Thursday, December 18, 2008

MouseFest 2008: Day 01 – Is Anyone Else from Oklahoma?

I went to bed around Midnight after working on my trip report.  Since the first meet we wanted to attend was the MouseFest 101 meet at noon, our main concern was finding food in the morning and getting switched over from Port Orleans Riverside to Port Orleans French Quarter.

So, I decided to set the alarm for 8am.  That should give me a good eight hours of sleep.  Enchanted Rose called it a night an hour before I did.

When the alarm on my iPhone went off at 8am, it was quickly reset to 8:30am.  When it went off the second time, my wife awoke and hit the showers.  I had showered before hitting the sack, so I got dressed and headed over to Port Orleans French Quarter to see if I could get us checked in.  I felt this was the best utilization of time.  After all, we still had the dilemma of figuring out where to eat.

I had not problem finding my way to the French Quarter main building and there was no lines waiting for me on the inside.  The check-in process was speedy, but our room wasn’t ready.  I was told that I could leave my bags with the Bell Station and we could call them when we get into our room and they’ll deliver them for us.

I didn’t have our bags, so it was back to the room at Riverside I went.

As I was driving back to Riverside, it started raining.  It was more of a drizzle at this point.

I was able to secure a parking spot closest to the stairs we’d be coming down from the 2nd story from our room.  When I got back to the room, Enchanted Rose was all ready to go.  We quickly re-packed all the stuff we used the previous day and I grabbed some bags to take to the car.

At this point, it was now raining pretty hard.  After a couple trips the stuff was in the car.  We had two options at our disposal.  We could let the Riverside Bell Station hold our bags and deliver them to French Quarter, or let the French Quarter Bell Station hold them.

We decided to let the French Quarter Bell Station hold them since that was the resort we were ending up at.

Enchanted Rose drove up to the covered area where guests are dropped off and picked up.  I talked to the guy as the Bell Station and he called someone over to collect our bags.  He commented on how nasty the weather was and asked if we had eaten.  He then proceeded to tell us all the places at Riverside and French Quarter to eat, but finished off by stating that the bad weather has caused all of them to be pretty busy anyway.

So, we decided to head to the Magic Kingdom to see if we could get some food on Main Street U.S.A.

On our way over to the Magic Kingdom, I decided to text Lou Mongello to see where he might be.  At this point, he was the only person I knew that was here and I had their contact information.  Lou was on his way to the Magic Kingdom but was not in any real rush since the weather was less than spectacular.

We got to the Ticket and Transportation Center and managed to secure a parking spot at Pluto 14.  It wasn’t that far away and was in walking distance from the Monorail.  We had on good raincoats (purchased from Bass Pro Shop) and hoofed our way to the Monorail.

There were quite a few people on the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom, but we were able to get on the Express Line, so we didn’t have to stop at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian before getting to the Magic Kingdom.

Now that I have a new camera bag, it doesn’t take a really long time to get through security anymore.  I can quickly unzip and rezip the bag with ease.

Bride in the Haunted MansionWe managed to get behind someone who couldn’t remember which finger he used to scan on the finger reader so we quickly had to find another line to go through to get into the parks.

Once in the park, Enchanted Rose needed to ask a question at Guest Services and she asked me to go check to see what the wait was like at the Main Street Barber Shop.  Since I was very busy with work I didn’t have a chance to get my hair cut before leaving for Disney World.

I didn’t need to ask because the line was out the door. 

I met my wife back at the Guest Relations desk and then we headed down Main Street to go to the Main Street Bakery.  As we rounded the corner we ran into Lou.  He was thinking of also going to the Main Street Bakery and we decided to head on over together.  My wife got an Apple Charlotte, I got a Rocky Road Brownie and Lou got a Cinnamon Bun, but his was so large I’d call it a Cinnamon Loaf.

After finishing our delicious breakfast of sugary carbohydrates, Enchanted Rose and I headed toward the Haunted Mansion and Lou decided to hang around on Main Street and soak up the wonderful aromas and atmosphere.

There was absolutely no wait to get on the Haunted Mansion and I decided to take out my camera and see what kind of pictures I could get with my new lens and body.

I wasn’t able to take impressively better pictures but I think a shot or two was better.

As we were heading out of the Haunted Mansion we could see the crowd of people not moving and just knew it was because of the weather.  Sure enough, the sky had Pirates of the Caribbeanopened up while we were cavorting with the 999 Happy Haunts.  We pulled out our rain coats and went on our merry way to the Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Once again, there was no wait, so we were on our boat in no time.  Once again, I managed to score a picture or  two better. 

After completing Pirates it was 11:30, so we decided it was best to head over to The Contemporary to go to the MouseFest 101 meet.

So, off it was to the Resort Monorail which was packed.  I guess people were just tired of wandering around in the rain.

We managed to get to the Contemporary without getting crushed and Pinocchio display at Contemporarystarting wandering in the direction where we thought the meet was located.  I stopped momentarily to take pictures of the Pinocchio and Geppetto diorama that was constructed of  chocolate and other tasty goodness.  It was at this point we saw Jennifer (from Those Darn Cats) come around the corner.  I called out to her to get her attention.  Then we saw Lisa (the other half of Those Darn Cats).  They introduced us to a couple of their friends and we all started wandering over to the meet together.

When we got there, the room hadn’t opened up yet so there was a Crowd waiting to enter MouseFest 101large throng of people milling around in the lobby outside the conference area.

We didn’t have to wait long before they opened the doors and we could  all pile in.  The conference room was spacious, but it quickly filled up.  There were a lot of people here for MouseFest.

Greg Grimsley and others waiting for MouseFest 101 to begine I must admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the speakers at this meet because it wasn’t my first MouseFest and I was more taken in by getting to see and talk to a few of my real-world and online friends like Tim Devine, Scott Thomas, Gary (member of The Magic in Pixels), Lou Mongello, Glenn Whalen, Greg Grimsley (DOC from The Disney Obsession) and others.

Enchanted Rose kept giving me “that look” because at times some of my conversations with people were getting a bit loud.  Especially since many of us were Mike Scopatalking photography.  Scott Thomas loaned me his Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens to give a try if I promised to return it at Tim Devine’s Photography 101 meet later that day.

During the MouseFest 101 meet, Mike Scopa awarded to one neophyte couple 2 tickets to the  Illuminations party as a “Magical Moment” on behalf of Deb Wills.  You could tell it really made their morning.

After the 101 Meet wrapped up, they decided to let everyone partake of the refreshments outdoors regardless of ones registration status.  The only word that comes to mind to describe the process of getting out of the room was “cattle call”.  It was packed and slow moving.  The refreshments consisted Glenn Whalen, Greg Grimsley and others at MouseFest 101of power drinks, chocolate and trail mix along with some fruit.  My wife and I grabbed some chocolate and a banana.

  After quickly scarfing down the chocolate and banana we decided to mingle a bit.  We got the opportunity to have a nice chat with Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel.  We also got to have some nice talks with some other people that were knew to us.

Around 2:30 we decided it was time to head back to the Magic Enchanted Rose Posing in front of Giant Hidden MickeyKingdom.  We were pleased to be greeted by sunshine on our way back to the Monorail.

After re-entering the park, Enchanted Rose decided that the Main Street Barber Shop needed to be reinvestigated.  The line was much shorter and I was not going to get out of getting a haircut.  So, we waited patiently while kids in front of us got their ears lowered. 

Eventually it got to be my turn and I told the fine Cast Member sporting the scissors what clipper guard number I wanted and how I wanted it cut. 

Mainstreet U.S.A. HaircutMy wife got great joy out of taking pictures of my first haircut at Walt Disney World.  I just hope that if we end up having a boy one day, that he doesn’t have to wait until he’s 37 to get his first haircut.  There isn’t anything different from the haircut you get back home, except that it’s IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM!

After getting my fabulous haircut, we started heading toward Tomorrowland because we decided we needed to get some “real” food.  The only problem was that the Dream Can Come True Parade was going on and it made it impossible to get from one side of MainEvil Queen on Parade Float Street to the other.

So, we just decided to stand and watch the parade go by.  I was able to get a few pictures, but our positioning wasn’t the best for photography.

Once the parade was over we quickly headed over to Cosmic Ray’s.  I got the grilled chicken sandwich while my wife got the 6-piece chicken nugget meal.

Cosmic Ray's We sat down with Sonny Eclipse (the audio-animatronic not the member of the Disney Community) and enjoyed our food.  I must admit the chicken sandwich was one of the best I’ve ever gotten at the parks.

After I completed my meal, I switched out my lens for the Tokina that was loaned to me by Scott.  From Cosmic Ray’s we went to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  I managed to score in the 400K range, but it was only due to the fact that the ride stopped several times for extended periods.  I was able to just lock in on a Buzz Lightyeartarget and keep racking up points.  I was also able to get some great photos using Scott’s extreme wide-angle lens.  Since it was a f/2.8, that meant that I should be able to get a descent amount of light in the lens.  I cannot wait to see how they turn out once converted into JPEGs.

After Buzz Lightyear, we decided to continue our traditions and partake of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.   It’s always a nice ride around Tomorrowland.

After disembarking, it was time to go to Tim Devine’s Photography 101 meet at the Tomorrowland Noodle Station.

When I got there, I realized I forgot the head to my tripod for using with my video camera.  I offered to  Enchanted Rose on TTA video record it for Tim and I knew it was going to be a pain to do it by hand holding.  But, I did it anyway.  I found that if I rested it on top of my dSLR camera while sitting in a chair, my shoulders didn’t start to burn like they were on fire.

Tim’s meet lasted about an hour and was interrupted a couple times by the little stage show that takes place in front of Cinderella's Castle.  But, I felt his meet was a success and it had a very large turnout.  Tim even provided visual aids and handouts this year.

After Tim’s meet we decided to head to Greg (The Disney Obsession) and Ryan (The Main Street Gazette) Rocking The Rocking Chair MeetChair Meet at the Town Square Exhibition Hall.  I was finally able to have some nice talks with these guys, and my wife got to meet April Baker who recently launched a site devoted to Disney-based crafting, Scrapping the Magic.  I also got to have a nice chat about photography with Brian Fee who runs the Magical Aperture website. 

Eventually, we got kicked out of the Magic Kingdom because we weren’t attending the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  So, at 7PM, we decided it was time to hop the Monorail back to the Ticket and Transportation Center to get our car and head back to Port Orleans French Quarter and see if our room was ready.

Sure enough, our room was ready but it was really close to the Bob Jackson meet being held by The Disney Podcast Network (DPN) at 8PM at the Port Orleans Bob JacksonRiverside Resort.  So, we decided to not mess with our luggage and we’d deal with it when we got back.

We had no problem finding our way to Bob Jackson’s show at the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside and got there before the show started.

At first, when we walked in, we didn’t see anyone we knew.  So we Lisa and Trace being picked on grabbed a table near the back of the room.  Then we saw Jennifer (Those Darn Cats and Broke Hoedown) walk in with a couple other people we knew were in her and Lisa’s entourage.  We didn’t want to lose our table, so Enchanted Rose went over to their table, right in front. 

When she came back she reported that Lisa (Those Darn Cats and My Some of the ladies doing their best Rockette's ImpressionLife on the WDW D-List)  had earlier in the day got stung by a bee at Mike Scopa’s Dole Whip meet.  Talk about a non-Magical moment.  But  Lisa is a nurse and felt that she’d be fine but authorized my lovely wife (an ER Nurse) to perform recitation procedures if necessary (I’m sure she was joking because at this point, she had a noticeable sting, but it wasn’t like she was looking like Will Smith from the movie Hitch).

At this point,I went over there to say hi.  It was at this point that Lisa had the brilliant idea that we should sit at the bar.  It wouldn’t be at their table (which was tiny and already populated by 5 people), but it was literally right behind them.

So, she stood there and saved 2 chairs while I went back to grab my wife.  Unfortunately, Enchanted Rose had The Crowd at Bob Jackson's Show already ordered a lovely adult beverage and didn’t want the person taking care of her to think she ran out on her.  So, I went to occupy our chairs at the bar and she’d join us as soon as she got her drink.

Our new seat at the bar was fantastic (thank you Lisa!).

I also got to meet Lou from the Beyond Main Street and the In your Ears Experience podcasts. 

I must tell you, if you haven’t seen Bob Jackson perform, then you don’t know what you are missing.  He’s truly a magical moment at the Walt Disney World Resort®.  The best I can describe it is he’s a one man show YMCAthat performs music with the same energy and comedic styling that you would’ve found at the Adventurer’s Club before it closed. 

He plays a lot of rousing tunes and audience participation is expected and enjoyed but not forced.  Poor Lisa and Jennifer (more Lisa) got picked on a lot.  I think she was made to perform as the Partridge in a Pear Tree when he sang the Twelve Days of Christmas and he often called her name out.  He also recognized and frequently acknowledged the fact that the podcasters from the DPN were there.  He also initiated the request of a group photo with all the podcasters.

My wife was called up along with Jennifer, Lisa and a few other women in the room to perform a kick routine like the Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall.

Bob is an amazing performer.  Before he started his first set, he went around the room and talked to several of DPN Group & Bob Jackson us.  He never forgot your names and locations.  Often he’d work it into the routine.

I must say, I had an absolutely fabulous time and took lots of pictures and even got to try out my new flash unit.   Scott Thomas (PS Calculator and AllEars.NET photoblog and The Magic in Pixels uber-member) gave me some tips on how to use it best.

I really like his song choices.  We had such childhood classics as the Oscar Mayer weiner song and Bologna song,  Oldie but goody songs from another generation like Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, good ole boy drinking songs like American Pie and songs that were off the radar until a movie made them popular again like the Banana boat song (Day-O, Day-o, Daylight come and I wanna go home).

I don’t drink much these days and since my wife partook of an adult beverage, I abstained this evening (maybe I’ll get to have a nice Guinness Stout during the EPCOT Drink around the World Meet on Saturday), so I could drive us home.

I must say that I’m a person who cannot sing, cannot dance, and has absolutely no rhythm and gave my wife fits of laughter when I kept clapping out of step, but we both had a blast.

Bob Jackson & Enchanted RoseWhen 10 o’clock rolled around Bob decided to take an intermission and we said our goodbyes.  But, before we left, we felt a nice tip was in order because he earned every penny of that.  My wife gave him the tip, he even remembered her name and where she was from.  He posed for a picture with her and we went back to our room at Port Orleans French Quarter.

When we got to our room, we called down to the Bell Station and they brought our bags to us.  We also called to the Concierge to find out when we could call Disney Dining to start calling around to find a place to eat tomorrow near Animal Kingdom.

We have decided we are hoping to either eat at Boma’s at the Harkness Hideaway (known to the rest of you as the Animal Kingdom Lodge) or Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

My lovely wife curled up in the bed reading her book, Eclipse, while I worked on this blog post for you all.

My computer is still dumping the 354 pictures I took today (many, many, many of them from the Bob Jackson meet).

So, that is it for today.  Today started out rainy, ended up sunny and was an all around good day.

I got to meet some new people, some people I’ve only known online, and hang out with people I’m friends with and talk to frequently in the real world.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great start to your trip, Ray. Seeing Yee Haw Bob is definitely on my list of things to do on my next trip to WDW.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Hey, that's a pretty good picture of me! I'm always so happy in WDW, but I never take a good picture.

It was great to finally get to catch up with you in person, rather than through comments and messages. We should really do that, in Walt Disney World, more often!

Unknown said...


I'm glad I was able to capture an acceptable picture of you. I also seem to never have good pictures of me floating around