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Mousetacular: More Disney December 2011 Fan Meets

29 Jun

Shortly after my posts about All Ears December to Remember and WDW Today Reunion, I received a note from the folks at Mousetacular to let me know about their December 2011 Disney fan meets. Mousetacular’s offerings are a bit on the higher end than the other meets I’ve mentioned, as all involve meals and sometimes souvenirs.

I’m glad there’s plenty of room in the cottage industry of Disney fan businesses to support a variety of events. While I’ve still got my eye on that ticket to the All Ears Toy Story Mania event, I’m glad to know that Mousetacular has a similar event planned the next day. The Mousetacular price is a bit higher, and it’s not entirely clear to me how much that’s a matter of business model (e.g. sponsorships, profit margins), or of different plans for catering and/or other aspects of the events, which I know can significantly affect costs.

And of course, all this makes me nostalgic for MouseFest, when I could just go to one web site and find out about all the meets that various groups were having. Mind you, I seem to recall that there couldn’t be a fee associated with any meets held under the MouseFest umbrella, so the meets were a little different. But there was a certain convenience and unity to having a central organizing focus for all the meets, and I miss that.

At any rate . . . I’ll be there in December, at some variety of events. Just 162 days to go!

What I Learned on My December WDW Vacation

16 Dec

A foggy morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Last weekend’s trip to the December fan meets at Walt Disney World will surely be fodder for many blog posts! But for starters, let’s just highlight a few of the lessons learned on this trip:

The Wine Room at the Cali Grill is a bad place to sit if you want to hear Jimminy Cricket announce the fireworks. But it’s hard to imagine a better view of the electrical water pageant.

When your best friend gets engaged, you’re gonna cry for joy, even if the only way you can get confirmation is sitting in your office listening to the WDW Today live feed. You might just get choked up all over again once you see the happy couple in person.

Celebrations at Cali Grill are to be recommended!

Folk wisdom speaks the truth: Everything tastes better when Len’s buying.

The Walgreens on SR535 has gone way downhill. Better check the CVS at the intersection with SR536, next to the 7-11. Be sure not to accidentally leave a bag behind at Walgreens, because they’ll swear you took it with you.

I may not draw the best Pluto ever. But I have a darn good time doing it.

My own artwork, from the Animation Academy

If you’re staying at the Sheraton Vistana, you might consider picking up some butter and syrup on the way from MCO, in case you’re greeted with a welcome packet of buttermilk pancake mix.

You should always remember what size boxer shorts you wear, in the case of a tray of drinks being poured up your shoulder at Le Cellier. You should also be prepared for the possibility of showing up at the Yee Haw Bob meet dressed as a representative of the Canadian Tourism Board and carrying a lovely new handbag, thanks to the No Strings Attached wardrobe enhancements provided by the Walt Disney Company to substitute for your beer-soaked attire.

Wardrobe provided by the Walt Disney Company

Don’t expect much backstage magic on the Segway tour at Epcot. Do expect people to push strollers out in front of you. And we’re just not even gonna talk about the two ladies in ECVs.

They see us rollin', they hatin'.....

The toy guns at Walt Disney World seem now to be available only in primary colors. Which would be a good thing if it actually made people safer on the streets.

Display rack near Indiana Jones Adventure

You never, ever know when a Cast Member named Carlos might make your fan meet just a tad more interesting by jumping in with trivia questions. And you might feel bad about hurrying him along, but you might do it anyways. Especially if people look like they’re itching to get along to Peter Pan.

The s’mores dessert at Prime Time is, in fact, delicious. Just keep those elbows off the table. While some would pay big money to be shamed in public, at the Prime Time it’s just one more service included in their low, low fee. Also, you can still join the Clean Plate Club even if you still have green beans left.

Shame! Shame! Shame! No elbows on the table!

If you eat just one more green bean, you can have dessert

I thought High School Musical 3 Pep Rally just couldn’t feature a cheerleader with pigtails wearing tight black PVC and knee socks. And I was wrong.

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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?

Two More December 2009 Disney Fan Meets at WDW

14 Oct

Celebrations Magazine just announced a little get-together during the Fest That Dare Not Speak Its Name:

Celebrations Magazine meet!! Sunday Dec 13, 2pm, France Pavilion’s Garden in Epcot!! Will you be there? Let us know!

Those Darn Cats has something cooking too: We’ll hold our third annual Girls Ride Out at Haunted Mansion on Sunday, December 13, at 10:00, conveniently scheduled between two meets from All About the Mouse also happening at Magic Kingdom that day. No, you don’t have to be a girl to attend. Yes, if you come in drag we’ll make a fuss over you and want pictures. And yes, I do believe the ladies rode first last time, but I’m not sure since I was acting like a teenager again, sitting in the back of the bus with the guys, talking too loud.

Have you heard of others? If so, post ’em here in the comments, or drop me a note!

The Fest That Dare Not Speak Its Name

7 Oct
With my BFF at MouseFest 2008

With my BFF at MouseFest 2008

I’d decided to skip MouseFest 2009. It just didn’t make sense for our family finances, my vacation time budget, or my suddenly even-more-overwhelming schedule as a part-time graduate student (and full time worker, and frequent business traveler, and mom).

And then they canceled MouseFest, so the deal appeared to be sealed.

But I’ll bet you know where this is heading: I’ve just booked my travel for Walt Disney World this December, for the Weekend Formerly Known as MouseFest, which some of my more colorful friends might call Not Fucking MouseFest. And why? Well…..just as any reasonable person might have expected, there’s a whole lot of fan meets going on that weekend. And after spending half an hour chatting on this week’s Those Darn Cats with the Scurvy Monkeys and the Disney Dudes, and of course my BFF and co-host Lisa, and after a little encouragement from my Disney-averse but fun-loving spouse, I was booking those flights, reserving my time share (yay! I’m part-owner of a time share!), and scouring the web for news of meets planned.

So far, I’m aware of two sets of meets planned by a couple of my favorite Disney podcasts:

  • WDW Today Reunion 2009, which is hosting a variety of meets at Walt Disney World December 10-14, and earlier that same week on Disney Cruise Line. With several meets a day, this is much like a mini-version of that event that we all came to know and love each December, but with all meets organized by one central group
  • All About the Mouse Meets, which will be held December 10-13, including a fundraiser for Give Kids the World
Steve was rather festive at Girls Ride Out 2008!

Steve was rather festive at Girls Ride Out 2008!

Now, I’m sure that there will be more in store. A whole lotta Disney fans (including plenty of podcasters and bloggers) had planned this December trip long before MouseFest went bust, and as momentum grows around the WDW Today Reunion (as I’m sure it will) I’ll bet a few more podcasters will schedule meets of their own. Like, oh, maybe Those Darn Cats. Girls Ride Out, anyone? And guys, remember: You don’t have to come in drag, but we won’t try to stop you.

What we’re missing, of course, is a central place to list all the fan meets going on that weekend, which is frustrating me as I’m a compulsive planner (and can’t possibly hope to keep up with every single blog and podcast I’d like to). So hey, if you’re planning a fan meet, or know of any meets taking place that weekend that aren’t already listed above, could you leave them in the comments? Consider it an opportunity to shamelessly plug your event, as well as providing a personal service to moi who would like to organize my social calendar!

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.

Weird Theme Parks, Magic Meets, and Another TDC Plug

23 Feb
image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

image by Noel, via Dark Roasted Blend

How sad am I that I’ve never set foot in any of the World’s Strangest Theme Parks, at least according to Dark Roasted Blend? Truly I would’ve visited Diggerland had the weather been a little more promising while I was in the UK….and last summer I was pretty darn close to Hershey Park the day after Magic Meets 2008, when Lisa and I recorded the Hershey’s Chocolate World Tour ride-through for Those Darn Cats episode #14 (and no, I had not planned in advance to plug my podcast twice in a day, but so there!).

And hey, speaking of Magic Meets, they’ve just opened pre-registration for Magic Meets 2009. The event sells out wicked fast, so they have a two-step process: You pre-register for the event (without paying), and then later on you pay your money to secure your place. So, pre-registering is not a guarantee that you’ll get in, but speeds things up a bit once it’s time to plunk down the cash, and (I think) ensures that you’re on the email list to be informed when the all-important payment window opens up. I’m hoping to be there again this year, especially since I probably wouldn’t be able to make it to MouseFest this year, even if it were happening.

Coat! Coat! Coat!

27 Jan

Those of you who rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the DPN‘s Goat! Goat! Goat meet at MouseFest 2008 might remember this little fellow, pictured here courtesy of my BFF’s Flickr stream:

Well, don’t tell anybody, but there’s a charity drive at a local organization which seems to be looking for him!

Goat Drive

What I Did On My MouseFest Vacation

23 Dec
Trace Jennings, the Disney Dude

Dancing at Port Orleans Riverside. Photo credit: Trace Jennings, the Disney Dude

The great thing about solo travel is that one can try new things with abandon. Usually, I’ve got my kid’s needs to consider, and I often hesitate to try something new when my 12-year-old son is along for the ride. Plus of course, there are some things that one simply can’t do with a 12-year-old in tow, unless one has an outrageously precocious child, the right connections to fake ID manufacturers, and a willingness to completely forgo parental responsibilities.

Pleakly gasping at TomorrowlandThis was the first time I’d spent more than 12 hours at Walt Disney World without my kid, so I enjoyed a measure of freedom that’s rare for my vacation time. I’m also fortunate to have plenty of solo business travel under my belt, so I’m accustomed to independence…just not when that independence is strictly about having a good time hanging out with buddies old and new! So, this month’s trip to MouseFest 2008 gave me a chance to try a few new things at Walt Disney World. Many of them I’ll do again…and some, well, I’m glad I had the chance to try them, because now I know they’re just not my thing.

Trace Jennings

Those Darn Cats' "Fish Are Friends, Not Food, Meet." Photo credit: Trace Jennings

I will start by saying that I hope to be able to make it to another MouseFest someday, and I’d gladly travel solo to Disney again! But, well, maybe not real soon. As great a trip as this was, family travel remains a much higher priority for me, at least for so long as I’m spending time on the road for business, and for so long as my kid’s living at home (which, shockingly, might only be another 6 years). Given that vacation days and dollars are sometimes scarce commodities, I’ll still be spending most of mine with the family.

And I also gotta say, isn’t it kinda cheat-y of me to call MouseFest a solo trip? Yeah, it was a solo trip with 952 of my closest friends! I’m not sure I would have enjoyed 5 days at Disney World truly solo, without 30 friends to dry my eyes after Finding Nemo: The Musical, without pushing a recalcitrant Jon onto the Haunted Mansion, without Steve showing up in drag at 9AM on a Sunday morning (hey, that was indeed quite new, even for me!). I do think I would have been lonely had I truly been there alone for 5 days.

Stitch reading a bookBut all that being said, and all aspersions of cheatyness set aside, what else was new for me this trip? Well, this was the first time I’d left Housekeeping oversized tips and shameless pleas for towel animals, which I’ll surely do again. Yes, I have an embarrassing fondness for towel animals, and I did bring home a whole menagerie…but it wasn’t just the need for new trinkets. It was also the pleasure of knowing that I’d put a couple extra dollars in the pocket of  a Cast Member who is surely underpaid, and the fun of knowing I’d find something new and amusing when I returned to my room each night. Maybe Stitch would Towel animalbe curled up with a book (The Contortionist’s Handbook,
for those of you playing along at home, which of course is available from my Amazon Store). Or maybe he’d be watching TV…. or maybe a strange swan/reindeer hybrid (sweindeer?) would be atop my television, or some strange creature looking like she’s just emerged from the day spa. But either way, it was fun to feel just a little bit pampered, even (or especially?) at my low-rent Value Resort.  Of course, since I enjoyed this special attention so much, I did in fact practice what I preach, and sent an email to Guest Communications after my stay to let them know what an important part this Cast Member played in creating the Magic, and how much I appreciate their great work.

In Pixie Hollow

Inside Pixie Hollow

I’d never been to Pixie Hollow before, and would recommend it though I don’t feel the need to do it again. The Fairies meet-and-greet is very well done, not only because the Fairies themselves are well-played but also because of the theme-ing. As you enter the Fairies’ domain, you’re sprinkled with pixie dust, represented by occasional electronic sparkles along the walls. As you move down the hallway towards the Hollow, the trees and mushrooms around you grow larger, symbolizing the pixie dust’s having shrunken you down to the Fairies size…and apparently, making it possible for you to understand the Fairies language. It would have been nice had a Cast Member explained this as we were waiting, as these details would have been lost on me were I not an overly-researching Disney dweeb (and had a friendly Tomorrowland Cast Member not talked me into visiting the Fairies by waxing enthusiastically about just this sort of thing).  And yes, once you get into the Hollow the Fairies are every bit as playful and friendly as one would expect from Disney characters. Tink was in fact rather sassy, not the sexpot Tink who shows up so disturbingly in many Disney pins.

Trace Jennings

Nancy, Bob, Ray, and myself. Photo credit: Trace Jennings

I am not generally a piano bar fan, so I approached Yee Haw Bob’s show with some hesitation, but I enjoyed it immensely and would definitely go again….if I were with friend, or bringing my kid. Bob Jackson is a tremendous, and tireless performer, Lisaproviding audience participation par excellence. My BFF Lisa and our friend Trace had secured the front table, so I was able to sneak in at showtime with friends Angel and Julio, and we all had a blast. Of course being at the front table meant that we were called upon for more audience participation than some, and I’m sure Lisa’s hand-made “Yee Haw” shirt didn’t hurt matters either!  Bob Jackson’s a good enough comedian to get you to play along with the corniest jokes, and laugh until your sides hurt. And yes, some of us enjoy dragging unsuspecting MouseFesters into a conga line from time to time. It’s all very family-friendly, and I hope to take my kid there before he’s too cool to enjoy it. Or if we miss that window, maybe I’ll take him later on, when his kids can enjoy it too.

Alas, I can’t honestly say I want to go to Jellyrolls again, the other much-vaunted Disney World piano bar experience. It wasn’t for lack of good company…I arrived with my friend Danielle (after a fabulous time at the Studios Central Fantasmic Dessert Party), sat for a while with Steve Barrett of Hidden Mickeys fame, and then hung out with Bryan Ripper and others at the All About the Mouse Singalong Meet. So what was my problem? It might have been the general aesthetic….despite my eclectic tastes in music, they just weren’t playing anything that made me wanna sing, with the exception of a rousing rendition of good ol’ Rocky Top. The audience participation just wasn’t as orchestrated (some might say forced) as Bob Jackson’s, and I never felt pulled into it. But perhaps my friends hit the nail on the head when more than one of them told me that Jellyroll’s is just more fun when you’re hammered.

Earlier that day, my friend Danielle had introduced me to the Animation Academy, which I’ll do again every visit, perhaps even every day! Located in The Magic of Disney Animation at the Studios, this 20-minute experience always looked like a bore, especially since I have no talent whatsoever at the drawing board. But in that 20 minutes, I was able to draw a recognizable Jimminy Cricket, suitable for framing! In this day and age of “interactive entertainment,” this low-tech experience is immensely engaging, and I’d recommend it to people of all ages, even if they’re not hammered.

dscn2853I’d never stayed at one of the All Stars Resorts before, and I’d do it again…if I’m staying onsite, and if Pop is booked. Yup, that’s a lot of if’s, but I mean it. I often stay offsite to have more room for fewer dollars (especially given easy access to family timeshare weeks), and I do prefer Pop to the All Stars. But All Star Movies really wasn’t so bad, and my location in the Mighty Ducks building meant that I could choose the Movies or Music buses depending on which was to my advantage. Plus, the towel animals were fantastic, and the low rent meant I could sign that credit card slip with a clean conscience.

And on the higher-rent end of things….I will absolutely eat at Boma’s again! I’d thought about trying this restaurant before, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, when my son and I had been staying at Saratoga Springs Resort on our Free Dining trip in August of 2007, but had balked because I hate taking Disney buses between resorts. Next time, I’ll just take a cab – it’s worth it for this fabulous dining experience! The roast pork was succulent, the fufu divinely spiced, the pineapple cheesecake worth the trip itself. My only complaint was that the zebra domes didn’t live up to the hype I’d heard in the Disney Digerati, being a rather well-ornamented chocolate mousse rather than the cure to all that ails you. But how could they have possibly lived up to that reputation? I shall dine again at Boma’s at the first opportunity, and will allow myself even a bit longer to linger in the lobby, maybe even grab me a pair of those night vision goggles I keep hearing about, for watching the wildlife outside the window.

I don’t know when I’ll get back to Walt Disney World…right now, the next Disney trip on my agenda is a few days next August at Disneyland Paris, in my estimation the prettiest of the Magic Kingdoms. As much as it would be great to be headed to Florida again soon, I’m also glad I’ll be giving it a little time, so that next time I visit I’ll be able not only to revisit these new favorites, but try out whatever new stuff they’ve cooked up in my absence!

Does Bryan Ripper Love Sushi!

22 Dec

You betcha! Just check out the look on his face in the Passamaquoddy blog this week, while tasting sushi for the first time at MouseFest not much more than a week ago.

And actually, check out the whole Top 10 With Tim: Best 2008 Christmas Gifts that ran recently in the blog…including such items as an oddly familiar fishing lure and Fishes: A Magical Gathering of Angling Dreams.

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