Become a Disney focused Travel Agent in Ontario

How do I become a Disney focused Travel Agent in Ontario?

Disney Travel Agency Canada

It is a question I get asked a lot because there isn’t a ton of information available online for people who are new to the travel industry.   There is quite a bit of misinformation and conflicting details, hopefully I can clear some of that up.

(Full disclosure – I have been a travel agent for over 15 years myself and I do own a travel agency.)

First things first – TICO.

If you live in Ontario or work for an Ontario travel agency you MUST be certified by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).   TICO is an organization mandated by the Ontario government to govern travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario. TICO does not sell any travel services.  Registered TICO agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection that may not be available when booking with agencies based in other countries or provinces. A few of these protections include the compensation fund, travel complaint resolution, education standards, and set financial requirements for travel agencies.

You can find the education standards and requirements for TICO here.

Once you have your TICO certificate you need to decide what travel agency or program you would like to join.  Most times you are set up as an independent contractor  or home-based agent that is commission based.  There are some agencies that pay an hourly wage with little or no commissions that may have a physical location.

Some questions to ask when meeting with a potential host agency:

  • Is this commission based or salary?
  • Is there an expectation of minimum sales?
  • What are the start up and monthly costs?
  • What is the commission split?
  • Do you offer training?
  • What tools do I need?
  • Do your agents charge fees?
  • What perks or benefits are available and when?
  • Can I book things other than Disney and Universal?

These are just some of the things that you should consider when meeting with or starting the application process with a potential agency.  It’s important to understand if you will be a good fit in the team overall.  Who are the agency owners and how involved are they in the day to day operations?  Who will be there to support you as you navigate your first bookings?  Read the contract in detail before you sign as every agency has different terms included.

I cannot stress this enough – please beware of agencies that ‘free’ or ‘discounted’ vacations or who ask you to recruit others.  If your compensation requires you to ‘sign someone up’ – RUN.  These are not travel agencies, they are multi level marketing schemes that recruit new agents to pay the fees to the others.

Disney Travel Agent Areas of Focus

Is it fun to be a Disney vacation planner?  Absolutely!  Planning Disney vacations and having a first time guest come back and tell you how much they loved it is the best feeling ever!  The home-based travel advisors generally set their own hours, build their own marketing plans and nurture their own client base.  They spend as much time (or as little) as they feel necessary to grow and sustain their business.  They may be Disney fans, but the best agent knows this is a job and it is hard work as well as being fun.

Things that you should consider before signing up with an agency:

  • How will you attract potential clients?
  • Do you have personal experience at the Disney parks and Disney resorts to offer professional advice?
  • How will you manage your time in order to give the personal attention and customer service to your clients?
  • Do you have anything that would prohibit you from being available to your clients?
  • Are you willing to invest $$ in your business to get started?

Once you have signed on to join an agency you’ll have access to the College of Disney Knowledge.  This is the online course that all Disney travel planners have access to.  Each supplier has their own versions of online training including Universal Orlando Resort, Marriott hotels and others.

Vacation planners have such an important role in helping determine the best vacation package that meets the client’s needs.  You are expected to offer expert advice, find the best price and monitor new offers that may become available after booking.  There is a lot of work involved for Walt Disney World Resort packages when you consider travel tips for dining, attractions, ticket options and Genie+.  Having accurate information and knowledge of Disney destinations is key to planning the most magical trips for your guests.

Becoming a travel agent was one of the best decisions I ever made.  It really does make me happy to have clients return from a vacation I planned and tell me how many wonderful memories they made.  To know that I was a part of making that happen for them is priceless.

If you would like more information about joining Playcation Travel click here for details.

If you would like to work with an agent to plan your vacation – reach out to one of our agents on the team page and review the myths of using a travel agent here

Zootopia Quotes – Top 12 Inspirational Messages

Zootopia Quotes – Top 12 Inspirational Messages

Zootopia Judy and Nick

One of my absolute favourite movies is Zootopia.  I’m a sucker for a Disney movie that is inspirational and packed with lessons and humour, and this one is one of the best.

Zootopia tells the tale of Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a very tenacious bunny who has dreams of becoming a police officer.  In this town of animals, she is the very first bunny cop to join the force which brings it’s own challenges.  Throughout the movie we see Judy exude confidence, determination and kindness as she works her case with her new friend Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) – who happens to be a fox.  We follow the cute little bunny on her journey from growing up in Bunnyburrow to becoming Officer Judy Hopps.  She deals with negativity from many around her, and it’s how she succeeds in spite of it.

Zootopia Judy Hopps Running

My top 12 memorable quotes from Zootopia

1. “Tomorrow’s another day”  – Judy Hopps

Judy says this while trying to remain positive after a bad day.  Her neighbour replies through the wall “ya but it might be worse!”

This one makes me laugh because I think we can all relate to this.  Judy is trying to be positive but the negativity from external forces is loud and clear!

2.  “Sometimes we come last, but we did our best” – Gazelle

This is a fantastic line in the song “Try Everything” performed by Shakira (Gazelle).  This song should be on your ‘motivational playlist’ if it isn’t already.  It talks about how we all make mistakes but how you should TRY.  I could have written out all of the lyrics – they are that motivational!  “I won’t give up, I won’t give in” – seriously, download and listen.

Zootopia Stu and Bonnie

3.  “It’s great to have dreams” – Bonnie Hopps  “just as long as you don’t believe in them too much.” – Stu Hopps

When her parents are trying to temper a young Judy’s dreams that they don’t believe are achievable.  Judy happily ignores this negativity as they try to tell her there has never been a bunny cop before.  Her reply?  “I guess I’ll have to be the first”.  This one really gets to me as it shows (so clearly) how sometimes very well meaning people in our lives try to discourage us from trying things for fear of failure.

4.  “Hey Judy, I’d just like to say I’m sorry for the way I behaved in my youth. I had a lot of self-doubt, and it manifested itself in the form of unchecked rage and aggression. I was a major jerk.” – Gideon Grey

Gideon is the example of how people change and they shouldn’t be judged based on acts from their youth.  Gideon goes from a bully to being a partner to a bunny carrot farmer.

Zootopia Young Judy Hopps

5.  “Well, he was right about one thing. I don’t know when to quit!” – Judy Hopps

After an altercation with the bully Gideon, young Judy Hopps jumps up more determined than ever to make the world a better place.

Zooptopia Chief Bogo

6.   “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” – Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba – his voice lends an extra element of humour when he says this line)

This quote has to make you laugh where he is obviously poking fun at the movies, but it’s also another case where Officer Hopps is being discouraged by those around her.  The Chief says this to Judy after she tells him “I don’t want to be a meter maid, I want to be a real cop”.  Kind of makes you think about how many people in your real life do this to you doesn’t it?  Put a damper on your dreams?

Zootopia Nick Wilde

7.  “Never let them see that they get to you.” – Nick Wilde

While Nick was originally the one to call Judy a dumb bunny, their friendship has matured by this point of the movie where you can see how they care for each other.  He sticks up for her with her boss and proclaims that they will continue their search for the poor missing otter they are searching for.  It’s a moment when you realize that their friendship has grown from the most unlikely pairing.

Zootopia Judy Traffic Cop

8.  “Sir, I’m not just some token bunny” – Judy  “Well then, writing one hundred tickets a day should be easy.” – Chief Bogo.  “A hundred tickets, I’m not gonna write a hundred tickets. I’m gonna write two-hundred tickets! Before noon!” – Judy

This is a great example of how Judy is determined to be good – at whatever she’s doing.  She doesn’t want to be writing tickets, but if she is going to do it – she will be the BEST at it.  She isn’t afraid of hard work and will prove and earn her place.

Zootopia Judy and Mr Big

9. “I will take your kindness and pay it forward” – Mr Big

The big crime boss in the movie is Mr Big – who is an arctic shrew, a very small animal who is surrounded by polar bears for protection.  Nick is begging Judy to stop talking to Mr Big as he tries to hide the fact that she is on the police force.  Mr Big commands the bears to “ice ’em” until his daughter walks in and identifies Judy as the cop that saved her from a flying donut.  Paying kindness forward is always a good lesson and sometimes you get help from the most unlikely places.

Zootopia YAK

10. “Told you Nangi has a mind like a steel trap. Ah, I wish I had a memory like an elephant.” – Yax

This is such a fun segment of the movie where Judy goes to a “naturalist club” for the animals and they are greeted by a Yak named Yax who is voiced by Tommy Chong (best known as half of Cheech & Chong).  Yax is at the reception desk and is trying to help Judy with information about the missing Mr Otterton she’s looking for.  He walks her out to the elephant that was his yoga instructor – certainly the elephant will remember all of the details!  The funny thing is that the elephant named Nangi continues to insist she can’t remember anything, but Yax continues to ask questions with incredible detail in them.  “Yeah, and we both walked him out, and he got into this big old white car with a silver trim. Needed a tune-up, the third cylinder wasn’t firing. Remember that, Nangi?”.  This entire scene illustrates how we assume others have capabilities and skills while completely overlooking them in ourselves!

Zootopia DMV Flash

11.  “What, are you saying that because he’s a sloth he can’t be fast? I thought in Zootopia anyone could be anything.” – Nick Wilde

In this hilarious scene the sloth is in fact painfully slow.  As he repeats the three-humped camel joke that Nick told him, Judy tries to explain she’s in a really big hurry – but he just can’t move any faster.  The irony is, he is judged as a sloth for being slow, but in the end – turns out to be the fastest guy in a car!

12.  Gideon Grey was a jerk who happened to be a fox. I know plenty of bunnies who are jerks. – Judy Hopps

Such a powerful message about not judging based on ‘biology’.  Just because he was a fox – that wasn’t what made him a jerk. Jerks exist in every kind of animal.

Zootopia Graduation

Judy’s speech at the end of the movie welcoming the new recruits to the academy sums it all up perfectly!

“When I was a kid, I thought Zootopia was this perfect place, where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, real life is a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations, we all make mistakes, which means – hey, glass half full! – we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what type of animal you are; from the biggest elephant, to our first fox, I implore you – try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.”

C’mon – some great lessons right?  Be kind to one another, do the right thing and believe in yourself.

Have you seen Zootopia?  What is your favourite part?

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

Travelling to Walt Disney World as often 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 Vacation Grocery Delivery 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.

Do you have an Owner’s Locker?  What would you keep in yours?

 

7 Reasons It’s Difficult Being A Canadian Disney Addict

7 reasons it’s really hard being a Canadian Disney Addict

Thanks to the ever-growing social media networks I’m privileged to have so many “Disney Friends” online from all over the world.  I follow their adventures online and I’m always so jealous of the local ones and their ability to visit the parks easily.  It got me thinking – what’s the problem with being a Disney addict who happens to live in Canada?

1  I can’t just decide to go for the weekend when they announce something ‘new’ at the parks that I’m dying to see.

Sure I could catch a flight and be there in 3 hours – but my budget won’t allow for how often I want to do that.  Disney is always releasing new information, treats, popcorn buckets and previews and I miss most of them.  There isn’t usually enough advanced notice to plan a whole trip around it and sometimes the merchandise I want is sold out long before I can get there.

2  Flights are not cheap.

I have a couple of options for flights:

  • I can fly from Toronto (which involves either paying for parking at the airport or a taxi both ways)
  • I can drive to Buffalo and get cheaper flights – but then I have over an hour drive home at the end of my trip.  Who wants THAT kind of drive at the end of their trip?  On the way there it isn’t bad because I’m excited to be going, but on the way home I just want to be HOME and not spend all that time in a car.  If the land border crossing is backed up it can increase that travel time exponentially!

So how much are flights?  They are ALL over the map depending on the time of year, day of the week or even time of day.  I feel like I’ve won the lottery if I find flights for $350 from Toronto – tack on baggage fees and parking at the airport and I’m laughing that it’s under $600.   The most economical flights are always the least desireable times – 7am departure with a 4am arrival at the airport (at least there’s no traffic!).

3  Shopping at the Disney Store online costs me a fortune.

First it’s in US Dollars, then you add shipping and duty and the prices are off the charts!  Even when the Disney Store has a sale going on it is still so expensive.  In case you didn’t know – Canadians don’t qualify for the ‘free shipping’ promos they have either.

Sadly the personal shoppers who offer to pick it up for you at the parks are also marked up to crazy levels.  When you factor the mark-up and shipping with possibly duty – you may as well buy direct from Disney.

4  I can’t get a Disney Visa!

I ask almost EVERY time I’m there when they’re going to launch this credit card for Canadians.  There are some great Disney perks and discounts that the card offers, but if I’m telling the truth, I just want a Visa card with the Castle, Tink or Darth Vader on it!

If you are looking for a card with good travel rewards for Canadians, check out the review of the American Express Platinum card and all of the travel benefits it has.  It may not be a Disney Visa but it has airport lounge and Nexus rebates – it’s worth considering.

Disney Visa

5  We don’t get the Target Discount Cards

I have seen so many people in the US buying Disney gift cards when they go on sale with a 5% discount.  This means they are essentially saving 5% when they pay off their vacation using the cards they bought on sale.  They don’t sell these in Canada; I would have to drive across the border to buy them.  No discounted gift cards for us!

6  Cool Disney related stuff isn’t available to ship to Canada or costs us an arm and a leg to ship it.

Sometimes there are random things that are ‘Disney adjacent’ that I need that just won’t ship to Canada.  Things like all the fun lines at Target and JC Penny that are Disney authorized merchandise.  I see these cute outfits online and want to order them, but no can do!

I can’t get my Magic Band shipped to me before a trip, I have to pick it up at the resort when I check in.  This isn’t a huge deal, but it would be nice to have it BEFORE I travel.

Annual Pass magnets, certain gift boxes AND the Alexa that we were all gifted at the D23 event?  Yep – won’t ship to Canada.

There is a way around “do not ship to Canada” (though it adds to the price), but Shipllama works in a pinch.

7  The dollar is killing us.

When exchange rates fluctuate between $1.25 to $1.30 for one US Dollar – it costs Canadians up to 30% more to shop, eat, stay and buy tickets for our favorite place.  I have a US Dollar bank account so I can try and buy some funds when the exchange rate is better, but it still stings.

So for those of you who live close to the magic – I am jealous!  There are many wonderful things about being a Canadian, but being a Canadian Disney addict has its challenges.   Are these challenges enough to deter me from visiting so often?  Not a chance, I will always find a way to make it work!

Where are YOU from and what challenges do you face as a Disney addict?

What I won’t soon forget from 2022

What I won’t soon forget from 2022

Did you know that I almost gave up Pixie Dust Fan in 2022?

If I’m honest, there were many times during the year that I thought I couldn’t keep doing this. I had so many responsibilities, I was overwhelmed and I was struggling some days to find MY pixie dust.

Every time I thought about it, I got encouragement from the Pixie Dust Fan community. I can’t express how much the messages, comments, podcast reviews, emails and REAL mail mean to me. You have no idea the impact you’ve had on my life.

I heard from people who said Pixie Dust Fan gives them a distraction from their rough days or the podcast gives them a giggle when they’re driving to some not so fun appointments. There’s so much negativity out there that we all need a little giggle and some Disney to lighten the mood. And I got that reminder this year from all of you.

I want to do so much more in 2023, but first I had to look back at what I learned, what I enjoyed, and what I will remember about this year.

Here are 9 things from 2022 I won’t soon forget!

1. My sister was treated for Leukemia

There were treatments, a bone marrow transplant and recovery. I’m happy to report – she’s doing really well! You can read my post about it all here

2. I realized that I now get motion sickness on rides (am I too old??)

After my Guardians of the Galaxy experience, I’m second guessing my ability to enjoy new attractions.

3. I discovered that missing Harrison Ford for Kermit The Frog wasn’t such a big deal.

Carrie and I went to Disneyland for the D23 Expo and there were stars EVERYWHERE. From Muppets to Animators and Indiana Jones, it was an incredible experience and choices had to be made!

4. I found out that Disney is everywhere – including Dayton Ohio!

I attended my very first Dayton Disneyana (yep in Ohio) and had a ball! Hanging out with other Disney fans and shopping, hearing speakers and just being surrounded by the magic is good for the soul

5. I got to talk to fun Disney people on the podcast

We have some of the greatest conversations on the podcast and this year was no dierent. From the biggest Mickey Mouse collector Paul Bottos (who we spoke to twice!) to a positively Disney cookbook, Carrie and I enjoyed every episode.

6. Wishes don’t always come true

We started the year with a bucket list of podcast guests that didn’t quite materialize. Maybe in 2023? If you know any of them – can you hook us up?

7. I opened my own business

I’ve been dreaming of my own business since I was 17 years old and wanted to buy a video store (like a tiny Blockbuster!). This year I went into partnership with a friend and we opened Playcation Travel! I figured if I didn’t do it now – when would I? I’m loving every minute of it!

8. I proved to Carrie that restrooms ARE a hot topic and I DON’T know everything in the Magic Kingdom.

We finally did a podcast on the restrooms at Walt Disney World and discovered that there was one in the Magic Kingdom I didn’t know about. This gave us a real purpose on our December trip to go and find it. Yes, this is the fun stuff we do on vacation!

9. Mugs bring people together

My Sunday morning mug posts on Facebook have really become something I look forward to every week!

Thank you again for being a part of the community and sharing this crazy Disney obsession with me. You give me hope, purpose and pixie dust all year round and I thank you for it.

May you have the most magical holiday season with your friends & family!

Sharing my Disney mug collection and why it brings me joy

Disney mug collections bring such joy

I can’t even remember when it started, the earliest one I can find is from 2017 when the clocks changed and posted a pic of my Castaway Cay mug.

Castaway Cay Disney Mug

How it started

I know I was struggling for content one Sunday morning when I had a bunch of things to get done so I snapped a pic of my Disney mug and posted it.  It got some great engagement and people enjoyed sharing, it was a fun one.

A few Sunday mornings later I was in the same position – so I posted a different mug… that was it.  The tradition had started!

Disney Cinderella Mug

I have SO much fun with this post each and every Sunday morning.  It is the post that makes me feel like I get a glimpse in to YOUR days and YOUR Disney life and it’s awesome.

Pixie Dust Fan Disney mug September 2018

There are people from all over who send me pics of their Sunday mug and share tidbits about what they’re drinking in it, or where they got it or what special memory it means to them.  Sometimes you get a glimpse of the background or their breakfast and it’s a real connection.

I know that it isn’t just for me – others come to the post to scroll everyone else’s mugs too!  I see comments back and forth asking where they got it or complimenting each other on their choice.

Disney Mickey Mouse mug Pixie Dust Fan

If you look in the background of that post there are my Disney canisters – I get asked all the time where I got them.  I actually bought them WAY back in Downtown Disney (before it was Disney Springs) and they had a kitchen shop.  I love these canisters – and if you really want to know, there is NOTHING in them.  I am not a cook… I’m a ‘frozen reheat’ kinda gal.  But I digress…

I have shared some big ‘life’ news via my mug choices too – it just felt like the right way to share.  It’s funny how I think of these posts as a bit more ‘personal’.  Maybe because they come from inside my house?

Pixie Dust Fan Travel Agency Announcement Mug Post

I was so excited to announce this and the support was overwhelming.

The other AMAZING thing about the connections that I am so grateful for is the tea pot in the background – next to the canisters.

Coronation Street Tea Pot Gift

I am a HUGE fan of the TV show Coronation Street, I have been watching it for as long as I can remember.  I used to watch it with my Mum, I grew up with it.

Sharing my love of Coronation Street and tea and one of the most amazing Pixie Dust Fans sent me a gift that had me in tears.  It was incredibly generous and kind and I was completely overwhelmed.  She will never know how much this meant to me.

Playcation Travel Request A Quote

Disney Mug Pixie Dust Fan September 2019

I have carried on doing this mug post almost every Sunday.  Sometimes the days get mixed up for me (especially when I’m on vacation) but I always try to share it.  It’s a fun way to connect and I really enjoy it.

Contemporary Resort View with Sunday Mug post from Pixie Dust Fan

Disney Dumbo mug

If you listen to the podcast you know the story of this mug! I bought it one trip and accidentally put it in the washing machine at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort!

Disney Resort in room cups - Pixie Dust Fan Coronado Springs

Even when I’m on a non-Disney vacation I feel I have to post something!  I took this one at sea on a Norwegian Cruise.

Starbucks at sea with Pixie Dust Fan

My biggest issue?  This post started because I had too much to do one Sunday morning and I needed a post… Now?  I can’t get ANYTHING done on a Sunday morning because I’m too busy looking at pics of mugs.  And I love it.

Thank you all for engaging with me!!

Winnie the Pooh mug and teapot Pixie Dust Fan

Are YOU a mug collector??  Make sure you’re following along on Facebook for the posts and share your mugs!

The Orange Bird

Every time I see my wife Carol’s collection of Orange Bird figures and memorabilia an old song runs through my mind!

Orange Bird Collection

Carol’s current Orange Bird collection

♫♪ Come to the Florida sunshine tree ♪♫

♫♪ For fresh tasting orange juice, naturally ♪♫

♫♪ Orange juice with natural vitamin C ♪♫

♫♪ From the Florida sunshine tree ♪♫

It was sung by an Oklahoma beauty queen named Anita Bryant!

If you’re as old as dirt, like I am, you were probably glued to your television set back in the 1960’s and you watched a little orange bird urging you to drink Florida Orange juice.  That little tune up above probably sounds very familiar to you.

For the many generations of Orange Bird fans who are younger than I am, here’s a little background to help you understand where our favourite little bird came from!

Back in the mid 1960’s Walt Disney was busy building his latest daring venture which he called the Florida Project.  The Disney Company had acquired 57 square miles of land in central Florida where Walt envisioned a huge family entertainment complex.  Today we know it as Walt Disney World, the most popular tourist destination in the world!

A project of that magnitude required money . . . lots and lots of money!  To keep ahead of the constant demand for cash the Disney Company entered into partnerships with a number of companies and groups who “sponsored” different aspects of the project.  One of those partnerships was with the Florida Citrus Commission.  The Commission and the Disney Company had been partners since 1941 . . . Do you remember Donald Duck Orange Juice?

They began negotiations in 1967 and in October 1969 a deal was finalized!  The Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) would sponsor a 3 million dollar pavilion in Adventureland that included The Tropical Serenade (now The Enchanted Tiki Room), The Sunshine Tree Terrace snack bar and the rest of The Sunshine Pavilion.  The Florida Orange Bird was quickly designed by Imagineers at WED Enterprises, and a massive marketing campaign began!  The little bird was simple in design and he didn’t speak.  He communicated through small thought balloons!

Orange_Bird_Nice

Orange_Bird_Nice_thoughts

The public face of the FCC was Anita Bryant who had been crowned Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and was second runner-up in the Miss America pageant of 1959.  She enjoyed a successful singing career, with 11 of her songs reaching the top 100 in the charts, before she signed on as FCC spokeswoman in 1968.

Soon Miss Bryant and the Orange Bird were appearing everywhere!

Florida_Citrus_Pavillion

They were on billboards all over Florida, in print ads and in TV commercials.  There was even a full length 45 rpm LP written by the Sherman Brothers and narrated by Bryant.  The record included an illustrated 10 page storybook that told the back story of The Orange Bird.

Record_Album_2

Do you remember the slogan “A breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine”?  That was Anita Bryant and the Orange Bird.

Vintage_Orange_Bird_1

There were Orange Bird coin banks, comic books, drinking glasses, t-shirts, plates and mugs.  Carol has managed to add a few of these vintage items to her collection!

Vintage_Orange_Bird_2

The Orange Bird appeared regularly near the Sunshine Tree Terrace and posed for pictures with guests.  The picture below features our son Rob with the famous bird in about 1978.

Rob_and_Orange_Bird

Alas, the partnership between Miss Bryant and the FCC began to break down in 1977.  She lived in Miami at the time and took a very strong stance against gay rights.  Her home city had recently adopted strong anti-discrimination legislation and she worked long, hard and successfully to overturn it.  She became a very vocal and public opponent of same-sex relationships.  This caused plenty of friction with the FCC and before long Miss Bryant was leading a boycott of Florida citrus products.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

Orange_Bird_Bell

As you might expect, the FCC elected to let their contract with Bryant lapse, leaving the little Orange Bird with no partner.  His prominence soon began to fade and by 1987 the cheerful little critter was no longer visible in the park, on billboards or in ads.  That little orange ray of sunshine was gone!

Carol was sad to see her little friend, and all his merchandise, leave her happy place, but there is a happy ending to this tale.

Lou Mongello, author of “Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic” and the host of The WDW Radio Show explained it this way in his November 2007 article for the AllEars.net weekly newsletter:  “The Orange Bird made a mysterious comeback in 2004 – but not in the United States. Tokyo Disneyland began to produce its own, unique Orange Bird merchandise line around that time. Today’s Orange Bird looks somewhat similar in proportion to the popular Japanese animated characters with heads disproportionately larger than their bodies. Recently, April 14 has been designated as “Orange Day,” in Japan, a new holiday (promoted by Japanese and U.S. citrus growers like Sunkist). The concept is that on “Orange Day” people confirm their love with the objects of their affection by exchanging oranges or orange-colored gifts.”

Japan_Poster_Orange_Bird

And now, at long last, he’s back at Walt Disney World too!  The first signs of his triumphant return were at the EPCOT Trade Celebration in September 2011.  The theme of the event was “The Florida Project”.

2011_Early_Bird_Pin

The décor and all the pins and other merchandise created for the event revolved around classic rides and attractions that were part of those early years.

Orange_Bird_Decor_2011

The Orange Bird was very prominent at the event, appearing in many of the displays!  And on some of the pins too!

Orange Bird Pin - blog

Orange Bird Pin with HM

2011_Pins

Pin_Collage_2

Then in 2012 D23 announced the bird’s “official” return to the park.  The six minute video clip below gives a good summary of his history and his return to glory.

Carol is a happy Disney fan; the Orange Bird is back and his merchandise is everywhere!  She’s happily acquiring more Orange Bird treasures to display in her Disney Room!

D23_Attraction_Rewind_2

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 haven’t been to Walt Disney World this year

I wasn’t even sure if I should write this post, it has been sitting in my drafts for some time.  You see, it’s not Disney focused – and that’s why people follow me, for Disney stuff.  This is about my life – my real life outside of Pixie Dust Fan. But the real life has impacted the Disney life, and I feel like I need to share what’s going on.  I forgot to publish my podcast, I’m missing emails and messages and I keep getting asked “when is your next trip?”.  

I haven’t been to a Disney park in 5 months, which is a LONG time for me because I promised myself after covid I would go as often as I could.  As soon as that border opened last year I went 3 times in 4 months, I had missed my happy place SO MUCH that I would never take it for granted again.  And then, my world turned upside down.

Becky and I in Walt Disney World in 2021

2 years ago as Covid had begun, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Within days she had surgery and then started a long haul of chemo and radiation.  She came through it well and was cancer free by the fall.  In fact she was well enough to join me for my birthday trip in October and our D23 event in November.  She needed a scooter and tired easily – but it was nice to have her back in HER happy place.  My sister Becky and I have been doing Disney trips since I was a little girl – so it was amazing to be back in Walt Disney World together again.

Becky and I way back when in Walt Disney World

After the D23 event in November it was time to start thinking about the next trip.  We had cancelled our May Disney Cruise from Hawaii because we didn’t think it was smart with her recent health issues to be out at sea for so many days.  Maybe we should stick to land for a bit.

Mid December Becky went for her booster shot and her maintenance treatment for her breast cancer.  They did her blood work and all was normal.

7 days later we were in the Emergency department at the local hospital because she couldn’t breathe.  Of course the concern was Covid – but they quickly ruled that out.

They did blood tests and said “it could be a clot in her lung, or it might be Leukemia”.  

Say what?  Huh?  Isn’t Leukemia Cancer?  She already had her share – you must be mistaken.

Within 24 hours Becky was on chemo pills to reduce the amount of white blood cells in her body.  Normal range was 4-11 and Becky had over 100.  Thanks to a quick thinking Doctor in the emergency, the pills started working to hold off the spread and she was transferred to The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

If you don’t know, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is a scientific research centre and a teaching hospital in Toronto, it’s one of the best in the world.  The Doctors and Nurses here could not have been more kind to us.  We didn’t really know anything about Leukemia except that it was a blood cancer.  Everything was explained to us and they diagnosed her with AML – acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  Given her blood work was normal the WEEK before the symptoms started, we knew it had been caught early.  They were very direct with us, if we do nothing she will be gone in months.  We had to start chemo.

We had to be gowned and gloved in her room – it was a pretty fancy outfit!

I say ‘we’ a lot because as a family I feel like we are all going through it.  While she has the hard part of doing the treatment on her body, we have the job of being there, being positive and supportive and doing whatever is necessary.  Because of Covid we were limited to 2 visitors allowed for her entire stay, so my oldest sister Carol and I were the designated visitors.  We made sure one of us were there every day cheering her on.  

Her chemo started on Christmas Day – we liked to joke it was her present.  We decorated her room with a few of her Disney popcorn buckets to bring a little Christmas cheer.  She was in the hospital for 6 weeks recovering.  I know more about white blood cells, platelets and neutrophils than I ever wanted to.  I sign in to her hospital charts in the morning to see how her counts are doing and wait patiently for them to recover.  Of course there is a family group text where we share the counts and updates on her progress.  The rest of the family feel so helpless when she’s in the hospital because they can’t do anything to support her.

Celebrating Andrew’s Birthday

The good news is that she responded well to the treatment.  There were some bumps along the way – heart rate off the charts, a stint or two in urgent care, Covid exposure and some other nerve wracking moments but she came through.  She got to come home for a bit and celebrated her son’s birthday and Christmas all in one day.  Then it was another round of chemo and back home to recover again.  Lots of doctor appointments and visits to the hospital 2-3 times per week for blood tests and transfusions.  I am so thankful that our sister and brother in law are retired and could take her to all of her appointments so I didn’t need to take extra time off of work.   They have been amazing.

Thank goodness for the Tim’s at the hospital

After all of that treatment they confirmed no leukemia in her blood (YAY!!).  The only problem is that it will come back.  Many people manage their leukemia with ongoing chemo to try and stay in remission as long as possible.  Some are strong enough to get a bone marrow transplant.  In the most basic terms the transplant works by wiping out the patients cells and immune system and then the donated marrow generates all new cells that don’t have leukemia in them.  One of the doctors told Becky that chemo is like rebooting your computer where a transplant is a new hard drive.  Please remember I’m not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV – this is my basic understanding of it all.  

Based on testing, Becky was not immediately approved for transplant because her heart was damaged by all the other chemos.  It’s crazy to think that she has ‘treatment related leukemia’ from her breast cancer and now her heart is an issue because of the leukemia treatments.  After the cardiologist did an echocardiogram to confirm no blockages they gave her meds that got her heart in a good enough spot to move forward with transplant.

They found 2 donor matches for her in the world, but wanted to test me.  It’s amazing she even had matches, I heard it can be difficult to find.  I was tested (and if you know me, needles and blood are my biggest fear) and 17 vials of blood later I was a perfect match.  The doctors had to decide if I was suitable given my age (apparently old cells aren’t as good!) but they cleared me for donation.  

My injection kit

My sister was admitted to the transplant ward in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  She got 4 days of chemo and then a full body radiation to prepare her for the new marrow.  There are so many risks and things that could go wrong and the doctors have to tell us everything so we are prepared for the worst.   Her body can reject my cells, my cells can attack her body – it’s so scary but we are all doing our best to stay positive.  Becky is tougher than any of us ever gave her credit for in the past, I’m so amazed how well she’s done during all of this.  If you had told me 2 years ago that she would get through all this as well as she has, I wouldn’t have believed you.

it was quite a process

For my part in the transplant process I had to give myself 2 needles per day for 4 days (yes, I gave them to myself and didn’t faint – I’m proud of me!).  The side effects hit me pretty hard and I was out for the count for a few days with headaches and pain.  Apparently the injections stimulate marrow production and then it can’t all fit in your bones so it spills out in to your blood (that’s the technical explanation I have to offer).  Then they hook me up to a machine that takes the blood out of one arm and pulls the marrow out, and then puts the rest of the blood back in the other arm.  It’s amazing technology when you think about it.  

Bone Marrow donation machine

The machine was so big – I chose NOT to post the one from when it was actually running

As I post this it’s the day after the transplant.  I got all hooked up in the morning and they took out all the cells they needed and then some.  Apparently they needed 4 million and I gave them 7 – I like to be thorough!  I watched as the runner picked up the marrow and my sister Carol sent me a picture from Becky’s room when it arrived there a short time later.  It didn’t take long before the transplant was done and they all wished her a “happy birthday”.  It’s a whole new immune system so many celebrate it as a new birth day.

Now that the transplant is done she can focus on getting stronger every day.  It’s a long recovery, but I know she can do it.  I keep teasing her I’ve given her some of our Mum’s tough stock via the marrow to help her.  

So that is my story of why I haven’t been to Disney and I’ve been so scattered.  I decided to share what is going on because I was getting messages from you all that I really couldn’t answer.  This is my reality and it has been difficult feeling like I was keeping a secret.  Of course I have Becky’s permission to share her story, but I won’t share everything and I’m not sharing pictures of her as she goes through it.

I appreciate you all so much for following along and keeping the Pixie Dust Fan community going while I have been a bit absent.  Once Becky is home and others can help take care of her I will be back in Walt Disney World, I am looking forward to lots of pixie dust myself.

I know great things are ahead, but for now we take it one day at a time.  Becky is in the best hospital getting the best care, and she has tons of love and support from her family and friends.  She will be ok, I just know it.

Becky is a planner and I’m a last minute gal – I’m looking forward to our future arguments about planning our Disney trips 🙂

If you would like to support the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre – you can find more information here

Please consider donating blood and find out if you can be a match for someone here at bethematch.org.

UPDATE – July 23rd, 2022

It has been a while since I posted this, I can’t believe how long and yet it feels like yesterday that we did the transplant.

It continues to be an incredible journey.  Becky handled the transplant well with a few side effects.   She had a horrible rash that started on her face and made its way all over.  She had mouth sores and fatigue, but only required one blood transfusion.  We were told she could be in the hospital 4-6 weeks and she was home in 3.

She was really weak when she got home, they told us the first 100 days would be the hard ones.  These are the days when she’s most likely to experience complications and our cells ‘fighting’.  She is kept on drugs that suppress her immune system to give mine a chance to ‘grow’.  We made sure that she was never left alone and we took turns living with her to make sure someone was always there.  We even had some outings to the Butt N Ben – a Scottish Bakery near us.

Lots of appointments, weekly blood tests and hundreds of pills later and she is on day 88!  They have started to decrease the immune suppressent and she will be completely off of it by day 100.  She is staying on her own now, cooking for herself and even drove her car a short distance!  She’s not going to get any speeding tickets any time soon, but it’s nice to see her have some independence back.  Her blood test a few weeks ago showed that 97% of her immune system was made up of my cells and there was NO SIGN of any leukemia – RESULT!!

It’s all working the way it should and she is getting her “lines” out next week.  (In case you are wondering – it’s a tube that is placed into a vein in her chest and ends in a larger vein just above her heart. This Hickman line was used for long-term to access to her veins it was used to give chemotherapy, intravenous medications, nutrition, and to draw blood for labs.)  It’s going to make it so much easier for her to shower once those are out because they need to be covered and can’t get wet.  She is not allowed to be in the direct sun anymore so we’re in search of fun long sleeved clothes and bucket hats!

Hopefully at day 100 she can start getting all of her vaccines (childood ones like Measels as well as the Covid vaccine).  I think we’ll all feel a bit better once she has some protection.  Right now we’re all double masking when we are with her and being extra careful of course.  Our priority is getting her back to 100%

I am amazed at how well she has come through this – her body and mind were so much stronger than any of us thought.  She’s still got to build her strength back, but she’s on the right path and I know she will do it.

Thank you to everyone that has reached out to ask and send your thoughts – we both appreciate it more than you know.

Our picks for the best Disney Podcasts of 2021

Best Disney Podcasts 2021

Listening to a Disney focused podcast is a great way to bring some of that Disney fun to you wherever you are.  Typically hosted by fans, entertainers, influencers and authors, there is a huge variety of podcasts with something for everyone.  It’s hard to sift through them all to find the one(s) that you enjoy most.

No two podcasts are created alike, that’s why many of us listen to a bunch of different ones.

I have compiled a list of Disney podcasts that I think are worth listening to.  I realize it’s all subjective – but entertainment of any kind normally is.  Sometimes you just have to start with some recommendations and see what ‘clicks’ for you.

If you’re looking for a new podcast to add to your subscriptions – give these a try.  Listen to a few episodes each see if you like the content and connect with the host(s), then let me know your thoughts!

Disney Chat With Pixie Dust Fan

Ok, you knew I had to put that in right?  While I’m normally not comfortable with such blatent self promotion, I am proud of the podcast we put out every week.  My cohost Carrie and I talk about a variety of Disney topics from trip planning tips, Haunted Mansion fan theories to our conversation with Disney legend Bob Gurr.  We have some great chats and always end each episode with a focus on the positive.  We share something that brought us ‘Pixie Dust’ that week, it can be anything that brought us joy.  This reminds us that there is always something good and positive in our lives.

You can find us here:  PixieDustFan.com/podcast

Pixie Dust Fan podcast logo

WDW Radio

Lou Mongello is a well known Disney fan, author, speaker and coach who has over 600 podcast episodes.  Lou is fascinated by the history of Disney and shares details, interviews and facts that many of us want to know.  He covers a variety of topics from the top 10 Disney heroines to a live review of the Polite Pig at Disney Springs.  His guests have included some of the most captivating Imagineers and Disney legends, making this a podcast worthy of the awards it has won.  He was a guest on the Pixie Dust Fan podcast episode 94.

You can find Lou here:  wdwradio.com

WDW Radio Podcast

Bobsleds and Banthas

Aaron and Scott just make me laugh!  They are a weekly podcast that covers theme parks, Star Wars and the Walt Disney company.  They have some fun stories, terrific banter and you really feel like you’re sitting there with them. With topics ranging from the History of the Lightsaber to an afternoon with Imagineer Rolly Crump they cover it all.  You can check them out here:  Bobsleds and Banthas

Bobsleds and Banthas

We Like Theme Parks

As their title suggests, they like theme parks!  Co-hosts Chris, Mark and Miriam have a great time on every episode with different twists on the conversation.  Including tips, reviews and opinions – they have segments like ‘armchair imagineering’ where they dream up new parades, resorts and attractions – I was a guest on the resort one!  I also did their segment “rapid fire reviews” of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, it was a lot of fun.  You can find the We Like Theme Parks Podcast here

We Like Theme Parks

1923 Main Street

Are you interested in a kids perspective?  Co-hosts Mike and Amelia make up this “Daddy Daughter Duo” who share their love of all things Disney on each episode.  With multiple visits to the parks and resorts they offer unique views on topics ranging from reviewing club level at Walt Disney World to the stories behind famous park icons.  Check them out over at 1923 Main Street here 

1923 Main Street

D23 Inside Disney

This is the ‘official’ Disney podcast that shares all the latest news, and because it’s official Disney – they obviously have ALL the best guests!!  While it’s not a ‘fan’ based podcast, it’s worth checking out if just for the guests.  Find the D23 Inside Disney Podcast here

I like my Disney podcasts to be positive and fun, so there are a few that I intentionally left out.  I am always looking for new podcasts to explore and add to my listening list so send me your recommendations!

Did I miss any?  What is your favorite Disney podcast?

 

A Duckburg Family

If you read my June 2020 blog titled ‘Walt Disney – The Canadian Connection’ here on Pixie Dust Fan, you know that I’m an amateur genealogist.  Like most who share my interest in family history, I look for relationship puzzles in the oddest of places . . . like Donald Duck’s family.

Do you remember all those years ago when Mickey’s Birthdayland first opened at Walt Disney World?  It was June 18th 1988 and Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday celebrations were in full swing!

Mickey Birthdayland 1988

Visit Birthdayland

Mickey’s Birthdayland was set in the mythical town of Duckburg in the equally mythical State of Calisota.  Duckburg boasted that it was “A town that’s everything it’s quacked up to be?”

Duckburg Sign

Duckburg and Calisota both sprang from the vivid imagination of Carl Barks who drew and wrote Donald Duck comic books for Western Publishing from 1943 until he retired from drawing in 1966.

Years after Mr. Barks retired Don Rosa drew and wrote more comics based on the Duckburg characters for Gladstone Publishing, who were licensed to use Disney characters in those later years.  Over the years both Barks and Rosa created a host of new characters for the comics and a rich history and backstory of Duckburg developed.

Have you ever wondered how Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck were related?  What about Huey, Dewey and Louie?  How are they connected in the family tree?  As I said earlier, we genealogists enjoy puzzles like this!

Carl Barks Duck family portrait

Let’s start by taking a quick look back to into history of Duckburg.  According to the lore imagined by Barks and Rosa, Duckburg was originally founded in the 16th century by British explorer Sir Francis Drake who named it Fort Drake Borough.  In the 19th century Cornelius Coot purchased the Fort from the departing British, renamed it Duckburg and the rest, as they say, is history.

One of the central features in Mickey’s Birthdayland was a statue of Cornelius Coot, located in front of the Cornelius Coot’s County Bounty shop!

Cornelius Coot

Cornelius Coot Plaque

Duckburg is rumoured to be the largest city in Calisota and its skyline is dominated by Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin which sits high on Killmotor Hill at the edge of the city!

Duckburg overhead

There was also an animated television series, ‘Duck Tales’ which ran from 1987 until 1990 with a total of 100 episodes.  The TV series followed in the steps of Carl Barks and Don Rosa’s comic books with the same cast of characters who lived in the same place, Duckburg Calisota.

The overhead view of Duckburg, showing Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin on Killmotor Hill, was the product of Disney artist Mike Peraza’s mind and was created for Duck Tales in 1987.  The ‘money bin’ was said to measure a cubic acre . . . that’s a big pile of cash!

In the original comic books Scrooge lived in a private apartment above his money bin, but in the 1987 TV series he lived in central Duckburg, in McDuck Manor, also designed by Mike Peraza.

McDuck Manor 1987

McDuck Manor 1987

Duck Tales was ‘re-booted’ in 2017 and featured a brand new version of McDuck Manor . . . if you subscribe to Disney+ be sure to check out Duck Tales!  You’ll meet most of the Duckburg clan there!

McDuck Manor 2017

McDuck Manor 2017

Now, let’s get to the genealogy . . .

There were three principal families in Duckburg, the Coots, the Ducks and the McDucks.  Donald Duck is the son of Quackmore Duck and Hortense McDuck. 

Donald’s mother Hortense is the sister of Scrooge McDuck, making Scrooge Donald’s uncle.

 Donald has a sister Della (sometimes called Dumbella) who married an unnamed Duck and had three sons, Donald’s identical triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

A family tree, drawn by Don Rosa lays out many of the characters who appeared in the comics over the years and places them in an understandable order.

Click the picture to see the full size tree

If you follow that tree you can see how Donald traces his lineage back to Cornelius Coot.  His father was Quackmore Duck, the son of Humperdink Duck and Elvira Coot (often referred to as Grandma Coot).  Elvira was the daughter of Clinton Coot and Gertrude Gadwall.  Clinton Coot was the son of Cornelius Coot.  That means that Cornelius was Donald’s paternal great-great-grandfather.

On his mother’s side Donald can trace his family back to the McDuck clan from Glasgow Scotland.  His mother Hortense McDuck was the daughter of Fergus McDuck and Downy O’Drake.  Grandfather Fergus was the son of Dirty Dingus McDuck and Molly Mallard.

McDuck Castle Glasgow

If you follow the chart carefully you can see how Donald is related to his cousin Gladstone Gander, his second-cousin Gus Goose and his great-great-uncle Quagmire McDuck.

There are a few salty characters from the past, like Sir Roast McDuck, Hugh “Seafoam” McDuck, Pintail Duck and Sir Eider McDuck included on the chart.

Sir Roast McDuck (1159-1205) succeeded his father Sir Stuft McDuck, as clan chief.  Clan McDuck was one of the richest clans in Scotland, but in 1189 Sir Roast offered much of the clan’s wealth to the king of Scotland, William the Lion, after William asked for his help in paying tribute to Richard I, King of England.  This act of patriotism led to financial ruin for the clan.

Hugh “Seafoam” McDuck made a fortune sailing his “Golden Goose” on the trade route to the West Indies. Unfortunately, in 1753, Swindle McSue tricked Seafoam with a contract to deliver horseradish to Jamaica, and then scuttled the Goose.

Pintail Duck was a British sailor in the Caribbean. Once Pintail and officer Malcolm “Matey” McDuck buried a treasure of potatoes.  Their ship the Falcon Rover sunk with its crew on December 9th 1564 in conflict with the Spanish.

Sir Eider McDuck (880-946) was the chief of Clan McDuck during an Anglo-Saxon invasion in 946. Eider was killed during the Anglo-Saxons’ siege of McDuck Castle after his serfs abandoned him. He had refused to buy them arrows because they were too expensive.

Alas, the comics have never provided enough biographical detail to fit all of these colourful characters into the proper spot in the tree.

A number of characters, like Gyro Gearloose and Kildeer Coot, are not included at all, but according to the comic book series they are related to Donald in one way or another.

Glasgow 1877 by Don Rosa

Fergus McDuck seated, surrounded by his family.

Naturally Donald’s long time girlfriend Daisy is missing from the tree and that means that her family history is a mystery.  All is not lost though; the Duckburg rumour mill can help us out a little bit with Daisy’s family.  According to Duckburg lore and legend Daisy had an unnamed sister who may have married a brother of that unknown Duck who married Donald’s sister Della.  Those two anonymous ducks were the parents of Daisy’s triplet nieces April, May and June.  That makes Daisy’s nieces the first cousins of Donald’s nephews.

Sometimes family trees can be very complex!

Isn’t it interesting how something as simple as a series of children’s comic books can weave such an interesting and complicated history!

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.

 

How To Thank And Support Disney Cast Members

Walt Disney once said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”.  Cast members at Disney Parks and Resorts all around the world are perfect examples of this.  As a Disney fan, I can safely say that all my vacations have been touched and made magical by the cast members.  Notice that they are called “cast” and not “employees”, because every interaction is considered  to be “on stage” and part of the show.Walt Disney Quote Cast Members

From Imagineers to character attendants, food servers to mousekeeping – the real magic of Disney vacations can be directly attributed to it’s cast.  Think back to some of your most magical moments at Disney parks and Resorts, can you remember it?  I’m willing to bet that a cast member had a direct hand in almost all of them.

So how do you thank a cast member?

1.  Speak to a manager or leader

It is always best to give some real time feedback when you can.  Ask to speak to the manager and tell them about your experience while it is fresh in your mind.  This is easier to do in places like stores, dining locations and resorts.  If a supervisor is not readily accessible (like at a character meet or attraction), make sure you note the cast member’s name and time so that you can relay the information to Guest Services.  Make sure you TELL someone!  It’s important to share this feedback of good service or a magical experience so that the cast member can be recognized for their efforts.

Thank a Disney Cast Member

2.  Take to social media

The hashtag #CastCompliment has been used to call out fantastic cast members online.  I have personally used it myself on Twitter a few times.  While my recent search online has not shown any replies from official Disney accounts, I still believe that it’s a great way to recognize someone publicly.  You can combine this with a visit or email to guest services online.

My favourite experience using the #CastCompliment on Twitter was way back in 2017 when I had the same Minnie Van driver a few times, and she was fabulous!  We always had so much fun chatting with her and I needed to let someone know how fantastic she was.

Here’s Mary getting my thanks – it was fun to see the message made it all the way to her!

Cast Compliment Mary

 

3.  Donate to say thank you

As a result of the current pandemic, many cast members have unfortunately found themselves out of work.   While these cast members are are no longer making magic for guests, they did – and they created the vacation memories that we will all cherish for a lifetime.  They need more than our thanks right now, they need our donations.

Where do you donate?  How can you contribute?

Emily Lartigue, a furloughed Walt Disney World cast member created the Cast Member Pantry to help her fellow cast members after they were laid off or furloughed from Walt Disney World.   This fantastic service allows cast members to pick up some much needed essentials.  

From the Facebook page:

“Cast Member Pantry makes it quick and easy to receive free food essentials once a month per Cast Member. You’ll receive a reusable grocery bag filled with foods that are easily put together to make meals for 4, with breakfast and snack options as well. We take pride in putting food we all enjoy in our bags because we believe our Cast deserve the very best, and a little comfort too.”

Cast members who are in need should email castmemberpantry@gmail.com and fill out the survey in the automatic reply.  Once the survey is done the cast member will receive an email with a day and time for pickup.

To donate to the Cast Member Pantry:

Venmo account for monetary gifting is @castmemberpantry.

They have an Amazon Wish List with gift cards that make it easier for those of us without a Venmo account.  Send your donation via the wish list here.

You can also donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

To help the cast members in California, you can donate to the Second Harvest Food Band of Orange County.

Kids Save The World

Furloughed Disney performers/creators Julie Frost and Mike Dombrow are launching an empowering musical adventure podcast for kids, “The Super Secret Hive.”   Featuring six full-length episodes, 14 original songs, and (free!) online activities galore, Julie and Mike are excited to share this one-of-a-kind series with kids, parents, and educators worldwide.  The duo aims to engage, entertain and inspire kids while also providing parents and educators with much-needed content during this challenging time of distance learning.  Check out their website here

Cast Member Toy Box

Cast Member Toy Box was created by long time Disney Cast Members who have been furloughed since March and were recently informed that they would soon be separated from the company.  Together, Laura Bartlett and Erin Blackketter created this nonprofit holiday toy drive that benefits the children of furloughed and laid-off Disney Cast Members.

“It was extremely important for us to start something that we could rally the community together and sprinkle some pixie dust around to help create our own magic for our cast member family who have gone above and beyond for so many guest in the past. Our goal is to help alleviate some of the financial strains that our cast family are enduring during this difficult and different holiday season. We are blown away by the kindness and generosity of the people in our community in such a short amount of time.”

For those who would like to help:

Shop their Amazon Wishlist here

Donate via Venmo – Venmo Username: @castmembertoybox

Donate via PayPal: www.paypal.me/CastMemberToyBox

The Cast Member Toy Box are currently working on helping over 500 children have toys for the holidays, donations are imperative to continue that mission.  For those wanting to participate they have opened an additional December Waitlist pick up pending donations!  If you are an affected cast member and would like to be placed on our December waitlist please fill out this form to request a pick up.

Fellow Disney Fan Josh Gad got in on the donations too!

It’s so important during these times to find ways to stay positive and have hope.  For some positivity from Disney leadership, I like to follow  Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. He’s a leader who seems to genuinely care and have compassion for those he meets, you can see the posts he’s been tagged in. 

Do you have unique and fun ways to support Disney cast members?  

Let me know and I will update here!

What Is Disney Vacation Club?

What is Disney Vacation Club?  Is Disney Vacation Club worth it?

Is Disney Vacation Club worth it?  How does it work?  We are exploring the pros and cons of membership and answering the most common questions about buying a Disney Vacation Club contract.  

But first…..

What IS Disney Vacation Club (DVC)?

The Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s answer to vacation time shares, and it’s a popular investment for many die-hard fans. 

While typical time shares have you securing a finite amount of time per year at a location, the Disney timeshare is more flexible in allowing you to customize your use.  Members buy a contract of “points” that are replenished each year.  For example – my very first contract I bought was for 160 points at Bay Lake Tower in 2009 while the resort was under construction.  At that time the price per point was approximately $112 USD per point (that was a good deal back then).   Each year I pay maintenance fees for the resort and my 160 points are replenished.  The length of my contract was for 50 years.   

Bay Lake Tower DVC

My DVC Resort – Bay Lake Tower is connected to Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Please note that this article is my opinion and perspective and does not contain details of every aspect of Disney Vacation Club Membership.  For full details you should refer to the offical DVC page.

Where can you use Disney Vacation Club points? 

There are 3 collections available for your points to use. 

  • Disney Collection
  • Concierge Collection
  • World Collection – Interval International

The Disney Collection

You can use your points at Disney Vacation Club Resorts such as Disney’s Beach Club, or Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World or Disney’s Grand Californian when visiting Disneyland.  Aulani is a fantastic DVC resort in Ko Olina Hawaii or maybe you’d like a stay at Disney’s Hilton Head Resort in South Carolina. 

Concierge Collection

This collection of hotels and resorts include a variety of spots from the Royal Garden in London England to the Fairmont hotels in Chicago and San Francisco. 

World Collection – Interval International

Interval International is a large timeshare vacation exchange network that includes hotels all over the world.  There is quite a variety of destinations in this collection.

For a full list of resorts you can check the official list here

Is it worth DVC if I’m not always staying in a Disney resort?

I have never used my points outside of a Disney resort.  I think I would consider it if I needed to go somewhere else as a one off, but that isn’t the reason I bought it. If you’re an avid traveller who is always exploring different destinations – DVC is probably not what you need. 

DVC Points for Cruising Disney

Using DVC points on a cruise is not a good idea.

Using your points on a Disney Cruise is not the best use of your points either.  The trade of points for a cruise is just not worth it and not a good value.  If you’re a big Disney Cruiser – I wouldn’t buy DVC for that.

How many DVC points do I need for a week at Walt Disney World?

There are many variables that are considered in the point calculations:

  • What time of year are you going?
  • What type of room do you need?
  • What resort are you staying at?

Points for a week at Walt Disney World examples:

Disney’s Bay Lake Tower Resort (Further info here)

  • November 14-23, 2020
  • Deluxe Studio Lake View Room
  • 165 Points

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

  • March 7–13, 2021
  • 1 Bedroom Villa – Savanna View
  • 231 Points

Same week in a standard view at Kadani Village (no animal view) is 195 vacation points for the 1 bedroom.

Disney’s Riviera Resort (Further info here)  

  • February 7-13, 2021
  • 2 Bedroom Villa – Preferred View
  • 370 Points

And my BUCKET LIST stay…

Disney’s Bay Lake Tower

  • February 7-13, 2021
  • 3 Bedroom Grand Villa Theme Park View
  • 754 Points

 I quoted different weeks rather than spend the time searching for availability.  Keep in mind this is just a guideline to give you an idea of what’s available and how many points are needed.

What are the different DVC room types?

You can use your points for rooms at the resorts that are not villas such as Disney’s Art of Animation or Disney’s Coronado Springs and have a room the same as if you were paying cash.  The point are a bit high in my opinion if you’re not staying at a DVC resort, I don’t think it’s a good value.

In the DVC resorts, you generally have Studios and 1,2 and 3 bedroom units.  They come in different variations and can be quite fancy such as the bungalows at the Polynesian Village Resort (starting at 115 points per night) or the Cabins at Copper Creek (starting at 87 points per night).  While beautiful, you would need a very big contract if they were your desired accommodations each year.

Disneys copper creek cabin from outside

Copper Creek Cabin

Can you bank and borrow points?

Yes, but since I’m always in a state of “borrow” I can’t speak to the banking!  I have bought 2 more contracts since my first 160 points and I now have 310.  My sister also has 300 points and we still don’t have enough.  We are usually borrowing from the next year.  Why do we go through so many points?  2 reasons – we travel with bigger groups sometimes and need 2 bedrooms OR we can’t get a studio when we want to go for the length of our trip.

Is booking a DVC resort easy?

So you’ve bought your Disney Vacation Club and now want to book your stay – can you get what you want?  Sometimes.

It is important that you buy your points at the resort that you would like to stay at most often, this makes it your “home resort”.  You can book your home resort 11 months in advance while the other resorts you can only book 7 months ahead.  If your home resort is NOT the Beach Club or Boardwalk, chances are slim that you will be able to get a reservation there during one of the EPCOT festivals when you try to book at the 7 month window.   It’s even harder if you’re trying to get a studio as those are usually the first to go.

Disneys Boardwalk 1 Bedroom Villa Bedroom

Disney’s Boardwalk Resort bedroom in the 1 bedroom villa

Given that I don’t like to plan 11 or even 7 months in advance, I really struggle when booking.  We often end up with split stays (where we are in 2 or 3 different resorts in a week) OR we have to get a bigger room than we need (like a 1 bedroom for two of us).  It’s not like I’m not booking the week before we go, it’s usually 3 or 4 months in advance, but I rarely get the resort I want for the full time I need.  For many people they book at the 11 month mark and this isn’t an issue for them, but it really is for me.  If you would like to go to Disneyland and use your DVC points?  Let’s just say getting a reservation for a week at Disney’s Grand Californian is like winning the lottery at 7 months!  There are some tricks that require getting 1 day at a time in advance and then each day try and get another (I think they call it walking the reservation?).  I have heard it works sometimes – but I think it’s a lot of effort.

Does Disney Vacation Club save you money?

It depends.  I wish I had a straightforward answer for this but it’s different for everyone and so many factors to consider.   If you need to finance the initial purchase the interest will add to your upfront cost and the yearly maintenance fees add to the investment as well.  The maintenance fees are calculated per point, the bigger the contract – the more the fees will be.  Try doing the math over the length of the contract and include the increase in fees each year.  If you’re buying resale make sure you understand how many years in the contract and what perks you get with that purchase.

Disneys Port Orleans French Quarter

Disneys Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

You also should consider where you would stay normally vs where you have to stay for your points to realize their value.  If you would normally visit when Disney has a promotion and get a 20% room discount at Disney’s Pop Century or Port Orleans Resorts – spending points on a 1 bedroom at the Beach Club is not a fair trade.  Yes, you will be staying in deluxe accommodations, but you are still paying for them with your points.  Due to availability you can end up staying in a bigger room than you need or staying somewhere you really didn’t want to stay.  Consider the time of year you normally go, could you maximize regular promotions or is it a slower season where. your DVC points could be utilized properly.  

Are there perks to owning Disney Vacation Club? 

YES – there are some great perks.  I definitely make the most of the Annual Pass discount that is offered to DVC members!  There are food and merchandise discounts as well, sometimes as much as 20% which can be a big savings if you’re a shopper like me.  The tours in the parks also have discounts, we have done Caring for Giants more times than I want to count as a result. 

There are special “Member Cruises” on Disney Cruise Line specific for DVC members as well as events like “Moonlight Magic” where a park is open late for DVC members only or previews when new things are opening.  I have only ever managed to get to a couple of these because my vacations didn’t line up properly OR I couldn’t get a ticket.  I was thrilled to get to the Animal Kingdom one for Pandora opening and getting a sneak peek there.  These events are limited capacity, so you’re not always guaranteed a spot at the DVC events.  I like to consider them an added bonus – but I wouldn’t factor them in to my purchase decision unless I was local.

Knowing what I know – would I buy DVC again? 

I’m not sure I would buy it today knowing what I know, primarily because the price has increase and availability is a real issue.  More often than not I can’t get the resort I want for the time I need.  Yes, I love staying in the 1 or 2 bedrooms, but I am paying for it.  I spend the points for the bigger rooms because I want a certain resort or I just don’t want to have to pack up and move multiple times in a week.  The 1 and 2 bedrooms have more availability – but then I run out of points even faster.  Once the yearly points are gone I pay for the rest of my stays, I take advantage of the promotions available and try out the non-DVC resorts. 

I have Disney friends who have sold their contracts due to the availability issues or because they wanted to cruise more and found it more economical to sell.  Yes, you can buy DVC on the resale market – but beware of the reduced perks and restrictions that Disney has put in place for those contracts, of course they want to encourage you buy direct from Disney.

As a die-hard Disney fan who visits multiple times a year, and given what I paid for mine all those years ago – I’m happy with my DVC purchase overall.  I love the discounts – but I would get the same food & merchandise discount with an annual pass anyway.  I think the best part is that I have pre-paid some of my resort stays for years in advance.  My contracts are all paid off and I don’t need to worry about that expense when I’m planning my next trip.  With my annual pass and my DVC points I only have to consider the cost of my flights, food and shopping for most of my trips.  

Is Disney Vacation Club for everyone?  No.  Is it good for Disney fans?  Maybe.  I would suggest that if you are considering buying DVC that you do the math and your research.  Read the contracts and crunch the numbers.  While I have given you my views and some high-level insight, there is much more to using your DVC than I have covered.  It’s important to be very realistic about how you vacation today, and how your family will vacation in the future.

My friend Carrie and I have both been members for years and we shared our thoughts on Podcast Episode 35 “What is Disney Vacation Club”.   Have a listen to the episode if you want some more perspective and watch the video below for a tour of a 1 bedroom at Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Are you a DVC member?  Are you planning on buying?  Leave a comment and let me know.

How To Code With Disney’s Codeillusion

Learn how to code with Disney

When you think of Disney, you think of entertainment – but there are many aspects of the company that are focused on education.  While it isn’t as obvious in the parks and movies – there is always a lesson somewhere inside.

Disney does have a more ‘education focused’ branch of the company called the Disney Institute.  They offer professional development courses, consulting services and will host conventions for large corporations.  I have had the opportunity to attend one of the courses on Disney’s Approach To Customer Service and I can tell you that they design learning the way they tell stories, it’s incredibly engaging and unbelievably entertaining.

When Disney teamed up with a Japanese game creator to make a new web-based training program to teach coding – it just made sense.  Storytelling with your favorite Disney characters while learning coding skills is the perfect lesson for kids today.  (Exclusive discount code for Pixie Dust Fans – use PIXIEDUSTFAN10 at checkout on Codeillusion)

Learn to code with Disney and Codeillusion

Basic coding skills are a minimum requirement for many entry level jobs today.  More advanced coding skills can help secure higher salaries and opportunities.  Teaching kids HTML, CSS and Javascript helps set them up for success in the future.

This is where Disney Codeillusion comes in.

This online program offers 125 lessons that are an average of 30 minutes each. 

Components of Codeillusion Course

Players receive a collectible Magic Book Starter Kit to collect postcard prizes they earn when they complete modules. 

Codeillusion Magic Book Inside

Imagine tutorials featuring these 14 Disney movies, wouldn’t we all want to go back to school this way?

  • Aladdin
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Big Hero 6
  • Frozen
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Little Mermaid
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Snow White
  • Tangled
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Zootopia

Engaging lessons are key to anyone completing a course. As Scott Kramer described in his article in Forbes “I’ve invested several hours into it so far. My early impressions are that I could see it really capturing the imagination of kids. Essentially — and this is difficult to put properly into words — you log in, take on the role of a character and then interact with other characters including Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck.”

When I was approached about Disney Codeillusion and offered a free trial to review it, I was excited.  In my unmagical job I taught myself basic coding skills when I started out, but I now lead a team of people who are expert “coders” doing data analytics every day.  I understand the principles of coding – but couldn’t sit down and write a query myself.  Couple my ‘day job’ with my Disney obsession and this course was perfect for me to try.

I had a ton of fun with these lessons.  Each one builds on the previous one and allowed me to reinforce what I had learned already.  The added bonus of having Disney characters just helped to keep me engaged.

Codeillusion Zootopia Lesson

I love Zootopia!

I did wonder how it would entertain someone younger, so I did engage the help of my family and asked for his opinion.  As an early teen whiz already working in computers and taking courses for coding – he said it was good, it taught the ‘right stuff’ but of course with his current studies it was a bit basic for him.  He spent a few hours on the first lessons and they really do start at the beginning of “how to code”.  He really like the way the course flowed and said if he was starting to learn, he would have really liked to do this course.

So would I recommend the course?  If I was starting my career again I would sign up for it as an adult for sure.  For children I think it’s a great idea to learn coding skills while they’re young so that it’s easier to build on later.  The course is reasonably priced in my opinion at $899 USD – a good value for the amount of information.  If you choose to purchase the program I have the opportunity to offer you $200 off when you use the code PIXIEDUSTFAN10 – with the discount you can get ALL of the lessons for $699.  Check out all the details at here at Codeillusion and sign up for a free trial to test it out.

UPDATE in Septmeber 2020 – There is a NEW product Disney Codeillusion Prime.  It gives you lifetime access to all 125 lessons with 7 interactive chapters covering Game Development, Web Design, and Media art in 4 core programming languages – HTML, JavaScript, Processing and CSS. Each lesson comes with a virtual mentor, helpful hints, and clues, ensuring you’ll never get stuck so you can continue learning at your own pace, on your own time.  It is a lower price, but there is still a way to save – for $100 off, use code: PIXIEDUSTPRIME.

Be sure to let me know if you try it out, I would love to hear your thoughts on the program and what you learned.  Who knows – you could be learning how to code the next big game and working for Disney in the future!

Walt Disney – The Canadian Connection

Walt Disney Canadian Connection

I am an amateur genealogist; I have been working on family history for over 25 years and I find it a fascinating hobby.  Over those many years I have uncovered some interesting facts about several branches of my family, my wife Carol’s family and even a few families I have researched for friends.

The Cruise family hails from Ireland and they are descended from a Norman named “de Crues” who arrived from France in 1066 with William the Conqueror.  He was rewarded for his military service with a gift of land and he and his descendants were considered to be nobility in the area of Cruisetown, County Louth.

My documented history of the Cruise family goes back to Banagher, County Offaly, Ireland in the 1830’s when my great-great-great grandmother Joyce Cruise (maiden name Shane, a widow of my g-g-g grandfather Peter Cruise) gathered her eight children and moved the family to Canada.  Travelling with her were John Cruise and his wife Jane Newton as well as Peter Cruise and his wife Hannah Newton and their families.  I am not certain of the relationship between John and the two Peters, but we have confirmed through DNA testing that they were close blood relatives, possibly some combination of brothers, cousins or uncle and nephew.  The clan landed in Quebec in 1836 and settled just a few miles west of Montreal.  Within a few years Joyce and her family moved to Ontario and settled in south-western Ontario, north of the present day city of London.  My g-g grandfather William, son of Peter and Joyce, moved from the London area and settled in Norfolk County in 1843; that is where I was born a little over a century later.

 I am a Disney fan and over the years I had heard a few snippets of Disney family history.  One of these snippets was that there was a Canadian connection so I decided to take a look and see if I could find that Canadian link.  Here’s what I found!

My first find was an online family tree, several of them in fact, which state that the Disney family hails from Ireland and they are descended from a Norman named Robert d’Isigny who arrived in England in 1066 with William the Conqueror.  They go on to say that a branch of the family travelled in 1834 from County Kilkenny, Ireland to Liverpool, England where they sailed to America on a ship named New Jersey.  They landed October 3, 1834 in New York City.  After a few years they moved to Clinton, Huron County in south-western Ontario.  Does this sound somewhat familiar?  Banagher to Kilkenny is a mere 48 miles and the Cruise and Disney families settled a mere 30 miles apart in Canada.  I was getting excited . . . could there be a connection between our families?  I love the challenge of a mystery!

The two maps below show where the families originated in Ireland and where they settled in Canada.  The red arrows are the Disney family and the blue arrows represent the Cruise family.

Ireland Disney Canadian Connection

 

Ontario Disney Canadian Connection

Of course, I started my research with a bit of scepticism . . . it’s my nature.  Many people digging for family history will believe everything they read, but I do not.  I need to verify what I find.  I need factual evidence that what I read is correct.  So I needed to verify the Canadian connection.  Those family trees I referred to above showed Walt Disney’s g-g-g grandparents, Robert Disney (1746 – 1808) and Mary Keppel (1750 – 1815).  They were married on February 2, 1775 in Carlow, Ireland.  Their son Keppel Disney was born in 1776 in Aharney Parish, County Laois, Ireland and he married Frances Best, born in 1776, on February 17, 1795 in Carlow. 

Keppel and Frances had eight children:

  1. Mary Ann Disney, b. abt 1795 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, d. 5 Nov 1875 in Louisville, St Lawrence, NY. She married William Powers, 20 Apr 1815 in Ireland, b. 1790 in Garrintaggart, Laois, Ireland, d. 7 Feb 1869 in Louisville, St Lawrence, NY.
  2. Robert Disney, b. 9 Jul 1797 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, d. 18 Apr 1872 in Goderich, Huron County, ON. He married Jane Cooke, abt 1829 in Ireland, b. 4 Nov 1810 in Ireland, d. 29 Dec 1893 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  3. Charlotte Disney, b. abt 1801 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, d. Jan 1882 in London, England.
  4. Arundel Elias Disney, b. abt 1803 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, d. May 31 1880 in Goderich, Huron, ON. He married Maria Swan, 1 Sep 1832 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, b. abt 1816 in Ireland, d. 26 Sep 1896 in Ellis, Ellis, Kansas.
  5. Keppel Disney b. 5 Sep 1806 in Kilkenny, Ireland, d. 9 Feb 1897 in Manhattan, NY. He married Mary E., b. abt 1830 in England, d. 4 Jul 1905 in Manhattan, NY.
  6. James Disney, b. abt 1807 in Ireland, d. abt 1840.
  7. Frances Disney, b. abt 1816 in Ireland.
  8. Henry Disney, b. 10 May 1816 in Ireland, d. 12 Apr 1877 in Manhattan, NY. He married Christiana Furney, died May 1891 in Manhattan, NY.

Unfortunately I have not been able to verify any of the data on Robert Disney and Mary Keppel and their children which appears above.  It may or may not be correct but I include it so that if you wish to investigate further you will have a starting point.

Now let’s move on to what I have been able to confirm!  In 1834 children Robert and Arundel Elias (number two and four above) sailed to New York City.  The party of seven on board the New Jersey included their wives Jane and Maria as well as Francis and Elias, sons of Robert and Jane, and Keppel, son of Arundel Elias and Maria.

Here is an extract of the passenger manifest from the ships records.

New Jersey Passenger List 500

The brothers had intended to settle in America, but did not stay there long; they moved to the Township of Goderich, Huron County, in the wilderness of south-western Ontario, Canada, just off Lake Huron and bordering on the South Maitland River.

Robert Disney and Jane Cooke had nine children:

  1. Francis Disney, b. 1830 in Ireland.
  2. Elias Disney, b. 1832 in Ireland, d. 23 Dec 1883 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  3. Elizabeth Disney, b. 1839 Goderich, Huron, ON.
  4. Keppel Disney b. Aug 1841 Goderich, Huron, ON.
  5. William Disney, b. 1843 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  6. Jane Disney, b. 1845 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  7. Robert Disney, b. 1846 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  8. Charles James Disney b. Aug 11 1851 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  9. Henry Disney, b. 1852 in Goderich, Huron, ON.

I had some difficulty confirming when they moved to Ontario.  They appear in the 1861 Census but proof of their presence before that time was elusive.

1861 Census - Robert Disney

I wanted to see if they were in Canada at the time of the 1851 Census, unfortunately the census records for that particular township have been lost.  So I looked for the 1852 Agricultural Census records for Goderich Township . . . they were lost too!  I kept searching, scouring a number of online resources and finally had a major breakthrough!  There was a Huron County Tax Assessment done in 1842 and there were our two brothers, misspelled but it was definitely our two brothers Robert and Arundel Elias Disney.  Hooray! 

Here’s a transcription of the assessment record.

1842 Assessment

I still don’t know exactly when they arrived but in 1842 Robert owned lots 36 and 37, a 93 acre parcel, and in the household were one male and one female over 16 years of age and four males and two females under sixteen.  Immediately next door was Elias Disney on lots 38 and 39.  He farmed 149 acres and the household included one male and one female over 16 years of age and three males and two females under sixteen.  Both properties are on the Maitland River. 

That area of Ontario was just being settled or homesteaded at that time so it is quite likely that they acquired their farms under a Crown Grant, meaning that they were the first owners of the lands.  A trip to the Land Registry Office could prove this but since it’s a six hour drive from where I live it will have to wait.

Huron County was heavily wooded territory with gently rolling hills at the time.  The brothers must have been industrious souls since settlers had to work for a few decades felling trees and pulling stumps to expand the arable land.  Those who persevered, like the Disney brothers, were rewarded with very fertile farm lands.

This family stayed in the same area of south-western Ontario for several generations and there are still a number of direct descendants in Huron County and the neighbouring municipalities.  There is even a Disney Road about four miles from the shore of Lake Huron, between the towns of Goderich and Clinton.

Robert and Jane are buried in the Maitland Cemetery in Goderich Township.

Death - Robert Disney 1872

Robert Disney Grave - Maitland Cemetery

Jane Cooke Grave - Maitland Cemetery

An 1872 Atlas for Huron County shows two Disney farms, the arrows mark the farms of Charles Disney on the left and Keppel Disney on the right.  The arrow in the centre points to the road which is now known as “Disney Road”.  In 1872 the cousins were less than a mile apart.  Charles was the son of Robert and was living on lot 36 which his father had owned.  Keppel was the son of Elias.

Goderich Township Map 1878

Arundel Elias Disney and Maria Swan had eight children:

  1. Keppel Disney b. 2 Nov 1832 in Clone, Kilkenny, Ireland, d. 24 May 1891 in Ellis, Ellis, KS. He married Mary Richardson, Mar 18 1858 in Goderich, Huron, ON, b. 30 Mar 1838 in Aghaboe Parish, Queens County, Ireland (daughter of Robert Richardson and Ruth Lark), d. 10 Mar 1909 in Ellis, KS.
  2. Mary Disney, b. 6 Aug 1839 in Goderich, Huron, ON. She married Israel E. Forsyth, b. abt 1840 in Dumfries Township, Middlesex County, ON (son of George Forsyth and Estacia), d. abt 1900 in New York, USA
  3. Elias Disney, b. 4 Apr 1843 in Strathroy, Huron, ON, d. 3 Mar 1913 in Hutchinson, Reno, KS
  4. Charlotte Disney, b. abt 1850 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  5. Thomas Disney, b. abt 1851 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  6. James Disney, b. abt 1853 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  7. Harriet Disney, b. abt 1856 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 10 Jul 1881 in Ellis, Ellis, Kansas, USA. She married Walter White Martin, 28 Apr 1875 in Chicago, Cook County, IL, b. 28 Mar 1850 in Cincinnati, Madison, OH, d. 14 Dec 1927 in Denver, Adams, CO.
  8. Arundel Robert Disney, b. abt 1858 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. abt 1910.

In a story I have not been able to substantiate it is suggested that Arundel Elias built the area’s first grist mill and a saw mill while farming and raising a family.   

1861 Census - Arundel Disney

Keppel Disney and Mary Richardson had nine children:

  1. Elias Disney b. Feb 6, 1859 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. Sep 13, 1941 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. He married Flora Call, 1 Jan 1888 in Kismet, Lake County, FL, b. Apr 22, 1868 in Steuben, Huron, OH (daughter of Charles Call and Henrietta Gross), d. Nov 6, 1938 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
  2. Robert Samuel Disney b. 7 Aug 1861 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 28 Jul 1953 in Los Angeles, CA. He married Charlotte Ann Hurcey, b. 2 Nov 1892 in Kansas City, Wyandotte, KS, d. 31 Jan 1979 in Winton, Merced, CA.
  3. Annie Disney, b. abt 1864 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  4. Edward Disney, b. Dec 1867 in Goderich, Huron, ON.
  5. Alberta Mary Disney b. 20 Feb 1869 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 17 May 1954 in Blackwell, Kay, OK. She married John Charles Fremont Johnson, 5 Feb 1891 in Ellis, KS, b. 29 May 1858 in Saginaw, MI, d. 22 Aug 1942 in Blackwell, Kay, OK.
  6. Keppel Disney b. 28 Jan 1872 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 13 Dec 1939. He married Mary A. Mullen, 1897, b. 24 Mar 1872 in Iowa City, Wright, IA (daughter of Thomas Mullen and Annie), d. 11 Mar 1956.
  7. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Disney, b. 3 Mar 1874 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 3 Dec 1906 in Kansas, USA. She married Harry S. Saunders, abt 1894, b. Aug 1862 in Illinois, USA.
  8. Addie Disney, b. 18 Feb 1876 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 23 Mar 1932. She married Benjamin F Jones, abt 1895, b. 15 Apr 1872 in Jasper, Jasper County, MO.
  9. William Henry Disney b. 7 Mar 1878 in Goderich, Huron, ON, d. 17 Apr 1958. He married Lydia M., b. abt 1886 in Missouri, USA.

In 1878 Keppel and Mary along with their children moved to Ellis, KS and appeared in the 1880 census.

1880 Census USA - Kepple Disney

By the time of the 1885 census in Florida their eldest son Elias Disney was living in Orange County Florida.

1885 Census Florida - Elias Disney

In that census you will see a 17 year old girl, F. (Flora) Call, just a few lines below Elias Disney.  Just three years later, in 1888 Elias married Flora at Kismet, Lake County, Florida a mere 50 miles north of the site where their son Walt would, about 80 years later, build Walt Disney World.  Kismet is now a ghost town in the middle of the Ocala National Forest.

Elias and Flora had five children:

  1. Herbert Arthur Disney b. Dec 8, 1888 in Kismet, FL, d. Jan 29, 1961 in Los Angeles, CA. He married Louise J. Rost, 14 Aug 1913 in Kansas City, Jackson, MO, b. 15 Sep 1891 in Missouri (daughter of William A. Rost and Julia A. Rhedanz), d. 21 Apr 1953 in Los Angeles, CA.
  2. Raymond Arnold Disney, b. Dec 30, 1890 in Chicago, Cook, IL., d. May 24, 1989 in Santa Monica, CA.
  3. Roy Oliver Disney b. Jun 24, 1893 in Chicago, Cook, IL, d. 20 Dec 1971 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. He married Edna Francis, 11 Apr 1925 in Los Angeles, CA, b. 16 Jan 1890 in Wichita, Sedgwick, KS (daughter of Edward S. Francis and Lettye Montana Milbourn), d. 18 Dec 1984 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA.
  4. Walter Elias Disney b. Dec 5, 1901 in Chicago, Cook, IL, d. Dec 15, 1966 in Burbank, CA. He married Lillian Marie Bounds, 13 Jul 1925 in Lewiston, Nez Perce, ID (daughter of Willard Pehall Bounds and Jeanette Short), b. 15 Feb 1899 in Spalding, Nez Perce, ID, d. 16 Dec 1997 in Los Angeles, CA.
  5. Ruth Flora Disney b. Dec 6, 1903 in Chicago, Cook, IL, d. Apr 7, 1995 in Multnomah, Multnomah, OR. She married Theodore John Beecher, 29 Nov 1938, b. 20 Feb 1906 in Chicago, Cook, IL, d. 21 May 1995 in Multnomah, OR.

Elias and Flora have a well documented history due to their son Walt’s amazing life and career.  They lived in Chicago IL, Marceline MO and Kansas City MO during Walt’s youth.

Walt and Lillian visited Ontario to see the old Disney homestead sometime after his father Elias died in 1943.  In a 1963 interview with Fletcher Markle on the CBC Television program Telescope, Walt told a humorous story.  In Walt Disney’s words:

“We got up there and she [Lillian] really fell in love with the Town of Goderich. It was a beautiful town and she was quite happy about it. But I wanted to find my homestead where my grandfather went out and cut the trees down and pulled the rocks apart… where my father was born. So they gave me directions and everybody was trying to be helpful and everything and Mrs. Disney reluctantly went along and I found this old place and I said, “This is it – there.” It was really deserted. There were cows running through the house and chickens all around and I had my camera and I got out and photographed that thing from every angle.”

“When I got home I found out I had photographed the wrong homestead. Ever since, Mrs. Disney has never forgot. She tells that story to everybody – about when Walt went up to Canada and he photographed the wrong homestead!”

I’ve used both Google Maps and Google Earth to examine the farms where the Disney family lived about a century and a half ago, and it doesn’t look like any of the 19th century buildings have survived.  Alas, we’ll never get that photo of the homestead that Walt was looking for!

The headstones pictured earlier and the road sign shown below are the only traces of the Disney family left in Huron County.

Disney Road Sign

Although I cannot confirm that Robert Disney and Mary Keppel were the parents of the Robert and Elias Disney who came to Canada I have based my search on the presumption that the information is correct.  I have found detailed information covering more than 200 of their descendants.  You might be wondering how I discovered all of this information.  Well it was quite simple really.  I used Ancestry.com and did it all from my home in about 12 hours. 

When I first started out in genealogy a search like this would have taken a few years and involved many visits to libraries and museums to pore through dusty old books or endless rolls of microfilm.  In this new digital age it is almost all digitized, indexed and searchable online.  Wow . . . what a treat compared to the old days. 

If you watched the television series “Who Do You Think You Are” which aired about a decade ago and was sponsored by Ancestry.com you may have wondered, “Is Ancestry.com as good as they make it sound?”  The answer is yes.  Definitely yes!  All of the pictures in this blog, including the census records and the cemetery headstones, were downloaded from Ancestry.com.  They are all “public domain” documents and are easily found through the web service.  If you are considering tracing your family history this is a tool you must try!

So that’s the story of Walt’s Canadian connection!  Walt’s father and grandfather were born in Canada and his great grandfather and great-great grandfather moved from Ireland to Canada, via New York, sometime before 1842.

And no, I did not find a connection to my Cruise clan . . . at least not yet!  Genealogy is never finished; there is always another riddle or mystery ahead of you.  So someday, when I least expect it, I may just stumble over a connection. 

Wouldn’t that be something!  It would be ‘Magical”

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.

 

Like We Needed MORE Reasons To Love Disney

The Disney Company response to Covid-19

It’s no secret I’m a pretty big Disney fan (obviously!) – but there are times when I see the company doing things that just melt my heart even more than before.  Disney’s response during Covid-19 has been one of those times.

Here are some of the ways that Disney has given me reason to smile.

SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!

Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

They donated ponchos to hospitals

Hospitals were making requests for additional protective garments and Disney donated 150,000 rain ponchos as well as more than 100,000 N95 masks.  

The “top” dogs cut their salaries

Yes, in order to reduce the expenses for the company, Disney executives have taken a pay cut.  Disney’s executive chairman Bob Iger is forgoing his full salary while the new CEO Bob Chapek is reducing his salary by 50%.  Other executives are taking pay cuts too:

  • Vice president salaries will be reduced by 20%
  • Senior vice president salaries by 25%
  • Executive vice president salaries by 30%

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that happening at a lot of other companies.

They addressed Cast Member concerns immediately

Disney announced the closures of Disneyland and Walt Disney World “in an abundance of caution”, that’s when I knew things were seriousl with the virus.  Do you know what else they did when they announced the closures?  They communicated at the same time that they would pay their cast members during that time.  This was out of the gate – right in the releases.  It set an example, a tone that hopefully other large companies would follow, even if only to save face.  Disney took a stand showing compassion for their cast members – even at what I am sure is a great expense.

Disney Covid 19 Release

One of the many updates Disney posted on their websites

Disney Donated All Of The Excess Food

All of the food that was on hand for the parks and resorts that would not be used was donated to help the communities.

In Orlando the food was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, enough for over 18,000 meals!

In California the food was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and Disneyland Paris donated to local and national associations in France. 

Disney has art lessons online

Now we have #BetterTogether:  Draw Mickey Mouse at Home with a Disney Parks Artist

Fun right?  Who doesn’t want to learn to draw Mickey?  This was a fan favorite at the D23 Expo a couple of years ago and now it’s all online to entertain us all while we’re at home during the ‘social distancing’ exercise to stop the spread of the Corona virus.

If you don’t want to draw Mickey there are a whole ton of other characters you can learn to draw!

  • Sally from Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
  • Celebrate Spring With Daisy Duck
  • Aladdin’s Pal, Genie
  • Tinker Bell
  • Buzz Lightyear from ‘Toy Story’
  • ‘Frozen’ Voice Actor Josh Gad Tests His Skills at Drawing Olaf
  • Hiro from ‘Big Hero 6′
  • Mickey’s Pal Pluto
  • Baymax From ‘Big Hero 6’
  • Rapunzel’s Buddy, Pascal
  • Stitch
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Jack Skellington
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
  •  ‘Frozen’s’ Anna
  • Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?

You can find all of the links to the tutorials on the DISNEY PARKS BLOG.  

If you want a little peek – check out the Winnie The Pooh One!

Imagineering in a Box

According to the Disney parks Blog:

“Imagineering in a Box is a series of interactive lessons in theme park design and engineering, designed to give a behind-the-scenes peek into Imagineering’s development process. It combines 32 videos of actual Imagineers, real-world case studies, and lots of interactive activities to give you the opportunity to dream and design your very own theme park experience!

With so many families at home together right now, we thought this would be an especially useful time to share this program with you. It’s available to all and completely free.”

Check out the courses here 

I will warn you – when you watch the “Welcome to Imagineering In A Box” video – if you’re a Disney fan it’s all the feels and yes, my eyes were a little misty!

They released Frozen 2 on Disney+ 3 months early

Given that most of us are at home flipping channels AND the kids are out of school while most schools are closed for a very extended March break, it was a welcome surprise that Frozen 2 would be available on Disney+.  We are all looking for stuff to keep us entertained, Carrie and I talked about what we were doing on the podcast, but I am sure there are a whole whack of parents who were happy this was released early…. and then after it played for the 12th time – maybe they weren’t so happy!  

They were generous with changes and refunds.

Disney was VERY accomodating with changes, refunds and fees during this time.  They extended the due dates for final payments, waived all change fees and offered some very generous credits to re-book for cancelled Disney Cruise Line sailings.  On select sailings the credit for a future cruise was 150% of what they paid for the cancelled one.

Disney does what it does best… gives us hope and positivity!

I don’t know about you, but I always have a smile on my face when I see Mickey’s posts on Instagram!

Aside from ALL of that – there are so many Disney stars who are doing their part to bring smiles to our faces.  I think my favorite so far has been Josh Gad (Olaf) reading bed time stories on Twitter!

How cute is this??  Have you watched any?

Google Street View of Disney Parks

Inside Disney Parks with Google Street Views Castle Pic
Google has street views from inside the 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 helps people who are planning their trips 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.

Inside Disney Parks with Google Street Views Main Street

I have spend a “little” time exploring 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 know that some are outdated, but in my mind they are still pretty good and give me the Disney fix that I need.

What’s your favourite thing you’ve found on the street view?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Don’t forget to share it with your Disney friends! 

How Do You Cure Disney Withdrawal? 

Birthday Mickey and Disney Share

Walt Disney World is closed . . . Disneyland is closed . . . and we all have to maintain ‘social distance’. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound worldwide effect and Disney has not been immune.  Every Disney theme park in the world has closed and almost all of the Disney resorts have been shut down.  There is no prospect of anything re-opening until the pandemic is brought under control. 

Just like so many other Disney fans, my wife Carol and I are doing our best to practice social distancing during these crazy times.  But it’s leaving us both with a serious case of Disney withdrawal.  None of our friends are at Disney; no one is posting fresh pictures of their adventures.  We’re really missing the vicarious Disney fix we get from following along with our friends as they share the magic they experience. 

We have two Disney trips planned later this year, one in May and one in August but with each passing day it becomes more and more unlikely that we’ll be able to make those trips . . . but we’re keeping our fingers crossed! 

In the meantime, we’re curing our Disney withdrawal by spending plenty of time in our ‘Disney Room’ where we’re surrounded by some very special memories of happy times! 

Disney Room

Our Disney Room

Carol has been a fan of Disneyana collectibles since her first trip to Walt Disney World in 1977 and she began her collection of Disney memorabilia way back then. 

There is a bit of Disney in every room of our house, but we have one room that is nothing but Disney.  Beside our Family Room is a 650-square-foot area . . . our Disney Room . . . and it houses the bulk of Carol’s collection. 

Disney Funko Pop Display

Carols Crafting Table In her Disney room

Carol’s crafting table is surrounded by things that bring back wonderful memories of Disney trips!

There are shelves and bookcases, plate rails and display cases, and all are full of Disneyana collectibles!  Many of these treasures bring back very special memories whenever we see them! 

 

Disney Collectibles Bring Back Memories

These treasures remind us of our 2019 visit to Disneyland Paris!

Disney Display Bookcase Disney Collectible Bookcase 1

Disney Collectible Bookcase 3

Disney Collectible Bookcase 2

Disney Display Bookcase 2

Mickey Mouse Collectibles 1

Mickey Mouse Collectibles

Donald Duck Collectibles

Carol keeps it all well organized in themed groupings.  As you look through these picures you can see a few shelves set aside for Orange Bird, a few for Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio.  Some areas are dedicated to a specific movie, a theme park or a character. 

Orange Bird Shelves

Dumbo Collectibles

Alice In Wonderland Collectibles

Pinocchio Collectibles

101 Dalmations Collectibles

Lady and the Tramp Collectible

The plate rails measure over 70 feet and they’re filled with Disney collector plates, old Disney mugs and glasses. 

Disney Room with Ceiling Shelves

The room is jam-packed yet it doesn’t seem cluttered! 

Disney Art Collectibles

Carol has more Disney art than she has available wall space, so some of the pieces are rotated during the year

Disney Art

Keeping a ‘social distance’ doesn’t seem so difficult when we can watch Disney+ on television while sitting in our Disney Room surrounded by all that magic! 

Watching TV In the Disney Room

It’s a very happy place to watch TV!

How do you cure Disney withdrawal? 

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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Contest is open to residents of Canada, US and the UK.

Happily Ever After – How I Brought Disney In To My Wedding Day

Disney has always been a part of my life and truly became a part of my own fairytale when my (now) husband proposed at Cinderella’s wishing well at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It was our second trip to Walt Disney World together and I was about to embark on the biggest physical challenge I’d ever done to collect some rundisney “bling”, but he surprised me with some extra special bling! Fast forward to wedding planning, we knew we’d get married in Calgary with all our family and friends by our side, but I wanted to incorporate a little Disney magic into our special day. It was something I love and had become a part of our history together. I am thrilled to share some photos of how we snuck in some extra magic to our special day!

wedding bouquet glass slipper

My bouquet, ‘glass slipper’ dancing shoes for later, and rose gold ears for a little extra sparkle

I spent the morning feeling like I was in that princess scene of Wreck It Ralph 2: surrounded by some amazing women in our comfy rompers, drinking coffee and mimosas and listening to Disney music while we got our hair and makeup done.

Starbucks Disney mug collection

My Starbucks Disney mug collection getting some good use

 

feeling like Cinderella

Feeling like Cinderella… the shoes fit perfectly. Can you spot the subtle Mickey jewelry?

We decided to do a first look and photos with our wedding party before the ceremony. We knew we’d feel better if we could see each other before the ceremony. It was really chilly that day, hovering around -2 degrees Celsius which is not our typical September temperature.

If you’ve listened to the Pixie Dust Fan podcast, you may have heard mention of the patch jacket I wore for the first time to the D23 Expo in 2019. This jacket really represents who I am as a Disney and Marvel fan so it made perfect sense to wear it to keep me warm while we took some pictures outside!

Disney and Marvel Jean Jacket

Despite the weather, we had an outdoor ceremony and it was perfect. I walked down the isle to an instrumental version of “I See the Light” from Disney’s Tangled and, in my vows, promised my husband that he could choose every other vacation destination, knowing that mine will almost always include the word Disney. The song that played during the recessional was “Happily Ever After” from the fireworks at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We saw this fireworks together for the first time on our engagement trip!

As soon as I got this idea into my head, it seemed to be the one Disney thing I just had to have in our wedding. I wanted our seating chart to be a ‘Fastpass Distribution’ with guests collecting a paper fastpass and then heading to their table that was labelled with the name of the Disney ‘land’ associated with that attraction. I carefully chose each attraction and land so we’d have a collection of our favorite Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure attractions. The head table was the only one that differed, as we had the head table reflected as Sleeping Beauty Castle for both the table name and fastpass. I DIY’d the seating chart and the table numbers, but was fortunate to find an amazing seller on Etsy who designed the fastpass name cards for our guests. It turned out so perfect and looked great at our venue. I was so proud of it!

Wedding Fastpass Seating Chart

Fastpass Distribution seating chart

Sleeping Beauty Wedding Table Name

The table names were themed too!

Adventureland Wedding Table

Guests found their specific seat with their name on a little castle with a can of La Croix because we love sparking water. Another DIY addition to our wedding!

Disney Wedding Tables

As a surprise to my husband, I got an artist to create an image of us, and our dog Theo, as animated characters. We used this image as our welcome sign and on our wedding favors (a deck of cards!)

Notice the Ears??

So many people told me how fast the day would go, and I didn’t realize how true that was. It was an incredible day full of big and small moments – from sharing our vows and love in front of our friends and family, to singing and dancing to “How Far I’ll Go” on the dance floor with my bridesmaids and taking an extra couple twirls in my dress throughout the day.

 

 

Thank you for letting my share my happily ever after with you! I hope it inspires you to incorporate a little more Disney into your special events or even your daily life!

 

Would you put this much Disney in your wedding day?  Have you?

Leave a comment – I would love to hear about it!

Jamie is a Disney fan who has a real soft spot for Disneyland in California.  When she’s not running Disney, making a fantastic patchwork jacket or visiting Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Jamie is at home in Alberta, Canada.

Find Jamie on Facebook and Instagram

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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 Playcation Travel Ltd to help you plan your next adventure!

 

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.  

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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 anyt