We went to the D23 gathering at Epcot last night. We arrived and went to the guest relations window inside the park. The website said to go to guest relations to pick up our event credentials. Turns out, they mean the guest relations window outside of the park, so we had to walk back out to get our stuff.
Our stuff consisted of the event credentials, I'm celebrating buttons, flower & garden festival pamphlets and 2 fast passes to Soarin. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping for a D23 button or two but the fast passes were a nice surprise and we headed there right away. The passes were good until june 15th but we both love the ride and its been a long time since we had been on it because of the long wait it almost always has. We bypassed the 50 minute wait and almost walked right on.
Ate dinner in the Land. Had rotisserie chicken and rotisserie porkchop. The food wasn't great and seemed kind of bland to me but some salt and lemon juice fixed it up.
Arrived at America Gardens Theatre just as Tony Orlando was finishing up his l2nd show. There was no line set up for D23 but quite a few members were hanging out behind the sound booth because of the shade it offered. Went over and joined the party and lo and behold they set up the line where we were standing so we were in front and got the best seats in the house!
They seated us promptly and put us in the middle seating section behind the front area where the dinner guests sit. Since we were head of the line except for one nice couple in front of us we were center stage with no seating in front of us because of the walkway between the dinner seating and the rest of the house.
I'd never seen Tony Orlando perform before and it was a fantastic show. At first it seemed to me he was showcasing his band a bit much instead of performing himself but with talent like that working for you, you would almost have to. It was a great show and I'll definitely try to see him again when he comes back.
He came out wearing Mouse hands and lead everyone in the Mickey Mouse Club song. During the concert, he introduced D23 as the premiere Disney fan club and referred to us as D23 several times throughout the rest of the show.
At the end of the show, we were told to keep our seats until everyone else had left the theatre and we were then escorted to the area between France and UK where they have the three tiered area facing the lagoon. There was about 15-20 minutes until Illuminations and we sat, mingled and ate desserts. And I'm not talking the generic type cookies they used to have cartloads of at the annual passholder parties. I mean desserts! Ice Cream Floats, Fantasia Cheesecake, Chocolate Cream Pie, Apple Betty, some kind of chocalate butterscotch things. All was delicious and it was self serve and you could have as much as you wanted.
Illuminations was fantastic as always and everyone had a great view because of the three tiered area we were in.
The event was sold out but Disney kept it a relatively small group which, I think, helped a lot in keeping everyone in a fun and festive mood. No lines and not having to wait for things certainly does make a big difference. The people we met were great and super friendly.
I would have liked to have lingered after Illuminations was over but I had worked all day and had to get up at 4:30 am to go back in today so we left right after Illuminations was over. As we left we were each handed a complete set of the D23 buttons that I had hoped to get 1 or 2 of.
This was the most fun I have had at a Disney event since the first Disneyana convention I had attended. It was a public day and I met the Mouseketeers, Carl Barks, Fess Parker, Jodi Benson, Tommy Kirk and others.
The last event I attended (the Pirates one at Contemporary) was such a disaster (in my opinion) and expensive that I decided to stop attending such things but I wanted to go to this to see what I could expect from D23 and after all it was free.
Wow. Thanks D23. You kept your unspoken promise and the membership was well worth the cost.
For those of you who may be more mercenary about such things, this is a blog about Disney collectibles after all, A complete set of D23 buttons is worth about $50 on ebay. I was handed two complete sets and the membership was only $75. You do the math. I should also point out that Disney spent a good chunk of change on this FREE event. They had a lot of food and a lot of staff despite the relatively small group.
If you'd like to join the club and I obviously am now advising that you do so. Disney Stores and theme parks now have gift cards you can buy for a membership. Might be a more fun way to join then over the internet.
Hope to see you at a future event.