Wednesday 31 July 2013

Top 12 and a bit Disney Souvenirs

Just some of my personal favourite Disney souvenirs that can be bought in the parks.

Pins: Pin trading is great. There are hundreds of different pins to choose from of every character. 

Some are limited edition or can only be bought at certain times of the year (like holiday seasons) or in certain countries or online: 

You can buy starter kits which are usually 4 pins on a lanyard and then when you are in the parks a lot of the cast members wear lanyards with pins on them and if you see one you like you can trade with them. 

I’ve traded in both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World. I prefer Walt Disney World because the CM’s there allow the guest to choose which pin to give away in Paris the CM’s want to choose which of your pins that they trade for. In Paris though they do seem to have nicer cast member lanyard pins, those are pins that you can only get from the cast members, they aren’t available in the shops. 
There are also pins that cannot be bought or traded for. These are usually handed out by certain CM's or on tours. Or the Magic Music day pin for example was given to us when we performed in the Magic Kingdom with the Irish dance school:

 Vinylmation: These are 3 inch figures with different designs painted on each one. Most of them come in what’s called a blind box so you don’t know what you are getting before you open the box although there are those available in open window boxes. Like the pins as well there are some that can only be bought in certain countries or at certain times of the year like the holiday seasons:
With the blind boxes usually there is a set of 12  with 11 “knowns” as in the side of the box will show you may get one of these and then 1 unknown which is called a chaser. 

The chaser is the rarest in the set and therefore becomes the most valuable to collectors. These are just a few examples of chasers:

There are also 9 inch vinyls and Vinylmation juniors are 1.5 inches and usually come with keyring attachments. 

There are also Vinylmation trade boxes in various locations around the parks so if you do happen to get a double of a vinyl or don’t like the one you got in the blind box you can trade it.

Plushies: Cuddly toys. There is possibly one of every character and if not there should be. 

 Around holiday seasons you sometimes get some of the fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto) in different outfits like Christmas, Halloween, St. Patricks day. 
There is also Duffy who is meant to be like Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear and is similar to build a bear in the way you can buy various outfits for Duffy. 

Pressed Pennies: These are a fun souvenir to collect in the parks. In WDW at least they have the penny machines around the parks and resorts in various locations and there are usually between 3 and 5 choices of picture in each machine. You put 51 cent into the machine and get a cool Disney picture on a flattened penny. There are also penny books to store your pressed pennies in. 

Key-rings and Antenna toppers: They are a cheaper souvenir option and like the pins there are loads to choose from. 

Antenna toppers I think are more an American thing. I don’t remember seeing them in Paris anyway but they come in various colours, most of what I saw was the Mickey head shape but I also saw snowmen and some Disney food themed toppers as well. 

Ear-hats: I don’t own a pair of these yet I need to fix that problem but these are great. They come in various colours and designs and every Disney fanatic needs a pair. 

T-shirts or Hoodies: Great thing to collect as usually every year new deigns come out and all colours, designs and characters on them. 

Decorations: At Halloween and Christmas time mostly I have seen little trees and various decorations which are a great souvenir to take home from the parks. Especially the decorations that are not just character based but more themed to the parks.

 Buttons: Should probably be up with the pins but Buttons are free in the parks generally. You get most from guest services but there are a few in restaurants and shops that they will ask if you want to donate your change to a cause like saving the wildlife and they will give you the button as a thank you. 

Cups: There’s loads of choice but there's refillable mugs, event cups like Christmas, Halloween etc and then there's the plain old character mugs and again the selection changes every year: 

Bags: Disney have a range of Dooney and Burke bags which are park themed or character themed and super expensive but pretty. I don’t own one but wish I did!

Artwork: Some of the smaller shops sell Disney themed artwork and prints. They are again a little bit more expensive than the pins and vinylmation but still a nice souvenir to take home.

Honourable mentions: 

Photopass packages: Around the parks at the park icons and at the characters again more so in Florida than Paris as I’ve experienced there are professional Disney photographers that will take your photo for you. They give you a photopass card and every photographer that takes your photo can put yours pictures on the one card. You can then go to your computer view all the photos, add Disney borders, make photo books, mugs, calendars or simply order all your pictures on CD. Another really cool thing about the photopass photographers they can do what’s called magic shots so you pose with your hand out or like you’re about to take off or you’re pointing to the ground in shock and you may feel a little dumb pointing at nothing but when you see your photo on the computer a little Disney character has appeared like magic at the spot you were pointing to or in your hand. 

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards: There’s a new game in the Magic Kingdom called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet but there are cards involved with characters and you can keep them and collect them 
 Park Maps: Help guide you around the park and are a free souvenir win win!
The Kingdom Keepers books: This is a series of books based mostly in the Walt Disney World resort although the last two books moved on to the Cruise line. I have only ever seen these books for sale in Walt Disney World but again if you’re a Disney park fan at all they are well worth the read. 

Sunday 28 July 2013

Tusker House

One of the best things about Disney Parks in America in particular is the food. In the Florida parks there's two kinds of restaurants counter service which is as it says on the tin you go to counter, order what you want and find your seat, no biggy. Then there's table service, most of these need an advance reservation to guarantee a seat at the time you think you will want to eat when in the parks. Some of the table service restaurants have character dining as well. Tusker House in Animal Kingdom is one of these places. The last time I was in Florida with my trip buddy we tried Tusker house for breakfast. We had booked a 10:05 breakfast and arrived with loads of time. We checked in and stopped for a picture with Donald, there are photographers at the restaurant taking the picture for you, a CM later comes to your table to offer you the photo for a fee, we passed and I took this sneaky snap instead:

 Breakfast in Tusker House is done Buffet style, this is just a small sample of the layout:

Once we were given our table we headed off to pile up our plates with as much food as would fit on one plate (or in the case of my trip buddy two plates!)
Doughnuts for breakfast:

Not only doughnuts but MICKEY WAFFLES as well: 
Pastries and fruit galore kept my trip buddy happy.

The food was okay but then with doughnuts for breakfast they would to win my approval anyway. It is a sit down restaurant so we did have table service as well but that was mostly for drinks. We had a rather friendly CM called Neil who was determined to win our affection or well my trip buddies affection anyway. She wasn't interested. She wanted to eat and not interact with anyone. So first he asked her if this was the best breakfast she ever had, she said NO! He left but wasn't prepared to give up trying to win her over, he had spotted her putting some pastries in her bag for later in the day so he came back and said since you have half the buffet in your bag am I the best waiter ever... she said NO! He didn't stop he asked was it his hairdo that she didn't like (he was bald) She just scowled at him so he said he would go brush it so it parted in the middle. In a final attempt to win my trip buddy over Neil came back to us with a tray of paper cups, he said that it was the nicest hot chocolate ever and we really needed to try some and went to put a cup on the table but knocked the whole tray over much to my trip buddies shock but realising it was a joke and the cups were empty she just gave poor Neil the biggest dirty look ever and he scooted off finally accepting that he wasn't going to win her affection that morning. For me I was impressed at his determination. The service was good when we wanted drinks we were served quickly and he was friendly and entertaining.

I liked the way the restaurant was themed as well with various hints that you might be eating in Africa near a safari park around the restaurant:

 Character wise we had Goofy, Daisy and the head Mouse all in Safari costumes:

Every so often there was a short parade where the children could follow the characters around the restaurant playing various noisy instruments, great fun:
I was particularly impressed with how they made sure that we had seen every character. We had a late breakfast so they were clearing the area we were eating in while we were eating and we had only seen Daisy and Goofy before it was time to leave but they brought us over to a side hallway and got the head Mouse to come out and take some pictures with us. Overall I enjoyed it. Food wise it wasn't the greatest, doughnuts and mickey waffles aside but it was a good way for us to start our Disney trip that year.