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Trip Reports & Member Reviews Discuss The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary) in the Vacation Planning forums; I've decided to "informally" call this the “Brickers’ F’n Walt Disney World Trip Report.” Not because of its vulgarity (there isn't any, although that would be a great way for ...
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    The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    I've decided to "informally" call this the “Brickers’ F’n Walt Disney World Trip Report.” Not because of its vulgarity (there isn't any, although that would be a great way for us to reach the coveted 18-34 male demographic), but because it combines the “Big Fs” at Walt Disney World in October 2011: Food & Wine Festival and the Fortieth Anniversary. Too bad we didn’t stay at Fort Wilderness to complete the trifecta!

    This report is going to be a little different. Rather than my normal, incredibly verbose style, I'm going to post a CliffNotes version, of sorts, of the trip report here.

    I will, as always, post the full report on my personal website, Disney Tourist Blog.

    However, it's simply too much work to copy it all here, plus I'm sure most casual readers don't want to see tons of photos and read similar amounts of text. If you do, you can always go read the full thing!

    On with the show!
    Last edited by WDWFigment; 10-14-2011 at 05:33 PM.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Even though we take multiple trips per year, this trip was a long time coming. The anticipation it it actually began 4 years ago, way back in 2007, when Epcot (or EPCOT Center, more appropriately) celebrated its 25th anniversary.

    In retrospect, I’d like to say we were on the fence about attending that event. However, that’s probably more wishful thinking than anything else. We had just visited Walt Disney World for the second time together that August, and we were just starting to really sink our teeth into the Disney community. I had been reading WDWMagic.com daily, had just started listening to WDW Today and WDW Radio, and my Figment collection was just starting to get out of hand. Neither of us had ever taken more than one trip in a year (that streak would soon end, when we took our November 2007 “Engagement” trip). Heck, the only camera I even owned at that time was a $100 point and shoot. Ahh, the good ole days. Still, even though it was an unlikely proposition, I remember desperately wanting to go, to be part of something special in the fan community, even if Disney wouldn’t be doing much.

    Then, shortly after that date, I read of other fans discussing Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary, and what might happen for it. I instantly latched onto that, as something to anticipate, rather than be disappointed by our absence from Epcot’s 25th. Here and there, I would engage in other discussions of what “might happen” for the 40th, always excited to read these discussions, even if they were vague potentialities that really had no chance of ever happening. Honestly, I didn’t expect a whole lot, it was more the idea of being there for the day, rather than the substance of the day itself.

    In a flash, October 1, 2011 was quickly approaching. This became very apparent in May 2011 when we attended Destination D at Walt Disney World, which arguably was the event for the most fervent Walt Disney World fans to celebrate 40 years of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Once that passed, and the rest of the summer went with it, and we began counting down the days in September, the exciting anniversary was even more prominent in our minds.

    Finally, on September 28th, we left for Walt Disney World. As the trend has been since entering the “real world” workforce, we left after work one afternoon.

    Before we got through security, though, we had the obligatory stop at McDonald’s. As I had learned a couple of days before, McDonald’s would be starting its Monopoly promotion the day we flew out. Talk about great timing!



    If you’ve read our other trip reports, you’ve probably read numerous times that I love Disney’s Magical Express. Not because I think it’s more convenient than a rental car or other shuttle service (it’s not), but because it’s the perfect preface to a Disney vacation. One of my favorite aspects of the ride is the video they play.


    We exited the bus at Caribbean Beach Resort and headed for the Custom House to check-in. Along the way we met up with our friend, Nick. When we got to check-in we experienced another victory: no line! It was shaping up to be a great night. I requested a room in Jamaica, which was full, but luckily, Aruba was open. Based upon my research, this was the optimum location without paying an additional preferred room fee. We’re both awesome at walking, but more importantly, cheap, so we weren’t about to pay this nightly fee for a room a little closer to Old Port Royale.

    As we were leaving the Custom House, as some of you may have read on my Twitter account, I noticed one of my photos of Spaceship Earth being displayed on the video "tip board" that provides operational hours and other information. Even though there are probably millions of Spaceship Earth photos out there, I know my own photos like parents who like their kids know their own kids. I instantly recognized it as mine, and was a little perturbed. No one had contacted me about using this photo, and Disney aggressively protects its own intellectual property. I wasn't perturbed-enough to stop and try to "do anything" about it, but I felt it worth noting here anyway. I'm sure it was a manager who put together the tip board and didn't realize he or she couldn't use random photos off the internet without permission, but it strikes me as an interesting double standard, nonetheless. I can't deny that it was neat seeing my photo on 'display' at Disney, but I wish it weren't under those circumstances!

    Nick had driven his car to meet us at Caribbean Beach Resort, and our room was a bit of a hike from the Custom House, so I broke one of my rules while at Walt Disney World: I rode in a car. This rule, unfortunately, would be broken a few other times over the course of the trip. After a quick stop in our room so we could drop off our carry-on bags and Sarah could change clothes, we were off to Epcot...in Nick’s car.

    Once we got through the bag check and turnstiles, I raced ahead of Nick and Sarah. Spaceship Earth is to me what Cinderella Castle is to Sarah, and Nick and Sarah were having a “real world” discussion. When I first walk under Spaceship Earth, I want to be totally in the moment. I want the entrance area loop to envelop my ears, and I want the great lighting to mesmerize me. I think part of the reason Spaceship Earth is so impressive to me when I see it in person is because I spend so much time looking at photos of it. No matter how many photos I take of it, I’ve never managed to capture the true grandeur and amazing scale of Spaceship Earth. Because of this, each time I walk under it for the first time during a trip, it amazes me how large it is in comparison to what I’ve become “used to” from looking at photos. Over the course of the trip, I become “used to” the large size of Spaceship Earth, but that’s wiped away again during the void (and photo-viewing) time between trips.

    After I had my moment with Spaceship Earth, they caught up with me, and we headed over to the rest room. Now, I hadn’t used the rest room since we left Indianapolis, which was many hours ago, but we were standing right under Spaceship Earth with its beautiful nighttime lighting, so instead of doing the responsible thing, I set up my tripod and snapped a few shots while waiting for the others. Honestly, at that point, I was so “hungry” to take some photos that I probably would’ve wet myself rather than miss out on the opportunity to photograph Spaceship Earth. I guess I’m just that dedicated to photography. Or crazy.



    Somehow, it was determined that we’d do Test Track first. I think I was screwing around with the camera when this decision was made, and I just sort of blindly followed Sarah and Nick. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Test Track, but I feel you should start each trip out with a truly special attraction. in Epcot, the attractions that qualify for this are: Soarin, Spaceship Earth, Livin’ with the Land, Ellen’s Energy Adventure (yes, you read correctly), American Adventure, and Maelstrom. While Test Track holds the crown as the second most popular Epcot attraction, it’s low on my list. We should have done Spaceship Earth first.

    For all my complaints, Test Track at night is pretty exhilarating. Plus, the wait wasn’t long at all, so I can’t really complain. After Test Track, we went to the second most “special” attraction in Epcot. That is, if you’re playing really fast and loose with the term special, or going for duplicity of meaning. Yes, I’m talking about Journey into Imagination with Figment, which is about as depressing of a way as any for me to start out a trip.

    The attraction was fun, but only because it gave me the chance to see an old friend, even if in a *******ized form, and also because I decided to photograph it with my fisheye lens, which produced some unique images.


    On the plus side, there was a multi-color lighting package in the second story ImageWorks turned on that I’ve never seen in person. It was really cool! After the attraction, I stopped to take a few photos there, which was surprisingly difficult given angles, lenses I was using, and what I wanted to accomplish. While I was taking the photos, Sarah and Nick headed over to the Electric Umbrella, to grab a quick meal.



    I met them there right as they received their food, and just in time to snap a couple photos of Sarah’s salad. Besides the cool lighting, I’ve never really been all that impressed with the Electric Umbrella. I’m not really sure why, but it strikes me as a little dated and not in the best condition. The food is okay, and we’d probably eat there more if it were in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In Epcot, though, there are much better options.

    After Spaceship Earth, it was getting late, so we headed to World Showcase to start taking some photos.



    We started in Mexico, heading to the out of the way corners of the exterior to avoid other Guests. As I’ve mentioned before, the harsh lighting on the exterior of the Mexico pavilion makes it one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult) structures to photograph in all of Walt Disney World. Really, it’s deceptively difficult!



    We continued onward, making stops in Norway and China along the way. Norway might be my favorite country in the World Showcase--I think Maelstrom has the script that will make it go down as a cult classic when it’s eventually replaced--but it’s incredibly difficult to photograph at night. It’s poorly lit, and nothing really stands out. The lighting improves at Christmas, but it’s still quite the task. China, on the other hand, is great for photography. We spent far more time there, in fact.



    It had been a while since I had last photographed Germany, and an idea struck me. Unfortunately, like most of my ideas, I didn’t really vet it that well, and started “doing” before I had completely thought it through. The photos below of me looking like a dofus on the fountain are the result. Even worse, I was unable to get the photo I wanted because I couldn't see through the viewfinder, nor could I see the LCD screen. It’s a cool-enough idea, so I think I’ll try again sometime.



    After a few photos, we headed back towards Future World, taking more photos along the way. We stopped to take a few more photos in Future World before heading out. We had a bus to ourselves back to Caribbean Beach Resort, and our driver took us right to Aruba.



    At this point, it was “only” 1:35 am, and it was the first night of our trip! I had slept for about an hour and a half on the airplane, and for a good amount of time the previous night, so I still had plenty of energy (mind you, I normally go to bed at around 10 pm; how I have this much energy at Walt Disney World is beyond me). I escorted Sarah to our room, dropped off a couple pieces of camera gear and headed out to test a couple shots I had in mind.



    Unfortunately, I got all the way over to Port Royale, set up my camera, and then realized I had dropped off one of the lenses I needed for my big experiment: star trails. I decided to make due with what I had, and after I had taken a few 90 second exposures, a security guard approached me.



    He was nice and genuinely interested in what I was doing. I showed him my star trails photos, and he seemed impressed. I showed him some other photos on my LCD, and we started talking about photography. He was a really nice guy. When we were done talking, I realized it was well after 2 am, so I decided to head back to the room and go to bed. I finally got to bed at 2:45.

    And that's a wrap on the first day!

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Wow. That is the third time as of late that I heard of Security approaching guests during the middle of the night taking picture. Nicely but shows they are paying attention.

    Love your pictures, very unique.

    But........I did get a giggle out of this:


    Not as clever as some trip report names here on the DIS, but hey, at least I tried!

    Psst*
    Your on WDW Radio Forums.
    Some people are like Slinkies.

    They aren't really good for anything,
    but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

    Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Ah, ****, copy and paste fail!

    We're approached by security all the time. It's no big deal, really. They are almost always nice about it, and given the circumstances, I understand completely.

    However, at Disneyland it's a totally different story. Security makes up rules on the fly, is arrogant, and there are a lot of Security CMs with serious egos. I have encountered this, as have MANY others. I realize they have paparazzi to contend with out there, but in the situations where this has occurred (the hour after closing when Main Street is still open) it has been abundantly clear that photographers are taking photos of structures, not people, as there are no people even around. It's bad out there!

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of your report! btw, what lens did you forget to bring for the star trails shoot?

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    ^I would have used the Tokina 11-16mm with my 9 stop Hoya ND filter, but since I forgot that, I was forced to use the Sigma 8-16mm. Oh well, I'll have to try at Disneyland.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Quote Originally Posted by WDWFigment View Post
    Ah, ****, copy and paste fail!
    giggle

    We're approached by security all the time. It's no big deal, really. They are almost always nice about it, and given the circumstances, I understand completely.
    Almost being the operative word. There was one at DTD last year that was ridiculous. It only takes one security guard with attitude to make it escalate to silly proportions.
    However, at Disneyland it's a totally different story. Security makes up rules on the fly, is arrogant, and there are a lot of Security CMs with serious egos. I have encountered this, as have MANY others. I realize they have paparazzi to contend with out there, but in the situations where this has occurred (the hour after closing when Main Street is still open) it has been abundantly clear that photographers are taking photos of structures, not people, as there are no people even around. It's bad out there!
    I've been reading more and more of that at Disneyland. I understand the caution. But so many of the Cali guards need to return to "Smile School".
    They have forgotten their Heritage training. Disney does return some CM's to Heritage for refresher courses, thinking they need to focus on their security role now.
    Some people are like Slinkies.

    They aren't really good for anything,
    but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

    Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    If you're talking about the highly publicized story of William Beem at Downtown Disney, I saw him interact with a number of photographers on the DISboards after that particular incident, and based on those interactions, I think some of the issue might have been self-induced by Mr. Beem. I think there's more to that story than he's letting on.

    In any case, from what I understand, Downtown Disney is more stringent on security. I avoid shooting there not because of this, but because it's a hassle to get there, and with Pleasure Island gone, nothing there interests me (photography or otherwise), anyway.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    It could have been him, not a clue. Sometimes I believe it the tone a guest is initially approached with. If I had to take a guess at the DTD issue it was likely two strong willed people.

    Heritage classes teach CM's how to and how not to interact with a guest. Something tells me no matter who was at fault with the DTD story Disney privately investigated the handling of that situation.
    Some people are like Slinkies.

    They aren't really good for anything,
    but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

    Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Your photos are incredible... And I know Mr. Incredible

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    I'm thinking about what you said about your 'get in the Disney mood' Epcot attractions but thinking I'll comment on it over on your blog. Great writeup so far.

    If everyone hasn't headed over to Tom and Sarah's site I highly recommend it. The pictures are awesome, but the dinner writeups, tips, etc are excellent as well.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    ^Thanks! The website really has been a labor of love. We're glad people enjoy it.

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    The next morning I got myself into a bit of trouble. Despite going to bed at 2:45, I was wide awake just before 7 am. I sat in bed, and tried to get back to sleep. After about 10 minutes, I realized this wasn’t going to happen, so I went to get my phone, to ***** around on it until Sarah woke up. Of course, since various electronics chargers occupy nearly every outlet in the room, my phone was plugged in on the floor right next to Sarah. And, of course, as I went to get it in the dark room, I tripped over something, making a nice amount of noise, and waking Sarah. She didn’t have much of a reaction, and fell right back asleep.



    While at the bus stop, we searched the internet to see if there was any indication that there would be a preview day for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. I thought this was typically done based on things I’d read online, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Since I could find nothing to corroborate my inclination, we headed instead to Magic Kingdom, because it would be one of our few chances on this trip to enjoy the attractions in that park.

    We arrived at the Magic Kingdom and it suddenly felt decidedly like fall.Walking on Main Street for the first time was just as magical as it always is, and hearing the Trolley Show and seeing the Main Street, USA vehicles really gave the place a lively atmosphere. As much as I enjoy first seeing the Castle at night, bathed in various colors as if were a beacon of light at the end of a tranquil Main Street, I'm beginning to think Main Street's best atmosphere is during these early morning hours when the performers and vehicles are out, and Cast Members line the sidewalk, greeting Guests as they enter. There's something to be said for Main Street when its alive with this energy, versus the peaceful feel to the place at night.



    We weren't really in a hurry, so we wandered over by Crystal Palace, snapped a few photos, then headed for the Adventureland bridge. Walking past Aloha Isle always puts a smile on my face (it puts an even bigger smile on my face if we stop and get Dole Whips, but that is not a nutritious meal for the early morning, apparently!) and I love hearing the "dun dun dun" sounds of the Leaki Tikis.

    It was still relatively early, so we figured we could do the ole grab a ‘FastPass for Splash Mountain and do standby for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’ trick (trick is probably a poor word choice as I’m pretty sure a lot of people do this). Unfortunately, both had 30 minute plus waits, so we just grabbed a FastPass for Big Thunder and headed for Liberty Square. Sarah was a little hungry, and wanted to eat at Columbia Harbour House as soon as it opened. Since it didn’t open for over thirty minutes, I thought it was a bit unreasonable for us to wait outside.




    After Haunted Mansion, we still had time before Columbia Harbour House opened (Sarah, again, wanted to just wait for it to open), so we did it’s a small world. Little did we know this would be our only time experiencing it’s a small world this trip! It has become a Fantasyland staple for us when we’re trying to avoid crowds or kill time before a FastPass. I suspect that the next time we ride it’s a small world, at Disneyland in November, the holiday version will ruin all other versions for us. We already far prefer Disneyland’s version to Walt Disney World’s, but I think adding Christmas, our favorite holiday by far, might be a real game-changer. Sort of like seeing Fantasmic at Disneyland. Once you watch it there, you never want to see Pocahontasmic at Walt Disney World again!

    When we exited it’s a small world, it was just a touch after 11 am, so we headed towards Columbia Harbour House. I joked that we should do Peter Pan’s Flight via standby before lunch, but this joke was not well-received. Note to self: don’t joke about things like 90 minute standby lines when you have a ‘starving’ wife on your hands!

    She got the Fish and Shrimp basket instead, as she saw the Lobster Roll, and said it didn’t look too appealing. I figured I’d just try the Lobster Roll on a subsequent trip. No big deal, especially since I didn’t wait in line for 20 minutes. Columbia Harbour House proved it wasn’t just a fluke that we enjoyed the meal we had the last time we were there, as the Fish and Shrimp basket was quite good. Not overly breaded and not too greasy. Unlike at many fast food style restaurants, the shrimp were actually shrimp, not just highly breaded ocean “stuff.”

    After lunch our Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPasses were ready, so we headed over to Frontierland. Big Thunder is always fun, and this ride was no different. Although I did notice the boulders that used to move towards the ride vehicle during the final lift were still broken, and looked quite bad. Not quite as bad as the black tarp covering them in May, but I think it’s inexcusable that these rocks would have such a duct-tape solution for so many months. I completely understand if Disney doesn’t want to schedule a long refurbishment during the summer months to make the boulders move, but at least create an overnight solution that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. That’s just bad show.


    I’m pretty sure the decorations have been enhanced since 2009. It seems like there were more fall leaves, more random pumpkins sitting around in places other than Main Street, and just more fall colors throughout the park than before. I could be totally wrong, but that’s a rarity!





    It was a gorgeously cloudy day, Astro Orbiter had a relatively short wait, and we hadn’t experienced it at Walt Disney World in over three years. Yeah, it was time to give it a second chance.






    After Astro Orbiter, we wandered around Tomorrowland for a bit, soaking up the ambiance and recovering from the wild ride aboard the scary spaceships! Finally, we headed over the Buzz Lightyear’s Spaceranger Spin.






    So, after Spaceranger Spin, we made our way towards the Magic Kingdom’s exit, and did exactly that. We started by all taking the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Monorail rides on days with big puffy clouds are especially nice and relaxing, and really make for great photos. It may just be a form of transportation, but for me, the monorail is an attraction unto itself.



    Once we got to the TTC, we realized Cody had driven there, and we had to decide between riding with him and taking the monorail to Epcot. Figuring riding with him would be faster, and time was of the essence on this day because we only had a few hours of park time until we had to get ready for the Disney Parks Blog’s Ticket or Meet-Up event, we elected to ride with him.

    Of course, when assuming the ride would be faster, we forgot about the tram ride to the parking lot, and parking at Epcot’s lot. These steps took quite a while, and reaffirmed my position that I have no desire to rent a car myself at Walt Disney World anytime soon. While it may be faster on some mornings, Disney transportation is generally more convenient, especially late at night. Moreover, even inefficient Disney transportation is more convenient than a rental car when heading to the Magic Kingdom.

    When we did arrive at Epcot, we headed directly for the World Showcase, and immediately began pondering our snack options at the country kiosks...

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    Looks like I've missed a few updates:

    It seemed clear time was going to be of the essence, so I requested that Nick drop me off at the Custom House. Sarah offered to take my camera bag to the room, but I declined. As I walked to Bell Services, I hoped for the best, knowing that anything was a possibility. Surprisingly, they found the costumes in about 2 minutes, and I was on my way. Looks like there wouldn’t be as much of a time crunch as I originally expected!

    Unfortunately, the costumes were far heavier than expected, and extremely awkward to carry with the garment bags. I was beginning to realize that these costumes might be quite unbearable to wear in the Florida heat, something I didn’t contemplate when I made the order on a cool fall day in Indiana, which, apparently, has different fall weather than Florida.


    The Disney Parks Blog team encouraged Guests to get into the Halloween spirit by dressing in costumes, and many Guests were doing exactly that. Sarah had taken a peak at the female costume I had purchased, and really wanted to wear it that night. Previously, she had told me that she wasn’t going to wear this particular costume. I bought it anyway because the seller gave me a package deal on it with my costume, and I figured she might need a backup. Sarah had originally planned a pretty awesome costume, but due to a delay on Amazon.com’s part (a rarity), it wouldn’t be possible. So she was partly “forced” into wanting to wear this costume, but I could tell she also liked it.


    So we suited up in the costumes of Sarah’s choice. Even though we were running late, we spent probably five minutes looking at them in the mirror, and laughing. After we had our laughs, I grabbed the sheet with our pickup information to see where we needed to go.


    We boarded the Disney Cruise Line Mears bus, and the bus took us, and only us, to Blizzard Beach. At Blizzard Beach, we ran into plenty of others who we knew, each seeming to laugh and shake their heads when they saw our costumes. My rough estimate based upon viewing the crowd would be that there were around 250 attendees, all of whom gathered at Blizzard Beach for registration prior to being shuttled on Disney Cruise Line buses to the Magic Kingdom.

    Sarah and I chose to go as a classic Disney couple: Beast and...errr...Mrs. Potts? Like I said, the guy from whom I bought the costumes gave me a deal on the Mrs. Potts one. He only had a Belle costume in a child’s size. When we looked for Belle costumes, we discovered that nice Belle costume isn't exactly so cheap to make or purchase, so Sarah opted to go as arguably the most important story in Beauty and the Beast, Mrs. Potts!





    Once inside, we were seated in the Hall of Presidents while Disney Parks Blogger, Gary Buchanan, dressed as a large brown object entertained us. At first, he appeared a bit...lewd...but once he explained that he was a turkey leg, the light bulb went off and we thought, "oh yeah, turkey leg!" I don't think we were the only attendees who initially thought he was something else. I wish I had taken a photo of him, but I think you can imagine what the “something else” might be.



    Disney’s Social Media director Leanne Jakubowski took the "stage" after the turkey leg, and introduced the rest of the Disney Parks Blog team. It was nice to finally meet many members of the blogging team whose work we had been reading for the last couple of years. Overall, they seemed like a cool bunch who were certainly enthusiastic about Disney.

    Next up was the star of the show: Jason Surrell. As I mentioned in our Part 16 of our May Trip Report, Jason Surrell, along with Alex Wright and Jason Grandt, hosted the presentation at Destination D that was by far the most humorous and enjoyable. Absent were his partners in crime on this evening, but Jason was just as funny as before.



    He began the presentation rather innocuously, calmly discussing the history of the Haunted Mansion before pausing, and indicating that all of us fans probably already knew all of that. At that point, his presentation devolved (although the connotation is a little harsh there, as this is when the presentation really became good) into the Jason Surrell Comedy Hour, as he joked with the audience.

    He started by mocking those taking photo after photo of him doing relatively the same thing (uh oh), then he mocked those transcribing his every action and sentence onto social media sites (double uh oh), and later inferred that Abe Lincoln (behind him) would be disappointed if he could see the country's obsession with social media. Ironically, he had the crowd, myself included, which consisted largely of avid social media users, in stitches. He later offered to buy someone in the front a new hat, which I believe was a joke, although after seeing this person’s hat, maybe it wasn’t (says the man who wore the ridiculous Beast costume).

    Jason Surrell’s presentation wasn't entirely jokes, as he mixed in a good deal of information, and answered questions along the way. One of note to me was that he bluntly indicated that, at present, Disney felt it inappropriate to bring Haunted Mansion Holiday to Walt Disney World. This is because, compared to Disneyland, most Walt Disney World Guests were infrequent or once-in-a-lifetime visitors, and as such, Disney wanted to present the original Haunted Mansion to them. It was nice for someone at Disney (for once) to treat fans as if they're rational and intelligent human beings capable of hearing an actual answer rather than the typical, "our Guests have told us that they want X." I appreciate the honest answer, but I hope this same type of thinking isn’t applied across the board. I mean, management could easily use this same rationale to delay a needed refurbishment: “once-in-a-lifetime guests would rather get the chance to experience a Splash Mountain with a few effects broken than not experience it at all, so we should delay the refurbishment.” In the context of a Haunted Mansion overlay, I respect the rationale, but it is a slippery slope.



    Surrell's presentation was by far the highlight of the evening, but he wasn't the only character at the event that evening. Minnie and Mickey Mouse were on hand for photos, decked out in their Halloween attire. After Surrell’s presentation, we indecisively wandered around for a bit, trying to determine where we should go.

    Dr. Facilier was also out, as were The Cadaver Dans performed, and Madame Carlotta and Renata entertained attendees waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion queue tours, while Haunted Mansion butlers and maids were fully decked out as they dredged around, walking ghoulish dogs.

    Trick or treat bags were passed out so Guests could wander Liberty Square and the edge of Frontierland to collect candy. Light refreshments, including drinks and desserts were available. Tours of the new Haunted Mansion interactive queue were offered with Imagineers Pete Carsillo or Eric Goodman, the Haunted Mansion was also open for rides, and the lighting package used for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was also utilized during this event.

    Our next stop was the line for the tour. As we waited in line, Thomas Smith of the Parks Blog approached us, and gave us a Create-Your-Own Vinylmations as recognition for our costumes. Other Guests received these as well, so it wasn’t as if we received “first place” (which we would not have deserved--there were Haunted Mansion costumes that were easily better than ours!). It was really cool to win! We’re still trying to determine how to design the Vinylmation.

    Clearly, we should have done the queue tour first. The line was fairly long, and with the small groups there were taking, we figured we’d be lucky to get through the line by the time the event ended. Luckily, it was entertaining with the Madames interacting with the crowd. The wait actually only took around 25 minutes. The tours by Carsillo and Goodman were very interesting, and pointed out details and rationale for why certain things were placed as they were in the queue. This all gave me new appreciation for the queue. As I stated before in our May trip report, I thought the new queue was neat, but I certainly wasn't singing its praises (nor was I condemning it like most). This definitely swayed me towards being more of a fan of the queue. At the end of our tour, Carsillo pointed out a really cool detail that no one in our group had noticed before, and said, “see, people should really look at these things before they knock the queue!” Apparently, he knew his work had been vilified online.

    If I were an Imagineer (assuming I had that kind of talent), I think the biggest difficulty would be ignoring the persistent criticism from the “fan” community. Every aspect of every project is scrutinized and criticized online by a fan-group that is hardly representative of the general public, and often can’t see beyond the end of their noses. They assume that every aspect of the park should appeal to them personally, and can’t seem to understand that the interests of casual Guests, Disney’s target demographic, is substantially different from their own interests. I think I would try to avoid reading criticisms of my own work, but you know there would be that lingering curiosity. I know if thousands of people scrutinized the work that I do on a daily basis, they would probably find some “serious” problems. I suppose at the same time, it’d be pretty awesome on one of those rare occasions when you were one of the people behind a project that was almost universally praised.

    After the Haunted Mansion queue tour, we spotted Daisy and Donald, so we headed over to have our photo taken with them. It was the same less-than-friendly handler as Minnie and Mickey had, but this time we hedged our bets by not leaving the vicinity of the ducks until we checked the photos. They turned out this time!







    As the night wound down, the Headless Horseman ran through Liberty Square. We had a decent view of the run, although my photos turned out less-than-stellar. Afterward, everyone just sort of stood around, maybe hoping that he was going to make another loop.



    Finally, we headed back towards the Splash Mountain exit. Every Guest won, in a way, as we all received posters of the Hitchhiking Ghosts on the way out of the event, along with a “Nightmare Before Christmas” Vinylmation, plus wonderful memories.



    Overall, we were very pleased by the event. It was a great experience, especially for the (free) price! There was plenty of entertainment, a great presenter, and great atmosphere throughout the night. It was thoughtful of Disney to hold the event over the weekend of October 1st, 2011, as it gave many out of town guests who would be in town for that weekend an opportunity to be a part of the fun. Thanks Disney Parks Blog team for a great evening! Now here's hoping for a Christmas meet sometime between December 8th and 11th that we'll be able to attend!

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    Re: The Brickers' F'n October 2011 Trip Report (Food & Wine and Fortieth Anniversary)

    The previous night we had gone to bed at 1:30 am, and itís really a good thing we didnít stay up any later. Perhaps it was workout we got from wearing those hot costumes (that likely became heavier as the night wore on, as they soaked up sweat), but we were both fairly tired the next morning.

    I began by heading to Old Port Royale, again taking my cameras and refillable mug to start the day with some photography and caffeine.

    I made this a much shorter trip than the previous day. I had captured a lot of photos the previous day, and my path was the same, so I didnít see many new things to capture. I did, however, decide to put my hesitance aside and head over the pool. I am normally reluctant to take photos around pools because there are people in bathing suits walking around, while I have a bunch of camera gear and am fully clothed. I donít want people thinking Iím the sleazy photog/paparazzi trying to capture photos of scantily-clad individuals. Not sure if this is actually what people think, but itís always in the back of my head.

    Anyway, I wanted to get some cool photos of the canons in the pool. These canons are really close to the edge of the pool. I had very little room to navigate. As Iím bending down to take my shot, a little kid comes running around the site of one of the canons, almost colliding with me. Even though my camera is water sealed, Iím pretty sure it couldnít handle falling into the pool, so I quickly ended this mission after narrowly averting disaster.



    When I arrived back at our room, I got ready, and we headed to the bus stop. Again, we were spending the morning at Epcot. Since it was Food & Wine Festival, we planned on spending a lot of time there.



    After we headed through the turnstiles, I suggested to Sarah that maybe she could get FastPasses for Soariní while I took some photos of Spaceship Earth. The sun was still at a decent point in the sky for photos, so I figured I ought to grab a few.



    With Sarah busy for at least 10 minutes, I went wild with my cameras. I probably took over 100 photos of Spaceship Earth in that short time, and had a blast in the process. I can only imagine some local watching me snap so many frames, thinking, ďsilly tourist.Ē




    I later discovered that my D7000 was putting oil on the high-pass filter above the sensor, which could only be removed by a professional. Or, in my case, an idiot with some household items and some swabs from Hong Kong. Yep, I actually cleaned it myself with sensor wet-swabs. These swabs left streaks that I removed with a Q-Tip. Luckily, I removed the oil and didnít ruin the camera in the process. I was so reluctant to send the camera to Nikon (Iíve heard nothing but bad things about their service) that I actually risked my thousand dollar camera. Well, no one can accuse me of not being a risk-taker, at least!

    Once Sarah purchased her gift card, which of course was a must purchase thanks to its fashionable wrist strap, we debated what to do next.

    Well, it wasnít really much of a debate. Like the people we drive past at 6:45 am in the rough parts of ton outside liquor stores, Sarah decided to line up for the Desserts and CHAMPAGNE stand. Lush.



    In all fairness, she didnít actually buy any alcohol, but I thought it was pretty funny to see her standing in line outside of a closed alcohol kiosk. I suppose my sense of humor is a little warped. Again, she purchased the Dessert Trio. This was a really smart move.


    After lunch we took a leisurely route back to the World Showcase. Somewhere along the way, it dawned upon me that Be Our Guest Podcast was having its meet in the World Showcase. Through the magic of the internet, we determined that they were in France, so we made our way over there. As we headed in that direction, we spotted Don Sullivan, blue-sky photography extraordinaire and person of whom everyone else is jealous. This jealousy steams from the fact that he casually mentions dropping into the parks for leisurely activities, since he is an Orlando local. Here is an excerpt from a random conversation someone probably had with Don: ďWhat are you doing this afternoon, Don?Ē ďOh, I donít know, probably making loops on the TTA while I watch YouTube videos on my iPad and take a nap at the Swan Boat landing.Ē

    I had been wanting to watch Impressions De France for a while, but Sarah had never seen too interested. So, in a bit of a cheap move, I appealed to Sarah to watch it in front of a few others who I knew liked the film based upon previous conversations. Of course, they gave it a resoundingly positive endorsement when I asked if it was worth seeing, so we decided to go see it. One of the first things I learned in law school was to never ask a witness a question to which you donít know the answer. Thatís probably the one thing I learned in that place that had real-world applicability.

    I wasnít expecting much from Impressions de France, but my desire to see every Walt Disney World attraction led me to want to see it. Once the film began, and the first few notes of music started playing, I was blown away. I can only describe the music as hauntingly beautiful. I know thatís a tired phrase, but it was really ďbeautifulĒ music.

    The cinematography was also awesome, and really made me want to visit France. It was like Soariní, except without the simulation of flying and didnít conclude with a fly-over of Disneyland Paris. Oh, and it was set in France, obviously. If someday French people stop s__________g, we might just consider visiting France (just kidding, France). I guess thatís the point of the World Showcase pavilions, though, right? I mean, why else would the countries (or corporations in the host countries) sponsor the pavilions?



    We had been keeping in touch with some photographers on Flickr who would be attending the weekend, and we received word that they were on their way to the World Showcase, so we headed in their direction. Once we met, we stood around Canada for a few minutes chatting. I would estimate that there were around 10 people or so. It was good to catch up with the other photographers, many of whom I correspond with regularly, and would consider friends.

    That said, as soon as we started moving through World Showcase, I could tell this wasnít going to work for us. Iím an incredibly impatient person. Sarah calls it ďonly child syndrome.Ē I donít mind conversing with others, and relaxing, but in the setting of Walt Disney World, I find it to be a waste of time to aimlessly wander around with no set purpose or destination in mind, and I donít like standing in one spot and conversing. Conversing over dinner or while waiting in line are another story, but standing around or slowly wandering around are not things I enjoy. Even when I take photos, I donít work methodically.

    People who have traveled with us have remarked upon this in the past, surprised that I donít devote more time to taking photos. Usually, my strategy is quickly walking ahead a bit, and taking a photo in the time it takes Sarah to catch up to me. If the photo isnít what I had in mind, oh well, I move on. At night, I typically take more time, but attractions usually arenít open when I do my nighttime shooting, so Iím not really interfering with any normal ďpark-activitiesĒ then. This is just my preference, and my impatience is definitely a fault of mine.

    Because of this, I donít really like to partake in anything where decisions are made by committee. It wastes time and is generally inefficient, in my opinion. I could tell that there was a strong chance the pace was going to be the slow on this day, so I thought I would set the standard, and walk in the front of the group. The group stopped several times. Finally, Sarah and I kept going, figuring either people would follow, or weíd meet up with them later. It was too hot for us to do wander the World Showcase taking photos, anyway.


    Even though it was hot, we realized we didnít have many photos of us together, and the sky looked gorgeous, so we made a brief stop at the second story of the Japan pavilion to snap a couple of photos before continuing on to the Hops & Barley kiosk to get another one of the excellent Pumpkin Mousse snacks. In case you didnít read the last installment, this is an amazing snack, and for only $1.50, itís an absolute must-try. Given its cult-like popularity on the internet this year, expect Disney to adjust accordingly for next year and price it at $7.95.



    From here, we finally had some air-conditioned relief from the heat, as we stepped inside of the Mexico pavilion and rode Grand Fiesta Tour. As we approached the San Angel eating area, something dawned on me...you enter inside a temple, and on the inside, youíre outside again? On top of that, there are more temples outside on the river, which is also inside a temple. ďTrippy.Ē Somewhere on the after the little museum inside the temple, do you actually ďleaveĒ the temple? I couldnít make heads or tails of it (truth be told, Iím just now thinking of it; had I thought of it at the time, I wouldíve looked to see if you exit the main temple when you enter the outdoor courtyard thatís actually indoors.

    As we completed our several hour circuit of the World Showcase, we just had to stop for another snack at the Dessert & Champagne kiosk. We wanted to try something different, so Sarah ordered a snack that wasnít the Dessert Trio. Unfortunately, neither of us can read, and she actually ended up just ordering one of the snacks in the Dessert Trio. As the kids say, ďGrand FailĒ or something like that.









    Next stop was Club Cool for some afternoon caffeine! While there, I spotted an Asian couple decked out in Tokyo Disneyland gear. The last time I tried to talk to people wearing Tokyo Disneyland attire (I offered to take their photo in June 2010), disaster ensued, as I think they thought I was trying to harass them. Truth be told, Iím just really excited about Tokyo Disneyland, and am likely to stop anyone wearing Tokyo Disneyland attire (be warned!) and ask them their thoughts on the park.

    I donít remember about what, exactly, we talked, but there was a bit of a language barrier. They were really nice, and I think they more or less understood me (I only know one Japanese word, and it wasnít helpful here, so I relied on their knowledge of English). They seemed really enthusiastic about Tokyo Disneyland, calling it their home park (I think), and they said they also really liked Walt Disney World.

    Sarah just laughed at this, surprised that I would stop some random people and start randomly talking to them. I explained that this was a special case, as these people were Tokyo Disneyland experts! Of course I had to stop them!

    As we exited Club Cool, we met up with Nick, and walked to Disneyís Hollywood Studios through the International Gateway.

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