Monday, December 8, 2008

A Weekend in 'Wonderland'

Being at Walt Disney World prior to Thanksgiving (and seeing the park transform into the Christmas season) and then traveling to Gallery of the Lakes this past weekend (after putting up my outside lights and decorations), being around all the lights and decorations (not to mention some snow) and spending time with great friends has really put me into the holiday spirit!

I set out on Thursday morning to Rock Hill, NY for the signing event this past weekend with sculptor, animator and good friend Ruben Procopio and Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) and Wendy (from Peter Pan) and Traci Thomas, Brand Manager for the Walt Disney Classics Collection (pictured at left).

It was a great opportunity to finally see in person the Signature Series release featuring Alice & Dinah (from Alice in Wonderland), Dumbo (from the Mickey Mouse Club), the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Mulan & Father (from Mulan), Orville with Bernard & Miss Bianca (from The Rescuers) plus the upcoming Members Only releases that were recently previewed (Dopey, Snow White Apple Ornament and Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Vultures from The Jungle Book. Unfortunately Shere Khan (also from The Jungle Book) did not make in time from overseas).

Was a great day on Friday, spent at the store with Ray, Elaine, Tammy and Gary talking and discussing all the new and upcoming pieces, getting to help set up the WDCC cases and then being joined later in the afternoon by Bob & Toni (my recent WDW travel buddies) and Ruben, Traci and Kathryn (who came in a day early for pre-signing). At the close of the day, Elaine invited Bob, Toni and myself to join her, Ruben, Traci and Kathryn for dinner at Cosimo's Brick Oven in Middletown, NY. What an amazing place! The focaccia bread was to die for! Our waitress shared with us what made it so light, airy and delicious -- mashed potatoes! What a great evening -- good company, good food and good times! Will definitely be stopping by here again the next time in Middletown. Melanie, you knew I couldn't do a trip blog entry without discussing food :)

Michelle and Jimi & Kristen met us at the Hampton Inn in Middletown, NY on Sat., got checked in and settled and we hung out at the hotel until time to leave for the event and meet up with Jeff and Carl who were driving straight to the store. It was great to see old friends as we arrived at the store that we've gotten to know from past events -- Sue, Steve and Barb, Robert, Tom, Melanie & Bill, Ann & Bill and Lynette and meet new ones, Darcy (we've exchanged blog/message board postings and emails, so was nice to finally meet in person, though much too short!). It's always a great (and fun) time catching up! A thrill for me was having Kathryn personalize Amanda's Alice Salvati painting from 'Alice to Amanda'. Thanks Babs for suggesting bringing the painting on the morning I was leaving!

A Special Presentation was held in the Gallery Lounge with Ruben and Kathryn and was such an insightful presentation with Ruben talking about how he came to work for the Disney Studios, the many films he's worked on as both an animator and sculptor and the pieces he's worked on for the Walt Disney Classics Collection (unfortunately we didn't get any hints on future releases) and Kathryn talking about working on both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and working with Walt Disney himself! The presentation concluded with three (3) lucky winners, winning a sketch drawing done by Ruben ... Goofy (won by Michael), Simba (won by Ann) and Alice (won by Robert). Congratulations!

The event concluded with dinner and cocktail reception at Bernie's Holiday Restaurant in Rock Hill, NY and as we were having dinner, it began to snow outside, giving an added magical, holiday feeling to the evening plus it was Ruben's first time seeing snow!

Hoping Sue made it safely back to MA and Ann & Bill had a safe flight to Phoenix the next morning. We returned to the hotel and after breakfast the next morning, returned to the store for our final purchases before heading home.

What a great weekend and one I will NEVER forget. I wanted to close my blog entry with this special photo (above) I took of Kathryn with this year's Signature Series release (truly a wonder to behold) of Alice & Dinah at the event. Be watching for more photos from the event!


Gregory said...

Great job as always with the weekend recap Don. I'm sorry I was unable to make it to the event. No questions, I will be in attendance next year to finally put faces to the names of those I have yet to meet.

Keep up the good work WDCC and Gallery of the Lakes. Both operations are certainly class acts!

Koen said...

Sounds like a wonderfull time. Wish i was able to go. If Ray ever will open a European store, i'll be volunteer to work there LOL. That way there will be such a wonderfull event in Europe too.

Now, one day i'll have to make it to an GOL event. I'll have to combine it with New York or something.

Herc said...

Don, it was a fantastic weekend. I just loved everything that the Gallery did for us.
Kathryn is so gracious. She is a wonder and I am so glad I had another opportunity to meet her. Her stories were fantastic. That picture of her with the sig series shows that she really loved her special time at Disney and still enjoys the events she goes to now.
Ruben was great. He had wonderful stories about the studios and didn't realize how many films he has worked on!! He even personalized my Hades piece. Wonderful.
It was great to see everyone again. The time goes way too fast. Too bad I can't make it Friday night. I think it would be too much being away from the kids and Nancy. Nancy wouldn't get a break the whole time I would be gone. I just have to try and leave earlier so I can enjoy the full event.
Thanks to Ray, Elaine, Gary and Tammy at Gallery of the Lakes for putting on one classy, action-packed, starstruck, and gastronomical event! I got my awesome Alice signature series, beautiful Mulan and Father with those cherry blossoms, and Orville.
Can you believe I never made it over the case with all the new pieces? Very strange I missed them. Would loved to have seen the vultures.

Duckman said...

Greg & Koen-Thanks very much! Greg, you're definitely making the next event and Koen, hope you're able to make one, one of these times. Ray's store is slightly over an hour from NYC, so definitely doable to attend both the event and combine with a side trip into the city.

Jeff-I too didn't realize how many films Ruben worked on as well and was so interesting hearing him talk not only about the films but the character designs and decisions made while the films were being done.

Kathryn is such an amazing woman, was so interesting hearing her talk about both films and having the opportunity to spend as much time with her as we did.

Thanks also to Ray, Elaine, Gary & Tammy for hosting such a fun event and Traci. We are SO fortunate having her as part of the WDCC. She's been with the line for 11+ years and talking with her, you see her passion and enthusiasm for this line and the time she gives each collector, not only at this event but at previous events as well.

Babette said...

It truly was a magical weekend. Every event at the Gallery is always such a fantastic time. Ray, Elaine, Gary and Tammy definitely go out of their way to make everything special. The store was beautifully decorated for the holidays, loved the poinsettas outside in the driveway circle, the big lighted tree outside, and all the other trimmings and holiday sweets scattered around the gallery.

The event really did go by wayyy too quickly. No sooner did we get there that it seemed it was time for the presentation and then off to the dinner. It was fun seeing Ruben's reaction to the snow that started to fall during dinner as it was the first time he ever saw snow!!

It was truly an honor to meet one of the legendary ladies of Disney classic movies, Kathryn. To hear her vidid, detailed stories about how Alice & Peter Pan were made, brought you back in time to how Walt and the original animators crafted the films. Truly an experience I will treasure.

Thanks again to everyone at the Gallery, Traci, Ruben, & Kathryn. Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas season!

Bob said...

What else can be said about how wonderful this weekend was.Memories we all created this weekend I will hold dear for a long time to come.

To have met and spoke with a legend such as Kathryn who is just delightful was an honor.To hear the story about her first meeting with Walt was amazing.

Ruben is one classy guy. His talent just amazes me.He is just so down to earth, humble and easy to talk to.It was great to see him again.

Traci you are incredible, your passion for WDCC just can't be matched. Enesco should be proud to have someone of your caliber on board.

None of this would have been possible without Ray,Elaine,Gary and Tammy you guys put on an event that cannot be matched. Thank you guys so much.

May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year

stitch said...

I'm a spanish disney's fan and a walt disney classic collection collector, but I only buy pieces on Disneyland parís..Firstly, congratulations for your blog, it's amazing.
I have a blog too. It's about disney fan art from me and of my disney collection. I wish your visit and your comment.
Muchas gracias adiós.

Gurgi said...

First to have a Disney Legend join us "everyday Joe's" for cocktails and dinner is truly amazing and shows how classy Kathryn Beaumont is!

Second to have a Disney Animator/Sculptor take the time to create a personalized one of a kind piece of art for many of us shows how much Ruben cares for people. He did not have to do that for anyone and this shows his dedication to the art and to the collectors.

Third to have a Brand Manager who cares about the line we collect and listens and appreciates what we have to say shows how much of a gem she is to WDCC. Traci we love you! Keep up the good, hard work - you have an army of supporters in us!

And finally (but definitely not last) to have a Team at Gallery of the Lakes who cares about customers and their love of Disney is PRICELESS! Ray, Elaine, Tammy, and Gary - you are definitely family and the warmest hosts anyone could hope for! Thanks for everything!

Don - great recap of the weekend.

Bob - great martini's!

Toni - the hostess with the mostest (including my ball)!

Jeff - FABULOUS dinner speech - you'll be doing more - LOL!!

Michelle - awesome cookies!

Jimi & Kristen - watch out for more emails - it's the easiest way to stay close to all of us!

And to those who couldn't make it this year - we'll be dragging you along next year!!!