PassPorter’s Private Party at the Living Seas

Today was only Day 3, Sunday, but Friday felt soooooo long ago. I packed so much into my trip that each day felt like a week.

I got to sleep in a little bit and then got up and put on The Hat and yet another too-fancy-for-Disney dress (but not in that order). The story with the dress is, I wanted to wear something cute for PassPorter’s birthday party, so I went sundress shopping. There was nothing! Everything I found was either a baggy maxi dress or a baggy mini dress. The day before I left town, I went to the mall to get Jensey’s Butterscotch Squares at See’s and had to walk through Macy’s to get in from the parking lot. What I didn’t have to do was ride the escalator up to the dress department… But thank goodness I did, cuz I found the cutest black-and-white polka dot sundress, which you will never really get a good look at cuz I didn’t have anyone to take a picture of me in it! Well, there was the leering manager of Tutto Italia, but let’s just say he won’t be putting Disney’s PhotoPass out of business anytime soon….

Anyway, The Dress + The Hat = a lot of unexpected attention for Lurkyloo this day. Even walking to my car at Pop Century I felt self-conscious as people gaped at me like I’d stepped outta the 1950s collage in the lobby.

On the way to the parking lot, I noticed this:

So if you can see the welcome sign from here, does that mean part of Pop Century technically isn’t inside Disney World?


I took some pictures of my car (another weird thing to see a girl in a polka dot sundress and huge hat doing), which were in the first post of this trippie and which I will not post again because D’BORah the Ford will get a swell head. Then I did a bad thing….

I can’t figure out a way to write around it so I’m gonna have to cop to it: I parked at the Yacht Club to go to the parks. My excuse is that the beginning of my day was to be spent at Epcot and the end was at Hollywood Studios, so leaving my car halfway in between seemed like a really good idea. And my case is special and I can break the rules and blah blah blah… I’m going to Disney hell and I know it.

But enough about that – let’s talk about the hat some more, shall we? I walked from the Yacht Club to the Beach Club, where the ladies at the Cape May check-in desk oooohed and aaaahed over my outfit when I stopped to ask for an ATM. They were so sweet – I busted out my story of how I discovered a fabulous hat at a Flower & Garden gift kiosk and encouraged them to check it out (cuz I’m sure what you wanna do after working at WDW all day is go into the parks and spend money….).

Then, as I entered Epcot through the International Gateway, a woman came over to tell me how much she loved my dress! Suddenly I felt like one of the Disney face characters, or at least a Streetmosphere entertainer, as I sashayed toward Future World in my cute little outfit (“Look, Ma, it’s one-a them characters! …I dunno her name – you know, the ginormous pasty one!”). When I saw an adorable little 5-year-old trying to take her family’s picture in the UK, I stopped to help them get a shot of the whole family and then blew them butterfly kisses as a rainbow appeared and bluebirds carried the camera back to them on a wave of song (for some reason, the children didn’t ask me to sign their autograph books….).

This carpet of flowers magically unfurled beneath my feet as I skipped toward Future World


As I passed the Magic Music Days stage, the band segued into “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted, but I think they may have been contractually obligated to play that one...


When I got to the Seas with Nemo & Friends, harsh reality set in. It was hot and we were standing around outside waiting to be let inside the private room, Living Seas Salon. Even the liberal application of Model in a Bottle couldn’t save my makeup at that point. Worse, I was majorly overdressed for the party and felt like a goof! Eventually Disney opened some kind of anteroom for the PassPorter group to wait in — I didn’t recognize it from any of the Living Seas Salon wedding pictures I’d seen.

Being all crammed together in there gave us a chance to get to know each other, and fast! As I was meeting more of the friendly folks who make up the PassPorter community, I bobbed and weaved to avoid ending up in any photos – pretty much an impossible task in a room full of Disney message board members!

Eventually we were ushered up some stairs and into the long hall I’ve seen in so many Disney wedding photos.

What, no backlit bride and groom smooching in front of the sign?


Living Seas Salon has a reputation for being dim and hard to photograph, and boy howdy, is it ever true—it’s darker than Shula’s Steakhouse in there! I sure tried, though. Usually I’m the first in line at any buffet, but this time I was running all over snapping blurry, underexposed pictures.

The invisible piano is included with the venue; the invisible pianist costs extra


I was surprised to see that there were five windows into the giant tank of the Living Seas. All of Disney’s info makes it sound like there’s only one, and since they all look the same, it’s hard to tell in pictures.

This one is Window #5, a.k.a. “Myrtle”


Eventually I was persuaded to put down the cameras and grab some food, mostly because of that pesky aversion I have to picked-over vittles. Thanks to my fellow shutterbugs, I actually have a photo of me grabbing some food!

(Note: Pretty much any pic you see of me in this update was taken by PassPorter author Cheryl Pendry—thanks Cheryl!)

These are “before” food shots:

California mixed greens layered with cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots, served with lite zinfandel vinaigrette and avocado low-fat Ranch dressing


Maryland seafood pasta salad with dill and lemon vinaigrette, plus sweet cream coleslaw


Buttermilk mashed potatoes, oven roasted corn on the cob, vegetarian Texas barbecue beans


Kansas City-braised pork shanks with crisp onions, plus Southern fried chicken


Kentucky bourbon bread pudding with vanilla bean sauce, next to strawberry shortcake


I ended up sitting at a table full of wonderful ladies to whom Disney food photography is second nature, so we all passed our cameras around the table to get shots of each others’ meals. See if you can guess which plate is mine!

I was pleasantly surprised by the meal. I know people are always raving about the food at Disney weddings, but I tend to write that off because most wedding food is so terrible that just about anything would taste better. And when we were planning our wedding, we weren’t exactly knocked out by the stuff at our BoardWalk Convention Center menu-tasting—in fact one of the reasons we ended up serving only brunch food was that we knew Disney couldn’t screw it up. But the picnic-style food Epcot rustled up for PassPorter’s birthday party was pretty dang good, and a few items (buttermilk mashed potatoes, vegetarian baked beans) were standouts.

On my second pass at the buffet, I stuck to my faves.

Symphony of Starch!


Because the event was only scheduled to last two hours, things moved at a brisk pace—another plus in my book. (I am the type who will spend an entire four- or five-hour wedding reception wondering when the meal will start and then wondering when cake will be served.) As we finished eating, Jennifer and Dave made a nice speech thanking everyone for their support, we took a couple of group photos, and then it was cake time!

 

In the weeks leading up to the party I had been desperately curious to know A) what flavor the cake would be and B) what it would look like. (Yes, OK, I think about cake a lot!). Right before I left on the trip, I was blathering about it to someone who suggested that maybe the cake would look like a giant PassPorter—and I thought that had to be it! What a stroke of genius! Cakes are rectangles, books are rectangles… it was a natural.

Apparently Epcot’s pastry chef had a different inspiration…

…. and that inspiration was the crocheted Kleenex box cover on Aunt Mabel’s toilet tank.

But I can’t complain—there was not one speck of fruit, booze or coffee in that thing, which means it was Lurkyloo-safe Cake! Well, except for the whipped cream on top…. but the milk chocolate filling was innocuous enough.

Jennifer and Dave came up with a brilliant idea for a combination party favor/table decoration/party mixer. Each place-setting had a wooden picture frame and colored marker at it. After the cake-cutting, they announced a competition to see who could 1) collect the most signatures of fellow partygoers and 2) get the highest number of different ink colors on her or his frame (yes, there were dudes there!). The prizes were the table centerpieces: big stacks of PassPorter guide books.

As you know, Disney fans are almost universally also collectors, and many of the guests had a lot of experience gathering character autographs already, so the competition was fierce. But friendly! Everyone sprang from their seats and started dashing from table to table blurting “HiI’mSo-and-Sowillyousignmyframe?!”

I knew my competitive streak would make me crazy if I tried to play for real, so I decided to see how many autographs I could get without leaving my chair.

Here’s me scoring the autograph of the company founder herself, all from the comfort of my keister!


In the middle of the madness, I had a lovely conversation with fellow PassPorter fan Karen, who very sweetly endured every single wedding photo I had on my iPhone. And get this: You know how I’ve been going on and on about how short this trip was and how I had to take a red-eye flight from LA, etc., etc.? Well Karen flew over from England for the WEEKEND! Just to go to PassPorter’s party! Her trip report—which, naturally, because she’s British, also includes a part where she meets the Queen—can be found here.

While she was taking this picture of me and Angie and Karen, Cheryl lost out on 43 frame signatures...


At last, time was called and we all compared the number and colors of signatures on our frames. I like to think of my frame as an example of what graphic designers call “white space”…

Is it cheating if I accidentally signed my own frame?


The winner got 77 of 78 possible signatures. She also got a big heavy Disney-themed blanket to lug around that 90-degree day, which made me glad I was so crummy at collecting frame signatures.

Toward the end of the party I spent a little time wandering around taking more pictures. I sat in one of the aquarium windows for ages trying to get a picture of Steve, my shark pal from past trip reports.

This photo may or may not contain Steve.


I also investigated the Eighties-swank ladies room, which, if it is possible, may be even darker than Living Seas Salon.

I wonder why this tired-looking seating area near the elevators never turns up in wedding photos....

 

At the end of the event, we were given carte blanche to take any of the remaining PassPorters on the tables, and suddenly it looked like the Running of the Brides. I scored a 2009 cruise guide and 3 1/2 pages of PassPorter’s Open Mouse!

At 2:00 we all filed out and went around to the Seas With Nemo & Friends sign to take yet another group photo (well, when you get this many people together, you can’t help but commemorate it!).

The secret door we came out of!


I can’t find a copy of the group photo online, but just imagine a large group of smiling, lanyard-wearing, colorfully attired folks obscured by a broad in a huge hat.

Up Next: Meeting Even More Disney Brides! (Unbelievably, there are still a few I haven’t yet stalked…)

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