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Another Crazy Night In The Magic Kingdom

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:


The entrance to New Fantasyland, with the Seven Dwarf's mine coaster being built in the background.

 
The Tangled tower. (That whole new rest area is gorgeous, btw. Prettiest bathrooms EVAH.)

 
Probably my favorite shot of the night, straight off the camera.

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:




You can just see the light-up part of her ears in the blurry pic.


Tons of folks were either wearing Monsters, Inc t-shirts and hats or their PJs, which added to the slumber-party vibe in the streets. Check out this awesome girl we spotted on Main Street:


We ended up in front of the castle around 4AM, where a DJ and several characters were hosting a street dance party:


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:




 There was also a brilliant full moon, which made the cloudy sky look incredible:

 

 
You know, as hot as it is down here, Disney really should switch to being open all NIGHT during the summers. That would be soooo much better. [Said the evolving vampire-blogger...]


John and I admitted defeat at 5AM, a full hour short, but his back was aching and my feet were hurting and - egads, Sweetie, WE ARE OLD. When did that happen?!

Well, to end on a happy note, here's an orange castle:

 Preeeeetty.
A million thanks to all of you who were able to come out and make my crazy stress worthwhile, and to those of you on Twitter who sent encouraging notes when I was freaking out, and to all the rest of you who I know would have been there if you'd been able to. (When are we getting our Star Trek transporters, anyway?!)

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.]

Posted by Jen at 12:16 AM Labels: ,

44 comments:

  1. Tinkerbell is a Bassett Hound, not a Beagle
    ;-)

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  2. Wish I could have been there! One of many I'm sure. I'm glad you ended up having a great time :)

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  3. I wish I could have been there, but I'm in Illinois! I'm glad you felt better enough to go to the meet-up, though!

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  4. Thank you, Jen! The next best thing to being there myself :)

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  5. I do wish I could've been there, especially since my mom lives 30 minutes from DW. And, I totally agree--we should have those Star Trek transporters stat! Would make traveling from Australia to see my family so much easier!

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  6. That castle is beautiful! I've never been to a disney land. Can people actually go into the castle, and up the towers and everything? Or is it too small for that?

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    1. The castle is smaller than it looks, but you can walk through the center (there are some lovely murals along the walls), and there's a children's boutique and an expensive yet extremely popular restaurant inside the castle itself. The restaurant is on the second floor, inside the glass windows on the back of the castle.

      There's also a hotel room inside that you could stay at as part of a contest a few years ago, but I'm not sure what they're doing with that right now.

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  7. I'm guessing you and John aren't morning people, but I was at work at 6am on Friday, and out of boredom and jealousy kept an eye on the tipboard on the My Disney Experience app. I'd say from 6-10 the park was comparatively dead (like 10 minute wait for Space Mountain dead). I know you're not a big one for rides, but if you can bear an early alarm clock when they do another one maybe you can get some crowd-free sunrise pictures to add to your collection!

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  8. Large crowds bother me also. I'm glad you were able to make it. Sounds like a wonderful evening. I have a feeling that my Dizgeek is going to be bugging me for an all night trip soon...doesn't help that she's clearly part vampire.

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  9. Fun! Thanks for sharing. Those pictures of the sky are incredible and I'm so glad you took more than one. One of my favorite things about you is that you notice and appreciate so many things that I think others might never notice. It's the appreciation that makes your perspective so great. I feel alone sometimes in my appreciation of the little things, but you do a better job of it than I. It makes things I might not even be interested in enjoyable to read about because I can appreciate your perspective!

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  10. I'm so proud of you Jen for staying and going through with the meet up, even after you thought you couldn't deal with the anxiety. I too suffer from anxiety and believe in having a back-up plan and being prepared, but sometimes nothing is more awesome than those days you manage to take a blind leap of faith and do something you usually couldn't or wouldn't.

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  11. So glad the meetup was a success! Even without the tripod those pics are amazing!!!

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  12. I wish we could have made it. We have our passports now, and it's only a 24hr drive from Toronto. I'll steal a car, we shall swoop in and out, and have a blast :D
    Absolutely *love* the orange castle photo - tripod or no, it's a great shot.
    ~erin kristine

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  13. as someone who also struggles with the anxiety monster - and had a minor skirmish dealing with the crowds that night - i know how sucky that is. i'm so glad you made it out, though; it was lovely meeting you and john. i repeat, you guys are awesome. (and i ended up in the blog, woot!) thanks for the citrus swirl!

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  14. Thank you so very much for having the meet up. This mama of a little Darth Vader lovin', Buffy watching, Whovian Girl is thankful she has someone to post pictures and stand up for the others like her. That little girl is also completely over the moon that she garnered a mention on Epbot. (She had the autograph book.) Thank you for making our favorite place even more special for an evening where got to meet you and Jon,where it turns out you are just as awesome as one would think from reading, and making new friends who get our random references.

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  15. Aw dang I really wish I could have made it. Next year perhaps. :) You had some nice shots despite not being able to use your tripod. I am in a digital photography class, and am curious what camera you are using. I am not sure which to eventually get, but I'm guessing it's going to be a canon or a nikon, since they're the two major brands. I'm using a Rebel XT (borrowed) for the class and it's just fine. My instructor says he has one and it's a great go-to camera, but he's got a dozen or so cameras being a professional for the past 25 years. I haven't been able to get him to say what he prefers. I think he likes different cameras for different reasons. Enough to buy them, even!

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  16. Aw, count me in as one of those who needs a transporter, all the way to São Paulo, Brazil. I gotta tell ya I know exactly what you mean about escape routes and all that, last week I was headed to a Pwt Shop Boys concert with my partner and I was kinda freakin out with the horrible road traffic we got on the taxi, and the way the driver was also kinda stressed with the traffic, and changed routes and... ack. And then I got there, and it was fun, and my only issue was feeling a bit cold with those damn powered air-conditioners. I've had similar experiences, when I feel super anxious before an event, and then it turns out fun and I meet cool people and etc. It's a little battle everytime, but I feel that everytime things turn out alright is another small victory to keep in mind the next time I freak out a bit. :)

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  17. Thank you so much for hosting a meetup - it was great getting to meet you, even though mostly I'm a lurker. Thank you so much, John, for the Citrus Swirl - we don't have anything like that in Albuquerque and now I can't live without it!! <3 from the "Are you Jen?" lady in purple who brought the citrus swirl themed washcloth.

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    1. Albuquerque, score! (sorry, I'm in Abq at least once a month, and I am always excited to find people semi close to me :) )

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  18. This whole post made me smile. I haven't been to MK since before the New Fantasyland opened, and every new picture of it makes me gasp and wish I could go now. Today. This minute, even.

    Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm glad your meetup was a success. :-)

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  19. It was amazing to meet you. Thank you for holding this meet! I it really meant a lot getting to chat with you, and the ice cream was tasty.

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  20. Is there another all nighter before December???? If so, Hopefully Brian and I have passes by then! (We move home to PA after he's done school in December).
    ~Katy akaHarley Hellrazor

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    1. This was only the second time Disney's done this, so it's hard to say! Seems like it was such a big success, though, that I wouldn't be surprised if they made it a yearly thing.

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  21. Glad it all worked out in the end. Wish I could have been there!

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  22. There wouldn't happen to be any events that bring you closer to South Carolina, would there?

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    1. Hmm, well, we make it up to Atlanta for Dragon*Con every year... does that count? :D

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    2. Sure does! Do you think these meetups will become a regular occurrence? That would be way cool.

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  23. Thank you so much for the meetup, buttons and citrus swirl! It was awesome to meet you both and so many other friendly, geekly people. I bought my Disney pass as a way to heal a broken heart. I figured what better place to fix a shattered heart than at the happiest place on earth? That fact that I got to attend this meetup because of the pass too just makes it that much better. (though I am probably now addicted to citrus swirls) Thanks again!

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  24. Ooh, that looks like so much fun. And yes, I would have to do Disney in off-season. The crowds would just irritate me. Oh, and I'm curious about when you take pictures of children and post them here. Do you get permission from their parents? They are adorable, and I'm so glad you do that. Just wondering. ~J

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    1. I do, yes! Even at conventions, I always ask the parents before the child. (I'd feel creepy otherwise - and you can never be too careful!) The only exception is if there's already a bunch of photographers there taking the kid's photo - but even then I like to double-check with the folks when I can.

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  25. Billions of cheers for you kicking that panic in the butt! I know that "GET ME HOME NOW" feeling and riding it out is awesome.
    -Lynne

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  26. Wow! Jen, I am so impressed! After it took me 30 minutes to walk down Main Street because of the people, I bailed. Thank heavens for the backstage exit behind Main Street! I had been to park opening that morning (and yes, it was wonderfully empty! I rode Peter Pan, Pooh Bear, Small World and watched Philharmagic all by 7am), left and came back about 10:15 to the Magic Kingdom.

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  27. I was in the park about the same time you arrived and even though usually crowds give me no trouble, I was looking around just appalled that there were that many people in what I have referred to as a shocking biomass. This was definitely more folks than Disney anticipated, and if it wasn't for the thought that getting out from where we were(Casey's seemed to be a calm spot in the storm) would take longer than waiting out the crowd, I'd have turned tail and left. Right around 11pm the crowds were being more adequately shuffled along the sidewalks and my party left our bubble of safety to watch the show on the Castle. Although I missed the meetup, we had a great time after that point, with only minor waits in line. I do have to give kudos to the staff that worked that night, all of them were professional and friendly. I just hope they are able to monitor crowds a bit better if they hold another night event. I do concur that the park was sooo much more fun in the dark!

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  28. So glad it all worked out for you! I feel the same way about letting people down when I have a migraine, it's the worst when you're forced to cancel - and the best when you don't have to after all. :) Gorgeous photos!

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  29. Wow! I was so close to this and had no idea! I was eating a citrus swirl around 11pm. Pure coincidence--I made the executive decision to go offline while at WDW. I guess that means I'm amongst my people here. Just one hour later and I would have run into the world's happiest powpow!

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  30. I know you've had trouble with anxiety and was wondering if you have ever tried cutting out gluten from your diet? I stopped eating it around four years ago and if I accidentally eat some I get very emotional and worried for no good reason. I know people think of gluten as just causing stomach pain but it also causes emotional reactions in people who can't tolerate it. It might be worth looking into.

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    1. That's one of those things I know I should try, but I also know I lack the willpower to manage it. :/ I've had GI problems since childhood, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if gluten were the culprit, but just thinking about trying to give it up makes me despair. It's hard enough for John & I to avoid eating take-out every single meal, so a serious diet modification like that is WAY beyond our grasp - not to mention I'm hardcore addicted to all bread products. (I know there's gluten-free bread, but, yuck.)

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    2. I've been gluten-free for a few months now on my doctor's recommendation (my mom has full-blown celiac, so it isn't totally out of left field) and it's definitely hard at first, but it gets easier. I can find something to eat at pretty much every restaurant, even McDonalds, and after having wheat a few times and feeling sick as a dog afterwards I find that I don't miss it as much as I used to.

      You do end up eating a lot of salads, though.

      As for gluten-free bread, Kinnikinnick gluten-free multigrain bread is the best bread I've ever tasted (I love the breads with a hearty texture and different kinds of seeds in it). It's in a yellow bag in the freezer at my local natural foods store. My favorite gluten-free pancakes are the Maple Grove Farms ones, I get the mix for that at Walmart.

      BTW, Disney is AWESOME at helping people with gluten intolerance. Every restaurant had a chef come and talk to me and show me what I could and couldn't eat, and several of them had gluten-free options that they made just for me, like muffins or cookies. I think they have training in all the various allergies and intolerances, and they're really happy to help.

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  31. Jen! I am MADLY in LOVE with this [http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i0OApVTW7ic/UaFVCXbV__I/AAAAAAABA78/K3SzisJTg-4/s1600/IMG_6953.jpg] photo! I seriously sighed at how beautiful I think it is. I'm actually working on a black and pink themed kitchen that this would look AMAZING in!! How much would a print of this be, if you even did them?! I *need* this in my life!

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    1. Hi Nyckie! I can add that pic over to my DeviantArt account, and then you can order any size print you like1 Their prices are really reasonable, so I think that's the best option. I'll add the one you linked, with the green fog, but let me know if you'd rather the purple or blue fog, too. Just check my gallery later tonight; I should have it added by then!

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    2. Thank you so much! Just your reply made me squee like a little fangirl! :D

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    3. Sorry it took me an extra day, Nyckie, but here's the link!

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  32. We had so much fun that night and we were so excited to meet you & John!! Y'all were too gracious and fun...thank you again for the ice cream! It was insanely crowded this time, and we know in the future that when we come back in at night, we go in before 9pm, and immediately ride the train to a land! We got stuck in the throng of people on/near main street for over 2 hours! I've never seen a crowd like it in my life, but it was due to huge amounts of people both coming in and going out!
    Since we have passes this year we didn't care about which rides to go on and stuff, so it was surprising how many things we did get to do and go on in the few hours we got to be there. We try and find something new to do every time we go now, and your meet up was just the thing this time for us!! I really enjoyed meeting so many of our fellow nerdians and such, and I know my hubby did because he felt comfortable enough to talk...to people...he DIDN'T know!!! It was shocking and wonderful all at the same time.
    I agree...I love the all night part of the 24-hrs and wish they did it more often...especially for FL residents. Maybe they could do just seasonal pass holder nights since we are blacked out most of the summer for day visits (not that we would go if we could).
    It was wonderful to meet you, and I hope we cross paths again soon! Don't forget your free jar of jam at Big Bang Bazaar in Maitland on September 7th!

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