I like collecting. As sad as it sounds, I don't really have many talents or hobbies. Yes, I like reading and writing, but I'm not really a musician, and my artistic skills are laughable (just ask my students...every time I draw a map of the US, it looks like some creepy donkey eating something). Disney and Walt Disney World gives me an opportunity to enjoy something, to immerse myself in a world of fantastic story. Studying, reading about, collecting things from, and writing about Disney gives me a feeling of being part of a larger community, which is important to me, as I'm a pretty introverted person when not writing online or performing in front of a classroom full of seventeen and eighteen year olds.
Living my entire life away from my favorite place on the planet (I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and currently live in Greensboro, North Carolina), I've always loved to collect Disney artifacts, books, and collectibles, to create for myself the illusion that I'm not so far from the magic. You can usually find me listening to Subsonic Radio's live streams of Walt Disney World music while I'm at home or at work. I enjoy putting tiki torches on in my backyard during the summer while listening to the Illuminations pre-show loop over my wireless speaker. And I really enjoy eating at Longhorn Steakhouse, because it creates the illusion that, for a few minutes at least, I'm eating at a western-themed restaurant at Walt Disney World (I go into more depth about how I deal with my Walt Disney World Withdrawal, or WDWWd, in a previous post). Adding to and surrounding myself with my Disney collection does the same thing: it provides me the temporary illusion that there are things that bring me joy and bring back the flood of good memories, especially when I'm dealing with the stress of my world or my health concerns. In a previous post, I shared the first part of my Disney collection; this is part two of my Disney collection, in which I share with you a few of my favorite pieces.
I am an avid coffee drinker. Like, it is slightly pathetic. I have two cups a day, every day. My family and students alike know not to talk to me until I have at least one cup in my system, otherwise I'm not pretty. What better way to start your day with your cup-o'-Joe in a Disney mug? My collection features numerous Disney mugs, such as a few of the "Mickey's 'Really Swell' Coffee Brand" cups, as well as a couple Disney collage mugs.
|That princess mug is my wife's. I promise.|
Some pieces of my collection are souvenirs that were purchased either by me or for me on my various Disney trips. One of my recent additions are a magnet set purchased by my parents at the Memento Mori shop near the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom. The magnets depict the hitchhiking ghosts and the Hatbox Ghost from the attraction. However, the magnets are only the upper half of the characters, leading the viewer to believe that they are emerging from your refrigerator. The magnetic figures are a light green color to create the illusion that they are ethereal beings emerging from the afterlife. The best part is that the magnets are meant to glow in the dark, leading people to believe that the ghosts are real (I'll admit...when the glow-in-the-dark actually worked, this used to freak me out when I'd come downstairs to make my coffee early in the morning).
|"Welcome, famished mortals to the Haunted HAMsion!" Get it? Okay, nevermind...|
Another of my souvenirs has an interesting story attached to it. In November of 2013, my wife and I traveled down to Walt Disney World to spend a few days there with my parents and brother over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. My parents and brother live in Michigan and had decided to catch a flight down to Orlando, while, living in Greensboro, NC, my wife and I decided to make the ten-hour drive after getting out of school on Tuesday, to arrive at the off-property condo we were renting a few hours after midnight. Over the course of the next four days, we visited three of the parks and SeaWorld, where my cousin was working as a restaurant manager in the newly opened Antarctica experience. We spent our first day of the trip at the Magic Kingdom. Having spent many vacations growing up at Walt Disney World, including during the winter, we all knew that the average temperatures for central Florida during the winter months was in the high sixties during the day and somewhere in the forties or fifties at night. However, when the sun went down on that day in late November while we were at the Magic Kingdom, the temperatures plunged into the high thirties or low forties. We were all walking around in shorts and a tee-shirt, completely unprepared! We walked into different shops in Adventureland, looking for cheap sweatshirts, but it being Disney (you'd think we'd know better by now), none were to be found. We realized that even purchasing a towel would provide some protection against the cold, but we had a hard time finding those, as well. My dad finally noticed that many of the stores throughout the Magic Kingdom were prepared for the cool temperatures and had a special deal: spend $50 on merchandise and you would be eligible to purchase a special souvenir blanket for an additional $20. My dad went up to the cast member behind the counter, trying to convince her to simply sell us the blankets without spending $70, but she redirected us to the sign. Dismayed and very cold, we wandered around the store for a few more minutes, looking at the sweatshirts, ready to each purchase a sweatshirt (that we'd probably never wear again) for $35 each, when the cast member came over to us and told us she'd gotten her manager's permission to sell us the blankets, offering us a little bit of Disney magic for the evening. We were able to purchase two of the blankets, which my mom and wife carried around the rest of the evening to keep themselves warm. I do have vivid memories, however, of getting on the parking lot tram after getting off the Riverboat at the end of the day, my wife and I pulling the blanket over our heads and tucking ourselves against the seats in front of us, trying to stay warm.
Other pieces of my Disney collection that are pretty special to me are posters from the park. In the mid-2000s, on a trip to Walt Disney World with my family, I learned that the Art of Disney store at Downtown Disney sold print-to-order copies of the attraction posters from the Magic Kingdom. In other words, for a price, guests can purchase copies of the posters hanging below the Main Street train station. I went through the digital collection on the kiosks in the store, and ultimately chose posters for Mickey's PhilharMagic and Tomorrowland, which we framed upon arriving back home.
Five or six years ago, my parents found some more awesome posters to add to my collection. While browsing on eBay, they came across a Wet Paint sign used at Walt Disney World in 1987 featuring Donald Duck and his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. A couple years later, while shopping through an antique store in Michigan, they came across some old Wheaties boxes from the 1950s that featured cut-out masks of Mickey Mouse and Dumbo. These boxes were in perfect condition, as the previous owners had not cut the masks off the box. Quick research has shown that there were a total of eight different masks consumers could purchase, including Cinderella, Bambi, Lucifer, and Brer Rabbit. A quick glance on eBay has shown that an uncut Mickey Mouse mask in worse condition than mine is going for $75, while an uncut copy of the Pinocchio mask is fetching upwards of $250. Unfortunately, after a cursory glance, I've been unable to find anything about the value of my Dumbo mask.
|Those Wheaties box masks are the things of nightmares! So, naturally, they hang in my 5-year-old boys' bedroom.|
I know I seem to say this every paragraph, but some of the most special pieces of my collection are things that were actually used at Walt Disney World (and I'm not just talking about the resort soaps that I put into my suitcase every day so Mousekeeping brings me more and I come home with ten bars of Disney soap and ten bottles of Disney shampoo that I never use because how could I even think of using them??? Oh, come on, don't judge me...you know you do it too...). For example, many years ago, my parents gifted me with a comforter that was once used at the All-Star Music that they had purchased online from one of those stores that sell Disney World memorabilia. The comforter is thin, so it is great during the summer months. It features images representing different genres of music, such as big band, rock n' roll, the big budget musicals of the 1920s and 30s, and country music, as well as numerous Hidden Mickeys. I slept with it on my bed for many years, until I got married and the "feng shui of decor" actually mattered... -_-
|Interestingly enough, I never gave it much thought that perhaps thousands of people had slept (and perhaps other things) below this comforter... O_o|
Perhaps the coolest and most unique collectible that I have from Walt Disney World is a pair of wall sconces that were also used at the All-Star Music Resort. These white light fixtures are cylindrical in shape and feature music notes on them. Holes in the top and bottom of the cylinder allow the light to shine on the wall, creating illumination. The musical notes are a translucent blue, allowing for some light to shine through them. These fixtures would have hung inside the rooms at the All-Star Music resort; in fact, I vaguely remember these lights hanging on the walls of the room we stayed in at the resort sometime in the mid-1990s.
|Photo Credit: Stan Kiste. There, happy dad? ;-)|
While my Disney collection brings back so many fond memories for me and creates that sense of warm, joyful nostalgia for me on the toughest of days, it also has another effect:
It allows me to slowly fulfill my evil plan of indoctrinating my children to love Disney as much as I.