Category Archives: Travel Blog

Celebrating Disney’s Easter and 35th Anniversary at Tokyo DisneySea

 

I’m catching up on posting my articles written for LaughingPlace.com.  Here’s an article I wrote from our last visit to Tokyo DisneySea, highlighting their Easter celebrations in June 2018. 

Disney’s Easter usually lasts an entire season at Tokyo Disney Resort.  This year, with the new 35th Anniversary festivities at Tokyo Disneyland, all of Easter was focused at Tokyo DisneySea.  This nautical-inspired Park also enjoyed special décor and a commemorative water pageant for 35th Anniversary.

Parades and Shows

Tokyo DisneySea runs more parades and shows than any other Disney Park that I know.  It’s truly a challenge to see the Park, experience the rides, and catch all the water parades that are held at the park-front Mediterranean Harbor.  And that doesn’t include the stage shows.  You’ll certainly make your step-count goals on a DisneySea day.

During Disney’s Easter season (March 27 – June 6, 2018), DisneySea has the “Fashionable Easter” parade twice daily.  New also is the 35th Anniversary “Happiest Celebration on the Sea” parade, scheduled twice daily.  As darkness falls, don’t miss “Fantasmic,” an impressive water spectacle staged entirely on moving boats. 

That’s five parades.  No wonder the first parade starts only 30 minutes after park opening. 

Then, there are five showtimes each of stage shows: “Big Band Beat” and “Out of Shadowland.” Plus continuous showings of “My Friend Duffy” from 9:30 am to 5 pm.

35th Anniversary Water Pageant

Tokyo DisneySea is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Tokyo Disney Resort.  The “Happiest Celebration on the Sea” parade features Mickey and friends on one float that circles Mediterranean Harbor. 

Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy are wearing their 35th Anniversary costumes that match their “Dreaming Up!” parade costumes.  Since this is Tokyo DisneySea, they are joined by Duffy, ShellieMay, Gelatoni, and their newest friend, ballerina bunny StellaLou. 

The performances we saw were modified due to weather, so we’re not sure what else would have been included.  Many Tokyo DisneySea parades incorporate jet skis, flying kites and fireworks.  Here’s video from the parade:  

And the finale:   

“Happiest Mickey” Statues    

In honor of the 35th “Happiest Celebration,” Tokyo Disney Resort had multiple Mickey statues placed throughout the Parks.  ‘Mickey marks the spot’ on the DisneySea Park map.  Here are some of our favorites, complete with nicknames. 

Admiral Mickey guards Mediterranean Harbor, under the watchful eye of Mount Prometheus.

Arabian Nights Mickey enjoys a drink in front of the two-story Caravan Carousel.

Gone Fishin’ Mickey is on the lookout for the next big catch in Cape Cod on the American Waterfront.

Lost River Delta Mickey takes after Indiana Jones in seeking forbidden treasures.

Hola, amigos! Sombrero Mickey greets you in front of Miguel’s Cantina. It’s so endearing that cast members use phrases like ‘Hola, amigos’ and ‘Adios’ to greet guests in Lost River Delta.  They also used Italian greetings on the gondolas in Mediterranean Harbor.

Snorkeling Mickey conducts his underwater orchestra in front of Mermaid Lagoon.

This playful Mickey gets squirted in the face by a stowaway fish. The lights of Mermaid Lagoon glow in the background.  I can’t decide if this Mickey looks like more like a sailor or a gondolier. 

Searching for Captain Nemo! Mickey explores near the Nautilus on Mysterious Island.

Stylishly steampunk Mickey has a giggle near “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Disney’s Easter with a 35th Anniversary Flair

Throughout the Park, there were so many decorations custom-branded with both 35th Anniversary and Easter.  “Disney’s Easter 2018” decorated the entry portal with flanking 35th “Happiest Celebration” medallions and banners.  Travel tip: for a less crowded experience, go on a rainy weekday.

Guests loved taking pictures with this grand egg display in Mediterranean Harbor.  “Fashionable Easter” is the theme at Tokyo DisneySea.  This special Easter egg commemorates the event.

In true attention to detail, even “Fashionable Easter” umbrellas in were branded with “35.”

On the American Waterfront, two large Easter baskets drew crowds in front of Tower of Terror. Everyone queued patiently for their turn for a photo. 

The queue was so long for this gazebo photo op, I thought it was for a character meet and greet! This photo is from the Tokyo DisneySea website.

What amazes me is the attention to detail, and the budget TDS spent on decorations.  Everything 35th and Easter can only be used during this year’s Easter season.  Imagine buying new custom umbrellas for your tables and using them for only two and half months.  This sure makes an impression.

Easter Egg Hunt and Park Decorations

Similar to other Disney Parks, Tokyo DisneySea had an Easter Egg hunt.  Buy a map. Find all the eggs. Get a prize.  These were some of the delightfully decorated eggs.

Nigel steals the show with Nemo-themed eggs next to the SeaRider attraction. See Bruce and Destiny?

This Saludos Amigos egg rests in Lost River Delta.

This restaurant – now Miguel’s El Dorado Cantina – has been re-themed since the release of CoCo.  It showcases beautiful art on the walls and the egg. 

Mickey and Minnie eggs welcome guests at the entrance to Tokyo DisneySea.

    

Vibrant Easter banners color coordinate with floral blooms in Mediterranean Harbor.

Intricate eggs with stained-glass shells also dotted the Park.  We found Chip and Dale, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy eggs.  They glowed elegantly at night.

          

The Easter spirit carried on – all the way to the monorail.  Monorail Pink was Easter-themed as well.

High Fashion on the High Seas

The “Fashionable Easter” parade at Tokyo DisneySea changes slightly each year.  It is always an array of color and high-energy fun.  Incorporating a cast of 115 performers with Disney characters on five boats and three stages, “Fashionable Easter” is certain to lift your spirits.

Disney characters and their friends are dressed to represent each of the themed lands – or ‘ports’ – of DisneySea. 

They all sport their bunny ears on their hats. 

    

Tokyo Disney Parks have a much bigger emphasis on female characters and sidekicks than our domestic Parks. Clarice escorts Chip and Dale.  Daisy dances alongside Donald.  Max boogies with Goofy,

    

Saludos Amigos friends play prominently in the Lost River Delta.

Duffy and pals are absolute celebrities at Tokyo DisneySea.  This is the first time I’m seeing StellaLou, their newest bunny friend.  She was first introduced for Easter 2017.

   

 The boats have floral balloons that suddenly inflate to add decorative flair.

Here’s another glimpse of the parade in our video:

Tokyo DisneySea always holds a special enchantment for me.  It’s the only Disney Park of its type in the world.  What do you think of “Fashionable Easter: at Tokyo DisneySea?  And the themed-in 35th Anniversary festivities?

A visit to Tokyo Disney Resort would not be complete without exploring the 35th “Happiest Celebration” Tokyo Disneyland. Or getting a peek at crave-worthy Tokyo Disney merchandise. And eating your way through delectable seasonal food offerings.  Ready for a glimpse?  Follow along as we take a closer look at the Tokyo Disney experience.

This article was originally published on June 11, 2018 on LaughingPlace.com.  See all my articles on my author page!

From Tikis to Princesses – the Latest News from Her Universe

While my latest article from San Diego Comic-Con was just published on LaughingPlace.com, here is a look back at our WonderCon update from her Universe …

What are the newest creations from the winners of last year’s Her Universe Fashion Show? We gathered at WonderCon 2018 to find out. For the first time, they announced the theme of the new fashion line: Disney Princesses, to be sold exclusively at Hot Topic stores.  It was worth the wait.

But first, a little background. To say that Ashley Eckstein – founder of Her Universe – has a devoted fan following is an understatement. This fangirl-turned-entrepreneur has worked tirelessly to be inclusive. And generate opportunities for others.

From creating endless wardrobe options for fangirls around the world, to giving designers a chance to bring their dreams from ‘runway to retail’ – Ashley Eckstein has justly earned her massive fanbase.  And now she gets to share her story.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com. 

Dreams Really Do Come True

Ashley has worked tirelessly to make her dreams come true.  From actress to self-made entrepreneur – she could not have imagined that she would be working with Disney and Hot Topic, while helping others along the way.  She created the Her Universe Fashion Show – now an annual event at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) – to give designers a platform to showcase their intricate cosplay designs. 

“If you can dream it, you can do it,” is what she learned from Disney.  And reality grew to be even bigger than the dream. 

Ashley just completed her book: It’s Your Universe – You Have the Power to Make it Happen, releasing on May 8, 2018.  She also announced her nationwide book signing tour, spanning cities from Orlando to Anaheim. 

Our ‘Ultimate Fangirl’ wanted to share her story, to “give back what Disney gave to me.”  She hopes that her story will inspire others to be “Dream warriors…To believe in yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you no.”  Ashley’s message: “Yes I Can.”

She really practices what she preaches, as the rest of the Hot Topic team attested to.  It’s really hard to tell Ashley ‘no.’  But she is all about working together. “It takes teamwork to make the dream work!”

Ashley’s Hot Topic Team

Introducing: Our Universe

After the huge success of Her Universe, guys felt a little left out of the fan-fashion trend.  Now, Ashley has included everyone in the family with Our Universe.  This newest line features lifestyle clothing in fun themes. 

At the Disney Store launch last month, Our Universe featured activewear for kids and tweens with Black Panther and Princess themes.  Pictured below are new Star Wars lightsaber-themed activewear pieces for the whole family. (Although, “this is not my family,” Ashley remarks with a smile). 

Behind this Our Universe Star Wars line is the mantra: “The Young are often underestimated. But when destiny calls, the chosen have no choice. Believe in yourself or no one else will. You are a Force in training.” ~ quotes from Star Wars: Clone Wars.

We have also seen a few Our Universe men’s items at Hot Topic-owned Box Lunch stores. 

Saying Aloha to a new Disney Tiki Line

photo from Hot Topic website

Her Universe introduced their Disney tiki-inspired line, just released on March 24th at Hot Topic stores and online.  These come in four prints: Moana, Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Minnie, and Peter Pan’s Mermaid Lagoon.  Ashley is wearing the red Lilo and Stitch tiki dress in her photo above.

For the first time, the collection will include coordinating men’s Our Universe aloha wear, as well as matching shoes, handbags, and accessories!  Ashley admitted that she squealed with joy when she saw the Lilo and Stitch heels.  

Avengers Infinity War Lifestyle Collection

Are you excited about Avengers Infinity War?  I can’t imagine combining that many characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe all together in one film.  We’ll finally see what they’ve been teasing with each of the Infinity Stones, and Thanos’ gauntlet. 

Well, designing a fashion line around Avengers Infinity War was difficult, because of the very fact that there are “thirty relevant characters.”  Someone will be disappointed that their favorite character was not represented. 

That is why the collection is designed around each of the Infinity Stones, and not around individual characters.  Here are the six Infinity Stone colors, and their meanings.

  • Purple: Power
  • Blue: Space
  • Red: Reality
  • Yellow: Mind
  • Green: Time
  • Orange: Soul

And to tie them all together: the gold (reversible) jacket representing Thanos’ gauntlet.  Ashley is also wearing an Avengers logo tee that has symbols of the individual characters.

Fashion Show winners create new Disney Princess line

Remember our SDCC Her Universe Fashion Show winners from last year?  Relive the moment here in the announcement video:

Well, Grace Duval, Rose Ivy, and Lindsay Orndorff (from left) have been hard at work creating not just fashions, but also accessories in a head-to-toe Princess line for Hot Topic.

The new line is titled “destination Disney.”  As Ed Labay (VP GMM, Hot Topic) explained, the Disney Princesses have a deep emotional connection for many people… that ‘ahhh’ factor.  They take you back to a special place – a destination where you want to go.

This Disney Princess line will allow guests to ‘take cosplay into the real world,’ and ‘embrace Disney in their everyday life.’

Each of the Fashion Show winners chose two Princesses.  The panel revealed a concept drawing (by artist Ashley Taylor) of three creations.  Designers then described their projects, although no other visuals were provided. 

Ashley introduced us to Symantha Perrera (originally from Think Geek), lead fashion designer at Her Universe / Hot Topic.  Have you fallen in love with the Disney Dress Shop Collection at the Disney Parks?  Thank Symantha.

She described her creative process in constructing new fashions, as she brought Grace, Rose, and Lindsay to meet the Hot Topic and Disney licensing teams.  It’s a complicated balance, involving intellectual property and fashion research. 

It was remarkable, hearing each designer talk about their music choices, and sources of inspiration for each of their designs.  Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect.

Ariel and Jasmine

Grace Duval chose Ariel and Jasmine. Ariel’s theme is “Ready to Stand.”  The collection features jeans with fish scale details and Ariel’s castle in a holographic print.  The scalloped top has purple shell details. Holographic print shoes embossed with Ariel’s castle complete the look.

Grace also designed an dinglehopper makeup brush set for Ariel’s collection.

Jasmine’s design includes a crave-worthy flying carpet suede purse, with metal handle details. 

Rapunzel and Tiana

Rose Ivy chose Rapunzel and Tiana.  Rapunzel’s theme is “Live your dream.”  Rose incorporated the sun emblem around the dress neckline, since light was such a strong motif in the film.  Rapunzel chased the light, but ultimately found that the light was within her, she explained. The dress features a lace-up back for perfect fit and ombré shading from purple to pink.

Pascal earrings (that look like Pascal is sitting in your ears) and a Flynn Rider bag complete the look.

Tiana’s theme is “Make it Happen.”  Rose admired her focused, hard-working drive.  The collection will include ‘super cute flats.’

Mulan and Moana

Lindsay Orndorff chose Mulan and Moana.  Mulan’s theme, “Warrior Reflection,” will come complete with “Mu-shoes” – Mushu high-top sneakers. It is a Ping-inspired leisure outfit, mixing both masculine and feminine elements.  The sleeveless top has a hood, with armor and sword details.

Mulan’s collection includes a sword-shaped makeup brush.

Like Mulan, Moana also set off on an adventure to discover who she really was.  Her collection will include perfume, and a Hei Hei bag with wacky eyes.

Release date for Princess Collection

The design task included creating clothing, shoes, make-up, and even perfume.  Since each of these manufacturing processes work on a different time table, the complete Princess collection is scheduled to land a week before San Diego Comic-Con in July. 

Fifth Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

Meanwhile, the team is busy planning for the 5th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show at SDCC, hosted by Hot Topic.  Submissions for design entries will be opening up online “soon.” 

Since there has been so much interest from junior designers, Ashley hosted a junior design workshop at WonderCon. 

For the first time, there will also be a Junior design contest during intermission at the Fashion Show, hosted by Cartoon Network. 

Calling all dreamers and doers out there.  Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Her Universe’s new fashions. Get your designs ready for the Her Universe Fashion Show coming this July! We’ll see you there!

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on March 30, 2018.  See this article and more on my author page at https://www.laughingplace.com/w/author/gloria_hasler/

 

 

Step Aboard Hōkūleʻa: How this Real-Life Voyaging Canoe Inspired Moana

 

Moana has been such an inspirational force for so many people around the world.  The film has touched not only Polynesians, but people from every walk of life.  So, what inspired Disney filmmakers to send a teenager on a wayfinding quest in a voyaging canoe?

In their research for Moana, Ron Clements, John Musker and Osnat Shurer gathered an “Oceanic Story Trust:” a collection of cultural elders and expert advisors.  One of these experts was Nainoa Thompson, Pwo (master) Navigator of Hōkūleʻa: Hawaii’s real-life voyaging canoe.

Nainoa consulted on wayfinding techniques, and must have also shared experiences from sailing Hōkūleʻa.  Here is a painting of Hōkūleʻa by artist and founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), Herb Kawainui Kāne.

Hōkūleʻa painting by Herb Kane

See any similarities with the bigger voyaging canoes in Moana?

Mālama Honua – a Voyage of Goodwill and Stewardship

Hōkūleʻa has just returned from an epic world-wide voyage: Mālama Honua (‘Caring for Island Earth’) from 2014-2017.  During that voyage, Hōkūleʻa sailed 40,300 nautical miles, visiting 23 countries and more than 150 ports of call.

245 crew members worked tirelessly as a team to accomplish this goal.  Overarching was a message of living sustainably on the earth and sharing the Polynesian culture.

Ko Olina Welcomes Hōkūleʻa

Hōkūleʻa was welcomed in Ko Olina Harbor – on the West side of Oahu – on January 3, 2018.  This was part of her mission to thank Hawaiians for their support (Mālama Hawaii), and for public education about their voyages.  Crew members were greeted with flower and Ti leaf lei in an official ceremony.

Guests even brought extra-long plumeria lei as gifts for Hōkūleʻa.

Nainoa was interviewed by television crew.

A Tour of Hōkūleʻa: Layout of the Canoe

Crew members of Hōkūleʻa were so gracious in hosting free impromptu tours for anyone who wanted to visit.  Just drive up to Ko Olina marina, climb aboard, and talk story.

First impression: she is not very big.  As someone who loves ocean cruising, I enjoy having my own cabin comforts.  But even more so, I’ve been on some rough seas. And even on a large ocean liner, you can occasionally feel the motion of the ocean.

This voyaging canoe is made of two floating hulls, with flat deck planks across them.  As I walk across the deck, I notice that there is little to no shade covering.  If I look carefully between the planks, I can see the open water below.

Steering is accomplished with a large rudder paddle at the aft. The rudder (hoe – pronounced ‘HOYee’) is so large, that four crew members at a time may be needed to move it.  (The Hawaiian word pahoehoe (‘pah-HOYee-hoyee’) describing swirled / rippled lava derives from the word hoe – since this type of lava resembles paddle ripples in the water).

Honoring kūpuna

It is said that you can feel the mana, or life energy, of Hōkūleʻa when you sail onboard.  On one of the hulls, there is a plaque acknowledging the kūpuna (elders / ancestors) that have come before.

First is Pele – goddess of fire and volcanoes.  According to legend, Pele sailed across the seas from Tahiti in a canoe, searching for a home.  After a long voyage, she discovered Hawaii, (and now resides in Kilauea volcano on the Big Island).  Next, the plaque honors artist and PVS founder Herb Kāne.

There is a special memorial for Eddie Aikau.  Eddie was a lifeguard and big wave surfer who was lost at sea in 1978, trying to save the crew of Hōkūleʻa after the canoe capsized off of Molokai.

Sailing and Navigating

Hōkūleʻa has two strong masts with sails.  One flies the Hawaiian flag.

There are two Navigator seats towards the aft of the ship.  If you look closely, this one has Nainoa’s name carved into the wood rail on the side.

Culinary Magic

How do you feed a crew of twelve – and keep them happy – for weeks at a time?  Here is the Galley on the open deck, with a propane-powered stove.  The ship’s chef is an expert at cooking everything from seafood to baking cakes on this stove.

Where does the food come from?  Fish are caught on fishing lines, as crew member Mariah is holding up for us.  These are long lines that are trailed behind Hōkūleʻa as she sails through the seas.  Crew members attend to these lines, and wind them back up when a fish is caught.

Mariah is also modeling a life vest used aboard Hōkūleʻa.  Behind her, you can see solar panels on the far aft of the ship.  These are to power satellite phones for emergency communications, and charge camera / video equipment to document their journey.  Nothing else is powered on the ship, as everything is completely manual.

Living Aboard Hōkūleʻa

If you’ve ever been on a boat, the marine head ‘toilet’ takes some getting used to.  Imagine not having a physical toilet on the ship.  How do you go to the bathroom?  This is a question that astronauts often encounter.  Crew members were kind enough to share.

The ‘toilet’ area is at the rear hull, behind the navigator’s seat, near the ship’s name.  There’s a procedure to follow before you can go.  You must alert at least one crew member.  You put on a lifejacket and harness yourself to the boat.  You close the curtain, climb up on the ledge, lean overboard, and aim your ‘okole downwind.

The ‘shower’ is also in this area, as crew members use buckets of sea water to rinse off.  Mariah explained that warm tropical rains allow for welcome fresh water ‘showers’ on deck.

After a long day, you may be looking forward to bedtime.  There are ten bunks placed on boards, each measuring six feet long. Five are arranged end-to-end atop each of the two hulls, covered only by canvas tent material.

If you are taller than 5’10”, things get uncomfortable trying to sleep in these quarters.  If it is raining, or when seas are rough, water soaks through the tent covering.  For a crew of twelve, there are only ten bunks, so people sleep in shifts.  Someone must continuously sail the canoe.

Bunks are laid on flat boards across access openings into the hull.  Mariah showed us an open access port below a bunk, with an artistically-decorated cover.  I peered down, and found it remarkably deep inside the hull.  This is where drinking water, shelf-stable food, and medical supplies go to stay dry.

Safety on the High Seas

What happens if someone falls overboard?  (It’s happened!)  Sailboats don’t exactly have brakes, and can’t turn very easily.  Crew members throw a floatation buoy towards the person and try to pull them in.

Hōkūleʻa always voyages with her sister support ship, the Hikianalia – a modern Polynesian voyaging canoe which has solar and wind energy, and satellite communications technology.  The crew of Hikianalia are there to observe, but do not interfere or assist with the navigation of Hōkūleʻa.

Satellite tracking from Hikianalia allowed the world to follow Hōkūleʻa’s GPS coordinates on the Mālama Honua worldwide voyage in real time.

Herb Kane painting of Hokule’a_2006

What did you think of this quick glimpse into life on a real voyaging canoe?  It’s remarkable that Hōkūleʻa’s voyages may have inspired some of Moana’s story!

 

Interested in more?  See How Far We’ll Go – Wayfinding Like Moana on Hawaii’s Hōkūleʻa, a revival of the lost Polynesian navigational culture.  Join us as we ‘Talk story’ with Women of Hōkūleʻa, as real-life Moanas share their adventures.  There are excellent resources and teaching guides on the Hōkūleʻa website.

 

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com .  See more articles on my Author Page here!

Talk Story with Women of Hōkūleʻa – Real-Life Moanas Share Their Adventures

 

Did you know that sailing across the ocean in a voyaging canoe isn’t just something Moana did in a Disney animated feature?  And that some of Maui’s Wayfinding teachings are inspired by real-life Polynesian navigational techniques?

It’s true. All of it.

Welcome to true stories of Hōkūleʻa – Hawaii’s voyaging canoe – as told by her crew, our real-life Moanas.  Traditional wayfinding had gone extinct in Polynesia until Hōkūleʻa was built by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in 1973.

With hard work and sacrifice, Hōkūleʻa and her crew became the first to navigate across the seas as their ancestors did over 600 years ago, using only traditional wayfinding techniques.  Read more about Wayfinding like Moana here.

This was their latest achievement – a worldwide voyage. Continue reading Talk Story with Women of Hōkūleʻa – Real-Life Moanas Share Their Adventures

Related Images:

How Far We’ll Go – Wayfinding Like Moana on Hawaii’s Hōkūleʻa

Feel the cool sea breeze brush across your face. Smell the salty mist as waves lap against your canoe.  Squint into the mesmerizing glare as a thousand blazing suns reflect off the water.  See the possibilities beyond the horizon, where the sky meets the sea.  Be as one with the ocean, and the myriad of species she nurtures within her.  This was the inner calling of a Wayfinder named Moana.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

This was also the calling of ancient Polynesian voyagers who populated the islands of the Pacific Ocean.  Europeans who ‘discovered’ the Pacific islands (on their large ships) found it miraculous that the Polynesian islanders had sailed thousands of miles across open ocean in canoes.  They navigated without GPS. Or a sextant. Or a compass.

How did they do it? Continue reading How Far We’ll Go – Wayfinding Like Moana on Hawaii’s Hōkūleʻa

Related Images:

Finding Places to Love at the LA Travel and Adventure Show

What’s your favorite type of getaway?  Relaxing on a secluded tropical island?  Exploring a historic European city?  Seeing the sun dip into the ocean from your private cruise ship balcony? 

Discover new places to love at the LA Travel and Adventure show.  This past weekend, we delved into the Travel and Adventure show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

I felt such a sense of community this year, with the Winter Olympics going on in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  We talked to people from far- off lands, including Japan, Africa, and the Cook Islands.  We even met the mascots from the Olympic Games. 

Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Mascots

For the same reason that I love Epcot’s World Showcase at Disney World, I truly enjoyed the Travel and Adventure Show.   Like the Olympics, they gather cultures together to show off their best.  

It’s more than just another convention. It’s a chance to experience things you may have wondered about, but haven’t had a chance to try.   Continue reading Finding Places to Love at the LA Travel and Adventure Show

There’s No Place Like Aulani for the Holidays

As we start out a new year, we reflect on the one we just wrapped up.  How were your holidays?  If you’re like us, Disney usually plays a large role in your holiday traditions.

Are you tired of the cold and the snow?  Have you ever considered a Hawaiian Christmas?  It’s never to early to start planning for the next holiday season!

This is our article, originally published on LaughingPlace.com, about the magical combination of Disney, Hawaii, and the Holidays!

Enjoy!

What are some of your most treasured holiday traditions?  Christmas trees, halls decked with lights and garland, or fresh-baked gingerbread cookies? Of course, everything is better when shared with your favorite Disney characters!  You’ll find all of these – and so much more – at Aulani during the holidays.

Aloha, Disney-style

Aulani – a Disney resort on the sunny southwest coast of Oahu – has been welcoming guests since August 29, 2011.  The resort presents a delightful marriage of Disney magic and Hawaiian aloha.  And it is all the more enchanting during the holiday season.

From the beginning, Aulani was designed with guidance from Hawaiian elders to accurately represent the native culture.  The Hawaiian word ‘Aulani’ translates to ‘messenger of a chief.’  Talented local artists were commissioned to tell the story of the Hawaiian Islands, and record music for this distinctive resort. 

Native Hawaiian-speaking cast members serve as cultural ambassadors, and create an authentic island experience.  And true to Disney heritage, you’ll find something for everyone in the family. 

Holiday Enchantment at Aulani

Ready to escape the snow and cold?  Aulani is a great destination to celebrate the holidays!  Enjoy tropical weather (an average 73o F) without sacrificing any of your favorite Disney holiday traditions.  Dive right into the Christmas spirit with festive decorations in the lobby entrance. 

Hawaiian Menehune (miniature mythological creatures) have certainly decked the halls in festive fashion! Continue reading There’s No Place Like Aulani for the Holidays

Related Images:

10 Amazing Reasons to Go to HawaiiCon

As if I needed another reason to love the Big Island of Hawaii… I just learned about HawaiiCon.  The Big Island is not just full of palm trees, beaches, and resorts.  It is home to Kilauea, one of the longest-erupting volcanoes in the world.  And, it is one of the few places on earth where you can ski and surf in the same day.  The Big Island has numerous cultural festivals – and HawaiiCon is one of them!

HawaiiCon caught this fangirl unprepared.  We found out about it while vacationing on the Big Island, thanks to a featured article in Ke Ola Magazine.  I had packed some Hot Topic tank tops, but not my wardrobe of Her Universe dresses.  Nevertheless, I welcomed the opportunity to see a new con.

Even though I’d been to many conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, and D23 Expo – I found many reasons to love HawaiiCon.  Here are my Top 10 reasons why you should put HawaiiCon on your calendar next year.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com

1. Opportunity to really get to know celebrity guests

Celebrity guest stars were scheduled at multiple panels and activities over the HawaiiCon weekend.  This allowed a rare opportunity to really get to know them, and interact in a more informal setting.

It was personal ‘story time’ with your favorite celebrities.  This was my first encounter with Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui, Moana / Jango Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  And Paul Blake (Greedo, Star Wars Ep. IV), who answered the question ‘Who Shot First?’  We enjoyed ‘solo’ time with Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  Q&A was amazing during these small panel sessions.

Continue reading 10 Amazing Reasons to Go to HawaiiCon

Related Images:

Dreams Come True at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

Thanks to Her Universe founder, Ashley Eckstein, showing off geek couture is now a much-anticipated event at San Diego Comic-Con.  Ashley dreamed of providing a runway for young designers to showcase their fandom-driven fashions.  Her dream is now a reality, as she makes designers’ dreams come true at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con.

The stakes are high: winners of the Fashion Show get to design a clothing line for Her Universe and pop-culture retailer Hot Topic.  Last year’s Fashion Show winners Hannah Lee Kent, Camille Falciola, and Jesse Thaxton created the immensely popular Wonder Woman collection, breaking Hot Topic sales records as the most successful line in store history.

[This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 27, 2017.]

 Ashley Eckstein: from Dreamer to Dream-maker

Ashley Eckstein’s gown: “Wish Upon a Star”

Ashley has always dreamed big, and loved Disney.  Her credits include both screen acting (“Muffy” on Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) and voice acting roles.  Perhaps Ashley is best known for originating the role of Ahsoka Tano in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Over time, Ahsoka has become one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars galaxy.

Young Ashley had dreamed big. But reality became even bigger than she had dared to dream.  “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” Continue reading Dreams Come True at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

Disney Ufufy Arrive in the U.S.!

Disney Ufufy have finally arrived in the U.S.!  These adorable little fluffy friends were originally released in Japanese Disney Stores on November 3, 2016.

We were there to witness Release Day in Tokyo last year, with huge crowds of Disney fans collecting their favorite Ufufy.

After nearly a year of waiting, you can finally purchase Ufufy friends at your local Disney Store!  Just released in the U.S. on October 6, 2017, these plush friends join the ever-popular Tsum Tsums as the latest kawaii (cute) export from Japan!

The American Ufufy were released in three different sizes

  • the original ‘small’ size — about 4.5 inches tall (priced at $5.95)
  • the ‘mini’ size — about 2.5 inches tall (set of 2 priced at $9.95)
  • and the ‘medium’ size — about 12 inches tall — Pooh and Donald, priced at $16.95

Continue reading Disney Ufufy Arrive in the U.S.!