Sorry this has taken so long to get up. My original intent was to do this as I was at MouseFest, but by the time I had gotten each day written, I only had a few more hours before I had to be up again. If I wanted to edit the post and get pictures in, I probably would've never gone to bed. So, I sat on them until I got home. Then I had trouble getting the RAW image files converted to JPEG and uploaded to Flickr. So, it took me till today to get Day 01 Posted. Enjoy......
Well, this morning began bright and early. The wife and I had a 4:30AM wake up call (aka the alarm in my cell phone ) so that we could catch our 6:15AM flight from Oklahoma City to Houston. Then from Houston we were to go to Orlando.
We got lucky at the airport and were able to park in the garage attached to the airport. Usually, by Thursday, this parking structure is already full.
We breezed through security and got to our gate about 10 minutes before they started boarding. The first leg of our journey was pretty empty and it didn't take long before we were both asleep.
In Houston, we lucked out again because our next gate was right across the hallway from the gate we arrived at. We went to Wendy's and picked up some breakfast items and headed back to our gate. At this time we found out that we were having to change planes because there were "mechanical" difficulties with our current plane.
So, we had to go around the corner to catch or next plane. Other than that minor hiccup everything went smoothly.
I really had a hard time being comfortable on the flight from Houston to Orlando. The flight clocks in around 2.5 hours and I had really sore abdominal muscles since that was the muscle group I worked out at the gym the previous day. No matter how I positioned myself in the chair, I couldn't get comfortable.
Needless to say, I was happy when we landed in Orlando. We made our way to baggage claim and noticed that there was a new, unfamiliar voice on the speaker in the tram that takes you to baggage claim.
We met our driver from Quicksilver and he waited with us as we got our bags. Then it was off to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. Even though we reserved a towncar, once again, we were picked up in a Cadillac Escalade. On our way to the Dolphin, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some essentials: water, breakfast bars and Dr. Pepper (Hell hath no fury like my wife without Dr. Pepper).
The check-in at the Dolphin was smooth and we were quickly to our room where I immediately tried to start contacting Tim Devine (The Magic in Pixels) and the Taylor Boys (Imaginerding). I wasn't successful in getting George or Andy Taylor, but I knew that since he was a Sprint customer, like myself, that service was spotty, at best, in the parks. I did get Tim and let him know that I'd call when we got into the park.
While I was doing this, my wife was unpacking. She simply cannot function until all the bags are unpacked and all it's contents are put away.
As we walked out the room to go the Magic Kingdom, we discovered that our door wasn't latching. No matter what we did, the door wouldn't stay latched. Despite what some people may think about me, I'm not a big enough idiot to not know how to shut a door. So we called down to the front desk to see what they could do for us. I just assumed they'd move us to another room since there were plenty of available rooms (according to the gentleman who checked us in). Well, this wasn't the case. They were insistent that maintenance come and check it out.
After waiting for 20 minutes and not having anyone show up, my wife called down again and informed them that we were here for MouseFest and we had a meet to get to and couldn't just be sitting around all day waiting for someone to fix our door. She was told that they would try to get someone from security to come sit in our room so we could go to the parks. She was told to wait and they'd call back when they knew when he was coming.
After 10 more minutes we got a call that security could not come because there was an "incident" in the hotel that was occupying their time. But, the person promised someone would be there in soon.
Well, it took a grand total of an hour of frustratingly painful time but a maintenance person was eventually dispatched to our room. As soon as I opened the door, he had a Phillips head screwdriver in hand. He loosened the strike plate on the door jam, gave it a slight tap, then tightened it down again and the door closed fine.
We were informed that housekeeping tends to engage the deadbolt and then let the door slam shut. The deadbolt keeps the door from closing and locking behind them while they are cleaning the room. Well, the process of doing that causes the deadbolt to slam into the strike plate and knocks it out of alignment.
Now that crisis has been resolved, we made our way to the bus to head over the the Magic Kingdom. Luck was on our side again because the bus showed up pretty much as soon as we did.
After breezing through the bag check (aka the rubber glove treatment), we made our way to the "will call" window to pick up our tickets I had pre-purchased for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
The Cast Member behind the desk was very appreciative that I had brought my confirmation number [ed note: Readers take note! It's always a good idea to keep your cast members happy]. She informed me that most people do not and it really slows down the process of getting the guest their tickets.
We used our Annual Passes to get into the Magic Kingdom. Once inside, we tried to reach George again, but didn't have much luck. At this point, it was quickly apparent that we were trapped by the Mickey's Dreams Can Come True Parade.
Since we really couldn't get anywhere easily and we had already missed Mike Scopa's MouseFest 101 Meet, we decided to watch the parade from the round-a-bout near the train station. I pulled out my camera (big surprise) and attempted to take some pictures in the poor afternoon light. The light was really poor because the sun's position caused harsh shadowing to occur on everything. The built-in flash wasn't strong enough to alleviate the problem.
After the parade, we decided that it be best to try and get some food in our bellies. Even though my wife was still recovering from a nasty stomach bug she felt it wise to put something in her stomach.
I got the 8-piece chicken nugget meal with fries and a Coke and my wife shared that with me. We got a seat near Sonny Eclipse and enjoyed the campy entertainment that we all love at this establishment. While we ate, I got ahold of Tim Devine. He met us at the restaurant with one of his good friends that he met at MouseFest 2006.
After the TTA, we decided it was time to get a little Buzz Lightyear in. I had one of my worst scores yet, but that may have been due to the fact that I was trying to take pictures AND play the game at the same time. Tim, once again, racked up a huge score and my wife was close behind. I must say that every time I start to get on a roll, my wife hits the joystick and moves the car on me unexpectedly and screws me up. I really wish the astroblasters were removable like on the Disneyland version. I rocked when I could shoot over my shoulder.
After Space Ranger Spin, Tim tried to get some snack food before his meet, but the line was slower than the DMV, so he eventually had to give up. We had to walk very quickly to get to the Tomorowland Noodle Terrace which was the location of Tim's Photography 101 meet.
It was here that I finally got to ever so briefly meet up with Andy and George of Imaginerding. They stopped by to say "hi" on their way out of the park. They had an ADR at EPCOT Center and had to get going if they were going to make it.
Tim's Photography 101 meet was very informative and he got across many important bits of information for the person who is trying to pick up the hobby of photography. Plus, it was well attended by people from many of the communities being represented at MouseFest.
Unfortunately, just as Tim was finishing, the Wishes fireworks started. For us, the vacation hasn't started until we've seen Wishes, so we had to speed on out of the meet, and make our way to see the fireworks. I guess we weren't the only ones who felt this way, because the start of Wishes! pretty much spelled the end of the Meet.
I attempted some hand-held shots of the fireworks, but didn't have much luck.
After Wishes was done, we made our way back to where Tim was and he was still surrounded by MouseFest attendees who were asking him photography questions. As we waited for him to finish, we saw Lou Mongello and his "entourage" walk by but I didn't have a chance to get his attention. I'm sure I'll run into him again.
It was at this point that Tim decided that it was time to get his ticket for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and retrieve his tripod from his friend's car. Since we already had our tickets, and we knew that it would take Tim some time to get his tasks accomplished, we decided to part ways temporarily.
After getting our blue wristbands at the Rose Garden, the first place my wife and I decided to go was the Haunted Mansion. As my long standing readers will recall, we got the luxury of being at the Haunted Mansion for it's rededication in September. This time, I decided the camera was going to stay in my lap and I was going to try and enjoy the attraction as a "normal" guest would.
It was rather nice to not to view the attraction through a viewfinder. I just sat there and enjoyed the scenery and the accomplishments of the talented Imagineers who really spiffed up this classic Disney Attraction.
After getting off Haunted Mansion, I had decided it was time to put on my sweatshirt. My wife had already changed into warmer clothes before Tim's Photography 101 meet. I on the other hand, had held out. It got cool quick after the sun went down. In fact, you could almost feel it getting colder with each step you took.
At this point we decided it was time to partake in some of the hot chocolate and sugar cookies that we had heard about.
Firstly, the hot chocolate was exactly that....hot....scalding hot. We got the hot chocolate near the Columbia Harbor House and I resisted taking a sip until we were close to Pirates of the Caribbean and I still burnt my tongue. The sugar cookie was so-so. I could really do without them. I have been spoiled over the years with my wife's skillful crafting of Christmas dessert confections, so it's hard for me to be wowed by outside sources.
We hung around the store outside Pirates until we could get our fill of the hot chocolate. While we were there, a Cast Member pointed out to us where a coin from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl had been hidden, as well as, where Davy Jones' keys from the second movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
We dumped the rest of our hot chocolate and walked right onto the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. While on Pirates, Tim called my cell to inform me his was back in the park.
When we got off Pirates, I called Tim back and found that they were waiting for me and my wife outside the Main Street Bakery.
We took a wrong turn and ended up going the long way, but we eventually got to Main Street which was now getting quite packed in preparation for the night's festivities.
After catching up with them, we decided it was time to eat again. Once again, we went back to Cosmic Ray's. This time, my wife and I both got a 1/4 lb cheeseburger. I loaded my burger up with the sauteed mushrooms and pickles (mmmmmm.....mushrooms).
We joined Tim, Will, and a friend from The Magic In Pixels Forum and his wife (Gary and Karen). Our seats were in view of the Dance Party that was going on in the space normally occupied by Sonny Eclipse.
We actually hung around for awhile. It turns out that my wife and Karen (Gary's wife) are both Emergency Room Nurses. So, they hit it off and started talking shop and swapping war stories.
About 30 minutes before the fireworks were to go off, we decided it was time to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority again. This is always a nice time killer. You could definitely tell this wasn't Tim's first trip on the attraction because he could recite the spiels word for word.
It was at this time that it became quickly apparent that this trip was going to be like none other. If Tim had hair, he really lets it down within Disney's property borders. There was lots of laughing and goofing off going on. I was in a car with my wife and Gary's wife. But, I could tell that they were having a grand ole time in the car in front of us.
It was decided that we weren't going to attempt to setup our tripods at the Rose Garden where the official MouseFest Fireworks Meet was occurring because the angle wasn't good for photos. Plus, there would most certainty be a tightly packed group of people who may or may not be appreciative of 3 tripods being setup. So, Tim led us to a spot smack dab in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. and we setup shop.
I took quite a few pictures of the fireworks during the party, but only time will tell if I finally bagged a trophy to be mounted on the wall. To my left during the fireworks was Patrick Hurd from the Window To The Magic podcast. It just so happens that Patrick and I hail from the same location in Oklahoma.
Before the parade we decided it was time to head toward the Partners Statue and attempt to take some stellar shots of Cinderella's Castle all adorned with the Dream Lights. We were here for awhile trying various settings to see if we got the perfect shot.
As luck would have it, someone asked Tim to take their picture. The perfectionist that he is, he wouldn't give up until he got them a good shot using their point-and-shoot camera. It turns out they were familiar with his web site and he introduced himself. This wasn't the first time someone had recognized him and I'm sure it won't be the last. I guess that is why he carries business cards. If people recognized me, I just might need to do the same thing.
We positioned ourselves on Main Street U.S.A. and attempted to take some hand-held shots of the parade. The soap bubbles that were to double as snow in Orlando really made things fun as my flash was rebounding off them and creating an interesting haze in my photos. Instead of tripods we braced ourselves against the lamp posts to try and prevent sideways swaying.
After the parade, Tim ran into Jonathan Dichter and John Corigliano. John hung out with a bit as we decided to go to the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe to look for various Christmas related items. On our way to Liberty Square, we crossed paths with Steve Barrett of Hidden Mickey fame. A short exchange of pleasantries were made and we continued on our way.
None of us found what we were looking for. Tim was looking for the Haunted Mansion addition to his Disney Christmas Village and we were looking for "It's A Small World" Christmas Ornaments. We were both told that our best bet was to go to the 25 Days of Christmas shop in Downtown Disney.
After feeling defeated, we headed back to Main Street. Tim and his crew headed toward home while my wife and I decided to pop into the new location for The Art of Disney.
We found some "It's a Small World" Christmas Ornaments, but they weren't the ones we were tasked to locate (My wife's sister Julie gets these ornaments for Collin). What we had found were Walt Disney Classic Collection pieces. They were $30 each while what we were looking for were $30 for 6.
Now that we truly felt defeated, we called it a night and headed to the bus. Once again, it pulled up just as we got to the stop. There were only about 8 people on the bus. It was at this point that we realized that our bus was going to be making stops at the Boardwalk Resort before heading to the Swan & Dolphin.
Well, my luck must've run out because on our way to the elevator at the Dolphin, my contact lens popped out. I was noticing some agitation in my eye after getting off the bus. It was acting real dry and itchy. I recognized the signs of a possible contact dislodgment so I attempted to keep that eye shut. The more I tried to keep it shut, the more it seemed to want to open. As soon as I lost the battle and my eyelid popped open, the lens was out of there. I didn't bring a backup because that was my last lens and I've been too preoccupied with life to get new lenses after we moved to Oklahoma from Houston. Plus, the prescription was lost in the move.
So, I'll be going the rest of the trip sans contacts. Fortunately, I mainly wear the lens to prevent eye strain from all the hours I spend on the computer. So, hopefully, I'll be alright. I did bring my glasses, but I switched to contacts just so I could wear sunglasses. I will choose to go without contacts and risk the headache so I can wear my sunglasses.
If you want to view all 357 photos that I took of the first day at MouseFest you can see them at my Flickr account: MouseFest 2007 (Day 01). Feel free to click through and have a look around. More photos than I could possibly put in a blog post. If you were there, you might just see yourself.