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.
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