Sunday, December 21, 2008

MouseFest 2008: Day 04 – Food, Folks, Fun and Birthday Wishes

Since, we got back to our room at Port Orleans French Quarter sometime around 2-2:30am, bed was high on the priority list.  Lisa and Jennifer from Those Darn Cats were holding a meet at the Magic Kingdom right after rope drop at the Haunted Mansion.

We really wanted to be there to support them, but since it was around 3am when we went to bed and we’d need to awake around 7-something to get showered, dined and to the Haunted Mansion on time, I wasn’t holding my breath that we’d make it.  But, I set the alarm anyway, but before my eyes slammed shut, I knew there was going to be a lot of No’s and “10 more minutes” in the morning.

Sure enough, the alarm went off and I was told, “Heck no”.  So we decided we’d get up at 9am.  We really didn’t need to be anywhere until Lou Mongello’s 1PM TriviaFest meet.

When the alarm went off at 9am, I got up and started the water in the shower because it took awhile for the water to warm up.  It was at this time, I really took notice of a giant thick curtain that could be pulled across the bathroom area.  The previous mornings I was informed the light was distracting and I wondered if this curtain would allow me to get ready in front of the sinks.   Previously, I would have to turn on the light in the shower area and hope it was enough light to get dressed by.

So, I pulled the curtains shut and went about my business of getting clean for the day.  When I got out, I turned on the lights for the area with the sinks and finished getting dressed.  This time, I didn’t hear any complaints from Enchanted Rose who was still arousing from the comfort of the bed.

It was at this time, I noticed there was actually a safe behind the curtain.  I didn’t know moderates got safes.

After Enchanted Rose got up, showered and dressed we discussed where our morning food was going to come from.  Since we were going to the Magic Kingdom, we decided that we’d love to partake of the Main Street Bakery again.

Gingerbread HouseAs we were packing up our bags to get ready to go to the parks, Tim Devine called me up to find out what we were doing for food.  I told him we were going to the Main Street Bakery.  Apparently, they were on their way from their room at the Swan and Dolphin to attempt to get into the Kona Cafe for some Tonga Toast.  He asked us if we’d like to join them.

Well, from the sounds of it, I thought they were almost there and I knew we still needed to finish loading up our backpacks before we could get to the Polynesian, which I assumed would take about 25 minutes.  So I told him to go without us because I didn’t want him to have to wait for us to get there.  He insisted and Enchanted Rose was much more interested in the Tonga Toast so we told him we were on our way.Fun at Kona Cafe

For a change, we didn’t get turned around and got to the Polynesian resort in record time.  We told the fellow at the guard station that we were eating at the Kona Cafe and made our way to guest parking.  I took careful note of where we were parked so that I could find our way back.  There wasn’t any numbering for me to take a picture of and I knew we’d not find it if I didn’t make a mental note now.  I noticed that we were in line with the bus stop so that became the mental landmark.

As we were walking into the Polynesian Resort we ran into Gary and Tim taking pictures of the water features outside the main entrance.  We all walked in Christmas Tree on 2nd Floor of Grand Floridiantogether and were immediately greeted by the little gingerbread houses that are Pluto Window of Gingerbread Housemade by various Cast Members, that I assume work at the Polynesian.  We walked around and took some pictures of the houses and then made our way to Kona Cafe to get on the waiting list.

We were told that it was only a 30 minute wait so we grabbed our “pager” and stayed pretty close to the host stand.  While we were waiting, Tim decided to perform some surgery on Gary’s Canon 5D to help clean his viewfinder.  This was a scary thing to watch because I’m not exactly used to seeing people taking the lens off the camera and then sticking their hand into the camera.  Apparently, there was a piece of clear plastic Tim was trying to remove so that he could clean it and therefore clean the viewfinder.

Eventually, our “pager” went off and we were able to enter into Kona and get some brunch (it was close to  Enchanted Rose and me in front of Gingerbread House10:30am now).  We were put at a table that had plenty of room.  We kind of need the room since 3 of us have rather large cameras and camera backpacks.

The menu is rather simple at the Kona Cafe which made it not so difficult to decide what we were going to get.  First off, we got the Kona coffee and then Gary, Tim, and Enchanted Rose got the Tonga Toast, while I got the scrambled eggs with ham and a biscuit.

When our food arrived we systematically polished it off, paid, and made our way to the Magic Kingdom.  Tim needed to meet up with someone at the Magic Kingdom but we didn’t need to get their too quickly. 

Gary, Enchanted Rose and me got off at the Grand Floridian to so we could see the Christmas Decorations (more importantly, the life-sized Gingerbread House).

Gary instructed me a bit on the ways of spot metering and how to get some good shots inside the open area of the Grand Floridian since the natural lighting was so bright.  After taking a few pictures from the 2nd floor, we decided to head down to the ground floor to get a closer look at the Gingerbread House.  On our way down, we passed by Victoria & Albert’s. 

Victoria & Albert’s has been a subject I’ve written about in a couple of blog posts  and an article in Celebrations Magazine.  So, I asked if we could swing by and see if I could get a good picture of the front door.  Everyone humored me and we swung by to take some Enchanted Rose and Me in front of Hidden Mickey in Flowerspictures.

We went downstairs and looked at the Gingerbread House.  Gary took Enchanted Rose and my picture in front of it.  I then wandered around the lobby looking for things to take pictures of.  I tried my hand at taking a picture of the lobby’s gigantic Christmas tree.

After we felt like we got our fill and noticing that it was getting ever so closer to Lou’s TriviaFest, we decided to head back to the monorail to ride over to the Magic Kingdom.

As we were heading to the monorail platform, we ran into Beci Mahnken.  It wouldn’t be a day at MouseFest for us if we didn’t bump into our friend Beci.  Well, it turns out Gary knows her quite well because he is a frequent cruiser and uses Beci’s Indian Camp on Railroad Line MEI-Travel to arrange them.  We chatted for a bit and Beci explained some exciting Adventures By Disney trips that will be happening in 2009 that may peak our interest.  But, she was actually in a hurry to be somewhere so we cut the conversation short and went our separate ways.  It seems like those fine folks at Mouse Fan Travel never have a moment’s rest when they are at MouseFest.

While on the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom it was discussed that we have never ridden on the Railroad, so it was decided that we’d hop on the train and ride over to Toontown and then cut over to Tomorrowland from there.

In case you didn’t know, there is a path that runs from  Toontown over to Space Mountain.  It’s a real time saver if you are stuck in Toontown and need to get to Tomorrowland in a Walter E. Disney hurry.

The ride on the train was enjoyable and I attempted to take some pictures from the moving vehicle.  When we got to Toontown, we knew we were going to be a bit late so we made our way off the train with a bit of haste.

I stopped quickly to turn around and take a picture of the locomotive because the setup was too good to resist.  Then we swiftly walked the path over to Tomorrowland.

We made a wrong turn once we got to Tomorrowland.  Instead of heading toward Buzz Lightyear, we headed toward Cosmic Ray’s.  So we turned around and adjusted our path to get us to the Tomorrowland Noodle Terrace.

Lou Mongello When we arrived at the location of TriviaFest, we could tell the show was already on the road.  Tim was there and had a prime location right in front of Lou.  But, it was clear based on how many people were participating that the contest was almost over.  Pretty much there was only 2 contestants left at this point:  James Lou and the winner Dezern and a young man around the age of 10.

I’m sure you can guess how this ended.  The young man beat out James and won the prize which was an iPod shuffle.  Pictures were taken with the winner but there was still quite a bit of time left and Lou had quite a few more giveaways to be won.

So, the multiple-choice format was dropped at this point and it was a raise your hand and be called on format.  At one point in the contest, Deanna Lou’s wife, Deanna, raised her hand, was called on and got the question correct.  She was so happy (and I think somewhat shocked) that she got one right she just started belly laughing.  Deanna’s reaction pretty much summed up the entire 1 hour meet.  Lots of fun Enchated Rose, Angel, and Julio and lots of great questions.  Lou even threw out a few questions that would’ve been simple if his last few episodes of The WDW Radio Show were fresh in your memory.

After all of the prizes have been won, and there was nothing left to give away everyone started to disperse.  Since Brian Fee was unable to make it to TriviaFest, I tried to step in and take pictures of the event.  There was definitely some great conversations being had and some babies were being shown off.

The gang getting water The number of newborns and women who were pregnant seemed to be greater this year.  But, we may be a bit more sensitive since we have been trying to start a family since MouseFest 2007 and are having difficulty. 

After awhile it was decided that a small group of us were going to take a lap around on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  But, on our way there we stopped to get some water since a lot of people were pretty thirsty (and tired from staying out late the previous night).

We didn’t have much difficulty getting on the TTA (and who does Hall of Presidents Sign unless it has had an e-stop).  Enchanted Rose and I got to ride with Deanna and Lou.  We enjoyed the relaxation that is a ride on the TTA. 

Afterwards, Deanna mentioned that she was looking for some specific Christmas stuff and Lou suggested checking out the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square (which just happened to be the focus of the last Disney Scene Investigation with George Taylor of Imaginerding).  Since we’ve been looking for some Mickey shaped sidewalk lights we decided to tag along. 

Master Gracey After discovering that the store didn’t have anything that we were looking for we decided to part ways.  Lou had a meeting he needed to be at the Grand Floridian.  So he and Deanna went that way and we decided to stay in the Liberty Square area and hit the Haunted Mansion up.

But before we could play around with some 999 Happy Haunts, we needed to get some food in our bellies.  So,it was off to the Columbia Harbour House. 

I decided to stand in line and get the food while Enchanted Rose grabbed the table.  It turned out that Ricky Brigante from Inside The Magic and Orlando Attractions DSC_1753 Magazine was standing in the line in front of me.  I decided to introduce myself since last time I ran into him I didn’t and he made sure to let me know not to do that again.

We chatted a bit and I had to inform him that I was unable to attend his meet on the Liberty Belle.  It turned out that he and Matt Rosebloom from Orlando Attractions were sitting in the table next to us.  Enchanted Rose and I scarfed down our chicken nuggets and I then hit up Tim to see where he and Gary were. 

It turns out they were just getting off the Carousel of Progress and would meet us.

Haunted Ballroom As we were waiting for Gary and Tim to meet up with us, April Baker and Lori Burke came around the corner.  We chatted and informed DSC_1781them who we were waiting for and that we were going to take a spin on the Haunted Mansion.  They decided to wait and join us. 

It didn’t take long for Tim and Gary to meet up with us and we were on  our way.  While we were in line Gary was giving April some instruction on her Canon camera so that she might be able to get some good pictures while inside.  So April and Gary rode together, Tim and me, and Enchanted Rose and Lori.

It turned out that Gary and April got a magical moment for photographers and the ride stopped such that they were in perfect alignment to get multiple attempts to shoot the ghost bride without the vehicle moving.  We all pray that happens when we Our Hitchhiking Ghost get on but it rarely does.  So, I’d like see if they got any keepers.

After we exited the Haunted Mansion, Gary and Tim decided it was time for some quick service nutrition and the rest of us went on to Pirates of the Caribbean.

There wasn’t much of a line and we were quickly on our boat.  I was once again trying to get some good pictures.  I had switched over to my 50mm f/1.8 lens before I had gotten into the Haunted Mansion queue DSC_1813 and still had it on when we were on Pirates.

I was getting some better pictures on Pirates than I was on the Haunted Mansion.  But, halfway through the the attraction, Enchanted Rose grabs my thigh and whispers in my ear, “Code Red”.  She must’ve noted the confusion on my face.  So she whispers in my ear, “My Crohn’s is flaring”.

We want the Redhead For those who do not know, Enchanted Rose  has been living with Crohn’s Disease for about 10 years now.  She’s been in remission now for about 3 years which has allowed us to start trying to get pregnant.  The idea of her coming out of remission wasn’t that pleasing of an idea.  But right now, we needed to get off the ride fast. 

We continued through the ride with her periodically Pirates gripping my thigh whenever the pain would get too much.  To make matters worse, there was a backup at the end of the attraction which made for good attempts to get photos of Captain Jack Sparrow but isn’t good when you need to get of the boat ASAP.

When we got off, I told Enchanted Rose to just high tail and I’d meet her.  I let April and Lori know that Enchanted Rose wasn’t feeling well and she had to make the mad dash to the restroom.

Jack Sparrow April and Lori let me know that they were heading over to EPCOT.  Lori had plans to see the Candlelight Processional and April would be eating dinner at Nine Dragons later that evening for Deanna’s birthday with several of us.

I went to meet Enchanted Rose which didn’t take long.  We left the Pirate’s post-show area and saw that Tim and Gary were sitting at the Pirata Y El Perico eating some quick service fare.  We went and sat next to them and explained what happened.  Gary, who is also a nurse, made sure that Enchanted Rose would be alright and she said she would.  At that moment she had another wave of pain and had to leave.  While she was gone Gary had to explain to Tim that what Enchanted Rose suffers from is quite painful and not a pleasant experience.

When Enchanted Rose returned we said our goodbyes and we started our very calculated and deliberate escape from the Magic Kingdom.  At this point, timing is everything and we needed to get Enchanted Rose back to the room fast.  The pain gets worse with each wave and it could get to the point where I’d need to help her out of the park if we don’t get her to a place where she can feel comfortable soon.

We made good time to the monorail and the monorail came quickly.  At this point, I was really nervous because I Monorail Red know how much pain and discomfort she’s in at the moment and there was nothing I could do to help her other than get her back to he room and not waste any time doing it.

As we were riding the monorail back to the Polynesian Resort, I was thinking to myself how glad I was that I took the time to make a mental note where our cars was in the parking lot.

We quickly made our way from the monorail station at the Polynesian to our car and I drove us back to Port Orleans French Quarter and got her back to the room.

By the time we got to the room, she was starting to feel a little better, but no where well enough to continue with any kind of fun.

Enchanted Rose never travels without her medicine in case this situation arrives.  We just hope she never needs it.  Unfortunately, she usually has it in her backpack but didn’t pack it this time.  So, she had to wait until she got to the room to be able to get access to it.

As soon as we got into the room, she took her medicine, turned off the lights and crawled into bed.  She asked me to go to Downtown Disney and attempt to purchase the Mickey shaped lights. 

Norway So, I climbed back into our vehicle and headed out.  As usual, I made a wrong turn and ended up having to go around my butt to get to my elbow.  I eventually got to Downtown Disney but lost about 20 minutes of time. 

I quickly knew that I was going to have a problem because it took 5 cycles of the stop light before I could turn into the Parking Lot 1.  It was 6:15PM and I needed to be back at the room at 6:30 in order to get us back to EPCOT so that we could make it to Nine Dragons in the China Pavilion for dinner with the Mongellos and the rest of the people she invited to her birthday dinner.

I ended up going through all the aisles in the parking lot as well as parking lots 2 and 3 and couldn’t find a spot.  It was like trying to find a spot in the mall parking lot on Black Friday.  I saw some signs for some kind of music related event so I assumed that was what was eating all the parking spots.

So, I made an executive decision and left to head back to the resort.  I called Enchanted Rose to inform her I was coming back and that she needed to get up and about if she was going.  She told me she still needed to sleep so she asked that I wake her up when I got back.

As soon as I got into the French Quarter parking lot and turned off the car,  Enchanted Rose called me and told me to just head on to EPCOT and meet up with everyone.  I told her that I was in the parking lot and I’ll be in the room in a second.

When I got into the room, I could see how upset she was that she couldn’t go.  She didn’t want me to miss out and Nine Dragons for at least one of us to be there for Deanna’s birthday meal.  She also didn’t want me to feel trapped because she was going to need to sleep so that meant no computer or TV for me and it was a bit too early for me to go to bed.

So, I made sure she was cool with the fact that I was going to the park without her.  She insisted that I go.  So, I grabbed my camera bag and MouseFest lanyard and left.

I made amazing time to the EPCOT parking lot.  In fact, I left the Port Orleans French Quarter parking lot at 6:35 and I was at Nine Dragons shortly before 7PM.  To add to the amazement of it, I stopped at the church in Norway to take a few pictures before getting to China.

When I walked into the Nine Dragons everyone was already there.  In fact, I was surprised to see Lori and Glenn there.  The last I heard they were supposed to be attending the Candlelight Processional.

Lori told me that she was really tired from the 10+ days she had been at Walt Disney World (she was there with her extended family before MouseFest) and she was going back to her room to just rest.  Glenn was going to be joining us for dinner.  Apparently, he had been watching the Tennessee Titans play earlier in the day with Greg Grimsley and they were both still sporting their Titans jerseys.

Deanna and her Cake I guess everyone was waiting for me to get there because as soon as I arrived we were sat.  They had a nice large table in the back of the room for us.  I was able to sit with a couple of the people I have gotten to know over the weekend, Lisette and her husband Danny, and couple of my friends from the internet that I got to get to know better, Glenn and Greg.  Some rousing conversation occurred and a lot of it didn’t center around Disney (shocking isn’t it).

I had the Shrimp Fried Rice and despite the fact that it wasn’t made with sticky rice, it was fabulous.  I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese food so fried rice is my usual fallback meal because I know that it’s something that I’ll eat.

When we were done eating, a birthday cake was brought out for Deanna.  The candle was blown out and the tasty goodness was passed around.

After completing our meal at Nine Dragons, it was decided that some people wanted to get some espresso in Italy.  So we started walking.  After the little cups of caffeine were purchased we kept walking toward the International Gateway. 

Somewhere in the American Pavilion we lost Glenn.  I think he got distracted by the Candlelight Processional.

When we got to the International Gateway it was determined that some people were going to the lounge at the Beach Club.  April was going back to her room at Pop Century to pack and relax.  I decided I was going to go hang out with the people in the Beach Club but I needed to move my car from the EPCOT parking lot so that I would be able to get back to my resort later.

So, I decided to walk out with April.  We had a nice chat about her new website she’s putting together, Scrapping the Magic.  When we got to where we’d have to part ways (me to the parking lot and her to the bus stop), Enchanted Rose called me.  It turns out she was feeling better and wanted to get out of the room.  So, I said goodbye to April and headed back to Port Orleans.

After a quick pitstop to collect my wife, it was on back to the Beach Club where I used my DVC membership to get free valet parking.

We made our way to the Beach Club’s lounge where Lou Mongello, his wife Deanna, Tim Foster, Danny and his wife Lisette, James Dezern and his wife were already there. 

This was probably the most relaxing time we’ve had during this whirlwind adventure.  It was just us sitting on chairs and couches chatting about life, the universe and everything.

Shortly after arriving, Tim Foster said his goodbyes.

After about an hour after we got there Tim Devine and Gary arrived.  They had been spending the evening shooting the lights around Epcot.

A little while later, the effects of the previous evening took it’s toll so Deanna and Lou headed back to their room.

We probably only had about another hour before everyone was ready to pack it in.  Everyone said their goodbyes and it was back to our room.  It was sad, because at this point, we knew this was the last we were going to see of everyone before possibly MagicMeets

We went to the valet to retrieve our cars.  It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone because saying goodbye meant that reality was around the corner.

Our cars arrived and it meant that we needed to head out.  We hopped into our cars and drove away.

When we got back to the room, I attempted to extract the images off my compact flash card but I was out of space on my laptop’s harddrive.  So I just went to bed.

Tomorrow is checkout day and the end of the fun.

Technorati Tags: ,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Disneyland Hidden Mickey Alert

I interrupt your enjoyment of my voluminous trip report to draw your attention to the family blog my wife’s sister puts together. 

They live in Disneyland’s backyard so they give their annual passes a workout.  Last night, they had the urge to go to the park for some fun.

I’ve talked about my nephew Collin before and he has a lot of special needs.  It’s a Small World is one of his most favorite attractions at Disneyland and it’s on the agenda whenever they go.  Well, they were waiting at the front of the wheelchair entrance to get onto the attraction when they were slowed up because of some troubles with a passenger in a wheelchair passenger in front of them.

So, while they were waiting, Julie decided to whip out her camera and take some pictures.  It was later she heard some people talking about a hidden Mickey in the vicinity of where she was taking pictures.  Later, when reviewing her pictures she found out she snagged it.  Can you find it?  It’s the picture that doesn’t contain her family in it below the collage (Link provided below).

Disney Magic

Technorati Tags: ,

MouseFest 2008: Day 03 – I almost swallowed a sword last night

After shutting off the computer from working on the previous day’s trip report, Enchanted Rose pretty much told me there was no way we were going to get up in time to attend any kind of function and it didn’t matter how much free stuff was being handed out or how deep the discounts were.  So, I set the alarm for 7am with the hopes of attending Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickey meet at EPCOT.

The alarm went off at 7am as it was programmed to do and all Enchanted Rose said was, “NO!”.  I asked, “8?” and she replied, “Yes”.  I reset the alarm and went back to sleep and knew that we weren’t going to Steve Barrett’s meet. 

The alarm went off at 8 and I was told “10 more minutes”.  So I once again reset the alarm and rolled back over.  When it went off again, I was once again greeted with “10 more minutes”.  When the alarm went off this time, I was told, “Last time, 10 more minutes”.  This time when it went off, I got up and started getting ready.  I knew that it was going to take an hour to get out of the room and the Mega Mouse Meet began at 10am and I needed to get my wife fed.

We left our room at 9:30am and headed toward the Beach Club so that we could park our car with the free DVC valet. 

Lou Mongello, Lori Burke, April Baker, and Glenn WhalenWhen we arrived at the security gate, I flashed my DVC membership card and was asked to provide some photo identification.   I obliged and we were then told that we could make a right-hand turn to get to the convention center parking lot.  At first, I wondered how she knew I was needing to go to the convention center, but then looked down and saw that I was wearing my highly noticeable, yellow MouseFest lanyard.

We got a fairly close parking spot near the entrance to the Convention Center and went on in.  There was already a huge line to get into the convention hall.  At this point, I asked my wife if she’d like me to go scouting and look for some kind of breakfast food.  On my way out of the Convention Center and heading toward the Yacht Club, I ran into Tim and Allison Jones and they told me exactly how to locate the place which provided them with the breakfast breads they were Tim Foster and Lisa Fostercarrying.

I jogged my way into the lobby and found the place and picked up a cinnamon bun and a blueberry muffin.

When I got back to Enchanted Rose, the line was even longer but hadn’t started moving.  So we decided that we’d each eat half of the breakfast items so that we each got to try some.

Before we could finish, the line started moving and the Mega Mouse Meet began.

As we passed through the doors into the convention space, we were handed our yellow bag for collecting the free stuff one gathers at these things.

Enchanted Rose & Lee CockerellIt was really hard to decide where to go to first.  Despite the voluminous size of the space, each table had a crowd to them.  On either side of the room was snacks and drinks.  We decided to go grab a snack and look for Tim and Gary.   Tim was located right next to one of the food locations, which really wasn’t a bad location since everyone who went to get something to drink or a bite to eat seemed to stop by his table.

We dropped off our bags behind his table and I started walking around taking pictures.  I wanted to practice use of my SB-600 flash unit. 

Some tables had larger crowds around them than others, but I think everyone would be pleased on the turnout.  Enchanted Rose was a bit disappointed because at MagicMeets she was able to secure quite a collection of click-type ball point pens (she calls the “click-y” pens because she clicks them to engage and clicks to disengageGrumpwurst & Greg Grimsley (The Other "DOC") the writing mechanism).   She collects these pens because she uses them at her job as an ER Nurse because many of the patients just walk off with the writing instrument that is handed to them.  So she’d rather give them pens she gets for the Disney community because they are usually good writing instruments but they also will advertise the services of those people she got them from.

We got to go around and visit a lot of the tables.  I did stop by Lou’s table at first, but his was swamped at the time (apparently he was giving out some T-Shirts which proved to be popular).  Next, I stopped by Tim Foster’s table.  He had stacks of the Celebrations Magazine on his table along with his Guide to the Magic books.  He warned me that Crowd around raffle tableit might be possible for people to ask me to sign the cover of their magazine since they are suggesting people to do this.  I didn’t think anything of it because I’m just a has-been blogger who until now couldn’t even get more than a day of his trip report written.

We then stopped by Steve Barrett’s table (Lou, Steve, and Tim Foster were all next to each other in table sequence) to say Hi.  It was nice to see Steve and his wife Vicky again.  It turned out that they used to live (before moving to their current location) down the road from where we live now.

At this point, we decided to go say hi to Jennifer and Lisa from Those Darn Cats.  They had quite a few people around their table, but we waited patiently and said hello.  Well it turned out Trace bought quite a few copies of Celebrations Magazine and Those Darn Cats Tablesomeone suggested to him (not sure if it was Lisa or my wife or both) that I sign the covers.  So they sat me down at their table, with a Sharpie® and I did some signing. 

Lisa mentioned how much she enjoyed my Victoria & Albert’s article and was looking forward to reading my article  in issue #2. 

At this point, they asked me to play a little game they were doing.  I reached into a bag and pulled out a question.  Then, they asked me to read the question and answer it while they recorded me for the show.  I’m not going to give away what my question was in this trip report.  So, I guess you’ll have to listen to the show.  Lisa also asked us to record a bumper for their podcast.  I’ve never been asked to do this before, so we were flattered and had fun doing it.

MouseFest2008_20081213_0043After this, enchanted rose and Trace were talking about something related to Texas while I ran into Greg Grimsley and talked with him a bit.

After we completed our conversations, we proceeded to walk the room again.  At this point, we went back to the opposite corner of the room and registered for some prize at MouseFan Travel’s table.  My wife and I collected their traditional game where you try to find people who has done certain things that were listed on a grid  printed on a paper and those that complete it are entered into a giveaway.  It’s a pretty ingenious idea to get people to talk to each other and find out if they can sign any of the blocks.  I’ve seen them do this before (I know they didn’t it at MagicMeets, but I’m not sure if they did it at last year’s MouseFest).

We bumped into Deb Wills ( at this point and had a nice little chat with her.

We pretty much kept repeating various wander patterns and talked to who we could.  I was able to run into Brian Fee again who was taking pictures as well.  He introduced us to his wife Mike Newell talking to some Mousefestersand my wife and his wife talked nursing a bit.

At some point we realized there was a stretch of tables we hadn’t got to yet.  This was when I finally got to meet Jana Smith from Main Street Travel Company and the Let’s Talk about Disney podcast.  I also  got to meet Tony from the Above the Firehouse podcast. 

Next to their table was Tim and Allison Jones.  Allison is also a contributor of Celebrations Magazine.  Tim recently started following me on Twitter and it was nice to finally put a face to a screen name.

Mark, Dave & TimEnchanted Rose and myself just kept wandering around killing time and meeting new people.  At some point Enchanted Rose decided to try and get everyone who worked on Celebrations Magazine to sign one of the covers that Tim Foster had on his table.  Tim had a bunch of copies of the front cover printed up so they could be passed out like giant postcards.  It was easy to track down Lou, Steve Barrett, Tim Foster, Tim Devine, Allison Jones, and myself to sign it, but the others were a bit more tricky.  My lovely wife took it upon herself to track down the remaining people who were there like Glenn Whalen, John Rick, and Beci Mahnken (yes Beci didn’t contribute to the premier issue but she did the 2nd and is involved Fred Block with the magazine and I wanted her signature as well).

At this time, things were starting to wind down.

After most of the people left the convention space, some people from Celebrations Magazine decided it would be an awesome time to get all the contributors to sit at a couple of tables and sign the remaining covers assembly line style.  It was a surreal experience signing my name that many times and it not involve the purchase of a home.

Lori Burke Stricking a Pose At the conclusion of the Mega Mouse Meet, Glenn Whalen, Lori Burke, April Baker, Lou and Deanna were all going to lunch and we were invited along.  There were a lot of boxes and other stuff that needed to go to various locales so, Glenn and Deanna went one way, Lori and April went to another, Lou had a place he needed to be and Enchanted Rose went to get us on the list at  Beaches and Cream, while I moved our car to get valet parked at the Beach Club.

I didn’t have to go far to valet park since the front of the Beach club Beach Club Lobby was just around the corner from the parking lot for the convention center.

As I was walking to Beaches and Cream, I caught up with Lori and April.  When we got to Beaches and Cream, we found out from my wife Tinkerbellthat the wait was about an hour.

Not long after Glenn and Deanna caught up to us, the buzzer went off to let us know that it was time to sit.

I think our waitress had a rather easy time, it was cheeseburgers for everyone and with the exception of my wife, everyone had Coke® (except Glenn had it Heavenly with Vanilla and Lori had Cherry).

I swear, Disney needs to think about expanding Beaches and Cream.  If you cannot get a booth, you are crammed MouseFest2008_20081213_0060 around those little round tables that really can only comfortably hold 2-3 people yet they put 4 or 5 around them.  In our case, they pushed 2 of them together but we were still seated very tightly.

Our food came out in a timely manner and for a brief moment our lively conversations went silent as we devoured what some consider the best cheeseburger within the Walt Disney World Resort®.

As we were finishing our food, Deanna informed us that Lou was on his  way to join us.  So, she ordered his food which was pretty much the same thing as everyone else (I did say that many of us think these Deanna Mongello, Lori Burke, and Enchanted Rose are the best cheeseburgers around).

The group decided that a trip to Beaches & Cream couldn’t end without ice cream so a couple of large ice cream desserts were ordered (No Way Jose and whatever that wonderful brownie ice cream sundae is called).  Glenn ordered a single scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Lou joined us at this point and was very quickly greeted with his food.  I’ve never seen someone so happy to see a cheeseburger set before them as Lou that day.  He didn’t waste any time polishing it off and was ready to help us tackle the ice cream that was forth coming.

MouseFest2008_20081213_0067 After our two giant goblets of ice cream goodness arrived and were placed on the table accompanied by enough spoons for everyone.  A brief moment of musical chairs occurred as we attempted to get everyone positioned around the dessert item of choice.

After eating that wonderful cheeseburger and french fries (notice I didn’t mention a pickle.  Disney removed that from the menu sometime last September), it is often hard to believe that one will be able to finish that large ice cream sundae that is put before you.  Well, despite the original hesitation, the sundae apparently stood no chance against my and Enchanted Rose’s love and eagerness to enjoy ice cream at Walt Disney World.

After we felt that all that wanted to be eaten had been eaten and the check was settled up, we decided head to Glenn Whalen and Enchanted Rose EPCOT.  It was the EPCOT day for MouseFest after all.

Stowing Bags in the LockersI think the plan was to make an appearance at Tim Foster’s meet that was meant to provide a little something for the younger MouseFesters.

Before we could go anywhere, we needed to stop at the lockers near the International Gateway.  People were carrying give-away items for Lou’s Illuminations meet later that evening and didn’t want to carry them around the park all day.  Since items were being stashed, some others decided to put up their bags as well.

On the way to the Imagination Pavilion we found various ways to have some fun at other’s expense.  At some point in the day, someone had given all of us little rubber duckies.  Someone came up with the hilarious idea to line them up in a straight row Shenaniganson the ground and take a picture of it (getting your ducks in a row).  But before the picture could be taken, Glenn  got down in front of the row doing his best rubber duckie impression.

On another occasion we were passing by that photo opportunity at the Canada pavilion where you can put your face in the various holes and have your picture taken as totem poles.  Well, some of us obliged Lori, April, Enchanted Rose or who ever came up with the idea to pose for a picture.

At this point, Enchanted Rose pointed out that we were 30 minutes for Tim Devine’s photo meet.  He was going to take the group around the World Showcase.  We knew they were going to start at the Victoria Foster-paloozaGardens at the Canada Pavilion, so we convinced everyone to stop by and say hi.  Unfortunately, they weren’t still there and we missed the opportunity to give our regards.

So, it was onto the Imagination Pavilion.  On our way there, we ran into Tim Foster and his family and we all  walked there together.

We were the first ones to arrive.   But after about 15 minutes, there was a fairly descent sized group (mostly those who were kids at heart).  Lou Mongello decided to redub Tim Foster’s meet Foster-palooza.

There was a game component to Tim Foster’s meet but Enchanted Rose and I decided to not play along but were going to tag along with the others in the group.  The adventure began with the Journey into Imagination attraction.

Greg, Lori, and Glenn I’ve never been a big fan of this rendition of the attraction, but it still is listed among the attractions we visit every trip.

After getting off the attraction, Tim posed some questions about what was seen on the ride through.  Then it was onto the next attraction.

At this point Glenn, Lou, Deanna, and Lori had to break from the group since they had an ADR at Le Cellier (unfortunately, it’s impossible to add onto an ADR at Le Cellier so there were a lot of us who were jealous that we couldn’t mooch off of Lori’s hard fought ADR).

Enchanted Rose pointed out to me that she still needs to see Wishes.  This needed to be done tonight since we we had been invited to dinner at Nine Dragons the following evening to Celebration Deanna’s birthday.  Since that was the night we were going to see Wishes we wouldn't be able to do that if we were going to eat at Nine Dragons at 7:00PM.More Foster-Palooza

So, Enchanted Rose had a few more attractions at EPCOT that she wasn’t to cross of the list so we could claim that this park was done for this trip.  So, we broke from the group as well. 

The first place we went was to the Living Seas so that Enchanted Rose could see her old friends the manatees and the dolphins.  This is a long standing tradition for us.  We always stop by and say hello.  Enchanted Rose is really infatuated by the manatees.  We often stay there for a really long time watching them slowly swim around their tank from both the upper and lower observation locations.  Then we go to the dolphin area of the giant aquarium and see what those mischievous aquatic mammals are up to.  They were really docile today and not really wanting to be seen.  Plus, people were using the locations to view them as sleeping spots.  So, we really couldn’t get close to the glass to observe.

Mission:  Space The next location was Mission:  Space to take the more intense space training mission.  I’m normally highly prone to motion sickness, but this ride never does anything more to me than give me a minor bit of vertigo that goes away really fast.  I really love the sensation of the g-forces when the ship is launching off the earth and then being slung around the moon into deep space.  After barely crashing on the surface of Mars, it was time to dizzily wander to the post show area for some more advanced training.

We decided to skip the additional training and move onto Test Track.  I swear the wait after the pre-show was longer than the time it took to get to see the little video.  We eventually made our way to our test vehicle and got to ride with a young lady from the single rider line.

We decided to do something silly for the ride photo an act we try to slide in every time.  Our favorite is what we like to call the “dead” car, but you need to have everyone in on it to get the maximum effect.  Since that wasn’t possible, we decided to improvise.  It was funny because Enchanted Rose and I decided to do the same exact thing.  We put our hands to our cheeks and faked a scream of terror.  I caught in the corner of my eye the girl from the single rider line laughing at us.  Test Track

The best part, as usual, was the 65+ mph race to the finish.  I was able to try out my continuous burst mode of my camera again.  I sometimes can capture some great shots where part of the windshield is in focus, but everything outside the car is a blur. 

After getting off the ride vehicle, we had to check out our photo.  Sure enough the young lady sitting next to us was looking straight at us laughing.

At this point, it was almost 6:30PM which gave us about 30 minutes before Tim Devine’s Dark Ride/Night Time photography meet near the Lights of Winter.  But to kill some additional time, we decided to hit up Mouse Gear.  I must say that at this time, my feet were really mad at me.  I couldn’t stand still without excruciating pain and the idea of sitting anytime soon wasn’t looking too promising.  Enchanted Rose didn’t have much luck finding anything that interested her.  This was especially upsetting since Disney decided to Tim Devine's Dark Ride/Nighttime Photography Meetput all hats and t-shirts 40% off and all Christmas Decorations were 50% off.

We left Mouse Gear and met up with Tim Devine at the Lights of Winter.  He had a few of the people from his 4PM meet s till with him.  Because of the loud volume of the music associated with the Lights of Winter, Tim decided to move the meet to the bridge that takes you to the frequently vacant Odyssey building.  He had about 20 people show up.  Much of what Tim was talking about I had already been tutored on by Tim our Gary over the past couple of years.  So, I just observed but couldn’t get my mind off the pain in my feet.  I didn’t want to sit really far away from the group so I just suffered in silence.

About 30 minutes into the meet, Tim’s wife called but he was unable to take it.  So he tossed his iPhone at me and EPCOT Christmas Tree told me to talk to his wife.  I almost dropped his phone which would’ve been very embarrassing and expensive (I’m not exactly known for my great catching skills).  Enchanted Rose snatched the phone out of my hands.  She hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to Tim’s wife in a while so she walked off to talk to her. 

There were a lot of good questions asked during Tim’s meet.  I would say it was a smashing success.  If it wasn’t so freakin’ cold I think it would’ve been a bit more enjoyable.  There were a lot of people who were obviously cold.  But you never know what kind of weather is going to greet you in December in Orlando.  It was warm last year but cold this year.  Apparently it was much colder 2 years ago.

After Tim’s nighttime and dark ride photography meet, it was almost 8pm and Lou Mongello’s Illuminations meet was about to start at the Japan Pavilion.  We needed to go there because Lori had sent me a text during Tim’s meet that she had scored some pretzel bread for us (thanks Lori!).

So, Tim, Enchanted Rose and myself walked over to Japan.  Since Enchanted Rose and I were going to watch Wishes we really were going to get the pretzel bread that Lori went to such great pains to get for us and to give our apologies for dashing off.  When we got there, we immediately found Lori who handed me a bag with a Styrofoam container Space Ship Earthfull of pretzel bread.  I explained that we were going to be going to see Wishes but we hoped that we could get back in time to catch Illuminations before they all disbanded. 

I also found Lou to also let him know our plan.  Since I told him I’d be attending, I didn’t want him to think I blew off his meet. 

Now that we’ve explained ourselves to Lou and his crew, now it was time to get to the Monorail as fast as humanly possible without running (remember my feet are in excruciating pain). 

With a few exceptions of people not paying attention to their theme park footprint, we had no trouble getting to the Monorail in a speedy manner.

We quickly walked up the ramp to the monorail station trying to avoid getting run over by some teenage boys who thought it would be funny to barrel through the crowd.

We didn’t have to wait long before the monorail arrived and we were off on our way to the Magic Kingdom.  At this time it was sometime between 8:30 – 8:45PM.  I really was starting to doubt our ability to get to Main Street U.S.A.  So, I suggested we go to the beach at the Polynesian resort.  I also suggested that we might need to just walk over from the TTC parking lot instead of switching monorails and getting off at the Polynesian station.

Wishes!Sure enough, by the time we got off at the TTC, we had a real shortage of time.  So we quickly starting making our way to the beach.  But, the signage wasn’t the best to tell us how to get to the beach once we were on the Polynesian Resort’s property.

I saw someone who worked for the resort and asked how to get to where we were going and were quickly pointed in the right direction.  It turned out we were about 10 feet away from where we wanted to be.

Once we were on the beach, we proceeded to walk toward the area of the beach near the Polynesian Resort’s pool.  That is where we viewed the special 4th of July test run during our trip on June so we knew it would work.

When we were halfway to our desired location, the fireworks began, so we just stopped where we were and watched.  Unfortunately, the audio was only being heard form those rooms that had their sliding doors open.  We hadn’t gotten far enough to enjoy the audio being piped Monorail Yellow through exterior speakers.  This meant that the screaming kids that were throwing a fit on the beach were drowning out the audio.

I didn’t have enough time to get my tripod setup, so I just attempted to handhold the camera while taking some pictures.

After Wishes completed it was time to reverse the process to see if we could get back to EPCOT in time to see the end of Illuminations.  It turns out that we were going to have the same amount of time to get back to EPCOT as we had to get to the Polynesian Resort to see Wishes.  So, we thought the odds were in our favor.

It took a bit longer for the Monorail to show up than it did when we got the platform at EPCOT.  So, as we were rolling into EPCOT Illuminations had already started.

When we got off the Monorail we found out that they were no longer letting people into EPCOT.  Since we were IllumiNationsparked at the Beach Club, we were going to need to find a way to get to the International Gateway one way or another.  So, I tapped a Cast Member on the shoulder, explained our situation and he told us to have the security personnel check our bags and they’d let us in.

We walked over to the Security Personnel and explained what we were told.  He asked us to open our bags and he checked them.  Then he walked us to the closest gate and opened it for us and sent us on our way.

Now the fun part began.  We were attempting to get to the Japan Pavilion as a sea of people were rushing out of EPCOT.  Illuminations hadn’t completed as of yet, but people were still streaming out.

By the time we got to the Lights of Winter, the Holiday Tag had started.  So we stopped briefly to watch it then continued onto Japan.

I had sent Lori a text at this point to let her know we were in the park and on our way to Japan.  I didn’t want for us to fight our way there and find that they were gone.  She replied back acknowledging and that they weren’t going anywhere until we got there.

Swan & Dolphin Despite the onslaught of guests going in the opposite direction than we were, the trip to Japan was quite speedy.  Shortly after getting there, it was decided that we were going to walk to Jellyrolls at the Boardwalk.  Brian Ripper from All about the Mouse was hosting a late night meet there.

After passing through the international gateway and getting to the point w here we needed to cross over the bridge to get to the Boardwalk side of the “river”, we lost Glenn, Ryan and Aileen had to break away from the group.  I don’t remember why Glenn had to leave, but Ryan and Aileen needed to get back to their room and pack since he was needing to head back home the next day.

It took awhile for the entire group to get to Jellyrolls.  There was a $10 cover to get into Jellyrolls and apparently to pay with a credit card was a really annoying process for the person collecting the money.  So, Enchanted Rose and I paid with cash.

Once inside, the fun began.

I must say that I haven’t really been inside a bar/nightclub since 1999 and a lot has changed with my view of myself and the world in those 9 years.  But, Jellyrolls with the MouseFest crowd really reminded me of those nights, during my younger, more corruptible years, hanging out with my friends, blasting the radio and singing along to the songs.Boardwalk

If you were alive during the 80’s and were old enough to really remember it, a lot of the songs would be very familiar to you.  So familiar that you would know the lyrics.  Such songs were Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, and many many more.

All I can say is that everyone, and I mean everyone, had a blast that was in our little group.  There was singing and there was dancing.  There was also this libation called a Blue Suede Shoe that was flowing like water.  All I know was that it was blue and had red bull in it and some liquor.  I wasn’t drinking since I was driving and others were playing the designated driver role too.

It was refreshing seeing this kind of nightlife because after Pleasure Island shut down there really aren’t that many options afforded to us.  But, unfortunately, I doubt the same kind of experience would be had if it wasn’t experienced in such a large group of friends.

Jellyrolls Around 1:30AM, I indicated to Enchanted Rose that I was done and we decided to leave.  Then, after saying our goodbyes, the dueling pianists decided to play a rousing medley of Disney classics.  That got my wife distracted and we were stuck there for another 15 minutes. 

Well, as we walked back to the Boardwalk to retrieve our vehicle from the valet, we talked about how much fun we had.  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen my wife have that much fun.  To me, that made MouseFest for me.  It was hard to describe, but she was belting out the songs (she’s an excellent singer) and was dancing with the group.  I was my typical wall-flower self..haha

For those of you who have ever wondered, there is someone there to get your car out of the valet parking at late hours.  Because of how late it was we decided to give the guy a $5 tip for getting our car.

By the time we got back to the room, I only had enough energy to start pulling the pictures off my Compact Flash card and write half of this trip report.  I am actually finishing it after we got back.

I set my alarm for 9am and knew there really wasn’t anything we needed to get to until 1PM the next day.  So, the pressure was off.

Technorati Tags: ,