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November 27, 2007

Super Soap Weekend at the Disney MGM Studios Day 1

Robyn Kaplan (accompanied by her mom) attended the 2007 Super Soap Weekend (SSW) at Disney's MGM Studios. This was Robyn's third Super Soap weekend. Her report is full of tips and information so you can enjoy a weekend with the stars!

Super Soap Weekend Day 1

We awoke at 5:30 am, put on last year's Super Soap shirts and headed down to make the trek (yes we walked) from the Dolphin over to the Studios. I like doing it this way, because the time you get to the park is in your control, not a cab, boat or bus, plus it is actually rather invigorating. And we made it to the park by about 6:30.

Once there, we saw that the line wasn't too bad. They started checking bags and moving the line forward at maybe just a bit after 7, so we got excited that we would see all the stars we wanted to see that day.


Now, just a tip for anyone who wants to go to SSW in the future: Plan ahead!! You will be rewarded! The earlier you can make it to the park the better. Also keep your eyes and ears open all morning for any announcements, as the list of stars attending can change instantly (believe me, we found this out fast!).

Also, it is better to be nice to the cast members and state any concerns without shouting - they will try their best to be helpful. Keep in mind that some Disney cast members have been taken away from their actual responsibilities and many are performing tasks for the first time.
In fact its almost like you're at two different parks-the soap areas and the regular park.

We had a very nice time waiting in line with a friendly guy who told us stories from his past soap weekends (he's been almost every year the event has occurred) and a mother and daughter who were there for the first time.

As with last year and again they year, once we past the turnstiles, the cast members brought us into the park through the cast entrance for Fantasmic and Beauty & the Beast. But, since the lines were so short, they didn't have to weave the line around, but instead took us right onto Sunset Boulevard. They kept us in our lines and walked us all the way towards our respective kiosks.

Now, I was unsure how they would get the All My Children line (our line) to the FASTPASS kiosks, because last year, we went through Mickey Ave, which was closed this year due to Toy Story Mania. But, they found a way that worked, by walking us past the ABC Soap Commissary and down towards the Streets of America. We got to Lights, Motors, Action (that was where our kiosks were located) and at 8am on the dot, they started letting us through.

Bottom line: there is no easy solution to the FASTPASS and getting the stars you want.

20,000 people come to the park each day for the Super Soap weekend and there are only 8,000 passes available. Everyone has to remember the event is designed for all to see some, not some to see all. As you will read in the blog for Day 2 of the weekend, it is a tough pill for everyone to swallow, but it should not ruin the weekend or take away from the fun, because there are plenty of other ways to see the stars. If you are cool with not getting the chance to physically touch each and every star, you will have a much better time).

The soap stars we really wanted to meet were David Canary and Michael E. Knight, who play Adam Chandler and Tad Martin respectively. This is because these two are some of the greats of the show, both have been on for more than 20 years, and both are masters of their craft. Plus, both are sweethearts and just adore their fans.

When it was our turn, we walked up to David Canary's kiosk, where we were instantly handed standbys (it was maybe 8:15am, so yes, he was that popular!). We thanked the cast member for our passes and got in Michael E. Knight's line, walking away with 2 real passes for his second autograph session . He did 3 that day. Doing three autograph sessions is a new thing Disney has started doing-last year. They did 3 for Michael Easton in 2006 and it seemed to work. They must have seen how popular MEK was this year, so that is why they did 3 for him

We then got back in line to try for one more star. Here's where things got interesting:

First, we heard that Alicia Minshew, who plays Kendall Hart Slater, was sick and probably would not be attending the first day. Unfortunately, not everyone heard this announcement and several people got a FASTPASS for her, only to learn later that she would in fact be gone all day. Luckily for those people, the cast members said Alicia would honor any FASTPASS from Saturday on Sunday and not to feel down.

The other rumor we began hearing was that Cameron Mathison, who plays Ryan Lavery, but who is also on Dancing with the Stars (or was that weekend) was only going to be in the park on Saturday, as he had to take the red eye back to Hollywood for the show on Sunday. Well, there was never a cast member confirmation of this, but it did in fact turn out to be true, and since Cameron only did one autograph session, it made him even more popular.

My mom really wanted to meet him again and tell him she was hoping he'd win DWTS (we met him last year and he is super nice!), but announcements as to whether he was sold out were confusing, so we ended up getting standby passes for Jacob Young, who plays JR Chandler (and who has been rumored to be leaving the show for months now).

Fortunately, I knew we could go over to Cam's session once we finished with Jacob, so we were happy that we got everyone we wanted the first day. I knew we weren't going to get to meet Cam at his session, just watch him sign for others, since you need some type of FASTpass to meet the stars. I just figured we could stand by the railings, something lots of fans do throughout the day.

We left the kiosk area and got some breakfast at the ABC Commissary: cinnamon rolls because they no longer serve pancakes (boo!). After breakfast, we decided to check out Soapnet's I want to be a Soap Star Live. Previously it had been in the ABC Theatre and this year it moved to the theater over by Rock n Roller Coaster.


Cam was hosting and also David Canary and Jacob Young were the two stars doing the show. And it was fun as always! 3 women were chosen (not us, but eh, it's all good) and the first one got to do a scene with Cam (lucky!). Then, the second lady did the same scene with Cam, but they brought David out as a surprise twist! Finally, the third lady, who ended up winning, did a monologue with Cam and David, but then did her final scene with Jacob! We (hopefully) got some great pictures of all 3 of them and as we headed out, we were handed large goody bags of Colgate Total products! (a full bottle of Softsoap, a full tube of toothpaste, a small bottle of body wash and a toothbrush!)

David Canary

Since we still had some time before our first autograph session, I decided to finally check out Rock n Roller Coaster. I did the single rider line and it was awesome! The loops were great and the launch was just incredible!! Didn't have time to look at the picture (had to get back to mom) but the people I was in line with made the whole experience really fun!


Then we headed over to David Canary's autograph session. We were standbys 10 and 11, and, like last year, I decided to nicely get all of us standbys organized by number so that, when called, we would all be ready and it would go that much faster. Cast Members do not organize the standbys or even the regular pass holders, they just call you when it's your time or your number.

Now, David did his session right. He stayed seated, smiling for the fans by the railings, but focusing on the fans in the line that had gotten a FASTPASS (which is how it should be). The line went fairly fast, but because the stars are really only given one hour to sign, we began to get slightly nervous that he wouldn't have time to take any of the standbys (standby passes don't guarantee an autograph).

And, unlike last year, when the cast members left it up to the stars to decide if they could continue signing or not, this year, they controlled the sessions a lot more and cut off the sessions much sooner than last year. In their defense, a lot of the stars did run late, but there were some sessions that could have run longer than the cast members allowed them to, but more on that later.

Robyn, her mom and David Canary

Luckily, we had an ally on our side: David's lovely wife Maureen was there watching the proceedings and she ended up letting David stay and sign about 25 standbys! We thanked Maureen, and went to up to David, where he not only signed his headshot, but my copy of the AMC 25th Anniversary scrapbook! He was so nice and wished my mom a happy birthday and gave both of us hugs (well, okay, we gave him hugs, but still!). We left his booth feeling so happy and we knew the happiness would continue because we had real passes for Michael E. Knight, and he was next.


Now, we knew things would be good with Michael, because each star is required to take all the actual FASTPASS holders, so we were guaranteed time with our MEK (that's his initials). Last year, we weren't as lucky-we had standbys and only got quick photos with him because the cast members tried to cut the line, but we wouldn't let them.

MEK is such a swell guy that he signs for everyone - and I do mean everyone, including those on the railings. So this time, we knew we'd get face time with our guy. And again, such a sweetheart, giving my mom a hug and a kiss and giving me a hug as well and he too signed my book. Again, this was a great autograph session, which gave us positive vibes as we headed towards our last session with Jacob Young.


Sadly, this session did not go so well. Again, we were standbys (11 and 12) and got everyone organized by number. But this session was a bit more chaotic, with people who just wanted photos standing in the standby area and everyone calling out for Jacob every second he wasn't with a FASTPASS fan.

However, all of us standbys had hope that he would get to us, because he didn't have any appointments until 5:30 and there wasn't anyone at the booth after him. So, at 4pm (his session started at 3:15) we still had hope that he would take all of us. Sadly, that didn't happen quite as planned.

The cast members let the first standby person go, but then they told the rest of us to line up. Jacob greeted all those by the railing and then they ushered him down to the end of the standby line. As we were no longer in numerical order, he just went down the row, signing and quickly snapping photos. I took one of him and my mom, and he did sign my book, but I didn't get a photo with him. At least I got to tell him how much we love him on AMC and we wished him all the best of luck in the future (since, like I said earlier, there is a good chance he is leaving the show).


We then headed over to catch the end of Cameron's session. Well, this one was even more chaotic than Jacob's. We weren't the only ones who wanted to get a quick pic or an autograph of our dancing heartthrob, so we asked a cast member (a Disney security guard) where we could stand to see Cam and try to meet him as he exited the session. We were told to stand along the back railing and that he would be brought right past us. And for the whole time that he finished signing, we had a good shot of him.

However, when it was time for him to go, a different security guard told us we had to move. We lost our plum spot, and had to hope that the handlers would still bring him by us. And they did, sort of. He signed my book, but couldn't take any photos with either of us, as the cast members continued to try and move him to the exit. And us fans don't take no for an answer as they continued to try and get him to pose for photos. I am not that desperate, so we decided to pass". We headed over to the 50s Prime Time Cafe.


This was not our best experience with Prime Time. Instead of a warm friendly "mom", we had Aunt Carole, who, while she could be nice, was also a stickler for cleaning your plate and elbows off the table. And the whole place was so crowded; we feared it would be impossible to watch the grand motorcade and the street jam following dinner. The only good thing was we told Aunt Carole we were in a hurry, so she got us our dessert fast and we were able to head out a bit after 6.


Unfortunately, we had lousy seats for the Grand Motorcade and Street Jam. The handicap section was closed when we got there. So, we were along the right side of the stage (the actor's right) and were lucky if we saw the screen, let alone the stage. But, we made do and were somewhat able to see each star on the motorcade and then watch them take their bows.

Luckily, the musical performances were good and even luckier for the AMC fans like us, only 4 of our stars were featured in the street jam. Bobbie Eakes, who plays Krystal Carey is also a singer and she sang two numbers (and she was introduced by David Canary). While not her own songs, they were still real pretty and nice to listen to.

Then, a bit later, girls from AMC and One Life to Live, including Bobbie Eakes and Melissa Claire Egan, who plays Annie Lavery, all came out and did the Cell Block Tango, a number my mom and I first saw in New York at the Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS event. It was just as good this time, with Bobbie (as Krystal) singing about her hatred of Adam and Melissa (as Annie) singing about her hatred of her brother Ritchie. Again, a fun number!

Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for: Cameron and Edyta came out and performed their 27-winning jive they had performed the previous week on DWTS. It was wonderful to see Cam and Edyta dance and gave all of us even more reason to vote for him (though I knew he would get voted off this week, what with all his fans still down in Florida and not home by their phones and computers...but eh. His Viennese waltz this week was beautiful so it was good we got to see him do that).

Cameron and Edyta

The night ended with a performance of "We're All in This Together" from the cast of High School Musical as a tribute to us soap fans, complete with fireworks. We left the park tired, but happy and crazy enough to get up and do it all again the next day!

Stay Tune for Part 2

November 29, 2007

Super Soap Weekend at the Disney MGM Studios Day 2

Super Soap Weekend Day #2:

For the second day of Super Soap Weekend, I like to do things a bit different. As this was my third time to SSW, I am starting to understand the schedule and have developed my own little routine.

Example: The first day of the weekend, we wear our most recent shirts from the event (so like, last year, we wore our shirts from 1998, the last time I had gone, and this year, we wore last year's shirts).

On the second day, because it is press day, I like to make up a shirt, to show the writers and execs just how I am currently feeling about the show. Last year, I made up blue shirts with black writing that said, on the front "Dr. Hayward's (a character on our show at the time) CURE for All My Children: Bring Back Vincent Irizarry (that was the actor who played him) and on the back it said "Fans for Quality Soap Writing, Supporting the Actors since 1970". It got a lot of buzz.

So, this year, I made a new shirt: it was pink and on the front, it said: "AMC Fan Jeopardy! Answer: Suspense, Veterans, Quality writing, classic characters, Love" and on the back it said, "AMC Fan Jeopardy! Question: Name five things currently missing on All My Children".

AMC Fan Jeopardy T Shirt

And again, it got some good feedback and everyone liked that I was speaking out about how dismal our beloved soap has become (I should tell you all, my mom has watched AMC since it began, January 5, 1970 and I have been following it for the past 16 years. I'm 24, so you can see it has been a huge part of my life!).


Anyway, back to the weekend. So, we wore our shirts that I made and headed out at about the same time as we did on Saturday. This time, however, we were in for a rude surprise. As I mentioned in the previous post, Disney is always looking for ways to solve the problem of the FASTPASSs and how to regulate the line.

While my mom and I thought they had done a good job on Saturday, it turned out that they had cut the line shortly after we got there and held those people back until 8am. This meant that the general public had the same advantage of getting FASTPASSs as those who woke up for them early. I guess some of them missed out on the stars they wanted (once you go through the line once, the cast members really don't have control if you go through again, so first timers to the line saw us repeaters as cheats, trying to cut in front of them).

Well, on Sunday, we became the unfortunate ones, as they cut the line probably minutes before we arrived. They told us we had to stand in the regular lines that contained both soap fans and regular visitors to the park. Well, I was not happy, and so I asked Disney cast member Jeff why he was doing this. He said this was a good solution, because it kept the main line shorter and led to a more positive response overall. Well, I knew it would end bad, and sure enough, when they opened up a few more turnstiles for us to stand behind, it became a free-for-all, with everone pushing and shoving and running to get close to the front (Jeff claimed this sort of thing didn't happen-poor guy, how'd he know we're all crazy soap fans).

Despite the cast members trying to brighten the mood by singing happy birthday to two people, we were all a bit ticked off as we watched the main lines go into the park and head towards the kiosks. Finally, at maybe 7:30, they began to let us in, but there was still some discontent as no one wanted to let me and my mom (in her wheelchair) through the turnstiles.

We got onto Hollywood Boulevard where the cast members used a rope to walk us down the street. Overall, people were staying in their respective lines. But, once we got to the Sorcerer's Hat stage, everyone started to walk in front of use. So, I found an area of open space, and wheeled my mom past some people until I was behind the people who we had originally been behind. But, thankfully for me, my mom and everyone in the park, everything worked out in the end (doesn't it always?)


We got over to Lights, Motors, Action again and it wasn't even 8am, so they hadn't started letting people through yet. We were able to join the regular line and I immediately began to relax.

Note to everyone: if you go in the future, take light of the situation and really take in everything that is done and said...if I had looked at my watch and seen that we were going in before 8, I probably would have been less upset. Also, I encourage you to look at all the cast members as your friends and not as your enemies...I can't imagine they really like this weekend, but they can and will be helpful and friendly if you are equally calm and courteous.

When we got up to the front of the line, all of the soap stars were still available with regular passes...Aiden Turner, who plays Aidan Devane was the only one who went on standby, but it was right when we were up there and so we got real passes for Bobbie Eakes and standbys 9 and 10 for Aiden.

We didn't get back in line or try for anyone else, because our other goal that day was to see the motorcades for AMC (all 3 of them) so we decided to grab a quick breakfast (we got muffins from the hotel both days, so we just got juice and milk at the commissary) and find a spot for the motorcade.

We also didn't get any other stars because Cameron was in fact gone already (we knew this because his name was not up by the kiosks) and we had met the other stars last year (not Melissa Egan, but we're not huge fans of her character on the show, so we just figured we'd go to her last session, wait by the railing and see if she would be able to give us a quick photo and autograph in my book.)


The first motorcade was great! We had a great spot and each star turned around for us-including Alicia who was there on Sunday and really looked great (either she was feeling better, or her makeup team is amazing because her color looked good, and normally you don't look so hot after being in the hospital). Thorsten Kaye, who plays her husband Zach, Bobbie Eakes and David Canary were also in the motorcade and each turned toward me for some wonderful photos (well, David not so much, but we got plenty others of him!).

Remember, during the motorcades and at any events these stars attend, please please learn their actual names. It will mean so much more to them that you took the time to learn their real name because they only play their character on tv-they are not actually their character (even Aiden! hehe). By using their real name, they will be more likely to turn toward you for a photo or be more likely to smile at you or even better, remember you in years to come (some of them really do remember and that is extra special!)


After the motorcade, we wanted to do Soap Star Live again, not only to watch Michael E. Knight and Aiden, but to see who would replace Cam (Cam hosts the Soap Star show). Turns out, they got former Bachelor Bob Guiney to take over (Bob hosts all the talk shows throughout the weekend, while John Paul Lavosier of OLTL hosts the game show called Triple Play).

This made the show even funnier than usual because Bob is not an actor and boy it showed! He had to play Aiden, while each woman was Greenlee (this worked out real well since in real life Bob is married to former Greenlee Rebecca Budig!). Things got slightly hot and heavy when Michael was the surprise twist and it was revealed that "Greenlee" and "Tad" had an affair behind poor "Aiden's" back! The lucky lady got to smooch MEK and then the winner of that show got to make out with both MEK and Aiden!! (MEK didn't want Bob to feel left out, so he made out with him for a little while too, which made us all just crack up laughing!!) It was a great show and made me practically forget the events of the morning.


After seeing Aiden onstage, it was time to finally meet him in person. We were hopeful that we'd be able to because we have been trying to meet him for 4 years (we did SSW in California back in 2003 and got cut off from meeting him with just 15 people in front of us!). So, we got in line, got all the standbys organized and waited, watching the regulars go up to meet him.

Luckily, there weren't a lot of people in his regular line (it was like 10 people in front of us constantly for about a half hour, so maybe only one or two kept trickling in at a time). There was never anyone in the holding pen, so we were all very excited that we would finally get to meet the British heart throb. And we did!! He gave us both hugs (small ones, as he is married) and signed headshots, took photos and signed my book (true, Jacob, Aiden and Bobbie aren't part of the actual book-it only goes up to 1994) but I found creative places for them to sign). He is quite soft spoken and that accent...well, you get my point :)

Robyn and Aiden


After seeing Aiden, we grabbed some snacks and found spots again on Hollywood Blvd for the last two AMC motorcades, which took place back to back.

First up, the grande dame of daytime, Susan Lucci! Escorted by Mickey Mouse himself.

Susan Lucci and Mickey Mouse

Susan made her way toward the Sorcerer's Hat stage, where she was interviewed by Sherri Sheperd of the View. Unfortunately, we were unable to hear most of her answers, because we kept our spots on the street for the next motorcade. Which turned out to be a good thing, because Susan came back in her car after her interview was done and we got a great picture of her!

Next came Jacob Young, Aiden and Melissa Claire Egan (Cam was part of this motorcade on Saturday and MEK was so busy that he wasn't scheduled for motorcades). We got good pictures of each of them and then decided to watch their interview on stage, which was also fun because I got a great picture of the 3 of them. We also were in a great spot as they headed back down Hollywood Blvd in their cars.

Jacob Young, Aiden and Melissa Claire Egan


We then headed to see Bobbie Eakes, but not before we took in the Muppet 3-D show. I love this show and knew we could do it without missing Bobbie, and it was just as cute as I remember it 7 years ago!! I know people have said they need to update the movie, but I disagree-what's wrong with a little nostalgia? (Plus the jokes are still just as funny!)

Now, we had heard Bobbie was the best about signing for everyone and boy they weren't kidding!! When we got to her booth, for a 3:15 signing, she had already arrived and was signing for people at the railings.

The cast members were a bit thrown by this but we all got ourselves organized and they immediately were ushering us into the line (our time was for 3:25, and she took all the 3:15s and 3:20s right away!). And she didn't rush us along or anything, but took the time to wish my mom a happy birthday (my mom is a Bobbie too!) and she signed her headshots and my book (actually, she had to sign a headshot for me twice, because she spelled my name wrong, but was gracious enough to sign a new one for me-what a doll!). We also had her sign her CD for my uncle, who likes her country music. It was so great to meet her that all the issues of the morning were washed away!

Robyn's Mom and Bobbie Eakes


Our last stop before dinner was Melissa Claire Egan. We got a great spot at the railing and were able to watch her pose with all her fans. She even got to some of her standbys. However, she didn't sign our book, because again, those cast members all of a sudden quit the signings and started directing her to the exit, without any chance for her to sign much of anything. It was weird; because she had time, but I think it was because she was performing in the street jam and had to go rehearse. Still, it was nice to see her and we felt that overall, it was a successful weekend.

We finished the night with a lovely dinner at the Brown Derby, where my mom got a special birthday dessert and she was sung Happy Birthday to (her birthday, if you're all wondering was Monday the 12th).


We then did things a bit differently for the street jam. Since they do pretty much the same show each night, we weren't too concerned if we could see it or not. It was still very crowded by the stage, so we found seats by Echo Lake, by the picnic tables. This turned out to be a blessing. We could actually see the stage better than on Saturday and I was able to sit down next to my mom (on Saturday I stood the whole time and was so tired by the end it was amazing I could walk!).

The people around us were much friendlier too (Saturday we kept trying to get people to not block my mom, who had a regular wheelchair with nothing to make her taller, but I think she missed a lot of it because people wouldn't move). The fireworks made for a great ending to the weekend and a great launch into my mom's birthday.


Don't get me wrong, this is a really fun event. You just need a thick skin, some planning and some understanding. If you must meet the stars and are not satisfied with seeing them from afar, you have to get up early.

Disney transportation does not run until 7am, so walk, take a cab, or rent a car and drive there. People this year spent the night camped out in front of the turnstiles. I don't recommend this and I doubt Disney will do it again, but any time from 2-6:30am should be good.

Bring a book, put on a sweater, and wear a happy face. Everyone is in the same boat all weekend long and you will get farther with friends than enemies.

Also, I stress the importance of planning ahead.

Get the schedule of who will be there and what they are doing the week before (it is available...Soaps in Depth has the full schedule and it goes on sale that Tuesday).

Have a few different options because you have to remember that the FASTPASS system is just like how it is for the rides. If you are counting on a star's second session, you may be there early enough for their first and the cast members will only honor your pass at the time it lists.

Standbys are the exception: you can use them at either autograph time for the star listed, but only on the day you get it.

Once all the FASTPASSs are gone, relax and have fun! If you are waiting for a motorcade, don't hog a whole bench, let people in-everyone wants the same thing-a chance to see their stars. Bond over your love of the show-make friends-you will see these people throughout the weekend and again. It's better to be polite and friendly than rude. This can get you better seats for a motorcade, a better position during the street jam and just makes for a better weekend overall.

Bottom line, Super Soap Weekend is a huge event and it can be tiring and frustrating, but only if you let it get that way. If you go in with a relaxed attitude and are just happy to be there, it can be a lot of fun and give you plenty of memorable experiences to share with others for years to come.

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About November 2007

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in November 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

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