Monday, December 31, 2007

Who would've Known?

June 25, 2007, marked the birth of Grumpy's Hollow.  My first series of posts were my trip reports from my 5 day trip to Disneyland.  A trip that would be one of 3 trips to a Disney Theme Park in 2007.

I had been talking about doing a Disney blog for a long time prior to that, but couldn't really see myself capable of saying anything worthwhile.  After much persuasion by my good friend and ImagiNerd, George, I took the plunge.

Who would've known that the way I recounted my trip to Disneyland would be found appealing to people around the world.  After all, I don't tend to write short posts and the trip reports come with tons of pictures.  These weren't the typical one paragraph per day trip reports that you see scattered around the Internet.  I never would've guessed people would have the patience to sit through them.  I just figured they would be viewed as the verbal equivalent of forcing my friends to sit through the viewing of 2000 slides of my trip (you may only get that reference if you were born before the 1980's...haha)

I got a lot of feedback on those initial trip reports and I just decided to keep saying what came to mind.

My blog quickly became more than Trip Reports.  But I still remembered what brought many of my readers here and provided additional trip reports for my September trip to Disney World, as well as, the recent MouseFest extravaganza.

I'm still amazed that people like my trip reports.  But what amazes me even more would be that my most remembered post of 2007 was my Theme Park Footprint post.  What I thought might've been my most controversial post actually turned out to be well received. 

I haven't been alone in this.  My lovely wife, who goes by the moniker Enchanted Rose, occasionally decides to come out of hiding to provide her perspective on things.  But, I think the most exciting thing she brings is a very crafty point of view.  Her posts on her quilts and scrapbooking have gotten a lot of attention.  She is constantly talking about what her next installment is going to be.

I have also made some great friends in the mere 6 months this blog has been alive.

It's no secret that I am friends with Tim Devine of The Magic in Pixels.  But, 6 months ago I didn't know him as anything other than the owner of a great Disney photography forum.

We met for the first time at Disneyland in June.  He was there on a much needed West Coast vacation and he asked me to give him a call when I got to the parks. Who would've known that I would make a great friend in the 2 days I spent with him and his wonderful wife and kid at the parks.  It also happened that his wife and my wife hit it off.  That meant that Tim and I could have more time to take pictures since the wives were able to talk to each other. 

I have known George and Andy Taylor, of ImagiNerding, (my brothers from another mother) much longer.  I cannot remember how long I have been talking to George via instant messenger or over the phone but it was way before the birth of this blog.  As I stated earlier, he was instrumental in convincing me to build "The Hollow".  In fact, when I was at Disneyland, I think I called him every day to let him know how much fun I was having.  He was also the one I called to tell him about getting stuck on Splash Mountain during my September trip.

Along the way, I was also able to make friends with Jeff Pepper, of 2719 Hyperion (Did I tell you he did my logo?).  My friendship with Jeff may be really new, but he has already has been kind enough to pass on sage parenting advice to my wife while we were at MouseFest.

Who would've known that an adult male actually exists that is shorter than Lou Mongello?  Well, he exists and it's yours truly [Ed note:  I do believe your biceps may be ever so slightly bigger].  What's Lou going to do if I ever get half as famous as he is and all the short jokes get pointed in my direction? 

I was finally able to meet the man with the golden touch during MouseFest.  Like there was ever any doubt, but he is genuinely as nice as one would imagine from listening to him on his Podcasts all these years.  Lou and I definitely have one thing in common.  That is having very supportive wives which is essential.  If it wasn't for their support, we'd have had to shut this stuff all down a long time ago.

The Year 2007 was a short one for Grumpy's Hollow, but I know 2008 holds many exciting things.  The blogging community is just now starting to take off.  New blogs are starting every day and we all are trying to spread the love to each other so our voices can be heard.  Nothing but good things can be around the corner when people work together.

The louder our voices, the more power we may have when something important comes along and we need the right ears to hear them (you know they are listening don't you).

So, I would just like to thank you all for coming by all the time to see what crazy things I am talking about.  I'm even more grateful when you all post comments.  It's really nice to know you aren't speaking in an empty room <wink>.

So don't be strangers in 2008.  There is an endless supply of great drinks to be had, plenty of empty steins, and great places to kick one's feet up.  Just check your apples carefully before you bite in.  You never know when that Evil Queen has stopped by to leave behind a deadly cargo.

Finally, I'd like to say.....

To all my family members and co-workers who read this blog......Thanks for humoring this Disney Hobby of mine.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Grumptastic Links: Evidence of Matt Hochberg's Dinosaur Adventure

I have been a bad DisFriend :(  But I hope this post will make up for it.....

Lisa Farry (aka Sambycat aka Jennifer's BFF aka Half of Those Darn Cats), has posted on her blog, my life on the WDW d-list, methods by which to see pictures or hear audio of Matt Hochberg's charitable, yet fearful, jaunt on that bone jarring dark ride known as Dinosaur.

So, if you are amongst the many that are scouring the Internet looking for this kind of inside information, then head on over and visit Lisa's site and click the links:

Now it can be told

OK Lisa, sending you some link love

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Space Ship Earth: A side-by-side comparison

web-banner Were you one of the many people who got to enjoy the sneak peek of the newly re-imagineered Space Ship Earth? 

Were you like me and not able to remember with great clarity the way it looked before?

Then go on over to The Magic in Pixels and read Tim Devine's latest photography article.

It appears that he has dusted off the ole quill and produced an excellent article with tons of great dark-ride photography.

The article is a comparison of the old Space Ship Earth with the newly unveiled attraction.

Go over and take a read.

I figured I should mention the article because many people may not realize that The Magic in Pixels provides more than great eye candy (aka photographs) and a great forum community.  Tim has also written some articles about photography and is in the process of working on new content to bring to his site.

As ImagiNerd George would call it, this is a Geek Link :)

Get "The Hollow" in your Mailbox

A few weeks ago ImagiNerd George convinced me to add the e-mail subscription option to my blog provided by Feedburner

I have been using Feedburner for awhile to manage my RSS Feeds and it just made sense to add another option for people to "subscribe" to this blog.

So, if you are in the market for an easy way to get "The Hollow" delivered to you (instead of you going to it), then partake of our e-mail subscription option!

Just plug in your e-mail address and click 'Subscribe'.  Feedburner will send you an authorization e-mail that you must respond to (this ensures that the e-mail address you provided is valid).

Once activated, you'll receive an e-mail in the morning (sometime between 5-7am CST) whenever there is new content.  If I haven't posted anything since your last e-mail, then you won't get a new e-mail until I do.

And yes, I'm shamelessly copying George's idea of asking for your subscriptions :)

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

MouseFest 2007: More Random Shenanigans, Hijinks, Immaturity, and Tomfoolery

Tim Devine with his 2 cameras
You wish yours was as big as mine, don't you?
I'm a Pirate
Arrrrr....I'm a Pirate!
O'Hana Rocks, Dude!
The Fab Five
Lou "I'm Lou Mongello" Mongello, Jeff "Did you know I do logos" Pepper, George "Take my Picture" Taylor, Andy "What do you mean we don't do attractions at MouseFest" Taylor, and Ray "Look at my biceps" Harkness
Forget about the Yeti! No one told me there would be Hobbits on this Tea Train

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Grumpy Service Announcement: Do you Suffer from PDD?

Do you find yourself daydreaming about your past trip to the Disney Theme Parks? 

Do you feel like something is missing from your life after coming back to reality? 

Do you find that the world seems a bit more dreary after your luggage is unpacked and you are sleeping in your own bed? 

If so, you may be suffering from PDD (Post Disney Depression).

PDD is a highly debilitating condition that causes it's sufferer to have trouble snapping back into reality and waste large amounts of time daydreaming about past trips to the Disney Theme Parks.

But don't worry folks, this condition has a cure.......

I have found that after returning back from a Disney vacation (either Disneyland or Walt Disney World), that it takes weeks for me to recover and accept the fact that I have had to leave the parks.

I find my mind drifting back to the fun I had and it isn't helped with the many photographs I have to sift through and the wordy trip reports that I put together for my find blog readers.

I have found that after MouseFest the condition is much worse.  This may be due to the fact that there was a much more intense fun during MouseFest. 

During MouseFest, I was able to enjoy the time with old friends like Tim Devine and the ImagiNerds (George and Andy) and new friends like Will and Jaclyn.  I was also able to meet people that I had only previously known through e-mail (Jeff and Lou) and people that I have only communicated with via comments on blogs (Jessica).

I'm not trying to minimize my experiences at the Disney Theme Parks with my wife and her mom and her husband (our usual touring buddies when going to Disneyland), but when you compile a group of people who all share your love of Disney and a love of a good time, you create a different kind of magic. 

Being the geek that I am, I didn't have a lot of friends when I was growing up.  I was the odd one in the pack and that, as many of you may know, isn't an attractant for acceptance.

I am a very intense person.  Some would label me as a Type A personality.  My job is a deadline driven profession where I take success very seriously.  I haven't met a deadline I didn't want to beat.  My personal motto that I apply to my working world is one from Walt Disney himself, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible".

When I step within the realm of a Disney Theme Park, I try to leave that person at home.  I try to be carefree and fun.  I take tons of photographs and enjoy great food.  I borrow Lou and Jeff's wayback machine and emerge as the person who loved Disney as a kid.  I try to wander the parks as the kid who used to view The Haunted Mansion through the fingers of his hands that are firmly clasped to his face but insisted on riding it over and over again.

This is a person who is rarely visited and was almost lost forever until my lovely Enchanted Rose forced my hand and insisted we take our much needed honeymoon to Walt Disney World in 2006.  A power play that I have never regretted.  She unlocked a part of me that had been lost for a long time.

But, I find that person doesn't go back into his box very easily when it's time to come back to reality.  It's hard for me to juggle my responsibilities as a Type A hardworking machine and keep the fires stoked that are ignited while I'm on vacation.

So, I've spent the past week just staring at my computer trying to think what to blog about.  I just didn't want to have to think about writing about Disney because I just didn't want to have to think about what had just transpired.  I didn't want to have to admit that it was over.

For this, I'm thankful for the daily phone calls that I've gotten from Tim to just chat.  I'm happy that Will called to wish me a Merry Christmas today.  I had lost track of time while vegetating on the couch because my wife had to work and I was alone on Christmas.  I appreciated that I got Christmas well wishes e-mailed to me by many of my new friends.

So, what is the cure for Post Disney Depression?

Besides time, the cure involves ensconcing oneself in what caused it in the first place.  Diving into the various Disney forums, blogs, and podcasts that feed our desire to go back to the parks.

For some people, the cure may be the hair of the dog that bit them.  That would involve exposure to Disney Magic. 

This may be by putting a Disney DVD into the player.  It may require cracking open one of the may Disney books out there such as the Disneyworld Trivia Books (volume 1 and or 2) or any of the many books showcased and reviewed by George and Andy on ImagiNerding (George could quickly rattle off a long list of books that could help bring someone out of PDD). 

Heading over to The Magic in Pixels and perusing Tim's photo albums may help.  Or it may require a new trip to a Disney theme park (easier said than done, huh???).

For people who get to go annually, like myself, the cure includes counting down to the next trip.  This time a heretofore unplanned trip this summer involving a reuniting of several of my friends back at the parks.

People like Lou, who get to take frequent trips, probably have a much less pronounced bout of PDD because they possess a much more readily available supply of a strong dose of medicine in the form of the highly touted "research trip".  But, I'm sure they still have a period where even they need a boost to get them over the hump.

So, my blogging friends, be cognizant of those Disneyphiles around you and look for the signs of PDD.  They just may need your help to snap out of it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Ya'll

Merry Christmas


I hope every one of you have an absolutely grumpalicious holiday season (in whatever way you celebrate).

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Will you be my DisFriend?

DisFriends Have you been hearing the whisperings in the hallways?  There apparently is another grumpalicious site for all of us Disney Fans to hang out at. 

The name of this site is DisFriends.

How do I know it's the cool place to be?  Well, ImagiNerd George (aka Biblioadonis) is already over there.  If he's there, it's got to be worth everyone's time.  It's simply not a party unless George is there.  If you can also convince Andy to be there, then you have yourself a Hoopla (HOOPLA!).

After some cajoling by George and some convincing that I need to come where the "cool kids" are, I joined up.

So I hear you asking:  "What is DisFriends?"

Well, DisFriends is a social networking site for Disney Fans.  If you don't know what Social Networking is then DisFriends Booth at MegaMouseMeet MouseFest 2007think MySpace or Facebook.

My first introduction to this site was at the MegaMouseMeet at MouseFest 2007.  The webmasters had a very large and hard to miss booth.

My second introduction was hearing about it on Episode 347 of the WDW Today Podcast.

I'm finding it nice to be able to add "friends" who I met at MouseFest.  This could very well grow to be a nice way to keep in touch with all the people who read my blog or I have met at various places like MouseFest and/or MagicMeets.

So, if you decide to join up, look for Grumpwurst and request to add me.  Be sure to add me as one of your favorite sites when setting up your profile.  It would also be nice if you mention that you are a reader of Grumpy's Hollow in your Friend Invite.  That way I am alerted to where I know you from.

Please help me get more friends than George.  He cannot always have all the fun :)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Devine Inspiration #8: Cinderella Castle with Dream Lights

Cinderella Castle With Dream LightsI absolutely love this photo taken by Tim Devine from The Magic in Pixels.

The one thing I can say about this photo is that I was there when this was taken.  In fact, I was standing to Tim's left with my own camera on it's tripod, but my diminutive size prevented me from getting the camera up high enough to clear the people's heads that were in front of us.

Tim had previously captures a copy of Cinderella Castle with the Dream Lights, but this one manages to get the Partners Statue in the shot as well.

This photo is a great compliment to the non-Seasonal photograph of Cinderella Castle that Tim has taken in the past.

As is periodically the case, this photo is for sale on Tim's web site and he's got it marked down for the Holidays. 

Don't forget that Tim is running an additional promo code for the 2007 Holiday Season (holiday07) which will get you $1 off PER ITEM purchased. 

I also hear there is a rumor that for those people that visited him at MouseFest he gave out a promo code to them as well.  If you have been drooling over some of his fantastic shots, this may be the best time to snatch them up for yourself or that special Disney Geek in your life.

I think the perfect pairing would be:

Cinderella Castle with Partners Statue 8x10 Matted


If you look closely they look like they were taken from the same location.  So you could have the Dream Lights photograph hanging on the wall as part of your Holiday Decorations and then swap it out for the other Cinderella Castle print for the rest of the year.

Sorry for today's post sounding like an advertisement, but I'm very proud of my friend's work and will gladly pimp his work just like I'd do for any of my other friends who have talent and there is no such thing as bad PR

BTW, have I told you that Jeff Pepper did my Banner Graphic?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MouseFest 2007: Random Shenanigans, Hijinks, Immaturity, and Tomfoolery

There was a lot of fun had at MouseFest and there definitely wasn't a shortage of cameras there.  After all the words that went into my trip reports, I thought it would be fun to do a photo retrospective of just the zaniest moments that were captured.  These might be candid pictures or they were just us hamming it up for the benefit of the nut behind the lens.

This, by far, is not complete.  There are so many I am going to have to do this over a few posts.

I'm sure Tim Devine will be able to provide some more highly incriminating photos of me for future posts. 

Sit back and enjoy and if you have any photos that you'd like to add to future posts in this series and don't have your own blog or website to post them to, let me know and we'll work out a way to get them delivered to me.


Grumpy Holding up Space Ship Earth
Turn your head and cough
Grumpy Flexing for the Camera
How did the Imagineers know that I was going to be standing under this sign
Tim Devine Pondering BeverlyFest
To Drink Beverly or not Drink Beverly That is the Question
Tim Devine Survived BeverlyFest Part II
7 Shots of Putrid Liquid, but I kept it down!
Hamming it up on Splash Mountain
We're off to the GUN SHOW!
Enchanted Rose Working the Camera
You know you want me.   Who said Disney Geeks weren't hot?
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Monday, December 17, 2007

MouseFest 2007: Wrap-UP

The "Fab Five" outside Expedition Everest If you were successful in slogging through my tome of text that I call my trip report for MouseFest 2007,  I congratulate you.  From my statistics, it appears there were quite a few of you that at least attempted the feat (the stats aren't smart enough to tell me who finished just who started).

I hope that it was conveyed through my trip reports that my wife and I had a blast during MouseFest.  Now that some time has passed, my wife and I have been able to ruminate on the events that had transpired.  Writing the trip reports have helped with that reflection as well.

I think my wife would agree with me when I say that this was our best trip to Disney to date.  This trip even ranks high when compared to our September 2006 trip when we traveled on the Magic Your Way Platinum Plan.  Yes, that trip had many memorable events, but this trip had something that couldn't be had on the previous trips.......experiencing the parks with a group of friends.

The meets were all fabulous, but they really were just a catalyst to get like-minded individuals in the same location.  Often, you met people you previously only knew by screen names.  If you were lucky they were people who you have expanded beyond Private Messaging through forums and have moved onto Instant Messaging, E-Mailing or phone calls.  A rare few even have each other's cell phone numbers programmed in their phone books.

George and Andy over at Imaginerding have coined a very descriptive phrase to sum up MouseFest 2007:  Meeting old friends, for the first time.

When it comes to those people who attend MouseFest, I would have to say that they fall into a few different categories:

  • Meet Hounds:  These people you see at practically every meet.  Sometimes you think they have managed to clone themselves because you swore you saw them at two meets that are scheduled at the same time.  These people are very prolific in the community and are members of most of the forums and listen to practically every podcast.  When looking at pictures posted from MouseFest, they seem to be in every one of them.  Disney Geek George is one of these kinds of people. 
  • MouseFesters on Vacation:  These people used MouseFest as an excuse to take a December vacation to Disney World.  They attend some of the meets, but their main focus was to connect with people they talk to online and get some rides in.  The MouseFest meets were just interludes between rides, meals, and nighttime extravaganzas.  I would have to say that I fall into this Category.  But that didn't mean I didn't get to interact with people in the "Meet Hounds" category.  George, Andy and my group spent alot of quality time together.
  • Cast Members Incognito:  These people are in the employ of the Mouse.  When they were not on the clock they donned yellow MouseFest lanyards and mingled amongst the Disney Fans.  The reason they are doing this is because they are one of us.  They are working for Disney because they love Disney for the same reasons we all do.  Events like MouseFest just help solidify their love for the company and reminds them why they do what they do and that people out there "Get It".  I could name a few of these types of people, but then I'd have to call the MIB to use their little flashy thing to wipe out your memory of this post...haha

I didn't get to network and mingle with members of the community as much as I would've liked, but I wouldn't have traded the fun and friendship building that I did get to experience.  After those 5 days it seems like I have a few more brothers from another mother.

To everyone I met, shook hands with, acted goofy with, rode an attraction with, dined with or just stood in line with I want to thank you for helping me and my wife have a Grumpaliscious time at MouseFest. 

Till we all meet again, we can keep in touch on our blogs, podcasts, and forums.

To use a new term I learned at MouseFest....

Kunga.... oops


Keep it Grumptasic folks and remember it's all about the Attitude!

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Reciprocating Some Geek Love

Jennifer (aka Kitty-Chan) of Broke Hoedown and Those Darn Cats! also writes articles for Matt Hochberg's Studios Central Website under the title Jenntasmic!.

Well, in her latest article she talks about one's Theme Park Ecological Footprint.  But before she gets into the meat of her article she gives a Grumptastic shout-out to yours truly and my post about one's Theme Park Footprint.

I love to hear when people are fans of my site but it's even more Grumpaliscious when you find out that a well-known Podcast or Blog personality is a fan of your work.

So, go check out her articles at Studios Central and Broke Hoedown and listen to Jennifer and BFF Lisa on Mouse Guest Weekly.

Thanks Jenn!

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Grumpy's Hollow has a new look

In case you haven't noticed, I have an excellent new banner graphic.  The plain text header is a thing of the past.

I cannot take credit for this fine enhancement to my blog.  All the credit goes to the talented Jeff Pepper of 2719 Hyperion fame.

When we were at MouseFest, he mentioned that he was trying to think of a good concept for my banner graphic but was running into trouble because of my love of the black background.

When we parted ways after IllumiNations on Day 04, he asked me to e-mail him some ideas.

Well, as life goes, I got busy and literally hours before I was to click send on an e-mail outlining my ideas, I get this graphic from Jeff!

I absolutely love what Jeff came up with for this blog.  It's thoroughly Grumptastic! It's as if he climbed into my head and saw what I imagined when I think about where Grumpy's Hollow resides.

I don't want to end up like the "Nerdy Boys" and not give credit until Jeff has to hit me with a cattle prod 2 months later, so.....

Thank You Jeff!  You are the best and I'm getting lots of great comments about the graphic art.

Keep up the great work

P.S.  Enchanted Rose loves the homage to her in the graphic

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Monday, December 10, 2007

MouseFest 2007 (Day 05): All Good Things....

[Ed Note:  I must preface this day's post with an apologize to my readers for the lack of photos.  I was upset with the fact that my trip was coming to an end which resulted in the fact that I often forgot that I had my camera with me.]

This had to be the hardest of mornings to wake up.  That was because today was the last day to bask in the glory of Walt Disney World. 

It had been pre-decided the night before that we were going to get together and do some shopping today.  But, before we could meet up with Tim, Will and Jackyln we needed to finish packing and get checked out of the Dolphin.

BeverlyFest Part Deux We woke up bright and early (approximately 7:45AM) and started getting ready to get out of the hotel.  My jobs that I had started on the computer the night before had finished and I quickly packed up the computer.  We had to pack such that we still could take stuff we needed with us while we wandered the parks.  We were not getting picked up to go to the airport until 3:30PM.

We always pack and empty duffle bag in our checked luggage so that we have extra storage for the trip back.  As usual, this bag didn't go to waste.  My wife has a masters degree in spatial manipulation and manages to free up tons of space in our bags for the things we purchased and the things we'll be purchasing on the last day.

After getting everything crammed into our two checked bags and our 4 carry-ons we made one last pass of the room to make sure we didn't leave anything behind and then made our way to the lobby.

We quickly found out that in addition to not being able to use your room key to charge back to your room, you cannot check your bags into your flight at the Swan and Dolphin.

So, we had to leave all our bags with the Bell Captain while we went out and played for the day.Tim Devine at BeverlyFest Part Deux

After dropping our bags off, I gave Tim a call to determine ETA and to find out if we were going to get any breakfast on the way to our first shopping destination. 

It was determined that food would be later in the day, so my wife hit the eatery in the lobby again for cinnamon bun and a cup of ice for her Dr. Pepper.

We didn't have to wait long before the gang was there to pick us up and we were off to leave more of our hard earned money in the care of the Mouse.

While shopping we got a call from my father-in-law who was passing on information he got from my wife's aunt.  She works for Continental Airlines in Houston and all flights going to Oklahoma City were canceled due to the bad ice storm hitting the state.  We already knew about the ice storm because my brother's wife called me the morning before to warn us.

At this point, we started making calls to prepare for the possibility that we might get stuck in Houston for a few days.  My employer offered to put us up in their place (the company I work for is in Houston).  My wife tried to get ahold of her sister that lives in Houston to try and arrange a meet-up.

We didn't let the threat of a terrible trip home to ruin our remaining hours at Walt Disney World.

We couldn't spend too much time shopping because Tim was expected to be in EPCOT's Club Cool by 2PM for BeverlyFest Part Deux.

Space Ship EarthBefore heading to EPCOT we decided we needed to refuel and Tim was insistent we give Trails End a go at Fort Wilderness.

Wow!  Tim had talked about this restaurant the entire time we were at MouseFest, but knowing that my wife and I are food snobs, didn't think we'd like it.  Boy was he wrong.  I still cannot get the taste of the macaroni & cheese out of my mind.  I have always been a person who only like the kind that is made with fake powdered cheese, but Trails End is now my new favorite.  It was a buffet but came in much cheaper than most Disney buffets.

This meal came close to the O'hana experience.  Tim was just cracking us up all through the meal.  We will definitely be going back again.  The sad thing is that it's not the easiest restaurant to get to.  Either you catch a boat from the Magic Kingdom or you have to take a bus to Wilderness Lodge and then another bus to Fort Wilderness.Grumpwurst Flexing His Biceps

Well, after we thoroughly stuffed ourselves on the comfort food that they provide at Trails End, we started heading toward EPCOT to meet Nathan Rose and Jackie O for BeverlyFest.  It turns out that we were supposed to be there at 1:30PM instead of 2PM as Tim thought.  We would've made it on time if Tim hadn't gotten himself stuck on Monorail Brown.  Apparently, he couldn't figure out how to get off.  It was like the ending of the Jetson's where George is yelling, "Jane, get me off this crazy thing".

We pretty much had to kick Will and Tim out of the moving vehicle at the front of EPCOT so they could run to Club Cool.  We stayed behind with Jackyln to find a place to park the car.  We actually found a spot much faster than we thought we would.

We made our way to Club Cool to catch up with Tim and Will.  When we got there, the event apparently had just ended. 

I tried to ask Will a question and all I got was a really dirty look.  Unbeknownst to me Will got sucked into the BeverlyFest competition and my highly tuned observational skills didn't pick up on the fact that he was leaning against the trash can desperately trying to hold in all the food we just gorged ourselves on at Trails End.

After enough time had passed to allow the waves of nausea to subside we made our way to see if Space Ship Test Track from VIP Lounge Earth was open. 

Sure enough it was and we entered the queue.  We had a few people from Tim's forum with us and we were waiting for Nathan to catch up to us. 

For those still keeping count, this is trip #4 for yours truly and my wife on Space Ship Earth.  There isn't much to say about this attraction that I haven't already said in previous posts.

After getting off the ride, Will thought we couldn't pass up an opportunity for Tim to take a picture of me next to the "Body Builder" sign in the post-show area.  The sign is actually related to a game they have there on anatomy, but since I'm training for a body building competition, they thought it would be a great gag.

A few pictures were taken and laughs were had.  I'm sure other guests just thought I was nuts.

After we got done taking the pictures, we decided it was time to hit up the Test Track VIP Lounge.  One of us had a one-time use pass to the lounge and we decided to use it before my wife and I had to leave.

View out of VIP Lounge of EPCOT I don't know what I was expecting, but the lounge wasn't anything  spectacular.  I work with a lot of corporations and the lounge wasn't much different than what I see every day at work.

The only thing that is different is that the you get a view into the Test Track attraction and you get a view that overlooks EPCOT.

Other than that, it wasn't much different than most office settings that I wander into every day.

I took some pictures and Tim decided to take a picture of two of me hamming it up.View of Space Ship Earth from VIP Lounge

It was at this point, that the wife and I decided that we had run out of time and needed to start heading back to the Dolphin.  I shook hands and my wife passed out her hugs (she's a hugger).  It was at this point that I think it hit us all that the party was coming to an end. 

We left the VIP Lounge and made our way back to the Dolphin.  We stopped briefly to try and determine if we have time to got to Japan and get those bamboo mats that my wife has been eying.  But, it was decided that we don't have time to go to Japan and get back to the hotel in time for our 3:30PM pickup.

The walk from EPCOT back to the Dolphin wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I ran to get our bags and we went up front to wait for our vehicle from Quicksilver.

Our ride was right on schedule and we were on our way to the airport.

While we were sitting in the Orlando Airport, we found out from my wife's dad that my wife's aunt had got us a reserved seat on the 2PM flight the next day in case we got stuck in Houston.

Our flight took off on time out of Orlando and we had an uneventful flight to Houston.  When we landed in Grumpwurst Holding the Giant Golf Ball Houston, I asked about our flight to Oklahoma City.  We were told that as of that time, the flight was still on time but it would be sometime around an hour prior before they'd make a decision about canceling.

Well, our flight took off and we were on our way to Oklahoma City.  The flight was pretty much empty and most of the people that were on our flight had been trying for about 2 days to get to Oklahoma.  I wonder where all the people who were supposed to be on my plane had gone.

Apparently, the temperature was around 33 degrees in Oklahoma City which prevented the water on the streets to ice up.  This proved to be fortunate for us and allowed us to get home.

Well, that is it for the 3rd and last trip to Disney for 2007.  I hope you enjoyed my trip reports. 

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

MouseFest 2007 (Day 04): Explosions of Glitter in the Sky

This morning was rough for me.  Even though I technically got the same amount of sleep I typically get when I'm at home, I was exhausted.

Enchanted Rose in front of the Christmas Tree in Dolphin Lobby We had made plans before going to bed that we would be going to Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (JAMBO!) and that we'd need to be there by 9:30AM.

That meant that we needed to get up by 7:45AM in order to be showered and ready to go when our ride came to pick us up.

We were down in the lobby of The Dolphin by 9:00AM as requested.  I kept trying to reach Tim to find out if they had left yet to come get us.  I finally got ahold of him and found out that he had trouble getting up as well.  But, they were now up and getting ready and Wood Fired Stove in Bomawould call us when they were close to our hotel. 

While we waited for our ride, I took some pictures of the decorations in the Dolphin's lobby.

We eventually got to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and decided to pop into the store to see if we could find Tim some flip-flops.  His toe was still bothering him and we felt that flip-flops would alleviate some of the pressure that his shoes were putting on the toe that was causing him trouble.

All-Star SportNaturally, there weren't any flip-flops, but my wife found some great Animal Kingdom hand drawn prints that were perfect for the room we were designing for our future grumpling when he or she is born [Ed note:  No we are not pregnant yet, so you don't need to ask. <wink> And you know who you are <double wink>]

We didn't have to wait long to get a seat at Boma.  I must say the food was as good as I remember it being when we ate there during our September 2006 trip.Monorail Christmas Tree @ Contemporary Resort

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves we decided it was time to try and make it to the Magic Kingdom.  We were very eager to try and make Lou Mongello's meets he was having that day.  But before we could do that, we needed to swing by Tim's room at the All-Star Sports because he needed some stuff that he had forgotten.

Since my wife had a goal to see the Christmas Displays at as many  Deluxe Resorts as possible, it was decided that we'd park at the Contemporary Resort, check out the display and take the monorail over to the park.

Pinocchio Sculpture at Contemporary Resort There really wasn't that much for Christmas displays in the Contemporary.  We were told that it was due to some renovations that were occurring.  But there was a giant gingerbread and chocolate sculpture inspired by Pinocchio near the gift shop.  Also, in the gift shop on the Grand Canyon Concourse, there was a giant Christmas Tree made out of the Monorail toys you can purchase (Bing Bong Please Stand Clear of the Doors).

We hopped on the monorail with every intent of getting to the park, Lou Mongello leading TriviaFestbut it just didn't seem like the Monorail wanted us to get to the park in a timely manner.  If it wasn't stopped it was crawling.

We eventually got delivered to the Magic Kingdom and made our way into the park.  By this time, we were already too late for Lou's Disney Scene Investigation meet.  I was rather disappointed, but I knew he was going to have a sizeable turnout and I'm sure he wouldn't have noticed that I didn't get to make it.  Heck, if I was there, I doubt he would've even known I was there since I am easily hidden in a sea of people since I'm shorter than most of the American male population (Judge me by my size do you?). 

Heck, we barely made it in time for his TriviaFest.  He was getting ready to get started when we walked up.  I must say that Enchanted Rose and myself didn't fare that well in the contest and were knocked out early.  That is what I get for not cheating double checking my Tim Devine at TriviaFestanswer and stalling to see what others answers were before making my choice.  The question that got me was, "What is the busiest day at the parks:  Christmas Day, Easter, July 4th, or New Year' Day"

We stayed until a winner was declared then made our way to AdventureLand to take part in HeckleFest 2007.  This wasn't a MouseFest meet, but maybe it should be. 

We got on a Jungle Cruise boat and pretty much shouted out "Hi-o" for every bad pun that crossed our Skipper's lips.  Our Skipper was a great sport and played along.  It only took a couple times before most of the boat was in on the fun.  It was one of the best trips on the Jungle Cruise I have ever HeckleCruise 2007had. 

Most people just sit there and do nothing while the jokes are delivered.  This time there was tons of laughing and audience participation.  This skipper knew we did it out of love and he loved it as much as we did.

After getting off the boat, we ran into Paul Barrie of Window to the Magic and he walked with us to the Pirate Meet that was being co-hosted by the Magical Definition Podcast and the Mouse Guest Weekly Podcast.

There was a sizeable turnout.  Before we got into line for the ride, a raffle was held for fabulous Pirate-themed prizes.  We didn't win anything this time. 

Pirates of the Caribbean Meet The cast members were a bit taken aback when they saw how many people were in one group trying to get on the ride, but the line moved fast and we soon were on our way.  For fun, we got the entire boat to shout, "Hi April".  I'm sure she has appreciated all the attention Tim has made sure she has gotten during MouseFest.  Apparently, the "Hi April" is a Magical Definition inside joke.  Every time you see Jackie O's friend and Walt's Girl April, you just say loudly, "Hi April!".

After getting off The Pirates of the Caribbean, we decided it was Hamming it up on Splash Mountaintime to make the "Dash for the Splash" and headed for Splash Mountain.  It was clear that the water cannons were not on pause and the chances of soakage was good.  In fact, it was better than good.  It was most certain.  I hate getting wet at the parks.  Just hate it.  But, this was not just me and my wife, so I had to tag along and just grin and bear it.

It didn't take long to find out that getting wet was going to happen.  Yours Truly's behind was thoroughly soaked by the time he got off the ride.  I gave Enchanted Rose Enchanted Rose at Splash Mountainmy sweatshirt.  She used this to wrap around her behind to keep her white shorts nice and dry.  This is Disney World after all <wink><wink>.

I, of course, had to return the favor to the Disney Geeks and call them from this attraction.  Those of you who read their blog will know that this is one of their most favorite rides.  They made sure to call me from Splash Mountain while I was in the airport heading down to MouseFest.

We stopped off at the post-show store to see if there were any flip-flops for Tim.  Sure enough there were and he snatched up a pair and quickly switched into them.

While this was going on, my lovely wife was hamming it up with some of the hats Big Thunder Mountain Railroadfor sale.  She didn't escape the ever present lens of our resident paparazzo, Tim Devine.

After finishing up our shenanigans at the post-show area of Splash Mountain, we hauled butt to Big Thunder  Mountain.  This is a well themed yet tame Rollercoaster.  To us, it wouldn't be a complete trip without a go on this wonderful attraction.  I was able to hold my Hidden Tinkerbell camera on this ride and randomly snap off some shots.  I pretty much just shot without even looking through the eye piece.  Whatever I pointed at, seemed to make a great shot.

After we unloaded it was decided that we were done with the Magic Kingdom and it was time to do some more resort hopping.  But it wasn't before someone pointed Monorail Ride out the "Hidden Tinkerbell" that was in the rocks of Big Thunder Mountain.

So, we made our way to the monorail.  Our first stop was the Polynesian Resort.  This resort was rather anti-climatic.  They had several little Gingerbread dioramas but that was about it.  I took some pictures but it really wasn't much to write home about.

Fun at O'hana Now it was time to eat.  We had plans to eat at O'hana.  We had eaten there on our last trip for breakfast but have never gotten to enjoy the place for dinner.

This meal was fantastic.  Not only was the food good, but the company was too.  We were laughing so hard at each other you would've sworn alcohol was involved.  But we were all stone cold sober.  We were probably just slap happy from being so tired. 

At one point, someone did something to get me laughing so hard that I just couldn't stop.  I was laughing so hard that apparently my laughing Christmas Decorations at Polynesianwas what caused others to laugh and it kept us rolling in stitches for a good 15-20 minutes.  It was at this point that Tim, Will, and Jackyln were educated on what my wife has termed, "Ray Funny". 

That is when something may not be that funny, but if I find it funny, or even better hilarious, you will find yourself laughing.  Not at the material, but at the fact that I find it funny and the way I react to it.

Christmas Decorations at Grand Floridian As I said, the food was fantastic, but I'm going to remember that meal for what happened while we were eating it.  I think our friendships were further strengthened over that meal.

After a much appreciated break over dinner, it was decided to keep on our trek of the resorts and go to the Grand Floridian.

This resort had decorations that were more in line with what we though all the Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian resorts would have.  The main lobby had a gigantic Christmas tree and in front of it they had people playing Christmas Music with bells.  On the other side was a gigantic Gingerbread House.  So large was this Gingerbread House that they had put a store inside of it.

After we got done at the Grand Floridian, it was decided that we were going to part ways.  We wanted to see IllumiNations! at EPCOT Center [ed. note:  Thanks Tim for pointing out my grievous typographical error by stating that Fantasmic! was at EPCOT.  That's what I get for writing at 2AM] and the rest of the group wanted to go to Fort Wilderness for a meet hosted by Kendra Trahan (president of the NFCC) and Nathan Rose.

The Grump and our Monorail Pilot Tim and his crew got off the Monorail at The Contemporary so they could drive over to Wilderness Lodge while we stayed onboard.

We got off at the Ticket and Transportation Center and switched over to the EPCOT Monorail.  We unfortunately, just missed the Monorail so we had to wait for the next one.  This would turn out to be very fortuitous event.

My wife who has never found a cast member she didn't want to talk to, decided to start chatting up the fellow who was working the deck.  We had a nice conversation and when the monorail came he asked us to wait. 

He ended up putting us in the cab of the Monorail!  We have been up here before but it was on the trip back from EPCOT and that isn't as scenic.

Our monorail pilot had been with the company for a very long time and claims to have driven most of the forms of transportation Disney has to offer including the now non-existent Breathless.  He was also a Nikon fan and when he saw me sporting my Nikon D80 he slowed the monorail down so I could get some great photos of Space Ship Earth as we approached.

Space Ship Earth Sign On the way around the Giant Golf Ball, we saw that Space Ship Earth was open again.  We knew the George and Andy were here for IllumiNations! (one of the major reasons we were coming to EPCOT).  So, I quickly called them to let them know.  At this point, they haven't ridden yet.

When I got a hold of them, they were in the worst place possible....Japan!  You probably couldn't be farther from Space Ship Earth.  They told me they were heading over but wanted me to call if Space Ship Earth was still open when we got into the park.

Space Ship Earth Sure enough, it was still open when we got there and I immediately called them back and they told me they were stepping up the pace. 

We decided that since we were there, we might as well ride it again.  While in the queue, my wife helped me switch from my 18-135mm kit lens to my faster 50mm lens.  I was dead set on getting some shots for this blog. 

We rode Space Ship Earth again and I took tons of pictures (see my Enchanted Rose Playing at Project Tomorrow review that I posted on Day 03). 

On the descent portion of the ride, I called George to see if they got on the ride.  He informed me that they had just gotten on.   I told him that we'd wait for him and Andy on the outside.

After getting out we decided to see if they were still letting people on the ride.  Apparently, George lucked out because the gate was already closed.

After awhile I called George to find out where he was on the ride.  It turns out they let him and Andy ride again.  So, I took the time to hit the restroom. 

I was in the post-show area in time to snap a shot of him and Andy getting off the ride.  You can definitely tell they were excited about that unexpected trip.

George and Andy Taylor leaving Space Ship Earth This really turned out to be a case of being in the right place at the right time.  If we hadn't decided to break from the group and go to EPCOT and if we weren't in the front of the Monorail we would've never seen that they were letting people onto Space Ship Earth and we wouldn't have been able to call George and Andy to let them know.  Plus, I wouldn't have been able to get the better photographs that were taken on that go around.  For those keeping score, that was the 3rd time riding Space Ship Earth.

George and Andy expressed their gratitude for the heads up about Space Ship Earth and we discussed whether or not we had time to get an attraction in before the start of IllumiNations.  It was decided that we should probably start working our way to the World Showcase.

Jeff Pepper (2719 Hyperion) was already stationed near the Torii Gate in the Japan Pavilion.  It turns out that it was a good idea we had decided to skip the attraction and start heading toward George and Andy Taylor at EPCOT Japan. 

I guess most of the people there haven't read my blog post about one's Theme Park Footprint because it was exceptionally difficult navigating around everyone to get to Japan by 9:30PM.

We did get to Japan with some time to spare and found Jeff rather easily.  We did some talking before the narrator started off the IllumiNation's festivities.  My heart always starts to race when the narrator blows out all the giant propane torches that surround the lake.

I know there are tons of people who rank Wishes! as their favorite pyrotechnic show at Walt Disney World.  I like Wishes.  I even will not miss it on a trip, but IllumiNations has a special place with me.

IllumiNationsI don't know what it is about it.  It may be that it spreads a message of togetherness and global unity that isn't really expressed in the other shows.  But, the music (aka soundtrack) really tugs at me.  I love it and it really ties into the fireworks.

For the Christmas Holidays there is a special holiday "tag" at the end of IllumiNations.  The only way I could describe is to say it was if someone accidentally dropped a match in the bin where they store all the fireworks.  It's was just Armageddon in the sky.  But, to use a less doomsday analogy, it was as if there were explosions of glitter in Explosions of Glitter in the Skythe sky.

I was really glad that we didn't miss IllumiNations.  I can leave now and feel good about my stay.

After IllumiNations was complete, we chatted for a little bit and then  my wife wanted to do some shopping in Japan.  We were sure that the stores stayed open a little bit after the fireworks, but we were wrong.

So, we re-joined the group.  George and Andy had decided that they were going to go counter-clockwise around the World Showcase to get back to their car.  Jeff Pepper and Model of Cinderella Castle in The World of Disneyourselves needed to go the Beach Club.  Jeff because that is where he parked and us because that is were Tim, Will and Jackyln were going to pick us up (it was much easier than the EPCOT parking lot).

We got to our meeting spot at the Beach Club Resort (the portacache in front of the resort ) a bit early so we just sat there and waited.  It was nice to be off our feet for a bit.

When we got picked up we decided that we were going back to Downtown Disney.  My wife waChristmas Decorations in The World of Disneynted to hit The World of Disney before they closed at 11:30PM.

I must say, at this point, I was exhausted.  I think I could've fallen asleep standing up.  The World of Disney is a huge store and I got lost a couple times as I wandered around aimlessly.  I would have to call my wife on her cell phone just to be able to find her.

If it wasn't for the fact that Tim and I were wandering around taking  pictures of the Christmas Decorations, I most likely would've been found curled up asleep somewhere on the floor.

Outside The World of Disney Eventually, my wife found the things that she wanted to purchase and we paid for our goods and left the store.  At this point, The World of Disney had already locked the doors and were only letting people out.

We stood outside for a little bit and talked.  I decided to take a few pics of the outside before we headed back to the car.  My wife and I were dropped back off at the Dolphin where the lovely Enchanted Rose was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

I, as usual, was relegated to dumping the pictures off my SD Flash cards.  But, for the first time since I got my Nikon D80, I had to throw my 3rd card into the camera.  I took that many pictures today.

While the pictures were being dumped, I started on this blog post.  After the second card started getting dumped, I was pretty tired.  So, mid-sentence I stopped and left the computer running and went to bed.  [ed note:  This post was actually finished this post after I got back from MouseFest] 

The plan was to meet the gang in the morning around 9AM but I had no idea what we were doing.  But, we definitely had to check out and finish packing.....ugh!  This trip is coming to an hiss.

If you want to see all 548 Pictures taken on this day then you can go here:

MouseFest 2007 (Day 04)