The Smells of Disney – what do you love?

Alright, I’ve been trying to write this post for a while.  There are so many different scents that have meaning for Disney fans… I’ve had many conversations with family, friends, tweeps (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and even complete strangers about the smells that we all know and love from Walt Disney World.  When I heard what people had to say, I decided to make a list of some of our favorites…

What are your favorite scents, and why?  Leave a comment and there will be a second post in the future that goes into more detail, maybe shares some stories about why we love the scents we do!

Polynesian Lobby
Fort Wilderness: campfire
Ohanna bread pudding
Grand Floridian: Gingerbread House
Wet pavement
Cinnamon Almonds
Epcot -
“The Scents of Soarin’” – oranges, pine forest
Skunk from Imagination
Rome burning
Norway – “Norway” – a candle version of Geir (the ‘essence of Norway’)
Norway – schulbread
American Adventure: Apple pie
American – Funnel Cake
France – warm pastries
Germany – “What’s Kuchen?” – smells from Karamelle-Kuche: chocolate and caramel, caramel popcorn, caramel apple

Magic Kingdom
Tomorrowland Speedway: gasoline, exhaust
Fresh popcorn
Mickey bar
Turkey leg
Mainstreet Cinnamon Rolls
Chili dog burp
Musty Water
Cinnamon Churros

Hollywood Studios
carrot cake cookies
Lights, Motors, Action: rubber, gasoline

Animal Kingdom
Tough to be a bug: Stinkbug

B&B Beast’s Rose
B&B Pies and puddings en flambee: fruit pie smells
Gaston’s Tavern: Leather and beer

Giving away $400 dollars

Earlier this week, I decided to do something a bit strange.  I wrote my 4,000th tweet (@365DaysOfDisney), and decided to donate some money to a good cause: Give Kids The World®.  I decided that I would give $1 for every retweet I got, up to $400.  Am I rich?  Absolutely not.  Am I crazy?  Maybe.  Is the money going to a great cause?  Definitely!


What is Give Kids The World?  It is a “non-profit “storybook” resort… where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to week long, cost-free fantasy vacations.” (  Started by hotelier Henri Landwirth, it is located about 15 minutes from Walt Disney World.  Every need of its visitors is taken care of, complimentary, during their week long vacations.  There are activities at the village itself (including non-branded themed Boston Market and Perkins restaurants), and guests can go to a number of theme parks in the area around it (Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, to name a few).  In their 20+ years serving families, over 127,000 have been able to spend a week at the Village.  Just this year, they remodeled a number of their accommodations, knowing that if it’s anything like record breaking 2012 (7,300 families!), they’ll be busy.

The Gingerbread House (yes, it's a Perkins)

The Gingerbread House (yes, it’s a Perkins)

There is so much that could be written about Give Kids The World, but instead, I encourage you to check out their webpage.  If you feel the desire to donate to them, you are more than welcome to! Just $25 can allow  family to use the Ice Cream Palace bar for their entire visit.

All you can eat ice cream for a week

All you can eat ice cream for a week

(photos are from the GKTW website)

The Give Kids The World blog

You can read a post from the family of Jaylie Nielson, in which they discuss in much more detail the Give Kids The World Village.

The Disney College Program – part one

Last week, a friend was able to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer a few questions I posed for her about the Disney College Program!  This is part one, because I’ll have more questions for her in the future as she spends more time at Walt Disney World.  At the time she wrote the answers, she’d been in Orlando for just over one month.
Did you grow up loving Disney (movies, parks, etc)?

I remember watching Cinderella, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid when I was little but I wasn’t necessarily a “Disney child.” Although I did visit the parks and watch films, I didn’t become a true Disney nerd until I was 16 years old.

When did you first hear about the program?

I first heard about the program when I was 16 years old; I was just googling how to work for Disney!

How was the application process?

Intense, stressful, and amazing! The best experience!

How do you pay for it?

It doesn’t cost anything to be here because you work enough to pay for housing-it’s so great!

How long have you been in Orlando?

I arrived on February 3rd!

What is housing like?
Housing is great! I love my apartment-it’s a really big and home-like space. The complexes are beautiful and are very picturesque.
Do you know how many others there are in the program?
I’m not sure exactly but I know it’s in the thousands!
What is your role at Disney?
Main entrance operations.
Are you taking any classes/courses do you take while you’re there?
I’m not taking anything.
What’s been your favorite part so far?
My fellow cast members! They make me so happy.
How much free time do you have, and what do you like to do during that time?
I have free time but not terribly much and when I do have time I go to the parks and take in every detail.
Favorite park, favorite ride, favorite attraction?
Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain, Carousel Of Progress
For more information on the program, check out the Disney College Program website.
Be sure to follow Princess Laura, on twitter: @JourneyToDisney or on YouTube: JourneyToDisneyWorld

Celebrity Chat, with Stacey J Aswad

I recently had the opportunity to communicate with Stacey J Aswad.  If, for some strange reason, you don’t know the name, her picture should ring a bell.  Any Walt Disney World resort guest who has turned on their television during their stay, has likely seen her.  She has been “the face of Disney” since 2005, hosting the Top 7 Must Sees for five years before switching to Must Do Disney, which has been running since 2009.  Aside from working for the Disney company, Stacey is a voice-over actress, film actress, television personality, and four two years, the co-host of the VO Buzz Weekly, a show that features voice-over actors sharing stories, tips, insights and techniques about the business they’re in.
There are many more things that could be said about such a talented woman, but I’ll let you go to the source for her complete biography (at the end of this post).
(picture available on her website)
On with the questions!
When you were a child, did you ever think you might be where you are today?
I don’t know that I imagined I would be doing exactly what I am but I always knew that I would be performing in some form or fashion. It’s in my blood, I can’t not do it.
Did you ever go to Disneyland or Walt Disney World as a child?
No, I didn’t go to either until I landed the hosting gig at WDW.
Who influenced you the most as a student in high school or while attending Juilliard?
Outside of my incredibly supportive family, I was very fortunate to have amazing dance teachers in the professional ballet company I was in during high school and especially those I had at Juilliard. They all taught me so much about dance of course and also nurtured me as a performing artist and creative soul. They saw things in me that at the time I didn’t completely comprehend but now I realize they were spot on. I have mad respect and appreciation for great teachers!
Are you currently working on any Disney projects?
I am still the host of Walt Disney World’s Must Do Disney TV show. It is one of my favorite projects of my career.
Can you tell us a little bit about VO Buzz Weekly?
VO Buzz Weekly is created, produced and hosted by me and Chuck Duran, one of the voice over industry’s most respected demo producers. The show premiered in January 2012 and is being watched in more than 85 countries. We both work in the voice over world and wanted to “put a face to the voice” of all the super talented men and women who work in the industry, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. As much as it’s a video podcast celebrating the voice over business, it’s also an entertaining, inspiring and informative show that uncovers behaviors and actions of successful people, which is universal whether or not you’re in this particular industry. It’s free to watch, 24/7 you just need to subscribe with an email and password at
Do people recognize you when you go out? Or at the parks?
Sometimes they do when I’m out, strangely when I’m at the grocery store and at auditions. When I’m at WDW, there is a whole crew around me so it’s pretty obvious.
Do you have a favorite movie?  Musical group?
I’m so bad at the “favorite” questions because I like lots of different movies and styles of music, it really just depends on my mood. At this moment these come to mind, classics like Mary Poppins, all the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movies (and movie musicals in general), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Steel Magnolias. I really like rock music groups and 80′s music like Journey, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Heart. I like Bruno Mars, Adele and classical music and opera is awesome too!  I don’t watch horror or violent movies.
When you’re not shooting for Family Game Night, working with VO Buzz Weekly, etc, what do you do in your free time?
I run around a lot for work, so I really love being home with my animals and I’m a pretty great cook and baker too. I’m known for having friends over for a gourmet dinner and the attire is pajamas or something similar. Even though life gets busy, I really try be in nature everyday so I go for 3-4 miles hikes. I usually go just after sunrise when it’s still a little chilly outside. I like to workout with weights, do yoga and lots of stretching, knitting, reading, golf, writing in my journal and doing crafty stuff.
Do you still skate?
Unfortunately, I don’t compete in artistic roller skating right now, too busy but you never know, I could always take it up again down the road. I went out on a high note with my 5th win at Nationals and if I get the chance to skate for fun I always do some of my old tricks. I got to wear my skates at the Staples Center when I was the game host for the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks team for two seasons, that was a blast and a half!
Could you teach a 6’10″ person to look graceful on a dance floor?
I have been told I could teach a brick to dance, not saying this person is a brick, but you get my drift. I guess that means I have some skills and lots of patience.
If you were a sandwich, what kind would it be?
I would say grilled cheese and tomato on rye with a little dijon mustard or an avocado, lettuce, tomato and cucumber on grainy wheat bread or baguette, always with some sort of fabulous mustard, sorry mayo.
Is there a question you’d absolutely love to answer that no one’s ever asked before?
A little Stacey trivia: I can touch my tongue to my nose and eat an entire watermelon myself. These things don’t usually happen at the same time! :-)))
(picture available on her website)
For more info about Stacey…
Personal website:
Twitter: @staceyjaswad
Facebook public figure: StaceyJAswadHost
VO Buzz Weekly:

Frozen: the Sing-A-Long

(image courtesy of Disney pictures)

   As you have probably heard, a new, sing-a-long version of Frozen has been released this weekend.  If you’re like me (maybe you don’t want to admit this out loud…), you may be thinking ‘this sounds really cool, but should I really go?’ or ‘They liked the movie when they saw it last month, but should I take my kids?’.  Well, I was able to chat with 20 year old Ashley Hawara (@disneylandlove), who just saw this movie yesterday.

   When talking about the atmosphere of the movie theater, Ashley had this to say: “There were mostly kids with parents, but there were also a lot of teenagers.  Everyone was loud, and I mean EVERYONE… It was amazing.  Parents joined too, which made me happy.  However, not only were they singing, they were reciting lines along with the characters.”

   In the sing-a-long version of the film, the lyrics to the songs are projected on the screen so that audience members can follow along, but Ashley made it sound like that might not have even been necessary.  She guessed that there were “many people who had seen the movie at least three times before this showing.”  Frozen’s soundtrack sales actually rose 7% this week, returning it to the number one spot on the billboards this week.  It has sold over 769,000 copies, and that number continues to rise.

   I asked Ashley if there were certain songs that were more or less popular, and she said that “the most popular song was Let It Go, but Do You Want To Build A Snowman was also a hit.”  She was impressed with the amount of people singing along during Kristoff’s song (Reindeer Are Better Than People), and said  that audience members were “not only singing, they were reciting lines along with the characters”.

   So how was the overall experience of attending the Frozen sing-a-long?  “It was a great experience.  I encourage everyone to go!”

You can follow Ashley on twitter: @disneylandlove

(image available here)

To purchase the original motion picture soundtrack (32 tracks) on Amazon, click HERE. $11.49 for mp3, $11.88 for a CD

To purchase the deluxe soundtrack (59 tracks, including outtakes, demos and Karaoke) on Amazon by clicking HERE. $18.99 for mp3, $14.88 for a CD AND the mp3 versions.

Frozen; or Should I Take Young Kids To a Movie


Short answer: yes… maybe…

When Frozen came out on November 27th, nearly two months ago, I was troubled.  I really wanted to see this movie, especially after hearing reviews from friends, but I have a two year old (Rya) and an infant (Tinsley).  My wife and I didn’t yet feel comfortable leaving our one month old with a babysitter yet, and didn’t think our two year old would be able to sit through a feature length movie (we don’t have cable at home, so she’s not used to staring at a screen)…

As time passed, we decided to watch a few movies at home to see if my two year old would be able to focus on them, starting with Finding Nemo.  I must say, Rya was amazing.  She loved the characters, especially Dory, and followed along the entire time, albeit standing and moving around our living room occasionally.  We followed it up with Princess and the Frog (thanks for the Christmas gift, dad) and Louis was Rya’s favorite in that one.

In order to prep her, and just because the songs are great, we listened to music from Frozen and watched videos that Disney Animation had released on their YouTube Channel.  Rya’s favorite two are Let It Go and In Summer.  (click the titles to watch)  When we watched videos, we’d share the names of the characters so she’d be familiar with them when it came time to see them on the big screen.  All Rya talked about for a few days was Princess Elsa and Princess Anna (she’s always said she and Tinsley are princesses, and dad’s a pirate…  I’ve trained her well!)

(images can be found here)

My wife and I went to see Frozen last week for our first time, and when we finished, we both said Rya would really like it.  The only objection might have been Marshmallow, the giant snowman that chases after the characters after the throw a snowball at him, but we figured it was a short time, and she’d be okay.  

(image can be found here)

The final thing we did was talk to her about what to expect inside the theater.  We let her know it would be dark, there would probably be a lot of other people around, and that we had to whisper while we sat.  

When it came time to actually head to the theater, Rya was incredibly excited: this would be her first movie on a big big big big screen!  We didn’t tell her about the popcorn, and let that be a surprise for her.  I got that as mom took her to go potty one last time before heading in to the theater.  We were so glad we did, as at least ten kids had to leave at some point during the film (but not ours!).  The theater was pretty full (especially considering it’s Frozen’s 8th week in theaters), but we found three seats, and set our daughter in the middle.

So how did she do?  Very well!  As the Mickey Mouse short started before the movie, she shouted “That’s Mickey Mouse!”, and we reminded her to whisper, and she said ok.  Each and every time a song started that we had listened to at home, she’d turn to me or her mom and whisper “I like that” or “I sing that” with a big smile across her face.  And did she like Elsa and Anna?  Yup.  But her favorite character? Sven!  She even said to me “Sven is like Reesie” (the more playful of our two dogs).  In the last fifteen minutes of the film, she got a little bit antsy, and moved from mom’s lap to dad’s and then stood in the row, but all while watching the movie.

(image can be found here)

So my tips for taking a young child to a movie?

1 Familiarize them with the characters, songs, and story if that may help
2 Build it up as an exciting event
3 Let them know about how to act in a theater
4 Be prepared early (go to the bathroom before, get your popcorn, beverages (water), etc)
5 Every child is different, and every movie is different.  You know your child better than anyone else.

When would you take a child to their first movie?  And what was your first movie?  Please leave a comment below!


A few other perspectives

BabyCenter answers when you should take your child to a movie
a differing opinion of Frozen

Surviving Someone Else’s Disney Trip

Today, I want to talk about ways to survive someone else’s trip to Walt Disney World.

I had recently planned a trip to Disney after finding out about a ridiculously low rate at the Boardwalk Inn… and although I would have gotten a room for as much as $520 LESS than other people were paying for it, I decided that leaving my wife with our 2 year old and 2 month old (and paying $980 for the flight) maybe wasn’t the best husbandly thing to do.  However, my brother and dad (who is presenting a paper at the conference) will be heading down and arrive on January 1st.  Am I upset by this?  Nope.  Because instead of sulking sadly in the corner, I will travel vicariously to Disney through them!

Help them plan (if they let you)

My dad is not always the most organized person when traveling, so when I offered to help him plan his trip, he happily agreed.  He and I have talked together about some of the places he wants to see, restaurants he’d like to eat at, and activities he’d like to do, and I worked out a few possible itineraries for him.  Giving the person as much say as they want in their trip is the healthiest way to go about it.  If they’re comfortable giving you free reign: awesome, but don’t expect to get to tell someone else what to do every minute of their trip.  Plans may change, the weather may not cooperate, or he may decide to sleep in on certain mornings, but by offering to help plan it, I’ve been able to get some of that excitement and OCD out of my system.  If someone you know is traveling to Walt Disney World, take the time to find out what you can about their likes and dislikes.  Not only will this help you (and them) plan, but it can be a fun time to get to know someone better.


Give useful/helpful tips

I’ve told my dad to stay away from certain areas that are likely to be crowded, as well as any that have maintenance scheduled for their visit.  Splash Mountain, for example, will be open during their first few days, but then closes for maintenance, so they’ll need to head their early if they want to enjoy it.

If they are a person that may buy something for you, have an idea of what you’d like and where from, if they ask.  HINT: the Turkey Leg air freshener can only be found in certain locations, so make sure you let them know where to get it!!!

A secret to tips: don’t go overboard.  My dad and I both love Disney, and can’t have enough of it, but texting at 12:40 am to let him know that there’s only a 40 minute wait to Peter Pan’s Flight when he’s not a night person and has probably been in bed for 3 hours… maybe not the best idea.

Schedule time to talk

I know that if my family is watching Illuminations at 9:00 pm, I probably shouldn’t call them at 9:05 pm and expect them to answer.  When my dad goes to Walt Disney World without me, he LOVES to send pictures, texts, voice mails and videos throughout the day letting me follow along with what he’s doing.  What we’re going to try this trip is FaceTime.  Without being that obnoxious person holding their iPad up to the sky during Wishes, we’re going to try a few times to video chat while he’s in the parks.


Don’t be these people! (photo originally found here)

Back off if you need to

If you’re able to be involved with someone else’s trip, great!  However, it’s THEIR trip, not yours, and they may need time to enjoy things on their own.  Take the hint if they don’t answer your phone calls or texts: while you are at home living in ridiculously cold South Dakota winters, they are on vacation having a great time.

If they don’t follow your advice, your walking tour suggestion, your restaurant recommendations, and your detailed Excel spreadsheet that lists optimal times throughout the week for each of the ‘major’ ‘moderate’ and ‘low’ interest attractions, so be it.


Hey, at least we’re above 0 this week…


(photo can be found here)

Be excited when they return

If you’ve ever been on an amazingly awesome, super great, terrific trip, sometimes getting home afterwards can be a bit of a let down.  (I feel like I need a vacation after some of my vacations).  If someone you know if going, be there for them when they get back.  Ask to see their pictures, or if they have a link to their online PhotoPass page, check it out.  If you haven’t kept up with them during their vacation, find out how it went, what their favorite rides were, etc.

As you have read, most of these tips are for family members / relatives going to Walt Disney World, but they can be modified for friends, coworkers and other people you know who are taking a trip without you.  Are there any tips, tricks or pieces of advice that YOU would like to share?  Leave a comment below!