« June 2009 | Main | August 2009 »

July 2009 Archives

July 1, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 8

Emerald Isle - Day 6 - Ring around the Kenmare

It was 6 am when the alarm went off telling me to get out of bed and get ready for the final moving day of the adventure. Our next home away from home is a real castle " and I cannot tell you how excited I am about that!

But first there is breakfast at the hotel and a long drive and a lot of things to experience in front of us.

I crown thee, King Puck

One thing I learned" the Irish love their livestock. And not just for their wool. As we traveled through the little town of Killorglin we learned about an annual ritual where they actually crown a goat, King Puck. No.. really.

day6_kingpuck.jpg

August 10th marks the beginning of a 3 day festival where a wild goat is crowned King Puck and is treated like royalty for the duration of the celebration that attracts up to 100,000 visitors. The festivities include music, drinking, a fair, a little more drinking, and dancing - with a side of drinking.

There are several theories about the origins but the tradition but one says it started back in the 1600s and its theorized that a goat alerted the town to the advancing military of pillager Oliver Cromwell. (never mind that Cromwell was likely never made it that far west". But that's not the point my friend. Pour those guys another Guinness!)

Surfing" In Ireland?

Really! Our first stop was Inch Beach. A 2 mile stretch of sand on the Dingle Peninsula where the tide can actually recede up to a mile out at low tide. The coach pulled up to a restaurant with a coffee bar so we grabbed a mocha and made our way out to beach.

day6_inchcafe.jpg

day6_inchbeach.jpg

day6_inchbeach2.jpg

day6_inchbeachus.jpg

Adare

Just 10 miles from Limerick City, featuring thatched roof buildings and home to a major golf course, Adare is renowned as one of Irelands prettiest villages.

day6_adareroof.jpg

day6_adarerchurch.jpg

We were on our own to explore a little and find a spot for lunch. There were many places to choose from and we ended up at a corner pub. They had a nice selection of sandwiches, fish and chips, etc. And those who prefer liquid lunch, they seem to be really well stocked with Guinness.

day6_adarelunch.jpg

day6_adarekeg.jpg

Random Ruin Alert!

After some time exploring the picturesque town, we climbed back on board for the coach for the last leg of the drive to Dromoland Castle.

One of the great things about traveling on a coach is that you are free to let your eyes wander and take in the beauty of this land. I must say, it's astonishing to see the number of random ruins along the journey. Of course we have seen many historical structures on this trip and you would expect to see these as a tourist attraction, or off limits due to safety issues, etc.

But it's amazing to see these incredible pieces of history, many dating back before the US was a twinkle in anyone imagination, just standing there. In the middle of a field, next to a river, or even next to a modern house.

Some out on the horizon and others just yards off the main road. What happened in these structures? If walls could talk - what a tale they would tell huh? Here are a couple we spotted today.

day6_randomruins.jpg

day6_randomruins2.jpg

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog to date!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 2, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 9

Emerald Isle - Day 6 - Ring around the Kenmare - Continued

Storming the Castle

As we pulled up to Dromoland Castle and saw several members of the castle staff standing in formation outside to greet us, it was obvious we were going to be staying in a place that is beyond extraordinary.

There is a lot of history here. They believe the first structures on property were built in the 15th or 16th century including a tower house. Over time there were as many as three different houses on the site occupied by local Gaelic families; the Obriens and the Mclnermys.

The castle is now owned by an American and has been turned into a luxury resort, spa and golf course. President George W. Bush stayed here in 2004 to attend the EU-US summit that was held at the castle.

day6_drumarrive.jpg

day6_drumarrive1.jpg

day6_drumarrive_grp.jpg

day6_drumarrive_hall.jpg

day6_drumarrive_armor.jpg

day6_drum_bar.jpg

A reception was waiting for us when we arrived. Staff was on hand to serve us a beverage and provide an official welcome. We were escorted to the lobby to obtain our room keys, settle in and freshen up before dinner that night.

Chris and I had a short walk to our room and once we got in we discovered the first drawback of castle life.

Luckily we do have plumbing and running water" whew!

But unfortunately - No air-conditioning. And the position of the windows in the room faced a small courtyard that wasn't getting much air coming in naturally through the open windows. Those of you who know me have already had that "oh boy.. that's not good" thought flashing through your mind - for those who don't know me all that well, since I was a kid I seem to have a personal, built in space heater making any 80 degree day simply uncomfortable. A ceiling fan in the middle of winter is not uncommon.

I went to the front desk and asked about the possibility of moving rooms and I was very open to a paid upgrade if one was available. The gal at the front desk was more then accommodating and placed us in a room in one of the newer wings with a nice view of the main building.

day6_drumarrive_229.jpg

day6_drum_rm1.jpg

day6_drum_rm2.jpg

day6_drum_rm3.jpg

day6_drum_rm4.jpg

Not all rooms are alike, which is refreshing and unique. We loved the décor here in 229. The sitting area was a nice touch and the bathrooms were spacious featuring a double sink and separate bath and shower.

I also asked about the different room categories there and while there wasn't too much in terms of availability due to large wedding party checking in, she was kind enough to show me around. The most impressive I was able to see was room 501 in the main tower - and it has got to be a bell services nightmare.

There are no lifts in the tower and the only way to reach it is via a very narrow winding staircase, 3 floors up. It's quite a hike but once you get there it is very impressive. The only thing it was lacking was an abundance of windows which would have been needed on this very warm day. In that particular room you would get a a taste of how Rapunzel or Princess Fiona may have felt. I hope to go back someday during a little cooler time so I can try staying in the tower! I will be sure to bring a lot of tip money for the poor guy who carries the luggage up those steps.

I was told that usually the weather is not as nice as it has been the past few days, making air conditioning about as useful as an ice maker on a glacier. So if you visit just be prepared to ask for a fan if you are lucky enough to see the clear skies and warm weather we have been blessed with during this trip.

After we settled in, Chris and I walked around the grounds a bit to take in the beauty of the place. The ducks pretty much own the place. They get right of way as the golf carts roll through the grounds.

day6_drum_ducksgrd.jpg

day6_drum_ducks.jpg

day6_drum_duckstree.jpg

day6_drumarrive2.jpg


Traditional Irish Night

Dinner and a show was on tap for the evening. We met in the lobby and boarded our coach for a 15 minute trip down the highway to the Corn Barn at Bunratty Castle. As we entered we were greeted by the 'Fear an T' (Irish for man of the house) and offered a welcome drink of Irish liqueur or Mead - or honey wine a favorite to the area.

The venue is cozy with large tables packed as close to each other as possible. Tip: if you think you might want to get up and move around during dinner, sit on the end. They served a four course meal including salad, choice of Irish stew, a veggie dish or salmon, boiled potatoes and apple pie for dessert.

Between courses and following dinner, Irish dancers and singers take the stage.

day6_bunratty1.jpg

day6_bunratty2.jpg

day6_bunratty3.jpg

After dinner we went back to the hotel to get some much needed rest to prepare for tomorrow and a visit to the great cliffs of Moher.

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog to date!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 3, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 10

Emerald Isle - Day 7 - Ever-Moher (part 1 of 3)

Today's word" Slan. - Pronounced slawn - it is Irish for goodbye or farewell.

We have one full day left of this adventure and the first item on the agenda is one that I have eagerly been looking forward and dreading all at the same time" the majestic Cliffs of Moher.

But first thing is first - FOOD!

The morning started with a wonderful breakfast at the Earl of Thomond Restaurant located in the main building of the hotel. As with all of the other days, except the arrival day, the cost was included in the cost of the trip. They had a breakfast buffet with a variety of bread, fruit, cheese, and cereal available for your starter then you had the option of ordering your hot meal from the menu.

day7_breakfast1.jpg

After breakfast we headed out to the coach to begin our last day of touring.

Journey to" not off" the Cliffs of Moher

Ok... lets just get the icky part out of the way. The dread comes from this very strange and unexplainable fear of heights I have as it relates to someone (that isn't me") driving a vehicle along the edge of a cliff. That includes my parents, my husband, and of course random bus drivers. Ok.. maybe not totally unexplainable.. I'm thinking its likely due to a car accident back in high school that ended in a roll down an embankment caused by a driver I know today only as 'Highway to Hell' - and now I have a case of "I must control the steering wheel". But that's a story for another time.

Anyhoo".. knowing we were going to the edge of something, I packed my trusty i-pod so just in case I needed a distraction, I could slip into my podcast world and forget about the possible 200 ft drop outside the window.

But the luck of the Irish was truly with me this day. I was pleasantly surprised that the journey to the cliffs was mainly flat and provided extraordinarily scenery. Offering many more opportunities to enjoy my new favorite pastime" finding new and exciting random ruins!

day7_randomruins1.jpg

day7_randomruins2.jpg

day7_randomruins3.jpg

The coach slowly crept up a hill until it finally came to stop in a parking area. Looking around there didn't seem to be any buildings or other human markings you would normally see at a major tourist attraction. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the visitor's center is actually built into the hill side to avoid damaging the natural beauty that surrounds the area, yet still provide a place where folks can learn more about the cliffs, the wildlife and the history.

day7_moher_visitor.jpg

day7_moher_visitor2.jpg

We walked past the structure for now and made our way up the path to the edge of the cliffs that rise from 394 ft to as high as 720 feet in some spots above the Atlantic ocean. If you look closely at the steps you can see traces of the fossils in the stone.

day7_moher_steps.jpg

The morning greeted us with the infamous Ireland mist and the edge was windy enough that you could lean into it and it would support your weight. Even with the clouds, the view was stunning.

day7_moher_scene.jpg

day7_moher_leaning.jpg

day7_moher_chriswind.jpg

day7_moher_scene1.jpg

day7_moher_scene2.jpg

day7_moher_beciwind.jpg

Its comforting to know that danger can be communicated easily even without the benefit of an interpreter. These signs can be found dotted all around the area.

day7_moher_sign.jpg

day7_moher_signcastle.jpg

In reality I think it's these people the sign folks are trying to get a strong message across to. It's a picture that is on display inside the visitor's center showing the wackiest of all tea parties, this side of Wonderland of course.

day7_moher_teaparty.jpg

If you look really closely you can not only tell that the wind was calm that day". either that or they made really good hat pins in those days. But you can see a faint line from the top of the left hand corner leading down. While it doesn't show up to well in this retake, it appears to be a pulley system to move things.. likely insane people" from one side to the other. With ancestors doing crazy stuff like that, no wonder we wear bike helmets and protective padding at every opportunity.

...to be continued.

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog to date!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 4, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 11

Emerald Isle - Day 7 - Ever-Moher (part 2 of 3)

On the Road to Monk's Pub

We climbed back on the coach en-route to our next important destination " Lunch.

Along the way we were treated to yet another natural wonder that Ireland has to offer. It's hard to explain but as we drove away from the cliffs, we saw the ocean as it snuggled up against the rocks and the greenery that we have become accustomed to over the past few days. And of course this pocket of the map has some fascinating random ruins as well.

day7_waves.jpg

day7_waves_rocks.jpg

day7_randomruins4.jpg

day7_randomruins5.jpg

As the miles past behind us, the lush green began to give way to a more rugged and rocky terrain that seemed to provide the perfect environment for the resident wildlife.

day7_wildlife.jpg

day7_wildlife2.jpg

At points in the journey it almost seemed that you were transported to a alien planet with nothing but rocks covering the ground. Then just a few minutes and a couple of bends later, the green returned to the landscape.

day7_wildlife_cow.jpg

I love the picture of the cow enjoying the day. **Warning: Possible Irish lore approaching" ** (they really should have a sign for THAT!)

It may not be very apparent, but a cow standing is seemingly a rare site. It was pointed out to us early in the trip that for some reason, Irish cows are just not very high strung. Some even say they are lazy cause more often then not, you will find them lying around in the pasture. At first we laughed it off, but as we passed pasture after pasture and field after field, cows were hanging out enjoying the sun with their legs comfortably tucked underneath them. Personally I think it's the fact they are pretty smart and figured out a way to tap into the Guinness reserves. Now that's a happy cow!

A curious thing happened on the way to lunch. The road does tend to narrow a bit in this area and when two tour busses meet at a narrow patch, a fun little Irish gig on wheels ensues. A few times in reverse and forward again then repeat and the master bus wranglers manage to squeak past each other without a scratch! We waved at the people as they went by who seemed to enjoy the spectacle as much as we did.

day7_narrow1.jpg

day7_narrow2.jpg

We arrived at our destination. Monk's Pub located along side the pier at Ballyvaughan. Reportedly its a fairly famous eatery in Ireland, known especially for is Seafood chowder.

day7_monks1.jpg

day7_monks2.jpg

After lunch we spent a few minutes stretching our legs and walking out onto the pier to take in the scenery. There were a few vibrant purple jelly fish hanging out in the water enjoying the sun as we were.

day7_pier_bec.jpg

And in case you were wondering - what would happen if you decided to drive off the edge? Here is a nice illustration:

day7_piersign.jpg

To be continued......

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog to date!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 5, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 12

Emerald Isle - day 7 - Ever-Moher (part 3 of 3)

Rathbaun Scones and Sheep Herding

One of the unique things about an Adventure by Disney is they look for opportunities to immerse the guests in the local culture, well beyond the common tourist traps. Today a visit to Rathbaun farm provided such an experience.

We exited the coach and were shown to a room filled with picnic tables with various baking goodies on them. Basically if we were going to have traditional scones" by gosh we would have to make them ourselves!

So we were divided into groups and given our way happening and trend setting attire: a blue plastic apron, rubber gloves and a hair net. (this will be all the rage" I'm telling ya!)

Luckily I snagged the "official photographer" role for our group and Chris was elected captain. (i.e.: the one who would be in most of the shots) - While Tiffany and Tina were the official supervisors making sure Chris got the recipe just right. (Which I will be sure to include in my summary of the trip!)

day7_scones1.jpg

day7_scones2.jpg

day7_scones3.jpg

Once the mixture was complete and the scones lovingly cut and placed on baking sheets numbered for our table, we were led outside to explore the grounds, meet the animals and view demonstrations of sheep herding and sheering.

day7_farm_house.jpg

day7_farm_lamb.jpg

day7_farm_horsebec.jpg

day7_farm_thatched.jpg

One very special corner of the farm had an enclosure for a miniature pony and her 12 week only baby. Everyone was immediately drawn to this little sweetheart.

day7_farm_baby.jpg

day7_farm_babybec.jpg

day7_farm_francesc.jpg

Soon the smell of freshly baked scones filled the air and we called back to the gathering place to enjoy the fruits.. err scones of our labor. Topped with clotted cream and/or jam".. YUMMY!

We were very lucky to get to know Tiffany and her mom Tina over the course of our trip. As a matter of fact, Tiffany was the America's Funniest Home Videos online winner. Her prize was a choice of several Adventures By Disney itineraries, but I am sure glad she choose ours.

day7_scones_finished.jpg

As the day began to wind down, we boarded the coach to head back to the hotel. They have a falconry school on property and Ruby was ready and waiting for her next batch of students. In the meantime, they were collecting money for a local charity and offering the chance to hold her for a donation. You know me" I can never resist a good charitable effort and combined with an opportunity to hold such a majestic creature? Sign me up!

day7_ruby.jpg

day7_rubybec.jpg

And Now it's Time to Say Slan

We returned to our room to get ahead of the task of packing and freshen up for our final dinner together being held at Dromoland Castle. The room was bathed in the early evening sun that still shines around 8 pm, as well as the sounds of the live music provided by a vocalist quietly playing a guitar. This provided a magical atmosphere for the evening.

day7_dinner_rm.jpg

The farewell dinners are always something very special. It's a time to reflect on the trip and reminisce about the adventures you have had together.

But first.. there's food!

The castle kitchen provided a wonderful menu including fillet of beef or a fish main course, and a dessert featuring white chocolate with Irish whiskey and ginger ice cream. Dare I say it again".. YUMMY!

The fun thing was when they served each table, the plates were covered as they set the plate down, then lifted off simultaneously to create a very dramatic reveal.

day7_dinner_reveal.jpg

day7_dinner_plate.jpg

The food was fantastic, the company was outstanding, but unfortunately it also came with the task of saying goodbye to our new friends. The guides had worked very hard during the trip to document our journey and we all enjoyed watching a slide show to relive the past week's shenanigans. (That has to be Irish for "very good time" right?)

After the presentation concluded, Francesc was kind enough to trace our journey on the maps that were given to us at the beginning. That will serve as a wonderful keepsake of this one of a kind adventure.

day7_maptrace.jpg

day7_dinner_thegals.jpg

day7_dinner_theguides2.jpg

It was time to say a final goodbye, farewell and slan to our new friends. We called it a night to get ready for our early pick up so we can make our flight back to London and our return stateside.

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog to date!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 6, 2009

Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Final Entry

Emerald Isle - day 8 - Erin Go Braugh & Slan

We have an 8:45 am Aer Lingus flight out of the Shannon Airport which is about 30 minute drive from Dromoland Castle. Breakfast is normally included on this final day, but because our departure is so early, they have provided a small continental breakfast for us in the lobby. And believe me" a cup of coffee was a must at 6:30 am when the van arrived.

Shannon isn't the most convenient airport to fly out of in terms of flexible schedules. We used frequent flyer miles which made it necessary to fly back to London to catch our British flight back to Seattle. However it also required us to spend one more night in London to get the first class seats on the non stop flight home.

After our 1 hour and ten minute flight back to Heathrow, we reclaimed our bags and went in search of our hotel.

The Hilton London Heathrow is conveniently located at terminal 4. If you land at a different terminal, no worries. The underground train system will get you there in no time and it's a free ride between terminals.

There is a very curious path from the terminal to the hotel" well more of a habitrail really. It's fully enclosed with no window and no doors except the beginning and the end of the tube and is about a 6 minute walk at a leisurely pace.

day8_hotelLHR.jpg

Anyway, we checked into the hotel and settled in for our overnight stay. We considered riding the tube into the city, but decided instead to enjoy the amenities of the hotel and catch the finale of "Britains Got Talent". (loved Diversity - that awesome dance crew deserved it!)

day8_hotelatrium.jpg

No windows" no doors... OH!

That reminds me! I forgot to tell you my one and only haunted encounter of the trip! Its not much really" not like anything flew across the room, or some dashing knight rode down the hallway. But since my husband is the worlds greatest skeptic, refuses to admit there is a possibility that ghosts may be hanging out watching us, and he wanted to prove his point so much he jokingly dressed up for the occasion and I caught it on film, its worth posting.

One of my bucket list items is to stay in a haunted castle so I was very excited to hear about the castle stay on the itinerary. But alas, when we arrived for the welcome reception at Dromoland the host told us a little history but did make it a point to say it was not haunted. (insert groan of disappointment here")

But" When we moved rooms and settled in 229, Chris and I were standing together in the middle of the room and the TV came on all by itself as if to welcome us to the room. I felt a cold chill and looked at Chris" he looked at me as if to see if I had grabbed the remote and quickly concealed it, but it was sitting across the room on the table and he had to concede, there was no way either of us could have turned it on without the other one seeing it.

day8_tvghost.jpg

He could tell I was about to go into my "see?? Ghosts do exist" routine" so he immediately began thinking of all the ways that could have happened - scientifically of course. (insert Beci rolling eyes here") I quickly grabbed a camera and snapped a few photos" just in case. J

On our last night, as we were packing I brought up the fact that the tv hadn't done anything strange since the first incident, and he decided to dress for the occasion.

day6_tvghosttshirt.jpg

Next he's going to tell me there is no Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, or Mickey Mouse. Geezzzz"..


Erin Go Braugh

An Irish phrase that means "Ireland Forever" or "Long Live Ireland"

I think I mentioned at the beginning that honestly Ireland was not my first choice of itineraries. But it was my hubby's turn to pick this time and I gotta say" I am sure glad he did.

My initial thoughts was it would be all about beer and leprechauns, but you may have noticed I haven't really spoken much about the little shoe cobblers that are masters at their art". and a good practical joke! Honestly there was so much richness and depth in the land and its people that I put pots of gold and rainbows we think of so often in the back of my thoughts almost immediately.

This is a land that at one time had a strict code of hospitality to friends and strangers alike, ensuring that if someone needed a meal or a roof over their head for the night, someone was there to lend a hand and provide it. Without a doubt it has been passed down generation to generation as evidenced by the warmth of the Irish people we encountered along the way.

It's also fitting that Disney has chosen this itinerary to share with its guests as Jennae and Francesc reflect that same spirit. Not only are they great people to hang with and chat with but they are master story tellers and entertainers. They were frequently the cause of the uncontrollable laughter and made sure our trip was truly magical

day8_drama.jpg

I hope you get a chance to experience this wonderful itinerary and if you do here are a few tips for you:

Think about extending your trip. My biggest regret is not spending more time in Dublin and I would have loved to have an extra day at Dromoland Castle to enjoy all of the amenities they have to offer. I would advise that you consider arriving a day or two early and/or leaving a day or day after the trip concludes.

Prepare for all kinds of weather. Try to pack light but keep in mind the weather can change so I suggest packing for rain and shine, just in case.

Check your airlines baggage rules before you pack. Keep in mind if you travel on more than one airline, there will be more than one set of rules.

Keep your pins in a safe place! Everyday of the journey you will be awarded a special pin that's themed for the day and only given to guests on a particular Adventure By Disney itinerary.

Prone to motion issues? Pack some over the counter motion sickness meds - Dramamine, Bonine etc. Or check with your doctor for advice. It will come in handy if needed on the boat ride, or if you are near the back of the coach during the twisty and curvy portions of the road trip.

Be prepared to tip your guides on the last night. That is always confusing since all other tips like bell staff, drivers, etc are included. The guidelines for the guides are $5 - $9 usd per guest, per guide, per day. So an 8 day adventure will range from $40-$72 per guest per guide. They will accept US dollars or the local currency. But if you aren't carrying cash your last opportunity to find a cash machine is on day 6 in Adare, so plan accordingly.

Get involved and get to know your fellow travelers as early in the trip as possible to maximize your fun. There are lots of crazy photo ops and group silliness to partake in and they make for magical memories after the return home. Oh! And make sure you have brushed up on your limerick skills!

40 million Americans can claim some level of Irish ancestry so check your family tree before you leave.. Tiffany & Tina knew they had family roots not too far from the beaten track of the tour, so one day they rented a car to see if they could find an old family farm and they were successful! This lead me to check into some of my family roots when I returned and sure enough! My father's family can be traced back to the Richardson, Lewis and Holland clans all in the Killarney and Cashel area. So for my family it's not all that far to Tipperary after all - and I wish I had known that before I left.

To test the theory of the lazy cow - before you leave pay attention to how many US cows are standing vs laying down in various fields. (I couldn't resist that one)

Lastly - for a touch of Ireland in your own home" open a Guinness and make scones.
All you need is: 3 cups all-purpose flour / 1 tablespoon baking powder / 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - at room temp / ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar / 3 large eggs / 1/3 cup buttermilk / ½ cup raisins OR currants. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour ad baking powder - in separate bowl beat the butter until creamy and add ¼ cup sugar, beating until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time then add flour mixture and buttermilk. Sprinkle the raisins over dough and fold in. using an ice cream scoop place mounds of dough on sheet and sprinkle on remaining sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. (Don't forget to dawn the appropriate attire which may be easier after you down the Guinness" or two.)

My eyes have truly been opened to the beauty, lore and history of this breathtaking country. And to experience it with such a fantastic group of people makes it all that much better!

group%20shot.jpg

day8_dinner_theguides.jpg

Thank you all for making my first trip to Ireland a wonderful, fun, entertaining and magical experience!

day8_tchrisbike.jpg

day8_chrisbec.jpg

Erin Go Braugh and until the next trip" Slan!

day8_slan.jpg

Missed an entry? Here's the link to the entire Emerald Isle Blog!

MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken is a veteran of 4 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 50 cruises including 18 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney. Here is her blog on the Backstage Magic Adventure!

July 12, 2009

The Museum of PIN-TIQUITIES: Disney Pin Celebration 2009

Guest Blogger Carol Cruise returns with a report from this year's Pin Celebration at Walt Disney World!

The Museum of PIN-TIQUITIES: Disney Pin Celebration 2009

June 26th - June 29th

Blog_20090628_MOP_Logo.jpg

This was my 5th Disney Pin Celebration; I was by now a seasoned attendee however this year I was traveling solo, sort of. Gary had decided that since he was not a pin trader and did not want to endure the heat and humidity of Florida in June, he would stay home. The event has traditionally been held in September but this year, due to several other events being held in September, Disney changed the pin event to June. I flew out of Syracuse and met up with my fellow Canadian pin trader and friend Susan at Walt Disney World. We shared a room at Disney's All Star Movies Resort and spent the week enjoying the event and pin trading together. We also decided that since it was so hot and we had so much stuff to tote around we would rent a car, which was a real benefit for this trip.

The event was managed the same as previous years, it was announced on the Disney events site, registration opened February 25th and if you registered early you were entitled to a $15 discount off the registration fee and a early bird pin. Your RSP (Random Selection Process) request was due May 25th; this is when you list the pins you want from the merchandise catalogue and hope that you get lucky when they run your choices through the random selection process. There were more low edition pins this year than previous years and for the first time I did not get everything I wanted.

Thursday was registration day. It was held at the Yacht & Beach Club Convention Centre from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. We arrived just at noon and the line up was through the queue across the main room and out the door. I turned to Susan and said that we would be standing in lines all weekend, lets pass on this one and get some lunch. She agreed so we went to Beaches & Cream and enjoyed a leisurely lunch before returning to the hall. When we got back the line had dissipated and we picked up our packages. The registration package included:

The product/pins you were awarded on your RSP

A 4th RSP request for items that are left over

2 Disney gift cards $15 each

A "Partners" pin from the other Disney Resorts

Early Bird Pin

A voucher for a snack valid on Saturday

A voucher for your gift package valid on Saturday

A list of the new Hidden Mickey pins being released at the event only

The Early Bird Pin

After we had picked up our package we went around to the other side of the room where there were table's set up for people to sit at and trade pins or just have a conversation. We joined some of the friends we have met over the years and before we knew it we were getting hungry, it was dinnertime. Disney had announced that the pin trading room would remain open until 10 p.m. and it would be open to the public at 7 p.m. Rather than lose our spot, Susan stayed at the table and I went to get some take-out from the Market Place in the Beach Club.

Trading after pre-registration.

The evening of trading concluded at 10 p.m. and we had good intentions of returning to the room to get good nights sleep, but as we exited the parking lot we both decided that it was too early so we went to Downtown Disney. This was to be the first of many evenings spent at Downtown Disney, wandering the shops and sitting along the ledge enjoying an ice cream from Ghirardelli's. 

Friday morning we were off and running; we arrived at EPCOT with our bags of pins along with several other participants. Disney was ready for us, they had a private entrance set up for the pin attendees and sniffer dog Taz was doing his job. Once through the security check we proceeded to World Show Place. I love walking into this building for the event, you never know what to expect but you know it will be awesome. Disney does not lack when decorating for this event, I am always so impressed.

Taz is sniffing the pin bags.


Bobby Pinback welcomed Susan and I to World ShowPlac

Disney decorates to match the theme of the event and the pins that they have released for the event. I am a collector of Pluto pins, my first choice of pin for my RSP was a Pluto pin, when I walked through the doors of World ShowPlace the first thing I saw was the display of Pluto with the dinosaur matching the pin I had ordered. The dinosaur was so big I had trouble capturing it in a picture.

T-Rex must have been 15 feet tall

Once inside World ShowPlace there was a queue to the tables manned by several cast members. This area was called the store and you could purchase pins that did not sell out. On the other side of the room there were several glass display cases that housed the items for the silent auction. This year was the first year they did not have a live auction. I wandered around to look at the items, and would have been thrilled to own any one of them, but the bids were way out of my price range.

Moving on through the building to the left were the "partners", this year there were displays from Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disney Soda Fountain & Studio Shop and Disney Cruise Line. There were also displays from Vinylmation, Kooky Klickers and Mickey Monsters, something else to catch the collector's eye! There was also a guest services area for guests with items to return.

_Pin_Partners


To the right of this part of the building were the pin trading boards, each board had a theme behind it similar to one of the pins that was available for the event. Each board had a queue that on average took 45 minutes to get through. The rules were simple, you gave the cast member two of your pins and you got to take two pins off the board. The catch, you had one minute to make you choice and there are hundreds of pins on the board.

The full sized art on display was replicated in special pins available only at this event.

The full sized art on display was replicated in special pins available only at this event.


My eyes immediately look for Hidden Mickey's, I can't help it, I collect them and this year the completer pins for last years Hidden Mickey's were only going to be available at the event. Lots of people do look for other goodies, such as limited editions pins or AP (Artist Proof) pins. Apparently this year there were lots of them there, but I pretty much stuck to collecting my Hidden Mickey's.

There was also a large stage set up in the middle of the pin board area and there were numerous activities going on throughout the day. Off to the left of the room there was also a kid's area supervised by a couple of cast members. The kids had their own trading board but mostly I saw them colouring and doing other crafty activities.


Digger and Lovey


During the day there were visits from some of the Disney elite pin people such as Digger and Lovey, a wonderful couple who entertained us. Scoop Sanderson was present and joined Steven Miller (project manager for pin trading) on stage to conduct a pin trading 101 session for all the newcomers. Later in the day a couple of Disney Design Group Artists, Alex Maher and Monty Maldovan, signed pins for the guests.

Scoop Sanderson and Steven Miller


There were several Disney Trivia games held on stage and the winners were awarded pins as prizes. At one point they called up a young lady to play one of the games, Crystal was asked to draw a name from a hat for the next contestant. When she drew the name it was Shelby, her boyfriend! Well, they made a fuss about that and then handed the microphone over to Shelby. He got down on his knees and said, " I may not be Prince Charming but you are my Princess, will you marry me?" Well, there wasn't a dry eye in the place. She of course said yes and everyone applauded and Disney presented them with some wonderful gifts.

At the back of the building, in a room the size of a convention centre ballroom was the pin trading area. There were rows and rows of tables and chairs and they were all filled within an hour of opening. Some traders had bins and suitcases full of pins, but me, I travel light, I had one pin-trading bag that fits in my backpack. I did however enjoy walking around looking at all the pins and was able to make a couple of great trades.

The Pin Trading area was always busy - I made some good trades there!

Friday was also the deadline to return any unwanted pins and hand in a final RSP, it's a chance to pick up any of the sold out items that had been returned. There was one pin I wanted but didn't get so I completed the form.

At 6 p.m. they announced the event was closed for the day and everyone shuffled out, tired but excited by the days events. Susan and myself and two friends from PA, Ann and Mike stopped at the Electric Umbrella for dinner on our way out of the park. Our next stop was Port Orleans Riverside.

Our good friend John Rick, founder of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders and co-host of the Disney Pincast had organized a pin-trading gathering from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the food court at the resort. When we walked in there were many traders and a lot of familiar faces. It was a great evening and I made a great trade so I was happy.

We left POR at 10 p.m., dropped Mike and Ann off at their resort, then looked at each and Susan said, "It's too early to go back." so we went to Downtown Disney for an hour or so. When we got back to All Star Movies we sorted through the pins we had traded for, organized our pin bags for the next day and turned out the lights.

Mickey is a pin trader . . . so naturally he was there!


Saturday was pretty much the same routine in the morning until we arrived at the Show Place. When we entered on Saturday we went to one of the tables and picked up our final RSP to see if we had won any additional pins. We were given a sheet of paper telling us how many Event Exclusive promotion pins we were each eligible for. These pins were limited to one per person, based on how much you spent. There were six different pins in total and you were allowed to purchase one pin for every $75 you have spent at a bargain price of $3.00 each. We went directly to the Event Store to buy our pins. After the event any remaining Event Exclusive pins are destroyed.

During the day, in addition to the pin trading boards and back room trading there were several Disney Trivia and other games. There was a 1 o'clock Pin Chat with Scoop Sanderson and various announcements about upcoming pin activities and events. At 4 p.m. there were Snacks distributed, consisting of a drink and a rice krispie Mickey head dipped in chocolate. The Auction winners were announced and the Grand Prize Winners were announced. Information was announced about next year's event which will be held in August and the theme is Trade City USA. It will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Pin Trading. They said it would be a cross between Radiator Springs and Main Street USA.

The logo for next year's event.


The event closed at 6 p.m. and once again we dragged ourselves out of the building. This evening we decided to eat at the Land in Sunshine Seasons, there was Susan, Mike, Ann and myself. It was nice to just sit and talk and the evening seemed to fly by. Mike and Ann were walking back to their resort so Susan and I headed to the parking lot, found the car and what else, went to Downtown Disney. We hadn't thought about it being Saturday night and all, but it was crazy busy so we got our ice cream and just sat and people watched for a bit, then headed back to All Star Movies.

Sunday morning the event was open to the public at 11 a.m., so we quickly got in the lines for the boards to get some more Hidden Mickey pins before the doors opened. Once the public is allowed in they change the boards and the new and special pins are no longer available. Even after the building opened up we decided to stay and do a couple more boards. I am glad we did, it was a chance to meet some new pin traders. They were full of questions and between us we were able to help them out understanding just what they were getting themselves into. They didn't seem to mind and were having a blast as we left the building for the final time.

There were five of us heading over to the Magic Kingdom, Susan, Ann, Mike and Gabe, another Canadian pin trader and me. Our mission was lunch and the Annual Passholder preview of the Hall of Presidents. It was a great way to cap off the weekend; we also got to do a couple of rides before we all said our good byes. Susan and I had to take the car back to the Dolphin and then it was time to pack, I was leaving first thing in the morning.

Gabe, Carol, Mike, Ann and Susan at the Hall of Presidents Passholder Preview


It's hard to say what next year will bring but I do hope that I can manage to make it to the event in August. I not only enjoy the pin trading and activities, I look forward to seeing the many wonderful people I have met over the years.


Read Carol's Blogs on the 2008 Pin Event:
Part 1
Part 2


Return to Blog Central

About July 2009

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in July 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2009 is the previous archive.

August 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.