First things first, this is something I do for fun. In no way are these cards associated with Universal Studios, Disney or any of their partners and or affiliates. They are completely OFFICIALLY UNOFFICIAL.
Before I tell you a little about me and the story behind the cards, let me tell you about the cards.
I grew up as a baseball card collector. I loved opening the packs. The look, the feel, the excitement of pulling your favorite player! I wanted to recreate that with these cards. They are printed on 16 point card stock. The prototype cards were 14 point and I didn't feel that was sturdy enough. They didn't have that baseball card feel to them. Flimsy would be accurate. I make the decision to bump up the card stock level. The majority of the cards have a UV gloss coat on them, much like todays baseball cards. Some of them have a matte finish which is much like the vintage cards of the past. I like both! Some prefer the glossy finish as it feel it adds some "professionalism" to the card. While others like the vintage look and feel of the matte finish. Like I said, I like both! I have leaned very heavily on the glossy finish style.
There are usually 12-16 cards in a series or set. I did this originally for printing purposes and also the original plastic cases I used for sets held 16 cards. I do not print these at home. I design them then send them off to my print shops to have them printed. I work with several print shops for Autographs For a Cure, my nonprofit that I started, and I use the same shops for the theme park cards. The only thing is I have to print in bulk. I can't just print 1 custom card for someone, I have to print 100 of the same card. It works for the theme park cards because I am able to hide a bunch! =)
I put together mystery park packs. I grab anywhere from 4-8 random cards, they can contain the park cards, the music card, or a mixture of both. I put those in my cellophane baggie with my tag card. The tag card is a business card that basically says "Congratulations, you've found me. You are free to keep or rehide for someone else to find. Please post in one of the groups to let me know its been found" I load up my hip pack, (a fanny pack I wear on the side) and them I head to the parks to find some amazing spots to hide the cards.
Now, I bet you are wondering who "The Card Guy" is. Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Rhoades. I moved to Orlando from Michigan roughly 5 years ago. Why you ask? I don't like the cold and snow. Simple answer.
Five years ago, I was also diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I was not just going to roll over and die. I have had three major surgeries. Radio active Iodine (like chemo, but specific for thyroid cancer), endless tests, scans, and other doctor related things. Still, not cancer free, but fighting.
I needed to exercise. I did not want to spend hours in the gym starting at a TV or listening to music on a treadmill. I decided the theme parks would be my gym. I would just go and walk the parks for exercise. You would be surprised how many miles/ step you do at the theme parks.
One day at Universal, I stumbled across something "hidden" near a bench. I picked it up and it was something a crafter had made and hid for someone to find. To by surprise, there are whole communities on Facebook that do this at the parks. Crafting items and hiding them for guests to find is a thing, who knew!!
I was hooked. I quickly joined several Facebook crafting groups. Basically this is how it works. People sometimes post photo clues on where they hide items or just "blind drop" items for people to find without clues. The items usually bag and tagged with a message. People follow the clues or someone randomly stumbled across "hidden treasure". They can choose to keep it, leave it or rehide it for someone else to find.
Crafting is not exactly my specialty. I do not have the time or patience for many crafts, but I have been a long time baseball card collector. I thought it might be a fun thing for people to find. I had no idea it would take off like it did!
I started to find ways to make custom cards and get them printed. I did a test run of the print and while I liked them, I was not completely satisfied with them. After some trial and error, I came up with my craft, THE OFFICIALLY UNOFFICIAL THEME PARK TRADING CARDS!
I started hiding cards and people loved them. With so many great characters, attractions, and other amazing things at the parks, the cards pretty much made themselves. My camera roll is filled with thousands of pictures from the parks. I would just insert them into the templates and just like that, I had more cards ready to print.
The cards became very popular among the crafters and are very sought after. I am lucky enough to be a local pass holder, so I am able to get to the parks more often than most. I make regular trips to walk, ride, and hide.
The "park packs" have grown too. It started just hiding a couple cards. I now hide packs that have anywhere from 4-8 random cards in them. I post photo clues on the Facebook pages of the crafting sites. The hide usually do not last long.
As I have continued to create cards, I quickly realized how many great team members are in the parks to entertain us. I have taken a lot of photos of character meet and greets and put them on cards. I gift the cards to the team members any chance I get. The expression on their faces when they get "their" cards are priceless. They are so appreciative of the gift and it really brings me as lot of joy to do so.
I am still getting use to the fact that people "know" me as "The Card Guy". I get asked randomly at the parks, which is still a new concept for me, but its sinking in now.
I won't lie, I love the single rider lines at the parks. When I am walking and hiding, Loved to jump on a ride or two. Velocicoaster is amazing, but I am an MIB (Men In Black) nut. There is something special about an interactive game. I try to max out each and every time. The Haunted Mansion was a favorite as a kid and remains one today. Star Wars Rise of the Resistance can not be classified as a ride, its an experience!
The parks are my happy place. I have rode all the rides, seen all the shows, but i continue to go. Even if I had never found the crafting groups, I would still be at the parks. The cards and the crafters have just added another special element to some amazing places.
I have no plans to slow down. It was an amazing year with some amazing memories. I am so glad that so many people have been able to enjoy the cards. I get messages and comments all the time "You made my day", "These are so cool", "THANK YOU THANK THANK YOU!" I try to hide as many as I can but also love meeting up with people when they are at the parks to give or trade them cards. I have meet some amazing people, guests and team members. Many of the people that find the cards, I have never met in person.
I will work on adding more of everything to the site and to the roster of cards. And I will continue to get use to being known as "The Card Guy"!