If you’re like me and like the Walt Disney World Resort, you can’t get enough information on the history and creation of the theme parks, resorts and features. Luckily there’s Celebrations Magazine to keep us informed. Toy-Lines sat down with Tim Foster, the editor and creator of Celebrations, to discuss the great magazine.
Toy-Lines: How long have you been a Disney fan?
Tim Foster: Well, this is a two-part answer. I was actually at Walt Disney World the year it opened (though my only memories were of the Haunted Mansion and my brother losing his Donald Duck cap on “it’s a small world”…which we still haven’t found). But I didn’t return until after our daughter was born, back in the early 90s (which was quite a booming time at Walt Disney World!). On our first night there we visited Epcot, which of course was still fairly new, and it was pure magic. Ever since then it’s been multiple trips every year!
TL: What made you create Celebrations magazine?
TF: Actually, the first Disney project I did was the Guide to the Magic for Kids book. I realized it was a great way to combine my love for Disney with my love for design (I’m a graphic designer in “real life”). From there, the idea grew into a companion website, additional books, and eventually the magazine…which just seemed a natural extension of what I had been doing. I also recognized that there wasn’t a magazine devoted to Disney out there (Disney having ceased publication of their own magazine a few years prior), so it seemed to be the perfect fit. Regardless of whether it made any business sense though, it was always my dream (as it is with any designer) to create something of my own (i.e., not something at the whim of a client!), and making a magazine all about Disney was a dream come true.
TL: Can you tell us what goes into making an issue of Celebrations? How do you come up with the topics of articles?
TF: The fun thing about Celebrations is that each issue sort of creates itself. We have a whole host of volunteer writers, and they usually have free reign about they would like to talk about. My feeling is that the articles are better if the writer is talking about something they are passionate about, rather than working toward an assigned topic. The surprising thing is that very often a theme will emerge as an issue comes together. For example, several writers may independently come up with ideas that are unintentionally related, so that we end up with an issue that’s largely focused on, say, Adventureland (at which point we can tailor any remaining pieces, like the Games sections, to go with the theme).
Sometimes a theme does present itself (like the opening of New Fantasyland), but that’s more the exception than the rule.
TL: Are there topics you like to talk about more than others?
TF: Our focus is on the theme parks and resorts, as well as Disney history and films, so as long as we’re in that area pretty much anything goes. My goal with our articles is for the reader to be to able to say to themselves:
1) Wow, I didn’t know that!
2) Wow, I have to see that! and/or
3) Wow, I remember that!
TL: How often do you or the writers from the magazine visit the parks for research or inspiration?
TF: I myself get down there two or three times a year. We have some writers that do the same, others that get down less frequently, and some that live so close that, if the wind is just right, they can hear the wolf howling at the Haunted Mansion! (Which they feel they have to constantly remind me about!)
TL: How did you decide on the name Celebrations?
TF: That came pretty quickly; Celebrations and Disney just naturally go together. And since the mission of the magazine is to celebrate all things Disney (as opposed to being review-oriented or negative), it made perfect sense.
TL: Were they any features you wanted to include in Celebrations that you couldn’t?
TF: No, as part of the initial planning I asked others in the Disney community if they would like to contribute in their respective areas of expertise, and everyone enthusiastically agreed, so we didn’t have any bumps in the road in that regard!
TL: Besides being the editor of Celebrations magazine you’re also the author of a couple of Disney books. Can you tell us about them?
TF: Yes, they actually came before the magazine. The first book was (and is) the “Guide to the Magic for Kids,” which is actually a guide book, photo book, sticker book, activity book, and journal all rolled into one. With the exception of Disney’s own By Kids for Kids book, there aren’t really any Disney guide books just for kids (there are several on traveling with kids, but they’re for the parents…where to pick up a stroller and that sort of thing). Our newest edition is just arriving now (which includes all of the New Fantasyland updates and other goodies).
I’ve also just released a companion book, the Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph Book, which includes all sorts of things like character stickers, World Showcase pages, places to write down your memories and collect photos, special character check lists, and even a place to collect Cast Member autographs.
As part of Celebrations, I’ve also published a hard cover pictorial book on Christmas at Disney. It proved to be so popular (selling out very quickly), that I am currently working on our second (all new) edition, which should be available in the Spring or Summer.
TL: What is your favorite Disney movie? Character? Theme park? Ride? Resort?
TF: Oh boy, that’s a hard question! “Favorite Disney Movie” shifts all the time, though I do have a special fondness for the Pixar films and “Ratatouille” in particular. (I also think “The Emperor’s New Groove” is vastly underrated!). As far as traditional Disney films, I’d have to say “Aladdin,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Lion King” to pick out a few favorites (I told you this was hard!)
Favorite character? Figment of course, and Tigger is a favorite too. Epcot is hands down my favorite park, and you could put me in any of the Epcot resorts, I love them all. Favorite attraction? If I had to pick I’d say Splash Mountain, though I could ride the TTA for hours (I do, however, miss the old spiel!). I also love Spaceship Earth, though I prefer the previous ending with the city of the future (ah, the music!).
TL: Do you collect Disney items & if so what?
TF: Believe it or not I’m actually not much of a collector, just a few knick knacks here and there. Mainly I would say I just collect memories!
TL: Will Celebrations review the tours Disney offers in the parks?
TF: Sure! We’ve done so in the past, though we are respectful of the restrictions on some of the tours regarding photography and so forth.
TL: For readers who might be curious, how do you choose the authors for the magazine?
TF: I’m glad you asked that! We are always looking for new writers, and if anyone is interested they can contact us via our website, celebrationspress.com (they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re passionate about Disney and writing we would love to hear from you. As I mentioned earlier, the best place for us to start would be to talk about what aspects of Disney you are most passionate about, and from there we can see if can come up with some article ideas. Our current mix of writers has come from just about everywhere, from fellow members of the Disney online and media community, to music teachers, moms, and general Disney fans. It’s that constant mix of fresh stories and viewpoints that I think is behind much of Celebrations’ success, and it’s a great way for everyone to share the magic of Disney with their fellow enthusiasts.
TL: What can we expect from Celebrations in 2014?
TF: Lots of things! As I mentioned earlier, we will be publishing our second Christmas book in the coming months, and we are also working on the first in a series of books that focuses on each of the lands in the Magic Kingdom (and beyond)…everything from the back stories, history, little known facts, ride-throughs, Hidden Mickeys and secrets, and of course lots and lots of great pictures (which reminds me, we are always looking for additional photographers as well, so all you shutterbugs keep Celebrations in mind!).
We are also greatly expanding our website as a companion to the magazine and Guide to the Magic books, with tons of park-related content and guest blogs, with topics on everything Disney including the parks, resorts, historical events, personal magical moments, the latest news, and so on. As with the magazine, we are always interested in hearing from people who like to contribute blogs, so again, please contact us if you’d be interested in being part of the Celebrations team.
TL: Tim, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
TF: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you, and the best to you and your readers!
To learn more about Celebrations Magazine click the link to their website. http://www.celebrationspress.com/
The Toy-Lines Crew