Showing posts from February, 2019

New Mickey Mouse Parks Stickers from DVC Kiosks for 2019

If you're anything like us and have been to Disney Parks from time to time, your kids have probably been covered in various character stickers from cast members.  Most often these days, those stickers are coming from cast members (salespeople) who are manning Disney Vacation Club kiosks in the parks and in/around the resort hotels/property.

The stickers that are most common are of just Mickey the Mouse himself.  Either of his head by itself of his whole body.  There are other, what I'll call 'more rare' stickers that you can get inside the parks and I've chronicled some of those.  Most recently, we were given this 'Honorary Aviator' sticker from the guys at Soarin' in DCA.  Job-specific roles on the cast have stickers, too.  Here's one from a custodian.  And one from a Monorail pilot.  And we were given this Minnie Mouse sticker somewhere in the parks - which is less common than Mickey. 

However, during our stay at Aulani in Hawaii, we came across …

15 Years of Blogging - Milestone

Today is February 16, 2019.  And today marks my 15th year of blogging. 

15 years of doing anything is a lot, but 15 years of writing on the web feels like a good milestone and worthy of noting (at least here, on said blog.)

The first post in the archives here on comes from February 16th 2004.  Back then, it was either at or  But today, those are ported here.  And I've been writing here for a number of years.

I've failed to note this anniversary since 2016 when I hit 12 years.  Today....I'm at 15.  That's more than 1/3rd of my entire life. 

In that time, I've had a few jobs that involved media, digital and communications. But, never strayed too far away from the Web.  I fell in love with the ability to publish online and never looked back.  I was lucky that I wasn't lured in by the siren call of The Facebook or anywhere else that publishing happens these days.  I've stayed here.  In my ow…

The Cats Of Disney's Aulani Resort

If you're a Disney person, you've probably heard about the Disneyland cats.  This Vice story does a good job unpacking the whole feline operation in Anaheim.  There's more than 100 feral cats that live in and around Disneyland Park that are fed and tended to (even tagged and neutered!) by Disney cast members/staff.  All in the name of reducing the rodent population - which they do a pretty great job.

Just to be clear here:  We're not cat people in the Parrillo household.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to rain on your cat parade.  Just not going to be besties with Beth O and bring in cats to our house.   Seeing cats out in the wild?  Just fine, though.  And, for the record, this is the first entry into the archives with the [Cats] tag.

As a Disney fan, you likely know the Disneyland cats story.  But, here's something you may not know:  there are cats at Disney's Aulani in Hawaii, too.  Here's a couple of photos of them.  The one up top is a cat …

Gardening Advice From Ralph Snodsmith

In this piece on Garden Design that lays out eight landscape design principles, there are some things that I found interesting and wanted to share here.  Both for you, my dear reader, but also so I remember them.  To start, I thought I'd go with the final one on *their* list.  It was this final one  that caught my attention.  This little nugget is from a guy named Ralph Snodsmith who hosted a radio show about gardening in New York.  I'm sure he imparted quite a bit of knowledge to his listeners/callers, but it seems that he had one statement that stood above the rest.  This certainly feels like something I need to remind myself when I'm out in the garden:
"It’s better to plant a 50-cent plant in a $5 hole, than a $5 plant in a 50-cent hole." The Garden Design piece goes on to say that there's no greater planting wisdom than this.  Hole preparation, especially for folks like me who, due to new construction, have a clay layer that is in many of the beds around…

Mickey Mouse Shave Ice At Aulani

There are hundreds of unique things about Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii that we encountered during our stay and many of them were 'traditional' or true to Hawaiian culture.  But the most interesting ones (for me at least) were the activities and experiences that kind of sat at the intersection of Hawaii AND Disney.  And, I think that's what makes Aulani such a special place.  You get all the awesomeness of Hawaii PLUS the Disney experience.  That means great service.  Great 'show' (landscaping, buildings, etc).  And sometimes you get a little bit of Disney theme'ing. 

These Mickey Mouse shave ice cups that you see in the photo above is one of those things.  Aulani has a place that serves shave ice (not "shaved ice") called Pāpālua Shave Ice that is kind of situated on the island in the middle of the pool area.  The entire middle grounds of the resort - which includes the pool area and some restaurants is called the Waikolohe Valley Pool Area. …

Early February 2019 Firewood Update - Replenished

Just two weeks ago, I shared a photo in my ongoing tracking of our firewood consumption and mentioned that we had mostly exhausted our Fall supply of Cherry and Birch that we had delivered and stacked in our screened porch and side porch.  This photo you see above is from a week or so ago after we had a second, late-Winter delivery of another Facecord of firewood from Best Firewood in Aurora. 

This would be the third Facecord of wood that we've worked through since early October.  That's four months - at approximately 1/2 of a Facecord per month. 

The supplier that we use has a different type and caliber of wood available in late January/early February vs. what they have in September and October. 

So, this order included a wood that we haven't bought before:  Oak.   This is a Facecord that is split 50/50 between Oak and Cherry.  But, the Cherry is *different* than the Cherry we had delivered in October.  If you look at the rack in on the right, you will see the top sectio…

Nostalgia At Disney - Seeds Being Planted

I came across this little display and sign inside of the City Hall in the townsquare at the end of Main Street USA at Disneyland Park on our trip.  It is titled "Yesterday" and speaks to the idea of nostalgia.  Written/said by Imagineer Bruce Gordon.  I had never heard of him, but he was an Imagineer who died pretty young - at the age of 56 - back in 2007.  His work includes the creation of Splash Mountain, the 1998 renovation of Tomorrowland, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Tarzan's Treehouse.

Some Disney purists might look at his resume and think he's, ah...associated with some terrible projects.  The 1998 Tomorrowland renovation was panned.  The Tarzan Treehouse conversion from Swiss Family Robinson certainly has detractors.  Same with the Nemo submarine voyage.  Changes to "classic rides".

But, this Mercury News piece - which ranks the best and worst Disney ride/attraction makeovers lists Nemo as a win and …

Disney California Adventure Parks Map - Christmas Time

A couple of weeks back, I added a photo of the Holiday Season Disneyland Park map to the collection here on the blog and today, I'm adding the companion Christmas/Holiday Season Disney California Adventure Parks map.  You see Minnie and Mickey in their winter gear in from of a big Christmas tree in the cover photo.  The holiday decorations at DCA are fine, but they're not quite as special as the ones at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  The vintage tinsel-laden decor that they put up in Orlando is the best in any of the parks.

The full series of posts showing off various Disney Parks maps including both Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland along with some seasonal/special holiday party maps from the Magic Kingdom can be found here.

Winter Heated Bird Bath Full Of House Sparrows

Back in November of 2017, we installed a heated birdbath out in the backyard near our feeders that are located right outside of our kitchen windows.  This was the same feeder that we had in our house at Elmhurst but was in storage for a couple of years.  It is a heated one that doesn't have a pedestal, so I've set it on a little table.  Then about a year ago, I added a Water Wiggler to make the water move a bit.  Turns out, the Wiggler, while great to keep potential mosquitos from using the bath, made it hard for birds to actually use the bath as anything other than a drinking fountain.

Also, earlier this Winter, I came across this upgraded heated bird bath at Wannemakers and thought it would be a nice addition, but ultimately I didn't pull the trigger on it.

For this Winter, I decided to just dump the Wiggler and plug in the existing free-standing bath in to keep the water from freezing.  And for the past few months, I've watched a few curious birds check out the bat…

Mary Poppins Returns Props - Including the Kite @ Disneyland Park

Continuing on the recent Disneyland-centric posting journey, here's something we came across:  props from the movie Mary Poppins Returns.  In the photo, you can see both Mary's coat and blue shoes along with the kite and suffragette tail.  This post on the Disney Parks Blog shows all the props including Mary Poppins' bag.

A proper kite needs a proper tail, dontcha think?

Not from this version of the movie, but still makes me smile every time I hear it.

Olu Disney Pin From Aulani - Duffy's Turtle Friend

A week back, I posted a photo of the Christmas-themed pin from Aulani that one of the kids picked out and mentioned that we picked up a few other ones.  Today is the pin featuring 'Olu the Turtle.  He's "A Disney friend of Duffy".  Who is 'Olu the Turtle? And how did he meet Duffy? From the Disney Parks Blog:
As Mickey and Duffy sailed the islands on a quest to find the perfect birthday present for ShellieMay, rhythmic sounds of an ‘ukulele called to them over the ocean, leading them to a cozy cove and to ‘Olu, a kindhearted turtle playing happy music.  ‘Olu smiled and shyly greeted Duffy, “I play my ‘ukulele to make songs of love. Want to sing with me?” ‘Olu strummed a beautiful song for his new friends. “That will be the perfect present for ShellieMay!” said Duffy excitedly. Off to the party they went, singing the special song together for their birthday friend. He's exclusively at Aulani in Hawaii, so they have a full suite of 'Olu the Turtle merchand…

Growing in Disney Parks: Trees, Flowers and Plants

Having now recently posted about seeing *in real life* the Disneyland Roses in Anaheim and one of the espalier'd trees/shrubs in Fantasyland, I've now think it is worth creating a curated post about all the trees/plants that I've cared enough about in Disney Parks to post about here on the blog.  Consider this my "Growing in Disney Parks" roundup. 

Before I get to the posts I've created, in searching about some of the trees, I came across this site: Plants of Disneyland.  Pretty incredible stuff - including a nice look at the Belgian Fence espalier that I posted about last week.   

Here's the archives related to plants inside of and around Disney Parks on the blog:

1.  Disneyland Roses.  In a bed near the Disneyland Resort Gateway along Harbor Blvd in Anaheim. 

2.  A Belgian Fence Espalier at Disneyland.  Turns out it is made out of Firethorn.   

3.  A beautiful Life Oak tree at Epcot in the World Showcase

4.  There's an incredible Live Oak Tree at …

Aulani Coaster - Added to Collection #35

Have we talked about Aulani?  A little bit on the blog, right?  Welp, here's a coaster that I added to the [coaster collection] here on the blog from the Aulani Resort in Hawaii.   This is the 35th coaster in the collection and follows the most recent addition of #34 from the Lamplight Lounge at Disney's California Adventure.  This is the 12th Disney-related coaster in the collection - which means more than 1/3rd of them are Disney-themed.

The full Disney list includes:

1. The standard one you see in your rooms @ Walt Disney World resort hotels.
2. This black and white one from the original Disneyland Resort Hotel.
3. This *new* Walt Disney World resort hotel version that updates the look of #1 above.
4. One from the Irish pub Raglan Road restaurant in Disney Springs.
5. From inside the Magic Kingdom comes this one from the Skipper Canteen.
6. Right outside the Boardwalk Inn Hotel is where we got this coaster from the Flying Fish restaurant.
7. Back in Disney Springs, I found this o…

Return Visitor: Northern Flicker

Back in January, I mentioned that we had a big, beautiful Northern Flicker visit our feeders but I was unable to get a useable photo of the bird for the blog.  I posted about it anyway.  Welp, fast-forward a month and guess who's back?!  The Northern Flicker.  And why do I know?  The yellow flight feathers are a tell-tale sign.   Also, the size.  Check out this guy in the photo above and how his body is dominating the suet cage in terms of size.  He's much larger than the other woodpeckers who visit our cages and feeders.  Mark it down, dude.  Northern Flicker.  See the yellow in the photo of him taking off below to confirm:

Disney Aulani Duffy and ShellieMay Christmas Ornament 2018 Pin

Before we get too far away from the holiday season, I wanted to post this new addition to our pin board:  a Limited Edition 2018 Happy Holidays - Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa Christmas ornament pin that opens up to reveal a couple of special Aulani friends:

Duffy and his lady friend ShellieMay.  You Disney pros know who they are.  But those of you who are confused why Mickey the Mouse isn't in there?  Read this piece about who is the most popular Disney characters in Asia.

We've been to Disney Parks in the past around Christmas time and because of that, we usually end up with at least one Christmas-related Disney Pin.  I've covered some of these on the blog before.

Here's a photo and post about a Stormtrooper with a candy cane holiday Disney pin.  Here's a Haunted Mansion Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party pin from 2015.  We also bought two other pins from the same party in 2015 including one with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto and the other a Passholder one fe…

Early February Firewood Consumption Check - 2019

It appears that I didn't do a proper firewood consumption check-in post in the month of January this year as the last time I posted a photo of the wood racks was late December of 2018.  Here's a photo that I took a few days ago that shows only the largest rack closest to our family room.  Why?  Because the other two racks (the one outside and the other one in our screened porch) are both empty. 

Above, you can see a small pile of Cherry left on top and a small pile of Birch on the bottom.  This won't last long.

Compare the quantity in the photo above to where we were last February 8th when we were using the larger, metal, traditional rack

My assumption is that the cold Winter isn't going to snap into Spring anytime soon, so I've placed an order with Best Firewood to replenish the racks.  Unfortunately, the *good* Cherry as well as the Birch firewood are all sold out for the season.  So, the backfill order was a Face cord that is split between Cherry (they said it…

Disneyland Roses - In Their Native Environment

Back in September of 2017, I posted about a Disneyland Rose plant that Nat's Mom gave us for our anniversary.  In that post, I shared the background on the variety and how it came to be back in 2004.  I ended up planting that first Disneyland Rose plant near the rear foundation outside of our kitchen window and hoped for the best.  It weathered the first Winter and came to bloom for the first time last Summer and I posted about that in June of 2018. Then, for our Anniversary in 2018, Nat's Mom sent us two more Disneyland Rose plants that I stuck in the side foundation beds on the Southside of our house between our house and our neighbor.

So, imagine my delight when we were visiting the Disneyland Resort and we came across a large bed near the gateway entry point along Harbor Drive.  Here's the Google Maps overview that shows the area where this bed is located:

This location means that everybody at one of the "good neighbor" hotels/motels that walks to the parks,…