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October 2, 2015

Downtown Disney Transforms Into Disney Springs!


Denise Preskitt
AllEars® Guest Blogger


Downtown Disney has been in transformation for over two years, with a slew of new restaurants and shops opening over the past months. Signage has also been added through the past year with the moniker Disney Springs, but that name is now official as of yesterday, September 29th, 2015.

This past week has seen the opening of two new venues. Last week, the already extremely popular Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar opened to rave reviews. We were the first in the door when it opened to the public, and we had the opportunity to go back during a media event that included a visit to not only Jock Lindsey's, but also the new Morimoto Asia. In between the two restaurants, we attended a brief ceremony to cap off the Disney Springs name change.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar is themed to the adventures of the pilot to Indiana Jones. The reason it was geared toward the lesser-known character – as opposed to Indiana Jones – is to allow for a new backstory to be written. It gave Imagineers a lot more freedom.

Food and drinks at Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar are outstanding. Not only did the Imagineers utilize their creativity to the fullest, but the chefs did as well. There are items on the menu that I've never had anywhere else. We recommend almost everything, and the price point is very reasonable. From the Snack of Ra (a full meal in itself, regardless of everything being an appetizer) to the Rolling Boulder Meatballs, the dishes are served with aesthetics and taste buds in mind.

From Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar, we walked outside for the Disney Springs name change ceremony. It was open to the public, between Jock Lindsey's and the recently opened (and also fantastic) restaurant The Boathouse. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Senior Vice President Maribeth Bisienere and Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis spoke. Mark Daniel introduced Bisienere, who talked about the making of memories, story creation and even making the parking situation easier. Disney Springs will have 4 sections: The Landing, Town Center, Marketplace and the West Side. Kalogridis said that the project will have provided a total of 1200 construction jobs when everything is complete, and will add 4000 operational roles. He also continued,“One in every 50 jobs in the state of Florida is tied directly or indirectly to Disney."

The finale of the Disney Springs name change event was the switching of large cards that spelled out Downtown Disney, flipped to say Disney Springs. The weather held out just long enough to see almost the entire ceremony before the rain began, when umbrellas emblazoned with the Disney Springs logo were lifted almost in unison.

The last portion of the media event was visiting Morimoto Asia, which was just one day from opening to the public. Chef Masaharu Morimoto was featured both as a speaker during the opening ceremony, and later showcasing his culinary skills as he filleted a 100-pound tuna. A lion dancer helped open the ceremony, and Bisienere again was a speaker. She welcomed Patina Group CEO Nick Valenti and Chef Morimoto. Morimoto is apparently a huge fan of Mickey Mouse, wearing a Mickey pin and introducing Chef Mickey to the podium. He later proposed a toast over a special container of sake, joined by Kalogridis, Valenti, Bisienere, and Disney Springs Vice President Keith Bradford.

Morimoto Asia is a beautiful restaurant, with chandeliers that seem to go on forever. The restaurant fills the space of the former Pleasure Island Mannequins nightclub. Mannequins was one of the nightclubs I didn't spend any appreciable time in, so the space feels totally new to me. There are two levels, with an open kitchen on the first level and bars on both the first and second floors.

Chef Morimoto drew a large crowd when a 100-pound tuna was brought to him to filet. With quick agility, the tuna was soon looking like a meal and no longer like a fish. And within a half-hour or so, pieces of sushi with fresh tuna were brought out to guests.

The food we tried were some appetizer items, including Tuna Pizza and Duck Caesar Salad. What we had was tasty, and we look forward to enjoying a full meal at the restaurant in the future!

September 27, 2015

Disney Artist - Alex Maher

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One of the things I most enjoy about Disney fan meets is the new and interesting people I meet there. One of those people is Disney Design Artist Alex Maher who I had a chance to meet and speak with a few months ago at Dayton Disneyana.

Alex Maher

Carol had met him several times at events for pin collectors, but this was my first opportunity to make his acquaintance. I’m sure glad I didn’t pass up the chance!

Footloose and Collar Free Print
When Alex signed this print, Footloose and Collar Free, for Carol he told her it was one of his favourite pieces!

This certificate was included with the print.

Footloose and Collar Free Certificate

I wrote a bit about the Saturday afternoon seminar Alex participated in at Dayton, and the many drawings he did that week end, in a previous blog about Dayton Disneyana; you can find it HERE.

Alex Maher and Jim Hill

In this blog I’ll focus on Alex’s Friday afternoon presentation. He began his remarks by telling us he was the world’s biggest fan of Walt Disney; then he spent an hour proving beyond a doubt that his claim was true!

Before I describe the seminar, let me tell you a bit about Alex’s background and how he landed his dream job with Disney.

Alex is a “Florida Cracker”; that’s a term people born and raised in Florida use to describe themselves! As the short Disney biography pictured above says, Alex spent his early years in Miami where his father was a writer and artist. His first memory of Disney dates back to his days in kindergarten; during a visit to the school library he picked up a Disney book . . . he couldn’t read, but in his words, “I was mesmerized by the pictures. Since that day I’ve been a fanatic about Walt Disney.”

In those days, before the Internet, writers spent countless hours in libraries doing research. Alex would often accompany his father on those library trips and while Dad researched his latest project, young Alex would read everything he could find on Walt Disney. He began to sketch Disney characters and his father, also an artist, would provide constructive criticism. “That’s really good Alex, but do you think it might be better if you . . . ?”

One truly amazing fact he shared with us – Alex has had no formal art training. In addition to being the world’s greatest fan of Walt Disney he is also a gifted artist! His talents include drawing, painting, sculpting and the ability to conceive and design original works. And it’s all self-taught!

A print by Alex Maher

After finishing high school Alex joined the US Navy; as you might expect, sketches of Disney characters adorned many area of his ship! He left the military in 1983 and returned to Miami where he worked in several “Mom and Pop” graphic design shops. He became a member of the National Fantasy Fan Club (also known as The Disneyana Fan Club) in the early 1980’s. Naturally he followed the help wanted ads and applied for every Disney job he saw. No job resulted, but he just kept on applying.

By 1987 he was Art Department Head at a small college near Miami. Most days, during his lunch hour, you could find Alex in the college library. He searched every issue of the New York Times from 1901, the year Walt Disney was born, until 1966 when Walt passed away. He photocopied every article that mentioned Walt in any way and painstakingly organized the news clippings in a series of binders. Of course, while Alex was assembling this life history of his idol, he continued to apply for any job he could get at Disney.

In 1991 he made a daring decision. He felt that if he was ever going to land a job at Disney he would have to be closer to the action. So, with no guarantee of a job, Alex decided to press a little harder to follow his dream. He and his wife sold their home and moved, with their two children, to Orlando.

He finally managed to get a job interview; they were looking for bus drivers . . . it wasn’t the creative job he was looking for, but it would be a foot in the door. He made it to the second interview and was hopeful, until the department manager asked, “Your background is all related to art. Why do you want to be a bus driver?” Alex replied honestly, “I’ve heard that Disney promotes from within, so I’m hoping that if I start here it can lead to an art-related job in the future.” It turned out that the manager wasn’t interested in spending the money to train a driver, only to have him move to the art department . . . Alex didn’t get that job!

He did find work at another theme park, just down the road, but in Alex’s words, “It was fun, but it just wasn’t Disney.”


Through his membership in the National Fantasy Fan Club he knew the names of a few accomplished Disney artists. One of them was Don “Ducky” Williams. Alex explained it this way, “I didn’t know him personally, but read many articles about him in our club newsletters. When I moved to Orlando, I tried to meet him but he was on vacation at the time. But I did meet his boss who said ‘Come back tomorrow and show me some of your work.’ I got busy that night and did three drawings, Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. I met the manager the next day; he liked my work, but said there was nothing available in his department. He suggested I try the merchandising division. The next day I visited the creative department of the merchandise division and luckily they liked my work. I was hired on as a freelance artist.”

Finally Alex had a job at Disney and it wasn’t long before they saw his potential. On December 6, 1993 he became a full employee rather than a freelance artist. It was a long struggle, but Alex was finally a very proud Disney cast member!

Tinker Bell

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, a cloisonné pin or a Vinylmation the concept for the piece sprang from the imagination of a design artist. Figurines and other 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 those cloisonné pins still make up a large proportion of the designs he creates.

Here are a few pins from Carol's collection that Alex Maher designed.

Boxed Pin Set
This boxed set is a Limited Edition of 1400 from the 2006 Pin Celebration at EPCOT

Signed Pins
These two pins are also from the 2006 Pin Celebration at EPCOT. Alex Maher has signed the back of each pin as well as the backer card it is mounted on.

What are the challenges for a Disney Design Artist?

According to Alex, new characters are a challenge. It’s tough to design a t-shirt or a coffee mug if you don’t understand the character. Everyone is familiar with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald. How they will react in a situation or what expression you will see on their faces can be easily imagined. But new characters, like Joy or Anger from the recently released Inside Out aren’t so easy; the creative people don’t yet fully understand the personality of the character. The artists often see a “rough cut” of the movie long before its release, but they sometimes have to submit their concept art to the manufacturers as much as 18 months before the merchandise is available for sale. Sometimes the movie can change appreciably and the personalities of the animated characters can transform in that time.

Characters in costumes are challenging. When designing a figurine featuring a character in an African costume the artist has to be very careful with the choice of colours. Colours have very strong meanings in African culture. Posture, position and gestures are important too. In North America the “thumbs up” gesture means ‘All right’ or ‘A-OK’ but in many foreign cultures it’s a definite no-no.

Scuba Diving Mickey

I’m pretty sure that the job of a Disney Design Artist isn’t always fun and games, but Alex sure makes it seem that way. The pride he feels for his work and for his association with the Disney Corporation shines through in everything he says and does. He is a great ambassador for Disney!

Now, let’s get back to that Friday afternoon seminar I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. If you’re not convinced yet that Alex Maher is the worlds biggest fan of Walt Disney these next few paragraphs should drive the point home!

Alex presented a slide show he prepared quite a few years ago, titled The History of Walt Disney. All the information he gathered from all those New York Times articles was combined with knowledge he gathered from other reading and from conversations with Disney family members, Disney executives and Disney Legends. He sifted and organized the data into an hour-long presentation.

As Alex spoke he used the computer slides to illustrate key points and places in Walt’s life. Alex began his story with Elias and Flora, Walt’s parents, and their 1888 marriage in Kismet Florida, about 50 miles north of Walt Disney World. He followed the family to Chicago where Walt was born in 1901 and showed us pictures of that house as it looked then and contrasted that with a picture of the house as it looks today.

You see, Alex Maher has made a pilgrimage . . . actually a series of pilgrimages. He has visited every significant location in the life of his hero and he took photographs everywhere he traveled. His research took him to Chicago IL, Marceline MO, Kansas City MO, Los Angeles CA and many other places. Most of those places he has visited several times, always eager to find out more and more about Walt.

Uncle Robert's garage
This is the garage behind Walt's Uncle Robert's house where Walt and Roy first operated their animation studio.

The same garage at Griffith Park
That garage is now located at Griffith Park

The stirring story Alex wove for everyone followed Walt’s life from cradle to grave; we heard of his school years, his years on the farm near Marceline, delivering newspapers in Kansas City, driving an ambulance in World War I, through to his early days of animation, partnering with brother Roy Disney and long time friend Ub Iwerks. The Alice Stories, Oswald, Mickey Mouse, animated movies, live action movies, Disneyland and Walt Disney World were mingled with stories of Walt’s family life, his triumphs and his tragedies.

Alice from the slide show

It was all illustrated with pictures from the Disney Archives and pictures Alex has taken during his frequent research trips. There were pictures of Walt’s many homes, the schools he attended, churches, animation studios, the garage where the first animation cels of Mickey Mouse were created, Main Street in Marceline, the Marceline train station which is now a museum dedicated to Walt Disney, and even the carousel at Griffith Park where Walt conceived the idea of Disneyland while sitting on a park bench watching his daughters.

Garage where the first cels of Mickey were created
Walt and Roy built identical pre-fab homes in 1927. Walt's house is shown in the upper right and the bottom picture is Walt's house as it looks today. The first animation cels featuring Mickey Mouse were created in Walt's garage in 1928, a year after the house was built.

Alex’s eyes got a bit misty a few times during the hour and his voice almost failed him a time or two; I was feeling the same way and I suspect that almost everyone else in the room was too! The depth of Alex’s reverence for Walt Disney came through loud and clear!

Alex has delivered the presentation we saw at Dayton Disneyana to people from all levels in the Disney organization; senior executives, the legal department and the Imagineers have seen the presentation in their boardrooms. Cast members from many other departments have enjoyed the show in their lunchrooms and members of the National Fantasy Fan Club have seen it at their local meetings. I’m sure glad I had the chance to experience it at Dayton Disneyana!

Let me wrap up by showing you a few more of Alex’s creations and then giving you a glimpse of what will be hitting the store shelves soon.

Prints of Alex Maher's painting of Elsa are flying off the shelves!

Elsa by Alex Maher

This one is selling well too!

Mickey by Alex Maher

After the Friday seminar someone asked Alex what his favourite creations were; he mentioned two. The first was a jumbo pin, a limited edition of 750. It shows Mickey riding on Walt’s backyard steam engine, the Lilly Belle, with Walt’s red barn in the background. The train slides back and forth on the track. Alex is proud of this one because every member of the Disney family was given one when it was released in 2007.

Walt's Train Pin

The second was his painting for the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland. Artists were asked to create a series of six paintings, one to commemorate each decade in the park’s history. Alex designed and painted the 1955 – 1964 canvas. Below is a print of that painting that he signed for Carol in Dayton.

Alex Maher signed print

He described what we can look for in the future. Most of these items will début at the D23 Expo in August and some may make it to store shelves by the time this blog is published!

Look for a large figurine of Goofy, dressed as Bert from the Mary Poppins movie in his one-man band outfit. Based on the gestures Alex made, it will be about 18” tall.

Alex designed the logo pin for the 2015 D23 Expo

D23 EXPO Logo Pin

He created these 8 pins which are part of a 16 pin Mystery Box Puzzle Series. Pin collectors buy boxes containing 2 wrapped pins and then trade pins in an attempt to get one of each of the sixteen pins.

Mystery Pin Set

Once traders have all 16, the pins combine like a jig saw puzzle to form Sleeping Beauty Castle.

D23 EXPO Mystery Pin Frame

Look for this 14” tall figure of Jingles, the carousel horse from Mary Poppins. This version will be sold at Disneyland. In Florida Jingles will have a rider, Mickey Mouse dressed as a Dapper Dan.


This Three Caballeros figurine is 14” tall.

Three Caballeros figurine

Alex and his family took a huge risk in 1991; they packed up and left everything behind to follow his Disney dream. Today both Alex and his wife are happily employed by Disney, their 30 year-old son is a film producer in Hollywood and their 25 year-old daughter is a sketch artist at Disneyland.

Just like Walt said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

September 16, 2015

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - September 2015



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:

I was very happy to receive 110 correct responses to the August Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler!

Here are the answers to last month’s photo quiz:
Photo 1: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Photo 2: Space Mountain
Photo 3: TTA PeopleMover
Photo 4: Tom Sawyer Island

As far as what they have in common, the answer I was looking for is that they all have TUNNELS or CAVES.

The winner of a Mickey Mouse pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Patti M. of Germantown, WI.

I also received about a dozen incorrect responses. Many of you thought the first photo was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and not the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Also, some of you didn’t catch my line of reasoning, or did not notice the clue! That's OK -- it was the first time we tried that sort of puzzle.

If you missed it, don't worry -- Here’s another chance!

Continuing with the photo quiz with a twist idea, I’m going to show you a few cropped pictures from Walt Disney World.

You need to first identify the attraction, shop or restaurant where these pictures were taken. Don’t worry about exact location, just generally identify the location, such as "the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios."

Next is the ACTUAL answer that I’m looking for!

Tell me what these images have in common. Note: It will not be something obvious, like "they are all located in the Magic Kingdom." I’m hoping to make these challenging! And don't forget to look for my hint!

OK, if everybody is neat and pretty, let’s begin!









So, what do they have in common, or what is the theme? (Besides the fact that they are all in the Magic Kingdom!)

HINT: “They’re GREAT!"

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer -- that is, what these images have in common -- IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to

NOTE: Please don't reply to this blog with your answers! If you want a chance at winning the pin, you MUST submit your answer to the email address.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 15, 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 in mid-September

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


September 13, 2015

From the Tickle Trunk - Audio-Animatronics

Gary Cruise banner

On a recent trip into Carol’s Tickle Trunk I came across an article on Audio-Animatronics from the Summer 2003 issue of Disney Magazine. The article described how the Enchanted Tiki Room, with it’s exciting new technology, created a sensation over fifty years ago!

It all started with a dream Walt Disney had; he wanted to create a little mechanical man which could move and talk. Here’s a short excerpt from the Walt Disney Family Museum’s article by Keith Gluck on the early days of Audio-Animatronics that gives a hint how Walt’s dream may have started.

In the summer of 1949, Walt Disney took his wife Lillian and daughters Diane and Sharon on a holiday to Europe. The family visited England (and stopped by the set of Treasure Island - Disney’s first all-live-action feature), Ireland, Switzerland, and France. One afternoon in Paris, Walt ventured out on his own and did some shopping. He returned to the hotel room with two large bags filled with a variety of wind-up toys. With his family looking on, he unpackaged every one of them, wound them up, and studied them. Diane remembers that moment. “Sharon and I were very entertained by them,” she recalls, “and his manner.” But her father saw something in those toys. “It’s amazing that you can get such interesting movement from a very simple mechanism,” Walt observed. A few of those very toys can be viewed in Gallery 7 of The Walt Disney Family Museum, accompanied by a description from Diane: “Not terribly unique, but possibly the forerunners of Audio-Animatronics.”

Those simple wind-up toys must have stimulated Walt’s imagination and his determination as well because it wasn’t long before he challenged his Imagineers, Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers, to build a nine-inch-tall figure that could move and talk. They called it “Project Little Man”. If you’ve visited the One Man’s Dream exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you probably recall the picture of a young Buddy Ebsen doing vaudeville dance routines.

Buddy Ebsen

Imagineers studied Ebsen’s motions and tried to reproduce them in that nine-inch mechanical man.

Alas, Project Little Man was shelved when a much larger project came along; Disneyland had moved from the “dream it” stage to the “do it” stage and all other projects, including that little guy moved by cams and gears, were instantly moved to the back burner!

The giant squid in the 1954 movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was robotic and there were a few rudimentary automated characters in the 1955 Jungle Cruise attraction, but the real introduction of Audio-Animatronics didn’t take place until 1963.

That’s where Tim O’Day’s 2003 article in Disney Magazine picks up the story. O’Day describes how Walt called the Sherman brothers to a soundstage filled with birds, flowers and tiki poles. As they looked around everything came to life, birds singing, drums pounding and tikis chanting. Walt said it needed a story, so the Sherman’s wrote the music, still in use today, about the birds that sing and the flowers that croon.

The Enchanted Tiki Room opened to rave reviews on June 23, 1963.

The four-page Disney Magazine article is pictured below. Click on each image to see a larger version which is easier to read.

Disney Magazine Summer 2003 page 42

Disney Magazine Summer 2003 page 43

The New York World’s Fair of 1964 was not far in the future when the Tiki Room opened and plenty of corporations were clamoring for Disney to design pavilions for them and incorporate their wonderful new Audio-Animatronic technology.

Disney Magazine Summer 2003 page 44

Disney Magazine Summer 2003 page 45

Disney's team of Imagineers got busy designing and building It’s A Small World sponsored by Pepsi Cola, Ford’s Magic Skyway sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln sponsored by the State of Illinois and The Carousel of Progress sponsored by General Electric.

Below are two short video clips, excerpts from a May 17, 1964 episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color television show titled “Disneyland Goes to the World’s Fair”. Click on the red arrow to watch each video.

Once the World’s Fair was over, plunk, plunk, plunk, partial-plunk . . . the exhibits found a home at Disneyland! (The partial-plunk refers to Ford's Magic Skyway - only the dinosaurs found a home at Disneyland; they're in the Primeval World diorama you see from the railroad. The propulsion system used for the Skyway was replicated in the People Mover which opened in July 1967.)

I can only imagine the impact these phenomenal new attractions had on attendance levels when they all arrived between July 1965 and July 1967!

Of course, the Imagineers had plenty more projects in the works and Audio-Animatronics were featured in almost all of them; Pirates of the Caribbean opened in 1967, The Haunted Mansion in 1969, Country Bear Jamboree in 1972, America Sings in 1974, the Jungle Cruise got some enhanced Audio-Animatronics in 1976 . . . the list goes on and on.

Over the years the technology has changed quite a bit as well. Look back up to that magazine article. The image at the top of the fourth page shows the stack of discs which controlled movements of the figures in Pirates of the Caribbean in 1967.

Okay, keep that image in your mind and let’s “fast-forward” to 2011. Below is another short video clip, this time it’s Ursula as she was being installed in the new “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” attraction. Pay close attention when you see the control panel, it’s almost like the operator is playing a video game.

The latest advances in the evolution of Audio-Animatronics were displayed at the 2009 D23 Expo – Lucky the Dinosaur and Autonomatronics.

Lucky is an 8 foot tall Segnosaurus, but he’s also a very advanced Audio-Animatronics figure.


He is not attached to an attraction. Lucky pulls a cart filled with flowers (as well as lots of electronics and a big battery pack) and follows "Chandler the Dinosaur Handler" wherever he goes! Lucky not only moves, but he talks and interacts with park guests. He has appeared in several of the Disney parks, but hasn't been seen for a number of years. I haven’t bumped into him yet, so I hope he makes a comeback!


Autonomatronics is truly the next generation of Audio-Animatronics and naturally, the prototype is named Otto.


Members who attended that 2009 D23 Expo were astounded by Otto’s abilities. Unlike other figures who repeat the same actions over and over again, Otto can see and hear. He is full of sensors and can tell if someone is nearby; he can even tell if you’re smiling. Based on the input he gets from his sensors Otto can make choices about what to say and do.


Wow! The future is here!

Walt Disney was fond of saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it”. The Disney Imagineers just keep on dreaming and they keep on doing.

I’m sure the Imagineers who created those engineering marvels back in the 1960’s would be amazed at today’s sophisticated Audio-Animatronics figures; it makes me wonder what the future holds.

I have no idea what’s coming next but I’m pretty sure it will be amazing!

August 31, 2015

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - August 2015



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 (or later when the D23 Expo gets in the way, as it did this month! Sorry about that!), 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 July Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

There were 30 correct responses to the word search puzzle on Downtown Disney attractions.

The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were IGACNHSBIH. I caught some of you out with this puzzle, since there were multiple incorrect answers!

The winner of a Pooh pin was Shannon D. of Baileyton, AL. Thanks to everyone for playing!

This month we are are going to change gears and start with a photo quiz with a twist.

First, I’m going to show you several photos, some cropped, from Walt Disney World.

You need to first identify the attraction, shop or restaurant where these pictures were taken. Don’t worry about exact location, just generally identify the location, such as "the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios."

Next is the ACTUAL answer that I’m looking for!

Tell me what these images have in common. Note: It will not be something obvious, like "they are all located in the Magic Kingdom." I’m hoping to make these challenging!

OK, I hope that is clear enough? If everybody is neat and pretty, let’s begin!









And what they have in common is...?

HINT: Sometimes there’s a light at the end of these.

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer -- that is, what these images have in common -- IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on September 14, 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 in mid-September

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


August 30, 2015

The Orange Bird

Gary Cruise banner

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

Carols collection

♫♪ Come to the Florida sunshine tree ♪♫
♪♫ For fresh tasting orange juice, naturally ♫♪

Does that sound familiar to you? It was sung by an Oklahoma beauty queen named Anita Bryant!

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 . . . they were licensed by Disney to use Donald Duck's name for their Orange Juice almost 75 years ago! Who doesn't remember Donald Duck orange juice . . . we probably all drank it as kids and some us may still be enjoying it!

They began sponsorship 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 thoughts of beach

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!


They were on billboards all over Florida, in print ads and in TV commercials. Do you remember the slogan “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine”? That was Anita Bryant and the Orange Bird.

There was even a full length 45rpm 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

From 1971 to 1975 the Florida Welcome Centers gave out orange juice samples in the Orange Bird paper cups pictured below and gave one of the tin-tab buttons to all visitors.

Welcome Center Relics

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!

Carol has two of the 1970's coin banks, pictured below with an Orange Bird whistle.

Orange Bird Banks and Whistle

Orange Bird Nutrition Adventures Comic 1980

She is quite proud of these Orange Bird china pieces from the 1970's.

Vintage Orange Bird china

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.


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!

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.

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 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 Orange Bird Poster

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”. 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. The Orange Bird was very prominent at the event, he was featured on the "Early Bird" pin given to the first group of registrants.

2011 Early Bird Pin

He appeared in many of the displays!

Orange Bird Decor 2011

And on some of the other pins too!

2011 Pins

It was during the 2011 EPCOT Trade Celebration that Disney Design Artist Alex Maher drew this beautiful sketch of the Florida Orange Bird for Carol. She couldn't wait to have it matted and framed when she got home! It's one of her favourite treasures!

Alex Maher sketch

Alex designed many of the Orange Bird pins Carol now has in her collection!

Pin Collage

Pin Collage

Then in 2012 D23 announced Orange Bird's “official” return to the park. The six minute video clip below, produced by D23, gives a good summary of his history and his return to glory.

The D23 "Destination D" Attractions Rewind event held in 2014 again shone a spotlight on the Sunshine Tree Terrace and Orange Bird!

D23 Attraction Rewind

D23 Attraction Rewind

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

Orange Bird Bell

A few weeks ago we attended the D23 Expo in Anaheim. She spotted this 1970's Orange Bird bell that Gary's Collectibles from Ozark Missouri were displaying; naturally it had to come home with her!

Orange Bird Hat

Now, if she could only find one of these hats . . .

August 21, 2015

Shop Disney Parks App

by J. Scott Lopes
AllEars Guest Blogger

Have you just returned home from a recent Walt Disney World vacation? Or are you fantasizing about being there? Do wish you had purchased something you had seen at the Walt Disney World? Are you currently in Walt Disney World, wondering where you can find a particular merchandise item?

Well, look no further! Disney has recently released a great new app, Shop Disney Parks, which can be used to locate and purchase items from Walt Disney World Resort.

Using the app, you can browse or search for an item...


Or just scan the barcode of the item to find it.


Once you select an item, you can save it to your shopping bag for purchase or bring up a map with the locations that carry the item.


This is a great must-have app for Disney fans, and is available for both iOS and Android.



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

August 16, 2015

Disneyland Chronicles – An Updated Timeline

Gary Cruise banner

By the time this blog is published on Carol and I will be enjoying our 10th visit to Disneyland and attending the D23 Expo in Anaheim.

Although it seems like yesterday, it was a decade ago when we made our first trek west to visit Disneyland for the park’s Golden Anniversary. We had a ball as we joined in the fun at “The Happiest Homecoming On Earth”, the official name of the 50th Birthday celebration! Just before flying west we received the Summer 2005 issue of Disney Magazine and had a chance to read a very timely article by Jennifer Eastwood titled “The Disneyland Chronicles”.

The wonderful five-page article gives a short history of the park, a timeline of significant and unusual events in the history of the resort. It certainly whet our appetites as we read that article just before our big adventure began!

In addition to the timeline, there were recollections from some famous names you are sure to remember, Hayley Mills, Michael Reagan and Bobby Benson.

The article is included below, click on each page to see a larger copy you can read at your leisure.

Disney Magazine Summer 2005 pg 36

Here are a few of my favourite points from the article:
- The park officially opened on July 17, 1955 and only seven weeks later they welcomed their One Millionth guest – Elsa Marquez.
- In 1961 the first Disneyland Grad Nite Party was held. Teens in formal garb spent ALL NIGHT in the park.
- In 1963 the first Audio-Animatronics appeared, ♫♪ in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room ♪♫
- In 1967 The Pirates Of The Caribbean opened.
- In 1969 hundreds of VW Beetles paraded down main Street on Love Bug Day and later in the year The Haunted Mansion opened.
- In 1979 the first baby was born at Disneyland – Teresa Salsedo was delivered on a bench behind the Plaza Inn – she later received the first birth certificate issued by Disney!

Disney Magazine Summer 2005 pg 37

Disney Magazine Summer 2005 pg 38

Disney Magazine Summer 2005 pg 40

Disney Magazine Summer 2005 pg 41

There’s plenty more good reading there; take some time to read all of Jennifer Eastwood’s article!

Now Disneyland is celebrating 60 years, it’s the Diamond Anniversary. Let’s look at what’s happened in the decade since Carol and I made that first Disneyland trip in 2005! Let's update the timeline!

Walt Disney said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

That has proven to be very true! Let’s look at the big changes in the past ten years!

In 2008 - Toy Story Midway Mania opened - A huge resort expansion began with the 2008 opening of Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney California Adventure park. This ride-through, interactive adventure, located on Paradise Pier, takes riders into a high-energy 4-D carnival midway hosted by “Toy Story” characters. Riders don 3-D glasses and rapid-fire their cannons as they whirl and twirl through the midway firing balls, darts, paintballs and rings at everything in sight! Toy Story has become one of our “must-do” rides, Carol and I become very competitive as we spin through the targets!

Toy Story Midway Mania

Toy Story Midway Mania

2009 - Mickey’s Fun Wheel - The next big attraction on Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure park, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, was actually a “re-Imagineering” of the old Sun Wheel. The 160-foot-diameter eccentric wheel lost its old marquee of sun rays and added a new Mickey Mouse marquee. The gondolas, some fixed and some sliding, all bear images of Minnie, Donald, Pluto or Goofy. The attraction is surrounded by the Games of the Boardwalk, carnival-style games in a Victorian boardwalk setting.

The Sun Wheel

Mickeys Fun Wheel

2010 – “World of Color” - a night-time spectacular featuring nearly 1,200 colourful dancing fountains and animated projections on a water screen the size of a football field, began nightly performances at Disney California Adventure park.

World of Color

World of Color

2011 - Star Tours – The Adventures Continue / The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure - At Disneyland park, the original Star Tours attraction that opened in 1987 was “re-Imagineered” as Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, featuring more than 50 3-D adventures that send voyagers for the first time to Coruscant, Tatooine and other destinations in the Stars Wars galaxy. Across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure park, The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure debuted, taking guests “under the sea” to experience a classic dark ride featuring scenes and songs from The Little Mermaid film.

Star Tours

Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Ariel's Undersea Adventure

2012 - Cars Land / Buena Vista Street - One of the biggest projects in Disneyland history saw the former Timon parking lot transform into Cars Land. This 12 acre themed land at Disney California Adventure park invited guests to enter a breathtaking new world inspired by the hit Disney•Pixar film “Cars” and featured three new attractions – Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. The addition of Buena Vista Street transformed the gateway of Disney California Adventure park into the 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles that greeted a young Walt Disney.

Cars Land

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

Radiator Springs

2013 - Fantasy Faire / “Mickey and the Magical Map” - At Disneyland park, the royal red carpet rolled out at Fantasy Faire, a picturesque village square that welcomed guests to meet Disney’s fairy tale heroes and heroines. “Mickey and the Magical Map” a new, live stage show in the Fantasyland Theatre featuring Mickey Mouse in his timeless role as the sorcerer’s apprentice made it’s debut.

Fantasy Faire

Mickey and the Magical Map

Mickey and the Magical Map

2014 – Billy Hill & the Hillbillies / Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome - I’m a “glass half full” sort of guy, but I must admit that a couple of recent changes at Disneyland have left me disappointed, feeling like my glass is suddenly half empty. After 21 years entertaining Disneyland guests Billy Hill & the Hillbillies were informed in 2014 that their contract would not be renewed. Ouch! My absolute favourite Disneyland performers are now thrilling their many fans in a new location, Knott’s Berry Farm. Then the amazing Zoetrope disappeared from the Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure park. A friend who visited Disneyland earlier this year told us that the area where Carol and I would stand in absolute wonder as we watched the Toy Story Zoetrope spin has been transformed to Arendelle. Anna and Elsa, who continue to take over the entire Disney world, now meet and greet their little friends in the Animation Academy.

Gary with the Billies

The Zoetrope

While the last two changes have taken some of the magic out of Disneyland from my perspective, most of the developments of the past decade have been very positive. It seems that Walt was right; Disneyland just hasn’t stopped changing. In fact, change has been so prolific that some of the most recent changes have already undergone another change! Luigi’s Flying Tires has closed to make way for Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters which is scheduled to open in 2016.

I wonder what’s coming next?

There are rumoured to be some big announcements scheduled during the D23 Expo, so by the time you read this we may have all heard about some new Disney magic coming in the future!

August 2, 2015

Dayton Disneyana 2015

Gary Cruise banner

It’s a long drive from our home in south-eastern Ontario to Dayton Ohio, 615 miles to be exact! That’s about 10 hours of driving but it was a trip we had been looking forward to for quite some time!

This was our third trek to Dayton for the annual Disneyana Show & Sale hosted by the Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club.

Dayton Disneyana Logo

This year's event was held in a new venue, The Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn, and the organizers had lined up a great list of speakers. For Carol and our son Rob, it’s all about the collectibles and the trading; for me it’s the speakers and seminars!

There’s something for everyone in Dayton!

Friday June 12, 2015
We pulled away from home at precisely 6:00 a.m. and made great time for the first couple of hours; then we hit Toronto at rush hour and slowed down! Once we were through the city, traffic moved steadily again. We crossed the Detroit River on the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the U.S. Border in Detroit at noon.

Ambassador Bridge

By 12:45 we had crossed the Ohio State Line; Rob and Carol needed some retail therapy so we made a brief stop at the Disney Store in Toledo. I thought they would be able to waste an hour, but they were back in only 45 minutes, hardly time for me to have a decent nap!

We arrived at the Holiday Inn just after 6:00 p.m. and by 6:30 we were unpacking in our rooms. We had agreed to meet Rob in the lobby at 6:45 to head out find a grocery store and have some fast food for dinner.

Holiday Inn Lobby

Before leaving, Rob urged us to go take a look at the big shark on display outside the ballroom! It was Bruce from Finding Nemo.


While we were taking pictures one of the event co-chairs, Anita Schaengold, tapped me on the shoulder and invited the three of us to join them for dinner. It was a special dinner for people who had attended the seminars that afternoon. All the seminar attendees and the speakers were there! The speakers were author Bob Welbaum, Tom Tumbusch, of Tomart Publications, noted Disney historian and journalist Jim Hill and Disney Design Artist Alex Maher. We were quick to accept Anita’s kind invitation, filled our plates at the buffet and took our places at a table with families from Maine and Ohio.

Friday night dinner

We chatted over dinner, then listened as each of the speakers described a magical Disney moment from their past. At the end of the evening there were draws for door prizes.

Drawing for door prizes

Rob won a calendar from Disneyland Paris and Carol won a Pirates of the Caribbean themed Post-It Note holder. There was a prize for almost everyone there . . . I was one of three attendees who struck out. Anita didn’t want anyone to leave empty-handed so she asked Alex if he would do three quick sketches and he immediately agreed.

Alex drawing Goofy

It was the best prize I could ask for, a sketch of my favourite character, Goofy, drawn just for me by a very popular Disney artist!

Alex Maher

After dinner a lady came over and said, "Hi Gary, I'm Terri and this is my husband Dan. We're here because I read your blog after last year's event." Not only were Terri and Dan "first-timers" at Dayton Disneyana, they were volunteers as well. They manned the silent auction table most of the weekend. It was great to meet them; I'm glad they took the time to say hello.

We made our way to the car and tracked down a grocery store. It was the only opportunity we’ll have for Carol to pick up a few products we really enjoy and cannot find in our Canadian stores.

We were back to the hotel by 9:30. I settled in for the night, tired after a long day behind the wheel. Carol went down looking for pin traders but there weren’t many there yet. She made one trade and was back to the room before 11:00. We weren’t long heading to bed - Carol had to be refreshed and recharged when shopping started at 8:00 a.m. the next morning!

Saturday June 13, 2015
Morning came early! Carol and Rob had paid a very small fee to be among the 50 “Early Bird” shoppers. This gave them entry to the sales floor 90 minutes before the doors opened to the general public.

Dayton Disneyana 2015 Sign

An eager shopper

Carol thought that it started at 8:00 so they were both in line at 7:45. Unfortunately, the scheduled start was 8:30! Since the two of them were at the very front of the line, they stayed put and held their lead position.

I went into the room where the vendors were setting up and got some “pre-sale” pictures. Once again there was an amazing variety of merchandise. Naturally there were pins and Vinylmations.




There were collector plates, mugs and ornaments.

Collectible treasures

More collectible treasures

There were figurines and dolls.

Theme Park Connection display

There were books and movie posters.

Tomart books

Movie posters

Erin and Robby from Morehouse Collectibles, pictured above, came all the way from Anaheim California! That's about 2,200 miles; I guess that makes our 615 mile drive seem like a walk in the park!

A wide variety of goodies

Vintage games

Wow, look at those vintage Disney games! I knew that Carol would enjoy browsing through all the great old collectibles!


Kitchen sinks and popcorn buckets

When the doors opened at 8:30 she and Rob were waiting anxiously.

Rob and Carol
Don't they look like hitchhiking ghosts?

They were the first through the door!

Let's get shopping!

A shopping frenzy began!

Carol is an avid collector of Disneyana and son Rob has a smaller collection, but he understands his mother’s taste very well so he acts as her eyes and ears!

Rob shops at Theme Park Connection

He has a knack for spotting things that Carol has missed! He bought a few things for his own collection and spotted several “treasures” for Carol.

A cheerful vendor

The Tuppers are retired teachers and now operate Toyland Treasures, pictured above. They drove in from Maine with a truckload of vintage Disneyana.

A happy shopper

I took a few more pictures of the crowd of early-birds and then headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

After breakfast I returned to the banquet hall and picked up Carol’s first load of treasures which I hauled up to our room.

By the time I joined Carol again at 11:00 she was all finished her Disneyana shopping and proudly showed me the rest of her purchases. Her most prized acquisition was the complete Walt Disney World Christmas Village by Department 56.

Department 56 Disney Village

The set includes five buildings and a group of accessories and figurines. She has admired it at a gift shop in Salisbury Beach Massachusetts but they were asking waaay too much money for it. Today she got a bargain!

She spent the rest of the day in the Pin Trading Room.

Pin Trading

The hotel had a table set up just outside the ballroom where they sold fresh sandwiches. They were tasty and reasonably priced! When lunch time rolled around Carol enjoyed one of those sandwiches at the trading table while she carried on making pin deals.

I spent the afternoon listening to the seminar speakers; they kept me occupied from 1:00 until 4:30. The first speaker was Jim Hill, a well known journalist and Disney Historian who gave us a healthy dose of background on the New Fantasyland. Jim is a very entertaining speaker and always shares some little-known insider information.

Jim Hill

Jim concluded his presentation at about 2:15 and Disney Design Artist Alex Maher joined him on stage. Alex had spent the first part of the afternoon at an easel in the back of the seminar room where he worked on several sketches.

Alex Maher and Jim Hill

As soon as Alex joined Jim onstage they began a very interesting interview. Jim asked Alex about his background and the nature of his work with Disney. The dialogue was captivating; we heard that Alex was a Disney fan from the age of five. Long before he began to work for Disney he was a member of the Disneyana Fan Club. In fact, there was so much interesting information during that fascinating hour that I may have to write a blog about Alex Maher and his career with Disney.

Alex continued to sketch

At the end of their interview Alex returned to his easel and we watched him sketch for another few minutes while he and Jim fielded questions from the audience.

Rob took some time off from pin trading and joined me for the final speaker of the day, Disney Legend Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy for the past 28 years.

Bill Farmer

Being a Disney Legend is a big deal, a really big deal! There aren’t very many Disney employees who have been honoured with this title, and even fewer non-employees. Bill is not a Disney employee; he and all the other voice artists are independent contractors, members of the Screen Actors Guild, who are hired on a job-by-job basis.

Have you ever heard of The Annies? The Annie Awards are the "Oscar equivalent" for the animation industry and Bill has been nominated as Best Actor three times.

Annie Award Winner

This year he won the prestigious Best Actor Award for his work on Goofy's Grandma. He performs the voices for both Goofy and Grandma! Watch the cartoon by clicking the red arrow in the image below!

Bill told us a bit about his background, how he began his long relationship with Disney, some of his fondest memories and some of his biggest blunders! As his tale unfolded he kept us all in stitches by playing short video clips and relating his life story using a variety of characters and voices. He was Goofy, Yosemite Sam, Pluto, Doc, Bullwinkle, James Cagney, Walter Brennan, Walter Cronkite, Richard Nixon . . . and many more characters. It was a wonderful session and everyone was delighted that it ran a bit overtime!

Signing autographs and pictures

When the seminars were over Rob joined me in the hall adjacent to the auditorium and before long Bill was there to sign autographs and pose for pictures. What a treat to shake hands with a real Disney Legend! We even met his wife Jennifer!

Bill Farmer's Autograph

Acting goofy with Bill Farmer

By 5:00 Carol and I were back in the room and relaxed for a short while before heading out for dinner. We had signed up for the group dinner, featuring a terrific guest speaker; it was Bill Farmer one more time! After cocktails and appetizers we enjoyed a very nice buffet dinner, then the voice of Goofy took the stage again for his sequel.

Bill Farmer

Although there was a bit of overlap with his afternoon presentation there was also a great deal of new information and insight. The new material was fascinating and even the few gags which were duplicated were hilariously funny; I laughed just as hard the second time around! It was a wonderfully entertaining evening!

Bill Farmer and Darth Goofy

The conference organizers presented Bill with a token gift, a Darth Goofy developed for the most recent Star Wars Weekend event. Bill had not yet seen one and was delighted with the gift!

After Bill's presentation there were some draws for door prizes; no wins for the Cruise family this time! I would have loved the grand prize, a large sketch of my favourite character, Goofy, drawn that afternoon by Alex Maher and signed by both Alex and Bill Farmer . . . but it went to a very good home!


Alex did quite a few sketches during the day, including Elsa pictured above. They were all included in the following day's silent auction with the proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House.

Check to Ronald McDonald House

That part of the night wrapped up at 9:00 and I headed to the room to watch the Stanley Cup Playoff hockey game. Chicago defeated Tampa Bay 2 - 1 to take a 3 - 2 series lead! Hooray!

Carol picked up her pins and Vinylmations and struck out for some more trading.

Busy trading

Busy trading

She was back just before the game ended and we were soon off to bed. Tomorrow would be another long day; Carol would trade all day. Rob planned to spend the morning browsing the merchandise and then join me at noon for another seminar.

We planned to pull out to head home by approximately 1:30 . . . which would get us home sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. Ouch!

Sunday June 14, 2015
The Vendor displays in the ballroom opened at 10:00 a.m.

Still plenty of goodies on display

New arrivals were still checking in; many people come for just one day, or even for a few hours. Attendance is very reasonably priced!

Admission prices

The shopping traffic was slower Sunday morning, compared to the big rush when those 50 “early-birds” stormed in on Saturday! While Carol and Rob browsed I took time to chat with a few vendors.

Lady and the Tramp poster

Gary & Gary Collectibles come to Dayton every year. When I heard that they were from Missouri I said, “I know a couple in Blue Hills Missouri who would like that Lady & The Tramp poster.” Gary took it down and held it so I could get a good picture!

Lady and the Tramp salt and pepper shakers

His business partner Gary said, “I bet they’d like these Lady & the Tramp salt and pepper shakers too!”

“Yes. They would!” the Gary behind the camera replied!

Like many of the vendors, they have a wide variety of quality merchandise. Everything is reasonably priced, and it seems that on Sunday the vendors are more flexible in their pricing. They prefer to sell it rather than pack it up and take it home.

Bargains waiting for buyers

Gary & Gary Collectibles will have a big sales booth at the D23 Expo in Anaheim this August! Be sure to look them up!

Carol looks for deals

At noon Rob and I headed off to the auditorium to listen in on one final seminar before beginning the long drive.

Jim Hill

Jim Hill gave us some fascinating background information about Disney’s animated feature Alice In Wonderland which was released in 1951.

Jim took us back to 1934 when Walt first considered the idea of an Alice production, and the various concepts that the project went through over the years. At age 41, Mary Pickford, a co-owner of Disney’s distribution company, United Artists, really wanted to portray Alice in a live-action feature to kick-start her fading career. A screen test was completed in 1934 but middle-aged Pickford didn’t come off too well as a young girl; the project was shelved!

Along came Ginger Rogers in 1944. Another screen test and again, young Alice wasn’t portrayed particularly well by a 33 year-old dancer, but an audio recording of the Alice stories, with Ginger as the voice of Alice, did hit the market and sold well!

Jim described how Disney artists tried very hard to remain true to the original illustrations done by Sir John Tenniel for the first publication of the Alice stories in 1865.

Jim shows the original art

More original art

More original art

More original art

He described how what we now consider to be a Disney classic was panned by critics in 1951 when it was first released; it did very poorly at the box office. Jim told us how Disney worked to hard to reinvigorate the feature and make it the success we know today.

Any true Disney fan will be fascinated by the kind of background Jim Hill and his peers can provide.
I strongly urge you to attend fan gatherings like Dayton Disneyana to hear some of these fascinating stories!

There was one more seminar scheduled for 2:00 p.m. but alas, it was time for us to go!

Tinker Bell by Alex Maher

Alex was still sketching

We said our goodbyes as we watched preparations for the silent auction. We heard later that Alex Maher completed 11 large sketches and ten of them were raffled; the sketch of Goofy had been awarded as a prize Saturday night. Proceeds from the sketches were added to the other silent auction items and a little over $2,100 is now on it's way to Ronald McDonald House. Outstanding!

Chip and Dale by Alex Maher

Our friend and fellow Canadian “Disney nut” Gabe is a huge Chip & Dale fan. He was leaving the same time that we did, but he left instructions with a friend who was bidding on his behalf. Gabe is now the proud owner of the Chip and Dale sketch pictured above!

We were northbound on I-75 just after 1:30 and spent the entire afternoon dodging construction and thunderstorms. Temperatures bounced between 80º and 65° again and again as the storm cells passed.

We left the Interstate in Detroit and crossed the border into Canada at 5:45. There were still occasional showers, but traffic moved well on the Canadian freeway, Highway 401. We made a couple of stops for fuel, coffee and a bite to eat and pulled into our driveway at 11:45, tired after a long, but fun-filled weekend.

The 2015 event in Dayton was bigger and better than ever. Rob, Carol and I accounted for 2 of the more than 50 rooms that attendees occupied at the Holiday Inn that weekend. Over 500 dedicated Disney fans and collectors browsed through the merchandise which 21 vendors had displayed on 78 tables. There was an amazing variety of product to choose from; there were vintage Disney figures from the early 1930's and there were brand new popcorn buckets introduced just a week prior at Disneyland! New and old, large and small; it was a collectors paradise!

The vendors came from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I spoke with vendors who had driven to Ohio with fully loaded trucks and vans from California, Maine, Florida, Colorado, Missouri and Illinois.

Dayton Disneyana is a "must-do" event for Disney fans and collectors!
Why weren't you there?

Carol was thrilled with her 25 pin trades. The treasures she bought are pictured below, Rob's are there too!

Free gifts and draw prizes
These are all free gifts and draw prizes!

Rob's purchases
Rob's purchases.

New Disney Village
Carol's new Disney Village. It'll look great when she gets it accessorized for Christmas!

Carol's purchases
The rest of Carol's purchases.

If you are a Disneyana collector you would really enjoy this event. Even if you’re not a collector, just a Disney fan like me, you would get a lot out of the seminars and the speakers. I just love hearing the “insider information”, the historical background and of course the hints as to what might be coming to Disney next!

Event Co-chairs Pam Phillipe and Anita Schaengold together with their committee have once again done a terrific job! Dayton Disneyana just keeps getting better year after year!

As I said at the beginning of this blog, there’s something in Dayton for everyone!

Next year’s event is scheduled for the weekend of June 10 – 12, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn.

Go to your calendar, right now, and mark your trip to Dayton on it!

The event web site will give complete details as they become available! Check the web site HERE.

Their Facebook page is HERE.

July 20, 2015

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - July 2015



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 June Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

There were just 34 correct responses to the word search puzzle on Animal Kingdom attractions.

The first 10 unused letters in the puzzle were PTWAIFANBS.

The winner of a Sulley pin was Sharon G. of Allentown, PA Thanks to everyone for playing!

This month we are going to finish looking at extinct attractions at the Walt Disney Resort. The last area we will take a look at will be the Downtown Disney district.

Next month we are going to change gears and start with a photo quiz with a twist. Stay tuned!

Here's the link to the new puzzle:

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin: There's no need to send me the completed puzzle, just list the first 10 unused letters, starting with the first row, IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on August 19, 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 in mid-August.

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


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