My previous job kept me busy enough to not reflect on life and press forward. It also provided a real sense of accomplishment to complete the annual conference with some people I really enjoyed working with (Cindy, Scott, Geoff, Mike, Eric, etc.)
So I have spared you the daily moans of making it through. There have been two conferences these last two weeks. The first in Baltimore and the Second in Orlando.
Baltimore is much nicer than I remember. The event was on the waterfront where there is an abundance of things to do and places to eat. While there I had some of the best crab in my life! I also got the chance to spend time with the new co-workers. I have to say I am disappointed and surprised by the level of cattiness and gossip at this new place of employment. Let’s all rise above this in the future. It is divisive and destructive to talk poorly about the lives of others.
Orlando was a place I had not looked forward to. There is a full family history of going to Walt Disney World. Around every corner is a happy memory of a family trip or friends. So my first day there was pretty sad. However, after setting up the booth, I discovered that two of my closest travel companions of the last seven years, Marc and Alka, were also at this event. Quickly the three of us with another great former colleague, John, were together like old times. I almost went to work for Marc and Alka last year, and now I regret not having accepted the offer. I forget how wonderful they are to be with and how we share a similar drive for business.
My last day at Disney was spent taking down the exhibit and waiting forever to get the shipping cases back. I was supposed to meet up with the conference rep for the hotel to do some planning for an upcoming conference next year. At first I tried to get out of the little mixer he was throwing for a group of meeting planners because I was too exhausted to put up with a sales pitch. But I was pleasantly surprised to find Mitch was not your typical sales guy. A very nice guy from a small town outside of Nashville he had caught the Disney spirit in his youth and grew up knowing he only wanted to work in one place his whole life. I was his only concern for the night.
Each of the sales reps invited one person into town for a site visit and two days of exploring the convention center. I was his guy, but only there for the night. The group had appetizers and introductions at a new restaurant. We were then taken to Epcot via a private vessel (one that Geoff thought was so cool when we where there last) to watch the evening fireworks from an exclusive location. During this first hour I had awkward conversations with unknown meeting planners telling them what a great location this was for my previous events and dropped a few good ideas. But my guy Mitch was easy to talk to, knew everything about Disney property, and has great insights. After the evening display he took me on a small private walking tour of Epcot during the magic hours. In his previous role he worked guest services, a training ground for Walt Disney World. Part of that job is providing the detailed tours, like the one our family had taken years ago. He knew about everything that was changing in the Kingdom over the next two years and had a few insights to things they had not told the public. We went on the new attractions. On the way back to the hotel it turns out he was also a few of the characters in his former life, including my sisters boyfriend Goofy. It also turns out that indeed all of the princesses are jealous of Tinkerbelle because of her nightly attention (and that she is not an actual princess.) I have to say it was very special to get the inside scoop. Great guy.
So here is the take away. Walking through Epcot with Mitch (I’ve never met a Mitch I didn’t like) we talked about what used to be located in one place or another, and what was there now. Our family went to Epcot early on, soon after it opened. Nearly all of the attractions back then are gone. The last one, the giant geodesic dome at the main entrance will soon be closed for a two year re-tool. These things were aged experiences I have fond memories, but they are soon to be replaced by new memories and adventures. It is something to look forward to.