Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Disney Store NYC Part 2

By popular demand here is part 2 of my Disney store NYC post. Let my start by finishing up the D23 event. When we last left our hero she was shopping in the downstairs part of the Disney store....

As you head of the escalators you get a way better view of all of the art on the walls and a panoramic view of the first floor. In fact I have a couple of friends who went up and down the escalator taking pics. I admit I rode the escalators several times just to see the view. Despite all of my disappointments it really is a gorgeous store.
The second floor of Disney store NYC seems to be where all of the magic lives.  There are enchanted trees that display video of characters, falling leaves, and hidden Mickeys!

 Another cool part of the store was the build your own Cars car. I really wish I remembered the proper title to this store section. But I remember it being cool. I did notice that children weren't really allowed to touch anything (please correct me if I am wrong.) And that seemed very odd to me.

There is a very large two story castle in the back of the room. Which, by the way, almost made me forgive turning 4 floors into 2. I mean it was a castle that any child would be happy to play princess or knight in!

The most interactive part of the store was a gazebo smack in the middle of the second floor. Ok maybe it was along the back wall but it seemed like the middle of the floor. This was fairly large, considering it held several adults comfortably. What made this interactive was the table for children (kids at heart) can draw and color. But the COOLEST part is that there is a large screen in the back of the gazebo that can play scenes from Disney movies and TV shows at a push of a button.

Now back to the D23 event. The gazebo with the large screen was where the rest of the day's festivities were held.

This is the part where the lovely Mr. Fielding talked about the future of Disney stores and mistakes of the past. (Like Piglet on a menorah.) When i asked Mr Fielding admitted that as soon as this wave of store renovations was done it would probably only be the beginning of bigger and better changes. :-)
 The best part was that Jodi Benson was coming and she was signing paintings! The problem was at the time I did not have one and because of the $130 price tag I thought maybe I should sit this purchase out. Well as Mr. Fielding was talking you could feel the excitement in the air before Jodi entered the room. I rushed over to the cashiers and asked for a painting. Best purchase ever! We lined up and Jodi talked with us asked names and signed paintings. As I told one cast member, you never forget you first Disney movie!

I look SO bad in this pic....

And that was it. The end. A few more hours of shopping way more merch than I needed and a fun times hanging out with friends and meeting new tweeps. ;-) I hope to revisit the store again soon. Hopefully this time I will be WAY less cynical!
Jodi Benson!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's a @MouseVent? AKA My First Blog Interview

One day I was blog hoping (going from blog to blog and reading) when I came across something for MousVent. My first thought.... What the heck is this MouseVent. So I posed the question to the twitterverse and got an answer from @mousevent itself. Below you will find my interview with Alan Hooper the creator of MouseVent!

Alan, please tell me about yourself, your website, and what brought sparked your interest in Disney.

        My personal background and passion for Disney started about 20 years ago. Once I'd visited the parks in Florida around 1990. There was something inspiring about the environment / atmosphere. It wasn't necessarily about the rides, more about the entertainment. Combine this with the release of Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and Aladdin. I was hooked. Several visits in close succession (thanks to nagging my parents) followed. We then fast forward to about 8 years ago, when I found lots of Disney websites. This took up a lot of my spare time, looking for the different websites. Back then they weren’t updated as much as they are now. So when you'd found one you had to find another to get different information.
    I realized that there was potentially a gap in the market and create Disney-links.com a web directory based upon the concept of linking up the Disney community. When you create a website and it goes live, you can easily get disappointed when no one visits. So by creating a "hub" for people to visit to look for new and different websites there is more chance of your website being found. Disney-Links.com was created about 5 years ago. The idea of listing new / small website alongside the more established huge websites really appealed.

What is MouseVent?

    MouseVent is the world's first Disney fan based Audio Advent Calendar. Traditionally with and advent calendar you open one door for each day of advent. Inside each door you would see a picture or a chocolate, depending on how rich you are!!  This time when you open a virtual door on www.mousevent.com you will find an audio track. Each track will be between 5 - 10 minutes long and showcase a sample of each of our contributors. In the vast majority of cases, the track will be exclusive to MouseVent.

Where did the name MouseVent come from?

The name MouseVent came from the base idea of Advent. It soon became apparent, from feedback, that there wasn't that instant connection. Some listeners thought it was a new website full of people letting out steam about bad experiences. As in Venting about the mouse. I also knew from past experience that Disney don't really like you using their name in domain names. 

Will each track be available after its original release date?

If you miss the release date do not worry. They will be available on the site well into next year. They will also be available on iTunes probably for much much longer.

5-10 minutes is a good chunk of time. Do you think Disney fans want to listen that long? 

From my personal experience with Disney fan podcasts, 5 - 10 minutes isn't really a great deal of time. Most podcasts seem to run for about an hour. Without a doubt 24 hours of MouseVent listening would be too long. So short clips was definitely the way to go. Plus if you've gone to the effort of downloading a track you want it to be worthwhile. 

Who was involved in the creation of MouseVent?

The initial concept was thought up by myself, but instead of being an open project it was to showcase just our own podcast. After 7 days of planning it became clear that we alone couldn't create 24 different days. So, to benefit everyone listening I felt it was only right that the full Disney community could get involved. At first I was concerned that no one would want to join up. As of today I could have filled 31 days
Wow 31 days. Would you consider doing a longer MouseVent next year if you got that many responses again?

After this year’s event is all boxed up and back in the attic, I'll contact everyone that took part and everyone that wanted to join in. Merge in the feedback and we'll see what happens. If this year is popular for all 24 days. Then we'll know interest didn't die off after the launch and the concept could be extended.

When was MouseVent created?

I created the concept towards the beginning of November. Before anything was publicly announced I contacted over 40 different potential contributors. A week later only 6 had responded, was it all going to be a waste of time!
It was always going to be a tall order to get everyone to write, create and submit their audio in what eventually turned out to be 2 weeks. After all, everyone else has other projects they are doing. Some contributors do 2 or 3 podcasts already.
Eventually 24 days had been allocated, which allowed me to publicly announce what was happening.
So with 2 weeks to publicize the project, we can only hope that our target audience gets to hear about us.

Who will be doing the daily podcasts?

Bob Jackson, Carol Stein, Chef Big Fat Panda, Destination Vinylmation, Disney Brit, Disney Tidbits,  Eye on Orlando Radio Show, From Screen to Theme, Inside the Magic, Jim Korkis, KingdomTrips Radio, Magical Definition Podcast, Mouse Magic HD, MousekeFoodie, Pogo, The Mortis Matinee Podcast, The Season Pass Podcast, Those Darn Cats, Trapped on Vacation, WDW Fan Boys Podcast, WDW News Today, WEDway Radio, WindowtotheMagic, Your MouseCast 

Were podcasters selected or did they volunteer? How did they become involved?

I selected the podcasters that I have listened to over the past year. My thoughts being that if I enjoyed these, hopefully others would too. So, out went the emails. While I was waiting for the responses, I also contacted Jim Korkis, Carols Stein and Bob Jackson. Hoping to try and get another direction in the project. They all agreed. As soon as all 24 days were allocated, unfortunately more people came forward and wanted to get involved. It could quite easily have turned into a 31 day event.

Who are Jim Korkis, Carols Stein and Bob Jackson? How are they involved with Disney?

The majority of contributors were podcasters, which you may have heard of. I wanted to add a different Dimension to the event, by adding in other Disney related people. Jim Korkis is a Disney Historian and Author of "The Vault of Walt". He's worked in the parks and spoken to many Disney names you'd recognize. Recently he's been a regular guest on WDW Radio telling the stories about how the parks are what they are. 
Carol Stein is a musician and singer. I first heard her playing / supporting the onstage comedians at the Comedy Warehouse in Pleasure Island. When that was closed down she was relocated. Now here permanent position is resident entertainer at the UK pavilion in Epcot.
Bob Jackson has quite a following and is probably better known as YeHaa Bob. He plays piano and sings in the River Roost bar at Port Orleans Riverside Resort at Walt Disney World. His Show is a very energetic 5 hours. We went to see him this summer and believe me this guy doesn't even pause for breath!!!
So in reality these three have the most official connection to Disney.

 What does each day of the podcast represent?

MouseVent was created to celebrate the enjoyment of Disney and related projects. With the collection of people involved, as the days go by listeners will find new information and projects that they may want to follow after the event.

Who is the intended audience for MouseVent? Is it children, adults, the whole family?

I have always tried to aim all my projects at a family friendly environment. There are enough problems for parents to worry about. Disney related stuff shouldn't be one of those.

What does MouseVent have to do with Disney and the Disney community?

This year there is no official affiliation or endorsement with Disney. There are a few reasons for this. Why should Disney actually look at this project when it has no track history? If they responded to every fan project, they’d get nothing done. Apart from a few hopeful emails to some people involved I didn't push the issue. Plus with only a few weeks’ notice there was other stuff to do.

 What are you hoping to give to the Disney community?

If everything falls into place and the plan works properly. MouseVent should become an annual event. There is no real outline for how this will develop, but an annual project would be nice. The thought of different groups within the fan community, coming together to create one presentation really appeals to me, particularly at this time of year. There is no competition, or elitism, everyone involved is at the same level.

Is MouseVent only about Christmas or is it more non secular?

I'm from the UK, where political correctness sometimes goes too far. In my home town we don't have Christmas lights, we have Winter decorations. Although MouseVent falls on top of the same period as advent, the intentions behind it is not to be based upon the Christian festival. The project doesn't really really tie down to any religion, but instead focuses on sharing the enjoyment of Disney.

Does that mean the Jewish members of the Disney community could listen in and enjoy? 

MouseVent is about the celebration of Disney entertainment. It will not isolate any religion. So far the submissions that have come in doesn't talk about any bible / religious scripture. Saying that There is mention of Santa Claus. I'm not entirely sure where Santa fits into the Christmas Story. As in I don’t think he is mentioned in the bible, but has become hand in hand with Christmas.

Is the connection to the Christmas advent calendar necessary? 

The only connection to the advent calendar that needed to be used was getting across the idea of every day there is a secret gift behind a door. In the short period of time that MouseVent was developed, finding a basis that was recognized already really helps.

When does MouseVent start?

MouseVent starts on the 1st of December and continues everyday until the 24th. Each and everyday a new audio clip will be released.

Can you give us a hint to what we might get each day?

In a lot of cases I don't honestly know what will be released from some contributors. Some contributors are producing a shorter version of their podcast, some are doing something completely different. Bob Jackson (aka YeHaa Bob) has donated some music. Jim Korkis has recorded with me an exclusive unheard story about Walt Disney. Without giving too much away I think that's as much as I can say.

What do you hope for the future of MouseVent?

Fingers crossed we will have a popular FREE project this year. Next year, I would like to get some sort of official contribution from Disney in some form.

 How can people find out more or get involved?

We have a website www.mousevent.com which is where the main event will happen. There is also a Twitter account, search for @MouseVent with daily tweets. Finally you can also subscribe on iTunes for the event.

Thank you Alan!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Disney store NYC Merch!

It does draw you in!
My Jodi Benson autographed painting! Squee!
No I will not sell them!
 I know you all love to read my words but today I decided to do a very lovely and quick post in pictures! These are pics of all the lovely purchases I made at the NYC Disney store. Needless to say all of this makes Happy! Enjoy and please comment.

So cute!


NYC exclusive pins close up.

Jack and Sally vinyls!

Guess what's going on the tree this year?

I bought 3!

Lady Liberty!

N-Y-C.. See ya real soon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obligatory Thankful Post

As I sit here in this overpriced hotel room wondering why I brought my mom's mini and not my own laptop, I can't help to stop and think how lucky I am. In fact as I try to think of what I am thankful for the problem isn't that I can't think of anything. It's that I am thankful for so much. So I decided to talk about one of the weirder things I am thankful for.

I am beyond thankful for facebook, twitter, and social networking in general! Why you may ask? Well let's start with the small reasons and work our way up to the biggest reason of all.

1. Social networking gives me an outlet for boredom

2. It inspired me to start this blog

3. It helps me connect to people with similar interests: coffee, Disney, etc

4. Social networking helps me keep up with current events

5. I can make new friends

6. I can see what's up with my friends all over the world

7. Social networking brought people and opportunities into my life I would not have found otherwise

8. It has given me travel opportunities because of people I met and kept in touch with. I would not have gone to England, France, or the Disney Dream cruise without social networking.

9. Social networking makes me feel less alone. Truth be told I am either really awesome in a group or on facebook and twitter but in my everyday life I lack awesomeness. Hard to believe but true.

10. And lastly and most importantly I was a military brat and moved around a lot. I think I moved 5 times before I was 12. I had a hard time making friends because I was always the new kid. I was also very awkward and a little shy. And sadly by the time I would make a friend that felt like a real friend it was time to move again. I used to tell other kids that there was no point in being my friend because I would just forget them as soon as I moved. (Wow did it just get real in here?) Back to the point now as an adult I have facebook, twitter, and all of it and I never have to worry about keeping in touch or losing contact with people I care about. My once 1 to 2 year friendships can grow and last for so many more years.

And that is why I am thankful oh so thankful for social networking! ♥
Happy Thanksgiving All!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Disney Store NYC Part 1

Hey all! I keep hemming and hawing on this blog post about the new Disney store in NYC. I have to ask myself why. I can usually write up a post in a matter of hours but for some reason this one has taken me weeks. Well I think it has to do with me wanting to write a beautifully well written piece framing the store in a glorious light and telling you all how perfect it is. Well as you know from my notes I do not think the store is perfect. And even though I do love it there is so much I would change. I even wrote a blog post about the President of Disney stores who I think is lovely.  But as I sit in front of this computer thinking about the write up I want to do I am stumped. Let's get started with the blog post I was pretending to write and go from there shall we?

Wait this was in the last blog post!
 The Disney store in New York City is a grand store and a lovely addition to Times Square. It's large digital screen on the outside of the building ushers people in with hopes of experiencing Disney magic. When you walk in you are greeted by a cast member holding a stuffed toy and wishing you fun on your shopping journey.

Ok let me stop right here and say at the D23 event this is where you were ushered in a large group and asked to have you credentials ready as people with clip boards wrote down your information while cast members handed you Mickey ears and tried to sell you stuff... I loved the excitement of it all! :-) I have to admit though the crowd for a "private" even was quite large. But it's Disney so I guess that comes with the territory. I was also surprised at how much time there was between entering the store and the actual event started. I guess they needed time to register us but then they let us shop for almost an hour before anything got started. Weird.

Continuing on with the store itself. Murals covered the walls. Silhouettes of your favorite Disney characters. And if you looked right above you there was a carousel spinning child-sized mannequins and stuffed Disney icons around and around.

Now I would like to use this as an a way to segway into what I think is a missed Disney store opportunity. To be able to fit a working carousel into the store Disney had to turn two floors into one. Thus creating very high ceilings and a beautiful open space. That is all well and good but it feels like wasted space.

I would have loved for Disney to use all 4 floors of the
original space and have game areas and maybe even places to have birthday parties. How cool would it be to be a little kid and say "I had my birthday at the Disney store"? Also the store talked about interactive areas. Well you wouldn't know there could be interaction if you looked at the first floor. In fact the majority of the first floor was NYC based merchandise. (I will discuss the NYC merch in a second blog post.) When people asked me about the store they asked if there were rides and such for children to play on. I hated telling them no because I knew that there was a ride for toys. I am sure people thought the store was going to be Disney world miniature. That is actually what I hoped it would be. Not that I was expecting the store to have Space Mountain in the back or Tower of Terror elevators built int. But a small ride for kids would be a great drawing point.

Let me take a step back for a moment and say that I have lived 3 hours from New York City ever since I was about 12. I am very used to everything in NYC being bigger and better than everywhere else. So when I heard a Disney store was opening in NYC I expected it to be huge and a giant play ground. What I got was a two story Disney store, which in all honesty is all that Disney promised me. Nothing more. Nothing less. I realize that in this and the next blog post I write I am going to sound like a bit of a cynic. But trust me when I say all of this come out of love for Disney and not any animosity.

Now back to my blog post already in progress...

The Disney store was beautiful as I have said. I love the art work on the walls. The murals, the pop art. The little touches and attention to detail that make the store truly Disney. This alone makes the Disney store NYC a worthwhile tourist destination (trap?) and someplace I am proud to check into on gowalla (foursquare). In my next post I will talk about the second floor and the rest of the D23 event. And then I think I'll have one blog post completely dedicated to merch!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why yes Virginia, there is a Disney Store President!

Ok Before I finally finish my blog post about the Disney store in NYC opening and D23 event I want to talk a little about the Disney Store President Mr. Jim Fielding.

I met him at the D23 even and let me tell you ladies and gents he was a very lovely man to talk to.
Mr Fielding was open and honest and very approachable. He was also very candid about mistakes the company has made and listened closely to customer (Disney fan) feedback and questions. When asked Mr. Fielding talked about his hopes for the future of the company and how the design of the NYC store would be an example of the stores to follow. He also said that even when this phase was over they would still be progressing and developing and working on the next phase of Disney store.

I won't go as far as to say I consider Mr. Fielding a close personal friend. But I will say I follow him on Twitter!

Most of the time when you follow most figureheads and icons on twitter it's really just their personally assistant writing blurbs from their date book schedule. But I assure you Disney fans the President of Disney stores is not only real he writes back. Go on try it... I'll wait.....

See?! I told you!

Sadly my only pic of Disney Store President

Now I don't know if Mr. Fielding realizes it or not but this is brand marketing at it's best! When a brand actually listens and communicates with customers they feel ownership in the product. It's not just a company, it is THEIR company. And I think most Disney fans who have either met or tweeted Mr. Fielding would agree with me when I say Disney stores are ours.

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere....

I cannot hold still. I used to say I'm like a shark and if I don't keep moving I'll die. This was ruined for me the day we learned sharks can hold still and be just fine. I on the other hand need to keep moving forward.

To that end I have found travel and like going to new and interesting places every chance I get. In fact just this year I went to London England and France! Yes they are as amazing as you think!
Eiffel Tower!
Big Ben!
I also took a week long trip to Walt Disney World, my first in almost 10 years!
But right now I sit in a suburban house somewhere in NJ waiting for the next big adventure and totally unable to focus.
Yes I have a mini trip to NYC coming up but even that doesn't squash my need for more. More travel, more adventure, just more everything!
My next BIG adventure is a two week trip to Germany. GERMANY! Munich to be precise. I have a lot of reading and studying to do before January 10 but my mind is day dreaming about the adventure, the food, the education (I'm a geek who likes to learn!) But in reality I need to hunker down and FOCUS! I still have a learn German book and CD set to open and listen to, several German film DVDs to watch , AND an article (23pgs) to read and research! I was given all of this back in October BTW. I am so focused on the fantasy of my adventure I am missing out on the very real realities.
Me in London!
So what's a Dana to do? I have found in my old age ;-) that if I put my mind to it I can accomplish almost anything (Taking over the planet might take a while). I have to organize and prioritize. First things first! Clean my room so I can find all that previously mentioned German stuff!
The other thing that has my mind in a tizy is my 9 day vacation at two of my favorite Disney friends' house! That is a full month after I get back from Germany. 97 days away from today and yet it has taken over my brain! I can't wait to see my friends and be back at Walt Disney World.
It also doesn't help matters that right after a day of Disney World I will be on a Disney CRUISE! My first cruise and Disney cruise ever! WDW Radio is having the cruise as a Disney fan meet up. I love it! It is a great opportunity to meet all of the people I chat with daily live and in 3D. 4 night aboard the beautiful and new Disney Dream. I have been looking up every article, video, random blog post I can about it and reading and once again daydreaming. Because as I said I need adventure!
But this is my problem. I am so busy dreaming about the epic adventures I rarely take time to make my regular life an adventure. I am doing what I am afraid of; staying put and not going anywhere. So today (Or more likely tomorrow) this will end. I will grab up all my stuff about Germany and I will focus on one adventure at a time. Because  can't go anywhere if I am forever stuck in my head!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Notes for Disney Store NYC blog post

Ok it is taking me WAY longer than I thought to write this thing. So for the moment I will give a glimpse into the jumbled wasteland of my brain and post my notes for my up coming blog post....

I'm a dork!

My thoughts:
  1. Not as big as I thought it would be.
  2. Interactive areas for kids few and far between and not amazing.
  3. Two stories and actually quite small.
  4. Other stores are going to be designed to look like this one.
  5. D23 event a lot of people.
  6. Not a lot of food. Fruit, bagels
  7. The president was awesome. Spoke honestly about the store and what he hoped for the future of Disney stores.
  8. Cast member who helped me was amazing kind and went beyond the call of duty to make sure I had a good day.
  9. The art on the walls was beautiful. The trees that have images on them were cool.
  10. The area to build your own Cars car was cool but it seems as though kids won’t be allowed to touch anything.
  11. The NYC exclusive merchandise may be this store’s only claim to individuality and its only drawing point. Why bother otherwise when you can buy the merchandise online or in your own Disney store.
  12. Yes it’s two stories but when I went to the redesigned store in Cherry Hill NJ it had a lot of the same features just smaller.
  13. Meeting Jodi Benson was unbearably cool. It was only a few moments of her signing our paintings and then being ushered through the line but it was a lot of fun. And something to tell the grandkids.
  14. I mainly bought my painting so Jodi Benson would sign it. It is very cute and I have every intention of framing it and putting it on my wall. I do think $137 is a lot of money but it was all for fun. 
  15. The NYC exclusive vinylmations were so cute but there was so much “buy it cause it’s rare” energy in the air. I don’t know if anyone stopped to look at them.
  16. The event started around 7:30 where we were ushered in to the store and handed a pair of mickey ears.
  17. I kept feeling like there should be more store. Like if I went around another corner there would be more to see. But alas it was just a double decker Disney store. Beautiful but not a lot there. I wished there was a place to hold parties or large events.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

My trip to the Rally was interesting to say the least. When A friend of mine said that she was headed to DC for the Jon Stewart rally I immediately begged to bum a ride! The night before the rally I went to Philly to meet my trip companions and the first thing we did was come up with tshirt ideas. I was "fear itself" ;-).

The morning of the rally we didn't rush to get there before the crowds or the insanity. In fact we left the house at 9 rented, rented a van and stopped to get food on our way to DC. Now I will admit I am so anal about time and schedules but this was really nice. Sure we didn't get the rally when it started and we missed about an hour and a half of the festivities but so what?! We hopped in our van and blasted 80's music. We swapped stories and got really excited to be a part of the rally.
One of the cool things about modern technology and the companies who use it is even when you're miles away you can still be a part of something. We streamed the rally though our van speakers on the ride up. So truly we didn't miss anything.

When we took the metro into DC and it was still packed with rally goers.

As we walked through the streets of Washington DC we saw people with signs and in costumes. And everyone was being civil! I was so surprised. No protests against the rally, no one ripping apart other's signs, just this electric energy of just being part of something bigger than yourself. Now from where I stood I couldn't see the stage or hear what was going on but it was still amazing.

I even got to check into FourSquare and got 6 badges in the process! ;-)

As we stood in the National Mall we snapped pictures and compared rally signs me and my friends actually had a few people ask to take pictures of our shirts!  We also were stopped by a news crew for Philly.com and were interviewed!

In later news reports I read that I was one of over 200,000 people. That alone made the trip worth while! I don't know if Jon Stewart got his point across- that in reality we are civil people who get along for the most part no matter what we believe- but I do know for that moment in time there were thousands of people getting along just fine.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ok gang... So I went to the Doctors today for a flu shot (I hate flu shots!) One of my "favorite" parts of  doctors visits is the weigh-in.
Now I knew I was gaining weight. Last year in August I weighed 211 (Yes that is still obese but it was good for me.) Now I have a whole host of excuses as to how and why I got so big...
1. I have a very sedentary lifestyle. 2. I drank a lot this summer while at grad school and ate horrible food. 3. My AWESOME Disney vacation (p.s. expect a blog or two about that trip soon.)
But these are all excuses. I have a gym membership and I have done weight watchers in the past so I know how to lose weight I just NEED to do it.
So back at the doctors I hop on the scale. I set the big bar to 200 and then start adjusting the little bar. 220, 230, 240?!?!?!? Two hundred and fifty pounds!!!! Ok that's bad! I haven't been that big since college and to put that perspective I graduated May 2007.

Now as part of my new blogging mission I have decided to keep track of my weight and weight loss on a bi-weekly basis. Maybe having the support of others will make this a lot easier. Wish me luck and remember I'm not fat I'm CURVY! ;-)