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July 26, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - July 2016

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® newsletter, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Every month, James also 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 is the solution to the last crossword puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb062416-key.pdf

We received 37 correct responses, all of you knowing that the country music label founded on June 1, 1997, was indeed Lyric Street Records. It was so-named after the street in California where Walt and Roy Disney lived. It always amazes me that almost every person, building, street, characters, attractions, roads, bridges, paths, props, etc., have some of sort of name attached, and usually derive from something else in Disney lore. I believe that is the main reason for the popularity of anything Disney.

As an example, the pathway at Walt Disney World between the Boardwalk Resort and the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios has a name, which I dare you to try to find on any map or sign! Its name is the Judson Green Walkway, so named for Judson Green, who served as an upper level manager at WDW from 1981 to 1987. He also served as CFO of the Walt Disney Company from 1989 to 1991, was named president of Walt Disney Attractions in 1991 and chairman in 1998.

The winner of a Walt Disney World pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Tracy H. of Birmingham, AL.

If you missed it, that’s OK, because here’s another chance.

http://allears.net/ae/mb072616.pdf

This month we continue with the special crossword puzzle series, concentrating on Disney History. The subject of this month’s puzzle is “This Month in Disney History - July.” All of these events happened sometime during the month of July. Please note, for this puzzle ALL of the clues are used.

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 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 August 24, 2016. 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- to late August.

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

Thanks!

July 25, 2016

Guide Maps: A Roadmap Through Disney Parks History

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In a recent AllEars.Net blog, I alluded to my odd quirk of getting my hands on guide maps each and every time I enter a Disney theme park. I will usually grab three -- one for actual use during the visit, another to save for posterity and a third one just in case something happens to the other two. I've been doing this since we first visited Walt Disney World in the early 1970s. If nothing else, they make for some nice keepsakes.

Needless to say, I've built up quite a collection over the years. When I return home, I usually put the new additions to my collection in an envelope and mark it with the date of the trip.

I have some pretty diverse maps in my collection. I have maps from our visit last year to Disneyland Paris [unlike WDW and Disneyland, which offer maps for each individual park, Disneyland Paris maps are all-inclusive, with maps and details for Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios]. I even have one from Tokyo Disneyland [thanks to our son, who visited there during a business trip a few years ago] ... in both English and Japanese, no less!

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The cover of a Walt Disney World guide map from 1974. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

I have a map from opening day at Animal Kingdom (April 22, 1998) as well as a Disneyland guide map with [gasp!] a typographical error: On the back of the guide map, from 1998, is a headline asking you to Make a name for yourself in Disneyand Park! That typo sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I also have maps for Disney's two water parks, the Disney Springs [formerly Downtown Disney] shopping and entertainment district and the special events Disney throws during the year at the Magic Kingdom, including the Not So Scary Halloween and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parties.

Often, I refer to these maps when I'm writing a blog, particularly when I want to get the exact name or the correct spelling of a show or attraction.

Admittedly, it's a pretty strange quirk of mine, collecting Disney guide maps, but considering they hand out these maps for free, why not save them? Besides, looking back at these guides is like leafing through the pages of a Disney history book; it allows me to get a historical perspective -- and, indeed, an accurate record -- of the way things were in Disney's ever-changing world.

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The WDW guide map in 1996 featured a photo of the pink "castle cake," celebrating the resort's 25th anniversary. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

Who could forget Cinderella Castle decorated as a birthday cake during WDW's 25th anniversary? The bright pink "castle cake" was featured on guide maps in 1996. Or how about the bizarre [to me, anyway] Nahtazu promotion plastered on Animal Kingdom's maps a year or two after it opened? [After about a year of being clueless on the subject, it dawned on me exactly what they were talking about -- that Nahtazu meant Animal Kingdom was NOT A ZOO].

I mention all of this because during a recent visit to WDW, I noticed that the maps were a lot smaller than they used to be. For instance, the Magic Kingdom guide map back in 1998 was 16 x 18 inches in size, or 288 square inches. By comparison, a Magic Kingdom guide obtained in April measures 9¼ x 20, or 185 square inches. That's a size differential of 103 square inches per map. A savings for the environment, to be sure ... and a lot more room to expand my collection!

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In 1986, during Walt Disney World's 15th anniversary, Epcot handed out a guide map that was 18 pages. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

By far the biggest map in my collection was distributed at Epcot in 1986. It was actually called a Guide BOOK. It came with 18 pages, stapled in the middle, and featured detailed descriptions of every attraction and food option in World Showcase and Future World. It's so big, they probably should have considered giving guests a free tote bag to lug the thing around the park.

Also in my collection is a guide map from 1974, with a cover featuring the Main Street parade, with two very different-looking Goofy and Mickey characters, a marching band and a lot of balloons. There are no elaborate floats visible. Pretty basic stuff for a Disney parade, especially when you consider what comes marching down Main Street these days.

The guide is titled: Tips On Your Visit. In the bottom right corner is the admonition: Please Read Now: This folder contains time-saving hints and a map for enjoying all of Walt Disney World. Inside, under the heading Making the Most of The Magic Kingdom, suggestions are made on how to plan your day. They even tell you when the shortest wait times are for certain attractions. Of course, if everyone entering the park had followed that tip and headed to the suggested rides, those short wait times would have quickly become ... very long.

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The guide map from 1972, a year after Walt Disney World opened. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

But my prize possession is a guide map from the Magic Kingdom in 1972. That's the earliest one in my collection. I obtained the map during our first visit to WDW in November of 1972, a little over a year after the Magic Kingdom opened. The '72 map is strange, to be sure, and has an almost alternate universe quality to it. By that, I mean the photo on the cover only vaguely looks like today's Magic Kingdom. And the information inside never would cut it today as a viable tool to lead you around the park.

For one thing, the spots where Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain currently occupy space were just gray areas back then; Space Mountain, the WEDway PeopleMover [now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority] and Carousel of Progress were still on the drawing boards. Some of the now-departed attractions include the Mickey Mouse Revue, Flight to the Moon, If You Had Wings, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Mike Fink Keel Boats and Davy Crockett's Canoes.

In Fantasyland, in the space where the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid now attract long lines, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage was the featured attraction.

The cover of the 1972 guide map features a beautiful color photo of Cinderella Castle, with the original Walt Disney World logo above it, with trees, green grass and a canal also visible. A number of flags can be seen flying in the castle forecourt. The map, compliments of GAF, is subtitled "Information Guide." It totals 34 pages and includes colorful maps of each themed land and numerous black-and-white photos of attractions in the park and on the property.

The book gives you detailed information on each land within the Magic Kingdom. For instance, in Adventureland, the attractions included the Swiss Family Island Treehouse, the Tropical Serenade and the Jungle Cruise. Dining options included the Adventureland Veranda, the Veranda Juice Bar and the Sunshine Tree Terrace. The book lists shops and stores, as well as entertainment specific to that land ... in this case, the Adventureland Steel Drum Band and the Safari Band.

They even made note of where the nearest ticket and information kiosk is located within each land.

Speaking of which, the guide map offered three pages of detailed information on the WDW coupon book policy of the time. Back then, you paid a general admission price to get into the park, then used a coupon to gain access to each attraction. Those attractions were broken down into thrill level, with an A coupon attraction being the mildest, B a little more thrilling, all the way up to E, which was considered the most exciting.

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On April 22, 1998, Animal Kingdom opened and this was the guide map they handed out. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

The attractions requiring E coupons, which cost 90 cents each, included the Jungle Cruise, Country Bear Jamboree, The Hall of Presidents, The Haunted Mansion, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and It's a Small World [imagine that: Small World ... a thrill ride]. For frugal guests, there were three free attractions in the Magic Kingdom: The Diamond Horseshoe Revue, If You Had Wings and America the Beautiful.

There are also hints on where and when to dine (before noon and after 2 p.m.) as well as a reference to Blackbeard's Island -- "a tropical paradise of colorful island flowers and birds." Blackbeard's Island, located in Bay Lake near the Contemporary Hotel, went on to become Treasure Island, then Discovery Island in 1976. It received many zoological awards over the years before returning to its original calling before WDW opened -- a lush, unoccupied island in the middle of Bay Lake.

There are four full pages devoted to photo tips. Things like checking your equipment, composing your pictures, holding your camera steady and watching your focus. GAF also offers pointers for folks with movie cameras: Pan slowly, zoom sparingly and vary your scene length. There also is An Important Word About Flashbulbs ... which were prohibited in most indoor attractions.

And ticket prices? General admission, which included use of the Walt Disney World transportation system and seven coupons for rides, was $4.95 for adults, $4.50 for juniors [12-17 years old] and $3.95 for a child [3-11]. There was complimentary same-day readmission with hand stamp [remember doing that?] and -- for your safety -- shoes had to be worn at all times aboard WDW transportation [I guess it was OK to walk around barefoot on the blazing hot pavement during a mid-July day].

Ticket books [remember, back then, you needed a ticket to get on each ride] were recommended for "maximum thrift and enjoyment."

Some of the other little tidbits, many long outdated, featured in the 1972 guidebook included:

PET CARE: The Kal Kan Kennel Club was located in the Main Entrance Complex if you wanted to board your pet. The cost was 50 cents a day or $1 for an overnight stay.

FIRST AID: Registered nurses were on duty at all times in the first aid station next to the Crystal Palace. There also was a first aid station in Fantasyland near It's A Small World.

SECURITY: In most areas of the park, Walt Disney World security could be recognized by their "themed" attire.

PUBLIC TELEPHONES: Located throughout the Magic Kingdom.

CAMERA AND FILM SERVICE: Rental, service and film processing was available in the GAF Camera Center on Main Street.

And my personal favorite ...

REST ROOMS: Located throughout the Magic Kingdom. Ask any host or hostess for directions.



July 17, 2016

UPDATE: How to Volunteer for a runDisney Event

by

Rebecca Foreman
AllEars® Guest Blogger

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A few months ago, I wrote an article for the AllEars® newsletter explaining how to volunteer for a runDisney event. Almost all of that information has now changed! Therefore, I wanted to give as much updated information as I can.

Volunteering for a Disney race is now as popular as running in one. Registration can fill in a day. To make registration go quicker, I recommend that you already have an account on the registration website, so that when you sign up for a race, you don’t have to go through full registration process. Note that runDisney no longer uses Active.com for volunteer sign up. The new website address is: https://volunteerambassadorwdw.my-trs.com/

You can no longer register other volunteers on the same account. Each volunteer, including children, must have his or her own account attached to an individual email. That means only one person per email address. Teams are welcome to work races, and you can now register a team on this site. Creating an account is simple and straightforward.

The first page you will see is the Welcome page. At the top is the new symbol, stylized people of different colors creating a star, with the words “VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM” at the top of the page. Below will be a general description of volunteering. On the right, you will see LOGIN and CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT buttons. New registrants will click on the CREATE button.

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The next page will show a single blue box with the words VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM. Click SELECT.

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A list will appear that explains the VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM CODE OF CONDUCT. When you have read this, click CLOSE.

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In the grey box beneath the explanation of contact information, you will tick the white box, stating you are interested in Volunteer Ambassador Team events.

A new list will be added to the right side of the page. At the bottom right of the page, Click NEXT.

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Finish creating your account by providing your email address, first and last name, and your password. Once you are registered, you can return to this page and log in to adjust your profile data. Again, to make signing up for runs quicker, complete your profile BEFORE the race registration date.

There are a few ways of getting to your account on the day of sign up.

The easiest way is to sign into your Volunteer Ambassador Team Account. This will take you to your EVENT dashboard where you will see EVENTS YOU HAVE SIGNED UP FOR, either as an individual or as a team leader; AVAILABLE EVENTS, to register for specific runs or events that are open; and CONTINUE REGISTRATION, which lists future events that are not yet open. These events include volunteer chances for other than runDisney races. Once you see your event under AVAILABLE EVENTS, click on it. Since this is a brand new system, I have not seen the rest of the registration process. However, if it is anything like how it used to be, you will be given the choice of date, shift time and race.

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Another way is to start on the runDisney website. First, go to http://www.rundisney.com/volunteer/. You can also get to this page from www.rundisney.com at the bottom under OTHER LINKS. This is the official page for runDisney events and you can check for information and the status of events by clicking the down arrow where is says VOLUNTEER FOR SELECT AN EVENT, which is located UNDER the pictures. (The EVENTS button at the top of the page next to the runDisney title is for runner information) On the day of sign up, choose the race, click on REGISTRATION. When it’s time, the words REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN will appear. Click on this and it will take you to your volunteer account page. Once you log in, go down to AVAILABLE EVENTS and choose the race you are signing up for.

There are many other opportunities to volunteer for. If you are interested in volunteering for other sports events, go to https://espnwwos.com and click on VOLUNTEER. This will take you to a list of events at Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports, which include runDisney races. These all count toward Disney points awards. You can use this page to navigate to registration. When the race registration opens, click on it, it will take you to the runDisney page. Click on REGISTRATION NOW OPEN to take you to your Log in. This is the most roundabout way and better used for ESPN events.

Now that you know how to register, your next question is probably "When?" For runDisney events, volunteer registration is 3 to 4 months before the event. Sign up dates for 2016-17 are as follows:

Disneyland Half Marathon, Sept 1-4, 2016 Closed
Disneyland Paris, Sept 23-25, 2016 Closed
WDW Disney Wine & Dine, Nov 3-6, 2016 July 26, 2016, Noon (ET)
DL Super Heroes, Nov 10-13, 2016 July 19, 2016, 9am (PDT)
WDW Marathon, Jan 4-8, 2017 Sept 13, 2016 Noon (ET)
DL Star Wars- Light Side, Jan 12-15, 2017 Sept 27, 2016 9am (PDT)
WDW Disney Princess, Feb 23-26, 2017 Nov 15, 2016 Noon (ET)
WDW Star Wars- Dark Side, Apr 20-23, 2017 Not yet announced
DL Tinker Bell, May 11-14, 2017 February

These times and dates may change, so be sure to sign up for emails on the runDisney site at the bottom under OTHER LINKS and check the site occasionally.

Then you have to decide which events you want to volunteer for. (I have only volunteered at WDW, so can only speak of these races) Your choices will include the race Expo, which is indoors; the kids’ races; Race Retreat; the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon (Marathon weekend only). ALL races are now very early morning races. You choose a shift for the Expo, Half Marathon and Marathon (you will also choose an assignment at this time) and do a general sign-up for the rest of the races (You will choose your assignment when you arrive for your shift). (Again, this information may change with the new system.)

Those of you who have volunteered before know that Disney compensates their volunteers with points and park tickets. The ESPN events, race Expo and kids' races are all on the point system. You receive 1 point for each hour you volunteer. When you reach 16 points, you are mailed a 1-Day 1-Park ticket, good for any of the Walt Disney World theme parks. (Be aware that your points will be erased at the end of the year, they will not carry over.) For each shift completed for the 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathons, a 1-Day 1-Park ticket will be mailed to you within 60 days. (They will no longer hand you a ticket at the end of a half or full marathon shift.)

Another change is that for the 5K, 10K, Half and Full marathon you MUST pick up special credentials BEFORE the race. When you sign up for a race, you will receive a packet (envelope) about 30 days before race weekend that will include your scheduled shifts, directions and paper name tag. For the longer races, you must pick up a different name tag (credentials) in order to volunteer. You can pick these up at an early pick-up or at the Expo. You will also need to bring a signed waiver, found on the runDisney race page. Volunteers must be 14 years old and up, younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult registered for the same shift. Those 18 and younger must have a parent waiver when signing in.

If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact them. For Walt Disney World runs, call 407-938-3880, or email wdw.sportsenthusiast@disneysports.com. For Disneyland runs, email DLrunDisney.Volunteers@disneysports.com. For those with a medical background who would like to volunteer, call the Medical Volunteer Hotline at 407-303-4053.

Volunteering for runDisney events means you will start very early, you will be standing for up to 8 hours, and you will be outside in the weather (rain or shine), but those hours go by quicker than you expect. So, when you decide to volunteer, expect to show up well-rested, wearing comfortable closed-toed shoes, prepared for the weather, and most of all, with a smile on your face and encouragement for the runners. It is definitely rewarding.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
During the first of her two runDisney races, Rebecca Foreman decided that it looked like the volunteers were having so much fun, she had to try it for herself. She was right, and is now hooked! Walt Disney World holds a special place in her heart as the best family trip taken when she was a child, and it still gives her that nostalgic, magical feeling every time she is lucky enough to get there.


July 11, 2016

Wayne Hunt and Hunt Design: As Disney as a non-Disney company can be

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New signage at the San Diego Zoo was designed by Hunt Design of Pasadena, Calif. [Courtesy of Hunt Design]

For most of his working life, Wayne Hunt has made a name for himself by telling people where to go.

Really.

Hunt, the principal founder of Hunt Design, a California-based graphic design company that specializes in creating signage of all shapes and sizes, has a strong connection to the Walt Disney Company even though, as he puts it, "I've never taken a payroll check" from Disney.

"Hunt Design has been a near continuous signage and graphics consultant to Disney since the late 1970s," Wayne said recently. "We've played minor roles in eight or so of the parks, multiple hotels, RD&E, D23 shows, etc."

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Wayne Hunt [Courtesy of Hunt Design]

Established in 1977, Hunt Design specializing in wayfinding design, signage systems, environmental graphics and exhibit design for public spaces, parks, museums, attractions, retail projects, entertainment centers, hospitality and multi-use developments. Wayne also has authored three books on signage and related graphics design.

Hunt Design's services include identity development, signage master planning, site evaluation reports, concept consultation, programming, schematic design, design development, documentation and implementation supervision. Hunt Design has a staff of 14 and has been located in Pasadena, Calif., since 1983.

Most recently, Hunt Design made contributions to the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort.

"We had a couple nice pieces in Shanghai, especially a lot of the Tomorrowland signage," Wayne said. "We think we are about as Disney as a non-Disney company can be."

Wayne Hunt has had a long and fruitful relationship with former Walt Disney Imagineering creative leader Marty Sklar, spanning 40-plus years.

"I go back with Marty to 1974!" Wayne said. "I was a young designer working on the first two hotels at Walt Disney World and Marty was a WED Enterprises writer tasked with naming the stores, restaurants — even the food items.

"Even then he was a tough critic and keeper of the creative flame. I've probably worked with him or eventually had to make presentations to him on dozens of occasions — a few each year."

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Signage created by Hunt Design for the city of Burbank, Calif. {Courtesy of Hunt Design]

Marty, who has always had a sharp eye for talent, saw something special in Wayne above and beyond his design skills and asked him to become involved with one of his pet projects — Ryman Arts.

"In 2007 or so, he talked me into joining the board of Ryman Arts [of which Marty was one of the founders] and a few calendar pages in the wind later, I replaced him as president of Ryman in 2014. Big shoes to fill.

"He remains a beloved and iconic figure in my life."

The feeling is mutual.

"Wayne became one of — if not THE best — graphic designers and firms in Southern California. He has done a ton of work for Disney over the years — especially in the hotels.

"We were fortunate to get him on our Ryman Arts board about 10 years ago and started 'grooming' him to succeed me as president," Marty said.

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Disney Legend Herb Ryman [The Walt Disney Company]

"He also teaches graphics at the Art Center in Pasadena. He's a great guy to work with and Wayne and Carla are a wonderful couple to know!"

Imagine that. Making a name for yourself telling people where to go.

"Helping people access, enjoy and understand complex places is both an art and a science," Wayne says. "We're really in the place-making business."

Ryman Arts was founded in 1990, a year after legendary artist Herb Ryman passed away. Ryman was arguably Walt Disney's favorite artist, according to Marty Sklar, and the free, fine arts education program he helped inspire, based in Los Angeles, gives young students an opportunity to learn from some of the finest artists in the country.

According to Marty, "Herb introduced the public to many new Disney projects: The Matterhorn and New Orleans Square, Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the entrance and major pavilions in Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. His body of work is unequaled in the Disney Park vernacular."

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Some examples of artwork created by Ryman Arts students. [Courtesy of Ryman Arts]


Marty and his wife Leah were among the six founding members of Ryman Arts, a non-profit organization. Joining them were Lucille Ryman Carroll [Herb's sister, who wanted her brother's legacy to be known far and wide]; Sharon Disney Lund [Walt Disney's youngest daughter, "who was always there, quietly, without fanfare, buying supplies, paying a bill without telling anyone," according to Marty] and Buzz and Anne Price ["the glue" for Ryman Arts, according to Marty]. The Prices' son, David, is currently on Ryman Arts' Board of Directors, carrying on the family tradition.

And, of course, there's current Ryman Arts president Wayne Hunt, who, as is his wont, has helped keep the program pointed in the right direction.

"Wayne has done a great job," Marty says enthusiastically. "He's a terrific spokesman for the program, and the arts in general."

July 10, 2016

What Do You Do When The Planning Is Done?

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One of the Facebook pages I read on a regular basis is “You May Be a Canadian Disney Addict If . . . “ The page is populated by dedicated Disney fans from across Canada and describes itself as “Where everything Disney meets the Great White North.”

I was fascinated by a post I saw there just a few days ago.

Christine M. from Hamilton, Ontario wrote: “Do you ever feel sad when your trip is all planned and there is nothing left to do but wait? Sometimes I make up imaginary things to keep me busy, like making itineraries I won't actually look at, just to have something vacation related to do. I am at 96 days - ADR's are done and it’s too early for FastPasses. What else can I do to feel the Disney magic while I wait?

I’m sure we’ve all felt Christine’s frustration. While you plan your Disney vacation there are spurts of activity as you hit those important time thresholds; you can make your hotel reservations as much as 499 days in advance, book your dining reservations 180 before your trip and make those FastPass+ bookings at the 60 day mark. (By the way, do you need a handy tool to help you determine those important booking dates? Try the Planning Strategy Calculator. It’s easy and it’s free. Give it a try by clicking the link HERE.)

For many of us, the planning is almost as much fun as the trip! So how do we keep the magic alive during the lulls, between those key dates, those brief flurries of activity? As you read above, Christine makes up imaginary itineraries. They are quite detailed, and even colour-coded. It sounds like she puts a lot of effort into schedules she will never use!

Some of the other readers offered some interesting comments and suggestions.

1. Cheryl S. from Uxbridge, Ontario, Charissa T. from Jordan Station, Ontario, Allainna S. and Tara K. all watch Disney related YouTube videos and vlogs.

2. Jen L. from Georgetown, Ontario makes Mickey ears and door decorations to pass the time.

3. Laura M. from Hamilton, Ontario suggests: “Watch YouTube videos of where you will be staying and rides you like. Read Disney trivia. Watch movies related to particular rides.”

4. Michelle G. keeps checking her airline for cheaper flights, earlier in the day.

5. Jennie B. makes Disney activity books to keep her kids busy on the plane.

6. Tara H. shops for Disney themed outfits. (Tara must be a “Disney-bounder”)

7. Michelle B. reads Disney Food Blogs and plans all of her family’s meals.

8. I chuckled when I read Lisa C.’s comment. She wrote, “Thank God it's not just me!

No Lisa, you can be absolutely certain that it’s not just you! I could visualize my wife Carol and a lot of our “Disney friends” as I read the comments and activities listed above. I think most Disney fans enjoy the planning almost as much as they enjoy the trip itself!

There are plenty of tools to help plan your Disney vacation. The shelves in your local book store probably contain a number of different books dedicated to planning your Disney trip, but it’s also nice to have first-hand tips from other travellers. Don’t forget to check out the AllEars Reader’s Tips Archive; it’s just packed full of good ideas. You can find it by clicking the link HERE. In fact, that’s something you can do between those key booking dates, read some helpful tips from AllEars fans.

Of course, there have to be many other ways to keep your entire family excited and enthused about your upcoming trip. Why don’t you share some of your ideas with us!

How do you keep the Disney magic alive during those planning lulls?

July 6, 2016

Animal Kingdom Date Night

By Guest Blogger Kay Belin

Over the years I have been asked many times about where can parents, grandparents, and couples go at Walt Disney World for a fun "date night". Disney has many superb dining options and lounges throughout the property but I think I found something that will offer you more then just a good meal.

The Animal Kingdom park has evolved to offer evening hours, new dining options, special shows and entertainment. My husband and I had a quick trip to Disney this past week and we decided to visit the Animal Kingdom to check out all the new offerings. It ended up being one of the most enjoyable, relaxing evenings ever spent.

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We started the evening with dinner reservations and we opted for a dining package for the new restaurant, Tiffins. The dining package includes a three course dinner and reserved seating for the 9:00pm Jungle Book Show. This park has needed another table service option for a long time and Tiffins fits this need. It is a place where you will want to walk around and see the decor and all the details that were used to make it very authentic. There are three dining rooms with different themes and decorations but all three share the same menu.

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One of the highlights is the big and beautiful Nomad lounge available to all guests whether you are there for dinner or not. There is comfortable seating inside and out and a fun and extensive drink menu.

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Dinner was very relaxing and service was superb. Portion sizes for the most part were adequate and the flavors and uniqueness of the choices were excellent. Although our dining room was full we never felt crowded and the noise level was low making conversation easy which is always nice when out on a date.

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After dinner it was time to stroll the park. This was probably my favorite time of the evening as we were drawn by the music being played in different locations. African dancing and songs were being enjoyed by many guests. It was easy to add a smile and move your own body to keep in time with the rhythm. The shops were open and it was an excellent time to browse or purchase as the crowd levels were lower in the evening.

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You can simply walk and enjoy the atmosphere or head to some of the many attractions that are open in the evening. One of the most popular will be the evening Safari adventures. Watching the animals as the sun begins to set is exciting and many of them will be waking up from their day long naps and moving about. If you are looking for something more exciting then head to Everest where you will truly get the best view of a sunset in the park as you climb the mountain.

We were not interested in hitting the attractions but did notice that wait times were very short so it didn't seem to be necessary to have FastPasses at this time.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to head to the seating area for the Jungle Book show. For the dining package guests it is directly across from the Finding Nemo show entrance. For the FastPass guests the seating is across from Everest. We were told to be sure and get there by 8:30pm as at 8:45pm they will open all sections up for standby guests to fill. There were cast members who were interacting with the guests which made the time go by quickly. There are handicap areas in the first rows for wheelchairs and ECV's and they will direct you to that area when you arrive. I will share a word of caution about the seating. The benches are hard and quite hot. It will be like sitting on a rock that is out in the open sun all day. So come prepared and have something to sit on and it will make it much more enjoyable.

magic-of-jungle-book12.jpg


The Jungle Book show is something that was pulled together when there was a delay to their premiere show, Rivers of Light. I watched with little expectation but we thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. Every guest will have a good view, the sound was not too loud, and the entertainment was fun. This show is not necessarily the best Disney has produced but it certainly was a fun way to enjoy an evening. The water images were not clear and if you had not seen the Jungle Book the images would be hard to understand. But whether you have seen the movie or not the entertainment was fun. My favorite part of the show were the three fire twirlers....what an amazing group of talented cast members. And I don't want to forget the incredible dancers and singers who participated.

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As we exited the show area we again felt the draw of music and found an entertainer playing near the Flame Tree Barbecue. In a matter of minutes the Tree of Life came to life with its own new story of projections and lights. It was magical and a perfect way to end our evening in the Animal Kingdom Park.

We found this a perfect "date night" opportunity but it doesn't have to exclude the families. There are so many different things to do in this park to fill an evening between signature dining at Tiffins to authentic street entertainment to an exciting show. The crowd numbers were well handled so it didn't feel like you were among the masses. And it was interesting but all the guests seemed to be in a more relaxed mood then at many of the other parks in the evening. You can add excitement by enjoying attraction rides or you can just walk and enjoy the ambiance and sunsets. I am confident we will be heading back to an evening in the Animal Kingdom park on our next visit.

June 27, 2016

Disney Legend Marty Sklar on Shanghai Disneyland: 'It's the best Disney park'

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Disney Legend Marty Sklar greets a fan on Mickey Avenue during opening day at Shanghai Disneyland Resort. [The Walt Disney Company]


CHUCK SCHMIDT / Still Goofy About Disney
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

The first time Marty Sklar walked down the main thoroughfare of a Disney theme park -- Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A., on July 17, 1955 -- he was a 21-year-old intern working in the park's public relations department and was, for all intents and purposes, just another face in the overheated crowd on that momentous opening day.

The most recent time Marty walked down the main thoroughfare of a Disney theme park -- Shanghai Disneyland's Mickey Avenue, on opening day, June 17, 2016 -- he was an 82-year-old retiree who was far from just another face in the crowd.

This time around, he was recognized.

A man named Christian Ahuis of Cologne, Germany, was scurrying along Mickey Avenue [Shanghai Disneyland's equivalent of Main Street U.S.A.] on opening day when he spotted the former head of Walt Disney Imagineering on the crowded street. Marty was sporting a blue ball cap, a lanyard with his Disney name tag affixed to it and a white wind breaker on the damp and drizzly day.

"Marty!" Ahuis screamed. He walked up to the Disney Legend and proceeded to ask him if he'd pose for a photo.

"That's the best part of the day," Ahuis said afterward. "I got my picture taken with Marty Sklar! I'm such a Disney geek."

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Excited guests get emotional as they enter the park during opening day at Shanghai Disneyland Resort. [Orange County Register]

For years, Marty Sklar has held the distinction of being the only Disney cast member to have played a role in the opening of all 11 Disney theme parks worldwide. Although Marty, who retired from the Walt Disney Company in 2009 after 55 years of helping to create magic, wasn't directly involved in the creation of Shanghai Disneyland, Disney's 12th park, his influence, guidance and inspiration on the scores and men and women who worked on Shanghai was invaluable. So, in a very real sense, Marty Sklar played a important role in Shanghai's development: That of a mentor.

Still, a year ago Marty, had his doubts as to whether he'd make the long trip to China, thus breaking his streak of at least being at every Disney park on opening day.

"On the other 11 parks, I was actively involved," he told me last summer. "On 10 of them [except for Disneyland Day One], I had an active part in creating them. Shanghai is different; I've had nothing to do with it.

"I love what they are doing and the creative leader, Bob Weis, has done a marvelous job. When the park opens, he will have spent six or seven years developing and building it. Bob and his fellow Imagineers [many of them I trained] deserve the credit. I don't want to be seen as horning in on their party."

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Marty Sklar answers a question during an interview inside the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. [Cheers Publishing Company]

As Shanghai's opening day approached, however, Marty had a change of heart and made the long flight from Los Angeles to mainland China for all the pomp and ceremonies. "Our former fearless leader," wrote Wayne Hunt after posting a photo of Marty on Mickey Avenue. "He's the only person to have been present at the opening of all 12 Disney parks." [Hunt, the principal of Hunt Design, has worked with Marty on a number of Disney-related projects since 1974. His firm also made contributions to Shanghai Disneyland's signage, particularly in Tomorrowland.]

"I left my plush home," Marty joked, "but it was a great trip" ... adding, quite emphatically, that Shanghai Disneyland is "the best Disney park!"

Shanghai Disneyland has been open less than two weeks, but its reputation has been spreading quickly. In designing the park, Disney's planners interviewed residents of China and took the unprecedented step of asking them what they wanted and didn't want in the new park.

"They started by spending a good year learning what the mainland Chinese thought of the Disney parks and each attraction," Marty said. "Among the results: No train circles the park, as well as huge changes to the Pirates of the Caribbean." There's also a boat ride -- Voyage of the Crystal Grotto -- that sails under the castle, a first for a Disney park. Indeed, Enchanted Storybook Castle holds another distinction: It's the largest and tallest castle in all of the Disney parks worldwide.

Shanghai Disneyland is divided into six themed lands: Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Fantasyland, Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle and Tomorrowland. The Gardens of Imagination serves as the hub of the park; within the area are seven Chinese-themed gardens.

Among the familiar attractions and shows in Shanghai Disneyland are The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; a Star Wars Launch Bay; Peter Pan's Flight, and For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Singalong.

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Marty shows the redesigned cover of his recently re-released book "Dream It! Do It!". [Cheers Publishing Company]

There also are a number of familiar attractions that have been re-imagined by Disney's creative team. Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure has been reworked into a bigger, more elaborate adventure. Guests ride in magnetically propelled boats past Audio-Animatronics figures and projected scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, with sword fights and a sea battle among the many thrilling highlights.

"Pirates of the Caribbean [at Shanghai Disneyland] is the best park attraction ever," Marty says bluntly. "Great big sets, plenty of action, seamless blend of sets and film, a boat that can spin 360 degrees." Clearly, he was impressed.

Marty also enjoyed Soarin' Over the Horizon, which is an updated version of the original Soarin' in Disney's California Adventure and Soarin' Over California in Epcot. The Shanghai Disneyland attraction features panoramic views of The Great Wall of China and many of the world's most iconic natural and man-made structures.

Marty also was impressed with the TRON Lightcycle Power Run, which takes the place of Space Mountain, a staple in all of the other Disney parks. In the TRON attraction, guests ride in realistic-looking lightcycles inside a darkened structure for a thrilling adventure through the futuristic world of TRON, the 1982 science fiction thriller.

That film saw the lead character transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer, where he interacts with programs in his attempt to escape. Curiously, the original concept for Space Mountain, proposed by Disney Legend John Hench in the 1970s, was a journey through the inner workings of a computer. The technology [or lack of it] of the time prevented that version of the attraction from being built.

"The TRON racers, Tomorrowland, the castle, Soarin', Pirates ... are all fabulous attractions. For me, it was a great trip ... but it's good to be home."

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Marty autographs a few items while promoting the re-release of his first book, "Dream It! Do It!". [Cheers Publishing Company]

Marty also took time out from his park explorations to do some promotional work for his latest book, One Little Spark!, as well as his first book, Dream It! Do It!

In conjunction with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland, both books were re-released in China in Mandarin, the country's official language. "I'm told they printed 10,000 copies of Dream It! Do It!," Marty said. The book has been re-released by Cheers Publishing Company, with a new cover design.

During his visit to China, Marty squeezed in interviews for the Chinese media at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel before heading off to the park to become just another excited guest ... the only excited guest who had been through the experience 11 times before.

June 26, 2016

Be a Wilderness Lodge Flag Family

Gary Cruise banner

In December 2004 Carol and I had our picture taken with a backdrop that many people will never see.

The view from the roof

To the left of us you can see Cinderella Castle; to the right is Space Mountain and just peeking out between our heads is the Astro-Orbiter. Even though the morning sun shone directly in our eyes and made us squint a bit, I think it’s a great shot!

That morning we were the “Flag Family” at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.

At 8:15 a.m. we met a Cast Member in the lobby and he led us to the Concierge Level on the very top floor of the hotel.

We thought that the lobby looked great all decorated for Christmas, but it paled in comparison to what we were about to see!

The lobby

In a nearby corner the Cast Member unlocked a door and led us up an exterior stairwell to the roof.

Wow! What a view! Have you ever seen Bay Lake and Discovery Island from this perspective?

Bay Lake and Discovery Island

Or the Contemporary Resort from this angle?

Contemporary Resort

Here’s the Walt Disney World Train Station on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

The Train Station

There’s the Astro-Orbiter in Tomorrowland.

Astro-Orbiter

The sun was shining brightly on the Grand Floridian . . .

The Grand Floridian

. . . and Cinderella Castle looked stunning in the early morning light!

Cinderella Castle

We raised five flags that morning, naturally the Stars and Stripes was first, followed by the State of Florida flag.

Raising Old Glory

Next was the Disney flag . . .

Disney Flag

. . . then two Wilderness Lodge flags.

Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge

The Cast Member pointed out a number of items as we stayed for a few minutes snapping pictures. Off in the distance we saw downtown Orlando, EPCOT, MGM Studios and a number of resort hotels.

From the rooftop vantage point you can see almost all of Walt Disney World. It was a fantastic morning. We have tried several times since to repeat the experience, but with no luck! It books up very quickly!

So . . . how do you get to be a Flag Family?

Unfortunately, at the present time you don’t. The program has been "suspended" for a while. The Wilderness Lodge Resort is being refurbished and because of the construction public access of the roof is no longer deemed safe.

Construction is scheduled for completion in 2017 and hopefully the Flag Family program will be reinstated at that time.

If the program returns the old criteria will probably still apply:
1. You must be a registered guest at Wilderness Lodge Resort or Wilderness Lodge Villas to be eligible as a Flag Family.
2. You must book in person, at the front desk, during your stay. You cannot book before your arrival at the hotel.
3. Small groups only. Space is very tight on the roof and would no accommodate more than five or six people.
4. You must be fit enough to climb a relatively steep flight of stairs.

On the Concierge Level

The Cast Member was a wonderful host and we thoroughly enjoyed our short time on the roof at Wilderness Lodge; I hope that management restores the Flag Family program once renovations are completed.

It would truly be a shame if others, including you, could not enjoy that view!

Enjoy some Flag Family photos from over 10 years ago that our readers sent in. Are any of you still vacationing in Disney?

Deb and Friends as Flag Family July 2007.

If you are going to be a guest at Wilderness Lodge, or the Villas, after 2017 be sure to ask at the front desk if you can be the “Flag Family” during your stay!

June 24, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - June 2016

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® newsletter, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Every month, James also 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 is the solution to the last crossword puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb053116-key.pdf

We received 41 correct responses; all of you knew that Donald Duck’s middle name, according to his draft card seen in the short “Donald Gets Drafted,” was indeed Fauntleroy. Someone asked me if there was any significance to this name in Disney lore, and this was what I found on http://www.meetthemouse.com/donald-ducks-middle-name/#

"Donald Duck’s middle name, as revealed by a close-up of his draft card in the 1942 wartime cartoon ‘Donald Gets Drafted’, is Fauntleroy. His full name really is Donald Fauntleroy Duck, which is unique because he is the only Disney character to have an official middle name.

"Why Fauntleroy? Well, although we don’t know for sure one way or the other, there is a clue in the meaning of the name. Fauntleroy means ‘an excessively well-mannered or elaborately dressed young boy.’ Combined with what we know of Donald’s smart little sailor suit and notorious bad temper, the name is likely a Disney joke. Donald’s parents were apparently into peculiar names though, as they named his sister Dumbella."

The winner of a Donald Duck pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Thomas H. of Absecon, NJ.

If you missed it, that’s OK, because here’s another chance!

This month we continue with the special crossword puzzle series concentrating on Disney History. The subject of this month’s puzzle is “This Month in Disney History, June.” All of these events happened sometime during the month of June. Please note, for this puzzle ALL of the clues are used.

http://allears.net/ae/mb062416.pdf

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 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 July 22, 2016. 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- to late July.

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

Thanks!

June 20, 2016

Disney fan clubs have captured people's imaginations, and fueled their passion, for years

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The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet planning committee. That's founder Don Morin, second from the right. [Courtesy of the Northwest Pacific Mouse Meet]

CHUCK SCHMIDT / Still Goofy about Disney
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

During the weekend of May 14-15, 2011, I attended my first Disney fan convention. I walked through the doors of the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center at Walt Disney World at 8 on that Saturday morning and stepped into a different version of Disney's world ... a world populated by people wearing Mickey Mouse ears and Figment T-shirts, Disney-themed leather jackets and multi-colored vests adorned with the faces of Disney characters ... a world where nostalgia and memories were about to be rekindled and celebrated, with the help of many of the people who played such an integral role in generating all those warm memories in the first place.

I was walking into D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World's 40th. Even though I was a first-time fan event attendee, I felt a kinship with all those in attendance and anxiously looked forward to drinking in everything the two-day experience had to offer.

It turned out I was late on this very important date. Even though the first of the speakers and presenters wouldn't take the stage for another hour and a half, the queue stretched farther than the eye could see, from one side of the massive entrance lobby to the other, then around a corner and beyond. I walked to the end of the line, official event lanyard dangling from my neck, and joined the others, who didn't seem to mind the long line at all.

After the doors opened and everyone filed into the massive auditorium, I began to understand what all the excitement was about: What followed was a weekend worthy of an E Ticket park attraction: Exciting, thrilling, fun and entertaining, with memories that will truly last a lifetime.

D23, of course, is the official fan club of The Walt Disney Company. It was formed in 2009 as a way to keep Disney fans "in the middle of the magic." The group has its own website, throws a huge biennial Expo in California and even publishes its own magazine four times a year.

At each D23 Expo, the past, the present and the future all share the spotlight during the always jammed-to-the-rafters event in Anaheim, Calif. Disney Legends reminisce about their glory days, product displays give attendees an idea of what's hot on the market now, while Disney's top executives take the opportunity to introduce new theme park attractions or upcoming blockbuster movies to appreciative audiences.

In addition to its Expo, D23 offers a variety of events around the country for its members, including behind-the-scenes tours and exclusive movie screenings. On Nov. 19-20, they'll be hosting a major event at Walt Disney World. It's called Destination D: Amazing Adventures, to be held in the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. Presenters and panelists will include Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Tony Baxter; Walt Disney Imagineers Joe Rohde, Chris Merritt, Jason Grandt and Wyatt Winter; producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast); and Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline. A selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise as well as limited-edition pins, T-shirts and collectibles themed to the event will be available for purchase by eager fans.

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Disney Legend Marty Sklar signs a copy of his first book, "Dream It! Do It!", during an appearance at a Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. [Courtesy of the Northwest Pacific Mouse Meet]

But D23 is far from the only Disney fan club out there. Regular gatherings, whether they are once a year, every other year or every few months, are the hallmarks of these groups ... as is their affection for all things Disney. They get together to share that mutual love, reveling in the past while keeping a watchful eye on what's planned for the future.

One of the most popular fan gatherings, the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet, is held in Lynnwood, Wash., outside of Seattle, each year [it'll run from July 9-10]. Guest speakers this year include Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar, as well as Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin. In addition to its main event, the group also hosts smaller 'mini-Meet Ups' throughout the year both locally, in the parks and at other select locations, including at the D23 Expo.

Founded in 2009 by Don Morin, the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet strives to capture the essence of what it means to be a Disney devotee. Morin is proud to say his Mouse Meet is "by Disney fans, for Disney fans."

Morin's love of Disney began in 1974 when his grammar school class was asked to write a report on a famous person from the 1900s. He chose Walt Disney. The experience "had a profound affect on me, for sure," he said. From that point on, with his Disney switch flipped, "I had a desire to learn who was creating all this magic."

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Stacia Martin, an artist and Disney historian, will be featured during this year's Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. [Courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet]

The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet grew out of that quest to take a deep dive into Disney history and culture. Morin says he devotes hundreds of hours into giving guests as rewarding an experience as possible; he has many hard-working volunteers helping him to achieve that goal. The work includes "prep on so many levels. Contacting vendors and guest celebrity speakers; working with the convention center and the volunteer team; updating the website; planning, building displays and securing photo ops; writing, producing and recording videos, scripts, travel, set-up and so much more. It's definitely a love and a passion for what I do for Disney fans."

This year's event is already sold out, with a crowd of about 500 fellow Disney fanatics expected to be on hand for presentations, product displays, memorabilia sales and, as an added treat, Dole Whips.

Marty Sklar, the former creative leader of Walt Disney Imagineering, has high praise for the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet and Don Morin.

"It's the second time for me, and I know it is for Bob [Gurr]. Don Morin runs such a great show and is a grand host. He's had Tony Baxter, Don Hahn, Kevin Rafferty and many other Disney and Pixar people participate in the past."

Getting Disney's blessing is a major coup for Morin. In 2015, D23 participated in the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet by supplying guest speakers. This year, D23 will be a sponsor. [The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet has a number of sponsors, including AllEars.Net].

"Earning the respect and partnership of so many people over the years has been key to longevity, growth and building of the PNW Mouse Meet brand," Morin said. "From early on, guest celebrities have been so impressed with the event, how it is run, what it represents and what it offers the guests, that these guest celebrities go back home and talk to others about the event and even recommend them being a part of the event in the future.

"One Disney Legend has been noted as stating several times, 'The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet is by far the best fan run Disney fan event in the country.'"

During the 2013 event, Morin presented a donation to Marty Sklar earmarked for Ryman Arts, a cause near and dear to Marty's heart [he and his wife Leah, as well as Lucille Ryman Carroll, Sharon Disney Lund and Harrison and Anne Shaw Price founded the arts education group in 1990 in honor of Disney Legend Herb Ryman].

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A poster advertises the upcoming Disneyana Fan Club event where proceeds will benefit Ryman Arts. [Courtesy of Disneyana Fan Club]

Another well-known Disney fan group, the Disneyana Fan Club, will be holding a dinner and fundraising event of its own on July 13 in Garden Grove, Calif., with proceeds also going to Ryman Arts. "This event is our 'big' fundraiser for Ryman Arts," said Dennis Ritchey, Ryman Arts Fund Raising Event Coordinator for the Disneyana Fan Club. "This will be our 10th year doing this and currently we are about $4,000 away from having donated $100,000 to Ryman Arts over the past 10 years." The club also holds fundraisers throughout the year for other worthy causes.

The Disneyana Fan Club is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich legacy of Walt Disney. Its common goal is to provide Disneyana enthusiasts of all ages from around the world with news, information and events that enhance their experience with, and love of, all things Disney. The group also publishes a member newsletter, called the Disneyana Dispatch.

The Disneyana Fan Club holds an annual gathering, called DisneyanaMania Convention, July 13-16, while staging other events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

"In addition to our annual convention in July, we usually have several special events," Ritchey noted. "Last year, we had an event at the Smoke Tree Ranch, and a great afternoon at the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood, where Lisa Henson accepted our Legends Award posthumously for her father."

Cathy Perrone, a Disneyana Fan Club board member in charge of special events, adds that the group "hosts events that showcase some of the finest talent the Disney brand has to offer. ... A recent outing was a weekend at Walt's 'happy place,' Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs. Our group was able to see Walt and Lillian's two homes, learning why they were so special to them."

Ms. Perrone added that Disneyana Fan Club prides itself "in bringing 'intimate' experiences so our members and their guests are able to speak to, shake hands with and, yes, get autographs and pose for pictures" with some of Disney's most prominent Legends.

"One of our personal favorites was a magnificent luncheon in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel. There, we were treated to a rare opportunity with eight of the original Mouseketeers. They surprised us with interviews, live music and dance. To top off that special day, Tommy Cole sang 'Annette,' which was written by Disney Legend Jimmy Dodd."

At its DisneyanaMania Convention, "we have an annual Luncheon with a Disney Legend. This is an opportunity for our organization to honor and salute those individuals who have helped make so many of our dreams come true through their talents, skills and artistry.

"We began this tradition in 1993 and to date have bestowed this honor to 137 individuals," Ms.Perrone added. "While a few have been presented posthumously, I'd say 98 percent of all those honored were able to attend in person and were very moved by this honor. It is a highlight of our club and one that makes it very special."

According to Ritchey, "there are Disneyana Fan Club chapters throughout the country and we have members worldwide."

There are other clubs out there, as well ... smaller, less well-known, perhaps, but drawing devoted Disney fans to the fold. Many are popular online sites, some are tied to the Disney Vacation Club, like Mouseowners. But all have one thing in common: A desire by its participants to spread the word about Disney and share their thoughts, ideas and opinions about their passion.

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