When we checked into the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel, they even gave us a huge poster and written instructions on how to attend. They told us we must have been in the park Saturday prior to the official closing time and have a hand stamp to prove it. We had other commitments on the big day, so we went over to the park at 6:30 AM that morning to check things out and received a special pin for the event, and the crucial hand stamp.
We took plenty of pictures the day before of “the doings”. Being old hands at Disney, we even got a good look at the seating set-up from the pilot house of the Mark Twain steamboat, since we knew to ask for a ride with the captain. She told us that even park employees were not going to be allowed back in to view the red carpet arrivals. We also saw the “Columbia” tall ship outfitted with speakers, instruments and a special stage for the party band. The screen was still furled, but we could see that it would be huge, covering the entire front of Tom Sawyer’s Island where the Fantasmic show usually plays.
When we returned at about 4:30 PM we were fortunate to fall into
conversation with some nice people from Victoria, Canada who were big fans of Johnny Depp, and had been in position since 9 AM. They were more than willing to share their front-row position and to support my desire for an Orlando autograph, if I would return the favor, by waving the Johnny Depp section of the poster and shrieking for them. Posters were hot items. I could have sold mine at any time if I had been willing. Only hotel guests and those who ate at the Blue Bayou restaurant in the Pirate attraction on the day, were able to get them.
We also had a marvelous juggler on stilts who stayed near our part of the line and entertained the stars so we could sometimes get good photos. The other side of the street was entirely blocked by media reps, and the fans stuck behind them had no opportunity for autographs at all.
We saw many famous people including Gene Wilder, Ozzie Smith, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Stamos and his wife Rebecca, Raquel Welch, Oded Fehr, David Hasselhoff, Jon Voight, Jane Seymour and Chloris Leachman – many were very gracious to the fans and signed autographs. Several brought their children and some had gone to the trouble to dress in pirate-themed costumes.
Johnny Depp and Orlando were the last to come at about 9:00 PM. Orlando was wearing a very plain black T-shirt type top and black trousers, but had a colorful pirate sash-like belt to dress up the outfit. The media kept trying to whip the crowd into a frenzy over Johnny Depp, but we stayed focused on whoever seemed mostly likely to respond to our calls. Unfortunately for our Canadian pals Johnny passed us by, and didn’t even finish doing the carpet before his handlers pulled him out of there saying that he was late for some appointment. But Orlando DID stop and signed my poster (Yay!) since our entire area was chanting Or-LAND-DO!! steadily in an attempt to get his attention.
I include a photo of Orlando since he is probably the star of greatest interest to the TORn family. I wish it was better, but my ‘official photographer’ was too busy looking at Orlando to take one when he was closer to us, even if he could have with all the heads in the way. He said later that it would have been impossible.
I never thought I’d hear my husband say he thought another guy was actually “great looking”.
More important however, Orlando was just plain nice. He didn’t have time to talk, but did seem to be trying to make eye contact with everyone he signed for, and was doing it at lightning speed to get in as many autographs as possible before being hauled back to the media tables.
The only remaining mystery – some new pedestals have been added at the entrance to the Pirates attraction. They were covered when we were there, and we couldn’t get back to see what they were after the unveiling. Park staff wouldn’t comment, but maybe someone who went on Sunday could fill us in.