Monday, July 25, 2011

The Smells of Disney World

We aren’t talking stinky kinds of smells. No, I’m talking about those intentional, and sometimes unintentional, smells in the environment that can bring on vivid memories. Disney World is an interesting place in terms of smells. I’ve never been at a place, be it a theme park, resort, office building, mall, etc., that has so many unique and characteristic smells. And no matter where I’m at, if I smell *that* smell, I automatically think of Disney. I think the Imagineers were on to something! Google “Olfactory coding and perception” and you’ll see what I mean. Research seems to indicate that there is a chemical bonding process between smells and receptors in the brain. Voila! Memories are tied to scents! (Why does that sound like something that should be in Journey into Imagination? Oh, I've got that song in my head!)

So, let’s start with the intentional smells. These are the ones that are pumped in as part of an attraction or to enhance an experience. These may be the most easy to recognize. Some include:
  1. Oranges from Horizons (old school WDW smell). Similar orange smell can now be found in Soarin’ as you are gliding over the orange groves in northern California, as well as cedar and pine. 
  2. Acrid burning smell from the Burning of Rome scene in Spaceship Earth. 
  3. Apple Pie from Philharmagic. 
  4. Stink Bug scent from It’s Tough to be a Bug. Not an ideal smell. 
  5. The smell of baked goods from the Main Street Bakery. This is somewhat intentional in that the smell is pushed out. 
  6. Beach Club Lobby. Whatever that smell is, it’s wonderful!
Moving on the unintentional smells. What I mean by unintentional is that the smell is associated with a place or thing by it’s proximity to something, its environment, or a chemical product used in its design. You’ll see what I mean as I get into them. I find these the most fascinating smells of them all.
  1. The water smell. I’ve heard it defined as a chlorinated, musty smell. Well, whatever it is, you know what I’m talking about. Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Polynesian Resort hotel lobby, the boat ride in Mexico, Maelstrom in Norway. Water rides mostly, as oppose to natural water (ie, Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, Crescent Lake, etc) or water in fountains like the ones in EPCOT. 
  2. The barnyard smell on the Monorail. Some people claim it smells like body odor, or an old band-aid (now that’s a vivid imagination!); however, it smells that way even on the first run of the day, and tends to smell less like a barnyard through the remainder of the day. My guess is that this smell is related to either a cleaning product, or product used in the mechanical components of the Monorail. Something like an oil, lubricant or rubber (hence the band-aid claim). 
  3. The wood-like smell from Fort Wilderness. Most people don’t spend much time at Fort Wilderness so I can best explain it as similar to the smells around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Tom Sawyer’s Island. It almost smells like creosote. I think it may be the varnish that covers the rough-hewed wood that used in fences, benches, and to frame most of the Ft Wilderness buildings. I smell it at the boat docks throughout the WDW resort that have unpainted wood railings; this is what leads me to believe it may be the varnish. The smell is not nearly as strong at Wilderness Lodge, though, which perplexes me. 
  4. Popcorn. I suppose you could say this is intentional. What other snack product produces such an intense aroma for such distances? For me, the smell is closely associated with area between Canada and United Kingdom in EPCOT. 
  5. Contemporary Resort Lobby. There’s some smell that seems tied to the Monorail, or the A/C system used specifically in that hotel. It has a unique smell from the rest of the resorts. 
  6. The pools…the chlorine smell is so common to most pools that it’s really hard to say it’s unique to Disney, but it is a smell that can be closely associated with a memory. 
There are many others and each individual is unique. Your memory scent may be tied to a food item, or a fragrance you purchased at the France pavilion. Mine is the “morning” scent of the resorts. Hard to describe…combination of fresh morning dew, humidity, and flowers.

So, the next time you are at WDW, take time to smell the roses as well as anything else your nose picks up on. Who knows…you may be subjected to subliminal olfactory messaging!!
"Imagination...Imagination...a dream, can be, a dream come true, with just that spark, from me and you…."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Basin White at the Grand Floridian

Located on the second level of the Grand Floridian Resort, just inside the doors that lead to the monorail station, is a bath and body products shop, Basin White.  Basin White is part of the Basin chain with products sold online and at few select locations in the United States.  There is a Basin shop in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. 

Basin White is a premium version of Basin with its product inventory made with higher quality ingredients, as well as unique items that can’t be found in the other locations. 

The store itself is attractive and inviting.  Styled in black and white tile, with the appearance of an upscale Victorian bathroom, the store fits in well with the Grand Floridian theme.  The layout of the store is long and skinny, and filled with an assortment of bath and body products ranging from lotions, salts/scrubs, soaps, and body bombs.  The store is accessorized with sinks, a claw foot tub, white cabinets, and marble counters. 

Basin White offers a large variety of fresh cut soaps, including the popular Mickey ears soap which is sold only at the WDW locations.  Priced at around $6.99 for a slice of approximately 100 gramsthese make for inexpensive, unique and functional gifts.  The assortment of fresh cut soaps is amazing, and interesting.  In addition to milk-based and other specialty soaps, Basin White sells fresh cut glycerin soap with a variety of cute designs processed into the soap, most notably being the mickey ears. 
Another product sold only at the Disney locations is the Mickey-ears Bath Bombs.  A Bath Bomb looks like a hardened scoop of ice cream, which when placed in a bath, bubbles and fizzes adding essential oils and aroma to your tub.  The Mickey themed bath bombs include Mickey-ear confetti throughout the product.  Another cute gift at a moderate price for yourself or your favorite cousin, dog watcher, or house-sitter. 

In addition, Basin White sells a variety of spa accessory products, salts/scrubs, lotions, and body perfumes.  Samples are provided throughout the store to “try” the products.  The body salt scrub will make your hands feel so soft and smell delicious!

All Basin White products are made in the US, with no parabens, alcohol, or mineral oils.  Also, their products are not tested on animals.    

If you are a resort guest, you can have your purchases shipped to your room; however, because Basin is not an Disney affiliated store, it will take longer.  Please be sure to ask the cashier.  If you have a concern about what can be returned home with you in your carry-on vs. checked luggage, be sure to ask.  The staff at Basin White are well versed with the TSA rules governing their products. 

I could spend a lot of time and money in Basin white.  The aroma of the store is amazing and relaxing.  If you want an at-home spa experience, Basin White is the place to go while at the WDW resort.  A great place tucked away in the corner of the Grand Floridian, it is definitely worth checking out during a day of resort-hopping on the monorail. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dooney & Burke

I’m not the type of gal that buys expensive purses.  It’s rare for me to pay over $25 for a purse; with most of my purses coming from Target, Kohls, or Steinmart.  I don’t own a Coach, Louis Vuitton, or a Chanel bag, but I do own two Dooney & Burke purses.  And wouldn’t you know…they are Disney!  These are my little indulgences and I love them both.
I bought my Disney Sketch wristlet online a few years ago.  Very cute, but not all practical for me  About all it holds is my iPhone, ID, a few credit cards and a tube of lipstick.  I use it on “date” nights where I have no need to carry keys or much of a wallet.  

D&B Sketch Wristlet

The Sketch collection features a whimsical print of favorite Disney characters and icons from Mickey and Minnie to Dumbo, Tinker Bell and Cinderella Castle and more.
As many of you know from reading my blog, this summer I went to Disney World to celebrate my 40th birthday with Mickey.  I picked up the 40th edition cross body bag as my birthday present to myself.  Even bought it at Uptown Jewelers on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.  The printing on it so unique and special to me as it represents the icons and logos that I grew up on.  

D&B Cross body 40th Anniversary Edition


The Dooney & Bourke 40th Anniversary collection features six different styles (cross body, wrislet, wallet, messenger, bucket, and medium tote) transformed with the 40th Anniversary collage. The bags feature everything from retro Walt Disney World icons to classic silhouettes of Mickey Mouse, plus original park tickets & maps and autographs from a few famous friends. The commemorative collection highlights the essence of Disney with color, style and nostalgic touches.
Has owning these bags turned me into a purse snob?  Nah…I still have my cheap bags and don’t see myself running out for the latest Coach.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Best of 40 Years at WDW

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black.  Enjoy the ride as we share what we think are the best things that have happened in Walt Disney World in 40 Years.

wdw%2040th.jpgThis year is the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort.  Magic Kingdom debuted October 1, 1971 to 10,000 visitors.  Fast forward to 2011 and it’s amazing to see the changes.  Sheer size alone jumps out at you.  In the past 40 years, significant milestones have occurred to make WDW the place we know and love, as it is, today.  In my humble opinion, I think the most significant thing to occur since 1971 was the opening of Epcot.  
Why?  Because EPCOT represented the last vestige of Walt Disney and his dream of “the Florida Project”.  From the early days of “the Florida Project”, which was a codename for what would become the Walt Disney World Resort, Walt spoke of a utopian city of the future.  In the early days it would be called Progress City and be a self-sustaining and self-governing community.  Progress City would become his dream of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).  Quoting Walt Disney, “EPCOT...will take it’s cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry.  It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems.  EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imaginiation of American free enterprise.”  Walt was indeed a true American patriot.  
Sadly, Walt did not live to see the completion of his dreams, passing away in 1966.  With his brother at the helm, Roy O.  took over the completion of the Magic Kingdom.  Himself passing away a few short months after it’s opening in 1971.  With the loss of these two great men, there was question as to the future without their guidance.  However, after the great success of the Magic Kingdom, the company was ready to move forward with the completion of Walt’s dream for the Florida Project.  
Walt’s initial vision of ECPOT was for it to be a model community, home to up to 20,000 residents.  Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed." 
A model of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen in the Magic Kingdom by passengers riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  Although this vision of was never realized, the corporation took the ideas that it was based on to design a new park.  
Early EPCOT Center logo
This new park was a “game changer” for the Walt Disney Corporation.  It was new, unique, and different.  It appealed to a different audience than Magic Kingdom.  Less about character interaction and rides; and more about education.  This theme park, originally known as EPCOT Center, was to reflect the ideas and values of Walt Disney’s EPCOT.  Part museum, part exposition space, with a dash of World’s Fair thrown into the mix.  The union of Future World and World Showcase was an unlikely combination.  It was a calculated risk for many, that paid off in spades.  
Early park map
EPCOT Center opened on October 1, 1982.  “Center” was dropped from the name in 1994 and in 1996 the park was simply named Epcot.  Epcot is the third most visited theme park in the US and the 5th most visited in the world.  
What followed was a growth and expansion of the Walt Disney World Resort like you’ve never seen.  Epcot opened the future for more resorts, more parks, and more unique experiences that you can’t find in other theme parks. 

Epcot, to me, is a key turning point in the history of the Walt Disney World Resort that makes the entire place what it is today.  Without Epcot, I don't believe the Disney corporation would have had the strength to build parks like MGM (aka Hollywood Studios) or Animal Kingdom.  It was certainly a case of "if you build it, they will come"…and come they did!

EPCOT circa 1984

Epcot Facts:
  • EPCOT Center was constructed for an estimated $800 million to $1.4 billion and took three years to build (at the time the largest construction project on Earth).
  • Covering an area of 300 acres, it is more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom.
  • The parking lot is 141 acres (including bus area) and can accommodate 11,211 vehicles.
  • World Showcase contains pavilions representing eleven countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada)
  • Spaceship Earth weighs 16 million pounds, measures 165 feet in diameter and encompasses 2.2 million cubic feet of space. The outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles.
  • The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can shoot water 150 feet in the air
  • Test Track is the longest and fastest ride at a Walt Disney World theme park (nearly a mile long with a top speed of 65 mph)
  • World Showcase promenade stretches 1.2 miles and World Showcase Lagoon spans 40 acres.
  • The Eiffel Tower replica in the France pavilion is 103 feet tall.
  • More than 26,000 feet of lights outline the World Showcase pavilions for the "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" nightly fireworks show 
  • ECPOT spends about $35,000 a night on pyrotechnics for its Illuminations show. 
  • Standing under Spaceship Earth in ECPOT (that's the large silver ball) during a rainstorm, you will not get wet.  That is because there is a specially designed gutter system which captures the water and sends it to World Showcase Lagoon (about 2 city blocks away).
  • Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Epcot sells alcoholic beverages. Many stores and restaurants in the World Showcase serve alcoholic beverages from their respective countries.

Epcot today
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