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Weird Theme Parks, Magic Meets, and Another TDC Plug

23 Feb
image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

How sad am I that I’ve never set foot in any of the World’s Strangest Theme Parks, at least according to Dark Roasted Blend? Truly I would’ve visited Diggerland had the weather been a little more promising while I was in the UK….and last summer I was pretty darn close to Hershey Park the day after Magic Meets 2008, when Lisa and I recorded the Hershey’s Chocolate World Tour ride-through for Those Darn Cats episode #14 (and no, I had not planned in advance to plug my podcast twice in a day, but so there!).

And hey, speaking of Magic Meets, they’ve just opened pre-registration for Magic Meets 2009. The event sells out wicked fast, so they have a two-step process: You pre-register for the event (without paying), and then later on you pay your money to secure your place. So, pre-registering is not a guarantee that you’ll get in, but speeds things up a bit once it’s time to plunk down the cash, and (I think) ensures that you’re on the email list to be informed when the all-important payment window opens up. I’m hoping to be there again this year, especially since I probably wouldn’t be able to make it to MouseFest this year, even if it were happening.

Have You Found Mr. Goodbar? I Hope Not…

21 Sep

This evening, I finally got around to downloading some of the pictures I took last July at MagicMeets (where, by the way, I had a fabulous time!).

And I must say, I still can’t get over this baseball hat, which I saw on the racks at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Um, didn’t anybody else read that book? See that movie? I hope it’s safe to venture into spoiler territory now that Looking for Mr. Goodbar has been out for a few decades….’cause I just gotta say, I’m not so sure that finding Mr. Goodbar is such a desirable outcome.

Magic Meets: Best, Worst, and Strangest

23 Jul

Magic Meets was my first major Disney fan gathering, and it was a blast! I’ll be on a roundtable discussing this event later this week on the All About the Mouse podcast…so for the time being, I’ll simply offer some “slice of life” observations and tidbits from my weekend.

Best in Show: Spending time with a boatload of fellow Disney freaks was truly a treat! I’ve never seen a friendlier, more welcoming community. It was especially fabulous to get some face time with friends I’ve gotten to know online, and find out more about how much we have in common. It has been brought to my attention that I truly am not the only evil queen around here. It was also incredibly satisfying to learn that Lisa’s and my Those Darn Cats podcast does, in fact, have several listeners! Sure, our download stats already told us people were subscribing…but listening is a whole other thing!

Bitchiest Moment: There were two major events taking place in the Radisson that weekend: Magic Meets and a Marriage Enrichment workshop. In the gym Saturday morning, I kept wanting to ask people, “So, are you a Disney geek, or is your marriage just all fucked up?”

Deepest Observation: I attended my first ever Pin Trading meet, and realized just how intimidated I am by the people sitting with enormous binders of pins before them. Can I blame this on a little PTSD from a bad experience with a pin shark putting the hard sell onto my son at Disneyland Paris? Maybe. But I also notice that hardcore pin traders seem to be the stigmatized out-group within the out-group of Disney geeks. People with pin trading binders and lanyards overflowing with Hidden Mickey pins (like, say, myself) will nonetheless say, “I’m not really a serious pin trader…” or even, “Those people scare me.”

How much of this is because we’re intimidated by their awesome collections, and how much is because we want to believe that, at least for this one moment, there is somebody freakier than ourselves? (“If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me.” Thank you, Kris Kristofferson!)

I was also interested to learn that plenty of hardcore pin traders used to be Beanie Babie collectors, and that when Beanie Babies went bust, the collectors needed something new to do. Unlike, say, those of us moderate-level pin traders like myself, who seem to be Disney fans who find in it a simple expansion of our passion for all (or many) things Disney.

Saddest Moment: Missing my son terribly, after attending the Pin Meet. He’s the one who got me into pin trading in the first place, and I know he would have had a blast playing bingo, and looking at all the rare and special-edition pins. Late Saturday night I became overwhelmed with sadness about the fact that he can’t join me at MouseFest 2008, and was too embarassed to tell anybody, so I just hibernated in my room a while (so, what is it that now compells me to share this intimate tidbit on the wilds of the interweb? am I nuts or what?).

Best Place to Stretch Your Legs on I-78: Roadside America! Pal Mickey and I needed a little break on the way home Monday, so we stopped into this indoor miniature village to walk around a little bit. I was taken by the nighttime pagaent, but his favorite was the caverns. Remember, stalactites stick tight to the ceiling, but you might trip over a stalagmite!

Even More Deepest Observation: I found myself reflecting a bit on my cultural orientation and class background, and the priorities I unconsciously apply to my decisions about vacation time and money. Sometimes I deeply envy those who stay in the Deluxe accomodations, who book trips through Adventures by Disney, whose lives are such that a Disney Vacation Club investment makes sense. But then I consider, is it truly that I couldn’t afford those choices? Or is it that I simply have different priorities for my time and money? I am a travel junkie…there’s no doubt about that. And regardless of what my income is, or might someday be, I’ll probably always choose quantity/length of trips over luxury of accomodations or service. I’d rather spend 6 nights at All Star Movies than 2 at the Grand Floridian.

But when a travel agent referred to Disney Deluxe accommodations as being “what we’re all comfortable with,” it really came home exactly how different my experience is. Do I enjoy deluxe accommodations, on the occasions I’ve partaken thereof? Absolutely. But am I uncomfortable at the Best Western or Pop Century? Absolutely not.

Best Animatronic Cows: What, animatronic cows? Well, yes indeed. Lisa and I spent some time Sunday at Hershey’s Chocolate World, where we needed to ride the Chocolate Tour not just once, but twice. I’m hoping that the ridethrough we recorded comes out okay! I tried to buy a copy of the theme song in the gift shop…the look on the clerk’s face was priceless.

Most Timely Bargain Shopping: On Sunday we made a highly successful expedition to the local Disney Store Outlet, where I found a Tinkerbell watch I’d admired (priced at $50) at a deeply discounted price ($7.50, to be precise). I also saw a wall full of WALL-E merchandise, which made me feel deeply conflicted. I love the movie, so I want the merch, but the movie’s message about conspicuous consumption makes me question whether I really need one more t-shirt, or that plastic watch. I had some serious lust for the WALL-E metal lunchbox I saw for sale at Magic Meets, but resisted for those same reasons. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying the Tinkerbell watch, or a few other cheapo goodies for the boys back home. I never promised I’d be consistent, did I?

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