Magic Meets 2008 report!

Thursday night and Friday: the magic begins!

John surprised me on Thursday afternoon by suggesting we leave that night instead of waiting for Friday. So I did a quick round of grocery shopping -- getting stuck at the checkout behind the woman who can't find her coupon for some item and who looked for 1,973 times in her wallet before tearing apart her bags because "it's like $5 without the coupon and I refuse to pay that!". I was ready to throw the money down for the item myself when she finally left. Then I get home and the thing that was supposed to be delivered wasn’t; postman said it wouldn’t go in the mailbox and instead of leaving it inside the door like they usually do, they’re making me pick it up. I was livid. That was a gift for my friend Dave and now it was all screwed up. Plus, when I went to print a photo of it to put in the card at least, our printer was out of week. By the time John got home, I was a raw nerve. But he (and Kahlua & cream) got me calmed down.

The rest of the trip was uneventful; no traffic and a straight shot to Camp Hill. I actually fell asleep for a bit, so the credit goes to John for the actual trip. I think we have the site that Gary and Carol (Cruiser and zakerdog) had last year; it slopes so leveling was crazy! But we made do and settled in, watched a little TV, read a bit, and got to sleep. Friday morning, we did the couple of things we didn’t bother with the night before like putting down the awning, and putting up the lights and the Mickey windchime that we won at the last Magic Meets silent auction:

You can also see John's subtle tribute to the American flag in our ground mat.

Around lunch, we got together at Carol and Gary's with all the dogs who got along very well, except when Zak thought Carol was stealing his collar to give to Elphie. Gary has volunteered -- after big, pleading, puppy dog eyes from me -- to make us one of the Mickey lamp posts that he made for their site, so he and John went over the supplies we bought for it....

.... and Carol also showed us the great book she put together of Magic Meets and MouseFest pins! We also talked about the Fort Wilderness Lights meet this December; John had gotten me a polo with the logo on it for my birthday. I was really pleased how many people recognized it that day and talked about the meet.

We eventually realized that John and I, who had said we would go over and help with setup, had better actually go do it before it was time for dinner!

But when we got there, the head of the volunteers basically told us "Who needs you?", but in a nice way. I checked in with Deb Wills to let her know we were there in case the All Ears Net table needed a couple sets of hands for set up. I am very proud and very fortunate to be the newest member of the AEN team; they told me I had to go through my initiation and Deb had everyone of the team hang out until she got there. I won't go into detail, but in short, they said the initiation involved tar, feathers, and swinging from the chandeliers. John told them, "You say swinging from the chandelier like she's never done it before!" which is when I said that I had been on the '86 Olympic team for that event.

In reality, Deb surprised me with my AEN team polo, the carrier bag, and mug (seen here with my Pal Mickey dressed for a day of magic):

I was so blown away!

But everything was ready for that table too, so we visited with Cathy and John (Big Red and WDWNJ) in their room for awhile. Conversation centered on how they and my husband John almost lived across the street from each other years ago, and those events and movies that he had seen while.... in an enhanced frame of mind, shall we say. John (WDWNJ) also surprised me by showing how he had my Main Street USA iGoogle theme on his computer!

We went downstairs to see David Anderson, the Imagineer giving the keynote address, get settled in and then it was already time for dinner! We sat with Dave, John & Cathy, Fran & Glengarry Glengeorge, and with Dave and his family next to us, with Carol and Gary on the other side. Dave Anderson told us a great story behind the classic photo of Walt walking through the castle with his hands in his pockets, plus how he joined MAPO in the beginning. I took the opportunity to get the first autograph on a 1959 Disneyland guide with the Matterhorn - Dave's first big project. Everyone was joking around, and Tacey finally made it after being held at the border for sneaking Dole Whips into the US -- when Carol got a little too interested in my 1959 Disneyland guide and Gary was saying something about causing a distraction on the other side of the room so she could make it to the car. Time to call it a night!

Since we were, as Gary aptly put it, the "trailer trash":

...We couldn't go to the first event which was reserved for people staying at the hotel. We headed back to hang out for awhile and originally planned to go the music meet. But our previous late night and the thought of our very early morning ahead kept us at the site. I slept soundly too; I felt like I just put my head down and John was waking me up -- amidst the pile of dogs -- to get read for Magic Meets!

Saturday: Magic Meets!

Saturday started bright and early for us! Volunteers had to be there at 7:45, so we got up around 6 to give ourselves plenty of time.

One problem: we didn't pack coffee or any caffeine at all. Let me repeat that so you understand how important that is. I had no coffee and it was six am!

But trooper than I am, I was ready to go in plenty of time.

I'm actually much more awake than I look but again: A lack of caffeine is a sad thing.

And here's Johnny Black! Ready to serve all your Magic Meets needs!

The All Ears Net team photo: very professional despite Mike Scopa trying to flash some kind of gang signal from behind Linda Mac's head:

The ballroom, right before letting in The Tired, The Poor, Yearning for Some Magic:

The cracker jack team of volunteers that brought you Magic Meets:

But things can't always go smoothly. For example, someone let go of a balloon (*cough* johnnyblack *cough*):

We thought for sure the light would make it pop during the presentations, but it didn't. It drifted off towards the screen.

I helped set up the breakout room for Deb's talk on the cruise line. Then I put my stuff down on tables for the Taginators, and ran out of the ballroom to find if any were in line that maybe had signs to put on them. I found Claire (Cinderella), Ron, and Gary getting their pictures taken by Carol, and poked my head literally into the group to let them know I was there! Then I had to run off to be there for when we opened the doors.

We had a blast at the AEN table, signing people's bingo sheets. Between us, we had most of the squares, so we'd just pass the sheets up and down the table, knowing exactly who ran a marathon, did a dessert meet, sailed the Panama and did Adventures by Disney. We joked that we felt like celebrities!

They had Stacey of Disney World's Top 7 on the tour channel call in. Imagine my surprise when I looked through our photos and found this closeup:

Someone in this family clearly has a crush.... and it ain't me!

Another group who shall remain nameless stole two of the tables that we had, but we still got good seats.

Claire and Ron letting us know who is number one in the Taginators:

John showing he'd make a great stalker:

My friend Becky and little Sophia found me at the table. This shows how big a crowd the AEN table draws too. Obviously for the wonderful team there, not the freebies. OK, they were there to see Deb :

Then it was time for Dave Anderson's talk - Dave Anderson's presentation - Walt Disney: A Mentor in Perseverance:

I loved the talk and the fantastic clips featuring a look at Walt's life and career, and Sid Caesar playing all the people who ever said No to Walt, claiming he'd fail:

Dave and his family sat with Carol, Gary, Dave (Tagrel), Terry (Tinker1bell), and Stephanie (Stephamickey). You could tell Dave Anderson was having a fantastic time with all the Disney fanatics! He also had a trivia contest with a jumbo limited edition pin of Walt and Mickey on Main St as a prize.

Tacey with Dave Anderson:

Tagrel gave Dave Anderson pins and he wore them immediately and all weekend! You can see them on his lanyard.

A shot of the silent auction tables:

I took that before the ballroom opened. I started off bidding on a few items, including the Stacey autographed photo for John, but then focused on the 10th Anniversary AK package. Remember last year when I said I wouldn't have taken losing as gracefully as Tiggertails? Well, I didn't. When Fred Block announced there was only 45 seconds left in the auction, a woman picked up the clipboard and held it for the rest of the time, keeping me from outbidding her. I was, to put it mildly, feeling less than magical towards her, but when I asked Deb Wills if it'd be okay to wrestle the woman to the ground, she said I'd have to take off my All Ears Net polo and do it in my bra so I didn't reflect badly on the team.

Personally, I think me wrestling another woman in my bra could have raised even more money for Make A Wish, but my husband told me to let it go. (You can see how well I'm doing that, griping about it 3 days later. )

But all together, they raised $20,000 for Make A Wish!
What a fantastic achievement! Thanks in part to this guy, a happy auction winner!

Look, the magic was so bright, I couldn't look directly at it:

In other photos, Kelly "plussed" our pin display at the AEN table:

When we cleaned up after the event, some people had taken the balloons. But the ones that were still left were given to one little girl who asked if she could have them, not knowing how many there were. She was one happy kid, ready to float away!

Sorry that's blurry; I took it over my shoulder as we left for dinner.

We met a bunch of Taginators, plus Dave Anderson and his family, at Chili's for dinner. Gary told this great joke to Dave:

Guy to an Imagineer: How many Imagineers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Imagineer: Change it into what?

Even when we left, we hung out in the parking lot for another hour, laughing and talking!! We finally said goodbye to people who were headed home and promised to meet up with the others at Hershey the next day.

Sunday: Hershey Park will never be the same!

I was so revved on adrenaline from Magic Meets and the fun that we had at dinner, that I couldn't get to sleep for awhile! Even so, we thought we'd be up for the early opening, despite setting the alarm.

Casey woke us up at 9:00am when she couldn't stand waiting anymore:

We were missing everything! So we hurried over and made it to Hershey at 10. We did Chocolate World first:

Then rode the Comet. I got a couple photos of the Skyway; apparently, I just missed John-WDWNJ going by:

It was actually time to cross the park and meet everyone for lunch. We met Carol and Gary half way there, and walked the rest of the way together. They told us about riding Fahrenheit -- well, about Gary riding Fahrenheit - and the other things we missed as we walked along. I stopped quickly at the splash zone for the log flume to cool off. It was a really hot day; John (Johnnyblack) said Disney was flatter, meaning no hills to trudge up in the heat! I pointed out that Disney also doesn't do black top that absorbs the heat and shoots it back up at you!

WDWNJ and Big Red had put my tag (the 'Can I go to Disney now?' graphic) on a t-shirt for my birthday, and I wore it to Hershey. A number of Magic Meets people stopped me to see it better which was so cool!

At lunch, we met a lot of fellow Taginators like Sandy, John and Cathy, Will, Karen, and Lisa:

We had the lunch pavilion from 11:00 to 12:30. Cathy and I got up at one point and asked the woman at the entrance to remember us since we didn't have our lunch tickets on us. She told us with glee that we only had 10 minutes left in the pavilion anyway and when we came back, that we were down to 3! I decided not to take this personally, but as a statement about how happy she would be to get out of the sun at that stand.

Some people were leaving the park, but John (WDWNJ), Cathy (Big Red), Lisa (Photographer), and Karen (Rosebud) joined Johnnyblack & I in going around the rides. Cathy, Johnnyblack, and I rode Wildcat, and then the women got on the Ferris Wheel.

I have got to get my camcorder hooked up to the PC for the Ferris Wheel video alone! Otherwise, how else will everyone get the full affect of Cathy calling the pole in the middle the "oh s**t pole", named for when you desperately grab it, crying "oh s**t"? Or Lisa threatening to rock the car and Cathy threatening to throw her out? Good times; good times....

In the meantime, here's a couple of photos I took up in the ferris wheel:

The Boardwalk Water park

Not sure what this funnel slide is called, but it looked like fun!

We also rode a Buzz Lightyear target game kind where the cheaters squeeked out a win. Translation: Karen and I lost; I blame the two strangers in our car.

Lisa treated us all to Cold Stone Creamery ice cream; thank you again, Lisa! She and John sat at a separate table and when we asked them what they were so intent about, they said "Talking smack about all of you". Isn't that magical?

Lines were too long for rides like Fahrenheit, so that'll be another day.

Then.... well....

It stared off with me seeing one of those photo booths and wondering if the six of us could fit. We made ourselves fit only to find out that the booth wasn’t working. We found another one, a put-your-face-on-a-sticker, but it wasn’t working either. Karen remembered that Lisa had seen an old time photo place near the entrance, but that no one would get in a photo together. Of course, we all said we would.
The next spot of inspiration came when Cathy saw one of the display photos and got a look in her eye…..

As foreshadowing, let me just say my husband, after getting dressed, poked his head through the clothes rack like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and said, “I hate you all!”

For the photos, please see Photographer's thread. I told some little kid that this is what happened to you when you don’t eat your vegetables. And to stay in school. It's another reason that I MUST get my camcorder hooked up to download that video!

You can imagine the crowd that drew to the photo place, and nothing could top it. So we all rode Chocolate World together and then it was time to say goodbye.

Small garden outside the Chocolate World entrance:

Johnnyblack & I stopped at the Disney Outlet very quickly where I got a beautiful Ariel blouse, but in general, the store didn't have much for adults. But we did run into Dave, Kristen, and the girls!

Back at the campsite, I grabbed a shower which felt so good after the heat, and stretched out, just to relax, not to sleep of course. An hour or so later, we woke up.

Gary stopped by to drop off an article on a Canadian playwright who sounds fantastic and to pick up the stuff for our Mickey lamp. Gary, again, thank you so much!

It's hard to believe we won't see anyone until MouseFest.

I can sum up the rest of the weekend very quickly. We relaxed the rest of Sunday night and a thunderstorm moved through quickly. Too soon, it was Monday morning and time to head home.

I took a nap in the back of the van. Here's little Elphie curled up with me, if you can find her.

Yes, that is very 70s paneling in the van around the bed. In fact, the whole design is John's tribute to the 70s love vans!

At home, we relaxed, started laundry, and watched Enchanted. I said a quick goodbye to Dave Anderson and then...

Sigh. Here I am back at work. Everyone keeps saying to me: you must have gotten a lot of rest this weekend! HA! Little rest, but many, many laughs!


Copyright 2004-2006 Erin Blackwell