Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Family Fun Weekends: Character Fan Days!

One word:  Awesome! 

A little background, though.  Ever since The Park announced that they would be doing Family Fun Weekends over the course of the next couple of months, the weekend we've had pencilled in as a "must-do" was "Character Fan Days".  In a weird twist of fate though, it wound up being the one weekend out of the entire bunch that up until the day we went, we weren't sure we were going to be able to make it at all, and certainly not all of us at the same time.

Chad had car trouble, Mark wasn't sure he'd be able to make it out by himself, and Amy's weekend was pretty full up as well.  For a while it didn't look good one little bit.  Fortunately for us, we aren't afraid to do "Banzai Runs" (see yesterday's post) and a small window of opportunity opened up on Saturday afternoon for the three of us to meet up.  Mark was able to go out a little earlier on Saturday in case the rest of us couldn't make it, Amy was able to find some free space in between a bridal shower and family dinner, and Chad was able to eat up the road between Rancho Cucamonga and Anaheim in such a fashion that around 3pm (with just about an hour left until the 4 o'clock character stoppage) all three of us were together in Big Thunder Ranch doing our line dance.

We wrote a little bit last week about "Kickin' Country Weekends", but in case you missed it, for the past three weekends The Park has been hosting "family-oriented" weekend activities in the Festival Arena at Big Thunder Ranch.  Each week has had a different theme and different set of things designed to draw families into the Arena to spend time together and have a great time.  There's been crafts, stage-shows, food (Amy's Sour Balls have had our mouths watering all weekend), merchandise and all sorts of goodies going on.  We've really enjoyed both weekends we've gone.  This weekend was very special, however, in that about a month ago The Park announced that for "Character Fan Days", the fans (us!), would be given an opportunity on Facebook to "vote" for the characters we'd most like to see in the area this past weekend for meet and greets.  They had some awesome ones to choose from!  We weren't especially ecstatic with the people who voted for characters that were typically out and about anyways, but there were some rare ones that made it into the show that hadn't been seen in The Park in years (literally).  You can probably infer for yourselves why it was such a huge draw for people, and for us!  With our new KILT articles on Thursday, we were just itching to "collect" some hard to find characters for our website.

Esmerelda and Clopin dance on stage before meeting their fans in their Meet And Greet line
We should probably go on record as saying that we didn't really spend a whole lot of time experiencing anything other than the meet and greets, as much as we would have liked to.  With so little time available to us, and with characters switching in and out every half hour, we basically just flitted from line to line taking pictures.  It might in fact be one of the funnest things we've ever done, however.  That said, we were able to spend quite a bit of time in line watching the festivities taking part all over the Arena, and if the people around were any indication, everyone was enjoying everything (not just the characters), thank you very much!  The entire middle of the Arena was filled with "hands-on" activities such as coloring books/pages that plenty of kids were enamored with, as well as free cartoonist on hand to sketch pictures of your children for you.  As with the other weekends, there was also plenty of activity on stage as well.  Before appearing in their respective meet and greet lines, each character made an appearance on stage with a Cast Member on hand to explain the character's origins (year, cartoon or movie appearance, etc.)  In addition to the characters, other bands from The Park (such as "The Dapper Dans") also appeared on stage to play for the audience and hung around to meet folks afterwards.  It was a very friendly and welcoming environment, and even the Cast Members seemed to be truly enjoying themselves as they met people and were able to interact with them concerning all of the characters around.  They seemed almost as excited as us, to be honest, and we even overheard one Cast Member talking about how excited he was to have been picked to work the Arena this weekend, because he "couldn't wait to see the Seven Dwarfs again".

LOTS of people enjoying all facets of the Weekend -- including coloring and cartoonist sketches
The real meat and potatoes of the weekend, though, were obviously the character meet and greets.  The characters on hand, as much as we can remember were:  Donald & Daisy; the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts & the Mad Hatter; Frollo, Esmerelda & Clopin; The Seven Dwarfs; The Country Bears; Baloo & King Louie; Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook & Mr. Smee; and Clarabelle Cow & Horace Horsecollar. In point of fact, the desire to do this all started when we heard The Hunchback of Notre Dame characters would be out.  We just had to have our pictures taken with them.

Each meet and greet line rotated out every half hour as new ones rolled in, and we were able to move from line to line very efficiently.  And that is literally what we did our entire time there; we basically just made a big circle all around the Arena.  In fact, we'd like to go on record as saying that we think the whole thing was handled very well.  We can only assume the fact that we were able to get every character we wanted in just under two hours was just as much due to The Park handling all the people well as it was to our fanaticism.  The only characters we did not get were Donald & Daisy, and the Alice In Wonderland gang, and that was only because they're out a lot of the time anyways, and we have already have pictures with them.  We'll be sure to get them all posted for you in the near future, as they'll most likely make up the majority of our KILT posts in the coming weeks.

The Days In The Park and Hunchback of Notre Dame gangs
It was a lot of fun!  Like we said last week, we really think that The Park is onto something here with the Family Fun Weekends and we're really looking forward to the next few weekends and what The Park has for us in the future.  If you haven't made it out for one of the weekends yet, we really encourage you to do so.  The activities and weekends are extrememely well thought out and are a lot of fun; there's something for everyone back there, so be sure to take advantage of it if you can.  We're already looking forward to "Happy Lunar New Year" (we hope we said that in the right order) next weekend and can't wait to see what characters are around then.

Mark clowning around with a sombrero


Jen Tucker said...

Excellent recap. We really had a blast at this event. I was absolutely tickled to get a picture with the seven drawfs. A real highlight for me!

Erin Faye said...

This is so awesome! And I am s jealous, Esmerelda is one of my favorite characters, I wish my pass was good on the weekends.

Days In The Park said...

Thanks, Jen! We enjoyed it a lot, too. Glad you liked the write-up. I was afraid I didn't do it justice since all we did was photos, but it probably turned out okay. :)

We loved The Dwarfs, too. I wasn't sure we would, but wound up being one of our favorites. Can't wait to post it. Maybe this Thursday. :)

Good to see you guys in there, too. Sorry we were line-hopping so much we didn't have time to hang out.

Days In The Park said...

Erin - Fridays are no good? They do it all 3 days, and seems like you guys have some Fridays in your future that you're not blacked out. You should try to get out if you can, they're loads of fun. :)

Motherhood Magic said...

Love the pictures of all of you. I think Mark should be under the jester hat though. ;)

Days In The Park said...

Haha! I'm sure he'll read that and be in agreement. :) He really wanted to see Clopin. He's been talking forever about how he wanted The Festival of Fools to come back. This was the closest we've gotten.

We're actually REALLY excited to post the rest of the pictures over the coming weeks for our KILTs. We love them all! :)