A while back, when my former manager, Tammy, asked me what I was
doing mid-September. Racking my brain and realizing I didn’t
have any plans, I just answered, "nothing special". Then I
was informed I would be going to the national meeting. Well,
okay, I guess, sounded good to me. And when Disney got thrown
into the picture, it started sounded very good to me. Yes, it
meant time away from my hunny bunny, but I was going to
Disney. It was a just a few days, and he had to play that
weekend anyway, so oh, what the heck.
So I ordered my little Anaheim visitors guides and had dreams
of spending some time at the "Happiest Place on Earth" now
celebrating its 50th anniversary. Well, as luck would have it,
we enrolled for the conference and soon had our conference
schedule. Once I got that schedule in my hands, my world came
crashing down. Turns out I would have classes from 7am until somewhere after 7pm! Gulp!
Since my classes started at 7am, that would mean I would have
to be up at about 6:15 to get ready. Let me just say this: I
am not familiar with 6:15am. I have heard of this, but it is
not a concept I have exactly grabbed on to. Despite my IgoUgo
moniker of vampirefan, I do not practice this lifestyle. I
just happened upon the movie The Lost Boys in the '80s and
just loooved that movie, especially Billy Wirth (black-haired vampire), and since then, hunks like Tom Cruise, Gerry
Butler, Thomas Ian Griffith, etc., show up as hunky vampires
in movies. So what is not to like? But the thing I do share
with vampires is my dislike of the morning. So I don’t do
6:15am as a general rule. Now, here was my little world coming
to a crawl, and I hardly saw time to pee in that schedule, and
to really ruin my day, I didn’t see Disney anywhere on that
agenda. I could feel my mouse-shaped heart breaking!
What was once seen as a wonderful, fun and happy time, was
now looking as evil as Jason Isaacs in The Patriot! As it
got closer to the conference day, I began to dread it more and
more. Having already packed the night before my flight, I was
expecting to be in bed by 10pm. I am familiar with 10pm,
just not as a bedtime. But I had to be at the airport by
about 6:30am, and the drive was about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
This meant I had to be up at 4:30am--a time I am also
familiar with, but often as bedtime! Unfortunately, this was
a Wednesday night, and I have a hard time missing magician
Criss Angel (even thought I was taping it), so I ended up
going to bed at 12am. A few hours later, I dragged my sleepy butt
up and got going toward the airport.
After a brief stop in Chicago (which left with me with a huge
blister from sprinting from one plane to another), we touched
down in sunny Anaheim. I found the view of the mountains nothing less than stunning. We hopped on our bus that would take us to our hotel about 20 minutes away. It was
a pleasant drive, and the view of the mountains was just as
stunning from the ground. As we pulled in and turned onto
Disney Way, my fellow employees made sure to tell me that that
was as close to Disney as I would get. Here I was, a 10-minute
walk from Disney, and I would never get to see it. Again, my
mouse-shaped heart wept a bit.
We checked into our room at the Marriott, located across from
the convention center. I was sharing a room with my ex-boss,
Sandy. Then we quickly joined the convention across at the
Hilton. The Hilton was beautiful, and we quickly grabbed some
appetizers at their grill downstairs. Afterwards, we spent the
remainder of our day in workshops and listening to our guest
speaker. Our evening ended
with a so-so meal atop the hotel. The menu was varied and so was
the result of the food. They had one section of Chinese food
with a mock Golden Gate Bridge, one with Italian food set up
to look vineyards in Italy, and so forth. After trying
several disappointing items, I fixed a roast beef sandwich
and was finally satisfied. And the dessert offerings were to-die-for--nothing bad here. Finally, we called it a night,
since 6:15am would come all too soon.
The next day went pretty much the same, with workshops and a
vendor fair. Here, lunch was provided, and it was a huge improvement
over the previous night choices. I had Caesar salad, pasta
salad, and yummy gumbo. Once again, the dessert was
spectacular. At our vendor fair, I managed to win a pair of
tickets from America West. Yeah for me! So now I have to
decide where to go. At this point, LAX is looking very good,
so we can go diving. Again, we had a great speaker.
After our day, we decided to skip out early and have dinner
all on our own. I had been suggesting Downtown Disney so I
could at least be near Disney. Plus, they have tons of choices
for dining and shopping. But my suggestions were ignored.
Unbeknownst to me, my co-workers had been planning to go to
Downtown Disney. So I am forever grateful to Sandy, Tammy, and
Margaret for allowing this Disney fan a few hours in this
happy place. We ate at Ralph Brennen’s New Orleans
restaurants, which had food to-die-for. Afterwards, we did some
shopping at the Rainforest Café, Legoland, House of
Blues, and the Disney store. I left with a lot less money but
a quite HUGE smile on my face and my mouse heart
Our last day was more of the same of workshops and a speaker.
That evening ended with our gala formal dinner. The room was
set up to look like something out of the movie The Aviator.
It was silver and white and carried a 1940s art-deco
Hollywood theme. After our tasty meal we were in for a big
treat, when we had three HUGE celebrities in the house. We were
thoroughly entertained by Elvis, Cher, and Celine Dion! These
impersonators were unbelievable and put on a wonderful show.
Elvis had women, young and old, still screaming as if the
king were still with us. Boy, I sure do have a lot of Elvis
sightings in my journals! After meeting Cher and Elvis, we
retired for the evening.
The next morning, I was ready for my flight back home. Our
flight into Denver was incredible. We flew over the Grand
Canyon, offering the people on the left side of the plane (of
course, I was on the right) an unparalleled view. We had the
pleasure to sit with a State Representative from Wyoming who
was a delight. The view of the mountains was incredible as
we flew into the airport. Next, we were finally off to
Charlotte and back home after a busy weekend.