Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mummy Boy is SOLD OUT!

Catching up on emails since returning from WDW, so quite possible most are aware via their dealers of this latest announcement.

The Mummy Boy from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is now SOLD OUT. Sculpted by Patrick Romandy Simmons, this sculpture was Limited to Production Year 2008.

Collectors seeking this piece should contact their retailer for availability.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now It's Time to Say Good-Bye :(

We decided our last day to get up early and get over to the Magic Kingdom for park opening plus we couldn't leave WDW without a picture of Amanda & I in the Dumbo car. Since Amanda's first visit to the Magic Kingdom, it's a tradition that we take a photo in the Dumbo car. Last year for Father's Day, she made me a DVD (set to music) of photos of her & I from birth to that point. The DVD ended with the photos of us in the Dumbo car from her visit until the visit we took in May, prior to Father's Day. There was NO way I was leaving FL (especially this year) without a photo.

We got inside the park, headed straight to Fantasyland for a Fast Pass for Peter Pan's Flight and then onto the Dumbo ride. We chose pink this trip, given that is Amanda's favorite color. For some reason, the car was malfunctioning, so at the end of the ride the castmember came over and gave us a Fast Pass for any ride in the park. We opted for Haunted Mansion!

We rode Peter Pan's Flight and then headed to Haunted Mansion. We presented our Fast Pass to the castmember and he had us enter thru the exit area and wait by the pet cemetery. While waiting, I was finally able to get a good shot of Mr. Toad in the pet cemetery. The castmember came out and escorted us to the ride thru the Servant's Quarters which was very cool.

After Haunted Mansion, we left the park to meet Terry and the Yezzi's one last in Downtown Disney before heading to the airport and heading home :( After some last minute shopping, we said our good-bye's and headed back to OKW for lunch one last time at Olivia's.

What a truly amazing trip and was so awesome to spend my birthday with Bob & Toni, Terry and the Yezzi's. Special Thanks to Anthony & the staff at OKW and Chris O. for everything. You guys are amazing! Appreciate all the phone calls and emails on my birthday from family and friends and can't wait to next summer when we return with Bob & Toni and Jimi & Kristen and Amanda's roommate Rachel. Hopefully we'll be able to talk more of the gang in coming :)

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last Full Day :(

All good things must come to an end, so we decided to spend our last full day at Epcot. As we were getting ready to leave the resort, my phone rang and it was my friend Chris O. to wish me a belated Happy Birthday and see how we enjoyed the Fireworks Cruise the night before. I began rambling like a kid on Christmas morning .. LOL! As our conversation was coming to an end, he told me there was one more Magical Moment, to watch Illuminations that evening in Epcot from the private viewing area in Italy. We had the chance to do this in 2007 and what an amazing experience this was.

We then headed for the park. With Thanksgiving approaching, each day the parks became noticeably more crowded and those rides that offered a Fast Pass, all tickets were distributed by early afternoon. We had hoped to ride Soarin' and Amanda & Justin also tried Test Track with no luck. In May, I didn't get a chance to ride The Gran Fiesta Tour, the revamped ride in the Mexico Pavilion featuring Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistolas from The Three Caballeros so was glad to have the opportunity this trip.

For fans of The Three Caballeros, they did have some new merchandise since we were there in May, a very cute salt and pepper set and a shot glass plus Aribbas Bros. had done a cute Caballero Donald double shot/limoncello glass. Needless to say, these were must-have purchases and glad they all made it safely home.

After excellent reviews from Jimi & Kristen and Bob & Toni, we chose the Yachtsman Steakhouse for dinner that evening. Mary & I left the park early enough to walk to the restaurant and check out the Yacht and Beach Clubs holiday decorations. As always, both were beautifully decorated and Amanda & Justin met us shortly thereafter for dinner. Our server saw my birthday button (even though the day after, orders from Captain Mike to wear today) and when she brought us to our table, it was all decorate with Mickey head confetti. We were still on a roll, once again in having an awesome server. Our server was Samir and he had a great time joking with Amanda & Justin about wanting french fries with ranch dressing vs. mashed potatoes. We all ordered the Yachtsman Filet Mignon. Each of ours was cooked to perfection and this restaurant was everything we were told it would be. Jimi, Kristen, Bob & Toni, we definitely have to plan dinner here on our trip down next year!

After dinner, Amanda & Justin returned to the park and Mary & I walked back via The Boardwalk Resort, stopping in a couple shops along the way before heading over to Italy for Illuminations.

for me is like Wishes is for others. A trip to WDW is not complete (at least for me), unless I see Illuminations and to see from this vantage point (very cool located in the country where my grandparents are from) is both amazing and moving. Since there was plenty of room in the viewing area, our castmember (whose name escapes me at the moment) was so gracious to let Justin and his family join us. It felt like not only did we have a magical moment but a magical gathering as well :)

It was an awesome last full day and I just can't thank my good friend Chris O. (pictured at right) enough for everything! Tomorrow we depart for home, thankfully we have a late flight, so gives us another chance to hit the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney before heading for the airport. Couldn't leave Orlando and/or WDW without riding Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Magical Day!

Today's the day .. Duckman turns the Big 5-0! At approx. 7:04am it was official. Turning 50 can be hard for some but if anything like what I've experienced the past couple days, it's awesome! I feel so fortunate being blessed with the family and friends in my life, am embracing this new decade in my life and celebrating in one of the most magical places on earth doesn't hurt either :)

As followers of my blog know, food is a very important part of our trip, deciding what favorite restaurants we want to visit again and which new ones we want to try and then planning which park we visit around that. Sometimes I think we come to WDW more for the restaurants than the parks and rides .. LOL!

We chose one of my favorites for lunch, the Liberty Tree Tavern. This restaurant has become a staple since we first dined here in 2004. This was Bob & Toni's final day here at WDW, so was glad when they said that they would be able to join us for lunch. Upon arrival, we were seated and our table was all decorated with Mickey head confetti and we were greeted by Caressa. I think Joe may have been replaced as our favorite server this trip and Jenny-O (from our trip this past May) may even have a little bit of competition :) As always, even with Thanksgiving just a mere few days away, got my traditional Pilgrim Feast. Caressa made lunch so special with not only excellent service but a personality that couldn't be beat!

After lunch, we decided to head to Downtown Disney and do some shopping but before doing that, was surprised to find our friends Tim & Lynne, their sons Justin and Morgan were down from Erie. It had been a few years since we last saw, so was great seeing them again and catching up in Fantasyland. We laughed how we had to travel to WDW to see one another. Hopefully we'll get to hang out together tomorrow at Epcot.

From Fantasyland, we headed down to Downtown Disney with Bob & Toni and do some shopping. After this trip, I fully have Bob immersed in collecting the die-cast cars from Disney/Pixar's Cars :) We'll have some more Cars 101 training when I see you next week in New York and hopefully find Red & Stanley before then :) It then came time to say good-bye :( After a lot of hugs, kisses and tearful good-byes, Bob & Toni headed to the airport and we went to catch the boat back to OKW to get ready for dinner at the California Grille at the Contemporary.

We got back to our room, I opened the door and much to my surprise, the room was decorated with balloons on the island, dining table and coffee table plus a signed picture of the Fab Five, a Mater & Lightning picture frame, Cars banner and a lanyard filled with pins. Special thanks to Anthony and the Staff at Old Key West for doing this! You guys made our trip so special this past May and really outdone yourselves this time! OKW rocks!

We got ready and headed off to the California Grill for dinner. We no sooner arrived, our table was ready (all sprinkled with Mickey head confetti) and we greeted by Ashley who told us after dinner, we were granted a Magical Moment and would be taking the Private Fireworks Cruise! Right after we were seated, we had a wonderful view of the Cinderella's Castle How awesome is that! We had a wonderful server (Ryan) and once again, an out-of-this-world meal. Highly recomment their brick oven fired flatbreads for starters. Our favorite being the triple cheese with sun-dried tomato and basil pesto. Last visit, I opted for the spinach ravioli, this time around went for the pan-roasted grouper fillet. What an excellent choice! This is definitely the place to spend a special occasion.

I was glad the portions aren't too large, left plenty of room for dessert :) For dessert, Ryan brought us the chocolate temptation, a chocolate pyramid of chocolate gelato, berry compote, and chocolate hazelnut crunch. Anticipaton of boarding the boat, Ryan suggested we take the cake and enjoy later, which we did.

Next stop, the loading dock at the back of the Contemporary to board the boat. When we arrived, they escorted us to our boat, where Captain Mike was waiting for us. We got an awesome view of Bay Lake Towers while waiting to depart and Captain Mike gave us an update of the progress so far, they've already finished the interiors on six floors and still on schedule for Fall, 2009.

The boat was decorated with birthday balloons and there blankets folded on the two bench seats where we were to set. At 8:30pm sharp, we were on our way. The first part of the cruise is going around the lake and we headed over towards Wilderness Lodge. As we approached the front of the lodge, Captain Mike pointed out how when the hotel was constructed, as you approached from the angle we did, you could see Humphrey the Bear. The two lights at the top were his eyes, the great room window his mouth and the chandelier his tongue. That was the first time I had ever that and after being pointed out, something really cool to see.

From here, we headed towards the Magic Kingdom to get in our staging area to watch Wishes. As many times as we saw Wishes, it was nothing compared to being the only people on the boat, sitting out in the water, having the Castle right in front of you and experiencing it like the show was being put on specifically for you! There was so much we've never seen before. It was definitely a Magical Moment!

When Wishes was over, Captain Mike took us on a boat ride past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts and then finally we returned to the dock behind the Contemporary Resort. Upon arrival, he gave me the balloons from the boat and offered to take our pictures. If you look at the picture above of Captain Mike, to the right of him, the balloons almost create a hidden Mickey.

I can't thank Mary & Amanda, Chris O. and all those involved in making this one of the most memorable birthdays I ever had. It was a day of phone calls from family and friends and emails. You all Rock!

Time to rest up for our last full day before heading back home on Wed. :(

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pre-Milestone Celebration!

This year marks a milestone celebration and when Mary & Amanda asked what I wanted to do, told them I love to spend it at WDW of course!

Will actually be celebrating the BIG 5-0 with Mary & Amanda tomorrow night at the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort but had a pre-birthday celebration today with some very special friends.

The day started with lunch at Olivia's with my BFF's Bob & Toni F. I'm SO glad that you guys FINALLY got to meet Mary & Amanda and what an awesome past two days it's been! We had our best server so far this trip, Joe. Not only was he an awesome server but had a sense of humor that had us in stitches throughout lunch. He had the quickest one line deliveries. We asked him to join us for a photo and kept wondering where he went. He eventually appeared from the kitchen, carrying a brownie with ice cream, covered with whipped cream and assortment of toppings, rang the bell and had the whole restaurant singing Happy Birthday .. what an awesome start to what was going to one of the most memorable days I've had at WDW!

When staying at Old Key West, be sure to try Olivia's. We always have a great meal whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and they have some of the best staff on property!

After lunch, we headed over to Magic Kingdom to meet up with BFF Terry. The Magic Kingdom was fully decorated except for the big tree on Main Street. Was so festive walking in and seeing all the garland decorated with fruit and pine cones and the white lanterns hanging from the lamp posts. We checked a few stores and then got a great spot at the end of Main Street to catch the Disney Dreams Come True Parade. After the parade, we did some more shopping (what else ) and then headed to Tony's on Town Square, one of our favorite restaurants in the Magic Kingdom for dinner.

As you may recall, when we were down this past May, Tony's had just changed their menu and I raved about the spinach and ricotta gnocchi primavera, an awesome pasta dish of spinach and ricotta gnocchi tossed with seasonal vegetables and garlic oil with a balsamic glaze and feta. Was so glad to see it was still on the menu and sold everyone in the group on it except for Bob, who ordered the chicken parmigiana (which btw, he said was very good). Tony's sun-dried tomato pesto, an awesome spread that used to be served with your bread, which still hasn't officially returned to the restaurant was glad to see still available upon request :)

After dinner, much to my surprise, Mary & Amanda had arranged with my good friend Chris O. and Tony's (along with some help from my BFF's) to have a cake brought to the table. Was anawesome chocolate cake with chocolate icing. After everyone sang Happy Birthday, I made my wish (Bob & Toni, you know what it is, so it's up to you to make come true ::tilted head, eyes looking up with puppy dog eyes ::) and then blew out the candles.

Dinner was capped off with a special gift from Terry, a book he made himself about what was going on in 1958 when I was born with pictures of me Then & Now. So much time, thought and effort you can tell went into this and something I will always treasure. After a lot of laughing and crying, it was time to head to Main Street to see Cinderella's Castle with the icicle lights for the very first time. And Bob, for the record, you are romantic

As we made the bend onto Main Street, what a sight to behold. You see pictures, you read and hear others accounts but it's nothing compared to how it looks in person. Breathtaking is probably the best way to describe it. We found a great spot and watched Wishes. Terry, thanks SO much for staying longer with us, I know you had that drive ahead of you and had to be at work on Monday. We bid Terry good-bye, more hugs and more tears and then headed to grab some popcorn before returning to OKW.

As we got our popcorn, Ashley Ann (the castmember who waited on us), broke into song singing Happy Birthday, hitting her hands on the popcorn stand and had everyone around singing Happy Birthday. Bob had missed it, taking some pictures of the castle, so when he returned, Ashley Ann did another round. We may not have been picked or a night in the castle but talk about a magical evening and what an awesome pre-birthday celebration.

Mary, Amanda, Bob, Toni and myself headed back to OKW because we had some unfinished business before the day was over. As we opted for WDW to celebrate my birthday, part of our gang (Michelle and Greg) headed out to Disneyland to celebrate Carl's birthday who happens to share the same birthday as me, though a couple years younger :)

We got back to OKW, broke open some champagne and called our friends in CA who were at dinner celebrating Carl's birthday and toasted our two birthdays. I then opened my presents, feeling like a kid on Christmas morning .. LOL!

What an amazing two days it's been and little did I know there was even MORE tomorrow!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Great First Day!

Hard to believe we've been here two days already. Time is flying by SO fast and we've been having TOO much fun :) Even though temps were cooler here than we hoped, they were much better than what we left behind in Pittsburgh. Thankfully there were no flight delays, we actually arrived in Orlando ahead of schedule and we're back home at Old Key West by mid-morning.

Once checked in, contacted home to let them know we arrived ok and then contacted our BFF's Terry (aka BK) and Bob & Toni F. that we were here. Old Key West hadn't switched over to Christmas but was in the process. The only sign was the pots along the walkway were filled with beautiful white, pink and red pointsettas. Olivia's (a favorite of ours, pictured above) was decorated beautifully for fall. Some great photo ops! Keeping fingers crossed it will decorated before we leave.

Since our room wasn't ready, Bob & Toni met us OKW and we headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios hoping to grab a Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania. We stopped at Boardwalk Resorts to drop off our carry-ons and check out the decorations. Impressive as the last time we were here at the holidays. Boardwalk Resort had a very cool gingerbread house this year that featured my favorite couple, Donald & Daisy. Under the house was an electric train running on two tracks. What was really cool about the train, each featured the name of one of the restaurants along the Boardwalk .. really cool! We then took the boat over to DHS. We arrived somewhere between 11:00-11:30am and the Fast Pass's were already gone for the day and the line had an approx. 70 minute wait :( DHS was fully decorated and really love the nostalgic look of their decorations.

We decided then to head over towards the New York section of DHS in hopes of finding Lightning McQueen and Mater at their new location, Luigis Casa Della Tires. We were in luck! Both were there, the line was next to nothing and we got some awesome photo ops with both cars.

Since I wasn't able to ride Tower of Terror in May (was in Toy Story Mania mode) was glad to get to ride this time around. Bob, Mary & Amanda opted out and BFF Toni and I took the plunge (pardon the pun). Awesome ride and Toni, can't wait to ride it again with you next year (remember, you can't resist the look ).

The day went really fast, so headed over to Spoodles at the Boardwalk Resort to meet up with BFF Terry. Michelle had recommended this restaurant when were all down at WDW this past May, so thought a great first-night gathering. Eating at Spoodles is like taking a trip around the Mediterranean Sea with an eclectic menu featuring coastal cuisine favorites from such locales as Greece, Italy, Spain and North Africa. This "cuisine of the sun" concept is inspired by the abundant flavors of the southern European coast — noted for a creative use of spices, cheeses and other fresh ingredients. Enjoy favorites like oak-fired flatbread (which are out of this world!), authentic dips, pasta and seafood specialties. Our group chose such items as lemon-garlic shrimp linguine, wood grilled pork tenderloin and pan-fried chicken cutlet. We were so full from the flatbread and our meal, no one had room for dessert! What a great first day/night, too many laughs to count.

After a few hours sleep and being awake for 18 hours, we headed back to our resort for the night to get ready for the big day tomorrow :)

Heading Back to WDW!

Winter hit western PA earlier this week. Tuesday morning looked like a winter wonderland. As the week progressed, the snow continued to fall, fortunately with little accumulation until tonight. Perfect timing on our part, as we leave for a much needed vacation to our favorite vacation spot, Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Some of our friends headed to Walt Disney World on Monday, while others headed to Disneyland on Wednesday. It's been a week of emails and phone calls keeping each other abreast of weather conditions, each parks progress on getting ready for Christmas and the anticipation of celebrating fun times :)

Bags are packed, car is loaded and we're heading out the door for the airport and hopefully no problems getting to the airport and/or flight delays once there. Looking forward to spending time with my family, meeting up with friends, trying a couple new restaurants and of course checking out WDCC product :) As always, I will have my laptop with me, so will be able to check in from time to time.

Last we were down during the holidays was 2005, so looking forward to seeing the park all decorated again. Given the weather we're having here, even the colder temps Orlando is experiencing is much better than winter coats, gloves and shoveling snow :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lonesome Ghosts Poll Results

Our recent Lonesome Ghosts Poll has ended. The results are as follows:

82% -Would like to see done with 53% who would purchase, 20% unsure if they would purchase and 9% would not purchase.
18% - Have no interest.

Based on our survey, overall there seems to be strong interest in wanting to see something done from this short.

I will leave the results up for the Lonesome Ghosts Poll for a few days for anyone who wants to see/compare the final results. As with previous polls, Blogger results never add exactly to 100%, so the accountant in me recalculated the results based on the number of people who voted in each category to the total :)

Thanks again to all who participated!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tales from the Laughing Place Magazine to Feature WDCC Sculptor Ruben Procopio in Next Issue!

I recently came across a magazine I wasn't familiar with, Tales from the Laughing Place. An insightful magazine with in-depth articles on news of today as well as great articles on the company's colorful history, a great resource for information on the parks and their creation.

The upcoming issue (to be available soon to subscribers and also available as a single issue purchase) will feature the following articles:
  • Too Kool For Skool: A look behind-the-scenes at the creation of High School Musical On Stage featuring interviews with Director Jeff Calhoun, Choreographer Lisa Stevens and Vice-President, Licensing, Disney Theatrical Steve Fickinger. The centrepiece article also features rehearsal photography from the London cast.

  • The Lion King Stands Up On Broadway: To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Disney’s The Lion King musical original cast member and African heritage educator Ron Kunene discusses the South African roots of the story and music.

  • Family Ties: Rhett Wickham talks with legendary animator and sculptor Ruben Procopio about his experience with Walt Disney Feature Animation on movies such as The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective and his family’s connection to Walt Disney and the company that he built.

  • Lindsay Cave meets Academy Award- and Grammy-Award winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and talks about Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Enchanted.
Tales from the Laughing Place Magazine is a high-quality quarterly publication dedicated to the creativity of the Walt Disney Company. Tales magazine is currently 52-pages with no advertising and printed on quality paperstock to preserve each issue for years to come (weighing in at 10 ounces per issue). Tales magazine is currently offering new 4-issue subscriptions from Issue 12 for $36 with free shipping in the continental United States. However international shipping is available. Issues 2 to 11 inclusive are also available as back issues.

Above features the maquettes of Ratigan (from The Great Mouse Detective) and Fagin (from Oliver and Company) sculpted by Ruben Procopio during the production of those films.

For more information, check their website Tales from the Laughing Place.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Noah to Appear at Animation Art Today! and Collectors Edition are honored to introduce and present for his first Midwest Gallery Appearance, Disney's newest fine artist, Noah on Saturday, November 8th!

Noah Elias is an American artist, known simply as Noah, working within the fine art market and custom art scene. He is best known for painting the Suki art car in 2 Fast 2 Furious, but is also a widely collected painter of Disney Fine Art.

Get ready for a LIVE Painting by“NOAH” - Watch the creation of “Mickey Sorcerer” starting at 1:30PM

Animation Art is located in the Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg Il, minutes from the O'Hare Airport and Downtown Chicago.