D23's WDW Anniversary Party trip report
The last time I came to Orlando it was to take part in D23's Magic and Merriment event in December. Now I'm flying in to celebrate their 1st anniversary in the Magic Kingdom. While the party is 5 days before the actual anniversary date, (that date is being held for the Disneyland celebration party), we knew it was one not to be missed. After all, it sold out in a matter of minutes, and people were still clamoring for tickets.
I didn't get on property until 12:30 AM on March 5th, after spending 4 hours flying in from Utah, getting my bags, and locating my rental. On this trip I went back to Pop Century, which is my favorite of the Value Resorts. Got into the room, pulled a few things out of bags, (mainly my Disney Hawaiian shirts), and set the alarm clock for 7:00 AM. Normally I don't relish the idea of getting a few hours of sleep on a day that I know will not end till midnight, but there was too much going on that I didn't want to miss it.
I awoke that first morning with more energy and excitement then I have had in a while. I knew that it would be an amazing day, and wondered what announcements might just be made that evening. Come on Expo! I realized that I left my AP on my desk at home, so I needed to make a trip to Guest Relations at one of the parks to get a replacement. Since I was heading to the Allears.net meet at 9:00 AM that morning, it was a no brainer where to go. I arrived at Epcot jsut after 8:00 AM, got my replacement ticket, and ended up in line with Deb Wills and Mike Scopa from Allears.net. I have never met Mike before, but he was very nice and easy to talk with. Vicki Berrett and a few others came over and said hello, and said that they would see us all at the meet up at Soarin'. (It feels strange to me to not add, "Over California" after Soarin').
The meet was a lot of fun, and I was finally able to talk with some of the bloggers with Allears. Jack Spence came looking for me to talk about the Tokyo parks since I had just been out there in August/September of last year. All in all, it was a great time being able to hang out with Steve and Vicki Berrett, Mike Scopa, Mike one of the boat Skippers for Disney, Jack, and so many more. Deb was greeting everyone and made sure that she talked to everyone that showed up. I believe after, she said there were 40+ people there.
After the customary photo's, we all headed in to Soarin', (Still feels strange), with our Fastpasses. Another reason to join up here though was to meet up with some of the D23 Magic and Merriment attendee's, as we were going to gather up with more at a noon meet up. By the time we had all said good bye, it was 10:30 or 10:45 AM. Cedric, (one of those I was meeting up with), and I then headed to the Magic Kingdom to get our event packets, and hopefully get to where we needed to be in time since he was in charge of the meetup.
It truly is amazing how long it takes to from the Ticket and Transportation Center, on to the Ferry, and arrive on the other side of the Seven Seas Lagoon. 45 minutes! D23 had setup a table outside the park next to Guest Services to help get us our packets with the least amount of problems. Just show them a photo ID, sign a photo waver, and I was done with 10 minutes for us to make our way to Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The packet contained a welcome letter, the itinerary, a one day theme park ticket, and a voucher, (which I no longer have), to turn in at the end of the night for the D23 pin.
While waiting at the attraction I was getting hungry, so I grabbed a sweet cream cheese filled pretzel. Oh my gosh, they are delicious. Back to the story... Six of us from the previous event made it, and Jack Spence showed up to get some info from CoP for a new blog post he was working on. (That's one thing I love about his posts. Very detailed, and he validates to the best of his abilities before he writes).
After our tour though history, Jack broke off from the group, and the rest of us headed over to find some attractions to enjoy till the first dinner was to start. The one thing we knew to do was avoid Fantasyland, since we would have it all evening. The first place we stopped off at was The Jungle Cruise. We had a great skipper on this trip and she delivered her lines with gusto!
posted with permission from the AJ's.
From there we worked our way to Pirates of the Caribbean to watch the battle between the Spanish Fort and the Buccaneers. (Just a side note, but I used to love this ride when I was a kid. Then I was introduced to the one in Disneyland. Man....). It was on this ride that we were wishing we had a Hidden Mickey book with us, and faced palmed myself. I have the iPhone edition. Boom! With that, we were finding them all over. Thanks Steve!
One of the group was craving fries, and others were getting thirsty, so we stopped in Frontierland to grab some grub and let everyone get situated to figure out what we wanted to do next. One of the biggest lessons we learned from Magic and Merriment was, arrive early to eat at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. With the time it was, we knew we could easily get in one more attraction before we needed to get lined up. And knowing one in our group, i.e. Van, he would be number one in line. So we headed over to the Haunted Mansion to hunt for more Mickeys and see if it was warmer in there then it was outside. Did I mention it was cold out there today? I was in my coat and long pants. I wanted tee shirt and shorts weather! Someone pointed out the 17th candle in the stretching room, and we also hung back to listen to the whispering voices after everyone leaves the room. This gave us the next reminder of why it is good to be the first out of the room! It was packed in the que area. However, it did give us time to debate the hidden Mickey's in the picture frames.
After saying farewell to Mr. Toad in the pet cemetery, we headed over to the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon to get in line for dinner. When we got there, we realized that we would have no problem being at the front of the line! In fact, no one else joined us for another 10 to 15 minutes.
When we finally got into the venue, we took the right front table and were joined by several groups of wonderful people. There was an energy from everyone of antisipation of what might be happening, of what could be announced, and the excitement of being back in the Diamond Horseshoe. For many this was their first time there. The food was enjoyable. There was short ribs, pork, fish, potatos, a cold mac and cheese, (though I don't think it was meant to be cold), polenta, salads, corn bread, and many other items. We also had someone playing the piano on stage, and he did a great job keeping the mood going.
And just like every other event I have been to, there was no, "We will be starting our presentation in 2 minutes". Nope. It just started... so I missed the first 20 seconds or so.
D23: WDW Anniversary Party- Part 1
D23: WDW Anniversary Party- Part 2
D23: WDW Anniversary Party- Part 3
At the conclusion of the dinner, we left and made our way over to grab fast passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.-, and then joined up with another group from our table, (Skipper Mike, Lou, MaryJoe and her sister), to go and ride Space Mountain. With a hand full of fastpasses, the now seven of us made it up to the front of the line and were ready to go. However, I'm used to having music playing in Space Mountain, so I donned my earbuds, and setup the Disneyland daytime track for Space Mountain. It worked like a dusty charm. Meaning, it made it a whole lot better, but didn't last as long as the ride on Track B. The WEDWay Peoplemover, or also known as TTA (Tomorrowland Transportation Authority), was the next attraction. I did mention that it was pretty cold that evening right? While the new soundtrack that is played is not the same anymore, it still remains one of my all time favorites to go on. After being out in the chill air for so long, we headed over to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. I'll say this upfront... I rock!!! I maxed out at 999,999. Yep, Galactic Hero status.
And the best part, I got all those points in the first room... aiming at nothing! I'm that good! Accually, my system was bugged, but I'll still take credit.
At this point it was time to start working our way to the other side of the park an see what we could do over there. The group we joined up with decided to go on the Jungle Cruise, and since we had fun on there earlier, we decided to brave the rivers again, and see what might happen. This is where I have to say that the Skippers make the attraction so much fun. While the person we had earlier was very good, tonights Skipper was over the top hysterical. His timing was on, and I just wish everyone could enjoy it that much every time.
Luckily we picked up another group member, one of the Disney Dads Mark, Lorenzo from the Mom's Panel. So, we decided it was the time to ride the mine train. It was dark, and that is when it is at it's best. I did mention it was cold right? Well the temperature was still dropping, so as we were on one of my favorite rides in all of the parks, I was ready for another layer! We also knew that we were reaching to point of getting one more attraction in before everyone was to meet up outside the Hall of Presidents. So, yo ho, it's off to Pirates we go! It was looking like our group, now consisting of eight, would have the ride to ourselves. We walk though the que, and the Cast Member asked how many. We told him eight. Now remember, there is no one else around that we could see. He then assigns all eight of us to two rows. Lou just looked around and said, "Really?!" So four people got in one row, three in the other, and Mark was smart enough to grab the last row for himself. I will say that others did get into the boat with us, but I believe that there was two empty rows when we pushed out. When we exited the attraction, some of the group was talking to a Cast Member, and she started pointed out several items on top of the store shelfs that were props in the Pirates movies. Fascinating that if you knew where to look you could see some great items. But if you didn't know what you were looking for, you would never notice them. But that is for another post! Ok... here's one of them, Davy Jones's key.
Now was the time to catch the last part of Wishes, and meet up for the next portion of our event! As we waited outside of Hall of Presidents, Cast Members were walking around handing out flyers to everyone. They said that we were getting a preview of something that would soon be handed out in the Hall to the park guests.
Finally it was time for us to walk into Fantasyland from the west side. I was hoping that they would have us go through the hub and through the Castle, but hey, we were still excited! After everyone was settled in at Mickey's Philharmagic, we were informed that there would be no photography, audio, or video recording of this presentation. Luckily they did let folks take pictures up to this point.
It was, to be honest, a lot of the same information that we had been hearing since the Expo last year. However, there was things talked about that we did not know. Such as, the Princess meets will be in groups of 20 to 40 people at a time, and they will be able to spend around 10 minutes with the guests. They want to make this for boys and girls. They final layout has not been firmly set. You will enter the Beast's castle from Belle's father's home through the mirror. Mickey's and Minnie's homes will not be taken down, but will be left alone. Whether this means they will be move to another location, they did not say. Mickey and Minnie will be found in another location. Aladdin's Magic Carpets would not be taken down to be used as the second Dumbo ride.
When the Imagineer who spoke to us concluded, we were given a private showing of Philharmagic. When it was off, this was where it became disjointed. We didn't know what to do next. So everyone started wandering out and had a lot, but not all of Fantasyland to themselves. There were four rides open. Peter Pan, Dumbo, Snow White, and the Carousel. I'm not sure if I missed any of the the others. I know it's a small world and the Tea Cups were closed, along with Pooh. It was amazing how empty the place seemed. There were around 350 guests in attendance in a place that is ment to hold a lot more then that.
The desert buffet they that had was really good. Several stations were setup around the Carousel for everyone to enjoy. There were also beverage tables, and I know that the tea and coffee were very popular with the night chill. The characters that were out consisted of: Band Leader Mickey, Belle and Gaston, Cinderella's Step-Mother and Step-Sisters, (which I think Lou proposed to all of the them), Jiminy Cricket along with Pinocchio, and a few others.
Here is another thing that confused people. About one hour of the three we had was spent in Philharmagic. I spent another 45 minutes in line to shop for a few of the D23 items. Which really didn't leave as much time as we were expecting. But, I did get to pick these up...
The six patches, plus the misspelled Monroail patch. With the night coming to a close, we made sure we got in a ride on the Carousel before walking out through the castle. This is where I gave up my voucher and received my D23 pin.
It's fun being in the park hours after it closes and listening to the quite as you walk trough the hub. Benjy, a Cast Member that attended the event, picked us up at the hub in the fire truck and drove us to town square with the siren running during part of the trip. With that, we knew the night was over, and headed back to the TTC. We also reminded each other that we were meeting up the next morning for Tonga Toast. I will say that it was another successful D23 event.
I also want to give a special thanks to AJ and Andrew for taking pictures that night!
Re: D23's WDW Anniversary Party trip report
Great report, thanks for sharing.
Re: D23's WDW Anniversary Party trip report
Sounds like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing!