Magical Blogorail: Is It Worth It? Park Hopper Option

Now we all know that the more days you purchase for fun in the parks, the less each day costs you. But does Disney get that money back by upselling you on options you don’t need? Like the Park Hopper option? Let’s find out!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing aspects of a Disney vacation that make people ask: Is it worth it?


Park Hopper Parks

So many Park choices!

Again, we all realize that buying admission days in bulk is the best option. The more days you buy, the cheaper each day becomes. But as with everything in life, it’s the extras that’ll kill you!

Let’s assume you are going to take your family of four to Walt Disney World for four days. Basic admission tickets for everyone would basically cost you $1,400 US (ouch!)

Park Hopper Basic

Now add the Park Hopper option to all four tickets for all four days and now you will spend $1,700 US (OUCH!)

Park Hopper Ticket Prices

So basically you will spend an additional $300.00 US just for the privilege of jumping around from park to park in the same day. Is that an extra that really adds value? Here are some reasons why I believe it does not:

  • You could probably spend that $300.00 on something else (dining, souvenirs)
  • There is more than enough to do in each park for a day without jumping
  • Precious vacation time will be lost travelling between parks
  • Got grumpy kids? Park hop. Nuff said!

This option makes more sense for a single visitor or for couples who visit often and know what they want to see and can thus plan to make the most of the Park Hopper option. For families, and those on a budget, this option is one best left off your basic ticket!

For more opinions on what is and isn’t worth the splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange  | Is It Worth It? Loop:

Twister Game at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort, located at Walt Disney World, is wonderful for its over-sized props!

I took many pictures throughout the grounds, but thought this image was particularly fun:

Twister Game Board

Get Ready to Stretch!

So who’s up for a game of Twister?

To continue your over-sized fun, check out my earlier post showing more of the props around the Resort.

Collecting Toys Magazine: February 1996 Issue

1996 Nostalgia. Who can resist it? We are ready again to revisit the days of our youth and remember the carefree days when the worst problem we faced was which toy to play with! In this post you will find another issue of Collecting Toys Magazine.

I was reunited with more of my old toys as I turned the pages of this issue of Collecting Toys:

Toys Cover 96

Slot Cars Rule!

Let’s have a look at some of the contents of this issue from 1996:

Toys New Stuff

What’s New?

From an Extreme G.I. Joe action figure to the superhero The Tick, 1996 was ready to kick some serious butt! And there were diecast model cars, too!

Toys Bond

Bond. James Bond.

“No, Mister Bond. I expect you to DIE!” Sorry, I just had to add one of my favorite Bond villain quotes from the Sean Connery days (bonus points if you know the Bond film this is from). Although I have to say that Pierce Brosnan is probably my second-favorite Bond! And he was trending in 1996.

Toys Action Figures

Action Figures

Don’t call them ‘dolls’ or Batman will beat you up! I had a few characters from this line, but I remember Spiderman the most. I also had The Lone Ranger and Tonto and Evel Knievel, complete with stunt bike! Man, I miss those toys.

And if you feel boys can play with dolls, not just action figures, check out this newer product called the Wonder Crew that I reviewed from the Chicago Toy Fair.

Toys Soldiers

Toy Soldiers

I had dozens of the traditional green toy soldiers but had never seen these Blue and the Gray versions. Must have been an American thing.

Toys Show

Antique Toy Show

Toy shows and Antique fairs are amazing places to visit! I zeroed in on this one because of the monster in the bottom right corner. We have Super 8 footage of this guy rolling around our living room back when my sister and I were quite young. This battery-operated toy was the Great Garloo by Marx and measured in at a whopping 23″ tall! The 1960’s were all about the science fiction monsters.

Toys Zoo

Zoo. In. Spaaaaaaaaaace!

Where else would you put a zoo that had metal animals? Think this sparking dog is weird? Just try to imagine the whale and the elephant!

So there we have a look back into the toys of our past. I hope you enjoyed some nostalgic moments!

Collecting Toys Magazine: February 1995 Issue

1995 Nostalgia. Who can resist it? We all love to revisit the days of our youth and remember the carefree days when the worst problem we faced was which toy to play with! Collecting Toys Magazine is a great source to find those old toys we loved so much but parted with as we grew older.

I was reunited with some of my old toys as I turned the pages of this issue of Collecting Toys:

Collecting Toys Cover 95

Japanese Robots

What I like about finding these vintage magazines is the wealth of relevant information they still contain. From manufacturing information to variants to seeing the collections of others, the only information not relevant is the values. But even outdated values can be interesting!

Let’s have a look at some of the contents of this issue from 1995:

Collecting Toys New Stuff

What’s New?

This spread is fun because it shows what was new in 1995, over 20 years ago. New then, vintage now!

Collecting Toys 3 Wheeler

Three-Wheeled & Ready to Roll

My family is originally from England so vehicles like this have a soft spot in my heart. European cities traditionally have narrow streets so 3-wheeled vehicles like this model are very common. This model is of a truck produced in Japan, where they have the same problem. I wish I had one here in Canada! A real one and a model.

Collecting Toys Robot

Behold: GIGANTOR

Can we just agree that Japanese metal robot toys are about the coolest toys in creation?!? Although plentiful, these toys still command a high price from collectors!

Collecting Toys Rollercoaster

1930’s Chein Roller Coaster

This is a good example of how manufacturers worked in the past. They would have one style of toy and simply stamp different characters or scenes onto it to make a new toy. So this roller coaster (above) is identical to the one I have, except mine has a Disney theme. Check the version I have by clinking the link here.

Collecting Toys Soccer

Soccer or Football?

Either way, this game by Subbuteo scored big with kids of all ages. You played with your fingers and could choose from multiple teams, just like the standard table hockey games.

Collecting Toys Hot Wheels

HOTWHEELS Are Good!

No toy collecting magazine would be complete without a spread about Hotwheels, perhaps the most famous slot racing company around. If you were a boy in the 1980’s you had dozens of these little metal cars!

Collecting Toys Pee Puppy

Please Control Yourself!

It’s bad enough to have a real puppy wetting all over the house, I can’t imagine a parent buying a child a fake puppy to water the remaining dry areas of the family home! Each to his or her own, I guess. And I really didn’t need to see where the pee comes out!

So there we have a look back into the toys of our past. I hope you enjoyed some nostalgic moments!

Walt Disney World Refillable Travel Mugs

My wife and I first visited Walt Disney World as a couple in 2006 and that’s when our collection of refillable travel mugs began. At that time, Disney was still releasing new designs each year, and separate designs for each resort.

Now they tend to be more generic, a one-mug-fits-all, if you will. It has taken the fun out of acquiring travel mugs as now they are not linked to specific trip memories. But what are you going to do?

Recently, we threw away all of our travel mugs because they had become too dirty and worn. We use them often for taking our coffee and tea on the go. Once gone, we realized just how handy they were! So I was thrilled to find these two mint condition examples in a local charity shop:

Travel Mugs Blue 2

The gang arrives at Walt Disney World

What I’ve always liked about the travel mugs is the designs. This one depicts Mickey and friends arriving for a vacation.

Travel Mugs Blue 3Travel Mugs Blue 1

This was back when each resort, or family of resorts, had their own designs. This mug was sold at Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, and the Old Key West resorts.

As you can see by comparing these two examples, the handles and lids came in a variety of colors. This is still the case today.

Travel Mugs Green 2

Check-in Time!

This mug has no resort indicated anywhere so it could be a more generic design sold throughout the resorts. Quite possibly the Value resorts.

Travel Mugs Green 3Travel Mugs Green 1

Trust Donald to complicate everything!

Now we have travel mugs again! Seriously, have you ever tried to find a decent travel mug in the local stores that isn’t priced too high? I was glad to find these for just $2.99 CAN each.

For more travel mug fun, check out our earlier post entitled Disney Souvenirs Under $20.

The Magical Music of Walt Disney Box Set

The Walt Disney Studio is best known for its achievements in both Shorts and feature-length animations. Live-action movies aren’t far behind. But after those must come music! Because for almost every Disney movie you know, you can probably hum a tune that you identify with that movie. Yes?

Hence, we have The Magical Music of Walt Disney box set, brought to you with glorious 8-Track tape quality:

Music 8 Track Box Set

Ahhh… 1978 lives!

I found this set at a charity shop for just $5.99 CAN and just had to have it, even though I don’t have an 8-track player. Who does?

Music 8 Track FrontMusic 8 Track Back

Front and Back of the Box Set

This commemorative box set was released to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the creation of Mickey Mouse, who you might remember, first appeared on-screen in the 1928 Short entitled Steamboat Willie.

So it all started with a mouse and ended, in 1978, with this glorious tribute.

Music 8 Track Tape FrontMusic 8 Track Tape Back

Who remembers these?

My father bought an old Fargo van when I was still a teenager and it actually had an 8-track player in it (along with a 3-on-the-tree shifter) and I would borrow it to ‘cruise.’ I cranked the two tapes I found on the floor of the van. One was Burton Cummings, I think. Good times in rural Ontario!

Music 8 Track Tape Label

Big. Bulky. And beautiful!

Apart from just wanting an unusual piece for my disneyana collection, I also bought this set because it has a 52-page full-color book included. It starts with an introduction to both Dick Schory, the producer of this set, and the book itself. Next, there is a two-page spread about Walt Disney. Let’s have a look at one page from that spread:

Music 8 Track Book 1

This montage shows Walt from his beginnings up to just months before his death (center picture, on the set of The Happiest Millionaire).

Next is a two-page spread featuring the art of Disney animation. Below is one page from that spread:

Music 8 Track Book 2

The next several pages cover Mickey’s early years in Shorts as well as the Silly Symphonies, and Mickey’s later years.

The book moves into the feature-length feature films starting with Snow White and including Pinocchio, Dumbo (below), and Bambi.

Next we are treated to some of the great animated classics of the Forties:

Music 8 Track Book 3Music 8 Track Book 4

Following is Song of the South, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. Then the True-Life Adventures series is covered as are the later animated years with 101 Dalmatians and The Rescuers, among others.

The live-action movies are covered next with Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, both known for their excellent use of music.

Below are pages showing the music and sound effects departments:

Music 8 Track Book 5Music 8 Track Book 6

The book concludes with a look at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks. Both have a long history of musical storytelling!

Music 8 Track Book 8

Music 8 Track Book 7Music 8 Track Book 9

Sweet Nostalgia!

So maybe some day in the distant future, 8-track tapes will make the same comeback journey that vinyl has today… but I doubt it! Oh well. This set makes a great keepsake, a conversation piece, and definitely provides a cool slice of Disney history.

For more cool Disney history, check out my book reviews of The Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World and Walt Disney, an American Original.

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio

BOOK REVIEW

Simon and Kirby Cover

Publisher: Abrams Comicarts

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1160-2

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 382

Date: 2014

Price: $60.00 US / $69.00 CAN

Simon and Kirby Back Cover

I have followed the work of Jack Kirby for years and thought of him only in terms of his career with Marvel Comics, and somewhat with his brief work for DC Comics. But I never realized that those times weren’t the beginning of his story. Enter Joe Simon and the Simon and Kirby Studio.

Simon and Kirby Portrait

I’ll leave the details of how these two creative geniuses met for when you read the book, but safe to say it is one of those ‘meant-to-be’ stories! They started out in the 1930’s and definitely left their mark.

The Simon and Kirby Studio was prolific, employing many artists as needed, and covering such material as:

Simon and Kirby Space

Space Epics

Simon and Kirby Love

Love Stories

Simon and Kirby Crime

Crime Stories

Simon and Kirby Western

Westerns

Simon and Kirby Superhero

Superheroes (The Fly, pictured above)

I learned that Simon would go out and get jobs for the studio by promising any kind of story that was needed to fill publications at the time. They were primarily a studio-for-hire at this point. Then Kirby would burn the midnight oil to churn out the images. Although Simon was more of a writer and business man, he also did artwork and other duties. In fact, everyone at the studio was expected to do whatever it took to meet a deadline!

Simon and Kirby Sandman

The Sandman

Superheroes are probably what most readers buying this book will know Jack Kirby for. Perhaps thinking of Captain America or the later characters co-created by Stan Lee, like The Mighty Thor, among others. But in the early days it was The Sandman, Fighting American, and The Fly.

This book is mostly a reprinting of classic Simon and Kirby stories, in part or in their entirety. The book starts with a brief introduction by Mark Evanier and concludes with an even briefer afterward by Jim Simon.

COOL FACTOR: 3.5/5

I was expecting more of an in-depth look at the men and the studio they created, but instead got over 300 pages of comic strip panels. The artwork was amazing (if you appreciate the drawing style of Jack Kirby, as I do) but most of the stories were very dated. I didn’t know most of the characters, as they came from the 30’s and 40’s, so this too was a bit disappointing.

The Cool Factor will be much higher for diehard Kirby fans, and completests, but for the average comic book fan, it may not be what is expected.

For more on Jack Kirby, check out this blog entitled the Jack Kirby Museum. The curator has stopped posting new material, but it is still filled with many posts that delve into Kirby’s life and art.

Or if you want to stay right here (which I would certainly appreciate!), please check out my book reviews on Stan Lee’s Marvelous Memoir and Color Sundays of Mickey Mouse and The Art of the Disney Golden Books. For another related review, check out Toy Wars, depicting the battle between Mattel and Hasbro for toy supremacy. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a grudge match between Barbie and G.I. Joe!

Tsum Tsum Stackable Collectible Figurines

Disney and I have a partnership going that is pretty lopsided! They put out collectible whatever and I buy it. They get my money, and I get… stuff. Case in point: Tsum Tsum stackable collectible figurines!

Tsum Tsum Front Packaging

Nine in a Set

I’ve resisted branching out into the smaller plastic versions of this merchandise line after adding an assortment of the original plush versions to my collection. You can see those here. The link will take you to a Swedish Chef Tsum Tsum, but that post has a link to other plush Tsum Tsum characters as well.

Tsum Tsum Back Packaging

The Backside of Tsum Tsum

And by ‘backside’ I mean their backsides! Don’t look at Snow White, it would be rude.

Now let’s free the little critters:

Tsum Tsum Open Packaging

Who is the mystery character?

More on who the mystery character is later. In each of these sets, you get three large, three medium, and three small sizes of characters. My large characters are:

Tsum Tsum Stitch

Stitch

Tsum Tsum Snow White

Snow White

Tsum Tsum Eeyore

Eeyore

My medium characters are:

Tsum Tsum Lady

Lady

Tsum Tsum Hiro

Hiro (Mystery Character)

I was pleasantly surprised to get Hiro, as Big Hero 6 is one of my favorite Disney movies!

Tsum Tsum Buzz

Buzz Lightyear

I actually broke down and bought this set solely because of this Buzz Lightyear figure. Buzz as a tiny gerbil? Irresistible!

And finally, my small characters are:

Tsum Tsum Tiny Ones

Joy, Piglet, and Mickey Mouse

A secondary reason for buying this set was to obtain the Joy character for my wife.

These silly little things could definitely grow on me and I already realize that I will have to put up a strong fight against buying more! And how will I know what to look for?

Tsum Tsum CG Cover

Tsum Tsum Collector Guide

This little fold-out booklet comes with every set of Tsum Tsum stackable figures. What I purchased is part of the Series 2 collection:

Tsum Tsum Collector Guide

40 Characters in all!

Now keep in mind that if you want the complete series, you will have to collect 120 individual pieces, as each character comes in all three sizes of small, medium, and large. Depending on how Disney has apportioned the characters throughout the packs, you will have to buy at least 13 packs at $19.97 each. Round that up to an even $20.00 and those 13 packs are going to cost you $260.00 CAN.

Now I’m sure I’ve seen duplicates of characters in multiple packs, which means you will have to buy more packs and you will end up with duplicate characters. So I advise trading with friends!

So will you zoom zoom to the store to buy these Tsum Tsum figures?

Snoopy Plastic Figurine by Schleich

Snoopy has a had quite the career. When not sleeping atop his doghouse he takes to the skies in his Sopwith Camel to do battle with the Red Baron. Now that’s exciting, but especially for a dog!

We’d better have a look at this prestigious pooch:

Snoopy Standing Tall

Always on top of something!

Charles M. Shultz created the Peanuts comic strip which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. And although the star of the strip was good ‘ol Charlie Brown, it was his dog that really rose to the top.

Snoopy Side

Classic Profile

Snoopy joined the comic strip two days in on October 4th, 1950.

Snoopy Profile

Snoopy is a loyal, innocent, imaginative and good-natured beagle who is prone to imagining fantasy lives, including being an author, a college student known as “Joe Cool” and a World War I Royal Flying Ace.

Snoopy Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel

The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter aircraft introduced on the Western Front in 1917. It had been developed by the Sopwith Aviation Company as a successor to the earlier Sopwith Pup and would become one of the most iconic fighter aircraft of the First World War.

Snoopy is perhaps best known for his fighter ace persona, wearing an aviator’s helmet and goggles and a scarf.

Snoopy Headgear

This little PVC (plastic) figurine was produced by the Schleich company and is a current release available in stores now.

Snoopy Label

Schleich was founded by Friedrich Schleich in 1935. Its figurines were first released in the 1950s with the development, production and marketing of comic figurines such as Snoopy and The Smurfs. In the early 1980’s they added animal figurines and Muppet characters to their range of products.

So is Fighter Ace Snoopy your favorite, or is Joe Cool more your speed? Either way, you have to agree this is one canny canine!

Handmade Pop Bottle Doll with Dress

Back in 1977 I was twelve years old and very shy. I hated being in groups and had problems fitting in. So you can imagine how I felt when my teacher announced that every student was required to pick from a selection of craft-based group activities as an extra class. The list was diverse, and although I can’t quite remember them all, most had to do with handmade efforts. One was guitar lessons, but you had to have your own guitar. I didn’t.

I had a friend who was of like mind and interest, so we decided to choose the most unlikely activity: Handmade Dolls! It was close to Mother’s Day and we thought it would make a nice gift. So we two boys and a room full of girls (!!!) started sewing and stitching, and I eventually came out with this:

Handmade Doll Front

 I thought she was cute!

She used to have a little bonnet but it has since been lost. She is now 40 years old and looking a bit faded.

Handmade Doll Back

Not to brag, but I do remember the teacher saying that I was one of the best students and I remember helping many of the girls with their stitching. Where that came from I can’t imagine!

This doll was made using a large pop bottle as a base. I think I used a Pepsi or Coke bottle. The bottle was filled with sand to weigh it down and keep it from tipping over. A cloth sock was pulled over the bottle as well as the Styrofoam ball which was used for the head.

Handmade Doll Sleeve

The cloth was cotton:

Handmade Doll Cotton

Here is a closer look at my fine-stitched hemline:

Handmade Doll Hem

Still holding after all this time!

My mother taped a note on the bottom to remind her of when the doll was made:

Handmade Doll Bottom

My mother is now suffering the early effects of  Alzheimer’s disease and has forgotten all about the doll made by her son so long ago. It used to be displayed in her kitchen but I recently found it on the floor in a corner as I was helping my parents pack for their recent move. My mother looked at it without recognition and asked if I’d like to have it.

Handmade Doll Profile

She’s still smiling!

I reclaimed it as a memento to remember the better times and it now belongs to my wife.

I’m glad I was able to go against character way back when and produce this wonderful keepsake!