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!