This Happy Place Blog » Blog

Masthead header

Many many (heartfelt) thanks

Hi, friends!

This is the weekend I would normally be celebrating the fourth anniversary of This Happy Place Blog. I can’t believe it. Four years almost feels like a lifetime ago. It might not also be a total shock that I’m feeling some growing pains when it comes to this blog and how I want to spend my free time lately. I’ve taken a break, and after the last few months, I’ve decided that it’s best to close up shop and start a new adventure. I know I’m going to miss this so much, but I know it’s the right move for me. I’ll be forever thankful to those of you who read my posts, maybe picked up a Muppet film because of this site or tried a new restaurant on your next vacation. To those of you who tweeted me and emailed and were all kinds of awesome, you made this such a fun project for me. When I was feeling uninspired and dying to be creative in some capacity, THP was that for me and your enthusiasm and support was icing on the cake. Hell, I’m even thankful for the mistakes. And especially those of you who became friends I hang out with on vacation, see when you are up in New York, and talk to on a regular basis, I never imagined starting this blog would bring such amazing people into my life. I feel incredibly lucky.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing next. I know I will be hanging out over at Mouse on the Mind more often, and you can always find me at Twitter @thatsostelle (same on Instagram). When my new home on the web is up and running, I’ll be sure to share it over here. Don’t be a stranger! Be nice to each other. Happy vacation and happy trip planning! Mark your calendar for The Muppets on TV on September 22! Most importantly, don’t forget to take time to unplug and enjoy enjoy enjoy all that’s happening around you.

Much love and Muppets,

Jenn @ Fairest Run of AllJuly 6, 2015 - 9:15 am

<3 <3 <3 Can you put up a brief retrospective with links to your trip reports, maybe? I just love trip reports. 😀

Dan HeatonJuly 6, 2015 - 9:57 am

Good luck with everything, Estelle. I recently closed up a blog and started a new one, so I know how sometimes a project can just reach the right stopping point. I’m sure the next thing will be amazing.

John FrostJuly 6, 2015 - 10:29 pm

Thanks for covering Revenge on the blog back in the day. You’re always welcome back, you know.

Killing the Killed | Kill Refurb Marry

Kill Refurb Marry

Well, we took a small break last month from KILL REFURB MARRY just to prep for this one… kind of. I’m not cramming and don’t this the night before. Nope. Not me. Not Estelle. Now if you are asking how do you kill extinct attractions at your favorite Disney theme park… you’re at the right place. I have no idea. I also don’t know how you marry something that is extinct. It all sounds like a great bit of denial to me. Anyway, as always. It’s going to be fun and torturous! Hope you’ll hang out & decide to play. WE WANT YOU (in the non-creepy way, I swear). #killrefurbmarry


What extinct attraction do I never want to hear about again — that’s the angle I’m taking with this one. I just never liked The Living Seas. I thought it was boring; I never wanted to do it. I also skip over the audio whenever it comes on any of my favorite theme park music channels. Oh god, the same goes for Test Track. (I’m already cheating.) Are their replacements oodles better? Not really but I prefer them over their past identities… so that’s saying something. I think.


What extinct attraction do I want to return? I thought you’d never ask! With the release of Inside Out this weekend my thoughts have been on good old Cranium Command lately. The show is the epitome of edutainment — it’s funny, it’s smart, and it has heart. Epcot hasn’t introduced anything that’s topped it and it’s a shame that we’ll never see it again. (Although if it was still around, they would have probably closed it and given it a Pixar overlay and we’d all be storming the message boards.) Long live Buzzy, I say! He’s certainly welcome to return anytime. (Epcot NEEDS him!)


We know Hollywood Studios (or what I like to call, MUPPET STUDIOS) is going through a bit of a transition/identity crisis. Man, do I miss the early 90s here. I loved it SO much, friends. SO much… I thought it was my favorite park. Where has that place gone? So I’m thinking I want to marry Residential Street. For someone who was so in love with the magic of the movies and stayed up way past her bedtime to watch all the TV and all the award shows, seeing the facades of some of my favorite shows was like awe-inspiring. It was pretty cool. So cool that a part of my soul broke when they knocked it down, and I miss it every time I’m in that park. It talks to me: Estellllle, don’t forget usssss. How could I ever forget you? YOU LIVE IN ME.

Check out KILL REFURB MARRY’s home on Mouse on the Mind. MELISSA IS MY QUEEN. She is not extinct. She is not dancing with a dinosaur BUT she is producing awesome content all the time. Go forth and love her/marry her!

For more extinct fun, visit Yesterland and Lost Epcot. Tell them Estelle sent you!


Dan HeatonJune 10, 2015 - 10:09 am

When you mention Test Track, are you saying you prefer the new version? Or World of Motion? I think the old Seas pavilion was a little boring, but I like it 100 times better than the Nemo version we have today.

I’d love to see a redo of Cranium Command and something exciting in the Wonders of Life building (besides events).

Becky @ Disney in your DayJune 10, 2015 - 1:04 pm

I never got to experience Cranium Command. I actually think bringing it back with an Inside Out theme would be kinda neat. They need something in the Wonders of Life pavilion.

Howdy Partners | Kill Refurb Marry

Kill Refurb Marry

Greetings, pals! Hope you are doing well. Kill Refurb Marry is a game that Melissa of Mouse on the Mind founded last year where we pick a topic and tirelessly stress over which to discard, change, or keep forever. It can be painful, but it’s also wonderful and month after month (we host these the second Wednesday of every month) I look forward to the creative folks who dedicated some blog content to being silly.

This month, we are talking PARTNERS. Are you scratching yourself and asking: what does that mean, Estelle? Well, you are not alone. I’ve been sitting here most of the night wondering the same thing. We fretted over sidekicks two months ago, and that’s different because in that relationship, someone is always on top. With partners, you are more on an even playing field. So these “partners” or “best friends” do exist except so many of the ones I love I can’t kill. So basically my post may turn into a total lovefest. I’m going to try to be firm!


Flotsam and Jetsam are two people you don’t want working in your office. They suck up to the boss, and are all about the bad karma. Didn’t they know they were scary on their own? They did that weird eye trick! They could have taken down Ursula themselves but no they were lazy, lazy eels. They paid the price, and maybe I’m cheating, but you know what — good riddance.


Chip and Dale: Oh these two rascals. Or are they? Much like Mickey Mouse they’ve been softened up a bit. Have they grown up? Well, in real time, yes, but as cartoon stars… no. I would love these two return to their roots, make Donald Duck mad, and stop being so cute all the time. I say I want to see Chip and Dale reclaim their title as the most mischievous and possibly the most clever.


Lilo and Stitch: These two. They just balance each other out. They win because they are both stars, in their own way. Their both unique and quirky for different reasons. Lilo likes to feed peanut butter sandwiches to fish and take pictures of men eating ice cream, while Stitch is a closet Elvis fan, who wears bras as hats, and acts like a dog even though he’s an alien. They need each other and don’t even know it. They fill this empty piece that each of them has in their heart. They laugh, they light, and they connect.

runner up:

Baymax and Hiro: I just adored this movie. Baymax may not be a human, but he certainly helps Hiro heal from a devastating blow (as he was programmed to do… sort of) and I loved watching how wary Hiro was of him at first, and how important Baymax grew to be at this really critical point in Hiro’s life. The only reason I’m not picking them as my “marry” is because I would have wanted them to have a little bit of screen time and because, well, Baymax was essentially a computer.

Okay, friends, your turn! Tweet us with the hashtag #killrefurbmarry or if you choose to write a post, be sure to link it up over
at Mouse on the Mind… right here.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Happy KRM!

Melissa SueApril 8, 2015 - 8:15 am

!!! I can’t believe you got it down to two marries!! BRAVA, my darling.

Becky @ Disney in your DayApril 8, 2015 - 12:19 pm

<3 Baymax. And great point about the refurb, I would love to see them more mischievous again as well!

Stop and Stare | Kill Refurb Marry

Kill Refurb Marry

I have no idea what it is (winters’ fingers prying onto New York maybe) but I have been aching for a Disney vacation lately. I know I just got back from one in January but that already seems eons of years ago. (See? The cold ruins everything.) I’m making the best out of it here. It’s the second Wednesday in the month, Melissa and I are hosting another Kill Refurb Marry blog hop, AND I get to talk about one of my favorite vacation past times that you will not find in ANY guidebook. You won’t even find it on your Disney Experience. Nope. It has all to do with finding a shady place to sit and using your eyes.


Let’s face it — people from all corners of the world are roaming in Disney Parks. There’s so much to see. The couples, the families, the friends, and even the cast members. Non-stop entertainment folks, without the Fast Pass+ thingie. (And prime time to get your background loop listening in!) Maybe this is something I’m prone to do because of New York City and you can’t help but look when you crammed in a subway or walking down a street on a sunny day. This habit is one thing I do not leave behind in the North.

Time to hop to it!


The walkway from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. This could be a prime location to stake out and watch but there’s zero shade, the smell of exhaust from the Speedway is EVERYWHERE, and it’s always pretty crowded. In my wildest dreams, the Speedway would disappear and there might be some lovely trees, comfy benches. I hope this area gets some attention paid to it in the near future. It’s much more delightful to walk around in the dark … which kind of limits the people watching possibilities.


Fountain of Nations surrounding area. In January, James and I had some time to hang out in Future World and watch the amazing, wonderful, could it get any better Fountain of Nations show. Is there anything else more soothing? (I’ve loved it since I was a kid.) I don’t think so. But … the seating opportunities are slim pickings. With the Photo Pass moment facing Spaceship Earth taking up a ton of space, there are a few benches thrown around there — and you are lucky if you get to sit by them. How can this be fixed? I’m not sure. You COULD watch from inside the Fountainview Starbucks (not a terrible idea) but it’s still not the same as being outside, and even feeling sprinkles of fountain water on your face. Let’s give this space some love! (I wouldn’t mind if someone pitched a tent over here either… I could stay forever.)


Sunset Blvd in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As always, MARRY is the hardest EVER. I went with this one because I think Sunset Blvd. remains peaceful, even on the most crowded DHS day. People taking silly pictures in front of the Tower of Terror, in a panic before they head to the most intense rides of the park, and maybe those other special people taking the time to check out all the details on the way. We can’t forget the music. The old-time Hollywood feel is alive and well on Sunset Blvd. It’s the perfect place to have a seat, grab an apple turnover, and enjoy your morning coffee.


Harambe (near Dawa Bar) in Animal Kingdom. It can get a little tricky to plan this one right… but I really like that rock formation in front of the Dawa Bar — you get a great view of Burudika playing and oh gosh — the absolute best people watching moments unfold here. This band can get ANYONE to dance. (Not me, but just about anyone else.) There’s always a little kid moving and grooving like the world is not watching either. I love the band on its own, but the crowd certainly adds to reason why I see them multiple times in a park visit.

I can’t wait to hear about your favorite places to sit around the world!
Be sure to check out the blog hop landing page, and don’t be shy —
you can join in the linkup at any time! The page is live up until we do the next one.:)

Thanks for reading this, Kill Refurb Marry! See you again real soon.

Caitie FMarch 11, 2015 - 9:47 am

There should be a great people watching place there in the Magic Kingdom. I would say my favorite place to just sit and enjoy looking around is in Epcot right outside the caramel shop in Germany. There aren’t a ton of benches, but there are a couple of comfortable benches in the shade and it smells amazing.

Dan heatonMarch 11, 2015 - 10:04 am

I’d pick World Showcase in general as my place to marry, and it’s hard to pick one spot. That’s the best for people watching, and the paths are wide enough to avoid a bottleneck. That’s my issue in Harambe. It’s lively, and the band is great. However, it’s just a little bit too cramped for me. Still, I can totally see the appeal.

[…] that time of the month again! Another Kill Refurb Marry blog hop from Estelle and […]

AlexMarch 12, 2015 - 8:02 pm

Good choices! I completely agree with your refurb, too. I always attempt to sit outside of MouseGear on their weird seating {wouldn’t call it a bench…I don’t know what to call it} to watch but it never lasts.

The Beloved Sidekick | Kill Refurb Marry

Kill Refurb Marry

Kill Refurb Marry Day is always a good day. I like this subject a lot. I crowd-sourced a bit on Twitter before I wrote this and reasons why people love sidekicks seem to range from loving the actor who voiced them to remembering those feel-good characters.Which sidekick would you want for your best friend and which one could you live without? (This is starting to feel like a therapy session.) There’s also the question of who exactly is the sidekick in a duo like Buzz and Woody. (No one wanted to choose between the two so this became April’s KRM topic.) You’re welcome.

Enough dillydallying! Time to get this post started…


I’ve always been pretty vocal about my disdain for Iago. When I first saw Aladdin I probably didn’t give him too much thought so the final nail in the coffin was brilliant “under new management” years at The Tiki Room. Gilbert Gottfried is talented, don’t get me wrong, but no one wants his “singing” to infiltrate a relaxing and classy attraction. I’m sorry. It makes sense as the villain’s sidekick that Iago doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. When you spend your time following the bidding of an evil mastermind, it’s not surprising. Good riddance, Iago!


LeFou, I can’t deny that you are a good friend. You are extremely devoted to Gaston even if he’s always a shit to you. You don’t mind looking like the butt of all the jokes, but do you? DO YOU? I want to know your life story, LeFou, because I imagine it’s a pretty interesting one. How did you meet Gaston? What did you do after his death? Was it all an act? Even though you are pretty one-dimensional in the film, I have a hunch you are a complex. You might be having an affair with one of the triplets. Who knows? You might even be working in the castle right now (where I’m pretty sure the Beast is no longer a beast but the parent company of this whole creation seems to be confused about).


I love how I’m talking about so many of my childhood favorites in this version of Kill Refurb Marry. I think that’s saying something. Even though I could easily pick Pascal from Tangled or Louis from Princess in the Frog, maybe even Pegasus from Hercules, I’m sticking with an old love of mine. Meeko from Pocahontas. This rascally raccoon never speaks, but doesn’t have to. His expressions and actions say it all. He’s protective, he’s hungry, and he’s a big old mush.

Can’t wait to hear about your picks! Don’t be shy. Leave a comment or write up your own blog post; the more the merrier!

Be sure to head over to Mouse on the Mind‘s blog for her standout sidekick choices.

Caitie FFebruary 11, 2015 - 11:00 am

I totally agree with your Kill and Refurb. And that is a very solid choice for Marry. Meeko would easily make my top 5 (along with Piglet, Goofy, and Sebastian), but my ultimate winner would be Thumper.

Becky @ Disney in your DayFebruary 12, 2015 - 1:36 pm

I think the LeFou issue is true of a lot of sidekicks… makes me think of Smee as well!

[…] are not alone. I’ve been sitting here most of the night wondering the same thing. We fretted over sidekicks two months ago, and that’s different because in that relationship, someone is always on top. With partners, […]