I always think of April as the time for new beginnings, with all the flowers and trees blooming and baby birds starting to chirp away, so this shot we captured on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland last April is a perfect April calendar shot for me
Archive for month: March, 2012
It’s been a week and a half since our trip to Marceline but the sights I saw and the people I met are still very fresh in my mind and will certainly remain so for a long time to come.
It was quite an experience to visit the town where Walt spent some of his childhood years and I think even now, more than a 100 years later, the town has that special quality that was such an influence and inspiration to Walt in his later years. A big part of that specialness is the current residents. Every single person we met was so welcoming and really made us feel like a part of the Marceline family. Kaye Malins, the director of the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and her team of volunteers did a fabulous job making sure that we were all well taken care of and that we had a great time. If you ever find yourself in Missouri, I highly recommend making a stop in Marceline – you won’t be disappointed!
Of course the day wouldn’t have been possible without the work of the awesome D23 team. That team, along with several folks from the Walt Disney Archives made sure the day went smoothly from start to finish. The great thing about the team is that you can tell they are all big Disney fans themselves. They enjoy experiencing all these things just as much as we do, which I think is one of the reasons why the D23 events I’ve attended are always very special.
Another great thing about this event, and really ANY D23 event is just the opportunity to connect with other Disney fans. Other than Colorado Dad, I don’t have any other close friends that share my Disney obsession, so having events like these where I can meet other Disney fans in person is great. In Marceline, we were able to reconnect with some friends we’ve met before and we met several new people that I’m sure we’ll keep in touch with going forward.
I’m often asked if I feel like being a D23 member is worth the price. I’m a gold member, so also receive the magazine, which I love and look forward to every quarter, but the real value I get is from the events. It’s true that many of the events are in California, so we don’t get to attend many of them, but I’ve been able to attend at least 2 events per year and every one of them has been an awesome experience. For us, being D23 members is definitely worth it and we are looking forward to attending more events in the future.
Make sure to check out D23′s recap of the Journey to Marceline for lots of additional pictures showcasing more of the amazing town of Marceline! And don’t forget to read Part 1 and Part 2 of my trip report if you’ve missed them
This week’s blog hop theme is “Disney Icons” and really, there’s nothing more exciting to me than seeing each park’s unique icon for the first time as you’re entering the park. But, for me, the icon that always makes me get that “Ah…I’m back!” feeling is a little less typical, I think. When I visit the Disneyland Resort, I always get that feeling not from the train station or even the castle, but instead it comes when I see the BACK of this building.
Why the back, you ask? Well, that’s what you can see from outside the park when you’re driving down either Harbor Blvd or Katella Ave, and EVERY time I see it, I get that little flutter of excitement in my stomach knowing that within a few short minutes, I’ll be back at my “happy place”
In part 1 of my trip report, I covered the first half of the day, including our warm welcome by the students of Marceline, our trip to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and more.
After our yummy lunch, we had the opportunity to visit Marceline’s elementary school, aptly named Walt Disney Elementary. The school was built in 1960 and as part of it’s opening, Walt commissioned Disney artist (and Disney Legend) Bob Moore to create some original artwork that is still hanging in the school today. Walking into the school, you immediately know this is a special place.
The artwork extends into the gymnasium and covers all four walls with images from Goofy to Donald to Alice.
The school’s motto is “Where the magic of learning begins” which is perfect for a place with a very special past.
After visiting the school, we had a little bit of time to walk around Main St. Walt’s memories of the town and particularly it’s Main St., gave him inspiration when he was building his own Main St. at Disneyland and you can definitely see some similarities, and some familiar stores.
There were several shops selling antiques, jewelry and lots of Disney memorabilia. We had a great time browsing in the stores and talking to all of the Marceline folks. They were so welcoming and excited for us to be there. Almost everyone we spoke with had some personal story about meeting Walt on one of his trips back to town and it quickly became clear to us that Walt had a huge impact on this small community.
After our stroll along Main St., we headed to the Uptown Theater, where we were going to be treated to a screening of “So Dear To My Heart”, a movie that was influenced by Walt’s childhood years in Marceline. The theater has been used twice for Disney movie premieres and Walt visited in 1956 for the “Great Locomotive Chase” premiere. Before the movie started, we saw a skit done by “Walt” and “Ruth”, two Marceline children who spent the day as two of our hosts and were so sweet. Dave Smith, founder and Chief Archivist Emeritus of the Disney Archives, shared a few memories from his first visit to Marceline in 1971 and then we settled in to watch the movie.
The movie was cute – I hadn’t seen it for many, many years and was a nice afternoon break.
From there, we boarded the buses and headed out to the site of Walt’s childhood home. The house itself is privately owned and is not open for tours at this point, but close to the house is Walt’s “Dreaming Tree” – a favorite hangout for both Walt and Ruth and a spot that inspired Walt’s drawing and storytelling. “Walt” and “Ruth” introduced us to the Dreaming Tree and then another Marceline resident, Chris Ankeney, whose family has been in the area for 4 generations, shared some of her family’s memories of the Disney’s time in Marceline.
A short distance past the tree, Walt’s barn, where he first dabbled in entertainment by putting on a “circus” for his friends, has been restored. The barn has turned into a memorial of sorts, where Disney fans from all over the world have visited and left messages for Walt on the walls and beams.
Each one of us was encouraged to leave our own message or signature in the barn and we all did so while enjoying a glass of Missouri wine while watching the sunset. What a gorgeous area this was, and I could certainly see how the area must have been very inspiring for Walt. It was a great experience and a wonderful end to the day…although we weren’t done yet!
Our evening finally ended with a trip back to the center of town, where we were treated to a farewell dinner, Missouri-style. All the food was delicious and included roast beef, turkey, carrots, green beans and mashed potatoes. Dessert included peach cobbler and a chocolate pie, which I was told was an “icebox” pie. During dessert, a group of singers seranaded us with a song about Marceline that was sung during the opening of EPCOT. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!
Reluctantly, we said goodbye to our new friends from Marceline and boarded the buses for our trip back to Kansas City. The ride back was quiet and uneventful as everyone relaxed and, I’m sure, thought back over the amazing day spent in Marceline!
My final thoughts on the event are coming up in Part 3.
I have always been fascinated by Walt Disney and how he got started, so when D23 announced their tour to Marceline, MO, where Walt spent his childhood, I signed up as soon as I could. The trip was an amazing experience for Colorado Dad and I and I want to share a bit of our experience with you, so my next few posts will be dedicated to a trip report of our Journey to Marceline.
The experience began at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City so we had to get up bright and early to be ready to go. When we got there, a local television crew was busy interviewing Becky Cline, one of the Walt Disney Archive staff who would be joining the tour, so we joined the rest of the D23 fans who were standing in the background. After Becky’s interview was over, we checked in, got our breakfast to-go box and got on the bus, ready for our 2ish hour drive to Marceline.
Each of the buses was hosted by a Walt Disney Archives staff member as well as a D23 staff member and we were lucky enough to have the best (no, I’m not biased at ALL ) - Justin from the Archives and D23 staffer Jeffery (aka The Disney Geek) on our bus. During the trip, we were treated to some Disney shorts starting with the Laugh-O-Gram Studios “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Alice’s Wild West Show” through to the more recent “Runaway Brain” and one of my favorites, “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater”. After the cartoons, Justin asked us some trivia questions and gave away some cool prizes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to raise my hand among all the other Disney fans, so didn’t win anything
A few miles out of town, we saw the Marceline sign and the level of excitement on the bus raised up a couple notches. We rounded a bend in the road and were met with this
The entire elementary school had come out to welcome us, along with several other Marceline residents. Wow, this was totally unexpected and I’ll admit I got a little emotional. I could tell this was going to be a special day indeed.
After a quick restroom break, we all gathered in front of the local post office, aptly named the Walt Disney Post Office, where the Mayor of Marceline read a proclamation naming March 14th as D23 Day in Marceline! It was also announced that the post office of Marceline had just been awarded a special postmark by the postal service and it was going to be available for use for the first time that day. One lucky member of our D23 group was chosen to be the first person to get the stamp, but again, luck was not on my side, and I was not the chosen one.
After the speeches, our group was divided into two smaller groups, known as the “Engineers” and the Conductors” (a nod to Marceline’s long railroad history) and half of us went off toward the Walt Disney Hometown Museum while the rest of us stayed at the post office to get our special postmark.
After our group finished up at the post office, we walked across the town square toward the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. As we went, our tour guide Edna gave us a little bit of the history of the town. Marceline was founded as a railroad town, a stop for the Santa Fe railroad between Kansas City and Chicago. Although the trains no longer stop at the Marceline train depot, trains are still a huge part of the town’s culture and there are up to 70 trains that pass through town each day. We saw several of them pass through that day and it made it easy to see where Walt Disney’s love of trains may have started!
The building that houses the museum began it’s life as the city’s train depot but is now used 100% for the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. The museum started back in 2001 after Ruth Disney Beecher, Walt’s younger sister, passed away and her estate donated a large number of artifacts to the town of Marceline. Kaye Malin, who runs the museum, welcomed us and gave us a bit of an orientation before letting us explore on our own. During our orientation, we found out that Kaye has a very personal link to Walt Disney, whom she met as a young girl when he and Mrs. Disney stayed at her family’s home during his visit to dedicate Marceline’s town swimming pool in 1956. You can tell that meeting Walt had a big impact on Kaye and it was neat to hear all her stories about that time. I’ll leave her stories untold here as I hope you’re able to visit Marceline and speak with Kaye in person some day!
Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed in the museum itself, but we saw some really cool things including Walt’s school desk where he carved his initials, an original Midget Autopia car from Disneyland as well as a myriad of photos, letters, etc. that gave us an inside view into the Disney family. I was amazed to learn that Walt and his family only lived in Marceline for four years before moving to Kansas City, but his time there left a deep and lasting impression.
After our visit to the museum, we headed to the local Masonic temple for lunch, catered by Marceline resident, Debbie Foster. Lunch was simple yet delicious and included sandwiches, a vegetable beef stew that was the best I’ve ever had, and ice cream. While we ate, we were treated to a showing of “Marceline”, a documentary filmed by Andy and Sara Neitzert (who were there with us!). The film includes a series of interviews with several citizens of Marceline (many of whom we met in person) and gives us a glimpse into the town, the amazing people who live there and of course, it’s ties to Walt Disney. It was a great film and I really hope Andy and Sara find wider distribution for it.
In part two of my trip report, I’ll cover the Uptown theater, our visit to Walt’s Happy Place and the Dreaming Tree and why I love D23 events
This past week, Colorado Dad and I got the opportunity to journey to the fine state of Missouri for D23′s Journey to Marceline tour, where we got to visit Walt Disney’s childhood hometown of Marceline, MO. I’m working on a trip report of that amazing day, but for now, I thought I would share a bit of Walt Disney history since it’s Flashback Friday.
By the early 1920s, Walt was living in Kansas City and had opened up a small animation studio called Laugh-O-Gram Studios, where he and a few animation pioneers like Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman and Friz Freleng were working on cartoons like “Little Red Riding Hood” and the “Four Brothers of Bremen” along with the famous Alice shorts that combined live-action with animated cartoon sequences.
While the studio only lasted a few short years, it was the start of greatness for Walt Disney and was, according to Walt, the place where he got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse when he was visited by a real-life mouse who lived in the floorboards of the studio.
Amazingly enough, the building that housed Laugh-O-Gram studios is still standing (after some restoration work was done by a group called “Thank You, Walt Disney”). Colorado Dad and I found out it was just a few blocks away from where we were staying in Kansas City, so made a stop to see it while we were there.
While the outside of the building has been restored, it sadly sits empty, with only some cartoon character drawings covering the windows to hint at it’s original purpose. You can read more about the restoration project at Thank You Walt Disney’s website and if you’re ever in Kansas City, stop by and see the building. It’s a great piece of history and something I think all Walt Disney fans will enjoy seeing.
We are less than 90 days away from our cruise to Alaska, and as I mentioned in a previous post, we have booked all our excursions for each of the days we’re in port. We have some fun things planned, including a ride on the train in Skagway (for Colorado Boy) and a whale watching excursion in Juneau. But, the question I often get is what about things to do on the ship when you’re out at sea? The good news, is there is PLENTY to choose from and you can always find the most up-to-date information in the personal navigator delivered to your stateroom every evening. Here are a few of my family’s favorite activities along with info about which things you need to make sure to schedule ahead of time:
Dining at Palo/Remy: On all four of the Disney ships, you can find Palo, an upscale, adults-only dining room where you can enjoy a fantastic meal while the kids hang out in the kid’s club. In addition to Palo, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have Remy, a super-duper exclusive adults-only restaurant that I can’t wait to try sometime soon. While both Palo and Remy are open for dinner, I also recommend trying Palo for either brunch or high tea. Only available on sea days, both brunch and high tea provide you with an opportunity to enjoy Palo while still being able to go to your normal dining rotation in the evening. We haven’t done high tea, but brunch was the highlight of our cruise last time and we’ve got it booked again for June. Reservations go fast, so make sure to either book online when your booking window opens or check for availability as soon as you board on departure day.
The Spa: Another adults-only location on the ship, Vista Spa (on the Magic and the Wonder) and Senses Spa (on the Dream and Fantasy) provide full spa services and lots of pampering. It’s an additional cost, and can be a little pricey, but both Colorado Dad and I thoroughly enjoyed our spa time during our last cruise. This time around, we’ve booked a couple’s massage on the last day of our cruise to ensure that we are fully relaxed before going back to the real world! Another cost-effective option is to get a pass just for the Rainforest room, which includes heated tile loungers as well as a sauna room, all for $15/day. Again, spa appointments fill up fast, so it’s not a bad idea to book something online beforehand if you know what you want to do. There are daily spa specials that come in your personal navigator, so watch out for those as they can be pretty good deals.
Game Shows: The cruise staff are a busy group as they usually have several activities going during the day, especially on sea days. Some of our favorites are the game shows like “So You Want to Be a Mouseketeer” and “Mickey Mania” which are typically trivia-based “gameshows” with lots of audience participation. The whole family has a great time at these, but if you can, I also suggest trying to get down to the adult-only area in the evening when they run adult-only versions of some of the games. Colorado Dad and I did these on our last cruise and I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time. Not sure if we’ll be able to swing the adult versions on our June cruise, but will definitely take in some of the family versions.
Bingo: Disney doesn’t have a casino onboard, but don’t worry, you can get your gambling fix by playing bingo! Colorado Boy and I were sucked in to this on one Caribbean cruise and it’s what he seems to be the most excited about for June. (“Alaska will be neat, but I can’t wait to play BINGO!” is what he told me the other day ) There are a couple bingo sessions each day and there are both cash prizes as well as giveaways like pins, spa certificates, etc. In addition, there’s a grand prize jackpot that accumulates throughout the cruise and is given away on the last day. The cruise staff who run the games are hilarious and it’s something the whole family can participate in, if you’re ok with the kids being involved in this type of activity. You don’t have to sign up for it ahead of time, just show up a few minutes before the session starts so you can buy your cards.
Tastings (Beer, Wine, Mojitos, etc.): These 30-minute sessions provide you with an opportunity to learn about a particular type of alcoholic beverage while tasting some things that you might not be familiar with. On our last cruise, Colorado Dad and I did the mojito/caipirinha tasting and we learned a lot of new information and I tried a caipirinha for the first time. Obviously these are adults-only sessions, but if the kids are busy in the clubs and you have 30 minutes or so to spare before dinner or your evening show, I recommend doing at least one of these. There is a bit of a fee – I think it was $15 each, but it’s a pretty good deal for the experience. And, it never hurts to become more acquainted with the bartendars around the ship!
So, these are some of our favorites, but I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite cruise activity?
My mom was looking through some of our old family photos last weekend and came across some from our first trip to Disneyland (actually to ANY Disney park) when I was 6-years-old, so I thought these would be perfect to share for Flashback Friday. Please join me as we take the wayback machine to…1981.
Here I am, with my Mickey balloon and a Donald Duck button. What more could a 6-year-old possibly need for a great day at Disney? Normally, I’d crop this to remove those random people, but thought it would be good to see the background for a little perspective. The thing in the top left of the picture above the monorail track is the Matterhorn.
This next picture struck me. It doesn’t come across quite as clearly on the scan of the picture, but it appears to me that the castle is white! Or, if it IS pink, it’s not nearly as pink as it is today. But there are other changes that have occurred sometime in the past 30 years too – I’ve included a pic we took of the castle in January 2012 so you can see how much it’s changed.
And then there were the characters. Some great, “old” characters were still out, but it’s amazing how different Pooh looked! And even though I have fond childhood memories of being able to visit with characters without first standing in a line, the reality of that time is pretty clear in these pictures – it was VERY hard to get a clear shot with just you and the characters, so I can certainly see why they changed it!
Oh, and if I’m recognizing that groovy space age wall that’s in the last picture, that’s Pooh, hanging out in…Tomorrowland. How bizarre!
Thanks to Colorado Mom for finding the pictures to take us on this wayback adventure to the Happiest Place on Earth circa 1981!
Our past three trips to Walt Disney World have been during the Flower and Garden Festival at EPCOT, so you’d think I would have a lot of great photos to choose from for this week’s theme, but I could only find a couple, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite topiaries from our trip in 2009.
The pic is horribly lit and I clearly wasn’t paying much attention to where the sun was in relation to my subject, but I just love this cute canine couple