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January 18, 2015

From the Tickle Trunk - Disney Clubs

Gary Cruise banner

Are you a member of D23? To the best of my knowledge, it is the only “official” fan club, organized by Disney, in operation today.

But D23 has had several ancestors over the years . . . and those old clubs are what I'll describe briefly in this blog. I'll be using plenty of scanned images from some of the old brochures, newsletters and magazines Carol has safely stashed away in her Tickle Trunk!

Naturally when someone mentions Disney clubs the first thing which comes to mind is the Mickey Mouse Club.

I was one of those kids, way-way-way back in the mid-1950's, who rushed home from school every afternoon to watch Jimmie Dodd and the Mousketeers sing and dance their way through challenges and adventures. But that was not really a club; you could not become a member!

But you could subscribe to the magazine!

Mickey Mouse Club Magazine

There was a real "membership club" in that era, the Magic Kingdom Club, founded in 1957 as a marketing tool for Disneyland.

Magic_Kingdom_Club_Membership_Card

It was almost like a loyalty program, offered to employee groups from large companies in southern California. Unfortunately, it wasn't too beneficial for young children like Carol and I, living an entire nation away, about 2,400 miles north-east of Disneyland!

Magic Kingdom Club Membership Voucher

It was a very novel approach to marketing in the 1950's - employers could offer a no-cost benefit to employees and those lucky employees received membership cards which gave some attractive discounts at Disneyland!

What sort of discounts? There were discounts on Disney park tickets and Disney annual passports, discounted rooms at Disney resorts, discounts on parking, members even received a bag full of goodies like bumper stickers, key chains, decals and sometimes even a few Disney Dollars! Sorry Ralphie . . . no secret decoder!

Magic Kingdom Club Buttons

There were quarterly newsletters (Disney News) which kept members up-to-date on new Disney movies, changes in the park and changes to the club's benefits!

Disney News Fall 1989

Disney News Fall 1992

Disney News Fall 1993

Disney News Summer 1990

As the Disney parks grew, so did the club! It expanded nationally in 1971 when Walt Disney World opened and then went “international” as other parks were established around the world.

Soon there were exciting new benefits, including discounts with "non-Disney" partners such as airlines, cruise lines and car rental companies. There were even special vacation packages for individuals, families and groups.

There was a Gold Card membership which was fee-based. Those who were not employees of one of the member companies could buy a Magic Kingdom Club Gold Card.

Magic Kingdom Club Ad Fall 1989
(click on the picture above to see a clearer image you can read)

It has been reported that the club, at its peak, had over 30,000 member companies and more than six million card-carrying members. Wow!

In early 1986 Disney established the Magic Years Club just for seniors, 50 years of age and over. Click on the picture below to read how the Lakeland Ledger described this new club in their February 24, 1986 edition.

Magic Years News Article

Carol's mother, Sybil, joined Disney's Magic Years Club in 1989 and the newsletters shown below are from her collection (now safely stored in Carol's Tickle Trunk).

Magic Years Membership Form

Magic Years Membership Guide

Magic Years Magazine Spring 1990

Magic Years Magazine Winter 1993

Magic Years Coupon Book

Magic Years Bumper Sticker

Some time before 1993 the minimum age for membership was increased from 50 to 60, but the benefits remained the same.

Magic Years Ad Fall 1993

On October 14, 2000 the Magic Kingdom Club and the Magic Years Club morphed into The Disney Club. Each of the former clubs had been offered free of charge to most members, but the new Disney Club required all members to pay dues.

Disney Magazine Summer 2001

Carol was a card-carrying member of the Magic Kingdom Club in 2000 when the transition took place and she decided that all was not lost; the discounts were still more than enough to offset the annual dues of $39.95!

Membership Card

Here is listing of some Disney Club discounts from 2002. Click the image to see a larger version.

2002 Disney Club brochure pg 14-15

The Disney Club also sent out quarterly magazines!

Disney Club News Issue 11

Disney Club News Issue 14

Disney Club News Issue 15

The magazines and newsletters were packed full of interesting announcements and articles. I will probably write a few future blogs based on some of those old articles!

Click on the image below to read the cover of the November 2001 newsletter. If you like Disney trivia, pay close attention to those Monsters Inc. Fun Facts.

Disney Club News Issue 9

Click on the image below to read a Spring 2003 article about the Pirates of the Caribbean display at the Gallery in Disneyland!

Disney Club News Spring 2003 Article

It came as quite a shock to members when Disney scrapped the relatively new Disney Club in late 2003. For the first time in 46 years there was no club - no way to feel that warm sense of affiliation with Disney.

Everyone kept waiting for a revamped club to rise from the ashes, but alas, there was no Phoenix! The magazines no longer came, the club was gone, and all those swell benefits were gone as well.

At about the same time the always popular “Official Disneyana Convention”, held at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World was cancelled. No one really understood this abrupt change in company policy.

Perhaps the corporation decided to focus their attention on the newly launched Disney Rewards Visa Card which offered similar discounts, but that was little consolation to Carol and I. We didn't qualify for the new cards; they are not offered to Canadians.

So we waited years until a new club appeared . . . D23 was announced in 2009. The name D23 refers to D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year when Walt Disney arrived in Hollywood and his company was founded.

You are probably wondering, “Is Carol a member of D23?”

Silly question - of course she is! There are so many benefits and discounts, how could she resist?

And unlike the Visa Rewards Card, they let Canadians join!

January 17, 2015

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - January 2015

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Around the middle of each month, James Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Here's the answer key to the December Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler Word Search:

http://allears.net/ae/mb121614-key.pdf

There were only *8* responses to the word search puzzle about Disney and the Holidays. I guess everyone was too busy getting ready for the holidays to stop and play a game about the holidays!

The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were OFJZNLKAIC.

The winner of a Cruella DeVil pin was Lynn T. of North Brunswick, NJ. Congratulations, Lynn, and thanks for playing!

This month we are going to change gears and try another crossword puzzle, and the subject this month is the quotable Walter E. Disney.

Walt Disney was a creative genius and a philosopher on many subjects of interest to the American people. Please note that all of the words in the word bank are used in the puzzle. And, if anyone can figure out the personal significance of the date in the bonus clue, I will give you an extra chance in the drawing.

Here's the link to the new puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb011615.pdf

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on February 13, 2015. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog, along with a new puzzle, in mid-February.

As always, any feedback on the puzzle format or topics would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Thanks for playing!

January 12, 2015

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney
By Guest Blogger Kay Belin

Many guests might cringe at the thought of actually paying for an adventure in the cold and snow but for me it was a bucket list item that I was thrilled to be able to experience. Wyoming is one of my favorite states and lying in the northwest corner of it is our first national park, Yellowstone. Millions of guests crowd into the boundaries every summer to see the sights making it a great trip but also a congested one.

The Wyoming Winter Wonderland trip was an experience not many will ever have and I am blessed to have enjoyed it with my daughter and grandson. The adventure began in Jackson Hole, Wyoming which is a quaint western town full of history, shops, and outdoor activities. We stayed in the historic, The Wort Hotel, which is located right in the heart of town. We opted to come a day early as winter travel can bring winter delays and we didn’t want to miss out on anything or be stressed.

Our first day on our own included a wonderful private wildlife safari around the Jackson Hole area. It was the perfect thing to do while we waited for our Disney adventure to begin. My eight year old grandson loved spotting the wildlife and our guide shared many new facts. Our tally at the end of the day included seven moose, several dozen Big Horn Sheep, bald eagle, a dozen bison, numerous mule deer, and thousands of elk. Jackson Hole is the home every winter for the elk that come down from the mountains to feed in the valleys. This particular valley has been where the elk have come for as long as settlers can remember. They do not feed the elk unless there are unusual circumstances with the winter conditions and they let nature take its course with the circle of life of its inhabitants. (Now we are all thinking about that great song from the Lion King.)

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Our first adventure event was a welcome dinner that night. It was fun to meet the other families who were joining us. I had actually met one family two years ago on the Backstage Magic trip so it became a fun reunion of old friends. We enjoyed a buffet meal and entertainment from a singing cowboy. It was a great evening and because this was my seventh Adventure By Disney trip, my daughter’s fourth, and my grandson’s fifth, we knew it was the beginning of a magical journey. (My previous adventures have included South Africa, Italy, Switzerland, Wyoming summer, Backstage Magic, and Peru). Our guides Ralph and Jaime assured us of the fun that was to come our way over the next few days.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


Day 2 was our first full day and it was spent in the Tetons dog sledding. It was probably the most anticipated event for many in the group so the cold frigid temperatures were not a deterrent. Remember this was winter in Wyoming and we woke up to -25 real temperature and -40 wind chill temperature! Nothing was going to stop us except maybe the dogs who acted like we must be crazy trying to go out in those conditions. Some people rode in the baskets of the sled and others, who were brave, actually drove their own team. “On Dasher, on Comet, on Cupid, on Blitzen” kept running through our minds as we trekked for ten miles uphill to our lunch spot.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


The lunch stop was at a natural granite hot springs where we were encouraged to change into swimsuits and let our muscles enjoy the warm waters. It was very “cool” to be out in the winter snows swimming in a natural hot springs. However, remember this was a VERY cold day and changing in and out of a swimsuit from our multiple layers of clothes in a small unheated wooden room was a bit torturous. Many laughs and memories were made that day as we talked about this once in a lifetime experience. I can verify now that you should never put a wet body part on anything when it is extremely cold. No-one tried the tongue on the metal railing but we do know that wet hands and wet feet will stick to ice!

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Lunch was served around a campfire where we were all kept warm with hot cider and cocoa. Then it was back to harnessing the dogs and heading home the ten miles. The canines didn’t need much encouragement this time around as they knew the direction they were taking was toward their warm abodes. It seems we all took a special memory home with us from this great day.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


Day 3 was the day I had anticipated all my life. It was the day I would enter Yellowstone National Park in the winter. We were on a bus until just south of the entrance where we stopped for a picnic lunch at Flagg Ranch. From this point we were separated into three winter snowcoach vehicles called bombardiers. They had skis instead of tires in the front and special treads in the back as all roads leading into Yellowstone are snow covered. Our drivers were our guides and they stopped and pointed out great sights along the way. We passed frozen rivers, lush snow covered forests, lakes, fire damaged areas, and geyser and hot spring spots. It took about 2 ½ to 3 hours to make the trek from the southern entrance to Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Dinner that night was enjoyed in the beautiful dining room of the lodge where we were greeted with hats, leis and horns on our tables. Yes, this was New Year’s Eve and we would be welcoming 2015 from the middle of the greatest National Park in the country. To pass the time after dinner we all enjoyed a campfire outside of the lodge and toasted marshmallows for s’mores. The stories we all shared while watching the clear sky full of stars and hearing Old Faithful erupting in the background made this extremely magical. About half of the group actually stayed up to toast at midnight. I would never let an opportunity go by for something as special as that. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Day 4 was an all day adventure on our snowcoach bombardier vehicles. This was the day you didn’t want to leave the camera in the room as the sights we saw were breathtaking. We experienced hot springs and geysers where you could feel the earth shaking when they erupted. We also came upon geyser fields where the steam and the cold air made it appear it was one big hot pot of water. An occasional snowmobiler would pass but it often felt like you were the only ones in the park besides those animals that called it home during the winter.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


Two of the most exciting viewings of the day included the great Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with the half frozen Yellowstone Falls in the background. It was an amazing sight that we enjoyed as a group, and it was certainly a highlight for many of them. The other included bison who were trudging along the snow covered roads. They came next to the vehicles so we were all blessed with amazing photos of an up close and personal bison picture to return home with. The history we learned and the sights we saw on this day alone made this trip a lifetime experience!

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

We returned to our Old Faithful Snow Lodge in time to see the great Old Faithful Geyser erupt before dark and finished the day off with a farewell dinner in a private dining room. Stories were shared, experiences talked about, and pins handed out to all guests. We all went to our rooms knowing this journey was sadly soon coming to an end.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Day 5 was the day we were to return to Jackson Hole or head to the airport for a flight. Jaime and Ralph invited the group to join them on a last hike to see the Castle Geyser. After all, this was a Disney adventure and we couldn’t leave without a view of our castle in Yellowstone. It was cold so the walk was brisk but worth the hike. We didn’t see a single person out and spotted two coyotes who were using the warm thermal ground for their bed that night. Our final view of Old Faithful and the surrounding area at sunrise was worth getting up just a little earlier.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


Back on snow vehicles for the trek out of Yellowstone made us all sad. We had a wonderful group and new friends had been made and hopefully future rendezvous’ would happen at another Adventure By Disney location. Most stayed the post night back at the Wort Hotel since flights left before we reached Jackson Hole. Some of the group shopped, some went to museums, and others such as my small family enjoyed a sleigh ride through the elk refuge.

Wyoming Winter Wonderland - Adventures By Disney


The Winter Wonderland title just doesn’t give this adventure justice. It is magical and amazing and beyond beautiful. I fell in love with this part of the country many years ago while traveling with my parents. To be able to experience it in the elements of winter was a lifetime thrill. The accommodations were clean and comfortable, the food was good, and the guides were great. But if you are looking for luxury then check out some of the other options. This was truly an ADVENTURE and one I highly recommend to anyone who loves the natural beauty and history of our country. And don’t be afraid of the weather if you are a southern family…..we had families from Miami, Birmingham, and Houston. They came prepared, dressed accordingly, and had the time of their lives. We all returned with the gift of our photos to share but nothing compares to the being there in person.

Hmmmm, where will my next adventure be? I do believe I will head to Utah, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon this June with Adventures By Disney. Hope to see some of you there and if not I will be back to give you a report of the experience!

Happy travels to everyone in 2015!


January 4, 2015

Favorite Disney Snacks

Gary Cruise banner

Have you ever picked up a snack at one of the Disney parks, taken a bite and immediately thought, "Wow! This is good! I wish I had discovered this years ago!" That has happened to Carol and I quite a few times over the years and we've "discovered" a few favorites!

There is a vast, and ever-changing selection of food choices at Walt Disney World and we often discover new choices. Here are a few of our current "faves".

Pork Egg Rolls
Animal Kingdom is our favorite spot for egg rolls. We usually arrive at Animal Kingdom early in the morning, enjoy a safari ride and a few other attractions and then head back to Fort Wilderness for the afternoon. The quick service counter at Yak & Yeti is often our last stop before we leave.

Egg Rolls

In our opinion, the pork egg rolls they serve are the best at Walt Disney World. An order of 2 egg rolls costs $4.49 and is just enough for a light lunch.

Carrot Cake Cookie
This dessert delicacy can be found at the Writer's Stop in Hollywood Studios. Many people walk right past the Writer's Stop and don't even notice it as they rush from one attraction to the next. It is just past the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, on your right as you make the turn from Commissary Lane onto the Streets of America.

The Writers Stop

Once you are inside you might not even notice the cookies in the display case. Don't pass them by though! Wow, are they good!

Carrot Cake Cookie display

On our trip to The World in October 2014 we also saw the Carrot Cake Cookie at Sweet Spells, between Starring Rolls and Villains in Vogue.

It's a tasty cookie sandwich! Two moist cookies with a wonderful carrot cake texture and flavor are held together by a sweet cream cheese icing.

Carrot Cake Cookie

Carrot Cake Cookie

Oh boy! A taste of heaven for $3.99 - or one snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

Citrus Swirl
Looking for a tasty alternative to Dole Whips? Tired of those long lines at the Magic Kingdom's Aloha Isle? Head on through Adventureland to the Sunshine Tree Terrace.

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Turn between the Tiki-Tiki-Tiki Room and Aladdin's Flying Carpets and find a tasty frozen treat - have a Citrus Swirl! There is seldom a line and Carol just loves them! The Disney Food Blog describes the Citrus Swirl as: “A bit like a creamsicle, this chilly snack twists vanilla soft-serve with a sweet-tart frozen orange juice.” Carol describes it as: “Yummy, my favourite treat!”

Citrus Swirl

(Sometimes I wonder if it might be the Orange Bird merchandise that attracts Carol to the Sunshine Tree Terrace - she has an impressive collection of Orange Bird trinkets and treasures!)

I like the pineapple float from Aloha Isle, pineapple soft-serve ice cream with real pineapple juice ($4.99).

Aloha Isle

Pineapple Float

I pick up a float while Carol buys her swirl ($3.79). I stir, and stir, and stir as I make my way back to the Sunshine Tree Terrace to meet Carol. By the time I get there it's like a very thick milk shake . . . I sip it through a straw. Nice!
Caution - brain freeze zone!

Citrus and Pineapple

Croissant Doughnut (Cronut)
Try this next time you visit EPCOT. The Refreshment Port, on the right as you head toward the Canada Pavilion, sells them.

The Refreshment Port

Look for the “Croissant Doughnut” on the overhead menu.

Overhead Sign

Imagine a moist croissant texture inside, a slightly crispy doughnut exterior, all dipped in cinnamon-sugar . . . a taste of heaven for $4.69!

Croissant Doughnut

The first time Carol and I tried a cronut we bought one and split it. That's not likely to happen again . . . they are too good to share!

Churros
Have you tried the Churros in Frontierland? A churro is a long thin doughnut or cruller, light and bubbly on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside. They are dipped in cinnamon-sugar and served warm.

Churro

Churro

What's not to like? Look for the wheeled cart along the Rivers of America in Frontierland. This tasty treat will cost you $4.00 or one Disney Dining Plan snack credit.

Be careful around the churro cart! Last February Carol's parents, John and Sybil, were sharing one of these deep-fried treats. They broke it in half and Sybil had taken one small bite when a sea gull swooped down and snatched it out of her hand. The brazen bird landed about thirty feet away and defiantly gulped it down while we watched!

Werther's Caramel Corn
The Werther's Shop in the Karamell-Küche at EPCOT's Germany Pavilion is a dangerous spot!

Karamell-Küche

When it opened in 2010 it was the only free-standing retail location for Werther's in the world and, to the best of my knowledge, it remains the only spot in the world where you can buy fresh, warm Werther's Caramel Corn.

Caramel Corn

The second you walk in the door the aroma grabs your attention! Every day cast members are busy making fresh caramel confections, including caramel apples and popcorn, caramel-drizzled cupcakes, rice krispie treats, cookies, strawberries, and much more. Wow!

Caramel Corn

I'm not sure who it was that first said, “You can't eat just one!” But I'd be willing to bet that they were eating warm Werther's Caramel Corn at the time. Only $3.99 or $5.99 for a bag full of bliss! Buy the large one - you'll be glad you did!

Mickey Sandwich Bar
Everyone loves the classic Mickey Bar, officially named “Mickey's Premium Ice Cream Bar” - a Mickey shaped piece of ice cream dipped in milk chocolate. But have you ever tried a Mickey Sandwich Bar? You will see it on the vendor carts in all the parks, they call it “Mickey's Ice Cream Sandwich”.

Mickey Sandwich

It is very similar to the classic Mickey Bar, but the Mickey shaped ice cream is clad in two soft-textured chocolate wafers.

Mickey Sandwich

Mickey Sandwich

It has a much stronger chocolate flavor; just the thing for a choc-o-holic like Carol! (I'm not a chocolate fan, so I prefer the milder flavor of the dipped version!) Either bar will cost you $4.00 and is sure to refresh you while you wait in the blazing sun for that three o'clock parade!

Mickey Sandwich

Italian Sausage
My final item, sausage-in-a-bun, is not really a snack, it's more of a light lunch . . . if you haven't tried it, you really should! It's worth stopping for!

Min & Bill's Dockside Diner is the place for this simple delicacy! Along the shore of Echo Lake, in Hollywood Studios, is a quick service restaurant disguised as a boat. That's Min & Bills!

Min and Bills

Min and Bills

They prepare your snack as you wait. You can watch as they trim a bit off the end of a fresh, tasty French bread stick then use a special little machine to remove a tube of bread from the center of the baguette.

Min and Bills machine

This hole is stuffed full of sauteed onion and green pepper along with a mild Italian sausage. Dee-lish! The sandwich is served with a teensy-weensy bag of potato chips and costs $9.19. Here's a money saving tip - ask them to “Hold the chips.” and they will knock $2.00 off the price. The sandwich with no side is $7.19. It's a nice option when you're looking for a light lunch.

Sausage on a bun

They also serve a similar sandwich in a Pretzel bun, the center of the bun is removed and stuffed with a frankfurter and Dijon mustard. Sometimes they are a bit generous with the mustard; I recommend that you ask for the mustard “on the side.” The frankfurter is $8.29 (or $6.29 without that ittsy-bittsy bag of chips).

So that's it folks . . . our short list of “favorite snacks”. There are plenty of other choices too, turkey legs, caramel apples, pretzels, popcorn, etc., etc.

What is your favorite Disney snack?

December 25, 2014

Our Disney Christmas Tree

Gary Cruise banner

Carol and I look forward to the Christmas season every year. She likes to decorate for the holidays and I really enjoy the results of her efforts. As you might expect, our love of all things Disney reflects in our Christmas décor!

In our living room we have a very traditional Christmas tree; decorated with lights, coloured balls and festive garland. It stands in front of the window and is visible to all who walk or drive past.

Living Room Tree

But downstairs in our family room, our sanctuary, where Carol and I spend a lot of our time, is our favourite symbol of the Christmas season, our Disney Christmas tree.

The Disney Tree

It is 100% Disney from top to bottom.

Tinker Bell Angel

Every ornament reflects our passion for Disney. Carol has been collecting Disney ornaments for years and years. Some are brand new and others are old and irreplaceable!

Oswald

Thumper and Miss Bunny

It takes Carol a long time to decorate the Disney tree. Most of the ornaments are in their original packaging to protect them from damage, and as she carefully unwraps them the memories from past trips to Walt Disney World come flooding back.

There's a lot of reminiscing as Carol carefully arranges them all. Each memento from those old Disney adventures has to be in just the right spot! Sometimes the result can be startling!

Dopey and Tinker Bell
Is Tinker Bell really longing for one of those free kisses? Would Snow White approve?

There are many different Disney characters on our tree, some of them have been around for decades, others are very recent additions to the Disney family!

Steamboat Willie

Olaf and Elsa

Dozens of classic animated feature films, cartoons and TV Specials are represented.

Jaq and Gus

Bambi and Thumper

101 Dalmatians family

Pinocchio

White Rabbit

Bob Crachett Mickey

Scrooge McDuck

Some ornaments depict Disney's most popular couples enjoying the Christmas season.

Mickey and Minnie

Donald and Daisy

Lady and the Tramp

Mickey and Minnie

Other ornaments are much more whimsical.

Mickey and Pluto

Mickey and Goofy

Gone Fishin' Goofy

Beaker

How cute can the ornaments be?

Santa Mickey

Snowman

Not a Creature was stirring
Yes, the book reads "Not a creature was stirring . . ."

Pluto reindeer

Rocking Horse Mickey

Tour Guide Minnie

Some of the ornaments are animated, some are musical and some are illuminated. It's quite dazzling when it's all done!

Mickeys House
Push a button and the lights on Mickey's house flash in time with the music it plays!

Mickey Mouse Club
The drum flashes with light and keeps time to the music as this ornament plays "M-I-C . . . K-E-Y . . . M-O-U-S-E"

Sorcerer Mickey
Mickey's sorcerer hat lights up on this little beauty!

Mickey and Goofy as astronauts
It must be a Space Walk! Astronaut Mickey is holding Goofy who is dangerously close to the rocket's exhaust nozzle. The exhauts pulses with light as Mickey struggles to save Goofy.

All the shiny balls adorning the tree are shaped like classic Mickey heads!

Disney ball and garland
And if you look closely at that garland you will spot plenty of Hidden Mickeys!

Our Disney Christmas Tree gives us a lot of pleasure every year and we hope that you have enjoyed this little glimpse of it.

Mickey and Pluto at Fireplace

At this jolly time of year Carol and I would like to pass along our Christmas wish for you. No matter what you celebrate during this festive season, we sincerely hope that each and every one of you are able to share joyful times with family, friends and those you love most.

Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2014

From the Tickle Trunk - WDW News - Autumn 1989

Gary Cruise banner
Let's pull another old newsletter out of the Tickle Trunk.

This is a colorful one; it was issued in the autumn of 1989 and the masthead calls it the “Wonders of Life Edition”.

1989 Front_Page

That new pavilion at EPCOT opened October 19, 1989 and this edition heralded all the brand-new attractions on the front page!

Most of the front page was devoted to a picture of Body Wars, with insets of other attractions. Read how they described the new exhibits in the text below the picture:

Take the ride of your life - “Body Wars” at this five-acre pavilion teeming with activities, hands-on exhibits, and entertainment.

EPCOT CENTER - An incredibly imaginative celebration of life is now underway at the new Wonders of Life, presented by Metropolitan Life at Epcot Center Future World.

Its centerpiece, “Body Wars” uses Disney's newest simulator technology that miniaturizes and propels you on an intensely thrilling, high speed roller-coaster-like ride through the human body as it fights a bacterial invasion.

At "Cranium Command," another major attraction, you can climb inside the head of a 12-year-old boy for a lighthearted look at how mind and body interact.

The gold-domed Wonders of Life is full of surprises! See “The Making of Me,” a sensitive film starring Martin Short which explores the mysterious, tender and sometimes humorous events surrounding pregnancy and birth.

Fitness Fairgrounds,” another hot spot, is a collection of hands-on exhibits. Here you can have your tennis, golf, or baseball swing analyzed by the pros. You can select a video tour while riding a "Wondercycle," explore the “Sensory - Funhouse,” and pick up some health tips from Goofy. You'll celebrate wellness and fitness with incredible live and Audio-Animatronics shows. There's a whole world of amazing entertainment at Wonders of Life, just waiting for you!

The Wonders of Life Pavilion had a successful 18-year run before closing January 1, 2007. It now serves as a “Special Events” building for events like the annual EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.

How many of those original attractions do you remember?

1989 Page 2

Page 2 is devoted entirely to Disney-MGM Studios, which was also brand-new! The third theme park at Walt Disney World had opened about six months prior. The second page is dominated by two large pictures of the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” and descriptions of the many new attractions. Let's take a closer look at what they had to say about the new park:

DISNEY-MGM STUDIOS THEME PARK - The breathtaking thrills are immense, and they get even bigger if you are chosen as an "extra" at the "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular" now in full production at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.

Amid rapid-fire shots, exploding trucks, out-of-control airplanes and an immense rolling rock, you'll be on the edge of your seat if not in the center of the action, as stunt professionals reenact famous Indiana Jones adventure scenes. Performances throughout the day are just one more way the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park puts you in the picture.

Make Your Day
Another way to be a star is to stop by SuperStar Television, presented by SONY®. Just prior to the show, audience members are chosen to star in live productions of popular TV shows. Ifs funny, exciting, and another way to make your day!

More excitement comes inside the Chinese Theatre where you'll see movies as never before on "The Great Movie Ride” Theatre-size cars take you into the action of classic films, re-created through an incredible mixture of live action and the latest in Disney Audio-Animatronics wizardry!

Add sound to movies at the Monster Sound Show, presented by SONY®. At the heart of the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park is "The Magic of Disney Animation,” actual studios where Disney characters come to life right before your eyes!

On the Set
Next comes some of life's most thrilling moments! On the Backstage Studio Tour you can visit sound stages and see movies actually being made! At Catastrophe Canyon, you'll experience firsthand how earthquakes, floods, and fireballs are created. And before your tour is over, you'll unravel more mysteries of special effects.

At mealtime, choose from eleven smashing restaurants including Hollywood & Vine, the 50's Prime Time Cafe/Tune In Lounge and the Sound Stage Restaurant where you can eat on a real movie set. From start to finish, it's a full day of Hollywood adventure!

Wow, some of those attractions, like the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, are pretty much unchanged after more than 25 years while others, like SuperStar Television, have disappeared entirely. A few others have opened and closed since this newsletter was published . . . remember “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and “The American Idol Experience?”

What's that piece in the bottom right corner of page 2? A star every day? Here's a closer look:

See a Star

I expect that there are now several generations of readers wondering, “Who are those people? Pat Boone? Rose Marie? Mariette Hartley? Isabel Sanford?” Suddenly I'm feeling very old!

There were only two articles on page 3 and I'll show them individually.

Pleasure Island

How many of those Pleasure Island haunts do you remember - Mannequins Dance Palace, XZFR Rockin' Rollerdome (with a daily Zappy Hour), the Adventurers Club, Videopolis East, the Neon Armadillo Music Saloon, the Comedy Warehouse?

In those early days the food venues included Merriweather's Market, the Portobello Yacht Club, the Fireworks Factory and three dining areas aboard the Empress Lilly riverboat.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon had only been open for three months and was already a very popular destination. Do you remember your excitement when you first saw that huge wave? When you first slid down Humunga Kowabunga? When you took that first lazy drift around Castaway Creek? I sure remember!

1989 Page 4

The back page, page 4, spoke of two items I was not familiar with, along with one I know well, the long-standing pyrotechnic and laser spectacular staged nightly at EPCOT. “Illuminations” originally debuted at EPCOT January 30, 1988, as a replacement for “Laserphonic Fantasy.” Over the past 27 years there have been several versions of the ever-popular Illuminations show. The second generation show, “IllumiNations 25” debuted for the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort and ran 1996 - 1999. Generation three, “IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth” launched in 1999 to ring-in the upcoming millennium celebration. The show has remained much the same since 1999, but the reference to the year 2000 has been dropped from the name. Today it's known as “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”

Sing Along Parade

Here's a closer look at the “Disney Character Hit Parade”. The Dapper Dans and some Disney characters are pictured singing from the bow of a steamboat, the S. S. Mickey Mouse! I didn't see this version of the afternoon parade, but if I had I would have called it a hum-along. I'm nowhere near the singer those Dapper Dans are, believe me you would prefer my humming!

Dreamflight

Dreamflight was an attraction I had never even heard of before reading this newsletter. It was sponsored by Delta Airlines from 1989 until 1995 and replaced “If You had Wings” which had been sponsored by Eastern Airlines. Now that's a name I remember! The building which housed If You had Wings and Dreamflight is now the home of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, one of my favorites!

Looking back at the contents of this simple little newsletter, you can almost feel the excitement that was in the air in late 1989. You can really sense what an exhilarating time it was, plenty of change and so many thrilling new activities and attractions!

Let's just pause and reflect for a minute - when Walt Disney World opened in 1971 there was one park, the Magic Kingdom. When this newsletter was published, just 18 years later, there were three theme parks, two water parks, a wildlife sanctuary, a campground, more than a dozen hotels and resorts, a shopping and entertainment district and so much more.

In a mere 18 years Walt Disney World had risen from swampland to become the most popular vacation destination in the world.

WOW!

December 18, 2014

Frozen Premium Package Review

by J. Scott Lopes
Guest Blogger

I recently experienced the VIP Frozen Premium package at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This package consists of two parts. The first part is reserved seating for the Frozen "First Time in Forever" Sing-along. The second component is a Frozen-themed dessert party, which includes a limited release Frozen pin and lithograph.

Once I arrived at the park I checked in at the MyMagic+ service center (the former location for Sid Cahuenga's near the front of the park), where I was able to select my show time for the Frozen sing-along, and also receive my lanyard.

frozen-premium-package-01.jpg


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The First Time in Forever: A "Frozen" Sing-Along Celebration was held in the Premiere Theater, which had a special entrance on the Streets of America for this package.


frozen-premium-package-11.jpg


I went to this location at my selected time and was led into the theater to the section of reserved seats, located in the first few rows. The theater was perfectly themed -- no detail was left out. They even had icicles around the sound booth:


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The sing-along started with Anna, but was hosted by two royal historians of Arendelle, and they added a lot of comedic value to the show:


frozen-premium-package-07.jpg

During the show there were many opportunities to sing along, and if you didn't know the words (although almost everybody did!) they had multiple screens that showed the lyrics:

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Kristoff and Elsa also joined the show:

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The dessert party takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is held at the end of the Streets of America in an area that used to be part of the Backlot Tour. The entrance to the area is on the side that faces the restrooms near the Lights, Motors, Action show. A member of my party happened to be in an ECV, and we were having trouble getting to the entrance, so when we explained the situation to a cast member they accommodated us by letting us enter though the other side of the event. While we waited for the event I checked out the Wandering Oaken's Frozen Snowground, where kids could play in the "snow" and there was lots of Frozen merchandise for sale.

Once we were allowed into the party area, we found a wide variety of themed desserts, such as Anna and Elsa cupcakes:

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Olaf cake pops

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There were lots of other dessert items and drinks, including hot tea and coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water and soda, and specialty alcoholic beverages.

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Besides the desserts, the greatest benefit of attending the dessert party is that you get a terrific view of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights without having to mingle with the crowds, unless you want to:

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As is common at Disney events, attendees receive a limited release Frozen pin and litho:

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This was the first time in… well, this is actually the first time that I have ever attended a Disney dessert party. I think that Disney put together a great event that was well-themed, and also gave a great view of the Osborne lights.

I would recommend this event to anyone, especially people who want to view the lights in a less crowded area.

Tickets for this special Frozen Holiday Premium Package can be purchased for $89 per adult and $59 per child, from now until January 4, 2015. Park admission is required, but tax and gratuity are included.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

J. Scott Lopes is a long-time Disney fan who first went to Walt Disney World as a child in 1989. He has enjoyed traveling to Orlando ever since. He is interested in all things related to the Disney Parks, especially Walt Disney Imagineering and all of the work and detail that they put into everything that they engineer.


December 17, 2014

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - December 2014

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Around the middle of each month, James Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Here's the answer key to the November Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler Word Search:

http://allears.net/ae/mb111614-key.pdf

There were 36 responses to the word search puzzle on PIXAR Characters. There was a bit of a mix-up in the solution for this puzzle, though. I apologize! There were two ANDY's in the puzzle, so there were two possible solutions! The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were either GVXYPJBJNR or GVXPJBJNRP. I accepted either answer.

The winner of a Sorcerer Mickey pin was Joel S. of Plainfield, IL. Again, sorry for the confusion, and thanks for playing!

This month we are going to have another word search puzzle, but since it's the holiday season, the subject will be Disney during the Holidays.

Visiting the Disney theme parks during the holidays is a special time. From the decorations to the special entertainment events, it is a wonderful time to visit.

Here's the link to the new word search puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb121614.pdf

If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win a collectible Disney pin, there's no need to send me the completed puzzle; just list the first 10 unused letters, starting with the first row of the puzzle. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on January 12, 2015. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog, along with a new puzzle, in mid-January.

As always, any feedback on the puzzle format or topics would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, everyone! May all your Disney dreams come true!

December 7, 2014

Memories of Discovery Island

Gary Cruise banner

Before I begin, I have a confession to make - I have never been to Discovery Island. Sad, but true! Fortunately, Carol and Rob enjoyed several short boat rides from Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground to Discovery Island, so once again they have acted as my consultants!

1979 Postcard Book - Discovery Island
1979 Postcard

Bay Lake, which surrounds Discovery Island, is a natural lake - unlike most of the waterways on Disney property. Even the Seven Seas Lagoon, which you cross by ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Centre to the Magic Kingdom, is man-made!

1984 Discovery Island Flyer
1984 Flyer (click on the image above for a clearer view)

It is quite likely that Walt Disney sailed on Bay Lake and walked on Discovery Island before buying the property. Of course in those days Discovery Island was called Riles Island and was used as a hunting retreat!

A few years after The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, work began on a nature park on the 10-acre island. It opened as Treasure Island on April 8, 1974. The original theme for the island centred around pirates from the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. The “back-story” included a secret hideaway, buried treasure and the wreck of Captain Flint's ship, The Walrus.

1977 Treasure Island Brochure outside
1977 Brochure

The island was a showplace for exotic birds and plants but they were all wrapped up in pirate decor. What sort of birds were there? The 1977 brochure, pictured above, refers to Blue Peafowl, Vulturine Guineafowl, Caribbean Flamingo, Chilean Flamingo, Southern Bald Eagle, Macaw, Cockatoo, African Crowned Crane, Demoiselle Crane and Sandhill Crane. Many of these were housed in one of the largest walk-through aviaries in the world.

Plant life, imported from around the world, included banana, palm and bamboo from East India, gardenias from China, orchid trees from India and passion flowers from South America.

Boats ran across Bay Lake between Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and the island every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Discovery Island Tickets

The place-names on the map below help tell the story of the pirate theme . . . Cap'n Flint's Perch, Buccaneer's Cove, Doubloon Lagoon, Mutineer Falls, Gang Plank Walk and Rum Point are a few!

1977 Treasure Island Brochure inside
1977 Brochure

The quotation in the upper right corner is from Ben Gunn, a character from the R. L. Stevenson book. Gunn was one of Captain Flint's crewmen who was marooned on Treasure Island for three years.

Gunn's quote appears in the image below.

Look closely

In the upper right hand corner of the map you see a ship which has run aground on the beach; that's Captain Flint's ship, The Walrus, shown below in a Disney postcard from 1975.

The Walrus postcard

Treasure Island never reached the anticipated attendance levels so after only two years it was closed and extensive renovations began! The pirate theme disappeared and when it re-opened in early 1976 it was named Discovery Island, focused specifically on conservation.

February 1981 Discovery Island

1979 Discovery Island Brochure outside
1979 Brochure

As you might expect, the map of Discovery Island is very similar to the map of Treasure Island. The trails and walkways were renamed and included Bird's Eye View, Trumpeter Springs, Swan's Neck, Vulture's Haunt, Toucan Corner, Pelican Bay and Turtle Beach.

1979 Discovery Island Brochure inside
1979 Brochure

Discovery Island became renowned for its bird, plant and tortoise populations and was accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 1978. The aviaries were expanded and the facility functioned as a breeding facility for rare birds. The 40 foot tall, 32,000 square-foot, walk-through aviary remained; there were bird shows, a flamingo pool, and the Turtle Beach was still there.

The Walrus was still aground on the beach.

Rob along the trail

Rob at Parrots Perch

Brochures from the 1980's and 1990's show an increasing focus on conservation and environmental responsibility!

Animals and plants of Discovery Island

Wildlife on Discovery Island

1986 Discovery Island Brochure pg 1
1986 Brochure

1986 Discovery Island Brochure pg 2
1986 Brochure

1990s Discovery Island Brochure pg 1
1990 Brochure

1990s Discovery Island Brochure pg 2
1990 Brochure

As you left the Discovery Island dock, you encountered the Thirsty Perch Snack Bar and the restrooms on your left. The map directed you to the right, toward the Discovery Island Bird Show near the North Inlet. In some areas the walkway was elevated, crossing ponds, wetlands and marshy areas where birds and animals roamed freely. There were plenty of animal encounters as you passed Trumpeter Springs, North Falls, Swan's Neck and Bamboo Hollow. Next in the journey was Monkey Point, home of the colony of Lemurs from Madagascar and their distant relatives, the Marmoset. Cranes Roost and Toucan Corner were the final viewing opportunities before you entered the enormous walk-through aviary, home of the striking Scarlett Ibis and so many other exotic birds which were visible over, under and beside the elevated boardwalks of Avian Way!

Great Hornbill postcard
Great Hornbill Postcard

Sarus Cranes postcard
Sarus Crane Postcard

Soon after exiting the aviary, you arrived at Pelican Bay populated by injured pelicans which had been treated in the Animal Hospital housed on the island. These injured birds spent their remaining years living in the lap of luxury as Disney guests!

Several varieties of pelicans lived around the ponds at Pelican Lagoon near the beach. Just past the pelicans were the giant turtles of Tortoise Beach, then Alligator Pool and the Birds of Prey Theatre were the final stops along the walk before you returned to your starting point at the dock.

Rob with a parrot

1990s Discovery Island Map
Mid 1990's Map

There were cast members all along the route; they described the animals you were seeing, their native countries, their natural habitats and their diets. In some areas there were opportunities to interact with the birds and animals, and there were some wonderful shows to see in the small theatres located along the trail. What a wonderful place! A peaceful and serene nature park so close to the clamorous activity in the Disney theme parks.

Vulture postcard
Vulture Postcard

Rob recollects, “My favourite thing along the trail was searching for the cavy! These South American rodents seemed to have the run of the place; when my Mom wanted to find me, she'd always look in the area where the cavies were and there I'd be. They were very shy animals and when I found them I'd stand very quietly and watch . . . it was never too long before some noisy kids came along and scared them away.” (Remember, Rob had reached the ripe old age of eight at the time!)

“I always enjoyed the turtles.” Rob added, “They were huge and roamed the beach not far from the dock. There was just a short concrete wall to keep them in place and you could easily step onto the beach and get close to them. Sometimes you would see a small kid riding a tortoise. The whole island was a very interactive place!

A Peacock

Discovery Island postcard
Discovery Island Postcard

Alas, it all came to an end. Many of the birds and animals moved to the new Disney's Animal Kingdom when it opened in 1998 and Discovery Island closed permanently in April 1999. Today you can still see the vestiges of the aviary netting as you sail past the island heading to or from Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

The wreckage of Cap'n Flint's ship, the Walrus, is still there, almost covered in vines and foliage, as you can see in the picture below which I took in October 2014.

The Walrus October 2014

The island is now a registered bird sanctuary and each evening as the sun begins to set you will see thousands of birds come in to roost for the night.

It seems a fitting end for Discovery Island.

December 3, 2014

The World From a New Point of View

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By Guest Blogger Laura Schmitt

I remember that first trip, when our girls were only 3 and 5. They were full of excitement and energy and everything seemed to fall into place, perfectly. The magic was definitely with us. Once we caught that infectious desire to return to our new found happy place, we took any opportunity we could find to visit again. My oldest daughter was never a night owl, and she was always in bed by 8pm, but it didn't cramp our style. It wasn't until our last trip that we had to make such a change in the way we toured the World. With our oldest child in a wheelchair for the first time, we were forced to look at Walt Disney World from a new point of view, and guess what? It was just as magical.

Our oldest has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). While EDS presents itself differently in different people, for our daughter, once she hit those growth spurt years, it presented as non stop inflammation of joints, ever present level of pain, and the worst symptom...her joints started dislocating daily. Her shoulders are the worst, now, with daily should dislocations. Her knees and ankles used to give her more trouble. What that meant for a day at Walt Disney World was that she couldn't walk the parks safely, she couldn't do all the rides, and she didn't have the stamina that other kids her age may start with. When embarking on such a big and expensive vacation, it is a little difficult to consider that you will have to go slower, see less, and pay the same, but we found that this wasn't the case at all.

To start with, we rented a small wheelchair in our home town and we utilized that in the airport, which worked great. Once we got to Disney, we were a little nervous that people may give her dirty looks or make rude comments since the average person would never know by looking at her that she is struggling to keep her shoulder connected, or her knee cap from sliding out. People see only a young, vibrant girl and therefor, it is easy to assume that she could be faking to take advantage of any perks of being in a wheelchair. I was ready to explain to anyone who stopped us what EDS was and how it affects her, but you know what? No one did comment. The cast members did not treat her any differently than they treated her sister on two legs. If anything, she got a bit more positive attention. While she did feel self conscious that there were eyes on her from other people, I let her know that curiosity is normal and encouraged her to smile and not worry.

We still started our day in the same early to rise fashion that we always do, and we hit our favorite rides and shows. While the wheelchair may have slowed us down a bit, we were still able to do everything we wanted to do. Cast members are well trained in dealing with someone in my daughter's situation. She is able to transfer on her own, so she was able to stand up and get into a ride while her chair was moved to the ride exit for her use. The system is so smooth and efficient that we never felt hindered. For shows, there are designated areas for the wheelchairs, which were open for us each and every time.

Break time was longer, with leisurely meals and relaxing time by the pool. We didn't make it to the evening shows and fireworks, as my daughter was too worn out by the time evening rolled around, but we didn't let that worry us at all. The way I figure it is that anything we miss during the trip is a good excuse to come back again another day. Also, if there is one thing that repeat trips to Disney World has taught me, it's that the magic is often found in unplanned moments, so we kept our eyes and hearts open and we had a beautiful trip.

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Our first trip to Walt Disney World in a wheelchair was just as wonderful a trip as any from previous years. If I had to weigh it out, I may even say it was better because my daughter was able to do everything that she wanted to do before this disability took hold of her body and began to dictate her life. She works hard in physical therapy, year round, and she wears braces that have given her some additional freedoms, but she is unable to safely attend school due to such easy and frequent shoulder dislocations. Being able to use her safe wheelchair space while touring the parks is the only way such a crowded environment would work for such a fragile child.

Should you ever find yourself ready to embark on a magical adventure with an unexpected injury looking to ruin your fun, don't give up on the plan. Disney is unparalleled when it comes to accommodating special needs of all shapes and sizes. It truly is a magical place for every visitor.

It has been a couple of years, and I am sad to say that even though my daughters legs are improving, her shoulders are worsening. There is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and we can only hope that age and physical therapy will save her from losing the use of her shoulder joints over time. We continue to see specialists and search for innovations that may help her. In the meantime, we are prepping for our second trip to Walt Disney World from the slightly lower view of a wheelchair, and I can tell you... the view looks great from here.

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