Anyhoo, on to Tuesday! Let me warn you these and the following posts are going to be very image-heavy. I woke up on Tuesday determined to get as much Disney in as I could before the conference started. Today - that meant the Magic Kingdom. I woke up early (or as early as possible considering everything in Florida is done two hours earlier) and went down to the Pikabu cafe for breakfast - a cafeteria-style place that's great if you just want a simple, cheap breakfast of juice and cereal and fruit. While staying at hotels is often a great way for me to indulge my waffle addiction, my stomach was still recovering from the airport frustration and greasy Fountain burger from the night before.
I ended up having a rather nice breakfast with Nancy O'Berry and another woman whose name I have shamefully forgotten. And then it was off to the parks with my Mega Purse.
Yes, I come prepared with the Ultimate of purses - it's not big, but it has a million pockets and I can stuff just about anything in there, and boy, did I make sure I was prepared: in there I had my camera, my sunglasses, my sunscreen, a bottle of water, an umbrella, my epipen, cash, and park map.
Unfortunately, in a lovely twist of fate, the moment I took my new sunglasses out of my purse at Pikabu, they dropped and popped a lens, which required I go to the nearest store in the hotel and purchase my first Disney souvenir - a new pair of sunglasses. But hey, they were cheap, had the Mickey logo and were actually prettier than my old ones so I wasn't too heartbroken.
On to the parks! This the inside of the Disney buses that continually circulate to take everyone staying in a Disney resort to any of the parks they so choose. Because they go around to all the hotels, riding one is also a nice opportunity to see some really pretty buildings and scenery.
These are pictures of the Yacht Club and the Boardwalk hotels, both of which are gorgeous!
When the bus finally arrived, I stepped out into air thick with moisture and showtunes pumped from the park speakers - songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man, Hello Dolly! Really good quality recordings too - more like stepping into a musical rather than standing next to a person with a really loud ghettoblaster.
For a while, I just glanced around. The day was gorgeous and clear, with steamboats churning across the lake and the red and white Grand Floridian Resort in the distance.
Wicked cool, huh? Walking into the park itself for the first time was like stepping into a fever-dream fueled by too much sugar. There's music and characters and far too much to look at. Pretty buildings! Balloons! Performers! I'd arrived in Main Street, U.S.A.
The design of the Magic Kingdom is much cannier than it seems. To someone like me, who has never been to a Disney Park before, I was dazzled and overcome by all the gorgeous scenery, which made me want to explore every building and look around. However ...
...it didn't take me long to realize that Main Street, U.S.A. is actually Gift Shop, U.S.A. It's brilliant marketing really, especially for newcomers like me - put a straight line of beautifully-designed (and very politely staffed) stores smack dab at the entrance where people enter (and leave), and you'll have people wandering around and buying stuff before they even see any of the rides!
That's not to say that it wasn't worth it to look inside the stores - besides the merchandise, there were some pretty interesting things and people to see. Plus, all the stores are air-conditioned. The two pictures above are a from a delightful candy store where a lot of the goodies are handmade in the store. Curse my nut allergies!
And, of course, there's also the traditional Disney souvenirs. Disclaimer: I didn't actually buy this. My parents assured me they would disown me if I came home with Mickey ears, but there's no harm is just a picture, right? These are the "Princess" ears, and you can't see it very well but there's even a veil down the back. They have ears for pretty much any occasion (including honeymoons with a wedding veil and graduations with a tassel) and movie (Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars-themed ears).
Hey, but once you get past Main Street, that's where you get to see the good stuff. As it turns out, the Magic Kingdom is a park, but it has a lot of miniparks inside the park - so I decided to hit Mickey's Toontown Fair first, meeting some interesting characters along the way:
Toontown Fair was cute, but I think more kid-oriented. I kept out of the lines, deciding (since I didn't have much time) only to get in line for the things I really wanted to see. Which meant I didn't get in lines to see characters, because it would mean taking a spot away from a kid who believes in it a whole lot more than I do. Also in Toontown, I took the train that goes all the way around the park, giving me glimpses of the parks I would eventually decide not to explore: Adventureland and Frontierland. Instead, once I got off the train, I walked to Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland was a-mazing. Lots of things to do and look at. First, I went and got a Fastpass to go on Space Mountain, the infamous indoor roller coaster and my first try on a "grown up" coaster. I'm not usually a big fan of rides, but I wanted to try at least one while I was at Disneyworld. I got a little slip of paper that told me to come back in a couple of hours so I went off and explored the Carousel of Progress - a cheestastic ride where you sit in a theatre that revolves in a circle around different stages that each display an animatronic family at different points of history: 1900s, 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, and, rather abruptly, the future (where we play with virtual reality video games and voice-activated kitchenware but dress like an '80s sitcom). Silly but entertaining.
Next up was the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, a train that moves around the park - continuously moves, so there's no line to get on it and you have to walk onto an already moving car. Pretty fun and it gave me some great visuals and pictures. I took the picture of the revolving planet-thingee above from the Transit Authority.
After that and a quick lunch, I still had time to explore before I was due back at Space Mountain, so I checked out a bit of Fantasyland.
Yes, the castle is huge. Inside, there's actually a restaurant called Cinderella's Royal Table. I didn't have a reservation and had already eaten, so I checked out the foyer of the castle, with a very familiar-looking Medieval-style mosaic on the walls (*nudge nudge wink wink*).
However, before I got very far, I heard the sounds of music - there was a parade happening! I couldn't miss a parade! I ran back down the the square in front of the castle (Fantasyland is behind the castle).
Best of all, it was an interactive parade - the floats went around the square once and then stopped and everyone was invited to dance. Ha, which I totally did. Everyone was doing it - old women, kids, adults, those weird guys on stilts. There I was, my Megapurse thumping against my hip, covered in sweat and the sunscreen I'd faithfully continued to reapply every two hours, dancing amid music and laughter. So much fun! In Toontown I was worried how much fun I might have being an adult by myself in Disneyworld, but that's really not the case. There's fun to be had everywhere here!
After the parade was over, I saw it was time to board Space Mountain - which turned out to be a two-fold exercise in stupidity. First, because as much as I want to tell myself that I'll enjoy thrill rides this one time, I never do. I don't know why, but the sensation of plummeting to a fiery death in a car wreck isn't thrilling for me, it's terrifying. I get spooked on the swinging-pirate-ship kiddie ride at Galaxyland in Edmonton, for Pete's sake. So Space Mountain, an intense trip in which 80% of the ride takes place in pitch darkness was a hideously awful experience.
And secondly, I went onto a roller coaster wearing a wide-brimmed sunhat, a hat I was not wearing by the time the ride was over. Thankfully, the employees go through the ride at the end of the day collecting the hats and sunglasses that people lose and I would eventually recover my hat later from the Lost and Found. But it did mean that after leaving the ride I had to go and buy a Disneyworld ballcap.
After that, it was back to Fantasyland!
I checked out more of the castle and the castle-themed stores (no Beauty and the Beast merchandise, sadly), and then I rode the Prince Charming Regal Carousel. I went to check out the "It's a Small World" ride (for tradition's sake), only to discover it was a 30 minute wait in the increasingly-boiling sun and there was no FastPass option. Hell to the no. I kept walking.
It was past noon by this point, and getting hotter by the minute. This confused me - I figured the days would be hottest by noon, and since noon was hot but comfortably bearable with water and hat, I figured it couldn't get hotter. I was so wrong. Tired, I walked out of Fantasyland and into Liberty Square, which is pretty much "AmericaIsAwesomeLand."
There, I took comfort in the air-conditioned theatre watching the Hall of Presidents. Wow, but Americans pump up their history. I wish there was a way to do that with the fur-traders and Louis Riel and Hudson's Bay of Canadian history. Anyway, it was a nice show, and they'd added an animatronic Obama (say that three times fast) to the display. And I left the theatre in time for another awesome parade!
HOLY FREAKING CRAP!
I have seen the face of the Devil, and it is the Abu costume...
Somebody help! Save me!
"Somebody's poisoned the waterhole!"
I have seen the face of the Devil, and it is the Abu costume...
Somebody help! Save me!
"Somebody's poisoned the waterhole!"
So I took one picture of the Haunted Mansion (which I didn't get into because it was another huge line without a FastPass option), and one with Ol' Walt, and called it a day. Not bad for a day of sightseeing!
I got back to the hotel with 15 minutes to spare for conference registration, as it turns out, so with SuperWendy, Aztec Lady, Rosie and KristieJ egging me on I dashed to Registration and got me my goody bag.
Once back, I vegged in a chair while reconnecting with my friends, and making new ones.
On the left is Courtney Milan, who apparently takes the best photographs when she's least expecting them. An on the right is (left to right), Kristie J, Wendy, and Rosie reading Milan's book of excerpts (which I foolishly decided to ship with my books and will thus have to wait several weeks to read).
After that, I retired to my room to rest and get ready for the Blogger Bash.
I was pretty modest with the souvenirs I got at the Magic Kingdom - I got the ballcap to replace the hat I'd lost on Space Mountain, a pin to commemorate my stay at the park, a collectible VinylMickey keychain for someone special back home, an Ariel pin (I loves me some Little Mermaid), a free pin for celebrating something at Disneyworld (in this case, being at RWA!), and my most whimsical choice - a giant golden key to the Magic Kingdom. It's heavy, and it's about a bajillion times bigger than the keys I actually PUT on that keychain, but I don't care. It's whimsical.
The wonderful conference organizers for the 2010 RWA National Conference, however, weren't anywhere near as restrained:
This year, we got a gorgeous reusable totebag. Don't get me wrong, the bag from last year is gorgeous - but after some use it gets mighty flimsy. I'll be using this totebag for years! And as for the stuff inside it:
Loot! Glorious, glorious LOOT!
- 1 Lanyard and Conference Badge
- 1 Commemorative Pen
- 1 Commemorative 30th Anniversary Pin
- 1 Water Bottle with Conference Logo
- 1 Gorgeous Notebook
- 1 Conference Guidebook
- 1 Free Flashdrive with Conference Handouts on It
- 1 Packet of Orlando Coupons
- Free copies of Wicked Becomes You, Enemy Lover, Sugar Creek, I Love This Bar, Dangerous Desires, Crazy For Love, and Insatiable. Lucky me, I have none of these!
After that, I decided to make use of a prime opportunity and got back into dry clothes to hoof it on over back to the Magic Kingdom in order to see the legendary summer night time fireworks display. I got a great seat on top of the train station by the entrance and could see all the way down Main Street to the Castle. I didn't take too many pictures (although I took one long-ass video of the whole thing), but it was definitely worth it. It must be seen to be believed - an 11-minute musical fireworks battle between the Fairy Godmother and Captain Hook.
After that, I bused back to the hotel and caught up with the tail end of the still-ongoing Blogger Bash. Met with Jeannie Lin of Butterfly Swords fame (she gave me a pin!), as well as some other great people. Finally, I headed off and got some sleep, excited for the day ahead. One sightseeing day down - one more to go.