Olszewski Disneyland miniatures - March 29, 2008

Knowing that the release of the first set of floats in the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade would be quite popular, we made it a point of getting to the resort early. I got to the main gates at just before 7am, as they were counting down the seconds to the gates opening to admit the Magic Morning folks. There were already people in line at the regular gates, so I joined one of the lines. Even though the park wasn't supposed to officially open until 8am, they opened up the gates and let us through the turnstiles at 7:50am. The purchase line was queued from Disneyana down towards the train station again, and we got in line just past the turn on the corner. The line behind us extended past Showcase and then eventually in front of the hat shop and the Opera House.


The beginning of the line.


The middle of the line, turning at the corner.


The line extending to the Opera House.


As with the last release, they were handing out wristbands (red this time), but they handled it a bit differently. Last time, they gave you one wristband for each piece you wanted (Peter Pan at the time), with a limit of two wristbands per person. This time, they gave everyone one wristband which allowed you to buy up to two Electrical Parade pieces. (The Gallery of Light pieces and heirloom boxes released today didn't require a wristband for purchase.) Unlike last time, that meant they wouldn't know exactly how many pieces were being sold through wristbands because some people with a wristband might only be buying one Electrical Parade piece. They kept the same system where having a wristband meant that as long as you were back by noon, you were guaranteed a piece. Any pieces still available at 1pm would then be sold to others. From what I overheard, it sounded like after the wristbands were all given out, they gave out numbered vouchers, as I heard a CM tell a guest that if there were any pieces available at 1pm, they would be sold in the order of the numbers given out.

It does sound like giving out one wristband for each piece being purchased is the best way to go and may be what they go back to for the next release. That way, they have a much better count of how many pieces are actually being spoken for. However, whereas wristband distribution went perfectly in December, the CMs handing out the wristbands this time really needed to be taught how wristband distribution is supposed to work. Part of the function of having wristbands is that those in line first get first shot at buying a piece. Shortly after the line forms, CM(s) start going down the line, giving out wristbands, and then when they get through the line, they stay at the end so that anyone else who when joins the line gets a wristband from the CM. Well, it started off ok - they did start to give out wristbands shortly after the line started to form. However, instead of having the CMs just make their way down the line, they had three CMs with wristbands, but they were often giving them out haphazardly. One CM would start to go down the line, but then partway down, another CM would start back through the front of the line to give wristbands to those who had joined the line after the initial pass of wristbands had been given out. To me, that cheats the people who have already been in line and who I think should be entitled to a wristband before the new people who have just cut earlier into the line. (If someone gets a wristband and then joins friends further up in line, I don't really have a problem with that since a piece is already spoken for.) To compound the problem, when the CMs were handing out wristbands, if someone came up to ask them questions, the CM would give those people wristbands also, while there was a line of people still waiting to get wristbands. In both cases, there might have been people who were in line shortly after it formed but who never got a wristband because of the latecomers who joined the front of the line and still received a wristband or anyone who might have been further back in line but who went up to talk to a CM and got rewarded with a wristband.

At about 8:10am, I was looking down the line, and I noticed that the CM who had given us our wristband no longer had any. I went to ask her if she had indeed run out. She said that yes, she had run out, but they were "investigating" if there were any more. Ummm, ok, so wouldn't y'all have known *before* you started handing out the wristbands how many you could hand out? I don't doubt there were probably more red wristbands available somewhere, but just because there are wristbands doesn't mean they should be handed out - you should be handing out half as many wristbands as there is product to be sold, since each wristband represents two potential sales. I know I shouldn't be, but I am constantly surprised by how things can run so smoothly during one release and then things can get so screwed up for the next one, and not because there are new problems.

Speaking of new problems, there was one additional glitch - while the Electrical Parade pieces were there, for whatever reason, the transformers to plug the piece in had not arrived, so they were handing out clipboards with shipping slips on them for people to complete and bring with them to the cashier. Disney will be shipping the transformer free of charge to each person who bought an Electrical Parade set. I'm not sure how long it's supposed to take until they arrive.

One of the other supply problems was that only a partial shipment had actually made it to Disneyana, so they only had a couple hundred to sell. There are more in the warehouse which need to be delivered to Disneyana, so they should be getting more in the next week or so. For those who didn't get a set of the Electrical Parade floats or for those who couldn't make it to the resort for the release, online sales will begin Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 8am via the website only. Online orders will include the first day of release plaque for as long as the plaques last. Go here for the link to order online starting 8am, Wednesday, April 2, 2008.

Since a number of people were not able to get the Electrical Parade, it was understandable that many were upset and frustrated. Some were unhappy that people were allowed to buy two when supply was so limited. I don't think two per person is excessive, though I would certainly understand if Disney did decide to impose a one-per-person limit - that's a decision that Disney would have to make. However, there were some collectors' complaints that I found to be completely unreasonable. [Just a warning - I'm going to vent for the next couple of paragraphs about this person's complaints. If you're not interested and just want to get on to hearing more news, click here.] One person that I overheard was venting to a CM that they'd paid X amount of dollars already for the collection, so they were unhappy that they weren't getting an Electrical Parade set. I'm sorry, but just because you have purchased other things in the past doesn't entitle you to buy a piece before someone who might not have. No one forced you to buy the prior pieces, and you presumably got good value for your money or you wouldn't have continued to buy more. However, if someone was absolutely in love with the Electrical Parade and had never heard of Robert Olszewski before but wanted the parade floats released today, I don't feel that I'm entitled to buy it before they do just because I've been collecting since Sleeping Beauty Castle was first released in 2002.

The same person was also telling the CM that their not being able to buy the parade floats was made worse by having stood in line for 2 hours. Well, at least while we were in line, they were telling people about wristbands and availability. If this person really didn't know that if you didn't have a wristband, there was no guarantee that you'd get a piece, then I can understand the frustration, and the problem lies with the CMs, who should have been told to continue to walk the line to tell newcomers that without a wristband, they probably wouldn't get a piece. However, barring that, if someone chose to stay in line anyway, even knowing they might not get a piece, that's their own decision. It wasn't like the September 2007 release of the final Main Street pieces where some people stood in line for hours to complete their Main Street collection with no idea that the pieces had already been sold out long before they ever got to the front of the line.

This person also suggested that Disney should somehow compensate those who didn't get a piece today by giving them some kind of front-of-the-pass line for the next release, comparing it to getting a pass if you were about to get on a ride and it broke down. To me, this was the most outrageously ridiculous suggestion/expectation. With a ride breakdown, your pass is to come back and experience what you would have experienced were it not for the ride going down. In this case, each release is a completely separate and different thing. Just because you didn't get an Electrical Parade set today should mean that you get first dibs on the next release? That's comparing apples to hand grenades. Along a similar vein, my husband overheard another person complain that they had an 8am appointment for something this morning, so it was impossible for them to get to the park until 9:30am, and it wasn't fair that they didn't get an Electrical Parade set. Ummm, yeah, actually, it's completely fair. If you couldn't be here first thing, and there are only so many sets available, then no, you don't get a set. Heck, there were people who were here first thing and *still* didn't get a set because of the limited supply. Everyone is able to come early and wait in line to give themselves the best chance of getting whatever is being released that day. If your personal schedule prevents that, then that's something you have to deal with. We've been in line at park opening for each of the releases, even when it was during a Main Street building release that wasn't very crowded. However, during the release of certain pieces, like Pirates and Haunted Mansion and today's release, we knew those would be more popular, so we made sure to be in line even earlier.

The last complaint I heard this person make was about the upcoming online sale because it is apparently at an inconvenient time and is only available through the website. The person complained that for a prior release, the person called DelivEars and waited in the queue only to be told when a live person finally came on the phone that the pre-order was only via the website. The pre-sales that I've seen announced on DisneyGallery.com have been very explicit about the day, time and method by which pre-sales were being done, so if someone didn't read carefully or made an assumption that phone orders would be ok, that's their own fault. This person also complained that at 8am on Wednesday, this person would be in the car driving to work, without web access, so it wasn't fair that the sale didn't start at a different time. Yes, because the world revolves around you and your time schedule. I've been in a position where I wanted to buy something being sold online, and I've had to make arrangements concerning work, including getting into work early because otherwise, I would have been in the car still driving to work, in order to be available to purchase my items at the time they went on sale. There was one occasion when an Olszewski release had originally been scheduled for a day when we'd be out of town on vacation, so we had arranged for someone else to go make the purchases for us, but luckily, the release date was changed. However, I have heard of people who have been in that situation or who have been unavailable when the online sale began and made arrangements for other people to make the purchases for them. Sometimes, things happen at times that aren't the most convenient for us, and instead of complaining and insisting that things are changed to fit your own individual schedule, it makes more sense to me to find your own solution to a problem that is personal to you.

OK, enough of that, onto more news.


Even though the transformers weren't included with the Electrical Parade sets, you could still operate the lights in the base with batteries. (I hadn't been previously aware, but the float pieces magnetically connect to the base, making it harder for them to fall off or move around accidentally.) The thought had not occurred to me, but the pieces are apparently modeled similar to the Main Street Electrical Parade pieces released some time ago as part of the Walt Disney Classics Collection. We happen to have that collection, and the resemblance between the two is striking.


The Olszewski Main Street Electrical Parade floats in front, the Classics Collection floats behind them.


A better view of the lighting on all the floats.


The Olszewski floats change color, as do the Classics Collection floats. They really do look remarkable together. Here's a video that shows the two sets of floats performing together (7.5 MB). You'll want to turn the sound up for this.


The next set of Electrical Parade floats is not expected to be released for about another year. They need to go see the original floats and look at other source material so they can work on the next set, and it's expected that after the next set is released, new sets will then be released every six months or so. As mentioned previously, Olszewski Studios plans to release a separate road that can replace the current road in the platform that will already have the light sources in it so that the floats can just be placed on top. Olszewski Studios plans to release the road after three or four sets of floats have been released. They're working on which floats to be released in future sets, which may be hampered if they have trouble finding pictures or other sources for floats that may no longer be available. Travis mentioned in particular the Pegasus float that was created solely for a special running of the Electrical Parade (after the parade's farewell run at Disneyland) in 1997 in conjunction with the premiere of Disney's animated film "Hercules" in New York City. Here is one article about the parade that has a short description of the float. Here's another article about the parade. Here is a website that purports to sell a DVD that shows the entire parade. I have no idea who the person is selling the DVDs or what the quality of the DVD might be or the reputation of the site. I am including the link for reference purposes only. Buyer beware.

The next piece to be released in the Olszewski Disneyland miniatures collection will be the Moonliner in July or August as part of the nostalgia series that started with the marquee last year. The piece is designed so that if you take it off the base, it can be placed next to the Astro Orbiter on the Main Street platform, but that sounds weird to me because that's not where the Moonliner used to sit nor even where it sits now.


Here's a picture of the release version of the Moonliner situated next to the Astro Orbiter.


OK, just kidding, here's a picture of the real Moonliner.
The version in the last picture was just a mock-up to determine scale.


The next nostalgia piece will be the monorail, and while there had been previous discussion about which version of the monorail would be released, it's now been decided that it will be the Mark I, to be released in 2009 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Mark I monorail.

The nostalgia piece for 2010 is planned to be the House of the Future, which is planned to fit over the current Ariel's Grotto/Triton's Garden area.

Dumbo is the only other new piece expected for 2008. There are scheduled re-releases of some of the buildings on the Castle half of Main Street scheduled for the rest of 2008, and the buildings on the train station half of Main Street are scheduled to be re-released in 2009.

Disneyana has recently received a shipment of Astro Orbiter pieces and Haunted Mansion pieces. Peter Pan is expected to arrive back in stock in the next week or so. Pirates and Mad Tea Party are expected back in June or July. The Adventureland/Frontierland gateway is expected to be available again in late July or early August. More pieces of the Train Station are also expected in. If you want to keep updated on when re-releases come back into Disneyana, be sure to sign up for the mailing list on the Olszewski Studios website.

Olszewski Studios had been working on the Matterhorn, but that's currently on hold. The size of the piece and the projected probably-daunting cost of $500 to $600 for the piece is making realization of the piece difficult. Olszewski Studios is looking into the possibility of doing It's a Small World or the Carousel. Disney has made inquiries about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, and while Olszewski Studios would love to do them, the size and cost of the pieces done right could be problematic.

Olszewski Studios is currently concentrating on the re-release of Main Street buildings, so the re-release of Main Street vehicles (including the horse-drawn carriage) and character packs probably won't happen until 2009. They are also still planning to release a shadow box light display for the Peter Pan inserts, but there is no expected release date for that.

Olszewski Studios has currently sold about 600 Main Street platforms to date. They currently have about 20 left in stock, so anyone who still wants one now should go to their website soon. Once these are sold, they would have to wait until the next order is put in before more are available. Travis has said that if people want to purchase the platforms but don't have the space at the moment, he can try to make arrangements to continue storing the platforms for a little while as long as they are paid for.

The fourth tree accessory pack is still being worked out, and there is no expected release date. The first tree accessory pack is currently sold out on the Olszewski Studios website but more are expected in. The second and third packs are currently available.

The painting/touch-up kit which had been offered through the Olszewski Studios website earlier is now sold out. Though prior orders will continue to be filled, no new orders are being accepted, and the next time the kit will be offered is expected to be next year.


There isn't too much news on other fronts, but here's a quick roundup.


The biggest news, one that will make some collectors very happy, is that the next pieces in the Walt Disney World Main Street collection will be released on June 27 and 28. The pieces being release are Exhibition Hall, Central Plaza and Confectionery. They usually do one release/signing day inside the Magic Kingdom and one day at Downtown Disney.

The Tiki Room and "Alice in Wonderland" pieces in the Gallery of Light collection are expected to be released on the same day as the Moonliner.

The "Alice in Wonderland" heirloom box is expected to be released on the same day as the Moonliner as well. There were some problems encountered in designing the Mickey on Matterhorn Mountain heirloom box that had originally been scheduled for release in Spring 2008, but release of the heirloom box is now expected to be held to coincide with the celebration of Mickey's 80th birthday in November of this year.

The first set of Disney-themed pokitpals has been released at Disneyland, and the next set (Castle, Haunted Mansion, railroad and Matterhorn) is scheduled to be available in mid-April. The third set (Tiki Room aloha, Monorail, Tinkerbell, caterpillar ride vehicle) is expected to be available in July.



On a completely unrelated note, during the release event, we noticed something very special about the Disneyland Band as well as a couple new really cute collectible pieces. If you're interested in more information on those two topics, click here.



See you at the release of the Moonliner.



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