Saturday, November 5, 2011

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:

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