My Disney Top 5 - Disney Constants In My Lifeby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5. I hope you are all staying safe out there!
Keeping my connection to Walt Disney World and, for that matter, all things Disney alive and well is a crucial element in my life. I consider myself lucky to have something that I'm passionate about to keep me going and happy no matter what life continues to throw at me. That doesn't mean that my house is completely Disneyfied and that I walk around all day wearing mouse ears on my head and pin lanyards around my neck. I actually have of plenty t-shirts that don't have Mickey Mouse on them. I'm sitting in my sun room and besides for a very classy, subtle Tinker Bell stained glass lamp, there's no obvious sign of Disney in this room. However, if you scratch the surface and look a little closer you would see that, at this very moment, I'm writing about Disney, drinking out of a glass with the poster of a vintage Mickey Mouse short on it and wearing one of my favorite Mickey Mouse watches. Now that might be more Disney than the average person has in their life, but it's also discreet enough that if the average person walked into this room they wouldn't feel like the Mickey Mouse Club theme song was screaming at them.
What can I say? Disney makes me happy and so therefore I like to incorporate it into my daily life. Sometimes I have very Disney days and other days it's just a subtle glimpse or reference that helps to put a little smile across my face when I need it most. I've been described as a big kid and I take that as an extreme compliment. I pay my bills, have a job, mow my lawn and earned a Master's Degree. So what if I occasionally did all of those things with a Mickey Mouse t-shirt on? I'm all the better for it and I imagine this is the way I'm going to be for a long, long time. Remember what Walt himself said, "That's the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up." Old Walt knew what he was talking about. That credo works for me and it's been working for me for some time now.
I've written a whole lot here on MousePlanet about my Disney collections and my connection to the films and just how much I try to keep Disney in my life, especially now when I can't actually be in Walt Disney World. Most of the things I wrote about take a small amount of effort; seeking out videos from the parks online, watching great programs like The Imagineering Story on Disney+, pouring through my Disney Blu-ray collections or looking back at old videos and photos of our family trips to Disney. But there are a few things that are just a part of my daily life that are wholly related to my love of Disney; things that are built into my daily routine that I don't even think about doing and yet they are an intricate part of keeping my Disney connection alive. I'll explain more with my Top 5 Disney constants in my life.
5 - Disney Themed Face Masks
I really didn't want to include this on my list at all, mostly because I don't want wearing face masks to become a permanent part of my life the way other things on this list are. But, let's face it, I've had a mask on my face for about 6 months or so now and they're going to be with me for the foreseeable future. Back in March when this mess broke out, I had a few masks in my garage that I used for sanding or painting and then quickly realized that I was going to need more. I bought a batch of the ever present blue surgical style masks online and figured that would be all I would need for a while. Then a seamstress friend made us some masks. Then another friend did the same thing. Before I knew it and certainly before I expected it, I had a whole bunch of choices. When Father's Day came around and my thoughtful daughter got me my first Disney themed face mask, I thought, "Well…why not?" It's an unofficial Disney mask, made by a website run by fans, much like this one. It's a Spaceship Earth mask. It's way cool – at least, as cool as a face mask can be. Then I realized that Disney themed masks were coming out of the woodwork everywhere you looked.
Is it capitalism at it's finest? Sure. People need masks, so let's market them fashionable ones at least. I do think there's a little more than that when it comes to the Disney themed masks. Personally, I think we Disney fans love wearing anything that has to do with our favorite mouse, or princess or theme park. It makes us happy, so considering how awful this mess all is, why not put a smile on your face by wearing a mask with Mickey Mouse or the Haunted Mansion wallpaper on them? The ugly truth is, I'm wearing a mask everyday, sometimes multiple ones in the course of a day if I'm hot and sweaty, so these Disney items have definitely become a significant part of my day to day life. Someday when it's all over, I suppose they'll be retired to my Disney collectible shelf or maybe I'll put them on a Mickey plush toy and remember when. I certainly hope that day comes soon.
4 - Han Solo's Dice
One of the things I love most about Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios is the merchandise in the shops. Knowing me and my penchant for Disney stuff, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy with whatever they put on the shelves in this amazing addition to Walt Disney World. Disney, being Disney, chose to go in a truly authentic direction when it came to the merchandise for sale. Everything for sale there seems like it belongs for sale in a shop on Batuu. The toys look like toys that the local children would want to buy and play with. They're clearly toys modeled after ships and characters from the Star Wars universe, but they aren't "Disneyfied" Star Wars toys. Don't get me wrong. I have my collection of Mickey dressed as a Jedi and Goofy Darth Vaders and I have no problem with any of that. But I am beyond thrilled that the markets in Black Spire Outpost sell items that "tourists" and "residents" of the planet would buy and own. So, when I spotted a set of these dice I knew I had to have them.
The great thing is they weren't marketed as Han Solo's dice. As a matter of fact the merchandise tag just says "Dice." Fans of the latter Star Wars films, The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story – and I proudly count myself as a fan of each of these much maligned films – know that the dice are prominently featured in several scenes having to do with Han Solo in those films. The dice hearken back to one shot of the Millennium Falcon cockpit in the first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope where they can barely be seen. Han Solo was my childhood hero and I appreciated them bringing these dice out of obscurity in the newer films. I feel it's a great tribute so I snapped them up as soon as I saw them. They hang from the rear view mirror of my 2003 Subaru Millennium Falcon and they're something I look at literally every single day.
3 - Walt Disney World Refillable Mugs
I've been buying these mugs for the past 17 years! And no, I don't actually have 17 of them. For a while I would bring my Caribbean Beach mug and my Port Orleans Resort mug back with me each year to reuse. We stayed at Riverside 4 years in a row, so I suppose I got my money's worth out of that original purchase. For many years Disney turned a blind eye to this guest practice until reportedly they got a little tired of guests filling up popcorn buckets with soda from the resort food court dispensers. Combine that with the birth of RFID chip technology and we now have refillable mugs that are only good for your current length of stay. So, for the last several years, I have indeed been buying a new mug on each trip down there.
I have to admit I do miss the resort specific mugs. My Caribbean Beach mug from 17 years ago is still in perfect shape but I used the Port Orleans mug so much there's barely any identifying marks on it. That's due to a combination of those 4 trips in a row but mostly because each morning before I go to work I grab one of my Disney mugs, pour my morning orange juice in it and head out the door. It would be a totally strange thing if I wasn't walking into work with a Disney mug in my hand. it's just what I do and have done for years. I don't think I could start my day without it.
2 - Disney Watches
I collect all sorts of Disney stuff. I've got tons of pins. I love Disney figurines and small vinyl figures. There's a lot of animation artwork hanging downstairs on my basement walls. Come to think of it, I don't have the space to list all of the different categories of Disney items that I have in my possession. One of my most prized collections though consists of several Disney themed watches.
The Mickey Mouse watch has a long and treasured history dating back to the earliest days of the Walt Disney Company. I have many Mickey watches but my allegiance doesn't end there. There's a few Donald Duck watches, a Jiminy Cricket, Cinderella Castle, Goofy, Pirates of the Caribbean, and a nice assortment of Star Wars watches as well. I've got cheap ones, moderately priced ones, highly collectible ones and two kind of fancy ones. You'd be hard pressed to look at my wrist and not see a Disney watch on it. They're with me each and every day of my life.
1 - Mombasa Marketplace Leather Bracelets
Of all the things in my life that scream Disney to me, none reaffirm that important connection on a daily basis more than the least obvious Disney things in my life, these leather bracelets that I wear each and every day on my wrist. The bracelets are specifically from Africa in Animal Kingdom. There's a significant history behind them. Years ago my wife and I went through a rough patch as any marriage could. As part of an effort to reconnect and reestablish what bound us together in the first place, we started doing as much as we could together. You name it. Weekly date nights, walks on the beach, concerts; all of them things that we started to leave behind when the business of life distracted us. One of those essential moments was a grown-ups only long weekend in Walt Disney World. I've written about it several times here on MousePlanet before. It was one of the best trips of our lives together for too many reasons to list here. One of the silly little things that happened on that trip occurred in Harambe in Animal Kingdom, more specifically in Mombasa Marketplace, the main shop in Africa. I spotted some leather bracelets in a basket and picked up a few that I liked.
Mombasa Marketplace spills out into street vendor carts as you might expect in an east African village. Some of this work is made locally, but most of it appears to be imported from Africa. There's typically several baskets of leather bracelets in this area. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
I asked Diane to help me tie one on my wrist. It may sound corny but given the gravity of that weekend and the moments we were experiencing together, I treated the simple act of her tying that bracelet onto my wrist as extremely symbolic. That was 11 years ago. Since that moment there has always been a leather bracelet from Mombasa Marketplace on my wrist. I wear them until they're literally falling apart. I buy a bunch of them on each trip down there and when it's time for a new one, Diane is always the one I go to to tie them on or clip them on for the first time, even if I could do it myself. I could have nothing Disney on my person at all, no T-shirt, no Mickey watch, no Disney mug or glass in my hand, but I will always have one of these on my wrist and it will always remind me, not just of the person who makes me the happiest but of the place that makes me the happiest.
As you can plainly see, these items don't exactly scream Disney to the world. Like I said, it's not like I'm walking into work each day with my Oswald ears, an 'I'm With Dopey" T-shirt on and a pair of those red Hidden Mickey Crocs on my feet. Even the face masks are pretty subtle. I don't need to be shouting Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah from the rooftops to let people know how passionate I am about Disney. Those who know me well enough have learned to see the subtle signs of my fandom. Trust me, I would never put it past me to wear my Walt Disney World aloha shirts to work – I have – but the important thing isn't that everyone else knows. the important thing is that I know. All I have to do is sip my juice in the morning, check out the time on my watch or look down at my wrist to get that much needed dose of Disney magic and happiness to get me through the day.
That's all for this time. As always I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below to share your thoughts on my list, let me know if you have any Disney constants in your life, stay safe and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.