Saturday, November 12, 2011

Epic October 2011 - Day 8


This was the day I returned to New York.

Let me summarize this day quickly. Betsy picked me up and we headed over to Shelley’s house. (In the meantime, Shalon went to pick up Aurora to meet us at the airport). We visited a little while with Shelley, Dave, Zoe, Todd, Cheryl, Jasper, and Mike. Then it was time to go. I gave big hugs to Dave, Zoe, and Jasper. The rest of us headed to the airport in separate cars.

The six of us met up in the parking garage and headed inside. Shalon and Aurora joined us shortly after. We sat around and chatted for a while, then went to the Sanrio store to look around.

Not happy :(

Then it was time to get in line for security. My friends formed a circle (okay, I’m crying right now) and each one of them gave me a huge hug. I pretty much sobbed hugging them all.

I had a safe flight back home (if you want to call it my home) and cried on/off the rest of the day. I was not a happy individual to be away from people I truly love and care about deeply.


For something that started seven months ago, I never thought it would turn out to be something as fantastic as it was. I knew that it would be wonderful to see my friends, but I never thought it would be this amazing. Betsy and I had been planning this since March. We took those seven months to plan intricate details for the trip, how we were going to surprise Shelley, dining reservations, etc. It got intense. As time got closer and closer, the excitement was building up through our texts and Skype video calls.

A few weeks before my arrival, we needed to tell a friend to help convince our friends to attend events that I would be at. We informed Shalon, who helped us those last couple of weeks before my arrival.

The seven nights I was there were seven of the happiest days of my life. I got to spend treasured time with people I hold very close to my heart. I cry as I type this because they are not just friends to me. They are my family.

So long, my dear friends. See you real soon.

Epic October 2011 - Day 7


Betsy picked me up and we went to Epcot. Shelley met us there, and we all went on Journey into Imagination with Figment. They proved their love for me by waiting in line for it. ;) The wait was maybe 5-7 minutes. We all went to Captain EO next. Love, love, love that show! Shelley pulled out one of her dance moves during the pre-show too. Give that gal leg warmers! We went on Living with the Land next and sat in the front. That was a lovely, relaxing journey.

We had a reservation for Le Cellier for lunch, so we walked to Canada. Amanda (@BooToYou7) also had a reservation and stopped over to say hi to us. It was great meeting her! The three of us pigged out on pretzel bread and appetizers, and barely touched our dinners and desserts, which we had packed up to go. Shelley left then, so Betsy and I went to see American Adventure. I must have been tired because I totally fell asleep during the show. I have no idea what came over me, but I fell right to sleep. You know the scene where the guy is taking a picture of the family posing for a picture? And the camera bulb makes a bright flash? The sound of that made me jump and woke me right up. LOL. I was so glad to be awake for the end though…I love the video montage where “Golden Dream” plays. Of course, I cried.

On the way out, we spotted Ryan and Sally. We visited with them for a few minutes, then made our way out of the park. Betsy and I went to the Magic Kingdom next. We went to see The Enchanted Tiki Room first. I loved seeing it back to its original form. We also rode Pirates.

Then Mike (@CaptainMike88) joined us, and we all went on a full circle trip on the Walt Disney World Railroad. That was beautiful and relaxing. During the journey, Betsy yelled at me, “Stop looking so sad!! Why do you have that look on your face?!” I’m glad she snapped me out of reality because my mind started wandering being this was my last day. Sigh.

We all went on the Haunted Mansion next, and they brought me through the queue. This was the first time I had seen it! I loved it! Love the books that you can push and others pop out. And trying to solve the mystery of who killed who is great too!

We split ways then and Betsy dropped me off at the hotel. Shalon was waiting for me there. I grabbed some food and we went upstairs to my room. I ate while we watched a hilarious episode of Modern Family. We hung out, laughed, and chatted for a while.

Betsy picked us up around 9pm to go to Atlantic Dance Hall! But before that, we did something awesome. We had the best non-drug drug deal EVER. We met Emily at a Hess gas station because she had a bunch of extra mini cupcake brownies, which she gave us. I LOVE EMILY. For many reasons, of course, but this is one of them! They were delicious. We had a blast taking pictures in the car of our Babycakes craziness.

The three of us continued on our way to ADH. When we got there, with our mouths full of brownies, the valet drove off with the car and we continued inside to the Boardwalk. After a brief stop at the Bellevue Lounge, we walked the strip to ADH. We met Gail (@gailyw) there! I love her to pieces. She is such a sweetheart and I am thrilled to have met her.

Mike, JL Knopp (@jlknopp1), and Shelley joined us and we had a blast, dancing the night away! Party Rock Anthem was one of my favorite moments of the night. I took my shoes off (I think Shalon did too) and we did the shuffle. Dave Caran and Dan Warren came by too, and sat & talked with us for awhile. We were there for probably a good three/four hours or so. What a wonderful night!!

There are soooo many more pictures from this night, which you can find on JL's Facebook page!

Betsy dropped Shalon and I off at the hotel. Shalon slept overnight in my room. We pretty much fell asleep about five minutes after we got in the room.

I was NOT looking forward to the next day.

Epic October 2011 - Day 6


A day of Epcot is a day of fun! And this particular day certainly lived up to that. Betsy picked me up (she was the best transportation method ever, by the way…what’s a monorail again??) and we drove to Epcot. There we met up with Shelley, Todd, and Cheryl. A few minutes later, Megan (@mla1977) arrived! This was the first time I ever met her. I absolutely adore her. J

We went on Spaceship Earth first. This was my recommendation. Remember, I’m the clueless individual from New York. But I have therefore learned my lesson…ride this later in the day, when everyone else is on Mission Space and Test Track.

We rode Test Track next. I sat in the back (huge mistake) with my arms up in the air the entire time (HUGER mistake). We got through the ride smiling and everything was awesome…as we climbed out of the car, something did not feel right. My bra came undone. Completely undone. Test Track got frisky with me! We laughed a lot about it, and had little jokes throughout the day including, “Show me where the bad car touched you.” This is why I love my friends.

Next we walked to the World Showcase. On the way, we saw Chip Buchanan! It is incredible how many times we ran into her on this trip. Afterwards, we headed to France, where….wait for it….Ryan (@RyanKilpatrick) and Sally (@SuperWriterMom) were waiting for us! I looked around at the podcast crew and happiness filled my heart. Big hugs and laughter were indeed shared that day. We all went over to the Ireland booth (thank you, Food and Wine Festival!) where a couple of us, including myself, got the Kerrygold cheese platter. Man, was that good. Three different kinds of cheese with brown bread and butter. The only thing I refused to touch was the chutney. It looked nasty. (Sorry.) We all had our snacks and drinks on benches in front of where Off Kilter performs.

Megan had to leave then, so we bid farewell. I’m sorry I did not get to hang out with her more, but I’m thrilled to have met her! Scarlett and Ben caught up with us, and we all went over to the Rose & Crown Pub for lunch. That was my first time there. The food is incredibly delicious. I had the Sunday pot roast with roasted potatoes, green beans, and Yorkshire pudding.

Ben, Scarlett, and me at the Rose & Crown Pub

Scarlett, Ben, and Shelley left after lunch. The remaining six of us went back to France to see Impressions de France. That was the first time I had ever seen the film and I loved it! Betsy was quoting it the entire time, but I luckily did not hear it as I refused to sit next to her. ;) Sally had the pleasure instead.

Now, I have been trying to track down Jillian Davis (@JL_Davis) for over a year now when I am at WDW. I can never find her. I finally had the ability to meet her on this vacation! We went into Mouse Gear and Betsy spoke to one of the Cast Members, who found her and brought her out. Yay!! She is such a sweetheart and I cannot WAIT to meet the baby next year!

We went into the old Wonders of Life building and walked around a bit, as they had demonstrations of all kinds going on, as well as wine tastings and shopping. Then we went back to Test Track. This time I sat in the front and no wardrobe malfunctions were to be had!

Ryan and Sally left afterwards. Todd & Cheryl went to have a bite to eat at Sunshine Seasons while Betsy and I went to see Ellen’s Energy Adventure. That is always cute to see. Shane came to the park then and found us exiting the attraction! The three of us went to The Land pavilion and spotted Todd & Cheryl. We all went on Soarin’ then. That was so fun!! Todd and Cheryl left after that. Shane, Betsy, and I rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

We began our way out of the park, trying to decide where to go to eat. We decided to go to Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney! The three of us had a marvelous time eating, laughing, and sharing stories. We stopped inside the Lego Store too, where I got a Captain Barbossa keychain. I love him! We also swung by Babycakes but Emily was not there.

Shane headed home then. I hate saying goodbye to friends! Tears filled my eyes after he left and Betsy said, “Please don’t tell me you are crying already.” It was difficult, but I held my head high and we proceeded to the parking lot. Betsy dropped me off at the hotel then. I had a truly fantastic day. J

Epic October 2011 - Day 5


Betsy picked me up around 10am and we spent the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (MGM…which it will always be to me). First we went on The Great Movie Ride, which is one of my absolute favorites. I’m happy to say that not only did we get the front row but we had the gangster as well.

Next we went on Toy Story Mania. Getting to ride that twice in one day without having to wait very long was incredible (thank you, Betsy!). It was my very first time on the ride and I LOVED IT. For it being my first attempt, I did not do too shabby. What a fun idea for an attraction! I’m really happy that Disney decided to add this to their treasure trove of awesome attractions. After riding the first time around, I got to meet one of the soldiers from Toy Story!

We did the Backlot Tour afterwards. My eyes widened at all of the Pirates props. We laughed at the pre-show when the poor individual gets soaking wet from the enormous amount of water. The most interesting part of the attraction this time around was not the actual attraction. No. It was something that happened right before we were about to take off in the tram. I had my 40th anniversary WDW MK pin in my backpack. I did not realize that the pin came undone and the sharp part was sticking right out of the bag. When we boarded the tram, I took the bag and as I slipped it down in between my feet, I felt this scraaaaatch down my leg. Afraid to look down, I did, and saw blood from a four-inch cut on the side of my leg. Lovely. So all during the ride, I put pressure on it and held an antibacterial wipe to it until we got off the tram. Betsy got me a mini first aid kit (thank you, Betsy!) and I took care of the situation thanks to ointment and band aids. I looked ridiculous with a line of band aids running down my leg, but at that point, all I really wanted to do was avoid infection and carry on with the day.

We grabbed some lunch after that. Then we went to the Muppets 3-D show. Yay! I always love seeing that. Statler and Waldorf, along with the Sweetums appearance, always makes me smile. We went to see the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular as well. I so enjoy that show. We watched a bit of Mulch, Sweat, and Shears after that. They were great but Betsy was disappointed that Axe was not there. ;)

Another highlight of the day was going to Animation Academy. Okay. Here’s the thing…I am not good at drawing….at all. I was not expecting to create an epic masterpiece like Betsy would. But I thought it might be somewhat good. Now. As most of you probably know, they do not give you erasers. All they give you is a desk, a pencil, and paper. Let’s just say that by the end of the session, I was asking the animator for an eraser. We all drew Pooh and mine looked like it had a goiter. Betsy thought this was the funniest thing in the world and was laughing hysterically at me. Not going to lie, I was a bit peeved at first…at myself AND her. ;) I think the worst of it was when kids were bringing their designs up to the animator for her to show everyone, and they all looked better than mine. Theirs looked like a Picasso creation compared to mine. But a fun time was had and I laughed it off. I will do better next time!

I do recall that right after that, we went to One Man’s Dream. I had only been in this building and to the film once before and I remembered crying hysterically. I even warned Betsy, “Prepare to watch me fly into the bathroom for tissues after the film.” Her crying started before mine, though! Hers began within the first five minutes. Mine started when Julie Andrews began talking about Uncle Walt spending a particular day of the week with his daughter. Then I BAWLED when Jiminy Cricket sang “When You Wish upon a Star.” I tried covering up afterwards by telling her that I was just upset at my faulty drawing of Pooh. LOL.

Uncle Walt's office

We rode Toy Story Mania a second time and The Great Movie Ride again (yay for another ride of front row AND the gangster!). We shopped around a bit and did the trivia at Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind Shop to attempt answering the questions. We did not do so well.

We left the park afterwards and drove to the Wilderness Lodge. We had a dining reservation at Whispering Canyon! Shalon met us there. J Dinner was absolutely wonderful. The cornbread is such a highlight of the meal. Of course, after asking for extra straws, we had a bunch thrown on the table. And I had to ask for ketchup. Much to my happiness, a few kids brought over about thirty bottles. Shortly after, another family also asked for ketchup, so the three of us brought all of our bottles over.

Shalon obviously enjoyed her dinner.

Awhile after dinner, it was getting close to 8pm. If there was going to be a time where I would have the chance to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, this would be the night. I looked at Betsy and Shalon and they said, “You are going to miss Fernando.” (Fernando is the turtle whom I have a crush on in the parade. He is my leading man.) I was hemming and hawing about it…”Wellll, I don’t have to see it….” They hollered at me and said, “GO. JUST GO.” Off I went. I scrambled to the ferry, hopped on, and entered the Magic Kingdom with a big smile on my face and determination in my step. I squeezed my way through the crowd and almost to the very front. I got there in time! They were just coming around Main Street USA! I was grinning like the Mouseketeer that I am the entire time. All of our favorite characters passed by, waving at everyone. Then, there he was, in all of his shining glory….Fernando. My heart skipped a beat. I may have shed a tear as well. Unbelievably, Fernando began to do his little spinning thing that the adorable MSEP floats do, and he stopped when he was facing me. He came a bit closer and just paused. He and I were looking at each other for a moment, then he carried on. It was a magical moment for me. It was as if he thanked me for taking the time on my vacation to see him. When he passed by, I yelled out “BYE FERNANDO!!!” A guest next to me laughed wickedly and said, “Ha, she calls him Fernando.” I shot her a dirty look. She is just jealous of the magical moment that he and I shared on Main Street. J

I walked to the front entrance to meet up with Betsy and Shalon. Then the three of us squeezed our way to a great spot in front of Cinderella’s Castle. This was going to be the very first time I saw The Magic, The Memories, and You. What a beautiful, amazing show. I am so blessed to have had the chance to see it. My jaw dropped open from the very first scene. Then Uncle Walt appeared on the castle, and I began to cry. Shortly after that, Wishes began. More crying then ensued. I laughed as Shalon was singing “Wisheeeeees” and Betsy was yelling at her to stop.

We took the ferry back to the Wilderness Lodge, where we all went to the Villas. I had never been there before. It is so beautiful inside. Betsy showed us her favorite rocking chairs, and I got to see a piece of Uncle Walt’s railroad that he had in his backyard. Shalon had to leave afterward, but Betsy and I stayed a while longer. We sat at a table and ate our dessert from Whispering Canyon (I had the Kahlua flavored chocolate cake and she had the apple caramel pie). Then we sat in the rocking chairs and just rested. It was one of my favorite moments of the vacation…being able to not think about anything else and enjoy the peace.

What an emotional roller coaster of a day. My horrible drawing, One Man’s Dream, MM&Y, and Wishes. And I got to spend it with two of my favorite people in the entire world. Who could ask for more?

Epic October 2011 - Day 4


The day of Epcot! Being the good friend I am, I told Betsy to sleep in and that I would get a ride from someone else. Just because I am a good friend does not make me smart. I asked Tom (@idetestyou) if he was available to drive me. Oy. If you have any respect for your life whatsoever and would rather not die, do not ask Tom to drive you anywhere. Just kidding! It was not that bad. All I have to say is that he started out by saying, “Okay, so…I don’t know where I am going.” *grabs rosary beads*

When we got there, we rode Spaceship Earth. Next we went to Club Cool where I tried Beverly for the first time. Tom captured the below photo of me trying it. If phlegm and cough syrup had a baby, its name would be Beverly.

No bueno!

We made our way to Mexico where we briefly caught up with John (@DisneyWorlds), Scott (@CollecTM), and his wife Peggi. Then we spotted Chris Lowry (@Chris_Toffer)! It had been entirely too long since I had seen him. Tom, Chris, and I walked to Morocco where we met up with Betsy, Scarlett, and Ben. Chris had to leave shortly after. The five of us went to the America pavilion where the Betamouse tweetup was! It was great seeing Henry Work and Jeff Chaney again. Ben and I were searching through the Food & Wine Festival pamphlet and trying to decide which specialties we wanted. A tremendous amount of choices!

One of the highlights of my trip was when I saw Kev (@Kevidently)!! I got a huge hug from him which totally made my day. It was one of those times when you keep asking someone where they will be when, and you are constantly missing each other, then boom…it happens!

After the Betamouse meet, Betsy, John, Tom, and I went on Maelstrom in Norway. Too fun!

Tom, me, John = BOSS.

We rode the Gran Fiesta Tour next. The Three Caballeros, accompanied by John, sang to us. We went to La Cava del Tequila next, where Nichole Willis (@nicwillis007), Scott, and Peggi joined us. Dawn (@Dawnzy58) and Don (@1DonDuck) came as well, in addition to Ashley (@Disney_Couture) and Matt Hochberg (@matthochberg). It was wonderful meeting them all!

After visiting with them for a while, John, Betsy, and I left and went to Tutto Italia in Italy for dinner. Aurora, James, Scarlett, and Ben joined us. The portions of food were enormous! Scarlett helped me out a bit because I could not take down that whole meal by myself. It was delicious though. I had penne pasta with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella mixed in olive oil. Yum!

After dinner, Shelley, Dave, Todd, and Cheryl met us outside Italy and we walked to the United Kingdom area for Snack Attack. I finally got to meet the world famous AJ (@DisneyFoodBlog)! She is an absolute sweetheart and it was such an honor to meet her. I also got to meet Marc (@PlazandMainSt) and his lovely wife. I also had the chance to meet the amazing Theresa Sheingold (@delphinius18)! I adore that lady!

I caught up with Vicki Barrett again, as well as Henry Work, Dan (@prd3000), and Emily (@VeganEmily)! We all pigged out and that is where I had my very first Babycakes item … the mini chocolate cupcake brownie. A little piece of Heaven right there. After downing those, chocolate Mickey Rice Krispie treats, schoolbread, popcorn, and other goodies, we were all pretty much done for. (By the way, this was also my first time trying schoolbread. Not a good experience – Betsy and I thought it had an odd pepper taste.)

Soon after, it was time for Illuminations! We all crowded together for a front row seat. It was absolutely beautiful. I tried watching some of them through the Mickey glasses – if you are unaware of what these are, they make the fireworks look like exploding Mickey heads. It is a really neat effect and I would have used them if I was there all of the time, but I’m not. So I went the old-fashioned way and watched with my own eyes. I did, however, eat Gummi Worms with Shelley.

After the beautiful display that is Illuminations, I chatted a bit with friends, then it was time to go. Betsy and I trudged to the Beach Club Resort, where she showed me around. (Sidenote: Love their bathrooms. Although it is Kouzzina cold in there, how about those little wash cloth/towels? Love!)

I went to bed shortly after Betsy dropped me off at the hotel. I was exhausted and extremely uncomfortable. I ate entirely too much food. I think we all did.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Epic October 2011 - Day 3


Betsy picked me up and we headed over to the Poly. We collected our leis at the front, and met up with Shelley, Dan Braunstein, Lee Dralle, and Robbie Fenoglio to have breakfast at Kona CafĂ©! We all tried each other’s food, and I cannot tell whether I love macadamia nut pancakes or Tonga Toast more. I am undecided! It was absolutely delicious. After saying farewell to the guys, Shelley, Betsy, and I went over to wait for the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. When the ferry arrived, Betsy and I boarded while Shelley went back home.

We went on a few rides, although I cannot remember which ones. LOL. We did a lot in Fantasyland – I know we rode It’s A Small World, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan, and Winnie the Pooh. We might have done Snow White that day as well. We then went over to Pecos Bill’s and saw Aurora (@RoraBorieAlice), James (@THATJamesMoore), and Cade (@CadelLadelSoup)!! I was thrilled to see them! We had lunch then went on The Haunted Mansion. I had never seen the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade, so we went on Main Street to watch it. Jay Griffith and Melissa McCrady joined us to watch it. I LOVED IT!!!! That is definitely my favorite parade there. Aurora and I went out and danced with the characters. Mickey Mouse made me cry at one point…as the floats were leaving the area, he looked at me and Rora and placed his hands on his heart in an “I love you” sort of way. I melted!! I will love Rora forever for capturing that!

Afterwards, we left MK. The six of us squished in Betsy’s car to head to Shelley’s house! First we made a stop at Publix. Yay! I wish we had this chain in New York. It would make my life a lot better. Actually, being in Florida itself would make my life a lot better. ANYWAY. When we got to Shelley’s house, she, Dave, Zoe, and Shane were all there. The Carans’ house is absolutely beautiful, by the way. Wow. After a short while, the Perlmutters arrived equipped with their adorable dog, Jasper! I loved seeing him and giving him his treats. J

As we were eating dinner, someone else arrived. Who appears at the door then, but Tom Chiodo (@idetestyou). He looks at me and goes, “You ARE here!” The picture below came next, followed by him pushing me across the room.

Troublemakers at work ... Tom and me

We all watched wrestling and laughed a lot. I had a ton of fun. It was great to spend time with people I consider true family.

Epic October 2011 - Day 2


Around 10am, I strolled over to Downtown Disney. I went all major shopaholic at The World of Disney. Whenever I walk into that store, I always feel like I’m about to hyperventilate. I kept myself from doing so, and calmly walked around. Amazingly, I only bought two items – a lovely navy blue WDW 1971 canvas purse, and a Rafiki stuffed animal for my brother. J I also went to the pin trading booth and bought a mess of pins. My hands were so full of pins, that I believe I frightened the poor Cast Member.

At about 11am, I walked to the other end of DTD (not realizing at this point that they had a water taxi…sigh) to meet my Uncle Don! We had lunch at Earl of Sandwich, and I convinced him to get the holiday sandwich, which he loved. We then went to Ghiradelli and sat outside, eating our ice cream. We spent the next three hours, strolling in and out of stores and catching up. As I was making many purchases, he was teasing me on how I would be the reason that Disney will run out of merchandise. LOL.

He walked me back to my hotel around 2-2:30pm and we parted ways there. Saying goodbye to him is always tough for me. He is not a man who displays affection often, and when he looked away to say “I love you”, that made my heart break a little. When he did that, my eyes filled with tears and I pretty much ran into the elevator. I’m a big softie and I was NOT about to cry on only my second day of the vacation!!

After changing into my Halloween costume, which was Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Betsy picked me up around 4:30pm and we drove to the Polynesian Resort. From there, we took the ferry over to the Magic Kingdom. I honestly do not remember what happened in order of how they happened…everything in my brain comes in flashes from that night. I recall heading over to the Space Mountain exit, where Jen (@Dizneydreamer) and Angie (@Minnie_Moose) were. Jen gave me a tackle hug J The four of us were going to ride the Peoplemover (which Jen appropriately re-named the Hussymover), but it broke down, so we went on Buzz Lightyear. I did much better than last time, thanks to Betsy’s assistance.

Let’s see. I know that Jen and Angie took off for a while, which is when we met up with Scott and Peggi. And of course, during all of the events that took place, we were trick-or-treating. At one point, we spotted Colin (@ParadisePeer) and Chip Buchanan, Angi @Angi_Basl) and Bob (@Bob_Basl) Basl. We all decided to go on Space Mountain, and on the way, Jeff Chaney (@jeff_chaney) and Dave Dunkowski (@soarin247) met up with us to ride. They are all such fun, warm-hearted people. I loved having the chance to hang out with them for a while. Betsy, Jeff, and I were in one car and being all brave like I am (not), I said “Let’s wave our hands in the air like we just don’t care!” The picture proves otherwise, as I’m hanging on for dear life, while Betsy & Jeff are throwing the deuces. That was a shameful moment for me. LOL.

Betsy and I stopped by the Be Our Guest podcast meet to say hi to everyone! I got to meet Mike Rahlmann (@BeOurGuestMike), Rikki Niblett (@RikkiNibs), Pam Forrester (@TMFLTPam), Nichole Willis (@nicwillis007), Joanne Griffith (@griffijm), Kayla Lopez (@DisneySoprano), Erin Daniels (@EODaniels), Steve Hood (@DisneyChief), and Lissa McCrady (@LissaLuvsWDW). A bunch of incredible people! Everyone was so kind and it was such a pleasure meeting them all. There were a few group photos taken as well, which was fun. J Also at the meet, I was happy to see Sarah (@Duchess_99) and Barry (@KrazieEyes) McGovern, who I met in NYC this past July. I also met Ricardo Rodriguez (@RJRRodriguez) and Amanda Tinney (@amandatinney). This was another day that my mind was blown from the massive amount of people I met!

After we hung out with them a bit, Betsy and I rode Pirates. She yelled at me that I had better put my arms in the air on this one. I did. J We met Cliff Wu (@bigreddog3109) at the exit. I can’t believe I finally met him! He is a great friend. We talked with him a while, then Betsy and I met up with Jen and Angie again to watch Hallowishes together. Scott and Peggi joined us too! This was the first time I had ever seen Hallowishes and I absolutely loved it. The music is incredible, and the fireworks themselves are out of this world. When it ended, I got to meet Jim Garth (@JimGarth)!! Finally!!

After Wishes, Betsy and I went on The Haunted Mansion, then realized we were cutting it close to the Boo To You Parade. So we held hands and flew through the crowds to get to Liberty Square. We sat next to a popcorn cart with Scarlett and Ben, Emily (@VeganEmily), and Dan Warren (@prd3000). Loved meeting Emily and Dan for the first time!

Me, Emily, and Dan at the Boo To You! Parade

I must add that Scarlett and Ben looked absolutely adorable in their hooded Halloween costumes!! I was a wide-eyed little girl from the moment the Headless Horseman came through, right up until the very end. I kept squealing with joy every time a float passed by. At one point, the Queen of Hearts marched over to me and threw the bottom of her dress over my head. Then one of the frightening hyenas from The Lion King tossed his face in front of mine. I love the villains! My absolute favorite part were the grave diggers from The Haunted Mansion. They scrape their shovels on the ground and sparks fly up. I gasped upon seeing that. Unexpectedly awesome!

When the parade was over, I heard “Brie?!?” Maria (@MauiMinnie702) and Brent (@MauiMickey702) Hannon spotted me and we flew into each other’s arms. It was SO wonderful seeing them! They are one of my most favorite couples in the world. J After chatting with them a while, Betsy and I headed to Main Street to watch the Villains stage show in front of the castle. Scarlett and Ben met us and we all sat on the ground to watch it. Afterwards, I got to meet Henry Work (@hwork). We laughed at our height difference, as you can see from the picture. I’m 5’1 and he….well, he isn’t.

Henry Work and me. The giant and the munchkin.

Betsy and I were heading to the Main Street Bakery when we spotted Cliff. So the three of us went and had a bite to eat. Many laughs and stories were shared…we pretty much closed the bakery that night. We may have caused some stress among the Cast Members. They probably thought we were not going to leave. Cliff had to leave then, as his flight was in a few hours. L We saw Marc Acosta (@markymarc70) and chatted with him a bit! Then we caught up with Colin again, as well as Dan Braunstein (@danbraunstein), Lee Dralle (@HerrDralle), and Robbie Fenoglio (@Caz99). The six of us decided last-minute that we were in the mood for Dole Whips. So we all met up at Captain Cook’s and had a wonderful night of laughter, lederhosen (see picture below), spontaneous combustion, and fun indulging in pizza and Dole Whips. And let me just say, for the record, that the 24-hour Dole Whip self-serve machine is one of God’s greatest gifts to man.

Me and Mr. Lee-Derhosen

On the way back to the hotel where Betsy dropped me off, we blasted music and sang along. Yet another fun, exhausting day!

Epic October 2011 - Day 1

Hey everyone! I was in Walt Disney World from 10/1-10/8 and wanted to tell you all how my vacation went. Now, I want to quickly summarize previous facts here. I decided in March that I wanted to attend Epic October. I told Betsy we spent the next tortured seven months planning, choosing, screaming, etc. I told a couple of other friends as well…for those who knew, thank you so much for keeping my secret!!! Betsy was incredibly awesome throughout the process of getting everything ready for my arrival. About two weeks before I got there, we had to tell Shalon when we came across a few obstacles in planning. She assisted in our scheming.

So this is a delayed trip report and I apologize for that. But I figured it is better late than never! Enjoy my adventures! J


I took a JetBlue plane from Newburgh International Airport to Orlando at 9am. I arrived around 12pm, and a smile broke out across my face. Simply knowing that I was about to see two of my favorite people in the world was enough to make me the happiest person in that entire airport. I took the little monorail/tram to baggage claim, and waited there for the above mentioned people. At one point when I turned around, there they were…Betsy (@floridamingo) and Shalon (@ShalonGiven)! I gave them both tackle hugs, then while waiting for my luggage which took forever to arrive on the belt, we munched on chips. But not good chips as I was hoping…they were pretty much sugared cardboard (the only negative side of JetBlue would be their snacks – they need regular potato chips). By the way, how AWESOME are Betsy and Shalon for picking me up right after their race! Woot!

We got to the parking garage and climbed into Betsy’s super comfortable car. Seriously – I was the most wide awake, happiest individual in the state of Florida and yet I could have gone right to sleep in this woman’s vehicle. Anyhow, we had a great time in her car, listening to Barbra Streisand (the song by Duck Sauce, not the actual singer herself).

We drove to Epcot. Why, you may ask? You most likely already know the answer to this, but I shall explain it in case you do not. It was to surprise the famously amazing Shelley (@shelleycaran) who had NO IDEA IN THE WORLD that I was going to be there (like most people, haha). Betsy went in first to catch up with her at the Moms Panel event in the old Odyssey building. Shalon and I went to pick up my Park Hopper, then slowly made our way over. We waited around the corner of the building. Our plan went EXACTLY as we hoped it would turn out! When Betsy brought Shelley outside, she began saying to her something along the lines of, “I have been lying to you about something that I cannot keep from you anymore. I need to tell you what has been going on.” At just about that moment, I approached from around the corner and simply said “Hi!” Shelley threw her purse on the ground, and we all began crying and hugging. We even made the Cast Member at the sign-in desk cry! My favorite part was that Shelley kept saying to me, “You are not real” to which I continually responded, “Yes I am.” I am still in shock that Betsy and I managed to pull that off! (Never again though…the suspense nearly killed us)

Surprising Shelley :)

Betsy, Shalon, me, and Shelley

After explaining to Shelley what we had been devising the last seven months, we signed in and hurried inside to the Moms Panel event. FOOD! That was such a beautiful sight to behold after those horrible cardboard chips. Quesadillas and chocolate Rice Krispie Mickey ears = all I needed. I got to see Dave, Shelley’s husband (@DavidCaran) and Zoe, their daughter, which was absolutely awesome. Right after that, I had the privilege of meeting Shelley Jones (@luvlifeinfl) and her family who are all amazing people, Jackie Gailey (@jjzmgailey), and Kristen Kirk (@DVCMom). They are all truly beautiful people and I am honored to have met them! By the way, Shelley started to slowly accept the fact that I was there. At one point while inside, she said to me, “I still hate you but I’m so glad you’re here.” J

An awesome Cast Member heard me talking to someone about Mickey ice cream bars and sandwiches, and he appeared at my side with one of each in his hands for me!! That was so cool. When we left the building, I met Steven (@hiddenmickeyguy) and Vicki Barrett, who are both incredibly kind people. I am thrilled I got to meet them! While outside, Shelley called Todd (@tperlmutter) to let him know I was there. See, there are a select number of friends who are like family to me. Todd and Cheryl (@cherylp3) represent my father and mother. I am incredibly close to them and was therefore ECSTATIC to see them. I talked to Todd for a minute and his response to everything I was saying was “Okay…..okay….okay….” It was not sinking in. I then called up Ryan (@RyanKilpatrick) who was also in shock. I LOVED surprising my friends!!! Right after that, I went public on Twitter. Tears filled my eyes as I received a tremendous amount of texts and tweets from friends.

Betsy, Shalon, Shelley, and I then drove over to the Hilton across from Downtown Disney, so I could check in. The car ride over was interesting, as it included a high speed chase to a vehicle that had a bumper sticker which a certain Miss Shalon Given needed to know what it said. The four of us chilled in my room for a short while, then drove to the Magic Kingdom. My heart started beating even faster, which I thought was physically impossible at that point, where I met so many more amazing people!

On the way over to Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, I see a figure flying toward me at full speed. Before I could even think of who it could be, Scarlett (@scarlettashley1) lunged at me for a tackle hug! She is so awesome. She introduced me to her boyfriend Ben (@Snowpup), who is super nice. After an anxious minute or two, trying to find Todd and Cheryl, my eyes finally spotted them. I lunged at Todd, who said to me, “You suck but I love you” (this became a mantra of his for the rest of the vacation). It was so awesome seeing the two of them. Being around everyone at once was wonderfully overwhelming. Then Anthony (@ayacullo) came along who is such a nice person. Really happy I met him!

We went over to Liberty Square where there was some footage being shot for Lou Mongello’s 40-hour show. I got to give Mike Beckerman (@CaptainMike88) a quick hug. Then I met the lovely Kim Knight (@KimberKnight) as well as Josh (@RaveGreenJosh) and Michelle (@CountryShell) Schultz! My mind was absolutely spinning at this point! I was in complete awe at the number of people I was meeting. I felt like half of Twitter was in the Magic Kingdom that day! Todd had to leave to rest up for his race (YAY TODD!!), so the rest of us walked to Columbia Harbour House. There we met James Dolan (@TheMousePlanner), Scott Nadeau (@CollecTM) and his lovely wife Peggi (#prettypeggi – she has no Twitter handle so it must be hashtagged). I tell ya, being at the Magic Kingdom for their 40th anniversary was incredible, but being able to spend it with so many amazing people? Magical! Brian Fee (@brianfee) and his wife Kristen met us as well, and joined us in the fun.

After eating, James, JL, Brian and Kristen, Shalon, Shelley, Betsy, and I started to make our way out of the park. On our way, we saw Mark (@IlluminatEpcot) and Libby (@EWeaver6405) Weaver! I got to give them big hugs. We also saw Kristen Helmstetter (@khelmstetter) and Doug Uhlig (@disdug71)! It was great meeting them all. We made our way to the dock to wait for a ferry to take us to the Grand Floridian marina. Waiting there were the remaining friends joining us for the night: Lea Robinson (@MagicalMousecap), John Saccheri (@DisneyWorlds) and his partner Mark, Tracey DeMarco (@dizcraze), Charles (@Yensid1970) and Nessa (@NessaAguillon) Aguillon, Jackie Gailey and her husband Jerry, Kathy McCullock (James' travel agent and such a sweet lady), and Jay Griffith (@Cessna157).

Let me just say that the yacht was phenomenal! We took a bunch of pictures all over the place. The bedrooms are small, but the fact that there are bedrooms on a boat still impresses me. One of my favorite pictures from the trip is of Shalon, me, Shelley, and Betsy lying on our one of the beds with our feet propped up. Shalon actually has that as her profile picture at the moment. J In the living room/kitchen area, there was a television and radio, and “Party Rock Anthem” suddenly came on. I do not know how we managed it, but JL, Shalon, and I did the shuffle in quite a small amount of space. That was too much fun!

Right before 9pm, we had the honor of seeing the Electrical Water Pageant which is always so beautiful. It never fails to amaze. Afterwards, we got ready for Wishes! Let me tell you all…if someone ever asks me what one of the most memorable moments of a WDW vacation was for me…this was it. Having such a perfect view and having the ability to witness the fireworks with incredible friends was a night I will never forget. I remember that my left hand was holding Shelley’s hand, and my right arm was linked through JL’s arm. J And of course, there was much crying going on. What is a showing of Wishes without tears?

At around 10pm, Betsy, Shelley, Shalon, James, JL, and I went by ferry to the Magic Kingdom. Shane Grizzard (@sdrazzirg) met us there!! It was awesome to finally meet him. We all walked over to Tomorrowland and met up with Tammy Tuckey (@voyageofariel), her sister, dad, and her grandpa. We all rode the Peoplemover together, which was also a special experience. After that, Betsy, Shalon, Shelley, JL, and Shane had to go.

It was down to James, Tammy and her family, and me. James, Tammy, and I decided to ride Splash Mountain. At night. With quite a cool breeze out. In other words…FREEZING COLD. Why did I listen to James? He told us we would not get that wet. After all, we were going to sit in the back. I have been on this attraction before, so I should have known better. Did I go with my gut and refuse to ride? No. I went on. Tammy was in the very back while James and I sat in front of her. You know the part where you circle around the final drop to go on the small hill to the left of said drop? We got DRENCHED from the effects of the drop. So there we were, soaking wet, and James is laughing hysterically while I am giving him dirty looks. Meanwhile, Tammy is behind us saying, “You guys, I don’t feel so good.” I began yelling at her that if she was going to puke, it had better be over the side of the boat. After all, I was wearing my yacht dress. LOL. Anyway, after much screaming and “I don’t want to die!” (being uttered from yours truly) being randomly hollered, we made it out alive! And Tammy managed to keep her stomach in one place.

The three of us, along with Tammy’s sister, then went on Jungle Cruise and had a fabulous time! As we got off the attraction, their dad and grandpa were coming toward us with Dole Whips in their hands! The sweet people that they are, they went to Aloha Isle and purchased pineapple Dole Whips for all of us. For me, this was a momentous occasion being this was my first one. I loved it!

We all went to the Main Street Bakery, which is where the Tuckey family had to leave. It was awesome having the chance to spend some time with them! At one point while at the Bakery, I heard a voice say, “Bufferfly Brie?” I turned around and there was Chip Buchanan (@cheshirechip)! We gave each other a big hug. It is truly amazing to travel so far from New York and have people recognize you. Twitter is quite the miracle worker.

James, being the good friend he is, stayed with me until I FINALLY got on the bus to take me back to my hotel. By that time, I was completely drained, both emotionally and physically. It was so worth it though. Every single moment of that day was filled with happiness and joy. My friends are amazing.

-To see my friend Todd Perlmutter's blog about today and his experience racing, head on over to the Touring Plans website! His link is at the following: