I got back from Orlando last night, where I was attending a conference for users and developers of the association management system software my company launched back in June.
Yawn, I know. But I actually found a lot of it interesting and brought quite a few notes home.
And while it was educational, informative, and even a touch enlightening, you can’t go to Disney World for a conference and not see at least a little bit of the Disney magic.
My colleague Vicky and I flew down early in the day so that we could spend at least an afternoon having fun before the conference started. After following Mickey’s steps through the airport, boarding a shuttle called The Magical Express, and fighting a system outage while checking in at the hotel, we at long last made it to Epcot.
The first highlight for me was stumbling onto an Oz display. Since The Wizard of Oz is secretly my favorite movie, I hadn’t quite decided how I felt about the new movie coming out and traipsing all over the classic Oz that I’ve known since childhood. I had had the same feeling toward Wicked until I saw it and realized that rather than being a terrible adaptation of my favorite movie, it was in fact was amazing.
A similar thing happened when I saw this overturned hot air balloon, which led me to a yellow brick road (which led into a toddler play area, but that’s not the point), which was surrounded by poppies.
Disney magic, y’all.
Eventually I came out of my childhood fantasy haze and we got to the real business of Epcot: beers around the world. First stop, Canada.
In France I spotted Belle but did not want to wait in a long line to get my picture taken with her. The result was the first of many creepy photos I took with characters from afar. Also please note the sunglasses I purchased in an Epcot gift shop immediately upon our arrival — they have clear frames that are splatter-painted with neon colors and there’s a Mickey head in the corner where normal folks’ sunglasses say something like RayBan.
In Morocco a beer vendor did not believe that I was of drinking age and then did not believe that my ID was mine. “This picture is brown,” he said. To which I responded that yes, though I am currently sporting my winter whites I do get tan in the summer, which happens to be when that picture was taken.
It turns out that Orlando was experiencing record low temperatures while we were there, which is why we may look sunny and warm in front of the giant golf ball but our beer-holding hands are actually frozen.
Sticking it out through the cold and the wind was worth it when, by the time it got dark, most of the families with children left and we could hop right on exciting rides like the Norwegian boat ride and the Mexican boat ride and Spaceship Earth.
Since our Epcot adventure was such a success, we decided to give Magic Kingdom a go after the conference ended Tuesday evening. I was a little tired, and perhaps not prepared for what I was getting myself into — crowds and scooters and strollers, oh my! — but as soon as I saw Cinderella’s castle I was ready to take it all in.
We took Tomorrowland’s people mover to get acclimated, spotted a 25-minute wait for Space Mountain, and headed directly to the line once our ride on the ‘transportation of the future’ was over. Even though the wait time was underestimated by about an hour and the gremlins in line were on my last nerve, Space Mountain didn’t disappoint. It is such a good, classic roller coaster.
In New Fantasyland, the only thing wrong with Gaston’s Tavern was that it didn’t serve beer.
I reached my waiting-in-line limit pretty quickly and didn’t get to see the inside of Ariel’s grotto, but the addition of details from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and the under-construction mine from Snow White will at least be exciting to see
when if we bring our kids to Disney one [far off] day.
In our free time during the week and on our surprise extra day, we soaked up as much warm sunshine as two winter-weary people could handle.
We stayed at the Contemporary Resort where the conference was being held. Having a beach nearby for lounging during lunch was pretty sweet.
Actually — by the looks of my bright red raccoon face, I may have soaked up a little more sun than I could handle.