As I write this, the past week has been a bit stressful. Fortunately, some of that stress was relieved by the arrival of a couple of subscription boxes, one of which was particularly exciting. So, let’s dive in!
This month’s Kitnip Box theme is “Royalty.”
The first item of bling listed on the card is the Royal Ring by the ironically-named Vegan Cat. This is a relatively big toy, but it’s the first one I found any of the cats playing with of their own volition out of this box.
The Safemade Fuzzy Fun Toy rattling balls got the cats’ attention. Gizmo, in particular, likes playing with balls that he can bat around. However, he really likes the ones he can pick up and carry in his mouth, and these may be a bit too big for that.
The handmade crown by LeKiwi didn’t elicit much of a response when we tossed it across the room. However, we’ve found that these sorts of toys do better when the cats stumble across them and start wrestling with them.
Same goes for the catnip Keep Calm pillow from Ocala. Personally, I’ve gotten tired of the “Keep Calm” meme, because it frustrates me that it’s everywhere, and I doubt most people spreading it, wearing it, whatever, have any idea of its origins in wartime Britain. But, you know, a catnip pillow toy is a catnip pillow toy. The cats aren’t going to read it, anyway.
Third in variations on a theme, we have a catnip Queen Bee from Safemade. Again, this has been left out to be discovered and mauled.
Finally, for some variety in the toys, we got a pair of Royal Mouse Slippers from Ocala. They’re at least a different shape and size than the catnip pillows, designed more for chewing. They’re light enough that Gizmo could carry them around, if he so chooses. And the card says that they’re good for cleaning the cats’ teeth, which is something they all need help with.
Finally, while the card said this box contained dental treats—which we are getting our cats used to—we actually got holistic natural feline treats from Bench & Field. While treats are always welcome—in small doses—we are focusing their treat-getting on dental treats right now. And, if these aren’t crunchy, Rumplestilskin probably won’t eat them anyway.
Individually, there are some cute pieces this month, and, as you can see here, Gizmo is definitely interested in the royal ring. (Apologies for the pillarboxed format. I wasn't thinking when I took the video and held my phone the wrong way.)
However, the abundance of catnip pillows, while adorable, isn’t really stirring my creative juices as far as writing about them.
Those creative juices were much more stimulated by the arrival of our first Ghost Post box from the Ghost Relations Department of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. This box is limited to three monthly boxes, and the number of subscribers was limited to 999. Reading the description, we were intrigued at the idea this this isn’t a typical subscription box full of collectibles.
“Each box is a chapter in an unfolding story that connects you directly to the ghosts of the Haunted Mansion. In the boxes, each item will have certain hidden qualities and secrets for you to discover, and each one will become a prop in your experience – revealing a little bit more of the story.” Each of the objects in the box is designed to interact with an iPhone app, and that all becomes part of the story.
It should be obvious from this blog that my wife and I are subscription box addicts, and we are also Disney addicts, particularly the attractions at the Disney Parks. I am really fascinated with the idea of stories based on the attractions, whether it’s the backstory to the Tower of Terror (and its connections to the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe in Disney’s California Adventure) or the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, or the Disney Kingdoms comics based on attractions like Figment/Journey Into Imagination or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. So, despite the high price tag, we went ahead and subscribed, in the brief window before they sold out.
The box itself is a beautiful design, very much in keeping with the Haunted Mansion theme.
Upon opening, we found a letter and a manila envelope glued to the inside of the lid, while a couple of objects—a teacup and a small figurine—were nestled in a protective cardboard insert.
Underneath that insert, we found a few more flat objects:
a cardboard kit that assembled into a housing for your “phantom radio,” which is the iPhone app,
And a deck of cards featuring characters and images from the Haunted Mansion.
Inside the manila envelope, we found several more artifacts: a copy of the Grim Gazette (a newspaper from the spirit realm),
An instruction card detailing how to get and sign into the phantom radio app (along with some in-story history),
An invitation to the wedding of Constance Hatchaway Harper Banks—a name familiar to fans of the Haunted Mansion—and the Marquis de Doome,
And a broom advertisement with some mysterious holes punched and burned into it.
And this is the point at which I have to explain how I have decided to write about this box. So much of the fun comes from discovering how things work and the messages that are revealed, I don’t want to spoil things too much. Maybe in a few months, when we have all the boxes and the story is completed, I’ll post a more detailed description showing all the tricks. For now, I’m going to talk about them in more general terms.
If you look at the letter from the Ghost Relations Department, it says, “Most mortals find spirit writing easiest to read when the paper is dampened with water.” This was one of our first clues that there was more to this box than just scanning the items with our iPhones and listening to audio clips. Sure enough, when we dampened the paper with water, hidden messages appeared directing us to do different things with the objects.
For example, the wedding invitation played one message when we pointed the Phantom Radio at it. However, a clue about the cold led us to put the invitation in the freezer briefly, and this was the result:
When we scanned the death notice that it had transformed into, we got an entirely different message.
The teacup and figurine were similarly multi-purposed. While they both played audio clips when scanned, the teacup also interacted with another object to reveal another hidden message. The broom ad also paired up with another object to reveal yet another secret. And when both the figurine and iPhone were inserted into the cardboard Phantom Radio, the figurine acted as a tuner.
One final cool wrinkle is that the phantom radio app will apparently play messages or reveal clues or something at specific locations in Disneyland. We will be going to Disneyland soon, so I will report on this feature once we see how it works.
According to the web site, this whole thing isn’t without its bugs. For example, some people have reported having trouble getting the phantom radio to work in the Disneyland park. Others have reported that their phantom radio played clips associated with objects in next month’s box, instead of the correct clips for this month’s objects. (We had one instance of that ourselves.) The Disney Store has promised an update of the app to correct those issues, so hopefully that’ll all be worked out.
Overall, this has already turned out to be a really fun box to play with. We went through everything once, and I already want to go and try to read and listen to everything again to try to put all the clues together. For us, the experience has been well worth the money, and we’re really looking forward to the next two boxes. Knowing that this had such limited availability is a plus, because it makes us feel as if we are part of a special club.
I’ll talk about future installments of the Ghost Post as we receive them. Then, at some future date, when it won’t matter if someone comes across this blog by Googling “Haunted Mansion Ghost Post,” I’ll go into more detail about all the secrets in the box. In the meantime, I hope you understand why I am reluctant to spill the beans.
See you next week!