Collecting at WDW

I am behind, so behind, on listening to the three podcasts I haven’t abandoned because…time. So, this is a response to a month old WDWRadio podcast about things to collect at Walt Disney World. I am a collector, less so now than when I was a kid. As a kid, I may have been more a borderline hoarder. I am more selective these days but the collections I still have almost all have a Disney tie. Exhibits A-D:

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A recent snapshot of my WDW pin collection; still have room to grow!

1) Pins. Let’s start with the obvious one when it comes to me. Mom and Dad had no idea what they were starting when they brought me that first lanyard with four tiny little pins from each park back in 2000. I outgrew the lanyards a long time ago and display my collection on a pegboard now. I know, I know. You’re supposed to wear and trade them but I put a lot of thought into my pins. I pick characters or movies to hunt out each trip or buy pins to commemorate certain events I attend in the parks or even certain trips. These are touchstones for me, not something to trade away. I bought a Cinderella pin the year I did WDW with my best friend from high school and that’s her favorite character. I hunted an entire trip to find a Hunchback of Notre Dame pin one year (I finally hunted it up in the Animation store at DHS – I really miss that store). I have pins from all the festivals I’ve gotten to (Flower & Garden, Food & Wine). Each party I’ve gotten to attend has a pin; I have pins for things that don’t exist anymore (Osborne Spectacular of Lights is one of my favorite pins). I expanded my collection to include Disneyland pins for my first trip back to the original parks in 2012 and then for my trip last year in 2016. I love looking on my board and remembering where all the pins came from and which trip they belong to.

2) Maps. In re-organizing my giant memory chest a year or so ago, I found I’d stopped collecting these (I hadn’t really realized I was collecting them). I meant to start back up this year but I rely so much on the app now, I never think to grab a map as a souvenir. I’ll go again at least once this year so I need to get maps! As a kid though, I was religious in keeping a map from each park for each trip and they are a blast to look through now. To watch the parks grow and change over time is a true Disney Nerd moment.

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I am especially proud of that bottom middle one! RIP Discovery Island

3) Postcards. These are something else I often buy but don’t think that I’m collecting them per say. However, I have postcards everywhere – whether it’s a postcard of the parks or a postcard version of a piece of art I couldn’t afford – I have tons of these, some out for display but most stored away. I always had in the back of my mind I would frame and display all these eventually. Maybe someday I will. I really should just go for a “Disney Wall” some place in my apartment and see what I end up with.

 

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Apparently, I really liked that one that I bought it twice LOL

 

4) Books. Disney, hear me out. Give me a bookstore in Disney Springs already. Just take my money! I will give it to you. I have to hunt for books in the parks these days. There used to be some guarantee go-to spots to find them but even most of those are gone now (The Writer’s Stop, The Animation Shop (we lost so much when this went away clearly), the book wall in World of Disney). As a bookworm, I love to pick up books when I travel. As a kid, I collected the Disney history books in the parks including the coveted Since the World Began by Jeff Kurtti which I lugged all over the Magic Kingdom one trip (I just had to buy it early in the day). These days I pick up books wherever I can find them on property. The gift shop tucked back in Fantasyland often has some of the Beauty and the Beast books being published (though not all of them, Belle is disappointed in you Disney). You can also usually hunt out the Figment comics in the gift shop after the ride and, oddly enough, I have good luck finding them at the Contemporary Resort. I may have swooned on my last Disneyland trip when I found an ENTIRE WALL of books in the shop attached to their Animation area. Seriously Disney, take all the books (your publishing arm pushes out enough of them) and put them in a small shop in Disney Springs. I could probably single-handedly keep it open for you.

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I am alive!

So, September. Been a month of ups and downs for me. I started out with a fun stomach virus that wouldn’t go away, developing a fun infection from it that landed me in the ER a day before a hurricane was slated to arrive in Tallahassee and on the day I was supposed to drive down to Orlando to start a vacation. So, vacation started two days later after the storm had passed and I was on the mend. After a drive that normally takes me 4 hours took almost 7, I finally landed in my happy place.

I have written before, and I am sure I will again, about why I keep going back to the land of the Mouse. In many ways, it is going home. I grew up there. I am happy, safe, and content there. Even amongst the crowds and crying children. The heat was not fun this trip and the World was looking less than its best after a hurricane eye barreled through it a few days prior. But it was still home.

on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

My nephew meeting Eeyore for the first time. Photo: Scott Thomas

There is also the added joy of getting to share that all with my nephew. This was his first official “trip” to WDW; he’d been for a day here and there since he’s growing up so close to the World. This was the trip of his first breakfast at Crystal Palace (loved the characters!) and his first ride on Dumbo (he was unimpressed). I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. The wonder as he meets characters is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. He won’t remember it but I will and that’s the point. At this age, you’re not taking the kids for them. It’s for you. So you have that moment, that memory, to call upon on the days you’re stuck in meetings or the car is breaking down or, and this will happen, the day when he’s older and having a meltdown in the middle of Main Street USA.

Another reason to keep going is there is always something new to try or see or ride. I finally had time this trip to try out Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. It’s an interactive scavenger hunt/card game that you play throughout the park. It’s free with admission and comes with fun trading cards that you get a new set every trip! Fun souvenirs and free! You don’t find that often at Disney. Dad and I had fun wandering through the park, finding the different kiosks to play the game. And getting schooled by the kids playing it in front of us but hey, the eight-year-old had good advice for this novice!

We tried another new scavenger hunt at Epcot, the Remy Hunt and Squeak that is part of the Food & Wine Festival. This was harder than it looked! We never did find the one in the Outpost but successfully hunted up Remy in all the countries and booths to be rewarded with a Remy keychain in the end. Being on the mend from stomach flu, I could not partake in Food and Wine as hardily as I would have liked but I did pick up some creme brulee with raspberries in France. I am only so strong in resisting.

Bonus, my parents hadn’t done Flight of Passage yet in Pandora so I got to ride with them for their first time. There is nothing cooler than taking people on a new ride when you know what’s coming and they don’t! As expected, they really enjoyed it and I did too for the second time around. One of the coolest attractions Disney has put out in years in my opinion. I also talked them into trying the Satu’li Canteen one night which remains delicious (I tried a bowl this time – that beef was so good, even at the end of the night!)

I am working through my post-trip slump now but I’ll come out of it. Trying to figure out if I can fit a quick two days in at the parks before a trip home in November 😉 One can never have too many trips to WDW in one year after all.

 

Recent Journeys

Two weeks ago (good grief, how does time go so quickly?!), I was on vacation. I needed it. Spring has been sluggish for me. I’ve had a hard time getting a rhythm going so I looked forward to a change of scenery for a week to just give myself a chance to re-set.

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Seriously, he’s adorable and never stops moving (nor has he learned where a camera is yet LOL)

I started out my week with family. My nephew is already getting ridiculously big and has the best smile. I even successfully stayed alone with him while his parents had some pool time. Yes, he was mostly asleep for that time but small victories people. I am not a baby person. We also went and frolicked at IKEA for an afternoon – I do enjoy a good walk through IKEA even if the crowds are ridiculous.

I then went off to Walt Disney World for a few days. This was big for me as it was my first official solo trip in which I was on my own for the entire time. I kind of adored it. I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s whims but mine. I could go on attractions I hadn’t been on in forever or wait in lines for those that I enjoy but the others could care less about. I could decide to watch the parade or the night shows or go do something else while those went off. I didn’t have much of a plan. Which for Disney these days means I knew exactly what parks I would be in, what attractions I would be riding, what shows I would watch when and where I was eating at all times. But I didn’t know what I was doing in between my plans and that was delightful.

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The food in Pandora is pretty (and tasty too!)

I will note I got to see all the new things at WDW and I enjoyed them all. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Animal Kingdom’s newest land, Pandora, since I got back (I managed to avoid most spoilers before my visit) and I have to say, I agree at times and other times I wonder if I visited a different place LOL as those bloggers and podcasters. Pandora is small but that’s the point. Disney Imagineering is trying to create a very personal, intimate experience with Pandora and I think they mostly succeed. There are kinks to work out but there always are with new attractions. Pandora is gorgeous; easily one of the loveliest things I’ve seen come out of Imagineering in my lifetime. It is different from day to night in a way we haven’t seen in the parks before. Both the official attractions are gorgeous; one worth the wait and one not in my opinion but that is usually the way of it right? For me, Flight of Passage was incredible. I think next time I ride Soarin’, I’ll feel like I’m on an antique. It was grandiose and yet so much…my experience. I rode a Banshee; there were other people in the room at the time but I couldn’t have told you they were there. I flew; I felt that animal breathing underneath me. I don’t know how they did that but I adored every minute of it and would happily wait for it a couple times next trip to do it again. The other ride? Has an audio animatronic to die for. It’s beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s also really short. Far too short for the amount of time you wait to board your boat. And also, any bets on how much time passes before that audio animatronic has technical problems? We’re still waiting for the yeti to be fixed…At least Everest has a ride without the yeti. Take away the Shaman from that ride and you just have a really short pretty boat ride.

I critique because I love of course. I always want them to keep moving their ideas forward and keep wowing me. But keeping what they have up and running is important too. Wowing me was certainly on the menu with Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom. That show is incredible. And overwhelming. There was almost too much going on; I didn’t know whether to watch the fireworks or the Castle projections. So, repeat viewing is a must for this show (as is getting your spot at least an hour early; I was used to Wishes where I could stroll up 30 minutes before and get a good spot so this threw me a bit). I missed the narrative of Wishes a lot; HEA is just sort of an compilation of greatest hits and current favorites. I ADORED that Hunchback of Notre Dame got some serious love from this show; a lot of “forgotten” or often overlooked Disney characters poked their heads up in this one and I can only applaud that. The Disney geeks will always want more of that for ourselves and also so we can share those movies with the new generations. Yes, I love Frozen but it was nice, like I said, to see Quasi get his moment center stage too.

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Best part of the reunion was hanging with this crew for the weekend

After I let my inner eight year run rampant, I headed north so my inner 20 year could re-visit undergrad. It was time for my ten year reunion at Gettysburg College. I find it so hard to believe it’s been ten years. In so many ways, I feel am the same kid who lived there for four years and in so many ways, I know I am not. I especially loved getting to room with my Senior year roommates again and just be around friends for a weekend. I am coming up on five years in Tallahassee; the longest I have lived anywhere since finishing undergraduate studies at Gettysburg and I’m feeling that a bit. It’s hard to describe exactly. I enjoy my work a lot; always have and I like Tallahassee but I’m still working on making it home and one of the things I’ve never quite succeeded in doing is finding a solid core group of friends here like I always had at home or in school. It’s different now of course; so much of my age group is married and has young children and doesn’t have time, or make time, for friendship outside of those groups. Which is fine and I understand. It’s just…it would be nice to have some of my oldest friends closer geographically for sure. So, I clearly just need to travel to visit people more. The whole student-loans-take-over-my-bank-account lifestyle will just have to take a hike and I’ll fly around and visit people instead.

So, that is what I have been up to. I need to do a reading round-up here and share a few recent recipes (as well as an experiment with Hello Fresh!) here too. I’m hoping to get back on a schedule on so many things (cooking! reading! exercising! blogging!) so fingers crossed I can. And oh yeah, work travel next week to add a challenge to scheduling should make this interesting per usual.

Beginning the Year with Austen and Tea

2016 was a lot of ups and downs for me. But on the whole, it was not one of my better years. So, 2017 is going to be about small steps and silver linings (it is; I have as my theme in my new planner). And honestly, 2016 needed one helluva chaser so it was time for some Austen. And tea.

Luckily, Austen fit in well with one of my reading goals. I need to empty my to-read drawer and two books are fit my need for an Austen chaser. I started with the annotated version of Pride & Prejudice that I picked up in the coolest bookstore I have even seen in an airport during my work trip to Milwaukee in November (a trip I’d otherwise happily never think of again as it was over election). It was too good a deal for the copy that I happily hauled the substantial volume back to Tallahassee. This annotated version is edited by David M. Shapard and I’ve seen added his other Austen annotated versions to my reading list. P&P of course can always stand on its own but add in lots of footnotes, explaining language, social customs, Austen’s own experiences as well as literary criticism and this Janeite is in a particularly fabulous nerdy heaven. I savored both re-visiting my second favorite Austen and learning more about all the world it inhabits historically and along the author’s timeline.

Which brought me neatly to a biography on Austen. I’ve read quite a few and honestly, unless someone stumbles across a hitherto unknown cache of Austen letters (swoon at the thought! Can you imagine?!), her story isn’t changing much these days. So finding a new take on her life story was a pleasant surprise. Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things is delightful. It looks at Jane through the window of different objects, big and small, that she either owned or would have interacted with often throughout the course of her life and then frames that chapter around the item and its significance. These range from her writing desk to a bobbin of lace. I have read Byrne’s excellent biography on the actress Mary Robinson so I knew she would do Jane justice and she does (and refrains from too much poetry this time around so gold star for that!). I particularly loved the chapters on her writing desk and her first check from her publisher John Murray. Jane is often presented through the framework of her family but she is at her best in my opinion when she is being presented on her own and shown as the genius she was, even if she deviates them from the usual Austen family memoir line.

These books were just what I needed. I have moved onto Phryne Fisher now (who could not let me down if she tried – she’s too fabulous) and I have a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in the wings so happy reading times ahead!

The Best Beach (Question of the Month)

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North Central Shore, PEI

I am not a beach girl. I love water; would cheerfully live on the water if at all possible (I’m thinking a house boat would be awesome). However, I loathe sand. With everything in me. I hate that it gets everywhere and that no matter how well I rinse my feet off, there will still be sand on them. No matter how much I shake out my towels, there will still be sand on them. For a neat freak like me, it’s sort of the worst thing ever. I also burn to a crisp in the sun pretty easily. I bathe in sunscreen which helps for maybe an hour if I’m lucky before I need to bathe in it again. So, beaches have tended to not be my thing. I live in Florida now and can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a beach in the last four years, including a trip to the red beaches of Prince Edward Island.

So, maybe for me, the best beach is the one of memory. I have very fond memories of my first time spent next to the Atlantic Ocean (or at least the first time I remember). We were staying in Cocoa Beach in Florida for a day or two before catching our first cruise ship. There were shells in the sand, like little treasures to find. I was a big rock collector at the time (growing up along the Great Lakes with their rocky shores, rocks were my shells) so it seems to me that this was the sort of beach I’d only read about in fairy tales and I loved it.

Another beach I remember fondly for a very different reason is Omaha Beach in Normandy. I visited as part of a high school trip my senior year. I still have the little film canister of sand from where I stood on that beach, looking up and marveling at the cliffs. Wondering what on earth had possessed them to think they could make it on D-Day; awed even more by the fact that they did somehow make it work. Later in the same trip I collected a small emptied hotel bottle of sand from the beach at Cannes but I hold the sand of Normandy a bit more dear.

Which brings me back to the red sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island. I should have emptied something to bring some of that glorious sand home with me. I sat and read on that beach and for a moment, lived out a childhood dream of dancing with Anne and Diana on the sand dunes as the sun set over the gulf. It was worth the amount of sand I had to shake out of my jean jacket later.

I will admit to a great fondness for the beaches on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island and I’ll admit even Panama City Beach is slowly growing on me (I went swimming twice last week when I was there for work; I felt like I should alert the media or something). So I am deeply unqualified to really chime in on the best beaches but I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the ones I remember fondly.

So, a month happened…

The last month has been CRAZY! Lots of traveling (for both fun and work), I visited both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, ran a 10K and tried out a new recipe to try and get myself back into my regularly scheduled program. I also only finished books which had nothing to do with my reading goal for the year. When I travel, I find bubblegum for the brain to be what I want to read (aka trashy romance novels). So, while I have been reading, I haven’t made any progress on my reading goal for the year.

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Me, Ally and Mom at Disneyland

So, my mom, sister and I hit up Disneyland for a girls’ trip in mid-April. Sadly, the weather was being very un-Southern California like while we were there (very rainy and cold) but we still had a blast. I liked the parks much better this time around than in 2012 – I think it was because I could actually enjoy the parks and not be running off to a conference for work every few hours. I got to see and do a lot more this time and really enjoy the differences between DL and WDW. I also am jealous of those on the West Coast; the history of the parks seems to be a lot more present in DL especially since they’re celebrating the 60th anniversary right now. WDW doesn’t always harken back to its history well which confuses me. People like me, who grew up on WDW and not DL, always want to see that more but I do understand it’s the effect of the different audiences at both resorts. Disneyland is defined as a much more “locals” park whereas WDW is a vacation destination. Still, a show like what World of Color is running right now, mining the history of the resort, using the archives, vintage footage, past attraction audio? Honestly, pretty unthinkable in WDW. At least, I’ve never seen it. Can you imagine if they did a World of Color-esque show at Epcot that showcases that park’s history?! Be still my heart.

So, once back on the East Coast, I did some work traveling in Central Flor

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Still smiling at 6.2 miles

ida because I needed to stay in the Orlando area because I was running in the inaugural Star Wars 10K. Guys, it was so much fun! I sort of loathed my first 5K last summer. Well, not sort of; I definitely loathed it. But I wanted to do a Disney run and I needed to up the ante so 10K it was. I went into it thinking it was something I would be happy to say I did but never want to do again. So not true. I’d do another Disney run in a heartbeat. For one thing, the weather was awesome for it (meaning it was chilly, the sun wasn’t up yet and it was misting which kept it cool as well). My first run was on July 4th in Tallahassee after the sun was up…it was MISERABLE. Clearly, I am game to run at 5:30am to avoid that. Plus, that 5K was also, well, boring. Disney knows how to entertain you on a run. At no point did I feel like “OMG, WHEN IS THIS GOING TO BE OVER?!” For the Star Wars 10K, there were fireworks to start the race, you ran through Epcot and Hollywood Studios, periodically there were screens showing scenes from the movies, characters to have pictures with, other effects to run through etc. I loved every second and hey, I did really well! I’d definitely do another Disney run in a heartbeat; to me, it was worth the cost. I’m not sure if I’m game just yet to move up to the next distance though…

Clearly, I’ve been busy! Look for the recipe I tried over this past weekend on the blog later this week!

 

Well, that’s summer then…

I will admit, the fact that it is September literally shocked me. Summer went so fast! It helped that I was very busy for most of it and had lots of fun times but that also meant I apparently didn’t have time to blog. I have reasons.

Up a tree. Photo credit to my awesome cousin Jodi
One, summer was, as I said, busy! I got to go home when the temperature was above 40 degrees which means dinner at the Loop, races in Oswego, ice cream at Byrne Dairy and especially an awesome, no holds barred feast up at Grandma and Grandpa’s camp. It was awesome! And then I went to Orlando to hang with a super awesome family which meant actually having children with me at the Disney parks. This was novel and so much fun and slightly nerve wracking because at times, in case you’ve never visited a theme park of any kind in the summer months, it was CROWDED. The amount of people required capital letters. But, we had a blast and rode lots of rides and ate lots of food and just had a fantastic time at Disney. I then turned right around and left for New Orleans for a conference but I did get to see some of the city but it’s on my “really need to go back and spend days exploring” list because I really only had a day to see the highlights and that wasn’t doing it justice. I did get beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde though and it is as tasty as they say. I always like when things live up to their praise.
Two, work. I love my job, I really do but we were very busy this summer. Hopefully, sometime this fall people will start to see the fruit of all our work when our new digital library site goes live but until then, I don’t have much to show for everything we’ve done but know that we worked hard this summer on lots of stuff and hopefully this fall we’ll get some awesome things to show for it. One of the downsides of my job though is a lot of hours in front of the computer screen meaning the last thing I often want to touch when I get home at night is my laptop.
Three, I think I am officially in a bit of a reading slump. I haven’t been reading very fast or very much. Nor have I been that interested in what I’ve been reading. I am hoping to get back on track this fall and into a reading routine again. That always helps me stay on track with books even if they aren’t holding my attention very well.
Four, something about summer just means I go out for an hour and then spend four in front of the TV. Not good. I was hoping to get rid of cable (and temptation) but a frustrating couple of phone calls meant it would cost me more to pay for just internet instead of my current bundle (how twisted is that?!) so cable stays. However, a reading routine and books I actually want to finish will help me kick the cable habit I have developed! Also, the start of the fall TV schedule will help as when I know there is a show I want to watch at 10, I make the effort to read from 8 until 10.

Sigh, so good. Beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde
I also am debating a movie re-watch of all my movies and blogging about it. This is both an effort to do some cleaning of my DVD collection (would I want to watch this ever again?) and also an effort to blog more about movies AND books again. We’ll see if this fall works out for that or if that becomes a winter project (or at least as wintry as it gets in the South – autumn is just depressing because I really miss all the colors)
And recipes too should be making a reappearance here! I actually think I have a recipe to share that I just never did this summer so I will try to dig that up and share ASAP. I did just try a new dish last week but it was kind of blah so not sharing that one. Again, I am hoping to get back into a routine this fall and cooking is on the list to make a priority!
Happy Fall everyone!