Sunday, May 26, 2013
Last night's Monstrous Summer All-Nighter at the Magic Kingdom was, well, a big stress-ball of chaos. BUT, in the end, the most important thing - the Epbot pow-wow - was a staggering success, and that's really all that matters. :)
The trouble started right after John dropped me off at the Contemporary resort (so I could walk in to the park and avoid the ferry/monorail) and then circled back to park at the TTC. He discovered the entire lot was at capacity (YIKES) and closed. He'd have to drive all the way to Epcot, park there, and then take two different monorails to reach me - along with roughly three gazillion OTHER people.
Meanwhile, my plan to stay distracted by taking lots of pictures was foiled by a dead camera battery (right after I took this photo - grrrr) and the realization that the fresh batteries were still in the car with John. WHOOPSIE.
The resulting phone call with John was when I started breaking down a little. Knowing both he and the car were at least an hour away was playing havoc with my anxiety, since I always need the option of a quick escape to feel safe. I wanted to take a Xanax, but I'd also left my water bottle in the car, I was completely dry-mouthed due to nerves, the fireworks were going off, and there were about two thousand people between me and the nearest water fountain or drinks vendor. (If you're feeling on edge just reading that, then you know how I felt!) So I holed up in the forecourt of a little gift shop to the right of the train station - the only spot clear of people - and paced in circles while I talked it over with John on the phone.
After several minutes of hand-wringing I told John I just couldn't manage it, and to come back and pick me up. I was devastated about missing the meetup, but just making that decision was a relief, so I walked back to the Contemporary already feeling better.
Then something awesome happened: When John arrived back at the Contemporary, just one hour after he'd dropped me off, all the cars were gone! He told the guard he was picking his wife up, and was waved through without a hitch. He actually arrived first, so he parked and walked up to meet me. We went inside to grab a quick meal and let me wind down, at which point we realized: hey, we're here, and the meetup is in less than an hour: let's go for it! With John by my side and the car within walking distance, I knew I could handle the crowds without a problem.
We power-walked from the resort all the way to Adventureland in less than 25 minutes, arriving at 11:55 on the nose. We were barely within site of the Terrace when someone said, "Are you Jen?" Next thing I knew, I was completely surrounded by readers, and - not gonna lie - the next two and a half hours are a complete blur of happiness.
John counted 20 readers around me in those first few minutes, so he headed to the counter and ordered - yup! - 20 Citrus Swirls. I later got the story from him: The cashier looked at John in disbelief, and then the manager came over to verify: "Twenty? Like, two-zero?" When they realized John was serious, the manager grinned, said, "Alright, then!" and got to work helping the other CM slowly fill cups. He also counted loudly with each: "ONE! TWO!" Ha! John then passed the Swirls back through the crowd, so even though I couldn't see him, soon everyone around me was being passed ice creams.
More and more people were arriving, though, if you can believe it - so in the end I think we had over 40(!!) readers there - but not everyone wanted a Swirl, so it worked out fine.
We all gathered in the space by the Tiki Room exit, and I did my best to work my way around and talk to everyone, passing out pins - which I eventually ran out of - posing for a couple of photos, laughing a lot, and even signing one little girl's autograph book. (D'awwww.) There were several quieter types lurking on the edges of the crowd, but John was wonderful about helping draw them in and getting my attention so I wouldn't miss anyone.
I told John later that it felt like one big geek party, and it was easy to forget WHY everyone was there as we all chatted and carried on. There was a couple from London, a family from Kentucky, a pair of real live Disney artists, a few familiar faces from Dragon*Con, and another young girl (not the autograph one) who impulsively hugged me as they were leaving and just about made me melt. Some folks had just arrived to the park, like us, but plenty more had been there since 6AM, proving just how crazy Dizgeeks can be. (You know, in a good way.)
John and I said our final goodbyes at nearly 2:30AM, and all that standing and non-stop talking and laughing had taken its toll on both of us. Even now my throat is shredded; I've been more croaking than talking all day.
(Btw, I kicked myself later for not getting a group shot with the readers, but it didn't even occur to me until after they'd all gone. It would have been tough anyway, as jam-packed as we were in our little Tiki Room exit alcove!)
After that is when we discovered we'd left our tripod foot at home, meaning I couldn't attach the camera to the tripod, meaning I couldn't take all those lovely long-exposure night shots I'd been hoping for. A sad blow, to be sure, but it was hard to be TOO distraught after such a great meetup. In fact, we kept running into readers the rest of the night/morning, which was fun.
I should mention that this 24-hour party was much, MUCH more crowded than the last one, too, so even if I'd been able to use the tripod I wouldn't have gotten any crowd-free shots anyway. I'll probably have better luck during a late night trip during the off-season.
I still took some photos, though, so here are a few blurry shots of the rest of our night's wanderings:
We saw the cutest service dog (named Tinkerbell! Ah!) wearing light-up Mickey ears, but Tinkerbell wasn't terribly cooperative with having her picture taken:
Like I said, much more crowded than last time! Although by this hour the crowds were really nothing compared to earlier in the evening.
The colorful lighting and early morning haze were quite pretty on the castle:
Well, to end on a happy note, here's an orange castle:
I hope you're all having a great holiday weekend! Now I'm off to make a little hot tea for my throat. [WORTH IT.]
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