Archives for September 2009
Walking through the aisles of our local Super Target, my husband happened to mention needing syrup. Something struck me in the way he said the word. “SIRup?” I asked?
He said, “Yes, why, how do YOU say it?”
“SEERup!” I answered. My friend was also with us and confirmed that she also said “SIRup” and her mom would too, both of them having been raised in the South. Now since my husband and I both grew up in Massachusetts, I was puzzled. Why on EARTH would he say SIRup?? So he did what he always does in these situations – called his mom. She grew up in the same town as him near Boston and confirmed that it was pronounced SIRup/SURup. I was shocked to say the least.
When we came home, I felt it was my duty to ask on Twitter how everyone there pronounced it. Here’s what I discovered:
New Jersey pronounces it SEERup, as do some parts of Pennsylvania, while others say SIRup. Every southern state that answered – Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, as well as the Midwest, Utah, Arizona and California ALL said SURup. Someone checking in from Arkansas said SEERup, just to throw me for a loop. Then we have the Canadians. Someone from Ontario said SEERup while his wife from Nova Scotia said SIRup. Another person from Montreal said SEERup, but clarified that it was more like “SeerO” because of the French Canadian being spoken at home. Then a friend from England reported it was SEERup. Being an Anglophile, that was really all the validation I needed. 😉
So the mystery continues as to which geographical locations say what. Perhaps it comes down to local neighborhoods vs. whole states/regions? I know my mother does not have a distinct Boston accent that causes her to say “Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd” but she *does* say “bahth” and “tomahto” so go figure! I like to consider myself as not having an accent at all, but my local friends are quick to point out that I say “I sawr him” and “drawrings” vs. “saw” and “drawings” and I will let “idear” slip out every now and then. Oops.
In any event, I thought I’d post here to get a larger cross-section of people and maybe solve this debate? (Btw, either pronunciation is acceptable, just like ENNvelope and ONvelope…so there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’)
This year, Disney Parks asked, “What will you celebrate?” and offered up free admission on your birthday as one answer to that question. Many have been wondering what next years marketing campaign would bring about. Disney announced today that celebration is still important, but this time it’s celebrating the gift of volunteerism.
Disney Parks have been giving back for years in many amazing ways, with their VoluntEars program being one of the most well known. Now hoping to incite some of that same spirit of giving among Disney guests, they have rolled out the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program for 2010.
As announced yesterday, Disney now has an official blog, which contains more details on the promotion. To make this even more fun for participants, Disney has brought the Muppets in for this campaign. Muppet humor abounds on their “Cheers for Volunteers” Tour site. The tour will be traveling across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada teaming up with local organizations for even more volunteer opportunities. The site has several fun features such as desktop wallpaper, games and site flair, including the two images you see in this entry. You can also follow the fun on twitter with @DisneyParksTour.
Beginning January 1, 2010, guests can register for a day of volunteer service with participating organizations and reap the benefits of giving back and a thank you from Disney in the form of free park admission. If guests do not wish to use their free admission, they may donate it to a Disney-chosen charity, receive a special FastPass for certain rides for up to 5 guests in their party (there is limited availability for these based on first come-first served), or choose a collectible Ear Hat figuring with trading pins.
Mouse ears off to Disney for initiating such a wonderful program. In this day of ‘what’s in it for me’ getting back to grass-roots volunteerism will have endless benefits. Disney has just sweetened the deal by rewarding your efforts. Let’s all hope the desire for families and individuals to help others extends far beyond a one day event, and builds lifelong traditions.
We received a little advance notice on Twitter this morning, then the link went live and the announcement was confirmed – Disney Parks now have an official blog! Of course, as with all things Disney, they did it up right – gorgeous graphics to enjoy while you read and moderated comments to keep out any any topic-hijackers.
So what does this mean for the rest of us not-so-official Disney bloggers? Hopefully the site will serve as a great resource to confirm or deny rumors that abound in the blogopshere. Additionally it could spotlight topics we may not have considered otherwise and inspire us to explore new avenues as well. There is certainly room for all of us in the blogging world and I for one am happy to have the Mouse that started it all among our ranks.
The majority of just-published blogs are authored by Thomas Smith, Director of Social Media for Disney Parks, but it looks like perhaps the whole social media team from the various Disney Parks and Cruise Line will be posting and helping out.
From the About page:
The Disney Parks Blog provides the latest, official information about Disney destinations as well as behind-the-scenes looks at what makes Disney Parks the most magical places on earth. Expect to hear from a variety of Disney Cast Members who work each day to make that ‘Disney Difference’.
I wonder if they’ll consider “Guest” authors? Where should I send my application? 😉 Regardless, the blog is off to a great start and it will definitely be exciting to see what unfolds and watch potential interaction between parks and guests.
Check out the new site and wish them luck!
Today I’m contemplating my youngest son. He is 11 months old today, so you know what that means – 1st Birthday Planning Time! Clearly, a better mom would have planned this 6 months ago but 3 kids, a husband, 2 blogs and a dog have been keeping me busy. I still have enough time to throw something together, right?
I know parents usually joke that with the first child you do everything by the book: sterilize, keep away from hazards, and record every breath as a milestone…then by child #2 you are a bit more relaxed, you don’t have to wash that binky off every time it falls on the floor…and child #3 ends up eating dog poop off the floor. Well, I’ve always considered myself a pretty laid back mom (and I’ve got the lack of baby memory books and scrapbooking skills to prove it) but what’s different here is that baby #3 is 8 and 9 years younger than his sister and brother respectively. What that translates into is yes, I’m WAY less anal about hovering over him 24/7 but I also know he is the last baby until I have grandchildren, so I want each milestone to be that much more celebrated and treasured.
It is with that thought that the dilemma of the First Birthday Party presented itself. Do I want to do a HUGE party that he of course will not remember and invite every family member and acquaintance? Or do I keep it low-key and just do immediate family and a cake for him to destroy and wear like gloves? The additional issue is that his birthday is 3 days before Halloween, so that time of the month is littered with costume parties and other functions I’m sure. Of course, who doesn’t want to come hang out and eat cake with one of the cutest kids in Florida? 😉
I’m currently leaning toward small-but-mighty party inviting close friends and family…but my husband thinks it should just be us and a cake, so the debate rages on. My eldest son’s was similar to this, close friends, family and co-workers, while my daughter’s was much bigger with a party at Davis Farmland in Massachusetts. Since most of both of our families were up there and we were living in a teeny tiny apartment, it made more sense to do something bigger up there. Of course we’ll end up bringing him to Disney for his birthday too, but that’s not something you can invite the entire neighborhood to given the cost of admission.
How have you celebrated first birthdays in the past? Have any thoughts for what we should do? Any theme ideas or suggestions? And most importantly, how on earth am I going to top a Spaghetti & Meatballs cake?! I know no matter what we decide, it will be memorable (for us) and tons of pictures, frosting and a bath involved! I’ll be sure to share it all here when all’s said and done!
Members of the Disney community present on Twitter and Facebook are no doubt familiar with Mouse of Zen – or MOZ as he is more commonly known. MOZ is the resident Disney haiku artist, painting magical images that bring Disney to life before our eyes. He has gained quite the following online and is now ready to share a little more of his story, revealing some of the mystery behind the MOZ.
For those unaware, Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry, usually concerning nature or the seasons, written in a single vertical line of seventeen sound units or “mora” (this does not strictly translate to syllables) in a rhythm of 5, 7, and 5. In English the ideas are usually expressed with a short line, a long line, and another short line, and use the 5|7|5 or 3|5|3 rhythm.
Traditionally, the haiku contains a word to demonstrate the feeling of a certain season. There are many words which are associated with each of the four seasons, so you do no not need to say ‘summer’, rather you can use words like warmth, vibrancy, sky, beaches, etc. Japanese haiku also uses “kireji” – a word which ‘cuts’ in forms the contrasting comparison of the poem and ends the thought, without straying too far from the original image described. You can see from this description how haiku reaches its goal of conveying feelings and emotions using the five senses, rather than just subjective words open to interpretation.
MOZ has taken this history of haiku and mixed it with the rich tapestry of feelings one experiences with all things Disney, thus creating his Mouse of Zen haiku. The following interview will give you even more insight into the man behind the haiku and his heartwarming reasons for sharing them with the world. Please enjoy MOZ in his own words:
Tell us a little about the man behind the MoZ.
Well, I am 34 years old. I have been a Police Officer since 1998. I am passionate about a few things: my kids, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, Alabama Crimson Tide, and of course anything Disney! I went to Walt Disney World (WDW) a few times as a kid and on honeymoon in 2000. I always liked the parks but the passion was lit when I brought my kids for the first time in November 2006 when they were 1.5 and 3.5 years old. We returned in November 2007, April 2008, February 2009, and Sept 2009. I will never forget their facial expressions when they first saw the castle; that was the turning point for sure. The internet has also kept the fire burning with the various podcasts, very detailed websites, and now the blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
How did you become interested in poetry and haiku specifically? When did you first start writing haiku?
I always wrote as a kid and did tons of short stories. I wish I still had that notebook. I have always had a very creative mind and writing was my only outlet as I couldn’t sing or play musical instruments. I began working on a poetry book after 9/11 called Crime Scene Lyrics which was published in 2002. It consisted of over 100 poems and 205 haiku. For some reason, after the book came out, I never wrote anything afterward until I started the Mouse of Zen project in June 2009. Crime Scene Lyrics seemed like a sense of closure. The plan was to write several volumes of poetry, but that hasn’t happened yet. I have possible plans to continue that journey after Mouse of Zen comes out.
How did you come up with the name “Mouse of Zen”?
That’s a good question. I racked my brain for several months prior to starting the writing, trying to find the “right name.” I had settled with WDW In Haiku, but that never sat well with me. I wanted to have a title that would also relate to me as a “character,” so-to-speak. This would give readers not only a reference to the book by the title, but to me as well. Also, a lot of early Japanese haiku comes from a zen perspective and I wanted to incorporate that into the name somehow. Mouse of Zen got the point across that it was Disney-related and had a zen aspect to it. Plus, getting away from WDW in Haiku opened up options to include Disney movies and other various parks throughout the world as subject matter. I could also shorten the title to just MOZ and I think that is distinct enough to reference the project as a whole and is still easy to recognize. I am awaiting the official logo and it should be great!
I am mostly inspired by my kids and am writing this book and hopefully future follow-ups for them. I want them to have something special they can carry around with them to remember not only all our family park memories, but me as well as a father. I strive to be the best father I can be. That is really my only ambition in life. When I am long gone, I feel I will smile brightly knowing they might read these books to their kids at bedtime or even in the parks. I am trying to include as many attractions, movies, and characters as I can, but some of the subject matter will be hard to create a haiku I am happy with. For example, writing about Test Track, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and Tomorrowland Speedway have been troublesome to date. I would love to take some “research” trips to Disneyland and the parks overseas for future haiku topics but at this time, limited funds don’t allow.
I am trying to make these haiku show the many different emotions humans can feel. Disney might just be the most romantic place out there but many might not consider that as an option. I try to show how romance connects with park & movie memories.
What is your favorite MoZ haiku to date?
That’s a tough question. I’m going to have to go with:
simple truth | not easy to find | seek magic
Why? Because I feel it has some mystery to it and displays the desire to never stop believing in magic.
Do you write any other type of haiku?
Currently, no. But I am logging haiku from Crime Scene Lyrics on Twitter. I have a few project ideas floating around about non-Disney haiku but not sure I want to take my time and focus away from the Mouse of Zen right now.
What’s your favorite Disney ride & memory?
I guess my favorite ride would have to be Soarin’. I think the reason is the ride gives very much the same feeling that hopefully my haiku sends to readers. It connects the audience to several types of emotions and senses and takes the mind off the outside world, if only temporarily.
I never had a specific favorite memory of WDW as a kid but have had several in taking my kids. Just listening to certain park audio brings those memories to life and that makes me smile.
What are your hopes for the future with MoZ?
First of all, I hope to find a publisher to back the project. I’m about 220 haiku in and am aiming for 300-350 for volume 1. Once I get to that point, I can start submitting the project to publishers. If I have no bites, I might have to go the self-publishing route and hope someone takes notice of the finished piece of work and signs me up.
I have a few other ideas for MOZ which I’m waiting for the right time to announce and implement. For starters, a website is being planned and once I have the completed MOZ logo, I have some merchandise ideas as well.
In closing MOZ shares:
I just hope I am bringing a little Disney magic to readers with every new haiku. That is very important to me and is why I am so picky about the haiku being “just right” before I post it for public viewing. I hope there is, and continues to be, an audience out there that looks forward to my continued work.
I couldn’t end this interview without sharing my favorite Mouse of Zen haiku to date. I loved it when I saw the words, but when I saw the accompanying image, I was transported back to my childhood once more. That is part of the treat of being a fan of Mouse of Zen on Facebook – exclusive images that bring the haiku to life. If you want to read and see the latest MOZ creations, be sure to add him on Twitter and Facebook and let him know what your favorites are.
Thank you to MOZ for this interview and for letting us get to know you a little better! Thank you too for the gifts you give us all each day and the legacy you are passing on to both your children and future Disney lovers everywhere. Keep up the wonderful work!
Many of you know that my family has not always lived on Main Street, South. My husband and I both grew up in Massachusetts and though we relocated to Florida right before we got married, we moved back to MA after our first son was born. We then spent some time moving back and forth as we tried to figure out where we wanted to settle down. For about two years, we lived in a tiny apartment in Worcester, MA. During that time, I felt like I was going to go insane, trying to keep a 2 year-old and a 1 year-old happy and entertained. Let’s just say naptime was a very happy time back then. The problem was, getting two kids to nap at the same time, when they shared a room, was next to impossible. What they did do was fall asleep in the car easily. (Something baby #3 has not yet figured out much-but with gas prices, I guess that’s okay.)
keep my sanity pass the time, I would buckle them both into the mini-van and just DRIVE. One of the many things New England is known for is its scenic roads, so I had plenty of options. Worcester is almost in the center of the state, a little closer to the eastern side, so I could head anywhere and find something beautiful to look at. Of course my very favorite time to take these drives was in the Fall, when the leaves began to turn.
My good friend came from Boston to visit us one day and asked if we wanted to go to the The Quabbin reservoir. I had heard the name but didn’t really know anything about it. It was over an hour to drive there, but I love bodies of water and hills and mountains and sleeping babies, so I was game.
I listened in awe as she told me the tale of the Quabbin reservoir. When Boston and its surrounding cities realized they needed a larger water supply, it was decided that this reservoir would be built in Western Mass, thereby destroying and completely flooding the 4 towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, Prescott, and parts of seven other towns in the process. The town’s houses and buildings were either moved or bulldozed, bodies moved from their grave sites (except those of Native Americans) and the towns were simply no more. Something about that is just so unbelievably eerie yet intriguing. I love strange historical stories like that and there are so many others in Massachusetts, like the Great Boston Molasses Flood and the great Mill River flood (both unplanned) which killed so many.
There is a wonderful stone lookout tower with a huge field surrounding it where the kids liked to run around. When it’s open, you can climb the many stairs (which I’ve done carrying a 25lb baby before) and see parts of the reservoir and all the trees. It is such a beautiful site to see and one of the many things I miss about living within driving distance.
Near where we lived in Worcester there was also the Wachusett reservoir, the second largest body of water in the state (the Quabbin being the first). That one was a much closer drive, and unlike the Quabbin, is surrounded by a main road so you can see the beautiful water views from many angles. Some houses were lost in the flooding to build the Wachusett as well, and the Old Stone Church in West Boylston remains standing as a monument to those houses that were destroyed. I’ve driven by the church on many a nap-drive, and though it always seemed spooky to me, I guess people are always getting married there!
Another place my friend introduced me to (what can I say, I hung out in Harvard Square a lot and didn’t explore much in the state until then!) was the Yankee Candle Factory store. Never heard of it? It is so much more than candles. It is a mecca hidden within the hills and valleys of western Massachusetts. When my friend first described it to me, I thought surely she was joking…a Medieval castle room? A Bavarian Christmas room? A Black Forest room where it snows year round? Audioanimatronics? AND unending bins and displays of candles? As if I needed any more convincing, it also was located at the end of one of the most famous foliage roads in Massachusetts – Route 2.
I fell in LOVE with this place. It’s really busy on the weekends because they get bus loads of tour groups on leaf peeping tours but it’s worth the crowds to me. When we were living there, they had just opened a new Home store which has every imaginable item to decorate your home, after you pick up the candles to match of course!
They also have a restaurant and candle-making museum, a pastry shop and cafe inside the themed candle rooms and an all new children’s program – Wax Works. Now we have to go back to see what that’s like!
One of the best parts of driving along Route 2 out to western MA was the French King Bridge. For one, it was gorgeous with views for miles of the fiery reds, oranges and yellows lining the hills and mountains, and for two, it meant we were almost there! (The Yankee Candle Store was a 3-hour drive from Worcester.) The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and a great place to stop on the side of the road, stretch your legs, and get some amazing photos.
I recently asked my followers on Twitter and fans of my Facebook page what their “Most Memorable Disney Ride” was on their very first visit to a Disney park. Well let me tell you, this is something my readers were passionate about! I was really excited to read through everyone’s memories and it is truly a testament to why I write here – Disney memories are so special, everyone that’s been there has them. You never hear a first time visitor casually say, “and then we went on Small World”. Quite the contrary there are stories to go along with these memories, experiences to be shared and re-lived again and again. To borrow a quote from a Disney parks ad campaign a few years back, we share these stories to…Remember the Magic.
Some of the funniest responses were remembering Dumbo because the person threw up all over their Dad when the ride ended, and The Haunted Mansion “because it scared the poop out of me”. I was definitely one of those scared by Haunted Mansion…the scene with the doors and coffin being pried opened by creepy hands…and of course the graveyard scene with the pop-up ghouls. I still to this day feel bad for that poor, starving dog as you enter the cemetery – I just want to bring him some Puppy Chow or something!! What more proof of the power of Disney magic than an audioanimatronic figure which can elicit an emotional response of worry! Of course Disney knows how to end on a high note; the hitchhiking ghosts always got even the most scared child (me!) giggling as they realized they made it out alive! One reader loved that part because it turned her 5 year-old brother into a ghost (it’s always fun when they sit on someone’s lap!).
Quite a few other memories were about being terrified on a Disney ride – Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror (many votes for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride too!). The common thread? Everyone survived and then had a great story to tell – “I did it! I rode it!!” It’s such a wonderful feeling to conquer a fear like that and realize that which you might have been scared of is actually loads of fun.
I clearly remember the first time I rode Big Thunder Mountain. I’d never been on anything but a kiddie roller coaster at a carnival before, but my dad insisted I’d be fine and finally convinced me to try it. It was SO fast, but fun too. He was laughing the whole time, pointing out the scenes we were passing – “Look at the piggies, honey!” he said and I replied “NICE PIGGIES!!” through clenched teeth. As he predicted, I was fine and I loved it. Last year I got to share that same experience with my fearless daughter, who did not need reassurance that she’d be fine – she just wanted on! Needless to say, she loved it.
The now extinct Skyway ride was another favorite memory to some, myself included. My mom was scared of heights, so this was another ride my dad and I went on together. We always used to take it from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland because the line was shorter. For me it was such a thrill to just get on the ride. I’d get nervous that I’d miss the Skyway cab and fall out of the building, which was silly because the cast members stopped the cab for you to get on, but at 8 or 9, your imagination gets the best of you. Once we were on the ride itself the views were incomparable. You could see down into 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and get some amazing pictures of Cinderella Castle(in fact I took pictures every ride up until it closed). It was so peaceful and quiet too, a wonderful break from the crowds of the day.
Of course I’ve discussed before my first Epcot ride memory. Pirates of the Caribbean was my first Magic Kingdom ride. My family, having brushed up on the only-choice-at-the-time Birnbaum guide books, always started to the left in Adventureland. I was scared of that ride too – too many skeletons – but I loved the dark air conditioned boat ride and the surprise drop. Plus who doesn’t love Pirates? I know we did It’s a Small World as well, which was another common answer among my readers – rightly so, the song makes it impossible to forget!
The funny thing is, with all our family trips and during my time as a cast member, there were still some rides I’d never been on! I didn’t ride the Mad Tea Party until a friend came to visit and wanted to go on. I thought for sure I’d get sick, but I didn’t. I had no idea you could control how fast or slow you spun on the cups. I’ve since been on with people that spun it a little too fast, but it was still great. I had a bad experience on a Tilt-a-Whirl as a kid and this does not compare. I did not ride Space Mountain until my birthday 2 years ago. Is that not shocking?? I had even been on Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and been fine, but Space Mountain always ignited fear in my heart. I think it might have been the stories my mom told about riding with my brother and gripping his arm so hard that he had visible fingernail marks at the end of the ride! My friend visiting from Texas wanted to ride it though, and who am I to deny a first-time visitor that experience? We went on, and I loved it! I finally felt like I had done it all now that I’d conquered Space Mountain. Of course, I still need to get over to Expedition Everest…but we’ll see about that.
Whichever ride becomes your favorite that you must experience 20 times each visit, whichever one you’ve done once and don’t plan on riding again, there is only one First Ride…and the memories from it will last a lifetime. What’s your story?
Those of us familiar with the Central Florida area might think it’s easy to have 67 days of smiles, but the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau wanted to put that to the test. The CVB held a contest looking for Smile Ambassadors willing to ‘take one for the team’ and experience all the theme parks, rides and attractions they could in 67 days. Broadway performer Kyle Post and Harlem childcare worker Stacey Doornbos from New York City beat out all the other hopefuls and are now spreading the word through social media about 67 Days of Smiles. Why 67? According to tourism officials, 67 eight-hour days is the amount of time it would take to experience all the attractions in Orlando. How’s that for some cool trivia?
Kyle and Stacey are childhood friends from Holland, Michigan that always shared a love of theme parks, taking over 30 trips together to enjoy rides and attractions. After beating out 100’s of applicants from more than a dozen countries to secure their Ambassadorships, Kyle and Stacey were moved in to a two-bedroom condo in Downtown Orlando, compliments of The Paramount on Lake Eola, with furnishings provided by CORT. The Downtown Development Board facilitated those living arrangements, as part of their partnership on this program with the Orlando CVB. For the duration of their positions, the pair will also be provided cell phones, digital video and still cameras, a Dollar Rent A Car as well as $25,000 U.S. to cover living expenses back home. With all those perks, it’s no surprise the 67 Days of Smiles assignment was recently named the top social media job of the year by applicant.com.
So what have Ambassador Kyle and Ambassador Stacey been up to? A visit to their 67 Days of Smiles blog will tell you all about it. They’ve also been tweeting and updating the Orlando Facebook page with pictures, videos and tales of their experiences. Followers of the 67Days Twitter feed and fans of their Facebook page are eligible for some great prizes too, including Orlando restaurant gift certificates and attractions tickets! Be sure to follow them for all the details.
I love reading the blog because you can just feel the excitement through their words (and if that’s not enough check out the amazing pictures and videos!). Not only are they enjoying their positions to the fullest, they are living up to their titles of Ambassadors of Smiles. If you are ever short on ideas for fun in Orlando, something tells me you’ll have endless ideas after catching up with Kyle and Stacey. I’d love you to send them a tweet or comment on their blog and tell them ZannaLand sent you! Keep up the great smiles guys!