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More Disney Parks Fan Meets. December 2009

28 Oct

The Disney Podcast Network has announced a number of meets at Walt Disney World, running from December 10-13, 2009.

Add these of course to the meets scheduled by Celebrations Magazine, All About the Mouse PodcastWDW Today Podcast, and Those Darn Cats Podcast, and clearly there’s a critical mass of Disney Digerati in town that weekend! I’m sure we’ll see more events announced too; I’m trying to keep track of them all here on Broke Hoedown, mostly for my own convenience as my schedule spreadsheet develops.

For those of you looking for something a week earlier, there’s Pixelmania at Walt Disney World. and Mousemeets at Disneyland Paris.

Rumor has it that the D23 event December 12-13 sold out within minutes of tickets becoming available for sale, and that guests of D23 members were put on waitlists. I wonder how many tickets were sold?

D23 Magic and Merriment: A Shift in the Wind?

9 Oct

Wow, D23 really does seem to be positioning itself as the only-slightly-wealthy-man’s Club 33. Its Magic and Merriment at Walt Disney World event this December 12-13 is designed and priced for the higher-end tourist, and not packaged to be appealing to Annual Passholders.

When I booked this December’s trip for the fan meets, I knew D23 had something brewing. I’d hoped that it might be something of moderate price, that didn’t require a full weekend’s commitment of time and money. The event features two days of events, and is open only to D23 members, who’ve paid $74.99 for the privilege of spending more money (and, well, a magazine that I do hear is kinda nifty). The event itself is $195 per person, which includes (among other things) two one-park one-day tickets, two tickets to Disney Quest, admission to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a dinner, and a luncheon. That’s not that bad a deal if you don’t already hold an Annual Pass, given that a two day non-hopper park admission is $166.14.

But where’s the love for Annual Passholders, who don’t need the park entry? Well, they might want to do what many have when using the Dining Plan: Buy the one-day required Magic Your Way ticket and hold onto it for future use, such as using it as credit towards a future Annual Pass renewal (which I will give a try in December with that one-day pass I’m still holding from Free Dining 2007). But wait……the fine print lets you know that “Park tickets and Disney Quest tickets must be used by December 30, 2010,” so unless you’re renewing that pass soon, better nix the idea. And actually, I don’t know for sure that these tickets can be applied to future purchases as most Magic Your Way would be, so don’t go trying that on my advice please!

It certainly does sound like a festive, pampering event, and I’ll confess to a bit of envious temptation brewing around the corners here, daring me to spend my allowance on a bit of decadence. But I doubt I will, in large part because I may well be too busy partying with my friends at the fan meets that same weekend.

Is there really a shift in the wind from grassroots fan events towards high-end Disney-owned events like Magic and Merriment and the D23 Expo? I’m hearing mixed results from the D23 Expo. On the one hand, I’ve heard that the sessions were packed, that you could hardly get a seat. On the other hand, it’s also been rumored that Disney lost a lot of money on the Expo, and isn’t expecting to repeat it anytime soon. (I do believe I heard both these items on recent episodes of The Disney Dudes.)

Such a shift in the wind would certainly be what Disney seems to be aiming for. Disney’s use of blogs, podcasts, and social networking technologies has lagged behind the fans’ use, and no doubt their recent offerings such as the Moms Panel and the Disney Parks Blog leverage the critical mass of online fan community that fan sites have nurtured over the years.

And then, there’s the money thing. There are already class divisions in the Disney fan community, and awkward moments in conversations about money. I always find it somewhat odd when people respond to my staying at a Value Resort or off-site by explaining that they really “prefer” more luxurious lodging, as if my choice of hotel is solely motivated by enjoyment of less-posh surroundings, and a desire for longer lines at check-in. I don’t have a problem with the fact that some people have larger vacation budgets than I. (After all, I’m currently holding a Disneyland Paris Annual Passport, and will soon concurrently hold one for Walt Disney World as well, so I can hardly claim any sort of deprivation.) But let’s face it: Money matters in our vacation choices, and the level of one’s income (and obligations) affects one’s options. But the great thing about fan community grassroots events is that, once you get yourself on-site and into the park, the playing field is pretty much level, at least in terms of class and money issues. We can all watch the parade together.

Will I do some spreadsheet crunching to see if there’s any way I could justify this expense? Sure. Am I likely to go? Nope. So hey, if you’re not going to the Magic and Merriment showing of Osbourne Lights that Saturday night, come on over and look for me at the WDW Today Reunion meet at Port Orleans Riverside to see Yee Haw Bob. Or swing by after the Osbournes — I’m sure the party will run plenty late!

Recent Highlights from Those Darn Cats Podcast

27 Sep

Happy days!

In the interest of shameless self-promotion, here are a few highlights from recent episodes of the Those Darn Cats Podcast, which I co-host and co-produce with my BFF Lisa:

Now, don’t be fooled by the fact that my 13-year-old son sometimes joins us on the podcast….it is often not family friendly, and I don’t advise listening to it with kids around.  Especially that one with the Scurvy Monkeys.

You can find us on iTunes or Podcast Alley, or subscribe via RSS feed.

MouseFest 2009 vs D23

9 Sep

This just in, from a D23 press release published on Magic Mountain:

On December 12 and 13, D23 will bring Magic & Merriment to Walt Disney World with out-of-this-world holiday magic.

Funny thing….whatever this event turns out to be, it sure seems perfectly positioned to replace MouseFest 2009, which would have run December 10-14, with the Mega Mouse Meet on December 12, had it not been canceled.

The MouseFest organizers have, of course, explicitly denied that the Mouse had anything to do with this cancellation:

In no way did The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney World or any other Disney-related company have anything to do with the cancellation of MouseFest. There has been no contact between the Executive Committee and Disney in any way, shape or form on this subject whatsoever. MouseFest is an independent organization that is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored by or otherwise connected to The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates in any way.

But hey, peeps, this is just a bit too much of a coincidence to me. And consider: If Disney had acted in any way to discourage MouseFest 2009 from happening, would the organizers really be free to publicize this without fearing backlash? Or if the organizers knew that D23 was crowding into their fan community event space for that same weekend, would they really have wanted to compete?

And yes, I do feel myself tempted by the D23 events. The expo in Anaheim this weekend has an impressive agenda. I’m curious to hear what they’ll plan for Lake Buena Vista this December. But don’t go telling me there’s no relationship between the beginning of D23 and the end of MF.

I Am Not 23

10 Mar

I would’ve forgotten that the new D23 site was due to launch any minute, had I not just read my BFF’s rant calling Bravo Sierra on the whole deal. And whaddya know, a little google brought me to the D23 site itself, online today.

I share my BFF’s irritation with the whole thing, but unlike her I probably won’t soon shell out $75 for a magazine, an unspecified collectible, the chance to buy more merch, and an entry ticket into the D23 online community.

It’s probably a smart move on Disney’s part, creating an exclusive (and expensive) online fan community. My twitterverse tells me the Disney Digerati are thrilled about the new magazine and the exclusive merch, so I expect they’ll have no shortage of immediate subscribers.

The site itself is quite interesting, especially the Walt Disney Archives. If this sort of content remains free even after the “online community” component is fully populated, it will in fact be a service to the Disney fan community and of much interest to people like myself, who’ll enjoy stories like “Bette Davis, a Monumental Actress, Stars in Disney’s “Return From Witch Mountain.”

But of course, as an active participant in the independant Disney fan community (and a curmudeonly one from time to time), I wonder what this spells for some of my old favorite sites. How will Disney handle criticism and dissent in their online community? The D23 Fan Expo will surely feature big, crowd-pleasing names, but will there be room for community involvement in planning and volunteerism? How will the community be shaped by the fact that only those with the $75 to spend will gain entry?

Case in point: One of the most creative things I’ve seen in the Disney online fan community is refrigerator swaps. On one of my favorite message board sites, groups of people staying at the Disney Value Resorts have managed to purchase and share small refrigerators, coordinating this all online. When you check in, you pick up the fridge at luggage services; when you check out, you leave it there for the next person in the swap. The first 7 (or so) people in the swap each pitch in about $10 to buy the fridge in the first place; after that, all the swap participants can use the fridge for free. Fans coming together to connect with other fans, helping other fans.

I’m not sure we’d see this sort of activity coming out of an exclusive community like D23, and I worry that independent sites like the message board above will be squeezed out of the marketplace by this new Disney product. (Can you tell that I’ve spent a little time in the software world, and have seen Microsoft do some damage?)

You can’t provide someone with a community. You can only provide the environment and the tools in which that community can grow. What will we see D23 grow into?

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