Tuesday, January 10, 2017

MouseMingle


Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing the creator of Mouse Mingle, Dave Tavres. What is MouseMingle you ask? From their website: MouseMingle.com is the place to connect people who love Disney and who want that same magic in their relationship. I mean, who doesn't want that?! The site is similar to other dating sites with profiles, photos, compatibility questions etc... With a Disney fan twist. You can find out a person's "Disney Fan Level", "Home Park", "Touring style"... I mean, how great is that?! Whether you're looking for a new friend, a "Park Pal" or something more, as Disney Fans, these are important questions! Without further ado... I give you the creator of MouseMingle.com, Mr. Dave Tavres!   

*HINT* Be sure to read all the way to the end of the article!


What inspired you to create MouseMingle?  
My inspiration really came from other dating sites not having search options to find someone who loves Disneyland the way I do. As a geek, it was a pretty easy next step to create a site for other Disney fans like me.


I assume you're a "Disney Fan" yourself. What started your passion for Disney? Do you have a favorite Disney Park or Ride?
Yeah, my 'Disney nerd-level' is through the roof :) I was a history Tour Guide at Disneyland, then became a locomotive engineer. I also volunteered at Walt Disney's Barn in Burbank for many years. I have always been a HUGE Walt Disney fan, so I've studied a lot about him. I've been to Walt’s hometown of Marceline twice - I love the people there, and I love the town.
I grew up in SoCal, so as kids, my little sister and I were often used as excuses to go to Disneyland by the “grownups”. As an adult, I love the history of the Park, and how Walt created it.
Being a train geek and former locomotive engineer, the Disneyland Railroad is my favorite. It's relaxing, historic, you get the perfect opportunity to people watch. I just love being in Disneyland. I really feel the magic once I'm 'inside the berm'... it really is a happy place to be.

When was it launched?
MouseMingle opened on December 1st, 2015. I honestly had no idea it would explode the next day when Conan O'brien mentioned it on his late night show. And when it was mentioned during The Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, the site went really crazy!


Other than the "Disney themed questions," is there anything else that sets Mouse Mingle apart from other "traditional" sites?
Yes - it's really about the strong emotional connection that people have with Disney. When you start out with a common passion that's more than just an interest, it's easier to connect with someone else. The reason MouseMingle is so great, is because you KNOW that someone who has filled out more than the required questions also loves Disney.

Approximately how many members are there?

There are currently tens of thousands of profiles, with most people in the US, but there are people from around the globe on the site daily. I'm excited to say that we plan to expand the site to accommodate French and Japanese speaking users, hopefully this year, to reach fans near Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.


What is the ratio of male to female members?
The ratio right now is about 2 women for every 1 man.


What factors go into the algorithm that produces "matches" (How are people matched? Do you use only the Disney info or the other general factors as well. Is there a different "weight" given to one area over the other or equal weight to both?)
Right now the algorithm matches mostly on the basic questions, which people find more useful. When someone is matched on those basics, then they can look at someone's profile to learn more of the fun stuff - like whether they prefer to people watch when they go to a Park, or if they love every Pixar movie ever made. You can tell a lot about someone based on their profile.


Can you share any member success stories?
A lot of people have written in saying that they have found their Prince or Princess. And right now we know about two engagements. We'll share more about those when the time is right... But in general, the people who have written in about finding someone who they connect with so well is actually pretty emotional. I always hoped people would connect, but some of the messages from people really do feel like a dream come true. I've teared up many times reading those messages.


Do you have any tips for getting the most out of a Mouse Mingle membership?
Yes... SEND WINKS! And, fill out your profile! Almost every email I have received from people who have met someone has said that it all started with a wink. And everyone can send winks. Don't be shy…if someone you think could be interesting sends you a wink, wink back! It's an easy gesture that could lead to something wonderful.


What is the cost of a full membership?
It's free to create a profile and send winks and just look around. When you find someone you want to connect with, it's $12.55 a month, and there's no contract, so you can cancel it anytime.
Members have relayed that when someone says "I'm not a full member", it just looks... tacky, and probably means they aren't serious about making a connection with someone. Whether you're looking for a Park Pal, or a friendship with someone who loves Disney, upgrading is worth it - as long as you send some messages and reach out to people.
Safety is a concern for online dating in general. Are there any safety protocols in place for members such as blocking/reporting etc? Do you have any safety tips for your members?
Yes, the first and most important thing is - don't share personal information. Just like Disney, we just want your first name on your name tag. And don't post your contact or social media info, or it's easy for people who you may not be interested in, to track you down. Disney fan or not, YOU control who contacts you and how. We also ask users to PLEASE, use the "Report / Flag" feature - we need everyone's help to make sure the site is safe.


Thank you for your time, is there anything else you'd like to tell us or share with our readers?
It was a pleasure, thanks :) I'm very happy that people want MouseMingle - but I also hear a lot of people who aren't sure about it... I always tell them to take a chance. Disney is fun and light. You don't have to join the site with marriage in mind - just create a profile and have fun answering the questions, then keep checking back - new people join the site every day, and it will only get better when we release the new mobile apps in the coming months.

Wasn't that great?! Now, I have saved the best for last! Our Pals at MouseMingle.com have offered one of our readers a FREE 3 month membership to MouseMingle.com! That's right, I said a FREE membership! ... Maybe just in time to find that special Disney Pal of your own for Valentine's Day?! Click below to enter! We want to thank the folks at MouseMingle.com for this great giveaway and for their time in doing this interview, they were a lot of fun to work with!

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Express Transportation

   Disney just released a new transportation option that could shave time off of park entry! Express Transportation is now in the testing stages at all four main parks.  For a few ($15 for one day or $25 for up to seven) you can be loaded on to transportation buses back stage within the park! When you are transported backstage at your destination, you are able to bypass security and front entry.
    At Disney's Hollywood Studios you are picked up next to the entrance for Rockin' Roller Coaster. The backstage waiting area is different than the other sites. There were 2 benches available but no shade or cover. Hopefully if this process takes off, a change will be made there.

    The drop off/pick up at Animal Kingdom is backstage near Kilimanjaro Safari. The actual waiting area to catch the bus is inside the park here. Once a bus is ready, you are escorted by my castmember backstage to the bus.
   Magic Kingdom is a little different. You are let off deep in the park behind behind Bizz Lightyear. I think this shaves off about 20 minutes, at the least.  Once again, waiting for the next bus is inside the park but you're escorted via cast member to a bus.
    Epcot's Express Transportation area is located near Spaceship Earth. This one doesn't save you as much time but you still get to bypass security.
   All in all, I was happy with this service. If you are on property during peak times it would be really beneficial. I think the pricing is worth the time you save. As of right now, this service is only available at the four main theme parks and may only be purchased at guest services within these parks. Another point made clear by castmenbers is that here is NO photography allowed in the backstage areas. I didn't see anything at any of the backstage locations that I'd want to take a picture of anyway.
   What are you thoughts?

Monday, December 5, 2016

We Wish YOU Were Here for Christmas!

We really do wish YOU Were Here for Christmas! But hopefully this comes close. How about a yummy candle and wax tarts to make your home smell amazing for the Holidays from our pals at Fandoms and Fairtales?! How about an adorable Adventure ornament from our friends at Sydney's Thotful Spot? (What a great gift to give or get!) We've got them for you! Giveaway begins at Midnight (Central) tonight and runs through 12:00 AM Central December 13th. Check out how to win by clicking the link below and GOOD LUCK!



Candle and tarts from Fandoms and Fairytales


Adventure Ornament from Sydney's Thotful Spot

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Disney Cruise Castmembers

 


    If there is one thing about Disney that you can be sure of, it is that their cast members are top notch!      You will have several cast members that cater to your every need on a Disney cruise. Everyone from your stateroom attendant  to the captain of the ship is there for you and eager to make you happy while on the cruise.
   On my family's most recent western Caribbean cruise, we couldn't have been happier with the way things went and the help, assistance and care we received.  We were actually cruising during hurricane Matthew!
    Captain Fabian was so great about letting us know what was going on every day. He came over the loud speaker with news, he even had them satellite in a weather channel so passengers could stay more informed.
Captain Fabian
    Darren was the ships cruise director. We saw him every night at the show and he was always so energetic and fun! The night of the officer pin trading event, he pulled my son aside after seeing his Star Wars lanyard covered in Star Wars pins and said he wanted to give him a special pin from his own collection!  My son was so excited and the following night it was delivered to our cabin.
   Our cabin attendant was very attentive and always wanted to know what he could do to make it better.  He brought extra blankets, made cool animals and left our stuffed Disney characters sitting up arranged with the blanket creatures.


  Our waitstaff could not be beat!  Seriously, no one could have been better than David and Saul. Every night we laughed and talked. I taught both of them, as well as the maitre'd, how to use Snapchat!  I told Saul on the first night that I wanted mac and cheese every night as an appetizer and it was always hot and on the table as soon as we arrived. David was so cute flirting with my mom and joking about it with my dad. We even teared up a little on the last morning at breakfast when we had to say goodbye. I can only hope that we will get them or someone just as good on our next Disney cruise! 
When David was learning Snapchat
Me and David


Saul the Snapchat Bunny

   

 What about you?  What magic did you experience on your Disney cruise by cast members? We'd love to hear about it! 






























Monday, October 17, 2016

Disney Fantasy: 7 Night Western Caribbean: Boarding

Sailing Away
   Day one, also known as Sail Away Day.  The port is filled with excited, as well as confused, kids and adults. What line do I get in? Where do I go first? How do I know it is my turn to board?  CALM DOWN!  There are cast members all around to help guide you on your journey.
  First, no matter how you arrive at port, there are people waiting to assist you with luggage.  These folks will take all of your checked bags to the ship and all you have to worry about is what you are carrying on. MAKE SURE that you have your passports or travel documents with you and not in the checked luggage. This would make getting through security much quicker and easier. Speaking of security, that's where you head next.  Usually there are several lines open to make this quick and painless. It is somewhat like airport security but you get to keep your shoes on ;).
   Now, up the escalators! Wow, the room is packed! Head over to the desk and find a cast member to get you checked in.  All members of your party will need to be with you to get photos and key to the world cards.  This is also where you will be assigned your boarding group number.  After you are checked in, you can sign the younger kiddos up for the youth activities. There are TVs playing various Disney shows or movies, Disney music is playing on the loud speaker, characters to meet and bathrooms are available if needed too. When I looked around, I saw lots of excited people playing on their phones to get in their last moment of wi-fi.
   Listen closely for your boarding number to be called and that's when you line up.  As you enter the ship, there are usually a couple of lines.  There is one with a photo op and one to go straight in. This decision is totally up to you, but there will be many more photo opportunities throughout the week.  Once you are at the entrance, a cast member will ask your family name and you will be royally welcomed onto the ship into the gorgeous Fantasy lobby! Choosing what to do next is up to you. If you are boarding before 1:30PM, chances are your room won't be ready. You can do a ship tour, set up activities at customer service, don your bathing suit and hit the Aquaduck or grab some lunch at Cabanas buffet and wait for the Sail Away Party with your closest friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016 Epcot's Food and Wine Review and Tips

This past week I got to enjoy one of the best things that go on in Epcot each year. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This is one of my favorite times to go to Epcot. I am a foodie. I love food and I love trying new and exciting things.


 If you're not sure what the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is, it is where you get to eat small portioned items from each country and then many from around the world. Small items cost 3-9 dollars each and most alcoholic drinks cost 4-12 dollars. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is included in your ticket to Epcot. As you walk around the world showcase and into Future World, you will see small buildings serving small plates and drinks.




 This year's festival did not disappoint. We chose to go on opening day, which we have never done but had the chance to do this year. The crowds were really low, even around 3 pm. We didn't have more than a 5 minute wait for anything. 

 The weather was brutal. it got to 100 degrees that day and it was hot. However, we braved through it and still had the best time.



 When you enter be on the lookout for the Food & Wine Festival Passport. That will show you what each booth is serving. A cool new feature this year is instead of the usual stamps your used to get, (you used to have to take the book up to each booth and get a stamp if you wanted) this yearbthey included some cool stickers so you can add them yourself. Saves on time and makes the lines a bit shorter. I think that was a great idea.




 This year we wanted to try some new things that we had not tried yet, so we just chose to focus on those items; but some of the past years' items were too yummy to pass up. Each year the menu changes a bit, but usually they tend to keep people's favorite dishes.



 First on our list was Craft Beers. This is a must do for some really unique beers and some cool food. We had the Piggy Wings; you got 2 small "wings", these were amazing! We also had to get a drink to wash it down, so we tried the Shipyard Midnight Snack Milk Stout. This is something we had never even heard of, let alone tried, so we got that. I never had a beer that tasted like you were eating, well, drinking an Oreo cookie! That was an strange yet amazing beer. Even better was knowing the place that makes it is local to me, so I can have it whenever I want now!



 Next item we had was from Australia. Now this is something we have had, but it's just too good not to re-try: the Grilled Lamb Chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies. This is one of the best meat items they have. This is my husband's favorite.



 Then we were off to New Zealand, to try the Seared Venison with Wild mushroom marsala sauce and Kumara dumpling. My husband loves his deer and said it was awesome!



 On to my favorite booth of the day: the Farm Fresh booth. They have comfort food! My favorite! We got the Loaded mac n' cheese with Nueske's pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers and green onions and the Chicken and dumplings stewed chicken with mushrooms and spinach. I believe these were the two best items I had all day. I could have eaten a few more, but I had more food items to go so I didn't want to stuff myself. This booth served a nice helping of food.The items were amazing.



 We had a Fastpass for Soarin' so we had to go back up the other way and decided to run over to the Chocolate studio to get the Liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey. This is a nice cool touch to a warm day. It's amazing to watch them make this item with the CO2, and then they break it open for you. It's amazingly good. It's kind of like a melted candy bar, but its still holds it shape.



 After that we headed over to China to try a new drink this year. It was called the Happy Peach with Dekuyper peach liqueur and Meyers dark rum. This drink was perfect for a hot day. It is kind of sweet, and can sneak up on you. It was like you were drinking a fresh peach.



We then made a quick stop in Poland to get this thing everyone was talking about called a Frozen apple pie. I had heard so many people saying you have got to try this drink. The name of it is Szarlotka and it is Apple pie filling and Bison grass Vodka.This was pretty strong, but to have a drink that requires a spoon too is just special to me. The bottom of this drink had a layer of real apple pie filling, the drink was super cold and on top were these crumbs like you would find on an apple pie. It was one of the most amazing drinks I have ever had, and I was definitely feeling the buzz after that one.



 We ended the day off with a stop in Ireland and picked up a warm chocolate pudding with Irish cream liquor custard. This was the perfect ending to a perfect, yet hot day.



 So,what are some tips?

 Come hungry! You don't want to come to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival after having a big meal somewhere. There is plenty of food to make this your meal.

 The heavier crowds are always on the weekends. For shorter lines try and avoid going on the weekend if possible.

 Make sure you see the other events going on, like the eat to the beat concerts that take place in the evenings. Go to the seminars at the Festival Center and be sure the check out the other things going on. Some are free, some you have to pay for, but make sure to check them all out. They have classes, seminars, demonstrations, everything! There are also events at some of the resorts this year.

Set a budget. The small meals and drinks tend to add up at the end of the day, so my tip is to put that set amount of money on a food and wine gift card. They are these neat little cards that you can wear on your wrist,= and they are a nice little token/souvenir to bring him when you're finished. They can be activated with as little as $15.00 to start.

 My next tip would be to get to the showcase earlier in the day. The food booths open at 11am, by 4-5 pm they tend to get a little busier.

 Last tip would be if you're a Chase card holder take advantage of the Chase lounge. It's located in the upstairs of the American paviilion. They have free drinks from the Coke Freesyle machines and places to sit and cool off and has places to charge your electronics. 

Here are some of the Menus: