Minnie and I

Minnie and I

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Disneyland Paris Cake

I guess when Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake" she wasn't referring to me. This is the story of an American tourist at Disneyland Paris Park and how he was not served cake, even though he paid for it.

I had the opportunity, in early September 2018, to visit France and go to Disneyland Paris. Before I go on, let me do a clarification. Disneyland Paris is the name of the Disney resort, located in France. Disneyland Paris has two theme parks; Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. I visited Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris. This is like Walt Disney World and their four theme parks. I was able to visit Disneyland Park twice. I documented my first day with a video vlog. On the first day, I was able to meet Daisy Duck, in her 25th Anniversary dress, and Pluto.

Daisy Duck with her 25th Anniversary dress

Screenshot of me meeting Pluto
That was a humid day and my hair was full curly mode

My vlog about Disneyland Paris

My second day at the park was wonderful. The main goal of the second day was to meet Minnie Mouse, with her anniversary dress. For my second visit, I wore a custom made outfit, matching the 25th Anniversary theme. I arrived at the park and I got in line to meet Minnie. It took 2 hours to meet her. Long wait, but worth it! She was dynamic and beautiful. I also planned to meet Daisy again and Donald, wearing my themed outfit, but the line for them was as long as Minnie's. After meeting Minnie, I headed over to The Lucky Nugget restaurant for "Tea Time with Mickey and Friends."

Minnie Mouse with her 25th Anniversary dress

Unlike Walt Disney World character meals, you could only meet Mickey and his friends at The Lucky Nugget at 3:30pm. If you didn't arrive on time, they would not let you in and that was their only appearance. I got in line around 3pm and was the first one to enter the restaurant for "Tea Time." The meal fee was 30 euros; about $34 American. My waiter shows me to my table and brings me a soft drink. This character meal was 2 hours long, included a brief stage show, a Toy Story puppet show, and Mickey, Minnie and Dingo visiting the tables. It wasn't a full meal, the tea time meal was made of a piece of chocolate Mickey cake, accompanied with tiers of scones, fudge, cupcakes and similar desert items. The show starts, the puppet show starts, the characters start greeting guests and I was never served the cake and pastries. Tea Time was nearly over and I still wasn't served the food, just the drink at the beginning. I brought it to the attention of one of the waiters and told him my situation. He didn't understand me, probably didn't speak English, and brought one of his "colleagues" who understood English. I explain my situation again to her and she didn't understand me. She thought I was asking for more food. She was telling me that I could not get a second serving. I explained to her again that I never got any food in the first place. She still didn't understand me and to "shut me up" she brought me a small plate with 3 or 4 pastries. At this point I gave up and ate my pastries. I could not believe that I wasn't severed properly. Every other table got their tiers of pastries and slices of Mickey cake and I didn't. I explained my situation twice and they didn't understand me. For a moment, I thought that the actual tea time meal was a separate fee, but it wasn't. I left the restaurant pleased because I met the characters with their western outfits, but disgruntled because I wasn't served the cake and pastries I paid for.

Sign advertising the character meal at The Lucky Nugget

I go about the rest of the day, walking through the beautiful park, looking at all the attractions. I eventually made my way to Mickey's theater to meet him. After meeting Mickey, I stayed at the park until closing time. While everyone was watching the fireworks show, I went to City Hall to give my complaint about The Lucky Nugget. I spoke to a cast member and told her what happened. I wasn't really complaining, I just wanted to make them aware that a customer did not get his food. While telling her the story, she had a smile with a blank look on her face. When I was done, she asked me "so, did you not get cake?" This annoyed me a bit, it's clearly stated in the story that I was not served cake. She then asks "are you sure you did not get cake?" "Yes, I'm sure" I replied. She left the reception area briefly and returned with a form. She asked me to fill out the form and explain what happened at The Lucky Nugget. I could not believe that I had to fill out for this. While I was filling out the form, the cast member calls The Lucky Nugget's manager and starts speaking in French. "Le garcon n'a pa recu de gateau" The gentleman did not receive his cake. As I'm finishing the form, she asks me again "you did not get cake, right?" I hand her the form as she ends her conversation with the restaurant manager. "We apologize for the event at The Lucky Nugget" she explained. Unenthusiastically, I accepted the apology. Finally, she hands me a coupon for a free bottled water. That was a nice touch. I did not want to get anything free out of this, but the coupon was nice. I wasn't served an entire meal and they hand me a coupon for a free bottled water. Something is something, right?

The Lucky Nugget characters and Mickey at his theater

My coupon for my free bottled water

The Lucky Nugget didn't bring me much luck after all. I paid for a meal that was never served and it seamed that cast members didn't believed me. Regardless of this unfortunate event, Disneyland Paris Park stole my heart. It's a beautiful, big park. It made me feel at home, like I belonged there. I haven't felt that with Magic Kingdom or the original Disneyland. Disneyland Paris Park has many flaws, but that didn't ruin my experience. The two days I visited the park were filled with joy and created wonderful memories. I was able to get the most out of it, ride many rides, watch the castle shows, enjoy the parade (while trying to avoid getting hit by a guest with a selfie stick) and meet my favorite characters. I hope to return to France on day, explore the country and visit Disneyland Paris resort again. Many think of Disneyland Paris as the "runt of the litter" of the Disney parks family. Is not as well maintained, operated or as profitable as the others. Plus, it's located in a country where Disney is not a big influence, like the United States or Japan. Nevertheless, Disneyland Paris Park is now my favorite Disney park.

You're probably wondering if I got my free bottled water? Yes I did, but that's another story. After leaving City Hall, I headed to Casey's Corner to claim my bottled water. When I got there, I did something I'm not proud of; I cut in line. It appeared that most European guests do not respect the un-spoken rules of forming a line, so I joined them by cutting in line. I showed my coupon to the clerk and he said the coupon was invalid. I made him get his supervisor and his supervisor said the same thing. Very firmly I told them the coupon came from City Hall and was signed by a cast member. They eventually gave me my bottled water.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Disney World Trip May 2018

On May 19, 2018, I visited Walt Disney World. I spent the day visiting all four parks. Like my previous Disney trips, I focused on character hunting. In total, I met 29 characters (5 repeats)! Also for the first time, I attended character dining at different locations. It was a unique experience and taught me a lesson I'll never forget at Disney. This Disney trip was special because it was around the same time they changed all their Mickeys and Minnies to the new versions. Walt Disney World was the penultimate to do so, Tokyo Disneyland being last.

Animal Kingdom:
I started the day at Animal Kingdom, I arrived at 9 am. First thing I did was ride Expedition Everest. Let me say that I'm not a roller coaster fan. I remember when Expedition Everest debuted in 2006, watching the reports on the Disney Channel. As a kid, I was excited and wanted to visit the Animal Kingdom and ride it. Sadly, I never got the opportunity, until now. Riding Expedition Everest was a dream come true. For not being a roller coaster fan, I enjoyed it, though my picture says otherwise. After the ride, I went to Discovery Island and met Mickey and Minnie in their safari outfits, after a 45 minute wait time. Interestingly, the queue still had safari pictures of the previous versions of Mickey and Minnie. Later, I went to the Tusker House restaurant and met Mickey, Daisy, Goofy and Donald. Afterwards, I departed to Epcot.

One thing I always look forward in Epcot is meeting Daisy near Spaceship Earth. I quickly got in line to meet her. Then I went to the Character Spot to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. Before I go on, let me say that I was able to purchase Tokyo Disneyland's exclusive Minnie Mouse figure. This figure is modeled and based on the meet-n-greet version of the character. I brought my Tokyo Minnie figure to show it to Mickey and Minnie. I had an unfortunate episode with this Minnie figure, one of her eyelashes fell off. This was frustrating, because I was very careful transporting the figure from Dallas to Orlando and this was an expensive figure! Price tag of nearly $250. After my little meltdown over Minnie's eyelash, I presented the figure to Mickey Mouse. Mickey loved it! One of the cast members thought I made the figure myself. Next it was Goofy, but I didn't show the figure to him. Instead, I read him a "love" letter I wrote to him. Goofy enjoyed the letter. Sadly, I wasn't able to get that moment on video. Finally, it was time to show Minnie the figure. Her reaction was precious, worth showing it to her even with the missing eyelash. Side note, the eyelash fell inside the (custom) bag I was carrying her, and I carefully re-glued it when I got home.

Exiting the Character Spot, I traveled to the Garden Grill restaurant. At the restaurant, I was able to meet Mickey, Chip, Pluto and Dale. I was served the "Harvest Meal," which consisted of various Thanksgiving theme food items, like turkey with gravy, stuffing and pot roast. It was like a huge sample platter. I enjoyed the pot roast so much, the server brought me more of it. Yum! The food was to much, that I could not eat dessert; which was strawberry short cake (my favorite.) As I finished my meal, I noticed that it started to rain, luckily I brought my rain coat with me on the trip. As I'm exiting the park, I noticed that Daisy was all alone near Spaceship  Earth. This was probably due to guests staying inside out of the rain, since Daisy's photo location is outdoors. I took the opportunity and met her again. I'm a very tactile person, I enjoy touching and feeling soft objects. If you look at the video clip of meeting Daisy the second time, I'm grabbing on to Daisy's skirt.

My Tokyo Disneyland Minnie figure

While in line at Character Spot, Epcot

Magic Kingdom: Pt 1
I approached the Magic Kingdom by monorail. This would be my 3rd time visiting the park in my life. While the rain was still pouring, I headed to Pete's Silly Side Show and met Daisy and Minnie with their circus outfits. When I was planning this trip, I planned to meet Clarabelle Cow and Horace during the Frontierland Hoedown. Because of the rain, this wasn't possible.  Instead I headed to Tomorrowland and met Stitch. This was extra special for one reason. When I first visited Hollywood Studios in 2005, I met Stitch near the giant hat. Stitch gave me a huge hug and posed for pictures. Sadly, I lost all the pictures from that trip, including Stitch's. I told Stitch this story and we posed for another picture. After reuniting with Stitch, I took the bus to Hollywood Studios.

Hollywood Studios:
Arriving at the park, it was still raining. I made my way to meet Olaf, then Minnie and Mickey at Red Carpet Dreams. Here's a little rant; while in line to meet Minnie and Mickey, there was many guests drinking beer in line. I personally don't drink, and the last thing I need is the smell of alcohol before meeting Minnie and Mickey. After meeting them, I went to the Hollywood and Vine restaurant. Like my previous meet and greet meals, this was my first time visiting the restaurant. At the restaurant, I was able to spend time with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Daisy in their beautiful Spring outfits. Had magical moments with all the characters, specially Goofy. I took the opportunity to re-read my "love" letter to him and get it on video. It felt like I was serenading him. It was magical and wonderful. When I finished my meal, I went over to the "Walt Disney Presents" exhibit, then over to meet Buzz and Woody. For being toys, Buzz and Woody are tall; Woody being over 6ft tall. Finally, I made my way to the bus to return to the Magic Kingdom.

Something magical happened while I was at Hollywood and Vine. For this trip, I brought some 5x7 photos of some characters for them to sign. You can see them signing the pictures in the videos. Because it was raining, the bag I was carrying got wet and some of the items in the bag got wet, including the pictures. While I was at the restaurant, I placed the pictures on my table so they could air dry. They didn't get fully wet, only on the corners. A cast member named Georgina noticed my pictures on the table. She asked about them, I told her the story. Ten minutes later, Georgina returns to my table and hands me a coupon for a free 5x7 photo at the Photo Pass location at Sid's Porch. She said she felt sorry for my wet pictures and the coupon was to accommodate for that. I never complained about my pictures (which I brought from home) and the pictures only got slightly wet on the corners. When I finished my meal, I ran to Sid's Porch to redeem the coupon. I got a picture of Goofy and me at Epcot and ran back to the restaurant and got Goofy to sign it. Thanks to Georgina, this made my trip even more memorable. I tweeted my experience to Walt Disney World Today and was told Georgina was going to get a "Cast Compliment" recognition.

The coupon I revived

My free picture of Goofy, framed in my room

Magic Kingdom: Pt 2
I returned to the Magic Kingdom and spend the rest of the time riding rides. First went to "It's a Small World." I loved the attraction. I imagined myself being at the '64 World's Fair, when the ride debuted. The ride is so simple and yet genius. Then I went over to the Haunted Mansion. Following that, I embarked on Pirates of the Caribbean. My next ride was Splash Mountain, but they temporary closed the ride by the time I got there. With that in mind, I instead went to Big Thunder Mountain, my favorite ride. Having ridden the ride at Disneyland, I noticed one big difference between Disneyland's and Magic Kingdom's. The queue at Disneyland is short and nice, but the queue at Magic Kingdom is long and like a maze. It's amazing that one spends little over an hour in line to ride a 3 minute ride. When I was done with the rides, I headed to Town Square to meet Mickey. This was exciting because they recently removed Talking Mickey, I wasn't a fan of him. It was nearly 10 pm, I was tired, sweaty and wet by the time I got to meet him, for the seventh time that day! I told Mickey that I was leaving for the Kingdom of Texas. With help of the character attendant, Mickey asked me if I was a cast member. I politely said no. I could not believe that Mickey thought I was a cast member! It's one of my dreams to work for Walt Disney World and this seemed like destiny.

This trip made me appreciate and embrace the new versions of Mickey and Minnie. Like many fans, I had mixed feelings about the new versions. I thought I would never get used to them, until I met them in person. Minnie Mouse is my favorite and still getting used to her new look. New Mickey stole my heart during this trip. So lovable and full of life. Since I only met old Mickey a hand full of times, I'm not very attached to him. New Mickey really did it to me. I love the new version of him, magical as the previous one. 

This Disney trip was pure magic. Had a wonderful time meeting the characters and enjoying the parks. Though I had a good time, I learned two lessons during my trip. Lesson one, don't give your personal camera to the Photo Pass photographer. For this trip, I brought my own digital camera and had the Photo Pass photographers use it, instead of their own. This way I could have professional pictures and not seem obligated to buy them from Photo Pass. This was not the case. The photographers would take one or two pictures with my camera and then go paparazzi with theirs. Most of them were displeased when I handed them my camera. Halfway through the day, I stopped handing the camera to them because of this issue. I understand that it's their job to take pictures with the Photo Pass camera, so one could have the option of purchasing them and make the company money. But they could be at least a bit friendlier when handling a guest's camera. Not everyone has the means to purchase Photo Pass pictures. Last year, it cost $59 to download all the pictures of one specific day, now it costs $69.99. That's just one day, imagine if you had pictures from multiple days. That would cost $199.99. Regardless, I purchased my pictures from Photo Pass. Disney is not a friendly place for your wallet.

With that said, here's lesson two: don't do multiple character meals in one day. I failed to realize that character dinning is pricey, something not clearly mentioned on their website or app. I had the breakfast buffet at Tusker House, Animal Kingdom, $36. The buffet was decent, typical breakfast items. Lunch at Garden Grill, Epcot, $50. The food was delicious, but too much food. Would recommend for dinner, not lunch. Dinner buffet at Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood Studios, $50. In my opinion, the buffet selection was poor. Seen more options at a Golden Coral. Did I eat $50 worth of food? No, not even close. I spend a total of $136 on food. I did not anticipate spending that much on food. The only reason I booked the meals was because of the characters. The most fun character dining experience was at Hollywood and Vine. Again, imagine a family of 5 going to character dining. That would be more than $200. Would I do character dining again? Maybe, probably not. This was also the first time I ate at a restaurant at the parks. I usually grab a hot dog, or popcorn along the way and that holds me up through the entire day. Unless your financially sound, or don't mind spending over $500 on a single person trip, then Walt Disney World is the place for you. For the full amount of money I spend on this trip, I could have stayed at a local resort in Texas, but they don't have Mickey or Minnie Mouse.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Clarabelle & Horace Through the Years 1972- Present (UPDATE)

1972-1973: Disney on Parade
The earliest appearance of Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar was in the 1972 edition of Disney on Parade. They both appear, with Goofy, in their "Orphan's Benefit" outfits. Claraballe appears with a pink face and Horace with a blue face. They both appear wearing five finger gloves.

Clarabelle and Horace on Disney on Parade, 1972

1974-1975: Fantasy on Parade
For this holiday parade, Clarabelle and Horace appeared in their black and white persona. Clarabelle wears a white and gray polka dot dress, with matching apron, a gray bow on her head and has white feet. Sometimes Clarabelle was spotted wearing normal black shoes. Horace has a big check to check grin and wears white overalls with a gray horse collar, black bowtie, white horse bit and gray bowler hat. They both have flesh color faces with black cartoon eyes and wear five fingered gloves. They only appeared on this parade.

Screenshot of Horace and Clarabelle in Fantasy on Parade, 1975. video

Screenshot of an unlisted video

Clarabelle wearing black shoes, credit

1992- 2017: Band Clarabelle and Horace
Clarabelle made her second park appearance in 1992 in "The World According to Goofy," a parade celebrating Goofy's 60th anniversary. She was portraying Cleopatra in the Egypt portion of the parade. After the parade's run, Claraballe appeared next to Daisy Duck in the Christmas parade until 1997. In the 1994-1997 Disney on Ice run of Snow White, Clarabelle Cow appeared as Goofy's love interest. It's uncertain what dress she was wearing on that show. In 1998, Clarabelle and Horace appeared ,along side (rare) Peter Pig, in Viva Magic!, Tokyo Disneyland's 15th anniversary castle show. They appeared for the first time their "Band Concert" uniforms. After the show's run, their band concert outfits became their "traditional" ones. They slowly became meet and greet characters in the late 2000's.

These versions of Clarabelle and Horace are very unique, due to their faces being made of exposed, reticulated foam. This technique is very common in the mascot costume industry. It's used in small portions for vents and material to see through. Instead of the faces being made of a rigid foam-rubber material, like Mickey and Minnie, the whole face of Clarabelle and Horace is made out of reticulated foam. Also the heads don't have short, black fur like the others. The best way to explain their structurally different heads is the following: Clarabelle and Horace weren't designed to be permanent characters. They were created for brief appearances in parades and shows. They were never designed to be meet-n-greet or long running show characters. This explain the simplicity and little attention that went to their head construction and using their band uniforms as main outfits, instead of custom ones. Though through time, they have become popular characters with guests around the world.

Clarabelle used custom shoes, created specifically for her. Another character is known for using the same style of shoes; Winnie Woodpecker from Universal Studios. You can read the entire story here.

Clarabelle's debut on "The World According to Goofy" 1992, credit

Clarabelle, Peter and Horace wearing their band uniforms 1998, video

The couple, 2011. disneyparks.disney.go.com

2016- Present: New Era Clarabelle & Horace
In 2016, a new articulated version of Clarabelle Cow debuted at "Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration" at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. This new head of Clarabelle is based on the animated and cgi versions. Interestingly, the articulated version debuted before the standard stationary version. In November 2017, Clarablle debuted her new look with a new outfit and along side Horace. Both heads of Clarabelle and Horace are no longer made out exposed foam and now have smooth, clean faces like the rest of the rest. Claraballe and Horace lost their band uniforms and got new wardrobes.

Clarabelle's new head now has a smaller muzzle and has conjoined eyes. She has smaller horns, new ears with beige fur for the insides and a bump on her head, like Pluto. For the first time since 1973, she has a tongue again. She no longer has buck teeth and lost her makeup. Claraballe's yellow and red outfit is based on her look from the 1930's. Her skirt is similar to the one she wore in the cartoons. Since in the cartoons she didn't use a top, Claraballe wears a yellow blouse with a white collar resembling the one she used in the cartoons. Her cowbell is smaller and sliver. Instead of the traditional bow, she wears a vintage red box hat, with yellow trim and flower. Clarabelle never used a hat or bow in the cartoons, but her co-star Minnie Mouse did. Her new hat is somewhat based on Minnie's hats from that time period. She tossed her old style of shoes and replaced them with Daisy shoes, an enlarged version of Daisy shoes. She wears large, cow-size Daisy shoes.

Horace's new head is similar to Goofy's. His has smaller set of dentures and, open smile and new tongue. He was skinnier eyes and new eye focus, with eyebrows like before. His ears are pointing up now and has beige fur for the insides. He wears a brown derby hat with green ribbon. Horace now wear a long sleeve red shirt, with the sleeves rolled up and wears blue overalls. His horse collar is smaller and made out of faux leather, with a yellow satin bow tie. Horace's footwear is brown hooves with part of the pants legs rolled up. The newest addition to Horace is the inclusion of his tail. He has a tail, similar to the one on the cartoon, sticking out of his pants. There's a yellow patch with red polka-dots were the tail sticks out.

Debut of Talking Clarabelle at the Magic Kingdom, 2016. credit

Talking Clarabelle's performance at the Magic Kingdom, 2016. video link

Clarabelle Cow at Magic Kingdom, 2017. credit

Clarabelle Cow at California Adventure, 2017. credit

Clarabelle & Horace at Magic Kingdom, 2017. credit

Horace Horsecollar at Magic Kingdom, 2017. credit

Screenshot where Horace's back is visible, source

I'm completely satisfied with their new look. They now blend seamlessly with the rest of the Disney classic characters with their new wardrobe and clean cut faces. Their new design brings one major concern to me. We have witnessed this pattern of Disney redesigning their classic characters; like Mickey, Minnie, Clarabelle and Horace. Now, I'm predicting that the next classic character to get redesigned will be Goofy. The reason behind all of these character redesigns is to make the costume version match the cartoon counterpart. If we take a character like Goofy, his costume version does not match the animated version. Its safe to say that sooner or later, Goofy will be resigned. I hope they don't because I love the current Goofy and I can't picture any other type of Goofy. But, if and when Disney redesigns Goofy, would he have conjoined eyes like Clarabelle or separate eyes like Horace?

Through the Years List:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Donald Duck Sailor Suit

After a few payments, I was able to acquire Donald Duck's modern sailor suit. This is my most expensive set in my collection, second being Mickey's. This set included Donald's modern sailor shirt with red bow tie, hands and neck. The vintage body I purchased earlier year. The set also included Donald's hat cover, but not the actual hat piece.

This was a very interesting acquirement. One of my collecting sources contacted me and offered the set. I personally am not a big Donald Duck fan and wasn't too excited with the offer; it was a high ticket price. But I couldn't pass the opportunity to own more Disney characters pieces. All the pieces in my collection share a story and so does Donald's set. What comes to mind when looking at Donald is all the guests that this set greeted. All the autographs Donald signed wearing these gloves/hands; given that the right glove is baldly stained with pen and marker marks.

Overall this set is impressive, one of the finer ones. This also confirms one of my theories about the Donald and Daisy costumes. This set compared to Mickey's, Minnie's and Goofy's, is the largest, heaviest, bulkiest and multi-layered of  them all. Every time I hug Donald or Daisy at the parks, I can feel all the layers of clothing that make up the costume. Now owning these pieces, I can see why I feel what I feel when hugging them.

I would have rather invested the money on a Daisy set (she's my favotite), but Donald is equally as magical. This collecting journey is a journey that keeps me on my toes. I never know whats next. On several occasions people have offered me different costume pieces, but had to pass due to price or not being interested. Most recently, a collector contacted me and offered me a Tigger head. But had to decline, because the price was nearly $10,000. I'm not going broke over a Tigger head. I never meant to collect, all I wanted was Mickey gloves and everything else just followed. I'm not hungry for more pieces, but I would like to complete my Mickey, Minnie and Donald sets and eventually have Daisy's. I have a complete Goofy set, but I'm missing the head. Hopefully when a Goofy head comes my way, I'll be financially sound.

Donald in all of his glory

Donald's sailor jacket

Donald hands and hat cover

Collection of Disney character hands

Mickey, Donald, Minnie and Goofy sets

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Minnie Mouse's Dress 1978- 2016

It comes to no surprise to everyone that Minnie Mouse is my favorite Disney parks character. Since the late 70's, Minnie has worn her iconic, red polka dot dress and has worn the same style dress since then. Her dress changed when Shanghai Disneyland opened in 2016. I'll describe the various changes that happened to her dress from this time period.

Me meeting Minnie at Epcot, 2017

Minnie's dress is so simple, is brilliant. Even though she used the same style of dress for 39 years, it has been altered over time. In 1978, Minnie debuted a new look with her new dress. The fabric used for her new dress was previously used for Practical Pig's bandanna; which debuted in 1969.

Practical Pig at Disneyland, 1974. credit

Minnie Mouse at Magic Kingdom, 1981. credit

Her dress pattern is made up of a basic bodice with puffed sleeves and a circular skirt; made up of 3 panels. The fabric used for her dress was polyester. The bodice and sleeves are lined with white cotton fabric and the skirt with polyester lining. The white trimmings are made up of white canvas fabric. The diameter of the dots are roughly 2.25 inches and 1 inch apart from each other.

Using the website Spoonflower.com, a company that allows you to print your design on fabric, I was able to understand more about the pattern on the dress. I measured carefully Minnie's dress (I happen to own a vintage Minnie dress) and created a single white dot, placed over a red background. I used Photoshop to do this. Then I uploaded the design to Spoonflower and use their software repeat the pattern on fabric. Spoonflower offers numerous fabrics for printing, but they don't have the correct polyester fabric used on Minnie's dress. I ordered samples of the pattern on two types of fabric , Basic Cotton Ultra and polyester Eco Canvas (the closest one to the original.) When compared to the original dress, Basic Cotton Ultra matches perfectly and Eco Canvas shows up a bit brighter than the original. In theory, one can use this information provided and have it printed on Spoonflower.

Someone asked me if the shade of Minnie's dress and Mickey's pants match. They don't, very close though. Mickey's pants are solid red, stretchy gabardine and Minnie's dress is printed on fabric. Minnie's dress is brighter than Mickey's pants.

The closest shade of red of Minnie's dress Spoonflower offers, color hex CC4400

The repeated pattern used for Minnie's dress, half-drop pattern

Spoonflower samples compared to Minnie's dress

In 2008, Minnie's dress was updated, to look the same as before. The bodice's neckline was made more circular, the sleeves became slightly bigger, the white trimmings are now gaberdine and the skirt became one large panel. The biggest change was made on the seam on the waist. Now is full dot is created on the middle of the waist seam. It's formed by connecting two half dots on the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt.

Also, the back of the dress was redesigned were the dots would either: match the flow of the pattern on the adjacent side of the zipper line, or the dots will meet on the zipper line, like on the waist. Before this update, the dots on the dresses made for Minnie did not align on the waist or back. The costume department just sewed the dresses and let the dots fall wherever they land. In Tokyo Disneyland, before the '08 change, the Minnie dresses were carefully made where one, or three dots aligned at the waist. Tokyo Disneyland's costume department is more careful and persnickety about the small details on the character's and cast member's costumes.

Comparison of the old style dress (left) and the new '08 updated dress (right)

Close up of the dot at the waist line.

Minnie at Tokyo Disneyland, late 90's.
She wears a dress were three dots meet at the waist, instead of one

Dots aligned on the zipper line, Disneyland Paris. credit

(left) Dots aligned with the polka dot pattern, Tokyo Disneyland.
(right) Minnie's new dress, designed were there's no dots on the zipper line or back skirt seam, Disneyland.

Last year, I had the opportunity to meet with another collector, who owned a modern Minnie dress. I visited him and took my dress along to compare. It was interesting seeing the difference between the two. His dress was made in 2010 and mine is vintage. Joking with the collector, I said "my dress looks like a thrift store find compared to yours." Because his dress was modern, it was higher quality and less worn than mine. He also had Minnie's bow and bloomers. He offered the dress to me, but I couldn't not afford it. Let's see if another one comes along for my collection.

New Minnie dress (left) & my vintage Minnie dress (right)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Facebook Page

I have my own Facebook page: facebook.com/Pupepepets

I created this page of I can stay connected with all the people that read my blog and watch my videos. Sometimes I struggle to do that with all the different platforms; blogger, youtube, emails, ect. Now I think this way is easier for everybody, even me. I'll be streaming live videos once in a while. In those streams I'll be show casing my costume collection and puppet building. Hope everyone enjoys the page. Also, I'll still keep posting videos and content on my blog.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why Disney? Kermit Re-Casting

I'm sad to hear that Steve Whitmire, performer of Kermit the frog and many others, will no longer be working with the Muppets. I don't know what upsets me the most; the reason behind his departure or the media calling it "Kermit's voice actor."

Steve & I at the Center for Puppetry Arts, 2010

In January of 2010, I had the opportunity to attend a puppetry workshop hosted by Steve Whitmire at the Center for Puppetry Arts, in Atlanta, Georgia. I was 14 years old at the time. As a young puppeteer, I was mega happy and excited. I saw him three times at the center. Once at a seminar and twice at the workshops.

I was able to meet him personally before the first workshop and it was mind blowing. I brought with me a Wembly Fraggle replica and he got excited to see my work. He grabbed the puppet and started performing as Wembly. Then we had a little chat. During the last workshop, I met his wife, Melissa Whitmire, and she was a sweetheart. She told me that I looked like a young version of her husband. She also pointed out a newspaper article about me. A few months prior to meeting Steve, I was featured in a Atlanta newspaper. The article was about me and my puppets. Later, Steve told me that he read the article when it came out, that his chauffeur gave him the newspaper.

Steve holding my Wembly Fraggle replica, 2010

Being compared to Steve, by himself and his wife was very humbling. I felt so small compered to him. What makes this experience so memorable is that I met Steve as student, not a fan. For those two, long workshops, he was my teacher. There was no time for fan boys. The entire time I've spent him, he didn't do Kermit's voice and anything like that. He was teaching me, and a few others, how to perform a puppet and how to bring it to life.

Steve joined the Muppets in 1978. He began working at "The Muppet Show." He was able to learn from pioneers in the Muppet industry, like Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson and Jim Henson himself. In 1990, shortly after Jim Henson's unsuspected death, Steve was handed the role of Kermit. Since then, he has carried the legacy of Kermit in his hands (literally.)

In Steve's statement about his departure from the Muppets, it reads that Disney was recasting Kermit since October of 2016. He did everything in his power to deal with Disney in order to remain Kermit's performer. His efforts were in vain. Disney's decisions forced him to resign and hand over the role to someone else. Matt Vogel, a puppeteer known for being Big Bird's understudy, will now be performing our green, little friend.

It just isn't fair. Why on Earth would Disney make a decision like that? It's not about Vogel becoming Kermit, it's about trying to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed. Steve has been with the Muppets for 39 years, 27 years as Kermit. If it was because he was retiring or any other purpose that would be fine. But because of unnecessary recasting? Really? Let's hope it wasn't a monetary issue.

I know that Kermit is just a puppet, but he means so much more. To me, Kermit represents art, freedom to be yourself and dreaming big. I'm sure he means the same thing, or more, to a lot of people. Steve carried the spirit of Kermit, with the lessons he learned from Jim Henson. Kermit, in a way, was an alter ego of Henson. That's what made Kermit, Kermit. Steve saw that and applied it to his performance of him. I trust that Vogel will do a good job as Kermit, knowing that Vogel himself is a Muppet fan. Imagine being a Muppet fan and someone tells you "Your Kermit's representation know." But it's unfair what has happened to Steve. It appears that all the years of hard work, sweat, and tears of Steve as Kermit mean nothing to Disney.