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.

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Unknown said...

Sorry to hear about Enchanted Rose's day. A friend of mine has a similar situation so I can somewhat relate.

Greg said...

Ray, I have neglected to comment but I am trying to catch up now. I have been following the trip reports and really enjoying them. I hope we can all find a time to meet again, perhaps before the '09 MouseFest. And too, great photos. One day I hope to capture the dark rides. Thanks for taking the time to write your reports and to share them and have a wonderful holiday.

Lou Mongello - said...

Great post, Ray. Thanks for sharing your memories of MF, as well as some time with me and Deanna. Glad we were able to just slow down and enjoy WDW. Great photos, BTW!

Unknown said...


The day wasn't ruined by my wife's Crohn's. It just put a speed bump on it. The fun before and after more than made up for it. We are usually very prepared for the possibility and that is what "saves the day" in the end.

Unknown said...


I too hope we can meet up again before MouseFest 2009, we'll need to see where the winds blow us.

It has been my pleasure to try and recount my experiences for you all

Unknown said...


Thanks for taking the time to read my very, very long trip reports. Nancy says that she thinks they shouldn't be call trip reports because they read more like a story.

Nancy and I treasured the moments where we got to slow down and have fun with friends. That's the real reason we come to MouseFest isn't it? For the food, folks and fun?

But this time we got to add to Deanna's birthday memories. Thanks for you and Deanna including us.

Those pictures started to get to be the hardest part of the trip report. I had to cull through hundreds of pictures and find the ones that were the best at helping to tell the story.

Unknown said...

Another great report, Ray. Looking forward to more (are there more?) and if not, I will be sure to see you at MagicMeets this year. (If not before ... remember Primo's pizza is on me!)

Anonymous said...


It was wonderful sharing some time at Mousefest and look forward to meeting again during 2009.

You took to the new camera like a duck to water and your photos have taken a quantum leap over the last year.

See ya around! :)


Anonymous said...

another great report Ray!
Thanks for sharing with all of us.