The Art of Creating an EPIC Ride Photo

 

IMG_8766We LOOVVEEE ride photos!  I mean, what better opportunity to capture our Epicness?! (I just decided that’s a word…)  We love them so much that we decided to put a Ride Photo Wall of Fame page on our website.  You can find that here!  We want to find the best of the best Disney ride photos and gather them all in once place!  Feel free to submit your own!

So, you might be thinking, ‘How can I make an epic ride photo?’  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there are three ‘levels’ of Ride Photo Mastery.  Make sure you master the first level before attempting the next two levels.  After all, creating the perfect ride photo is an art that cannot be rushed.

*LEVEL ONE-  This is the most basic level of ride photo awesomeness.  These ride photos include fun reactions being caught on camera, cute kids, and amazing facial expressions.  If you’re a ride photo newbie, the first thing you can do to start yourself down the path to ride photo greatness is playing around with fun facial expressions.  You can’t go wrong!  Do you have a fun facial expression in mind?  Good- now just intensify that by 10x and you’ve got yourself the perfect ride photo!

*LEVEL TWO-  This level is for those who have mastered the ride photo facial expression.  You are ready to take the awesomeness up a notch.  This is there arm gestures and props come into play! (Just make sure to keep it appropriate!)  Even simple props can add a lot to a ride photo.  Bonus points for roping in other people on the ride to participate!  Once you can handle arm gestures and props, make sure to add in that perfect facial expression!  Don’t be fooled.  Perfecting level two takes practice, and often-times requires plenty of forethought and planning.  Don’t give up!

*LEVEL THREE-  Ah, yes.  The Ride Photo pinnacle of perfection.  Do you have what it takes to create a TRULY EPIC ride photo?  Level three ride photos have one thing in common- they all have something unique about them (yes, I just said the thing they have in common is their uniqueness…..)  They are usually hard to recreate and have some raw talent behind them.  And truly EPIC ride photos have a story behind them.  I’ve picked a few Level Three Masters that we can all learn from.


**VIKKI TUPAY — Knitting on all WDW rides**

So this lady here is in a mission to KNIT on every ride at Disney World.  Seriously.  And that’s why she’s awesome!  Here’s her story:

“I’ve been knitting in the parks for years. I’ll bring knitting on the Peoplemover or just sit on Main Street, but because of all the challenges I thought it would be fun to try my own challenge. So I challenged myself to knit on all rides and shows in Disney.  At this point I’ve got most forms of transportation, I still need a bus. All rides in Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.  I’m still working on Magic Kingdom and the shows in Hollywood Studios but i’m getting there.”

VIKKI TUPAY — Ride Photo Master


**SCOTT LARSON — Space Mountain Marriage Proposal**

Scott Larson
MOST UNIQUE — Scott Larson

This guy here proposed to his wife with a Space Mountain ride photo!  Here’s the story:

“Ok. So back when Disney did their 24 hours open Memorial Day Weekend 2013, we decided to go to Disney. My plan was to propose Friday evening during the event. Well, as we got closer we saw signs requiring us to park at Epcot and take the monorail. No problem. Until we saw the line was already on the ground so it would be hours before we could even get there. No way. So we bow out and I plan to do it the next day. The next day we get to Magic Kingdom. I have the ring in my backpack along with the sign. My wife didn’t think anything of it because I would often take my bag to carry stuff like water and my Sorcerer’s cards so hiding those things in there wasn’t a big deal. However, I got nervous thinking about Disney security taking it out in front of her so I talked to my mom and dad and asked if one of them would go through the no bag line with Tracy so she wouldn’t see anything if they took it out. My mom sees the logic in the plan and goes ahead and does the no bag line. That works. We get in and want to get fast passes for Space Mountain. These were the days of paper fps so someone would have to walk over there. I offer to do it because I wanted to ask and make sure it would be ok for my parents to wait at the exit for us to take pics and video of the proposal. I head over there quickly while my wife takes a smoke break. I get the fps and ask the cm there if my parents can just wait around or if the would have to go as well. That cm didn’t know and told me I would have to ask the cm inside who separates the lines. That isn’t what I want to hear because I have to head back quickly. I see no choice but to walk in and ask. So I go through the standby line (I had no fp so I can’t get in that line) and walk past everyone trying to excuse myself. I got a ton of dirty looks as I explain I just need to ask a question. Before I get to the cm, I hear my phone ringing. Its Tracy and I figure she is wondering what is taking so long. I have to ignore it or she will hear me inside the ride. I finally get to the cm and ask if my parents can go through the line with us but just wait at the exit area. They say yes. Yay! So I exit through the regular exit. On the escalator my phone rings again. Again I ignore it. I finally get out and call her back. I lie and tell her I am in the bathroom and will meet her by the bathroom. I see her there and she says she has to go now. I say fine. However, I really got to go but she can’t know because as far as she knows, I just went! So when I know she is gone I run in there and pee as fast as I can. I run to the faucets and wash my hands quickly and run back outside to look like bnb I was just standing around waiting. I beat her by 30 seconds and that part works.

We do other rides until out FP time comes up. All 4 of us go into Space Mountain but my parents have no intention of riding. They tell Tracy they are going to sit it out because they are going on a long trip right after Disney and don’t want to jar their backs. So we get to the cm and I ask which side we are on. He says Omega so I tell my parents we will see them on the Omega side. Once they are gone, Tracy realizes I still have my backpack. She says I should have given it to them since they weren’t going. At that moment, I realize I had no logical or reasonable excuse to keep my backpack at the split and am so thankful she didn’t say anything before. I don’t know what I would have done if she did. We get to the cars and the cm asks us if we can split up. NOOOOOOO! Luckily he listens and we end up in the car with the girl behind us. My wife asks me where I want to sit and I said behind her so I could have leg room. Now, Space Mountain is my wife’s favorite ride and I have learned the cameras always are on the side you lean into after the first turn out of the light room. I knew I would have time to pull out the sign and face the camera. However, I didn’t count on how little time it is when you are in a panic to make sure everything is right. Like making sure the sign is facing the right way. And that it isn’t upside down. And that you know which way the camera is when you are doing these things. I get it all set, realize which way the track will turn, and hold up my sign. Then I hear “OH MY GOD! Does that say what I think it says??” CLICK goes the camera. Thank goodness there is that loud sound effect right there because my wife didn’t hear her. As I am putting the sign away I turn around and give her my death stare. “Shut up. She doesn’t know” as quietly and sternly as possible while still loud enough for her to hear me. We get through the whole ride and we wait for the pic to come up. And we wait. And wait. Other people behind us have their pics come up. Uh oh. Maybe the computer ditched it due to it being a sign. I start thinking about how to do this again. But finally it comes up. I hear Tracy say “Tracy, will you marry me? Ha ha.” I get down on my knee and ask her to marry me. She looks at me with an incredulous look and says Seriously? a few times. She finally says yes and the rest is history.”

Scott Larson — Ride Photo Master


**The James Family — If The Shoe Fits**

Shawne Graham James
FUNNIEST – The James Family

This family won not one, but TWO ride photo categories!  They are TRUE ride photo masters!  here’s their story:

“We are from Chesaning, Michigan. We have been to Disney World 8 times and all four of us our Disney obsessed! Our last two trips are when we really started to get creative with our ride photos. Our last trip in August we decided to bring a few props like mustaches, glasses and goggles for Splash Mountain. My 13 year old son has some facial expressions that are hard to beat! We love getting off the rides and laughing at ourselves! I always wonder what the other people think that have to share pictures with us!”

The James Family — Ride Photo Masters- EPIC Level


I am officially challenging you all to create the most EPIC ride photo ever!  Join our Facebook Group and join in on the fun!  Until then, I’m just going to leave you with this-

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Ten Ways to Make Your Disney Trip EPIC

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If you’re an avid Disney fan like me, I’m sure that you have read lots of articles about how to get the most out of your trip.  There is so much info on what to do and see, the best food, and where to stay.  I definitely think that lots of research and planning is the backbone for any successful Disney trip, but I am here to talk to you about how to make your disney trip- you guessed it- EPIC!  If I could give you an ‘Epic Disney’ manual, this would be it.  Are you ready to make awesome memories?  Let’s go!

1.  Cast Member Recognition-  This is such a simple one, but I’m listing it first because it’s such an important one.  The Cast Members at Disney have a HARD job!  Many of them are yelled at all day by angry tourists for things that are out of their control, like long wait times or ride closures.  A friendly smile or actually taking the time to acknowledge them really goes a long way!  (‘Hey, how’s your day going?’  You know, common courtesy).

But why not take that one step further?  Keli and I ALWAYS take the time to make sure a great Cast Member gets the recognition that they deserve.  It honestly only take a few minutes out of our day, but it is well worth the effort.  On our first Epic Disney Getaway, some of the Tower of Terror Cast Members saw our excitement for the ride, and kept taking us up a back elevator directly onto another elevator.  They gave us special attention, really playing-up their parts when we were around.  We took the time to compliment them at Guest Relations at the front of the park.  Another simple way to recognize a cast member is to @WDWToday with the hashtag #CastCompliment.  They will go find the Cast Member and give them a compliment certificate, and retweet a photo of the cast member with the certificate! Regardless of HOW you choose to recognize a Cast Member, always make sure to make note of their name and hometown (from their nametag), and where the magic happened (ride, shop, etc).  The first time we did a Cast Member compliment, we got some extra Fast Passes to the Tower of Terror.  I can’t guarantee any extra pixie dust, but I think making Disney the happiest place on earth for the people who make it magical is well worth my time!

2.  Celebration Buttons-  I think that the very first thing that anyone should do when they step into a Disney park is grab a celebration button.  These say ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘I’m Celebrating’, ‘1st Visit’, and ‘Happily Ever After’.  It may not always be your birthday or your first visit, but i’m sure everyone has something to celebrate!  How about ‘I’m Celebrating Being at Disney!’.  Ask a Cast Member for a sharpie, and you can write a name, age, how many years you’ve been married, what you’re celebrating, whatever!  I recently took my son to Magic Kingdom for his birthday.  I got him a button, and within the first five minutes of being in the park, the Dapper Dans pulled him aside and sang him Happy Birthday!  Then for the rest of the day, he felt so special because so many people were wishing him a happy birthday.  Celebration buttons are a great way to get some extra pixie dust, and they are free!  Many times Cast Members pass them out, but the easiest way to get one is to ask for one at Guest Relations in any of the four parks.

3.  Disneybounding-  I had never even heard of disneybounding until a couple of years ago, but it has honestly changed my (Disney) life!  Disneybounding is when you wear clothing that ‘exudes’ a certain Disney character without actually wearing a costume.  Adults actually aren’t allowed to wear costumes in the Disney parks.  So what’s a girl to do?!?!  Let’s say I want to dress as Snow White.  I could wear a yellow pair of shorts or skirt, a blue shirt, and a red hair accessory.  BOOM- Snow White.  If you’re in a group, why not Disneybound a theme?  One of my favorite Disneybounds we’ve ever done was a Peter Pan theme.  Keli was Peter Pan, I was Wendy, and we had another woman dressed as Tinkerbell with us.  I would say that Disneybounding has by FAR been the reason behind 80% of our extra ‘pixie dust’ on all of our trips.  If you want to be Disneybound-adjacent, why not dress up or wear some custom shirts?  Keli and I now have a tradition of wearing fancy red dresses to Hollywood Studios on each of our trips.  Outfits that stand out are a great way for Cast Members to remember you, and are great conversation starters with other guests.  Plus, it’s really fun to dress up!  We also have custom shirts that have our logo on the front and our hashtag on the back.  The moral of the story is- get creative with your outfits and some magic will come your way!

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4.  Facebook Groups-  Join some Disney Facebook Groups!  One of THE BEST planning tools is picking the brains of other Disney-goers.  You’ll also learn so many things that you would never have thought to ask in the first place.  Many of the hidden gems that Keli and I have discovered were mentioned in one of the Disney Facebook groups that we are in.  Do you have a super random question?  Someone in the group probably knows.  They’re also a great place to geek out about all things Disney when you know your regular friends think you’re crazy!  We have met some great friends through some of these groups.  We really love our Facebook group, but we may be biased.  Check it out here, or find another one that you love!

5.  Challenges- We LOOOVVEEE Disney Challenges!  We can get a little extreme about it (trying to ride all 47 rides between the four parks in one day, or riding the Tower of Terror 13 times in a row), but there are actually so many ways to take Disney to the next level.  A popular challenge is to do all four parks in one day, doing three things in each park (something to eat, a ride, a photo).  Some challenges include doing everything at one park in one day.  If extreme challenges are not your thing, you could try doing a Disney scavenger hunt, or search for some hidden Mickeys.  I GUARANTEE that you will learn something new or do something that you have never done if you take on a Disney challenge.  Our absolute favorite and most epic days have been challenge days.  Next month, our group meet up is going to be one huge Magic Kingdom scavenger hunt.  If you want to try a Disney challenge for your next trip, a quick Google search will give you lots of options, or go ahead and ask us and we can help you find one that is right for your group!

6.  Pin trading-  Something that I don’t think is as well known as it should be is pin trading.  Disney sells small pins that have characters and other Disney pictures on them.  Many people keep these pins on a lanyard for easy access and to show them off.  What most people don’t even notice (until they start pin trading) is that MANY Cast Members will have these pins on a lanyard or on their belt.  Once you have some pins of your own, you can go up to any Cast Member that has the pins and trade one of your pins for one of their pins.  Pin trading is actually so much fun!  I love being on the hunt for pins of a certain theme.  It’s like a mini scavenger hunt, and it can last your entire trip.  Be on the hunt for hidden pin boards, where pins might be displayed in a creative way.  Once I saw a pin board shaped like steering wheel outside of the Tomorrowland Speedway.

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7.  All The Small Details- Look around!  Disney has carefully planned out every tiny detail of their parks.  Most of the time, people just walk by and don’t realize that they’re missing out on a lot of what Disney has to offer.  Head into Epcot’s Club Cool and try out some sodas from around the world (for free!).  Try to spot DiVine, a costumed character at Animal Kingdom that blends in with her surroundings so well that you can be looking right at her and not realize she is there.  At Magic Kingdom, I once saw a cast member making beautiful character drawings on the pavement with only water and a broom!  At Hollywood Studios, when you enter MuppetVision 3D, directly on your right there is a sign that says ‘back in 5 minutes, key is under the mat’.  If you lift up the mat, there is an actual key!  These are just a few of the thousands of tiny details that make Disney so unique compared to other theme parks.  So next time you go to Disney, take a look around and see if you can spot something you’ve never noticed before.

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8.  Interact-  Keli and I have had some pretty EPIC Disney moments when we took the time to actually interact with whatever was going on at the time.  On one of our Tower of Terror ‘red dress’ days, there was a red carpet and some cast members putting on a show outside Hollywood Studios.  We strut our stuff down the red carpet, and then we were asked to participate in a live trivia show.  It was Tower of Terror themed of course, and we won a free photopass print!  Another time we were walking in Fantasyland, and we saw a camera crew, so we decided to strike up a conversation with them.  We ended up being interviewed for a promotional video for some company, and let me just say that we rocked it!  When we were in Tomorrowland once, there was a talking robot, so of course we got in on the action.  He asked if we have been to outer space, and then he took us to Space Mountain and put us in the Fastpass line!  Don’t be afraid to interact and participate in what’s going on around you.

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9.  History-  Another great way to really appreciate the parks is to spend some time learning about the history behind Disney, and the history behind each attraction.  To be honest, I never really had any interest in Walt or how the Disney parks were imagined, but Keli really loves Disney history.  I have learned SO much from her, and I continue to learn so much with each trip.  Just recently I learned that when you leave the Bride scene on Haunted Mansion and go into the graveyard scene, that is actually supposed to be you falling out of the attic window and dying (!!).  I also learned just yesterday that all of the songs from the Country Bear Jamboree are actual songs!  Go look up ‘Mama Don’t Whip Little Buford’…..  My mind is seriously blown!  I also love the history behind The Carousel of Progress.  Knowing some of the back story behind attractions and rides can really give you a greater appreciation for them, but many times also brings a huge level of amusement and intrigue.

10.  Plan-  Many posts about ‘making your Disney trip awesome’ solely revolve around planning, so I didn’t want to make this another one of those blog posts.  BUT, it definitely has a place in the conversation for making an EPIC Disney trip!  Unfortunately, the days are gone where you can just show up at Disney World without any forethought and expect to have an amazing time.  I don’t think that you need to plan out every tiny detail to have a great time, though (although Keli and I have a spreadsheet where we DO plan out every single thing, but that’s just our personalities).  To take your trip from great to Epic, you should focus on- crowd levels, perfecting the Fastpass system, and having a trip bucket list.

Crowd levels are THE BIGGEST factor in how well you perceive your trip went.  I do think that you can still have a great time with high crowds if you you are able to lower expectations and can roll with the punches, but if you have some flexibility with when you go to Disney, definitely aim for as low of crowds as possible!  There are many crowd calendars for Disney.  Epic Disney Escape uses Kenny The Pirate’s crowd calendar, which shows not only how crowded the parks will be overall on a certain day, but it also shows which park will be the least crowded on a particular day.  When we went to Disney in September, there was less than a 5 minute wait for nearly all of the rides.  We even did an unplanned park hop over to Animal Kingdom one night, and walked right on Avatar Flight of Passage, which usually has over a 3-hour wait!  If you really want to get the most out of your trip, go when crowds are low!

I won’t give a lecture on how to use the Fastpass system, because you can find lots of resources on that online.  I will say that most people don’t maximize their Fastpass use, and some people don’t even know it exists!  For example, did you know that after you use your three pre-booked Fastpasses, you can continue to book one Fastpass at a time.  I personally refuse to wait in line for over 20 minutes.  SOMETIMES  I will get in line, and the ride will be having issues, so it takes longer than 20 minutes, but in general you shouldn’t have to wait hours for ANY ride if you use Fastpass properly.  So all I will say is this- go do your Fastpass research!  You will thank me for it, and you will get to experience SO much more!

Finally, make a Disney trip bucket list!  If you hear about something you want to do, write it down and make it happen!  We keep an ongoing bucket list for things that we can’t get in until another trip.  If someone in your party REALLY wants to see the fireworks while eating a Mickey waffle, then make that happen.  When we heard about a challenge to ride all the rides in all four parks in one day, we made it happen!  Decide what you truly want to see or do during your trip, and make sure you get to them.  Everyone has a different ‘Disney style’, so there is no one size fits all list.  This is where those Disney Facebook groups come in handy, though.  There is nothing better than crowdsourcing to get epic ideas!

And there you have it!  Try some of these things the next time you go to Disney and I guarantee you will have an awesome time!  Keep following the adventures of Epic Disney Escape as we continue to find new ways to make Disney EPIC!

The Day We Rode Tower Of Terror 13 Times In a Row

We really love The Tower of Terror.  A lot.  It’s our favorite ride!  We plan entire days, entire outfits around this ride.  Our logo is a caricature drawing of us in front of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  So when we decided to make an Epic Disney Escape Challenge spanning all four Disney World parks (you can find that here), we HAD to make a Tower of Terror challenge!  What could be more EPIC than that?!?!?

On our first Epic Disney Getaway, we dressed in vintage-style maroon dresses as a Tower of Terror Disneybound.  We wore fascinators in our hair, and ate lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby.  We spent most of the morning checking out everything that Hollywood Studios has to offer.  In the afternoon, we hopped on the Tower of Terror for the third time that day, and something MAGICAL happened.  The Cast Members recognized us by our outfits, and our comical enthusiasm for the ride.  We got off the elevator, and a bellhop was waiting to take us up a special elevator, directly back onto the ride!  They told us that we should try for thirteen rides- the perfect number for this ride!  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it because we had started our Tower of Terror escapades too late in the day.

We needed redemption, and we knew we had to seriously up our game.  Our name is Epic Disney Escape, after all.  We knew what we had to do.  We made a Tower of Terror Challenge!  Not only did we decide to ride Tower of Terror 13 times in a row, we also came up with 13 sub-challenges to make our time in line more fun, and more challenging!  Here is the official challenge:

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS– Ride Tower of Terror 13 times in a row!!! (Bathroom/water breaks okay, cannot leave the area). And complete 13 sub-challenges:

SUB-CHALLENGES
1. Sit in the front row
2. Photo with a Cast Member
3. Get someone to ride again with you
4. Sit APART- Rows 1 and 6
5. Go backstage
6. Get someone else to do something with you in the ride photo
7. Get the red lanyard
8. Ride with eyes closed the whole time
9. Create a secret handshake- must ‘Exude’ Tower of Terror
10. Create an awesome on-ride photo
11. Photo in front of Tower of Terror on Sunset Blvd
12. Ride all four drop sequences
13. Ride completely still, silent, and serious looking (start to finish)

BONUS- Ride ourselves
DOUBLE BONUS- Ride with a cast member

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This day turned out to be infinitely more Epic than we could have hoped for!  It only took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to ride Tower of Terror 13 times in a row, and we completely every single one of our sub-challenges, and then some!  Here’s how it went:

When we got to Hollywood Studios, they took us aside to do the morning game show, complete with Tower of Terror Trivia of course.  We won a free Photopass print!

And then we got right down to business.  The day started with a couple other ladies that joined us on our second Epic Disney Getaway, but Keli and I were the crazy ones who saw it through to the end.  So here we go:

Ride One- Sit in the front row (#1)- Check!

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Ride Two

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We met some awesome people in the Disney College Program- (above, second row on the right side)
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Ride Three- Get someone to ride again with you (#3)- Check!

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Ride Four- Sit APART- Rows 1 and 6 (#4)- Check!

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Ride Five- Dreams started coming true! An elevator to ourselves! (BONUS points)- Check!

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Ride Six- By this point they were taking us backstage between every ride! (#5)- Check!

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Ride Seven- My life’s dream came true- An empty elevator for each of us!! (Life Goal AND AWESOME ride photo #10)- Check!

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Ride Eight- Ride with a Cast Member (DOUBLE BONUS)- Check!!

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Ride Nine- Get someone to do a ride photo with us (Whole back row, #6)- Check!

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Ride Ten- Ride with our eyes closed, which I will add was kind of freaky (#8)- Check!

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Ride Eleven- Ride completely still, silent, and serious looking (start to finish). This was SOOOO Hard!!!!! (#13)- Check!

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Ride Twelve

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Ride Thirteen!

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And we were done!  Who knew you could take one ride and make it truly Epic?!?!?  But don’t worry, we didn’t forget the rest of the sub-challenges. We decided we couldn’t double-up on challenges, so we still needed a photo with a cast member, and the red lanyard. (#2 #7)- Check!

We DID ride all four drop sequences.  Check out the official Challenge Page for a list of all the drop sequences.  It was really hard to keep track.  (#12)- Check!

We also now have a Tower of Terror handshake!  One of the Cast Members made it up.  We have a video, but I can’t post it on here.  Basically, it goes like this:
Hand shake, hand shake, pound it, keep your fists closed and hands touching, move your hands up together, then make them drop really fast like the dropping elevator, making sure to make the ‘whooshing’ sound as it drops. (#9)- Check!

And last but not least, we got our Epic Disney Escape photo on Sunset Boulevard, in front of our favorite ride (#11)- CHECK!

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And of course, we didn’t forget to go to Guest Services to compliment the amazing Cast Members who made our day truly magical!!!!!

 

The Story of Epic Disney Escape

This is the story of Epic Disney Escape- a tale of two Disney adventurers who embarked upon a journey under the most unusual of circumstances.  In order to begin, we must go back to the year 2009.  That is when Keli and I first met.

I don’t remember my first encounter with Keli.  She attended the church that my husband and I started going to, but we were acquaintances at best.  We attended a lot of the same events, but we never actually spent any time together.  We did end up connecting on Facebook, which was good because I ended up moving across country to Upstate New York for my husband’s job.  We stayed Facebook friends, but we really started connecting in 2014 when she found out she was pregnant with her first baby- a boy!  At the time, I was also pregnant with my fourth (!!!) baby- also a boy!  We started to talk a lot more, and started to actually become friends.

A year later, I booked a trip for my husband and I to go to Disney World without kids.  We had just brought my older two boys to Disney World in May of 2016, and I had to go again.  I was already a Disney world addict by that point.  Plus, I got the free dining, so how could I resist!  Fast forward a couple months, and my husband told me that he couldn’t go to Disney at that time for work reasons.  And so of course the sensible thing would be to cancel the trip at that point……

Unless you’re me…  If you’re me, you begin crafting the perfect plan to keep the dream alive.  This trip was already paid for, so I just needed to find someone crazy enough to join me.  All of my friends were out because they couldn’t get away for one reason or the next (like not being able to miss work…. excuses, excuses.)  So then I did the next thing that any sane person would do….  I needed to find any vague acquaintance who would be willing to go with me.  But don’t worry.  I had a qualifications checklist:

1.  Are they at least 95% as crazy about Disney as I am?
2.
……..

Yep, that was all I could think of.  So I scoured my Facebook friends list until I stopped when I saw her name.  Keli.  At this point I only knew three things about Keli.

1.  She was married with a cute son (named Sully, so that should have been enough right there)
2.  She was really nice
3.  She was the only person I knew (vaguely, of course) who was as annoying about Disney as I was.

And that, my friends, is when everything changed.  That is the day that I invited a random person to go on a week-long vacation with me.  And that is the day Keli proved to be just as crazy by accepting an invitation to go on a week-long vacation with someone she vaguely knew.  To quote Elsa (with a little artistic license): “You can’t (vacation with) someone you just met!”  And to quote Anna (with the same artistic license): “You can if it’s true (Disney) love!”  Fortunately, Anna’s advice would prove to be sound this time, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So here’s how it all went down…..

Kristina (via Facebook messenger)- Hey, this is going to sound random, but I booked a 7-day trip to Disney World in September with free dining, but my husband can’t come any more.  (Insert a lot of explanation here).  I got the free dining package, and you park tickets and hotel would be all paid for.  You would just need to buy your plane ticket.  But you have to let me know by tomorrow because that’s when I need to cancel the trip for a full refund…..  also, love that picture you posted of Sully!  ……

Keli- …………………………………. this is a joke?

Kristina- Nope……

Keli- ……. you’re joking…..

Kristina- Super serious….

Keli- AHHHHHH oh my goodness let me figure out childcare (insert about 20 paragraphs of disbelief and questions and amazement)

—-5 minutes later—-

Keli- !!!!!!!  I can go!!!  I figured out childcare and I cleared it with my husband all within 5 minutes because I, too, am crazy like you!!

Of course, this isn’t the exact transcript, but I have a photographic memory, so i’m sure it’s 95% there.  And let me tell you, my friends, Keli really rose to the challenge and took on her role of ‘Vague Disney Acquaintance’.  We started having weekly FaceTime meetings.  And then it got real.  We made… a spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet took on a life of it’s own.  And soon that spreadsheet was a carefully architected plan of the most Epic Disney Getaway ever.  But we knew no Disney trip, nay, Disney adventure would be complete without our very own hashtag.  And so we spent weeks pouring our intellects into this single task.  Until we found it.  The perfect hashtag:

#KeliAndKristinaEpicDisneyEscape

Yeah….  we didn’t realize until later that this hashtag just plain sucks…..

SO we had a plan, we had a hashtag, we had CUSTOM MADE SHIRTS!!!  It was time.

On December 10th, 2016, #KeliAndKristinaEpicDisneyEscape began!  The story of our first Epic Disney Escape is a tale for another day, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…  We’ve had several more since then.  And if my calculations are correct, that must mean our first Disney Escape truly was EPIC!

Since then, our spreadsheet has transformed into a glorious piece of art.  Our FaceTime meetings have become daily (actually we use an app called Marco Polo now, look it up), and Keli has moved to the top of my Facebook friends list.  Only one things has changed.

Our hashtag-            #EpicDisneyEscape