Friday, December 19, 2008

MouseFest 2008: Day 02

My alarm went of at 7AM, just as I set it, but it took a bit of time for me to recall why it was going off.  I eventually remembered that I was supposed to be calling 407-WDW-DINE to see if I could get an ADR for Boma for four of us.

After getting through the multiple levels of prompts where you are expected to speak your response (as opposed to hitting a number on the keypad), I eventually got to a human being.

Animal Kingdom Lodge LobbyI asked about Boma and was told that there was an 8:50AM timeslot available.  I told the Cast Member that I needed something closer to the 8 o’clock timeframe and she looked again and told me that there was an 8:10am slot too.  She also checked Tusker House for me as well and there was an 8:30AM time. 

I decided to secure the 8:10AM timeslot at Boma because when it comes down to two restaurants for breakfast and Boma is one of them, it’ll always win out.

That meant that Enchanted Rose was going to need to arise immediately because she needed to shower.  I always shower at night so I just needed to brush my teeth, brush my hair and get dressed.

Enchanted Rose got ready and we were out of the room by 7:30AM.  We got to the Harkness Hideaway (aka The Animal Kingdom Lodge) with time to spare, so we looked around the gift shop and then I took some pictures of the tree in the middle of the lobby. 

Since we were waiting for Tim and Gary (one of the very prolific contributors to The Magic in Pixels) to arrive, we just sat down at the entrance to Boma.  While we were waiting we saw one of the largest factions of the Red Hat Society that I have ever seen.

Tim and Gary showed up shortly and we were able to sit down.  We all Tim Devine & Enchanted Rose ordered the “Jungle Juice” and some coffee then hit the buffet.  My first course was the bread course with lots, and lots of pancakes.  Then I followed up with a meat course (carving station ham and sausage).  I had eggs with both courses.

After the four of us felt stuffed, Enchanted Rose mentioned that she’d like to stick with our traditions at the Harkness Hideway and go outside to look at the animals on the savannah.  As soon as we stepped outside, we knew the weather had changed.  When we left the room it was a bit chilly, but now there was a really fine mist associated with it and that wet cold just digs deep into the skin.

Enchanted Rose & Me in front on DAK SignThere wasn’t very much exciting going on at the savannah near the pool, so we decided to go to the main savannah accessible from the main lobby.  Once again, no animals.  A cast member told us that this was the time they went back in for breakfast.  So, we decided to just head over to the Animal Kingdom for the days meets.

Tim had already gone ahead of us since he had to scope out locations for his Tree of Life meet.

When Enchanted Rose and I got to the Animal Kingdom, the parking lot was really packed.  We ended up parking at Unicorn 29.  Since the tram was just pulling away we decided to walk it.  It was at this point we ran into WillCAD and we walked to the entrance with him.  When we got to that big Animal Kingdom sign near the bus dropoff, we had to stop so I could take our traditional photo of Enchanted Rose in front of it.  Will was kind enough to take a picture of the both of DAK Christmas Treeus, as well, so I could be in the picture.  One of the downsides to sporting a nice dSLR and being the one who takes the pictures is that you end up with a ton of pictures with just one person in them.  The Photopass folks are pretty reliable to hand your nice camera too, but those dSLR cameras are a bit intimidating to your average park guest, unless they have one themselves.

When we rounded the corner, you could quickly tell it was going to take a bit to get through bag check.  Between 9:30 – 10:30 seems to be the most popular time to show up at any of the theme parks.  So, when you show up in the time frame expect to stand in longer lines to get into the park.

Once through bag check, we got to stand in a line to get our Annual Passes scanned to so we could make it through the turnstiles.

At this point, we got to be entertained by an individual that didn’t seem to grasp that you needed to put your index finger on the finger scanner.  His adult daughter kept grabbing his hand putting his index finger on the scanner, but he’s quickly remove it and replace it with his thumb and then start to walk through the turnstile to only be stopped.  He did this over and over again and then started getting irritated with the Cast Member, who in addition to the guest’s daughter, was trying to tell him he’s using the Yeti Museumwrong finger.

I don’t know if that fellow ever made it into the park, but we did and we proceeded to head toward Expedition Everest.  It wasn’t long after making it past the turnstiles that we ran into Angel and his friend and co-worker that he brought to not only his first MouseFest but his first trip to Walt Disney World®.  Angel and his friend are from Puerto Rico and many members of the community know him.  I met him last year, but didn’t really get to speak to him much.  But, they were going to Expedition Everest as well (to meet up with Jennifer, Lisa, and Trace).  So we walked together.  This allowed us to get to know him a bit better.  We ran into Lisa and Trace somewhere near the  monkey enclosure on the way to Expedition Everest and they explained that Fast Passes wouldn’t be necessary.  They were on their way toward Finding Nemo to stake out a location to have everyone to gather before their meet at 11:00am.

When we got to Expedition Everest, it was listed as a 40 minute wait, but we went into the standby line anyway.  Expedition EverestIt  really wasn’t 40 minutes and we were to the front of the line in no time.  Angel wanted his friend to ride up front.  We found out that he had already been dragged onto Rock N Rollercoaster on Wednesday (our Day 01) and that was his friend’s #1 favorite attraction thus far.  We were hoping to get Expedition Everest high on the list too.

We were put to the front of the train and away we went.  They Yeti was once again, not functioning and it was masked with a strobe light effect.  But in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t detract too much from the attraction which is a grade-a kick butt fun time.

After finishing up at Everest, Angel and friend made their way to Lisa and Jennifer’s meet while we went to catch up with Tim Devine at the Tim DevineTree of Life.  We were already 5 minutes late but it didn’t seem to matter because he was just getting started when we arrived. 

Once again, he had quite the turn out.  Tim and Gary had broken out the monster zoom lenses for this meet, which for all practical purposes was a safari scouting out carved animals on the Tree of Life.

I got to run into Brian Fee (Magical Aperture) again and chat with him some while the others wandered through the trails around the Tree of Life.  Occasionally, I’d answer a question about Nikon’s for someone since I was considered to be the most knowledgeable Nikon owner in Enchanted Rose lining up the shotthe group.  In addition to seeing Brian, I was also introduced to some of the other members of Tim’s forum.  Previously, I’ve only known them by their screen names.

It was during this meet, that Enchanted Rose tried her hands and shooting with a dSLR since she’s inherited my Nikon D80 after she bought me the Nikon D300 for Christmas.  I think she was getting frustrated because there is a lot to learn, at first, about shooting with a dSLR when you don’t want to use the Green Box Mode (full auto).

After completing the wandering through the paths, which ended with us standing around talking near the exit to  It’s Tough to be a Bug during 3 attraction dumps, about 10 of us headed over to Kilimanjaro Safari, to see how well we could do on the bumpy Simba 1.

Tim Devine talking to the groupI could definitely see the improvement with my new camera and lens.  But, once again, looking at them on my laptop screen will truly tell me how good they were.

After the Safari, Enchanted Rose and I decided to hit our favorite stores, grab a bite to eat and then head on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

We really didn’t buy anything this time, but we didn’t get some food.  We stopped at Pizzafari and grabbed a Pepperoni Pizza, some breadsticks and a large bottled water.

After eating it was off to the parking lot to get our car and head over to DHS.  On the way back, Enchanted Rose asked me to drive so she could get a “power nap”.  I obliged, naturally.

Apparently, the trip between Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studio isn’t that long and she Elephants didn’t get much of a “power nap”.  We had to park even further out at DHS (Music 55) and this time we took the tram.  Walking back to the car, the sun came out and I got really hot, so I took off my fleece hoodie.  I tied it around my wait when getting out of the car at Disney’s Hollywood Studios but quickly realized that was going to be one of those days of putting it on and taking it off when we got in the tram and started freezing.

We made quick time through the bag check and turnstile and quickly headed to Rock N Rollercoaster.  This is always a fun ride.  After that, we hoofed it over to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to allow ourselves to be dropped several times over.  I love to ride this attraction with only the seat belt holding me down.  I do not hold onto anything while in descent.  It gives a great, yet brief, feeling of weightlessness.

Down Under Club (Rock N Rollercoaster)After Tower of Terror, we decided to hit up Toy Story Midway Mania. The wait here was the longest thus far and I was worried that we’d be late for the PodFest meet put on by Lou Mongello.  I should point out Toy Story that I kicked my wife’s butt on this attraction [editor’s note:  I don’t know if 10,000 point difference constitutes a butt kicking].

After getting off Toy Story, we had about 5 minutes to make it to PodFest.  We walked pretty briskly and got there just after Lou started giving his talk about the podcasting community.

Toy Story #2We got to go say hi to Lisa and Jennifer.  We also got to say hi to Lou.  But, it was really nice to stand around talking to Greg Grimsley (aka DOC from The Disney Obsession, Ryan (from the Main Street Gazette), Lori Burke (from We Wants the Read Head blog and the WDW Radio Show’s Co-Host for the day) and Glenn Whalen (aka Doc Terminus from Celebrations Magazine and Passamaquoddy).

We also got to once again meet Beci Mahnken and Annette Owens Enchanted Rose & Lisa Farry from MEI-Mouse Fan Travel.  They were excited about their Illuminations Dessert Party later this evening (and so were we).

Lou Mongello, Lori Burke, Greg GrimsleyAt this point, we knew dinner was going to have to be soon or we’d not get to eat before the 8:45pm Illuminations Dessert Party.  So, we said our goodbyes and headed out looking for food (Tim and Gary and a couple of some new friends he made during his meets headed to Muppets 3D).

We tried the 50’s Prime Time cafe, but knew when we approached John Wayne (Great Movie Ride)that a snowball had a greater chance of surviving in hell than us getting in there.  But we asked anyway and were quickly proven right.  Enchanted Rose asked the lovely Cast Member if there was any sit downs that might have room to accommodate us, but were told they were all solidly booked.

At this point, we decided that Beaches and Cream was going to be dinner and we just needed to kill time till the  Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights began and then head over to the Beach Club to get Beaches and Cream.  So, to kill time we went to the Great Movie Ride.  Well, the wait was long and my feet hurt.  So that made the wait feel even longer.  WE got to watch the movie reel a couple times in the queue line before getting onto a ride vehicle.

Once again, we got the gangster scene.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen the western scene.

Wicked Witch (Great Movie Ride) I was quickly reminded that the Great Movie Ride isn’t really for really young kids when the young child behind us became quickly terrified during the gun shootout during the gangster scene and really never recovered.

After disembarking off the Great Movie Ride, we noticed it was dark outside and knew the lights must be on.  So we headed toward the Streets of America.  Apparently, the were limiting ones access into the attraction through one of two locations.  So we followed the glowing Osborne Lights 1 light sabers till we got to the Muppets area. 

We were to meet Tim and Gary so we were standing at the fountain outside muppets since it made a good landmark.  While we were there, the Tagrel people were meeting up and we got some nice glowing accessories to go with a trip into the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  After about 15 Osborne Lights 2 minutes, Tim called me and told me there was another entrance and they were already inside.

So, Enchanted Rose and I made our way in.  This display lived up to it’s name.  It was a spectacle and the lights truly danced.

I was really nervous about setting up my tripod in this location since it was a sea of people.  So, I hung in the back were there were less people and tried to take some pictures.  When 7PM rolled around, we decided it was best that he high tailed it to the Beach Club to get some grub at Beaches and Cream.

It didn’t take us long to get to the Beach Club and once again, we used our DVC membership to get free valet Carrousel parking.

We made our way to Beaches and Cream to get our taste buds disappointed to find out that there was more than an hour wait and that even included the seats at the counter.  Even in June we didn’t have to wait this long to eat here.  We were devastated.

So, we were a bit frustrated because we hadn’t eaten since Pizzafari.  So, I went and took pictures of the carrousel in the Beach Club lobby Guerlain High Heel Christmas Tree while Enchanted Rose tracked down a restroom that didn’t have a long line in it.  Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to eat where you want and then not even being able to go the bathroom because everyone is wanting to use it at the same time.

So, we decided to try our luck at the World Showcase.  Enchanted Rose grabbed a breakfast bar out of the backpack to tide herself over and I decided that I wanted a pretzel from Germany.

On our way to Germany we stopped in France to pick up some make-up supplies in Guerlain.

So we walked briskly to Germany only to find out that they were out of pretzels. This was starting to look really bad.  But, we got a bit lucky in that Japan Pavilion at Night the beer cart outside had a few left.

It was 8:30PM at this point, so we needed to get to the International Gateway by 8:45PM to not get left out of the dessert party.  We knew we weren’t going to be late when we passed Beci and her crew on the bridge between the UK and France.

As we approached the group of other Mousefest people attending the party, we ran into Tim Foster.  We did some general chatting about how excited we were about Celebrations Magazine and talked a bit about what we’ve been up to.  At this point, Annette grabbed us and told us that we needed to get “registered'”, so she led us over to the person who was handing out badges and checking names of lists.

Illuminations At this point, we ran into Ryan and his wife from the Main Street Gazette.  Now I was happy to see a face that I knew.  Then we saw Matt Hochberg and Mike Newell from the WDW Today podcast.  Lori Burke was also there.  So I knew there were people I could talk to.

My wife can talk to complete strangers without any fear, but I’m not that good.  So, I like to have people I know to fall back on in case I cannot work up the nerve to talk to people I don’t. 

I noticed Ryan had a tripod for his camera, so I decided to setup mine.  At first, I wasn’t going to shoot it, but when I saw that Ryan had his, and saw the viewing locating we had (between UK and France), it couldn’t be resisted.  I setup my tripod behind the bench that was near the railing so as to not get in the way of those sitting down.

I think I go some real keepers this time.  This was my first totally obstruction free viewing location of Illuminations 2Illuminations in all the times I’ve seen it.  So I was excited and cannot wait to see what the final results looked like.

I must also mention that the hot chocolate that was served was fantastic (hot cider was also an option) and the dessert spread was to die for.  Chocolate and other sugary treats were the order for the evening.  I had a few chocolate chip cookies, some rice krispy treat thingies, a treat that looked like a brownie but was more of a cake like substance and a peanut butter treat.

After Illuminations wrapped up, I had a nice conversation with Mike Newell and Beci about the WDW Today podcast.  At this point the Cast Members were very subtly asking us to move on which we quickly complied with.  We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Illuminations 3We were both freezing at this point so we decided to get our butts back to the room.  There was a 6:30AM special sale at the World of Disney the next morning for Annual Passholders.  So, if we had any intention of attending, we needed to get home pronto.  I had blog writing to do and I knew that was going to keep me up at least 2 hours.

While waiting for our car to arrive from the valet, a car pulled up and Scott Thomas and his wife got out.  It turns out they were coming back from that new bar called Ice at the Gaylord Palms.  He was with Deb Wills and the other AllEars.NET people checking out the joint.

We talked a bit about lenses and photography, but when our car came we let them know we needed to jet cause it was cold and we’d see them at the MegaMeet the next day.

I drove back to the room instead of Enchanted Rose because she wasn’t feeling that well due to the lack of proper eating during the day.

When we got back to the room, our voice mail Illuminations 4indicator was on.  The message stated that there was a package at the desk for us.  So, I went to find out what it was.  After waiting forever for a lot of late arrivers to check in, I found out it was a very nice backpack from MEI-MouseFan Travel.  It was a very much needed item for us since Enchanted Rose was using one of my old hiking backpacks since her shoulder bag died on our last trip. 

I have a feeling this new bag will be put into use over the last days of MouseFest and future trips to Walt Disney World.

Well, now it’s time to hit the hay.  We are either going to the World of Disney sale, Steve Barrett’s EPCOT hidden Mickey Tour at 8am, or just wandering over to the MegaMeet at 10am.  You’ll find out what happens in the next chapter of this trip report.

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lorilovestigger said...

I look way too serious on the phone. Great photos! Can't wait to read and see more. I really need to get working on my trip report on my blog. Hopefully this weekend.

Jeffrey Pepper said...

Great photos, Ray!

Those were some challenging environments lighting wise (WL and GMR especially) and the results look fantastic!

Jeffrey Pepper said...

Correction--meant to say AKL not WL--oops.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the compliments Jeff!

I think that if I can get Tim Devine to help me work the RAW image file I can make that AKL lobby shot even better and worthy of a wall print. That morning light just washes all the colors out of the lobby.

Nancy bought me a major upgrade to my camera for Christmas and I got it only a few hours before leaving for Mousefest. So, I was learning how to use it as I went.

I hope that you are able to read my trip reports and feel like you were there with us