HGTV's 'My Yard Goes Disney' transforms Oviedo family's backyard
Friends and family gather in the Farrells' backyard after HGTV revealed the makeover for a new series, "My Yard Goes Disney." (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel / May 11, 2011)
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Tim and Tracey Farrell and their children were selected to appear on HGTV's new series "My Yard Goes Disney," which debuts at 8 p.m. June 6. The show pairs HGTV designers with Walt Disney World Imagineers to transform six backyards.
The producer called "and I screamed and shook for half an hour," Tracey said. "I just couldn't believe it. I've watched HGTV forever."
The Farrells were asked not to tell their kids anything more than they had won a backyard makeover that would be Disney-themed. Tracey said she convinced Chatham, 10, and Molly, 6, that the transformation mainly would be flower beds similar to the ones guests see at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
In reality, the backyard is designed around a Mickey Mouse-shaped swimming pool to remind the Farrells of Disney Cruise Line's newest ship. The pool, of course, pays homage to one on the Dream and the ship's water coaster, the AquaDuck, with its curving slide. Chatham rode the AquaDuck 35 times during his family's five-day cruise to the Bahamas in February.
"The whole thing is that the family loves water, so the biggest installation here in the Farrell backyard is the Mickey pool," said Brandon Johnson, the host of "My Yard Goes Disney." "Not only is there a space for just the kids, but there is a hot tub [in the right ear] for Mom and Dad. Then in the left ear of Mickey, there is a sun deck, which is great for young children. We have the AquaDuck theme with the slide coming out of Chatham's lighthouse."
The Mickey Mouse pool is a showpiece for the latest in pool technology, including a freshwater sanitation system. Want one for your backyard? It'll cost about $35,000 for the pool and another $7,000 for the slide, said Mike Holland, CEO of Holland Pools, the company responsible for many of the water features on the HGTV series.
The Farrells' backyard makeover also includes a castle-shaped stage for performances that was created for Molly and her love of the Disney princesses.
"One of the things that happened on the ship is that Molly got to go up on stage and be one of the Seven Dwarfs [during The Golden Mickeys], and she loves to be a performer. Chatham is not shy either. So the designers drew from that experience," said Johnson, who also acts on Disney Channel's "Shake It Up."
Family and friends will notice another Disney influence when they enter the yard under a welcome sign that replicates one on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island. Other personal touches include a model of the lighthouse Chatham was named after, a whale-shaped fountain to honor Tracey's 27 whale-watching trips, and a working zipline — the family joked that the one Tim put up was always broken.
Most of the installation took place during two days in May when the network sent Molly and Chatham with their grandparents to Walt Disney World. When they returned, it was time for the reveal.
"It was pretty wild. Chatham screamed and jumped in the pool. They were totally overwhelmed. I don't think Molly talked for about 20 minutes," Tracey said. "At bedtime, Molly asked, 'Do we get to keep it?'"
The episode of "My Yard Goes Disney" featuring the Farrells will air at 8 p.m. June 20.