Day 1 - (MGM):
Day 2 - (Magic Kingdom & Epcot):
by Pete Werner
DIS Founder / CEO, Dreams Unlimited Travel, Inc.
DIS Coverage Sponsored by:
Dreams Unlimited Travel, Inc.
If you’ve never had the good fortune to attend a Disney press event, let me try and sum the experience up for you like this – take all the elements of a great Disney vacation (a beautiful room at the Walt Disney World Swan, passes to the parks, copious amounts of food and alcohol), throw in some A list entertainment (Ashanti, Smash Mouth, Barenaked Ladies), dot the parks with celebrities (Paige Davis, Alan Cummings, Joey Fatone among many others), and you have yourself a good ole fashioned Disney press event.
Our team for the event consisted of myself (video, content), Corey Martin (photos, site design), Regina Hinrichs (content), Kevin Klose (content) and Bob Varley (video, photos, running people over with his cart). We were also joined by my partners in Dreams Unlimited, John Magi and Donna LeFever (with a big shout out to mail boy). So, we were well represented, and I think you'll agree that our coverage reflects it!
For a Disney fan, the chance to attend one of these parties is akin to a pilgrimage to Mecca – and if you’re not a Disney fan before you arrive, you will certainly leave as one. This time the event was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. All the Disney theme parks from around the world are represented, and all are celebrating for the next 18 months. From Tokyo Disneyland, the Cinerellabration show comes to the Magic Kingdom. Disneyland Paris sent over the “Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show” to the Disney MGM Studios, but it was Disneyland that gave Orlando (and certainly Epcot) the greatest gift of all, Soarin’. If you have experienced Soarin over California at Disney’s California Adventure, then you’ve experienced this attraction. If you haven’t - then make it a priority. I could ride this over and over again and never get tired of it – it’s that good.
Our press event experience began by moving what seemed to be every piece of computer equipment we owned into the three rooms we had at the Walt Disney World Swan. If you want to get lots of odd looks, traipse through the lobby of hotel with 5 computers in tow. With our equipment (and a complimentary high speed internet connection in each of the rooms) - we were ready to work. But first we had to eat. We decided on Palio, a nice Italian restaurant at the Swan. We figured we'd have a nice meal and plan out our week. However, it's hard to talk about plans when everyone is grunting and groaning about how good the food is. In lesser hands, this entire event might have been entitled "oh my god this bruschetta is so good" followed by a Homer Simpson-esque throat rumble. Kevin Klose wrote up the experience (click here).
Before I get in to the event itself, I have to say this. The 'heavenly beds' that figure so prominently into the Swan and Dolphin experience should, by all rights, be outlawed. If you choose to lay on one of these beds after a day of running around the parks you should abandon all hope of ever getting up. Coupled with excellent food room service - the combination is deadly (the Pizza's are excellent, and great fuel when it's 4am and your video editing software won't work).
DAY 1 - MGM - Shaken not stirred
The first event was held on May 4th at MGM Studios, for the dedication of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (hereinafter referred to as LMA) . The espionage theme of the show was translated well onto the streets of MGM, as streetmosphere players dressed as secret agents (and punk rockers, and bums and movie stars) mingled with the eclectic mix of press, travel and celebrity attendees. Of course my team missed no opportunity to get their pictures taken with as many celebs as possible (and it wasn't hard – the place was lousy with ‘em). That night we were treated to a concert with Ashanti and Smash Mouth (not at the same time, you understand). Well, “treated” may be a strong word for Ashanti, let’s say we were "exposed" to her music. Smash Mouth was nothing short of fantastic, and joined by Joey Fatone from N’Sync – they put on a great show. Of course throughout the night you could help yourself to a never-ending supply of food, drink and desserts (as well as some face painting). The evening was topped off by an amazing fireworks show that left everyone cheering. A perfect way to end the night!
DAY 2 - It's All Been Done
Day two of the press event saw the official launch of the 50th anniversary at the Magic Kingdom with a simulcast from California, and live performances by Jennifer Holiday, Diana DeGarrno, Eden Espinoza and Andrea McArdle. To say that the dedication was a moving experience is an understatement. Unfortunately, the video equipment was a "moving" experience as well. Truth be told we were not shooting under optimal conditions. The video of the event is a little rough, but very enjoyable. It took me several hours to put it together, so you better enjoy it :)
That evening, the party shifted to Epcot for the dedication of Soarin' and a concert by the Barenaked Ladies. For those not familiar with Soarin', it is sent (by the Gods in my opinion) from Disney's California Adventure (where it is known as Soarin' over California). While it's the same attraction, this version is designed to change films every so many years. I think the next one should be "Soarin' over New Jersey'. Just imagine the smells they could pump in over Elizabeth!! (and I'm from New Jersey, and love it - so don't send any hate mail).
In keeping with the California theme of the evening, various areas of the golden state were represented through food and theme. Half naked muscle men walked around posing for pictures in front of a massive sand castle creation representing each of the iconic theme park castles from around the world. You could enjoy your food on any number of beach chairs and chaise lounges that were set up around the walk ways. Being that the event took place on May 5, 2005 – Cinqo de Mayo was being celebrated (replete with mariachi band), and a wide assortment of fresh mexican salads and dishes. During this time you were free to ride Soarin’ , or just soak up the atmosphere. But when Barenaked Ladies took the stage, the party really started. From the first song they had the audience – and their 1 hour set ended up being closer to 90 minutes. The highlight of the performance was a "rap" they did about the new Soarin' attraction (VIDEO (windows media)- Cable | DSL | Dial Up). They put so much effort and thought into their performance, and EVERYONE walked out of there a fan that night. I don't care how old you are - if you hear these guys perform live, you're hooked! The evening was touched off by a special fireworks show launched from behind the Land pavilion (where Soarin’ is located). It was another amazing fireworks show, in another amazing party, during another amazing press event.
We all had a great time putting this together, and we hope you enjoy it. We also want to thank the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin for taking such great care of us during our stay.
Day 1 - (MGM):
Day 2 - (Magic Kingdom & Epcot):