My Disney Top 5 - Things To Love About Celebrations Magazineby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5. As always I hope you are all safe and well out there.
We just dug ourselves out from a pretty big winter wallop known as Winter Storm Orlena. My neck of the woods was buried in about 15-16 inches of the fluffy white stuff. Actually, it was more akin to wet cement than cotton balls. I spent a good chunk of yesterday digging us out. But I spent a much better chunk of the previous day hunkered down in the house watching from the relative warmth of my sunroom as Mother Nature gave us all she had and I comfortably stayed in reading magazines and comics, playing video games and watching movies. I finally watched the movie Interstellar and found it to be long and complicated. My choice of video game lately has been LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Big fan. Tons of fun. What was my go to reading selection while I sat in my favorite, oversized most comfortable chair on Earth? If you read the title to this article then logic dictates it must be Celebrations Magazine that was providing me with sufficient comfort and escape as the weather raged outside my window.
Truth be told, Celebrations has been providing me with a much needed escape for a long, long time now. I first met Editor and Creative Director Tim Foster and some of the Celebrations team while I was down in Walt Disney World for an event known as MouseFest way back in 2008. That day at the Celebrations booth Tim handed me a complimentary copy, I was an instant fan and have been a subscriber ever since. For those that don't remember, MouseFest was a gathering of fans, writers, webmasters and all other sorts of like minded Disney fans. We met in the parks, toured, podcasted, took photos, broke bread, handed out swag and had a grand old time together ensconced in the magic. You could sort of call it a precursor to D23 Expo only with a much smaller budget and run by fans, as opposed to the largest entertainment company on the planet. It was bucket loads of fun and I so wish it would return someday.
Once I got my hands on an issue of Celebrations and signed up, I couldn't wait for the issues to arrive in my mailbox. As most of you out there are very well aware, when you're a devout fan of Walt Disney World there's never enough information, stories or photographs to whet your appetite during the dry times when you're away from the place. You miss it and you just want to keep thinking about it. That's why sites like MousePlanet exist in the first place. While I could spend hours surfing the web searching for Disney trip reports, attraction videos and park music, there's just something about a book or a magazine in my hand that makes me feel comfortable. For years now, Celebrations has sat next to my comfy chair amidst a stack of Disney books, Star Wars graphic novels, and Rolling Stone magazines waiting for me to plop down after work or on a cold rainy day and lose myself in its pages. What is it that I like most about this venerable fan mag? Let's take a look with the Top 5 things to love about Celebrations magazine.
5 - The Disney Universe is Covered
While Celebrations is definitely a Walt Disney World-centric publication, we Disney fans still like to know what's going on in all corners of all of the other Disney worlds. I grabbed a random issue off the shelf, Winter 2019, for an example. Alongside WDW feature stories like Holidays Around the World at Epcot and Artistic Endeavors at Walt Disney World there's an abundance of stories and coverage from all around Disney's expansive universe.
This issue had a great story about Disney's Forgotten Princesses like Vanellope from Wreck-it Ralph, Hercules' Megara, Kida from what is—in my own humble opinion—one of the most underrated Disney films, Atlantis, and perhaps the most obscure Disney Princess there is, Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron. Keep turning the pages and you'll find feature stories on two Disney films, The Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Continue flipping and you'll find writer J Darling's Disneyland Magic column exposing an east coaster like me to the wonders of Walt's original park. There's coverage of Disney cuisine, tributes to Disney Legends, trivia, Hidden Mickey hunts from the Hidden Mickey guy himself Steve Barrett, stuff for the kids—the actual little kids in your home, not you big kids reading the magazine—and so much more. You'd be hard pressed to find a corner of Disney that hasn't been given the magical Celebrations treatment.
4 - Tim and Lou's Top 10
I've been writing a Top 5 column for more than a decade here on MousePlanet so it's safe to say I like a good countdown. The last page of each issue of Celebrations features a Top 10 Things You May Not Know countdown put together by the mastermind behind the whole operation, Tim Foster with help from none other than Disney online legend and trivia guru Lou Mongello. People seem to respond to countdowns. They're simple and concise and offer a well thought out smattering of details on their respective subjects.
What Disney fan doesn't want to learn more about their favorite animated characters? Give "Ten Things You May Not Know About Daisy Duck" a gander (sorry, pun intended) and you'll find out that she made her debut in the 1940 cartoon short Mr. Duck Steps Out, but there was an earlier appearance by a duck named Donna Duck in the 1937 short Don Donald which has also been credited as Daisy's debut. An avid Disney fan like yours truly may have heard those facts before, but I had no idea that Daisy appeared in a series of Italian comics in the 1970's as Super Daisy, who, despite lacking specific superpowers, manages to fight the bad guys with her own stable of super gadgets. That's the kind of tidbit that we Disney fans love to hear and are served up by Tim and Lou in each issue.
3 - Guide to the Magic
I couldn't put together a Celebrations Top 5 without mentioning one of their other products, the Walt Disney World Resort Guide to the Magic for Kids. Advertised in the pages of Celebrations and available on their website, Guide to the Magic is one of the most unique Disney guidebooks out there mostly because it's so much more than just a guidebook. Back in the day when my daughter was young, her copies of the Guide to the Magic were perpetually in my park backpack on our journeys through Walt Disney World, and with good reason. The book is chock full of WDW details like maps of the parks and all of the different lands, attractions and details to look out for. There are character checklists, room for signatures and a boatload of stickers for the kids to peel and stick throughout the book, an activity all kids seem to love. For the right kid, like my detail oriented little Samantha way back when, it was the perfect trip companion that came out at restaurants, while waiting in long queues, on Disney Transportation and back in the resort where she would document her days spent wallowing in Disney magic.
Looking back and reading through the Guide and seeing our trips through my child's eyes is really an invaluable thing to be able to do. The memories are priceless and her spin on the whole experience is even better. I get to see see what she felt was her favorite thing each day. I see what she remembered most, what attractions were the most memorable to her and even what souvenirs she got. As things get fuzzy in my age and the trips begin to blend into one, it's wonderful to be able to place certain meals with certain days all these years later. It's an intimate snapshot of our favorite vacations in our favorite place. This really does make it a true treasure trove of memories to reflect back upon.
I wrote a Disney Stuff article on the Guide years ago. Check it out here for a more in depth look.
2 - The Photography
One of the things that grabs you right away as you thumb through any given issue of Celebrations is the stunning Walt Disney World photography. Tim and crew have gone out of their way over the years to pack each issue with some of the best Disney park photos you'll ever find. It's important enough to them that there's typically a feature article in each issue about how to best take photos in the Disney parks and resorts. Any amateur photographer traveling to the resort can get helpful tips about how to take truly memorable Walt Disney World photos to help keep your memories alive.
The Celebrations team outdo themselves with the quality photography displayed throughout each issue. Most importantly though is that they're not just great photographers, they're also obviously huge Disney fans. Let's face it, one of the things we all love about the Disney parks and resorts is the tremendous amount of attention paid to detail and theming. This writer can, and certainly has, spent hours just walking around the parks trying to capture as much of the details as possible with a camera, or these days an iPhone, in hand. The Celebrations staff of photographers always seem to know just what images to capture; images that they know will make a fan like me, and you too I'm sure, stop to appreciate the beauty that exists around every corner in Walt Disney World.
1 - The Positive Vibe
After 12 years writing here on MousePlanet and another two before that over at Jim Hill Media, there's one thing that has remained constant in my writing and that's positivity. I started doing this because Disney and, more specifically, Walt Disney World elicits such feelings of joy and happiness in my life that I had to get them down in print. It wasn't enough to go there, to read the books and magazines, to collect the stuff, to watch the films, I wanted to write about it and express just how happy all of this makes me. And I decided that I was always going to be positive in what I wrote. Once you get involved with a community of fans, and this goes for all fans, not just Disney fans, there always seems to be a lot of negativity out there. People seem to want to bash Disney online when they make a change or don't live up to someone's perceived standards of perfection. Despite the inherent magic that is produced on a daily basis by the cast at Walt Disney World and the incredible team of Imagineers, there's a lot of pessimism out there. Do I love every single thing about Walt Disney World? No, of course not. I have no interest in The Hall of Presidents. Just not my thing. I'm a skier and a surfer not a football or basketball fan, so the notion of going to ESPN Zone on Disney's BoardWalk is completely foreign to me. But am I going to complain that they're there? No. Of course not. I adore it's a small world and love the song. Some people think I'm crazy for that. But that's the beauty of a place like Walt Disney World. There's something for me and something for you and everyone in between.
Once again, for all the years that I have been writing about Disney, I have chosen to stay positive and celebrate the magic. That's what we do here at MousePlanet as a team as well. Tim Foster and the Celebrations crew have always done the same. They have always taken the high road and kept the focus on the happiness, joy and, yes, magic, that has been the cornerstone of the Disney and Walt Disney World experience for generations of fans. I know that when that next issue of Celebrations lands in my mailbox that I'm going to escape for a while with some positive words accompanied by beautifully captured images of one of my favorite places in the world. I thank them all for that and I'm so grateful that they do what they do the way they do it and I hope that never changes. I've had enough conversations with Tim to know that when it comes to the positive vibe factor of our two similar outlets that we're definitely kindred spirits and we could all use a little bit more of that vibe in our lives. I like to think that we celebrate that here on MousePlanet and there's no doubt that they do over at Celebrations Magazine as well.
Just this past week we had Tim Foster as a guest on our MousePlanet Live: Fun at Home show and we were thrilled to hear that after a brief period of Celebrations being published as an online only magazine, the print version will be returning starting with their special Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Commemorative Collector's Edition out this spring. MousePlanet readers can head over to their website and use the special discount code "figment" to receive a discounted subscription rate.
I realize this may have sounded like a commercial for Celebrations magazine, but trust me when I say this was one Disney fan gushing about another Disney fan's work. The Celebrations team and the MousePlanet gang are all part of an amazing online community of dedicated fans that love nothing more than to spread and share the magic. Don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself if you haven't already. I'm sure you'll be as big a fan as I am after a read.
If you'd like to watch my interview with Tim as well as see the MousePlanet gang discuss the 20th anniversary of Disney California Adventure be sure to click here and tune in to MousePlanet Live: Fun From Home - Show # 33.
That's all for this time. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below and share your thoughts on Celebrations magazine. Stay safe and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.