Monday, July 25, 2011

Dine With An Imagineer

It was the best of luncheons. It was the worst of lunches.

Please remember in my review of the Hollywood Brown Derby, that I am one of the pickiest eaters I know. I am getting much better at special ordering so that what I get I will eat and enjoy. However, for the Dine with an Imagineer, the menus were preset and I had a very limited ability to make changes to what I was going to be served. I had discussed this with Jim ahead of time and said I was there for the experience not the meal. I just didn't know how little I'd be able to eat. So that this isn't about me not eating let's suffice it to say the soup was a no go. The salad they brought me to replace the Cobb was slathered in dressing I couldn't eat. I did eat my steak but not the vegetables and I ate about a third of my grapefruit cake with cream cheese frosting. I'm sure many thought I was insane considering what we paid for the meal. I however paid for the experience. Plus I was on the Deluxe meal plan (it hurts less that way- I know what we saved!)

The restaurant was very nice and Jim enjoyed his food. They even gave us some champagne when they noticed we were wearing our Anniversary pins (those are magic!)

Now let me tell you about the best part of the luncheon. It began with a brief tour of the restaurant before it opened. Photos and sketches in gold frames are authentic while those in black frames are copies. The restaurant itself is modeled closely after the California namesake where the first ever Grammys were held.

After being seated in a private room, we had our photograph taken as a group. There were 12 of us along with our Imagineer. We were then given personalized menus.

Dustin Eshenroder was our Imagineer. He is a Show Set Designer Associate with Walt Disney Imagineering in Florida. He joined Imagineering in 2007. For the next three hours he answered any questions we put in front of him. I had been told 1 1/2 -2 hours so I was very impressed. Dustin couldn't tell us any Disney secrets but we were able to learn a few new things about the Fantasyland expansion. He is working on The Little Mermaid attraction. It sounds like it will be nothing like anything we've seen before. One detail they are worried about is how Ariel's hair will flow so it looks realistic.

One of Dustin's main jobs is designing carts that are used in the parks. A recent cart was a margarita cart for Animal Kingdom. Part of the cart was hand-carved in Africa. He told us about all of the thought and regulation that goes into many of the normal or "ugly" things you see around you in the parks.

We had questions about Pixar, how certain parks or attractions might change or grow, what it takes to be an Imagineer and what his job is like. He spoke to Florida vs. the other Disney parks. I did much more listening than I did talking. I found what he had to say fascinating. I didn't need to interrupt.

This is the greatest opportunity for a true lover of Disney and the Disney experience.

After the meal was over (whew), Dustin signed a glass plate for each of us. I finally asked him a question at this point. I asked if he thought Marvel would be brought into the parks. He said," That's an interesting question. Marvel is like an apartment building you buy up and hope all the tenants move away." He doesn't think we'll see a presence in the park anytime soon (beyond me seeing Thor in Norway). He finished signing our plates and thanked us.

I told him what an enjoyable experience it had been.

As we left, I realized it didn't matter to me what I did or didn't eat. I had spent three hours with a man who holds the same beliefs as my hero, Walt Disney, and gets to make them come true everyday. I met the man who made the giant Scrabble Board for the Toy Story Mania ride and heard the story from him about how it almost didn't fit. That's priceless.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chef Mickey

Chef Mickey was an early breakfast -7:05. That made normal transportation options a bit of a problem so we opted for a cab. About $20 + tip got us from Pop Century to the Contemporary with no hassles and on time. We worth it.

We went inside and took the elevator up to 4th floor where we checked in to Chef Mickey.Within just a moment or two we were told we could have a picture taken with Mickey then wait to be seated. Luckily we were one of the first tables seated, important at a character meal.Our hostess rushed us up to the buffet because close on our heals was one of those foreign travel groups that goes on and on. We found we had a nice selection of food. Coffee and juice were at the table but you had to ask for other beverages.

Goofy kisses my hand
Just as we had started in on our food, the characters started coming. Goofy was a gentleman kissing my hand.Mickey followed suite.

Donald admired my brownie and Minnie admired Jim.

Finally was my old friend Pluto (whom I have a history with) showing up to say hi.

The Fab Five throw a great buffet and it was nice to see them all in one place!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Under Construction

Working to get this up and running. Check back often!