I lost 3 times as much as I intended, inside 10 minutes!  I think my favorite was a sax player that was belting out the tunes down by the beach one night – he was very talented.

 

Lots of great reasons to visit this resort, but there are 3 reasons I would think twice about going back:

 

1.  The Rooms

The rooms and the building itself are VERY dated.  While normally I’m not fussed with that kind of stuff and had read about it on Trip Advisor, the beds were beyond terrible.  I shared a room with my friend and BOTH of our beds were horrible.  After 2 nights in the beds were both applying muscle relaxing creams to our backs.  By the 5th day we went in to town in search of a pharmacy that sold a muscle relaxant like Robaxacet.  Just an FYI – drug stores in Aruba don’t sell drugs… you need to find a Pharmacy – and they don’t sell Robaxacet.

2.  The Front Desk Staff

Every member of staff we interacted with was fantastic, with the exception of the front desk.  We had keys that didn’t work consistently and when I had to sign in to work on my laptop – I was told that I couldn’t connect an additional device.  I am the first to be understanding about rules, procedures and technical issues – but the communication from the front desk was a bit rude, I kind of felt like I was bothering them when I asked for them to recode my key so I could get in to my room.

3.  The Lizards And The Shade

Getting some shade by the pool was a bit challenging if you weren’t an early bird.  Lots of people saving chairs with their towels pretty early in the morning.  We quickly learned that we had to be down there about 8am if we wanted to snag a decent spot so that we didn’t get burnt.  Even SPF 60 wasn’t going to prevent me getting burnt unless I had cover.

I spent the day moving my chair to try and make sure I wasn’t sitting directly in the sun.  We liked to sit around the back near the grass – but that also brought these guys… they freaked me out, but my friends and others by the pool loved them.

We all had a great time and the week was full of great company, entertainment, sun, drinks and good food.   The only challenge was that I came home with an infection in my eyes.  My friends were all fine, but I started having issues the day before we left.  Coincidence?  Or is this the universe telling me that Disney vacations are the only kind I should take?  Hmmm… makes me think!

 

I’m going on vacation, and it’s NOT a Disney destination

Aruba VacationYes, you read that right… Pixie Dust Fan is NOT going to Disney.  No Walt Disney World, no Disneyland or Disney cruise – I’m not even going to Aulani again.  I’ll be boarding a plane and heading to Aruba.  So why would I spend a week of my vacation outside of a Disney property?  The truth is, some of my friends aren’t ‘Disney people’.

For those of us who are Disney obsessed, it’s hard to remember that not everyone else is.  I’m sure we all have those people in our lives – you know, the ones who politely listen to you ramble on about a construction update of Star Wars Land, or the dates being released for refurbishments?  They are the ones who are mildly embarrassed at the mall when your phone rings and a booming voice says “Do not pull down on the safety bar please, I will lower it for you”.  I love my friends, they have accepted that my Disney obsession is who I am, but they definitely don’t share it.

With my friend Paula’s birthday approaching we thought that it deserved a week-long celebration.  There will be 4 of us on this trip to visit the Riu Antillas, an adult only resort in Aruba.  The reviews on Trip Advisor are great and I think a week in the sun, lounging by the pool is just what we all need.   These guys are great travel companions and we always have a good time together.

I am excited, but it is a little bizarre for me when I start thinking about what to pack!  My Disney trip suitcase basically packs itself now since I do it so often.  This trip is different though, I don’t need comfortable shoes for walking all over the parks, I think I need bathing suits and something to wear to dinner?  It’s been years since I’ve done an all-inclusive vacation and the thought of spending a week in a bathing suit has me a little anxious.  Hmmm, I have 7 days – think I can lose this excess weight by then?

The only thing I know for sure that I’ll need is sunscreen.  With my fair skin I am packing SPF 75.  A few years ago when we went away I spent the week under an umbrella and still managed to get burnt just walking to the bar (maybe I made that trip too many times?).  I just hope that there’s plenty of shade for me at this resort!

While it isn’t a Disney vacation, I know it’s going to be a fantastic celebration.  I will have my Disney music, games (I’m addicted to Disney Emoji), and books on my Ipad to keep me ‘connected’ to the magic.  With the wifi at the resort, I’ll be on social media keeping up to date and watching a few live streams to get my ‘fix’.

It may not be WDW, but it will be a week with good friends, no work, relaxation and sunshine.

What more could you ask for?

Leave us a comment about YOUR favorite non-Disney vacation spot!

 

7 Ways To Bring More Pixie Dust In To Your Days

ImaginationI’m sitting at my desk at my ‘unmagical’ job counting the minutes until 5 pm.  I’m frustrated and irritated, people are just getting under my skin and I know that I’m ‘in a mood’.  You know that feeling?  It’s just overwhelming and you can almost feel the tension under your skin.  I hate this feeling… I need an escape from here, and I don’t mean at the end of the day.

Lunch time rolls around and I realize I need to do something to get me out of this head space and get me through the next 5 hours!  That’s when I select some of my favorite Disney ‘escape’ activities that I can do at work to make me feel better.

1. I plug in my ear phones and tune in to my favorite Disney music.

Recently I’ve found 8tracks radio on my phone and I’m in love.  I can listen to all sorts of Disney music including the background sounds from the parks.  They have playlists with the attractions as well!  Right now I’m listening to the background music from Tomorrowland as I write this.

 

2.  I sign in to Twitter and Instagram on my phone and follow along with others who are in the parks right now!

The live pictures really make me feel like I’m there with them.  While this activity does make me jealous – it’s still fun to see what’s going on in near real time.

 

3.  Periscope – this one is a little new to me.

I have to be honest, I don’t really know how to use it!  BUT – I have managed to stumble across some live videos from people in the parks.  If I’m totally honest, it’s because I see the link on Twitter and click it, that’s how I get there!

 

4.  Watch YouTube

I think on my next vacation I want to make sure I’m taking videos inside of the attractions!  I love ‘riding’ an attraction on YouTube in the middle of the day when I need a fix.  My favorites are Soarin, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and Spaceship Earth.  When I’m feeling a little silly, I ‘ride’ Journey in to Imagination – Figment ALWAYS makes me laugh!  Who wants an upside down bubble bath?   Of course I also re-watch my own YouTube videos of Castaway Cay, Fireworks and the Kiss Goodnight.  I have a small collection now, but hope to grow my channel soon.

 

5.  Read some Disney Inspired Blogs!

I read a lot of the other Disney blogs out there because I find it so interesting to read one person’s perspective or review of an experience.  Sometimes we have written about a similar topic with vastly different views, but that’s what I like – seeing things through someone else’s eyes.

 

6.  Log in to Facebook.

I like scrolling through different Facebook Groups as well to see what people are chatting about.  I’m a bit of a ‘lurker’ in a lot of these groups, but I’m starting to come out of my shell and get engaged a little more.   The great thing is that you don’t have to comment in order to get some great information.  There are some groups online that I avoid (that’s a different blog post), but there are quite a few that I really like.  I think these groups are managed well, they’re not trying to sell me anything and they really do provide a great place for Disney fans to hang out.

These are my favorite 3 Facebook Groups (in no particular order)

You May Be a Canadian Disney Addict If… – “A place where everything Disney meets the Great White North”.  This group has lots of fun things for Canadians as well as Disney Addicts from all over the globe!  Conversations are light, family friendly and fun!

Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone – This group is for sharing your favorite tips on how to make Disney easy, comfortable, fun and just plain wonderful!  If you have any extra challenges (anything – like traveling with children, health challenges, etc.) you can ask questions or share your own tips!  It’s terrific information sharing!

A Secret group of Disney’s magical theme park Cast Members & Guests –  This group was founded by Christopher Martin as a way to meet cast members and learn about Disney news.  Christopher travels the globe and shares his passion for all things Disney with the members of the group.  His adventures are exciting to follow!  The group has a ton of Disney information and tips and plenty of people contributing their personal experiences. 

 

7.  Contact my travel agent and plan my next Disney adventure!!

What things do you do to bring Pixie Dust to your day?  Comment below and let us know!

 

My Disney Bubble And The News

When people ask me why I love visiting Walt Disney World I start listing my laundry list of reasons.  One of the reasons I always quote is “the outside world doesn’t exist, you get to escape from all of the negativity in the world”.  Arriving in Orlando yesterday I was looking forward to that escape, but late last night the unthinkable happened – a mass shooting in Orlando.

Normally we don’t watch the news on vacation and I ignore the ‘news’ posts on Facebook because I really just don’t want to let that negativity in to the Disney ‘bubble’ – but this time, I have to let it in.

It started with some emails, texts and messages from friends and family that knew we were in Orlando.  My sister and I don’t go to clubs and were actually in bed at 10pm last night, but the messages started coming asking us “did you hear what happened?”.   They were all concerned and telling us to ‘be safe’ because no one really knows why it happened and that’s what creates the panic.

I started thinking about my ‘Disney Bubble’ and how sad it is that the ‘outside world’ has finally crept in.  There will be heightened security in all of the parks, and we will experience that when we go to Animal Kingdom this evening.   It’s necessary for Disney to take extra precautions; safety is top of their list when it comes to the guest experience, but how sad it is that they have to.

So many political discussions going on, and I choose to ignore them.  There will be a time and place for those discussions, but it isn’t right now.  I will not quote the name of the person responsible or make reference to any specifics, glorifying these cowardly acts is not something I will contribute to.

Right now we should be mourning the loss of so many lives, hugging our loved ones and sharing our support for the families who are forever changed.  My thoughts and prayers are with them all.

I have another week left of my vacation in my happy place.  For the first time in a long time I won’t be able to ‘ignore the outside world’.  It will be difficult not to think about the tragedy and the hours of investigations that lie ahead as people try to make sense of something so senseless.

For now, I will try to look at the world the way I did as a child when I knew there were more good people in the world than bad.

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. . .They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought—sometimes it isn’t much, either.”

-Walt Disney

 

I love Disney but…

I love DisneyDisney – I love you… BUT

What the heck are you doing these days?

First, I have to make it clear – I am a Disney fanatic to my core.  Walt Disney World is my happy place and always has been.  Somehow I’ve always had a hard time criticizing any decisions because I felt like I was being disloyal, but I don’t think I can be silent any longer.

There have been many decisions recently that have left me scratching my head and thinking “WTH Disney?”  I get that it’s a business, and they have to make money to provide a good investment to the shareholders (myself included), but at what cost?  Why does it feel like they’re nickel and diming me all of a sudden?  Why do I feel like it’s an airline now where I’ve paid for a ticket but need to add on options like seat selection and baggage fees to calculate the real cost?  I’m feeling a little irritated with Disney and I don’t like it.

I buy an annual pass for Walt Disney World so the ticket prices didn’t really have an impact on me personally this year, but how complicated can you make it Disney?  Different prices for 1 day at Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot, and with the new ‘demand pricing’ the time of year you’re travelling will get you a different price of admission as well.  Why does it have to be so complicated?

Special events and tickets seem to be getting more and more prevalent.  It used to be that I would say, “I know it seems expensive, but just think of everything that’s included!”  Now I’m saying “think of everything that’s included – but they also have all of these other things you can pay extra for if you want a premium experience”.  So for a first timer – do they think they’re not getting the full Disney experience if they don’t pay for an event like the Disney After Hours?  And what’s with the price increase for Halloween and Christmas party tickets?  Want to meet a rare villain with little lines?  There’s a special party for that too.

Saying to my friends “the food is cheaper than you would pay for at Canada’s Wonderland” – but guess what?  Prices have gone up there too!  A bottle of water increased that too from $2.75 to $3.  I know it’s only a quarter, but when you’re buying 10 a day (I drink a lot of water) – it adds up!

I realize that Disney is still a fantastic value, and it is still the happiest place in the world for me.  If I didn’t go so often, I wouldn’t even notice these little things.  For guests who are visiting for the first time – they’re probably in line with their preconceived notions of what a Disney vacation would cost anyway.

Maybe I’m irritated because it was always a point of distinction for me that Universal charged extra for their version of the fastpass but at Disney it was available to everyone with the price of admission.  With all of these add-ons that they have, it seems like Disney have found a way to cater to those with deep pockets to get their own version of ‘front of the line’ access, making me feel like I’m missing something if I don’t buy them all.  I know I’m technically not missing anything, but still, if only my pockets were that deep…

C’mon Disney, it’s time to rethink your new strategy and get back to doing what you do best, create magic for everyone.

“When they come here they’re coming because of an integrity that we’ve established over the years. And they drive hundreds of miles. I feel a responsibility to the public.”  – Walt Disney

 

To Drive Or Not To Drive, That Is The Question

Driving To DisneyI have been travelling to Orlando for vacations for as long as I can remember.  As a child, we would all pile in to our old station wagon and begin the 3-day trek to Walt Disney World from Toronto.   It wasn’t technically a 3-day drive, my Dad just refused to drive in the dark so we would always stop at a motel in the afternoon.  We had some great times playing in the pool and relaxing for the night.

In those days, seatbelts and car safety weren’t a big deal.  I had a ‘bed’ in the back of the car made out of blankets and pillows so that I could nap whenever I needed.  They kept me entertained not with iPads and phones – but with endless games of I spy and sing-a-longs.  I was a McDonald’s junkie at the time – and their biggest challenge was making sure that I didn’t see the golden arches on the highway or I’d cry until they stopped.  Do you know how many McDonalds there were on that trip?  They had their hands full distracting me!

As an adult, we have driven to Disney plenty of times without taking 3 days.  We’d drive in the dark and maybe stop overnight if we were getting tired – depending on how many drivers we had.  It always seemed like a good idea to save us some money and avoid paying for airfare or a car rental in Orlando.

Years ago on one of my first Disney Cruises, we were on board when a hurricane came through.  We were safe and the Captain kept us out at sea and away from the storm.  It was an eventful cruise, we had to sail to Texas to get some fuel and then got an additional 2 nights out at sea because it wasn’t safe to bring us back, but that’s another story for another day!

Once the storm had passed they determined that Port Canaveral wasn’t safe for us to dock at.  They took us to Miami and bused us back to Port Canaveral.  I was supposed to fly home – but of course I had missed my flight, so I piled in to the minivan with my family who were driving home.  It was a bit of a tight squeeze – but we made it work.

The drive home was crazy.  The storm that we had managed to avoid on the cruise literally felt like it was following us all the way home!  We drove straight through and I remember thinking “I’ll never drive again” as we passed through the mountains in the pouring rain with the wind rocking the van.

Now, it’s years later – and the flight prices keep increasing.  With the dollar the way it is, my Disney vacation is going to cost more than I had originally intended.  My sister really wants to drive to save us the airfare, but I’m on the fence, what do I do?

Pros:

  • Driving saves money
  • We get to spend more concentrated ‘quality time’ trapped in the car for 40 hours (is that a pro?)
  • We will have our car so we can visit the outlet mall
  • We don’t have to worry about our luggage being overweight with all the stuff we buy

Cons:

  • It’s only 2 of us, how much will we save?  With only 2 drivers I would imagine we’ll have to stop overnight both ways, so I have to factor that in
  • It’s an extra 2 days of vacation time if we drive straight through that I could spend at the parks

Hmm…. Why does my pro list look so long by comparison?  I’m really looking to convince myself that it’s better to fly.  When I map it out with Google – it keeps taunting me with 2 routes that are 20 hours and a flight option that’s less than 3!

Okay – now let’s figure out the $’s in round numbers:

Flying – $500 per person + baggage fees = $1,100 CAD.  Add a car rental for another $300 since we really like to hit the outlet mall – we’ll say $1,500 CAD for the two of us.

Driving –

Gas – using a fuel economy site – is $220 USD round trip

Hotels – say $150 USD per night = $300 USD

Total is really with rounding $550 USD for both of us.  Add the exchange and it’s almost $710 CAD each.

So… $710 / 2 = $355 CAD  vs.  $1,500 / 2 = $750 CAD each.  So we’d each save $395.

Now the question is – is 2 days in the park worth $395 to me?  I can’t decide…. Of course I could use that money to buy a new Dooney purse.  Thankfully I have almost 3 weeks to make a decision!  What would you do?

Driving To Disney

 

5 Reasons Why Merida Is The Princess Young Girls Should Know

MeridaI must confess that I’m addicted to bad TV.  I watch the mindless reality shows for entertainment and a glimpse in to the lives they lead.  The important thing is that I’m in my late 40’s and I know the difference between ‘reality TV’ and ‘reality’.  How many young girls in their pre-teen years can see the difference?  Social media is a powerful tool, but for young girls everywhere it can be a window in to a world that is neither attainable nor healthy.

Watching the women in the media like the Kardashians left me thinking – what can young girls today watch to see empowered, independent and strong women?  Maybe it’s time to look throught your DVD collection and find your copy of Brave.

When Brave first came out in 2012 I was excited to see it.  Given that my parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland before I was born, I thought it would be cool to see a Scottish Disney princess.   While Disney movies always have ‘lessons’ in them – I didn’t expect that this one would have such a profound message to share with young women everywhere.

 

Here are 5 reasons I think Merida is a princess that young girls today should know about:

1.  She is talented and different

She can shoot, climb and ride with the best of them and can rival any man in a challenge.  She isn’t the typical princess and owns her individuality despite the pressure to conform.

2.  She makes mistakes

Like all of us, Merida makes some hasty decisions that get her in to trouble.   Turning her mother in to a bear was kind of a big one!    The key was that Merida took responsibility for her mistake and cared for her mother while trying to fix it.  There was no quick fix, no hero to rescue her – she figured it out herself.

Click to shop from my Amazon wish list!

3.  She doesn’t give up

Faced with challenges, Merida does not give up.  Some may refer to it as being stubborn – but I think she shows us that if you believe strongly in something, you should never give up.  You may not have to face the likes of Mor’du – but a challenge is a challenge!

Merida Doesn’t Need A Prince, She’ll Be Shooting For Her Own Hand

4.  She has no prince

Merida spends the entire plot teaching us why she is more than capable of running her kingdom without a man by her side. I’m not advocating against marriage or true love – but it’s important to teach young girls that they are complete without a prince charming.

5.  She’s Brave

Merida faced the challenge of deciding who she wanted to be.  She decided her own future when she ‘won her own hand’ in the archery challenge and proved that she was an individual with strength, determination and courage.  Who says a princess shouldn’t have a bow and arrow anyway?

The next time you settle in for a night of TV with your princess, consider sharing a story of true female empowerment.  Teach her that happiness, fulfillment and self-respect is worth more than growing up to have millions of twitter followers. 

What princess do YOU think is a good role model?

Kingdom Keepers Book Review – Disney After Dark

Hi, I am a 63-year-old Disney fanatic.  A few years ago (more like eleven when the first book was released in 2005) I began reading this series.  Throughout the years I have read them as they were released.  A few days ago I decided to go back to the beginning and read them all again. (I think seeing Ridley Pearson at Walt Disney World inspired me).

Here are my thoughts on the first book, the third time around!

Book 1 – Disney After Dark

I enjoyed reading this book just as much as I did the two times that I read it.  The imagination and story line holds your interest so much that I found myself wanting to leave what I was doing and read another chapter, even though I knew the outcome.  I could close my eyes and see every part of the attraction that Ridley was describing from the dolls in It’s a Small World, the Pirates locked in a stale mate on a chessboard in the Pirates of the Caribbean, to the Utilidors and the trash building behind Thunder Mountain that we viewed on our Keys to the Kingdom tour.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of reading it.  In fact I’ve asked Francine (Pixie Dust Fan) to consider reading it, as I know she would love it – being the Disney nut she is.

On to book 2, Disney at Dawn….can’t wait!

Becky is a guest blogger at Pixie Dust Fan who is also a Disney fanatic! 

What’s the 1 thing you should never do on vacation?

Sky ViewI recently had a friend who I saw on Facebook was in the Grand Canyon on a family vacation.  There were so many pictures of him, his wife and children having a fantastic time as they enjoyed their travels.  Their vacation was a great success and they headed home to Toronto after a week of rest and relaxation.  They were all ready to get back in to their day-to-day routines when they walked in to their house to find that someone had been there.  They had been robbed.

Social media has become a great way to connect with your friends and family to share your experiences and especially your pictures!  Many of us have ‘friends’ online who are not really friends, but maybe acquaintances or people we have actually never met but share similar interests.  Do you really know these people?

Turns out, my friend didn’t.  While he isn’t certain, it is a good assumption that whomever broke in to his house knew that he was on vacation with his whole family and that they wouldn’t come home any minute.  This was evident by the fact that they spent time in his house without worry, eating his food and drinking his beer – all while he was enjoying his vacation.

It’s sad that social media has become a tool for thieves to use to their advantage, but it’s the reality of the world we live in.   The next time you go on vacation maybe you should post the pics when you get home and not advertise that you’re away.  Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury since I’m always posting for Pixie Dust Fan, so I think I’ll post a pic of my home security system and house sitter doing their jobs while I’m away!

 

About Pixie Dust Fan

Who Is Pixie Dust FanI have been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember.  My first trip to the Magic Kingdom was in 1974 when I was 3 years old.  At that time there was only the Magic Kingdom where I met Oscar Myer and one of my favorite attractions was “If You Had Wings”.  We always stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort where I got my Alice In Wonderland dress in the shop that is now the game room.

Over the years my addiction has grown and as an adult I started visiting multiple times per year.  My sister Becky is also a Disney addict and the person who talked my Dad in to visiting in 1974.  We share our obsession and travel together to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, sail on Disney Cruise Line and have even flown to Hawaii for the sole purpose of visiting Disney’s Aulani.

By day, I am a professional ‘number cruncher’ for a large company in Toronto, Ontario. Casual Friday is my favorite day of the week because I get to sport my Disney attire (much to the dismay of my boss!).  My full time job is less than magical to say the least, but it gives me the income to pay for my Disney addiction.

I was telling a friend at work one day about how big the Disney community is and how there are people who have websites and blogs devoted to their love of Disney.  I told him how I really envy these people who share their passion with others and have Disney in their lives every single day.  He asked me “why couldn’t you do the same?”.  I started to give him all of the reasons I couldn’t, all of my insecurities came flooding in when he pointed to the plaque in my office that says “If you can dream it, you can do it”.  It was then that Pixie Dust Fan was born.

I am very lucky to have the support of my sister Becky, my family, friends, and the Disney community.  I am forever grateful to those who continue to encourage and inspire me to take this journey, you really are pure magic in my life.

Please join me in sharing this addiction proudly and bring some Pixie Dust in to your days.