Haunted Mansion Playset – Flea Market Treasures

Today’s Saturdays with Nick article features my all time favorite of Nick’s many flea market finds.  As a huge Haunted Mansion fan, I confess I’m positively Goofy-hat-green with envy over this incredible discovery!

Haunted Mansion Playset – Flea Market Treasures

By Nick

Walking around the Columbus New Jersey Flea Market back in April, I stopped by a friend’s table to say hello, and saw this Haunted Mansion Monorail Playset.

I confess, I didn’t have a clue as to how much this set went for originally, or how much it was worth, but I of course asked how much. The Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

When she told me $5, I was very pleasantly surprised.

There are some fun accessories, including the Hitchhiking Ghosts.

Out of the box.

It opens from the back.

The stairs swing out revealing more of the interior.

A  lot from the ride is represented including the floating instruments and the dining room.

The organ, floating candelabra, and portrait gallery.
The library,  the changing portrait of Master Gracey, and a view of the cemetery from above.
The accessories in addition to the Hitchiking Ghosts include the creepy chair, clock, and Madame Leota’s crystal ball.
If all that awesomeness wasn’t enough, it also has flashing lights and sound!
All in all, a really great collectible and one of my best ever flea market finds.

Thoughts on the Disney Fan Community

Castle-PictureIt’s that time of year.  You know, when even the least warm and fuzzy among us are prone to some sort of sappy sentimantality.  I’ll cry during a Hallmark commercial, so I’m especially susceptible to all the nostalgic and happy feelings brought on by the holiday season.  I’m a little more patient (or I should say, I’m actually a little patient), I try my best to slow down and enjoy each sweet and precious moment with friends and family, and I reflect more on where I’ve been and where I’d like to go (in both figurative and litteral ways).  Which, of course, brought me to today’s topic.

Thoughts on the Disney Fan Community

1. Our common love draws us close. It’s been well over a year now since I started writing articles for Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos, since I started my own blog, and since I began to truly participate in the Disney Fan Community. Prior to that, I mainly listened to Disney podcasts and read an occasional interesting-sounding blog article. I didn’t know what I was missing. My passion for Disney is generally little-understood by my friends and coworkers, but those podcast hosts and bloggers? They speak my language. I’ve always enjoyed Magic Kingdom / Cinderella Castlehearing and reading about people who “get” why I love Disney so much. Then I realized that you can, through the wonders of social media, engage with these people on a (somewhat) personal level and before I knew it, I had a new group of friends! Some from as far away as Great Britain, Australia, The Netherlands and Japan, New Jersey even!

2. In 140 characters or less. Twitter is probably my favorite place to “hang out” with other Disney fans. The hosts of all my favorite podcasts engage listeners via Twitter and within the confines of that limited number of words, entertaining discussions are taking place all the time. I’m incredibly humbled and appreciative of the number of my own Twitter (and Facebook) followers that regularly read my blog and make comments to me about an article I’ve written or question I’ve posed. If you’ve ever met me, you’ll have noticed that I say what I think. If there’s a Disney food, movie, attraction, resort or lumberjack show I don’t like, I’ll say so. It doesn’t mean for a nanosecond that I don’t love Disney – I can love Epcot's Iconic Spaceship Earthsomething in spite of its imperfections and I cannot pretend to agree with or like every individual part that makes up the whole. Lots of Tweeps seem to feel the same way and are accepting of my tendency to voice my opinions (which are many).

3. An ever expanding circle of friends. What wonderful friends I’ve made! Real ones. Friends I’ve met face to face. Friends who I’ve been fortunate to get to know as people, not just as a podcast host, blogger or Twitter handle. Generous, caring, lovely people who have shared life’s ups and downs with me while we’ve supported, cheered, and picked each other up along the way. I love you guys!

4. Lively discussions and debates are the best! Nothing delights me more than a good exchange of thoughts and ideas. Especially from differing points of view. Honestly, my very favorite podcasts are the ones that cause me to yell at my car stereo – sometimes in outrage, sometimes in support. I’ve been super fortunate to have been invited to make a guest IMG_2862“appearance” on several of the podcasts I enjoy and when you gather around the old Skype to talk Disney, the most fun comes from what we don’t agree on rather than what we do.

5. Trolls, nitwits, and stranger danger still exist – Fortunately, the vast majority of Disney fans that congregate to share their passion on social media are kind. But not all people are there for the same reason – sadly, some people only come to complain or create drama (or worse). A word of caution if you’re just joining in on the fun: Open Facebook groups appear to be the most fraught with potential danger – especially the ones with moderators that seem to thrive on the sensationalism and accompanying drama of some of the posts and comments. Occasionally, those situations rapidly decline into what amounts to nothing but a demonstration of how childish and intolerant people can be – that is not a part of the Disney fan community I understand or wish to be a part of. It’s easy to avoid, luckily.

Ready for Toy Story Midway ManiaSo, during this season of being thankful and remembering what peace on Earth and goodwill towards humankind is all about, I wanted to take a minute to tell you how much you mean to me. For every Facebook “like” and comment, for every Tweet, retweet and message of support, for every email, and every shout-out, I’m grateful for the chance to join along with you in our shared love for Disney.

From our family to yours:  Wishing you all a very safe, happy, and peaceful holiday season.

And may you get every present on your Disney wish list…Lisa

Disney World – Cruisin’ on the Liberty Belle

RM-Liberty-Belle-View-on-Deck You can see her and hear her and, let’s be completely honest, avoid her for the undeniable yawn potential, but the Liberty Belle is an iconic and important part of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  Let’s give her a little love today, hmm?

As you walk between Liberty Square and Frontierland, the gorgeous and majestic Liberty Belle paddle-wheeler calmly glides through the Rivers of America.  I think she gets too little attention – she’s not nearly as fun as the Haunted Mansion nor is she as thrilling as Big Thunder Mountain – for sure she doesn’t offer the big drops or adorable singing characters like Splash Mountain.  So what’s the draw?  What does the Liberty Belle have to offer? A wonderful glimpse into the past!  A completely different view of the Magic Kingdom and some of our most favorite attractions!  Need a different perspective on what’s magical about the Magic Kingdom?  Hop aboard and set sail on an incredible adventure.RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort

I know what you’re thinking and it’s true – If you rode around Tom Sawyer Island on any of the Liberty Belle’s predecessors, you’ll remember a few things that were a bit more exciting in the past, but there are still some pretty awesome sights to see!  We rode the Liberty Belle recently on a hot and sunny October afternoon – I will freely admit that I was roasting on deck in the sun and, oh, I could say something like “glistening” or “glowing” in that Florida heat, but truth is, I was sweating like a pig.  I stayed glued to the railing all the same.  Why?  The sights, I tell you, there are cool things to see!!!  Step onto the boat and get upstairs pronto.  Have your camera ready!RM-Liberty-Belle-Haunted-Mansion-View

Once the Liberty Belle pulls away from the dock, passengers are treated to a leisurely cruise along the Rivers of America.  From the top deck, I had an excellent view of the Haunted Mansion.  RM-Liberty-Belle-View-BTMRRRM-Liberty-Belle-GeysersThen I was fascinated by an amazing view of Big Thunder Mountain – with Splash Mountain in the distance.

RM-Liberty-Belle-Frontierland-VeiwRM-Liberty-Belle-Parade-View2 RM-Liberty-Belle-Parade-View1It was just after 3:00 pm and the Festival of Fantasy parade was beginning to snake its way through Frontierland – I could see some of the beautiful parade floats.  I darted from one side of the boat to the other, to the back…uhm, stern, I mean, then to the bow and started the process all over again.  Raymond, used to my adventure-taking style, found a place to relax and attempt to stay cool.RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort2

After we left Liberty Square and Frontierland behind, we entered a part of Magic Kingdom many people dismiss or ignore.  RM-Liberty-Belle-Faux-Fauna RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort2 RM-Liberty-Belle-Forest-ViewFaux Fauna, Fort Langhorn, an early American settlement, a Native American village – complete with realistic animatronics, Wilson’s Cave Inn, and so much more!

RM-Liberty-Belle-Village3 RM-Liberty-Belle-Village2 RM-Liberty-Belle-VillageRM-Liberty-Belle-HideoutRemember, if you last took a cruise aboard the Liberty Belle as a young ‘un, it’s time to give it another try!  Keep your eyes peeled.  There are plenty of surprises in store for your 17-minute adventure into America’s past.RM-Liberty-Belle-Rivers-of-America RM-Liberty-Belle-View2 RM-Liberty-Belle-View-Castle RM-Liberty-Belle-Rapunzel's-Tower-View RM-Liberty-Belle-HM-Queue

Your turn – when’s the last time YOU took a trip on the Liberty Belle?

DVC – Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

RM-Grand-Floridian-EntranceWe couldn’t be happier with our home a way from home at Bay Lake Tower.  For us, being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom makes BLT the perfect location for our family’s Disney Vacation Club membership.  There are so many (and more on the way) Disney Vacation Club locations to choose from, there’s a perfect place for just about any Walt Disney World fan’s style and location preference.  So, whether you want to be close to the action (like us) or relaxing in what seems like a slice of paradise completely removed from the parks’ hustle and bustle – there’s a place for everyone!  You don’t have to be a DVC member to stay in a DVC resort, you can pay cash for available rooms or rent points for your stay through a reputable company that specializes in matching members’ unused points with people who need them.

On our last visit to Walt Disney World, we couldn’t resist taking a tour of the new Villas at the Grand Floridian.  A resort near and dear to my heart, the Grand Floridian was the first place I ever stayed on Disney property nearly 25 years ago.  RM-VGF-LobbyI love the entire resort’s décor, the architecture, the restaurants, the shops and location on the monorail loop.  We’d heard the new DVC accommodations were spectacular and wanted to check them out for ourselves.  The Grand Floridian’s DVC building is packed with details that are both welcoming and fancy.  It’s bright, cheerful and inviting.RM-VGF-Lobby-Decorative-Details

RM-VGF-Lobby-SeatingWe had enough time one afternoon to whoosh on over via monorail (that’s always how it feels to me- love the whoosh!) and satisfy our curiosity.  The lovely woman (I feel bad for forgetting her name!) at the Grand Floridian’s DVC kiosk was more than happy to show us around.  The lobby is both elegant and whimsical – a theme that extended to every room we toured.RM-VGF-Lobby-ElevatorBeautiful décor, high-end finishes, and those magical Disney details were abundant – some people might find it all a bit fussy, but to Raymond and I, it was full of charm, romance, and surprises!

RM-VGF-BedroomThere are 147 villas which consist of studios (sleep up to 5), one and two bedroom villas (sleep 5-10), and Grand Villas (sleep up to 12), all located in one building.  Yes, with only 147 “rooms”, there’s a sense of urgency created for buying points before they sell out.  We just wanted to see what the rooms looked like so we could maybe use our existing points to stay there someday.  With such limited availability though, we know our best chance of staying there will definitely be in the off season!RM-VGF-Living-Room-Sofa

What made the biggest impression on us is the family-friendliness of the accomodations.  The perfect combination of luxury and comfort.

RM-VGF-Kitchenette RM-VGF-Kitchen RM-VGF-Kitchen-SinkNot that I would want to spend much time cooking on vacation, but the kitchenette in the studio and the full-sized kitchen in the two-bedroom are fantastic.

RM-VGF-Vanity RM-VGF-Vanity-SinkRM-VGF-TubThe bathrooms are amazing.  No, really.  They are.  All nine of the people who could stay in a two bedroom villa could all fit into the shower with room to spare!

RM-VGF-Hidden-Bed RM-VGF-Hidden-BedMy absolute favorite part is the fold-down bed hidden in the dresser (under the TV stand).  How fun for a little one to fall asleep with Dumbo!  The artwork is wonderful.  We were completely in love with this DVC area by the time our tour ended.  We have moved this place to the top of our must-stay list for future vacations!

Have you stayed in a DVC resort?  Are you a DVC member?  Which is your favorite place to stay?