Okay, so Wednesday was the day where I did the most heavy lifting. Whenever people asked me what I did before the conference, they'd smile and nod sympathetically at the gargantuan task of "Oh, I saw the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday," but describing Wednesday made most of their jaws sag open and ask "How the hell did you do it all?"
The answer? Well... Looking back at all the photos I took that day, I'm not sure either. I think I just said, "I have to make sure this is done," and then I did it. But believe me, by the end of the day, I was wrecked.
Let's begin! First things first, I went to Picabu again, met Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan, and I was stymied in my quest for waffles because the Picabu puts hazelnut praline sauce on them - two nut products for the price of one. Yippee - not. Still, it was a nice breakfast, and Courtney Milan and I got into an argument over Final Fantasy games (I've only ever played the Playstation ones beginning with 8, and she's played the 2D ones and says they're classic), while Tessa Dare sat and made no secret of the fact that she had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.
After that, cheapskate moocher that I am, I checked out the Goody Room:
Let me tell ya, there was some good stuff! Sabrina Jeffries had a deck of cards (her hero for her next book is a gambler), Louisa Edwards had champagne glasses, and Karen Marie Moning gave away packages with the first book in her series as well as a CD of the soundtrack! As well as all sorts of other goodies - bookmarks, notebooks, nail files, chapstick, stress balls, the works!
After the Goody Room, it was time to hit the parks, big-time. It helped that both Epcot and Hollywood Studios are closer to the Swan and Dolphin than the Magic Kingdom (which is around a 40 minute bus ride there and back). Also - I got to take a water taxi to Epcot!
The weather was absolutely stunning that day, so taking the water taxi was no trouble at all and you got a great view of the Boardwalk and the other hotels. Anyhoo, I arrived at Epcot on the World Pavilion side and ultimately decided to restrict my travels to that. I like learning the science the same as everyone else, but I had to budget my time. I did go to one of the science-y things to wait until the World Pavilion opened at 11 - where they record you running in place, jumping, and doing a victory dance and put you in a video game (and e-mail you a copy of it!).
But after that, it was straight back to the enormous world pavilion where I spent the greater part of the day touring the various Not-Countries. I took a buttload of pictures, enough to swamp a regular blog post, so I picked two for each country to put in the blog post:
I spent some time in Not-Britain, where there were fish-and-chip shops and pubs and red telephone boxes, and lots of Alice in Wonderland merchandise. Theatrical performers showed up later in the day and performed King Arther skits.
Next, I went and had a big ol' laugh at Not-Canada. Yup, the Canada pavilion was filled with First Nations artwork, totem poles, fur trader stations, a fake mountain and waterfall and - oh yes - a mini Chateau Frontenac. Because every pavilion needs a castle and this is apparently the closest my country gets to one. Oh, well, that and the various Legislature buildings. At the bottom of this is Le Cellier, a fancy French Canadian steakhouse. No poutine or doughnuts, sadly.
An employee of one of the Canada pavilion gift shops. Ah, plaid. How could I forget the sacred pattern of our bucherons (lumberjacks)? This shopgirl hails from Ontario - in fact, a lot of the employees in the various pavilions come from (or at least claim they come from if I'm being too naive) the actual countries represented in the pavilions.
Epcot sure had a pretty view, though - the golf ball is the Mission: Space exhibit, and before that, they have a fountain that spurts and dances to music. No time for that, however - onwards! To other Not-Countries!
Here is Not-Mexico, and by this point the day was certainly hot enough to match temperatures south of the border.
Not-Norway was next. They had Viking hats in the giftshops! And a lot of the employees were actually from Norway (or else their nametags lied and they were just really good at accents). I took some time to take the most poorly-named ride ever, the Maelstrom - which is actually (thankfully) a very slow-moving boat ride through Norway's history, which amounts to Vikings, Vikings, Vikings, Vikings - OIL RIGS! Look, we are actually modern people now!
Not-China was next, and very beautiful. They had a lovely lily pond. It's also the place to go to if you want a buy a fan that actually cools you off. Everywhere else in the Disney parks, they hawk these squirt-gun-electric-fan thingees that do absolutely nothing - for $15 a pop. I got a ornate red folding fan here for $11 and it was my most useful souvenir.
Next is the random Africa tradepost. This isn't even assigned a country - it's just a place that looks "tribal" and sells flipflops and jewellery.
Not-Germany was also great eye-candy - and no, I'm not talking about Snow White, who is apparently German in origin. Who knew?
Here I am in Not-Italy, where they actually sell football (soccer to you Yanks) merchandise in the stores! I took a picture of myself there to annoy my sister B, who actually spent a semester in Cortona, Italy. There was also a nice-looking Italian restaurant there, but I wanted to keep walking.
My strength had started to flag by this point, so I didn't bother with "the American Adventure." Seriously? I'd already seen the Hall of Presidents. That's enough forcefed American Cheese Patriotism for me. Although, I did get a kick out of how white-washed colonial the American Pavilion is - apparently all the First Nations and American Indian stuff belongs only in Canada, despite the fact that we share several tribes between us. But no - in Disney, all that native culture is swept under the northern rug.
I made a pit stop at the Japan pavilion and ate lunch at the Yakitori House - a fast-food joint where I wolfed down some delicious but culturally-suspicious sukiyaki beef and rice. I then checked out a really interesting exhibit in the building in the picture directly above - "Spirited Beasts," about the spirit beasts in Japanese mythology and how they've repeatedly influenced anime (catgirls, anyone?). I really enjoyed it.
It was past noon by this point, so I just passed by the Morocco pavilion without going in and exploring - although I did take pictures (and a brief video when Aladdin and Jasmine made an appearance - wow did Aladdin have fake hair).
Last but not least, I visited Not-France, and got a picture by the Not-Eiffel-Tower to annoy my dear Mum, who spent a year in France and recently revisited. Look Mum! I can haz French vacation?
After that, I returned to the water taxi and met up with Lynn from All About Romance again! However, while she took the water taxi back to the Swan and Dolphin hotel, I stuck on it and rode it all the way to Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios was amazing! So many places to go and see! Stunning architecture, behind the scenes stuff, everything reminiscent of Hollywood and movies, which I love.
Awesome! With so much to do, and my remaining time dwindling, I had to choose my course wisely.
First things first, I went on the fantastic Great Movie Ride - a train that takes you through the scenes of famous movies, with interspersed animatronic and live actors and sound bytes from the movies. We saw a display from a Busby Berkeley number, Mary Poppins, Tarzan swinging through the trees, an animatronic version of a terrified Ripley from Alien, a '40s mob movie shoot-out where one of the (real) mobsters hijacked the train only to to be burned alive trying to steal a gem from the Indiana Jones scene, a musical number from The Wizard of Oz - and after that, a pretty decent Awesome Movie Montage. I'd highly recommend this ride to anyone who loves movies.
After that, I went to Walt Disney, One Man's Dream - a walk-through of Disney's life and how pretty much everything he did went not only into his movies, but the design of Disneyland and Disneyworld - Main Street USA is actually based on the Missouri town where he spent 4 years growing up, and his fascination with Lincoln led to the Hall of Presidents, and he actually built a miniature train on his estate that kids could ride that definitely ended up in Disneyworld. It finished up with some neat behind the scenes information about the newer additions to the parks - like the Great Movie Ride and Hollywood Studios itself (which opened in the 90s).
Finally, after that I went to the Magic of Disney Animation show/exhibit. We got to watch a surprisingly funny show where a demonstrator interacted with an animated Mushu from Mulan to tell us how Mushu had initially been designed, and the decisions that led to why Mushu looks the way he does today. He also added tidbits like the fact that one of Pocahontas' sidekicks was supposed to be a turkey - a turkey who initially replaced Mikko the raccoon before the animators changed their minds.
After that show, we were led through the building to a room where there were tons and tons of behind the scenes designs and storyboards for the new princess movie, Tangled (about Rapunzel). I finally learned the plot of the movie, and the villainess looks like Cher and needs to brush Rapunzel's magical hair to keep herself young and hawt. AWESOME.
Moving on, we got to see some of the colourists for Disney during their work, and if you wanted, you could join a brief animation lesson where you could learn to draw your favourite Disney character using a lit animation desk, put your voice into a Disney scene (I tried that just as my cell phone went off, just my luck), insert yourself as a character into one of the animations , or just meet one of the characters in person:
After that, I left and bought a souvenir T-shirt and decided to call it a day - I still had to bus down to the Ticket and Transportation centre to get my sunhat (which I'd lost the day before on Space Mountain) back from the Lost and Found. I retrieved it and bused back to Hollywood Studios just in time for the storm to hit, nixing the water taxis and necessitating a bus ride back to the Swan and Dolphin.
Let me make the timetable of my day a little more clear. Hotel to Epcot, Epcot straight to Hollywood Studios, Hollywood Studios to Ticket and Transportation Centre and back again - with me arriving back at the Swan and Dolphin at 4:50 - 40 minutes before the "Readers for Life" Literacy Signing was due to begin. No rest for the overscheduled!
I scrambled to my hotel room to drag a brush through my hair and slap on some basic make-up before heading down to wait in line with Wendy, Rosie, Aztec Lady, Lisabea, etc. While in line, I bought $20 worth of raffle tickets for the baskets of swag that various RWA chapters donate to the signing - partly for charity, and partly to test my luck again since winning last year.
First on my "to-meet" list was Jennifer Ashley, to pick up a copy of Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage. Aw yeah!
Next I saw Julie Anne Long, to get a copy of I Kissed an Earl and also to gush on how she's one of the best writers ever!
Carrie Lofty I just talked to - because she's awesome, and I already have Scoundrel's Kiss. Did I mention she's awesome? I took her pitch workshop at the conference and it was incredibly helpful.
To tell the truth, I was iffy about trying Sara Lindsey's books, but the high praise from such blogfellows as Katiebabs made me want to try Promise Me Tonight, *finally*.
My Twitter buddy (and soon to be author if there is any justice in this world) Keira Soleore - who brought her poke bonnet to the conference!
The marvellous Lisa Hendrix.
Victoria Dahl, awesome author and Tweeter, from whom I got one of her anthologies. Lords of Desire.
Three-time Prism Winner and FF&P chaptermate Leanna Renee Hieber!
Twitter friend and recently published author, Maisey Yates!
A great reunion with Julie James.
Meeting Carolyn Jewel in person.
The incredibly helpful Janet Mullany and her awesome t-shirt.
On the way, I paparazzi'd Courtney Milan.
The spectacular Christie Ridgway! Very friendly and supportive! As you can sort of tell by the picture, I am running on Book Buyer's High and not much else by this point.
RITA-Winner Sherry Thomas! Whoop whoop!
I also saw yet another author, and I feel I should bring this up. I stopped by Maggie Robinson's table, because the hype and reviews for Mistress by Mistake had finally risen to the point to make me bypass my loose No Buying Trades from People I Don't Know policy. She was wonderful, and signed her book, and started putting magnets and bookmarks in it - when I heard someone calling numbers on a microphone.
And I remembered I hadn't entered my raffle tickets yet.
Or even signed them.
And I'm sorry to say I terminated my meeting with Maggie Robinson very very abruptly in order to gallop across the hall and crouch by the remaining baskets (for the woman reading the numbers slowly removed them one by one), frantically scribbling my name and phone number across 30 tickets and pitching the tickets into whichever baskets remained. I did not win anything, but I'm ashamed to say it took me until today to realize I must have looked incredibly rude to Maggie Robinson, for which I am very sorry. I should have come back to her table to say something at the very least, but I didn't. I am looking forward to reading her book, though.
As for total Literacy Signing Loot I didn't do too badly - I got the new Laura Lee Gurhke, and a book by an author I'd never read before who had no line - Christine Merrill. Her story sounded interesting - her hero's a peer who had his peerage revoked. Yikes. But in the good way! I also got a copy of Forget You, by Jennifer Echols. I already had the ARC, but I wanted one with the pretty cover, too.
By no, my day is not yet over. I still had to eat. I ran-hobbled at least to the Cabana Bar and Beach Club just after last call for food but I begged a waiter and he let me order the same thing as yesterday - cuban cheesesteak and raspberry daiquiri. Meanwhile, I met with my friends and fellow bloggers again:
The marvelous MagdalenB.
Lynn from AAR and Blythe from AAR.
Here we have Sandy Coleman from AAR, Jill D. from Romance Rookie, and Wendy.
The last vestiges of my energy went into devouring my cheesesteak and forming coherent words, but I think I did alright. Dominique Raccah and Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks came by and gave me an opportunity to gush over their art department (for a relatively young and small romance publisher, they have some fab covers and they've had a great couple of years so far). I got some nice books, and back at the parks, I got pins from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios to commemorate just how much I'd managed to pack into one day.
But boy, what a day. At the end of it I was ready to pour myself into bed - and get up the next day to start workshopping.