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Mouse Monthly Meets The D23 Expo

Setting up for D23 Expo
Alex and his Mom in our booth at the 2015 D23 Expo!

Mouse Monthly took part in the D23 Expo this past weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. At booth number 1217 in Hall B, we started showing the Disney community our original designs in collectible pins, tank tops and t-shirts, as well as our newest product, Head Holders (stands for displaying all your collectible antenna balls). What an incredible experience!

Perfect Booth Location

Mouse Monthly Booth 2015 D23 Expo

The D23 Expo had over 60,000 attendees, and it honestly feels like we talked to most of them! Disney fans are such wonderful people and we had so many great conversations with guests as well as people who were working at the Expo.

Hall B Map

 

We couldn’t have picked a better site for our booth. None of us had been to the Anaheim Convention Center before, and when we picked our spot, half of it was planning, but the other half was just hoping. We ended up right at the end of Mickey Avenue, across from our friends at MiceChat.com and beside some incredible art.

Hall B, Mickey Avenue
View from our booth. All the way down Mickey Avenue!

Costumes, Costumes Everywhere!

Calhoun Cosplay
AmberSkies Cosplay as Calhoun from Wreck It Ralph

 

Rapunzel & Eugene
Sarah (https://instagram.com/skeaggy) and Cody (https://instagram.com/codysseus ) as Rapunzel and Eugene from Tangled

People were walking around in costumes and wearing their favorite t-shirts, which made the days all the more entertaining while we spotted our favorite characters and got to see all the inspirational designs. Check out @MouseMonthly on Twitter for more great cosplay pictures from the Expo!

Amazing Disney Talent On Display

Behind us signing autographs was Ed Asner (voice of Carl Fredricksen in Disney Pixar’s UP) who was such a trooper! He signed autographs and took pictures with fans all three days of the Expo!

Ed Asner

There were also many other notable Disney artists and Imagineers, like Terri Hardin, who was working on her own carving all weekend while signing copies of her collectible castle pin.

Terri Hardin

I was over the moon to meet Jim Cummings and have him autograph a photo of Pooh and Tigger for my son.

Jim Cummings

We talked about one of Alex’s favorite characters, Ray (from The Princess and the Frog) and he easily dropped into character, quoting one of the lines from the film, “Women like a man with a big back porch!”

Speaking of The Princess and the Frog, Michael Leon-Wooley was across from us at MiceChat.com signing autographs and hearing his booming laugh was such a treat throughout the day. How fun to meet “Louis”!

Michael Leon-Wooley

We also got to hear other familiar voices, like Bill Farmer the voice of Goofy and Pluto. And on the last day of the Expo the voice of Mickey Mouse himself, Bret Iwan was across from us at one of the art booths!

There was the most amazing booth two rows over from us called Legends Events, hosting celebrities like Dick Van Dyke, Lesley Ann Warren, Sean Astin, as well as the girl who does the voice of young Anna from Frozen, Livvy Stubenrauch! They were all so nice and happy to be meeting their fans.

Getting Around The Expo

It was neat being able to sneak away from the booth for a moment here and there to check out everything else at the Expo, all the while wearing my yellow exhibitor badge with pride! It felt so good to be a part of this community and to work alongside the Disney greats as well as the other small businesses who are trying to make a living while doing what they love.

Jamie with her D23 Exhibitor Badge

Hall C was full of eye candy with Star Wars displays, movie memorabilia, a huge Shanghai Disneyland display and store, as well as my favorite, Disney Pixar, who did giveaways the first two days of the Expo of their iconic Luxo balls.

Star Wars Costume Display 2015 D23 Expo

Even the Pizza Planet truck was there! Marco from PizzaPlanetTruck.com showed me all the details that they have included to make it authentic, including Buzz buckled in to the front seat and Woody in the back where ‘there are no safety harnesses in the storage compartment’!

Pizza Planet Truck

It All Started With A Baby…

We met so many wonderful people and got to share the story of how we started as a little blog ‘that thought we could’. For those of you who don’t know our history, when we were pregnant Alex and I would go to the Disneyland Resort every month or so, and as I became more pregnant I got bigger, more swollen, and a whole lot slower!

When we went to the park, we would sit quite a bit and would talk about what we noticed as well as what we loved about Disney. So we decided to share our thoughts through our blog and Mouse Monthly started growing, along with our son, Jack who was born in April of 2013.

We continued along blogging here and there, writing about our trips and posting articles about things that interested us. Then Disney discontinued selling the SoCal pass, and being Southern California passholders we had questions, and started looking for answers…and asking more questions, and finding more answers. Thus our Ultimate Guide for Disneyland Annual Passholders came about. Traffic to our website increased a bit, and a bit more, and soon we were getting over a thousand visits a day!

The Big Idea: Get A Booth At The 2015 D23 Expo

In the spring Alex told me his idea to get a booth at this year’s D23 Expo. My response? “…and do what?” Lol! So we talked about the designs that we liked and what we had always wanted to see on merchandise and what made us ‘feel Disney’. Then we contracted designers from all over the world to put those ideas together into a seasonal theme, and got so many wonderful designs that we had to narrow it down to a few Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter inspired designs.

Mouse Monthly Winter Snowscapes T-shirt

We sourced out quality tank tops and tees, and got them screen printed just in time for the Expo, and received our pins the day before we headed down to Anaheim to set up. With Alex’s mom’s help we set up our booth and displayed our new wares, including the Head Holders, our innovative new product for displaying all those wonderful, collectible antenna balls!

Mouse Monthly Ghostly Trio T-Shirt

Head Holders

 

It was a bit terrifying for me as a stay at home mom to put ourselves out there and make the transition from a little family blog into a small family business offering great information on Disneyland as well as originally designed products, but I couldn’t have asked for a warmer environment to do it in.

Jamie & Mary Morales

I received wonderful support from other exhibitors in attendance, especially other moms, like Mary Morales, a Disney Travel Specialist who was at the Legends Events booth. And I cannot finish this article without mentioning the overwhelming praise and kindness we received from all our new customers and the Disney fans in attendance at the Expo. It is you who make it possible for us to try to live our dream.

New friend and customer!

I made new friends, and have memories I will cherish from this experience. Wish us luck as we push into the future, and thank you again for your loyalty and your support.

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8 Things You Might Not Know About Canada And Disney

Happy Canada Day From Mouse Monthly

Happy Canada Day From Mouse Monthly

In America, we get pretty wrapped up in our own 4th of July celebration that we often don’t take time to notice similar events in other countries. Before I met my wife Jamie, a Canadian, I had no idea Canada Day even existed. So in the spirit of Disney, freedom, and greater understanding, I give you this list of 8 things you might not know about Disney and our Canadian friends to the North.

  1. Walt Disney World might have been in Niagara Falls

    • Shortly after building Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Walt Disney began looking outside of California for a second site to build a resort. He didn’t like all the cheap-looking businesses that a built up around his magical vacation destination and wanted a bigger chunk of land further to the East that he could play with.
    • Niagara Falls was briefly considered as a site for Disney World.
      Niagara Falls was briefly considered as a site for Disney World.
    • In 1963, Walt flew all over North America looking for the land that eventually became Walt Disney World and one of the locations he considered was Niagara Falls, Ontario. The Disney family was wined and dined by the Seagram Liquor Company, as they tried to sweeten the idea to Walt, but he opted against the Niagara area due to the cold winters in the area.
    • There are many fan sites still making the case for a Disney resort in Canada. Some have even gone so far as drawing sample park maps!
  2. Disney resorts are on the top 20 list of travel destinations for Canadians

    • Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World.
      Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World.
    • Apparently, visiting Disney resorts isn’t for Americans alone, because Disneyland and Disney World routinely top the list of destinations most visited by Canadians. Most recently, Anaheim (DL) was the 17th most visited international destination for Canadians and Orlando (WDW) the 5th most.
  3. ‘Brother Bear’ has a little ‘Strange Brew’ in it…

    • Bob and Doug McKenzie as Rutt and Tuke © Disney/MGM
      Bob and Doug McKenzie as Rutt and Tuke © Disney/MGM
    • The Canadian duo of Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, aka Bob and Doug McKenzie, performed the voices for Rutt and Tuke, a pair of Canadian moose in the Disney animated feature ‘Brother Bear.’ If you haven’t seen this film, don’t worry because you’re not missing anything, but you can check out a scene of the two mischievous moose below.
  4. Pixar had a studio in Vancouver, BC for 3 years

    • Shuttered Pixar Canada logo
      Shuttered Pixar Canada logo
    • In 2010, Disney-Pixar took advantage of generous Canadian tax breaks and established a 20,000 square foot animation studio in downtown Vancouver. Mostly creating shorts and commercials, the studio, officially Pixar Canada, produced such gems as Mater’s Tall Tales, Small Fry, Partysaurus Res, and Tales From Radiator Springs. Three years later Pixar shut down the studio, laying off 100 animators and staff.
  5. Canada was 1 of 9 world showcase opening day pavilions at EPCOT

    • In October 1982, EPCOT opened as the second theme park at Walt Disney World. One half of the park is ‘Future World’ and the other half the ‘World Showcase,’ which is basically boiled down versions of various countries in ten-acre plots around a lake.
    • When entering the World Showcase from the front of the park, the Canada pavilion is the first on the right-hand side and consistently one of the most visited areas in the entire park. All of the employees (cast members) in the pavilion are native to Canada and dressed up like lumberjacks (because everyone in Canada wears red plaid).
    •  Jamie in front of Le Cellier at Canada EPCOT
      Jamie in front of Le Cellier at Canada EPCOT
    • A scale version of a famous Niagara Falls landmark sits over the Le Cellier Restaurant, also consistently one of the best in WDW and one of the hardest to get a reservation at. EPCOT’s Canada is also the only place in Disney World where you can get poutine!
    • The highlight of the Canada pavilion is the 360 degree Circle-vision film, O’ Canada. Covering the country from Newfoundland to British Columbia, the movie is projected on all walls of the theater and gives you the feeling of actually flying across Canada.
    •  Jamie pointing to the O'Canada Circlevision sign in Canada EPCOT
      Jamie pointing to the O’Canada Circlevision sign in Canada EPCOT
    • The current version, updated in 2007, is hosted by comedian Martin Short. Bring some tissue- O’ Canada has a cheesy 70’s style theme song that’s a real tear-jerker.
    • It’s funny to think that the EPCOT Canada pavilion was almost never built. Before construction, Disney asked the Canadian government to help fund the project, in return for input on the design elements of the area. However, the government didn’t like the stereotypical nature of the pavilion, especially the lumberjack uniforms, and refused funding. Luckily, Disney built it anyway.
  6. Disney Cruise Line recently started service from Vancouver, BC

    Disney Cruise Line ship 'Wonder' at Canada Place in Vancouver.
    Disney Cruise Line ship ‘Wonder’ at Canada Place in Vancouver.
    • In 2012, Disney Cruise Line shifted it’s Northwest hub from Seattle to British Columbia. Currently, you can sail from Vancouver to Alaska, Hawaii, and San Diego (which is only an hour and a half drive to Disneyland). And right now, there are special Disney Cruise Line offers for Canadian residents, including a whopping 20% discount on some packages.
  7. Disney invests in local Canadian businesses

    • Disney Canada Inc Location Map
      Disney Canada Inc Location Map
    • In 2007, the Walt Disney Company bought New Horizon Interactive, a software company in Kelowna, BC that specializes in massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Now a subsidiary on WDC, under the name of Disney Canada, Inc, the company works with Disney on the maintenance and development of ‘Club Penguin,’ which is sort of a cross between Farmville and the Sims. Rumors of a television series based on the game have been around for a while, so watch that dial!
  8. And last, but not least, there’s a Canada area inside It’s A Small World at Disneyland

    • It's A Small World Mountie at Disneyland
      It’s A Small World Mountie at Disneyland
    • If you’ve never been on the ride before, It’s A Small World is a gigantic animatronics attraction, filled with dolls and sets representing the entire world and singing a catchy, repetitive song. As you enter the show-building in your lazily floating boat, one of the first dolls you come to is your friend in red, the loyal Canadian Mountie. There really isn’t much to this area of the ride- he just stands next to a totem pole and waves at you passing by. Since my wife Jamie is Canadian, I always take special care to point out this part of the ride.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I like putting it all together. Can you think of any other connections between Disney and Canada? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter so you won’t miss any of our great articles. See ya’ real soon!

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Is Disney Hedging Their Bet On Maleficent?

Maleficent Sneak Peek inside 'It's Tough to Be a Bug' at Disney California Adventure.
Maleficent Sneak Peek inside 'It's Tough to Be a Bug' at Disney California Adventure.
Maleficent Sneak Peek inside ‘It’s Tough to Be a Bug’ at Disney California Adventure.

Maleficent is cleaning up in theaters around the world, so why isn’t there more of a presence at Disney Resorts for this darkly misunderstood fairy queen? I think it has something to do with senior Disney management hedging on the success of the film before making a full marketing effort.

Lack of Maleficent Presence at Disney Theme Parks

Essentially all the Maleficent merchandise currently for sale. Taken at Disney California Adventure.
Essentially all the Maleficent merchandise currently for sale. Taken at Disney California Adventure.

On a recent trip to the Disneyland Resort, it didn’t take long to realize that there wasn’t much of a Maleficent presence in either theme park. The image above is essentially all the Maleficent merchandise for sale in the entire resort and it fits on one table.

Screen-printed Maleficent shirt, showing her large black wings from the movie.
Screen-printed Maleficent shirt, showing her large black wings from the movie.
Zoomed in look at the Maleficent shirt, with the iridescent black wings.
Zoomed in look at the Maleficent shirt, with the iridescent black wings.

It reminds me of the scene in Al’s Toy Barn in Toy Story 2, where Barbie drives down the Buzz Lightyear aisle and says, ‘Back in 1995, short-sighted retailers did not order enough dolls to meet demand.” Over in New Orleans Square, the Maleficent theme extends basically to a single statute for photo ops, which you can see in the image below.

Jamie and Jackie pose in front of a Maleficent statue in New Orleans Square, DL.
Jamie and Jackie pose in front of a Maleficent statue in New Orleans Square, DL.

If Maleficent is supposed to be Disney’s big tent-pole film, kicking off the summer movie season, where’s the merchandise? Where’s the plush? They’ve been planning this movie for years, so I don’t buy the explanation that they didn’t have time to design certain items or that we need to wait for a product roll-out. The dish towels certainly arrived on time.

Maleficent Dish Towel at the Disneyland Emporium.
Maleficent Dish Towel at the Disneyland Emporium.

Disney Management Playing It Safe?

I’m wondering if management, specifically those in Disney Consumer Products, is hedging their bet with this movie and potentially all big box office releases, which would seem to make pretty good financial sense. Test the water with audiences first, throw them a couple of shirts and a sneak peek and see if they bite before committing yourself to a full merchandising campaign. In other words, leave yourself an out.

Sign for the Maleficent sneak peak at DCA, with the Carthay Circle Restaurant in the background.
Sign for the Maleficent sneak peek at DCA, with the Carthay Circle Restaurant in the background.

For example, in the Magic Kingdom Disney’s commitment to Maleficent seems pretty blatant- a cutting-edge segment was created for their new parade, complete with fire-breathing dragon. However, this isn’t really as risky for Disney as it might seem.

According to Box Office Mojo, the movie is doing spectacularly in the box office, but if it didn’t the dragon float could always be brought back into synergy with the original Sleeping Beauty film. Disney could simply push the Princess Aurora angle of the classic film- distracting guests with a flammable, steam punk  lizard that walks and moves, while sweeping what could have been a very costly flop (Maleficent) under the rug.

Maleficent Dragon Parade Float at the Magic Kingdom
Maleficent dragon parade float at the Magic Kingdom.

I remember seeing a similar marketing strategy when Frozen was released. Though it has proven to be a wildly successful film in every regard, at first there was little to no available merchandise presence in Disney theme parks.

At Disneyland, they refurbished a simple meet-and-greet that was being underutilized for the Tangled characters, which didn’t cost the company very much because Rapunzel and Flynn could easily be moved to Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasy Faire.

Frozen Meet and Greet in Fantasyland, Disneyland, California.
Frozen Meet and Greet in Fantasyland, Disneyland, California.

However, as far a merchandising goes, there was barely anything available from Frozen at first. Now, the shelves overflow with Else and Anna books, dolls, shirts, cell phone paraphernalia, etc, not to mention a herds of adorable Sven dolls.

Another reason I can think of to wait to push merchandise is to rejuvenate the franchise in time for the DVD release. Picture this: you haven’t seen the movie for months and then you come to the park or visit a Disney Store and it hits you- “I really liked this move when I saw it back-in-the-day.” “Maybe I should buy the Blu-ray?” “Maybe I should buy my daughter this princess dress or my son this bow and arrow set?”

Maybe I’m slow on the uptake, and this has been movie studio dogma for decades. Does anyone know if this hedging is part of the official marketing strategy for the Walt Disney Company? If so, I think it’s a pretty savvy policy.

Let me know what you think in the comments below and make sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you won’t miss any of our great content. Thanks for visiting and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Disney Baby Bump

Collage of each 'Baby Bump' picture from each of our visits to Disneyland.
Collage of each 'Baby Bump' picture from each of our visits to Disneyland.
Collage of each ‘Baby Bump’ picture from each of our visits to Disneyland.

Now that our son Jack has arrived and life as we know it has changed, I thought it would be fitting to reflect for a moment on the past nine months. For the uninitiated, I have taken ‘Baby Bump’ shots of my wife on each of our visits to Disneyland. I took these pictures in the same spot each time so we could look back and watch her pregnant belly grow.

The site wasn’t picked randomly. We decided to have Jamie stand in front of a honey pot because the nursery was going to be decorated in a Winnie the Pooh theme. I put together a little video below, so watch that honey pot disappear!

 

See ya’ real soon!

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A New Mouseketeer Is Born

Jack the Mouseketeer

 

 

Jack the Mouseketeer
Our new son Jack, born April 11, 2013, with some makeshift mouse ears.

Our son, John “Jack” Alexander Spock Blasingame was born today, April 11th, 2013, at 7:59am. Jamie is recovering nicely and glowing in her new role as a mother. We can’t wait to take Jack on his first trip to Disneyland, which will probably happen around the middle of May. See ya’ real soon!

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Magical Trash CanFans

Magical Trash Logo

One of the great, albeit unorthodox blogs we follow is Magical Trash, run by a great Disney fan named Steve Tanner. We submitted a photo near the Enchanted Tiki Room from a recent visit and he posted it on his site! We are now official CanFans- thanks Steve!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Coffee Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day from Mouse Monthly! I’m out of town, so Jamie and I can’t spend it together, but I’ll make it up to her in a couple of weeks with another visit to Disneyland, which will probably be our last before the baby is born. Look out for the last Baby Bump picture. See ya’ real soon!

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Merry Christmas from Mouse Monthly!

Jamie and Alex Blasingame on Dumbo

Merry Christmas from Mouse Monthly! We’ll be hosting my parents at our place this year. We’re looking forward to all the new surprises Disney has in store for us next year and showing the all to our new son when he shows up. See ya’ real soon!

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Happy Thanksgiving from Mouse Monthly!

Thanksgiving Turkey Graphic

Happy Thanksgiving from Mouse Monthly! Jamie and I are heading up to my folks place in NorCal for some turkey and football. See ya’ real soon!

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