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June 1, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - May 2016

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

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

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

Every month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Very late this month! So, so sorry! But better late than never, here is the solution to last month’s crossword puzzle:

http://allears.net/ae/mb042616-key.pdf

We received 35 correct responses; all of you knowing that the only Walt Disney Feature Animation film to be released during the month of April was “Home on the Range.” Prior to that the most popular month for animated feature releases was by far the month of November.

The winner of a Mickey pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Al S. of Newark, DE.

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

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

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

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on June 17, 2016. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog in mid- to late June.

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

Thanks!

June 6, 2016

Waxing nostalgic about Disney memorabilia

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The cover of a long-playing Mickey Mouse Club record. The album features 21 hit Mouseketunes. [Chuck Schmidt Collection]

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

What do you think of when you think of Disney?

World-class theme parks, with so many iconic rides and attractions, to be sure. And all those classic animated feature films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Frozen, and live-action epics like Star Wars and the Marvel franchises ... beloved characters ... a respected cruise line ... a popular time share enterprise ... numerous retail outlets in the theme parks, in malls and online ... a leading television network ...

And let's not forget nostalgia.

"Makin' memories," as they used to say at the Imagination pavilion at Epcot, is a key component to Disney's unparalleled long-term success. A few years back, Disney Parks initiated a year-long campaign called "Let the Memories Begin," because they have long recognized how important memorable experiences are to the fabric of most families.

As a natural extension, memorabilia and collectibles are an integral part of the world of Disney. Just ask anyone who has ever attended a Disneyana or D23 event and you'll get an idea of how great the appeal is for Disney's storied past [more on that in a future blog].

Like most hard-core Disney fans, I love Disney of old. Which goes a long way in explaining why, every time I visit a Disney theme park, I grab several guide maps ... one for use that day in the park, the others to be filed away for future reference. Thankfully, I've done this ever since our first visit to Walt Disney World in 1972. To me, these seemingly innocent maps serve as a window back in time, a glimpse at the way things used to be, a barometer of how things have changed.

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Marty Sklar wrote this in the author's copy of "Walt Disney's Disneyland." [Chuck Schmidt Collection]

Over the years, I've managed to put together a collection of Disney memorabilia that I'm quite proud of. Some of these items I've secured on my own [usually with the help of my wife Janet], others were given to me by family and friends who know of my love of all things Disney.

One of my first "finds" was securing a copy of Walt Disney's Disneyland, a wonderfully detailed book written by none other than my friend Marty Sklar. The books were sold at Disneyland in the late 1960s into the early 1970s as a souvenir of your visit. In truth, the book is a remarkably well-done work, rich in detail about the Happiest Place on Earth.

I found my first copy [Janet and I now have three] of the book at a yard sale in Colts Neck, N.J., in the 1990s.

Years later, in 2011, I had Marty sign the book for me during "a dinner and a conversation" fund-raising event that he headlined in Orlando the night before the D23 event celebrating Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary. It's a cherished keepsake, on many levels.

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The cover of Life Magazine in October, 1971, featuring a "mob-scene" photo of the cast in front of Cinderella Castle. [Chuck Schmidt Collection]

A colleague at the Staten Island Advance, Steve Zaffarano, was cleaning house one day in 2010 when he came across a copy of the iconic Life Magazine edition, dated October 15, 1971, featuring the Walt Disney World cast posed in front of Cinderella Castle.

He brought it to work the next day and asked me if I'd like to have it. A no-brainer, on many levels. A few years after Steve's generous gift, I was fortunate to speak to the man who was chiefly responsible for setting up that classic photo, as well as several other pre-opening magazine features ... Disney Legend Charlie Ridgway.

After making significant contributions to the success of Disneyland, Charlie and his family moved to Florida in 1969 following him being named Walt Disney World's first director of press and publicity.

"The first trip I made when I took the job at the end of 1969 was to go to New York," he told me in 2014. "I went to Time, Life and Look magazines and all the major papers and I also went to Washington to National Geographic.

"The managing editor of Look Magazine (Pat Carbine) said: 'We want to be the first ones with a cover story' [on Walt Disney World]. They wanted to have their reporter come down in April [of 1971; the Magic Kingdom wouldn't open until October], which was way too early. There wasn't that much really finished. But we were able to gerrymander things and produce pictures that looked like it was really done.

"We laid some artificial grass on Town Square so we could shoot City Hall. I think there was a ladder still up on the balcony when we shot it. Look had a very good layout."

As for the Life Magazine cover photo and story: "The idea of going to Life was Sandy Quinn's, who came down in 1967 and was the first Disney guy on the ground ... he became very friendly with a lot of the local news media," Charlie said.

"At the time we were getting ready to plan for the opening, I suggested we do a mob-scene picture and we carried forward from that point. We went to Life with the idea and they liked it and they sent down one of their very best photographers, a guy named Yale Joel. He got up on a stand with an 8x10 view camera to shoot the picture. Of course, that one we shot in front of the castle.

"We assembled as many cast members as we could get there. We actually had 5,000 employees, of which we were able to gather 3,000 at one time for the photo." The magazine is a wonderful keepsake, made even more special after getting input from the man involved in bringing it to Life [pun intended].

Disney memorabilia comes in all shapes and sizes, from Mickey Mouse watches to character figurines to Davy Crockett coonskin caps to vintage stuffed animals ... a.k.a., plush. Vinyl records — you remember them, don't you? — also fall into this nostalgic category.

Our son's mother-in-law, Cindy, came across several Disney recording gems at a flea market a few years ago and gave them to me. All three records — one is a 12-inch long-playing record, the other two are smaller 6- and 7-inch discs — feature the Mickey Mouse Club and The Merry Mouseketeers, as they were sometimes referred to during the show's prime in the 1950s.

One of the smaller records is a Disneyland Record and Book titled "Mickey Mouse, Brave Little Tailor," while the other is titled "Songs from the Mickey Mouse Club" and was part of a series of official Mickey Mouse Club Records.

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"The Mickey Mouse Club March" was featured on this vintage record. [Chuck Schmidt Collection]

The liner notes on the cover of that record are priceless: "Exclusively on these low-priced official Mickey Mouse Club Records are the voices, songs and games from Walt Disney's wonderful daily one-hour TV show. Here are Mickey, Donald and Jiminy Cricket — Jimmie Dodd and The Merry Mouseketeers for your child's enjoyment, participation and education."

The LP — "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, Mousekedances and Other Mouseketeer Favorites," on Disneyland Records — features a colorful cover, with drawings of Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy sharing the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stage with likenesses of club leader Jimmie and Mouseketeers Karen, Cubby, Bobby and, of course, Annette Funicello. The songs on the album run the gamut of what was played during a typical "Mickey Mouse Club" television show, which was broadcast on ABC in glorious black-and-white Monday through Friday in the mid- to late-1950s.

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This letter, from Walt Disney to then-Gov. Goodwin J. Knight, was up for auction several years ago. [Chuck Schmidt Collection]

Several years ago, an auction house sent me photos of several Disney-related items that they were about to put up for bidding. One of the items was a letter from Walt Disney to California Gov. Goodwin J. Knight, sent in December of 1958. It's fascinating, on many levels.

The point of the letter, on official Disneyland stationary no less, was to alert Gov. Knight that he was receiving his Disneyland Gold Pass for the 1959 season. In reading the letter, it's obvious that Walt is quite proud of the fact that many new attractions would be opening at Disneyland during the year, including the Matterhorn bobsleds, a monorail system and a submarine voyage.

If need be, according to the letter, Gov. Knight could contact Walt's secretary, Tommy Walker, by calling her at VIctoria 9-3411. If you manage to get your hands on a time-traveling device, make sure to give Walt a call when you go back to the 1950s. Gov. Knight was among the many honored guests on hand during Disneyland's opening day on July 17, 1955.

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A newspaper article, circa 1939-1940, and in French, dealing with Walt Disney's new film, "Fantasia." [Chuck Schmidt Collection]


Mike Virgintino, my Friendly Freedomland pal, occasionally stumbles on Disney-related gems and he generously sends them to me to add to my collection. "I know they'll get a good home with you," he says.

One such item is quite interesting. It's a newspaper clipping, circa 1939-1940, of a story on Disney's upcoming new film, Fantasia. The article features a photo of one of the film's segments, Beethoven's "The Pastoral Symphony."

The only problem is: The article is in French [any French students out there?].

The clipping adds to my Fantasia collection: I have [on loan from my mother] an original program movie-goers received when they saw the movie during its long-running engagement at the Broadway Theatre in Manhattan. The booklet features a wealth of information about the ground-breaking cinematic achievement, including portraits of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor and the making of the classic.

There's also one critic's succinct take on the movie: "Fantasia will Amasia." ... as will most items from the Disney vault.

June 12, 2016

Pin Trading in New Jersey

Gary Cruise banner

Carol’s pin trading career started about fifteen years ago when she read online about a new series of cloisonné pins being sold through The Disney Stores. It was 2001 and the “100 Years of Magic” series was being sold in small batches every Saturday morning. Since there was a Disney Store only 18 miles from our home just west of Toronto, off she went . . . and as the fishermen say, ‘the hook was set!’

How could we have guessed that fifteen years later her collection would include more than 4,000 different Disney pins? How could we have imagined back then how many wonderful people we would meet through her new hobby?

One of the highlights each year is Carol’s annual trip to Somerset New Jersey for an immersive pin trading weekend!

Back in May 2003 John Rick from New Jersey organized the first “Trade ‘Til You Fade” event, a weekend long affair. It was such a resounding success that he followed it up in October 2003 with another weekend event called “Swap ‘Til You Drop”! The two events have been repeated every year since 2003, one in the spring and one in the fall. John is now supported by an experienced team; his wife Sheila, Travel Planner Janis Lavender and her husband David, who help him plan and deliver a wonderful experience for pin traders from a very wide area.

The CJDPT Team
John, Sheila, Janis, David

Carol first attended the “Swap ‘Til You Drop” event in 2007 and enjoyed it so much that she has been back to at least one of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders events at Somerset each year.

It’s a six-hour drive for us, about 375 miles from our home in Canada to Somerset - but it’s a trek Carol looks forward to. She knows most of the “regulars” there and of course there are always new faces too!

Comfort Inn Sign

Since we live in Canada you might think that we traveled the furthest to get to the event . . . but you would be wrong. The distance honors for April 2016 go to the pin traders who traveled about 475 miles from Ohio. In previous years there have been traders from as far away as Illinois, Florida and even California.

The weekend itinerary is always full . . .

Event Brochure Pages 1 and 2
Click on the image to see a larger, easier to read version.

Brochure Page 3

Carol is an avid pin trader; I am not. They really don’t interest me much and I know very little about them, but I travel to the pin events with her whenever I can. Over the years we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We make the south-easterly drive on Thursday in order to have a “touristy” day on Friday. That means sightseeing and shopping. Over the years we have taken several trips into nearby Manhattan. We’ve taken the train to Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park, ridden the NYC Subway to Times Square, enjoyed lunch at Carnegie’s Deli on 7th Avenue, taken a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park . . . there’s always plenty to do in the area.

But we always have to be back to the hotel by 5:00 p.m. on Friday . . . that’s when the event kicks off! On a typical Friday night we connect with some of our pin trading friends and enjoy dinner at the Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurant across the street; then Carol grabs her pin bags and heads to one of the trading rooms. The hotel makes three rooms available to traders, the Breakfast Room, the Board Room and a Meeting Room. Before you can say “Swap” the tables are covered with pin books, pin binders, boxes and bins full of pins. It’s a Pin-A-Palooza!

Friday Night Trading

Friday Night Trading

Carol always does some of her best trading on Friday nights. Everyone is fresh and eager; everyone is looking to complete their collections! The traders, at least those I see in New Jersey, are an interesting group. They don’t seem to be competitive; they seem genuinely interested in helping other collectors complete the sets of pins they’re trying to acquire. It’s amazing how well things can work out when people are cooperative rather than competitive!

When Carol returned to the room at about 11:00 p.m. Friday night she was thrilled with the 24 new pins she was able to trade for. Most of them had been on her “Wants List” for quite some time so she had filled plenty of gaps in her collection.

Saturday was all about pins! Nothing but pins!

We enjoyed our first cup of coffee in the room and then headed down to the breakfast room where I enjoyed a fresh Belgian waffle and orange juice while Carol had a bowl of hot oatmeal.

The hotel treats the pin traders very well. Not only do they give very attractive group rates for the guest rooms and provide a complimentary hot breakfast, but they allow the group to bring in their own snacks and beverages. All the traders bring along cans of soda or bottles of water, chips, cookies or some other snack to add to the communal stock of food and drink. There is always a frosty drink of soda or water and a tasty bite available. Just help yourself!

By 9:30 Carol was all set up in the back conference room. I spent much of the day babysitting her three pin bags while she scoured the three rooms filled with traders, looking for the pins she has on her “wants list”.

Saturday Trading

Saturday Trading

As I sat there people would come by, flip through the three bags full of trader pins and then say, “Tell Carol there are three pins in there that I’d like to trade for. My pins are right over there; she can have a look when she gets back.”

Saturday Trading

The traders come from all over; in the parking lot there were plenty of cars with Disney stickers, decals or vanity plates. Those cars came from Ontario, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and of course New Jersey. There were probably other states represented there that I missed.

Saturday Trading

On Saturdays the organizers order lunch and put out a small basket where folks can contribute toward the cost.

Lunch

At noon that lunch arrived, a six-foot turkey sub, a six-foot Italian sub, two salads and some potato chips. Yummy!

Lunch

During the day the organizers staged a number of games for everyone. There were Crossword and Word-Search puzzles, Pingo, Name That Toon, Disney Trivia; there was even a 50/50 Pin Game and a raffle for some terrific Disney prizes!

Pingo
Pingo!

Raffle
The Raffle table.

By the time the dinner break rolled around at 5:00 p.m. Carol had traded another 32 pins and 2 Vinylmations. That’s a pretty successful day!

We have some good friends who live in New Jersey, about an hour away. They arrived just as we broke for dinner. We relaxed with them in our room and had a few laughs as we spent an hour catching up with each others busy lives. At 6:00 we walked across the road to Ruby Tuesday’s and carried on our visit over a leisurely dinner.

After dinner we spent another few hours in the hotel, laughing and reminiscing about our many adventures together before saying our goodbyes at 10:00.

We missed the “Let’s Make A Steal” gift exchange which always takes place Saturday nights. Everyone contributes a wrapped Disney themed gift (about $20 value) to the gift table then names are drawn in random order. Those who’s names are drawn can pick a new wrapped gift or “steal” a previously opened gift. It’s always a hilarious time as people try to pick up, and hold onto a gift!

After our friends left Carol went back down for some more trading while I relaxed in the room. (Snore!) She was back home at 11:30 to rest up for a day of travel the next morning! Some of the other traders kept right on going until 1:00 a.m.

Carol surprised me; we were both up and enjoying our first cup of coffee at about 7:15 Sunday morning when I asked, “Are you going to do some more trading this morning?”

“Nope,” she replied, “I’m all done and I miss my dogs. Take me home.”

So I did!

We were all packed up by 8:00 a.m. and stopped in the breakfast room for another coffee and a quick bite to eat before we pulled away. We chatted with the organizers and thanked then for a wonderful weekend before we pulled away to begin our 375 mile trek at 8:30.

We made a brief shopping stop near Syracuse New York to pick up a few grocery items that aren’t available in Canada and quickly carried on northbound. We were back in Canada by 3:30, picked up our two dogs at Carol’s mother’s house and were home unpacking by 4:30.

CJDPT Logo

What a great weekend! A total of 93 traders registered for the event. That number included 51 people who live close enough to pop in for a few hours or a full day as well as the 42 of us who stayed in the hotel for the weekend. We had a chance to reconnect with friends and Carol was delighted with the pins she was able to add to her collection!

If you are a pin trader and the New Jersey events sound like something you might enjoy, be sure to check out the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site by clicking HERE. You can find them on Facebook HERE.

If you plan to attend, be sure to book your hotel through CJDPT to ensure that you get the group rates.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

Carol’s next pin trading excursion will be in August when she heads south for the annual Pin Celebration at Epcot. She’s sure to write a blog about that trip, so stay tuned!

June 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 24, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - June 2016

Riddle

THE MOUSY MINDBOGGLER

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

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

Every month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Here is the solution to the last crossword puzzle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on July 22, 2016. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog in mid- to late July.

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

Thanks!

June 26, 2016

Be a Wilderness Lodge Flag Family

Gary Cruise banner

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

The view from the roof

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

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

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

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

The lobby

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

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

Bay Lake and Discovery Island

Or the Contemporary Resort from this angle?

Contemporary Resort

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

The Train Station

There’s the Astro-Orbiter in Tomorrowland.

Astro-Orbiter

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

The Grand Floridian

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

Cinderella Castle

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

Raising Old Glory

Next was the Disney flag . . .

Disney Flag

. . . then two Wilderness Lodge flags.

Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Concierge Level

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

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

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

Deb and Friends as Flag Family July 2007.

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

June 27, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

This time around, he was recognized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About June 2016

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in June 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2016 is the previous archive.

July 2016 is the next archive.

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