DIY Disney – More Mickey Christmas Ornaments


DIY Mickey Ornaments (Part 2)

In my last post about DIY Disney ornaments, the ornaments were super easy to make and cute as can be, yes?  Let’s do it again today – make more Mickey ornaments, but this time, we’ll go “intermediate” level – I think you’re ready!

While shopping at my favorite craft store (again, yes, I like it there and yes, Christmas decorations were still 50% off) – I spotted these babies and thought – hey!  With a little help from Raymond and his manly tool-wielding-ways, I can really make some fancy new ornaments.  As luckIMG_2029 would have it, Raymond was with me.  So, I shot him a look (no words required) and he held out his hands to carry the ornament boxes for me.  Gotta love a man that’ll shop and carry at your favorite craft store…and I do!

Do this:

Buy shatterproof ornaments only.  On sale.  (Hey, my tutorial, my rules.)

IMG_2030Use a hack saw (or another favorite saw of your choice) to remove the ornament-hook-holder-part from each small ornament.

Same deal as last time, fire up the glue gun and apply the glue in a donut shape where the sawed-off part used to be.

Eyeball the ears (yup, just had to say that again) and, after waiting a few seconds for the glue to cool down a smidge, slap those ears on.IMG_2039


So, a teensy bit more difficult this time (what, with the sawing and all), but well worth the trouble.  Minty Mickey Mouse ornaments.  Made ’em myself.



What’s so Great about Disney World’s Tower of Terror?


“Hollywood, 1939. Amidst the glitz and the glitter of a bustling young movie talent at the height of its golden age, the Hollywood Tower Hotel was a star in its own right. A beacon for the show business elite. Now, something is about to happen that will change all that.” -Mark Silverman as the voice of Rod Serling, Tower of Terror Introduction


Disney WorldIMG_0870‘s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror…The ride that divides The Fam like no other.  Raymond and Megan really don’t care for it and will ride it one time (and one time only) during each trip to Disney World – just to be polite.  Joseph and I love it (Joseph’s all time favorite ride) – we can and will ride it again and again.  Once we even scored a surprise fast pass when got off so we got right back in line!

Like Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror is located in Disney’s Hollywood SIMG_3026tudios at the end of Sunset Blvd.  The queue for this ride is, as Disney tends to do with newer attractions, cleverly detailed and carefully crafted to immerse you in the ride’s theme and story line long before you board the ride vehicle (in this case a seemingly innocuous service elevator).  From the winding garden paths through the overgrown greenery, past the once grand outdoor courtyards of the Hollywood Tower Hotel to the perfectly dusty and slightly sinister-looking hotel lobby, guests paying careful attention will find wonderful gems in the details.  Hidden Mickeys abound IMG_0876along with several nods to the Twilight Zone television series.  Even the sullen, grey- uniform-clad bellhops add to the depth of theming for this attraction.  If the day is not too warm, I find the stand-by line for this ride actually quite enjoyable, but that’s not why Joseph loves it.  The constant screaming coming from the hotel “guests” is a good clue about the real reason this ride’s a big hit with thrill-seekers like Joseph.

IMG_3521As you draw closer to the pre-ride intro show, you begin to feel a sense of dread.  As if the hotel lobby is emitting a warning to you.  The bellhops will guide you into the library.  Joseph describes it this way – “The feeling of impending doom is created by the cast members working at the tower and the abandoned, worn-down look of the hotel – inside and out.  Like somewhere you don’t want to be.”

The pre-ride show provides the backstory (I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s great!) after which you are led into the hotel’s basement to the service elevators.  The theming and mood-setting details continue –IMG_3525 watch for another Hidden Mickey on the wall.  TIP: Going to the left instead of right in line is generally faster.  Once you board the elevator (you must be 40″ tall to ride and health warnings exist), fasten that seatbelt – you’re gonna need it!  The best part of this attraction is the layers of build-up to the finale.  Everything, from the first step in line, leads up to what happens in that elevator!

Continuing with the story introduced in the library, the elevator travels through several scenes before you hit the real action.  The elevator drops, shoots up, drops, and so on – riders are constantly surprised.  Random drop Tower of Terror Collagesequences are what keep people coming back for more.  There’s no way to predict the exact pattern of elevator movement.  When the elevator is “falling” it is actually being pushed downward – gravity alone would not be this fast.  This is VERY scary for many people – as evidenced by the screaming!!!  Joseph and I both LOVE this part – we don’t find it frightening, just incredibly fun.  The sense of weightlessness is what makes this ride so great!

Have you visited the Hollywood Tower Hotel?  What did you think?


Magic Kingdom VIP Parade Seating


IMG_5197Magical Memory Monday!  Just last year, we had a fantastic Disney vacation (aren’t they all?) that included an unexpected, wonderful surprise!  VIP seating for the afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom.  Can you believe it?  Pixie Dust at its best and here’s how it happened:

May 2012.  The Fam and I were headed to Disney World and thought it would be great if Megan and Joseph each brought along a friend.  Joseph’s best friend, Jason, had been on many vacations with us before and was the easy choice for Joseph as a travel buddy.  Megan brought her friend Ashley along.  Ashley was in dire need of a vacay having just graduated from nursing school.  The six of us had a perfect set up in a two bedroom suite at Bay Lake Tower, so off we went.

DWR2009 055On our Magic Kingdom day, we arrived for the opening celebration with a carefully constructed morning touring plan and a free afternoon to do as we pleased.  I was trying out a new strategy I had read about online – once into the park, immediately take the train to Frontier Land, beating all the guests on foot and putting yourself at an advantage for getting on those two very best Frontier Land rides: Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Oh, there were doubters among us.  My plan deviated from tradition and, when we reached the steps to the train, they were closed off – I stood firm (this did prove to be an excellent strategy). Shortly we found ourselves on the train platform with very few other riders, waiting to board.

I have this habit of always looking at Cast Members’ name badges.  I find it interesting to note where everyone is from – listed right below their name is their home town.  On this particular day, when I glanced at the name badge on the Cast Member nearest to me on the train platform, I thought it said the name of his hometown was the (small) city where I work.  Surely I was mistaken, certainly my eyes were playing tricks on me and the state was probably IA instead of LA – I waited for him to turn back to me.  YES!  This gentleman was from home!!! 

IMG_5171I was so excited to tell him we were basically from his “neighborhood” and he seemed genuinely happy to meet us and discuss things from home for a minute while we boarded the train.  As we got ready to steam off towards Frontier Land, he asked our names and if we would be in the park all day and when we said YES – he told us the Cast Members at VIP parade seating would be waiting for us so we could enjoy a very special parade viewing experience.

Let me tell you – of all the magical things that have happened to me over the years at Disney World,IMG_5200 this ranks among the very best.  About 30 minutes before the parade was scheduled to begin, we found the VIP seating – in a shady spot on ornate white iron benches along the bridge that passes between the hub at the top of Main Street and Liberty Square.  Before the parade began, we had time to sit and relax…some of us even enjoyed a snack.  The Cast Members making their pre-parade route inspections carried misting fans and smiled as they sprayed us on their way by.  This was an IMG_5203unbelievable, unobstructed parade view – with tons of VIP character interaction.  Because the bridge is closed to everyone not IN the parade, we were front and center to all the action. 

 I’ve always loved the Magic Kingdom parade, but on this day it was especially (indescribably) fun and we did feel like very special VIPs every minute. 


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Disney Collectibles – Lunchboxes



As a family, we hoard collect things.  As Disney People, we tend to collect Disney things in particular.

As far as Disney collecting goes, Raymond favors pins and watches, Megan, clothes and purses, I like Disney kitchen and home goods and Joseph – well, Joe’s a collector of a different sort.

Disney Collectibles – Lunchboxes

Joseph can best be described as an “old soul”.  He sprang from the womb as a wise and worldly little guy with a particular passion for antiques.  This took a bit of adjustment on our part – as a mother, who really expects their four year old to kiss them on the forehead and say, “You’re a lovely girl”?  Or ASK to go antique shopping in the first grade?  Joe was an American Picker long before we’d ever heard of Mike or Frank or Antique Archaeology.  Once our little antique collector could read, Raymond taught Joseph how to search for items on ebay and, with a little adult supervision, bid on treasures he was interested in owning.  Most of the time, that meant Disney collectibles.

Among his first ebay purchases, Joseph chose (over several months) four Disney lunchboxes.  To a guy born in 1995, cool stuff from the ’70’s was really old!  I believe the price heIMG_2219 paid for each was in the $8 to $10 range and the lunchboxes were all missing their thermoses.  I had quite a time explaining how brokenhearted a grade-schooler in the ’60’s and ’70’s was when their thermos shattered, ruining the hot soup or cold milk accompanying their sandwich that day – seized by a teacher when the telltale rattle was heard from inside the thermos’s broken interior – and coldly, unceremoniously, chucked in the trash.  The sadness was nearly indescribable.  Yes, why indeed, did they allow children to carry liquids to school in such a fragile container – covered in beloved cartoon characters?  I didn’t have a satisfactory answer for that.

IMG_2226The oldest in Joe’s collection is the Jungle Book lunchbox.  Dating from 1968, it features Baloo and King Louie with Mowgli and Shanti (originally called only “The Girl” until Jungle Book 2) and some monkeys on the top.  Baloo, Mowgli, Shanti, and Bagheera on the bottom.  It’s a little dented and scratched, but the colors are still bright.  Really, it looks pretty good for 45 years old!


Next in age, is the Pinocchio lunchbox from 1971.  This one’s the most worn, but still has good colors and detail.  The top features Pinocchio and Jiminy CricketIMG_2218 heading off to school.  The bottom features a very angry Monstro, the whale that swallows Geppetto, Figaro, and Cleo in the movie.  Trivia tidbit for you – Monstro was voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft (“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…”).  On the bottom’s lower left corner, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Figaro, and Cleo are shown fleeing Monstro on a raft.  Cleo, especially, is hard to make out due to wear and rust.IMG_2222




The final two lunchboxes both date from 1976 andIMG_2221 are in the best condition.

The Winnie the Pooh lunchbox features Pooh enjoying some honey and hanging with his buddies from the Hundred Acre Woods (Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, and Roo) on the top and Kanga joins the gang on the bottom as poor, sad Eeyore hauls a cart of IMG_2223honey jars.




Last but certainly not least, Joseph (wise beyond his years) scored a Walt Disney World lunchbox in great condition.  Mickey and the gang, riding the Disney World Railroad, are featured on the top along with iconic Disney World theme park images (Cinderella Castle, Monorail, Main Street Trolley).  The bottom is the best!  Country Bear Jamboree in all its original glory!  I don’t know about Joe, but this one’s my favorite.  Do you suppose he’d mind if I started using it to take my lunch to work?