Florida family, devoted to Disney, has 3,500 souvenirs

July 29, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jennifer was 55 hours old in December when she took her first meal while at Chef Mickey's in the Magic Kingdom.

In fact, instead of going home from the hospital, she went straight to the House of the Mouse.

So far, Jennifer has yet to wet in anything but a Disney diaper, wear anything that isn't Disney-issue or sleep on anything but Disney sheets.

Jennifer is only the beginning.

Jennifer, her brother John, 8, and their parents, Joe and Sheri Girouex, have pushed the envelope of Disney devotion to Dumbo-size proportions.

Consider that for the past 11 years, the Girouexs have faithfully trekked to Walt Disney World three to five days each month.

Often staying on Disney property within sight of Cinderella's Castle, they spend an average of $175 a day on food and lodging. Discounted annual passes cost them a total of $455. In the past couple of years, they have spent an estimated $10,000 on souvenirs for themselves and gifts for friends. They live in an inviting three-bedroom home in southeastern Jacksonville that could easily pass for a Disney gift shop.

They have amassed an incredible collection, an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 pieces. Much of it is on display. Everything from bathroom fixtures to wallpaper, figurines to videotapes, microwave dishes to teething rings, shower curtains to monogrammed towels.

"Some people go off to Europe, the mountains, to the beach for vacations," Sheri Girouex said. "We go to Walt Disney World. It's our relaxation, our escape. It's a happy place, a fun place where you always feel good." "Disney is timeless and ageless," Joe Girouex said.

"I'd say these people would rank among Mickey's very best friends," said John Dryer, a Walt Disney World spokesman.

The clues are everywhere, starting with the Mickey mailbox, the Mickey door knocker and the Mickey welcome mats.

Neighbors put Santa up in lights in the front yard at Christmas. The Girouexs display Disney characters, including a giant set of mouse ears on the roof.

Some displays of Disney devotion aren't so obvious: The Girouexs have an official Disney baking soda odor eater in their refrigerator.

Out in the garage are the official Disney golf clubs, club covers and bag, not to mention his and her bowling balls with Mickey's and Minnie's smiling faces.

When the Girouexs whip letters out of their home computer, they are created on Mickey Mouse software and pop from the printer embossed with Disney characters.

Last year, the couple made about $65,000.

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