Friday, October 25, 2013

Having a Show on Red River Radio

 Get ready for some shameless promoting!

That's right. I have my own show on Red River Radio and it's called K-Pop Town where, you guessed it, I play k-pop music and update listeners on the latest news about idol groups and solo artists in South Korea. It airs live every Thursday from noon-1 and you can listen to it on the TuneIn radio app (just search Red River Radio) or you can stream it online at

So far I've done three episodes and you can listen to them at the following links.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

After three episodes I'm just starting to feel comfortable in the hot seat, whoops, I mean host's seat. Haha.

Now that K-Pop Town has been around for a few weeks, I felt it was necessary to create a Twitter account to connect with my audience and find out what people would like to hear on the show. So if there's a k-pop song you'd like to hear on my show, tweet me @rrcKPopTown to let me know.

And don't worry if it's an old song. A little birdie told me K-Pop Town might be having a 'blast from the past' episode with some of the popular classics kpoppers will love.

Is kpopper a word? Yes, yes it is.

Tune in to K-Pop Town every Thursday from noon-1 on the TuneIn radio app or online at!

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Disney Pin Trading 101

Here are 10 things you need to know about Disney pin trading before you go to one of the theme parks.

1. Pin trading is soooooo addictive. You think you'll just stop at 10, maybe 12 nice pins that mean something to you, but then you discover that two of those nice pins are part of a five pin set. Well now you just have to get them all. BAM! 50 pins later and suddenly you have multiple sets and lots of specialty pins you never would have gotten before.

2. All cast members wearing a black lanyard with Disney pins are able to trade with any guest.

3. Cast members wearing green lanyards only trade with children. I don't agree with this, because there is nothing worse than seeing that one pin you've been looking for for ages and then finding out that because you're an adult you can't have it. It can really dampen your vacation. I know it's happened to me a few times. : (
Now there have been rumours that this rule was going to change, and it may already have since I left Florida in August.

4. You can only trade 2 pins with cast members at a time. Pretty much every cast member follows this rule, but there are no specifics about trading again with a cast member later in the day.

5. Hidden Mickey pins are cast member exclusive pins. Basically these pins can't be bought in stores, you can only get them by trading with a cast member. Are they more valuable? Not really, but some pin traders enjoy collecting the different sets. In my opinion the really valuable pins are the ones that were released in the early 2000s and aren't made anymore because the molds have been destroyed.

6. There are fake pins floating everywhere at Walt Disney World. Probably at Disney Land as well, but I've never been there before, so I can't confirm it. These pins are cheap knock-offs that use old or incorrect molds, low-quality paint, and different kinds of metals. The pins you buy in Disney stores are real, but some sellers on eBay will sell bags of pins and most often a lot of those pins are fake. Sometimes there will be fake pins on cast member lanyards, so if you want to trade with a cast member, ask to take a closer look at the pin first. There are a few ways to check and see if the pins you have or are trading for are fake (I'll make a post about that soon), but one quick way to see is to look at the back and examine the design in the metal. Scroll down to the bottom to see pictures of fake vs. real pins.

7. Pins are expensive. They're usually $8-$12 for individual specialty pins, and $30 for a 7 pin set. Lanyards also cost $10-$15. I used my 20% cast member discount a lot on pins this summer.

8. When you trade pins with a cast member, keep your pin back! I recommend the small metals ones instead of using the black rubber pin backs that come with Disney pins and that cast members have.

9. Cast members have to trade their pins with you. This summer I ran into a few guests who complained to me about cast members not trading pins off of their cast lanyards. One reason was because the guest was trying to trade a fake pin. The guest explained that she had gotten the pin from another cast member, so how could it be fake? It didn't matter, the cast member wouldn't trade with them.
If this happens to you, talk to another cast member in the store and ask for a manager.
Another story a guest once told me was when a cast member traded a pin with another guest, and then immediately put that pin into their own pocket. When the guest asked to trade for the pin, the cast member said no because they were saving it for someone else.
Now it is common for cast members to trade pins between each other backstage for fun (as a cast member who had a lot of fun talking to guests about pins and trading with them, I always traded with my friends for their best pins if I knew they had no interest in pin trading). It is also common for cast members to use their lanyards to trade pins from their own collection. I'm not sure if there was a rule against this (if there is it isn't really enforced) but it is looked down upon. My understanding this summer was, it is fine as long as the cast member is trading with pins they bought instead of just taking the pins from their lanyard, but they shouldn't be doing that on stage in front of guests, and they definitely should not refuse to trade a pin with a guest.

10. Beware the mystery pins. Mystery pins are pins on a cast member's lanyard that they have put on backwards so that the face of the pin is hidden. Cast members like myself who understand how special pin trading is to some guests will take any really special pins we come across while trading during the day and will turn them into mystery pins. Other cast members will use it as a way to get rid of fake or unpopular pins they don't really like.

Above you can see three different pins. One is fake. Can you tell which it is?

It's the first pin of Eva from the movie WALL-E. The paint doesn't have a gloss coat of paint like the Epcot pin below it, and when you look at the back the 'Mickey head' design has a border around the edge. This design should go right to the very edge without getting cut off before, just like in the circular Epcot pin. 

The last pin is one of my favourites. It is real, but doesn't have the Mickey head design on the back.

That is because the pin was first released in 2002, before Disney created the Mickey head design. Even though this pin is still sold in stores today, it still looks the same because Disney probably still uses the same molds they did years ago. 
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Dos and Don'ts for Walt Disney World

1. Don't go to any of the theme parks during the months of June, July, or August. It's Walt Disney World's peak season, and not in the way fruit and vegetables have a peak season and you buy as many as you can and put all the left overs into the freezer to enjoy the rest of the year. No, Disney's peak season is nothing like that. It's HOT, it rains every day (sometimes so hard, the rain rips bark off of trees), the parks are over crowded with kids on summer break and tour groups from all over the world, and the lines are way too long. Just avoid all the parks during those months.

2. Don't go to Blizzard Beach. Go to Typhoon Lagoon instead. Other than the slide Summit Plummet, Blizzard Beach doesn't really have any good water slides. Typhoon Lagoon however, has three great slides and a lazy river that is longer than the one at Blizzard Beach.

3. Don't waste your time waiting around for a parade to start at The Magic Kingdom. Instead, go have a meal at Columbia Harbour House and watch it from the second floor of the restaurant.

4. Don't be mean to the cast members. Please. They're nice people and work very hard for not a lot of money.

5. Don't watch all the fireworks shows, pick one and enjoy the other four hours of your vacation spent going on rides with no lines. I recommend Illuminations at Epcot.

6. Don't buy the Photopass Plus. Any cast member would be more than happy to take a picture with your camera for you. Do buy the Attractions Plus card though if you are in a group of 5 or more, are above the age of 20, and are staying for 5 days or more. The price (49.95) is a really good deal for the amount of ride photos you'll get during your vacation.

7. Don't assume there's a monorail for all the parks or all the resorts. One day when I was at the Polynesian Resort I ran into a family from Australia who were looking for the resort's monorail station. I asked them where they were going and when they said they Animal Kingdom, I informed them there was no monorail that went to the Animal Kingdom, so they would need to take a bus instead. They said no, they'd rather take the monorail to Animal Kingdom. I told them again that Animal Kingdom had no monorail and that I was a cast member. They still didn't believe me. I pointed them in the direction of the bus stops. I assume they weren't happy when they found out what I had done, but at least they didn't end up wasting half of their day figuring out that only Epcot and The Magic Kingdom have monorail stations. 

8. Don't go to a park the day you fly into Florida. It is such a waste to go to the parks when you're only at half battery. Instead spend that day in Downtown Disney or at Typhoon Lagoon soaking up the sun, getting your souvenir shopping out of the way, and eating at some great restaurants. 

9. Don't eat at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant at Hollywood Studios. It's not as cool as it sounds and they play the same five-minute clip over and over again during your meal.

10. Don't go to a park alone. I went to all of the parks so many times this summer and my happiest memories are of going on rides with my friends and seeing the different sights with my mom when she came to visit (even after I had seen them everyday for a month already). I did go alone a few times and those days were nice and peaceful, but I would often find myself wishing I had someone with me to share in the experience. 

1. Do eat at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom. It's one of the 20 places in Walt Disney World where you can get a really really good meal.

2. Do use the single rider lines at Rockin' Roller Coaster and Test Track. They will cut your wait time in half. But please don't use those lines if you have kids under the age of 12 because the cast members will separate you from your children. It's a single rider line.

3. Do the character drawing class at Hollywood Studios. It's a lot of fun and you'll be left with an impressive souvenir to show off to your friends when you go home. Plus it's free and you can keep going as many times as you want. That's right, every half-hour drawing lesson teaches you how to draw a different character. Also, bring your own eraser because they won't give one to you, no matter how much you beg.

4. Do purchase the dining plan. It's a good deal and from my own experience it gives you more food than you can eat on your own.

5. Do stay in Walt Disney World for at least a week. There is so much to do, and after spending almost three months working at Walt Disney World, I still have a long list of things I never got to do. Rides I skipped because the lines were too long, restaurants I didn't eat at because there was a waiting list, live performances and parades I missed because I didn't know about them. On the top of my list of things to do when I get back is participate in the wilderness explorers challenge at Animal Kingdom.  

6. Do buy a pillow plush. Just do it. They are so soft and fluffy and you will love your pillow plush forever. I love my Pluto pillow plush so much. : )

7. Do go on the Living With the Land ride at Epcot. It never has a wait time and it's a really neat ride where you get to see the green house where Disney grows the fruit and vegetables for the Garden Grill restaurant. 

8. Do go on the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Animal Kingdom, and make sure to go early, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. That's when the animals are the most active. Now you wouldn't think that riding in a safari truck and taking pictures of animals would be a lot of fun, but it really is. Maybe it's because you get to see the animals so close, maybe it's the mildly funny script the cast members repeat for every ride, or maybe it's the chance to sit down and enjoy the sights after so much running around the parks. 

9. Do pin trade. It's so much fun, and a little addictive, but most of all it's a way to get to know people in the park and potentially hear some really interesting stories from cast members.

10. Do visit all the parks. Sure Animal Kingdom closes early, and yes Hollywood Studios doesn't have a lot of rides, but each park has some amazing sights to see that are unique to those parks. The biggest example of this are the shows. At Animal Kingdom you can watch the Lion King acrobatic musical performance and Finding Nemo the Musical, and at Hollywood Studios you can see the Indiana Jones show and even participate in the American Idol experience show. 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Music all Around

There are a lot of things that Disney does really well. Keeping things clean, transporting their guests, making magic, all those things.

But one thing Disney does so well it's almost annoying, is theming. Everything from the costumes the cast members wear (more on those later) to the small and seemingly insignificant props that make all the difference. The design and look of each Disney location makes you feel as though you've stepped into another world and any thoughts of the 'real world' vanish. 

Disney themes all of their locations including resorts, restaurants, and even their washrooms. But if you want to see some impressive theming, go to one of the parks at Walt Disney World. 

There are no clocks in any of the parks, there are no TVs or any other technology that show footage of outside the park. Go to a park and try to catch a glimpse of the outside. It's nearly impossible. You sort of can on Test Track during the outside portion of the ride, but it's hard to get a good look when you're going so fast.

Today I want to talk about the background music that is constantly playing in the background no matter where you go in the parks. If you walk into Adventureland, you'll hear jungle sounds and music from Pirates of the Caribbean, if you go into Fantasyland, you'll hear music from Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid, if you walk down Main St. you'll hear music from Up, if you walk into Liberty Square, you'll from the Hall of Presidents? Or maybe it's music from The Haunted Mansion, which would be so cool. I don't know because I rarely went to Liberty Square.

In Tomorrowland, they play 'digitized' versions of songs from The Carousel of Progress and Toy Story. You'd think months of listening to the same songs for hours would make someone hate them, but I loved hearing those songs. Sometimes I would play in The Magic Kingdom on my days off, and as soon as I walked across the bridge towards Space Mountain into Tomorrowland, hearing that music made me feel like I was coming home.

Sometimes after the park had closed I would be assigned to collect all the abandoned strollers that had been rented in the morning. That was the best time to listen to the music in the land. As I would walk around the land looking for strollers to pick up, it was almost eerie seeing the park as empty as it was and only hearing the background music, with no sounds of people laughing or talking. The only thing you can hear at 2 a.m. when the park is closed is the sound of the guy power spraying the ground, and the background music. It's a truly beautiful thing that only cast members get to experience.

Below is my favourite song that I listened to constantly while working in Tomorrowland. I have it on my iPhone now and listen to it every once in a while on the bus. 

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