Merchandise

SATURDAY SIX: Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2014)

by on December 20, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (A/K/A The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2014). Some readers of this weekly column may not know that we also have The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! where every single month we brave the insanity of the Orlando Premium Outlet parking lots to cover the two Disney outlet stores (more info on them – including addresses – at the end of the article.) While some Christmas dreams do come true, such as Ralphie Parker getting his official Red Ryder BB gun and Your Humble Author getting a Han Solo blaster back in the day, others deserve to go straight to the Island of Misfit Toys. Today we will take a look at some of those very items, starting with…

 

# 6 – Luigi’s Flying Tires: The Toy

My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree seeing this toy hit the Outlet shelves. In theory, Luigi’s Flying Tires should have been one of the coolest rides at any Disney park. It used popular characters from the Cars franchise in what amounts to a hovercraft ride mixed with bumper cars. How great is that? Turns out, not that great. For many guests, the degree of difficulty in learning how to control the tires was too much within the short ride span, and that combined with the long wait time (due to the limited capacity) resulted in some very unfavorable reviews. The one part of the attraction that did receive positive reaction – the humongous beach balls on the course which provided a striking visual and the ability to knock them into other guests – was taken away mere weeks after Luigi’s debut. It is rumored that once Flying Tires goes down for refurbishment in early 2015, it will never come back as the ride it currently is and instead will be changed into something different. But, at least we’ll have our Luigi’s Flying Tires toy to remember it by (batteries, and joy, not included.)

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Next year we want to see Stitch’s Great Escape: The Board Game.

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My Disney World Christmas Vacation Traditions

by on December 17, 2014

The most magical place on earth gets a little more magical around this time of year when the parks and resorts deck the halls with holiday finery and give Disney fans a reason to take one more Walt Disney World vacation! My family and I love to take a trip to Disney World around the holidays, and we have created a few festive traditions over the years. Check out a few of my Disney World Vacation Christmas Traditions.

Downtown Disney's Days of Christmas Store

Downtown Disney’s Days of Christmas Store

Buying a New Ornament

It just wouldn’t be right to leave Disney World around Christmastime without a new ornament to add to our tree. My favorite place to shop for ornaments is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. I love how it feels like we’re walking through an old, colonial home. For a wider variety of Christmas décor, we like to drop by Disney’s Days of Christmas Store at Downtown Disney, where it really does feel like Christmas all year round.

Holidays Around the World

Epcot’s World Showcase is one of my favorite corners of Disney World, and I especially enjoy Holidays Around the World this time of year, where performances educate guests about the different holiday traditions of their respective countries. It’s a lot of fun to hear and see how other countries celebrate the holidays. Our favorites would be Father Christmas at the United Kingdom and the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure. The special holiday treats and the chance to do a little Christmas shopping is pretty great too. After all, there’s no chance that what you’re buying as a gift is something someone already has when you shop at the stores in the Norway or China or Morocco pavilions.

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Disney History: The Jungle Cruise

by on December 14, 2014

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

The Jungle Cruise is an iconic Disney attraction that promises danger, adventure, and a whole lot of laughs! Located in Adventureland at both Disneyland and Disney World, the Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at both parks and is still entertaining guests today with its witty Jungle Cruise Skippers, the backside of water, and the hilarious names for its steamboats, such as Senegal Sal and Congo Connie. But did you know that the original idea for the Jungle Cruise was very different than the attraction we know today? Did you also know that evidence for the original plan for the Jungle Cruise can be found in two other Disney World parks? Get your pencil and paper ready because for today’s lesson, we are going to brush up on some Disney History: The Jungle Cruise!

The Inspiration

When Disneyland was being built in the 1950s, Walt wanted to create an attraction that represented his True-Life Adventures series. It’s also been said that Walt was a fan of The African Queen, a 1951 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, a mismatched pair who must sail a steamboat down the rivers of Africa. The two ideas morphed into a vision for an attraction where guests would sail down the exotic rivers of the world in a steamboat while observing live wildlife on either side. Naturally, this plan had to be modified when Disney learned that live animals would be difficult to contain, care for, and keep to script, so the solution was to install audio-animatronic animals instead. However, you can find a vintage poster for The African Queen at Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard as it is a Hollywood classic, but also possibly a nod to Walt’s inspiration for the Jungle Cruise!

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SATURDAY SIX: Six MORE Surprises of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

by on December 13, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE Surprises of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. We’re taking a quick break from our end-of-year celebration articles, and returning back to Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort. You may remember we were at the hotel earlier this year during its grand opening and were blown away as it changed the definition of “value” resort within the theme park universe. Since that time the other half of the resort opened up, including the Americana and Continental wings with a combined 900 standard rooms. So today we are going to revisit Cabana Bay and look at six more surprises the resort offers to guests, starting with…

# 6 -The Fire Pits

There are a total of four fire pits throughout Cabana Bay, all within walking distance of the two pool bars (Atomic Tonic and The Hideaway Bar & Grill.) These pits can make for a great place to relax at night, especially after a late swim. As an added bonus, there are S’mores kits available in the Bayliner Diner (complete with sticks to use for roasting the marshmallows) allowing you to have a very unique experience on property.

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One of the fire pits at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Disney World Single Location Merchandise

by on December 12, 2014

When you’re shopping at Walt Disney World, there are many (many, many, many) merchandise items you’ll see repeatedly. Basic Mickey tees and princess dresses are sold in in dozens of locations throughout the theme parks, resort gift shops, at Downtown Disney, and sometimes even on DisneyStore.com. But you should be aware that there is a subset of Disney merchandise that you can only find in a single location. If you want to buy it, there’s only one place in the World to do so.

I’ve heard many tales of guests who saw the perfect souvenir, assumed they’d encounter it again to purchase later, only to find that it slipped through their fingers because they never returned to the one sales location during their visit.

Here’s a guide to the types of merchandise items that are typically found in only one location. If you want it, buy it when you see it, because you may not find it again.

RESORT LOGO MERCHANDISE

Some, but not all, of the Disney resort hotels sell merchandise with a unique resort logo. If you want a Beach Club tee shirt, you will only find this at the Beach Club, not anywhere else on property.

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What’s the Strangest Thing Sold at Epcot?

by on December 9, 2014

There’s plenty to love about shopping at Epcot’s World Showcase. I can’t get enough of the cheery Japanese candy, friendly German Christmas ornaments, or cheeky British tee shirts. And then there are the World Showcase merchandise items that leave me scratching my head. These are the things that leave me thinking, “Who approved that addition to the merchandise list?” “What is the demographic profile of the typical buyer?” and “Has anyone actually ever purchased this item at Epcot before?”

So that you can be as perplexed as I am, here’s a tour of just a few of Epcot’s oddities.

MEXICO

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with vanilla extract. I have several bottles in my pantry standing ready to be called into service for holiday baking. But who goes to a theme park and decides that’s what they’re going to bring home?

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Disney Merchandise: Shopping at Orlando International Airport (MCO)

by on December 3, 2014

While I live in Florida now, I grew up in New Hampshire and San Diego, California, two places which couldn’t be farther away from the Sunshine State. However, I always loved flying in because of the Orlando International Airport (MCO.) I always felt that the monorail, from the gate area to the main terminal, was my first official “ride” of the trip. Now I love MCO for different reasons, as I often find myself there picking up friends and family who are coming down for their Disney or Universal vacation. As a person who has been covering the Disney Outlet Stores for over a year and have the walls of my Man Cave covered in Universal merchandise, I enjoy going to MCO because they have SIX theme park gift shops (two each for Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. Seven, if you include the NASA Kennedy Space Center.) Today we are going to do a photo report of the two Disney shops, EarPort and The Magic of Disney.

First, let’s take a look at Disney’s EarPort.

Disney_MCO2

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DISNEY CRUISE LINE: Christmas Merchandise Photo Report

by on November 28, 2014

Last month we featured photo reports of the merchandise available in the Disney Cruise Line gift shops, along with Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Since that time, DCL has shifted over into its Very Merrytime sailings and has a limited selection of Christmas-related items for sale.

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DCL Christmas Ornament. $11.95.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! November 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on November 28, 2014

MMM positiveBlack Friday. One of the biggest shopping days in the ‘Murica calendar. There couldn’t be a a more appropriate day of the year for a photo report of the Disney Outlet Stores (other than April Fool’s Day of course.) I will be said to see November go though, because as a theme park fan this was a HUGE month. We said hello to the much needed parking garage at Downtown Disney, and goodbye to my beloved NASCAR Sports Grille at Universal CityWalk. Both Universal and Disney opened new eateries: the unbelievably great Cowfish at CityWalk, and the just plain unbelievable (as in not believable) food truck park at Downtown Disney. The Magic Kingdom unveiled the awesome new queue for Peter Pan’s Flight, and the entire WDW resort area is starting to look like Christmas with the Wilderness Lodge getting its King Kong-sized tree and the Grand Floridian & Contemporary resorts putting up their must-see gingerbread houses. This may go down in the history books as the greatest month of all time, at least until next month.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

We’re going to start off with my of my all-time favorite items I have ever seen at the Outlets: a Luigi’s Flying Tires toy! The huge rumor over in California is that the Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction is going down in January for “refurbishment”… and not coming back. Even mainstream film and pop culture sites have picked up on the story. Seeing this toy at the Outlets would be like stumbling upon a Habit Heroes comic book, or a pin for Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration. Originally $9.95, this bad boy is now just $4.95, but its value to me is priceless.

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Staying true to the ride itself, this toy also doesn’t work.

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 27, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with….

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault –  a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

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Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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