On my first recce trip to USS, I met Rudith there during our lunch breaks. She orientated me to all the locations and explained what I could and could not do The main purpose of this trip was to confirm the proposal hot spots as well as to find places for Gideon and Caleb to camp at while they were capturing the moment. I took lots of photos and videos and sent it to the both of them via WhatsApp so that they could get a visual idea of where they could plant themselves without being spotted by Huiyi.
The plan looked really promising as the Pavilion had Far Far Away in the background and I could imagine that with a sunset added, it would make a spectacular backdrop for an equally spectacular proposal. In my mind’s eye, I got excited thinking about how stunning the photos would eventually turn out.
I tried asking for special passes for their entry since they weren’t going in to enjoy the rides but to just snap photos. USS declined my request, which I could understand. So on my way out, I purchased two tickets for the two of them. I didn’t have a choice, really. So I was grateful that DBS was running a promotion with USS and tickets were sold at a small discount.
But I realised the first problem. Unless Gideon and Caleb had excessively expensive camera lenses, there was no way they would be able to capture close-up shots. The entire proposal would also be seen from only two boring perspectives and none of our facial expressions would be captured.
On my second visit to USS, the main purpose was to enter during sunset to ensure that the spot which I had chosen had the sunset in the horizon, and that the crowd would have started to disappear. Much to my shock and horror (but eventual relief), the sunset actually took place where Battlestar Galactica was and not at Far Far Away! This looked like a plan that was doomed for failure because it didn’t contain the all-important sunset criteria!
Then came the final nail in the coffin – the binoculars were out-of-order! There was no way she would be able to look into her “FUTURE far far away…”
Die. Back to the drawing block.
The third plan was officially far far away from success.
Next chapter: the relentless schedule that week.
I actually called USS VIP Tours and asked if I could speak with someone who would be willing to coordinate the event with me. The staff who attended to me was freaked out at my every request, so she brought it to her supervisor who brought it to her manager. Be it to bring equipment in, make a complimentary recce trip, or have Shrek or Fiona make an appearance. I don’t blame them though, because it’s not normal that they speak to some nutcase who wants to execute something unprecedented and radical at the hallowed grounds of USS.
But Rudith was superb. She sent out a couple of emails to the VIP Tours department as well as a couple of her friends who were in Ground Operations. Well, no one had presented them with such a request before and as much as I tried to PR my way into their PR department with my PR tactics as a former PR person, I faced a stone wall time after time. So after a few more email exchanges and phone calls, I decided against doing this officially because it was just way too difficult, cumbersome and tiring to clear the red tape.
Believe it or not, they even told me that Shrek and Fiona cannot go to New York because of intellectual property issues. Apparently, these two characters cannot leave Far Far Away… Can you believe that!? I was bemused by their unbelievable but understandable insistence on sticking to the integrity of the character.
So I had to count on Rudith and the by-left (aka more creative) methods. I must say, she really, Really, REALLY, went out of her way to assist me. Now, what Rudith had done for me, I will not and cannot disclose, even though I really want to because of the magnitude of her kindness, but I do not wish to get her into trouble or set a precedence for USS and get into trouble with them. Not to worry, she didn’t do anything that would cause her to get struck by lightning… So let’s just say that with Rudith’s help, things became way easier to plan and execute, so I was really thankful for her intervention!
Next chapter: the two visits before the actual visit.
Since I was going to visit USS with Huiyi on her birthday, I considered proposing there instead. It would have been an enchanting, unique and memorable proposal at the very least. After all, how many people have actually proposed at USS before? I had already planned for Gideon and Caleb to camp at the alley to capture the entire sequence.
Here are three of the many photos I took with my iPhone 4 during the first recce trip:
The idea was to propose at the Pavilion (a little hut with powerful binoculars at the outskirts of New York, overlooking Far Far Away). I would blindfold Huiyi and bring her to the Pavilion and leave her there to listen to tracks that I had lined up for her in the playlist, while I quickly make my way to Far Far Away. The end of the playlist would include a pre-recorded sound clip of my voice asking her to remove her blindfold.
Immediately, she would be visually greeted with an A2-sized poster that reads, “I will show you your FUTURE far far away…” I would have placed this poster directly below or beside the binoculars before I scooted off to Far Far Away. She would then look into the binoculars as prompted and see me at Far Far Away (*inserts Huiyi’s shocked reaction here*) where I would be holding up five placards (either concurrently or consecutively, I hadn’t decided then) that looked like this:
At this point, I will then gesture to her to return to the iPod to listen to the next track – the song that I had recorded for her. During my second recce trip to USS, I had already timed how long it would take for me to run (90 seconds) or walk (180 seconds) from Far Far Away to New York, and vice-versa. I had more than enough time to move from Point A to Point B.
Now, the idea was to link up with Shrek and Princess Fiona (whom I would have hired for an hour) to deliver to her a set of three placards after she finishes the song. These A3-sized placards would have the same words – “Yes!” – printed on it in different colours. I printed these placards for her to show me her obvious and only response to my earlier question at Far Far Away. (I honestly thought that by doing it this way, I would have stayed true to my cheeky personality.)
Then I would take a relaxing stroll back to the Pavilion from Far Far Away, since I only needed 180 seconds, and the song lasted four minutes. As soon as she sees me promenading in, Shrek and Fiona would prompt her to show me her response with one of the placards. I would then saunter towards her, and finally get down on one knee to put the engagement ring on her finger.
And when she agrees to become my fiancée, we would embrace, kiss, enjoy this special moment together and take lots of photos in the basking sunset. (Gideon and Caleb would have appeared by then…) Then we would take a short 20-metre amble to Mel’s Drive In (an American restaurant in USS), where our friends would already be waiting in ambush to commence the engagement party immediately. Finally, the evening would end at 8:55pm, and I would usher everyone outside to watch USS’ complimentary and fireworks scheduled at 9pm.
It was an extremely complicated, but comprehensive plan. Yet I was convinced of it. It was an ambitious plan of course, but nothing was beyond an idealistic sanguine.
Next chapter: the preparation before USS.