What the Heck is PhotoPass?

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Read Time:2 Minute, 19 Second

One of the most confusing things for my clients seems to be understanding PhotoPass and Memory Maker. So let’s break all of this down!

  1. What is PhotoPass?
    PhotoPass is the name of the system of photography at Walt Disney World. It includes the photographers located all over the park, ride shots, magic shots, etc. You can access all the photos taken of you on your My Disney Experience, but in order to download them and save them to your device or computer, you will need to pay for them.
  2. So then what is Memory Maker and why are there multiple names?
    Memory Maker is the photo package available for you to purchase, as opposed to paying per download, which is around $14 per download. Memory Maker is $69 for one day, or you can pay for your entire trip. If you purchase in advance of your trip, it will cost you $169, but if you are in the middle of your vacation and you decide you do, in fact, want to have Memory Maker, you can still add it for $199. Once you pay for and activate your Memory Maker package, ALL photos taken are available for you to download for up to 45 days following your trip. In my opinion, it is completely worth it! And we have two rules on our trips: 1. never pass a bathroom, and 2. never pass a photographer!
  3. Wait so what are Magic Shots?
    Magic Shots are photos with some magic edited into them. Sometimes Tinkerbell, sometimes Mickey balloons. Just ask your photographer if they have magic shots and they will take care of the rest. There are also magic shots that zoom in and way out on your location and tiny world photos. This information is all available on your My Disney Experience app.
  4. Why is this something I should care about?
    For starters, this is a way that everybody can be in the vacation photos. Remember all those old family vacation pictures that your mom isn’t in because she took all the photos? This eliminates that problem! This means less work for you! Yes, there will be many moments you will want to take your own photos, but the BIG moments will already be taken care of by the wonderful cast members paid to take photos! Second, YOU GET RIDE SHOTS!! We LOVE our ride photos and actually discuss what we’re all going to do and try to coordinate them. You get ride photos at 7 Dwarfs, Space and Splash Mountains, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Haunted Mansion, Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Expedition Everest, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After.

Need help planning your family vacation to a Disney Destination? Contact me today for your free, no-obligation quote!

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The Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Part 3 – Theme Parks

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Read Time:6 Minute, 37 Second

So now you’ve heard the stories (Read Part 1 and Part 2!), now learn where to visit the places!

It all started at Tokyo DisneySea at the Fortress Explorations, which serves as the official S.E.A. Headquarters and new member inductions. A plaque on the wall reads “We the Society of Explorers and Adventurers shall acquire knowledge through exploration.” Here you will also be able to read the four S.E.A. Ideals: Discovery, Adventure, Romance, and Innovation. Here, guests can see a working Foucault pendulum, view warped murals, discover past S.E.A. members in the Explorers’ Hall, and more.

In 1899, Harrison Hightower III held an infamous New Year’s Eve party, where the Shiriki Utundu idol, which he didn’t believe in, cursed him and he disappeared. In 1912, the New York Preservation Society reopened the hotel and they give tours to the public. But beware: Shiriki Utundu is still mad and the elevator at the hotel can get quite bumpy at times.

Over at Soaring: Fantastic Flight, an attraction that has a queue that is an attraction in and of itself, you will find Camellia Falco. The attraction is themed after her Museum of Fantastic Flight, and it is haunted by her. Her portrait, along with other S.E.A. members’ portraits, are found in the line queue. If you look on Falco’s membership certificate, you will find Jason Chandler’s name.

Camellia Falco, and her balloon

Other notable locations featuring S.E.A.: Raging Spirits and Magellan’s, which has a private wine cellar for S.E.A. members.

If you find yourself in Hong Kong Disneyland, visit Mystic Point, where you will find Mystic Manor. Lord Henry Mystic built this home as a meeting place for S.E.A. members in the remote rainforest in 1880. He opened parts to the public in 1896. You will find a photo of S.E.A. members in the line queue. While touring the mansion, Albert, Lord Mystic’s pet monkey, opens up a Balinese music box that has the ability to bring inanimate objects to life, which leads to all kinds of trouble. Also, in the Explorer’s Club Restaurant, you will find notes from Mystic that explains all the artifacts you will find in his mansion.

Walt Disney World Resort by FAR has the most references to S.E.A. Let’s start at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness. Owner Barnabus T. Bulion is first identified as a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers in letters in the line queue, corresponding with Jason Chandler. Chandler and Madam Zarkov, a colleague from the Museum of the Weird, have both advised Bulion not to mine the mountain, because it is haunted. Despite weird things happening, like earthquakes and runaway mine cars, Bulion doesn’t listen and continues to mine.

At the Jungle Cruise, you’ll, of course, pass through Schweitzer Falls, named after Albert Falls. Look around the queue for other S.E.A. references. Then, take a trip to Skipper Canteen, where all the Skippers hang out when they’re not leading cruises. This is BY FAR the biggest treasure trove of S.E.A. references. This used to be the house of Albert Falls, and there is a hidden room in the library that served as a meeting room for the S.E.A. Display cases hold member fezes of Falls, Mystic, Albert, Oceaneer, and, of course, Merriweather Adam Pleasure. You can also find a map of legendary creatures that was drawn by Mary Oceaneer and Jason Chandler, including creatures from World of Motion and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and a map of the Hyperion Airship charting legendary flying beasts in the Mekong River, by Jason Chandler and Captain Brieux. You can also have the Perkins Thai Noodles, named after Pamelia Perkins. It is said that these were her favorite.

Famous books you can find in the library:

  • The Voice of the Jungle by Albert Awol and Captain Nemo
  • A Manor of Fact, Primates as Shipmates, and Treasures of the Manor by Lord Henry Mystic
  • Parrots as Pets by Mary Oceaneer
  • Mine! Treasurers of Animal Kingdom and Everest Expedition: Search for the Yeti by Harrison Hightower III (homage to Joe Rohde, who is the inspiration for Hightower and creator of Animal Kingdom and Expedition Everest)
  • A Small Village with a Large Heart and Rockefeller, Hippo, Pet, Family by Albert Falls
  • Lost and Unfound by Jock Lindsay

Over at Typhoon Lagoon, you can take a ride on Miss Adventure Falls, a family-style raft attraction. This is, of course, where Mary Oceaneer and her parrot, Duncan, were stranded. In the UK Pavilion, if you stop by the KidCot station, you’ll find The Library of the Royal Adventurer’s Society. Walk around and look at the books. Look close enough, and you’ll find “Society of Explorers and Adventurers Handbook.” You can also find artwork from Atlantis: Lost Empire.

Abracadabar

Head over to the Boardwalk. There, you will find an amazing place to grab a magical concoction, known as Abracadabar. This bar used to be a lounge for some of the world’s most famous magicians and illusionists. On Friday 13, 1940, every magician inside disappeared without a trace, and has never been seen again. You can find a S.E.A. fez here, indicating that at least one of these missing people was a S.E.A. member.

You can also visit Trader Sam’s, over at the Polynesian, and see the tiki connections to the Jungle Cruise. Give em a KUNGALOOSH! Club greeting!

Disney Springs is home to Jock Lindsay’s Hanger Bar. Jock has photos in his bar of him and his friends, who are also members of the Adventurer’s Club: Hathaway Browne, Otis T. Wren, and the passport of Samantha Sterling is located in the lost and found.

And the last place to visit in the Magic Kingdom, the Haunted Mansion, where you can visit the murderous bride Constance, who’s last husband, George Hightower, was the brother of Harrison Hightower III.

Mary Oceaneer, at the very first ever Pirate night

On Disney Cruise Line, Mary Oceaneer and her pet parrot, Salty, had a fondness for pirates. In addition to finding pirate treasure on Castaway Cay, it is said that they held Pirate nights on the Lab. In honor of this, Disney Cruise Line has Pirate Nights. At Aulani, a visit to Aunty’s Beach House will show you a photo of Pamelia Perkins, from the Adventurer’s Club.

Disneyland is just now getting S.E.A. worked into it’s stories. At Big Thunder Mountain, you will find a portrait of Barnabus T. Bulion if you look through the windows of the Panhandle Hotel. There is also cargo addressed to Jason Chandler on the Big Thunder Trail.

The names of some members of Disney’s Society of Explorers and Adventurers ate engraved on oars hanging at the Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, on Wednesday, Dec 19, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Tropical Hideaway, a restaurant just off the Enchanted Tiki Room, has a collection of oars hanging on the wall. They commemorate voyages made by S.E.A. members. The voyages are:

  • C. Falco, Zambezi River, 1831
  • B.T. Bullion, Colorado River, 1870
  • J. Chandler, Elaho River, 1882
  • H. Mystic, Ganges River, 1874
  • S. Shio, Amazon River, 1910
  • H. Hightower, Yangtze River, 1872
  • Dr. J. L. Baterista, Congo River, 1906
  • Dr. A. Falls, Mbei River, 1903
  • Prof. R. Blauerhimmel, Ucayali River, 1904
  • M. Oceaneer, Orinoco River, 1899
  • M.A. Pleasure, Kissimmee River, 1900
  • Chef Tandaji, Irawaddy River, 1913

The Bengal Barbecue features a club photo from 1899, and appears to have been an outpost for S.E.A.

I hope you have enjoyed this rich story as much as I have. Have you ever looked for S.E.A. references in Disney Parks? Have you ever planned a S.E.A. Themed Day? Leave a note in the comments and tell me if I missed anything!

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The Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Part 2 – Members

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Read Time:5 Minute, 18 Second

If you missed Part 1, the story of Pleasure Island, you can go back and read it here. Now for Part 2.

Once the Imagineers decided to make S.E.A. an immersive story, they went all out. They created characters and stories, and eventually tied this story together in the theme parks all over the world. For a very long time, it was rumored that Joe Rohde was behind S.E.A., but he denied that on twitter. Still, Joe Rohde did have a hand in designing the Adventurer’s Club, so I think that makes him a major part of the story. Same with Tony Baxter, but we’ll get into all that.

Joe Rohde, Adventurer’s Club, Animal Kingdom, Pandora
Tony Baxter, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Star Tours, Disneyland Paris
Lord Henry Mystic and Albert

Lord Henry Mystic is the main character of Hong Kong Disney’s Mystic Manor. A well-travelled member of S.E.A., he found his pet monkey, Albert stuck in a giant spider web in Papua New Guinea. This is where he decided to build his mansion, Mystic Manor, on what is now known as Mystic Point, and he opened it to the public as a public museum in 1896. On an expedition in Bali, Mystic and Albert came upon an enchanted music box that would bring inanimate objects to life when it was opened. Aside from the attractions he is seen in, you can also read about him in the 3rd Tales from the Haunted Mansion book.

Harrison Hightower III is the main character at Tokyo DisneySea’s Tower of Terror. He is also directly named in the original Pleasure Island backstory as travelling with Merriweather Adam Pleasure. He was known as being corrupt, and collected treasures and antiquities under shady circumstances. He stole the cursed idol Shiriki Utundu from the Mtundu Tribe in the Congo. On New Year’s Eve in 1899, at a grand celebration he held at his hotel, Mr. Smelding, his personal valet, warned him to be respectful of the idol, but, as he was too arrogant to be told what to do, he refused to listen. Once inside the elevator, the idol came to life and plunged the elevator straight down the shaft, leading to the closure of the hotel. Inspired by Joe Rohde, and you can see the resemblance.

Harrison Hightower III
Barnabus T. Bulion

Created in 2013 as part of the refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, he is modeled after Tony Baxter, who originally designed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and wrote the backstory for Jason Chandler for the never-realized Discovery Land. The T actually stands for Tony. He was a member of the wealthy East Coast Bulion Mining Family. In 1870, he took a sea river expedition along the Colorado River. He later took an expedition to El Dorado, where he became friends with Jason Chandler. In 1899, he became owner and President of Big Thunder Mining Company, and dug up gold from the Big Thunder Mountain range in Arizona. Aside from his appearances in the parks, Bulion can be found in the Disney Kingdoms comics.

Main character of Disney Cruise Line, she was an English Sea Captain and Treasure Hunter. In 1898, she launched her experimental vessel, the RV Oceaneer Lab, which she used to survey the ocean and look for buried treasure. She was also at the legendary party at the Hightower Hotel in 1899. She made a voyage along the Orinoco River in South America, where she was attacked by locals. In 1901, Oceaneer did an archaeological dig on an island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. This is where she found a pirate sword from a shipwreck that would become her favorite. Rumored to have been named after famed Imagineer Mary Blair.

Mary Oceaneer, with her parrot
Mary Oceaneer

Mary Oceaneer’s Famous Discoveries:

  • A pipe belonging to an Atlantican Princess named Ariel
  • Contract made by someone named Ursula
  • Deadman’s Chest from The Flying Dutchman
  • Seemed to have knowledge of the lost city of Atlantis

In the mid-20th Century, Oceaneer took her ship the M.S. Salty IV to the Florida Lagoon of Placid Palms. The lagoon was hit by a hurricane and beached in the lagoon. This is now known as Typhoon Lagoon.

Albert Falls, Sunken Temple

Albert Falls, of the World Famous Jungle Cruise, began as a joke by the Skippers, and was later visualized as a character in the Skipper Canteen. He was a scientist, theologian, and explorer known for his ability to navigate remote waters of the world. And, of course, an amazing sense of humor.

On June 5, 1888, Falls discovered the sunken Cambodian temple, of course, known as “Shir Lee Temple.” And, surely you’ve heard of his most famous discovery, on August 12, 1891, when he discovered Schweitzer Falls and the backside of water. In 1911, he established the Jungle Navigation Company. He hoped this shipping company would improve the way cargo was moved. JNC headquarters, in what is today known as the Skipper Canteen, was his home. There is a secret room in his library where S.E.A. would hold meetings. His granddaughter, Alberta Falls, came to live with him when she was 8. Sadly, in 1927, Albert disappeared, and Alberta took over JNC. In 1931, Alberta Falls launched the very famous “Jungle Cruise” tours.

19th Century Inventor and former president of S.E.A. By the 1880s, he began selling his technology to Big Thunder Mining Company for their operations in Big Thunder Mountain, to assist his good friend Barnabus T. Bulion. He was a character created in the 1970s by Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter. Aside from his appearances in the parks, he is found in Disney Kingdoms comics.

Jason Chandler letter to Barnabus T. Bulion

Camellia Falco and her Falcon

Camellia Falco is the host of Soaring: Fantastic Flight in Tokyo. In 1850, she inherited the Museum of Fantastic Flight from her parents. She was the first woman inducted into S.E.A. in 1851. She was a hot air balloon traveler, and her mission in life was to advance human flight.

Jock Lindsey was hired by Indiana Jones as his pilot. He was a S.E.A. Member and leader of the Air Pirates Circus.

Pamelia Perkins, president of the Adventurer’s Club in 1937, when she moved to Florida.

Come back for the conclusion!

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The Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Part 1: Merriweather Adam Pleasure and Pleasure Island

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Read Time:5 Minute, 29 Second

I am a sucker for a great story, and that is just part of the reason why I love Disney Parks so much. My favorite stories are so real it’s hard to believe they’re made up by the amazing people known as Disney Imagineers. To tell this particular story, we need to go back in time to Pleasure Island.

Pleasure Island was a nightclub complex that opened back in 1989, though it has since closed. Every single night was New Year’s Eve, celebrated with a big fireworks show, from 1990-2005. Originally opening to compete with the nightclub complex known as Church Street Station in downtown Orlando, it was to offer multiple nightclubs and restaurants with one admission price. Many people believed it to be an homage to Pleasure Island from Pinocchio; a place of unabashed debauchery, just like the island from the movie, but the actual story is much much different. The complex went through many changes over the years, eventually closing in 2008, with the area eventually combining with Downtown Disney to form what today is known as Disney Springs.

Pleasure Island started with Merriweather Adam Pleasure, an industrial tycoon who established the Island. Born in 1873 (either on New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July, there are records for both) in Pennsylvania to Millionaire August W. Pleasure (known as Gold Rush Gus) and American Stage Actress Lydia LaMarr (known as “The American Venus”), he made his first million in 1891, after lying about his age and brokering commodities on the New York Curb Exchange. In 1898, he married Isabella Domenico.

It is rumored that he became a member of the Pillager’s Brigade in 1899. They travelled the world finding artifacts and antiques, which they then just kind of claimed for themselves. It is also rumored that he took part in an exhibition to the Congo along with Harrison Hightower III that same year, where they were attacked by angry natives. Around the year 1900, he became a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

In the year 1900, Pleasure went on a river expedition down the Kissimmee River of Florida, where he was attacked by an alligator. While he and his family lived in Mexico, Merriweather Pleasure experienced a mystical vision of a moon-faced spirit known as the Funmeister. The Funmeister told him to travel back to Florida. It was at this time when Pleasure sold his Indutrial Empire, bought “The Bailey-Finortner Floating Arts Palace,” and turned it into his floating mansion. In 1911, he sailed down the Florida Barge Canal System and landed at Lake Buena Vista. Records again indicate this to have happened either July 4th or December 31st.

Merriweather Adam Pleasure
The Funmeister

Pleasure saw the Funmeister on the northern bank of the Ferderber Peninsula, so he knew this was where he was to settle. He ran into a Seminole Tribe, known as the “I-4 Indians,” who considered the peninsula sacred ceremonial ground. They recognized the Funmeister, though, so they granted Pleasure permission to settle, provided he continue to honor the spirit of the Funmeister. Pleasure agreed and began to develop the Peninsula. In 1912, he created Pleasure Canvas and Sailmakers, building a power station, sailmaking factory, and canvas fabrication plants. In 1913, he grew tired of S.E.A.’s stuffy nature, and started his own subgroup known as The Adventurer’s Club.

To celebrate the end of World War I, Pleasure set off the “world’s largest firecracker,” turning the peninsula into an island. In 1937, Pleasure gave his wife an anniversary gift: a large house on the north side of the island. This is now known as The Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, in the 1940s, Merriweather Adam Pleasure was lost at sea. His sons failed at running the business, and the island was destroyed by a hurricane. In 1987, archaeologists uncovered the site and it’s remains, and a reclamation project began. In 1989, then, Pleasure Island was reopened and dedicated to the legacy of Merriweather Adam Pleasure: “Fun for all, and all for fun!”

Plaque for Pleasure Island

The Adventurer’s Club was recreated as a nightclub, and it was the most popular nightclub at Pleasure Island. It was a 1930s-style British explorers’ club that featured a staff of flamboyant characters portrayed by improv actors. The club closed on September 27, 2008. It was covered in “artifacts” from various explorations and adventures. Some of the characters included Pamelia Perkins, Hathaway Browne, Otis T. Wren, and Madame Zarkov. There were several rooms that made up the club, and each room had it’s own theme and story. The larger shows were held in the Library, but you could visit The Main Salon every night to take part in the membership drive and learn the salute and the creed and become a member. The story of Pleasure Island could be found in plaques hidden all over the island. The plaque at The Adventurer’s Club read:

“This imposing building was designed to house the huge personal library and archaeological trophy collection of Island Founder and Compulsive Explorer Merriweather Adam Pleasure. Pleasure won the plans in a game of dominoes and attributed them throughout his life to noted architects Sir Edwin Luytens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Eliel Saarinen. The building became the headquarters for The Adventurer’s Club, Pleasure’s zany band of globe-trotting friends. Exotic souvenirs of the members outlandish expeditions and riotous adventurers were displayed on the walls. After Pleasure vanished at sea in 1941, the club was sealed until it was opened to the public for the first time in 1989.

Adventurer’s Club Membership Drive Card
Adventurer’s Club Logo

When the Adventurer’s Club was closed, it’s props were sent to various parks and resorts all over the world. The Society of Explorers and Adventurers was officially created for Tokyo DisneySea and first named in The Fortress Explorations walkthrough attraction. It officially serves as the Society’s headquarters. The Society of Explorers and Adventurers then began spreading all over the world, starting with Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2013, followed by Barnaby T. Bullion at Big Thunder Mountain in the Magic Kingdom in 2013, then Mary Oceaneer on Disney Cruise Line in 2014, and Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom in 2016.

The Adventurer’s Club
Pleasure Island’s VERY WELL KNOWN Life Size Jessica Rabbit

The building that formerly housed the Adventurers Club is now home to The Edison, which, to me, is completely awesome since Edison was an inventor.

Come back for Part 2 – S.E.A. Members and their Appearances later in the week!!

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