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October 2008 Archives

October 11, 2008

Disney's Baby Care Centers or Expedition Never-Rest

It is twelve-thirty p.m. on a Sunday in the Animal Kingdom and the air is filled with shrieks that can be heard from almost every corner of the park. As soon as you enter Asia and Dinoland USA and Discovery Island, you can hear them. The echo of cries make DAK goers look up and take notice; some in sympathy, some in dreaded anticipation and others in disbelief.

Are visions of hanging backpacks and Indian deities dancing in your head?

Unfortunately, I am not referring to one of Disney's newest scream-machines, Expedition Everest. I refer to the over-arching protests and complaints of toddlers and young children everywhere in Disney parks.

Above the roar of Everest, the blowing of train whistles, and the scream of Test Track you can find the screeching of over-tired children all over WDW desperately in need of a juice box. Their parents follow in-tow with an equally desperate need of a wine glass.

I know, I've been there. Disney with children is the best-I love taking my daughter, Lily, to the parks. But some days you find yourself with children that have been awake since six-thirty a.m. literally whipped (as in cream, lots of it, on top of their Mickey waffles at seven a.m.) into a character-breakfast-chocolate-syrup-fueled state of pure energy. Breakfast is followed by a thirty minute navigation of the Disney transportation system until you've arrived at the park, pushed (rammed?) your Hummer-Stroller through the turnstiles, and finally made it,only to turn and see Junior mouth-open about to implode Spaceship Earth with an anguished cry of waffle-crash/very high heat index.

So, you can repeat above process backwards sans waffles or you can search for the light at the end of this ever-darkening tunnel: the Baby Care Centers (cue celestial choir*).


There is one Baby Care Center in each of the Disney parks.
I will admit I was at first a skeptic of the Baby Care Centers. Was this like a giant bathroom with Mickey painted on the wall? Free soap and tap water? What else do we need at a WDW park for your child except a decently stocked diaper bag, Motts for Tots, and a comfy stroller?

After two years of parenthood I can tell you besides a full-time nursemaid, second husband, and air-conditioned-bubble-ball for your stroller you need a Baby Care Center while visiting the parks.

Back to my recent Sunday when the rest of my friends journeyed on their first Expedition Everest as my daughter and I headed out on what I have ruefully entitled Lily's Never-Rest Expedition.

She's two and in love with Mickey so what can I expect? Who wants to sleep when hopped up on a Mickey-ear ice cream and post seeing Nemo in person? I was two once-I get it. But toddlers, even good-natured ones, must slow down at some point. We head to the Baby Care Center tucked away under giant wooden lady-bugs in a non-descript and shaded corner of DAK.

Lily and I slip in the front door and immediately relief (mainly in the form of 72 degree AC) washes over us both. Lily struggles out of my arms to run into the kids' playroom while the CM cheerfully greets us both. The playroom is bright, spacious and equipped with a television (!).

Animal Kingdom's Baby Care Center

There is a water cooler and multiple items for purchase including diapers, baby food, infant and children's medications, binkies, clothes, etc. I would avoid these purchases at a BCC if possible. The diapers run for about 8.95 for a small (very small) pack. But when desperate, it is a relief to know there is somewhere to go.

Each BCC also has a stocked kitchen where you can warm food and bottles, find free utensils and each center features complimentary feeding areas including high-chairs.

Animal Kingdom Baby Care Center

Each BCC also has a nursing mother's room and private bathrooms. They also sport an impressive changing station collection with plenty of Disney artwork to minimize mid-change squirming when your Dory-memory-level toddler suddenly remembers they are at Mickey's house and must go find him right now.

Animal Kingdom Baby Care Center

Back to the CMs. They truly are the highlight of these centers, as they are for most Disney facilities and attractions. Instead of looks of scorn at your squirmy, red-faced, generally disgruntled child you are graced with a smile of understanding and a pleasant overview of the facility.

The BCC are certainly larger and better-equipped at the more family-focused parks. The Magic Kingdom BCC is well... magical. The nursing mother's room is a peaceful oak rocking chair lined room with Victorian shade lamps and pictures reminiscent of Main Street USA.

Disney's Hollywood Studios have the least extensive Baby Care Center. It is just off to the side of Guest Relations on your left when immediately entering the park. It's nice-but small and there is no attendant actually inside the center though it is kind of attached to the Guest Relations center in general.

The best indication of Baby Care Center value to me is the parents I have come in contact with while warming bottles and changing diapers amidst Gerber puff feeding-frenzies. I actually had a mother grab my arm while waiting for the stove and whisper urgently, three-inches from my surprised and slightly wary expression, 'Don't you love this place? It has saved-my-life.'

While I don't know that I can give the Baby Care Centers that strong of an endorsement I will say the centers have most likely prevented mid-day meltdowns, heat stroke, and serious temper tantrums in the Pickle family.

And Lily really likes them, too.


October 13, 2008

Vegan Dining at Walt Disney World

The Bashful Vegan

Hi! My name is Kitty, and I'm a vegan. I'm also terribly, seriously, majorly bashful which is not very convenient when you're a vegan. It's near impossible to eat out as a vegan without attracting some attention, or at the very least, getting a confused look from a server. All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with Walt Disney World, except that it does make my trips to the world's most popular vacation destination a little interesting.


Despite my "challenges", I go to Walt Disney World every chance I get, which isn't nearly as often as I would like, but I guess we can't all live in Florida. I usually manage at least one trip a year, along with my "Disney tolerant" omnivorous hubby. He's a bit bashful, too, though he eats a more normal diet.

I was a vegetarian (still ate dairy and eggs) when I made my first trip to Walt Disney World, almost 11 years ago. I was a little worried about what I would eat, but I shouldn't have been. There were so many options for lacto-ovo's that it wasn't even an issue. My expectations weren't very high, so I was pleasantly surprised that I could find more than just soy burgers and fries.

My first trip as a vegan (about 8 years ago) was more of an adventure. Okay, that's putting it nicely. It was rough. I was still new to the vegan scene, and suffered pretty badly from Mickey-ice-cream-bar-envy. The soy burgers and fries were still an option, and the sit-down restaurants did try to cater to me, but it didn't feel like a vacation without all the sweets and treats. (I have since learned to curb my sweet tooth, but at that point, I still associated vacations with lots of desserts.) So I vowed to be prepared before my second vegan trip. The following are some of the tips and tricks I learned while planning my own trips.

My first tip is especially helpful for newer vegans - ones who aren't sure how they will manage without sweets (ice cream, cookies and churros, oh my!). Bring treats from home. Seriously, pack an extra suitcase full of vegan cookies and candies, energy bars"� anything and everything you might eat at home as a vegan treat. (Okay, that soy ice cream might not travel so well, but there are lots of other options.) If the suitcase seems like a hassle, you could also pack up a box of goodies and have it shipped to your hotel.

Or, you could order some goodies from an online source (Vegan Essentials and Pangea are both good options), and have them shipped directly to your hotel. I can't stress this enough - if you're a new vegan, or just a new "Disney" vegan, having those comfort foods can seriously make the difference between the vacation of your dreams, and a big disappointment.

Once you arrive, make sure you always have some of these treats with you, in your bag or backpack. Disney does have a policy about not bringing food into the parks, but in my experience, they have no problem at all with a few snacks - and if they say anything at all, just explain that you're a vegan and this is required for your special diet. (I always have snacks with me, and I have never been questioned - not even once.)

Now, this might sound like a contradiction, but there are a surprising number of vegan treats available at Walt Disney World (and I think I've found all of them!). I love sharing them with others, and I will share them with you, but I still recommend treats from home. I've heard too many vegans say that they couldn't find anything to eat, and it affected their trip. Why take the chance, when a handful of your favorite vegan candy or a vegan energy bar will solve the problem? It's amazing what a difference the little things can make.

My second tip really applies to everyone, but is especially important for vegans: don't wait until you are starved to go look for food. In general, people tend to get grumpy, or at least not feel at the top of their game, when they get hungry. If you can't get to a restaurant right away, and you've got that rumbly in your tumbly, then it's time to hit those snacks I talked about. Otherwise, look for food before it becomes urgent, and be prepared to settle for a second choice. If you're planning a sit-down restaurant, odds are very good that you will eat, and probably eat very well. However, if this is one of those counter-service grab-n-go meals, then you might need a little extra time. There are more options than you might think, even at the counter-service places, but some of them require a little thought and creativity.

Which brings me to my third tip: eat at non-traditional times. In other words, avoid the rush and try to eat either a little earlier or a little later than the rest of the world. Eating as a vegan almost always requires some "speaking up", and I find this so much easier if I'm not holding up a crowd at the time. My meals sometimes require a little extra effort, and for me, there's nothing worse than feeling like I'm a bother, or that I'm keeping others waiting. Hubby and I generally try to eat early - lunch around 11:00am, and dinner around 5:00pm. We've found that this works really well at Walt Disney World.

This fourth tip I've shared with quite a few other vegetarians and vegans who have contacted me: for any sit-down restaurants you plan to eat at, call the restaurant 72 hours in advance and ask to speak to a chef. By doing this, you will have a better idea what to expect when you dine, and you also give the chef time to acquire any special ingredients they might need to make your meal something to remember. And this is really great advice. The problem is that I'm too bashful to actually do this myself. Yes, I'm finally going to admit it: I have never actually done this. I have mentioned that I'm a vegan when making reservations, and I've mentioned it when I got to the restaurant, but I have never called a restaurant directly and spoken to a chef.

So how do I manage when I'm too bashful to speak up?

Well, there options, even without special requests, but they are very limited.

Soy burgers and Disney fries (but not the ones clearly marked as "McDonald's) are vegan as is - no special request required.

There are fruit carts in every park, and a number of other snacks which are vegan.

The popcorn, despite its buttery appearance and taste, is actually vegan.

The soft pretzels and roasted nuts are safe (even the tasty cinnamon-glazed almonds!). But it would be tough to get through a whole vacation with only these few things.

There are several things that have helped - the biggest one being the cast members themselves. For starters, I am continually amazed by the number of cast members that already understand the term "vegan". If you say you're a vegetarian, many of them will ask "lacto-ovo or vegan?". Not having to explain this saves a lot of time of trouble - and for me, stress. Also, they really truly seem to want to make your trip special. Disney tries hard to accommodate everyone. I routinely have to make modifications, even at counter-service places, and it's almost never an issue. They seem prepared for it. They don't even look at me like I'm from another planet (which I get a lot in the "real world.) Occasionally I am told that there will be an additional wait - which I am always prepared for (thanks to my second tip - don't wait until you're starved).

Knowing what is possible, and what to expect also helps. It's important to keep in mind that most places will do their best to match any request, but they can only work with what they've got. In other words, most places will be happy to prepare you a salad minus chicken and cheese, but they can't substitute it with grilled tofu if they don't have any tofu in their kitchen.

That's where the 72 hours notice may help with a sit-down restaurant. The chefs at these places almost seem to thrive on the challenge of preparing something you will enjoy. I have had some extraordinary meals at Disney's sit-down restaurants. With counter-service, though, I've found that it's better to have a plan before I get in line. Even at the more casual places, they will most often work with me, but the creativity and knowledge is lacking. I need to know exactly what I want, and make requests that I know they can accommodate (such as leaving the chicken and cheese off of a salad, or ordering a fruit plate without the yogurt dipping sauce).

With these tips in mind, even a Disney vegan newbie can have the trip of a lifetime. For me, being a vegan, even a bashful vegan, is no longer an issue at Walt Disney World. Well, being bashful will always be an issue, but I'm working on that. (I'll never be volunteering for Indiana Jones' Stunt Spectacular, but I do plan to finally get up the guts to meet my hero, Mickey Mouse" one of these days.)

Boma Dinner: Marinated tofu over a corn salsa
Marinated tofu over a corn salsa

Boma Dessert: Vanilla soy ice cream with raspberries and a vegan chocolate chip cookie.
Vanilla soy ice cream with raspberries and a vegan chocolate chip cookie

October 16, 2008

Wilderness Lodge Flag Family Report

Cathy, Darryl, Bradley and Samantha Kittle September 2008
Kittle Flag Family at Wilderness Lodge
I had spent months planning for our 10 day trip to WDW and when I saw that Wilderness Lodge had a special opportunity to be the flag family for the day I was so hoping we could be picked. When we checked in I asked if there were any slots left and the only one was on the morning we were leaving. Since we had a 9:30 Magic Express shuttle we were told we could still be selected. On our designated morning, we met the most wonderful Wilderness Lodge Ranger, Stan, at the front desk. I had read so much about him from this website, I was extra excited meeting this "celebrity." He seemed as excited as we were as he told us all about how he had worked on constructing the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier when he was a young man.

Kittle Flag Family at Wilderness Lodge

We rode the elevator up to the 7th floor and then took a set of stairs up to the roof. The view was breathtaking and the weather perfect.

There were four of us and we each got to raise one of the flags. After my son raised the American flag, Stan asked if we would salute the flag and say the Pledge of Alliegence. I had tears in my eyes as we said it outloud with our hands over our hearts.

Kittle Flag Family at Wilderness Lodge

Stan took pictures of each of us and as we were thanking him for such a beautiful experience, he huddled us together and told us to always remember to care for each other. I still have goosebumps thinking about it. Stan treated us to breakfast on the concierge level snack room which just was the perfect ending to a perfect memory!

Kittle Flag Family at Wilderness Lodge


October 19, 2008

Pin Celebrations Part 1

Disney Pin Celebrations Over the Years!
by Guest Blogger Carol Cruise

Once a year Disney has a Pin Celebration, it is usually the first weekend after Labor Day. Each year has a different theme and I have been lucky enough to attend the event the past four years. These weekend-long events are a wonderful time for avid pin traders and novices alike!

The first year I attended the theme was Disney's Pin Celebration 2005 - The Happiest Pin Celebration on Earth

Carol Cruise at Pin Celebration 2005

"Celebrate the happiest moments, memories and pins at the Happiest Pin Celebration On Earth. Tinker Bell and friends invite you to a magical, three-day pin trading experience at Epcot. From Princesses to Villains, everyone has something to celebrate"

This event sold out by August 2, 2005. I was so excited to be going to my first official pin event but I was new to the whole "pin trading thing" and very unsure as to what to expect. We flew to Orlando on the Thursday and the pre-registration took place that afternoon at the Yacht & Beach Club. The lines were long and we were both tired but the excitement kept me going. I met some familiar people in line, from Toronto, so it was nice to have someone to ask questions and look to for advice. These people would soon become very good friends and we have all attended many pin events together since that time.

Walking into that pin event was like walking into another world. The even is held every year in the World Showplace, located in EPCOT between Canada and the United Kingdom, in the old Millennium Village site. Disney spares no expense when decorating for the event; pictures do not do it justice. It is simply magnificent!

Pin Celebrations

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The second year that I attended was themed Disney's Pin Celebration 2006 - It All Started With Walt. "

Celebrate Walt Disney and all the ideas that his imagination continues to inspire at Disney's Pin Celebration 2006. "It All Started With ... Walt," is a spectacular three-day Disney Pin Trading Event that will take place at Epcot from September 8-10, 2006. Join your Friends for a magical tribute to Walt Disney's groundbreaking achievements in Animation, Live Action Film and Television and Disney Theme Parks...a legacy that continues to guide the Walt Disney Company today. "

It All Started With ..  Walt

This event also sold out just days before it started.

The only difference from the previous year was that pre-registration took place at the Contemporary Resort in the convention center room Fantasia H. This year we arrived at Disney the day before the event so we didn't have to rush so much and we beat the lines. Once again we met our friends from Toronto in line.


On the last day of the event the World Showplace is opened to the public at 11 a.m. and any unsold limited edition event pins are sold to unregistered guests at that time.


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2007 Pin Celebration

The theme for my third event was Disney's Pin Celebration 2007 - Where Dreams HapPin. I was particularly excited about this event, as the main character in the logo was one of my favorites, Figment!


"Step into a world of Disney Pin Dreams at Disney's Pin Celebration 2007 - Where Dreams HapPin. Immerse yourself in a world of endless possibilities where you can dream like Mickey Mouse or imagine like Figment. Enjoy trading opportunities, games and activities, and a "dream-tacular" collection of pins featuring your favorite Disney characters created especially for this event. So, pack your "dreamiest" pins and plan to attend this exciting event. After all, this is the place where pin dreams come true."

Lined up and anxious to get started despite the early morning.


As in previous years the pre-registration took place on the Thursday and this year it was back at the Yacht & Beach Club. I am always amazed at what Disney does to decorate the World Showplace; this year was no different. We arrived before the event opened and stood in line with our fellow pin traders waiting for the gates to World Showplace to open.


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2008 Pin Celebration

That brings us to this year's event. Disney's Pin Celebration 2008 - Pin Trading University.

"Graduate with highest trading honors at Disney's Pin Celebration 2008 - Pin Trading University. This three-day, Disney Pin event will be held September 5-7, 2008 at Epcot® - World ShowPlace.


Recall your school days with a "superlative" collection of Disney pins created especially for this event. Students will also enjoy games and activities, plenty of pin trading opportunities and "A Live Auction" presented by the drama club. "

I registered early so that I would be eligible for my "Early Registration" pin, I also only registered myself this year, in previous years both Gary and I registered. He would come to the event with me and help out with the trading boards and also get me the extra gift pins. This year we would be on the Disney Cruise and not arriving at the event until Saturday morning so it didn't make sense for him to register. Besides, he needed to look after the luggage and get us checked into POFQ while I high-tailed it to the event.

We had arranged for Quicksilver to pick us up at the cruise terminal and I had them drop me off directly at the Yacht and Beach Club, it would be the quickest route for me to get to the event. I said my goodbyes to everyone and started along the path towards EPCOT's International Gateway. As you all know, there is a bag check when entering the park and traveling with pin bags can sometimes be quite the exercise. Disney is prepared for this during the Pin event; they have a special entry point for pin traders and a sniffer dog that checks out the pin bags. It is very quick and efficient.


Once inside EPCOT the excitement builds.

When you approach the gates to World Showplace, it doesn't look like much until you actually walk through. You cannot get into the event without credentials; since I was on the cruise and missed the pre-registration a cast member escorted me to the registration desk inside so I could get my lanyard and credentials.

Once I reached the registration desk and gave them my name I was given my package which contained all the pins I had ordered plus all the event information and coupons. There are quite a few special items given to each participant. The registration is $100 and that seems like a lot but what you get back sure makes it worthwhile for an avid pin trader!


Opportunity to pre-purchase limited edition pins designed especially for this event.
"Purchase with Purchase" pin promotion for event Guests only featuring exclusive pins.
Trading activities and games at World ShowPlace located at Epcot.
Limited edition commemorative gifts.
Live and silent auctions of pre-production pins, artist proof pins and more.
"First Trading Opportunity" to collect brand new Hidden Mickey pins.
Opportunity to meet Disney Pin Partners from The Walt Disney Company.
Two (2) $15 Gift Cards redeemable at Epcot Food and Beverage locations.
Plus extra special surprises throughout the event.

I also received a letter to visit the Dean's office; this was a random thing that some guests got in their package. It gave you a specific time to go to the Dean's office and each group got a special gift. My time was 3:30 p.m. so I was lucky that I did not miss it by arriving late.

In the package there was a Passport. You had to take the passport to each of the Pin Partners and get it stamped. Once you had your passport stamped you handed it in and got a special limited edition pin from the partners. The Participating pin partners this year were Disneyland CA, Disneyland Resort Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, Disney Soda Fountain & Studio Store and Walt Disney World.

I also had to pick up my Early Registration Pin, my gift pins that included a Jumbo Pin, a boxed set and a single limited edition registration pin. There were also my "purchase with purchase" pins that I was eligible for. You could get one pin for every $75 that you spent.

The package also included a voucher for a snack and drink. The snack was a Rice Krispie Mickey head and your choice of drink. Other information in the package included a list of the new Hidden Mickey pins that were being released at the event, an itinerary listing all the activities as well as information on both the silent and live auction.

Once I got myself organized I went in search of Susan, one of my friends. I had a lot of catching up to do. Susan actually found me and led me to the back area, where all the pin trading takes place.


Our group had a table staked out and there was someone there at any given time so you could leave you stuff there and not worry about it. I unloaded some of my bags and said hello to everyone. Susan had already found me most of the new Hidden Mickey pins so I only had a couple left to look for. The pin trading boards would be my next challenge.

I walked back into the main room and took it all in, there is a lot to absorb and I found that arriving late and missing the first couple of days set me back. There was so much to see and so little time left. I immediately got in a line and waited for my turn at the boards.

To explain the pin trading boards, lets see...

There is a queue set up in front of each board where everyone lines up to wait for their turn to trade. There are about twelve different boards in the room. Each board is set in a different themed area, the theme representing the event theme and fashioned after a pin from the event. The boards are large corkboards, each manned by a cast member. When you reach the board you give the cast member two of your pins in exchange for two pins you select from the board.

The catch is that you only have sixty seconds to find the pins you want. That may seem like a long time but there are hundreds of pins on the board and it is very hard to focus on any one specific pin. I was looking for three particular Hidden Mickey pins. When your minute is up, you take your two new pins and the CM puts your old pins on the board. The boards are refreshed every thirty minutes, so new pins come out and the old pins go into the back. It is very exciting when a board gets refreshed just before your turn . . . that means you have a good chance at getting the new pins.

After I had waited through a couple of lines I took some time to walk around and look at the decorations. Disney does a fantastic job decorating for the event; each of the areas represents or replicates a pin that was designed for the event. Everything ties into the theme.


Above you see an area decorated with a car from the old Mr. Toad ride and below it is the corresponding pin with Mr. Toad teaching Driver's Ed.



Above you see a scene depicting Roz from Monsters Inc. as the Lunch Lady. Beside it is the corresponding pin.


It was getting close to my appointment with the Dean so I just did a bit of wandering and had my snack. People were also starting to take seats for the live auction. When it got to be my turn to go into the dean's office my "reward" for being a good student was an opportunity to choose a Jumbo pin off a trading board that held about 50 large pins. I had exactly 30 seconds to make my choice. I frantically scanned the board. Since I had just gotten off the cruise I was looking for a cruise pin. Just as the cast member sounded times up I grabbed a large pin from Castaway Cay that had the Fab Five on it. I was very pleased with myself!

At 4 o'clock the live auction started. I have never participated in this, it is a bit too rich for my pocket book, but I do like to watch. The auction consists of one-of-a- kind pins, they may be artist proofs or even a pin that was designed but never released. There are also framed sets and pre-production pins. Some of these go for thousands of dollars!

Live Pin Auction

Live Pin Auction

After the auction is complete the last hour and a half was spent in line at the pin boards and chatting with fellow pin traders. I am not much for going around the back room trading, but I do enjoy trading while in line for the boards. It seems less formal and everyone likes to chat about his or her pins, it makes the wait go by a whole lot faster.

The event is open on Sunday morning for all registered guests until 11 o'clock and then opens to the general public. I usually don't return on the Sunday morning, I have had my fill by then and my legs are tired from all the standing. This year I was going to go since I had missed so much of the event but we had a chance to meet with some fellow cruisers at Hollywood Studios and ride Toy Story Mania and that won out.

Each year at the end of the event they announce the next years theme and dates, this year they announced the theme but no dates. There appears to be some conflict with a pin event being planned at Disneyland so we are all guessing it will be later in the fall, probably October.

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The theme next year - The Museum of Pin-tiquities - Search for the lost keys.


I hope to be there! Maybe I'll see you!

Carol Cruise

PS. Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this blog when I will share Tips for First Timers!

October 20, 2008

Pin Celebrations Part 2

Pin Celebrations Part 2
By Guest Blogger Carol Cruise

In my first blog, I told you all about the annual Pin Celebrations that are in Walt Disney World each fall. Now I will share some tips with you.

Tips for First Timers:

Disney has a wonderful pin site, I suggest becoming familiar with it and if you are planning a trip to WDW checking it out for the new releases.


Collect pins that you like - I like to collect series or special event pins, also passholder pins. Also Pluto, Nightmare Before Christmas and Haunted Mansion pins.

Don't by shy about asking a CM if you can see their lanyard, the CM's don't have to wear a lanyard, they wear it because they like to trade.

Don't hesitate to ask a CM about a specific pin on their lanyard, most will be able to give you some info about it.

If you see pins on sale at a Disney store or Outlet, stock up on traders.

If you shop eBay for pins and it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You can only trade Disney © pins and there are scrappers out there.

If you are going to an event for the first time wear comfortable shoes (lol) you spend a lot of time standing in lines, the lines for the boards make the busiest day at Soarin' look good.

When you are at a trading board, with a time limit, start scanning the board up and down going from left to right, if you see a pin you think you might like, put your finger on it, keep scanning, if you see another pin put a finger on it. That way when they say times up, you know where they are, otherwise you won't find them again.

When you wear pins on your lanyard and you do not want to lose them, take one of the black plastic backing cards that the pins come on, cut it into little squares about 1/2" x 1/2", stick your pin through the lanyard, then through the little black square then put the pin back on. The pin will not fall off, this is a whole lot cheaper than buying the locking pin backs.

When trading expect to trade even, by that I mean LE 1000 pin for a LE 1000 pin, or Hidden Mickey for Hidden Mickey. The lower the edition size the more valuable the pin.

If you are trading outside a Pin Trading Station and a trader says "if you go and buy me this pin I will trade you the one you want" - that's not right :(

Like any collection, you need to be able to enjoy it so determine how to best display your collection. I have way too many pins to hang on a wall so I keep them in binders, labelled and categorized so I can sit and go through them easily. Lots of people display their pins in shadow boxes.

The best advise I can give is to have fun with it!

Pin Trading Etiquette:


October 22, 2008

The Sun Sets on Main Street USA Magic Kingdom

Amy Bedore just sent this beautiful photo of Main Street USA.

Main Street USA

October 27, 2008

Epcot's Food and Wine Festival - Day 1

>From Canada to Istanbul in 1 hour: LIVE Food & Wine Festival Blog.

So how exactly does one get from Canada to Istanbul in 1 hour? The International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot!

Hi, my name is Megan and I'll be blogging LIVE from Epcot's Food & Wine Festival for the next week or so. Tonight our group, myself, 23 and my parents, decided to cover the International Marketplace Booths that stretch from the Canadian Pavilion to the French Pavilion.

Upon entering Epcot, through the International Gateway, we purchased these adorable Disney Gift Cards themed to the Festival. They feature a small coiled wristband and a square card that you can load with any denomination from $5.00 to....well more than most would spend on the Food Booths!

We decided that we would rank the items on a scale of 0 to 5.

0 = awful!
1 = forgettable not worth trying
2 = mediocre, not worth trying
3 = good, worth trying once
4 = excellent, worth repeating
5 = exceptional, give me as much as i can get!

As we made our way to Canada, intending to work our way back to France for our dinner reservation, we noticed the crowds were relatively light and lines at the Marketplaces were a few minutes at most. I started at Athens, Greece, while my parents went to Krakow, Poland.

Our first round of marketplace items consisted of Spanakopita $3.50, a spinach and feta cheese filled phylo pastry, and Kielbasa with Potato Piergoies with caramelized onions and sour cream $4.50. We also sampled two Greek wines, one similar to a cabernet sauvignon and one similar to a sauvignon blanc, unfortunately we didn't catch the names.


Kielbasa with Potato Piergoies

Our party would rate the items as follows Spanakopita = 4 out of 5 Kielbasa & Pierogies = 3 out of 5.

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For our second round we travelled to Montreal, Canada, our home country!

We ordered the Cheddar Cheese Soup $3.25, the Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Corn & Arugula $4.25 and a Moosehead Beer $5.50.

Cheddar Cheese Soup, Maple Glazed Salmon and Moosehead Beef

Our party would rate the items as follows Cheddar Cheese Soup = 5 out of 5 (Dad says 6!) Maple Glazed Salmon = 4 out of 5 (Dad & I) 5 out of 5 (Mom) Moosehead = 4 out of 5

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For our third round we continued around the world to Istanbul, Turkey.

We tried the Meze $3.00, cucumber & tomato salad, pita bread and eggplant hummus and the Manti with Yogurt Sauce $3.50.

Meze Eggplant Hummus

Our party would rate the items as follows Meze = 2 out of 5 Manti with Yogurt Sauce = 2 out of 5 This was our worst round of the evening. The pita was dry and the eggplant hummus had an odd spice to it. The cucumber & tomato salad was nice, but not good enough to buy the whole plate just for that item. The Manti were oily and the filling, beef & vegetables was tough and chewy as was the dough.

blue line

Our fourth round took place after a light dinner at Chefs de France.

We were all in the mood for something sweet. So we continued the theme of our dinner and went to Lyon, France where we picked up one Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee $3.75. In addition we had a glass of champagne, a grand marnier slushie and a pomegranate kir.

Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee

Deciding that this little portion would not satisfy all our sweet cravings we also visited Louisiana for the Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Carmel Sauce $2.75.
Praline Bread Pudding

Our party would rate the items as follows Chocolate Creme Brulee = 4 out of 5 Louisiana Bread Pudding = 6 out of 5! This seriously deserves its own rating category! Its a fantastic value for a rich, cinnamony, creamy, luscious and rich dessert. We could eat this every night of the Festival!

Well that's all for tonight! Tomorrow evening we will be returning to Epcot to continue our journey and we are planning on visiting the following marketplaces:

Lyon, France
Tokyo, Japan
San Francisco, USA
Hops & Barley Market
Cork, Ireland

October 28, 2008

Pixie Hollow Opens in the Magic Kingdom

Guest Blogger Amy Bedore visits the new Pixie Hollow in the Magic Kingdom's Toontown Fair. She files this report and shares her photos.

I spent the afternoon (10/27/08) at the Magic Kingdom to see the new Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet.

I got to the park about 11am and took the Train from Main St to Toontown Fair . The Pixies are meeting in the Country Fair tent and have taken over the room where Goofy, Pluto and Donald used to meet guests.

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

The area is now half princess and half fairy. The princess line was over 60 minutes long at noon. The Fairies had a 90 minute wait time showing but it took about double that to get into the room with Tinker Bell and her Fairy Friends.

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hallow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Once through the door you are led into a hallway where "pixie dust" and "fairies" are born. Everyone "shrinks" to be the same size as Tinker Bell (you are given a photopass card on a stretch cord similar to the food and wine gift card or Waterpark Photopass).

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

You wait in the hallway until you are led into Pixie Hollow, three groups are allowed in at a time.

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Each fairy takes you to their station. They are true to character and very nice. They take photo's and sign autographs for everyone.


Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet


Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Tinker Bell

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

At that point you are shown out to the hall to "follow the magic" out to the park.

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

It was a great experience but the wait times will be long.

Magic Kingdom's Pixie Hollow and Tinker Bell Meet and Greet

Those who may have mobility issues may find it to be difficult to wait that long. I use a cane or a scooter and it was too much for me but I didn't want to leave since I had already waited so long. 3 hours was way too long and for me I wouldn't have gone out of my way for this but since it is new I just had to see what it was like.

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About October 2008

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in October 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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