Sunday, December 13th, 2009 was Day 2 of D23's Magic & Merriment. I, like many other M&M-ers, got to the park early to catch an attraction or two before our first scheduled event, which was the luncheon at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon at 11am.
An easy-paced morning, I first made a stop at the Polynesian Resort to grab a sticky bun and coffee at Kona Island.
At the Magic Kingdom bag check, I recognized another M&M-er, and we decided to go to Tomorrowland together and ride Space Mountain. We were able to ride it twice -- once on each side -- before we decided to head over to the Diamond Horseshoe, where the line was just starting to form. Everyone was comparing Day 1 notes and anticipating our upcoming tours of the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite.
Inside the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, we found a buffet line stacked with an array of gourmet sandwiches and a food station off to the right with some of Walt Disney's comfort foods featuring the heavenly Monte Cristo Sandwiches (yes, á la Disneyland) and a couple of soups, including Walt's own chili. The saloon's bar hosted desserts and beverages, and this time, the desserts offered were a combination of tarts and cake bars. Below is the menu with a selection of food pics.
Main Buffet Line:
- Bibb Lettuce with Mandarin Oranges with Pink Lilly Vinaigrette
- Kansas City Pulled Pork with Mini Buns and Sweet Cream Slaw
- Grilled Vegetable and Piquillo Pepper on Foccacia Bread
- Smoked Turkey Leg Salad on Brioche with Lettuce
- Slow Cooked Midwestern Shaved Beef and Cheese Sandwich
- Monte Cristo Sandwiches with Blackberry Preserves
- Elias Irish Canadian Cheddar Soup with Pretzel Crisps
- Walt's Own Chili with Crackers
- Carrot Cake Bars
- Chocolate Pecan Tarts
- Butterfinger Tarts
- Tart Lemon Bars
While we ate, we learned that the Diamond Horseshoe was a replica of the saloon in Calamity Jane movie -- designed by Disney Legend Harper Goff (Nautilus submarine, Jungle Cruise). He had used virtually the same blueprint for the construction of the restaurant interior for both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.
For our entertainment, the Dapper Dans took the stage and performed a few numbers, and we all really enjoyed them, especially their nod to "it's a small world".
Then, D23's Fairy Godmother, Becky, took to the stage, invited a little girl to join her, then had everyone to check under their seats for an envelope; the lucky guest and their family were invited to be grand marshals of the 3 o'clock parade.
D23's Jeffrey then again made some general Mousekeeping announcements then told us we were on our own for the rest of the day. There were castle tours starting, plus a couple opportunites schedule for reserved parade viewing. For us guests with later tours, we hung around the saloon for a little longer and enjoyed more food before heading out.
For this break, a couple other M&M-ers and I used a couple of our General MK FastPasses for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. It was in line for Big Thunder that I got a text from another M&M-er saying that their family was selected to be on the boat for Tiana's Showboat Jubilee at 2pm. Awesome! So we got in place early and were able to take some pictures of them during the show.
Afterwards, it was time to head to the front of the park for the 3pm Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade. D23 had reserved a viewing area for us in front of Exposition Hall. The parade route wasn't particularly crowded, but it still felt nice to all be together.
After the parade, M&M-ers were given their wristbands for the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and it was nearly time to check-in for my castle tour.
Check-in for the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite Tour was at the collection of tables near the Sleepy Hollow food service in Liberty Square, U.S.A. The tours were scheduled in 20-minute increments throughout the entire afternoon, and tour groups were limited to ten guests.
When it was our group's turn, our guide started us off with a brief introduction out and to the side of the castle.
Our guide then led us to the private room inside the Castle Breezeway (across from the 5-panel Cinderella mosaic) that housed the entrance to the elevator to the Dream Suite. In this small welcome room contained a clock whose hands pointed to 11:59pm -- one minute before midnight.
When the elevator reached the third floor, we entered a small but very ornate foyer which featured a display case with Cinderella's only remaining glass slipper (the other one had shattered on the ground... remember?). The case also held Cinderella's coronation crown and scepter from when she became a bonifide princess, and "some of her favorite pumpkins".
The floor of the foyer featured a mosaic of Cinderella's carriage, and above was a beautiful chandelier; also, the framed artwork in this area were original Mary Blair concept art taken from Disney Archives.
Next, we stepped into the suite and were like kids in a candy shop with our cameras. The suite was actually quite small -- only 160 square feet. It consisted of a lounge, a bedroom, and a bathroom, but was given a slightly larger feel by the creative use of mirrors. And honestly, trying to describe each room, it would be difficult to give them the proper justice -- one could spend hours or even days looking at all of the details. So instead, I offer some images from our time in the suite:
One really interesting piece of trivia from the tour: Because the "Year of A Million Dreams"' was a federally regulated sweepstakes, the suite, for legal reasons, had to be designated as a hotel room. So, it is technically Room 1010 at the Contemporary.
When it was time to leave, we went back into the elevator to the first floor where our guide handed each one of us a [blank] Cinderella Castle Suite key card and wished us well.
The tours were running around 25 minutes, so the tour schedules were gradually slipping back, but I didn't hear complaints from anyone. It was truly an item many of us will have checked off our bucket lists. Anyways, I hung around Sleepy Hollow to wait for a couple friends to finish their tour, then we went to ride a few more rides and grab some dinner.
To me, the transition to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was seemless, not having left the park; it felt more like one long day at the Magic Kingdom.
The 8:15pm Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade was the last scheduled M&M event, and we had viewing areas again reserved in front of Exposition Hall, charmingly labeled.
After the parade, we just walked up Main Street U.S.A to get situated on the bridge for the 9:30pm Holiday Wishes Fireworks.
Afterwards, we made our way through the crowds towards the D23's Hospitality Location at the Liberty Belle Steamboat's landing area. There, small tables were setup along with a beverage station that featured coffee, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider. A dessert table was situated on the actual Liberty Belle Steamboat (cool!), and it had sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and Christmas Tree rice crispy treats.
This hospitality area was a nice, quiet oasis for us to relax with other M&M-ers. None of us wanted the night to end.
Many of us kept riding rides until the very end then stayed at the hub at the front of Main Street U.S.A to close the park.
D23's Magic & Merriment event was indeed merry and magical. As guests, we were treated to a full schedule of amazing experiences, some incredible tastes, and nice opportunities to get to know and share stories with other D23 members and staff. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to attend this event and each of D23's previous events at WDW, and I definitely look forward to what is in store for 2010. Thank you to the D23 team and to all of the wonderful people I had the pleasure to meet.
The previous post in this blog was D23 Magic & Merriment Special Member Event Part 1.
The next post in this blog is Captain’s Grille - Yacht Club.