Sunday, November 7, 2010

Arriving on a Red Eye in Atlanta... The first 45 minutes

Have you ever taken a Red Eye flight? It's a flight from a western US city that leaves late at night/early morning and gets to an east coast city in the Pre dawn hours. It's a great way to maximize time at a west coast destination (like Disneyland) and use the plane as a flying hotel room. It gets is name from the sensation and look of your eyes after trying to sleep on board.

Normally Atlanta is my final destination, so I just get in my car and roll home to bed. Today, I continue to Newark NJ to see my girlfriend for lunch before proceeding to Scranton PA for an insure visit Monday AM. With this in mind, I discovered that there are two tips to share with my fellow Atlanta airport travelers:

One- there are good benches to sleep on between gates B4 and B6. They are isolated from the rest of the seating areas AND there is a power outlet too :-). Only downfall, it's next to the window. Jacket required on cold mornings.

Two- there are no restaurants or concession stands open before 6am. If you slept through meal service on your flight (like I did) or didn't eat before take off, be prepared to be fasting until they open. I'm rumbling as I type this.

Feel free to comment on your travel or red eye experiences... I love this flight schedule as I am all about making the most of my travel times. Night night!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fun, food, and history on the Midway

Last night my colleagues and I were invited to a dinner event and costume ball on the USS Midway, here in San Diego. While I didn't participate in the costuming, it was amazing to be on this grand old ship during the after hours.

During the day, you can tour the aircraft carrier and I totally recommend it. You don't realize how amazing it is to see the length (and I mean short!) of the landing area and imagine pilots landing planes there. Also there are other great Navy exhibits on board including aircraft, cockpits, ejector seats, and more. I took some pictures while exploring, mingling, and enjoying some tasty beverages ;-).

I travel with work a ton, and this is my way of taking a playbook from Ferris Bueller's way of seeing the world. Only a few more hours here before the red eye later. How do you fellow travelers make your work trips somewhat easier to take?

Enjoy... A little something from the work trip.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Take a moment, look at the views

Today was a long day of travel. I was starting to feel the waves of travel fails coming right for me.

It started out with a McDonald's fail at the Atlanta airport, then no wifi on my flight. BUT- McDonald's saw my tweet and DM'ed me asking for more info and offered a voucher, then the flight's seat back movies were free and I watched 'Salt' and 'Knight and Day'. Fails became better!

Then upon landing, Delta's baggage services folks took over an hour and fifteen minutes to gets bags to the carousel. During the drive from LAX to San Diego, I took a few moments to stop and take in the coastal views. Turned that frustration into something good.

Finally, upon arrival at the hotel, I found out my presentation was moved up by almost two hours. But my need for a room accelerated me into a room with an incredible view of San Diego. The city directly ahead, the cruise terminal to the right, and a great view of the airport to the left.

Simply put... Don't let a few fails spoil the views!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Moving to Posterous... Easier, better, more often :)

One of my biggest challenges in doing a blog is: "time and accessibility" to post when I am on the road with work so much.  Blogger was a good starting point, but I think Posterous will be better.  Better mobile client which means more postings and more opportunities to interact.

Come join me at the new place... WDWSteveB Onderland Blog

See you real soon!

Random stories from the road will be shared. Right Here.

Here it is... The next 30 or so days will have me on the road for business and pleasure (of the next 32 days, 20 will be spent away from Winnie and Sandler).  I will be in San Diego, Northern NJ, Scranton PA, Raleigh NC,  Houston/Galveston TX, and many places in between.

I think we all agree that Twitter is a great way to stream consciousness and thought as it happens, right? I want to try and make this blog as relevant and fresh as possible (yeah, me relevant). Ok, Todd P @tperlmutter kind of guilted, I mean motivated me, into doing something productive.

So, challenge to self: post something, anything about what happens where I am.  It may be brief, or have a full story involved but it is some of the "it happened today" types of things.  I hope you'll join me in reading about (and commenting about) what happens.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What to buy at WDW? Retro EPCOT Center attire!

Does anyone else do this?  I am just days away from departing for Walt Disney World and I am already trying to keep a level head as to what I am going to spend on WDW swag while I am there.  Let me explain:

I would say that 60-70% of my wardrobe comes courtesy of Walt Disney World (and some from Disneyland).  Plenty of T-shirts, but I need to consider a few new ones.  Polo shirts are a weakness since I can wear them in casual and business casual environments.  I have but two regrets of clothing purchases I didn't make.  Both are jackets.  One was the leather jacket from the Millennium Celebration era.  It was all four parks on the sleeves.  The other jacket was the limited edition Main Street Electrical fiber optic denim jacket.  Ahh,  woulda coulda shoulda.

BUT, back to today- EPCOT Center (yes, I typed it that way- the right way) retro shirts will easily make it into a package delivery run to Disney's Old Key West this trip.  I have three as it is now, but one is sooo worn out.  I love the designs and look of the original icon-based system of pavilion and attraction identification.  It will be great to build more of that into my wardrobe :)

Moral of the story is this:  If you know me, you know my clothing selections are usually influenced by Disney.  Love it or hate it, it is a representation of me and my tastes. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

6 days to go... I need to upgrade the Seasonal Pass

With less than a week to go until the August Crewunion WDW trip, I have realized something: I can't get into the parks with my Florida Resident Seasonal Pass. OK- I still hold a Florida Driver License for real reasons (actually, it has been like a magnet trying to bring me back permanently ever since I left), so I have taken advantage of the Florida Resident Seasonal Passport for the last few years.

The Florida Resident Seasonal Passport is a GREAT value in that it is all-year admission only blocked out during peak times (Summer, Christmas, Spring Break) and is only about $275. In other words, not included are dates when given a choice you would AVOID AT ALL COSTS (unless you have an Unofficial Guide and a subscription in your arsenal).

Well, the Summer block out period doesn't end until August 20th, so I need to step it up and splurge. In addition, there is a Crew day in Typhoon Lagoon on Friday planned. So do I go to the Annual (and pay one day at a Water Park) or go for the Premium Annual (with Water Parks/Disney Quest included)?

Aside from the actual upgrade price, the difference in the two passes is approx. $120 (considering the prorated time remaining in the SP until my renewal date next June 2011). A one day Water Park ticket is $48 for FL residents. That means two trips to the Water Parks and a night a Disney Quest in the next year to justify it, right? Did I just convince myself?

OH, one more thing: As I have shared in the past, I am VERY seriously considering/planning a move back to Orlando. If I do it... I am planning to execute this plan within the next 4-6 months. An Annual Passport with parking included and no block out dates was going to be in my future no matter what. Having a Premium Annual Passport would allow me to hang with and meet up with friends I know today and will discover tomorrow. OK- I am now convinced. Thanks for talking it over with me. You are a great friend. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My goal... a post a day until the August WDW Trip.

SO- I have been awful, just awful about keeping my blog fresh. I recall a certain Betamouse podcast episode that says if you want to be relevant, keep it coming. Well I think I am getting in the zone! I am just 7 days to the arrival of 5 days of fun and I am feeling inspired. SO, I will be trying something new: Quick thoughts I am having in the days leading up to departure.

Tonight, I am realizing that the amount of sleep I get will be limited. Yep, that Mickey towel left on the bed by housekeeping may very well be there well into the night before it is even touched.  I think my sleep will not just limited due to my usual all-out maximizing of time in the parks... But that I will be so excited to be spending time with new, known, and unknown Disney friends and Tweeps. I will admit, I enjoy taking part in the discussions and interactions we share about the World. There is something magical that happens when it becomes real when we go further into the community that we are all a part of. I mean if you are reading this, you are so a part of it.

Have you felt this kind of excitement? Are you old hat at this whole "I'm going to Disney World" thing? Are you going next weekend? Don't be shy... Stop on by, below or in person!

See you tomorrow... When it is only 6 days to arrival!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Driving Disney...

How many of you believe your car is an extension of your personality? Well, I am a firm believer of this. And so this explains why I own… Wait for it… A 2001 Pontiac Aztek. That’s right. The car created as part of a General Motors experiment gone horribly wrong: part 4-door sedan, part minivan, part SUV and all unique. Also referred to by many as one of the top 5 ugliest cars ever made, a poor man’s Honda Element, and As$pick. No matter what- all mine for the last 4 years (and will be until I go back to green, I had a Prius before it). BUT- back to the Disney angle of this. I first saw this car after exiting Test Track. It was a featured GM vehicle at the time and it was love at first sight.

The car is named Bravo Two-Two-Niner (if you are unsure where this comes from, I will share in my next post- or you can share in comments below).

B229 is also adorned with a few Disney items: On the front of the car is a DVC Member plate that I have transferred from car-to-car for years. I am a proud member who knows the best kept secret ;) Then on the back, a WDW license plate border that tells ya where I am always trying to drive B229 back to.

Then, there is the Spaceship Earth antenna topper. This is a replacement for the Sorcerer topper I had originally that was defaced by having the ears removed. YEAH! Who does that?!?

SO- What do you drive? Is it your personality? Or more importantly- how have you Disney-ized your car? Have you Disney Pimped Your Ride? I am curious… and I know many others are too! Please share and comment below.

Tweet you real soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Meet Means So Much More... a First Timer

A funny thing happened to me last weekend... I had an amazing time at Disney World. I know, shocker! BUT- it was a weekend enjoyed not as a solo, but as part of something greater. Many of us have been Tweeting, commenting, blogging and posting with each other for days, weeks, months, and even years. We share stories, thoughts, challenges, triumphs, and so many things Disney that bring us closer as a community. (OK, enough of the lists Steve and get to the point).

You know that smile you get when someone comments on something you said? Or, when you read a posting and think "exactly" and you become friends? Multiply that feeling to infinity and beyond and you will begin to know what it is like to be around Walt Disney World with these folks.

This is not a trip report of my weekend. I think of this as an expression of gratitude and appreciation for those I met along the way and the interactions we shared, both in person and virtually.

Besides the Tweets below, I know there are many more folks I met. If I didn't mention you by Twitter handle or by name... It's because I was so overwhelmed that I got lost in my Tweets and conversations. Well, that and I drove home on Sunday all day. Please, please, please feel free to comment to remind me so I am following/friending you. Heck, even if you weren't there I invite you to share your meet up thoughts. Have you done a meet before? Are you going to? Are you "unsure"? Again, my sincere thanks to my brothers and sisters in Disney for making this a Community of Tomorrow ;)


From my Twitter timeline's perspective:
Friday, May 21
My goals were to simply fly to Orlando and get to Studios on time to catch Fantasmic. It turned out to be a great first time meeting of new friends. Beci Mahnken and Matt Hochberg were streaming the Fantasmic 10:30 show and Doug Uhlig was right there with them. Through the magic of Twitter and their openness to meet someone new, I was honored to join them. Listening to Beci and Matt do a commentary of the show felt like this: I watch Glee on TV and love it, but I got to see it live and it was just as good if not better!

I have just touched down in Orlando and I hope I make some new Disney friends this weekend #confessfriday
7:40 PM May 21st via Osfoora from Southwest Orange, FL

Waiting for Fantasmic with @studiocentral @Beci_mousefan @wdwstevieb :)
10:21 PM May 21st via Osfoora

Being w/ @studiocentral @Beci_mousefan for the Ustream of Fantasmic was like seeing Glee live on stage. The show is great. In person-Magic!
11:30 PM May 21st via Osfoora

Saturday, May 22
My plans were to take advantage of EMH at Studios (Toy Story Midway Mania, Coaster, and Tower), go to AK and hit Everest, then back to DHS to enjoy the WDW Radio/Lou Mongello 24-hour broadcast May Meet of the Month, participate in the Studios Central ABC Commissary meet up, and then head over to Epcot for the Illuminations Dessert party to end the day. Nice right? It was so much more. I gained great friends (special early awakening thanks to Doug for the ride along company and the use of the iPhone charger), and lost a backpack. A personal thank you to everyone who was part of the search party, including Lou Mongello himself for trying to find it. (yeah, still no word). A full day of meeting friends and making connections.

Thanks for being my ride buddy! RT @WDWStevieB: Thanks for the EMH fun @disdug71 - see ya this afternoon!
10:12 AM May 22nd via Osfoora

@heavensent30 @WDWStevieB i'm on my way to see ya'll!
1:33 PM May 22nd via UberTwitter in reply to heavensent30

@wdwstevieb hey! You are on the box! I see you!!
3:42 PM May 22nd via txt

Just saw @marcmantoo & @WDWStevieB too! Very fun @LouMongello!!! :) Lovin this live from HS thing!!
3:44 PM May 22nd via TweetDeck

RT don't forget to score big! @Bixie23: The ever-awesome @WDWStevieB gave me & DD fastpasses for Toy Story Mania!!!!! Thank you SO MUCH!
3:51 PM May 22nd via Osfoora

@WDWStevieB Lous said a kid turned it in to studio catering company lost and found

@WDWStevieB Steve a little kid found it and brought it to lost and found before we could apprehend it.
4:30 PM May 22nd via TweetDeck

I want to thank @loumongello and everyone in and out of the "box" for helping with the elusive bag. Going to keep moving forward ;-)
5:50 PM May 22nd via Osfoora

Ditto RT @bigdsp: @wdwstevieb I hear you talking to Beci right now!
8:49 PM May 22nd via TweetDeck

Sunday May 23
The great $10 drive home (see previous blog post for details). Plan was to pick up the car, shop at Character Premiere, and hit the road. Well, I popped into the Beach Club Resort to see how the 24 hour folks were holding up. It was here I had more "OMG- It's you in real life moments" with NDM#1 JL, and Disney Mom @wifeandmomuniv Andi (thanks for the photo shoot to you and to Jorge). I saw Marc again and met the gentleman who dropped everything to go to the D23 Event last year, following seeing Lou's live coverage.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Counting down...

Planning leads to anticipation. Anticipation leads to excitement. Excitement builds to the crescendo that is your next trip to Disney. Seeing as how I am in full-on countdown mode for my short May 21-23 weekend at the Studios and Epcot, I thought I would put it out there to see what others do in anticipation of their trip.

I am going as a solo to the May Meet of the Month with the WDW Radio 24-hour broadcast hosted by the man who would be king, Lou Mongello. Then, I will enjoy the viewing party for Illuminations at the Dream Team event Saturday night. As an excited single traveler with a ton of enthusiasm about this, I need an outlet. Like many others who have Tweeted before me, I am going to share my countdown with my Disney brothers and sisters on Twitter (and to a muted extent, on Facebook). Yes, I am going to be one of those Tweeting about my “days to go” and “who’s with me” and “I’m going to do…” You know you do it too. In addition, I have a widget counting down on my Mac desktop, a widget in my iGoogle home page, and an icon on my iPhone reminding me of my arrival Friday evening at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

I am curious about what others do to anticipate their trips. Families? Couples? Other solos or singles? Please feel free to share!

OH- and if you are going to be there, this is my first real “meet up” and I invite you to feel free to comment or follow/mention to me on Twitter too :)

See you real soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Want to meet your neighbors? FedEx wants to help.

How close are you with your neighbors? Do you have community cookouts together? Do you share each other’s tools? Do you hope they never want to make eye contact? Are you still holding a grudge from 2007 about the mysterious dog poop that was left in your yard and was never cleaned up? By the way, if it is more the latter, unless you did a stool sample and hired the folks at CSI to analyze it (or saw it happen with your own eyes) clean up that lump of coal already. Sorry, got off on a tangent. No matter how you feel about your neighbors, my FedEx delivery person apparently wants to promote social networking even if it isn’t wanted.

I ordered a MacBook from the Apple Store (online) and FedEx is the shipper that they use. Unfortunately, I am not home this week to sign for the package (working with a customer onsite this week) so I anticipated having to defer delivery or pick it up from FedEx’s station later this week. Sure, I have anticipated my first Mac product with child-like excitement, but I need to earn a paycheck to feed my Disney/gadget appetite. I signed up for FedEx’s free email notification service as soon as I received the tracking number in the mail, so I knew where my little Mac was at all times. Around 6pm, I received an email that the package was delivered and signed for at the residence. Wha?!? Unless my cats learned how to hold a pen (they are smarties, but), I live alone and it wasn’t me.

FedEx initially told me that I signed for it. Well the geographical distance (and biology of my arms) limits that statement from being true. Then, FedEx told me (and Apple) that a neighbor was willing to sign for it. I have only lived at my address for about 10 months, and I didn’t recognize the name or signature. I panicked, rushed home and found the famous ‘sorry we missed you slip’ telling me they would try delivery tomorrow. Yeah, contradiction there, but here is the end of the story. I went door-to-door looking for who had my beloved MacBook. Someone that I didn’t really know at all signed for it. Thank goodness he was a good neighbor (in all sense of that term). He told me that the FedEx driver asked him to sign for it on my behalf. YEAH! He was recruited to be my delivery receiver by the deliverer.

Moral of the story:
1. FedEx is now part of the social experiment. If the driver thinks you want to have your delivery badly, they will leave it with some random person nearby knowing you will go retrieve it. Thank goodness there was not an ongoing “borrowed tools” or “keep your dog on your own lawn” issue there, or that my neighbor (or I) am not a crazed serial killer.

2. Hey FedEx, photo ID matched to the name or address of the recipient would be a smart practice. If I asked you to pick who I wanted to receive my delivery on my behalf, I would have chosen a police officer, politician, teacher, Disney fan… My choice!

3. I’m on a horse.

Now I am free to experience the joys of Mac ownership and become an Apple Fanboy! To my friends who have Macs, be prepared I will be soliciting your assistance in my transition : )

Until again!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Last Minute May Trip? Consider the Fly In/Drive Out Option!

SO- Here it is, late Spring, and some of us want a last-chance Disney fix before the Summer rush. Maybe you are considering a weekend visit for Star Wars Weekends at the Studios. OH WAIT- You may be tempted to join in the May 22-23 Meet Up with Lou Mongello as he goes live for the 24 hour show to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation (free plug for Lou, because he's the man!)

Thinking you may have a challenge affording the airfare there and back? Well- I am going to share a secret with you. If you live within, say a day's drive of Florida, here is how I do my Spring and Fall trips: Ready? The Fly in/Drive out or Drive in/Fly out. Let me tell ya how that works...

Many of the rental car companies move vehicles TO Florida during the Wintertime to meet the demand of their reservations. Then, in the Spring, these cars need to be moved back to the cities where they came from (or simply, outside of Florida). They use amazingly cheap rates (and we, the renters) to do this. For example, National Car Rental is currently offering a rate of $10-12/day (depending on size) to pick up at many FL airport locations and drop at airports outside of Florida now through the end of May. BONUS- You can pick up the car at the WDW-Dolphin hotel as well! If you have a family, imagine the savings of money and time by only driving one way! Again- just my secret to share with everyone.

Another thought: I shop at Character Premiere and Character Warehouse on EVERY trip. If you don't know what these are, they are the Disney owned/operated outlet stores where "odd-lot" merchandise from the parks is sold to the public at rock-bottom prices. I love loading up the rental car and driving back with my Spring stash. I avoid the excess bag fees this way. (I wish cheap was sexy).

Always check with each of the rental car company's specials page (or ask you favorite travel agent) to research the dates/cities/rates that apply, as they change each season. In fact, below I have assembled the listing (as of April 30th) to assist you with your transportation planning.

Let me know what you think of the idea? I am frugal, I love Disney, I love being frugal for Disney :)


FL One-Way Car Discounts:

National: (see specials to go section)
$10 - $12 per day (priced by car size)
Pick Up: Participating FL Airports including MCO and the WDW-Dolphin Location (not Sanford)
Drop Off: "Participating Locations outside FL" This is a bit vague on the site, so check your local airport.
through 5/31

Alamo: (see Alamo rental car specials section)
$10 - $12 per day (priced by car size)
Pick Up: Participating FL Airports including MCO and the WDW-Dolphin Location (not Sanford)
Drop Off: "Participating Locations outside FL" This is a bit vague on the site, so check your local airport.
through 5/31

$9.95 - $29.95 per day (priced by car size)
Pick up: MCO (or other FL airports, not Sanford)
Drop Off: (Check for specific city/airports): Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
through 6/25 (if available)

$9.95 - $26.95 per day (priced by car size)
Pick up: MCO (or other FL airports, not Sanford)
Drop Off (Check for specific city/airports): Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
through 6/25 (if available)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who am I? My first official blog post :)

Welcome, curious reader. This is my first "official" stab at blogging. I have grand plans to write about trips, experiences, thoughts, TV, the cats, and other miscellaneous things. You may detect the spin and future majority of the content of the blog from this introduction. We'll see how I do. But, before I expect anyone to read anything I take the time to write, I thought I should introduce myself. This way you can choose to enter into the relationship that we will have (too soon? moving on...). Everybody neat and pretty? Then, on with the show.

I was born and raised in eastern Pennsylvania (shout out to Hellertown). I moved to Florida in the 1990s, where I had my first exposure to the dream jobs (part time) in radio. I worked in promotions and on-air (Saturdays Midnight to 7 AM, don't worry - only 17 people listened I think). But, a move to Orlando gave me the dream chance to be part of the Magic!

I was a part time Cast Member from 1998-2000. I worked at the Studios park as an Attractions Host and Disney Trainer. My primary role was tour guide at the Magic of Disney Animation (when it had a full tour and animators); Making of... (now Walt, One Man's Dream); and Backstage Pass. I was also a Trainer at those attractions and Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Bear in the Big Blue House (now Playhouse Disney). I loved the experience both personally and professionally. Being a part of people's memories or at least contributing to a positive experience a la Walt Disney can truly motivate you if you allow it to. In my opinion, as a cast member, you have to do it with this perspective. Days are long and hot in the summer and crowds of humans can get overwhelming. BUT- you always have to remember, no matter how insignificant to you, you are part of something greater than yourself. Most people only get to experience the parks and the Disney magic as a guest, and that is an experience all its own. Being a cast member, for me, gave me an appreciation for what Walt Disney and the Imagineers meant when they created the experiences that started with Disneyland.

Professionally I am a training consultant for a software company. So much of how I present myself (word choice, expression, sincerity) came from my exposure to the Disney Traditions. It is also a great thing to have on your resume throughout your professional lifespan. If the opportunity presents itself (advice from a Disney fan to other Disney fans), the experience is life changing (if you allow it to be).

Before this section sounds like a personal ad, I will use bullets to make it seem more rigid :)
  • I am a former travel professional, and I travel quite a bit with my job.
  • I am a TV/DVR addict.
  • I am dependent on being connected to the world and my iPhone, and RSS tend to keep me occupied.
  • OH, and I have embraced Twitter (and Facebook, kind of) as a great tool of communication. So nerds, unite.
Now before I ramble on and on... We'll see how I do. Thanks for reading and I will post again soon :)