Friday, December 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

AllEars Guest Columnist

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest columnist, writing the feature article for the newsletter. is one of the oldest, most comprehensive websites by and for Disney Parks & Resorts enthusiasts. If you haven't checked them out yet, make it a priority- but set aside some time, because the information on the site is endless! For now, you can read my feature article, linked below.

The year was 1977. I was 9 and my sister was 10. We lived with our single mom just outside of New York City, in a tiny basement apartment that would flood whenever a heavy rain fell... 

Click here to continue reading full article:  Revisiting Walt Disney World... 36 Years Later

Monday, October 31, 2016

Disneyland Records: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House

When my vinyl-loving daughter recently came home with this gem, I had an odd flashback to my youth. The memory is vague, but I recall this album being in the family collection in our old RCA television console/stereo/record player unit. This was a giant piece of furniture that took up most of the living room. The record player section had a built-in album storage area, right within the TV console. Very seventies.

First published by Disneyland Records (now Walt Disney Records) in 1964, the album has seen a few different versions over the years. This recent reissue was released in 2015, and it recreates the original 1964 version of the album. The cover features a classic haunted house painting by Paul Wenzel, which he created as part of the concept art for the Haunted Mansion attraction.

On Side One, a narrator tells stories that feature sound as part of the narrative. Side Two features a wide variety of sound effects. In addition to the standard screams, thunder, and creaking doors, there are also some unexpected sounds- cats and dogs who sound like they're in pain, crashes, explosions, dripping/water torture, and more. I love this warning on the back of the album:

Happy Halloween!

Do you remember this chilling album? Tell us about it in the comments...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Tale of Two Mugs

The Starbucks You Are Here mugs debuted in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot in early 2015. In my post about my YOU ARE HERE collection, I mentioned that my friend - a kind and generous blogging/Disney Twitter friend- happened to be visiting the parks that week. She took it upon herself to buy me the Epcot mug, knowing how much I love all things Epcot and Spaceship Earth. Little did we know at the time, though, that she'd be holding a bit of a collector's item.

About a week after the debut, these purple monorail mugs were pulled from the shelves. The mug returned a few months later, with the purple monorail stripe replaced with gray.

Why was the original pulled? There was a fatal monorail accident in 2009, in which the purple and pink monorails collided. Tragically, the pilot of the purple monorail, Cast Member Austin Wuennenberg, lost his life. The purple and pink monorails were retired after the accident, replaced by Teal and Peach.

How, then, did a purple monorail get through the initial design phase of this You Are Here mug? That's a mystery, as is exactly what led to the removal and redesign. Perhaps the company was being sensitive to the issue (albeit late), or perhaps there were complaints after the debut, but whatever the reason- the company acted swiftly, and the mugs were gone almost as quickly as they appeared.

The mugs purchased during that week or so of initial sale are quite rare. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was informed about their rarity later on, when I was telling a colleague about my gift. My friend could have easily sent me the new version once that came out. Or she could have just decided not to send me anythng at all- it was an unsolicited gift, after all, not even something I asked her to pick up, or was reimbursing her for. She ended up sending me the original anyway. Did I mention that she's kind and generous? She's a stellar pal.

I have since gotten the version with the gray monorail- another gift, this time from a relative. I'm currently using the gray monorail for my coffee, while the purple monorail sits safely on a special shelf, with some of my other Disney treasures.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Disney Parks and Starbucks- You Are Here mugs

My current collection

When the popular You Are Here line of Starbucks mugs started rolling out in Disney Parks Starbucks locations in 2015, I fell in love. The size and shape make them the perfect coffee vessel for me, and I love the bold graphic designs that capture the icons of each park.

A kind and generous friend was visiting Epcot when the mugs were released, and knowing my love of all things Epcot and Spaceship Earth, she bought a mug for me. The Epcot mug in the photo above is not the one she purchased for me, though- but that's a story for a separate post.

I started collecting the other park mugs during subsequent visits. My current collection, in the photo above, is incomplete. I'm missing the Disneyland mug. I did visit Disneyland after the mugs debuted, and I purchased mugs from both parks. However, being the great sister that I am, I wanted to give the Disneyland mug to my sister for her birthday that year. I considered buying an additional one for myself, but I couldn't fit one more thing in my suitcase. Foolish move! I should have found a way to squeeze it in. When did I think I'd ever make it back to the west coast to complete my set?? (hopefully soon, knock on wood...)

I love seeing them all together in the mug cabinet, and I enjoy my morning ritual of selecting just the right one for that day. I have a lot of other Disney Parks mugs, but these seem to get the most coffee action, by far!

Do you have any of the Disney Parks/Starbucks You Are Here mugs? Which one is your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Cabinet Takeover

I hear it's #NationalCoffeeDay today. This seems like an appropriate time to address my mug/glassware issue.

I'm not sure when it happened. I wasn't consciously trying to convert this cabinet. But putting dishes away the other day, I realized I was sensing a strong theme...

You see it too, right?

Slowly but surely, my coffee mugs, glasses, and all manner of drinking vessel seem to have been taken over by theme park purchases.

I'm okay with this.

And because I like talking about mugs, I'm turning this into a three-post series. Stay tuned for two other mug-related posts, coming your way soon.

Ahhh, the coffee maker just beeped. Where's my Epcot mug?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A visit to Nomad Lounge

Tucked away in a quiet corner that will soon be a very busy pathway to Avatarland, lies Animal Kingdom's newest watering hole- Nomad Lounge. Opened in May 2016, Nomad Lounge is connected to Tiffins, the new signature restaurant in the park.

There is beauty throughout, both inside as well as in the outdoor area overlooking the water. It's inviting, warm, and visually stunning, with carefully selected details at every turn.

With impeccable attention to detail, top-notch service from my barkeep, and the highest quality drinks and food offerings- I can see Nomad Lounge quickly jumping to the top of my favorite places list.

I absolutely have a new favorite on-property drink:  the Annapurna Zing. It's the perfect refreshing mix of Bombay Sapphire gin, passion fruit puree, simple syrup, lime juice, and a splash of ginger beer...all  served in a many-angled glass with the most satisfying hold.

The vegetarian summer roll was a perfect accompaniment on a sweltering day...

One of my favorite parts- a nod to function alongside beauty. The designers included two of my favorite things to see under a bar- bag hooks and charging outlets. It's all in the details...

Have you visited Nomad Lounge? Is it on your to-do list? Tell us about it in the comments...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

EPCOT Center Logo pins

As a Disney pin collector, there's a satisfaction that comes with finding that last pin you need to complete a set. And as a finicky collector, the pins I'm drawn to are few and far between- so when I find a set I love, and I can complete it? That's cause for celebration. My favorite pin set probably doesn't come as a surprise to regular readers: the EPCOT Center Logo pins.

Released in April 2015 as part of the Hidden Mickey Cast Lanyard series, these vintage Epcot icons have everything I love in a pin design- clean crisp styling, bold color, classic graphic design, symbols or signage rather than characters, and of course- they're vintage Epcot. The icons represent the original Epcot Center logos, including Horizons, Journey Into Imagination, CommuniCore, The Land, and The Living Seas.

I collected this set over the course of several visits. Ironically, I had to go to the other side of the country- to Disneyland- in order to find the last remaining pin I needed to complete the set. As I was scurrying through Disney's California Adventure on my way back to the Disneyland Hotel, I spotted The Land pin on the lanyard of a custodial worker sweeping up near the gates. When I approached him to trade, he told me he had just received it about an hour before, and he had no idea what it was.

You never know when you'll come across that final pin to complete a set. 

What do you think of the Epcot icon pins? Are you into pin trading at the parks & resorts? 
Tell us about it in the comments...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

TAG-- Retro Travel Gear in Disney Springs

Have you checked out TAG at the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs?

TAG (an acronym for travel-accessories-gear) is the newest shop/stall inside the open- floorplan marketplace. I was really excited about the retro-style travel theme of TAG. I've long been a fan of that retro travel look, perhaps stemming back to having had a father who worked for PAN AM in the Mad Men-era heyday of that brand. I couldn't wait to see what awaited me in this shop.

Reminiscent of the PAN AM logo, right?

I was at a work conference earlier this year, staying across the street from Disney Springs. TAG was set to open the day after I was leaving town. The store was all ready but was draped in fabric in the middle of the marketplace, barring entrance. That was brutal! When I found myself back for another work event in June, I knew I had to head over and check it out (along with the other newly-opened areas of Disney Springs).

The shop sells a mix of retro style and contemporary travel-related accessories, and is set up with travel-themed touches throughout...

The retro aviation theme was everywhere, including the register station above- designed to look like an airport checkin-in counter, complete with an arrival/departure board.

A flight from DLR to WDW? Sign me up!

I couldn't quite swing a purchase of the faux-vintage hard suitcase I coveted, 
so instead, I settled for a cool new luggage tag...

Have you visited TAG at the Co-Op Marketplace? What do you think of this retro travel theme? 
Tell us about it in the comments...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vintage Photos at Disney's Guest Relations

Have you ever taken a look around inside Disney's various Guest Relations locations? Many of these spots have great vintage photos on display. During a recent visit, I made a point to visit Guest Relations in a few different locations, just to check out the photos. Here's a little bit of what I found...

Disney Springs

It was here that I first noticed these great shots- classic 70s and 80s images, 
many of which I hadn't seen before in any other place. 

Notice anything interesting about the next two photos?

They were shot before Disney implemented the now-classic "two-finger point"! 


No too many photos here, but a nice backdrop of classic shots such as the groundbreaking multiplane camera, Walt walking through Sleeping Beauty castle, and Walt standing in front of the Florida Project map.

Magic Kingdom

 The Magic Kingdom Guest Relations photos include shots of Walt, Roy, and 
Mickey Mouse, all in gilded frames that have a home-like feel. 

Hollywood Studios 

The Hollywood Studios Guest Relations vintage photos have an interesting twist. Instead of vintage Disney photos, all the shots here are of vintage Hollywood! Some of the photos date back to the very early days, when Hollywood was little more than dirt roads and farm land. Early pictures of the famed Hollywood sign (then reading "Hollywoodland"), as well as landmarks like The Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood Boulevard, and RKO/Desilu Studios also adorn the walls.

Have you visited Guest Relations? What do you think of the vintage photos? 
Tell us about it in the comments....