Going to a book signing at Walt Disney World

Okay, I’m the biggest Disney Geek in our marriage, I admit it (this is nora talking). Doing D23 stuff and other “ax murderer from the internet” stuff is all my doing. Well, actually, I usually get an idea and since Nick has a hard time telling me “no” about stuff like this, we do it (sometimes).

When I started seeing info about Marty Sklar’s new book, I thought…”oh! I’ll have to get that and add it to my Disney library.”

Then I found out that he was doing a signing at Walt Disney World. Well, actually two signings. One on September 11th at The Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the other at the Art of Disney store at Downtown Disney the next day. So, I asked Nick if we could go (he was working so he probably didn’t really know what he was agreeing to :)) and he said “who? when? where? why?” I bought a copy of the book from amazon.com and started reading.

Cover of Marty Sklar's book "Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney's Magic Kingdoms"

Cover of Marty Sklar’s book “Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms”

Nick reasoned that going to the signing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was better: (1) earlier in the morning and (2) you had to pay to get into the theme park (thus reducing the number of nutsos in line). So, the afternoon before the signing, we headed over to DHS to find out what was going on. How were they going to handle getting guests into the park and back to Writer’s Stop (after all, Marty Sklar is a Disney Legend and a bit of a “rock star” to Disney theme park fans)? I had found online earlier that day that you had to buy your books inside the theme park or at the signing event itself, was that true?

We went directly to Writer’s Stop when we got to the park on Tuesday. Hmmm, no signs up, nothing about the event anywhere. Oh Crap! I needed to get the answers to my questions! Finally, I spotted a manager. So, I asked her.

She told me that there would be a line and crowd tamers (my word, not hers). She also said that if I already had a copy of the book to just bring it and the author could sign it for me. This all seemed a bit fuzzy and noncommittal… So, we decided that I should go back to Guest Relations and see if they could give me some definite answers (Nick waited outside because this was my dog-and-pony show, he was there to help me and support me but it wasn’t his cup of tea).

Okay, so I walk into Guest Services and told the nice hostess that I had some questions about the book signing the next morning.

“Book signing, what book signing? Hey Margaret, do you know anything about a book signing in the morning?” she responded.

I said, “It’s Marty Sklar, you know the Disney Imagineer, the man who helped design all the theme parks?”

By now, Margaret (not her real name) has walked over… she’s a manager. She doesn’t have any idea what I’m talking about either (sheesh!). She asks another junior guest services lady (let’s call her Dana) to call the big-shot Guest Services Information number and see if they know what I’m going on about.

Dana calls them and is on hold for what seems like a long time (it was maybe five minutes, it just seemed longer because I was the only one in there and Nick was waiting outside and I really wanted to wrap this up so that we could go to bluezoo). The Big Shot Guest Services lady on the phone (I could hear that it was a lady) came back with some information and Dana was yessing and okaying for another 4 or 5 minutes.

The upshot?

They MIGHT have a special entrance line if it seemed like they needed it in the morning (how the heck are they going to be able to tell if they needed a special entrance line? do a survey of the guests waiting in line at 8:30?)…

You MUST buy the book (or any other item that’s being signed) the day of the signing event at the location of the signing event (in this case, they were going to have books at the New York News Stand… I already knew this).

After you buy the book, you get a wrist band that allows you to stand in line for the signing.

Due to the time allotted for the event, there were a limited number of wrist bands.

Alrightly then. Sounds like there’s a standard procedure for autographing events, I sure as the devil couldn’t find it with numerous Google searches!

(oh, by the way, this was the night that we tried 2 new cocktails at bluezoo and Chef Bobby surprised us with the new mushroom flatbread, so there’s some satisfaction by the end of the evening)

We got up early the next morning. Grabbed two super-sized coffees, got in the car and headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of a crowd in the parking lot. Nick reminded me to grab the umbrella – sun protection. There wasn’t any special line. We just went to the Cast Members line and stood there (with about 15 other Disney Geeks). It all went pretty smoothly.

Some of the people near us in the real line (back near Writer’s Stop) were pretty out there in terms of their Disney Geekdom, some of the people in line near us were Cast Members, and some of the people in line seemed to be retirees who love Disney World and wanted to get books signed for their grandkids.

I’m going to let the photos tell the rest of the story…

The line in front of us to purchase the book. Looks like the first two people are getting finished.

The line in front of us to purchase the book. Looks like the first two people are getting finished.

Looking back at the line to purchase the book, right before it was our turn.

Looking back at the line to purchase the book, right before it was our turn.

You purchased your book(s) [limit two per guest] at the New York News Stand. There were two cash registers and loads of suited-Cast Members (i.e. managers) around to help.

You purchased your book(s) [limit two per guest] at the New York News Stand. There were two cash registers and loads of suited-Cast Members (i.e. managers) around to help.

A lady that we don't know is getting her wristband. This proves that she purchased the book from Walt Disney World on the day of the signing - so she can get in line to go into Writer's Stop.

A lady that we don’t know is getting her wristband. This proves that she purchased the book from Walt Disney World on the day of the signing – so she can get in line to go into Writer’s Stop.

Yay! We're in line for Writer's Stop (a Cast Member soon came by and made up bunch up more - good but not great because then we were standing in the broiling sun!)

Yay! We’re in line for Writer’s Stop (a Cast Member soon came by and made us bunch up more – good but not great because then we were standing in the broiling sun and I needed that umbrella!)

Looking back at the turning point in the line. The people closest to the sidewalk have purchased their books. The other line is still waiting to approach the New York Newstand and get their copies.

Looking back at the turning point in the line. The people closest to the sidewalk have purchased their books. The other line is still waiting to approach the New York Newstand and get their copies.

The line in front of us was to enter Writer's Stop (we were about 35th in line). The line to our right was people waiting to purchase a book so that they could get in the line we're in.

The line in front of us was to enter Writer’s Stop (we were about 35th in line). The line to our right was people waiting to purchase a book so that they could get in the line we’re in.

Waiting inside Writer's Stop for my turn. The Cast Member in the foreground was totally shocked when nick said that he was just here to take photos, that he didn't really want to talk to Marty (ha ha ha!)

Waiting inside Writer’s Stop for my turn. The Cast Member in the foreground was totally shocked when Nick said that he was just here to take photos, that he didn’t really want to talk to Marty (ha ha ha!)

Talking and smiling with a Disney Legend.

Talking and smiling with a Disney Legend.

I'm telling Marty Sklar that Walt Disney World is a very special place for us, and I'm telling him that I have many friends because of his creations.

I’m telling Marty Sklar that Walt Disney World is a very special place for us, and I’m telling him that I have many friends because of his creations.

We got a copy of the book for our friend, Lisa. I met her through a newsgroup (rec.arts.disney.parks) quite a while back, we met face-to-face in 2009 (I think). She's a great friend and it's all because of Disney World!

We got a copy of the book for our friend, Lisa. I met her through a newsgroup (rec.arts.disney.parks) quite a while back, we met face-to-face in 2009 (I think). She’s a great friend and it’s all because of Disney World!

There were Cast Members handing out samples of the Writer’s Stop Carrot Cake Cookies while we waited in lines. Later they had chocolate chip cookies. (We didn’t eat any cookies, mine are better anyway.) There were Cast Members selling cold water and misters. I even saw a Cast Member GIVE a lady in a wheelchair a Disney World umbrella to keep the sun off of her.

The cool thing was that some of the Streetmosphere characters were out talking to guests and entertaining us (it did make the wait a bit better).

The whole thing was really well organized and executed… it just wasn’t communicated worth a donkey’s butt before hand.

Again, there were a limited number of wristbands GUARANTEEING that you’d get a chance to get your books signed. We were 35th in line and we finished about  an hour (slightly less) later. There were people further back in line that didn’t get the same color wristband, we think they weren’t assured of getting their books signed.

The next morning we walked to Downtown Disney to go to Earl of Sandwich & decided to take a peek at the lines etc… at The Art of Disney store…

Line waiting to go into the Art of Disney at Downtown Disney to buy a copy of the book - and then they get to get in another line to wait to meet Marty and get their books inscribed. (September 12, 2013)

Line waiting to go into the Art of Disney at Downtown Disney to buy a copy of the book – and then they get to get in another line to wait to meet Marty and get their books inscribed. (before 9:00 on September 12, 2013 – the signing is at 10:30)

We finally saw the "official instructions" on Thursday (September 12, 2013) at Downtown Disney outside the Christmas Store across from Art of Disney.

We finally saw the “official instructions” on Thursday (September 12, 2013) at Downtown Disney outside the Christmas Store across from Art of Disney. Well, now we know for future reference!

I’m very pleased to have a signed copy for myself and one for Lisa. I still have a third copy that isn’t signed… the plan is that I’ll actually read that one (well, I’ve started it, need to finish it). But the process seems to be a bit of a pain in the butt. While we were in line at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I told Nick that he can just tell me “no” when I get one of these screwball ideas in the future (well, nora is a bit of a screwball isn’t she?). We’ll see if that works.

To finish up, some interviews with Marty from other blogs

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