People normally go to Disneyland for a vacation, it's the dream holiday destination of most kids (and adults). Recently Glenn was in Disneyland, but not for a vacation. Read all about the other side of visiting a holiday destination with Glenn's 'work' trip to Disneyland. A small snapshot of Disneyland, accommodation and restaurants.
In January, I was fortunate to travel to Orlando Florida, the home of Disneyland, to attend a 5 day company meeting with just over two hundred people from all around the world. The 26 hour door to door journey, in economy class, was certainly tiring! I had to transit in Los Angeles with not a lot of time to collect luggage, clear immigration and customs regulations then move to a different terminal for the American Airlines flight to Orlando. Upon disembarking the flight in Los Angeles I was given an “Express Pass” by ground staff to expedite my progress through the very large crowd in the immigration and customs hall. With no obvious signs for an “Express” lane I asked an officer where to find it. “The Express lane doesn’t operate this early in the morning “, came the reply!? Why give me an Express pass then ??? I joined the long line, concerned I may miss my connection, however, fortunately, the line moved quickly and I made the connecting flight to Orlando with time to spare.
After a long five hour flight to Orlando, in a freezing cold aircraft cabin, no blankets on board, it was a relief to finally arrive at the Disney Boardwalk Inn. Let the Disney experience begin!
The Disney Boardwalk Inn first opened in 1996 and is situated on the shores of Crescent Lake.
The hotel has a peaceful old world charm. The rooms and quite large and nicely decorated. The walls are adorned with prints and photographs of Disney resorts, characters and the hotel from a bygone era.
Sunday was a free day ahead of the meeting, to acclimatise. Myself and several colleagues ventured to the Orlando International Premium Outlets hoping to pick up a bargain at the myriad discount outlets. It is a very extensive complex and all the big brands are there. Big discounts are on offer.
Being not much of a shopper, I headed straight for the nearest Starbucks relieved to find there was indeed a Starbucks there. Of course there was; Starbucks is everywhere! I enjoyed a nice cappacino and purchased a souvenir “Been There Series” - “Florida the Sunshine State” coffee mug.
I came across a Le Crueset cookware outlet and purchased a pan and cookbook as a gift for Lyn. Guess I’ll be doing some cooking when I return home!
(Browse for your Le Creuset supplies here)
We enjoyed a lunch of spaghetti with meatballs at Vinito Italian restaurant. As is usually the case in restaurants in the US, the serving was very large, too much for the average person. It was very delicious though!
That evening was the opening dinner for the meeting. A little over 200 attendees from around the world gathered in the conference hall for food, drink and entertainment. It was great to meet up with acquaintances and colleagues from around the world. The company’s last global meeting was in 2011, 9 years ago in Dubai.
After dinner we were surprised by the arrival of two special guests; Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Imagine, 200 grown adults lining up to have their photo taken with Mickey and Minnie Mouse! I guess it made us feel young again. I sent the photos to my son who remarked; “ I thought they would be smaller”. My reply; “everything is big in the US.... even the mice!”
After a long day of meetings on Monday we headed out for dinner and a “Disney Experience” in the Lion King area.
Dinner was followed by the Avatar 3D ride. You sit on a seat, like a motorcycle without wheels, wearing a 3D visor. A large screen shows a film as though you are riding on the back of a large flying creature called a Banshee. The Banshee flies through various parts of “Pandora”, diving and darting over cliffs, through the forest and over the ocean. Very breathtaking. Amazing how your brain plays tricks on you even though you know full well you aren’t actually moving. The ride lasts for only 4.5 minutes. Fortunately, we did the ride after hours for corporate clients; no waiting line. Still, you have to walk about 500 metres along the path to get to the actual ride. The attendant told us that some people wait in line for 4 hours to take the ride. It was good but no way I would wait that long in a line. 3 hours maybe!😄
On Wednesday, after meetings and presentations in the morning we visited Epcot, a theme park in Walt Disney World Resort. Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement and international culture.
We spent the afternoon in the international culture area, also known as the World Showcase, participating in a “team building” challenge. The World Showcase is a large area containing eleven pavilions, representing a specific country. The pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon, a large man-made lake located in the center of World Showcase.
Each team of 6-7 people (and some smaller teams) were given an IPad to contain the “challenges”. Upon visiting the pavilion of a specific country the IPad presented several challenges; solve a riddle, find a picture, perform a physical challenge and capture it on video, for example, find silly hats and take a picture of all team members wearing the silly hats. My team found Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ears to wear on our heads.
Another challenge was to form letter shapes with our bodies to spell out a word describing how we felt about the Epcot team building event. My team spelt out “FUN”. After completing all challenges at that pavilion the team then moved onto another pavilion. Points were awarded for completing a challenge successfully. At the end of the challenge, the team with the highest number of points was declared the winning team. Unfortunately, I was not on the winning team. The winning team had only four members. I guess a smaller team was more nimble, able to move faster. Either that, or the team members were just smarter. Perhaps, had my team not stopped for a “refreshment break” of purified water (some people call it “beer”) we may have won the challenge.
That night several groups went to the Boathouse for dinner.
I was appointed as a “table leader” for my table of ten people, meaning, I had to pick up the bill. Hope my credit card won’t exceed the limit! I wasn’t very popular when I announced, ahead of the meal, that as my credit card has a very low limit, we would only be allowed to order water or perhaps I could stretch to soft drinks, but only one each. Furthermore, unfortunately, I heard that the restaurant is out of stock of lobster. After some initial panic, people quickly realised I was joking. Actually, for ten people the final bill was quite reasonable. The Boathouse is a large restaurant and without doubt, the busiest restaurant I have ever been to. There were hundreds of diners at tables that were very close together. The noise of the chatter was deafening. It was difficult to navigate your way in between the tables. I particularly liked the many fish sculptures made of metal and wood that adorned the walls.
Just inside the reception area there is a full size speedboat. Some lucky diners get to sit in the speedboat to enjoy their meal. I enjoyed Chilli Lime Calamari as an entree and Mahi Mahi fish for main course. The food was good but the atmosphere chaotic. Reminds me of a joke; “Have you heard about the new restaurant on the moon?” “The food is great but the atmosphere is lousy!” Oh come on!, it’s a funny joke! ... as are ALL “Dad Jokes”!😂😂
The company meeting finished on Thursday with a big celebration in the evening in the 1950s themed Atlantic Dance Hall.
The “Duelling Pianos” provided music early in the evening giving way to the very loud Disco music later in the evening. Some Indian music was also provided for our colleagues from India. They certainly have their own unique dancing style, as do I. Unfortunately, nobody captured a picture of that. They must have been too dazzled by my moves! The sumptuous smorgasbord of seafood, various meats, salads and curries was certainly delicious.
The journey home began Friday, 26 hours door to door flying from Orlando to Los Angeles (5 hours), three hour transit time then Los Angeles to Brisbane (13 hours). It took several days to recover from the jet lag.
Planning your next trip? Here are some links to help make it easier for you.