Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oncers Embrace Enchanta Con

Photo courtesy of Enchanta Con
Once upon a time...

A spark of inspiration gave Laurie Mahoney and Scott Distasio an idea to create an enchanting event where fans of the hit TV show, "ONCE Upon A Time", could have an intimate gathering with its cast. Passionate about ONCE Upon A Time, Laurie and Scott did just that. EnchantaCon was born. More than that, it gave Oncers from all over the globe a time and place to gather and meet each other, most for the very first time. All of these experiences would forge cherished memories and new friendships. The enchanting weekend was held in a realm where magic already exists, Orlando, Florida. Fans booked rooms at the Doubletree by Hilton Resort Sea World in Orlando, paid for Enchanta Con tickets, and gathered in their fairy tale fantasy attire for the festivities.
 Fly Your Fandom Flag!
Like a page right out of Henry's beloved book of fairy tales.
When I arrived with my husband on Friday we were happy to see fans in their Cosplay best. We headed to the Michigan Room for the official "Welcome to A Weekend with the Stars of Once Upon A Time".
Photo credit: Jose Carradero
There, we were introduced to Laurie (Vice President), Scott (President) and our MC for the weekend, the exuberant and entertaining, Joshua Reid-Davis.  Josh was a fantastic host and was always accessible to the fans.
Hanging out with Joshua Reid-Davis
Photo credit: Jose Carradero
There were fun trivia contests; one of which I participated in. Winners were escorted to the Ball by a cast member of their choosing. How cool is that?! There were other chances to win many other special prizes over the weekend via raffles.
Other side of the Mirror with Hope Mullinax
The hubby and I sat in on the first of two fan panels for the weekend. The first was held by the Other side of the Mirror Podcast gals, with their guest host, Hope Mullinax. It was a casual three hour discussion of many Once Upon A Time topics, theories and of course... fandom.
Once Upon A Fan Staff. Photo courtesy of Gareth.
The other panel we attended was the Once Upon A Fan panel. We learned how the happy staff of fans and their love for ONCE Upon A Time, plus their gift for writing/blogging, was brought all together by the site's founder and Editor-in-Chief, Gareth Hughes (whom was called away suddenly and was unable to attend the panel). Both of the panel's conversations covered the depth of the characters and their issues within the story. We all had a great time. I believe we all came away with a little something extra by sharing our thoughts in a huge round table of sorts. Additionally, it was these two panels and their intimate settings that gave fans in attendance the chance to meet each other face to face and really connect.
Rebecca of the Operation Cobra Podcast made the rounds interviewing and documenting her Enchanta Con weekend. The hubby and I chatted with her about our love of ONCE Upon A Time and, since the hubby and I were wearing our LOST tee-shirts, we touched on LOST connections within ONCE.
We sat in on an entertaining Q&A with Tony Amendola (Marco/Geppetto), Keegan Conner Tracy (the Blue Fairy/Mother Superior) and Raphael Sbarge (Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket). I was thrilled to be able to ask them a question. After that, there was another fun Q&A with Gil McKinney (Prince Eric). All of the cast were witty and very kind, answering fans questions.

Sadly, we didn't get to see the Mermaid performance by Eden Sirene that took place at the hotel's Lagoon pool. But we did head down to Karaoke!

We had a blast meeting up with new friends at Karaoke, and enjoyed hearing their beautiful voices while they serenaded the crowd with familiar Disney songs, show tunes, and a couple of rock songs. They were all so talented and you can see everyone had a good time and enjoyed each other.

A little personal side note about the evening's Karaoke:
The hubby sat across from me at the table during Karaoke, constantly and quietly encouraging me to get up and sing. For people who know us this wouldn't be a bizarre request, as in the past I made a living performing in rock/top 40 bands (also as an actor). The thing that nobody (except for my hubby) knows is that since I had been sick (cancer) I had not sung a single note in public. Sure, I've played/sung the game Rock Band at home with the family, but that's not the same thing as using your voice in a professional manner. While I was sick I gained a great many things that changed and enriched my life (especially with my special and close to my heart LOST experience), but I kept the secret that I did lose something as well- my confidence as a singer. I don't know why that was the thing to lose, but gone it was. Anyway... The hubby nudged me all night at Karaoke until I reluctantly folded. Here I was all of a sudden standing in front of people about to sing- petrified and anticipating that my voice simply wouldn't just fall back into place. I don't know where it came from; I just remember taking a deep breath and believing "Don't be stupid. You can do this."  I sang the song. When the song was over Cris and I made eye contact and no words needed to be spoken. All I can tell you that in that brief moment we were happy- happy that I sang in public at least one more time. It really came down to "Believing"... Believing I could do it. It was a tiny secret struggle and triumph. It really was kinda magical.

After Karaoke, we had the good luck of sharing an elevator ride with the sweet David Anders.
Five of the Once Upon A Time cast members that were originally booked for EnchantaCon had to cancel their appearances a few days before the event. Earlier on Chad Michael Collins had to cancel due to scheduling conflicts as well. But this is Hollywood, the land of magic- and sometimes, magic comes with a price. It is completely understandable that they need to on set filming the great show that we all love. We understand and respect that shooting schedules are priority over promo and appearances- Otherwise there is no ONCE Upon A Time to promote!
Photo credit: Joshua Reid-Davis
EnchantaCon came through with a special Skype session for a hall of ONCE fans and Beverley Elliot, Michael Coleman, Gabe Kouth, Faustino DiBauda and Lee Arenberg. Other than a few minor "Skype tech" glitches, the session was wonderful and entertaining. The cast Rocked and we all loved it!
The autograph session was a wonderful experience. Oncers were given time to meet the cast up close and get an autographed photo. Again, each cast member was so friendly and engaging. Keegan even asked me about my accent; as she remembered me asking my question at the previous day's Q&A session and that she detected a bit of an accent. (I'm originally from New York City.)
A totally romantic moment was when I got to go to the Ball with my Prince Charming- How often does one get to say that?!
The Ball was so much fun and it included all of the celebrity guests, including David Anders (Dr. Whale/Dr. Frankenstein) and Ethan Embry (Greg Mendell). There was a Costume contest, lots of dancing, photo ops, and a table full of sweets. All of us Oncers enjoyed the party atmosphere together. It was truly a special evening.
David and Ethan held Q&A sessions on Sunday. Regrettably we had to miss those due to our travel plans. I wish we'd stay to participate in them.

Although we would have loved very much to experience the benefits of every event the weekend had to offer, the hubby and I weren't able to afford the Diamond package. Diamond Package ticket holders had the most availability to the stars via their additionally paid for weekend events. All of the Enchanta Con packages gave fans a wide variety of jewel tier packages to choose from. We purchased a much less pricey package and stayed at the hosting hotel for the weekend. We wanted to be a part of that world as much as we could all while on our very small budget.

We totally loved the intimacy of this event. With extra-large conventions everyone seems to get lost in the crowd, you have to pick and choose which panels and events you want to participate in, and the stars are usually kept at a distance from fans. But with Enchanta Con the experience was engaging and very personal- and to me... that is priceless.

The one thing I wish was made available to Oncers over the weekend is a commemorative tee-shirt for the event. Maybe this is something the organizers could consider for the next time; as I know many Oncers would purchase such a keepsake.

A huge "Thank You" goes out to the hardworking Laurie Mahoney and Scott Distasio and their amazing team, for bringing Oncers & cast closer together. They all did a beautiful job on the entire event. It really was a great time- and I'm thrilled to be able to connect with so many Oncers from our on-line universe. The hubby and I got to share some special and memorable moments with everyone. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together. Many new friendships were made- and that is awesome. I truly hope Laurie and Scott get to continue on with this magical venture.

Thank you all for being awesome, bighearted and welcoming Oncers.We will always find each other!

And we will always get to say we were together at the very first Enchanta Con!
Until the next one...

Check out:
Variety  Radio Online
Joshua Reid-Davis
Once Upon A Fan
Once Upon a Fan Podcast- Hosted by Zachery Van Norman and Amy Hood
Other Side of the Mirror- Hosted by Bri and Alex
Operation Cobra Podcast -Hosted by Rebecca.- Her EnchantaCon Experience
The Storybrooke Herald Podcast  -Hosted by Jose Carradero

Monday, November 11, 2013

Site Update

Dear Oncers,

I can't tell you how badly I feel about being behind on posting my ONCE Upon A Time notes. As always, I take my notes the night the episode airs; but take time to organize them, detail the episode and screen shot the images I want- all while avoiding spoilers, other sites, etc.  I thank those of you that visit my site -I appreciate it.

On my side of the island I've been very overwhelmed with personal priorities over the past few months that are resulting in the delays. Writing about this fairytale brings me so much joy and my own flashbacks- plus it gives me a fun creative outlet that I love and need. It is pissing me off that I've fallen behind in all of my writing, but I will catch up. I know it really isn't important to anyone else about me keeping my site current or not- that is a goal I put on myself. Whether I take notes and post stuff or not, for me the truly important and special thing is that this beautiful show strikes a very deep chord with me. It encourages me to find and treasure the good that is truly in my heart… and it reminds me that I too must hold on to Hope, Love, Light, Family, and Home.
I hope it does the same for you.

Thank you!