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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Disney Fourth Of July

The Fourth of July was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid. We frequently got together with neighbors for a block party. Our neighborhood was on top of a mountain, so we also had a relatively decent view of our town's annual fireworks display. With all of this going on, I would also find time to go back home and watch the Walt Disney World Fourth of July special on TV. I remember Marc Summers (from "Double Dare") and Tempestt Bledsoe (from "The Cosby Show") hosting the event in 1989, which included a look at Disneyland's newest attraction, Splash Mountain (this segment featured Marc Price, Skippy from "Family Ties").

Disney and the Fourth of July go together very well. Many people agree, as I noticed on an extremely crowded childhood Walt Disney World July 4th visit (we did that once and never again).

During the early 2000s, The Disney Catalog released an extensive line of great Star-Spangled Mickey Mouse items.

This particular Stars and Stripes Mickey design is my favorite.

I think this is one of the best Mickey and Minnie Bean Bag sets I've ever seen. Too bad I don't own any of this merchandise.

The people at the Disney Catalog came up with just about any item you could use on the Fourth of July (and some you never would have thought about).

If you saw something you liked in the Disney Catalog, chances were good that it would eventually go on sale. Except when you really liked something and waited, and it was gone forever.

Did you ever think about having Star Spangled Mickey Mouse bedding? The Disney Catalog sure did!

Some people have Halloween stuff out all year, and some folks are Christmas junkies. Be different and be a Fourth fanatic.

A Mickey Quilt is perfect for those chilly July nights.

This Classic Mickey image is one of the most famous, with a patriotic theme.

Mickey never worries about what his ears look like from different angles, because they always look the same.

It's American Pie-Eyed Mickey Mouse.

You can even take Patriotic Mickey tailgating.

When you have your next party, take away that "Go Away" doormat and switch it with this Mickey one. Your guests will bring you better food.

Don't forget to put out the Mickey Mouse Chip Bowl.

I bet Mickey prefers Nacho Cheese Doritos over regular tortilla chips.

Uh-oh, there's a mouse in your picnic basket!

No worries, it's Mickey. He's one of the few mice welcome in homes around the world.

Serve up your Fourth of July barbecue and potato salad with Patriotic Mickey flatware.

Beer and fireworks can often make a Fourth of July that nobody will forget. Especially if you have a video camera on hand.

Dish out the baked beans and corn on the cob on American Tradition Mickey plates.

Enjoy some homemade ice-cream in All-American Mouse Frosty Mugs.

Don't forget the watermelon and (m)ice tea.

Be sure to save room for dessert. I bet Mickey would appreciate some cheesecake.

Store more favorite treats in a rockin' Mickey Jukebox Cookie Jar.

The "songs" on this Jukebox are pretty funny. Check out "I'm Goofy Now" sung by Dippy Dog.

If you want to get dressed up for the Fourth, you have all sorts of options.

Add some Star Spangled Mickey flair to whatever you wear.

These pins are collectible or wearable. Once you wear them, they are no longer Mint In Package, and are worthless to collectors.

What time are the fireworks? With this watch you'd know. If it had numbers on it.

Don't forget your sweatshirt on that cool July evening.

Remember to put clothes on your dog, too. Dogs appreciate clothing covering their fur on a hot summer day, right?

Get all patriotic with all sorts of accessories.

Depending on where you live, you might need a Denim Jacket on a brisk July day.

It's time for the Parade of Patriotic Disney Characters.

Stars and Stripes Buzz Lightyear is in charge of the fireworks, and Uncle Sam Mickey is the Master of Ceremonies.

Tigger really wanted to play Uncle Sam, too.

I don't know why, but I think Uncle Sam Tigger is hilarious.

At the height of the bean bag craze, beanies were made of just about anything you could think of. Including Paul Revere Mickey and Betsy Ross Minnie.

Yes, Goofy wanted to be Uncle Sam, too.

In 1975, Mickey, Donald and Goofy led "America on Parade" at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

This event celebrating the American Bicentennial featured giant "It's A Small World"-like characters representing Uncle Sam, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and more.

The 1989 "Spirit of America" Parade seen on Walt Disney World's Fourth of July TV special (the one with Marc Summers and Tempestt Bledsoe) had a segment featuring Winnie the Pooh characters at the beach. Tigger was seen surfing a giant wave.

The TV special featured a parade with dancing scarecrows, The Country Bear Jamboree, a giant showboat, and a Dumbo character (perhaps it was filled with helium?) flying high in the sky.

It would not be Disney and the Fourth of July without the fireworks, would it?

Celebrate year-round with one of the coolest lamps ever made, designed by artist Jody Daily.

Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: The Plush Toy

The Seven Dwarfs claim that they are working all day, but they spend a great deal of time having fun riding their mine train roller coaster through the diamond mines. This plush toy depicting the Dwarfs goofing off on the job was sold exclusively through The Disney Catalog in 1997.

In a few years, folks will be able to take a ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster themselves, which will be part of an expanded Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. This won't be another Space Mountain by any means, but it'll be a mine train with diamond-filled caverns and animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, so I'm sold.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs have been a big part of Walt Disney World since it opened in 1971. The "Snow White's Scary Adventures" dark ride has been in Florida's Magic Kingdom since opening day and was updated in 1994. The arrival of the new Mine Train experience brings the closure of this classic attraction.

All Seven Dwarfs have been popular theme park souvenirs.

These plush toys were sold at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and the Disney Stores in the early 1990s.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. What's one of the rarest Snow White collectibles of all? It could be the characters in this set from 1994, which are reminiscent of the figures in the Snow White's Scary Adventures attraction. The Original Edition of this series was 2,500 pieces, and the Finale Edition was a total of 50 sets (25 for the Disney Store and 25 for the Disney Catalog!).

This sold for $3,500! That's a big chunk of change. You'd better get to work and make some more money.

Look like a million bucks (in diamonds) for that big business meeting with a Seven Dwarfs diamond mine tie.

I bet that scarf would work as a handkerchief. Just don't let Sneezy use it.

Don't forget to put on a clean pair of underwear!

The family jewels are safe and covered with Seven Dwarfs silk boxers.

The Seven Dwarfs are here to help make your workplace more efficient.

The Dwarfs have some experience with mice, but they are typically the cheese-eating ones.

Your workday will go by quickly if you whistle while you work. Hopefully your boss won't mind.

Then again, if your boss lets you keep these office supplies on your desk, your boss isn't too strict.

Time for a break! How about a spot of tea?

Those industrious Dwarfs keep working while you take five. Except for Sleepy.

You're not supposed to watch the clock at work, but it's tempting with this one, which was an add-on to the Seven Dwarfs Desk Set.

Before you know it, it'll be time to march yourself home.

Snow White and her forest friends prepare delicious suppers.

Don't worry, the dishes and utensils are clean. The animals licked them really well.

The Dwarfs enjoy spicing things up at meal times.

You're guaranteed dinner and a show when you dine at the cottage with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White has prepared some tasty treats for dessert.

No, she did not make any apple tarts. She's not a fan of anything related to apples anymore.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are stuffed!

Snow White has a rabbit in her pocket and she's happy to see us.*

*Classic "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" reference.

It's time to go to sleep now. Snow White always wears Seven Dwarfs pajamas to bed.

Snow also has a Grumpy robe. She wears this all the time, only because Grumpy gave it to her as a gift (but don't tell him that).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs have had a busy day.

For Sleepy, Bedtime is a special event. He really gets dressed up for the occasion.

Sleepy thinks this look is really cool and he's trying to pitch himself to be the new mascot for Ambien.

In the morning, it's back to the diamond mines once again for the Dwarfs. Considering the fact that they have a Mine Train Coaster to ride there, that's not a bad thing.

For a few more Seven Dwarfs Mine Train items, check out Walt Disney World's New Fantasyland (In Snow Globe Form).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walt Disney World At Sears

For many years, Winnie the Pooh was the mascot for the children's section at the Sears retail chain. In 1988, the Disney presence was expanded at Sears, including merchandise based on Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Main Street was meticulously constructed with plastic and fiberboard, and visitors and characters were brought to life as tiny PVC figures. The Walt Disney World Railroad was an electric train, naturally.

I never saw this set in person, but I do have the Winnie the Pooh character figures, which I call the Mini Winnie the Pooh Zoo Crew .

You can have Walt Disney World at Christmas everyday with this set. Not included are PVC figures of Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa to host Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parade.

This set also features Snow White and three of the Seven Dwarfs. Amazingly, they chose not to feature Dopey.

It would have been nice to see Mickey Mouse balloons as an accessory. And maybe a churro cart.

The set only has a backdrop for Cinderella Castle, but Sears did offer that landmark as another toy.

This fun set even has the parking lot tram. Kewl!

What's this? Why, it's an educational Magic Kingdom toy.

I thought Epcot Center was the place for all the learnin'.

For more fun times, there's the Magic Kingdom Bagatelle game, featuring Big Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's A Small World, the Carousel, the Mad Tea Party and Cinderella Castle. I never knew this type of game had a name.

Who will win the Race to Pooh Corner Game? Not Mr. Toad from Disney's version of Wind in the Willows, that's for sure.

Then there's a Winnie the Pooh version of Tic-Tac-Toss. This high-tech game involves players throwing small beanbags at a board.

It's Disney and Nintendo games at Sears!

Technology has come a long way. I think McDonald's had Happy Meals with games like these a few years ago.

Sears also featured plush toys of some popular (for 1988) Disney characters.

Elliott the dragon from Pete's Dragon was seen by few humans in the film's story and is seen by few people in toy form these days.

The newest animated Disney characters in 1988 were the dogs and cat featured in "Oliver and Company." The film was inspired by the story of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, and set in 1980s New York City.

Kitten Oliver was voiced by Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel sang and spoke as Dodger the dog, Cheech Marin played Tito the Chihuahua, and Roscoe Lee Browne was Francis the bulldog.

Sears sold the closest thing to Oliver and Company action figures. These fragile, flocked, hollow vinyl figures with limited motion were not really built to withstand much play.

Somehow, Disney has not yet unleashed a toy line called "Disney's Kennel Club," featuring small collectible figures and play sets representing all its canine and feline stars. Wouldn't that make a fortune? I sure think it would. There'd be the Aristocats Cat Show set, the Lady and the Tramp Dog Park set, the 101 Dalmatians Fire Station, and more sets with all sorts of character mixes.

Of all the Disney characters, Winnie the Pooh was the biggest ever at Sears. The Pooh Train set was one of the neatest items, as it featured the characters on rides. A Mickey Mouse "Disneyland" version of this toy was sold at other retail chains.

The Winnie the Pooh Train was relaunched many years later and sold in the Disney Catalog.

The newer Train set features a different paint scheme and new sculpts of the characters. I prefer the older version.

The next time you go get a washing machine or power tools at Sears, you can remember back to the good old days when "The Softer Side of Sears" included Disney and its popular overweight British plaything.