Jennifer and Dave's Disney Adventure Report
Dates: 12/3 - 12/11, 1999 (9-Day Trip)
|Saturday, December 4,
1999: The RADP Meet
As usual, the day dawned, but we weren't there to see it. That's what's called, "keeping author's hours." However, several hours later we did arise, because at 1:00 PM we were due at the Ticket and Transportation Center for the main event of the 4th Annual Holiday RADP Meet, the gala "Meet & Greet."
We grabbed a quick takeout breakfast (two western omelettes, $5.99 each) from Market Street, the Caribbean Beach Resort's food court. Properly nourished, we went to work stapling the remainder of the Pocket Guide to the 4th Annual Holiday RADP Meet booklets we had prepared. We were finished with plenty of time to spare. (Whew!) After that we loaded up several satchels with booklets, copies of PassPorter Walt Disney World, and various other odds and ends, and hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom. When we arrived we noted that the ferry had just left for the TTC, so we schlepped over to the monorail. "Mantengense allehardos de las puertas..." Yes, we stood clear of the closing doors, and we were off to our destination, halfway around the monorail loop, on the far side of Seven Seas Lagoon.
For those of you reading this report at our Web site, rather than on RADP, RADP stands for rec.arts.disney.parks, a grand and glorious (we had to say that, RADP people are going to be reading this, after all) Internet discussion group dedicated to Walt Disney World and Disney's other theme parks. Folks organize informal meets throughout the year (whenever they happen to be visiting WDW) but this one is the Big Kahuna: 27 different events spanning the period from November 30 through December 18.
Obviously, this is no small undertaking (please, no Haunted Mansion jokes!). Dozens of folks have been laboring long and hard to arrange all the various festivities. Months ago, Deb Wills, co-host of the Meet and Greet, had invited us to be Guests of Honor and, never ones to turn down an opportunity to visit Walt Disney World or to be thronged by tens of thousands of cheering autograph seekers, we agreed. Of course, we forgot that everyone at Walt Disney World is a Guest of Honor, so maybe the honor wasn't all it was knocked-up to be.
We're also not the types to arrive at a party empty handed. Jennifer came up with the idea for the booklets and asked Bruce "Zazu" Metcalf, the other co-host of the Meet and Greet, if anyone else was preparing a printed program of events. Lucky us, we had an original idea! "Now, just how many people are expected?" Ulp!
We arrived at the meet site, a covered area on the west side of the Ticket and Transportation Center, at around 12:30, thinking we'd be among the first to arrive for the (nominally) 1:00 PM event. Wrong! There were about 75 people milling about, shooting the breeze, swapping pins, and getting acquainted. We found a handy, centrally located covered trash can, which we judged to be the perfect base of operations for our PassPorter autographing activities (maybe we have some self-image issues to address). Both of us were dressed for the eventJennifer, in a RADP Meet T-shirt, Dave in a brand-new embroidered PassPorter Travel Guides polo shirt. We both wore big red RADP buttons with our names on them, thinking that folks would see "Jennifer" and "Dave," put one-and-one together, and figure out that we were "the" Jennifer and Dave. That might have even happened if we had managed to stand side-by-side under a banner that read, "Meet World Famous Authors Here!"
"Didn't you bring a banner?"
"Banner? What banner?"
Oh, well! We chucked all thought of photo opportunities, wild applause and autographer's cramp, and started passing out the yellow Pocket Guides instead.
"Do you have a Pocket Guide to the RADP Meet?"
"Here, have a free Pocket Guide to the RADP Meet!"
As it turns out, giving away useful free stuff is a great way to Meet and Greet people. One of us stayed by our trash can, all ready and willing to autograph whatever PassPorters came our way, while the other circulated and "worked the crowd." We finally got to meet Kathy Kula and Mr. Sockpuppet (Kathy contributed one of the "Magic Moments" that graces the pages of PassPorter), Denise (Tinybeetle), TonyP, Jay and Sarah, Ronnie (Iago), Jan, PamK, and a host of others. We even got to sign and rubberstamp a bunch of PassPorters (Jennifer designed cool "PassPorter" rubberstamps that highlight PassPorter and pick-up on the passport/travel theme).
The Meet and Greet's co-hosts were doing their best to make things fun. Deb Wills, her voice reduced to a hoarse whisper, circulated throughout the crowd, making sure everything was going smoothly, and Bruce Metcalf played Master of the Grab Bags.
While we occupied the centrally located, non-talking trash can, others gathered in the corners of the meeting space. Over there, bedecked with sparkling beads by the bazillions, were the Beadzilians of the Trimobius Disney Cabinet (TDC), bringing at least as much fun to the Meet as they bring to the newsgroup. There were folks circulating through the crowd, distributing pins, buttons, and pralines, and even a few confused-looking folks who didn't know anything about the Internet, but figured, with perfect theme park logic, that where there's a crowd, there's something good going on.
And then, it was time to head out into the bright sunshine for our date with destiny (otherwise known as the official Disney photographer). Folks were milling about, lining up, sitting down, jockeying for position, and otherwise doing their best to aggregate into the best group photo possible. The photographer was way on the other side of the plaza (it seemed), standing on a 12-foot stepladder, in hopes of squeezing us all into the frame. We found a small patch of pavement and hunkered down, not very far from front and center. Can't you tell? We're right over there! Honest! The photographer took about half a dozen shots, thanked us for smiling so brightly, and beat a hasty retreat.
The photo was available later that day and on into Tuesday at the Magic Kingdom (we bought our copy the next day). Then everyone went back to meeting, greeting, and milling about. At least, until the siren-call of the Magic Kingdom became too strong. One by one, two by two, and informal group by group, folks started boarding the ferry to Magic Kingdom (and no, the Sirens did not lure the ferry captains onto the rocks), or headed for the monorails, buses, or parking lot. We gave bundles of Pocket Guides to the hosts of other Meet events, packed up our gear, and made our way back to the Caribbean Beach Resort. All in all, a great afternoonand we gave out nearly 300 Pocket Guides (that's a lot of people!).
We grabbed a snack at the food court (two cheeseburgers, $3.99 each) and spent the rest of the afternoon on book research-related activities (and catching our breath). We were still getting settled-in with the new Palm Pilot, adding more information and learning how to use it. It was already exceeding our expectations, though.
The next event on our RADP Meet agenda was set for 9:00 PM that evening: the 3rd Annual Adventurers Club Meet at Pleasure Island. The Adventurers Club is our favorite hangout, so there was little doubt we'd be seated in the club's Mask Room, libations in hand, at the appointed hour. Before that, though, dinner.
We had no interest in another dinner at the Captain's Table, and in the end we settled on our old Downtown Disney stand-by, Wolfgang Puck Café. Even though you can wait 45 minutes or more for a table, they also offer the option of a far shorter wait by dining at the bar. That's not always as bad as it sounds, since their sushi bar occupies one end of the same long bar.
In this case, though, we got a table sooner than a space opened at the bar. Not bad, except the table itself was awfula cramped setting for two adjoining a main traffic lane into the kitchen. We felt like pedestrians stranded on the center stripe during rush hour. Help! After politely but firmly requesting a new table, we were resettled at a quieter, far less glamorous table. The meal itself was predictably tasty, but the rest of the experience was sub-par. We were glad to finish-up and head for our date with our fellow Adventurers.
Of all the gin joints in all the World, why did we have to walk into this one? Why? Because we like it! As we've said before, the Adventurers Club is the most "Disney" of all the nightspots on Pleasure Island. After a day of trekking around the World, where else would intrepid travelers like ourselves congregate? Perhaps it's the quirkiness of the memorabilia-encrusted walls, or the tendency of some of those wall ornaments to come to life and crack jokes with the guests. It could also be the continuously entertaining presence of the talented Permanent Members of the club, who so graciously induct visitors into the mysteries of the Club Salute, the Club Creed, and the Club Anthem. Then again, perhaps it's the welcoming presence of our favorite servers, Ramona, Anita and Jodie. "The usual? Should I open a tab?"
Off in one corner of the hexagonal Main Salon looms the dark and musty entrance to the Mask Room, its walls festooned with tribal masks gathered from the six corners of the globe. Several times nightly a Permanent Member of the club (Club President Pamelia Perkins, or perhaps the dashing Club Aviator, Hathaway Browne) gather new members in the Mask Room for a brief and oh-so-enlightening scholarly description of the masks themselves. For most of the evening, though, the room is a quiet haven amidst the merriment, which makes it a perfect hangout for our RADP group.
Meet Host Rob "I'm the other Rob" Olsan is quick to greet all visitors, and just as quickly we settle down for a long evening's hangout. We see some familiar faces from the Meet and Greet, meet some folks who have been no more than a name until now, and (again) encounter some totally puzzled people who wandered into the Mask Room by accident. We sip our drinks, make space for latecomers, and have an altogether pleasant time with a dandy bunch of folks.
The aforementioned Club Aviator, Hathaway Browne, dashing as always in kelly green blazer, khaki jodhpurs, riding boots and silk scarf, and additionally ornamented for the season with a huge holiday corsage, boldly enters the Mask Room to reconnoiter. Noting our big red RADP buttons, he beat a hasty, albeit cordial, retreat.
In gratitude for Hathaway's warm reception, we resolve to support his bid to become Adventurer of the Year during the upcoming Balderdash Cup Competition. In the meantime, we mark time by getting better acquainted with each other and with the various exotic libations offered on the club's drink card.
Off in one corner Ann ("Mrs. Duck") has been hastily scribbling invitations to an event that did not appear on the official RADP Meet schedulea Magic Kingdom treasure hunt in honor of Walt Disney's birthday (December 5). We tucked one of the inscribed cocktail napkins into our ever-present PassPorter and agreed that Dave would arise early and partake of the festivities.
Finally, the time had come for the big Balderdash Cup Competition. We all herded into the club's cavernous Library and prepared to anoint the Adventurer of the Year. Club Treasurer Otis T. Wren made a daring bid to capture the cup (and thus end the longest losing streak in club history). Emil Blehall, a visiting Adventurer from Sandusky, Ohio, brought a flock of allies to support his life-long dream of Balderdash-hood. But finally, with the help of thunderous applause from his legion of red-buttoned fans, Club Aviator Hathaway Browne walked off the top honors for the sixth time in eight years. Alas, Poor Emil was disconsolate. All those long miles on Interstate 75, and for what? Better luck next New Year's Eve, Mr. Blehall! (Fortunately for Emil, every night is New Year's Eve at Pleasure Island.)
Triumphant, we returned to the Mask Room for more merriment, but ultimately the ebb and flow of fellow RADP Adventurers dropped to low tide (pretty tough, considering Lake Buena Vista is 60 miles from the Atlantic Coast). Bidding the stalwarts a fond adieu, we brought our evening to a close, boarded the bus for the Caribbean Beach Resort and turned in. Tomorrow, as Scarlet Katie O'Hara and Emil Blehall say, is another day!
Jump to the next day: December 5, 1999