Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy 45th Birthday Magic Kingdom. Here Are 45 Walt Disney World Fun Facts To Celebrate!

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World. In honor of Magic Kingdom’s 45th birthday, I thought I’d put together 45 random facts about Walt Disney World. Happy Birthday to the Happiest Place on Earth!

  1. Cinderella Castle stands at 189 feet tall—just under the FAA 200 foot limit, beyond which building must display a flashing red light on the top of the structure.
  2. No stone was used to create Cinderella Castle.
  3. 500,000 tiles in 500 different colors, including 14K gold, were used to create the murals inside Cinderella Castle
  4. The Seven Seas Lagoon located in front of the park is a man-made lake.
  5. Opening day attendance at Magic Kingdom was 10,000 people.
  6. Most trash cans within the park are no more than 30 feet apart. Walt came up with this spacing himself after watching guests at other parks to see how many steps they would take with trash in hand. Clever!
  7. The second tallest structure in the park is Space Mountain, which stands 183ft tall
  8.  Speaking of Space Mountain, it was the first ride to debut at Walt Disney World before coming to Disneyland
  9. Price for adult admission to Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971 was $3.50
  10. Gum is not sold anywhere in the park
  11. Walt Disney World has only ever unexpectedly closed 5 times since it opened in 1971---In 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, 2001 due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 2002 due to a power outage, and twice in 2004 for Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne.
  12. More than 1.6 MILLION turkey legs are consumed at the parks every year.
  13. There are several stories about who was first on the list to be the featured band for Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Whatever legend is true, they declined and Aerosmith became the star of the show.
  14. The fastest ride at Walt Disney World-----Test Track at EPCOT, which reaches speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.
  15. The Astro Orbiter attraction in Tomorrowland opened in 1974 and was originally named Star Jets
  16. The Liberty Bell replica found in Liberty Square was created using the same mold as the original Liberty Bell
  17. The design of Main Street, USA was inspired by Marceline, MO--Walt’s hometown.
  18. One day while at Disneyland, Walt saw a Frontierland character walking through Tomorrowland. This bothered him so much that when he designed Walt Disney World, he created a tunnel system called utilidors on the ground level of the property so that cast members could move around the park unseen by guests. Magic Kingdom is actually built on top of these tunnels and is a second level, so to speak.
  19. Magic Kingdom spans 107 acres.
  20. An architectural technique known as forced perspective is used throughout Magic Kingdom. As the building gets taller, it becomes narrower, giving the illusion that the structure is taller than it really is.
  21. In 1996, Cinderella Castle was transformed into a giant birthday cake to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary. I thought it was cute but many many MANY people disagreed.
  22. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority was originally called the WEDway People Mover (WED=Walter Elias Disney)
  23. The 60ft tall Swiss Family Tree House in Adventureland is made of concrete and polyethylene leaves and weighs about 200 tons. 
  24. The hearse in front of Haunted Mansion was used in the John Wayne flick “The Sons of Katie Elder” (That was for you, Poppy!)
  25. Walt purchased the 43 square miles of Central Florida swampland, which would later become Walt Disney World for $5 million, or about $185 per acre.
  26. It took less than 30 minutes to evacuate thousands of guests from the theme parks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  27. All of Disneyland can fit into the Magic Kingdom Parking lot
  28. There are over 60,000 employees at Walt Disney World, making it the largest single site employer in the USA
  29. Walt Disney World is home to THREE water bridges. Water bridges are just that—a bridge for water to flow. The most visible one on property connect Seven Seas Lagoon to Bay Lake. As you travel by boat over the bridge, you can watch cars passing below.
  30. Both the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-1965.
  31. A military veteran takes part in a flag-lowering ceremony everyday at 5pm on Main Street, USA
  32. Guests throw coins into the water along the walkway queue of It’s A Small World. Disney donates that money to Give Kids The World
  33. Abraham Lincoln was Walt’s favorite president.
  34. There are pipes in the utilidor that uses air pressure to jet trash to its final destination.
  35. Big Thunder Mountain took 10 years of planning and 18 months of construction
  36. Since 1971, it is estimated that over 1.5 million pairs of lost sunglasses have been submitted to the Walt Disney World Lost and Found.
  37. The Enchanted Tiki Room was once sponsored by Florida Citrus Growers
  38. Splash Mountain in Adventureland boasts a 5-story drop at a 45-degree angle at 40 miles per hour (yikes!)
  39. Fifteen attractions were present for opening day.
  40. John Lennon officially ended the Beatles by signing termination papers while vacationing at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort in December 1974.
  41. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction replaced Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and there’s a painting of Mr. Toad handing the deed over to Mr. Owl.
  42. The Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean almost wasn’t built. Imagineers thought the idea of the Caribbean and pirates wouldn’t feel exotic enough to Florida guests.
  43. here is a Mr. Toad tombstone in the pet cemetery outside of Haunted Mansion.
  44. There are 13 lanterns that hang from the Liberty Tree In Liberty Square--they represent the 13 colonies. 
  45. Walt Disney World Resort is about the size of San Francisco or two Manhattan islands.

Happy 45th birthday to one of my most favorite places one earth and I wish you many more to come!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ready...Set...APPLY For The Disney Parks Moms Panel

Alright kids, it's that time of year again. Time to dust off your pixie dusted thinking caps and brush up on your Disney Parks nomenclature. The application for the Disney Parks Moms Panel opens TODAY, 9/7/2016 at noon ET.  Before the application opens, let's review some information for those who may not be familiar with the Panel.

What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel? The Disney Parks Moms Panel is a group of Disney enthusiasts who are chosen by a Disney selection committee to answer real-life guest questions using their own knowledge and experience. You do not need to be a mom, anyone can apply as long as you meet some very basic requirements like:

  • you must be 18 yrs or older
  • cannot work for Disney or be a travel agent
  • must have visited Disney Parks within a certain time frame--this requirement differs for each "specialty"(we'll talk about "specialty" in a minute), but usually to apply for a position as a Walt Disney World (WDW) or Disneyland (DL) mom, you must have visited the respective parks within the last 12 months. 
Those are just the basic requirements. The complete list of requirements can usually be found on the first page of the application website.

As I mentioned before, the panel is divided into "specialties". Until the application is open, we will not know what specific specialty positions will be open but in the past there have been the following:

  • Walt Disney World
  • Disneyland
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Vacation Club
  • runDisney
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports
Disney has also, in previous years, looked for bi-lingual panelists--those enthusiasts who are fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

If you are selected, you will answer real guest questions regarding Disney and although those selected do receive a compensated trip to WDW, this is not a paid position and I want every to understand that there is work involved here. Although I have never, ever, heard of a panelist referring to their time spent on the panel as work, you are expected answer a certain number of questions per week. However, if you enjoy sharing your knowledge of Disney with others, you most likely will LOVE this kind of "work".

How does the application process work?  Well, I can only advise on years past, so here goes. Traditionally, the application process has been three rounds. Round 1, involves basic "get to know you" questions, usually a sample question, one that is similar to that which the actual panelists answer, and usually one or two general knowledge Disney questions. Round 2 is usually a few more essay type questions and two sample panelist-type questions along with a required video submission. Round three is usually a phone interview with one of the members of the selection team--- sometimes another sample panelist question is added in here (typed and sent via email).  Panelists are then notified if they made it or not--sometimes with an email, sometimes with a phone call.   The selection committee likes to keep us all on our toes so things can change at anytime.....but this is how it has been in years past.

small victory followed by yet another agony of defeat.
How do I pick a specialty? Does it matter what I pick? Yes, it matters. You should pick what you know the best. Yes, the competition is greater for a spot as a WDW mom (dad/aunt/grandma..etc), but if you've only been to DL once but have been to WDW 6 times, you should definitely apply for a WDW spot.
How many spots are there per specialty? How many apply?  Well now that is the million dollar question, isn't it? The truth is, I don't know. No one outside of the selection committee knows. The  number of applications received for round one in years past has been rumored to be between a couple thousand to greater than ten thousand. The number of those applicant who move on from round one to round two are usually rumored to be around 500 with those moving on to round three around 50-100. My numbers could be WAAAYYYY off, but those are the rumors.
As for the number of spots--well I cannot tell you that either because no one knows until the committee makes their selection. In the past there have not usually been any more than two for each specialty other than WDW--which currently have 22 panelists. However keep in mind, that not ALL 22 spots will be open or filled. The number of panelists varies year to year, so we will not know for certain how many will be taken until they are...well...taken.

Any tips for applicants?  Well, I don't know if I am the best for giving out tips, since I have never been selected, but here goes.

  1. Spelling and grammar count--so read and re-read...then read it again
  2. Use PROPER Disney names---if you don't know, look them up
  3. Be yourself--because you cannot be anyone else...unless you can be a princess, then be a princess. I know that is totally cliche, but you have to write in your own voice. It's how you let the committee know who you are and how they can see your passion. 
  4. Spelling and grammar--yes, it is THAT important

i just LOVE Effie
Should I apply? It sounds scary and really hard.  Should you apply? Well I cannot tell you, dear reader, what to do. The process is grueling, I will not lie. You are applying for a job for which you have no real idea what the requirements are. You do not know what will set you apart if you are selected (what you did right) or what it is that you could change if you are not chosen (what you did wrong). Many hours I have spent pouring over my application, making sure my word count was correct and that I was using correct Disney terminology--only to have received that rejection email time and time again. It is hard. You have only a few hundred words to demonstrate to the committee not only your passion for Disney, but also your dazzling personality, your unbelievable writing skills, and strong voice. And there are a LOT of really passionate Disney writers out there. But, I do not say this to you to discourage you. Quite the contrary. I think you SHOULD apply. While I will never be a panelist, I have gained so much from the process over the past 8 years (or is it 9 years....bah! I cannot remember). I have learned to write, have created my own voice, became a blogger and also a writer for a few Disney and travel sites, as well as made some incredible friends along the application journey.  Plus, what have you got to lose? Rejection is painful, I will not lie, but if you are not chosen, you will move on, no worse for the wear. But, what if it is YOU the committee is looking for? You'll never know unless you stop reading my blog and get on the application page. And if you apply..let me know in the comments below. I want to be sure to send some positive pixie dusted thoughts your way. As my favorite Tribute Escort says "May the odds be ever in your favor"!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Reason For My Kindergarten Tears--A Letter To My Husband

My Dearest Husband,

Well you asked. You wanted to know how I was doing after dropping our last baby off at kindergarten. I didn't want to tell you because it is really something I don't think you CAN understand. Our roles in our kids' lives are different--both essential, but different. You come home at the end of the day for dinner and bedtime, so whether the kids are here or not during the day really has no bearing on your normal daily events. For me, the kids have been my full time job. Their constant care and well being the center of my very existence. With our last one off to school, I guess you could say I feel.......unemployed.

Picture for a moment you walk into work tomorrow and your "boss" tells you "Thanks for all of your hard work for the last twenty years, but you can go home now. Oh and by the way, you can never work in the rubber and plastics industry again. Have a great rest of your life."  What would you do? Your whole self is now changed--gone, abruptly and irreversibly, because that which has defined you for so long is over. How would you feel? Chances are you'd feel lost. I mean, you've spent a major part of your life at this company. You've worked hard and it wasn't just a job but an integral part of who you are. But it's over.  And not only is it over, but you cannot go back to doing that very thing you loved, the thing that has defined you for so long. Now what?

Now what, indeed.

For the past 16 years, raising our kids has been my job. It has been the center of my every day for those 16 years and has been what defines me, my purpose for existence entirely since giving up my nursing career 11 years ago. I have no regrets of being an at-home mom, of giving up a job I loved--NONE. I have embraced  every moment and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with our kids, to have raised them, to have been there to teach them, play with them, and love them.  I think I've been pretty great at it too. But now what?

The tears I shed when dropping off our baby at school isn't just for her, it is for me too. Yes, I miss her like crazy, just like I miss all of her sibling. But I know she is ready and she will go on to do great things. I cannot confidently say those same things about myself.

If you were to lose your job, your friends and family would rally around you, offer words of wisdom, comfort you for as long as it took for you to figure things out.

I have lost my job and I am expected to be happy. I'm supposed to celebrate having "free time" and be willing to "let them go". But I don't want to let them go because I don't want to let myself go. It's not that I don't want our kids to move on to greater things in life, because you know I do,  it's that I don't know how to move on by myself--just me.

So, my tears spilled, dear husband, are not just for my babies growing up. As sad as I am to let them go and as much as I miss them, I knew it was inevitable, as it is part of life.  My tears are shed in mourning for who I have been for the last 16 years. They are tears for the uncertain future of me.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ten Delicious Details You NEED To Know When Dining Onboard Disney Cruise Line

Let’s face it, there are a ton of things to research when it comes to taking a vacation and a Disney cruise is no exception. Disney vacationers, in my opinion, are the “Type-A” of all travelers and want to know and plan, well in advance, every detail of their trip. I get it. In an effort to help those planning their next Disney cruise, check out an article I wrote for WDW Fan Zone about the  10 things I think you need to know about dining on Disney Cruise Line. Ten Delicious Disney Cruise Line Dining Tips. Here, you will find my best advice, including details you may not know, about eating onboard the ship.  What are some of your best Disney Cruise Line dining tips? Comment below!

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