Monday, 24 December 2012

Wherever You Find Love, It Feels Like Christmas

'Twas the week before Christmas, and I have been keeping busy.
I was off Saturday the 15th and spent most of the day sleeping in and packing an excessive amount of stuff in preparation for the visit of my lovely friend Angela (whom I hadn't seen in far too long). I popped over to our resort, Pop Century (I did that on purpose) around 5 in the evening, waiting for Angela's plane to land and her shuttle to arrive. We checked out Pop Century's food court for dinner and had a early bed-time for the next day. We went to Islands of Adventure the next day, spending the vast majority of our time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as per Angela's every wish on Earth. We thoroughly checked out every single shop and went on all the rides - Flight of the Hippogriff, Dragon Challenge and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - as well as getting lunch from Three Broomsticks.
Angela's debating quitting life and running away to Hogwarts. 
We meandered a bit around the rest of the park just to see what there was (we totally met the Grinch!), then ended up back in Hogsmeade for another round of Butterbeer at the Hogs Head Tavern before heading back. That night, we went over to the neighbouring resort, Art of Animation (I previewed it here), to see what their food court - Landscape of Flavors - had to offer. Another early bedtime for another early wake-up, as we were up just after the sun for our trip to the Magic Kingdom the next day.
We had a surprisingly warm-for-December day, in jeans and tees we wandered about Magic Kingdom until 7pm, making magic and trying not to twirl into other guests. We went back to Pop Century for a quick breather and returned at 9 for Extra Magic Hours, in which we got on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, watched the Electrical Parade and did some necessary shopping.
Angela and I at Gaston's wonderful fountain in New Fantasyland.
We weren't back until rather late, so slept in a bit the next day for our continued adventures at Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
With a little convincing, I made my triumphant return to Tower of Terror and got Angela on Rock'n Roller Coaster. Success! We were able to get Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania and actually had to line up for Muppet Vision 3D before taking the FriendShip boat over to Epcot for the necessary stop by the United Kingdom for tea and Canada for general sight-seeing. We rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends and watched some manatees eat some lettuce before doing some shopping (it was hoodie time and they were left in the resort) and going back to Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Angela and I with our new friends Phineas and Ferb.
Back to Art of Animation for a different lovely dinner of build-your-own pasta (so good!), to Pop Century to get all packed and a brief snooze before Angela's shuttle came before the sun rose. I thought I worked that day, so went home and took a nap before going to work, only to realize I had been given another day off (ADO), so I went back home and took the opportunity to rest and relax.
After my closing shift Thursday, the merchandise cast members of the Canada pavilion, aka my work family,  got together at Lindsay's apartment for a spectacular and complete Christmas dinner, featuring one perfectly cooked turkey and about twelve pounds of mashed potatoes. There were fourteen of us there, and still food enough for fourteen more.
Lindsay and I are totally festive. I did help a little!
On the 21st, I went to the Mall at Millenia with Rhys and Laura. Laura and I ended up getting haircuts just in time for Christmas at a salon near the mall offering a discount for cast members, and my stylist used to work for Disney (she was friends with a few princesses and danced in parades). We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, complete with Peppermint Bark Cheesecake for dessert. That evening, we got dolled up and went to the Orlando Ballet Company's production of the Nutcracker (on which we also got a discount). Next year, National Ballet of Canada, I think.
Rhys and Laura's pre-Cheesecake Factory snack
I'm in the midst of a rather long work week, for merchandise, so this morning I woke up early and went to Downtown Disney for a bit of last minute Christmas shopping before going to work for 11. Tomorrow and Boxing Day (which isn't really a thing here), I'll be working about 12 hours a day. And I'll be merry about it.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


Note: Please don't ever come here for Christmas. It's so busy. Magic Kingdom reached its capacity at 11:30 this morning. My prediction for tomorrow is 9:30.

Thanks to: Angela, for making the journey from Winnipeg to come see me and that one family from Lanark County who hugged me when they found out I was from Perth.

Friday, 14 December 2012

When Hearts are High the Time Will Fly so Whistle While You Work

This week was certainly no epic story time last last week (at least last week's post). No, this may have been the singular longest and slowest week of my life, if not my program at the very least.
On Friday, Rhys and I went to the Magic Kingdom for a magical day of magic. On our way there, we stopped by Magic Kingdom costuming, as this is where food & beverage cast members (ie Rhys) pick up and check out their work shoes. Chumps in merchandise and attractions get to purchase our own boots, for better or worse. It was about twenty minutes of Rhys picking out shoes and me resisting every temptation to try on all the costumes. I stared at the Haunted Mansion maid costume for a solid five minutes, just debating but not actually touching anything. I did try on a hat on our way out. No pictures, of course, and I'll let you guess which one. All my hair fit underneath, if that give you a clue. 

The windows of the Emporium on Main Street are all
decorated with scenes from Mickey's Christmas Carol.
Our day at Magic Kingdom started with a brief trip to the Main Street Bakery, which will not be there for much longer, as it is the site of a future Starbucks (the other site being Fountain View at Epcot). Our timing was exactly right to watch the castle show, also known as Dream Along with Mickey, for my first time in my program. Granted, I'd heard and walked by it many many times, but had never actually watched it. It was, of course, magical. The kind of magic that brings tears to one's eyes (Psst, dreams come true!). 
Minnie Mouse's (and my own) dream of being a princess.
We caught yet another trolley parade and did the full gambit of favourite rides, as well as the Tomorrowland Speedway, an attraction that I, again, had never done. It's Disney World Go-Karts, essentially. We stuck around just long enough to watch Cinderella's Holiday Wish (still magical), after which I fell off a curb like the picture of grace that I am and sprained my ankle, which is why my week gets very boring. A lovely Guest Relations Cast Members (to whom I owe a Guest Service Fanatic card, I suppose) called an alpha unit for me, aka an emergency squad of Reedy Creek Fire Department paramedics stationed in the park. Fastest response times in North America. Long story short, I've been on the monorail in a wheel chair, but it is in fact just a sprain, as confirmed by nurses, paramedics and a doctor. 
From Saturday until Tuesday, I was laid up in my third floor apartment with nothing but glorious American Netflix to keep me company on my constant cycle of rest, ice, compression and elevation. I tried to go back to work on Tuesday, but to no avail, I got sent to a doctor and then sent home (still, just a sprained ankle). I left my house Thursday for grocery-type provisions (driving is easier than walking, who knew?) but have basically been locked up in my tower for days (Netflix doesn't have Tangled, I checked). I took lots of pictures of the bruises all over my right foot, but there's no way they'll be posted here anytime soon. 
I do have this picture of Rapunzel's tower behind a construction wall.
No word on its purpose yet.
Today I escaped for some low-key fun Downtown Disney in the form of The Hobbit in the Fork & Screen theatre with Rhys and Laura (neither of whom knew The Hobbit was filmed as a trilogy). Long movies need Fork & Screen, for both food and seat quality. 
Laura, me and Rhys post-Hobbit and all Christmas-y!
On the plus side, things can only get more exciting next week! A visitor and back to work! Woo!


Note: Both Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel) and Lea Salonga (singing voices of Mulan and Jasmine) were both in Epcot this week to narrate the Candlelight Prcessional. And I was stuck here!

Thanks to: Ashley, Chelsea and Rhys, all of whom aided in removing me from the Magic Kingdom on Friday. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

When You Close Your Eyes Then You Realize Any Dream is Possible

Uh oh, it looks like Brer Fox and Brer Bear are causing some commotion downstream. Please stay seated in your log boat...and don't be concerned that I went for a bit with no posts. This one's epic and full of magic and pixie dust.
On Thursday, November 22 (aka Thanksgiving for America, who knew?), Rhys and I went to the Magic Kingdom early with two ambitions: watch the Magic Kingdom open and ride the Jungle Cruise until we couldn't take it anymore. We missed the opening song and dance due to morning extra magic hours, but we accomplished our second goal, and made a few new cool skipper friends to boot! Rhys and I completed ten Jungle Cruise expeditions, taking breaks for snacks, meals and the washroom but being allowed to remain on certain boats with certain skippers, and once being walked on after being made Junior Skippers (Skipper Chanel, this means you). We were joined by another Canadian Lyndsay, after which we completed ten more tours of the exotic jungles of Asia and Africa before calling it a night and dining at Ohana and trying to avoid speaking in puns.
Our 7th Jungle Cruise of the day,
 and our second with the magical Skipper Tyler.
Sunday the 25th, Rhys and I dressed in our Winter finest and attended an early Mickey's very Merry Christmas Party, beating the incoming herd by getting our bracelets early before taking a festive ride on the People Mover. We had miraculously gotten a dinner reservation for the new and very fancy (and very booked) Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland. It was just as fancy and magical as it seemed, and we were blown away by just being able to be there to experience it all. The icing on the cake (or cream puff, as that's what dessert was) was the rest of the Christmas Party, including Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, the Celebrate the Season castle show and as much free hot chocolate and cookies as we could handle, all over the park. Oh, and it snowed on Main Street USA. It was twelve different kinds of magical. Christmas should always start in November.
Entrance to...
Christmas magic!
So many kinds of Canadian Christmas magic!
On Tuesday the 27th, the ladies from Canada merch got together to make ourselves only slightly more gorgeous than our usual lumberjack selves and went over  to Coronado Springs resort for the Disney Internships and Programs 2012 Winter Formal: Imagination Celebration. Basically, an excuse to get fancy, get free food, dance a little and line up to meet characters. Our fancy selves met Captain Hook, Cinderella and the Mad Hatter and the free food, including a chocolate fondue station, was delightful.
There's a solid chance I'm taking over your castle in March,  Cinderella.
The next evening, an early release from work allowed me to meet Briana, Sam and Bailey for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion. We bought tickets for the dinner package of the Candlelight Processional, which started a few days before. The celebrity narrator of the night's event was my hero and god, Neil Patrick Harris. Canada had been on NPH watch all week. He was spotted in France a few times, but there were no reports this year on visits to Canada. The processional itself was very festive, if not a little more biblical than I thought Disney would allow, and NPH was charming and stunning, as expected.
Our "Psyched to see NPH!" smiles
I've breathed the same air as Neil Patrick Harris.
Life  = complete!
After the event was over, I went over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to unpack five days' worth of stuff and wait for my mom to arrive, her plane landing late at night and her arriving, via exceptionally slow Magical Express, very early in the morning.No matter!
We got up at a reasonable hour, and, after enjoying a quick service breakfast at The Mara (the quick service restaurant of Jambo House), we boarded a timely bus to the Magic Kingdom. With the exception of a brief visit to Downtown Disney at the start of my program, Mom had never been to the Walt Disney World Resort before. Magic Kingdom was a fantastic place to start. We were able to ride the classics, like Peter Pan's Flight, it's a small world, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and Splash Mountain (twice on that last one). New Fantasyland was conveniently open for our visit, so we were able to pop in and take in the sights, as well as ride Under the Sea.
Mom meets the Dapper Dans, at least two of whom sang
her Happy Birthday earlier in the year. MAGICAL. 
We also squeezed in lunch at Tony's Town Square and the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade. We stayed just long enough to watch Cinderella's Holiday Wish, in which Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald discuss with Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother how Cinderella Castle ought to be decorated for the season. It's magical. Then we were off to Sanaa, the table service restaurant at Kidani House for a lovely and relaxing dinner and back to our home at Jambo House for bed.
Dinner at Sanaa, the only reasonable meal portions on property.
The next day, Mom and I were off to Hollywood Studios. As any day at Hollywood Studios should, we grabbed a Fast Pass for Toy Story Midway Mania before carrying on with the rest of our day on Sta Tours, the Great Movie Ride and Muppet Vision 3D, taking in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Our lunch at 50s Prime Time Cafe kept us unreasonably full for the rest of the day (tip: you'll never be hungry on a Disney Dining Plan), and we put in time meeting Mr. Incredible and Frozone, Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz (from Wreck-It Ralph), and Minnie Mouse before watching the Streets of America light up with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. We were able to relax a bit and take in the view of the zebras, giraffes and cranes from our balcony, as well as enjoying the hot tub.
"That's Wasowski, with one I." Get it?
Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz at the end
of the Game Central Station queue
We went to Animal Kingdom on Saturday. If you're keeping track, this was only my second time at Animal Kingdom since my arrival, and I cannot figure out why. That park is magical! We saw Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical, as well as taking in the Flights of Wonder show. We went on a Kilimanjaro Safari (WAY more complicated than the Jungle Cruise), and went on Dinosaur and the Primeval Whirl in Dinoland, USA (first time in my program!).
True Story: The Yak & Yeti serves neither yak nor yeti for lunch.
Since Animal Kingdom closes early, we took off to get ready for La Nouba, a Walt Disney World Resort-exclusive Cirque du Soleil show, for which my Family Holiday Celebration book allowed me a considerable discount. In a word, it was amazing. And our cheap seats were amazingly close. Another magical day!
Sunday, we were up before the sun to get to Epcot for 8:30 in the morning, as we were participating in yet another cast-discounted endeavor, the Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream tour of World Showcase, done on...wait for it...SEGWAYS. YEAH. We did a terrifying 45-minute lesson on getting on and off the Segway, stopping the Segway, turning corners and not rolling backwards down hills, followed by a hearty American breakfast at Sunshine Seasons (and grabing a Fast Pass for Soarin') and back on the Segways for a (now totally professionally ridden) Segway tour of the eleven pavilions of the World Showcase. The majority of the pavilions were still roped off, with World Showcase not opening until 11 each morning, so we were able to stop for pictures and free roaming time in Italy.
Not as easy as it looks, but no one fell!
Not even me in Canada!
Our tour ended slightly after some enthusiastic waving from the Canada merchandise cart (Sam, Briana, this means you) and some Segway-induced stumbling back over to Italy for lunch at Via Napoli, after our magnificent ride on Soarin', of course. After taking in half the World Showcase by foot while making our way back to Future World, we went back to our resort for some downtime before heading back to Epcot for the evening. We rode Spaceship Earth, dined at Teppan Edo in Japan,  and rode the Seas with Nemo and Friends before catching the extended, Holiday edition of IllumiNations.
Monday morning, we took in breakfast at Boma, in our very own Jambo House, and took off to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa via the monorail for some sight-seeing. Their epic holiday gingerbread house is out for viewing and smells delicious, as well as the resort being just as opulent and Victorian as ever.
That's not forced perspective.
The Grand Floridian's tree doesn't fit in the frame.
We took the boat over to the Polynesian resort for Mom's first Dole Whip and headed back to the resort for dinner and one last hot tub before a very sad trip back to the airport. I went to Games later to prevent the inevitable depression and lost horribly at Splash Mountain Sorry, three times.
I've been back to work for the last two days doing very strange 8.5 hours shifts, waving at Segways and handing out stickers like a boss. I also missed visitors from Hamilton today whilst being busy elsewhere in Canada. Boo!


Note: It's Walt Disney's 111th birthday today! On that note, the Keep Moving Forward tour is named for a Walt quote: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

Thanks to: The enthusiastic Jungle Cruise skippers of the (Disney) world, and the crazy number of Cast Members who complimented me on my Doctor Who shirts over the course of my vacation. Who knew there are so many friends I haven't met yet?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

I've Got Everything that I Need Right in Front of Me

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! It's like the Americans have forgotten about their own Thanksgiving. It happens.
Tuesday night, Rhys and I went to Walmart and loaded up on Christmas-y things for the "all holidays" tree she inherited from the former tenant of her apartment. We decorated the tree while drinking tea and listening to Christmas music, and followed it up with some Claymation Christmas clips, courtesy of YouTube, not my DVD. So much Christmas!
The next day in little Canada, the much-detested Canada promenade music was gone, to be replaced by a loop of charming Christmas songs, most of which were sung by Lindsay and I outside at the cart, and not necessarily for guests. The store also got a lot more Christmas decor, in addition to our already-assembled garlands of antlers, snowshoes and moose. There's also a spot outside between the cart and Off Kilter's stage where guests can eventually meet Santa. I saw it for the first time today and nearly died. So yeah, Santa visits the pavilion. It's so festive!
New decor in Canada! Even our plaid looks Christmas-y!
On my Saturday (real life Thursday), Briana, Amanda, Sam and I headed to Downtown Disney's AMC  Theater to meet fellow Canadians (and a row full of UK) for a highly anticipated Twilight movie marathon. We all got matching posters and lanyards (displaying the film schedule) in addition to Twilight trivia and never-before-seen interviews between the five films. There wasn't a single pair of real pants to be found, what with the first film starting at 11:30 am and the final film at 10:00pm. Yet another once in a lifetime opportunity, and not a single spec of Disney to be found!
Bright-eyes and in sweatpants at 11am.
True Twi-hards, up in here.
My Sunday, everyone else's Friday, was spent with Lindsay again as we completed "errands" around Property Control and the outlet mall across the street, then to Hollywood Studios to meet Rhys. We took in the night's only showing of Fantasmic (sidebar: with it getting so dark so early, what once started at like 9 now starts at 6:30), as well as a good deal of time twirling beneath the five million lights constituting the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. We were able to catch three sequences of dancing lights, all to the tune of the Trans-siberan Orchestra, as well as a ton of pictures and glimpses of new Hidden Mickeys, before boarding a flight on Star Tours and heading to Perkins (not a Disney thing) for pie.
The magic that is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
It's been a very magical week, kids.


Note: My blood's become quite thin with all the disgusting summer weather. If it drops belong 18 degrees, I'm frozen and in mittens.

Thanks to: Ali, one of the loveliest Canadian servers, who will be leaving us very shortly. See you in Ontario!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Think of the Happiest Things, It's the Same as Having Wings

In the wake of last week's elections, coincidentally the election to which I have paid the most attention in...ever, we had a lot of requests from sad Republicans to relocate to Canada. Sorry kids, I don't think you'll be too happy up North, either!

Last week was Trainer Appreciation Week at least at Epcot, which, like anything else here, is done in no small manner. Wednesday morning, before I had even managed to clock in, yours truly walked away with free popcorn, drinks, rice krispy treats and a free Disney World Training lunch bag (for my big kid job, whenever that happens again). Better yet, the core trainers (trainers who train in all areas, not just one country or another) responsible for running the event took turns taunting us area trainers while they sat under a thing called a Pitch Burst, which was kind of like a dunk tank except with the danger of falling water balloons. My aim was quite poor, but there were already quite a few soaking yet (and rather cold) trainers by the time I arrived. Thanks for the free stuff, and you're quite welcome for training the newbs!

I appreciate free stuff...oh and teaching, that's cool too. 
That evening, the still newly crowned server Rhys and I went to the Mall at Millenia to bask in the glow of upscale Christmas decorations and the glory of the Cheesecake Factory.
My weekend, Thursday and Friday still, began rather unproductively with an epic sleep-in til noon, followed by more delicious carb-heavy food with Rhys, and a few errands at downtown Disney (Guess who has a serious problem with her plush collection?) and some groceries. The next day, Rhys and I had at least our third Princess Day at Magic Kingdom (the last being in August), this time in full Fall gear. We met Tiana and Naveen, jumped on both Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion twice, grabbed FastPasses for Peter Pan's Flight and were able to sneak back into New Fantasyland for a quick trip under the sea and a LeFou's Brew. We had a lovely, belated birthday dinner at The Wave (located in Disney's Contemporary Resort) and had a charming former Le Cellier server bring us fantastic American (Florida local, even) treats.
Princess Day: November Edition 
Under the Sea, open to the general public.
The general public will destroy things.
Today was a day of training to make me earn my rice krispy treat from the week before. You may recall I had an extensive few days of trainer training, including following a trainer around for the day. I've now come full circle in the training circle of life and was shadowed all day long by Zach, our newest Canadian merchandise trainer. I'm pretty sure all I taught was how to look like you're teaching safety, courtesy, show and efficiency when actually doing very Mexico. Meh.

I'm a Guest! Nope, wait, I'm just on lunch. 


Note: It's now Christmas all around Disney World! Wreaths and garlands are all over Magic Kingdom, and the Canada Pavilion, and we have an epic tree at the entrance to World Showcase! You can tell by my liberal use of exclamation points that I'm rather pleased.

One of many many wreaths Christmas-ing up the Magic Kingdom

Thanks to: Former CRP Dana, who supplied us with poppies for today, and our manager Tom, for pretending he didn't see them.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Soup du Jour, Hot Hors D'oeuvres, Why We Only Live to Serve

Hi kids! It's been a week of wining, dining and weird days off.

Even though this was one of the first weeks after our recent schedule bid (I'll now have Thursdays and Fridays off until the end of my program), another Canadian needed Thursday off so I had an odd Wednesday as my Saturday. This odd Wednesday happened to be Halloween and this Halloween I spent in Hell - aka various DMVs around Orange County. It turns out one cannot renew an Ontario license plate with American insurance (thanks for the heads-up, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario), so my car had to be re-licensed and re-registered for the United States of America ie there are now Florida plates on my car to go with the Florida license in my wallet and the American insurance in the glove box. Fortunately, I was able to do the whole process in my Halloween costume, so it wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been.
Thursday, I was oddly back to work for the day. At the daily morning meeting with the UK merchandise cast, we were informed that one of us had made the top three in Epcot in terms of re-loading Food & Wine Festival gift cards. That cast member was me. Yay me! I won a fantastically-timed Food & Wine gift card. That evening, Rhys and I went out for dinner to celebrate her becoming Le Cellier's newest server (Yay Rhys!), followed by another throw-in to welcome new Canadians and entice them to come to Games with tales of our nerdiness (more later).
"You did such a great job selling gift cards, here's a gift card!"
..but did you buy it from me?
 The next day, a day off, I used my winning gift card to its entirety with Rhys, Deanna, Ashley and Chelsea. We made off slowly around World Showcase, starting in Mexico, with Chelsea collecting stamps in her Food & Wine passport and the rest of us gradually sampling whatever struck our fancy. I am now recommending to guests the Mongolian beef in a steamed bun from China, the paneer cheese and spinach pocket in South Africa and the baklava in Morocco. I had every intention of finishing my free snacking in Canada but was much too full to even consider it. Instead, we found our way to the Festival Center in the former Wonders of Life Pavilion (and now mostly abandoned retro golden sphere) and I contributed the rest of my winnings to some Food & Wine "tangible memories" (ie merchandise). That evening, the five of us, along with four other Canadian friends, staked out an entire row to support our company and to catch Wreck-It Ralph on its opening day. You guys. SO GOOD. Seriously.
My tangible memories and I in front of the
monumental Wonders of Life pavilion.
Last night was a Games night extraordinaire chez Rhys, as it was our first Murder Mystery evening. I'd like to say I put my forensic science degree to good use and solved it before anyone, but there's a very solid chance that I, or someone who looked a lot like me, committed the murder...About that...

Tina and Courtney as Peggy Sue, a reporter, and Barby Q, a divorcee. 


Note: This weekend marked lots of special the United Kingdom pavilion. Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day, and the day before the pavilion premiered their gorgeous new costumes. We looked ultra shabby in comparison.
Emily and I being model cast members.
I'm smiling cuz my costume is 30 years old. 

Thanks to: The Florida DMV, who's going to give a manatee $30 because I picked the manatee license plate. Don't spend that all in one place, random manatee.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Tomorrow Night, the Lights Will Appear Just like They Do on My Birthday Each Year

If we're friends on Facebook, you may have noticed that the months in which I post the most pictures are coincidentally the months I do fewer blog posts. At least those few posts are full of fantastic photos!
My last weekend started with a lovely breakfast with Bailey at the other Canada Pavilion, also known as Disney's Wilderness Lodge, more specifically, Whispering Canyon restaurant. Fantastically fantastic banana bread French toast. Then a quick trip to property control, to which Bailey had never been, in which I acquired yet another Ear Hat (seriously, if you're in the protective and decorative shadow box business, let me know) and home.
This is how the Disney totem pole goes too -
Mickey at the top, Cultural Reps at the bottom!
Later, I met up with Anastasia and Amanda for Anastasia's last trip to Hollywood Studios, in which we did the highlight reel - Beauty and the Beast, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Fantasmic. We sat close enough to the stage for Beauty and the Beast such that Gaston's facial expressions were easily visible. Hilarious!
I'll bring this picture into a wedding planner one day. 
A few days later, Anastasia and I went on an autograph mission around Epcot (for Pluto and Alice) and Magic Kingdom (for the fairies, Tinkerbell and Periwinkle), as well as a Jungle Cruise everyone should be proud of - I did not spoil one single joke (for the record, I'd be a boss skipper).
Tuesday was Anastasia's last day in the Canada Pavilion, with the usual managerial, coordinator and cast member hullabaloo onstage and most of the senior cast members (yup, me included, I'm senior now) being in costume and at work for epic group photos.
The lovely ladies of Canada merchandise -
Lindsay, Sam, Bailey, Anastasia, Briana, me and Amanda
That night, Lindsay, Amanda, Sam and I went to Magic Kingdom for a round of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, in which the park in closed to non-Halloween Party guests, there are multiple rare, villainous characters out and about, there's an epic Boo to You parade with a large section devoted to the Haunted Mansion, Haunted Mansion cast members are decked out as zombies, a very special HalloWishes fireworks show and, for the only time all year, adults as allowed to dress as face characters (ie princesses). Oh, and trick or treating for the first time in probably thirteen years! There were specific trick or treat trails set up all over the park, with festively-dressed cast members meeting us with large handfuls of candy everywhere.
Spooky Haunted Manson CM done up for Not-So-Scary.
Times when having red-eye in a picture actually enhances the picture.
Thursday was Anastasia's last night in Orlando, so a bunch of us merchies went Downtown Disney for ice cream and a little activity called Characters in Flight, a tethered hot air balloon flight high over Downtown Disney.
As most fans should know, Friday was my 28th birthday, the first one in three years not spent in a uniform having gotten up at 4am to work. Thank Mickey for that! Instead, I slept in, saw Anastasia off to the airport via shuttle, and then me and two of my favourite princesses (in matching dresses even) hopped into my carriage to the most magical place on Earth, Magic Kingdom. We met the princesses Cinderella, Aurora, Rapunzel and Ariel, ate dinner at Tony's Town Square and rode my favourite rides (for the record, that would be Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and the TTA People Mover).
Cinderella gave me birthday advice from princess to princess
on how to achieve both a castle and a prince.
We were joined by Lindsay and Sam for a cast-exclusive preview of New Fantasyland.  You may remember I had already peeked into New Fantasyland earlier in the month, but this time the whole thing was ready for dress rehearsals. We saw Be Our Guest restaurant, Gaston's Tavern, Bonjour Gifts, Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid and Ariel's Grotto, a new meet and greet spot for the little mermaid.
In front of Beast castle and the entrance to Be Our Guest.
We also met Gaston in front of the statue he oh-so-generously donated to the people of his village. It was magical. The whole thing's going to be just perfectly magical when in opens to the public on December 6th, just don't expect me to be anywhere near it!
Be still my heart, I'm hardly breathing.
My first day back this week was a whopping 11.5 hours, from which I am still recovering, so with that, I say...


Note: I heard "Happy Birthday!" from about a hundred people on my birthday in the park. I say it probably around that many times a day. I hope I make those birthday guests feel as special as I did!

Thanks to: Each and every single person who contributed to what definitely makes the top 5 birthday celebrations. Sorry no one got cupcakes from me this year!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Gleam in your Eyes is so Familiar a Gleam

Oooh boy, it's been over ten days without a post, did you miss me? (Cricket sounds) Okay then. 

From the 7th til the 10th, I was still here, attending Lesley's last games night as Prime Minister (I'm Governor General, did I ever mention that?), saying goodbye to parting lumberjacks, watching Wishes and generally bawling my face off like a champion. Sounds like time for a vacation.
And now, for something completely different...
Which I did. To Disneyland! Sam, Amanda, Briana, Megan and I caught a very early flight to LAX, where we arrived three hours earlier (darn you, Pacific time). Unable to check into our hotel, we walked over (WHAT?!) to Disneyland, checked out Main Street USA and Pirates of the Caribbean in our lovely flight clothes and had lunch at Walt's favourite restaurant, Carnation Cafe. The food was homey and fantastic, and they served chocolate cherry coke. 
Adorable pink Sleeping Beauty Castle.
I'd definitely live here.
We were finally able to check into out hotel, freshen up, and like troupers, headed over to Disney California Adventure, the second of the two parks making up the Disneyland Resort. The two parks are about a hundred feet from each other. It took some getting used to. We checked California Screamin', the roller coaster on Paradise Pier, Mickey's Fun Wheel (of death), a terrifying ferris wheel, as well as browsing through the newly built Cars Land. Upon park closing, we were able to zip right back over the Disneyland and queue for their Space Mountain, which is currently rethemed as Space Mountain:Ghost Galaxy, for Halloween. 
The next morning, we walked back to Disneyland (stil not used to this concept), had breakfast at the Mary Poppins-themed Jolly Holiday Cafe, checked out Autopia (DLR's Tomorrowland Speedway), the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Mad Tea Party (the teacups ride, outside), Sleeping Beauty Castle and DLR's Hub before heading across the way for lunch at California Adventure. We did the World of Color package, meaning we ate and got tickets for prime viewing of California Adventure's nighttime spectacular, World of Colo(u)r. We ate at Golden Vines Winery, which was like an escape with fantastic dessert. We checked out more of Paradise Pier, a gorgeous boardwalk complete with carnival-type games. World of Color was an epic of epic epicness, way better than anything we have to offer at WDW (or maybe that's just repetition talking). 
Californian escape in the middle of Disney California Adventure
World of Colo(u)r,  featuring the wheel of death and lots of Pixar references.
We zoomed back over to Disneyland to check out A Bug's Land (A Bug's Life section), more Cars Land, the Mad T Party (an outdoor, Alice-themed nightclub-type experience, very cool) and some shopping. Then to bed. 
We're hitchiking (ghosts) to Radiator Springs!
 We woke up early the next day to get FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers, the most coveted new attraction at Cars Land. At 9:00 in the morning, we were able to grab Fast Passes for 9:35 at night. Five minutes later, all the Fast Passes were gone. Tips for future travel, all.
How to smile when you have a Fast Pass 12.5 hours from now. 
Breakfast was with Minnie and "friends" at the Plaza Inn. "Friends" here means "very random assortment of characters", including Chip, Dale, Rafiki, Captain Hook, Pinocchio, Max, the Fairy Godmother, among others. It was slightly insane with the abundance of characters and the lack of attendants, but we were able to get some good breakfast and some good pictures. Dale took my spot at the table and tried to eat my bacon. Cheeky chipmunk.
We headed to Adventureland to take a free Jungle Cruise with the best skipper ever (there's an Applause-O-Gram headed your way, Justin), then to New Orleans Square to queue for a very special Haunted Mansion Holiday, ie a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed, October through December only Haunted Mansion. INCREDIBLE. 
Come with us and you will see, this our town of Halloween.
Then we trekked over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Toon Town to check out Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, rode Space Mountain again and brought our Dole Whips into the Enchanted Tiki Room. Back at California Adventure, we continued waiting out our Fast Passes with shopping and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, another new ride with a shorter queue in Cars Land. One spin around Radiator Springs Racers later, we were spent. 
Briana and I looking like Guests (mostly me) at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
We slept in the next morning and made a list over breakfast of what needed to be achieved on our last day. The bulk of the day was spent at Fantasyland on the classic rides, like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Pinocchio's Daring Journey, as well as enjoying the Soundsational Parade. Back to California Adventure for a ride on the trolley, Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular, and a Glee celebrity sighting, then right back to Disneyland for Remember, Dreams Come True (a superior Wishes, paying tribute to all the signature attractions), back to DCA for Grizzly River Rapids, our final ride in which we got soaking wet, freezing cold and absolutely terrified, and I became the owner of a Grizzly River Rapids towel. 
In front of the Disneyland train station on our last day.
The first bright, sunny warm day we had in California. 
Hey guess what? It's a small world has CANADA in California!
Back to Orlando the next day on a trip that felt like it took all day...oh wait, it did. Luckily, I was (the only one) not going back to to work the next day. I spent the next day unpacking, was back to work (for a long shift) the next day and today and tomorrow, well I'm back to my weekend now, aren't I?

I hope you enjoyed my novel. The next installment shall be forthcoming.


Note: At Carnation Cafe, we met Oscar, the chef who has worked for the Disneyland Resort for a whopping 56 years, the longest tenure of any cast member ever. EVER. He knew Walt Disney, for crying out loud. 

Thanks to: Of course, my DLR Canadians for a fab trip to the best coast, and the magical cast members of DLR.