I was gone for a week on the first real vacation I've had in nine years. I went with my husband and a group of friends to Disneyworld. It was awesome. I got dehydrated and had vertigo, especially in the mornings and evenings, and it was still awesome. I'll try to post about a few of the highlights over the next few days.
The first was Be Our Guest
in the expanded section of fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It's a inexpensive counter service restaurant, and you have to wait in line for at least half an hour or so to get in if you don't have reservations, but it was completely worth it.
It's in a new Beauty and the Beast area. There's a square with a fountain, a little shop, and another small counter service place called Gaston's Tavern (which serves pork shank and cinnamon rolls as big as your head -- Disney does food well), and all of it looks like real-life versions from the movie. Then to the left of that is a castle wall, with a long bridge across a moat that looks like it's cut through a forested hillside, with a waterfall. Then at the end of the bridge is a mountain, and on top of the mountain is a castle. It's all forced perspective, so it looks like it's full size, just further away than it actually is. You walk through the mountain entrance to get into the castle, which has three large dining rooms, one the castle hall, one the castle ballroom, and one the scary West Wing that Belle wasn't supposed to go into. (It was almost too dark to eat in there.) One end of the hall has frosted glass windows looking "outside" and because it was December it occasionally snowed behind them. (It was 80 degrees in the real outside.) In the West Wing there is the portrait of the beast, and the rose in a glass jar, both of which periodically do all the things they did in the movie. (The rose in the jar was particularly impressive. It wasn't animated -- it looked like a three dimensional hovering magical rose that was magically losing petals due to a curse, and it was only a few feet away from you. They do really, really cool things with projections onto objects.)
They cut off the line at a certain point and don't allow anyone else to line up for a certain period (I think it was an hour and forty-five minutes) so the restaurant was full, but not chaotic or crowded, and there was plenty of room for everyone to find a table, and also lots of room between the tables for people to walk around and see everything in all the rooms, like the portraits, statues, intermittent snow, moving rose, etc. (One of my friends accidentally walked into the kitchen at one point, because it's not labeled.) You order on touch screens as you come in, then go sit down, and they bring you the food in rolling glass and wood carts that look like something from a fancy la belle epoque Paris restaurant. (To find you, they either give you a rose token (a small electronic device shaped like a rose) or you use the Disney "magic band" that comes with the meal plan, and they actually track that to your table. (Fortunately, we realized we needed to leave our bands on the table while we got our drinks.) The food was not expensive and very delicious. I got a roast beef sandwich with green beans. The deserts were these various wonderful cupcake-size things of different kinds with beautiful decorations, and were also delicious.
Even though you have to get there early and stand in line, it was totally worth it. I'll try to post som pictures as soon as I get copies.
* I'm on the the Coffee with Kenobi podcast: http://www.coffeewithkenobi.com/coffee-with-kenobi-book-chat-martha-wells-razors-edge/
which I had a great time doing.
* My co-writer on Blade Singer
, Aaron de Orive, has a post on SF Signal about the kickstarter: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/12/guest-post-help-kickstart-blade-singer-a-swashbuckling-collaboration-between-aaron-de-orive-and-martha-wells/
* Athena's Daughters has a Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-women-in-science-fiction-and-fan/description
* The Book Fair for Ballou SR high school library has started: http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com/2013/11/spread-some-holiday-good-cheer-with.html#more
ETA: and here are the photos: http://marthawells.livejournal.com/577570.html