Let me start out by apologizing for both the shortness of the report and the lack of pictures. Between the weather and various other events I wasn't able to really take many pictures, so this report will be much shorter than normal.
This was going to be a mixed trip, not entirely Disney. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday (ugh for the need to actually start eating right) so my friends who live in LA decided to have a bit of a birthday event for me.
They live in Burbank, so the plan was to spend Friday night and Saturday with them, then on to Disney for Sunday-Tuesday.
Day One: Friday January 25th
Some of you may have followed the discussion regarding the problems facing those of us driving down from Northern California. For those who missed it, we were facing the dilemma of a snowed over Grapevine and fighting our way along what would be a very crowded 101.
As it turns out, those issues were much ado about nothing. The drive down was very windy (there goes the fuel mileage) and there was a ton of snow along the 5 up to the summit, but otherwise it was quite a smooth drive.
In my case the drive was made even nicer by the fact I was driving my brand new 2007 Nissan Alitma 2.5S. I started the trip with about 250 miles on the car, so this would be the first big ride. I have to say that anyone who is looking for a comfortable mid sized sedan or coupe type car would do well to check out the Altima.
(BTW for those who had followed by car purchase thread, I will get pictures of the new toy up soon).
But back to the trip, I got down to LA a couple hours earlier than I had expected, so I had to kill some time until my friends got off work. I got off the 5 and headed to the Burbank mega-mall and poked around B&N.
Once my friends got off work I headed to their house and then we went out to dinner at Hometown Buffet (their choice but it was actually pretty decent for a Buffet type place). We hung out and chatted till 1am.
Day Two: Saturday January 26th
The next day was our event day so my friend and I went to get food while his wife got some things together at the house. There is a great grocery store in Burbank on Magnolia at Buena Vista. In addition to being one of the good old style grocery stores it also has a great meat department. Every weekend they grill beef and chicken right out in the parking lot and the tri-tip is amazing.
We headed back to the house to drop off the food and then drove to the subway station in North Hollywood to catch a ride to Universal and the El Capitan. My friends had decided that since we were celebrating my birthday the logical thing to do was to see a Disney movie, 101 Dalmatians.
Since our own Sue Kruse has already done a great report on Dalmatians at the Capitan, I wonít bore you with all of the details but I do have to say it was a lot of fun. We have our own restored theater here in Stockton and I love looking at the great architectural details they put into the old theaters.
I did really enjoy the little pre show (Goofy and Cruella on stage) and I agree with those who have said that the new Goofy short is amazing in how much it looks like the old 1950ís originals. We of course didnít get the panel discussion, but it was still fun to see a good old movie.
After the movie we did a little touristy stuff walking around to look at the stars and checking out the area around the Capitan, then it was back to Burbank and off to a nice birthday dinner with my friends.
Around 10pm I got on the road to head down to Anaheim. It had finally started to rain, though at least by Northern California standards it was not really raining very hard. However I do have to say that the LA roads are not very well designed in terms of rain. Despite not being very wet the roads were a real mess and it took much longer than normal to make the drive down.
Day Three: Sunday January 27th
This was the day of the big meet, but I had misplaced my list of events, so I was not sure what was going on in the morning, I just knew about the big hub meet at noon and I couldnít get in touch with anyone from MC to check.
Even so I still got up early and headed into the park by about 9:45 or so. I decided that since I didnít know where the MC gang would be I might as well try to get through some of the Fantasyland rides.
The park was not very busy yet, so I was able to do pretty much all of the Fantasyland rides except for Dumbo and Peter Pan (and of course I couldnít do Small World since they were closed).
I then moved towards the hub for the big meet. I got there around 11:45 and as best I could tell I was the first MC person there, since of course everyone else was doing the earlier meets.
Over the next hour I got to meet many of the guys and gals I had gotten to know through the site and it was great to put names with faces. I know I am going to forget people so I apologize in advance, but it was wonderful to say hi to Radiobarry, CaptPhobeus, Penguinsoda, Hollywood1939, Photomatt, Olympicnut, DisneyIpresume, Mickeymaxx, Rixter, Monorail Man and of course Dusty and Fishbulb.
It had been a pretty nice morning but for some odd reason as we gathered for the big meet things started to cloud over a little. Maybe Disney decided to turn off their magic weather machine and let the real clouds into the park just to get back at us.
As others have said, the big meet was very emotional. Dusty is really one of the neatest people out there and it is clear how much of his heart and soul have been put into the site, which is part of the reason the site is so special.
Also well worth recognition is the amazing Monorail Man who somehow manages to keep this web site going in an organized manner. Having tried to keep a few far more simple web sites I know that he has to face some real hassles backstage and we all should give him a pat on the back.
Finally we took some time to recognize the moderators, who also manage to bring a little order to chaos. Given how messed up some of us are, they have a big job to do and they do it for free.
We then did the raffle, and despite all of the things I just said I didnít win anything <G>.
Now we headed to the castle for the big pictures and I did enjoy several moments during the event. As we were sitting down to pose for the first shot a group of new cast members walked by and one of them looked at us and said ďOH MY GAWD ITíS MICECHAT !!Ē. Iím not sure if they are still a cast member or not given the semi-official attitude of Disney towards our wittle site.
But the CMís who handled the picture taking were amazing. They brought in the omnibus so we could get pictures taken from above and pretty much did all they could to make the event work.
I do wonder what the Ďciviliansí thought of this big group of people posing for the picture though.
After the photo event we moved over to PizzaPort for lunch, taking up a pretty good portion of the seating, which was happily covered since it had started to rain off and on.
We then debated where to head since it was still a little while until the 3:30 Buzz Lightyear meet. We wanted somewhere inside since it was going to be wet and cold outside. Thinking about it we came down to the conclusion that there were two places we could go: HISTA or Opera House. HISTA of course was right next door while Opera House was a long walk through the rain.
Given a choice between watching HISTA and walking through the cold and wet, the group chose to take a walkÖ
Personally I am not quite as down on the HISTA as everyone else seems to be. I donít see it every time I go to Disney and it wouldnít break my heart if it left, but itís also not that bad for me.
Needless to say by the time we had gotten down to the Opera House we were all ready to go inside and sit down. It was kind of funny to watch the CM give the traditional pre show and have most of us able to not only answer his questions but quote parts of the routine.
As always the show was a lot of fun and I think most of us ended up walking out with a few tears in our eyes.
COMING UP: THE REST OF THE ANNIVERSARY AND MY TRIP