Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Disney Parks with a Baby

I've been trying to think of new posts for this blog, and I think I've come up with something.  Since I now have a little one of my own, I can share with you my experience going to Disney parks as a new mom.  I know there are lots of mom blogs out there with all sorts of advice on taking babies to the parks, so rather than repeat the same information that you can find all over the place if you search for it, I will just tell you about my own personal experience.  In fact, as crazy as it sounds, our little Ella has already experienced Disney parks on both coasts in her short life so far- more than many adults do in their lifetime!  That's what happens when you've spent time living in both states and have people to visit coast to coast.

Our first trip to Disneyland with little Ella was this past September when she was 9 months old.  At this point, she was a new crawler, ate solids mostly in the form of food pouches, and still nursed periodically throughout the day.  One thing that any advice blog on taking a baby to Disney will tell you is to seek out the baby care centers in the front of each park.  When we happened to be near one, they were fabulous- huge changing tables, a private nursing room, high chairs, microwaves, and baby products for purchase.  I only wish there were more of them! Depending on how far into the park you are, schlepping all the way back to the front isn't always convenient. We didn't take advantage of them as much as I thought we would, and a few times, I just plopped in the nearest secluded corner to nurse.

Another thing I discovered is that while there are places for toddlers to play, there aren't many places to put down a crawling baby!  I wish they had a few indoor play locations for that purpose. Once Ella became mobile, it became even harder to keep her content in the stroller, and it would have been nice to put her down more often, although we did put her down inside Goofy's house and inside the animation building.  A few months ago, we were back at Disneyland, and now Ella walks- it was so much more fun that way!  We could just put her down and watch her skitter all over Toontown.

I definitely recommend having both a carrier and a stroller- strollers cannot go into lines, and it's so much easier to wear a baby than to hold her.  On the downside, it gets too hot to comfortably do this for too long during the summer. The stroller was nice to be able to put stuff down and park somewhere in the vicinity of where we were hanging out- just remember that any valuables you leave in it are at your own risk.

A baby/ young toddler can definitely still have a lot of fun at a Disney park.  Ella's favorite from the get-go was the Enchanted Tiki Room.  In fact, she loved it so much that we bought a print for her room and now say goodnight to the Tiki Birds each night as part of her bedtime routine. She went on lots of dark rides and spent most of the time just staring intently at everything as if she was thinking, "What on earth is this?" but she did enjoy Small World as well as the Disney Junior show- before she could stand, she kept insisting on being held upright so she could see.

When it comes to the characters, ever child is different.  I've seen babies adore them and six year olds run in terror- you just never know.  When she was younger, she was indifferent, but during her first trip as a toddler, she adored Mickey and Minnie- both of whom she calls Minnie. She walked right up to them going, "Minnie! Minnie! Minnie!" My advice for a first meeting is to move slowly to test your child's reaction, and if he or she doesn't want to stand close and you absolutely must get a picture, stand with your child in your furthest arm from the characters or stand several feet in front of them. 

All the advice I've read on taking children recommends going back to the hotel mid-day for rest. We probably should have done that more than we did.  We can still occasionally get Ella to fall asleep on the go, but the older she gets, the harder it is to pull off.  We tend to push our luck because we don't like wasting time at the hotel if we can get away with it.  I'm very thankful we can afford an annual pass so we don't have to stress about getting our money's worth. On our most recent trip to Disneyland, she napped poorly the first day, so we gave her a break in the hotel during the afternoon on the 2nd, and she ended up sleeping for 3 hours! I took advantage of my husband staying in the room with her to go for a swim- she wouldn't fall asleep with me being right there anyway.  Having stayed in hotels with her several times at this point, I like it better when we have a suite and can put her down in a separate room.

Since we've had the chance to experience taking Ella to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World within a couple weeks of each other, I can tell you with reasonable authority that Disneyland is by far  easier to navigate with a baby than WDW and also allows for more freedom in planning your day.  At WDW, everything is quite spread out- there are buses and/or monorails to get to everything. Every time you board one of those buses, you must fold up your stroller.  This can be very frustrating if you have a napping baby or you are using your stroller to hold backpacks and such, and going back to your resort for a nap is a huge pain unless you are lucky enough to be staying in a particular hotel and going to it's adjacent park. At Disneyland, however, everything- even many off property hotels- is right there within walking distance.  The two theme parks are literally a courtyard away from each other, and Downtown Disney and the Disney resorts are just beyond that- no folding up strollers necessary.  I would add, however, that while strollers do not need to be folded for WDW's monorail, they do on Disneyland's equivalent which is quite a bit more compact.

The question people always ask is if it is worth it to take a baby to Disney.  I would say that the answer depends a lot on how you feel about Disney parks yourself.  I am a Disney geek.  If the only way I get to go to a Disney park any time soon is to take a baby, then by golly, I'm taking a baby!  If however, you aren't really into the parks yourself but want to do it for your child, you may have a better time if you wait a few years. When you go to Disney with your baby, you are really going because *you* want to go. However, if you are a big Disney fan like I am, rest assured that your baby can still have lots of fun!  Just take it easy and work with your baby's schedule with the understanding that you'll have to change your approach, that your visit will be different that your previous trips but with just as much magic as long as you remember to look for it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Islands of Personality

Hello again- sorry I've neglected this blog as of late.  Having a new baby is quite distracting!  However, this summer, I did manage to make it out to the theater for Disney-Pixar's exciting new movie Inside Out.  I'd been waiting for this movie since the D23 Expo back in 2013 when they debuted the characters and some rough footage.  I'm thrilled to see Pixar finally have a movie with several female characters- something sadly lacking in most of their earlier pictures.

In case you've been out of the loop, Inside Out is the story of a young girl named Riley and the emotions that control her mind- Anger, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear.  I love how they've visualized how the mind works, how memories are formed and how they are colored by emotion.  From what I've read, the production team did a lot of research on how the mind works in order to accurately portray it:  not that we all have little people living in our heads of course, but what they represent. If you've seen the movie, though, admit it- you now imagine your emotions as these brightly colored characters taking turns on a console, don't you?  I know I do! I've heard that many therapists have already started using these characters to help children understand their own emotions. I think that's fabulous!

In the film, Riley has what they refer to as Islands of Personality, islands created by core memories that form different aspects of her personality.  In Riley's case, they are Friendship, Family, Honesty, Goofball, and Hockey.  It's fun to try to imagine what your own might be and what core memories might be behind them.  I think that I would share all of Riley's except Hockey.  Of course, an adult (in theory) such as myself would have a vastly more complicated system than an 11 year old, but I can picture what some of the others might be for me. 

First of all, I would most certainly have a Disney island. Disney is such a huge part of who I am. (Obviously.) I can think of a couple potential core memories for that one.  It might be my first trip to Disneyland at age 7.  However, I think the moment that really closed the deal on my Disney geekiness was going to see The Little Mermaid in Hollywood when I was 8.  While we went to see all the classic Disney re-releases of the 80s, it was that movie and that particular experience that really struck a cord.  It was the first movie I remember highly anticipating and counting down the seconds, the first one that I ever owned on VHS, and the one whose soundtrack I wore out. I made references to "Under the Sea" on three different writing exercises in 3rd grade.

I would have to have an American Girl island.  I've been collecting the dolls and their things since my 9th birthday.  I can pinpoint exactly when that one started.  It was one fateful day at the library when I was searching for more children's lit historical fiction, something I developed a love for after my dad started using the "Little House" books as bedtime stories.  I even remember that the American Girl book I chose to check out that day was Changes for Kirsten.  I still have the book report I wrote on it on which the teacher had commented, "Do you like stories about long ago?" and I had penciled in, "yes." There was a postcard in the back of the book advertising the dolls, and my mom let me send away for the catalog.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Then, of course, there would be a Broadway island.  Coincidentally, this one also started when I was 8.  My core memory would probably be the very first time I watched a television airing of Mary Martin as Peter Pan from the 60s.  Until that time, it hadn't occurred to me that acting was something one could do for a living.  After that, I decided I was going to be Wendy on stage when I grew up.  I went on to major in theater in college.

I love when I go see a movie, and it inspires my imagination.  What do you think your Islands of Personality and Core Memories would be?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

RegalCon Day 3

It was the last day of RegalCon- since I already had my photos and autographs, we took it pretty easy in the morning. We vegged out and then went for some lunch at Red Robin.  We got back to the hotel in time for that day's celebrity panels.  Ella was kind enough to stay calm for the whole thing- huzzah! The first was Sean, Bex, and Emilie which was a lot of fun. Sean and Bex joked that Robin and Zelena's child would be Shrek - ha ha! Emilie talked about how she'd like to travel and see more than just the usual tourist stuff.  That's something we have in common.  I get the travel bug all the time!

The second panel was with Faustino, Gil, Beverley, and Michael. The highlight of that for me was the singing.  Beverley treated us to this great ditty she wrote about being mad at herself.  Gil sang a gorgeous rendition of "Part of Your World" with a few of the pronouns switched around to be from Prince Eric's point of view. I'll admit I was totally singing along! Gil and I had a nice conversation about our music theater backgrounds back at EnchantaCon. He also saw me with Ella before he went on stage and came over and cooed at her for a moment. :)

We poked in for the last 2 panels- the creativity panel and the Greetings from Storybrooke which were fun, but I was a bit distracted sitting off to the side with a baby.

Since they were having a big group viewing of the season finale in the ballroom, I had hired a hotel babysitter so that both Paula and I could watch.  I'm so glad we did this.  We were able to go out for dinner and then enjoy the show.  There were pros and cons to watching it in a big room like that.  On one hand, the reception wasn't the best- the focus kept going out, and a couple times the screen froze just long enough for us to miss an important line!  Everyone was screaming at the screen!  On the other hand, it is so much fun to be in a room full of fans of the show you are watching.  Everyone was reacting and excited, even I got into it- yelling "Henry!" in response to who should be the next author. Plus- Michael, Bex, and Faustino were actually in the room watching with us.  That must have been such a kick for them to get to watch all us Oncers go nuts.

Afterwards, we hung out and chatted with some of our new friends in the lobby. I wanted to hang out longer, but we were due to return to the room for the baby soon, so we said goodnight and that was the end of our RegalCon experience.

It was interesting to compare the 2 different OuaT cons I've been to now.  RegalCon felt more organized overall- questions for the actors were pre-selected, so no chaos trying to get the mic. RegalCon had several more actors since EnchantaCon lost many due to filming commitments. Because of that, Regal Con had more vendor tables and panels. However, also because of that, there were a lot more fans!  The positive side effect of all the EnchantaCon cancellations was a much more intimate experience.  Those of us who were there really bonded- an experience that just wasn't matched for me at RegalCon, admittedly some of that may be partially because I was distracted.  I hope I can go without a little one next time so I can relax more.   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Regal Con Day 2

Day 2
On Saturday, I decided to go for a little cosplay so I donned my white dress and wig that I wore as Snow White for Comic Con last year.  I put Ella in the wrap carrier to go with the look a bit better. The first photo ops were that morning, so we decided to go there and hang out for our photo with Emilie. After thinking about it, I realized I'd rather my pic with her have me with my real hair rather than my cheap wig, so I took it off.  Unfortunately, without it, no one could tell I was in a costume!  Oh well...I'll do more cosplay next time.

Most of the room was there for Lana Parrilla- I realized later we probably didn't need to be there so early, but we chatted with people and played on the floor with Ella.  I was amazed at how calm I was feeling despite being about to meet someone I've dreamed of meeting for at least two years. At EnchantaCon, I'd been physically shaking each time I had a cast encounter.

When they finally called for Emilie pics, we were led out of the room. There was some line confusion and some trouble on clarification on whether or not my sister needed her own ticket to be in my picture (they did end up allowing it without a ticket), but soon there we were- walking right up to Emilie de Ravin! As I had predicted, she went straight for the baby- so cute!  She commented that, oh, she must not like to smile at all, being sarcastic of course as Ella was flashing her usual big grins. We took the picture, I thanked her, and she cooed over Ella again. :)  The whole time I managed to not freak out. Both Lana and Bex were actually in the room while we were there- Lana passing through and Bex sitting off to the side.

The first panel was with Eion Bailey (August), Lee Arenberg (Grumpy), and David Anders (Doctor Whale).  I was nervous about how Ella would handle being there.  However, my seat was right up front and off to the side- perfect for bouncing back and forth or making a quick exit.  A volunteer dressed as a spot on Mary Margaret  helped us to our seats.  I swear, I kept staring at her because she looked so perfect! Again, we were given a bit of a run around trying to figure out if my sis with a GA pass could still sit with me- they eventually decided she could.

The panel was fun- I don't remember a lot of the details, but I'm sure there are plenty of recaps out there for you.  Ella started out pretty well.  In fact, at first her loud noises were happy sounds.  At one point, she let out a loud shriek in the pause after a question was asked, and one of the actors said, "Yes, I'm hungry too, sweetheart!" and everyone laughed. Well, that's one way to get remembered! Soon after that, she was just making too much noise for me to be comfortable keeping her in the room, so I bolted outside and nursed her.  I tried to listen outside the door, but I couldn't make anything out from the hallway. Oh well- I can read recaps later.

Lana's panel was that afternoon too, and to my relief, Ella stayed in good enough spirits for us to stay in the room for the entire thing as long as I distracted her with her bag of toys.  The crowd went nuts for Lana, of course.  She is old hat at these panels and delightful to listen to.  I love that she pulled a few Evil Queen cosplayers up front for everyone to admire. I've never done a Regina costume myself.  She is one of my favorite characters, but I just can't picture myself as her.  It would be SO against type!

The first autograph sessions were later that afternoon and went a bit smoother than the photos earlier. I bought stills to have each actor sign.  I had four tickets and chose Emilie, Sean Maguire (Robin Hood), Beverley Elliot (Granny), and Rebecca Mader (Zelena). Lana's photo ops and autograph were expensive and popular, so I decided not to for it, but now I'm wishing I had as I ended up not meeting her at all.  Oh well, next time.

Ella was fast asleep as I entered the autograph room and went up to each table where an actor sat.  They all adored Ella.  Emilie asked to address the autograph to both of us.  I had rehearsed in my head what I wanted to say to her- that anyone who played Belle was automatically my hero and I've met the voice actress from the film as well as the original Broadway actress.  Her reply was that she hadn't. Ha ha

To Rebecca, I told her that she was the first OuaT actress I had seen prior to the show- in the American Girl movie!  She told me that I was the first to tell her that and that it was a sweet movie.  She also loved Ella and said she had noticed her when we were having our picture with Emilie earlier.
Beverley and Sean both loved Ella too and I told them I am such a big fan of the show that I brought my baby because that was the only way I could come. I also told Beverley that I had dressed as Red at EnchantaCon.

I was very excited for that evening's events as the banquet was probably the one thing I was most eager for! Since I was a Regal package holder, I got to be among the first to choose my table and picked Emilie's- hurray!  Some delays due to Lana's popularity caused dinner to be an hour late.  I was so hungry. Lana wasn't going to be at dinner but did host the Queen's Reception.  I had debated going, but ultimately decided not to pay $50 for the chance that I might get to talk to Lana for 2 seconds. I did enjoy the time I had to socialize with other Oncers while we waited for dinner though- having the baby with me during the day made it harder to do so because I was distracted.

Finally, they let us in for dinner.  I wore my Storybrooke Belle blue dress. Each table was decorated differently.  Emilie's featured a rose and a book.  I also saw green apples, a model ship, and a lantern among others. It took a while for the actors to trail in, so eventually, I got too hungry to wait and grabbed my food- salad, tri-tip, chicken, and a really yummy ravioli (plus a divine selection of desserts which I grabbed later). While we waited for Emilie, Rebecca walked by me and said "Hello!" followed by "Where's the baby?  Under the table?"  Ha!  I explained to her that my sister was caring for her in the hotel room.  I got asked where she was about 3 times that evening!

I was excited when Emilie arrived and again surprised at my own calmness. I wonder if maybe it was because thanks to social media and all the interviews I've read and other panels I'd seen, I almost felt as if I already knew her.  She no longer seemed like such an enigma to me which was nice. I didn't pay for one of the seats immediately next to her because I figured I'd enjoy her company in any seat, but it was a little harder to hear the conversation from the others seats- oh well.

 I don't remember everything that was talked about, but there was a lot of laughs.  One of the girls commented that it was easy to miss the actors walking right by you because they blend in, and I added that actors look just like the rest of us out in the real world.  Emilie quipped that she was hiding her 3rd leg. *snicker* Ok, for the record, I do know that actors are human!  We talked about continuity errors (I mentioned this even happens in animation- such as the disappearing/ reappearing mess of food on the Beast's face in Beauty and the Beast), Disneyland (She still has never been! I wish I could remedy that! We all gave her a hard time about that.), and how she wears those crazy high heels.  Betsy had one of the seats next to her and talked to her quite a bit about Belle.

I showed her pics of my cats and told her how one of them liked to sit on the baby lounger.  She said it wasn't the baby's anymore.  Ha! I showed her a pic of the Belle dress I'd made for EnchantaCon out of my wedding dress. She replied that was a good idea.  I also took out one of my teacup earrings to show her. She started letting us take selfies with her, so I hastily tried to put the earring back in- took a few tries! Technically, the pic wasn't a selfie- Betsy took it for me- but yay for a pic with Emilie! Bex was also doing selfies, so I grabbed one with her too.

There was supposed to be an hour between dinner and the ball, but since dinner started late, there wasn't. However, I had bought a dress just for the ball, and gosh darn it, I was going to wear it, so I ran back up to my room to change.  It was a really pretty retro style dress of bright pink with an overlay of iridescent blue.  It reminded me of Aurora so I added a lavender shawl and a tiara- technically it was a Giselle from Enchanted tiara, but hey- whatever works, right?

The ball was very similar to EnchantaCon's ball- although it lacked the fun decorations from the latter and the actors weren't announced and escorted in as they were last time. The early music was fun, light stuff I like such as "Hey, Mickey" but it wasn't long before it got into the real head pounding base sort that I really don't care much for.  I tried to mingle a bit with the actors, but they were always surrounded by people, and it was too loud. I did get eye contact and smiles from David and Eion. I also saw Gil again, and he mentioned seeing me with a baby.  He asked how it was going and said he will probably be there in another year or so.

I always think I come across as a bit creepy at events like this because I'm shy.  I really want to talk to people, but I don't know what to say, so I sort of just look at them a lot and smile and hope they will talk to me. 

Like EnchantaCon, there was a costume contest.  Unlike EnchantaCon, pretty much everyone who went on stage got acknowledged instead of actually having winners.  There were some great Reginas, a spot on Marian, a kid in a perfect Blue Fairy replica, and a mascot character style Jiminy Cricket. I debated going up there myself, but I didn't feel confident enough that my look would read as a costume. In hindsight, I wish I had just gone up.  Both Michael and Faustino jokingly went up on stage as themselves. Goofballs!

I usually like to stay late at events like that because I like to wait for when everything calms down- that's usually when the great memories happen.  However, I was exhausted and my sis was waiting for me, so I only stayed for about an hour and a half or so including time outside in the hallway to soak in the quiet. I made a new friend- a cosplaying Evil Regal named Kelly. She had a great red velvety Evil Queen costume.

I was surprised to see that there was another family there with little ones- a woman dressed as Belle had a small child strapped to her back and a little princess holding her hand.  Just as they were leaving, she turned to me and told me her little girl had been repeatedly pointing out my bare feet after I'd taken off my shoes, saying "See? There is a princess with no shoes!"  Teehee!

After that, it was back to the room to sleep before my usually early morning baby wake up call.

RegalCon recap!

Well...looks as if I haven't done much with this blog in the past year.  I was little preoccupied with a new baby:  Ella born this past December. :)

My last post was about EnchantaCon- and now I have another OuaT convention to report on!  I just returned from Anaheim where me and the little one as well as my sister, Paula, spent 3 days in the company of Oncers and cast.

Day 1
This time around, I decided to spring for the big ticket package which included the cocktail party, the banquet, the ball, a photo op, and a selection of autographs.  My sister got general admission and so she took care of Ella for me in the evenings so I could attend the Regal package events.

I arrived on Thursday evening.  Paula wasn't going to be arriving until Friday, so I was on my own getting everything to the hotel room.  Thankfully, I've discovered that I usually get help when people see me struggling with a baby- sure enough, a kind woman helped me carry things.  That night, I grabbed some dinner at the hotel by myself- I didn't see anyone I knew yet.  I overheard some OuaT talk at the next booth over.  I tried to say hello, but I guess I was too timid- they didn't notice me.

Since registration didn't start until Friday afternoon, I decided to take the opportunity to go to Downtown Disney.  It was rough to be so close to Disneyland and not have plans to actually go into the park, but Ella is only 5 months, and I would also like to save her first Disney visit for when my husband is there to witness it too. I did take a selfie with Ella in front of the main entrance though, and when I posted the picture, I discovered one of my CM friends from Florida was there visiting too.  It was fun to get to catch up- I hadn't seen her since we moved.  I then bought a few baby clothes and an Ariel shirt for me that I couldn't resist and grabbed a shuttle back to the hotel.

There was a long line to check in- a bit awkward with a baby and all the baby things (stroller, etc) but we made it in eventually with only mild fussiness. I ran into a couple friends from EnchantaCon- Zach and Laurie- there weren't many of us there, but it was fun to see them.

I attended 2 panels on Friday- a Once Upon a Time fan podcast and a cosplay panel.  Ella did really well- she only cried once.  I was playing with her on the ground when she face planted.  (Don't worry, she was fine- just startled.) The panels were fun- we met some cosplayers with fantastic get ups.  I didn't do much cosplay on this trip because I had the baby with me and didn't want to deal with all that extra stuff, but I really missed it!  Since I'm shy, I love using costumes as an ice breaker.  I also love posing for pictures!  A few of the actors from the OuaT parody Once Upon a Anonymous were there- I kept wondering why they looked familiar until I heard who they were.  I've watched those videos before- they're funny! I also saw the hosts of the Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast whom I had first met nearly 2 years ago at the D23 Expo.

I had wanted to go to the welcome reception, but when I got there with baby Ella in her carrier, they were doing sound checks for the 45 Spacer concert that night.  A woman helping with security told us she couldn't allow us to go in there with a baby.  She must have thought I was nuts!  I didn't want the loud music...the concert wasn't supposed to be until later! Finally, the sound test was over, and we went in and walked to the back.  Unfortunately, once they started talking, a scary loud feedback sound came from the speakers, and I covered my baby's ears and bolted out of there almost in tears. I decided to listen from outside.

Paula was there at that point, and followed shortly after- also not interested in the concert and we still had to get her things to my room.  It was during this time that I met a Oncer in person whom I'd only known online before- Betsy.  Betsy and I have had an interesting relationship.  In fact, online, we have gotten into huge debates before and driven each other mad!  In person, however, I discovered she was actually pretty nice and helped us with Paula's things. And while we stood in the lobby area chatting, who should walk by but Beverley Elliot who stopped and cooed at Ella for a moment.

Paula and I grabbed a salad from the coffee shop downstairs since we didn't have time for a full meal before I headed off to the cocktail party. I decided to wear my new dress from Hot Topic which is covered in quote from Disney princesses as well as my handmade chipped cup earrings.  Paula took over Ella's bedtime routine while I headed down to the party.

The cocktail party had a small selection of food- trays of fruit, cheese, and crackers as well as wontons and such.  I should have eaten more at dinner- I was pretty hungry!  It was freeing to finally have some time without a baby. A lot of people came dressed in Storybrooke ensembles- I saw several variations on Mayor Regina, a few blue sundress Belles, and some red leather jackets.

The cocktail party was nice, if a bit loud and crowded for my taste- the space we were in felt too small for the number of people.  I felt a little overwhelmed and did my usual awkward bouncing from cluster to cluster, trying to chat with people. Every actor had a group of people around them, and assertiveness isn't my strongest suit, so I mostly just said hi.  I got a lot of compliments from other fans on my dress and earrings though.  Gil McKinny (Prince Eric) did indeed remember me from EnchantaCon, and Faustino di Bauda (Sleepy) remembered a conversation that I mentioned we had once had on Facebook about getting some memorabilia for my high school's theater department's annual auction and got on my case about being too shy to follow through on it!

I hung out for a while because my favorite time is when the music gets quieter and the crowd thins out.  I like when I can actually hear people.  I overheard some girls talking to Michael Coleman (Happy) about theme parks, and I thought ah ha, here's my in! Now that's a conversation I can join, so I was able to chat a bit with him.  His wife and little girl were there too.  Little Belle was darling!  I'm totally more at ease with kids than adults.  I wanted to play with her, but I didn't push it in case her parents thought me strange. I miss all the little girls I got to interact with at WDW.

I met my 2nd online friend here, Marguerite.  We've tweeted each other bunches of times in the past.  She's very sweet. And I totally didn't intend to write a poem- haha.

I returned to my room to the news that Ella had finished her bottle and was asleep- yay!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

EnchantaCon Day 3

There wasn't nearly as much scheduled for the 3rd day, especially since I'd not bought any more autograph or photograph tickets- something which I now regret.  Terri left our room fairly early to go to the farewell breakfast.  I put on my Storybrooke Belle dress and ambled around for a bit hoping to run into a friend.  I'd seen a few other wearing versions of this dress throughout the weekend, but I didn't notice anyone else this time.  While looking around, someone commented to me that he'd seen Brooke lounging on one of the couches with a book.  I happily found her and asked if she wanted to go to the breakfast buffet.  At breakfast, we basked in the glow of what a fabulous time we'd been having.  She had even run into some of the actors in the gym when she went for her workout that morning- wild!  Oh- we also had a surprise visit from Shamu.  I had no idea this was a character breakfast!

Back in the convention hall lobby, I did some more pics with new friends.  Terri and Ellen were both Enchanted Forest Belle- each with her own crocheted Rumple doll!

Before we started our last set of Q&As, our hosts welcomed us for a final farewell.  They had those of us who won the costume contest stand up to be presented with our prize.  I got $25 towards the booth selling those really cool light up picture cubes....from which I had just bought a RumBelle one the day before!  Well, isn't that funny luck!  I guess I'll have to get a matching set.

Our first Q&A was with Dvaid Anders aka Dr. Whale.  I hadn't been as eager for this day's presentations but while David isn't the sort of person I'd likely be hanging out with, he was quite funny on stage and had us giggling a lot.  It also turns out he can sing!  He did a bit from Into the Woods which tickled me since it's also about fairytales,

Keegan surprised us by joining David on the stage for a bit before she went to the airport.  She freaked a bit at Terri's Rumple doll, and they took him on stage and started goofing with him- ha!  Poor Keegan had almost entirely lost her voice by this point- she had a cold.

Ethan Ebroy followed up, and he proved to be quite a riot too.  He told about the time Colin O'Donoghue invited him over for dinner, and he claimed he was a terrible cook.  My favorite of his stories was how Emilie de Ravin was one day having a little too much fun with a label maker by going around giving everyone funny names.  Apparently, she gave him a really naughty one because he wouldn't even say it, but he said he wore it on the inside of his jacket all day while on set!

After the Q&A's the host gave away some raffle prizes, but I hadn't bought any tickets.  However, they also held giveaways for random tweets with the hashtag #EnchantaCon.  I ended up winning an autographed photo of Lee Arenberg (Grumpy)!  Of course, autographs mean a lot more to me if they are personalized, but it was cool nonetheless!

In the lobby, the attendees began to disperse as not much else was going on.  We did some group pictures and chatted about how sad we were to see it all end and how we simply must do this again next year.  We got to say goodbye to the cast as the actors made their way out.  Gil gave out hugs, and I made sure to get one/.  He'd addressed me by name every time he saw me.  Raphael would pat the back of my arm.

I didn't want the weekend to end, but for all intents and purposes, the event was over. And what a bummer that it was too cold to swim- even for me!  I'd been intending  to go in the pool all weekend, and the one day I had a long gap of free time, the weather was just gloomy.  We were supposed to get a mermaid performance but that was a no-go too- just too cold for her.

Eventually, Terri, Loki, and I ended up wandering the shops of Downtown Disney (the closest I got to the parks on this trip) while some of the others caught a movie- not a bad way to end the weekend.

I had the best time at Enchanta Con!  Sure, it was on a much smaller scale and less organized than, say, the D23 Expo, but the intimate nature of this one made it so special.  Everyone there connected in some way. We will always be a part of the family of Oncers who attended the very first Once Upon a Time convention.  We got to interact with professional actors in a way I've never experienced before.  Every one of us had ample opportunity for conversation and acknowledgement.  They were right there among us.  I can't wait to be a part of this again.

More random pics from the weekend taken on friends' cameras:
                                                        Contest winners

Friday, December 6, 2013

EnchantaCon Day 2 recap

For the second day, I prepped my Enchanted Forest Belle look- the same one I wore to D23 a few months ago.  Marie had wanted to leave some of her things in my room, so I waited around while Terri went to get some photo ops with the actors.  It took a while for the bus to drop her off, but she finally made it.  On the way to meet her in the lobby, I was ambushed by Teresa and Lori of Once Upon a Fan who had recognized me from my pictures.  They were delightful to meet and I wanted to talk more, but I didn't want to leave Marie hanging.

Marie was dressed as Neverland Emma with a grey shirt, a sword, a blonde wig, and even a homemade Neverland map.  She looked adorable!  We had some time so we decided to have a very sugary breakfast of pastries.  Marie had an apple turnover of the non-poisoned variety.

Our first panel was at noon with Raphael Sbarge, Keegan Conner Tracy, and Tony Amendola- the Pinocchio characters. Unlike the panel at Paleyfest, there was no real moderator, so the Q&A was a bit of a free for all.  People could raise their hands to ask a question, then the actors could call on them, and someone would try to get to them with the mic.  It didn't always reach the speaker on time though!

I don't recall a lot of the specifics of the questions and answers, but all 3 were lovely to hear from.  Keegan especially has quite the sense of humor, and Raphael is a super sweet guy.  It was fun to hear Tony's normal voice when he always speaks with an Italian accent on the show, and I've never seen his other roles.  He was very engaging with the audience as well.  Someone always asks OuaT actors who their favorite fairytale characters are- one day I need to come up with some creative questions to ask.

Our second guest was the very handsome Gil McKinney- Once's own Prince Eric.  I wasn't familiar with his other work, and he has only been in one episode so far, so I didn't know too much about him, but he was so great with us over the weekend that I think I've become a Prince Eric fan.  A group of us saw him walking around the hotel the day before, and we'd waved, and we'd fangirled a bit.  His Q&A was fun!  It was sweet that this was his first con, and he wasn't really sure what to do.  He talked about the Progressive commercial he shot with "Flo" and his background in musical theater. 

Then something mind-boggling happened: Gil looked right at me and said, "Are you Angela?"

I nodded in shock.

"I recognize you from Twitter!  Do you have a question?"

All I could do was put my hand over my mouth, giggle, and shake my head.  I was speechless! I asked Brooke if I had turned bright red. She said I had.  Marie gave me a hard time for not asking anything when I had the chance, but he'd put me on the spot!

Our host, Josh, told us to return to the main room at 4 after the autograph session for a special surprise.  At first, we were all curious what he meant, but soon it occurred to us that the surprised was likely the hinted at Skype session with the actors who couldn't make it.

My ticket package included one autograph ticket.  I decided on Raphael Sbarge.  There was a table out front with a huge collection of photos you could purchase for $5 each.  I chose one that had 4 of the characters played by actors at the convention standing up front- a shot from the episode "We Are Both" I believe.

They brought us into the room a few rows at a time and wrote our names on Post-it notes so the actors wouldn't have to worry about spelling.  Each actor sat behind a table along with an assistant.  I got in line for Raphael, and as usual, my hands got clammy and my heart fluttered- no matter how much I reminded myself that he is just a person, and I'd spoken to him the night before.

I have a knack for hiding my nerves, though, as I was able to speak just fine.  It was probably pretty silly for me to comment on loving the show though- just call me Captain Obvious!  I mentioned that I was the one who had performed the song paraody video he had commented about on Twitter- he remembered! He was just as sweet and fan friendly as I'd heard.  He left room on the picture for the others to sign.  Too bad I wasn't getting other autographs!

I didn't have any more autograph tickets, so I just hung around and chatted with new friends while internally fangirling.  We noticed that Ethan Embroy's line had cleared out so we decided to go up and say hello.  He asked if we were having a good time, and we said we were.  Then I felt shy again and didn't really know what else to say.

We waited for Gil's line to clear so we could say hi to him as well,  He jokingly gave me a hard time about not asking any questions.  I'll have to come up with something next time- I'm never good at thinking of things to ask.

We returned to the main room and sat in anticipation of out 4pm surprise.  As it turned out, we were completely correct!  They darkened the room, and everyone cheered when two familiar faces popped up on the overhead screen- Beverley Elliott (Granny) and Michael Coleman (Happy)! Unfortunately, Skype was in a fickle mood and kept cutting out on us as we attempted to do a Q&A!  We finally resorted to using a phone in order to understand what they were saying.  We were so thrilled to see them though!  You could tell they were having a blast and really wished they were here with us in person.

We had a couple more surprises as more actors joined the first two.  We got to talk with Faustino Bauda (Sleepy), Gabe Khouth (Sneezy) and Lee Arenberg (Grumpy).  What fun!

Terri went on to get ready for the Diamond package banquet, and I headed to another room for the Once Upon a Fan panel.  I knew some of them from Twitter, so it was nice to meet them in person and learn about the history of the fansite.  They told the story of how Robert Carlyle himself had sent a special signed prop from Skin Deep to be auctioned off for charity.  My friend Zach was there- we'd met at D23.  He was wearing Emma's signature red jacket and calling himself "Emmett Swan"  Ha ha!

We then got into a discussion of the most recent episode.  I have a habit of turning to the person next to me when I have something to say rather than speaking to the whole group.  Teresa overheard me, though, and called on me to address everyone.  Turns out she is a teacher- figures! 

I mingled for a bit after the panel until Brooke pulled me aside, saying she wanted to ask me something away from the others.  I had no clue what was going on.  She then asked in a hushed voice, "Have you had dinner yet?" I told her the plan was to get pizza in my room with Marie.  I'm so glad we hadn't eaten yet, because the next thing I knew Josh was whisking Brooke, Marie, and I to the banquet like a fairy godmother!  They had a few extra seats, and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

We entered the banquet room.  Most everyone was already seated- the actors dispersed among each table.  We quietly fangirled, not believing we were getting to go to this!  Marie and I noticed Keegan had an empty seat on either side of her.  I felt shy and giddy and lightheaded, but Marie was all excited, "C'mon! Let's go sit with her!"  Brooke wandered off to another table.

We finished getting our food and took the seats by Keegan- felt a bit as if we were ambushing her, but we kept our cool.  Initially, I felt the bubbling inside of "OMG, I'm having dinner with the Blue Fairy!" but it didn't take long for me to relax and talk to her like anyone else.  In fact, I think I may have talked too much!  Keegan probably thought I was odd...  At one point, I was going on about the funny goof ups in Beauty and the Beast.  I also told her about my Belle gown for that night's ball that I hadn't changed into yet.  She floored me by saying "Oh, you're the one!"  Apparently word had gotten around!

I promised my young friend Ivy that I'd do her hair to go along with her Tinker Bell gown for the ball.  She came to my room with her mom shortly after dinner.  I was all set with my curling iron.  What fun not to have any rules to conform to- I could just use my imagination!  I gave her a ponytail of curls piled onto her head- she and her mother were thrilled!  In the meantime, I spent a while working the curling iron on my own hair.

It was time to don the gown I was so proud of.  With help from Marie and Terri, I used stick on Velcro and an extra patch of fabric to hide the fact that the dress would no longer zip all the way.  It took some finagling, but in the end, it worked.  Marie wasn't originally supposed to be going to the ball because it was so expensive, but some amazingly sweet "Evil Regals" bought her a ticket- yay!

Everyone looked so fantastic at the ball- I saw many characters represented.  The room was decorated like a prom with a long dessert buffet table and fairytale themed stand ups to pose in front of.  A couple of cash bars stood positioned around the room.  Unfortunately, even water was $3- would have been nice to have a watercooler or something. I got pretty dehydrated at one point.  The MC announced each actor as he or she entered along with an escort, very much like the bridal party at a wedding. 

My dress was a hit!  I got compliments on it all night.  Someone asked me if I was still married though- ha! It turns out Keegan was not the only one who already knew about it.  Gil told me that she had told him, and Raphael mentioned seeing it in my tweet!  My mind was blown.  Does Emilie know too?

I loved having the actors just mingling with us- so much better than the two second greetings you'd get at a signing or stage door encounter.  We were having actual conversations!  I wasn't sure what the rules were on photos, but Raphael insisted it was his call, so I got a picture with him taken with my own camera.  He even showed us pictures from the set on his phone- including one with Emilie! I mentioned that I was a big fan of hers, and he indicated that I was dressed as her so he could tell.  Yeah, okay- true!  But I was a huge Belle fan long before Once Upon a Time!

I got to talk to Gil about musical theater.  It turns out he's played Will Parker in Oklahoma, and he knows someone who went to my university in TN and has been there himself!  I also chatted with Tony who was so nice and asked me about where I was from and everything.

I often hear people saying that they don't care about meeting the actors, that they are just people.  Sure, that's true enough, but is it a crime to be excited to meet them? They are doing what I always dreamed of doing myself- acting for a living.

The ball held a costume contest later that evening.  Each contestant got to twirl around in the center of the dance floor, fashion model style.  Most of the actors had left at this point, but I did catch Gil on his knees getting pictures- so fun to see him get into it like that!

There were a few different categories- princesses, villains, fairies, and common folk.  I won in the princess category!  Granted there were only 3 of us...Belle #1, Belle #2, and Belle #3!  I wasn't the most screen accurate Belle, but I was the only one who created her own dress and didn't need a wig.  Ivy won for fairies, Ashley won for her awesome Granny costume, and villain went to Jacky who had found the actual screen accurate fabric for one of Regina's looks.

We partied the night away, even though most of the music was not my style.  I stayed until they kicked us out, then I had to walk to my room barefoot because the sole had finally peeled off my ancient golden slippers.

I'll end this with some random cosplay: