I may have underestimated just how exhausting the D23 Expo can be. Granted, I didn’t even stay at the event overnight or get up before the sun in order to get in line like some (most?) guests, but standing on my feet all day trying to sell strangers books can be tiring as well. Because of this, I feel like it is only now — nearly a week later — that I can say I have recovered.
My D23 adventure began on Wednesday when I attempted to fly out of my small Springfield airport to one of the largest airports in the world — Chicago O’Hare. However, after waiting for the maintenance team to bring the log back to the captain (seriously? I can see my car and I walked from entrance to gate including security in five minutes — how long could this really take?) and then taxiing two feet, we headed back to the gate due to another issue. Once it was determined that it was going to take upwards of an hour to fix, we deplaned and headed back into the tiny terminal.
The gate agent told us to call the 1-800 number they had posted on the wall in we needed to be rebooked. I assumed that since my flight had not been canceled yet, there was nothing they’d really be able to do, especially since the announced delay would mean I’d still catch my connecting to Orange County. But, to my great and pleasant surprise, the associate I spoke to was not only able to rebook me to fly through Dallas instead of Chicago but was even able to get me in one minute earlier than I would originally. More time on the ground and not in the air sounded great to me, so I plopped back down and managed to get some work done before my Dallas-bound flight departed without issue.
Even though I had been warned, DFW was much larger than I was anticipating and even included a monorail ride. I tried to monorail surf (a game my friends and I play in WDW where we attempt to hold a single stance without falling when then monorail turns) but the jerky train forced me to cheat by using my carry-on for support. Finally, I made it to my gate and gathered near the gate entrance to fend off the other passengers and get my bag in an overhead compartment.
Once in Orange County, I assumed I would be at my hotel shortly, forgetting of course that I had chosen a shared Super Shuttle. As luck would have it, I was last on the itinerary and, since it was 5 p.m., there was some good ol’ So Cal traffic. Eventually I made it to my hotel, checked in, and began figuring out the best route to the Convention Center before my friends arrived.
Aaron and I didn’t realize how unprepared we were for our booth until we actually set it up. It was then we learned that we didn’t even have a cash box or change for it. For the former, we picked up a Mickey lunchbox from a nearby CVS (the Anna and Elsa one of the same size was literally double the price) and, to the shock of everyone, I was able to buy $100 in 5’s from an ice cream cart vendor in Disneyland.
Next came what was easily the most tiring part of the weekend — transporting all of our respective books from the hotel over to the Convention Center. By the time we were done, my poor, weak muscles would spasm when my arms were bent more acutely than 90 degrees. But, alas, it was time to dress up and go on one more adventure for the day.
A couple months back, my friend Arielle asked if I might want a reservation to come to Club 33 while in town. Believe it or not, I almost declined because 1) it’s expensive 2) my wife wouldn’t be accompanying me on this trip and was worried she might not be too thrilled that she was missing such an event 3) it would mean my book (where I talk about the three times I’ve been to Club 33) would be outdated less than a month after release. However, I eventually decided that it would be horrifically mean to deny my friends this opportunity to dine at the club… and I selfishly really wanted to see the new Club.
If I didn’t know the history of the old Club 33, I might say I like the way it looks now better. While I do miss the old entrance, it was lovely to see the Court of Angels again. And, of course, the food was wonderful as always — as was the company! Perhaps most surprising, especially for it being such a fine-dining establishment, was how relaxing our lunch was. I was even able to temporarily stow away my worry for the impending weekend.
After spending some much-needed time in Disneyland — where I finally got to experience Paint the Night and Disney(movies)land Forever — I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow, only to wake mere hours later and head to the Expo. As we walked through the lines of people that seemingly snaked every way possible, I felt a tinge of privilege as my yellow “Exhibitor” badge gave me instant access to the show floor without question. Once at our table, we set up our book displays and prepared for the flood of patrons.
OK, so there was no flood as those manning the entrances apparently took a long while to get the expo-goers past the doors. Meanwhile, I stood at my booth getting to know our neighbors and waiting for customers. Eventually, people found their way to me… especially when the 7,500 seat hall exited right in my direction.
The rest of the Expo is kind of a blur. I know I met a lot of people and sold them books, but no day really stands out from the others. However, once it was over, a huge team descended on the hall and immediately (and I do mean immediately) began tearing everything down. After one trip of carrying stuff back to our hotel, we returned to an expo hall that was no longer carpeted as it had been five minutes earlier.
When I returned to the hotel, I packed my things and prepared to leave early Monday morning. I then took my first Uber ever and headed to John Wayne. Although I was booked to go through Chicago again (or, in this case, for the first time), there was a brief moment where I thought I might be able to weasel my way into flying the more direct route through Dallas, but I decided to play it “safe” and stick to my original itinerary.
I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Yup, I was delayed in O’Hare for nearly five hours, wandering from gate to gate as our assignment changed upwards of four times. When we finally did board, our pilot (who had been called in just for the occasion thanks to shift-length laws) admitted she didn’t even know what time our plane was supposed to leave but that she knew it was late and, for that, she was sorry.
I arrived home a little after midnight and my wife greeted me in the airport with a Fruity Pebbles-topped donut. She then took me to Burger King since I hadn’t bothered to eat at all that day. After shoving Fiery Chicken Fries into my gullet like there was no tomorrow, I promised to fill her in on all the Expo excitement in the morning as I was simply too tired to reminisce at that hour. Instead, she was at work when I woke up around 10:30 — much later than my typical rising time. It wasn’t until around 12:30 when she came for lunch that I got to have a real conversation with her for the first time in a nearly a week. Even as I was starting to feel human again, when she finished her shift a few hours later, we took a nice, long nap together — the best form of recovery I can think of.
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV