So I joined D23. $75 to declare that I’m a Disney Nut. You can take a look at the perks yourself at the D23 site, but essentially, the ‘club’ is for the REAL Disney Nut. The only thing going on for D23 members was an Expo at Disneyland, and I wasn’t going to make that, but you do get a nice magazine 4 times a year, and the promise that other events would be forthcoming.
Well, a couple of days after joining, D23 announced a bunch of events. One of them was one that I could actually attend. It was the ‘D23 Flowers and Fireworks Event’. This last month was the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. As part of that, there is a ‘Flower Power’ concert each weekend with a performer that was big in the 60’s or 70’s. This last weekend was the LAST weekend and Sunday was the LAST concert. Tony Orlando was the performer.
The ‘D23 Flowers and Fireworks Event’ provided VIP seating for the last concert of the day and then a private viewing of Illuminations with coffee and dessert. The website had announced the event, but said ‘check back later for registration information’. For the next 5 days or so I would check back, but nothing changed. One day at work, I loaded the page and kept it up in the background. I would occasionally check back and refresh the page to see if the information was up. FINALLY the link for registering appeared and I signed up. I’m glad that I perservered as I heard that it ‘sold out’ in one day. Now, on the confirmation page, it clearly stated that I was to get a welcome packet at Guest Relations at the main entrance to Epcot. But of course, I overlooked that and only saw that we should get to the American Gardens stage by 7:15pm for the show.
Pam and I drove over to the Boardwalk and parked so we could go in the back entrance to Epcot and get out quickly after the fireworks. I know . . . you’re not supposed to do this. I have no excuse. So we popped into Epcot around 5:00 and grabbed some dinner at the American pavillion. Nothing great, just cheeseburger and chicken strips.
I asked one of the cast members where to sign in, but he had no idea and pointed to the brick building at the rear center of the stage and said he thought we were to meet there before being seated. Pam and I sat in the shade of the outdoor tables at the American pavillion and I saw some other guests with the D23 event pass hanging around their necks. I walked over and asked and they said that we had to pick them up at Guest Relations outside the park at the main entrance. It was only 6:00 so we had plenty of time and took off to get our passes. It only took us about 10 minutes or so to walk to the front of the park and we got in line at Guest Relations that was running only 2 of the 3 windows. A gentleman at one of the windows must have been having trouble with something as we were STILL waiting 25 minutes later. The other window was servicing guests as fast a possible but the line was moving slowly. We were next in line for the other window when the 3rd window opened. We went over and the cast member went to a table of boxes in the back room to get our packet. We got it and made a mad dash back to the American Pavillion.
When we got back, there were a few other people standing back by the brick building, so we stood in a spot of shade. Some other folks joined us and as luck would have it, when it came time to be led down to the VIP section, we were at the HEAD of the line. We went in and were in the first row of the area behind the handicapped seating. Not right up front, but still very close. There were 6 rows of about 25 people each, so I’m guessing about 150 D23 people attending.
While waiting for the concert to start, I went through the packet. In addition to the passes (that we were wearing of course) there were two park maps, two Flower and Garden Festival pamphlets, a letter welcoming us to the event and two Fast Passes for Soarin’ that are good for a ride any time within the next two weeks.
The concert was great, good to hear a bunch of songs from my teens. In the middle of the concert, Tony pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and announced that there was a group in attendance that was the ‘bassman’ of Disney called . . . “D23”. He had us all stand up and during the rest of the concert would occasionally mention us, asking us to join in, etc. Very cool.
After the concert, we were asked to stay seated and then were ushered over to the viewing area just off the bridge by France. Lots of desserts spread out, supposedly favorites of Walt’s. I’m glad he liked ice cream floats! Nice to meet other D23’ers and to watch Illuminations from such a great vantage point. As we were leaving, we each received a bag of D23 pins, not the cloisonne type, very nice.
All in all a great start to the vacation.