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Old 12-24-2003, 11:24 AM   #136
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Wow, this trip is amazing and you have a great writing style. I can't wait for the next installment!
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Old 12-27-2003, 03:55 AM   #137
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Beach Club Villas Day Three, Part 2…

I must preface the following posts by stating for the record that had it not been for the staff of the Grand Floridian Resort, the “Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner” event would not have been possible. Because of their kind help in the planning of my event, they will always have my deepest gratitude. My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary during this truly once-in-a-lifetime event. We will never be able to top it. We might as well get divorced now.

Without further ado, on with the show…
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Old 12-27-2003, 04:51 AM   #138
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The Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner Event, Part 1…

With much anticipation, my family readied for the evening’s dinner party. We had decided to dress up a little bit in honor of the special event. My husband would wear a jacket and tie, and my daughter would wear the same outfit that she had worn to the Grand Floridian’s “My Disney Girl Princess Grand Tea Party.” What would I wear? Well, that was a good question considering that my leg was is in a rather large cast. I eventually decided to wear a stretch crepe pantsuit because it was the only thing that would fit easily over my cast (thank goodness for synthetic fibers).

My guests (Nutz4dzny & spouse & son, Minybear & spouse, WeFullTime & spouse) were going to meet us in the lobby of the Beach Club Resort between 7:30 PM and 7:45 PM. Transportation was scheduled to pick us up at 7:45 PM since our dinner party was slated to begin at 8:00 PM. Every person in our party was required to have a photo ID with them, and they would not be allowed backstage at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park without it. This was a requirement from Disney that would not be waived.

My dear friend from home and my family made our way to the Beach Club Resort’s lobby shortly before 7:30 PM. We were the first guests to arrive. I was soon approached by one of the wonderful Cast Members from the Beach Club’s Front Desk. She told me the name of the person who would be driving my guests to the event, and she said he would transport us to Disney Studios at 7:45 PM.

It wasn’t long before the rest of my guests arrived in the lobby. Everyone looked great, and they were excited about the dinner party. I secretly wished that I had arranged for the Disney Event Productions’ photographer to join us inside the Beach Club instead of inside Soundstage 4. It would have been nice to have had a group photograph taken at the Beach Club Resort.

The gentleman who was driving our group over to the Disney Studios Theme Park introduced himself to me. Within a moment or two, I discovered that his vehicle was not large enough to contain my entire party of eleven people. He said he’d see if he could find a larger vehicle and then disappeared. Within a few minutes he reappeared and stated that he couldn’t find a larger vehicle but he did find an additional one. He said the two vehicles were big enough to transport the entire party to the event. I was very pleased to hear that. And so everyone went outside to the porte cochere and began boarding the vehicles (click here).

Within a few minutes, our mini-caravan was at the Disney-MGM Studios’ backstage guard shack. Once the Disney Security Guard had verified that our dinner party was on his event list, our vehicles were allowed to pass through. After a short drive, our vehicles came to a stop. Waiting for us there were a few Disney Cast Members. My guests exited the vehicles and produced their photo IDs. After our bags were checked, we were told to follow the Cast Member with the flashing red baton. We were officially on our way to the dinner party.

It was a lovely night outside. As everyone walked and I rolled, we could hear music playing through the Disney Studios’ loudspeakers. It was strange hearing theme park music and yet being the only guests in sight (the theme park had closed at 7 PM that night).

We arrived at Soundstage 4 and the entrance to “The Making of the ‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie” attraction (click here) exactly at 8:00 PM. We saw a mausoleum and a large movie billboard displayed there (click here). We were then led inside the building.

Once inside the soundstage, we saw all sorts of movie production items on display: notes, sketches, photographs, and more. We also saw our Disney Event Productions’ photographer and a few other Disney Cast Members, including Imagineer Jason Surrell (click here).

As we entered the actual movie set portion of the attraction (click here), we were awestruck by what we saw. The ballroom set was huge and our dinner table was gorgeous (click here).

Jason Surrell introduced himself to our group (click here) and began talking about the “Haunted Mansion” movie (click here). As he spoke to us, we were free to ask him questions, which my guests did on several occasions. It was nice having that sort of intimate interaction with someone who was so knowledgeable about both the “Haunted Mansion” movie and the theme park rides.

Jason informed us (click here) that John Myhre was the movie’s Production Designer, and John had won an Academy Award for the movie “Chicago.” Another Academy Award winner, Rick Baker, was mentioned as the “Haunted Mansion” movie’s Special Effects Make-Up Designer. And Mona May, we were told, had been the movie’s Costume Designer.

As to the “Haunted Mansion” movie sets, Jason felt John Myhre’s sets really recalled the spirit of the Haunted Mansion theme park ride, and also probably every haunted house movie that had ever been made. He told us that the mansion was truly the star of the movie.

The differences between the Haunted Mansion theme park ride buildings in Disneyland and Walt Disney World were contrasted. The ride building in California had a Southern plantation look (New Orleans), while the ride building in Florida had a Dutch gothic look (New York Hudson River Valley). Jason also mentioned that the movie’s mansion was based on the Disneyland mansion (the movie was set in New Orleans). Instead of using marble columns on the mansion’s exterior, John Mhyre chose to use more wrought iron due to the massive size of the mansion (marble columns would have given the mansion more of a “White House” look than a “haunted house” look).

Jason stated that the dinner table that was set up for tonight’s event was reminiscent of what appeared in the movie. In the movie, Edward Gracey had sat at the head of the table, and Mr. Evers and his family had sat along the sides.

He went on to describe a few scenes that took place on the ballroom set: the Mardi Gras Ball, the dinner with the Evers family, and the climax of the movie. He then explained that the ballroom set had to be dressed to reflect two periods of time: 1888 and today. When the Mardi Gras Ball was filmed, the ballroom was decked out in all its glory. But when the dinner with the Evers family was filmed, the ballroom had fallen into disrepair and had obviously seen better days.

According to Jason, Soundstage 4 had been specifically cleared so that it could be dedicated to “The Making of the ‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie” attraction. During normal park hours when theme park guests tour the attraction, they have the opportunity to view a short preshow experience that includes preproduction artwork and conceptual designs. Then they get to see the ballroom set come to life before their very eyes, with the set going from work-lighting conditions to theatrical-lighting conditions (click here to view a lighting slideshow). There is even a little thunderstorm that happens on the set. The theme park guests also have some time to walk around the set. In one corner of it they will find costumes, a zombie head, and various other movie items. Jason stated that the movie set attraction is such an immersive environment that the guests truly get a feel for what it is like to be on a major movie set.

We were also told that during the theme park tour, guests get the opportunity to view a 5-minute video piece regarding the making of the movie (click here). The video is hosted by Don Hahn, the “Haunted Mansion” movie’s Producer. There are a few other movie folks in the video, too: John Myhre, Rick Baker, Mona May, and Jay Redd (Visual Effects Supervisor). The video even shows how Jennifer Tilly (Actress) was turned into Madame Leota.

It was hard to believe that Jason had been speaking with us (click here) for almost twenty minutes. His talk had been both informative and entertaining. He then stated, “Welcome to Gracey Manor. Enjoy your dinner; enjoy the book; and enjoy the movie.” Our group replied with a heartfelt “thank you.” Jason had truly added a special element to the evening for all of us. I was grateful that Disney had arranged for him to speak at our dinner party.

With Jason’s talk over with, my husband asked him if he would please autograph his book (click here) that we had brought along with us tonight. Jason graciously personalized our “The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” books (click here). As he signed them, we heard a haunting music box melody being played in the background. Jason stated that some of this evening’s music was from the Phantom Manor theme park ride (Disneyland Paris’ version of the Haunted Mansion ride). After that last little piece of information had been dispensed, Jason finished signing our books and bade us farewell.

Coming up next, my description of the “Haunted Mansion” movie’s ballroom set…

Last edited by Janet2k; 07-01-2004 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:48 AM   #139
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The Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner Event, Part 2…

On the official “Haunted Mansion” movie website (click here), anyone can view a preview of the movie. It was in that movie preview that I first caught a glimpse of the ballroom set (click here). I viewed that movie preview a few times before I headed to Walt Disney World for my vacation. I wanted to get an idea of what my dinner party might look like. Even though I viewed that movie preview, I decided that once my family arrived in Orlando, we would not visit the attraction. I wanted us to be completely taken by surprise when we walked onto that set for our dinner party. I am so glad that I made that decision because when we actually arrived on Soundstage 4, our jaws just about hit the floor.

At the dinner party when I finally had the opportunity to really look at the ballroom movie set that stood before me, I found it breathtaking. And I wasn’t even viewing the full set – the full set was too large to be contained within the portion of Soundstage 4 that had been devoted to it. From what I could see of the set, it looked like I was only viewing about one-fourth of the original. I could only imagine what it must have felt like to have stood on the real ballroom set during the filming of the “Haunted Mansion” movie. I bet it was extraordinary.

As I viewed the ballroom set head-on, on the far end of it I saw the grand staircase. It was quite handsome. Here is a picture of a Disney design illustration of the grand staircase that was created during the preproduction of the movie (click here). Now compare that illustration to a photograph of the actual grand staircase that I saw on Soundstage 4 (click here). I always find it interesting to see how closely “reality” (a.k.a., the actual movie set) mimics “theory” (a.k.a., the preproduction design illustration). In this particular case, the two looked almost identical.

Halfway up the grand staircase sat a pipe organ (click here). As you can see, its design was quite elaborate. Here’s another view of the pipe organ on the grand staircase (click here). I liked the symmetry of the staircase around the organ. With such a striking backdrop, our Disney Event Productions’ photographer could not resist asking us to pose for a group photograph (click here).

On the right side of the ballroom sat our dinner table. Before I post the link to a photo of it, I thought it would be fun to compare a picture of a Disney design illustration of the dinner table that was created during the preproduction of the movie (click here) to what the dinner table looked like in the movie preview (click here). Now compare both of those images to what I saw as I stood on the actual movie set on Soundstage 4 inside the Disney Studios Theme Park (click here). Once again, reality closely mimicked theory.

Immediately to the left of our dinner table was a smaller dinner table (click here). This table contained actual props from the movie. Jason Surrell briefly sat at this table as he autographed our books (click here). The chair that he was sitting on was used in the movie (notice the cobwebs on it). On the table before him was a candelabra and a centerpiece that were also used in the movie; both were thickly coated with cobwebs (click here). I thought I’d also post an image of what the real movie table looked like for the Evers family as they dined with Master Gracey inside Gracey Manor on that stormy night (click here for image from movie preview). Again, I find it interesting to compare what I saw on Soundstage 4 to what was actually shown in the “Haunted Mansion” movie.

I don’t know how many people the movie’s dinner table could seat, but the dinner table for our party had seating for twelve people (click here). Our table was beautifully set, too; that is, if you like cobwebs on your candelabras (click here) and centerpiece (click here).

At the front of the ballroom movie set, on the right-hand side, stood a large fireplace. And I do mean large. Its hearth was probably eight feet tall. The fireplace was very ornate. Our Disney photographer took a photograph of our group standing in front of it (click here). As you view that photograph, please note the movie props that were placed around it: movie camera, spotlight, floral arrangement (click here), etc.

One area of the soundstage was devoted to various movie pre-production and production items (click here): ballroom set model, set design sketches, fabric samples, set decoration items, costume sketches, and more. Guests even had the opportunity to view one of the movie’s zombie heads (click here),

Also on display in that area of the soundstage were two costumes. In regard to those costumes, under normal lighting conditions they looked rather ordinary:
Costume # 1 (click here)
Costume # 2 (click here)
However, under certain lighting conditions, they looked ethereal. When those costumes were being created, they were painted with a solution that contained microscopic glass beads. When the light hit those beads just right, it was reflected back in an eerie manner:
Glowing Costume # 1 (click here)
Glowing Costume # 2 (click here)

The grandeur of the “Haunted Mansion” movie’s ballroom set was simply stunning. The attention to detail was amazing, from the elaborately-designed pipe organ to the ornately-detailed fireplace. In my wildest dreams I never would have imagined that I ever would have had the opportunity to dine in such an extraordinary setting. I felt humble in its presence. And so very, very fortunate.

Coming up next, my description of the “Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner” meal…

Last edited by Janet2k; 09-21-2005 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 12-31-2003, 07:15 AM   #140
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Janet,

Thanks again for the most memorable evening. I can't wait to read your next installment. I am going to spend today watching my video of the event. I saw the movie last week and it was such a treat to see the Ball Room scene and to know we had dinner there!

One question Janet....what are we going to do for our next vacation? LOLOLOL!

Your friend,

Renee
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Old 12-31-2003, 08:42 PM   #141
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It sure would be nice to read that next installment since I'm here babysitting my new grandbaby on New Years Eve. She's asleep and I don't have a thing to do.......
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Old 01-01-2004, 02:37 AM   #142
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You folks are too funny! I tried, I really did, to get Part 3 done before the clock struck midnight this evening and the New Year officially began. But, alas, my coach turned into a pumpkin and I had to run all the way back home from the ball before my edits were finished. I promise to try my best to finish those edits and post Part 3 before January 1st ends. (Keep your fingers crossed that I can pull it off.)

By the way, everyone, Happy New Year.
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Old 01-01-2004, 08:08 AM   #143
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Janet2k
But, alas, my coach turned into a pumpkin and I had to run all the way back home from the ball before my edits were finished.

Please!!! No running! The last thing you need is another cast!


By the way, everyone, Happy New Year.


Right back at ya'! And to everyone else as well!
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Old 01-01-2004, 10:33 AM   #144
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Wonderful report, wonderful photos.....just wonderful
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Old 01-01-2004, 09:17 PM   #145
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Quote:
Originally posted by pixiechick

Please!!! No running! The last thing you need is another cast!
Yes, no running for you little lady! You just sit right there in that chair and EDIT AND POST!LOL Happy New Year to you too!
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Old 01-01-2004, 11:47 PM   #146
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The Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner Event, Part 3…

You folks already know that had it been up to me to plan the “Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner” event menu, my guests would have been dining on hotdogs and fries. But luckily for them, the Disney Studios folks had created a unique menu.

I had received a phone call during my vacation from the Chef de Cuisine of Catering for the Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme parks. He wanted to know if I needed any last minute changes made to the menu. I assured him that everything was perfect with the final menu that he had sent to me during the prior week. As I’ve stated before, Disney knows way more about the planning of a special event than I will ever know. The fate of my dinner party was safely in his hands. I hadn’t a care in the World (Disney, that is).

As I sat in my wheelchair inside “The Making of the ‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie” attraction (click here), I marveled at how stunning my surroundings were. The ballroom set was the perfect place to hold my anniversary dinner party. With such a unique venue, I wondered how the food would compare. Would the attention to detail be similar to the attention to detail that the movie set enjoyed? Would my guests find the dinner memorable? It was time to find out.

For dinner, the lighting on Soundstage 4 had been changed. Oh, sure, we could have dined in full light (click here). Or even in medium light (click here). But with the lights turned down just a little lower, the entire mood had been altered to something befitting dinner inside the haunted Gracey Manor (click here).

As you’ve just seen, the Disney Studios folks used lighting to help effect a certain atmosphere for my intimate dinner party. The rest of the atmosphere was set by music from the Phantom Manor theme park ride at Disneyland Paris. That music ranged from the sublime (a haunting music box melody) to the dramatic (an elaborate orchestral piece with choir). Their choice of music was interesting and really quite fitting. Of course, I did not know how fitting it was until I had seen the “Haunted Mansion” movie several weeks later. The music in the movie also ranged from the sublime (a haunting music box melody) to the dramatic (an elaborate orchestral piece with choir). I don’t know why the “Haunted Mansion” movie’s music was not used during my dinner party, but if anyone is planning a “Haunted Mansion Movie Set Dinner” event of their own, please consider using the movie’s score. It is beautiful. (Note: The overture from the movie is presently found on a CD entitled “The Haunted Mansion Haunted Hits (Music From and Inspired by the Film),” and if you click this link, please listen to the movie’s beautifully haunting overture on Track 14.)

And so, with the mood set by both lighting and music, it was time for dinner to be served (click here). It was exactly 8:30 PM when everyone found a place at the dinner table (click here).

There was no doubt about it – the ballroom set was dramatic and enjoyed being the center of attention. However, our dinner table certainly was able to hold its own (click here) amongst the beauty and splendor of the movie set.

The long table was covered with a floor-length, black tablecloth. There was a white, table runner laid down the center of it. Rose petals were scattered across the table runner (click here). Upon the table sat two candelabras, one at each end. A colorful floral arrangement sat in the dead-center of the table. The table really was beautifully set and certainly played second-fiddle to no one. That is, of course, if you ignored the cobwebs on the candelabras (click here) and centerpiece (click here).

Each place setting (click here) was comprised of the following pieces: a faux-marble charger plate, a dinner plate, a bread & butter plate, various pieces of silverware, a cloth napkin, a wine glass, and a water goblet.

The water goblet was unique in that it contained not only ordinary ice cubes but also two very special “ice cubes.” If you look at this photograph (click here), you will see two lines of glowing water goblets going down the length of our dinner table. And if you look at this photograph (click here), you will see the special ice cubes floating in the water goblets. I was pleased that the Disney Studios folks had used them for my dinner party. Their glow added a little something extra to the ambience of the night (and gave my daughter something to marvel at).

(Note: I don’t know where Disney purchases their glowing ice cubes, but I did find several vendors listed on the Internet. If you go to this webpage - click here - not only will you see a close-up photograph of a red-glowing ice cube, you will also see how to turn it “on” and “off” - the usage directions are animated. Before my vacation, I had never seen those ice cubes before.)

Also found at each place setting was the evening’s dinner menu. Each menu had been individually singed around the edges (click here). The singeing of the menus was just another one of those special touches that Disney is legendary for. Many of those touches were used throughout my dinner party. Each one of them truly made an already special event even more unique.

Our dinner menus stated the following:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gracey Mansion
November 1874
Tonight’s Menu (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sundried Tomato Napoleon (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Spiced Fois Gras with Seasonal Apples, Verjus and a Caramelized Shallot Tarte (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Crystal Ball” of Miniature Greens, Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Terrine (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Blood Orange Sorbet in an Ice Skull (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Creole Spiced Rack of Lamb with Marchand du Vin Sauce (click here)
Bourbon Marinated Quail with Blackberry Glaze
Yukon Gold Potato Tarte and Haricot Vertes
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bananas Foster Crème Brûlée (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Friandise in a Chocolate Coffin (click here)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You folks already know that I am no connoisseur of fine food (I think when I mentioned that I was considering putting hotdogs on the dinner menu, that pretty much gave me away). I am not going to attempt to describe the dinner menu in detail or each course’s ingredients. Let me just state here and now that everything was delicious. Each course was flavorful and beautifully presented. The Disney Studios’ catering folks did a beautiful job with the entire meal. I should also mention that some of the dinner courses evoked an unexpected response from my guests. You’ll hear a little bit about that as I continue on with the description of the dinner.

Nutz4dzny began the dinner party with a beautiful toast (click here). It was completely spontaneous and she did a lovely job with it. I secretly wished I could have stood up for it but I was afraid that I would topple over (not the way I envisioned starting the evening).

When we sat down, our first course was waiting for us. That course was ”Sundried Tomato Napoleon” (click here). I am a big tomato fan so I especially enjoyed this course. I’m fairly certain the chef chose this particular course for a few reasons: it was both tasty and colorful. A napoleon is normally “an oblong pastry with a filling of cream, custard, or jelly.” (Since I am food-illiterate, I had to find that definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.) In place of the pastry, the chef had chosen to use pieces of sun-dried tomato. The tanginess of the sun-dried tomato was offset by the creaminess of the cheese concoction (okay, I promise that is my last attempt at a food description). The redness of the tomato contrasted nicely with the blackness of the faux-marble charger plate, and it also blended nicely with the red glow from the ice cubes in our water goblets. Like I said, I’m pretty certain the Disney Studios‘ catering staff specifically chose this first course for effect, both in taste and in sight.

While we were enjoying our napoleons, the “Making of the ‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie” video began playing on the overhead screen (click here). This video is played during the regular theme park hours. Since none of us had visited the attraction before, it was nice getting the opportunity to watch the video during our dinner party. The brief video was hosted by Don Hahn, the producer of the “Haunted Mansion” movie. It contained pieces by Rob Minkoff (Director/Executive Producer), John Myhre (Production Designer), Mona May (Costume Designer), Rick Baker (Special Effects Make-Up Designer), and Jay Redd (Visual Effects Supervisor).

Shortly after the video had completed, thunder and lightning struck outside the windows of the ballroom set. It was the perfect effect for a dinner party that was being held inside the ballroom of Gracey Manor. Once again, Disney’s attention to detail was truly amazing.

I thought it would be fun to compare images of what the dinner table looked like as the Evers family dined inside Gracey Manor, to what the dinner table looked like as my family and guests dined inside Gracey Manor. This is what the Evers family saw - for image from “Haunted Mansion” movie preview, click here. Now compare that to what we saw on Soundstage 4:
Photo # 1 (click here)
Photo # 2 (click here)
Both the Gracey Manor dinner table and the Soundstage 4 dinner table looked divine (of course, I’m partial to the Soundstage 4 table).

Our dinner party’s wait staff was excellent. They were unobtrusive and yet attentive (click here). The same went for our Disney Event Productions’ photographer. He blended into the background as he took candid photographs throughout the evening. There were also some other Disney Cast Members in attendance during our dinner party. I’m not sure who they were or why they were there but my guess was that since we were the first ones to hold an intimate party in that venue, they were there to make sure that everything went well (and probably also to take notes about what to modify/add/subtract for future dinner parties).

As to libations, both red and white wine were part of the offerings. For those folks who did not drink, the beverage choices were soft drinks, juices, coffee, tea, milk, and water. If I would have been thinking, I would have added champagne to the drink selection. Here I sit, over one month later, and this idea just popped into my head right now. I guess you can tell that I am not a big drinker. With that said, I do love champagne. How could I have forgotten to have had champagne served for the anniversary toast? Shame on me. I will make a mental note to not forget that little detail for my future anniversary parties.

The second course of the night was “Spiced Fois Gras with Seasonal Apples, Verjus and a Caramelized Shallot Tarte.” This was a beautifully presented course (click here).

The dinner menu stated the following for the third course: “’Crystal Ball’ of Miniature Greens, Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Terrine with Champagne Vinaigrette.” Crystal ball? Huh? Well, take a look at what was placed before us (click here). Our salad was served inside a miniature crystal ball. And the crystal ball was foggy with moisture from the ice-cold miniature greens contained inside of it. This course was a big hit with my guests and received a round of applause. WeFullTime stated: “They are so creative.” And Nutz4dzny’s husband said, “Where’s the chef at? That is awesome.” I asked, “So, how do we cut the glass?” (I told you I was food-illiterate.) Then Nutz4dzny’s husband said, “That is too wild. It even looks like her (Madame Leota) – mine has a little head in here. It’s talking to me. Wait a minute – is it supposed to do that?!” Yes, my guests thoroughly enjoyed the “Crystal Ball” course. It definitely was a unique one. Bravo to the Disney Studios folks for adding it to our menu. I should mention that it also tasted as good as it looked (the miniature tomatoes were delicious, as was the champagne vinaigrette).

I absolutely love this photograph of our group enjoying dinner on the “Haunted Mansion” movie set (click here). It has become one of my all-time favorite vacation photographs. I feel it shows both the grandness of the ballroom movie set and the intimacy of our dinner party. That’s exactly how I feel whenever I think about any of my Walt Disney World vacations – they’re both grand and intimate. Truly a little something for everyone. ~Sigh~

How could the third course be topped? If your name is “Disney,” it’s an easy feat to pull off. With much anticipation on my part, the fourth course arrived (click here). As I’ve mentioned before, I had kept this course a secret from my dinner guests. That is, however, until they read their menus during the party. Those menus had stated: ”Blood Orange Sorbet in an Ice Skull.” It was fun watching everyone’s reactions when that course was brought out.

It did not escape anyone’s attention that the ice skulls were bathed in a dry ice-induced fog (click here). As this course was placed before my guests, it gave off an eerie red glow (click here). The glow matched the color of the blood orange sorbet, and it also matched the glow of the ice cubes in the water goblets (click here).

The ice skull course was both delicious and amusing (click here). My guests were adorable as they marveled at this course. Minybear said, “Hmmm… It’s staring back at us!” And since the sorbet was placed in the cranial portion of the skull, WeFullTime stated: “This is brain food.” To which my daughter replied, “So we can think.” Then Nutz4dzny said, “Our compliments to the chef,” and her husband added, “I hope he or she comes out to talk to us.” Then WeFullTime exclaimed, “I bet this is always the big hit!” Yes, everyone enjoyed the ice skull course (click here). If you take a close look at that photo, you will see most of my guests staring at the course in amusement. What that photograph does not show, however, is the rousing round of applause that the ice skull course received. Bravo, Disney Studios folks. Another perfect course.

The fifth course, the main entrée, was brought out next (click here). This course was comprised of three main items: ”Creole Spiced Rack of Lamb with Marchand du Vin Sauce, Bourbon Marinated Quail with Blackberry Glaze, and Yukon Gold Potato Tarte and Haricot Vertes.” String beans were also included with the entrée. Now I don’t want you thinking that this course was without its own special Disney touch. If you take a close look at the twice-baked potato in that photograph, you will see a slice of sweet potato in the shape of a tombstone that was engraved with “RIP” (the acronym for Rest In Peace). What an amusing touch.

Here’s another photo of the main entrée (click here). I must say that this was my favorite course of the evening. The quail and potato tarte were delicious, but it was the lamb that stole my heart. It was mouthwatering and my taste buds were in heaven. It was the best lamb that I had ever eaten. My young daughter loved it, too, and she had never eaten lamb before. I was really worried that she wouldn’t like it (she’s a grilled-cheese kind of girl), but the lamb was so tender and the marchand du vin sauce so flavorful that I should not have worried. It was scrumptious.

The sixth course was ”Bananas Foster Crème Brûlée.” I love crème brûlée and my husband loves bananas so this dessert (click here) was the perfect union to celebrate our perfect marriage. Okay, so maybe I’m pushing it by calling our marriage “perfect,” but take my word for it, the dessert really was comprised of the perfect marriage of bananas and custard. It was yummy and my husband finished the whole thing (how he found room for it in his stomach after eating the previous five courses was beyond me). Berries and whipped cream accompanied the bananas foster.

The seventh and final course was ”Friandise in a Chocolate Coffin” (click here). Immediately after I had first spoken with the Chef de Cuisine of Catering for Disney MGM Studios, I had to check the dictionary for the meaning of the word “friandise.” (As stated, I am food-illiterate and had no idea what that word meant.) I found the following definition: “Friandise [free-yawn, -DEEZ]: A French term for confections – such as TRUFFLES, mints or PETITS FOURS – served after the dessert course.”

When this course was placed before me, I immediately saw that once again Disney’s attention to detail was amazing (click here). Not only was it coated with cobwebs (don’t worry, they were only spun-sugar), it was also backlit by an eerie red light (are you noticing a theme here with the red lighting?). As everyone sat there discussing the spun-sugar topping on the chocolate coffin, Nutz4dzny’s husband took the coffin’s red light and placed it in his mouth (hey, kids; do not try this at home ). It was a fun way to cap off the final course (too bad the Disney photographer didn’t capture it on film).

Once everyone had the final two courses before them, the Sous-Chef appeared (click here). I secretly hoped he had heard our applause during a few of the dinner courses. As he stood at the table, we thanked him for the scrumptious courses and the wonderful attention to detail that had been lavished on each dish. For anyone who thought the venue would be the only star of the evening, I can honestly say that the meal stole the show. It truly put our event over the top. I was very happy that we had the chance to personally thank the chef for such a memorable meal. It was a treat having him stop by to say hello.

After the chef had left us, I asked a Cast Member for some to-go boxes for the chocolate coffins since everyone was too full to eat them. Within a few minutes the boxes were produced. My guests then took a few moments to take some final photographs of the movie set before we headed back to our resort.

It was almost 10:25 PM as we exited Soundstage 4. We were accompanied by several Disney Cast Members. Once outside, we heard the theme park music playing through the loudspeakers. When we reached the transportation pick-up point, our vehicles and drivers were waiting for us. We boarded the vehicles and our mini-caravan was driven back to the Beach Club Resort. Our magical evening had officially come to an end.

I can’t think of anything that I would have changed that night. It was a wedding anniversary that I shall never forget. And quite fitting considering that my husband and I had met on Halloween night many moons ago. And before that first night was through, my husband had told me that we were going to be married one day. Of course, I did not believe him; I was not naïve. But had someone told me that after many years of marriage I would have been celebrating my wedding anniversary on the set of the “Haunted Mansion” movie, well, I wouldn’t have believed that either. As they say, magic happens when you least expect it.

Last edited by Janet2k; 09-21-2005 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 01-02-2004, 12:00 AM   #147
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That dinner sounded absolutely magical! I'm glad all of your planning played off and I am really enjoying reading your wonderful reports!
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Old 01-02-2004, 07:59 AM   #148
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Wow! The food looks and sounds amazing! The presentation of each course was incredible.

What a wonderful night you all must have had.
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Old 01-02-2004, 08:42 AM   #149
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Janet2K

Thanks for the fantastic memories.

The event you arranged for all of us was fantastic but it seems like a dream that I do not want to wake up.
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Old 01-02-2004, 11:30 AM   #150
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Wow!
What a wonderful anniversary.:D

I love planning my Disney trips, but I think you have opened my eyes to a world of other possibilities!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with such detail. I'm am sure it is quite a lot of work, but it is MUCH appreciated.

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