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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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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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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 27, 2014

by on November 27, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a look at resort decorations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, stopping by the Magic Kingdom to check out the new Peter Pan’s Flight queue, and wrapping up with a visit to Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom. I have so much to share, so let’s get started! :)

And what better way to start than with the stunning lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge? After all these years I’m still amazed walking in here. I think it might be my favorite hotel (and not just because Jiko is hiding inside). The tree towering inside looks perfect and coordinates with all the garland strung around the lobby. While there isn’t much else at the resort in the way of Christmas decorations, what more could you ask for? Be sure to click below to see what else is new this week.

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Sensible Budgeting for Souvenirs

by on November 23, 2014

My wife walked into our study – so-called the Yankees room – adorned with retired jerseys, souvenirs from baseball games, and posed figures clutching bats and blocking home plate. As she does before mentioning something that she likes, she led with a phrase meant as more than subtext, “I know I shouldn’t be mentioning this…,” and she referred me to the Disney online store where new souvenirs from the Haunted Mansion collection had just been launched. I have a terrible habit of keeping a record of everything my wife mentions that she even has a slight interest in, and putting it in the cart. By ‘putting it in the cart,’ I mean ordering it as soon as she leaves the room – to be delivered for our next Disney trip. In contrast, this time she was adamant that I absolutely not order the really great new shirts emulating the cast members. One was a maid, and the other was the ghost host. So this time, I needed to wait until the next morning to look it up. By then, the shirt had sold out, and my continued checking found it unavailable. Frankly, this was an item that even I really wanted, and although the ghost host shirt remained, it was available only in a men’s small that certainly wouldn’t fit my frame.

Immediately, I was dismayed. Not at the loss of the item – but knowing that if I really wanted to find it, I would probably have to wait months to find it in the new Memento Mori shop. As a reforming hoarder (code: still really terrible hoarder), I constantly need to remind myself to slow down and relax. Even if I couldn’t immediately find an item, more than likely something pretty great would come down the line.

Comic Collector's hoard

Comic Collector’s hoard

I come from a nasty collector’s history. I started collecting comic books in middle school, and really read like crazy during the era when comic book values had been skyrocketing over demand. Nearly any book with a hot character could be relatively assured to increase in price if just held for a few years. My spare nickels all went into a fund for comics, and my collection took over my spare space. I later categorized them by value. Like nearly everyone else, I went to college, causing my spare nickels to disappear. My comic habit eventually stopped. The collecting industry as a whole dried up, and values plummeted. Nearly every hoarder dumped entire collections onto the public, and outside of a few key issues, values dropped. When I returned to check years later, it turned out that only a few books retained any value, and the industry had changed drastically. Comics, like many other industries, were now producing books for the collectors: limited editions, variants, hidden gems. The old practice of holding onto a book for a few years had nearly disappeared – outside of a few key elements. I started collecting again, and my mentality of ‘owning it all’ came back again.

When I first travelled to Disney World, my searching-for-the-souvenirs mentality came back. I decided to focus on only a few items – like the Star Wars themed Mr. Potato Head toys. Seeing it as limited set of five toys, I thought I could buy them and then ‘be done.’ Of course, the line returned to an old collector/hoarder’s worst enemy: retirement.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 6, 2014

by on November 6, 2014

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re visiting Epcot for a quick update and an awesome concert. Then we’re heading to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios for more fun.  Let’s get going!

The weather could not have been more perfect this weekend. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air was cool and crisp. It was even cold in the evenings! If you take a look at the photo on the left you’ll notice the fountain in front of Spaceship Earth isn’t working. It actually hasn’t been for a while. Our joke has been it’s the mosquito breeding exhibit. ;) Hopefully they’re able to repair it soon.

Want to see more exciting updates like this from around Disney World? Click to read more! 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Disney Cruise Line Photos

by on November 5, 2014

Whenever you visit a Disney theme park, you can expect to find photographers available to take your picture at key spots during your vacation. The same is true when you travel on Disney Cruise Line. Here’s what you need to know about Disney Cruise Line photo packages and options.

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Does photography on the Disney Cruise Line ships work the same as PhotoPass or Memory Maker at Walt Disney World?

While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well. The first thing to note is that the shipboard photography and the parks photography are run by different vendors. The pricing structure is completely different. There’s no such thing as an all-in-one photo package for guests doing Land & Sea vacations. If you’re traveling to WDW and on DCL, you’ll have to purchase photos from each half of your vacation separately.

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My New Favorite Disney World Souvenir Finds

by on October 29, 2014

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

I don’t know about you, but souvenir shopping is a huge part of my Disney World Vacations. I always enjoy browsing through the stores at the parks and resorts for new merchandise; and during my past few trips to Disney World this year, I have discovered some magical, new items. So take a look at just a few of my new favorite Disney World souvenir finds!

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears – $19.00

As a huge Little Mermaid fan, I was thrilled when I came across these Little Mermaid Mouse Ears! I had seen the Belle and Cinderella themed Mouse Ears before, but this design is by far my favorite. I especially like the pearl accents! Surprisingly, I only found this twist on Disney’s classic headgear at Epcot’s Mouse Gear and Downtown Disney’s World of Disney Store during my most recent trip to Disney World, but hopefully that has changed. After all, who wouldn’t want to sport these ears around the parks, right?

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