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My wife and I recently had the opportunity to attend the D23 event Magic & Merriment that took place at Walt Disney World from December 10th until December 12th. I have had some requests to reflect upon my experiences at the event, so that will be the focus of this week’s “Foto Fridays” blog post. Not really much to do with photography per se, although I did take a lot of photos during the events!
Day One – Friday, December 10th
The weekend began on Friday, December 10th, with check-in and an advanced screening of Archiving the Archives. EPCOT had evening Extra Magic Hours that night, so Sarah and I debated skipping this event altogether. Not only should we have skipped the event, D23 should have skipped it. It was a colossal waste of time and money (supposedly, these events are ‘only’ self-sufficient, meaning the tickets for the events only cost what it costs D23 to hold the events; with around 10 Cast Members standing around for the event, I wonder how it contributed to ticket cost). Check-in started at 8 pm, followed by—get this—an hour and a half “private” viewing of One Man’s Dream. One Man’s Dream is cool and all, but that’s far too long to wander around there. The Archiving the Archives video was mildly amusing, but it was just a basic documentary I could’ve watched at home. There are far better uses of my time at WDW. Overall, I’d give the first night’s event an F.
Day Two – Saturday, December 11th
The next day we had breakfast at the Odyssey, which included four presentations. One from German chefs, one from Meg Crofton, one from Grand Floridian pastry chefs, and one about this new bead product made of recycled maps. The presentations by the chefs were by far the most amusing. These guys all had a great dynamic: they had a great irreverent humor, were witty, and generally engaging, all while presenting fun information about their craft. All of the chefs were German, except for a lone Austrian. The Germans taught us valuable lessons, such as how Austrians are not as hardworking as Germans.
Meg Crofton was a bit more cold and mechanical, reading typical PR lines from a teleprompter. I looked high and low for her tail and horns, but couldn’t find them anywhere. Perhaps the podium was blocking the tail. Surprisingly, the guidemap bead folks didn’t come across as a big advertisement. Their project was really interesting, actually. I still have no idea how it relates to Christmas, but whatever. Overall, I would give this event an A-; more food and better giveaways would have been nice.
Following this event, we had the day to enjoy EPCOT before Candlelight Processional. It was nice having reserved seats without paying for a dining package, but we certainly still paid for them.
After Candlelight Processional, we boarded a secret monorail (okay, charter buses) backstage to take us to the Studios. Once there, we entered the set of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular for dinner. We have always wanted to do one of the on set/in ride dinners, so we were glad that this was included in the event. We went around to various set pieces and took photos around them. We were told not to climb on any of the vehicles for safety reasons. Climb on is not the same as crawl under, so Sarah and I quickly snapped the shot below before any clarifications were made to those rules.
Dinner was epic. The food was delicious and the beer and wine were unlimited. Afterward, Chip and Dale came out for photos. When I went up to get my third and final beer, the bartender knew what I wanted in advance. Apparently myself and two other people were the only ones who had anything to drink. I felt a little odd about that, but for the price of the event, I was going to get my money’s worth! Overall, I would give this event a B+; while being on the set was cool, the Indy set just doesn’t strike me as being as immersive as, say the Great Movie Ride. I would have given it a solid A had those spears that pop up from the ground been active. If one of those bad boys popped up, it would’ve soiled anyone going through the buffet line!
Once dinner concluded and the park cleared, we got word that it was time to head to the Osborne Lights for a private showing and behind the scenes information from the show director, John Phelan. I must say, Mouse Fan Travel and WDW Today really spoiled us. WDW Today spoiled us in that John Phelan’s presentation was almost word for word what he said about the Osborne Lights on the podcast. After about 2 minutes of listening to him, we realized this, and decided to enjoy the opportunity to take photos and enjoy the lights sans crowds. Mouse Fan Travel spoiled us in that it delivered a hard ticket event with fewer people crowding the Streets of America. I can see how this event might have been wonderful for those who don’t listen to the podcast or didn’t attend Desserts and Delights, but for us, it wasn’t that unique. Still, that’s our fault, not the event’s fault. I’ll give it a solid B+, with it losing points due to the short time duration.