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October 16, 2014 by

Through the Eyes of a (Dancing) Stormtrooper

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Believe it or not, one of the biggest struggles that I had in the lead-up to Costume SuperCenter’s exhibitor debut at New York Comic Con wasn’t in regards to special guest appearances or a blueprint for our booth’s layout. It was related to my wardrobe.

Dancing 2According to my planning partner, @CSCBrittany, I wasn’t geeky enough for an event like this. I don’t have drawers filled with graphic tees, and I wanted to make a good first impression on the people we’d be meeting at the convention. I wanted to look like a professional, and I wanted people to want to work with me. For that reason, I went to NYCC on Press Day dressed in a button-down shirt, dress pants and a classy pair of Air Jordan sneakers that I only break out for the really special occasions.

Then, after the first day of Comic Con, with a little push from the team here at Costume SuperCenter, I was somehow talked into dressing in costume for a day. No, that doesn’t mean I was going to put in the blood, sweat and tears that some cosplayers put forth into their creations. Actually, I wouldn’t be making anything at all. But I wanted to embrace what CSC has been preaching since the day I launched Cosplay SuperCenter a few short months ago – Cosplay isn’t entirely about creations and modifications. Cosplay is about having a vision of your favorite character, dressing as your favorite character, and, even if for just a few short hours, becoming your favorite character.

IMG_7520For that reason, I showed up to the Javits Center a little early the next day, stripped down the mannequin that leaned up against our booth’s grid walls and transferred its Stormtrooper armor onto my own body.

After I was head-to-toe in white armor (which, after you dress a mannequin in it four or five times, is super easy to put on yourself), I had to decide how I was going to approach the next few hours. I could have acted like an authentic Stormtrooper and guarded the CSC booth. I could have pretended to be the mannequin and catch people off-guard as they went to take pictures. Fortunately for me, my entire body was hidden by the costume, so anything I did was done anonymously and no potential blackmail could be found in my actions. So, as anyone who wanted to make the most out of an uncomfortable situation would do: I danced.

I was featured in videos on Vine as the “Dancing Stormtrooper.” I danced with a guy dressed like Spock from Star Trek. I danced with two guys dressed like Daft Punk. I danced with a guy who beatboxed for me. I danced and danced, and not a single soul, aside from the people working with CSC at NYCC, knew that it was me.

Obviously, I was thrilled about the fact that I got to dance when I was supposed to be working. I was thrilled that I somehow convinced my bosses to even let me go to Comic Con in the first place. What I wasn’t thrilled about, however, was how (really, very, amazingly, so incredibly) hot it is inside that costume. DancingIf you’re just hanging out and taking a leisurely Stormtrooper stroll, sure, you’ll be fine. But if you’re out there busting intergalactic moves for three hours at a time, I’d advise wearing a sweatband and bringing a large bottle of water with you.

That said, if that’s the one downside to my experience, I’m already over it. I had a great time dancing with attendees of the Con, and I’d love to do it again one day.

So, kids, take it from the “Dancing Stormtrooper.” If you’re ever doubting yourself as you prepare to cosplay, don’t. Put on your costume and own it. Dance like nobody is watching… Or at least like you’re wearing a helmet so that nobody knows it’s you!

Follow Matt Shanley on Twitter: @CSCMatt

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October 15, 2014 by

Tips for Exhibiting at Conventions

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New York Comic Con has come to pass. After months of planning, it was over in the blink of an eye. This was the first con not only for Matt and I but also for Costume SuperCenter as a company. Some would say we were at a severe disadvantage trying to break into the niche at such a big event, but with the help of cosplayers, bloggers and seasoned con attendees, we put together a booth that was interesting enough to entice people to stop by.

Since we didn’t go to NYCC with the intent of selling anything, we’re judging our success by the amount of crowds and lines we had to check out the attractions at the booth.

So are you looking to exhibit for the first time at a convention? Do you want to revamp your exhibiting plans to widen your net to other niches? We’ll I’m here to share our knowledge in hopes of taking your next exhibitor booth to the next level.

  • Eye-catching Decorations

Costume SuperCenter BoothSince NYCC is in October and Halloween is in October, we thought it would be best to showcase what Costume SuperCenter does best. We scoured the website for a mix of scary decorations that we could use to deck out our 10’ x 10’ space. We had gravestones, spiderwebs, body parts galore and other gothic elements.

Our most talked about booth decoration was hands down our Supreme Edition Stormtrooper costume we had on display on a mannequin. Attendees stopped by to take pictures, to try to purchase it and ultimately try to win it!

This really depends on what your booth is about. Like I said, we’re all about Halloween, so a horrifying booth was great for the brand. Make sure your decorations are there to help work towards your goals and don’t distract from your mission.

  • Have Something Big to Giveaway

Supreme Edition StormtrooperThe ultimate goal of CSC exhibiting at the Con was to get our name out there and less about making the sales. Having done extensive work with cosplayers leading up to NYCC, we wanted to broaden our network and connect with the cosplayers we hadn’t already!

The marketing angle would’ve been a lot harder approach to take if we weren’t raffling off one of our collector’s edition costumes. The fact that we were giving away up to $1000 in product was incentive enough for attendees to leave their information with us at the booth.

The giveaway was a great method for us in terms of drawing people to the booth and starting conversations about who we are, what we’re doing and hear what our potential consumers want to see from us! It was easy to talk to people when our ice-breaker was, “Hey! Want to win $1,000-worth in costumes?” Everybody wants to win something.

  • Have Something Little to Giveaway

Costume SuperCenter SwagNot everyone wanted a chance to win our ultimate costume giveaway and although it was surprising, it was okay with us. We had other things to giveaway that would help everyone who passed by the booth to remember us by.

Since it was a COMIC Con, we thought bookmarks would be a great item to giveaway. No longer would people have to dog-ear the pages of the comic books, graphic novels or even text books. And if they actually utilized the special edition bookmarks we had created for just this occasion, they would constantly be faced with our website. It was the perfect way to keep our name constantly in their faces even after NYCC ended.

Another item of swag we knew would go over well with the attendees was buttons. Luckily during our planning Matt discovered that buttons were a hot collectible at cons so we knew we had to deliver some awesome buttons up. The comic book themed patterns fit right in with the whole weekend, so everyone was accepting of the freebies!

  • Have a Schedule of Attractions

Booth 1380 Special Guests ScheduleSince we didn’t bring along a warehouse full of products to our booth, we needed something to draw people to us. We have so many costumes, accessories and makeup at our disposal it only seemed fitting to showcase just that.

We split our booth between two different niche communities: cosplay and special effects makeup. We gave all of the cosplayers who signed at our booth with products to demonstrate how you can take store-bought products and modify them for cosplay.

We took the same approach with our makeup artist. She was given products to use for her extensive demonstrations. Her team worked tirelessly to transform two models and modify all of the costumes. We had so many repeat visitors because of all of the different things we had going on at the booth and it was so nice to see so many familiar faces each day!

  • Have a Street Team to Hit the Floor

Special Effects Makeup ModelAlthough it wasn’t easy for Matt and I to step away from the booth, we brought along people from the office to help us at the booth. While most of our time was spent talking to the people at the booth, we were able to send out people with things to hand out to drive other attendees our way.

The most effective tactic we had to get people interested in what was happening at the booth was when we sent the creatures our makeup artist created out and about to take pictures. In order for the street team to work, you’ll need to have something interesting walking around to spread the word. You won’t need a seven foot tall creature to necessarily achieve this however, it was awesome to constantly hear “The monster sent us here!”

In terms of exhibiting knowledge we gained, this is just a slight glimpse. But if you’re looking for a place to start when planning your own booth for any upcoming con, I hope we share enough to help!

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below!

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September 5, 2014 by

Dragon Con Review

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Costume SuperCenter employee Richard Iurilli attended Dragon Con last week and we are happy to have him offer his first hand account of everything Dragon Con had to offer.


Dragon Con
Every Labor Day, well upwards of 50,000 people from around the world descend on Atlanta for Dragon Con, one of the biggest pop culture conventions in the universe. Since 1987, Dragon Con (which unveiled a new logo and dropped the asterisk from its name in 2014) has been a place for fans of science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, and so much more to see and even meet the stars of their favorite movies and TV shows, show off their cosplay efforts, enjoy great bands, and spend four days with like minded people. 2014 was my fifth year attending Dragon Con, and the experience gets better every single year. If you’re ever in Atlanta for Labor Day, don’t hesitate to check it out, but make sure you plan your trip well in advance to get the full experience!

As word about Dragon Con spreads, the convention gets bigger and bigger every year. It now takes over five hotels in the heart of Atlanta and has events at various downtown locations. The crowds are unbelievable, whether you’re waiting in line (there’s a lot of this) to see celebrity guests (there are hundreds of “featured” guests and countless more actors, artists, and musicians in attendance) or walking from hotel to hotel (there’s an eternal debate about whether it’s faster to use the sky bridges between the hotels to get around or to walk outside and make your way along the streets of Atlanta). It’s all part of the experience though, because when half the attendees are dressed up in costumes, there’s always plenty to see. And the fun never stops, because with official and unofficial panels at all hours, concerts starting at 1:00 AM or later, and dance parties that go all night long, it’s truly a 24 hour event. If you ever get the chance to attend Dragon Con, you probably won’t get a whole lot of sleep during the weekend — but it’s totally worth it.

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The things that set Dragon Con apart from other conventions are its diversity and the cosplaying. With nearly forty fan tracks providing thousands of hours of panels all weekend long, it’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s something for everyone. And the cosplay scene is second to none — not even San Diego Comic Con can boast the quantity or quality of the costumes at Dragon Con. Saturday morning features Atlanta’s biggest parade of the year, with thousands of costumed people walking through the streets together and countless more crowding the sidewalks along the route. The Sunday night masquerade contest is always a highlight of the weekend as well, not only because of the incredible costumes on display but also because of the introductions each contestant writes describing the time and effort they poured into their creations. Some of the highlights this year included numerous members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, enough Captain Americas and Black Widows to save the world several times over, platoons of stormtroopers and rebels getting ready for Star Wars Episode VII and Star Wars Rebels, and crowds of Ghostbusters celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the classic film.

The best thing about Dragon Con, however, is always the people. The hotel setting creates an organic, collective atmosphere because everyone spends the entire weekend in the same place. The hotel lobbies are packed with crowds until 4:00 or 5:00 AM, and it’s impossible to go for even a few hours without meeting amazing people from all over the country and the world who love all of the same things you do. The opportunity to give back to the community is a big part of the convention as well; Dragon Con attendees contribute to an official charity and support the largest blood drive in the nation. These are just a few of the reasons why the city of Atlanta is happy to welcome Dragon Con back every year.

If you’ve ever thought about going to Dragon Con, I highly recommend you take the plunge. Next year’s con is only twelve months away, and it’s never too early to start making plans, booking hotels, and coming up with the next great cosplay idea. Dragon Con seeks to make Labor Day Atlanta’s favorite holiday, and if you get the chance to go, the con will make it yours as well.

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August 21, 2014 by

Exploring the World of Cosplay

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Cosplay Contestants

As you may or may not have noticed, we’ve been exploring the intricate world of cosplaying recently.  When FYE announced that they were having a Cosplay Contest Event during their relaunch weekend right around the corner from the office, we knew we had to be there.

Cosplay Event Picture

Victoria Cosplay (center) with Brittany and Matt from our Marketing team

We had the pleasure of connecting Victoria Cosplay with the event’s planner.  She even got to judge the cosplay contest!  Many local cosplayers started pouring into the store to participate in the contest.  What was at stake were these prizes:

1st Place Winner: Her Universe Official Fan Page tote bag with a copy of Entertainment Weekly signed by the Doctor Who cast, signed autographs from the judges, a $100 FYE Gift Certificate and tickets to Discovery Museum Times Square Marvel Avengers Station Exhibit!

2nd Place Winner: Her Universe tote bag with a copy of Entertainment Weekly signed by the Doctor Who cast, signed autographs from the judges and a $50 FYE Gift Certificate.

3rd Place Winner: Her Universe tote bag, Catbug Plush, signed autographs from the judges and a $50 FYE Gift Certificate.

A group of cosplay contestants

A group of cosplay contestants

 

Once everyone was checked in, the contest began.  Each contestant stood before the judges and got asked a series of questions.  Some of the questions were about their character.  Other questions were about how they made their costumes.  We thought the most interesting question was when they were asked how long they’ve been cosplaying.  Some of the contestants have been making their costumes for years.  For others, this was their first costume they’ve ever made.

In addition to Victoria, we got to meet both Miggy Jagger, from Heroes of Cosplay and Gina B Cosplay, who we’d only gotten to talk with previously through emails and social media.  All three of our Cosplay Supercenter cosplayers provided us with useful insight about the community and what to expect when attending conventions.

Cosplay collage

The event was so much fun and we hope to attend many more down the line.  Are there any other events or conventions you think Costume Supercenter should attend?

 

 

 

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July 17, 2014 by

The Disney Expert Reviews Memory Maker

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Disney Memory Maker

Magic Bands and Memory Maker

What the heck is Disney Memory maker you ask? Well, imagine going on vacation and leaving your camera home on purpose. Imagine never having to ask a stranger to take a picture of your family and never regretting missing a special photo opportunity.  If you are like my family, most vacation pictures are selfies where someone’s head is inevitably cut off or the picture taker (usually me) is missing from every picture. Plus, you’ll never get a crummy pic. That picture of your daughter all dressed up as Aurora posing with the Disney Princesses won’t be blurry and dad’s big thumb will never again get in the way of your son with Tigger.

What does it cost and How does it work?


For $199 ($149 if purchased in advance) you can get unlimited pictures taken by any of the PhotoPass™ photographers at several locations in all 4 theme parks as well as both water parks. It even includes ride pictures such as Test Track, Splash Mountain and more. That means you can capture the excitement of your child’s first pose with their favorite character, get a memorable family photo in front of the castle or laugh for years to come at the hysterical expressions on your faces as you plunge down a hill into the plume of water below.

The Memory Maker feature becomes part of your Magic Band so every time you get your picture taken, the photographer scans your magic band. If you’re staying at a non-Disney hotel you’ll get an RFID enabled card.  Every evening we were able to view the day’s images on our smartphones by logging into our Memory Maker account. It was fun to recap the day in pictures. You have access to unlimited digital downloads for 45 days and a back up CD for $29.95 but who needs it when you can just dowload your memories onto a flash drive.

Many of the photographers also have the ability to do Magic Shots. This is when they add characters to your picture like Tinkerbell in the palm of your hand, Mike from Monster’s Inc. posing with you or baby Simba cradled in your arms. If the picture taker does not automatically do a Magic Shot you can ask.

If you don’t want all of your shots to be cliché park images you can simply ask the picture taker to photograph you on a (very) nearby bench or with trees in the background instead of the attraction. Many of the pictures of us from Animal Kingdom look like they were taken in a tropical jungle paradise. Each cameraman takes 2-3 shots so you have many opportunities to get the perfect images.

PhotoPass™ locations in each park:

Don’t think you’ll have enough photo ops; think again. Just look for the signs or the people in the PhotoPass™ vests holding big cameras. You can also view the official Disney PhotoPass™ location map.

  • Magic Kindgom – 33 locations
  • Animal Kingdom – 10
  • Epcot 15
  • Hollywood Studios 15
  • Blizzard Beach 15
  • Typhoon Lagoon 13
  • Downtown Disney 2 (photo studio and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique)

But is it worth it?

Do you think that’s a lot of money? It depends. We tried it out on our April trip. Photographers were everywhere and even during the peak spring break week we never had to wait more than five minutes for a scenery image such as in front of Cinderella’s Castle or Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life. Naturally, character photos had a longer wait but we used your My Disney Experience app to find the shortest character lines. At the end of our trip we had 96 digital photos of which we have the rights to do with as we please.

If you were to get a PhotoPass™ card and go online after your vacation to purchase pictures individually you would spend about $15 for one 5×7 picture. I printed 10 different 5x7s at Walgreens and paid half the price of one from Disney.

Disney Expert Opinion

My final opinion is that you can’t put a price tag on great memories. For $149 I have a beautiful photo album of one of the best Disney vacations we have had in our 12 times there and didn’t have to do a thing but smile and flash my Magic Band.

Want more tips from a Disney Expert? See our links below:

The Kids Guide to Wearing Costumes At Disney

My Disney Experience with Magic Bands

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June 26, 2014 by

What Are Fans Wearing to World Cup

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With today’s important match just hours away, many people are going to gather around television screens all across the country to support the boys in red, white, and blue. As fans, we need to do our best to cheer on the USMNT, as they take on Germany in the final game of the group stage. A win or a draw will guarantee a trip to the knockout round, and a chance to create history. Watching the event unfold, we are going to experience 90 minutes of pain, joy, nervousness, and exhilaration. Sunday’s gut wrenching draw against Portugal is still fresh in everybody’s memories, and a strong showing today will erase some of that disappointment. Let’s do our best to cheer on the team, and continue to display our strong national pride.

Just because we aren’t actually playing in the game, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the experience. Guys like Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley will be on the pitch, attempting to carry the team to the next round. We will be home, in the USA, cheering wildly for them, and uniting as a nation to support their cause. The best way to do this is by dressing up and acting like the team’s biggest fan. You can watch, cheer, and high five others, but, if you really want to step up, then it’s time to start thinking about your appearance. An extraordinary look will make the game even more thrilling, and no matter where you decide to catch the match, the entire place will feel your excitement.

Watching the game is only half the fun of the World Cup. Dressing up adds another level of excitement to the event. This is a wonderful opportunity to get creative, and come up with an amazing look that flaunts your patriotism. There have been plenty of incredible wardrobes, so far, and we expect that there will be many more. Whether it be flashy ensembles, face and body paint, extravagant accessories, or incredible costumes, there is always something impressive to help elevate the drama and jubilation. The best outfits seem to be the ones that are unconventional, flashy, and full of passion. Fans have embraced some of their favorite characters, superheroes, historical figures, and turned them into remarkable disguises that enhance the significance of this world event.

It is time to join the fun, and express our love and passion for our country, the USMNT, and most importantly, the pride of being a fan. We have posted some of our favorite costumes that we feel embodies this opinion, and captures the spirit of the occasion. We may not be able to help out on the pitch, but we can become part of the electric atmosphere with a look that pumps up the crowd. As fans, it is our duty to yell, scream, cheer, and celebrate, as we watch our country’s team defy all odds. Doing all this while decked out in a phenomenal patriotic costume makes it feel as if we have become the 12th man on the soccer field.

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June 11, 2014 by

The Good and Bad of Maleficent

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“When I’m good I’m really good, but when I’m bad I’m better.” The Good and the Bad of Maleficent.

Maleficent Movie Header Image

I went to see Maleficent after I don’t know how many months of looking forward to it, and…it left me perplexed. It wasn’t a bad kind of perplexed, just the kind of feeling you would get if you bit into a home-cooked apple pie and had it tasted like ice cream cake. It was really good, just not what I expected.

The Cast

The all-around outstanding cast choices were one of the more satisfying surprises in the film. Angelina Jolie is Maleficent, so much so that it’s almost like Maleficent has been playing Angelina Jolie for the past 38 years. Nobody could have portrayed her the way Angelina did.

It wasn’t only her performance that stood out, though: Sharlto Kopley made Stefan just power-hungry enough to be creepy, Elle Fanning turned Aurora into the definition of childish curiosity, Sam Riley perfectly balanced Angelina’s steeliness with his quip-prone Diaval, and Brenton Thwaites was so adorable as Prince Charming you couldn’t help but smile when he was on screen.

The actors and actresses gave it their all and it showed. When they spoke you didn’t only believe them–you believed in them. That’s an accomplishment in any fairy tale film, and certainly not what I anticipated walking into the theater.

The Look


As in any Disney film, the graphics were amazing. It was full of fairies, wood monsters, fantasy worlds, and magic spells…but none of it looked out of place. The artists behind the scenes made sure that everything had some kind of gritty detail or imperfection that made it seem like it could actually exist. I was particularly impressed by Angelina’s wings–they moved organically with her and there were several scenes where I couldn’t tell if they had hitched a prop on her back. Apparently they were always computer animated, but they certainly didn’t look it.

The Characters

The relationships between the characters were unorthodox but interesting. You wanted to watch them unfold.

Maleficent’s treatment of Aurora was truly heart-wrenching. The duality of Maleficent’s hatred for the child of a man she loathes and her undying love for a little girl so similar to herself makes for a beautiful performance that is at once soothing and painful.

Her back and forth with the raven Diaval was delightful, providing a comic warmth that made you feel like you were seeing into Maleficent’s daily life. The mouthy bird tiptoed over the edge of respect and back again. It was the only kind of company you would expect the Mistress of All Evil to keep.

If anything, I felt that Maleficent’s feelings towards King Stefan felt short. There was a lot they could have done to expand on everything that went on between them, but the producers seemed afraid to delve too deep into their history. It was a shame.

The Story

There’s no nice way to say it: parts of it were missing. It was clear that someone edited out crucial sections to make it reach the hour-and-a-half long mark. Added backstory and conversations–ones that were probably there in the first place–could have easily stretched it out for an hour more, and to an excellent effect. After all, this was a film for the kind of people that like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.  Anyone in that theater came specifically to delve into the psychology of the characters. I was kind of sad when I found out that it was well under 120 minutes.

The time was (almost) the only issue I had. Had the editors let the story breathe, it would have been truly perfect. The bittersweet love story sets up a great backdrop, Maleficent’s descent into evil is sublime, and the crescendo has you on the edge of your seat. It’s a hearty film–if you gave it a handshake, you would want to do business with it. The other problem was something that couldn’t be avoided.

The Revision

For well over half the movie, Maleficent is our black-wearing, spell-casting, horned demon of a self. For the other half she’s a charismatic and spirited defender of her homelands and everything inside them. That makes for an intriguing and fleshed-out villain everyone can get behind…it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

I love Maleficent because she’s one-hundred percent evil. I wanted her to be utterly ruthless for little to no reason and without any resistance, like she was in Sleeping Beauty. Having there be 90 minutes of Maleficent cackling and scheming would have made for a pretty boring film, though, and I really can’t complain that much. I got that vindictive witch for a solid half an hour, which is nothing to shake a staff at.

Basically, visions are seldom what they seem…but that’s not a bad thing.

All and all, Maleficent is a good film. Maybe it’s a little rushed, but the cast, the world, the characters, everything worked together to make something you will want to go back and watch again.

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May 23, 2014 by

Why I’m Excited for Maleficent

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Jolie as Maleficent

When I was little, all I watched was Disney movies. I loved the animation, I loved the songs, and while I was a fan of the heroes, they weren’t nearly as fascinating as their villains. Jafar, Scar, Shan-Yu, Ursala…they were so classy and controlled, and even when they went crazy you knew they would still be amazing. My absolute favorite Disney villain was always Maleficent. As you can imagine, I am 100% pumped for the live action film to come out.

Reason #1: Maleficent is just plain cool.

Animated Maleficent

This really is the most important reason. Other than the whole cursing-a-baby and burning-up-a-castle bit, Maleficent is pretty much perfect. She’s sophisticated, beautiful, powerful, and she gets what she wants…or else. She relies on no one but herself to fulfill her goals.

On top of all that, she gives no excuses for her behavior. Not only does she not care what people say about her, she revels in it. If she had a cell phone “Born This Way” would be her ringtone. She’s the definition of fierce, and secretly, I think she’s what everybody wants to be.

Reason #2: Disney is finally getting it.

Disney Sleeping Beauty

When you watched Sleeping Beauty as a kid, Maleficent just felt different from the rest of the characters. Sure she was a little scary, but she was also charismatic and charming. You wanted to know more about her. Why was everybody so scared of her? How did she get that strong? Why did she have an army of really ugly pig-goblins? Why was she up in that castle? What’s with the raven? One loaded history waited behind that wicked little smile of hers.

She’s also completely different from the scared and impressionistic girls Disney tends to gives us. Now, I’m not saying that the princesses are pathetic; there’s nothing weak about ladies like Belle and Pocahontas. It’s just that Maleficent doesn’t have to consult with anybody. She wants something, she takes it. Plain and simple.

If Frozen taught us anything, it’s that we’re tired of stories where the princess has to rely on somebody else. She’s what my generation of movie watchers has been craving from our heroines…and now that we’re the one making movies, we’re going to be darned sure we get them.

Reason #3: Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role.

Actress Angelina Jolie

Disney is doing everything in their power to get this right. They’re catering to the kids who grew up loving Maleficent, so they’re staying true the original film. I mean, her introduction in the throne room is a word-for-word recreation from the animated version:

And they couldn’t have found anyone better to play the Mistress of All Evil. Angelina Jolie is dark, mysterious, strong, and at least a little bit draconian. Her movements, voice, expressions, they’re all spot-on. She totally gets Maleficent.

It looks like they’re finally giving the rest of the characters full-fledged personalities too, which is a much-appreciated bonus if you’re only coming to watch Maleficent be her devilishly smooth self.

Reason #4: It means that Disney is growing up.

Silhouette of Maleficent

The movie is massively significant to Disney’s legacy. It’s a turning point in a lot of ways, starting with the title.

Their animated movies tend to be named for the heroin or the situation they’re involved in, but this one is called Maleficent. They’re flat-out telling you, “We care more about the evil guy than we do the princess.” They’re switching sides, not only metaphorically but physically as well. Look at the beginning of this trailer:

For the first time the camera is taken off the pretty, glittering castle and turned it around so you can see what the kingdom actually looks like. They’re fleshing out the two-dimensional image they’ve used for years, showing you that there’s a lot more to it than some turrets and sparkles.

You have to consider the talent they’re using too. The theme song for the film is a cover of “Once Upon a Dream” sung by Lana Del Ray. Again, that’s Lana Del Ray, a girl who openly sings about sex, cocaine, weed, drinking, chronic depression, suicide, and imprisonment. For a company that used to refuse to declare people dead until they were out of their theme park, that’s a pretty ground-shaking alliance. And Angelina Jolie is no innocent either. Her personal history is rife with sexual and drug-related controversy, along with some weird business with her brother…oh yeah, and her knife-throwing habit. And that whole “she broke up the golden couple” thing. I love her, but Angelina is hardly the kind of woman Disney usually opts for–which is why she’s perfect for this role.

Soo…you hype?

With the success of movies like Wreck It Ralph and Frozen, Disney is seeing that we’re ready to love the bad guys, even the most ruthless of them. They can finally flex their big, leathery wings and tell the kind of stories they’ve always wanted to tell…stories like Maleficent.

Seriously, I am so, so excited.

This article was contributed by staff writer, Nicole Brooks

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May 13, 2014 by

Kids Guide to Wearing Costumes At Disney

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When I go to Disney each year with my family I’m always on the lookout for little kids dressed up as their favorite characters. It’s fun for me to see which Disney costumes are the most popular each time we visit and if outfit choices vary from park to park. What I notice the most is that girls will dress up in Disney dresses from the most recent movie The most popular ones this year were from Frozen. Of course the classics are always seen here and there too.

What Disney Costumes to Wear to Each Park

Of course kids are free to wear any outfit they choose but if you want to match the outfit to the park then you should know which character are most prevalent and where.

Epcot Center

Anything space-aged or with an international flare would be ideal for kids to wear at Epcot such as Buzz Lightyear or Stitch. In the World Showcase, Alice In Wonderland can be spotted in England. Frozen’s Elsa and Anna would be the ideal costumes to wander around Norway or your daughter can pose with Aladdin while decked out as Jasmine

GIRL'S FROZEN ELSA DELUXE COSTUMEGIRL'S FROZEN ANNA DELUXE COSTUMEGirl's Disney Jasmine Sparkle Classic CostumeGirls Deluxe Disney Alice In Wonderland Alice CostumeBuzz Lightyear Deluxe Child CostumePinocchio Child Costume

Hollywood Studios

The biggest attractions here are great for the boys that like to dress up. Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Thing major movie characters too such as The Incredibles, Buzz, Woody and Jesse, Sully. The Muppets attraction is also drawing lots of attention from the kiddies since the new movie came out.

Deluxe Indiana Jones (tm) ChildDarth Vader TM ChildPrincess Leia Infant/toddlerGirls Deluxe Toy Story 3 Jessie CostumeMrs. Incredible Child CostumeMonsters, Inc. Mike Costume

Magic Kingdom

The newest attractions are in Fantasy Land. Beauty and The Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ride are two of the biggest new themes for the park. You can’t beat tradition by posing in front of Cinderella’s castle in beautiful blue ballgown. For the little pirates out there dressing in a Jake and the Neverland Pirates costume will make them right at home over in Adventure Land

Girls Disney Prestige Cinderella CostumeGirl's Belle Sparkle Deluxe CostumeToddler Disney Ballerina Snow White CostumeBoys Disney's Deluxe Jake and the Neverland Pirates Jake CostumeIzzy Deluxe Jake and the Neverland Pirate CostumeCaptain Jack Sparrow Deluxe Child Costume

Animal Kingdom

This is all about bringing out the animal in your little one. Go on a safari and or come face to face with a Yeti. The Lion King is the most notable costume category so dressing them up as Simba and Nala would match the park perfectly. Other animal character like Pooh, Tiger and friends as well as Baloo from Jungle Book are great choices.  Safari gear is also very appropriate.

Toddler Classic Disneys the Lion King Simba CostumeTigger Deluxe Infant Costume

In our next blog post we will give you a complete list of all of the places throughout Disney World to meet your favorite characters so your kids can meet their favorite characters and, if they want, pose with them while wearing their costume of choice.

As part of our Disney Expert Series click here to view previous posts

My Disney Experience With Magic Bands

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May 5, 2014 by

My Disney Experience With Magic Bands

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My family and I recently returned from a week at Walt Disney World. As Disney Vacation Club members, we have been there 13 times since 2002 and consider ourselves experts on the parks, hotels and restaurants. Being a self-proclaimed expert I love to share advice, reviews and tips to anyone that is planning a trip to WDW. This year, I want to share my review and tips for the newly launched Magic Bands.  My Disney Experience with them was truly magical and will forever change the way I plan Disney vacations. If you want to experience the trip of a lifetime, read on.

Disney Magic Bands

For the entire length of our stay, our Magic Bands were our room key, park pass, meal reservations, character meet and greet reservation, charge card, Photo Pass and FastPass+.

We are planners. We like to know what we are doing and when. We book our villa at the Disney Beach Club Resort about 10 months in advance. We book our restaurant reservations 6 months out, but as for park passes and fast passes, we always had to wait until we were there. It used to be that you could only get one FastPass at a time then spend the rest of the day waiting on lines, sometimes up to 2 hours long. Not any more! Magic Bands have changed everything for the better.

I strongly recommend purchasing your tickets as far in advance as you can. We purchased a 5-day park hopper ticket online and chose the color of our magic bands two months prior to arrival. Then the real magic happened. The single greatest thing that getting your Magic Band in advance does is enable you to secure FastPass+ reservations. We were able to reserve 3 FastPasses, per park, per day right from my laptop.  Either from my computer or from a downloadable smartphone app we could see each day’s itinerary including the park we planned to attend, the times of our FastPasses, and any reservations we made. Having all of this information at our fingertips made it easy to plan additional rides, shows and more. Do your research. If you have never been to the parks buy a reputable Disney Guide Book such as Birnbaum’s or Fodor’s and get passes for all the recommended favorites. If you are a repeat visitor, be sure to schedule the most desirable rides first then add the one’s you’ve never done before.

Family On Splash Mountain Disney

Every day, we knew exactly what ride we were going on and when. Even during the busiest week of the year (Spring Break) we managed to hit all of our favorite rides with NO LINES! By getting to the park right as it opened and using the Ride Wait Times feature on our mobile app, we were able to get on rides for which we did not have passes and even ride our favorites two or three times.  The longest line we stood on was 40 minutes. Not bad. Who can say they went to Disney Easter week and road Soarin’ twice, Everest twice, Splash Mountain twice, Test Track three times, Primeval Whirl 4 times in addition to getting on Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, too many other rides to mention and seeing a bunch of shows? We can! And you can too!

girl posing with Goofy

Last week, they expanding the FastPass+ rule to as many as you are able to book. Yippy! You can pre-book the three, then get additional Fast-Passes at the park, one at a time. Ironically though, some of the longest lines at any of the parks were for the FastPass+ kiosks. Your best bet may be to do like I mentioned above and use the Wait Time app to find rides that currently have the shortest lines and go on them to fill in the spaces between passes.

Disney has spent over $1 Billion on their MyMagic+ technology and it the most ingenious marketing technique they have come up with yet. The micro chip inside the band enables you to use it for multiple purposes while Disney collects all of the data for marketing purposes. Everywhere you scan your band is a little snippet of info for them to analyze. Of course they will make a gazillion dollars from this but it really does improve the vacation experience for the user so its a win-win for everyone.

Additional conveniences are going to make this the wave of the future at Disney. For example, at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, you can order your meal and prepay before you even arrive. You simply scan your Magic Band when you arrive at the restaurant, take your seat and your meal is brought to you, already paid for, with almost no waiting.

As for shopping, they can’t be beat. If you don’t feel like carrying cash, you can purchase anything by scanning of your band and typing your PIN.  We were able to grab one of the few remaining Frozen Anna and Elsa dolls, the hottest commodity in Disney this year, with yet another quick flash of the Magic Band.

This year we had the very best Disney vacation yet. We got more in; we had more fun and less aggravation. We spent more time in the parks, not because we had to but because we wanted to. We got to go on every ride we wanted and a few we never did before. It was a blast. We owe it to pre-planning and Magic Bands. Follow my advice. When it comes to Disney I know what I’m talking about.

If you had a good (or bad) experience with your Magic Bands, please leave a comment and let us know.

To find other Expert Disney Tips see the links below:

Kids Guide to Wearing Costumes At Disney

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