Disney’s Cast Connection

Not much to look at!

Not much to look at!

3/24/2015:

Cast Connection has moved over to near DAK.  Read our updated blog:

https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/cast-connection-is-now-open-at-new-location/

NOTE: You must be a Disney Cast Member, or a guest of one, to visit this little slice of shopping paradise. It’s called Property Control at Cast Connection, its located in the MK Cast parking lot. You need a Cast ID to gain access into the Property Control trailer/store. CMs can bring friends into property control, but only CMs can go into the damages trailer.

Cast Connection for CMs and friends.

Cast Connection for CMs and friends.

Located just north of MK (you can see Fantasyland), this place is a mecca for Disney Cast Members and their guests. You can get discounted theme park merchandise, hotel furniture, and discounted basic grocery and candy items. A potpourri of Disney stuff!

Loaded with merchandise!

Loaded with merchandise!

cast connection4 (2)

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that…

There are two trailers. Cast Connection is the cast exclusive store that sells out-of-season or discontinued new merchandise, holiday merchandise, damaged merchandise from the Parks (wrinkled/stained clothing), and some groceries (like what guests can buy at Fort Wilderness grocery store). Everything is at least 50-75% off listed price and you get an extra 10% CM discount off at checkout.

Property Control shares the space and sells decommissioned company items (industrial equipment, furniture from resorts, TVs, etc.), broken merchandise, and unclaimed lost and found items. Everything is 75-90% off the original price.  No additional discount at checkout.

The day we were there, they were selling really nice brand new PhotoPass winter jackets for $5. There were over a dozen nice padded chairs that looked like they came from the Grand Floridian going for $20 each. My friend bought a table that came from the Polynesian Resort for $5. We got some Disney Blizzard Beach tee shirts for $6.99 (down from $29.99).

The groceries available were: white sandwich bread, pasta, gallons of milk, eggs, HUGE bags of shredded cheese, HUGE bags of lettuce, 20 lb. bags of rice, fresh fruit (bananas, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples), and fresh vegetables (potatoes, onions). No meat.

Price examples:
Gallon of Milk: $3.25
Orange Juice:  $2.50
Dozen eggs: $1.25
HUGE industrial size bag of romaine: $2.50/bag
Oranges, Lemons & Limes: .25/piece
Whole Pineapple: $2.50

Store Hours:  8:30am-6:30pm (seasonally adjusted)

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Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.

Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.

Epcot’s Hidden Gem – China’s Lotus Blossom Café

Epcot's Hidden Gem – China’s Lotus Blossom Café

Lotus Blossom Cafe in Epcot China pavilion

Lotus Blossom Cafe in Epcot China pavilion

When we’re in the mood for a quick lunch at Epcot, the Lotus Blossom Café is our first choice. We love the Orange Chicken with fried rice there, and also the pot stickers. It’s all covered seating so it’s fun to people watch while having lunch.

Pretty tiles inside cafe.

Pretty tiles inside cafe.

Orange Chicken - delecious!

Orange Chicken – delecious!

We always see Mulan when we’re there and there’s never a line to see her.

Mulan is one of the nicest characters at Epcot!

Mulan is one of the nicest characters at Epcot!

Appetizers
Potstickers $4.99
Egg rolls $3.99
Entrees
#1 Orange Chicken – Served with steamed rice. – $8.49
#2 Beef Noodle Soup Bowl – Beef noodle soup bowl. – $8.49
#3 Shrimp Fried Rice – Served with an egg roll. – $8.49
#4 Vegetarian Stir Fry – Served with steamed rice. – $8.49
#6 Sesame Chicken Salad – Sesame chicken salad. – $6.99
Desserts
Choice of ginger or red bean ice cream. – $2.99
Drinks
Smoothies – Choice of mango or strawberry. – $4.25
Cold Drinks – Choose from Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Nestea, and Fanta orange soda. Regular $2.09 or Large $2.39. Dasani Bottled Water $2.00, Bottled green tea or oolong tea (no sugar added) $2.99, Peach oolong tea $3.79, Orange juice $1.99, and Milk (regular, low fat, or chocolate) $1.29
Hot Beverages – Chinese Hot Tea, Nescafe coffee, or Nestle hot cocoa. – $1.89
Beer & Wine – Budweiser Draft Beer (regular and lite) $5.25, Plum Wine $4.49, and Tsing Tao bottled beer $4.79

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Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.

Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.

Epcot’s Hidden Gem – Norway’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Epcot's Hidden Gem – Norway’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Kringla Bakeri is located in the Norway pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. Walk through the door and you’ll find yourself in a quaint, Scandinavian kitchen. Kringla Bakeri is best known for School Bread, a semi-sweet, roll-like pastry filled with vanilla custard.

After reading some excellent online reviews about it, we decided to give it a try.

Sweet treats

Sweet treats

This treat is a sweet bread roll, injected with vanilla custard, then covered with sweet icing and toasted coconut. The School Bread recipe comes from a classic Norwegian snack (properly called “Skolebrød”), which kids took to school in their lunches and parents sold at bake sales.

The bread is a cross between a cinnamon roll and a dinner roll. It’s not super moist, more like a dry dinner roll. It has black flecks of some spice – cardamom? – in it that we wished was cinnamon instead.

Four of us split one roll. Two of us didn’t like it at all, and all four of us decided that we probably wouldn’t ever order it again, even if we were in Norway.

The Kafe features a selection of other traditional pastries like lefse, and also a large selection of sandwiches, many of which contain some sort of fish. (No thank you!) There is seating outside, which is nice.

Olaf marshmallows on a straw.

Olaf marshmallows on a straw.

It’s considered good luck to touch the troll’s big nose…it means that you’ll be back! 🙂

We always stop by and touch the troll's nose for luck!

We always stop by and touch the troll’s nose for luck!

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merchandise at WDW

Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merchandise at WDW

Not much to pick from!

Disney woefully underestimated the popularity of ‘Frozen’ and especially the ‘Frozen’ merchandise. In the Epcot Norway shops, there is almost a complete lack of Frozen merchandise, although there are signs everywhere limiting you to 5 items and they even have a security guy assigned to the shop.

We wish there were 5 items to pick from!

We wish there were 5 items to pick from!

When merchandise does come in, such as 700 stuffed Olaf snowmen, it is completely sold out within hours.

The only way to get a Princess Anna or Princess Elsa little girl’s costume at WDW is to purchase ‘The Castle Package’ at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ($200+).

These may look like Frozen dresses, but they are Cinderella dresses!!  :(

These may look like Frozen dresses, but they are Cinderella dresses!! 😦

“The unprecedented global success of Disney Animation’s phenomenal Frozen continues,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in an earnings call. “Demand for Frozen-related merchandise remains extremely high.”

We found more ‘Frozen’ merchandise available at our local Target than at WDW!

Anna dress at Target, $19.95.

Anna dress at Target, $19.95.

Frozen, the Oscar-winning movie that became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, was released in November, but its impact continues to be felt throughout the company.

Sales of the movie’s DVD and Blu-ray began on March 17, and, in just two days, it became Amazon.com’s best-selling children’s movie since 2001. Its soundtrack is the best-selling album in the U.S., and a Broadway production based on the movie will be launched.

Frozen accounts for nine of the 10 best-selling items at Disney stores!!

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Frozen-Inspired Norsk Kultur Gallery at Epcot Norway

Frozen’-Inspired Norsk Kultur Gallery at Epcot

Epcot Norway gallery

Two weeks before ‘Frozen’ opened in November 2013, the Norway pavilion was updated to include an Anna & Elsa meet & greet area (big mistake!!) and the dreary Viking stuff was removed from the gallery and replaced with Frozen stuff. The shops were stocked with movie merchandise and the wait to see the princesses was less than 5 minutes. https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/disneys-frozen-character-meet-greet/

5 minute wait to see Anna & Elsa.

5 minute wait to see Anna & Elsa.

Anna and Elsa meet & greet

At the Anna and Elsa meet & greet – so pretty!

And then the movie opened Thanksgiving weekend. The wait jumped to 200-300 minutes every day, security was onsite all day long and all the Frozen merchandise sold out. It was crazy. (We went there in November for a character breakfast and had a great time!)

Five hour wait to see Anna & Elsa at 10am!

Five hour wait to see Anna & Elsa at 10am!

The Anna & Elsa meet and greet was finally moved to MK in May 2014.

New Frozen update.

New Frozen update.

The Frozen village.

The Frozen village.

Pictures from the real Stave church in Norway used in the movie.

Pictures from the real Stave church in Norway used in the movie.

Norsk Kultur, meaning “Norweigan Culture,” showcases a collection of artifacts and objects that inspired the world of Disney’s “Frozen.” Such as: an authentic hand-made bunad, the traditional costume of Norway; a hardanger fiddle and other handmade instruments; hand-carved artisan furniture; examples of rosemaling (traditional Norse decorative painting) and more. Some artifacts on display date back as early as the 1200s.

Recreated Stave church style for gallery.

Recreated Stave church style for gallery.

Sod roof with flowers.

Sod roof with flowers.

Rune stone out front.

Rune stone out front.

While we haven’t been to Norway – yet – we have been to the Stave church in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Chapel in the Hills is an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. The Norwegian Department of Antiquities provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills.

Stave church in South Dakota.  Been there!

Stave church in South Dakota. Been there!

It is amazing! 🙂 frozen3

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tale

Elly’s Final DCP Schedule

Elly’s Final DCP Schedule

My last two weeks working as a CP at DTD were a lot of work. I tried to put in for time off because my parents were coming and we were moving out of our apartment, but Disney Scheduling denied it. I worked 7 of my last 9 days!

Way more days than I wanted to work!!!

Way more days than I wanted to work!!!

I was scheduled for a mix of working Tren-D merchandise at DTD, and also as a Zone 1 Coordinator at DTD.

Last day at Tren-D.

Last day at Tren-D.

Me and my friend, Doug.  He was so funny and nice to work with!

Me and my friend, Doug. He was so funny and nice to work with!

The Spring 2014 DCP program officially ended on May 9th and thankfully Scheduling didn’t schedule me all the way through until then. I worked with another CP who also had been there for a year. She had a plane ticket to fly home but couldn’t get out of her last night of work, so she got “restricted rehire” status for not working her last 6 hour shift…after being there a year! 😦

Last day as Zone 1 Coordinator.

Last day as Zone 1 Coordinator.

Zone 1 glow cart.

Zone 1 glow cart.

But, I did get a chance to say goodbye to all my friends and coworkers. It was a fun year.

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We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney World in the Disney College Program: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale. It’s filled with advice about the DCP program and how to get the most out of your internship.
We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and wrote about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney. We give advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship at Disney, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.
Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Mouse-Tale-Elly-Collins/dp/1941500110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409410046&sr=1-1&keywords=Two+Girls+and+a+Mouse+Tal
 

Cinderella Castle – Different Looks

Cinderella Castle

Earlier this year, as the Cinderella Castle at WDW was being spruced up (Castle Refurbishments), we got to thinking about all the changes we’ve seen the Castle go through since our first trip to WDW in 1993.

The most dramatic change was for the 15 month-long celebration of WDW’s 25th Anniversary (October 1996 – January 1998).

At the Castle, October 1996

At the Castle with my mom, October 1996

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of WDW on October 1, 1996, Disney transformed the front of Cinderella Castle into an 18-story “birthday cake.” Complete with red and pink “icing,” giant candy canes and 26 glowing candles, the castle served as the centerpiece for the celebration. This was no small undertaking.

It took more than 400 US gallons of pink paint to cover the castle, which was then decorated with multicolored “sprinkles,” 26 candles, ranging in height from 20–40 feet tall, 16 two-foot long candy stars, 16 five-foot candy bears, 12 five-foot gumdrops, four six-foot stacks of Life Savers, 30 three-foot lollipops, and 50 two-foot gumballs. Additionally, more than 1000 feet of pink and blue inflatable “icing” was needed to finish it off. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_Castle

Happiest Celebration look in 2005

Happiest Celebration look in 2005

We were there in 2005 for the castle’s most recent redecoration commemorating the Happiest Celebration on Earth in honor of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary.

The castle’s exterior was adorned with polished gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney characters were also added to the exterior, including Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy circling the tallest spire.

Stitich is King!

Stitich is King!

The least appreciated Castle transformation – which only lasted 1 day (Nov 16, 2004) – was when the castle was modified to appear as though it was strewn with toilet paper.

“Stitch is King” was posted on a turret as faux graffiti to mark the grand opening of ‘Stitch’s Great Escape!’ that day. The material was removed after the park closed that evening.

Disney got a lot of complaints over that decor.

Castel repairs, January 2014

Castle repairs going on, January 2014

In January 2014, after the millions of Cinderella Castle Dream Lights came down, Disney maintenance started an in-depth sprucing up of the Castle’s exterior as part of the planned MK Hub update for this year.

They are repairing roof leaks, re-sealing the exterior, cleaning all the Castle windows (a big job!), and touching up some of the Castle paint.

On Main Street USA, February 2014.  Note the crane moving things in the background.

On Main Street USA, February 2014. Note the crane moving things in the background.

For almost two months now, when you walk down Main Street USA, you can see the large crane moving maintenance people and supplies back and forth.

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Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:   Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

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