Thursday, 16 July 2015

Disney History: Matterhorn Bobsleds

Today we are going to go over a classic attraction! The Matterhorn Bobsleds!

The Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959, 4 years after the park opened. Before the Matterhorn opened, that area of the park was empty. It was just a giant hill caused by the dirt from excavating the Sleeping Beauty's Castle Moat. This "hill" was called Holiday Hill before changing to Lookout Mountain before closing to become the Matterhorn.

Holiday Hill is the hill on the far right. 
View from on top of Holiday Hill.

When the Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959, they were ahead of their time. The whole idea of it changed the game of the modern day roller coaster. Before the Matterhorn, roller coasters were all wooden roller coasters. It became the first steel tubular roller coaster in the world. Not only was that the first the Matterhorn did, but it was also the first roller coaster to be able to have multiple cars on the track at the same time. This was due to brake zones placed throughout the mountain. It was also the first roller coaster to use water as the main way to brake the cars.

The water being used the same way 56 years later.

Of course with a ride being open for such a long time there will be changes constantly. From the ride vehicle, to the mountain, to things in the interior, the ride has seen many different things. First off, the ride vehicles have changed twice, but have had huge impacts on the ride. It started off with a simple single tandem car that seats four. In 1978, the cars were rounded out, re-painted, and doubled up to fit 8 people instead. This style of sats was used the longest as it was used all the way until the 2012 refurbishment. In the 2012 refurbishment, the seats changed to be single seats with three in each cart seating a totally of six people be vehicle. To this day, there are still people that like the old style of seats (including me). The one advantage of the new cart system is an awesome single rider line if you don't mind being split up. It turns the wait from 45 minutes or so to having a 10-15 minute wait.

The original 1959 cars.
The cars for the 1978 refurbishment.
The new, 2012 cars.

So while not only has the cars changed, but so has the mountain. When the mountain first opened, there was a large hole right through the middle for the skyway/ There were also a lot of holes through the rest of the mountain, particularly on the South West side of the mountain. With the 1978 refurbishment they started to either fill holes in, or combined holes to make them more defined. They also repainted to outside in this refurbishment to be more white. In 1994, the Skyway closed so there were these large holes right in the middle of the ride. These were filled in almost immediately. The next change to the outside came in 2012 when they scrapped off all the white paint as most of the mountain was now "snow-filled". When repainting it, they didn't just put white paint back on the mountain. They combined it with glass beads so that it would shine and shimmer like real snow does.

The Matterhorn in 1959.
The same spot but in 2002.
How the Matterhorn looked from the lagoon in 1959.
How it looks as of 2004.

The other large change happened on the inside. At the top of the mountain, you could see out the Skyway holes as there was not a lot of theming done on the inside. That started to change in the 1978 refurbishment. In that refurbishment, there was more theming done inside with snow and ice but that was also when Harold the Yeti moved in. It was advertised as "What's gotten into the Matterhorn?" with at the bottom you see Mickey, Goofy, and Donald looking at large footprints in the ground. The next change on the inside was after the Skyway closed. At this time they closed the holes while putting more theming into that area and around the Yeti. Another thing that was added was the Frank Wells tribute. At the beginning were you see the crystals there is some mountain climbing gear. On one of the boxes it said Wells Expedition as a tribute to Frank Wells who was the President of the Walt Disney Company but also a well-known mountain climber. He died in a helicopter accident in 1994, with the tribute being but in in 1995.

 Very bright and bland in there.
The advertisement for the Abominable Snowman.
A much more ice and snow packed cavern.
The Frank Wells Tribute.

Now I am just wrapping up but there is one thing I have to go over that can't be ignored with any Matterhorn post. The legendary basketball court in the top of the mountain. That is both right and wrong. It isn't a full court, not even a half court, just a backboard and hoop screwed into a set of stairs in the break room. People say it was put in there as it needed to be deemed a sports complex due to it's height. That is also wrong. There were no laws that were this strict to the height of a building needed to correspond to what the building had to be. It was put in because Walt asked the castmembers what they like to do in their free time as he was looking for something to put up there and they responded with they like basketball and the rest is history.

Sorry about the delay, it took a lot longer than I was planning. Here is the first one, expect one tomorrow on time!

As always,

Corvyn

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cast Member Issued Pins

Goren1818 signing on for another post! This time I will be adding to the blog's newest genre: Pin Trading. This portion of the site is sponsored by Pintradingdb.com. Check it out! It's a great site. Anyway, my main collection consists of cast member issued pins. What is a cast member pin you ask? A cast member issued pin is a pin issued by the park to the cast member. These are usually worn with the cast member's costume. Cast member issued pins are not to be confused with hidden mickeys or cast exclusives. There are a few kinds of cast member issued pins. The kind I have the most of are cast member service pins. For every 5 years a cast member works, they get a pin. These pins go all the way up to the 45 year pin! SOMEONE HAD TO WORK FOR DISNEY FOR 45 YEARS!

Cast member service pins



45 year pin
Fun Fact: For the 25th year pin there was a pin of Tinkerbell bent over. It was soon banned for being revealing. You can find that pin below.
Booty Tinkerbell pin
Another category of these pins are attraction costume pins. These pins are worn as part of a cast member's costume for a specific attraction. For example, the monorail badge!
Monorail Badge



The last category contains my holy grail pins! The infamous D-pins. These pins are shaped like a D for Disneyland. They are very rare and are only worn by tour guides, hosts, or ambassadors.


Well that sums up this week! I hope I inspired you all to go out and create your own unique pin collection! That's all folks. This is Goren1818 signing off.



Thursday, 16 April 2015

Intro to Disney Pin Trading

Intro to Pin Trading
by ryan from ptdb

Terminology
  • Edition sizes
    • OE - open edition (no limit to production amount)
    • LR - limited release (lot limited, but is retired after a time)
    • LE - limited edition size (will always have a number, generally 100 to 3000)
  • Places/Sources
    • DSF/DSSH - disney soda fountain/disney studio store hollywood
    • WDI - Walt Disney Imagineering - glendale, ca
    • DLR/DCA/WDW - disneyland resort/disney california adventure/walt disney world
    • DLRP - disneyland resort paris
    • DA - disney auctions, an online source of the fanciest pins that stopped existing many years ago.
    • ds.com - disneystore.com
    • dsuk - disney store uk
  • Databases
    • pp - pinpics.com
    • ptdb - pintradingdb.com
  • BT - beloved tales series (from DSSH)
  • PTD - pin traders delight series (from DSSH)
  • Grail - your most wanted, hardest to find pin.  Try not to throw the term around too much unless you are talking about pins that cost over $250 and/or only change hands once every few years or less.
  • Shark - someone who routinely tries to trade/sell/buy unfair deals, often using dishonesty
  • Scrapper - originally a term to describe a pin that didn't make quality assurance but was illegally sold on the market.  The term is often thrown around to describe any unauthorized pin such as overruns and counterfeits.

Don't feed the counterfeiters
  • Any "pin lot" you find on ebay or amazon with phrases like "100% tradeable" are 100% fake.
  • Most cast member lanyards are full of fakes.  This is because people buy those 100% tradeable lots and trade them to the cms for real ones.  The problem is so widespread that finding a cm with a real pin is truly rare.
Pretty Much Never Buy Anything From Disney
  • Just about any pin of value would have had people lining up to get it and sell out instantly.
  • If you want anything OE, you can get it aftermarket at less money than disney sells it for.

What should I collect?
  • How much can you spend every month?  Set your goals and expectations on that.
    • $1000 a month or more can get you just about anything you want, if you are patient.
    • $20 or so a month you can go after a pretty collection of oe pins.
  • Where do you live?
    • Socal, preferably near hollywood: pin trading easy mode.
    • Near WDW or Paris: a little helpful
    • Anywhere else: expect to pay aftermarket for everything, with the rare exception of a good website release.
  • What do you like?
    • What are your favorite movies/characters?  Note that some will be more expensive than others.  The more obscure your collection, the easier time you will have.
  • Never be a completist
    • They make a lot of ugly pins, and if you NEED every pin of whatever you collect, you're gonna pay a lot of money for ugly pins and encourage them to keep making ugly pins.
  • Wear a Lanyard
    • Your lanyard should let other traders know what you collect.  The pins should not be so expensive or hard to find that you would be upset if you lost them.  Even with the best pin backs, they do fall off sometimes.
How Do I Store/Display My pins?
  • Lanyard
    • Metal plunger backs are the way to go with a lanyard.  You can get them on eBay.  Mickey backs are awful about letting go, and the ratchet ones Disney sells can damage your pin posts.
  • Trader Books
    • Foam style page pin books work pretty well.  New ones are very expensive.  Used ones can usually be found for pretty cheap.
    • Binders with baseball card pages work well for pins that you want to leave on card.  The ones Disney sells are too thick.  Just get actual baseball card ones.  They also make similar pages with up to 20 sleeves per page instead of 9, for "coin collecting."  It is good to poke the posts through the pages to help prevent tampering and theft.
  • At home
    • You can just use a simple cork board
    • Your local craft store has several options for pin display
      • Painting canvases are a nice option, since you can poke through them and secure the pins with mickey backs.

Where do the good new pins come from?
  • Disney studio store in hollywood usually releases 2 sets of pins a month
    • Pin Trader Delight sundae is the only pin you can get any day at any time that is always a decent trader
  • WDI, in glendale, has been releasing high quality pins recently.  You have to be a castmember or have one bring you to get in though, unless you go to the D23 membership events which are maybe twice a year.
  • The parks: 
    • Weekly new pins release at the parks.  They usually are higher in edition size and less wanted, so less valuable.  Sometimes they release something popular though.
  • The websites:
    • Sometimes disneystore.com, and the european counterpart, get good, low edition, tradeable pins.
Is There a List of All the Pins?
  • pinpics.com is the biggest, oldest pin database.
  • pintradingdb.com is the newest, coolest pin database.  It has more advanced and useful stats, a chatroom, and a trade auction system.
  • Disclosure: the developer of ptdb wrote this.
Should I trade or buy?
  • Almost always just buy what you want.
  • If you are after high end pins, you will find that some pins are not for sale.  In that case you will need to collect a collection of high end traders.
  • Trading is also a fun social thing, so keeping a collection of traders is also useful for this.
For goodness sake, don't be the jerk who drives prices up.
  • A pin's value is however much the highest bidder bids.  It is so important that buyers be responsible about not overpaying, because that affects the entire community.  A great rule to try and follow is Never Pay the Most Anyone Has Paid for Something.
What's a Pin Worth?
  • A PIN IS NOT WORTH THE HIGHEST BUY IT NOW PRICE ON EBAY.  DON'T SAY THAT.
  • It's not perfect, but the most common method of valuation is to check recent ebay completed listings.  This can also be compared with the LOWEST available ebay price.
Where Can I Buy/Sell/Trade pins?
  • eBay has the most, but most people avoid it if there are other ways of finding it.  eBay charges sellers about 10% of sale, so expect it to cost 10% more there or more.  As long as you use paypal as goods to pay, you have pretty much the same protection.
  • Facebook has many groups for buy/sell/trade.
  • Many people buy/sell/trade on instagram, but I don't recommend it.  Communication on that interface is difficult and frustrating.
What is some trade etiquette?
  • First try to agree on the value of the pins you are both interested in.  Be respectful, some people use different types of valuation.  There will be times when you just can't agree, but that doesn't mean you can't still be friends.
  • The most important thing is to be consistent in your values.  Don't overvalue your pins and undervalue their pins.  You will run into people who do this.  Respectfully avoid them.


How Can I Avoid Being Scammed?
  • NEVER send paypal as gift to friends and family!  Unless they are friends or family and you are ok losing your money if something goes wrong.  Sometimes people with good feedback decide to scam everyone and leave forever.  You never know what someone, even with good feedback, will do in the case of something like mail errors.  The rule is the seller is responsible for the delivery to the buyer.  Seller has to replace/refund if lost in mail.  Not all sellers know or honor this.
  • You have 45 days to file a claim with paypal for something you paid for as goods.  Don't let that expire if they didn't send.
  • For trading, there really is no protection.  You are both trusting eachother.  On facebook, see if you have any mutual friends and if someone can vouch for them.  Ask them where they have feedback.  You can ask mods of larger groups for any outstanding warrants on a person.  ALWAYS get delivery confirmation, and if it's high value, get signature for the extra couple bucks.
  • For selling, you can also get scammed when the buyer says they didn't receive your shipment.  Follow the same precautions for trading.
What to Do When You Are Scammed
  • Tell a parent or grown up you trust.  Tell the mod/admins of whatever platform you arranged the purchase/trade/sale.  They may be able to resolve it, and if not, they will spread the word so the person can't scam others.
How Do I Mail A Pin?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Be Our Guest Restaurant

As you may know by know I was in Walt Disney World at the end of January. While there we did everything including going to the Be Our Guest Restaurant which opened with the new Fantasyland expansion. The theme is that you are in Beast's Castle for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Once you enter the castle there are three rooms in which you can eat at. The Ballroom, the Gallery and the West Wing. In the Grand Ballroom there is a full wall of glass that simulates snowing like seen in the movie. In the Gallery you see all the books as well as the Beast and Belle dancing. In the elusive West Wing however you can see the damage of the beast as well as the cursed rose.

The Grand Ballroom

When I was there in January we weren't able to go for dinner as reservations were gone the instant they were available. We were however able to go onto a site to book Be Our Guest for lunch. There is a site that you have to know a Cast Member to get the URL and you book food up to 28 days in advanced so you don't have to wait in line when you get there. This is a huge advantage as the line found outside for lunch is long from first thing in the morning until lunch is no longer available.

The view from the outside the line. The entrance is at the rocks in the background.

As you can see, the line adds up quite fast so the URL is quite beneficial! Unfortunately this URL is no longer available as it was a test run. Now it is all fastpasses. I would have shared the URL with you if it was still available.

This is just the beginning of this experience! Once you go to the site and order your food you then wait for that day to come! When it's your slotted time for lunch you get to go along the left side of the bridge skipping the line! You then enter the castle and pay the guards for the meal you ordered online. This is where it gets exciting!

Once you pay they tell you to sit in whichever of the three rooms you want to sit in and the food will be brought to you. These seemed a bit confusing as we weren't given a table placard and it was even more confusing as my family had messed up and we were two orders but sat at the same table. We thought that it was maybe possible so we found a table right a long the wall in the Grand Ballroom (which is my favourite room of the three). It was pretty neat as the food runners all had their individual carts they were pushing around instead of trays making it cleaner due to no spills. 

The food cart

Now wait! It sounds pretty amazing right now right? WRONG! It gets even better! The cart pushers that have your food know exactly where you are sitting! How you may ask? Magic!


(No it isn't really magic. That is what they say however. The way it is actually done is through RFID scanners under the table, the same scanners used for fastpasses. The magicband is scanned so that the food runners know what table everyone is sitting at so that they can bring the food to the right table without an error. Once I figured it out it was a pretty genius move I must say but it was shocking when they first brought the food out.)

All in all the Be Our Guest restraunt is one of the things I remember about the trip the most and is now my 2nd favourite restaurant in WDW surpassing the Biergarten.

Until next time!!


Corvyn

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Walt Disney World: The good, the bad and the ugly

 Recently I went on a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) with the family for 8 days. It wasn't the first time I have been there but the first in 5 years. I have been to Disneyland and Disneyland Paris as well to get a good comparison of them all. In the 8 days I just noticed a few things that stuck out. Some things were good, some things were bad, and some things were ugly bad. ( Side note: I don't mean to offend anyone with this post it's just my opinion)

The good:

1. Theming. Throughout all four parks the theme of that land was perfect and on point (except Finding Nemo musical in Dinoland U.S.A. But don't get me started on that...)! When you're going from Liberty Square, which has a trail in the middle to represent sewage like it was in that time, to Frontierland you lose the sewage trail but gain the rustic feel. Or going from the futuristic Tomorrowland to the whimsical Fantasyland there is not a mess up in the theme and there is that line where one land ends and the next begins. I love it every time!

2. New Fantasyland. This one I am a little hesitant to put here but I will as I enjoyed it. The Fantasyland expansion was the biggest one WDW has everyone besides opening a park of course. So there was a lot of pressure on them to have this good and all the rage was about this new ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (SDMT). It was a great ride don't get me wrong! But I liked it because I liked singing along to "Heigh Ho" going out of the mine. Otherwise I'd say the ride was pretty lack lustre compared to all its hype. Then there was the Under the Sea: Little Mermaid which is the same as the one from DLR that opened a few years back but has the advantage of an interactive queue (which I'll get to later). Then there is Be Our Guest which was amazing! Probably one of my most favourite Disney restaurants there are now! I won't go into detail as I will make a whole post about it just because of how great it was! New fantasyland was a pretty good thing in WDW.

3. Interactive Queues. I'm not going to lie. Lines are awful. But interactive queues make the lines seem a lot shorter. A perfect example is Peter Pan. Peter Pan was a 60+ minute wait the whole time we were there. With the interactive queue and the queue in general the line seemed to be maybe 20 minutes. It was so simple with just projections of Peter Pan and Tink that you could play with but could kill an hour. Another example is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And one part in the interactive queue you get to charge up dynamite then blow it up in the mine, the trick is that the dynamite is on the surface so it explodes areas on the surface and if a train is going past you can scare them pretty good! Interactive queues were a great thing throughout.

The bad:

1. Pin Trading. Being a Disney veteran I like to pin trade. Pin trading has been going downhill of late but you can really tell at WDW. Buying LE pins is much more complicated than it should be as I'm WDW you can only buy them at 5 stores throughout the resort (1 at each park and DTD). In DLR you can buy LE pins, maybe not low ones but still LE, at any store. It made it very difficult to buy pins and then finding tables or places with pin traders to trade pins. I just felt that WDW was pushing pin traders away.

2. Size. Magic Kingdom was quite large so it was a a bit of a pain to get from place to place. It caused a heartache to get from place to place due to its sheer size. I mean with that much space of course it will be large it just caused some pains trying to get from one place to another quickly. I mean the size has an advantage but it has its disadvantages as well of course.

The ugly:

1. Fastpass +. I am going to control myself as I could make a whole post on just how bad Fastpass + is. It starts off bad when you need to book your Fastpasses before you even leave. Not to mention if you stay at a Disney resort you can book your Fastpasses 60 days in advance compared to 30 days with everyone else. That already gives people a huge advantage. Then once you get there you have to be within that one hour window. Maybe once in a while you will get a nice CM who will allow you to be 5 minutes late but it's not usually likely and we didn't want to risk it. Then the worst thing possible happened on one day we were there. Their whole computer system had crashed. Your Fastpasses worked but you couldn't get new ones, old ones sometimes work, it barely worked to use to charge to the room and it was a huge mess that day.

2. Canada at World Showcase. This was what I was most disappointed about the entire time I was in WDW. The Canadian Pavilion opened with Epcot in 1982 and not a lot has changed which is unfortunate. It is very stereotypical throughout the pavilion and is a little offensive in my opinion. There was references to Lumberjacks, jokes about igloos, and lots of references to French Canadians (which there is not that many of them in general). The Circle-vision show opened in 1982 and then was updated in 2007 but is still very outdated. It was pretty disappointing coming from Disney and a little offensive to a Canadian.

All in all I was impressed but there was a few things that wouldn't make me give it a 10/10. I enjoyed it and was happy as I don't know when I will get to go again, if ever! Until next time!

Corvyn