Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 21st - D23 Expo - The Ultimate Disney Fan Event

Today is our last day of the D23 Expo. We have a late flight so we should be able to get in a good bit of expo-ing. In a way, it was sort of like the first day since Ami, one of my fort friends, was coming in!  I was surprised to get a message from her that she was on her way!  She is staying at Paradise Pier and we walk thru that lobby every morning. We decided after we loaded the car with our luggage that we would swing by and get Ami so we could show her around the exhibit floors. She was all ready and waiting for us!

When we approached the convention center, we noticed there were no  lines to get in. Apparently, they started letting everyone in much earlier today. I had heard somewhere that it was a fire hazard to have the entrance blocked the entire way so they HAD to let everyone in. I was on a caffeine hunt but nothing opened til 9 in the expo and we had about a 15-20 minute wait til then. We sat down in the upper lobby area and watched people line up for the archives exhibit on one side and the archives store on the other.  At 9, I went over to the charter member lounge to get a tea but was told they don't open til 11! We got in the short line for the archives store so Ami could see if she wanted anything.  After that, there is a separate line to see the archives but we got in relatively quickly. 

Once we got downstairs, I went over to the little stand that sells goodies and hot and cold drinks. I decided to just get my tea there. After I wrestled with the tea bag, I must have torn it cause when I put the hot water in the cup, tea grinds were all thru my tea! I got another bag and tried again; this time it was good and I finally  had my cup of tea!  Debbie and Pat went off on their own to see the Pixar Presentation and hopefully the Star Tours Presentation.  I wanted to show Ami the collectors exhibits and vendors. There was ALOT to see.  Along the way, we ran in to Margaret Kerry, the original model for Tinkerbell.  She is one of the sweetest and most gracious women that you could ever meet! Her name tag even says Tinkerbell. She was telling everyone all kinds of stories and people were hanging on every word. She knew Walt personally and she said she worked for a genius.

After wandering the exhibits for awhile and picking up all kinds of freebies (including a sponge Handy Manny hammer), we went to the outdoor grill area and got some lunch.  We found a seat at the end of the row of tables. It was a good place to people watch.  We were starting to accumulate quite a loot bag and it was getting harder to handle! At some point during the day, we did the VoluntEAR activity and today's activity was either draw for Meals on Wheels or Postcards to the troops. Ami and I each did a postcard and we got a VoluntEAR tote bag and that was good for toting our stuff. 

We had gone by the Marceline Missouri both, forget the exact name of it but they were marking down all their merchandise! So everything was $1 including these really  nice shirts! I got one for me and one for Joe and also got Joe a hat and I got another tote bag cause it was cute. We felt like we were robbing them cause the quality of the shirts are great and the hat is really nice. So on our way, winding through the maze of the booths and all the collectible items, I was taking in alot more detail today and not taking as many pictures since I had already done that.  As we came around the next to last row of booths, I looked over to the next row and OMG who do I see but Deb Wills and she was all by herself!!! Holy COW! I hurried over and introduced myself and she gave us some collectible trading cards which I have always heard about but never had seen.  I told her how she was the very first person I had read about on the internet, her trip reports and back then she had Deb's Disney Digest; this was mid 90s or so.  I have ALWAYS wanted to meet her in person but was never able to make a meet for one reason or another. This was better! We got a couple pictures taken with her and she said I moved her with my words to her and I truly meant every one of them. I could not stop gushing and all but clung to her leg, lol. We talked for a good 15 minutes or so.  I promised her I was  not a stalker just an admirer of a woman that has inspired and ignited so much of the magic in the online Disney Community.    She was going to talk to someone from the MiceChat booth that she wanted to meet for years.  We said our goodbyes and let her go on her way but I was happy as could be and I accomplished my mission for D23!

We continued walking around and saw a few costumed people. One particularly good one was someone dressed as a haunted mansion ghost and a girl dressed as the parasol lady painting in the haunted mansion. she had the pose down right down to her feet.

We then got in a small line for Parks and Resorts and went in to see models and movies of upcoming ride vehicles and models. Again, I took limited pictures and looked more at the details. I did take a picture of the new Walt statue that will be in California Adventure; I love it!  Ami and went over the Aulani booth, she wanted to see it cause is GOING THERE IN A COUPLE WEEKS! We took our picture in front of the back drop so it looks like we were there, lol. 

We eventually walked over to WDW Radio and there was moms panel Marc Lorenzo! Ami talked with him and he gave her some tips on the application process. She made it as far as finalist in last year's contest so she has a good chance of getting on next year.

We walked over around 1 or so to get our free cupcake and I took some pictures of the various cakes on the themed party tables. You would have to smell this exhibit to believe it, sweet icing aroma!

I took a few more pictures of various displays and paintings. This large 6 foot picture of Walt was done live by an artist over the 3 days. It was HUGE; not sure if it was commissioned for sale or what.

Ami wanted to check out the Shake it Up Show in the arena since her daughters are fans.  They first had a teen back to school fashion show with the actors from the serious. These kids are SO talented! They sing and dance and have great personalities; you can see why Disney chooses them.  They even gave the audience a dance lesson! No pictures! lol!

We took some time to shop in the Dream Store, some really  nice stuff in here.

We came across a gathering of guests that had come in costume and they wanted a group picture of them so I was able to take the same picture. Again, some were really good and some were kind of comical. Also ran in to the Disney Geek guy there.
Disney Geek

Walking thru the vendors, I saw a painter that was doing abstract type Pooh paintings and I thought some were a little disturbing. Ami and I thought this particular one resembled the bat that was in my house last week, lol! Same teeth!

We came across a Small World merchandise booth that had Small World designed clothing, shoes and body butter and oils.  We both tried some oil and body butter and decided we must have the lavender calming oil.  I said I could have used some of that when I met Deb Wills, lol!

Some Walt quotes:

Everything was winding down and some people were packing things up. We decided to start walking back. We still had some time before leaving for the airport so we walked over to Paradise Pier and sat at a table for a bit. I shopped in the gift shop and bought a nice paperback pictorial book showing Disneyland on the left side of the page and then the exact same spot, modern day, on the right side. It is really interesting and I ended up looking at it on the plane.  We were not able to make it in to the Vintage DL and WDW presentation which I heard was really good.

We decided we better head to the airport and so we said our goodbyes at the elevator. Ami was going back upstairs and then maybe to a park later. BOO HOO, we had to leave and I was not ready for all this fun to be over!

Here are some pictures of the flowers on the way back to the hotel:
I saw this huge tree and was impressed by how massive it was. Ami is in the picture so you can get a better idea of how huge and wide this tree is.

We got to the airport and went to our various gates. I bought one of this pillows that support your neck and before too long we were loading. Debbie was on a separate flight. Pat and I would fly to Newark and then I would connect to Pittsburgh.  Flight took off at 9:25 and arrived in Newark at 5:21 a.m.  I did not sleep too well on the plane as my seat did not recline for some reason. I had a half hour to get to my next flight and it sounded close but was quite a walk!  Pat walked over with me until I was about to board. I said my goodbyes to her and thanked her for everything. She made this entire trip possible! I will never forget her telling me  a year ago "WE ARE GOING TO D23"!  Don't have to ask ME twice!
Sun setting on the way to the airport

I had a short flight to Pittsburgh, was there in no time. I had my ipod on but the battery died. I was thinking I was probably the only person on the plane listening to Usher/Lady GaGa/Cold Play/Partridge Family, lol.  I forgot to load the Disney CDs in to Itunes.    I was hoping the propellers out my window were well attached to the engine!


I can honestly say I went in to this trip fully expecting to not like Disneyland as much as WDW in Florida. Sure, DL does not have Epcot but once I saw the charm and detail of the park, this place does not need Epcot or any other park.  It really feels like a charming little town model with all the various lands dripping in detail and magic.  How many places can you see Dumbo fly during fireworks, ride in a circus train, take a boat through a whale's mouth and see Cruella teasing Pluto and Goofy!  I also loved California Adventure. I love how they combine the wilderness theming (complete with Pine trees that SMELL like pine) with   Hollywood  area  with a Boardwalk area and soon to be CARS area!  It is going to be fantastic when it is all done.

I also loved seeing all my friends, both old and new, on this trip. I finally get to put real life faces with voices and laughter, got to meet Lou Mongello and the incomparable Deb Wills.  The last day with Ami was a blast! I told her she was my good luck charm cause we were seeing people and catching bargains left and right!

This may have been my first Disneyland trip but I KNOW it will not be my last. I am already thinking about next year at this time. Like Walt said "Disneyland will never be completed; it will continue to grow as long as there is imagination in the world." Some times when I see this statue, I think Walt was explaining that very thought to Mickey and that is how this statue came about!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 19th-D23 Expo The Ultimate Disney Fan Event

I don't even know where to begin with today's opening day of D23 Expo.  First of all, last night around midnight, I got really sick for some reason. I felt it coming on and knew it was not good.  Somehow, I managed to get a good nights sleep and felt rested in the morning. I was afraid to eat too much but Debbie and I bought a small loaf of banana bread so we shared that. I also bought OJ but thought better of drinking it.

I got up around 6:15 and hopped in the shower first.  We wanted to be over at the convention center around 8:30 or so.  We walked the few blocks over and most of the crowd was headed in the same direction. Imagine our shock when we saw that the line was already wrapping around the large arena. We could not even find the end of it.  Once we did, we snaked around and they were forming the line down the sidewalk. It ended up that we were probably in the first 1/3 of the line. No one could find the end since it was so long and snaked everywhere.  After about an hour, they finally let us in but even that took awhile for the movement of the line to reach us.  Right as we approached the door, a guy comes riding up in a scooter and he  and his wife were trying to cut the line.  We had been chatting with everyone around them and knew they just got there.  The guy behind us said are they with you and we said no and he told them where to find the end of the line. They did not listen, they just went behind him. Whatever. Just as we were going in, I noticed one of my FB friends, Diane, walking the other way and I turned around and I was sure it was her but they were already going the other direction and we were going in! I ended up finding her later on the escalator going down!

We were given our lanyards and guidebook and we weren't really sure where to go.  We headed upstairs to the History of the Disneyland Hotel presentation.  We somehow got seated very close. They thought Pat was a premier member and we got reserved seats!  This was an interesting presentation showing tons of old footage of Walt and also the original president of the hotel.  It turns out the architect of the hotel was in the audience in the row behind us, he will be 90 yrs old!  The little kids we saw in the black and white footage are the kids of the president of the hotel and they were also in the audience.  The man doing the presentation is the author of a book on Disneyland Hotel history. 

At this point, we split up with Pat going to the Disney Store pavilion and Debbie and I getting a bite to eat ($14 for a small pizza, churro and water!) and then going to the line for the Legends Presentation.  The line for this was unreal. You literally could not see the end of it. We waited about an hour and were told that we were on standby at that point and would probably not make it in. We stayed in the line just in case and it started to move so we were hopeful cause it was close to the front. Then we hear a CM saying all they were doing was emptying the line!  It was so frustrating!

Debbie and I decided to roam the exhibit floor; tons of pin collectors, artists...you name it, they are here. I finally ran in to the WDW Radio booth and got to meet Lou Mongello!  I have been wanting to subscribe to his Celebrations Magazine so I did that right there and got two free issues to take with me. Lou had live feeds going so the "in the box" people could be there as well.
Me and Lou Mongello
These guys were animatronic!
This giant balloon creation was at Lou's booth
The limo that Walt rode in on the way to Snow White premier

We continued our roaming and ran in to some celebrities...Rock Star Mickey and Constantine Maroulis, who was on American Idol at one point.  Then we passed a booth and I look over and see Billy Dee (I love Brian Piccolo) Williams.  He had no one in line for his autograph and it's no wonder, he was charging $40 for an autograph. He sat there like a lost puppy so I took his picture. He sort of gave a half smile. I swear it was the only booth without a line!

At 1:00, there was a free cupcake giveaway and yes there was a line! It moved and we got thru very quick. I took some pics of the awesome themed birthday parties.

We decided we better line up for the Parks and Resorts presentation.  We ended up in the first half of the long line but it got much worse after us.  We sat down for about a half an hour, in the line queue. I called home and talked to Joe for awhile but it was so loud in there that he had a hard time hearing me. They finally told us to stand as the line would be moving and it did move for a little bit and then came to a dead stop. For another half hour, we did not move. This poor lady in an ECV was having trouble negotiating the ends of the line queue and kept apologizing for making us wait. We told her, we're not getting anywhere fast and not to worry.  Finally, we were all let in and we had good seats in the second level, almost center.  This was an interesting presentation but I did feel myself dozing off from time to time. We got to see the ride vehicles for the new mine ride in the new Fantasyland and they did an Aulani presentation but not a mention of the letters DVC.  Mickey came out playing the drums and then he chatted with Tom Staggs, the Disney Parks and Resorts president.  During Aulani, they had some Hawaiian luau children dancing with a band. They did a great job!
Deb Wills talking to Lou

Pat went with some friends to eat and Debbie and I got in a short line for The Parks and Resorts Carousel of Projects.  They showed us a short in the round movie and then opened the curtains where in front of us was the hull of a Disney cruise ship and it was playing the When you Wish Upon a Star horn.  We got to see a model of the new Fantasyland which looks awesome and the actual ride vehicle for the mine ride.  It is shaped like a mine car that will rock as you go around bends, sort of like a cradle on a track.

We took a few more pictures in here and then headed out.  We walked back over to check the Hallmark Ornament exhibit and saw a big crowd with lots of media. There was John Lassiter who is the chief creative officer of Pixar. He was very friendly with the crowd.

Debbie and I decided to try a different place for food. Prices were not much better and the line moved sloooooooow.  I got a hot dog and dr. pepper. It came with fries but I did not eat too many. Just that was $8.50!  Debbie and I had stopped by the one stand to get brownies since I heard they were so good here. $5 a brownie!

We then attempted to get in to Voices of the Parks presentation; we  had heard the Dick Van Dyke show was completely full, dang.  We waited for awhile in this long line for Voices, only to find out it, too, was at capacity.  We were getting a little  irritated at this point and were #venting to the CM, she was very nice and listened.  The #venting hashtag was becoming the theme for the day, lol.

We went downstairs to check out the Imagineering store. I did not buy anything. I considered this a successful day since I met Lou Mongello,saw Deb Wills at a distance and briefly saw Diane!

We limped our wretched bodies back to the hotel; got a cup of tea ($2.90!) and went back to our room to watch fireworks. Tomorrow is another day! More lines but it is still great to be here!

Me with Cassie and Sandie