Saturday, December 20, 2008

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.

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lorilovestigger said...

If I go to Mousefest next year I promise to take you and Enchanted Rose to Le Cellier with me.

Unknown said...

That's might nice of you Lori. But, the pretzel bread you secured for us was really tasty and may be able to hold us over until our next trip to Disney

Lou Mongello - said...

SO great to see you and 'Rose at MouseFest. It was a real pleasure being able to spend some time with you during the week (sometimes into the wee hours!). Thanks for helping to create such wonderful memories!

Viva La Short Guys!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Great report, Ray. Lori really hooked you up with the pretzel bread. That stuff is amazing! I have to get to Jellyrolls one of these trips!