Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Not sure your plans for New Year's Eve (a quiet dinner, New Year's Eve party, watching a good movie or favorite TV Show, early to bed or spending time with family and friends) but want to wish everyone a Very Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

If you're out driving this evening .. Be Safe!!
Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Hawaiian Style!

It’s a holiday of hilarity as four of Walt Disney’s greatest animated stars have fun on beautiful Waikiki Beach. Hawaiian Holiday opens with the song "On the Beach at Waikiki," immediately establishing its exotic island setting. That famous tune by G. H. Stover and Henry Kalmai was one of the most popular songs of the 1930's and was introduced here by Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy.

Mickey Mouse leads the festivities, comically coaxingsome native music from a steel guitar. Wearing a colorfulfloral lei, Minnie dances a lovely hula, enchantingeveryone with every little movement. Donald relaxesaboard a beached boat, plucking out a sonorous songof the Islands. Meanwhile that all-around (if inept) athleteGoofy gets set to hang ten with some very silly surfing. Pluto was also on hand, rounding out one of the rare occasions when all of Disney’s “fab five” shared the screen in the same cartoon short.

February 2009, the Walt Disney Classics Collection releases a four-part scene (each sculpture sold separately) that includes Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. This Open Edition release was sculpted by Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales.

For your viewing pleasure (courtesy of is the animated short Hawaiian Holiday (1937):

Hawaiian Holiday ©Disney

20th Anniversary Release from The Little Mermaid

Ariel and Flounder travel to the surface to watch a celebration for the birthday of Prince Eric, with whom Ariel falls in love. The birthday celebration is cut short by a massive storm, during which the ship is struck by lightning. Everyone manages to escape in a lifeboat, except for Eric who boards the burning ship to save his dog Max. Eric almost drowns, but is saved by Ariel, who drags him to the beach. She sings to him, but when he stirs awake, she dives underwater. Eric has a vague impression that he was rescued by a girl with a beautiful voice; he vows to find her, and Ariel vows to find a way to join Eric.

Triton and his daughters notice a change in Ariel, who is openly lovesick. Triton questions Sebastian about Ariel's behavior, during which Sebastian accidentally reveals the incident with Eric. Triton furiously confronts and punishes Ariel in her grotto, using his trident to destroy her collection of human treasures, including her prized statue of Prince Eric.

In honor of it's upcoming 20th Anniversary comes the release of Ariel with Statue of Prince Eric, a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,000 sculpted by Kent Melton.

More from Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 adventure film, based on the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction at the Disney Theme Parks.

The story follows pirate Captain Jack Smith and blacksmith Will Turner as they rescue Elizabeth Swann from her kidnapping by the cursed crew of the Black Pearl, captained by Hector Barbossa.

Joining previously released Captain Jack Sparrow (Open Edition) and Captain Barbossa (2007 Winter Premiere Event Numbered Limited Edition of 2,500) are Elizabeth Swann (Numbered Limited Edition of 1,000) and Will Turner and an Opening Title (both Open Edition).

Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa were sculpted by Tim Bruckner. Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner were sculpted by Joel Harlow.

Goofy's One-Man Band Joins the Mickey Mouse Club!

Gangly, good-natured Goofy is strikingup the band, a one band, in honor of his best pal and Club leader. Goofy joins Mickey’s parade of animated superstars from the Club ‘that’s made for you and me!’

As with the previous releases from this series, Goofy ("One-Man Band") a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,000 was sculpted by Bruce Lau.

The opening theme, "The Mickey Mouse March", was written by the show's primary adult host, Jimmie Dodd. It was also reprised at the end of each episode, with the slower "Now it's time to say goodbye" verse. A shorter version of the opening title was used later in the series, in syndication and on Disney Channel reruns. Dodd also wrote many other songs used in individual segments over the course of the series.

Although the show was filmed and broadcast in black and white, all of the animated segments - the opening theme, Mickey's introductions and farewells, the Jiminy Cricket shorts, etc. - were filmed in color. Below is the opening sequence (in color) courtesy of

The Mickey Mouse Club ©Disney

What A Gal!

Donald Duck's girlfriend, Daisy, had her debut as Donna Duck in Don Donald (1937), but became known as Daisy in Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940). Daisy had three nieces in comic book stories: April, May, and June.

No other duck has a sassy sashay to her walk like Daisy; she's one-hundred-percent woman, from the top of the bow in her hair to the bottom of her determined heart. Mistress of high drama, Daisy can go from coy to flaming just as fast as her best beau Donald, and she more than matches him at his own game. A woman who knows her mind, she expects to be treated right: candy, flowers, a night on the town. If Donald won't toe the line, she's not afraid to offer an ultimatum. "Until you develop a more pleasant personality, I don't want to see you again." Threats notwithstanding, she's confident that Donald will always be back, faults and all. In fact, given the choice between keeping him for herself just as he is, or sharing him with the rest of the world, she makes her feelings for Donald very clear. "Me, me, me, me ... ME!" Daisy wouldn't have it any other way. Favorite sayings: "Well, I never!" "Oh, Donald ..."

Daisy joins other members of the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald himself) as part of the Spotlight Collection. Daisy is an Open Edition release, sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.

For your viewing pleasure (courtesy of, one of my favorite Donald & Daisy shorts (watching them dance is priceless!) .. Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940):

Mr. Duck Steps Out ©Disney

Simba: Can't Wait to be King as the 2009 Spring Event Sculpture!

Simba is the Spring Premiere Event featured sculpture taking place worldwide April 17-20, 2009.

The sculpture is from the I Can't Wait To Be King song sequence from Disney's blockbuster, The Lion King. Simba asks his mother if he can go to the water-hole with his best friend, Nala. Their parents agree but only if Mufasa's majordomo, the hornbill Zazu, goes with them. Simba and Nala elude Zazu's supervision during I Just Can't Wait to Be King and go to the graveyard instead.

A Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,500, Simba was sculpted by Bruce Lau. The sculpture will bear a 15th Anniversary backstamp in honor of the film's release.

For your viewing pleasure (courtesy of, is the I Can't Wait to Be King sequence from Disney's The Lion King (1994):

The Lion King ©Disney

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dancing Aurora & Phillip Suspended Today!

The Walt Disney Classics Collection has suspended effective today, Dec. 12th, the Dancing Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip (blue version), A Dance in the Clouds.

Dancing Aurora and Prince Phillip made their debut, as an Open Edition in 1997. When initially released, the Dancing Blue Version was a darker blue in coloring (actually had a bluish-purple hue to it) and then later released in a lighter blue coloring (like the photo at right). An in-depth discussion can be found in an earlier blog entry, Dancing Aurora & Phillip: Make Her Blue!

Special Note: Suspension means that the item is currently sold out at the warehouse and there is no anticipation to re-order at this time. Please contact an Authorized WDCC Dealer and/or the Theme Parks for availability.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Updated Images of the Vultures from The Jungle Book!

I had the opportunity to see the prototype this past weekend at the Gallery of the Lakes signing event and liked this sculpture every bit as much (if not more) in person as I did when I first saw the pictures.

At left, is a back view of the sculpture which I've added to the Presentation Page (click on Vultures at left) plus a new front version, which better depicts the actual coloring of the final sculpt.

The Vultures were part of the 2009 members only assortment that included two releases from Disney's 1967 classic (and last film under Walt), The Jungle Book:
  • Members Only Limited Edition-Vultures
  • Villains Series-Shere Khan (unfortunately this prototype didn't arrive in time for the event)
The Vultures, rarely portrayed in any other medium mark not only their WDCC debut but the return of the Members Only Limited Edition. This Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,000, sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons will be made available in February, 2009.

"Things Are Right Dead All Over" is plussed with pewter plant stalks and branches as well as the feathers on Flaps, Buzzie, Ziggy and Dizzy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Weekend in 'Wonderland'

Being at Walt Disney World prior to Thanksgiving (and seeing the park transform into the Christmas season) and then traveling to Gallery of the Lakes this past weekend (after putting up my outside lights and decorations), being around all the lights and decorations (not to mention some snow) and spending time with great friends has really put me into the holiday spirit!

I set out on Thursday morning to Rock Hill, NY for the signing event this past weekend with sculptor, animator and good friend Ruben Procopio and Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) and Wendy (from Peter Pan) and Traci Thomas, Brand Manager for the Walt Disney Classics Collection (pictured at left).

It was a great opportunity to finally see in person the Signature Series release featuring Alice & Dinah (from Alice in Wonderland), Dumbo (from the Mickey Mouse Club), the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Mulan & Father (from Mulan), Orville with Bernard & Miss Bianca (from The Rescuers) plus the upcoming Members Only releases that were recently previewed (Dopey, Snow White Apple Ornament and Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Vultures from The Jungle Book. Unfortunately Shere Khan (also from The Jungle Book) did not make in time from overseas).

Was a great day on Friday, spent at the store with Ray, Elaine, Tammy and Gary talking and discussing all the new and upcoming pieces, getting to help set up the WDCC cases and then being joined later in the afternoon by Bob & Toni (my recent WDW travel buddies) and Ruben, Traci and Kathryn (who came in a day early for pre-signing). At the close of the day, Elaine invited Bob, Toni and myself to join her, Ruben, Traci and Kathryn for dinner at Cosimo's Brick Oven in Middletown, NY. What an amazing place! The focaccia bread was to die for! Our waitress shared with us what made it so light, airy and delicious -- mashed potatoes! What a great evening -- good company, good food and good times! Will definitely be stopping by here again the next time in Middletown. Melanie, you knew I couldn't do a trip blog entry without discussing food :)

Michelle and Jimi & Kristen met us at the Hampton Inn in Middletown, NY on Sat., got checked in and settled and we hung out at the hotel until time to leave for the event and meet up with Jeff and Carl who were driving straight to the store. It was great to see old friends as we arrived at the store that we've gotten to know from past events -- Sue, Steve and Barb, Robert, Tom, Melanie & Bill, Ann & Bill and Lynette and meet new ones, Darcy (we've exchanged blog/message board postings and emails, so was nice to finally meet in person, though much too short!). It's always a great (and fun) time catching up! A thrill for me was having Kathryn personalize Amanda's Alice Salvati painting from 'Alice to Amanda'. Thanks Babs for suggesting bringing the painting on the morning I was leaving!

A Special Presentation was held in the Gallery Lounge with Ruben and Kathryn and was such an insightful presentation with Ruben talking about how he came to work for the Disney Studios, the many films he's worked on as both an animator and sculptor and the pieces he's worked on for the Walt Disney Classics Collection (unfortunately we didn't get any hints on future releases) and Kathryn talking about working on both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and working with Walt Disney himself! The presentation concluded with three (3) lucky winners, winning a sketch drawing done by Ruben ... Goofy (won by Michael), Simba (won by Ann) and Alice (won by Robert). Congratulations!

The event concluded with dinner and cocktail reception at Bernie's Holiday Restaurant in Rock Hill, NY and as we were having dinner, it began to snow outside, giving an added magical, holiday feeling to the evening plus it was Ruben's first time seeing snow!

Hoping Sue made it safely back to MA and Ann & Bill had a safe flight to Phoenix the next morning. We returned to the hotel and after breakfast the next morning, returned to the store for our final purchases before heading home.

What a great weekend and one I will NEVER forget. I wanted to close my blog entry with this special photo (above) I took of Kathryn with this year's Signature Series release (truly a wonder to behold) of Alice & Dinah at the event. Be watching for more photos from the event!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gallery of the Lakes Holiday Signing Event Weekend

Mark your Calendars! December 6th, Gallery of the Lakes is hosting a Holiday Signing Event Weekend with Special Guests, Kathryn Beaumont and Ruben Procopio!

Kathryn Beaumont, the original voice of Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan!

In celebration of Ruben’s Pirate works and Peter Pan’s own Pirate Adventures, the Exclusive Theme Park Pirates of the Caribbean Series (Helmsman Pirate, Captain of the Wicked Wench, the Auctioneer and Redhead, Pirate with Pigs, Pirate on Archway Bridge and the Jail Scene) will all be made available for this special signing weekend!

Also on hand will be the recently announced 2008 Signature Series release from Alice in Wonderland featuring Alice and Dinah (in her WDCC debut) and Orville (also making his WDCC debut), Bernard & Bianca from The Rescuers and Mickey, Mouse, Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck from the classic, Mickey’s Christmas Carol!

Itinerary For Saturday, December 6, 2008

  • Signing and Holiday Party
  • Special Presentation-Gallery Lounge
  • Special Charity Auction
5:00pm Tree Lighting
5:30pm Disney Holiday Dinner & Cocktail Reception

Gallery of the Lakes is located in Rock Hill, NY 12775
Please RSVP (800) 692-3087

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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat :)

No matter what your age, the last night of October is always one to look forward to celebrating. Halloween means kids running around in costumes, family and friends getting together and a chance talk with neighbors. What other holiday do you have an excuse to eat all the sugar you want and wear whatever you want?

When we think of Halloween in America, many traditions are associated with the holiday. The most common tradition is dressing in halloween costumes, which has European and Celtic roots. These cultures believed they could avoid being recognized by the ghosts that came out on the night of Samhain by wearing masks. They would also place bowls of food outside their homes to satisfy the ghosts and prevent them from entering the home, which could be where trick-or-treating originated. Other sources point to beggars in Ireland who made their rounds to homes of the rich to ask for money and food. They would threaten them with “evil spirits” if they did not give.

The Batman phenomenon hit this summer with the release of The Dark Knight. This year, Amanda and her roommate Rachel opted for Batgirl and Supergirl (pictured above) as they celebrate Halloween tonight with friends in Pittsburgh. My nephews Milton and Brandon opted for the Joker, as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger from this past summer's blockbuster, The Dark Knight.

As an added Halloween Treat, below (courtesy of is the first Silly Symphonies release, The Skeleton Dance (1929). It is probably one of the most entertaining and imaginative animation shorts ever made, featuring the animation of Ub Iwerks and the music of Carl Stalling.

In this short, four human skeletons dance and make music around a spooky graveyard.
When the skeletons first appear you can somewhat see why in 1929 some people thought this was too gruesome for a cartoon. The fact that it is in black and white enhances the eerie graveyard setting.

Sit back and enjoy and hopefully your day was more treats vs. tricks ]:)

The Skeleton Dance is a Silly Symphony Cartoon ©Disney

Review: Event Tinker Bell Sculpture

Yesterday, a pre-Halloween treat arrived .. Tinker Bell! I had only seen this sculpture via pictures but was just as pleased in person. Margi Wray did another fantastic job on Tinker Bell. You may recall, Margi sculpted the 2005 Disney Bank One Visa credit card exclusive of Tinker Bell from Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.

Blithe Spirit is not only the 2008 Fall Event sculpture but also the first release in the Master Artist Series. In the most recent Sketches, there was an article on the origin of this sculpture and how it came to be. David Pacheco's newest design of Tinker Bell presents a popular character in a fresh situation. "The idea for this piece actually came about a while ago," Dave continues. "I had done a random sketch of Tinker Bell for another project and everyone I work with seemed to like it. It was a little more interpretive and something that wasn't taken directly from the film Peter Pan.

"Putting Tink on a leaf helps to show scale and the rich autumn colors really make her stand out. It makes a better statement than a green leaf which would have been too similar to her costume."

Comparing this Tinker Bell to previous releases, she is much larger both in body size and wings. There is a lot of detail and facial expression (she looks great at any angle) and like how Margi sculpted her bangs falling over her forehead. There is a lot of detail in the leaf and like the color palette that was used. Her wings are what strike you as different vs. previous releases, much longer and more of an arch. They appear more as fluttering, relaxed vs. previous releases where she either preening, rocking back and forth laughing or in flight.

Mary being a huge Tinker Bell fan, it was a no-brainer this one would be added to our collection :) I'd like to thank Pam at Cel-Ebration for locating one for me. Waiting too close to the event proved not a good choice in pre-ordering one, as most dealers sold out. Thanks Pam!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lonesome Ghosts

Lonesome Ghosts, starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy as members of the agency "Ajax Ghost Exterminators" was released on December 24, 1937.

Four green phantoms want some fun, so they invite ghostbusters Mickey, Donald, and Goofy over to their haunted home with the aim of driving them crazy but things don't work out as planned.

As Donald observes "So you can't take it, you big sissies!". Goofy offers what is considered the short's most memorable quote while warily looking around him: "I'm brave but I'm careful." Another Goofy quip is "I ain't scared of no ghosts!", a line repeated in Ray Parker, Jr's hit Ghostbusters, the theme song of the 1984 film of the same name.

A rumor surfaced a few years ago that a Lonesome Ghost sculpture had been planned as a Disneyana release but never materialized (pardon the pun :)) Lonesome Ghosts continues to come up in conversations with fellow collectors, so in keeping with the Halloween Spirit, started a poll yesterday (at right) to gauge interest for something to be released from this film. The poll will end on Sunday at midnight.

For those unfamiliar with Lonesome Ghosts, below is the short courtesy of

Lonesome Ghosts is ©Disney

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Favorite of Recent 4th Qtr. Poll Results

The recent Favorite of the Recent 4th Quarter Poll has ended. The results are as follows:

45% -Signature Series: Alice Down the Rabbit Hole
32% - NLE: Orville, Bernard & Miss Bianca
23% -NLE: Mulan and her Father, Fa Zhou

I will leave the results up from this 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!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A ‘Spirited’ Show at CEL-EBRATION! Gallery

Animated villains, ghosts, goblins and ghouls will inhabit the walls of CEL-EBRATION! Gallery in Red Bank, NJ from October 24th through November 15th, 2008!

Original art and limited edition pieces created by Disney artist Mike Kupka and gothic artist and author Gris Grimly will be highlighted. CEL-EBRATION! is the only gallery in the northeast authorized to carry Grimly’s art. Animation cels and drawings representing the scarier side of the cartoon world, such as gallery favorite Jack Skellington from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas are included in the show’s mix.

A special gallery event featuring a guest appearance by artist Mike Kupka is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th. from 2:00 to 4:00PM. Mr. Kupka will be signing his work and discussing his unique style of painting Disney characters. Kupka, a resident of NJ, is also well known for his paintings of Universal Studios monsters.

To RSVP for the event please call (732) 842-8489. CEL-EBRATION! Gallery is located at 30 Monmouth Street in Red Bank NJ. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11:00 AM—5:00 PM. For additional information please visit their website at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Anniversary Dumbo!

One of my favorite films celebrates the anniversary of it's release today! Dumbo was first released on October 23, 1941 by RKO Radio Pictures and the fourth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. Dumbo is based upon a child's book of the same name by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Perl.

The main character is Jumbo Jr., who is cruelly nicknamed Dumbo. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using them as wings. Throughout some of the film, his only true friend aside from his mother is Timothy Mouse, parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.

Despite the advent of World War II, Dumbo was still the most financially successful Disney film of the 1940's. Completed in fall 1941, Disney's distributer RKO Radio Pictures initially balked at the film's 64 minute length and wanted Disney to either make it longer, edit it down to a short subject length, or allow them to release it as a B-movie. Disney refused all three options, and RKO reluctantly issued Dumbo, unaltered, as an A-film.

After its October 23, 1941 release, Dumbo proved to be a financial miracle compared to other Disney movies. The film cost $813,000 to produce, half the cost of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and less than a third of the cost of Pinocchio. Dumbo eventually grossed $1.6 million during its original release; it and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were the only two pre-1943 Disney features to turn a profit.

This film was one of the first of Disney's animated films to be broadcast, albeit severely edited, on television as part of Disney's anthology series. The film then received another distinction of note in 1981, when it was the first of Disney's animated films to be released on home video.

Dumbo, sculpted by Kent Melton, made his Walt Disney Classics Collection debut in 1995. Chosen as the Walt Disney Collectors Society membership gift sculpture for that year, he was available from January 1st thru December 31st, 1995. The sculpture's title defined this piece perfectly, "simply adorable" and still remains my favorite piece to this day in the collection.

It wasn't until 2003 that a full scene (with opening title) was released from this film. Up until that time, only stand alone releases (Members Only, Special Event, Open Edition and WDAC Convention) were made available. A complete WDCC listing
from this film can be seen in the Dumbo Image Gallery section of the website.


  • In December 1941, Time magazine planned to have Dumbo on its cover to commemorate its success, but it was dropped due to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Initially Walt Disney was uninterested in making this movie. To get him interested, story men Joe Grant and Dick Huemer wrote up the film as installments which they left on Walt's desk every morning. Finally, he ran into the story department saying, "This is great! What happens next?"
  • The first Disney movie for Sterling Holloway (the Stork) and Verna Felton (the Elephant Matriarch). Both would become regulars in Disney animated films for the next thirty-five years.
  • According to some sources this was Walt Disney's favorite film made by his studios.
  • During production there was a long and bitter animators strike, in which half of the studio's staff walked out. Some of the strikers are caricatured as the clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise".
  • While trying to comfort Dumbo, Timothy says: "Lots of people with big ears are famous!". That's a joke with Walt Disney himself, who did have big ears. The line also refers to Clark Gable, renowned for his charming looks and large ears.
  • Mrs Jumbo (Dumbo's mother) only speaks once when she says Dumbo's original name.
  • The name of the circus (seen on a sign as the train leaves the winter headquarters) is WDP Circus (Walt Disney Productions).
  • When the drunken Timothy is sliding down the staircase-shaped bubble Dumbo has blown, his laugh is actually that of Mickey Mouse.
  • When Jim Crow plucks the "magic" feather off of the little crow's tail, the crow's yell is actually a snippet of dialogue from The Reluctant Dragon (1941). The full line is the dragon saying "Well, that's splendid!"

Below is the 1941 trailer for Dumbo, courtesy of

Dumbo is ©Disney