Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Dream" Dream Job Realized

Yes, I am going to Neumann University to be an elementary school teacher and Yes, that is what I want to do. I love teaching and working with the children and I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little girl. This job is what I would call my “Real” Dream Job, but this is not the only Dream Job that I have. I also have my “Dream” Dream Job as I call it, the job that I would absolutely love to have more than anything, but its not as realistic or practical. This job is working in some way, shape, or form with Disney. It does not have to be anything official in the Disney Company itself, (though that would be AMAZING) but just something related to Disney in some way.

As of a couple weeks ago, this dream of mine finally came true! I am now the Social Media Admin and all around tech girl for Celebrations Magazine! I take care of the Magazine’s Twitter, Facebook page and advertise the magazine where I can online. I have been having a blast with this and love working with everyone associated with the Magazine and I look forward to my future work! When big things are happening with the magazine, I will make sure to post something about it here on my blog as well.

For anyone who is interested in checking out the magazine, go to

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trouble Brewing off The Port Bow!!

No, this is not some hurricane heading towards Florida. This is a trouble of a different sort, trouble that may be heading towards the newly announced Pirates of the Caribbean 4 movie. It began with the announcement that the Chairmen of Walt Disney Studios, Dick Cook, has stepped down from his position. Whether he was fired or quit has been speculated.

He seems to have been a great guy and whether he was fired or resigned, i think Disney lost a key player, especially after his talk at D23. This could also be bad for them because of Johnny Depp. He is not happy about this because he was close to Cook and found him to be very trustworthy. He has a POTENTIAL deal for Pirates 4, but he has not signed completely on for it yet, he is waiting to see the script, so Disney could still lose him for the part, which I'm predicting would cause a MAJOR decrease in sales for the film.

And who are they looking at to take his place??? Kevin Fiege, president of production at Marvel??? Just because Iger got 'close' to him while they were working out the Marvel acquisition?? I don't know if this would be the best of choices so close after the acquisition and when noone really knows who he is. I think John Lasseter would be a better choice, he has been with the company longer and has proven himself, people know his name, he is a popular guy...i mean come on, he had the only sold out talk at the D23 expo! Going with him would be Disney's best bet.

Then again, this is all just in my opinion. I want to hear yours! Send me an email at or leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think about all of this.

Here are a couple articles with some good information about all this craziness.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hidden Mickey Press Release

Well known author Steven Barrett's book Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets is in its 4th Edition! I always have fun using this book to search for Hidden Mickeys and I am extra excited with how many new Mickeys are in this edition! I will be reviewing it once I am finished reading it all, but for right now, I thought I would share the press release with all of you, released by Barrett's publisher, The Intrepid Traveler!

Ace Hidden Mickey Hunter Uncovers Even More New Mickeys Hiding In Walt Disney World

(Orlando, FL) Steve Barrett's day job as an Orlando-area emergency room physician is deadly serious. But on his days off, he heads to Walt Disney World Resort on a merry mission: to track down, authenticate, and document those elusive creatures known as "Hidden Mickeys." He's even written a book on the topic.

In the latest edition of his Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide To Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets (Intrepid Traveler, $12.95), He has added some 100 previously unknown Mickeys for a grand total of nearly 900.

Just what is a “Hidden Mickey”?

According to Barrett, a Hidden Mickey is “a partial or complete image of Mickey Mouse that has been designed to blend into the surroundings in such a way that its presence is not immediately obvious.” For instance, Mickey hidden in a mural; an outline of his head on a shop fixture; his side profile on a weather vane.

No one knows exactly how Hidden Mickeys started. The most widely accepted theory is that they began as private in-jokes by Disney’s designers and artists — “Imagineers,” to use the Disney term — when Disney was building Epcot and decided that the new “adult” park should be free of cartoon characters. A few Imagineers couldn’t resist slipping Mickey in. As word got around, more Imagineers were tempted to incorporate their own cleverly camouflaged images of Mickey and other characters into the Walt Disney World rides, attractions, restaurants, shops, and other spaces they were designing. Now new Hidden Mickeys are eagerly anticipated in any new construction.

The most common Hidden Mickey is the “classic” frontal silhouette, consisting of Mickey’s round head and two round ears. “But a Hidden Mickey can take many other forms,” Barrett notes, “including a three-quarter profile, a full-body silhouette, or a detailed picture of his face.” Of course, not every image of Mickey is hidden. Most are in plain sight and are meant to be seen by all. Purists don’t recognize these as true Hidden Mickeys, and Barrett includes only a handful of them in his guide, ones he considers “sentimental favorites.”

Barrett’s interest in writing a Hidden Mickeys guide was piqued when he noticed groups of Mickey hunters carrying loose sheaves of printed lists, passed from fan to fan, arguing over whether a particular Hidden Mickey was actually there or not, and wishing aloud that they had a book to make the whole task easier.

Hidden Mickeys filled the void. Based on his own obsessive searching and tips supplied by a growing number of fans, each Mickey is personally verified by Barrett, who then tests his observations against those of friends and family members. To add to the fun, Barrett has arranged the book as a series of six scavenger hunts, complete with clues, hints, and points to be scored.

In the Walt Disney World theme parks, it’s not unusual these days to see families and groups of friends, Barrett’s book in hand, fanning out to compete in spotting the most Hidden Mickeys. Many of them spot new Hidden Mickeys, which they report to Barrett, who meticulously records and verifies their sightings, separating mere “wishful thinking” from the genuine article. The new edition of his book, in true scholarly fashion, acknowledges more than 900 fellow hunters for their contributions to the effort.

“Hidden Mickey mania is contagious,” says Barrett. “Searching for them has escalated into a bona fide vacation mission for many Walt Disney World fans, and even beginners have happened upon a new, unreported Mickey or two.”

Hidden Mickeys is available in the Walt Disney World theme parks and at bookstores everywhere. Barrett maintains a site where visitors can report sightings of new or suspected Hidden Mickeys. The address is

Hidden Mickeys

Hidden Mickeys:

A Field Guide To Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets, 4th edition

by Steven M. Barrett

ISBN: 978-1-887140-84-3
253 pages • 4 in. x 9 in.
5 b/w maps

Index to Mickey's Hiding Places
Trade paperback original
USA: $12.95
Publication Date: August 2009

Hidden Mickeys is available in bookstores nationwide, from online bookstores, by calling 203-469-0214, or by visiting

Published by The Intrepid Traveler

Please send two copies of any printed review or mention to
The Intrepid Traveler, P.O. Box 531, Branford, CT 06405

Please send a link to digital reviews or mentions to
mischa @

To request a review copy of Hidden Mickeys, or for any additional information: Contact Mischa Benoit-Lavelle at The Intrepid Traveler
mischa @ • (203) 469-0214

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Disney Mom's Panel Interview with Kristen Hoetzel Go

To continue with my series of interviews with Mom's Panel applicants, we go to Kristen Hoetzel Go, Moderator on the Sorcerer Radio forums and Chef of the Cooking with Mickey show on Youtube (click here to view and subscribe to Kristen's Youtube feed).

What made you want to apply for the Disney Mom’s Panel?

I have a lot of experience with traveling and have been fortunate to have had a chance to travel throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. One of my favorite places is Walt Disney World. I love planning my Disney vacation and sharing my tips and experiences with others on message boards and my blog. I thought what better way than to become part of the Disney Mom’s Panel.

What did you have to do to apply?

Visit , register or log in if you already have an account. Then you answer three questions about yourself, your family and your favorite tip.

What were the requirements to apply?

You had to be 18 years of age or older, speak English fluently, have access to the Internet, be able to provide opinions, respond at least 15 times a week, be able to participate for a year, be able to travel to WDW Dec 4-8, post a photo and autobiography, not be a CM or TA and be familiar with WDW and having visiting in the last 12 months. I think that about covers it. Lucky for me, you don’t have to be a mom.

What exactly does someone on the Disney Mom’s Panel do?

The Mom’s Panel answers questions, concerns and helps others with planning their magical Disney vacation. They get to answer with facts and with personal experiences.

What do you feel qualifies you to be on the Mom’s Panel?

My first trip to WDW was a high school trip in 1991. I immediately fell in love! Since then I’ve been 10 times. I even had my honeymoon there. I’ve stayed at all of the resort categories and off-site. I have tried several of the Disney restaurants from Cinderella’s Royal Table to Raglan Road to Biergarten. I’ve even tried a couple of the Disney Dining Plans. I’ve done several of the non-theme park Disney activities. I’ve been to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. I’ve been on several cruises, just not the Disney cruise… yet. I also have medical problems so I’m familiar with some of the needs of those with disabilities and some of the challenges that they can have with the parks. Also, I enjoy writing and sharing with others. I belong to four Disney fan site message boards and am a moderator on one. I share my Disney tips, knowledge, Disney dining experiences and trip reports with others on these sites and include them on my blog.

If you got onto the panel, what would you want to do?

Once I was finished screaming and doing a happy dance I would immediately start. I would be so happy to get to share my experiences and help others plan that very special, magical Walt Disney World vacation. I’d tell others the great information I know about planning a honeymoon, anniversary trips, just for fun trips, things to do that are romantic, great places to dine, how to plan a couples trip, a family trip or even a trip with just friends. I would share my experiences with special events like Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.

Any other thoughts/comments?

I’d like to wish all of those who applied good luck and I look forward to possibly getting to be on the panel with some of them. For those who enjoy reading Disney dining reviews, trip reports and videos on Disney recipes (I’m host of Cooking With Mickey) visit I’m BelleLovesTheBeast on the forum and I can be followed at

The start of 8 great teaching weeks!

In the fall semester of Junior year at Neumann University, elementary education majors have field experience, where we go out into schools to observe and teach, for 8 Thursdays. Today was my first day. I am teaching and observing in a 4th grade classroom at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Delaware. I was a little nervous this morning because I have never worked with kids this old for so long before and I was kinda worried that they would be taller than me. When my fellow students and I got there, we met with the principal and got a tour of the school and she answered a lot of our questions that we needed for one of our assignments. She then took us to our teachers.

We walked passed a room and I stopped for a second and admired the Mickey Mouse banner that was outside welcoming everyone, almost missing when the principal said "This is the 4th grade room one of you are in. As you can tell, she is a big Mickey fan". I was so excited!!!!! My mentor teacher liked Disney!!! Not only does she like Disney I later found out, but her daughter is a Supervisor in the cafeteria at All Star Music and her daughter's husband is a chef!!! She went down 2 times this summer!!! Her room is covered in Mickey's; I felt right at home! I am so excited to be in this classroom, the teacher is nice and the kids are so well behaved! I think this is going to be a real fun semester!!!

Below are a few pictures from my Mentor Teacher's room. Its so Disneyfied! I thought you Disney fans would enjoy these!
One of the bulletin boards that was in her room!

The Smart Board and white board with the Disney touch!!!
Part of her Mickey collection!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Princess and the Frog for Wii and DS: A Royal Gaming Experience

Disney has some great video games coming out in the next few months, including the much anticipated Toy Story Mania for Wii that is based on the fairly new attraction in Hollywood Studios. The one that has caught my eye is not based on an attraction, but based on a upcoming movie, The Princess and the Frog. This game not only has you fighting enemies, but you can change Princess Tiana's outfits, play music, dance around and even cook up some old fashioned recipes from the bayou! This game has a little bit for everyone in the family and is a great game for all ages! Even the Chief Creative Officer of the Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter, enjoys this game, as you can see in the picture to the left. This picture of Mr. Lasseter was taken at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, UK and is provided by the great people at Disney Interactive Studios. This proves that no matter your age or gender, you can have fun with this game! The Princess and the Frog will be released for Wii and Nintendo DS this coming November. For more information on this game, check out Disney Interactive's page for it by clicking here and check out the rest of the awesome merchandise provided by them by going to

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Disney Mom's Panel Interview with JL. Knopp aka NDM #1

We continue with our Mom Panel Applicant interviews, hearing now from J.L. Knopp, or as many know her by, NDM #1

What made you want to apply for the Disney Mom’s Panel?

It has been my dream since I was a little girl to work for Disney in some capacity. I thought that my opportunity had passed me over when I got married at 20 years-old and moved to VA, but this is a great opportunity to be able to get involved with Disney even from a long distance as well as help other families enhance their Disney vacation experiences. Could there possibly be anything better than that?

What did you have to do to apply?

So far it has only involved answering three essay-type questions online. Each answer had to be with one-hundred words.

What were the requirements to apply?

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Have access to a computer and an Internet connection.
  • Be familiar with Walt Disney World® Resort and have visited at least once in the last 12 months.
  • Be fluent in the English language.
  • Complete at least fifteen written responses per week.
  • Provide your opinions and feedback.
  • Submit an autobiography and personal photo to be posted online.
  • Be available to travel to Walt Disney World® Resort from December 4-8, 2009.
  • Be willing to participate for a minimum of 12 months.
  • Not be current employees/Cast Members of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries, must not be immediate family members of a current employee/Cast Member of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries, and must not currently reside with a current employee/Cast Member of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries. In addition, participants must not be employees, contractors, advisors or consultants for, must not hold more than a de minimis ownership interest in, and must not serve on the Board of Directors of, any entity (other than The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries) which owns or operates any hotel, resort or theme park located in Orange, Osceola, Lake or Seminole Counties, Florida. Participants may not be employed, own or be a contractor in a related (travel and entertainment) industry.

    What exactly does someone on the Disney Mom’s Panel do?

    They answer questions, offer advice and address specific concerns of families in the process of planning a trip to Walt Disney World® Resort.

    What do you feel qualifies you to be on the Mom’s Panel?

    When you grow up in FL, all roads tend to lead to Disney. School trips, family occasions, youth organization outings all tend to go there for special events. Because of this I've been there countless times with countless groups for a variety of different circumstances. The different experiences have brought me a vast amount of knowledge on experiencing the parks thoroughly and with efficiency. In addition to that, my Disney obsession compels me to stay on top of the latest information and news as well as be connected with others who share my interest in Disney.

    In addition to that, I enjoy communicating in written form and feel that I do that well. For this reason, this panel feels as if it was designed with me in mind.

    If you got onto the panel, what would you want to do?

    Obviously, the primary desire is to help others find ways to get their family to Disney for the best possible vacation experience in a manner that meets their particular family's circumstances. However, I do happen to have an idea or two that I think would enhance the Mom's Panel value, but I'll have to see if I make the panel before I could let those ideas go.

    Any other thoughts?

    My first thought is to pass along a little pixie dust to all the moms who took the time to apply for the panel. I know that we all share a love for Disney because of the great ways that it has contributed to our lives and are anxious to be given a chance to give something back. I have no doubt that Disney will have a tough time making cuts, and we all could use a little luck in helping us stand out from the crowd.

  • Make sure to stop by J.L. Knopp's Website, check it out!

    Disney Mom's Panel Interview with Suzannah "Zanna" DiMarzio

    I personally did not know much about the Disney Mom's Panel and when I saw that several people that I knew were applying for it, I wanted to find out more about it and what it was all about. Here is the interview that I did with Suzannah about her experience with it.

    What made you want to apply for the Disney Mom’s Panel?
    I first learned about the Disney Moms Panel before last year's applications in September of 2008. I guess I totally missed the first year! The instant I heard, I knew it was for me. Having been a self-professed Disney expert (and fan) for almost 30 years and a mom for almost 10, I felt like this was my calling. The fact that it was online was a bonus, because I had been communicating and writing online since 1999 and knew my way around the internet. It was as if this position had been created for me - unfortunately tens of thousands of other people felt the same way! When I didn't make the cut last year, I was disappointed of course, but the reasons I wanted to apply did not change - my love for Disney did not lessen, nor did my desire to share that knowledge with others online (and in person). So I knew I'd reapply every year, that was just a given. In the past few months that desire has increased ten-fold, because I decided to turn my 5 year-old website into a blog and write about my Disney experiences. That led me to twitter and I met some wonderful people that thought just like I did. Soon the Disney Moms Panel not only seemed like THE perfect job, it actually seemed attainable. If I don't make it this year, I'll just keep applying. I feel like I am destined to be a part of the panel eventually!

    What did you have to do to apply?

    The first step in the process is making sure you are registered at You will use that registration to sign in to Disney Moms Panel application page. That page will feature 3 questions and 3 boxes for you to write your answers in - in 100 words or less. That part is the killer, it's so difficult to concisely say all that you want to tell whoever will be reading your answers, to prove your worthiness for the panel! The first questions are about you, personally. Disney has in the past asked you to describe yourself and your family. This year it was to describe both yourself and your family in 100 words or less. Next you need to explain why you feel you should be on the panel. The third question this year was a new one - asking you to share any expertise you might have that would be useful to the Disney Moms Panel.

    The judging process for the first round usually takes about a month. From there the second round applicants are chosen, and must answer another set of 3 questions, usually more Disney Park-related: favorite tips, memories or celebrations having to do with Disney Parks. The lucky few from that round are notified in about two weeks that they have made it to round three, which is a phone interview. A couple of weeks after that, the new panel is announced.

    What were the requirements to apply?

    What most people don't realize is you don't even have to be a mom to apply! You don't even need to be a parent! The requirements are listed on the application page, but basically you must be 18 years of age or older, have visited the park within the past 12 months, not be a cast member or travel agent, or live with one. You must be available to travel to Disney World in the beginning of December for the training process and be willing and able to answer a minimum number of questions online for the panel.

    What exactly does someone on the Disney Mom’s Panel do?
    The Disney Moms Panel assists people planning magical Disney vacations by answering their questions at the Disney World website. Because the Disney Moms Panel is not technically employed by Disney, their opinions are their own. No sincere question regarding the planning process or Disney World is off-limits and the answers the panel gives are usually filled with not only the facts, but personal anecdotes to help planners better understand what might work for their family. If you want to know the best place to view a certain parade, or what there is to do for your son that doesn't like going on rides, the Disney Moms Panel is there to help.

    What do you feel qualifies you to be on the Mom’s Panel?

    The first trip I remember at Walt Disney World was in 1983. My parents and I drove down from Boston and stayed in the Lake Buena Vista Vacation Villas (which are no longer there and in the location which now holds Saratoga Springs Resort). I fell in love. We visited a few more times and then actually moved to Ocala, FL when I was 10, only 75 miles away from Disney World. I was in heaven. We'd visit almost every weekend during that time, so Epcot became like a second home. Years later, when I was in college in Boston, it hit me that I wanted to work at Disney World. I got a degree in Travel and Tourism Management and set off to live in Orlando and become a cast member. I loved my time as a cast member but later moved on to be a travel agent and manager. I then became a stay-at-home mom after having my first son in 1999. I worked briefly for the Disney Store in Massachusetts and then the Disney Reservations Center in Orlando before we moved to Tampa in 2005. (We moved around a lot!) Since settling in Tampa, we realize this is the perfect location to access Disney within an hour and get to enjoy all the benefits of being an Annual Passholder. During all those years, I developed my Disney planning skills and my interest and love of all things Disney did not fade. I am constantly looking for Disney news, tips and ideas and love sharing those with everyone I meet. I am the go-to person for Disney questions among my friends and family. Like I said above, it feels like the panel was made for me!

    If you got onto the panel, what would you want to do?

    Once I picked myself up off the floor after I fainted from excitement you mean?? If I got onto the panel I would just be so grateful to Disney for recognizing my Disney love, knowledge and passion. I would be super happy to start right in helping others with their vacation planning. I will be able to share my family's experiences, as a mom of tweens, an almost-one-year-old, traveling with grandparents and friends, and the times before we had children, when my husband and I would vacation at Disney as a couple, in hopes of helping others plan the very best Disney World vacation for their needs! I would also look forward to meeting the members of the existing Disney Moms Panel, some of whom I've gotten to know through twitter and my website, and meeting all the new Disney Moms Panel and becoming friends as we join the team!

    Any other thoughts?

    I think you asked all the important questions!! I guess all I have to add is again, I know I'm not alone in my love and passion for Disney World and desire to be on the Disney Moms Panel. I am in some amazing company, actually. I don't envy Disney's job of finding 10 people out of 20,000 for this new panel. I know everyone that's applied believes they should be on the panel, and feels strongly about their love and knowledge of Disney. Whatever is the magic formula that Disney's looking for, I know I possess the magic and pixie dust needed to be a great Disney Mom and hope Disney sees that too! Best of luck to ALL applying and if I don't get to join you on the panel this year, I'll try for next year!

    Check out Suzannah's entry about the Mom's Panel by clicking here. Make sure to check out her website at

    The Announcements that Shook the Expo!

    Was that another earthquake in California????? Oh no, it was just some MAJOR announcements by Disney at the D23 Expo this past weekend!!!! There were so many announcements that I don't think I will be able to cover them all, but I am going to cover as many as I can right here.

    Fantasyland Expansion- By far one of the biggest announcements at the entire Expo! As rumored across the internet for the last couple months, the major Overhaul and remodel of WDW's Fantasyland has been officially confirmed! See my blog written on August 10th called "Fantasyland Overhaul" for a few images of the blueprints. For all of the wonderful concept art images, check out the video here of the announcement at D23 or here for all of the individual concept art pictures. The only visible change from the leaked blueprints to the concept art is the location of Dumbo and Pixie Hollow. They moved Pixie Hollow back while moving the Dumbo are closer to Tomorrowland, which makes sense because of the phase schedule. The entire project is expected to be done in 2012 with the exception of Pixie Hollow which will be completed in 2013.

    Star Tours II- This popular attraction will be closing in October 2010 to reopen in 2011 with an all new video and in 3D! This new video will feature pod racing as well as other scenes that are in the first 3 movies in the saga (so the 3 newest movies for all you non-Star Wars people).

    Hong Kong Additions- 3 more lands are coming to Hong Kong Disneyland by the year 2014. They are Grizzley Trail (reminds me of Frontierland and includes a roller coaster that goes backwards), Mystic Point (an entire area that is themed around a Haunted Mansion like attraction) and Toy Story Land (features attractions from the famous Disney/Pixar film). All three lands will be to the south of the current Adventureland and on the other side of the Railroad tracks.

    Cruise Line Additions- Starting in 2011, DCL will be offering cruises to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. Cruises will depart from Vancouver, BC on a 7 day cruise up to Alaska. DCL also announced 2 new ship being built, the Disney Dream, which will have its maiden voyage in 2011, and the Disney Fantasy, sailing off in 2012. Both of these new ships will hold 50% more people than the original ships. For more information, see the article on the D23 Official website here.

    Muppet news- So much going on with the Muppets! Halloween special next year, tons of new online videos including a cooking show with Cat Cora, Muppetvision 3D getting remastered in Disney Digital 3D, Statler and Waldorf writing a book, Whatnot Workshops coming to WDW and DL, the "Mobile Electric Mayhem Band"......They are back baby!!!

    Movie Previews
    Princess and the Frog- December 11, 2009

    Toy Story 3- June 18, 2010

    - Coming Late 2010

    Winnie the Pooh Movie- New Hand Drawn Movie coming out in 2011

    Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides- Coming Summer 2011

    Did I miss your favorite announcement from D23? Please send me an email or leave me a comment and let me know!

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Fun and Unique Sites out of the D23 Expo

    So, the D23 Expo is done. I know I am missing it already! So much has come out of this Expo, from Disney themselves to the exhibitors on the floor. Before I get to the major information that Disney gave out, I thought I would give some shout outs to some people met and sights that were seen thanks to Lou Mongello's Live webcast from the Expo.

    Olszewski Studios- While this is an already popular name among collectors, I thought I would put his website out there because he had an amazing table at D23 and Lou was able to get some of his items signed, which was awesome!

    Retro 51- This site has some awesome and unique Disney Pens for sale, as well as some other non-Disney items! Has an incredible display at D23!

    Noah Fine Art (Disney)
    - OMG this art is incredible!!! They capture such a look of Disney while being so individual......they are just gorgeous!! I want one of everything!!

    Disney Fine Art- This page just has tons of amazing Disney art pieces! There was a lot of art work displays at D23 and all of them were just wonderful!

    These are just some of the awesome sights that were at the D23 Expo! If you know of any more or if you yourself have a site that you would like me to add to this page, please just sent me an email at and I will put it right up here!

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Disney Magic in All Shapes and Symbols

    This is an interview that I did with Rustin Jessen, creator of some amazing Disney letterpress pieces. Read to find out how the process works and what he has in store for his project! Also, if you are interested in his work, make sure to take advantage of his D23 Expo Discount that ends when floor closes on Sunday September 13th.

    Is it difficult to make the posters?

    Well, I don't know that I can call it difficult since putting them together is actually pretty simple. I can absolutely say that it's time consuming... which I guess makes it kind of difficult for someone with a very short attention span (like me). I'm so easily distracted, that really the hardest part is buckling down and getting some focus to set all the type.

    What is the process?

    It all starts with gathering subject imagery. As you can imagine, finding good photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle is no problem at all, so that was a happy thing for my first try at this. I work from several different subject photos. On the castle I had a few publicity photos and several I had taken myself.

    The creation process is all digital at this point. I open up a new Adobe Illustrator document and set my art-board up.

    At this point I decide how big the final print will be, and decide the scale of the typography. This step is important since the letters and ligatures of the typeface will essentially be your paint. It's like pixels on a screen, or a stipple technique to painting. Too small and the elements will blob together into visual mush, too large and the image has no definition. So this step is a lot of trial and error. I literally would set a few roof lines in one size, print it, tape it too a wall and step back to check it out. If it didn't look right I'd scrap the whole thing and start again.

    To take it one step further, I only wanted to use one color in the print so I needed to convey different textures, colors, and distances with white-space. For example, on the castle print you'll notice the roof sections are smaller and much tighter than the brickwork. And closer elements have more white space than elements that are further away. It was my little experiment and it seemed to work... at least I liked it. :-)

    Once all the decisions are made and I've set my 'palette', I get to work setting each letter and ligature of the facade. Each and every character in the print is set individually. It's a lot of back and forth, clicking, rotating, resizing, scrolling, wash, rinse & repeat. Most characters are set, and re-set multiple times until I feel like they are fitting together just right, and I go over the whole image I'm creating inch-by-inch setting it all in place. The fun part comes where there is a distinctive architectural element that needs to be created. I had a great time putting together the spires, and all the unique lines in the roof of the castle. Strangely, my favorite little bits to create on this one were the squirrel gargoyles on the lower brick work of the castle.

    Once I'm done with the artwork, we move into the real world.

    The process of printing I've always wanted to use for this is called letterpress. It's essentially pressing paper into a plate, or blocks, with raised characters. It's a very physical form of printing that takes a tangible bite out of the paper. You can actually feel the impression where the raised characters pressed into the paper. There's really nothing that matches the feel of a letterpress print.

    So for me, I need to take my digital artwork and have a letterpress plate made. Thankfully there are services out there who make plates. I supply my artwork to them, and in a few short weeks they return a metal plate with a perfect reverse image of my artwork in raised relief.

    I was happy to be connected with a fantastic letterpress shop in Denver, CO who I've worked with to produce my prints. They've been fantastic. They are artists unto themselves. Letterpress is a craft mastered over years of experience, and I'm happy to have some of the best working on my stuff.

    Really, from there, it's in the hands of my capable printer. We trade info and proofs, set the perfect depth and ink color, and he goes off and running to print the full run of posters.

    What made you interested in doing this?

    I'm a Disney fan to my core. I was fortunate enough to work as a Cast Member with what is now Disney Creative Entertainment and learn from some of the most amazing creative minds in the world. It was in my time with Disney I developed a love for typography. Disney properties are so rich with typography of every style and from every era. Next time you're in the parks, pay attention to the signage. It's really beautiful. You can thank the amazing folks in the art departments and sign shops in all the areas around the world. They do beautiful work.

    Anyway, so I became a huge typography fan but it wasn't something I got to talk about often. I used to find little projects where I could go a bit crazy with typography (like my son's baby party invitation). At some point I ran across a wonderfully inspiring project on Veer called Type City. It’s just a great example of what a talented artist can do with interesting shapes. In this case, the shapes happened to be part of a well-designed typeface.

    Greatly inspired by what veer did I started a project of my own bringing together two great loves of my creative life. Typography & Disney.

    Where do you get your ideas for your creations?

    Simple, I do the stuff I love to look at. And who makes better eye candy than Disney Imagineers :-)

    What do you have in store for your Magic in Type series?

    There are a few more Disney attractions in the works. (See a preview of one below) I'm also experimenting a bit with smaller pieces featuring some Disney & Muppets characters.

    How many hours of work go into making one of these pictures?

    It's really hard to say. All told somewhere near 200 full hours to create it, and another several to actually run the prints.

    Any other thoughts/comments?

    What would you like to see? I'm very interested in what people want to see come out of this series. I've had suggestions of doing other attractions like Spaceship Earth and The Mad Hatters Tea Party (or Teacups if you prefer). I've had others suggest doing reproductions of attraction posters. It's always interesting to hear what people come up with.

    Anyone can feel free to find me on Twitter (@rustin) or contact me through my site at and let me know what they think.

    Also, don't forget that we're running a huge sale during the D23 Expo. 50% off every poster if you use the coupon code "D23" at checkout. That'll run until the expo show floor closes on Sunday.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    D23 Expo away from the Expo

    If you are like me and are not one of the incredibly lucky people who are at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, you are trying to find every internet source possible to get information about it. I thought I would help you all out by putting some of the popular links I have up here on the blog. If you know of any that I do not have, please post them in the comments, as I am trying to follow every source I can get my hands on!!

    Lou Mongello's Live Cam - Lou Mongello is hosting a LIVE cam from his pavilion on the Collectors Forum floor at the Expo! He has had many people stop by already to say hi to the cam and him and his wife update the people watching on what is going on! Check the cam out and feel free to chat and ask questions in the chatroom that is there!

    Disney D23 Official Site- They have tons of information about the Expo, including pictures and schedules of all of the events going on this weekend!

    AllEarsNet Updates- Deb from will be tweeting and updating blogs from the conference! Check out all hear info at the site.

    The Glamorous Life Association- This site has tons of great pictures from the conference! Make sure to check them out!

    Magic Never Ends Blog- Will has an awesome list compiled of D23 attendees, some of them I do not have on here, so make sure to check it out!! His blog is awesome to boot, so look around!

    Twitter users who are tweeting information and pictures from the Expo:
    Stitch Kingdom
    Disney 23 D23Expo
    Disney Parks
    Lou Mongello
    Justin Muchoney

    Again, if any of you know of any more sites, please send them my way or post them in the comments. I know there has to be more than this!!!

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Seda France Opens Your Disney Senses at D23 Expo

    There are so many unique showcases at this D23 Expo, with author signings and statue displays and a Candle Bar......Wait, did I just say "Candle Bar"???? Why, yes I did, and for good reason too! Seda France Home Fragrances, out of Austin Texas, will have a very unique showcase at this year's Expo. They will be showing their all-new line of fragrances, made especially for Disney.

    Called the Walt Disney Signature Home Fragrance Collection, these sets of candles and diffusers were designed for "Disney's premiere upscale, non-character, adult lifestyle brand" according to the company's press release. The fragrances for the candles and diffusers were inspired by artwork from Disney films and those pieces of art are displayed on the boxes the scents come in.

    There are several different types of candles and diffusers to buy, from individual candles and diffusers to a votive set of 6 candles with a unique box display. Prices for the different types range from $32 US up to $50 US for diffusers.

    So, if you are one of those lucky people at the D23 Expo, make sure to stop by the Candle Bar at the Collectors' Forum hosted by Seda France and experience the peaceful scents of Disney.

    For more information about the collection, visit the Seda France Website by clicking here.

    Well Known Names Getting Billing at D23 Expo

    If you a Disney fan, there are some names that are synonymous with being a fan. I mean, obviously there's Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, but there are other names also, the names that help bring the magic to you at home; names like Lou Mongello, host of the WDW Radio Show and author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Books, and Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys Guide. Both of these outstanding gentlemen are out in Anaheim as I write this, getting ready for their debuts at Disney's First D23 Expo!

    Both authors will have their own booth at the Collectors' Forum, where all attendees of the Expo will be able to walk around the various showcases and see what each has to offer. For D23 members, the Collectors' Forum is open every day from 8am to 5pm while for non-D23 attendees of the Expo are able to view the Forum from 9am to 5pm daily.

    Steven Barrett will be at his table throughout the event, signing copies of his books; his Walt Disney World Hidden Mickeys just released its 4th edition while his Disneyland Hidden Mickeys Guide released its 2nd edition. He also is looking forward to meeting some of the people who helped him uncover hidden mickeys for his Disneyland book.

    Lou Mongello will not only be promoting his Walt Disney World Trivia Books, his WDW Radio Show and his Walt Disney World Audio Guides, but he will also be promoting the newest undertaking of his and co-editor Tim Foster's (Author of Guide to the Magic), the Celebrations Magazine. Lou is looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing his experiences not only with the attendees, but using the gift of technology to share it with all of us non-attendees that follow him on facebook, twitter (@loumongello) and on his website.

    To Visit Lou Mongello's Website, go to

    To check out or subscribe to Celebrations Magazine, go to or click the magazine cover on the side bar of my blog.

    To visit Steven Barrett's Website, visit

    For more information on Barrett's new books, check out

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Disney's D23 Expo: Big Surprises and Big Names

    The time that thousands of Disney fans have been waiting for has arrived!! The First Ever Disney D23 Expo is upon us!! Fans from all corners flock to the Anaheim Convention Center for this incredible 4 day event! I am not even going but I am so excited about it I keep using unnecessary exclamation marks!!! It is just going to be that awesome!! Here is a brief run down of some of the excellent events in store for those lucky attendees:

    Thursday September 10th- Disney Legend Awards, Beauty and the Beast 3D Preview, Jim Shore Meet-and-Greet, ABC's of Disney with a Dancing With the Stars performance

    Friday September 11th- Ridley Pearson/Dave Barry Discussion, Screening of Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D, Tron Presentation, Making of Toy Story- the Musical

    Saturday September 12th- Imagineering the Future of Disney Theme Parks, Behind the Fairytale- Disney Weddings with Kristie Kelly and David Tutera, Growing Up Disney with Roy P. Disney, The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek and Panel, Sleeping Beauty Screening

    Sunday September 13th- The Making of Toy Story Midway Mania, Special Muppets Presentation, Imagineering Pixar for the Disney Parks, Toy Story 3 Special Presentation followed by Screenings of Toy Story 1 and 2

    These are just some of the amazing seminars that D23 Expo attendees are able to witness, along with the Expo Show Floor that has tons of exciting showcases, some I will be talking about in future blogs. Expect several blog updates from me over the next few days as this Expo gets underway. To see the full list of activities that are in store at the D23 Expo, visit the D23 Expo Site Schedule by clicking here.

    This is a historic event for all involved and I know I will be following the entire weekend intently to see what surprises Disney has in store!

    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Bushkill Falls- A piece of nature heaven on Earth

    I am not exactly what you would call an Outdoorsy person. I am not really the camping type or like to spend hours outside, but I do enjoy a good nature walk every once in a while, especially when I have my camera with me. I had that opportunity when I went to Bushkill Falls in Bushkill, PA.

    This place is called the "Niagara of Pennsylvania" and it really is! There are a lot of different water falls, both big and small here and the surrounding area is just gorgeous! There are 4 different paths that you can hike on, the longest being the red path that is about 2 miles long. I did that one and taking that one allowed you to see everything there was to see on the property, including a gorgeous lookout onto the Delaware Valley.

    If you are looking for a calm place to go with amazing sights of nature, I would whole heartedly suggest Bushkill Falls! A warning for all of you Techy people though: the entire property, along with a small portion of the ride up to it, has a very low or no signal at all. It is a real getaway from the outside world and it is a wonderful way to enjoy nature!

    Click here to visit Bushkill Falls Main Site.

    To see some of my photos from my visit, see my Flickr account by clicking here.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Disney and Marvel: A match made in Heaven?

    As many people are now aware, on August 31st, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in a $4 Billion dollar deal. This news hit fans on both sides like a ton of bricks. Not very many people, if any, saw this deal coming and it came as quite a shock. Some of the first ideas that came to my mind included "Where do the superheroes fit into Disney?" "Why would Disney spend so much money on this?" and "What does Universal (Who have an entire section of their Orlando park devoted to Marvel Characters) think about all this?"

    The likely motive for such a buyout seems to be to target the teenage and young adult male audiences. Disney does not have much in the way of this target audience, besides their heroes of course, so having this now covers this demographic quite well. I have a feeling that this is not the only motive though. I wonder myself what exactly the Disney Company has in store for these over 5000 characters they have now acquired. A theme park area of their own? The movies that are going to be made about the characters?

    Many were surprised also with this multi-billion dollar buyout because of the recent financial troubles noticed around Disney, including the extension of the Free Dining Plan, the "Buy 4 night get 3 free" deal, the minimized hours of Fantasmic, the surprising price hikes and the cast member job cuts.

    USA Today has an excellent, in depth article about the buyout and what both sides of the coin seem to be thinking. It also talks about what to expect in the near future.
    For this USA Today article, click here.

    I am interested in hearing everyone's opinion and any questions you have on this buyout. How do you feel about this? Did Iger do a good thing for the company with this buyout? Feel free to comment on this post or to send me an email at

    Fantasy Football 09-10 Season

    While one of my biggest loves is Disney, I am actually interested in other things (I know, huge shocker, right?!) and one of those things is American Football. Been a big fan of the sport for quite a few years now and being 20 minutes south of Philadelphia, I am a big Philly fan. Yes, I'm even still a Philly fan after the whole Vick ordeal. Though I don't think he really deserves to be making millions after what he did and I don't like him as a person, I'm willing to see how he does on the football field because I respected him as a player when he played before.

    Ok, enough about Vick and on to my main reason for writing this entry, my Fantasy Football Teams! :) I did Fantasy for the first time last year with my school Radio station and I loved it!!! I did pretty good too, coming in 1st place in the regular season with 11-3, came in 3rd place overall.

    This season, I am on 2 fantasy teams, the first of which is with a sports show on Neumann University's radio station, Around the Dorm (On Wednesday nights from 9 to 11:30 EST at and the second one is with members of

    My first draft, with ATD, was last Wednesday, the 26th. We are using ESPN, first time using ESPN, last year I used yahoo. I feel pretty confident about my team here, what do you think?:
    QB- Peyton Manning, Matt Cassel
    WR- Reggie Wayne, Braylon Edwards, Muhsin Muhammad
    RB- LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Chester Taylor, Julius Jones
    TE- Owen Daniels, John Carlson
    K- David Akers, John Carney
    D/ST- Ravens, Bears

    Sunday the 30th was the second draft on yahoo with the crew! Not as confident in my team here, but I think they can get the job done:
    QB- Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Cassel
    WR- Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, Santana Moss, Michael Crabtree
    RB- LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Johnson, Marshawn Lynch
    TE- Jeremy Shockey, Brent Celek
    K- David Akers, Jeff Reed
    D/ST- Tennessee, Miami

    So these are my two teams for the season! I'll update how they are doing throughout the season, I have some faith that I will do just fine, but let the best teams on both groups win!