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Sleep-over at the Studios – A SWW adventure

#1 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 12:53 PM

This is all Mr. Lucas’ fault. In my real life, I’m a reasonable woman with a nice purse.

But, for the second weekend of Star Wars Weekends, the celebrities were David Prowse and Peter Mayhew. So it was the weekend of big men in suits :D ; specifically, the Darth Vader suit and the Chewbacca suit.

Peter Mayhew is a nice man but my weekends at WDW and his weekends at SWW tend to coincide, so I’ve seen him before and so have many others. His line was not something that I was worried about. Oh, but David Prowse. David Prowse hasn’t been to SWW for years. So, there was much debate as to how early to get to the Studios so as to not to have to worry about getting an autograph.

And, of course, there was a plan. It had been determined the previous weekend that Midnight – yes, that midnight – would do it. OK. Now, see 1st paragraph. I’ve never really contemplated staying out all night at any themepark. For anyone, for anything. I mean, what do you take with you? I settled on a washcloth, sunscreen, 2 bottles of water, an orange juice and 2 little boxes of Froot Loops (because it was amazingly humid and anything open became really stale, really fast and I’ll eat Froot Loops even if they’re stale) and I really wished I’d brought the toothbrush.

Further complicating things, I was going on a Wishes cruise Thursday evening with some lovely people I met at Tour Guide Mikes. Just a word, if you ever have a chance to go on a Wishes cruise, do it. It was wonderful. It is the third perfect way to watch Wishes.

So, we were to meet at the Polynesian at 9pm at the boat dock. I was having excellent bus luck, so I got there early. (I haven’t driven a car in Orlando since the time when I was staying off property and someone dropped a load of hay on the I-4) :shock: . I found the boat dock and went back to sit in the lobby with the lovely air conditioning.

And my phone chirped. It was my friends, saying that the time to be in the line had been moved up to Studios park close. :D So 10pm, but Wishes is at 10pm so I won’t be there at park close.

On the Wishes cruise, they took us out on the water well before the fireworks started and they drove us around the bay and the lagoon and told us stories about what was and what is. While we were cruising around waiting for Wishes to start, I explained that I was going to a sleep-over at the Studios. You know, as if saying so out loud would make it seem normal. The people I was with were very curious, and I said I’d take notes and write it up. So I’m writing my first on-line trip report.

More to come – Next – Bob from the Island of Long.
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#2 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 01:53 PM

Bob - from the Island of Long.

I, um, worry. And so I plan. And with a change to the first plan, I needed a new plan. I needed to get from the Polynesian to French Quarter to Hollywood Studios with all due haste. But without infringing on the Wishes Cruise experience. So, upon finding out that the meet time had been moved up, the slow, free way of getting from the Poly to POFQ to HS went out the window.

And, taxis it is. One from the Poly to POFQ and one from POFQ to HS. The taxis don’t cost very much. And the “vacation money” rules apply. (This is money that was set aside for vacation and may be spent with no questions asked.) And the taxis meet the “vacation responsibility” test. Which is basically that I should get fluids and food and keep track of my small amount of stuff – i.e., no rental cars.

After the phone chirped, I went to bell services in the lobby and asked if they could get me a cab to take me back to French Quarter.
“Now?”
“No, not now, thank you, I’m going on a Wishes Cruise. So, after that.”
“OK, just come back here.”
“OK, thank you.”

So after the Wishes cruise, I went back to the lobby and the man I had spoken to said “Are you ready?” I said yes and he said OK. We went outside and he handed me up into the front of a white van.

And he drove me back to French Quarter. Which I was completely not expecting. And was so nice. He said that he knew the way. I asked for his name so that I could write the letter to Disney. He said he was Bob. And “since everyone who works at the Polynesian has to be from an island, I’m from the island of Long”.

He’s Bob from Long Island. New York. 8)

He dropped me off at French Quarter, I thanked him profusely, ran in, changed clothes, grabbed the bag of stuff and went back out front. At which point I realized that I was having the charmed evening. A Checker Cab pulled up front, an Englishman got out and said “He’s a good driver”. So I had my cab to the Studios. It cost $8.25 plus tip.

I got in line at 11:20pm Thursday night.

At that point the line was at the pass-throughs by the ticket booths. I was pleased, since I had a wall to lean against and in the event of rain, I was under a roof. And this was my view.

Posted Image

Next – Line etiquette.
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#3 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 06:43 PM

Very interesting story Hope! I like the maner in which you tell the story so I'm looking forward to reading the rest :D
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#4 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 09:43 AM

Thanks Matt. :)

Line etiquette.

But first, a note from the real world. You do not have to camp out overnight to get a celebrity autograph. I didn’t camp out last year and I did just fine. I arrived at 5:45am on Friday for Ray Park and was early in the second session; which is a really nice time.

This year, I kept checking with people who were further back in line as to when they got to the Studios. I was told that it was possible to get a guaranteed autograph for David Prowse if you got to the Studios by 4:30am or 5am and people with standby autograph fastpasses received autographs and they didn’t get to the Studios until after 6am. And, oddly enough, consensus was that this year Friday was about the worst day with the longest line, so you may have had to be a little earlier on Friday. But not 11:20pm the night before.

Me? I was having one of those, “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too?” moments. 8) After you’ve been to Disney for several years, you know, you look for new things to do. And I’d never sat outside all night on the concrete in the middle of a former Florida swamp. In June. It was a lot less buggy than I thought it would be.

OK – line etiquette.

Last year was the first SWW with lines outside the turnstiles. As many of you know, before that everyone gathered at the turnstiles and at park opening, we staged the “Running of the 17 year olds”. You know, like in Pamplona. Everyone would run down the street, while the cms yelled “Don’t Run!”

There were problems with this.

Terrible admission – sometimes, I miss the stupid parts. I have this quiet life and there was something very exciting about running down the street like an idiot. And I usually did well enough. I don’t miss the pushing and jockeying for position that used to accompany the merchandise line. Or the worrying that your ticket wouldn’t work in the turnstiles and you’d screw up not only your day, but the day of everyone behind you. But that run first thing in the morning really got your adrenaline flowing. And then usually, while I was running down the street, I would realize how ludicrous this all was and I’d start laughing which is also not a bad way to start the day. Running and laughing. But I do realize that the injury potential is much less with the lines.

Now, I’ve been lucky or blessed or both or something in that I’ve been able to get the fastpasses under both systems no matter how many people ran past me or were skipped up in line. (And the skipped up in line thing is why I think the cms were taking the lines into the Studios at 7am. Once the line was in the park, it was much harder for anyone to jump the line. But next year, I’m going to have to schedule a morning for watching the Storm Troopers at the gate.)

And I know that people have problems with the lines and I agree that there some people who take unfair advantage, but I’ve been impressed with how quickly a more or less reasonable line culture has sprung up. It’s a really long time from 11:20pm to 9am. Really. It’s even a long time from about 5am to 9am. So people need to step out of line from time to time; to go the bathroom, to go get coffee, to take pictures of signs and cms doing maintenance work, and because mostly it’s really hard to sleep.

Since it’s been determined that in this situation, we’re all about the same amount of crazy, and where else are you going to be that you can discuss that you might really “need” the Yoda backpack – well, what if you were training on Degobah?; so, we talk to each other. And then because you’re mostly among friends, you can leave your hat (or something) on the pavement to mark your space while you run to the bathroom and then the people around you can do the same.

The new thing this year was the abundance of chairs. You could basically have anything you wanted as long as you took it to the car well before the line started moving into the park. (It was, however, determined that ordering pizza to be delivered to the line would be pushing it.) So the line was very spread out. People who were further back in the line were worried (I told you I was among friends) and so they would count the line. It was determined that even though I was back under the ticket booths, I was probably only about 30 people back from the turnstiles. Good times.

Next – overnight timeline – or we knew the parks ran 24 hours a day, but they really do run 24 hours a day.
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#5 User is offline   yulilin 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 10:46 AM

Love your report! :) I can't wait for the next part. And yes, I got in line for Mr. Prowse at 6:30am on Saturday morning and got a Standby #86. And still got his autograph. I can't plan on staying overnight with 2 kids under 12. Maybe if someone really BIG comes next year, I'll consider it.
Anyways, can't wait for the next chapter of your journey. :)
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#6 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 01:38 PM

Thanks for reading. :)

I would have told you that I wouldn't have stayed overnight. But I really wanted to get an autograph and a picture. And it would up not being the dumbest thing I've ever done. :) (I'm not quite sure what the dumbest thing I've ever done is, but fortunately, it wasn't spending the night at the Studios.)
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#7 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 02:00 PM

Overnight timeline

11:20 - I’m sitting on the pavement – this is not a problem. This just is.

11:25 - I’m not the end of the line anymore

11:45 - Two more people arrive

11:51 - The wheelchairs go backstage. The wheelchairs fold up and ride on a mechanized cart. This is driven by a cast member sitting in a wheelchair (or it was on Thursday night). I mostly noticed them because they ran the carts into each other.

Midnight – The music is turned off.

12:34 – Maintenance comes out to wash the pavement. Posted Image
They were very careful not to wash where we were sitting. :) And by Sunday morning, you could tell that the reason that the pavement is so clean (and, um, not grody) is because it is normally power washed every night. (The pictures are dark - it's not the camera's fault. It's new and like so much of my technology, so far, I'm underutilizing it)


About 1am – Carts, generators, lights, hedge trimmers and the people to run them suddenly appear and begin refreshing the hillside to the right of the big SWW billboard. Evidently, the begonias were no longer up to snuff and had been scheduled for urban renewal. It was impressively loud.
Posted Image
3:30 - The trimming and planting finished, they pack up and go.

3:45 – The birds wake up. I graciously cede all the worms to them.

4:15 – There are men cleaning the bathrooms. We are soooo in their way. Because, they basically power wash the bathrooms. With soap suds everywhere, including the ceiling. But, because this is Disney, we get a last call on the bathrooms before the mega cleaning. “Go tell everybody to come use the bathrooms now. Please.” :)

5:46 – The music starts up again. People ask if anyone can find the sleep button. The cms come out and make sure the signs are in the right places.
Posted Image

6:20 – Security comes around through the line to do bag check. Really. Yes, I know this works better for them; but it also is a real benefit to us. They come around with flashlights and everybody opens the bags and they move down the line. It’s really very nice.

6:30 – Time to take all chairs, coolers and extraneous bits to the cars. Most mornings, they opened the gates so that we could go in and buy coffee and Danish from the little stand just inside the park.
Posted Image

7am – They start walking us back to the fastpass machines.
Posted Image
(And, yes, this picture is from the 1st weekend. But for some reason, I don't have as many pictures from later in the morning. :D )

7:18 – We’re at the Clothiers. Last weekend, we moved in, but we didn’t move this far this fast.

7:52 – We’re past Hollywood & Vine.

8:08 – We’re up in line at the fastpass machines. So I’m sitting on the pavement again. Eating Froot Loops.

9am – They start up the fastpass machines. I have a return time of 10:20 to 10:35am. Or about 11 hours after I got to the Studios. “So I could look and feel my very best.”

Next – David Prowse
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#8 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:07 PM

It takes dedication to stay overnight. By about 1am I'd have been like "this was nice but I need a real bed now....and a shower".
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#9 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:02 PM

Quote

By about 1am I'd have been like "this was nice but I need a real bed now....and a shower".


:) It was really sad. There was this little voice in my head that was saying, "um, ok, this is nice, but, um, isn't there a hotel room with a bed and um, air conditioning and, um ice and soda?" The need for a shower in the morning is what really almost did me in. I had no idea how much cleaning it takes to keep the place presentable. But it took like three showers before I was feeling clean. Yes, I've seen the people always cleaning, but I now have a real :) appreciation for how much cleaning it really takes to keep the place fine looking in all that heat and humidity; let alone the humanity. :mrgreen:
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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:32 AM

David Prowse

So, this was the reason for the sleep-over. To meet David Prowse, ask him to sign my Star Wars Storybook and get my picture taken with him. So I need breakfast and a little bit of work in the ladies room.

And a locker. To stash the aforementioned wash cloth, etc. To maintain some small amount of dignity while meeting a distinguished, English gentleman. Oh, yeah? You tell Darth Vader he’s not a distinguished, English gentleman.

A word about breakfast. Last year there was a scrambled egg platter and/or yogurt with crumbles and fruit. This year there was a sausage egg bagel or oatmeal. So, for next year, I’m going to have to figure out some way around the food for breakfast issue – especially if lunch isn’t going to happen until 2pm. This year I had oatmeal. Mostly.

As for the work in the ladies room, I decided to settle for looking like I was having the best time imaginable.

It was very quickly time to get over to Echo Lake for the autograph. This is another one of those Disney moments. You know like when the mother of 3 approaching the EPCOT turnstiles, pushes the stroller with the youngest through the gate without looking and starts feeding tickets to the turnstile for the other children. She knows that the cm will grab the stroller and hold on to it until she gets everything sorted and into the park.

So we all get in line at the correct time at the spiffy new booths.
Posted Image
And people check with each other to see what time they have so that the people with the earliest times get to go first. Very civilized. Then when you get up to the booth, you hand your camera to the cm so that they can take your picture with the celebrity. Just hand it over, mostly without looking, smiling at them and saying thank you. And the cms who take the pictures do a wonderful job.

David Prowse was charming. He signed my book and tucked in an unsigned photo card.
Posted Image

The cm asked about a picture and he said “Sure, come here. Have a cuddle.”
Posted Image

And I collect my book, my camera, what little brains I have left and burble off.

It was wonderful. I’m in love. I will definitely be requesting that Disney see if they can get him to come back to SWW next year.

Next – conclusions.
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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:04 AM

It was nice to see David Prowse this year and certainly I like when Disney reaches out and gets some new stars to show up in addition to the usual celebs we've grown accustomed to seeing year after year.
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#12 User is offline   Pitti-sing 

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 01:53 PM

Conclusions.

I’m not doing this again.

And when I do, I’m bringing a toothbrush. I’ll put it on the packing list so that I have two toothbrushes with me and one of them can go to the Studios. And one of my friends in Florida said that she was going to bring a chair for me next year.

But, in a lot of ways it was too early for me. And it wasn’t necessary. And there is a big difference between getting to the Studios at 11:20pm and getting there at 4am or 5am in terms of whether or not you can do it again the next day. Because I still wanted Peter Mayhew’s autograph and so I went to the Studios on Saturday morning at 5am. Which incidentally, was also not necessary.

I will be rethinking this for next year. It is of course always possible that there will be some celebrity at next years SWW that I will feel the need to be there REALLY early to make sure that I get the guaranteed autograph fastpass. Maybe. Or that the friends that I've made while standing in the lines will persuade me that it would be REALLY fun. Which is more likely.

About the best time of the whole line standing experience for me was from about 6am to about 8am. Everyone was mostly awake and the excitement was starting to build. But, that may be something that happens no matter where you are in what line. I also enjoyed talking to the people I was with in the merchandise line and I didn’t even get there until after 7am. :D

But, first thing in the morning everyone is fresh. Well, at least the cms and the celebrities are fresh.

And I had a good time. I always enjoy talking with the people in the lines and I just love listening to the fanboys geek. Posted Image
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#13 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 04:08 PM

I agree that overnight is not necessary. Unless like Lucas or Harrison Ford come, it's really not necessary. Still, it made for a very entertaining report :D
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