Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pizza Hut Beauty and the Beast Hand Puppets

By Nick

The late 1980s and early 1990s was considered the renaissance of Disney Feature Animation, with movies like Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Disney had licensing deals with a lot of different companies, but did you know they had a deal with Pizza Hut at one time? I’ve had these Beauty and the Beast rubber hand puppets since they were released in1992.

As hand puppets, they are pretty limited. Chip is 4 inches tall, and it would be impossible for even the smallest child to use him as a hand puppet.

A finger puppet, sure. But none of these figures have any articulation.

Cogsworth is 6 inches tall.

Belle is the tallest figure, at 7 inches.

Beast is 6 1/2 inches tall.

While these may not be the best hand puppets, I do love them as figures, and they have a prominent spot in my collection.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Where in Walt Disney World: Mystery Statue

By Nick

Where in Walt Disney World would you find this statue? Extra points if you can tell me who it depicts. Really, please tell me if you know, because I can't seem to find any info online!

Answer below. No peeking!

 ɯopbuıʞ ןɐɯıuɐ s,ʎǝusıp uı ʞǝɹʇ ǝןbunظ ɥɐظɐɹɐɥɐɯ ǝɥʇ uıɥʇıʍ ʎɹɐıʌɐ ǝɥʇ ɟo ʇıxǝ ǝɥʇ ʇɐ

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Orange Bird Bank That Didn't Break the Bank

By Nick

I’ve been trying to get one of these Orange Bird Banks for a few months now, but the prices have been too high. Amazingly, I saw one at our local flea market last Summer, and it was even more expensive than I’ve seen on eBay!

I got this at a reasonable price off of eBay for a good reason.
It is missing it’s stopper.
But since I wasn’t looking to buy this as an investment, or to hold change, I was fine with that.

Copyright: Walt Disney Productions, but no indication of exact production year.

This very happy bird measures 5 inches high.


Until next time, think orange thoughts!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meeting Bruce the Shark at Epcot

by Gaylin

Inside The Seas at Epcot is a room with a great photo opportunity. It is a model of Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo, if you go around the back, you can climb into Bruce to have your photo taken. This is the only time and the only way I ever want my photo taken inside a shark!

If you are a big goof, you get your photo taken inside Bruce like I did, "No, Bruce, don't bite down!".

Or you can act like a regular, happy tourist! Either way, this is a very fun way to have your photo taken.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Disney Exchange- Episode 19 Show Notes: The Disney Cruise Line

By Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

-Main Topic: The Disney Cruise Line

 -The Disney Exchange is David Hodges, Lisa Green, and me Nicholas Maglio  

-Thank you Hatbox Mouse for the topic suggestion. Congratulations on your marriage!

-Lisa answers fan mail, to herself, during the show. Just saying.

-There are 4 ships, the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder, the Disney Dream, and the Disney Fantasy.

-Lisa talks about her upcoming trip to Norway and the Castaway Club benefits are discussed, including a special line for boarding and gifts in your stateroom.

 Photo: Lisa

Photo: Dave

-Lisa and I agree you MUST go to Alaska!

-Dave's cruises have been to the Bahamas, home of Starbucks. And Atlantis.

-Dave suggests getting off the ship in Nassau at least once and getting a rum cake at Tortugas.

Photo: Dave

-Port Canaveral, embarkation, parking and Magical Express from Walt Disney World is discussed. Tip everyone folks. Okay, not fellow passengers, but if someone handles your bags, tip them. 

Photo: Lisa

-Not surprisingly, the conversation turns to alcohol, and the fact Disney allows it in carry on.
If you check it you will lose it. 

 Photo: Dave

-Buffets on the ships are AWESOME!

-Be on time for your Lifeboat Drill!

-Don't miss the Sail Away Celebration!

-Booking on board perks and rules are discussed.

-We talk about dinner seating times. There are 2, the early has more children, the later, 830pm seating is quieter.


-Don't miss Animators Palate on the Disney Dream. We did, and I am sad.

Photos: Dave

-Like coffee? Dave and Lisa suggests the Cove Cafe for specialty coffee. I like Disney coffee. 

-Be sure to read your Navigator for information. It is a wonderful resource!

Photo: Lisa

-Look for a group on Facebook for your cruise, you can meet many friends, and get in on get group activities.

-Lisa and Dave explain the "fish extender."

Photo: Dave

-Dining rooms are discussed. It always comes back to food eventually. 

-We talk dress codes. The photo below features Lisa, her lovely family, and $20,000 worth of clothes.

Photo: Lisa

-Get your clothes laundered on the ship, especially if they are worth $20,000.

-We try to wrap it up, for 20 minutes.

-See the shows! Even if they stink! And movies! Even if they stink!

-Castaway Cay is the best! THE BEST!

-The Pirate Party is not to be missed! Mickey Mouse, Captain Jack, and fireworks!

-Dress like a Pirate!

-Holidays are terrific on the ships!

-The spas are tremendous!

-Your kids won't want to leave their age appropriate areas!

-Bottom line: Disney Cruises are not cheap, but they are AMAZING!

-The Wheel of DIStany topic: Favorite Walt Disney World 3D attractions.

Thank you for listening to The Disney Exchange, the Podcast for Disney Cruise Line Lovers.

-Please share your favorite souvenir with us on:

If you'd like to drop us an email: info@thedisneyexchange  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

16 Great Things About Disney's Animal Kingdom

Wednesday was Earth Day. It was also the 17th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom. A year ago, to celebrate DAK's 16th, Lisa shared her 16 best things about this wonderful park, so I thought I'd share it on today's Saturdays with Lisa. -Nick

By Lisa

Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life

Sweet 16!  Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating its anniversary this week and in honor of such a special occasion, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I love about this oh-so-much-more-than-a-half-day park.

16 BEST Things (both great and small) about Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

1. Tracks! Take an occasional look down while you’re walking around and you’ll see animal tracks and leaf prints in the pavement.  This tiny detail adds to the feeling that you’re in the wilds of Asia and Africa and it’s just pretty darned cool!

2. Naked Mole Rats (g’head and say nekkid if you like, I do) – They’re really pretty disgusting, but SO interesting!  Find these gross yes undeniably riveting critters on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa).

3. Kilimanjaro Safari – My love for this attraction can be found here.  It’s just awesome! That is all.


4. Foliage – The trees and plants in Animal Kingdom are cultivated to perfection!  Lush, exotic and perfectly overgrown to add to each area’s theme in a way that is pretty much taken for granted and underappreciated – it’s SO good, you just don’t really think about it.  A lot of work goes into perfecting the live backdrops for each area and attraction. Pay more attention next time you’re there, okay?

Animal Kingdom Foliage
5. DiVine – Speaking of greenery!  DiVine details can be found here.  Please don’t miss her next time you find yourself following my advice (see #4).

6. Gorillas – The highlight of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa section), this exhibit (two troops of lowland gorillas) is absolutely amazing.  Patience during crowded times pays off – I calmly and quietly wait for an opportunity to zoom in and get some incredible pictures.  In the morning, when the gorillas are most active, it’s just fun to watch them go about their day.

Gorilla at Disney's Animal Kingdom

7. Festival of the Lion KingThis show is a must-do for our family.  Wonderful songs, super costumes and tumble monkeys!  Who could ask for more? Go see it and you’ll understand it’s greatness.

8. Tigers – Just as the gorillas are my favorite animals along the Pangani Forest trail, tigers are, to me, the best part of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section.  The tigers are gorgeous and appear close enough to touch!  Great photo ops abound in this beautiful area.

9. Perfect Theming – In every area, every building, every ancient ruin – there’s just no better overall perfection in theming than you will find in Animal Kingdom.  It’s nothing short of genius!

Boat on the Water in Animal Kingdom

10. Conservation – Disney’s commitment to animal conservation is apparent throughout the park, but is particularly prominent at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  Lots of folks skip this area of the park, but it’s well worth the time and effort to make a visit (take the Wildlife Express Train to get there).  This one area of the park can take 1-2 hours or more to give it the attention it deserves. No, there are no thrill rides or shows here, but you can see veterinarians in action taking care of injured animals or just performing routine medical exams.  It’s the “backstage” area for the park’s animal care activities.  If stuff like that interests you, you’ll like it.

11. The Queue for Expedition Everest - It’s not only my favorite thrill ride in the world, it’s my favorite standby line.  I’ve been through it literally dozens of times and can still spot something new every time.  No FastPass? It’s all good.  Go standby on this one and take it all in.

Expedition Everest - the Queue

12. The Music - No matter where you go in the park, the music is just wonderful.  If you get the chance to catch a live performance, even better!

13. The Tree of Life - 14 stories tall, this is an absolute marvel!  The joy of walking around the tree to study all the animal figures that make up the trunk, roots, and branches is indescribable.

14. Dinos in Dinoland - This may not be my favorite section of the park, but I’m still thrilled by the replicas of dinosaur skeletons on display.  I remember how exciting it was when Sue was discovered in 1990 – the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found – replicated for your viewing pleasure right there in Dinoland.

Dinoland Dino

15. The Cast Members – Yes, they’re top notch at all the parks, but particularly so at Animal Kingdom.  Throughout the day (and especially at the front of the park when it first opens), you’ll find interesting and passionate Cast Members – each holding a small animal – ready to let you take a look while they fill you in on anything you’d like to know about the little creature in their care.

16. Expansion!  Even if you’re still not sure about the whole Avatar thing, if you’re an Animal Kingdom fan, you’ve got to believe that expansion is good!  Think about all the cool stuff that could happen when the park stays open later – the nighttime safari, shows, and c’mon – deep down inside you’re curious about how Pandora will turn out.  Personally, I can’t wait!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention any food!  I do think Animal Kingdom offers a wide variety of delicious food, I just couldn’t settle on any particular items to make it onto the list.  Go ahead and shout out some food love in a comment!

What are your favorite things in Animal Kingdom?  Were any on the list? 

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog.
She can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Please be sure to check out Lisa along with me and David Hodges on The Disney Exchange Podcast!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Favorite Walt Disney World Restaurants: Be Our Guest

By Nick

On Episode 17 of The Disney Exchange Podcast, Lisa, David and I discussed favorite table service restaurants in Walt Disney World.

I thought I'd share favorite dishes from the restaurants I chose in each park, starting with Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom.


My wife Barbie and I have eaten dinner here twice and lunch several times.
Our first dinner was in January of 2013, shortly after the restaurant opened, and I confess, while we were certainly taken by the absolutely wonderful themeing, we were less than impressed by the food and service.


Barbie did very much enjoy her Ratatouille, oven-baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and caramelized onions sliced and layered with quinoa, served with a bell pepper sauce, but my Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop, with au gratin macaroni, seasonal vegetables and red wine au jus, was a let down. This may have been because earlier in the trip I'd had the best pork chop ever at another of my favorite restaurants, The Hollywood Brown Derby.



Then, there was the Grey Stuff, and our other dessert choices.

I asked about the Grey Stuff, and we were told that it was only served for special occasions. As a friend pointed out, isn't the fact the we are at Walt Disney World a special enough occasion?!
Luckily, our server took note that the couple we were having dinner with, Kandi and John, were wearing Anniversary buttons, and brought us 2 dollops of the Grey Stuff...


... it was good, but not as delicious as the song would have us believe.
The desserts we ordered were a let down.

My wife had the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake, vanilla sponge cake, strawberry mousse filling, and cream cheese icing, which sounds amazing, but was described as bland, all the flavor being on top.
John and I each had the Triple Chocolate Cupcake, chocolate sponge cake, chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate ganache. Again, this sounds much better than it actually was.


So, this sounds like a less than glowing review. How then did Be Our Guest wind up being my favorite Table Service at the Magic Kingdom?

Because on our next trip, we had one of my favorite dishes in all of Walt Disney World, The Braised Pork, which is slow-cooked pork with vegetables and bacon served with mashed potatoes and green beans jardiniere. I've eaten this on every lunch visit since.


Also, I got the Chocolate Cream Puff filled with chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream, which I enjoyed much more than the cupcakes.

Then there was our last dinner there, where Barbie once again got the Ratatouille, and I got the Grilled Strip Steak, with garlic-herb butter and pommes frites, one of the best steaks I've had in Walt Disney World, one that competes with LeCellier, high praise indeed!


Also, Disney as greatly improved The Grey Stuff, which has been added to it's regular dessert menu, by serving it on a chocolate spongecake. It is, indeed, now delicious!

So, I would absolutely recommend Be Our Guest to anyone visiting Walt Disney World, and look forward to visiting again in the future.

I'll be sharing more favorites in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on the The Disney Exchange Blog.