so although birthday princess weekend was fully and completely over with, the girls and i actually headed back down to disneyland for the third day in a row - and on a school night, no less.
i know, i know.
but my friend delovelydetails had clued me in on one of those super fun disneyland meet ups, and by a stroke of luck i was able to get both me and the old lady registered before it filled up. if you've tried to get into those meet ups, you'll appreciate how difficult that task can be. they had assembled quite an interesting panel of folks to discuss how science influences storytelling: a former astronaut and a scientist along with marvel and disney imagineers. the evening was to be capped off with open access to the guardians of the galaxy ride, which had recently gotten its very first night time halloween re-theming, and of course, a dessert bar and photo ops.
being a tuesday, the parks closed at a fairly early hour and so it was super easy for us to park and get onto a tram to take us to the main gate.
it wasn't hard to figure out where we needed to go for check-in.
once we got through the line and received our swag - a lanyard, a GOTG comic book and a hat - we headed over towards the DCA gate to join the others and wait to be walked into the park.
we'd also been given a card to write down any questions we wanted to ask the panel. there wasn't anything we could think of to ask, so the bean ended up using the card as a bookmark as she read the comic book.
we were happy to be joined by lilcee and mini cee, and the girls were super stoked to get to spend a little unexpected time together. and then right around 8:00, the gate opened for us and we played a fun game of "follow the leader" as we elbowed our way through the crowds leaving the park.
i'd thought that maybe the setup for the panel might have been in the stage 17 building near monsters, inc. (like where they put the snow during the "frozen" play area), but instead we were walked straight into the hyperion theater.
lilcee is the queen of getting us great seats. or parking spots. or shortcuts through traffic. haha! but seriously, she's got a magic touch, and as we followed her into the theater she led us right to some pretty fantastic seats really close to the stage.
there were a lot of selfies being taken as everyone got settled and waited for the panel to begin.
we were welcomed by erin glover, who does a lot of disneyland's social media and usually gets to organize these meet ups. she's one of my favorite disney cast members who also has my absolute number one dream job.
she then introduced the members of the panel, starting off with our astronaut:
marvel's vp of development for tv and new media:
and our two disney imagineers:
the panel lasted for about 40 minutes, during which we got to hear lots of fun stories about captain mike's time in space - he got to do two space flights as well as logging plenty of hours as a navy test pilot. he talked about how awesome it was to look back and see the earth from space, the challenges of eating granola in zero gravity, told us that his favorite movie is "the martian" and cracked lots of jokes. we heard behind-the-scenes stories about the development of the GOTG ride, what a real scientist thinks about movies and tv show and books about science, and how fictional stories influence them on different ways to look at science (and vice versa). it was really interesting for most of us, although i think a lot of the jokes and stories went right over the kids' heads.
at the end of the discussion, we walked out of the theater and headed right over to the ride. it was lilcee and mini cee's first time, which meant they were excited and anxious. the girls and i were curious to see how the ride was different from the usual set-up, so it was pretty fun for everyone to be experiencing it for the first time. we walked right past the refreshments area and the GOTG character meet & greet and made a beeline straight for the entrance to the ride.
because the park was closed to the public and there was a cap of about 400 people in the meetup, the line was practically non-existent. no one had time to get nervous or chicken out, and we were on the ride screaming our heads off in no time.
with that out of the way, we decided to again skip the character photo op and went right for the goodies. the bar was serving sodas:
and there was self-serve coffee, tea and water on the tables.
because it was so dark, my pictures of the treats are TERRIBLE. but these were mini cheesecakes:
some sort of pistachio layer cake:
and oreo macarons.
after we polished off the treats we got in line for a fun photo op:
the girls got interviewed on-camera (although the footage is nowhere to be found, boo):
and we got to meet and chat with a real live astronaut.
he signed our hats too, and those numbers are the two space flights he flew in.
on our way out, the bean stopped for a potty break and we took another selfie, because why not:
i love being here when no one else is around.
a quick selfie with lilcee, because we hadn't taken one in forever:
the headless horseman is really cool at night with lights and smoke:
and i love all the purple lights and the bats coming out of carthay circle's tower.
it was a really fun evening, and we were all grateful to have taken part in another disneyland meetup. the bean passed out cold on the way home, and still managed to pop up out of bed right on time the next morning. another meetup is scheduled for early next month, and although i missed out on registration for that one (it literally filled up within a minute of it being posted on twitter!), i'm holding out hope that we'll make it in for the next one. my guess is that it'll be in december to celebrate the holidays, but we'll see.
three days of disneyland in a row...gotta love it.