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September 6, 2013

Carthay Circle Restaurant: The Glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age Meets the History and Heritage of Disney

Andrew Rossi

Disney's California Adventure has undergone a dramatic transformation since the park first opened in 2001. Attractions like Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Ariel's Undersea Adventure all opened after the park's initial opening, not to mention the nighttime spectacular World of Color, and the highly anticipated Carsland that opened in 2012. With all these changes, Disney Imagineers also wanted to recreate the park's entrance in a way that was better-themed and more immersive. California Adventure's original main entrance, known as Sunshine Plaza, was designed to make it feel as if Guests were stepping into a postcard of California. This included giant letters spelling out "California," a scaled replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, and massive murals depicting the state's vast mountain ranges.

With the new Buena Vista Street, instead of depicting California as it is today Guests are transported to Los Angeles of the 1920s, the time when Walt Disney first arrived. Now much more similar to Main Street USA at Disneyland, Buena Vista Street includes an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Guests can hop aboard the Red Car Trolley as it takes them past stores such as Oswald's Gas & Oil, Elias and Company Department Store, Mortimer's Market, and the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café and Bakery. The crown jewel of Buena Vista Street, however, is a replica of the Carthay Circle Theater; it has become to California Adventure what Sleeping Beauty Castle is at Disneyland or Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

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Inside this beautiful building you will find an equally incredible dining experience, the Carthay Circle Restaurant.

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Overview:
The Carthay Circle Theater was one of the most famous movie palaces of Hollywood's Golden Age. Opened in 1926, the theater saw the premiere of movies such as "Romeo and Juliet" in 1936 and "Gone with the Wind" in 1939. The theater, however, also has a very deep connection with Walt Disney and was the sight of the premiere of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937 and "Fantasia" in 1940.

The theater was designed in a Spanish Colonial-Revival style with white-washed concrete and a high bell tower that could be seen from miles around. When the theater first opened The Architect and Engineer praised the Carthay Circle as "simple, massive, and dignified, the building stands out for its intrinsic beauty," while the Pacific Coast Architect called it "a theater masked as a cathedral." Unfortunately, the original Carthay Circle Theater was demolished in 1969 but replicas can be found at two locations. The first is a smaller-scale façade found at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard that houses a gift shop called Once Upon a Time. California Adventure's Carthay Circle Theater, while still slightly smaller than the 1926 original, is a much closer and grander recreation and has become one of the main icons of the park.

Open for lunch and dinner, the Carthay Circle Restaurant is located on the building's upper floor with a lounge on the lower level. The restaurant is the equivalent of a Signature dining location at Disney World in terms of atmosphere, menu, and pricing. There is, however, no dress code for this restaurant. Reservations are strongly encouraged but, unlike at Disney World, can only be made sixty days in advance.

The Carthay Circle Restaurant also offers a World of Color Dining Package. This is something that has changed rather recently. The current dining package offers Guests a prix fixe meal allows you a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert from a select menu while also receiving access to a preferred viewing area for World of Color. If you want to have the peace of mind knowing that you have a guaranteed spot for the show without the need of getting there an hour or more in advance, this is definitely something I recommend. The viewing area is located in the very center, not nearly as crowded as the other viewing locations, and you are asked to arrive just fifteen to twenty minutes ahead of time. If partaking in the dining package for lunch you will receive a ticket for the first showing of World of Color while dining for dinner will get you a ticket for the second showing. With a cost of $39 for lunch and $59 for dinner, I would highly recommend dining here for lunch if you are looking to do the dining package. We did, and I felt it was definitely worth the price.

Atmosphere:
The Carthay Circle Restaurant completely immerses you in the romance and glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age. This begins as soon as you enter. The lower level of the Carthay Circle is a lounge where you can relax and enjoy a cocktail in an upscale setting. This is the perfect place to wait for a table to be available in the restaurant upstairs or even if you are just looking for a quiet escape from the theme park crowds outside.

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Ascending the stairs or taking to the elevator up to the second level, Guests make their way down a short hallway before entering the restaurant's grand main dining room. With the dining room's high ceilings, wood-paneled walls, and chandeliers, there is certainly a high degree of refinement and elegance to the restaurant.

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The restaurant has a certain romance and glamour to it that is distinctly "Hollywood." Dining here really makes you feel as though you have been transported to another time and place, back to Hollywood's Golden Age. It is no stretch to imagine Walt Disney himself and other famous celebrities of the time dining at a restaurant similar to this.

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Along the walls of the main dining room are also cabinets that showcase numerous bottles of wine featured on the restaurant's extensive wine list.

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Off of the main dining room are smaller dining areas each of which provide slightly different feels while still maintaining the restaurant's upscale atmosphere.

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There are even two outdoor terraces where Guests can enjoy their meals with stunning views of Buena Vista Street. It is also a great vantage point from which to watch the park's afternoon parade.

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The open kitchen is also a nice touch.

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What makes the restaurant so special, however, are the numerous photographs, paintings, and other pictures that adorn the walls. If you are a fan of Disney history, like myself, then you will most certainly appreciate the wide array of photographs of Walt found throughout the dining room.

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There are also many pictures showing the Carthay Circle during its heyday, including photographs from the premier of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

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If the scenes painted on the ceiling look familiar, it is because they pay homage to the landscapes and background art of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

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All these images and photographs really make dining at the Carthay Circle restaurant feel as though you are experiencing part of Walt's history. In this way, it is really the perfect fit for California Adventure and especially Buena Vista Street. It is a testament not only to the restaurant's beauty and elegance, but also its tremendous theming and attention to detail.

The Menu:
The Carthay Circle Restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and each has menus that are somewhat different. The appetizers for both, however, are essentially the same. Among these are the Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits ($12.00) which come stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno, Fire Cracker Duck Wings ($14.00) with a soy, lime, and chili sauce, Warm California Asparagus ($16.00) accompanied by prosciutto, asiago and a truffle poached egg vinaigrette, Pacific Ono Ceviche ($16.00), and Ginger Pork Pot Stickers ($14.00) accented with lemon grass and a mango voodoo sauce. The dinner menu also includes a Sauteed Crab Cake ($17.00) topped with a lemon vinaigrette. Both lunch and dinner menus also include a Seasonal Soup ($11.00) with a tomato broth, asparagus, spring leeks, lemon roasted chicken, and basil, as well as a Carthay Green Salad ($12.00) with jicama, cucumber, cilantro, and an orange white balsamic vinaigrette, which are the only two appetizer offerings on both the lunch and dinner World of Color Dining Package menus.

For lunch, the entrées include the Carthay Strawberry Chicken Salad ($22.00) with bacon, avocado, and cherry tomatoes in a fresh strawberry and thyme vinaigrette, an Angus Beef Arugula Salad ($23.00) with a cabernet vinaigrette, Rigatoni Pasta with Roasted Chicken ($25.00) mixed with pancetta, summer peas, and spinach, Sauteed Short Rib Raviolis ($27.00), Skuna Bay Salmon ($30.00) served on a fresh golden tomato salsa with avocado and cucumber relish, a Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant Sandwich ($20.00) with sauteed artichoke bottoms, marinated tomatoes, roasted garlic, and melted reserve cheese, and the Carthay Angus Burger ($22.00) topped with cheddar cheese, black pepper bacon, and grilled onions. All of these entrée items are also available on the lunch World of Color Dining Package menu as well.

For dinner, the Sauteed Short Rib Raviolis, Rigatoni Pasta with Roasted Chicken, and Skuna Bay Salmon all remain and are joined by a Summer Garden Vegetable Risotto ($34.00) with coastal mushrooms, truffle butter, and English pea coulis, Sauteed Shrimp ($30.00) with summer corn, zucchini, applewood smoked bacon, and basil pesto, a Grilled Angus Rib-Eye ($44.00) topped with a sauteed mushroom ragu, red flame grapes, and blue cheese, and a Western Cut Pork Chop ($37.00) with fingerling potatoes, string beans and summer peaches. Again, all these entrées are available on the dinner World of Color Dining Package menu.

The dessert options are the same for both lunch and dinner and among these are a Warm Rocky Road Brownie ($11.00),Toasted Lemon Pound Cake ($12.00), Chocolate Decadent Layer Cake ($12.00), and Warm Hand Crafted California Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ($12.00). Of these, just the Chocolate Layer Cake and Lemon Pound Cake are on both of the World of Color Dining Package menus.

Doing the World of Color Dining Package, my appetizer selection was limited but I decided on the Seasonal Soup. This soup really surprised me. While it might look fairly plain and simple, it has tremendous flavor. Light and refreshing in taste, this soup is the perfect way to start your meal without being too filling. It is a soup where all its flavors blend together very well, relying heavily on fresh vegetables with its tomato broth, asparagus, and spring leeks. For me, however, the real highlight of the soup was its use of basil. I am not someone who usually cares a lot for basil, but in this soup it was such an essential component that really added to the freshness and made the flavor pop. At the same time, I did not feel as though the basil overpowered the other flavors. While the soup also features lemon roasted chicken, it was in more of a complimentary role rather than being the main feature.

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As my entrée I chose the Sauteed Short Rib Raviolis. Again, this was a dish of tremendous flavor. Just as with the soup, this was also a dish that was both light and refreshing. Served atop a medley of fresh vegetables, the raviolis were cooked perfectly al dente. The idea of serving beef short rib inside raviolis was unique, but in this dish is executed perfectly so that the flavor of the short rib is still very noticeable. Accompanying the raviolis was a red pepper and cabernet jus. This sauce packed a ton of flavor and had just a slight spiciness that paired perfectly with the more mild raviolis and vegetables. My only wish is that there had been a little more of the jus since it really added some great flavor to the dish.

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Finally, for dessert I went with the Chocolate Decadent Layer Cake. Whereas the rest of the meal had been comprised of light and refreshing flavors, this cake was extremely rich. Decadent is definitely the perfect word to describe this dessert. While the slice of cake may not appear big, it was extremely filling. The cake came topped with a generous portion of whipped cream and served with a raspberry sauce, both of which provided a lighter and refreshing contrast to the chocolaty cake. Overall, this was a great way to end a fantastic meal.

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Service:
This was the only aspect of the Carthay Circle Restaurant in which I was slightly disappointed. I actually found the service to be a little on the slow side. While I am not one who wants to be rushed during my meal, I felt that this went a little too far. It started when we first arrived at the restaurant and were waiting in the lounge for quite some time before being brought up to our table even though we had a reservation and the restaurant was not even crowded. Upon being seated, we then went a good while before our server even approached our table and then even longer to get our drinks delivered. Once we had finally placed our orders, however, the meal did progress at a better pace. While our server was not the most personable or conversational, she did frequently check in with our table to make sure everything was to our liking. Overall, the service was not bad, but it is not the same caliber of service that I would expect from a comparable dining experience at Disney World.

Dining on a Budget:
While the Carthay Circle Restaurant is a little pricey, if you are visiting Disney's California Adventure I highly recommend splurging and spending a little extra to dine here. If you are planning on doing the World of Color Dining Package, I strongly recommend doing it at lunch as opposed to dinner. During the lunchtime hours it is much easier to get your money's worth on the dining package as opposed to dinner (lunch is $39 while dinner is $59). For example, my lunch of the Seasonal Soup ($11.00) and Short Rib Raviolis ($27.00) almost covers the entire cost of the dining package. Meaning that, in theory, I got the Chocolate Layer Cake ($12.00 on the regular menu) for just $1. Not to mention that the dining package also includes your choice of soft drink or coffee. On the lunch dining package, no matter what entrée you select, every combination of appetizer, entrée, and dessert more than covers the cost. This becomes much more difficult at dinner where only selecting the Grilled Angus Rib-Eye ($44.00) or Western Cut Pork Chop ($37.00) would allow you to equal the dining package's cost of $59 when combined with appetizer and dessert.

The Overall Experience:
I was extremely impressed with the Carthay Circle Restaurant. Not only does it completely immerse you with its grandeur and beauty which helps transport you back to Hollywood's Gold Age, but it also really helps to showcase Disney's history and heritage. When you combine this with a menu featuring an array of high-quality offerings, I would consider the Carthay Circle Restaurant a "must do" on any Disneyland vacation. I also highly recommend the World of Color Dining Package (for lunch). Not only do you get a fantastic meal, but the reserved viewing area is right in the very center and gives you the peace of mind knowing that you are guaranteed a spot to watch the show without having to arrive an hour or more ahead of time. Really, the addition of the Carthay Circle Restaurant is representative of the overall transformation that Disney's California Adventure has made over the past few years. It has become a truly beautiful theme park, featuring great attractions combined with immersive and detailed theming. It is a theme park that is truly worthy of the Disney name.

See past restaurant reviews by guest blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and post your own too!

September 8, 2013

The Disney Room

Gary Cruise banner

Do you have a Disney Room?

I think every Disney fan should have one. If you are an obsessive Disney collector, like Carol, a Disney Room is imperative!

When Carol and I first started dating she proudly showed me a small cabinet containing her collection of Disney music boxes. They were displayed in a bookcase, about three shelves, with glass doors. Nice! She also showed me her Disney themed Collector Plates and some very nice porcelain Mickey Mouse Figurines.

Little did I realize that I was just seeing the tip of the iceberg that the "Disney collection" would become!

Over the years we took quite a few trips to our Happy Place . . . and the collection grew. There were Disney Classic Collection figurines, Jim Shore pieces, plush toys, snow globes, boxed sets of Disney Pins, and so much more.

Carol combed the nearby thrift shops and garage sales, always on the look-out for new Disney treasures. And, of course, each year we made at least one trip to Walt Disney World, home to all those wonderful stores!

By 2004 things began to look a bit cluttered! What could we do? We (she) decided that my nifty little office and den in the basement, my "man cave", would make a terrific Disney Room. We could concentrate the collection in one area and organize it. I began to put up more shelving and she began arranging her treasures.

I must admit that I enjoyed the end result!

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Gary's workstation - 2004

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Carol's craft table - 2004

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By 2006 both Carol and I had retired. The good news - we could head south several times a year! The bad news - more shopping! With all those trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, plus a few Disney cruises, her Disney collection kept growing at an astonishing rate! Our Disney Room was becoming a bit cluttered.

Fortunately, shortly after retiring, we moved to Carol's home town where we had a new home built. It wasn't long before I was at work in the basement. Our elevated bungalow has big, bright windows in the basement and within a few months our brand new Disney Room was done! We had 650 square feet - that should be enough to showcase our collection beautifully! Soon it was furnished and all those cartons full of Disney treasures were unpacked. Carol was a happy collector!

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Wow . . . in 2007 we were thrilled to have all that space . . . it should last us forever! But of course seven years have gone by since the Disney Room was finished . . . and we have taken 24 Disney vacations in those seven years! The room is full!

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A shadowbox full of Vinylmations

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More Vinylmations

I've added plate rails so the plates could be relocated - this freed up some wall space for new prints by Larry Dotson and Ducky Williams.

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Halloweentown

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Pooh Corner

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A bookcase full of Disneyana

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Two bookcases crowned with antenna toppers

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Try as we might though, we just can't make it all fit . . . the Animation cels have spilled out to the walls of the Family Room. The Disney Classic Collection pieces and the Jim Shore figures are in curio cabinets in the Living Room.

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We are running out of space . . . and there's no room to expand! Looks like we'll just have to get more creative in the way we display things!

How about you? Do you have a Disney Room? How do you display your Disney treasures?



September 9, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Gertie the Dinosaur

Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

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Jim's Attic: Gertie the Dinosaur

My favorite Walt Disney World theme park is Disney Hollywood Studios, especially in its early years when it was truly devoted to the Hollywood That Never Was.

One of my favorite icons still exists today, the dinosaur shaped ice cream stand in the Echo Lake area.

"Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction" was built as a tribute to Gertie the Dinosaur, one of the very first animated cartoon stars.

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Gertie first amazed vaudeville audiences in 1914 when she was projected life-size onto a movie screen and shared the stage with her creator, Winsor McCay, a popular newspaper cartoonist who was responsible for the legendary "Little Nemo" Sunday comic strip.

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He had to draw more than 10,000 drawings to make approximately five minutes of animation. There were no schools or books that taught animation so he had to invent a method to do animation.

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He drew each drawing on a 6-inch by 8-inch sheet of translucent rice paper. The paper had to be thin enough for him to see the drawing underneath to trace because he not only had to draw 10,000 drawings of the dinosaur, he had to draw 10,000 drawings of the background that were traced over and over and over. At that time, cels did not exist.

McCay decided to use this innovative animated short film as part of his vaudeville act. McCay would come on stage dressed in a tuxedo with a huge bullwhip like an animal trainer and tell Gertie to lift her leg and on a big movie screen to the side of him, Gertie would lift her leg.

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He would pull out a big pumpkin and pretend to toss it to her and on screen she grabbed an animated pumpkin and ate it as the thrown pumpkin disappeared behind the screen.

At the end of the act, McCay would walk up to the screen and an animated McCay would get on Gertie's head and they would leave the scene. The real McCay had already walked behind the screen while people watched Gertie.

As the nearby plaque states: "The themed style of the building is known as 'California Crazy' architecture. It became popular in the 1930s and was designed to attract the attention of potential customers in a big way.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the time frame for the park originally, people believed it was the Ice Age that killed off the dinosaurs. That's why it is the ice cream of "extinction" rather than "distinction" that is being sold at this location.

If you watch closely, Gertie is so cold that steam occasionally comes out of her nostrils. The top part of her is covered with snow.

In her original concept sketch and when she first appeared in the park, the green words "Ice Cream" covered with snow curved over the top of her back but over the years, that lettering was removed.

Gertie is in a lake because in her animated cartoon, she is by a large lake throughout the whole film. At one point, she tosses a mammoth into the lake. In another sequence, she almost falls in after she drinks the entire lake dry.

In her film, she is white but she is colored green at the park because the first movie posters of her were colored green because at the time people thought that dinosaurs were green or brown like lizards.

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Gertie is located at DHS because she is considered the first example of what is known as "personality" or "character" animation where even though she is just a creation of pen and ink, she seems to have a distinct personality with a wide range of emotions from being shy to being stubborn and as a result seems almost real.

In fact, follow the pathway to a set of steps behind her, and you will see on the walkway where Gertie's feet have cracked the cement as she walked into the lake and left an imprint.

Is it possible she slowly walked to this position and was not placed there by Disney Imagineers? That Gertie is a girl of many secrets.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim Korkis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com:
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Who's Afraid of the Song of the South
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":

September 10, 2013

Tokyo Disney Resort: Beyond the Theme Parks!

By Jenny Lynne
Guest Blogger

During my recent 14-day trip to Japan, after I spent an amazing day at Tokyo DisneySea and another incredible day at Tokyo Disneyland, I felt like I was missing something. I had packed in two full days at the theme parks, leaving no time to explore the rest of Tokyo Disney Resort. And so, I added another "Disney day" to my schedule. This day would be dedicated to seeing the three Disney hotels and whatever else the Tokyo Disney Resort had to offer.

Shopping at Bon Voyage

In order to make the most of my previous precious theme park days, I hadn't spent much time shopping in the parks, and so my first stop on my third day at Tokyo Disney Resort was the resort's huge gift shop, Bon Voyage. Bon Voyage carried many, but certainly not all, of the Tokyo Disney theme park items that I had seen for sale inside the parks.

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With no rides or shows vying for my attention, I examined the gift boxes of cookies and snacks, Disney charms, Disney hand towels, Disney plush characters, Disney jewelry, Disney car accessories, Disney chopsticks, Disney-character-tail lint rollers, Disney-themed Q-tips, and Disney character hats that I'd never seen for sale at U.S. Disney parks. I made a mental note of the items that I planned to purchase at the end of the day and then continued toward the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel

The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel was just outside the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland. Steps away from the hotel, the Tokyo Disneyland Station offered easy access, via monorail, to Tokyo DisneySea.

The approach to the hotel from the monorail station was breathtaking. The towering, Victorian-style building flanked a courtyard with Disney-character topiaries. There was a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and shopping and dining venues along the lower level of the hotel. I am, unfortunately, too old for a princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I browsed in a nearby shop and then made my way to the hotel lobby.

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The hotel lobby was grand, with high ceilings, accented by chandeliers and skylights with stained-glass touches. Bronze Mickey and Minnie statues greeted guests as they walked through the main entrance. Opposite the entrance were tall windows that looked out at Tokyo Disneyland Station and offered a peek at Cinderella Castle. There was a café and bar where diners could enjoy this view along with meals, drinks, and desserts.

In the center of the lobby, Tinkerbell topped a soothing, multi-level fountain. A windowed elevator, that offered guests a view of the lobby as they traveled, was laced with ironwork that featured iconic Disney images.


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I took a walk down a guest room hallway where housekeepers greeted me with a bow and a "Konnichiwa." In the hallways, I spotted Mickey, incorporated into the wall sconces.

Outside the main entrance of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, sculptures brought to life the famous sorcerer's apprentice story from Disney's Fantasia. Brooms, holding buckets that spouted water, filled the overflowing inner fountain. Sorcerer Mickey stood at the center. Seeing the story that had captured my imagination as a child in the form of a fountain was enchanting. This just might be my favorite fountain in the world.


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Disney Ambassador Hotel


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Disney Ambassador Hotel was located between Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. It was a short walk away from a quick monorail ride to the theme parks.

The Disney Ambassador Hotel had an Art Deco style cruise ship vibe. The lobby felt more intimate than the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, and a bit more geared toward children. The ceiling featured a mural of Mickey's friends on an airplane adventure.

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Toward the center of the lobby, there was a sculpture of Mickey working as a movie director. It was so shiny that it was difficult to fully appreciate or photograph. My favorite feature of the lobby was the piano music that seemed to be coming from the unattended piano. I just had to sit for a few minutes and enjoy it.


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Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta

The final Tokyo Disney Resort hotel that I visited was Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta. The hotel was not just near Tokyo DisneySea, the MiraCosta was actually part of the theme park! Hotel guests had their own "secret" entrance to DisneySea.


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The hotel's theme matched Mediterranean Harbor, the DisneySea "port-of-call" of which it was a part. At the front entrance of the MiraCosta was an ancient-looking fountain featuring slightly-scary stone creatures spouting water from and around their bodies.

In the main lobby was an impressive brass ship which sported Disney touches on close inspection. The MiraCosta lobby had a more adult feel to it than the other hotels, and, like the Disney Ambassador Hotel, it felt intimate.

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Just off the lobby, large windows revealed that the hotel really was part of Tokyo DisneySea. The windows looked out directly into Mediterranean Harbor with Mount Prometheus, the volcano, as an ominous backdrop. After staring longingly into the park, flooded with happy memories, I took a jaunt down a guest room hallway, where I found the story of Pinocchio somewhat subtly incorporated into the murals.

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The Disney hotel pools

The outdoor pools at the three Disney hotels at Tokyo Disney Resort only open in the summer, and were not yet open when I visited in June. I did take a look at Hotel MiraCosta's small, but bright and lovely, heated indoor pool. Like most upscale hotels in the Tokyo area, there was a steep fee for hotel guests wishing to use the indoor pool during their stay.

Downtown Disney?

Ikspiari is Tokyo Disney Resort's answer to Downtown Disney. There were stores that one might find at a typical shopping mall, selling mostly clothes and shoes at typical mall prices. There was also a movie theater, a food court, and a large Disney Store. Among the extensive selection of Disney items, from Disney character backpacks to Disney UniBEARsity plush toys, the Disney Store featured bargain clearance merchandise which was eagerly snapped up by shoppers.


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Back to Bon Voyage

The sun was starting to set when I made my way back to Bon Voyage to make my final purchases. It was hard to believe that I'd spent an entire fun-filled day at the Tokyo Disney Resort without entering either of the two theme parks. It was something I hadn't planned when creating my Japan itinerary, but something I'd recommend to any Disney fan who travels to Tokyo to see Tokyo Disney Resort.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


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Jenny Lynne met Mickey Mouse for the first time at Disneyland when she was just 1 year old. Jenny has made many trips back to Disneyland, a few excursions to Walt Disney World, and one incredible journey to Tokyo Disney Resort. She is an author who lives in Los Angeles, California, with her adorable cat, Nala. You can read about Jenny's other adventures at http://www.MyDreamCameTrue.com


September 15, 2013

Fondest Disney Memories

Gary Cruise banner

Whenever I hear the word "Disney" I get a comfy, warm feeling. I have so many memories of wonderful times at the parks that the mere mention of "the D word" evokes a smile.

What is the best memory? My fondest memory? Wow - that's a tough question. It took me quite a while to filter through all those wonderful trips I have enjoyed over the last 36 years. Each and every trip has unique memories . . . but I finally settled on my favourite. The one I'll always cherish - it was my first trip - October 1977. My children, Michelle and Stephen, were 6 and 5 years old and we were all in awe as we enjoyed the magic of Disney that very first time. The kids really liked The Astro Orbiter - we rode it again and again; probably a half dozen times. How could I ever forget smiles like the one Steve had in the picture below?

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My second best? November 1999 - my first trip to Walt Disney World with Carol. I hadn't been there in about 13 years but Carol was a seasoned veteran. She whisked me around and introduced me to three Disney parks I had never seen before. That was when she converted me from a Disney Fan to a Disney Fanatic!

Carol's favourite memory? After 48 trips to Walt Disney World she cannot narrow it down to just one . . . there are just so many special memories.

Carol's father John's fondest memory? I didn't actually ask him, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess. I am reasonably sure it was in November 2000, when he saw the MuppetVision 3D movie for the first time. John giggled through the entire show. Thirteen years and about eight trips later . . . he still chuckles the whole time!

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Jeff from Florida, New York shared his fondest memory: On our September 2006 trip, we experienced some Disney Magic. It started when I couldn't find our reservations for our two character meals. When I called Disney Dining to confirm and get the numbers for the ADR's the Cast Member asked, "So how are things in Paramus?" I was dumfounded, I hadn't even given him my name! I grew up and worked in Paramus, NJ and when we moved to NY State, I had my old home phone number transferred to my cell phone, which I was calling from. He explained that he also grew up in Bergen County NJ, a few towns from Paramus and recognized the phone exchange. We chatted a bit about "home" and I got the needed info. Later that day we headed to 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian for our dinner at Cinderella's Gala character dinner. We arrived before the doors to the dining room opened and checked in. While we were waiting in the foyer, a cast member approached our daughter Isabel and asked her if she would like to help Cinderella and Prince Charming open the restaurant and start the Gala. When she said yes (and we approved) the Cast Member asked her name and where she was from. We were so surprised. Five to ten minutes later, Cinderella and the Prince entered the waiting area and approached Isabel. As the crowd gathered around they each took one of Isabel's arms. At this point a Cast Member took out a scroll and announced to the crowd that "Princess Isabel of the Kingdom of New York" would be assisting Cinderella & Prince Charming in opening the restaurant. Their highnesses escorted her to the door which had a Red Ribbon beautifully tied around it's handles and asked Isabel to pull the ribbon to untie the doors. Then they escorted her, still arm in arm, to our table and posed for pictures and autographs. Now that's Disney Magic! To this day I am convinced that Isabel being chosen for the "Royal Treatment" was arranged by the Dining Cast Member I had spoken to earlier in the day, which makes it even more magical.

Kameo from El Mirage Arizona says: There are so many wonderful memories. I think my fondest dates back to my first trip. It was a year or so after my husband and I got married. We stayed at the All Star Sports and had a blast! When we first arrived, we were welcomed by the cast members at the hotel like family. We had a towel shaped Mickey waiting in our room to welcome us. I had no idea how big Disney World was; we had only been to Disneyland. The first time we stepped through the gates at Magic Kingdom, it was overwhelming and I was in sensory overload. Wow! That castle is huge! We grabbed a park map, which we never do at Disneyland. I have to say it was somewhat difficult to orient myself with Magic Kingdom, I kept mentally going to Disneyland. There's no New Orleans Square, there's no Critter Country, and what is this Liberty Square? It was so much fun though, I'll never forget it.

As always, different things make a big impression on different people. Fortunately there is a never-ending supply of great Disney memories and there's always a new one waiting around the corner.

What is your fondest Disney memory?

September 16, 2013

Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler: September 2013

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® Bits and Bites issue, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design. The puzzles have some sort of Disney theme, of course, but will not be restricted to the Disney theme parks. The type of puzzle is up to James. Also up to him? The bestowing of a prize -- a collectible Disney pin from his extensive collection.

Around the middle of each month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting a puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. Again, the subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin! On a trial basis, we'll be running the same Mindboggler puzzle in this Guest Blog as we will in the month-end Bits and Bites issue of the AllEars Newsletter.

Here's the link to this month's puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb091613.pdf

So... Think you know Disney inside and out? Put on your thinking cap!

This new puzzle continues the theme park subject by looking at DIsney's Hollywood Studios.

The object is of course to have fun, BUT if you want a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus question, which relates to the puzzle theme. This month, we think that the bonus clue is tough enough that you'll actually have to complete most of the puzzle to come up with the solution! Good Luck!

Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com

Send the bonus term or phrase by email no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 7, 2013. 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, along with a new puzzle, in mid-October.

GOOD LUCK!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

AUGUST SOLUTION:

Here is the answer key to last month's Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler:

http://allears.net/ae/mb081613-key.pdf

As many of you knew (242 of you, along with readers from the AllEars Newsletter!), the bonus clue answer was the World Showplace, which by the way, has some of the largest restrooms on property! (Some of you made the mistake of calling it the World Showcase.) This pavilion hosts the annual Epcot Pin Event, which just concluded, and one of our favorites, the Party for the Senses, which occurs on Saturday nights during the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Not to be missed!

Jim picked two winners at random from all of the correct responses to receive a DIsney pin. They were Jeff F. of Watertown, WI and Lisa Z. . Thanks for playing, everyone!


We hope you enjoy this Mousy Mindboggler, and we welcome any comments or suggestions.

September 23, 2013

Jim’s Attic: Where in the World is Mr. Limpet?

Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.

Mrlimpet2.jpg
Instead of pondering where in Walt Disney World is Mr. Limpet, some readers may simply be asking "Who is Mr. Limpet"?

"The Incredible Mr. Limpet" was a film released by Warner Brothers in 1964. It was a combination of live-action and animation. The film was the last animation work done by the Warner Brothers studio, famed for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, before officially shutting down all production and outsourcing future animation to other companies run by former employees like Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones.

Actor Don Knotts plays a mild-mannered fellow named Henry Limpet who in 1941 is classified as 4F and cannot join the Navy to serve his country as World War II rages. Deeply depressed, Limpet, on a trip to Coney Island, falls into the water and magically (through the miracle of hand drawn, cel-painted animation) transforms into a blue-colored tilefish, still sporting his distinctively round lense glasses.

He is now able to help the U.S. Navy hunt down and destroy Nazi U-boats to help win the war.

One of the premieres of the film was shown in a huge underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida (roughly an hour drive north of Tampa) where the famous human mermaids had entertained countless guests since 1947. The film was projected on an underwater screen for 250 guests who sat 20 feet below the surface of the water.

mr-limpet-video.jpg

What does all this have to do with Disney other than the fact that Don Knotts performed in a handful of later Disney films including "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975)?

Well, the character designer and animation director (who was later replaced by Robert McKimson because of health issues) was the legendary Vladimir "Bill" Tytla renowned for his memorable animation on Chernaborg the demon in "Fantasia", Stromboli the evil puppeteer in "Pinocchio" and little baby Dumbo taking a bath in "Dumbo".

Other folks who worked on the film, like Producer John Rose, also worked at Disney earlier in their careers.

Disney animators so admired Tytla's work that as an homage they included Mr. Limpet in the final frozen pose at the end of the song "Under the Sea" in the animated feature "The Little Mermaid". Look carefully in the upper right hand corner and there is a blue tilefish wearing Limpet's glasses and the unmistakable Don Knotts lips.

MrLimpet1.jpg

So when it came time to build "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure" attraction at Disney California Adventure, Imagineers also included an homage to Mr. Limpet who most people had never discovered in the original film.

limpet3.jpg

limpet4.jpg

Just beyond Ariel in the "Under the Sea" scene directly behind and to the right, hidden behind a clam shell and in the seaweed and not lit, Mr. Limpet peers at Flounder dancing with the Carmen Miranda fish across the track.

Animators and Imagineers often put in little "jokes" and "homages" for their own amusement and in the old days, they were completely undiscovered by Disney fans. However, with today's technology, nothing seems to escape the notice of Disney detectives so as early as the soft openings of the attraction, photos and directions on how to find Mr. Limpet were posted prominently on the internet.

When it came time to re-create the attraction in the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers in good conscience could no longer include the figure that was the intellectual property of another studio and so Florida, that hosted the underwater premiere of the original film nearly fifty years ago, is Limpet-less. Or is it? Unlike Mr. Limpet, my lips are sealed.

RELATED LINKS
====================
Check out Jim's other "From the Attic" Blogs

Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm

Jim Korkis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.

He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com:
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Who's Afraid of the Song of the South
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":

September 24, 2013

An Alien Tale

by Keith Gluck
Guest Blogger

Alien Encounter Exterior

October 11, 2013, marks 10 years since the closure of the Magic Kingdom's ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. While we all know the story told during the ride, which featured a diverse cast of big-screen veterans, I wanted to delve into the story behind the infamous attraction. So I sat down recently with Jerry Rees -- creative genius, storyteller in all media, and the man who was involved in almost every aspect of the project's creation.

In August 1993, work began on a $100 million makeover of the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. The land's appearance had become somewhat dated, thanks in part to "one designer back in the '70s predicting the future of architecture," according to Imagineer Eric Jacobson. In charge of design for the entire park, Jacobson set out to give the land a fresh look (the new theme was "yesterday's future"), as well as update or replace many attractions. Mission to Mars was on the chopping block, and Disney decided to replace it with an attraction called ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.


Mission to Mars Exterior


Alien Encounter would be like no attraction Disney had ever done. There was a time when the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland was thought of as legitimately scary, but it was toned down and infused with more gags. The Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, and scored slightly higher on the scare scale than its American cousins. However, none of Disney's mansions could ever produce the same reactions as the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom's 1995 "New Tomorrowland" did.

The official line on Alien Encounter tagged it as, "A sensory thriller from Disney and George Lucas." It featured performances from Tyra Banks, Jeffrey Jones, Kathy Najimy, Kevin Pollak and, initially, Phil Hartman.

The show was designed to utilize a variety of mediums in which to tell guests its story, including audio-animatronics, video screens, and advanced audio effects. Enter Jerry Rees, the man who orchestrated the multi-faceted show "Cranium Command" for Disney just a few years earlier.

"Since Imagineering had gotten used to me as a 'film plus' director, meaning that I was comfortable merging film aspects with in-theater animatronics, effects, lighting, etc.," Jerry remarked, "they cast me with the 'everything plus the kitchen sink' Alien Encounter attraction."

At first, Jerry was only asked to direct the attraction's main media aspects, such as the pre-show promo for XS-Tech, the voice performance of the XS-Tech spokesbot S.I.R. (Simulated Intelligence Robotics), and the main theater "live" broadcast footage.

"I was not initially asked to direct all of the non-media in-theater storytelling aspects," Jerry said. "So after finishing the assigned aspects, I wished the project well and felt rather sad to see it go off for installation in the park without me."

That would change, however, after Michael Eisner reviewed the installed attraction. Eisner, along with a few others (including Marty Sklar), felt that the overall story wasn't being communicated dynamically enough. Jerry was called back in.

"Michael gave the 'bring Jerry in' instruction, and for the first time I was invited to direct the full experience soup-to-nuts," Jerry recalled. "I was delighted, since I'd been drooling to be involved with all aspects all the way to the finish line!"

Rick Rothschild was assigned to be Jerry's producer. The two met up in Florida and went through the entire attraction together, so they could assess what it needed and where. According to Jerry, they were "bubbling with ideas" upon exiting the ride. They put their ideas to paper almost immediately, and ultimately those notes became the foundation for all of the improvements they would make over the following six months.

"During that time Rick and I lived and breathed, ate and slept Alien Encounter!" Jerry declared. "It was all-consuming and very exciting."

One noticeable change completely altered the mood of the attraction's pre-show. S.I.R., voiced by Phil Hartman, would no longer be a friendly spokesbot who sang to himself while the audience filed into the pre-show area. English actor Tim Curry was brought on as the new voice of S.I.R., and he managed to add an underscore of menace to the narration.

alien2.jpg

"I loved working with Phil on the first pass of the S.I.R. voice," Jerry remarked. "But ultimately, after listening back to the tracks, I felt that a more edgy 'tech evangelist' would be more effective. Tim nailed it!"

Jerry came up with some clever motivation for Tim, asking him to picture himself as a southern evangelical preacher who was delivering the message of X-S to his congregation. Jerry also worked with S.I.R.'s audio-animatronic animator, helping to ensure that the appropriately grandiose body language would be implemented.

Like Cranium Command, Jerry had to juggle several different elements that would all ultimately have to come together in order to tell one cohesive story. Never an easy task, I asked him which aspect of this production he found the most challenging. He responded, "The most challenging aspect -- and also the most fun aspect -- was coordinating all the elements so that it was completely believable that a giant alien creature had escaped and was on the loose in the broken theater. This involved film, normal and binaural audio in bizarre speaker arrays, animatronics, live actors, hidden actuators, vapor, wind fans, and much, much, much more. Each audience member was even splattered by 'bug bits' (water) at the end when the creature was exploded. The myriad of cooperative storytelling elements was staggering. And super fun!" Jerry's unique ability to visualize multiple yet separate show components made him the perfect choice for an attraction of this nature.

Extraterrorestrial Alien Encounter enjoyed an 8-year run terrorizing guests in the Magic Kingdom. The level of terror, however, might also have been the reason for its eventual demise.

"So far as I know, there was never an official reason given for its closure," Jerry remarked. "It was very popular. My best guess -- and the guess from other insiders I've chatted with -- is that it was closed because it was located in the Magic Kingdom, where parents have an expectation that they can let their kids run free and all rides will be appropriate. There is no such expectation at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where Tower of Terror scares the heck out of people all day long. My firm belief is this -- if the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter had been built at Disney's Hollywood Studios rather than the Magic Kingdom, it would still be playing today."


Keith Gluck has been a Disney fan his entire life. While Disneyland is his 'home park,' he has been to and adores Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris. He runs thedisneyproject.com, and also volunteers at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. If you were to ask him his favorite thing about Disney, his answer would always be, "Walt."


September 29, 2013

Epcot Trade Celebration 2013

Carol Cruise

It was a beautiful day as I drove over the 1000 Island International Bridge; my destination was the Syracuse Airport where I had a 4 p.m. flight to Orlando. It was the start of my annual trip to Walt Disney World to partake in the Epcot Trade Celebration. I really enjoy this opportunity to spend time with friends who share my interests and I always enjoy the spoils of a Disney event.

Event_logo
The Event logo!

I had lots of time so I had lunch at the Destiny Mall and wandered through a couple of the shops. I then headed over to the airport, found a parking spot in the covered parking garage and proceeded to check in for my flight. Everything was on schedule and I arrived on time in Orlando. When I got to the main terminal I went directly to the car rental station and got my paper work done. There was no one in the line; everyone was still waiting for their luggage. I back-tracked to the baggage claim area just as my suitcase was coming down the belt. I was doing my best to save time since my friends were waiting for me at The Earl of Sandwich. The "Canadian Contingent" had all arrived at different times and this was our meet-up spot. I texted them as I was about to leave the airport. There was no traffic and I actually arrived at Earls just as they were about to reach the counter. We all enjoyed a delicious sandwich and got caught up. After dinner we wandered through some of the shops, I went to Guest Services to pick up my MNSSHP ticket and get my Premier AP fitted with the RFID technology. All went well so then Carrie, my roommate and I headed to our home for the week, Old Key West.

Since this blog is mainly to focus on the "Event" I will quickly summarize my activities for Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday we went to Typhoon Lagoon, Carrie had never been before so this was a first for her.

Typhoon_Lagoon

After we had enjoyed enough sun and surf we went to the Character Outlet, and later to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the Canadian Contingent for dinner at The Plaza.

Dinner_at_the_Plaza

Carrie and I stopped at the Fire Station right at 4 p.m. and we were the first to receive the special MNSSHP Sorcerer Card.

Sorcerer_Cards

After dinner we got in line to buy the first release of the Halloween Party pins. Once we had our pins we rode Haunted Mansion (the only ride I rode the entire week). We watched the parade, the fireworks, the castle show and we got lots of candy.

The_Castle_Show

Hallowishes_fireworks

This year the popcorn bucket was a must have for me.

A_cool_popcorn_bucket

Wednesday was a lazy day relaxing at the resort until it was time to head over the Studios. We met up with a dozen or so of our pin trading friends and had a wonderfully fun dining experience at Prime Time Café. To finish the evening off we wandered through the Art of Animation and a few other shops.

Thursday was the day we hit the ground running, first up was the 3rd Annual Breakfast with the Artists.

Waiting_for_the_park_to_open
The Canadian Contingent waiting to go to Norway

This is a non-Disney event organized by our friends from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. John & Sheila Rick and Janis & David Lavender have, for the last three years, hosted a breakfast that includes a panel discussion with artists from the Disney Design Group. This year we met at 8:30 outside of Epcot, then we were escorted through the empty park to the private upstairs room over Norway. We enjoyed a hot breakfast and then spent an hour or so asking the artist's all kinds of questions.

The_organizers_and_the_artists
John, Sheila, Mike, David, Ron, Janis & Quynh

The panel included Ron Cohee, Mike Sullivan and Quynh Kimball. It was interesting to listen to them tell us how the pins and Vinylmations that we would be getting at the event were designed to tell the story of the 13-Reflections of Evil. The Evil Queen cast a spell and her mirror was the portal to evil; she summoned the Villains and the 13 of them gathered, then she broke the mirror into 13 pieces so there was no escape back through the portal. This plan was overheard by Figment and he went to Sorcerer Mickey; with the help of Mickey and his friends, the mirror pieces were found and good was restored.

After breakfast we immediately left Epcot and drove directly to Coronado Springs Resort, it was time for event registration.

Ready_for_registration

The line was very long and actually flowed into another room, but it move quickly. It is a very well organized process by Disney.

Registration_line

Once I got to the registration table I was given my credentials and event gifts. I also received the merchandise that I had ordered through the RSP. I had registered for all 3 days so all 3 days "stuff" was in my package. This included coupons for gifts at the event, gift cards for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and my breakfast coupons for Saturday and Sunday. Friday was a special limited event this year called Club 13 and included a lunch that we could preorder when we signed up.

After I signed off that everything was in order I went over to the other side of the room where the tables were set up for trading. This year there was another change, only registered guests could enter the trading room and it would close at 7 p.m. In previous years at 7 p.m. the room opened up to the general public and trading carried on until 10 p.m.

The_trading_room

Our group gathered at a table and started trading. On one trip out of the room I heard a voice ask, "Did you write a blog for AllEars?" I turned and introduced myself to Tricia and Erik from Cleveland. This was their first event and they told me that they had read my blog and it helped them decide to come.

Tricia_and_Erik

I looked for them later in the weekend to ask what they thought of the event but there were so many people I didn't find them. I sure hope they enjoyed themselves.

At 7 o'clock Carrie and I left and headed to Downtown Disney for ice cream, then back to our room so that we could get organized for the morning.

My_credentials_for_Friday

Friday the doors to the event didn't open until 9:30 so we didn't have to rush.

Tommy_sniffs_my_bag

We got to Epcot, had our bags sniffed by Tommy the sniffer dog and headed towards World ShowPlace; as we rounded the corner we could see that the line stretched all the way from Canada over to the bridge at International Gateway.

The_big_line

We got in line and when the doors opened proceeded into the fog-filled room where the Villains were waiting for us. The decorations and theming always amaze me and this time was no different. It was awesome!

The_smoke_filled_room

Some_decor

We_were_greeted_by_villains

More_decor

The day was labelled "Club 13" and admittance was limited compared to the other two days. Other differences with Friday's event were that it included a lunch that was delivered in a nice take home lunch bag. Some of the trading lines were for pins and some were for Vinylmations. There was a stage show with the 13 Villains and then the villains wandered through the venue for several hours posing for pictures and mingling with the crowd.

Villains_on_stage

Villians_mingled

Carrie_and_Jafar

The event store offered some select pieces of merchandise not available anywhere else. There was a silent auction and displays set up by the Disney Partners showing upcoming pins and Vinylmations that will be released from now until the end of the year.

Each year there is a mystery pin set and a chaser Vinylmation released that can only be found on the pin boards or in a Vinylmation trade box. This year there were six pins that, when put together like a puzzle, made a mirror. Each piece has a character holding a shard of the broken mirror. There was Chip & Dale, Donald, Mickey, Minnie, Figment, and Goofy. The chaser Vinylmation was black with the number 13 on its front. I was able to find all these items so that took the pressure off, now I could study the pin boards for limited edition or artist proof pins.

More_decor

At the end of the day we all received a fairly large box that contained a framed mirror that reflected the "13". I personally would have preferred a boxed pin set or jumbo pin. Having to find space in my luggage for such a large piece was a bit of a problem. Since this whole day was a change from any previous Epcot Pin Celebration my expectations were pretty high when I arrived. I really enjoyed the day and all, but I didn't find it to be a whole lot different than other year's events. Am I complaining? - maybe a little. Will I go back again next year? - you bet!

More_villains

We left the World Showplace at 5:30 with the plan to head over to the Studios for the Friday the 13th Limited Time Magic. As we made our way towards the Studios the traffic stopped and was backed up on every road. At first I thought there was an accident, then it sunk in, everyone was heading to the Studios. We were able to get out of the mob and decided to go to Downtown Disney then back to the resort for a relaxing swim. We made the right decision; we were able to get good nights sleep. We had to be back at Epcot early.

My_credentials_for_Saturday

Saturday started with the Villainous Breakfast at 8:00 a.m., of course there was a long line to get into this too, but once the doors opened it moved quickly.

Another_long_line

Everyone who purchased the limited breakfast did so, so they could get into the event an hour and half before the rest of the event participants. There was also a limited edition pin given to each of the breakfast attendee's. The lines for the pin trade boards filled quickly but you could get through them at least three times before the event opened at 9:30 a.m. There was a nice breakfast available for those that wanted to take the time to eat. Carrie and I did have a quick bite and it was very good.

More_decor

A_pin_trading_board

Since I had already found the six mystery pins on Friday I spent my time looking for pins to add to my collection at home. I was pleased with the pins I found and I even got some good ones to put in my trader bag.

A_Piece_of_Disney_Movies_pins
A Piece Of Disney Movies pins in the silent auction.

Another_villain
Carol and Madam Doomsday

The event offers you the opportunity to purchase a bagged lunch but Carrie and I opted to go across the way to the Rose and Crown for lunch. It is good to take a break from the event for an hour and a relief to sit down. Standing in lines for 12 hours takes its toll on my poor old legs. We didn't want to stay too long, at 1 p.m. Jeanne Lewis, Merchandiser Disney Pins, was going to be giving her presentation.

Jeanne_Lewis_slide

They requested that we not take pictures or videos so I can't show you what is in store, but there are some really awesome pins coming out in 2014.

No_pictures_please

There will be a "Nightmare Before Christmas in July" event at Disneyland and an Epcot Trade Celebration at Disney World, a date was not announced.

The rest of the day, for me, consisted of standing in lines for the pin boards, wandering around the back room looking at people's trade books and watching the stage shows and games.

More_decor

More_decor

The winners of the silent auction were announced and then it was time to pick up our event gift. This day's gift was a boxed set of potential villain prospects, all of which were Pixar characters. I was much happier with this gift than the mirror. At 6 p.m. they drew three names as winners of the three grand prizes, I didn't win. Before we knew it they were announcing that it was time to leave. It was another great day and I was very pleased with my pin finds.

Our group decided to walk over to The Land and have dinner at Sunshine Seasons; it was a great way to finish off the day. Good food and good friends. When we were finished Carrie and I dragged ourselves to the parking lot and headed back to Old Key West for a hot tub, swim and good nights sleep.

My_credentials_for_Sunday

Sunday was Vinylmation day. Just as the day before, we arrived at Epcot for the 8 a.m. Villainous Vinylmations breakfast.

Arriving_on_Sunday

More_decor

We stood in lines for the "blind box" and "open box" trades and ate some breakfast.

Trading_Vinylmations

We all received a very nice limited edition Vinylmation for attending, and all of this occurred before the event opened to regular attendees at 9:30 a.m. I got a couple of really good pulls from the blind box, two variants and a chaser. That meant I had a good opportunity to go in the back trading room and trade for some Vinylmations that I really wanted. I made some trades and then went back to the lines.

Carrie, Allison and I went for lunch at Rose and Crown and enjoyed a nice break.

Lunch_at_Rose_and_Crown

We returned just in time to listen to Thomas Scott, Team Leader for Disney Theme Parks Vinylmation line, tell us what was on the drawing boards for 2014.

Thomas_Scott

There are going to be some really great Vinylmations come out in 2014 and I was pretty excited about some of them.

A_display_of_Vinylmations

At the conclusion of Thomas Scott's presentation he announced the theme for next year's event, with dates not yet finalized.

Next_year's_theme

I find myself enjoying the Vinylmation scene more and more. That's not to say that I am shifting away from pin collecting, but I have become much more selective in what pins I buy and want than I was a few years ago.

The day seemed to fly by and I was very happy with my finds and trades. All too soon 7 o'clock rolled around and it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Carrie and I had to go and pack since we were flying home on Monday. We stopped at Downtown Disney for our last dinner at Wolfgang Pucks, and then drove back to the resort. We managed to get everything packed and then had one last soak in the hot tub and a swim before calling it a night.

I was worried that my luggage would be over weight and I had my carry-on so full that I was afraid the zipper would split. I went to the airline check in at Old Key West to check my luggage and get my boarding pass. My suitcase weighed in at 50.5 lbs, the attendant laughed and said it was OK. He printed my boarding pass and then off we went to the airport. We made a quick stop on the way for a breakfast sandwich at Earl's and a final walk through the Pin Store.

So that concludes another annual event. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed the venue immensely. As always, I had a great fun with friends I seldom get to see and came home with lots of new pins and Vinylmations.

Did I decide to keep the Pins of the Month - 13 Reflections of Evil? Of course I did!

P.S. - Stay tuned for more - I'll be preparing another blog to showcase some of the special gifts and merchandise I received at this event!

Return to Blog Central

About September 2013

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in September 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2013 is the previous archive.

October 2013 is the next archive.

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