Fall Fun Fridays: Autumn Dreamer

Another Mansion Collage

Today’s prompt in the blogging series I’m doing with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid is to discuss how we’d  put together our perfect Fall event or vacation.  For our dreamer purposes, the real fun in this hypothetical planning process comes from the fact that we are unencumbered by any real world concerns – money (or a lack thereof), professional and personal schedules, ANY of the usual obligations.  So please do check out both Jay and Julie’s blogs to see what sort of autumn shenanigans they’d get up to completely off the chain!

As for me, come on, you know it all begins and ends with Disney’s Haunted Mansion!  A wedding – hmm, a Halloween vow renewal for two Disney nerds coming up on their 14th? –  the actual ceremony of which takes place in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, beneath the changing portrait of Master Gracey.  Afterwards, guests (and did I mention I have a team of makeup artists and costumers on hand to garb our guests in the finest of the Mansion’s moldering fashions?) will pass through the Stretching Room before boarding Doom Buggies draped in swags of jet black roses.  Upon reaching the diningroom reception, guests will disembark (please don’t ask me how they’re going to climb down, particularly encumbered by dusty, gothic fashions; this is my crazy, impractical dream!) and enjoy a sumptuous feast of, well, this (this being a strip loin steak topped with balsamic shallot butter on a bed of four cheese pancetta and arugula pasta from Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)

1134

And for my husband and our other vegetarian guests, there will be a plant-based option that tastes EXACTLY like a steak.  Actually, come to think of it, if that were an option, the entire meal would be veggie.  I ultimately kind of hope that if such a thing actually existed, the entire world would be veggie, but I digress.  No one will drop even a crumb of food down their fronts, and everyone will remain on the responsible, pleasant side of intoxication.  Because there be margaritas a-plenty!

Tequila!

After dessert (my mom’s homemade apple pie, 13 tiers of it and miraculously calorie-free) my new-old husband will waltz me around the dance floor, weaving in and out among the ghosts, to the strains of twenty one pilots, who are there because we’re personal friends and I can just call them up like that.  Josh will NOT be wearing a shirt with sleeves.

This actually reminds me of the ever-so-hopeful exploratory phone call Mr. Finger Candy placed to Disney event services when we were planning our wedding nearly 14 years ago.  He had asked me at one point shortly after we got engaged what my dream wedding looked like, and I gave him pretty well all of the details I laid out above (minus the twenty one pilots stuff, although then – and now – I’d also accept Green Day.  Mike Dirnt’s got nice arms for a bassist.)  So one day he rang them up and asked real casual-like how much it would cost to actually rent out the Mansion, or a portion thereof, for a private event.

Later on that evening we both nearly laughed ourselves into asthma attacks as he recounted the very pleasant and also very delusional Disney rep who quoted him a figure just north of 50K, including a whole host of guarantees we had to make regarding room, food and alcohol sales.  And that was for a two or three-hour event, at best, held in the dead of night after park close, and without any access to the actual ride itself.  I suppose if you had REAL money, you could close the entire ride down just for yourself (hell, close the entire park down just for yourself) but for us regular plebs “just” looking to shut down a small portion of a beloved ride in the most popular theme park in the world (!!) we were looking at a solid $75,000 investment.

So it might have taken 13 years to get there, but I’m feeling really quite positive about our decision last year, on our Halloween anniversary, to ride the Haunted Mansion 13 times in one day.  It’s the most fun we’ve ever had on our anniversary, a total bucket list item, and it didn’t cost us 75 grand!

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Finally, just to keep it wax-relevant, here’s a bit of the Melting Duck’s Foolish Mortal, a Haunted Mansion-inspired blend I picked up some weeks back.  It smells like peppermint-vanilla gum, herbal and a little bit tingly, and the shapes and colours are perfection!  Love everything about this ghostly lovely.

Foolish Mortals Collage

Advertisements

Having a Ducking Meltdown

March on Ducks 2

To make the joke that’s been made time and time again, no, Autocorrect, no one has ever in the history of smart phone keyboards ever intended to say, “ducking.”  No one. 😉

Hey, so remember how, in an effort to save a bit of money and go to Disney many, many times in one year, I stopped mindlessly buying stuff like tons of clothes and housewares and nail polish and scented wax?  And how I swore I’d use up that which I already had before making any new purchases?  Well, that all actually happened!

It took no small amount of financial prioritization and, yes, some sacrifice, but indeed, this year my husband and I saved a bit of money, we went to Disney many, many times and we both stopped mindlessly buying stuff.  We also used that which we already had (Mr. Finger Candy diving into older, unplayed games, me melting through a larger-than-I-thought wax collection) before making any new purchases.  Interestingly enough, we’ve both been playing the long game when it comes to the items most atop our wish list, with my husband on years-long pins and needles for the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (end of the month, and lord help my sanity if they push the date back) and me confining my wax purchases to two absolute must-haves in the past couple of months, a custom order with Sniff My Tarts, and this fabulous order from the Melting Duck!

So is it everything I hoped it would be?  Yes, it is – all that and the proverbial bag of (tortilla) chips (with queso blanco and maybe a margarita on the side from the Mexico pavilion, with a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour after, AND a character meet-and-greet with Donald, because I’m pretty sure the Melting Duck girls are ducking Disney fans!)

Consisting primarily of Fall and Halloween-type scents, this colourful, sweetly scented collection of wax (new, fresh wax – it feels like such a novelty!) includes – *takes deep, steadying breath* – Haunted Mansion wax.  Wax!  Of the Haunted Mansion!  You guys know how I feel about the Haunted Mansion! (*huffs into a nearby paper bag*)

Mansion Collage

Okay, I’m back now, slightly more in control of my faculties and ready to show off the wax I suspect the Melting Duck gals may have made purely to humour me, because I asked for it literally every single time they solicited scent ideas for their upcoming releases.  If that was indeed the case, thank you, Kristin and Lauren, I love Foolish Mortal and next time (!) I’ll be happy to buy sacks of the stuff!

Foolish Mortal, named after the gently needling nickname the Ghost Host imparts on visitors to the Haunted Mansion, is a blend of Candy Cane Cupcakes and Toasted Marshmallow.  I thankfully don’t get too much of the toasted off the marshmallow, which is good, because I’m not overly fond of that ersatz “baked” note in my home or personal fragrances.  The Haunted Mansion actually doesn’t have much of a scent itself (hmm, perhaps that pleasant background scent of high efficiency air conditioning and meticulously maintained dust) but I imagine if ghosts had a scent (notice how I’m not disputing the existence of ghosts, merely their smell) this would be it – a quick, tingly blast of icy sweet peppermint.  And the colours are perfection, the very hues of the Grim Grinning Ghosts in the ride’s big graveyard showpiece scene.

Foolish Mortal 1

Next up we have a blend of Duckin Donuts (described as “a house blend of fresh coffee and fresh baked goodies”) and Pumpkin.  So basically Fall’s ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Once again, the colours are perfect; I particularly love the little candy corn-striped ducks.

Duckin Donuts and Pumpkin 1

Next up we have the sleeper hit of my last order, Ghost Stories by the Fire, a “Sandra shouldn’t like this” blend of Marshmallow Fireside, Earl Grey and Vanilla Ice Cream.  But it turns out Sandra likes Ghost Stories very much (so much, in fact, I actually only melted through my final piece the day this order arrived on my doorstep, finally secure in the knowledge that there were backups!)  Typically I’m not much for Marshmallow Fireside blended with other scents; I prefer it straight up, in candle format preferably.  But there’s something really nice about the Melting Duck’s Marshmallow Fireside; it’s sweet and mellow, bearing none of the objectionable acridness common to fire-imitating scents.  And once again, the colours and the shapes?  So creative!  Half the fun of this order was examining the cute little shapes, from sprinkled donuts, winged bats and sparkly macarons, to plump pumpkins, ornate sugar skulls and many, many little duckies.

Ghost Stories by the Fire 1

Next we have the sleeper hit of this order, Death of the Party, a rich, delectable bakery blend of Grave Mistakes (Zucchini Bread and Sugar Milk) and Marshmallow Fireside.  At first glance, none of those scents look as though they’d play nicely together (cloying, acrid, corn chip) but as a whole, it smells like…smokey sexy man muffin!  I just adore it (another Marshmallow Fireside blend, wouldn’t you know it?) and I’m smitten with the little pink rose shapes in this blend and that one gigantic chocolate chip cookie.  My husband loves this one, and that’s really saying something, because he is traditionally un-fond, shall we say, of Marshmallow Fireside, claiming “it smells like some douchebag hitting on a disinterested co-worker at a holiday party.”  Well, okay then!  There you go, folks, descriptive fireworks courtesy of Mr. Finger Candy. 😉

Death of the Party 1

Finally, we have the non-seasonal outlier of this order, a bag of my beloved Pink Sands, neat.  This Yankee dupe is a very nice one, bright and fresh and clean, and I’m looking forward to melting through the wide assortment of plucky little pink duckies (so many ducks in this bag!)

Pink Sands

Oh!  Actually finally-finally, I ordered a trio of cups in Ghost Stories by the Fire so I can send them on to friends, as well as three cups of Spider Cider, a blend of Cinnamon Sugar Donuts and Apple Cider.  I’m glad I only purchased the three cups of Spider Cider, because out of the entire order, it’s the only scent I’m not wildly thrilled about.  It’s nice, and I’m going to wait to see what it does given a bit of time to settle, but I’m not in love with it like I am, say, Foolish Mortal or Death of the Party.  Still, those wee little embedded spiders are quite creepy-cute.

Cups Collage

And I’d be remiss in failing to show off this dinged dude, one of the Melting Duck’s Studs in a Tub, which I received as a little freebie with my order.  I had a great laugh when I pulled this guy out of the box, because the Studs, well…they normally have attached heads!

Beheaded Stud 1

The Melting Duck actually created some intentionally beheaded Studs for the Halloween season, with splashes of red dotting the bubbles, but this little wax man is not one of those pieces, just the unfortunate victim of the ever-handsy postal service!  All the same, he smells wonderful (like Lemon Cupcakes and Satsuma.)

Beheaded Stud 2

I’m so thrilled with this order!  It really feels like a special treat, which I suppose is exactly what it is.  I’ve talked with a number of people this year who, like me, but for their own individual reasons, chose to cut back on their discretionary spending, and one of the reasons that I’ve heard over and over again is because endless purchases arriving on your doorstep grows to become quite boring, that these little (and not so little) treats cease feeling special.  I quite like the return to that little acquisition rush, although I’ll continue to respect the healthy distance we’ve put between one another. 🙂

So there we have it, the scented, waxy rewards I finally reaped after a solid year of cutting back, using up and re-prioritizing.  Very glad I waited to blow it out with the Melting Duck, because this order was a ducking treat to receive, and very soon to melt.  If you’re interested in checking out the Melting Duck’s super cool and great-smelling wares for yourself, join up with their Facebook group, where they post notifications about their upcoming releases (conducted on a mixed bag basis of pre-orders, ready-to-ship sales and the occasional custom.)  Happy ducking shopping!

The Haunted Mansion’s Lost Soles

HM Shoes Nail Collage

Eh, I don’t know how lost they are – the Ghost Host himself, whilst casting about for new recruits, accounts for 999 of them.  Oh, wait, I said SOLES, not souls.  My bad!

And they’re not lost either, because I found them, the shoes to put all other shoes to shame, my Haunted Mansion New Balance running shoes.  Yeah, I’ll let that sink in for a second – Haunted Mansion running shoes.  That my head hasn’t simply blown up from delirium over their mere existence is nothing short of a miracle; it’s kind of amazing I’m still standing now that I actually possess them!

At the recommendation/enabling of a Disney-obsessed friend, I stopped by the Fit2Run store in Disney Springs during our Christmas trip and found these bad boys.  And at a whopping 75 percent off, no less, on account of the fact that they were a 2017 Run Disney release, and there was at that time just one week left in the year.

086

I suppose the real question is will I ever be able to wear them?  After seeing what a beating my Asics took this year, I don’t relish the thought of subjecting them to my daily workout routine.  I actually suspect they will become a pair of my parkin’ shoes – when at the Magic Kingdom and all that. 🙂

And as always, a bit of matching or co-ordinated nail art, because how could I not?

HM Shoes Nails

Although I’ll take this moment to note that the mint green, orchid and royal purple hues on my fingertips are really more in keeping with the actual colours of the shoes.  Owing to that bizarre colour-match thing that tends to happen with greens, blues and purples, these shoes are registering as WAY more indigo blue than they actually are.  And, like, neon indigo blue, too.  In real life they’re much more in keeping with the actual purple hue of the Mansion’s iconic damask wallpaper, or these cool Mansion MagicBands we picked up during our Halloween trip.

Magic Band Collage

Right you are, off to stare at them for a bit while imagining the next time I’ll be able to take them out for a spin down Disney way. 🙂

Weight-Less: A Dieting Story

Blue Lips in Ottawa

Good morning, and welcome to the final day of February!  Do you know what else today is?  It’s the one-year anniversary of the sweeping changes I implemented to my diet and exercise habits, which as of this post has netted me an I’m-so-proud 80 pound weight loss!  I’d love to say I lost 100 pounds in one year, or even 85, but January and February have both been stinkers – despite the amazing progress I know I’ve made, I’ve really had to fight to find the motivation to go down to the gym every day.  Coupled with some not so stellar dietary habits I picked up down Disney way (sure, it’s fine to eat a massive entree with no real thought as to its caloric content when you’re walking seven-plus miles a day, but not so much when it’s just you working on your blog at home) I haven’t seen any real movement on the scale.

Ah, but all the other nice little perks are there, the things I fought so hard for this year and that I’m only now really getting around to appreciating.  The somewhat shapely curve of my biceps (I even have biceps?!  Neat!)  The extra spring in my step.  The expanded clothing choices.  A return to fun makeup and hair care.  Little to no exertion sweat.  Physical endurance, flexibility and a newfound ability to play casual games on my phone whilst nearly breaking out into a run on the treadmill.

And every day – no really, every single day, and I know you believe it, because I never friggin’ shut up about Disney any more – I think back with no small degree of wonder to our back-to-back trips to Disney World.  This time last year the thought of going to Disney – hell, the thought of even getting an airplane seatbelt cinched around my bulk – was incomprehensible and deeply terrifying.  Like, I may as well have just proposed a quick jaunt to Mars, such was my disbelief that I was ever going to be in good enough physical shape to tackle a trip to my favouritest place in the world.

But I *did* have the confidence to know that if I just kept plodding away at things, I’d get there.  And then one Fall day my husband said, “Let’s go to Disney World, this weekend” and with no small degree of wonder, I realized that we could.  I wasn’t at my “goal weight” (I actually don’t have one; I think they’re counterproductive) but I felt physically strong, and like I maybe wasn’t going to have a problem with that seatbelt after all (and I didn’t!)  And without getting too hippy dippy on you here, the whole trip (and its Christmastime follow-up) did wonders for my dieting spirits (so long as I can shake that mega-entree-and-a-cocktail habit I fell into whilst Disneyside.)

So the diet and exercise thing and my obsession (it’s okay, you can call it an obsession) with Disney kind of go hand-in-hand.  Because aside from just wanting to do something smart for my body and soul, IT’S my motivation – I want to continue having fun in the Happiest Place on Earth, as many times a year as I can, and I can only do that if I’m feeling strong and healthy and well.

So yay, me am proud!  Of, um, me.  Also rockin’ the Disney athletic wear these days – easier to stay motivated when that motivation is stretched across your bod or supporting your arches.  Here I am down in my building’s gym in my new favourite Turkey Leg varsity tee.  I have no idea what that odd humanoid creature is painted on the wall behind me, but I do know that it’s freaking me the crap out.

007

And thanks to an awesome heads-up from a cool Disney blogger friend, I nabbed these Haunted Mansion New Balance running shoes.  Yeah, I’ll let that sink in for a moment – Haunted Mansion running shoes.  I really love me some unconventional, novelty footwear, but these might be the best shoes I’ve ever purchased.  I’m ecstatic to be their owner (and at a 75 percent discount, no less, as they’re a 2017 release and I purchased them with just one week left to go in the year.)  I’ll have some inspired-by nail art up on these guys soon, but for now, let’s just bask in their incredibleness.  Haunted Mansion running shoes, yo!

Shoes Collage

So there we have it, my One-Year State of the Weight address.  I hope to have just as great news, if not better, to share with you again next year. 🙂

Disney World Blitz: Parklife Part III

“They see me ridin’/my Buggy/Magic Kingdom ’cause I’m just a nerdy girl at Disney/just a nerdy girl at Disney/look at me, I’m a nerd at Disney!”  No, not how that song goes?  Huh, strange. 😉

Welcome, friends, to the third and penultimate installment of my is-it-ever-going-to-end? series on our recent anniversary trip to Disney World.  Today we finally get down to the good stuff, the rides!  If you’re at all interested in hearing me blather on about our stupendously gorgeous accommodations and the tasty nibbles we picked up whilst running the theme park gauntlet, you can find those posts here and here.

Outside the Mansion

First, as detailed in this post, we rode the Haunted Mansion 13 times on our 13th wedding anniversary, which falls on Halloween.  HUGE, crazy accomplishment, this – a lifetime bucket list item nicely checked off (one that’s been cooling its heels on my list since I was a wee, weird little lass of just two years old.)  We actually rode the Mansion 16 times over two days.  It’s my favourite spot on the planet; sounds a bit a lot strange, but nestled in the dark in a jittering little Doom Buggy, passing the hall of endless staircases as the Ghost Host intones not-so-dire warnings about the restless spooks who inhabit the Mansion, I am complete.  Giant goober alert here, but our last ride, I cried.  It all felt very overwhelming.  See, Disney nerd!

That was our second day at the Magic Kingdom.  Thirteen runs through the Haunted Mansion ate up the majority of the day, but we did find time to squeeze in a couple of non-Mansion rides, in addition to a mid-day repast at Gaston’s Tavern.  I wish the big tool himself had made an appearance; Gaston’s just the worst, and I love him for it.  But this lady waits for no man, not even the super bulgy, dim bulb variety, and I had places to be, bucket lists to conquer!  Next time, Gaston, next time.  Maybe we’ll even sit in your chair together.

Throne Alone

But our first day at the Magic Kingdom, we hit it HARD – 8 am to 11 pm, TAKE! NO! PRISONERS!  You know, except for the 40 minutes or so we were held hostage on a broken-down Pirates of the Caribbean, but more on that (surprisingly fun adventure) in the next, final installment!

Smudge Out Castle Shot

Our first day at the Magic Kingdom we banged out 17 rides.  We also dropped in on a couple of stage shows, caught the midday parade, watched most of the evening’s fireworks display, shopped up and down Main Street, got stuck on Pirates for the better part of an hour AND made our inaugural visit to Gaston’s.  So how did we cram all that fun into one day?  Well, here’s a few tips:

1: Be as serious about your footwear AND care as Lieutenant Dan screaming into Forrest’s face about fresh socks.  You won’t get anywhere if you’re hobbling around with sweaty, blistered tootsies, so plan ahead and pre-game your feet – comfy shoes (Vans for me, Chucks for the Mr.) and adhesive callous pads applied to known trouble areas kept us up and comfortably pounding the pavement from rope drop to park close.

2: Abandon any notion of sleep or peace or rest.  That goes double for you lazy sods all crashed out in the middle of the day on the Hub grass.  You’re at Disney – why are you napping?!  Just come to terms with the fact that to experience all that Disney has to offer, you’re going to have to temporarily sacrifice the routines and comforts of home.  We certainly did – I don’t know what else you call being up and on your feet from park open (8 am!) to close (11 pm the first day) each day.  Bonkers?  Yeah, that works!

487

3: Work those FastPasses.  Disney hands out a large – but limited – number of jump-the-line passes every day for nearly every attraction in the park.  You can book three FastPasses per attraction, per guest, per day; a particularly useful little perk for those rides with stubbornly long wait times (Peter Pan’s Flight, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) that hold fast throughout the day.  And not everyone knows this, but after you’ve used your third and final FastPass of the day, you can then begin booking additional FastPasses, one at a time.  And once you’ve used up that fourth FastPass, you can then book a fifth, and so on, until they’re shooing you out the front gates with brooms!

4: Most importantly, stay flexible.  If you roll up to the Mine Train at 9 am to find it offline, with a two-plus hour lineup already snaking around the entirety of the ride, say, “Oh, bugger this, we’re not starting our first day in a friggin’ two-hour lineup!” (actual quote) and move on.  With the exception of one 30-minute wait for the Mansion on Halloween, we never waited any longer than 15 or 20 minutes for any ride, and many of them were virtual walk-ons.  But we maximized our ride time precisely because we were willing to move – as in move on to something with a slightly more manageable wait time.  And invariably, we’d come back a short while later to find the wait time halved or better.  This is also how we wound up walking at least seven miles our first day; we crisscrossed the park more times than I can count!

Magic Kingdom Docs

5: Also, in as much as you can, stay out of the sun, particularly if you are of pasty, Celtic-Canadian descent.  I ended our first day at the Magic Kingdom with a chest redder than Sebastian the crab and Merida’s hair combined.  Wear sunscreen.  Buy some dorky matching hats, if you must (and we really did!)

Need Sunscreen

Jack and Sally Hats

Okay, so it would seem I didn’t actually get around to really talking about any of the rides this time, but I think I’ve given you a good overview of how we accomplished so very much in such a short amount of time (“Really dragging this out, ain’t you?” some of you may be thinking.  And the answer is yes, YES, I AM!  I had the very best time on this impromptu little trip, and I’m going to storytell it into the ground, yo.)  Next time – the last time, though definitely not the last Disney time – we finally go ridin’!

Goal Goals: A Dieting Story

Mansion Shot

For me, (a) major treat is a…trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

That was me four months and 30+ pounds ago, still dreaming about that let’s-face-it-it’s-probably-never-going-to-happen trip to Disney.  Something was always going to get in the way – most likely an incapacitating back spasm or my inability to walk more than 50 feet without breaking out into a sweat.

And that picture above?  That’s my husband and I a week and a half ago standing triumphant in front of the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion following our 13th ride.

I was, frankly, astonished when Mr. Finger Candy came home three nights before our anniversary and declared that we were going to Disney World to celebrate, no ifs, ands or buts.  But I was positively gobsmacked when I realized that yes, we could go, we could go – and did go! – practically right that minute precisely because MY butt was no longer the issue!  And neither was my back, or my energy levels or any one of the other dozen or so minor ailments that had been unfairly derailing our lives for years.

You guys, I DIDS IT!!!  And not only did I do it, but I’m overjoyed to report that barring the usual (foot, it’s always foot) pains that invariably go along with a 16-hour day at the world’s busiest theme park (we walked at least seven miles our first day at the Magic Kingdom, or 33,371 feet) I had zero – I repeat, zero! – problems with mobility related to either my weight or general health.  And our feet actually fared quite well, thanks to our Lieutenant Dan-like approach to theme park foot care.  Won’t lie, I side-eyed the super slim, toboggan-type capsules on Space Mountain something fierce, but the only problem I had there was insufficient legroom.  Then again, Space Mountain has always been a cramped ride; no idea how my husband fit all 6’3 of himself in there (“Uncomfortably!” he says.)

We had the very best time on this impromptu little trip, and I’ve returned home feeling stupendous; so proud of myself.  And seriously pumped up; ready to tackle the next little bit of my weight loss journey, because the work never ends.  Bit of a bummer, that, but doable when you realize that when you put in the work, you can actually make your dreams – even the kind of bonkers ones – come true. 🙂

PhilharMagic

Thirteen Rides Through the Haunted Mansion on Our 13th!

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Last Thursday evening Mr. Finger Candy came home, dropped his bag at the front door and said, “Let’s go to Disney World.  This weekend.  For our anniversary.”  And finally out of lameass excuses for why we couldn’t or shouldn’t – weight concerns, passports, finances, take your pick – I said yes.  Annnnnnddddd roughly 72 hours later we were standing in the Magic Kingdom!

‘Twas but a blitz of a trip, just a totally spontaneous handful of days, but we did manage to cross one of my LIFETIME bucket list items off the old roster in the form of 13 runs through the Haunted Mansion on Halloween, our 13th wedding anniversary.  The Mansion is rife with references to the number 13, and I’ve been taken with the notion of riding it 13 times in one day since I was about two years old; that this momentous event – yes, it was momentous! – took place on our 13th wedding anniversary, which itself falls on Halloween, was really just a matter of incredible timing.

Mansion 13 Collage

Tips for tackling such an impressive undertaking? 😉  Get there early and bang out as many runs in a row as you can.  We got to 10 before I declared a (super)nature break.  When we returned an hour or so later, we had “adorable” matching mini-strokes when we saw that the Mansion was offline, but it was just a temporary blip – the 999 happy haunts who inhabit the Mansion were up and spooking within minutes, and we were on our way to our 13th.

Another useful tip for hustling your way through the Mansion is to look for the tiny red dot along the wall in the room of stretching portraits.  This is where the panel will slide back, leading into the main queue area.  Line yourself up with this dot and you’ll be in the perfect spot to sweep through the doors and straight onto a Doom Buggy in the time it takes your room-mates to even realize a door has opened.

Mansion Outdoors Collage

Unlike virtually every other ride in the Magic Kingdom, the Haunted Mansion does not exit into a gift shop.  In fact, until about two or three years ago, the Mansion did not have a gift shop; you could find its wares set up on a Victorian era hearse just outside the gates.  Today you can find all Mansion merch around the corner at Memento Mori, the Mansion’s designated gift shop.  That’s where we snagged a few souvenirs to commemorate our trip, our anniversary and 13 completed runs through the Mansion!

Magic Band Collage

2017’s limited edition Haunted Mansion Magic Bands seemed in order.  “Okay, yeah, so they’re cool and all,” you may be saying to yourself, “but Sandra, what precisely are you two numbskulls going to do with a parks-specific RFID reader anyways?”  Well, take it back to Disney, for one.  We’re already planning another trip as early as Christmas. 🙂  If you stay on property at one of Disney’s resorts like we did – Port Orleans Riverside, and lordy, it was GORGEOUS! – you get a plain jane Magic Band that acts as your everything – room key, park admission, FastPass-getter, credit card.  It’s a nicely comprehensive little system.  Also an absolute nightmare for anyone with qualms about “governmental” oversight or the deep surveillance state.  Not sure what to say to those folks except a Disney vacation is absolutely not for you.  Your every move is being tracked and analyzed by the House of Mouse; accept this or perish (Wired published a great piece on Cyberdyne’s Mickey’s Magic Band tech here.)

Mansion Merch 1

Items that will perhaps get a bit more everyday use include a damask print tie for my husband and some cool Mansion maid socks for me.

Mansion Merch 2

And I couldn’t say no to a couple more items in the Mansion’s iconic damask-with-eyes wallpaper, including another pair of socks (can’t ever have too many) and a waterproof, super lightweight backpack that proved invaluable over our two days at the Magic Kingdom.  This sucker really fits a lot!  It also glows under black light, which is absolutely not why I purchased it in the first place (yes, it absolutely is!)

005

All fun and merch aside, though, it was an amazing day – a top three-er, no hesitation!  Really, how many of us get to say we completed a pretty nutso, lifetime bucket list item, and on a special anniversary, no less?!  This happy person, that’s who. 🙂

Mansion Shot

And none of this fabulous, fantastical – phantasmical? – fun would have been possible without being married to this incredible guy.  I highly recommend it.  He’s the Jack to my Sally in that I often have to keep him from enthusiastically spinning off into another dimension, but when he pulls me along for the ride, it’s always a wild and wonderful one.  I had the bestest time with my bestest friend. 🙂  A once-in-a-lifetime experience…although we’re already relishing the possibility of making it a multiples-in-a-lifetime experience.  To the next 13!