The adventure began when we decided we were going to Mickey’s Halloween party at Disneyland.
(Oct. 21 2013), dressed up. If you go to Disney we thought we should do a Disney character couple. I’m a big guy so we wanted it to look good and fitting. When we first got married all those years ago I could be charming or one of any of the other princes. And Wendy could be any of the princesses too. We reviewed what we could do and Carl and Russell just leaped out as the one. Personality wise I am just an old version of Russell; at heart I’m a 12-year-old.
If you are going to look like a character then you should “look” like them. So began the research. 1st up pun intended, I wanted to look like I was Russell, stepped out from the film. I wanted people to look and immediately know who we were. OH MY HECK! We did it! As soon as we started moving from the parking to Downtown Disney and the parks; the comments and photo’s started. For the entire day and night I don’t know if we moved more than 100 feet between people asking for a photo. It was SO fun. My wife and I had a blast. I don’t think we quite laughing and saying thank you until we got in the car and then we lived it all over again laughing all the way back to our room. We are still riding the wave even now. When anyone asks or sees our photos we get to relive that night.
My wife says I fret over too much detail, but the devil is in the details. I worked for a number of weeks after work when I could. As I came up with what I needed for our costumes I realized there are not any places you can get “Russell” stuff. I couldn’t even find a hat and shirt the right shade of yellow that matched. I got a white shirt that was close from a thrift store and the right new white hat. I sewed and modified the shirt to look right then I dyed the hat and shirt the right color. It came out nice.
The patches were tough. I have never found anywhere you can get embroidered patches for the Wilderness Explores. I had to make them then. I needed one on the hat, one for the shirt and two big ones for my flag/pendant. I don’t have the machine to embroider so I used felt. The first couple were ugly because I tried to sew them and put some stitching on it. I finally used felt and fusible pellon. I cut each of the shapes and pieces ironed pellon on one side and then put the layers together with the iron and pellon. They turned out pretty good.
The backpack was one of the biggest challenges. There is nowhere in Utah or on the internet where you will find a yellow backpack like Russell’s. I spent weeks looking and when I found nothing I knew I had to make my own. I found the perfect material on eBay. In fact eBay is where I found a lot of what I need to put the backpack together. I made up a pattern looking at the film and a book I found on the Wilderness Explorers. The book was a great asset for both the patches and the backpack. I don’t sew a lot so getting the backpack right took me awhile. I made it so I could hang all of the items around the top. If I need to I can even use to go camping now. I have two or three already that hold more and are much better for backpacking though.
I used a frame form and old backpack and fit the new yellow one to work with it. I gave it a puff look with an Avengers beach ball and foam padding. That way I was only packing 10-12 lbs. for the night. I followed the same pattern of items on the pack as in all the shots from the movie. I have lots of camping gear but I didn’t have the right flashlight, a bugle or a Swiss Army knife I could use that Disney would allow in the parks. I think I bid on a dozen bugles before I found one that I just bought (it’s a nice real one). The best item I got was a toddler Swiss Army knife. It is over sized and all plastic. It works and is a Swiss Army knife. Cool! I made some straps to hold the mess kit and used carabineers to attach all the other stuff. There is a lot of stuff back there!
The flag/pendant was almost easy compared to the rest. Maybe I was just humming along now. I made two large patches. They are way easier to do than the smaller ones on the shirt and hat. I wanted the flag/pendant to stand out like Russell’s does. I sewed stiff thin craft foam in-between the yellow base so it is always flying! I sewed the patches on and attached it to a wood dowel. I sewed a very small pocket/sleeve on the outside of the backpack for the dowel to set in like a stirrup. The flag is between the backpack and the frame. That way it doesn’t move all over or fall and poke someone.
The badge sash was custom fit on me. I made a very long long (remember I am a big guy) brown strip with the edges hemmed up. I also backed it with a heavy pellon so it stayed flat and gave something for the badges to be sewn to. The patches are a mix of really old scout badges and a few from my boys and a hand full I made like Russell’s. I use the same technique as the Wilderness Explorers badges on the shirt, hat and flag/pendant.
The items to finish were a neckerchief, the slide and the leather pennant on his shirt. The neckerchief is just a very large triangle in the right color. It didn’t take long to sew. The slide to hold it was a little bit of wood working. I grabbed a block of pine from my shop and drilled a hole though the center. I then got to carve it round on the outside and leave the “W” raised. The leather was fun to tool. I just followed the Wilderness Explorers one Russell has on his shirt. I drew the pattern lightly on the leather and tooled the pattern and W.
The shorts were a pair of lady’s caprices that I modified. I cut and hemmed them so they were the right length and have a good look. I put bright orange laces in a pair of all brown hiking shoes I have. The socks are classic Russell, drooping down and loose. I am “Russell” I still wear my socks like that with a suit.
Carl was a piece of cake compared to Russell. I simply had to find the right pant and jacket for my wife. We searched over a number of thrift shops over the course of a few months and found what we wanted in the right size. I did sew the bow tie. Compared to all the other sewing I had done, it was quick and easy. The wig glasses and make-up were all found online at various places. It did take a while to find the right glasses. The walker was from a thrift store. I love our thrift stores here the Deseret Industries. I wasted four old tennis balls for the bottom and “Carl” was done, almost. We needed a nose. A clown nose just doesn’t work and it is the wrong color too. I ended up carving a make-up egg so she could use some spirit gum and attach it to her cute little button nose of her own.
I had so much fun making this Carl and Russell couple Halloween costume. It was challenging and so gratifying when we overcame obstacles. I probably spent way more time and energy than I should have but it was so much fun. I had no idea how much MORE fun it would be wearing them. People were so fun with their reactions. I saw some do a double take and laugh. I don’t remember how many times I “caught” someone with their phone at their side trying to take a photo. When I saw it I would tell them it was fine, or ask “don’t you want a good picture” then they would come around and take one or two good photos.
I don’t know how many times we posed for photos; it was one or two hundred. It felt like more. When we went to the parks we went early so we could get a picture with Doug in California Adventure. We made our way down Buena Vista Street and got to Carthay circle. We had a cast member have us follow her to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail so we could get a photo with Doug. The cast members all took pictures and made a special photo arrangement for us. Doug and Russell are not usually together at the same time. They came out together and we got some great picture moments. We also got to ride in the VIP car for the parade that night! How cool is that. The photo pass gal added Kevin to one of our pictures. It is totally awesome. I want to wear it every Halloween now, but we won’t because if you do something different each year you get to have new fun and remember:
Adventure is out there!