Wishes! 40th Anniversary Fireworks Photo

Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary on October 1, 2011 was a special occasion. Not because there was a ceremony in the morning, limited edition merchandise, and perimeter bursts during Wishes!, but because the fans made it special. Here’s hoping Disney does a bit more for EPCOT Center’s 30th anniversary.

To see more of our photos and video from Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary, click here.

Technical details: Nikon D7000 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our Disney Photography Guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

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Disney World 40th Anniversary Wishes! Fireworks Photo

Thanks to the perimeter bursts, the Walt Disney World 40th anniversary showing of Wishes on October 1, 2011 was easily the best showing of Wishes we had ever experienced. The energy from the crowd that entire day was palpable, and it was great to spend the day with so many others who cared so deeply about Walt Disney World.

Technical details: shot with a tripod-mounted Nikon D7000 with a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

Want to see more Disney photos? Check out the other photos in our “Disney Photo of the Day” series!

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October 2011 Disney World Trip Report, Pt VIII

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the Retro-Day WDW meet. Conceptually, the meet centered around its attendees dressing in attire from 1971, when the Vacation Kingdom opened. I loved the idea, as Sarah and I enjoy dressing well, and 70s-era Walt Disney World saw Guests who were better dressed, in general. It also saw some eccentric attire, but I’d say in general the attire was men in slacks (and possibly coats and ties) and women in dresses.

Given the weather in Florida the prior days and the fact that we’d already be traveling with 2 Halloween costumes each during the trip, we opted against dressing up for the events. Still, we wanted to go, as there were some folks with whom I had interacted a lot on Twitter who’d be attending.

It turned out to not be a big deal that we didn’t dress up. Most people didn’t, or didn’t dress the way I would have expected to see a Guest in the 70s dress. To be sure, there were multiple ways to go with it: the retro-hipster look, the refined and proper look, or even the flower child look. Of the people who dressed up, I’d say most fell into the last category. For whatever reason, I don’t associate this with Walt Disney World Guests of the 70s, but obviously my knowledge isn’t first hand. I’m probably just not looking at the right photos. That, or even back then, Disney’s media team mandated that long-haired freaky people need not apply for its publicity shots.

The event was really popular. I’m not sure how many people showed up for it, but it had to have been around 50 or more. Not bad for an event that was organized only a few weeks before the actual anniversary and was advertised largely through social media. I guess that really shows where the Disney fan community is mobilizing now.

As we were chatting with other attendees, world famous podcaster and international celebrity (I’m pretty sure he even has his own brand of laundry detergent in Japan!) Lou Mongello stopped by. He was accompanied by his posse (presumably all armed to the teeth) and carrying a laptop in the midst of his 40-hour live show. Lou is some sort of crazy Disney social-media genius. I throw the “crazy” in there because his 40-hour live show was 40 consecutive hours. That’s “hardcore” as the kids would say.

Lou chatted with the organizer of the event, Travis Munson (world famous creator of DiscussionKingdom.com and @Exprcoofto on Twitter) and then came over to interview me. In circumstances when I’m interviewed, I usually like to have my publicist approve questions with at least 72 hours advance notice. I also typically like to have six bottles of Avian bottled water on hand chilled to exactly 39 degrees. I also like the key light source to be 2750 degrees. None of these accommodations had been made, but since it was Lou, I proceeded.

I don’t really remember about what we talked, but if you watched I’m sure I came across awkwardly. There’s a reason I don’t do live audio or video broadcasts…it’s because I’m awkward when I have to give impromptu or improvised responses. Behind the safe-haven of my keyboard, I can pause for a few moments as I think up witty replies or things to write. It’s much easier to come across as sharp or cheeky that way, I’ve found. Maybe you disagree, and find me quite awkward via text as well.

Now is as good of a time as any to mention it, but I’ve been working with Lou and Tim from Celebrations Magazine on a Walt Disney World Christmas book that should be coming out soon. Check it out at Celebrations Press. You might recognize a few of the photos on the preview cover and pages.

After Lou and his posse left, I noticed a few of the guys we had seen at Destination D in May. I had interacted with them some on Twitter prior to the trip, but it was really cool to actually meet them in person. I was quite surprised and flattered that some of them liked my photography. I’ve been a fan of the work for a while!

Mr. Mutton Chops actually is the one who inspired Sarah to use Instagram. It has been a great outlet for her creativity, but I didn’t know if I should thank him or shake my fist at him, as Sarah was really hooked on Instagram. Many times, I’d ask her to snap a quick photo of something, and instead of pulling out her wonderful DSLR, she pulled out her phone and brought up Instagram. As cool as I think Instagram is (and unlike many “real” photographers, I don’t hate it–I think it serves its purpose of dressing up photos on camera phones quite nicely and has a nice social media component, as well), I’d rather have our trip report photos be of a little higher quality.

We chatted with them as we headed into Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. It was odd that we had only done around 5 attractions that day, yet we had done the Tiki Room multiple times. We normally experienced it once per trip, at most. Having the original back made a big difference for us. Hopefully the rest of the vocal minority that was so excited to get it back (many of whom acted “enraged” by Under New Management) similarly support the restoration of the classic. While I don’t believe playing up to nostalgia is always the solution, as it encourages stagnation or even regression, I think it was the right solution here. Hopefully that is affirmed for Disney with positive numbers for the classic attraction.

I’ve made it my goal to photograph every bird in the Tiki Room, so please bear with me for a few photos. This quest is currently ongoing.

There are multiple pages in this Walt Disney World trip report installment. Navigate to the next page below!

October 2011 Disney World Trip Report, Pt VII

The next day, unsurprisingly, was an early morning for us. This day was the whole reason we took a Walt Disney World vacation this October. This was the first day we actually planned on being up early, and even set three alarms to ensure that we would be to the park early. It was that important to us. (For our bare-bones recap of the Walt Disney World 40th anniversary events, click here.)

I had heard the day before that some people were planning on arriving at the Magic Kingdom as early as 7 am (for the 9 am opening), so I thought I’d check Twitter to see if there was any “news.” Much to my surprise, many people were already there, and were reporting that plenty of others were already there, as well. This was at 6:45 am. It looked like a large crowd would form early. We quickly got ready, making no detours to Old Port Royale or anything of the sort. We were out of our room within an hour of getting up, which has to be some sort of record for us.

As we headed for the bus stop, I continued to monitor Twitter, seeing more reports of crowds forming at the entrance area. I was beginning to worry that we may not make it through the turnstiles before the Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony, which would be really disappointing, as we expected something special. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 8:20 am, and as we raced towards the turnstiles, I could already see the sea of people. I originally expected about 5% of Guests that day to even be aware of the 40th anniversary prior to the day itself. Given the size of the crowd, I was beginning to rethink the prediction.

Our original goal was to arrive before 8:45 am, so I guess we met our goal, but it probably would have been wise for us to arrive earlier. We barely made it through the turnstiles before the Opening Ceremony. Luckily, about 5 minutes after we entered, Cast Members began urging everyone to stand up and make more space (as, by then, people were not making it through the turnstiles). When this happened, it was like the seas parted, as a huge gap opened in front of us as people moved. We still didn’t have a great spot, but at least had a better spot.

I looked around, recognizing fans from all corners of the community, and seeing more cameras than you can shake a stick at. This was probably one of the most well-documented days in the history of Walt Disney World.

The day started off in typical fashion, with the Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony, albeit in modified form to give a few nods to forty years of the Magic Kingdom. We probably see this Ceremony about once or twice per year (we normally run late as opposed to early, so we frequently end up at the park 20 minutes or so after opening). As always, it was a fun show to watch, especially seeing it play to a packed and excited crowd. You could already tell that the excitement level of the fans was high.

Once the show ended, we inched our way inside, where we were handed commemorative retro-inspired park maps and 40th anniversary buttons. We took 5 maps each to save, which at the time we thought might have been a tad greedy. That is, until we saw others grabbing huge stacks of maps. I guess it’s all relative.

The park maps were really, really cool, and paid homage to the exaggerated conceptual-style artwork of early maps by Paul Hartley and others (I don’t knew who created this one, specifically). The team behind that map really deserves some kudos, as it was beautifully done, all around. Icing on the cake would have been if the team convinced Kodak to re-run one of its old “photo tips” ads on the back, but that’s really expecting too much.

Once inside the park, we scurried to the Emporium. I knew there were going to be limited edition t-shirts, and I figured they would sell quickly. It was already nuts in there, and the racks had just emptied. As more came out, I took one look at the shirts, and decided to get one of each. The black one looked cooler, and since I didn’t know what size I’d need, I decided to get both small and medium.

Since I wanted a good spot for the 10 am Cinderella Castle Ceremony, Sarah bought both of the special shirts offered that day, while I headed towards the Castle. In retrospect, both shirts are really lacking. Worse yet, I didn’t discover until a few days later that the white shirt I had Sarah purchase was actually a women’s shirt! I later commented to others how I thought it was odd that they’d put Tinkerbell on a men’s shirt, and no one really agreed with me, or responded at all. Now I know why! I guess that just goes to show you how much of a hurry I was in.

As many Guests had elected to stop at the Emporium to get shirts and other collectibles, I was still relatively early in getting a spot in front of the Castle for the 10 am ceremony. I found some other photographers a fairly close distance to the stage, and set up shop next to them.

Original view:

Then, I started to think. And scheme. This sort of thing always gets me in trouble. Scheming about “better locations” has lost me many a good Illuminations spot at Epcot. I’ll find a decent location, but then, thinking I might be able to find better, I go looking. Upon realizing that all the better spots are taken, I head back to the original spot, which is then gone, too. If insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results, then have me committed, because I constantly do this at Epcot, and constantly suffer negative consequences.

For Illuminations, this isn’t such a big deal. If I don’t get good shots one night, I can always shoot it another. On October 1, 2011 at the Magic Kingdom, it was an entirely different ballgame. I couldn’t pick a bad location or the wrong lens and hope for a do-over later. The safe move would have been to hedge my bets by using the 18-200mm lens in that centered location.

I rarely take the safe or the smart bet. I’m a risk taker by nature, and I think even to you readers who weren’t there on this particular day, it’s probably a foregone conclusion already that I didn’t stay in that location. Instead, as went over how the ceremony would likely go in my head and looked around, I noticed some “parade” ropes up towards the side of the Castle. I knew there was going to be a character cavalcade down Main Street to Cinderella Castle, and it made sense that the characters would pass by these ropes.

Most people were dead center in front of the Castle, so I had no trouble getting a good spot right against the rope near the very front of the stage. If I was going to live and die by the sword, I figured I might as well switch to the fisheye lens, too, as I could get some pretty interesting closeup shots of characters as they passed with it. That is, assuming they did pass. If they didn’t pass, I’d be stuck with an okay view of the stage and a poor lens for photographing it.

New View:

Now, to say I didn’t hedge my bets a little would be disingenuous. As I headed all the way against the rope, Sarah stood 10 feet to my right, with the 18-200mm lens on her camera, which would enable her to get good shots of the ceremony. If I failed miserably, at least we’d have those photos!

As we stood in the throngs of crowds awaiting the 10 am ceremony, the excitement from the crowd was palpable. Not necessarily for what Disney had planned, but for the memories made by so many in the crowd, and the integral role these theme parks had played in so many of our lives. Walt Disney World undeniably has a lot of nostalgic value for a lot of people, and this day was probably one of the ultimate days for fans to wax nostalgic about the resort’s past. As we stood packed like sardines near the Cinderella Castle stage, we heard other Guests reminiscing about attractions of the past. I heard mention of favorites like If You Had Wings, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Alien Encounter, and even some long-gone favorites such as the Swan Boats.

While I appreciate Disney doing something to honor the day, make no mistake, the ones who made it special, for us at least, were the fans. Everywhere you looked you could see Guests who grinning from ear to ear, sometimes teary-eyed, and often wearing shirts sold during past anniversaries. At times, you would see a few Guests in these “retro” shirts as the music from past celebrations played (great touch, Disney). For that exact moment, you were transported back to 1996, 1991, or some other year. It made me think back to a Walt Disney World vacation I took with my parents back in 1996…but for some reason the things I remember about that Disney trip are getting sick from eating too much butter at Fulton’s, and buying a watch at the World of Disney. For some reason, those seemingly insignificant details are more poignant than bigger things, like the Cinderella Castle Cake.

Seeing this out-pouring of support made us happy, as if this insane level of attendance demonstrated to us that many fans really care about these parks, it should clearly demonstrate the same to Disney, which arguably did not expect this type of turnout at the Magic Kingdom on an off-season morning the first weekend of Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Based upon the type of fans we saw (on days like this, you can easily spot a fellow super-fan), my 5% prediction was completely wrong. Probably over 50% of the Guests in the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 2011 were there to celebrate the 40th anniversary, not just for standard Walt Disney World vacations.

There are multiple pages in this Walt Disney World trip report installment. Navigate to the next page below!

Walt Disney World Trip Report – Halloween & 40th Anniversary

This Walt Disney World trip report features over 800 Disney photos, and thoughts from our visit during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Magic Kingdom’s 40th Anniversary, and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. We had a ton of fun at these events, and thought this would be a great trip to cover in a report–and would be helpful for others planning Walt Disney World trips during these events in the future (well, besides the 40th anniversary…that is sorta a ‘one and done’ type of thing!).

Informally, we’re referring to this as the “Brickers’ F’n Walt Disney World Trip Report.” Not because it’s filled to the brim with vulgarity (it’s not, although that would be a great way for us to reach the coveted 18-34 male demographic), but because it combines the “Big Fs” at Walt Disney World in October 2011: Food & Wine Festival and the Fortieth Anniversary. Too bad we didn’t stay at Fort Wilderness to complete the trifecta! This was a really fun trip for us. In addition to the highly anticipated 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, we attended Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, participated in the Disney Parks Blog’s Trick or Meet-Up event, and dined at some delicious restaurants, among other things!

We hope you join us on this exciting and terrific* trip report! Bookmark this page as it will be where we organize the updates in one convenient location. Links will become active as the Parts are posted.

Part 1 – To Spaceship Earth and Beyond!: I’d rather soil myself than miss these photos!
Part 2 – Morning Madness!: Trouble for Tom, and a visit to the Magic Kingdom!
Part 3 – Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival: Mmm…Food, Mmm…Beer–err…Wine!
Part 4 – Disney Parks Blog’s Trick or Meet-Up Event
Part 5 – Another Day of Food & Wine: What time does the Champagne kiosk open?!
Part 6 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Blue Hour, Brown Derby
Part 7 – Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary: The First Half of #WDW40
Part 8 – Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary: The Second Half of #WDW40
Part 9 – A Morning of Meets: Meeting People at Meets
Part 10 – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party: Christmas In October?!
Part 11 – See Ya Real Soon! (more…)