Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween is the best Disney bargain

I had the opportunity to do the Halloween event at the Magic Kingdom during my recent trip. Last night to be exact. The ticket price was about $35 and it was a bargain from my point of view. Not only were there all sorts of special touches just for this event, but the crowds were non-existant. We were able to walk right on most rides.

Overall, in the 5 hours we spent at the park (7 pm to midnight), we were able to do everything that usually takes us a day or two, without the rushing, standing in line, and crowds normally associated with the park. Add to that the "trick-or-treating", Halloween parade, HalloWishes fireworks, the plethora of costumed castmembers, and extra touches and it can't be beat. One of my favorites was the special attention the Haunted Mansion got for the event.

Again, I have to give it to Disney on their attention to detail and their incredible ability to mobilize people and get an enormous amount of work done in a short period of time; and, keep it invisible from the visiting public.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Around the world

The EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is a really nice event. This year, there were so many booths with ethnic foods from other countries that I had to pass on some because I was simply too full!

There is a lot of good beer and wine too. At the American pavilion, Sam Adams was sponsoring a beer education session that included tasting four of their brews; Oktoberfest, Light, Boston Lager, and 10th Anniversary Special (brewed for the Festival). They were all pretty good. Other Sam Adams beers were available in one of the kiosks as well, and another kiosk was selling Red Hook ESB.

We had apple struedel, creme brulee, Tokyo sushi, pork springrolls, beef caserole, beef tenderloin on the barbie, and a whole host of other terrific edible gems.

At the end of the day, our feet were tired, rain was coming, and we were completely full.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wilma on the brain

Well, it has been several days and still Wilma is a "pending event" for Florida. I have little doubt it will find a way to interfere with this trip in some way or another. As for those in its direct path as a category 5 hurricane, I hope they fare well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Magical Night in the Kingdom

The private event at the Magic Kingdom was pretty cool, especially for a devout Disney fan. It started with a trip by chartered bus from the resort to the Magic Kingdom. Not to the regular bus stop mind you, but to a special entrance behind Frontierland in the area where the parade floats, the water pageant floats, and other props are stored. We got the red carpet treatment too!

Throughout the evening, there were characters all over the park, food in several restaurants with their full menus, and rides just for us. They had two stagings of the light parade and a wonderful display of Wishes fireworks just for us. Oh, did I mention that there were bars about every 150 feet throughout the park?

I caught up with one of the editors from CIO Decisions magazine who was also attending the conference. We had a pretty good time and managed to get on quite a few rides including Thunder Mountain RR, Splash mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain. I am not sure I really want to know how much the sponsors paid for the private event, but I am sure it was a hefty amount.

Magical Disney Night

The private event at the Magic Kingdom was pretty cool, especially for a devout Disney fan. It started with a trip by chartered bus from the resort to the Magic Kingdom. Not to the bus stop mind you, but to a special entrance behind Frontierland in the area where the parade floats, the water pageant floats, and other props are stored. We got the red carpet treatment too!

Throughout the evening, there were characters all over the park, food in several restaurants with their full menus, and rides just for us. They had two stagings of the light parade and a wonderful display of Wishes fireworks just for us. Oh, did I mention that there were bars about every 150 feet throughout the park?

I caught up with one of the editors from CIO Decisions magazine who was also attending the conference. We had a pretty good time and managed to get on quite a few rides including Thunder Mountain RR, Splash mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain. I am not sure I really want to know how much the sponsors paid for the private event, but I am sure it was a hefty amount.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Beer in the Magic Kingdom?

I am fortunate enough to be included in a private party at the Magic Kingdom this evening after closing that will include food and drinks. Drinks meaning alcohol. After all these years of having a dry view of the Magic Kingdom, I think it'll be interesting to have this new this new view of the park. While not too uncommon, I think that the percentage of visitors that can say they had a beer in the park (excluding those brought in illicitly) is probably very, very small.

Despite being dark during the event, I'll try and grab a few photos and write about it here tomorrow.

A Dry Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is the only "dry" park of the four here. That is, there is no alcohol sold in the park. However, I find myself fortunate enough to be included in a special event at the park tonight. The conference has rented the entire park for a private event from 8:00 until 11:00 and I am told there will be food and open bars throughout the park.

Sounds like fun! Its a shame it'll be dark then and make it difficult to grab photos, but I'll try anyway. Watch my blog here for a recap.

Wil-l-l-l-ma-a-a-a

Sunny Orlando. The weather has been great with 80+ days and nights around 70. The sky has been clear and blue and the humidity under control. Of course, I have been inside most of the time with only the travels between venues to enjoy the sunshine. The conference is essentially over for me Thursday afternoon.

For those who haven't been keeping up with the weather or news, Tropical Storm Wilma, soon to be Hurricane Wilma, was projected this morning to pass right over central Florida some Thursday night or Friday, leaving rains in its path for a few more days. Talk about a spoiler!

I wonder if Disney will host a Hurricane Party?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Its a small, small world

After visiting the registration area to get the rest of my materials, my phone beeped to alert me to a voice mail. I retrieved it; it was from a dear old friend who said "Are you in Florida? I could swear I saw someone who looks just like you in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel."

I called him back and it turns out he is here as a vendor for the same conference. We had a quick drink as he had another obligation and promised to get together again before he leaves on Tuesday.

It really is a small, small world.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

78 and sunny

According to the news here, Orlando has entered the "dry season". Fine by me. I have to say I wasn't expecting the 5:30 wake-up call my neighbors gave me. Between the screaming kids, yelling parents, and TV turned up so loud I could tell exactly what they were watching I had zero chance at going back to sleep.

I called the front desk and after a few minutes the castmember asked if I could turn down my TV as they couldn't hear me. I commented that it wasn't my TV, which is why I was calling. Unfortunately, the noise didn't abate even by the time I left the room at 8:00.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Food & Wine Festival

The Walt Disney World Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT is one of my favorite events. Food and wine (and beer); what more does it need to be great?

I got here late but did have time to make a lap of the World Showcase and do a few taste tests. The park was crowded and the lines at each booth/tent were long. I didn't have much patience for waiting so passed on a lot of attractive sounding opportunities.

I did get Scandavian meatballs, pork spring rolls, beef tenderloin on a stick, and some Tokyo Sushi rolls. Washed all of this down with some Carlsburg, Tiger, Fosters, and some Kira. All of it was top notch grub and brew! Not bad for an hour walk around the lake.

There is so much to try that I really need to have a more organized approach in the few hours I'll have this week. I think I'll do something else tomorrow night as I suspect it'll be just as busy on Sunday. Perhaps the weeknights will be better.

Just imagine

Imagine for a moment that you are on an airplane headed to a destination that you have looked forward to for a while. Its been an incredibly tough few days and you almost can't believe that you're just about there. You have a window seat on this flight. The sky is clear, the trip smooth, and the weather is looking pretty good. The pilot announces that the plane is now on final approach to the airport. You watch out the window for recognizable landmarks as you near the airport.

The plane gets lower and lower and sways slightly as the pilot makes his adjustments. Then, just a few hundred feet above the ground the engines whine up and the plan banks sharply to the right as it begins ascending. It makes a wide sweep to the right, eventually making it a full 360-degrees. The events of just five minutes before slowly repeat. You stop watching and think about it -- did I imagine it?

A few hundred feet to go and you can tell that the plane is near the end of the runway. Again, the engines roar and whine louder as the plane again banks to the right and ascends. This can't be really happening, can it? Wasn't is Sisyphys who was sentenced to eternity in Hades, cursed with a thirst but the water would recede each time he bent to take a drink?

Without going into details, all I can say is that the entire week was full of this kind of teasing and disappointment. We would take one step forward and then get pushed back two steps. It was only our combined efforts that allowed us to persevere. After all, even at one step forward and two back you can sometimes still reach the finish line.

And so did the plane. The third landing attempt went perfectly and was one of the smoothest touchdowns I have ever experienced. I finally made it to Orlando. I wasn't sure I would.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

On to Florida

Well, I'll be heading to Florida for a conference in about 10 days. I'm adding on a few persoanl leave days so I should have a lot to write about. As the old ads used to say, "watch this space".