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September 18, 2017

Disney Vacation Club’s Moonlight Madness at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom Luggage Tag - Customizable - Limited Release


By Guest Blogger H.A. Rockwood

Disney Vacation Club is celebrating 25 years of magic this year and to thank the almost 200,000 families that like to call Disney “home”, they have had a series of special events planned including Moonlight Magic; a members only in-park celebration with characters, rides, treats and more!


I had the pleasure of attending the first event at Magic Kingdom in March and had so much fun that I knew I wanted to try and attend the other events as well. When they announced the date for people to sign up I made my reservations for four people and marked the date on my calendar!

When September 6th was approaching there was some concern about the event being able to take place as scheduled due to Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival, but luckily the weather cooperated and, though humid, we didn’t feel any rain drops!

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The event began at 9:30pm and ran until 1:00am but allowed guests to get in as early as 7pm to “jumpstart the fun”. There were several check-in locations including DVC resorts, Disney’s Animal Kingdom park entrance and a few in park locations as well. My party met at the handy light up event balloons at the turnstiles and checked in with my Membership Card and Photo ID and we were given wrist bands, event guides and one Dino-Rama Game Voucher per person.

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With guides in hand we headed off to Dinosaur for a quick ride and an opportunity to read through and see what our game plan would be to maximize our fun! Wait time for the rides were already low by the time we had entered the park (just after 9pm) and Dinosaur was quoting 15 minutes so we jumped in line. Unfortunately, due to debris in the ride path, our wait ended up being close to 30 minutes.


As we exited the ride area and dumped out into DinoLand U.S.A. we walked right into a Dance Party with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto all dressed up in their jungle gear!

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To the left there was a fun photo opportunity with Donald and Daisy who were dressed as “Duckosaurs”.

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The Duckosaurs had a very long line so instead we headed to Restaurantosaurus, one of the four locations serving the free snacks and beverages (along with a fifth location, Creature Comforts, which had only Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars).

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The complimentary snacks offered were hot dogs, potato chips, snack size baby carrots, snack size apple slices, and a chocolate chip cookie, as well as fountain beverages. The lines were not too long but it was a bit hectic when we got there and it took around ten minutes to receive our selections.

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After our snacks we made our way over to Fossil Fun Games to use our free vouchers for one game of our choosing. The four of us decided on the Fossil Fueler water squirt game and there was a full house of hopeful winners but by some miracle seat three was the winner: me! I humbly accepted my priceless plush prize and went in search of the complimentary glowing drink lantern at the Rivers of Light. The show had two times that evening but our group was not going to be able to make either of them so we asked if we could have the lanterns without attending and they were happy to oblige. Drink mugs in hand we took off for Expedition Everest because who can resist a five minute wait?


Along with Expedition Everest and Dinosaur they had six other attractions open: It’s Tough to be a Bug, Kilimanjaro Safaris (only open until 10:00pm), Primeval Whirl, TriceraTop Spin, Na’vi River Journey, and Avatar Flight of Passage. Wait times were very low except for Avatar Flight of Passage which hovered around an hour for most of the evening. Since all of us were locals and rides weren't a priority we went in search of some other entertainment and ran into another dance party on Discovery Island. Guests were being encouraged to join in on the fun with the many costumed performers while they danced to hits from Whitney Houston and Gloria Estefan.


There were several character opportunities near Discovery Island including Flik, Atta and Slim from A Bug’s Life; and Carl, Dug and Russell from Up. Around the other side you could also find Tarzan and Jane, Pocahontas and Meeko, and Rafiki and Timon. The lines were a bit long for us so we made the decision to come back later.

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Our next stop was the Discovery Trading Company to check out the exclusive event merchandise. The items for sale were a T-shirt and a pin. The T-shirt retailed for $29.99 and the pin retailed for $14.99 and DVC members were allowed to use their member discount as long as they showed their member card and a photo ID.

We finally decided it was time to see how Pandora was doing and were excited to discover that Na’vi River Journey was a walk on with a wait time of 15 minutes posted. Unfortunately, Flight of Passage was still holding steady at about an hour so we decided we were all ready for our free Mickeys Premium Ice Cream Bar! Creature Comforts (normally the Starbucks location) was not busy at all and we had to practically beg them not to give us each more than one of the fast melting treats!

Once our bellies were satisfied, our bodies cooled down and our feet rested we went in search of the character lines and were thrilled to see the Up characters had only a fifteen minute wait! Carl even rode up on his scooter and walked with his cane! The characters took their time with each family and did sign autographs for those who wanted them. PhotoPass Photographers were also available.

It was after midnight when we finished up our photos and the weather seemed to be getting muggier so we called it a night after stopping at the Tree of Life for a quick viewing of Awakening.

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The event was a huge success in this guests opinion. The crowds were obviously much lower than expected with the impending storm and the cast members were all eager to show everyone a good time offering extra food, encouraging people to join in on dance parties and character experiences, and keeping the energy high! The free game voucher and the complimentary glowing lantern mug were an added and unexpected bonus and the chance to enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark with low crowds can't be beat!

So, readers, how many of you were at the event? How was your experience?

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom Mug - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom Mug - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom Mug - Customizable - Limited Release


Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Men - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Men - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Men - Customizable - Limited Release


Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Women - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Women - Customizable - Limited Release

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom T-Shirt for Women - Customizable - Limited Release


September 17, 2017

2017 EPCOT Pin Event - Love is an Adventure

Carol Cruise banner

Another year has come and gone and so has another EPCOT annual pin event.

Love Is An Adventure logo

The “Love is an Adventure” pin event was held August 24th to August 26th this year and while many of us lament that we would have preferred that Disney left the event in September, this year if they had we would have been smack dab in the middle of hurricane Irma!

On February 14th - Valentine's Day - Disney officially announced the dates of the upcoming event on the disneyparksmerchandise.com site. The official "save the date notice" indicated that registration would open April 25th at 1 p.m.

Feb 14 2017 Announcement
Click on the image to see a larger version.

The announcement also stated that there would be no auction or breakfast this year. These were two things that many people would miss, although it didn't bother me as I never participated in the auction and hadn't planned on going to the breakfast.

On April 18th the itinerary was posted and the merchandise catalogue was available.

Itinerary
Click on the image to see a larger version.

This is when the excitement starts to build for me!

I was happy with the look of the pins and started making my wish list. Registration on April 25th went smoothly, without the mad dash for a breakfast ticket there wasn't a need to overload the web site at precisely 1 p.m. so it was an easy process done later in the day. The event did eventually sell out but not until later in June.

The next stage in preparation is completing the RSP (Random Selection Process). This had to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, July 18th. The RSP is like a lottery process that is run when you send in your list of pins that you want. There are 1100 registered guest for the event and the pins are all limited editions. Once the RSP has been submitted you sit back and wait for the results.

The e-mail from Disney telling me what pins I got through the RSP arrived July 25th, I was assigned all the pins that I had requested, the e-mail also went on to tell me that I would see the charge for the pins go through my credit card by August 8th. This year annual passholders received a 20% discount. Nice!

My travel plans were a bit different this year. Flying out of Syracuse was extremely pricey and for the first time ever I found a less expensive flight out of Canada. On the day before the event Gary drove me to the Ottawa airport. I caught a commuter flight from Ottawa to Toronto where I met up with Carrie, my travel companion for the event. We had a good flight to Orlando; picked up the rental car and arrived at Old Key West Resort by early evening. We quickly dropped off our luggage and headed to Disney Springs to have a sandwich at Earl's. After enjoying our sandwich and a quick visit with a friend we stopped by the pin store for a few minutes and, of course, a small purchase. From there we went to Guest Services to update passes and coordinate our fast passes. Once that was complete we headed back to the room via the grocery store. It had been a long day and we had to be up early for the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders breakfast.

Thursday morning came early but we were anxious and excited to be starting the event with the 7th annual Artist Breakfast. This annual event organized by Janis Lavender and John Rick of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Trader group is the perfect way to start the weekend.

Breakfast Buffet

This year it was held in the Durango room at Coronado Springs Resort. This was a bonus as the registration for the pin event was also held there, so that meant we could go right from the breakfast to the registration without leaving the building.

Team Canada
Part of the Canadian Trading Team!

The food was great and the interaction with the artists was wonderful. During the entire time you could see Alex Maher sketching away and those sketches were raffled off at the end of the breakfast to a half a dozen lucky winners.

Alex sketching

We were each give a keepsake button.

Breakfast Button

The artists that joined us this year from the Disney Creative Group (formally called Disney Design Group) were:

Alex Maher - Senior Character Artist, Disney Creative Group
Quynn Kimball - Graphic Designer, Disney Creative Group
Jess Willis - Freelance artist in house, Disney Creative Group
Ariel Silverstein - Freelance artist, Disney Creative Group

Artists and organizers

Breakfast group

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

Bob welcomes our group

The line was long, it always is, but it gives us time to chat with old friends and meet some new friends. This year we had a very large Canadian contingent attending so we were able to catch up with a few.

More of Team Canada

Our Canadian group is growing!

Our registration package included a welcome pin, our pre-ordered merchandise, a map for the scavenger hunt, a special $30 gift card, and our credentials that held our trading tabs and our ticket for the goodbye gift.

Gift Card

Welcome Gift
Our Welcoming gift.

Once we got through registration we assembled in the big trading room that is open until 7 p.m. for all event registered guests.

Trading Room

This is the area where we opened our packages, checked out our pins and started to trade. This is when we open the Mystery Boxes to see how lucky we’ve been!

Mystery Boxes

The Mystery Box Pins usually become the “coveted pins” of the weekend. This year they were lovely and I wanted them all. There were 16 pins in total, 2 per box. We were shown 8 of the pins before the event and the other 8 were the "chasers". The “known” 8 pins were limited release and the 8 chaser pins were Limited Editions of 250.

You can see where the challenge was!

I was lucky with my mystery boxes, I got several chasers and all of the “revealed” pins, I was able to work the room and actually get all the pins but three on that first day. I was confident that I could find the rest the next day.

Reveal Pins
Reveal Pins - Click on the image to see a larger version.

Chaser Pins
Chaser Pins - Click on the image to see a larger version.

Take a look at the Dumbo chaser pin above. Some of the pins read "Love is Nurturing" and some are blank like mine. Who knows which of the variants will become more collectible over time!

Carrie and I decided to leave earlier than usual and head to Animal Kingdom; neither of us had been to Pandora and we had decided that our mission this trip would be to see it all!

Pandora

We arrived at Animal Kingdom by 5 p.m. and the first stop was something to eat at Pizzafari then off to Pandora. We wandered a bit then tucked into the Satu'li Canteen for dessert.

Dessert

Next we checked out Wind Traders to see the popular banshees found in the Rookery. It was then time for our FastPass+ for the Na'vi River Journey.

The ride was beautiful and we decided that it was something we needed to do again before we went home.

The other item on our list of to-do's was to watch the Rivers of Light; neither of us had seen that either. We slowly wandered over to Asia and arrived a bit early but we were happy to sit under a big fan and cool down. The heat was really getting to us. Soon it was time for the FastPass+ entry into the outdoor theatre and we were seated waiting for the show.

Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light

It was lovely and well worth the wait.

After the show we slowly made our way out of the park and decided to make a quick trip to the grocery store for a few more things. We got lost, turned on the GPS in my phone and navigated our way out of wherever we were. We found the Publix store we were looking for and were soon back to the room. It had been a very long but rewarding day.

Friday morning there was no rush to get there so we took our time getting ready; we arrived at EPCOT about 8:45 a.m. and went immediately to the special event bag check area.

Ruby the sniffer-dog checked out our bags and we were quickly through to the event special park entry line.

Ruby checks a pin bag

Special entrance for traders

We stopped at the Pin Station on our way back to World Showcase, and then joined the line to get into the event at World ShowPlace. The line stretched back past the Canadian Pavilion!

Entry line

It is always long but the doors opened on time at 9:30 a.m. and we were in the air-conditioned room within minutes.

World ShowPlace

We wandered a bit to look at the decor and had our pictures taken to officially kick-off the weekend.

An event character

Postcard

The hall at World ShowPlace

Welcome sign

Artists signing

Then we started with two of the shorter lines. We chose the coffin game and the hatbox game.

Coffin Game

Hatbox Game

The lines at the trade board were very long so we decided to wait until later in the day.

When we received our credentials the day before we got our trading tabs; similar to last year we each received 4 trading tabs per day.

2017 Credentials
Click on the image to see a larger version.

The tabs give everyone a fair chance at getting to the trade boards and boxes.

Trading Tab

I don't mind this feature but I think that 5 tabs would be better. We were both done our trade lines well before the end of the event day.

We had also received a scavenger hunt map that could be completed over the two days. Carrie and I did ours in the morning while the lines were still quite long. I really loved the pin set that we were given when we completed the hunt.

New this year was the event specific merchandise shop, and they had lots of great items with the event logo.

Event Merchandise

There were hats, jackets, t-shirts and more. I was happy to buy the Alex & Ani bracelet to add to my collection.

Alex & Ani bracelet

At noon we headed over to Rose & Crown for our traditional lunch.

Eric and Trisha

I always make Advance Dining Reservations at Rose & Crown for both event days. I like to get out for a break and it is a good chance to visit with friends.

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After lunch we returned to the event and tackled one of the long trade board lines.

As always, the decor for the event was lavish!

Event decor

Some of the backdrops matched with the pins designed for the event.

Rapunzel's tower

Rapunzel Pin

Do you see the sign in front of Rapunzel's tower? Signs like that were clues in the scavenger hunt!

Scavenger Hunt Map

Scavenger Hunt Pins
These are the pins we won for completing the Scavenger Hunt.

The closing time for the event was 6 p.m. but Carrie and I left a bit early, stopped at Art of Animation on our way to the car and then proceeded directly to Disney Springs. We had dinner at Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar; it was great. I loved the fried chicken!

Carrie with her fried chicken

We were both stuffed when we were done. We took some time to walk off dinner and toured through the shops but the heat was beating us down so we headed back to the room. I suggested to Carrie that we could go for a swim to cool off a bit but her response was, "That seems like a lot of work." so I had a shower instead.

Saturday morning started pretty much the same as Friday, we arrived at the event just as the doors opened and we followed the crowd into the nice and cool World ShowPlace. We did a couple of the shorter lines and wandered around having some fun pictures taken. The photo-ops that were set up for the event offered lots of fun options, including posing with Tarzan and Jane, or the bride from the Haunted Mansion or just dressing up and being silly on the face of a postcard.

Fun with Tarzan and Jane

Haunted Mansion Bride

Haunted Mansion Bride

Haunted Mansion Bride

Postcard

Postcard

After all that posing we were hungry so we headed off for lunch.

Rose & Crown

After our lunch at Rose & Crown we stood in line for one of the trade boards, then I headed to the back room to do some trades and Carrie went off with Jay and Chantel in search of ice cream. Carrie, being the friend that she is, brought me back a Disney favourite of mine, a Cronut, it was yummy.

World ShowPlace was packed

During the afternoon there was a Disney Artist Panel where the artists answered questions that had been written out by the guests prior to their arrival.

Artist's Panel

There was an Artist Pin Signing where you could have the artist that designed your pin sign it for you.

Artist's Pin Signing

There were games that pre-selected guests participated in and could win wonderful pin prizes. Through out the entire two days the Pin Partners Product Previews were set up, showing the upcoming pins from Walt Disney World, Disneyland CA and Walt Disney Imagineering.

The day was coming to a close, we had used all our tabs, even a couple of extras that were gifted to us, I was thrilled with the pins I got off the boards this year; lots of limited editions and artist proofs. Some will go into my collection and some will go into my trade bag. During the Artist Panel the announcement had been made for next year event and I am excited already about it.

2018 Event Announcement

Coming in 2018 Walt Disney's Animation Celebration - Celebrating 95 Years of Disney Animation.

2018 Event Announcement

Of course dates will be announced next year but August seems to be the trend.

One of the last things Carrie and I did before leaving was pick up our farewell gift. We swapped a tab from our credentials for the set of four pins pictured below.

Farewell Gift

We waited until after the final grand prize door prize draw was done before we left the building and as we headed to the car I could feel the rain in the air. We didn't make it; the downpour started just as we walked by the Pin Station and did it come down! We were soaked by the time we got to the car. We had a dinner reservation at Kona Café and our plan was to then go to the Magic Kingdom to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks and then the Once Upon a Time castle projection show. We decided that after dinner, rather than continue in the rain and due to the fact that I was totally soaked, we would go back to the room. It was a good plan.

The event was over for another year, and I give this year’s event high marks. I really enjoyed the decorations; I thought the photo-op setups were fun. The merchandise shop was a nice addition and the gifts were great. I didn't miss the breakfast or the auction. The addition of the artist panel was nice too. The credentials this year were cardboard rather than plastic and I found that they didn't stand up well for the whole event, just a minor complaint though and I would like 5 tabs instead of 4.

Even though the event was over, Carrie and I still had a couple of days to explore Pandora and take in a Halloween Party.

Sunday started off with a rain storm that we sat out in the room and then we headed to Animal Kingdom for our FastPass+ on Flight of Passage. What an awesome ride! Then we met up with friends, Bob, Juanita and Joaquin for lunch at Satu'li Canteen. After lunch we rode Flight of Passage again; it was even better the second time.

By then it was time to head to Disney Springs for dinner at Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar with a group of our friends, 17 in total.

Dinner at The Boathouse

Carrie and I had decided that after dinner we would head over to the Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. We had a bit of time before it started so we rode the Little Mermaid ride, then found a patch of artificial turf in front of the castle and sat and waited. It was worth the wait; I love the new show.

Happily Ever After

When it was over we went back to Old Key West, met up with another friend for a bit of a chat in the lobby before calling it a night.

Monday we went to some outlet stores in the morning and wasted a bit of time at Animal Kingdom Lodge before heading to Animal Kingdom park for our FastPass+.

Festival of the Lion King

We watched the Festival of the Lion King show, met with our friends the Dobson's, rode Flight of Passage and did the early evening Kilimanjaro Safari.

Cheetah

Lion

Lion

We saw lots of animals and I regretted not having my camera. My phone captured a few good shots though!

After the safari we took a chance on getting a “walk-in” at Yak & Yeti for dinner. We lucked out and could sit at the bar without any reservation or wait. We had a great dinner there and then went back to Pandora to ride Na'vi and Flight again. It was raining and quite dark when we left the park.

Tuesday we were back to Animal Kingdom. We had noticed the tour booth near the safari ride the day before so we thought we would check and see if we could do the Caring for Giants tour.

Animal Tours

Sign up here

We signed up for the 10:30 a.m. tour and were the only two registered so it was a private tour. It was awesome, very inexpensive and very informative.

Caring for Giants

Close-up with the elephants

Our personal guide

I would recommend it if you have an hour to spare. We did one last Flight of Passage and then went to Disney Springs to have lunch at Earl’s. Our plan was to go back to the room, get ourselves packed and rest a bit before the Halloween Party. Mission accomplished!

We met with friends at the Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen and had a great dinner there, then immediately started trick or treating around the park.

Friends at the Halloween Party

It was hot and humid so we took things slow. We visited the pin store and bought a couple of party pins. We were disappointed that some of the pins had been pulled due to a quality issue. We rode Haunted Mansion . . . a must during a Halloween party . . . . then watched the parade and fireworks.

Boo to you

Hitchhiking Ghosts

Headless Horseman

After the last parade Carrie and I said our goodbyes to friends and headed back to the resort. It was over for another year.

Wednesday morning I said goodbye to Carrie, returned the car to the airport, got on the plane to Montreal, transferred planes in Montreal to a 23 minute flight to Ottawa where Gary was patiently waiting to drive me home.

It was a great week and I can't wait to do it again next year!





September 11, 2017

Finishing touches being put on Marty Sklar's last book

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Marty Sklar signs a copy of his book "One Little Spark!" for a fan. [Photo courtesy of Ryman Arts]


Marty Sklar was working on another book when he died on July 27. I can report that the book will be published in the months ahead [more on that later]. It will be Marty's third book for Disney Editions, but fourth book overall. Let me explain:

A few weeks before Marty Sklar's Dream It! Do It! was released in 2013, I received a press blurb from Disney Editions saying how this was Marty's first book.

When I interviewed Marty right after Dream It! Do It! hit book shelves, I mentioned the press release to him and then went on to take it to task.

"This isn't really your first book," I said to Marty. "Shouldn't Walt Disney's Disneyland be considered your first book?"

To which Marty answered: "You know, I guess you're right." Then, in typical Marty fashion, he quickly rebounded. "But this is my first book for Disney Editions."

Walt Disney's Disneyland, credited to none other than Martin A. Sklar, is one of those hidden Disney gems that is well worth the time and effort to get your hands on. I found my first copy at a yard sale in Colts Neck, N.J., back in the 1990s. My wife Janet has managed to secure two other versions via the Internet.

Walt Disney's Disneyland was first published in 1964 and was available at Disneyland's souvenir shops for years. Because the park was always changing, the book was updated periodically as well, to reflect those additions.

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The cover of "Walt Disney's Disneyland," written by Martin A. Sklar.


The book is subtitled: "The behind-the-scenes story of the Magic Kingdom ... of the man who made it possible ... and of the millions of visitors who have helped make it the Happiest Place on Earth."

For the most part, it is a wonderful pictorial of the park's early years, with stunning color photos of the Mark Twain in the evening, with fireworks exploding above; the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad pulling out of the Main Street station; and, of course, many shots of Disneyland's icon, Sleeping Beauty Castle ... all taken during the early 1960s.

But to me, the most endearing aspect of Walt Disney's Disneyland are the words penned by the author.

When Marty was hired by Disneyland in June of 1955, it was largely because of his journalistic background; he was, after all, about to become the editor of The Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper at UCLA. He was hired by Disney to come up with a concept for The Disneyland News, a broadsheet newspaper, with the look of a 1900s-era publication, that would be sold to guests as they walked into the park.

After graduating from UCLA in 1956, Marty returned to Disneyland to work in the publicity department, where he honed his writing skills under the watchful eyes of people like Eddie Meck, Jack Lindquist and Milt Albright, Disney Legends all. His abilities also caught the eye of Walt Disney, who tabbed him to become his go-to wordsmith. Marty wrote Walt's annual reports and the messages he delivered, as well as publicity and marketing materials. He also wrote the script for the legendary Epcot film, which outlined Walt's plans for setting up shop in central Florida.

In Walt Disney's Disneyland, Marty displayed just how talented a writer he was ... a man who truly had the ability to paint pictures with his words. For instance, early in the book, Marty philosophizes about how Disneyland came to be.

"There is a basic truism that governs every success that bears the name Disney: No idea remains very long in its original form. Walt was a builder; his basic materials were ideas. He worked with them, played with them, and finally -- perhaps years after they first found expression -- ideas emerged as tangible realities in motion pictures, television or Disneyland."

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This photo from "Walt Disney's Disneyland" shows the Mark Twain and the Columbia sailing on the Rivers of America at Disneyland.


In the decades following the release of Walt Disney's Disneyland, Marty took on a more important role within the company, primarily with Walt Disney Imagineering. When he retired in 2009, however, he eagerly returned to writing. "When I get the writing itch," he once told me, "I have to scratch it."

He began by writing articles for several Disney magazines, before turning his attention to his memoir, Dream It! Do It!, which was incredibly well received. He followed that with One Little Spark!, which provided aspiring young talents with a road map to becoming an Imagineer.

At the time of his death on July 27, Marty was working on his next book ... a book with "more Disney stories," he told me back in March.

For a few weeks after Marty's passing, the fate of the book was in doubt.

But Wendy Lefkon, the Editorial Director of Disney Editions, has confirmed that she, Marty's wife Leah and his daughter Leslie are currently putting the finishing touches on the as-yet untitled new book.

And it turns out, Marty won't be the only Sklar to have a new book released posthumously. Marty's brother Robert, who was a respected professor of cinema studies at New York University, also was an author. Robert, who died tragically in 2009, penned the book City Boys, which delved into the lives of actors James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and John Garfield.

City Boys was released in 1992 and has been out of print for many years. The good news here is City Boys is being re-released by Pulp Hero Press in a few months.

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Marty Sklar signed this copy of "Walt Disney's Disneyland" for me at a fund-raising event in 2011 in Orlando, Fla. [Chuck Schmidt]


Even better news: When Marty found out about City Boys return to print, he enthusiastically agreed to write a foreword. We've since learned that Marty had a beat-up copy of the original book in his home office in a mini-shrine he dedicated to his brother, who died in an accident in Barcelona, Spain.

Over the years, Marty wrote dozens of forewords to a wide variety of books, including one of my own. It's safe to say this one was the most important one he had ever written.

Sklars' former neighbor saddened by Marty's passing

I received a number of heart-felt comments after I posted two blogs following Marty Sklar's death. One, from a former neighbor of the Sklars in Anaheim, was particularly touching.

It was from Cecile Posner Fleetwood, who wrote:

"I met the Sklars when we moved into the house next door to them on Alden Place in East Anaheim. The year was 1962. I was 9, my sister was 3, exactly one year older than Howard, and Leslie was a baby.

"The Sklars were a magical family to grow up next door to. Birthday parties included 16mm versions of Disney movies! I remember floating in their pool watching segments of Fantasia, my personal favorite!

"As I got older, I was often hired to babysit Howard and Leslie. My mom was good friends with Mrs. Sklar. They worked together on Sisterhood and other projects at Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana.

"Mr. Sklar traveled a lot. It was always exciting to see what new wonders he brought home!

"More recently, last year my sister and I attended a UCLA Alumni event at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa, Calif. There he was, speaking about his years with Disney, signing his two books, emphasizing the positive.

"Even though it had been over 40 years since I had last seen him, it was like there had been no time between! He was patient, kind, brilliant. A very sad loss!"

September 3, 2017

The Galleries of Epcot – Morocco: Gallery of Arts and History

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by J. Scott Lopes
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

What if I told you there was a great attraction to visit that did not need Fastpass and has no queue to wait in? Well, there is such a place -- it’s the Gallery of Arts and History located in World Showcase's Morocco pavilion in Epcot.

Epcot is home to many unique galleries that house rotating exhibits, like the one located in the the Morocco pavilion. These galleries are a great place to take a break and learn about the host country, and even get out of the sun or rain for a bit. I especially like the Morocco gallery because it is usually not very crowded.

The exterior of the building itself, as shown in the photo above, is elaborately decorated, from floor to ceiling.

The current exhibit in the Morocco pavilion is "Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment," and it showcases traditional clothing, jewelry and body art. This photoblog will showcase some of the items currently on display.

When entering the museum there is a large display of a man and his horse, both are modeling a fantasia costume. The fantasia is a cultural display of horsemanship that is usually performed at festivals.

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There are also displays showing common men’s accessories...

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As well as women’s accessories.

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In addition, there is a display showcasing some of the jewelry and other items used in wedding ceremonies…

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… as well as eye makeup which is used by both genders.

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Henna tattoos, a temporary tattoo created by using a dye from the henna plant, also play a part in the wedding ceremony.

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(As an aside, did you know you can get your own temporary henna right in the Morocco pavilion, as well as over at Animal Kingdom? Check out Deb Koma's blog about it HERE.)

Once you're done looking at the exhibits in this gallery, don't forget to check out the interior of the building, too. Look up to see a beautiful wooden beamed ceiling.

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There are several other museum-type galleries around World Showcase, such as the American Heritage Gallery in the American Adventure, and the Bijutsu-kan Gallery in the Japan pavilion.
I highly recommend that you check one out on your next trip!


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 and is especially interested in the Walt Disney Imagineering division and all of the work and detail that they put into everything that they engineer.





August 28, 2017

So much has changed at Walt Disney World since Animal Kingdom opened in 1998

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A neon version of Jessica Rabbit invites guests to join in the fun at Pleasure Island in the former Downtown Disney area.

At this point in time, THE place to be on Walt Disney World property is Animal Kingdom park. Specifically, the focus of all the attention [not to mention overflow crowds and hours-long wait times] is Pandora: The World of Avatar, the new land inspired by the blockbuster movie Avatar.

Obviously, the prospects of riding on the back of a banshee will do that.

Disney's Animal Kingdom hasn't seen this type of excitement since opening day, nearly 20 years ago.

I was fortunate to have attended the park's opening in 1998 and it truly was an unforgettable experience, full of the usual pomp and ceremony we've come to expect from a Disney park debut. The itinerary for the hundreds of invited media guests was exhausting, to say the least ... a whirlwind of activity, to be sure.

Looking back at the printed media itinerary, one thing stands out: How much things have changed at WDW in the nearly 20 years since Disney's Animal Kingdom swung open its gates.

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The cover of the opening day guide map for Disney's Animal Kingdom. The park opened on April 22, 1998.

What follows is a look at the media itinerary for the Disney's Animal Kingdom Press Event, which was held from April 20-23, 1998. We'll also take a look at what was there [or about to the there], as well as which attractions have taken their place in the Disney vault.

First up on the media's to-do list after arriving on April 20 was an exclusive sneak preview of DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney, billed as The Ultimate Interactive Adventure. DisneyQuest opened later that year in Downtown Disney under the promise that it would combine the magic of Disney with the most engaging interactive technologies of the time.

The idea was to create an interactive theme park, a place where techies young and old could create there own virtual adventures on classic Disney attractions, things like CyberSpace Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlasters and Virtual Jungle Cruise.

Plans were in the works to expand DisneyQuest to Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and Disneyland. The Chicago site opened, but closed quickly, while the other planned sites never made it off the drawing board.

DisneyQuest enjoyed a 19-year run at Walt Disney World before closing for good last month.

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The queue for the Virtual Jungle Cruise attraction at DisneyQuest.

The total remake of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs left DisneyQuest in the dust. The shopping/dining/entertainment district underwent a massive rebranding and expansion over the last few years and DisneyQuest's days were numbered. The building is being re-imagined into The NBA Experience, geared to basketball junkies, in the West Side Neighborhood.

The evening of April 20, members of the media returned to Downtown Disney, where an event called "Downtown Nights and City Lights" was held in and around Pleasure Island.

Unlike DisneyQuest, Pleasure Island was scrapped long before the Disney Springs expansion. The area offered an adult-themed night-time entertainment district, featuring dance clubs, comedy venues, restaurants, shopping and other hip, trendy offerings. Each night at midnight, New Year's Eve-type fireworks were set off above the area.

Pleasure Island, which required a separate admission, was open from 1989 through 2008.

For the Animal Kingdom media event, guests were able rub elbows with Daisy Fuentes and David Copperfield, who served as hosts for the evening's festivities. During the night, Blackhawk, Imajin and Usher performed. Later that night, TONIC, The Brian Setzer Orchestra and Pat Benatar were featured during a street party.

David Copperfield holds a unique place on Disney parks lore. Back in 1998, he was on the cusp of hosting his own unique attraction inside what was then known as the Disney/MGM Studios.

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Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner joins magician David Copperfield in announcing the Copperfield Magic Underground restaurant planned for the Disney/MGM Studios in 1998.

Copperfield Magic Underground was scheduled to open in the summer of 1998, which explains why he was in attendance at the Animal Kingdom events. Although it was heavily hyped, construction on the venue never even started. Like magic - poof! - it disappeared into Disney lore.

Tuesday, April 21, saw Animal Kingdom's dedication ceremonies, with CEO Michael Eisner and Vice Chairman Roy E. Disney presiding over the "pomp and pageantry" from 8 to 8:30 a.m.

During the day, dedication ceremonies were held for the Rainforest Cafe and DinoLand U.S.A.

Later that night, a party dubbed "Festival of the Animals" was held at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex [now known as ESPN's Wide World of Sports]. Guests were invited to "celebrate the wonders of the wild" for an evening of "exotic tastes, exotic rhythms and multi-cultural eats." The evening was capped of by a performance from the legendary Stevie Wonder.

The next day, April 22, saw the official grand opening of the park. At 9 a.m., Roy E. Disney and Judson Green, president of Walt Disney Attractions, dedicated Conservation Station and honored the park's Board of Advisors, who had played such an important, if behind the scenes, role in the development of Animal Kingdom.

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A sign for coming attractions at the Disney/MGM Studios. Copperfield Magic Underground never made it past the design phase, while Fantasmic! did debut in 1998.

The festivities concluded in the evening with a "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" wrap party at the Disney-MGM Studios. "Take a walk on the wild side," the press itinerary said, "and become an all-out party animal as you join the rest of the herd for this finale celebration."

Yes, 1998 was "the year of the animals," but there was so much more going on over the entire WDW property ... and beyond.

Disney Cruise Line's first ship, the Disney Magic, debuted in July of 1998.

At Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney, the BET SoundStage and the Wildhorse Saloon opened.

DisneyQuest swung open its gates in 1998, to be followed in short order with the opening of the nearby Cirque do Soleil theater. Its featured show, La Nouba, is scheduled to close later this year after a 19-year run.

The Fantasmic! show would debut in 1998 and light to night at the Disney/MGM Studios [the park would be renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2008], while in the Magic Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin would delight guests young and old after opening in 1998.

Also in the Magic Kingdom, a new show featuring zany birds from "The Lion King" and "Aladdin" would take up residence in Adventureland. The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management replaced the Tropical Serenade show, which opened with the rest of the park in 1971. The New Management show ran until 2011 before it was replaced by the current Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.

Finally, construction was nearing the final stages on the 1,940-room All-Star Movie Resort [it opened officially in 1999], while plans were being finalized for the 15-month millennium celebration at Epcot.

While 1998 will be remembered as the year Animal Kingdom Park opened, it also saw a number of comings and goings that, as we've learned over the years, is quite typical of Disney's commitment to continually upgrade "as long as there's imagination left in the world."

August 27, 2017

Pin Trading – The Early Years

Gary Cruise banner

Over the last few weeks Carol has been eagerly preparing for the annual Pin Event at EPCOT. As I watched her getting ready I began to reminisce a bit about the early days of Pin Trading.

There weren’t many Disney Pins around before the year 2000. Although the first pins began to appear in the 1950’s, they were only created as keepsakes to commemorate special events or as gifts handed out by Disney’s sponsors like Kodak or American Express.

The first series of pins “official” trading pins issued by Disney was the Countdown To The Millennium series. The set consisted of 101 pins sold in Disney Stores, 7 or 8 each week, from October 1999 to December 2000. That was when pin trading began!

Here’s an article from the Spring 2000 issue of Disney Magazine that describes those very early days of pin trading.

Disney Magazine Spring 2000
Click on the image to see a larger version

There was even a set of 15 photomosaic images you could buy for $3,000.00

Disney Magazine Spring 2000
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Somehow it seems that Carol didn’t get the memo and she didn’t buy any Millennium pins, or those expensive photomosaics.

It all started for us a little later, about 16 years ago. At the time Carol’s Disney pin collection consisted of two or three items. There was a pin showing Mickey Mouse skiing that we picked up while enjoying the slopes at Smuggler’s Notch Vermont and a pin from the 2000 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Then one fateful day in the autumn of 2001 she read on the Internet that a new series of pins, 100 Years of Magic, were being sold at Disney Stores, a new batch of pins released each Saturday from September 15th to December 15th. “Let’s go take a look,” she said. If only I had known . . .

We walked into the Disney Store at Limeridge Mall in Hamilton Ontario about noon on October 8th, the very next Saturday. Carol asked a cast member about the pins and she was told, “You’re a couple of hours too late.” The pins were all sold out; they sold out minutes after the store opened!

The following week we arrived five minutes before the store opened and joined a long line of about 30 avid pin collectors!

October 2001

When the doors opened everyone filed in and lined up at the counter to buy the 7 or 8 pins released that week. Each collector was allowed to buy 2 of each pin; Carol bought a single set.

As the weeks went by the pins became more popular and the lines grew week by week. By December we were lining up at 7:30 a.m., a full 2 hours before the store opened and each collector was limited to 1 of each pin. By then I had been conscripted to stand in line as well; Carol had decided that she needed a second set of pins to use as traders.

As we stood in line week after week with the same group of traders a funny thing happened . . . we made some new friends. Before long we were meeting at one of the friend’s homes for “trading nights” and a few of the cast members from the Disney Store joined in the fun.

Carol was busy trading with our new-found friends and buying pins on e-Bay . . . before long she had all the pins from the first few weeks of the 100 Years of Magic series. She was a happy trader!

Two more Disney Store series followed in rapid succession, Magical Musical Moments and 12 Months of Magic. She bought them all.

Before cast members began wearing lanyards with pins to trade there were “Super Traders”. Amy Johnstone, one of five Super Traders at EPCOT described her job in a Fall 2001 article in Disney Magazine.

Disney Magazine Fall 2001
Click on the image

Trading was soon so popular that many cast members at Disney parks began to wear lanyards full of pins to trade and our Disney vacations suddenly had a brand new element added! I didn’t do any trading but I was a “spotter” – it was my job to make sure Carol didn’t miss any lanyards.

A Spring 2002 article from Disney Magazine gave some tips for aspiring collectors.

Disney Magazine Spring 2002
Click on the image

In 2005 Carol went to the annual EPCOT Pin Event for the first time. This is the premiere event in the life of a pin trader. Disney decorates EPCOT’s World ShowPlace Auditorium, located between Canada and Great Britain, with lavish displays that match the special pins created for each year’s theme. Carol was simply blown away by the décor, the pins and the opportunity to meet so many other avid traders.

Over the past 16 years, since Carol started collecting, there have been tens of thousands of new pins created. Needless to say her approach to pin trading has changed; in the early stages Carol wanted every new pin . . . she had to have them all. These days she’s much more focused and much more selective. Her collection of over 4,000 pins is sorted by theme or subject and most of the pins are stored in binders that fill a closet. There are boxed sets and framed sets displayed around the house . . . there are about a hundred “traders” in a bag that travels with Carol to all Disney events!

As you read this Carol has just wrapped up her 13th consecutive trip to EPCOT for the annual pin event. The 2017 theme was “Love is an Adventure”. She’ll be blogging about the event before long – stay tuned for details!

(If you just can't wait for Carol's 2017 EPCOT Pin Event blog, why don't you re-read some of her previous reports! You can find them all HERE






August 22, 2017

The Mousy Mindboggler

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

As you know if you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, each month 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.

This month, James writes:

Here is the solution to the last crossword puzzle.

http://allears.net/ae/mb071317-key.pdf

We received 26 correct responses; many of you knowing that the "little people" referred to in the title of this film were in fact leprechauns. I did manage to trip some of you up on the spelling of the bonus clue.

The winner of a Mickey Mouse pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Gail M. of the United Kingdom!

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

http://allears.net/ae/mb082217.pdf

This month we are continuing our look at the extensive library of Disney’s live-action films. This month’s film, "Pollyanna," was the debut of the young actress, Hayley Mills, who would go on to star in a half-dozen live-action early hits, such as "The Parent Trap," "Summer Magic" and "That Darn Cat!"

The object of this puzzle 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 September 9, 2017. 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 sometime in August.

Please note, for this puzzle ALL of the clues are used.

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

Thanks for playing, everyone!





August 15, 2017

The Galleries of Epcot -- Japan: Bijutsu-kan Gallery

by J. Scott Lopes
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

Kawaii Exhibit

Epcot is home to many unique galleries that house rotating exhibits, one of which is located in the rear of the Japan pavilion. These galleries are a great place to take a break and learn about the host country, and even get out of the sun or rain for a bit.

Currently the exhibit in the Japan pavilion showcases Japan’s Kawaii or "cute" culture and how it ties in to everyday life. This photoblog will showcase some of the items currently on display.

Kawaii is rooted in Japan's Shinto past and is a means of self-expression from all walks of life. A replica of a modern Tokyo apartment is part of the exhibit. Artist Sebastian Masuda explains: "The meaning of kawaii is that personal cosmos filled with the collection of things one madly loves. 'Kawaii' is not something fashionable -- dressing up for others or trying to be someone else -- but rather collecting things because you simply love them. Fashion is just a statement to show what you love!"

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The exhibit starts off showing the many items that a person could have in their everyday lives, including items that they carry with them, all of which embrace the Kawaii culture.

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Next up is a section that displays common cute items that can be found in the home, such as cute shower curtains or toilet paper in the bathroom…

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… snacks in the kitchen…

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Or stuffed animals and sheets in a bedroom.

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There is also artwork on display, in addition to small statues.

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There is also a small display of netsuke. Early Japanese people would wear kimonos, which do not have pockets, so they would hang items from their sash using a cord. A netsuke would be attached to the end, keeping it from slipping though the sash.

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In the middle of the exhibit space, there is a large statue that is filled with toys, jewelry, and other colorful objects representative of the Kawaii culture.

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There are several other museum-type galleries around World Showcase, such as the American Heritage Gallery in the American Adventure, and The House of Whispering Willows Gallery in the China pavilion, which currently features models and more from the Shanghai Disneyland Resort.

I highly recommend that you check one out on your next trip!

About the Author:

J. Scott Lopes is a longtime 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 in the Walt Disney Imagineering division and all of the work and detail that they put into everything that they engineer.





August 13, 2017

Who's Who in Duckburg

Gary Cruise banner

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

Duckburg Sign

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

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

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

Have you ever wondered how Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck were related? What about Huey, Dewey and Louie? How are they connected in the family tree?

Carl Barks Duck family portrait

Let’s take a look back to the origins of Duckburg. It was originally founded in the 16th century by British explorer Sir Francis Drake who named it Fort Drake Borough. In the 19th century Cornelius Coot purchased the Fort from the departing British, he changed Drake to Duck and Borough to Burg and Duckburg was created. The rest, as they say, is history!

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

Cornelius Coot Statue

Cornelius Coot Plaque

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

Duckburg Skyline

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

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

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

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

Donald Duck Family Tree
Click on the family tree to see a larger image.

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

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

McDuck Castle
McDuck Castle near Glasgow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glasgow 1877 by Don Rosa
Fergus McDuck seated, surrounded by his family.

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

Sometimes family trees can be very complex!

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






August 1, 2017

The 10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

By Guest Blogger Jacqui Clark

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach


On July 29th, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort held The 10th Annual Tour De Turtles event. Known as a “migration marathon,” the Sea Turtle Conservancy released two female Loggerhead Turtles who will provide invaluable migratory information about these fascinating animals. Satellite transmitters were attached to the backs of each sea turtle. The transmitters will track these amazing creatures as they make their way to their foraging grounds. The migration distance of the sea turtles will reach hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles. Each year, the turtles are given special Disney names. This year, the theme came from the "Cars 3” animated movie. Appropriately named, Cruz and Sally are sure to show us all that “Life IS a highway!”

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach


Did you know that Loggerhead Turtles are the third largest species of sea turtles? The largest is the Leatherback, followed by the Green Sea Turtle. Speaking of size, Cruz and Sally each weighed between 300 - 350 pounds. Throughout their lives, they will feast on copious amounts of crabs, clams, etc…basically any sea life with a shell. When an adult female nests, she will lay about 150 eggs. However, only around 1 in 1000 eggs/hatchlings will make it to adulthood. This year, a few Loggerhead hatchlings were released from the beach to begin their life in the “big blue world” as well! Follow Cruz and Sally’s adventure at www.tourdeturtles.org

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach


The race itself was so exciting. Prior to the start, you could see that Cruz and Sally were revving up their turtle engines. First out of the gate was Sally. She was a little slow to start, but soon made her way into the Atlantic. Cruz was next, a bit faster towards the water. The crowd cheered them along and the excitement was palpable.

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach

There were multiple stations on the beach for onlookers to visit. Each station provided an interactive learning experience for children and adults. My own children were very impressed with how fun each station was, as they acquired great information about the lives of sea turtles.


10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach


One station featured the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) which is a fishing net that is required to be used by all shrimp trawling vessels in the United States. This unique device allows the turtles to swim up and out of the fishing nets. A section of bars prohibits larger sea life such as the turtles, sharks and dolphins from getting caught in the fishing nets. The bars actually bounce them up and out of the net and they are freed. This practice has allowed many large sea animals to be saved, and has even helped to increase the population of some species.


10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach


Tour De Turtles is Disney’s flagship conservation event. Walt Disney himself was committed to conservation, and there’s no doubt that he would be happy with all of Disney’s conservation initiatives. A favorite slogan for Disney conservation? “Reverse the decline. Increase the time.” Events like Tour De Turtles increase the time families spend engaged in nature. As a result, our education can reduce the decline of things negatively impacting our planet. Speaking of conservation, there are two amazing little dogs named Captain Ron and Dory who aid in the efforts to protect sea turtles. These dutiful dogs have been specially trained to locate sea turtle nests on the 5 miles of beach. Once they’ve done that important job, the nests are flagged for protection.

10th Annual Tour De Turtles at Disney's Vero Beach

To learn more about initiatives like this, follow Disney’s Animals Science and Environment on Facebook.

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