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September 6, 2014

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - Report

Deb's Digest Blog

We went to the very first party of the year on September 1, 2014. What a blessing! This party was definitely NOT crowded and was reminiscent of the old E-Ticket nights (circa 2000) with low lines and manageable crowds. The only downside, if there was one, was the heat and humidity and continual "sauna" feel the entire night.

The Cast Members were dressed in their regular party outfits. We had purchased tickets on-line and therefore had a printed ticket with bar code. When we used it to enter the event after 4pm, the Cast Member took our copy and gave us a wrist band. I didn't really think anything of it until near the end of the night, when this caused issues getting my special Halloween Sorcerers Card.

Jack and Sally's Meet and Greet was first on my list. Everyone was excited about meeting them and their line stayed long most of the evening until well after the fireworks.


After this we split up and some held spots for Mickey's Boo to You Parade and myself and others went to the Castle for the Villains Mix and Mingle show (without the Mingle) . It was cute but oh so short!!! I felt like it had just started and it ended.

TIP: See the Villains Castle show after dark! It was still light out during the first show and I missed most of the castle projections.

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After the show it was back down Main Street to wait for the 8:15pm parade. Again, I must say how nice it was not to be crammed in with people given the heat.

Here's the first ride of the Headless Horseman for the 2014 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party season:

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There were changes to this year's Mickey's Boo to You Parade. Most notably is the addition of Vanellope and Wreck-it Ralph (Wreck-it Ralph movie).

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It is one of my favorite parades in the Magic Kingdom and it is lots of fun to watch!

We decided to not wander down Main Street with everyone to see the Fireworks so we walked around the park to see who was out Meeting and Greeting. Imagine my surprise when I stopped in Adventureland to see not only Terk and Jane, but also Tarzan! Wait was about 10 minutes or so, I got in line. Unfortunately, Tarzan had to leave before it was my turn, but it was neat to see him interact with folks, especially the kids.

We continued over to the Diamond Horseshoe, known on party nights as Club Villain. From 7:00pm to midnight various villains dance with guests - mostly kids but a few adults were also dancing.

GOOD TO KNOW: Be aware it is dark and foggy with lots of neon lights in the dance party.

Soon it was Fireworks time! Standing in Liberty Square between the Liberty Bell and Liberty Tree Tavern but on the water side, was a nice place to watch. Not crowded and a decent view of everything except the Castle projections. Music was loud and clear.

TIP: There are good fireworks viewing areas in Liberty Square and New Fantasyland if you want to avoid the huge crowds on Main Street. Just remember no Castle projections.

Off to the Haunted Mansion to see if Madame Carlotta was wandering the grounds. She was and even summoned Judy Garland!

As we walked through Fantasyland, we noticed most rides had small wait times, even Peter Pan. The Seven Dwarfs were all out meeting guests and even that line was only about 30 minutes, How cool to get your photo with all 7 of them.

Checked out Tomorrowland, again barely a 10 minute wait for attractions. Just past the Buzz Lightyear entrance, Buzz and Lotso the Bear were having Meet and Greets. I wanted to see Lotso! As you'll see in the video, he indicated to me he was sorry he was such a bad guy in Toy Story 3.

By this time it was getting late and the heat and humidity were getting to us. As we got to Main Street we realized it would soon be time for the 2nd performance of Mickey's Boo to You Parade. The area near Town Square and City Hall had lots of front row room to watch the parade and so we stopped to enjoy it again.

While waiting for the Parade I went over the the Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom area to obtain my special Halloween Card. I'll spare you the long details but several Cast Members and 10+ minutes later I still didn't have my card. The main issue had to do with not having my ticket (remember they Cast Member took it when we entered the park) or my Magic Band, even though I had my party wrist band. I didn't wear my Magic Band because of the heat. Eventually I did get my card.. but it shouldn't have been so hard.

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We did not do any candy Trick or Treating but saw numerous stations set up. Check your guide map for locations.

TIP: The nice thing was there were signs to say what type of candy was being distributed at that location, like Crasins or Werthers, etc.

It was nice to see Cast Members being very diligent about making sure guests had their party Wrist Bands on before allowing them in many areas/attractions.

All in all we got our monies worth for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. The huge thing for us was the low crowds.

We opted not to do the $99 Villains Soiree. While I was disappointed to not be able to see Maleficent or the Queen, I didn't feel the cost was worth it for us. Plus, since we were going to the first party we were hoping it wouldn't be too crowded. It is all about priorities and what is most important to you. I am interested to hear from those of you who have!

I am sure as it gets closer to Halloween, the party will get progressively more crowded. Keep in mind, at this time, Halloween Night is SOLD OUT.


Tell us what YOU thought about the Party!!

May 23, 2014

Rock Your Disney Side 24 Hour Event - Part 1

Deb's Digest Blog

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Dateline May 23rd - Bright and early this morning Walt Disney World began its third 24-hour event at the Magic Kingdom called "Rock Your Disney Side".

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Mickey, Minnie and Donald joined in the early morning fun in their PJs.

The Fire Chief, Main Street Trolley Singers, Heroes and Villians, Mickey and Minnie and the Family of the Day were on the Main Street Train Station Platform just before 6am to start everything off.

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After the opening we interviewed Steven Miller who is the Marketing Manager who showed us the special merchandise and treats that are available for the Rock Your Disney Side Event!

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Next up we visited Tinker Bell in her new location in the Town Square Theatre on Main Street.
She was in a great mood despite the fact that Terrence woke her up super early!

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From there we headed over to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which was in soft opening mode!

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Here's a short video of me on the train this morning!

Here is our full video with spoilers:

And, as a special treat for waiting all day for the blog, here is the Celebrate the Magic parade with Hercules!

By now the sun was coming out in full force and I headed back home to get out of the sun and rest for tonight.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 (probably on Saturday :)

July 9, 2013

Mickey's America Streetbeat Limited Time Magic Scores!

Deb's Digest Blog

This week's Limited Time Magic is Mickey's America Streetbeat performed in the American Gardens Theatre in Epcot. Streetbeat is a high energy 24 minute show with professional dancers and Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck.

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The jam session includes hip-hop, acrobatics, lots of percussion as well as tap dance - modern style.


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Each of the Disney characters gets their own spotlight in the show too!

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Mickey's America Streetbeat was created especially for Limited Time Magic although some segments have been previously performed at ESPN Wide World of Sports and "Helping Kids Shine" Grants award presentations.

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As far as Limited Time Magic events go, I think this one is spot on! If you plan to be in Epcot between now and July 14th, be sure to include this as part of your day! Show times are 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30.

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For more Limited Time Magic videos check out our Limited Time Magic Playlist on YouTube.

May 11, 2013

Merida Becomes Newest Disney Princess

Merida's Celebration Ceremony Video:

Walt Disney World crowned its newest princess today, Princess Merida from Brave. Her mother, Queen Elinor, made her first public appearance.

The ceremony took place at the Magic Kingdom.

Merida's Royal Celebration

Olympic Gold-Medal gymnast Gabby Douglas and her mother participated in the celebration by sharing their mother-daughter story.

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All the Disney Princesses were in attendance and introduced one at a time.

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Snow White

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Cinderella

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Aurora

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Ariel

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Belle

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Jasmine

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Pocahontas

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Mulan

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Princess Tiana

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Rapunzel (who received a roaring welcome)

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With all the princesses on stage, it was time to crown Disney's newest princess.

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Merida arrived in true-style riding her horse and accompanied by Scottish Bagpipes, dancers and banners

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Merida is welcomed to the stage.

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Queen Elinore performs the official duties of crowning Merida.

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"I AM MERIDA!", the newest princess proclaimed.

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And of course, no appearance by Merida would be complete without her bow.

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All the princesses gather around for their first official photo together.

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Gabby Douglas poses with Merida and Princess Tiana.

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Queen Elinore is very proud of her daughter.

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After the ceremony, the princesses gathered on the castle lawn for another photograph. Pictured with the princesses are Rosie and Sophie Grace (from the Ellen Show)

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Sophia Grace and Rosie (The Ellen Show) Perform a Princess Rap for Merida!

Spotlight on Queen Elinor:

October 18, 2012

Deb's Annual Epcot IllumiNations Party - Ticket Announcement

IllumiNations

THANK YOU EVERYONE

THE EVENT IS SOLD OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's that time again and soon the holidays will be upon us!

As I have done for the past several years, I have a special IllumiNations dessert party planned on December 2, 2012. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday October 17, 2012 at 8:00am Eastern time.

The evening begins with a buffet of sweets, cheeses and berries that we can enjoy in our own private area as we watch IllumiNations and the very special holiday finale.

This year your entire ticket price will go to my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Please read carefully how YOU can obtain a ticket.

Tickets will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. ALL persons will be notified via email whether they have a ticket.

Ticket winners will receive instructions how to make a DIRECT donation to Deb's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This is for NEW donations only; previous donations do not count!

Tier One Price: $75 donation per person (1 party ticket)

Tier Two Price: $100 (1 ticket party ticket PLUS the Team AllEars Recipe Cookbook shipped to your home media mail while supplies last)

SPECIAL VIP Tier Three Price: $250 VIP Ticket (limited to 8 persons). (1 party ticket and special reception with Deb prior to the event in the Epcot Resort Area. Time approx 7pm - 8pm..

Exact check-in details will be provided closer to the event.

Every person will need the special ticket AND your own theme park admission.

Tickets are limited due to capacity restrictions.
Limit of TWO tickets per person/household/address.
NOTE: You must be 18 years of age or older to attend.

Within 48 hours of filling out the ticket request, you will receive an email with payment details. ALL ticket dollars will go directly to my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (read: Tax Deduction)

You will have 48 hours to make the donation. Once the donation is made, forward a copy to me at the email provided you with the instructions . You will then receive confirmation that your ticket has been paid and confirmed. Closer to the event I will send out information on exact location and time.

FINE PRINT:
AllEars® is not responsible for lost emails.

The purchase of a ticket covers ONLY the specific event. All other costs are the BUYERS' responsibility.

Ticket user assumes all risks of personal injury incidental to the event, whether occurring prior to, during, or subsequent to the event.

By requesting these tickets you acknowledge you agree to all terms of conditions of the ticket and event and agree to hold harmless RYI Enterprises, LLC and their officers, volunteers and staff. RYI Enterprises, LLC reserves the right to refuse any order at its discretion. Ticket holders release RYI Enterprises Inc, and MEI-Travel and its affiliates of any and all liability.

If you have questions, chances are someone else will too, so post in the comments section.

Thanks everyone!

October 8, 2012

Epcot Food and Wine -- Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars Wine Tasting

Deb Wills

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One of the less expensive events to attend at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival are the beverage and culinary demonstrations held daily in the Festival Center.

The beverage seminars are either $14 or $11 and advance reservations are recommended. The popular beverages and culinary demos will sell out! Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, DVC members, and Golden Oak residents are able to purchase a $2 discounted ticket for these events Monday through Thursday ONLY. Discounted reservations must be made via telephone at 407-WDW-FEST.

Today I attended the Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars tasting at $14 per person.

Upon entering the Festival Center turn left and look for the "Check-In" area. You'll need photo ID to pick up your tickets for the day (beverage and culinary seminars).

TIP: You can only pick up tickets for the current day. Be sure to bring your list of what seminars you reserved and pick up all the tickets at one time.

After getting your tickets, continue left to the vineyard stage and wait to be seated, or if you have extra time, visit the marketplace and cafe. We decided to get a fruit and cheese plate to nosh on before the tasting. At $5.39 plus tax, it was plenty for the 2 of us to share.

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Our presentation today was given by Charlie Campbell, National Sales Manager at Silver Oak/Twomey.

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You never know until that day who will be presenting. Sometimes is the owner, winemaker or in this case, a member of the sales team.

TIP: If it is the owner or winemaker doing the presentation, they are sometimes available for a bottle signing after the talk. Check at the wine store prior to your seminar to find out.

Traditionally, three wines are poured at these tastings. There is a pitcher of ice water and small cups as well as a few (and I do mean few) crackers.

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Also provided is a page with the wines you are tasting and a pencil to take notes.
TIP: The pencil is hard to read on the front of the page, flip it over and you'll be able to read your notes much better than I did! Or bring a pen to take notes with.

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The three wines we tasted: 2011 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc, Twomey Merlot, and the Silver Oak Alexander Valley 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Silver Oak is an American family owned winery and has been in business for 40 years.
Twomey and Silver Oak are owned by the same family. Silver Oak focuses solely on Cabernet Sauvigon, while Towmey produces Savignon Blanc, Merlot and 4 different Pinot Noirs.

I had never heard of Twomey Cellars before so I was glad to learn about them. We really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc (which actually was much better than the Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc we had the night before at dinner). The Twomey wine was crisper and filled the mouth with lots of flavors. The Duckhorn was lighter with a short finish.

It was explained to us that "Twomey's founding winemaker, Daniel Baron, developed his passion for Merlot during the early 1980s while working in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion. For the Twomey Merlot, made at the winery's Calistoga location, Daniel uses a method known as soutirage traditionnel. Refined for centuries in Pomerol, soutirage traditionnel is a slow, careful process of decanting the wine from one barrel to another. At Twomey, this racking is done six times during the 18 months of aging. It is considered the ideal way to clarify red wine to crystal-clear brilliance while drawing its fruit characteristics forward and softening its tannins."

We enjoyed the merlot (which sometimes is blended with up to 10% cabernet franc). It had soft tannins and you could taste chocolate and dark fruits.

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Last, but not least, we tasted the Silver Oak Alexander Valley 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Two types of Cabernet are produced by Silver Oak. The first is from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma, the second from Napa Valley.

"Our 2007 Napa Valley, a blend of wine from vineyards throughout the appellation, is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. We blended the vineyard lots in early 2008 and transferred the wine to 100% new American oak barrels for aging. Blending prior to barreling allows us to achieve a balance of the wine's primary elements, such as fruit and tannin, before they are influenced by oak. The wine was then aged in barrel for approximately 25 months and another 20 months in bottle to harmonize its components before release."

The 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (100% cabernet) is a dark, rich full-bodied wine with great tannic structure and mouth-feel. It has a garnet color and a nose of ripe boysenberries, cherry liqueur, dark chocolate, sandalwood and a hint of roasting meat. On the palate, it is mouth-coating and incredibly rich in umami. It has a very long, savory finish with the slight grip of fine-grained tannins. Given proper cellaring, this wine should give drinking pleasure through 2030.

TIP: If you are a fan of Silver Oak and want to add a bottle to your collection... The Festival Center sells the 2007 Alexander Valley Cab for $55; this is about $20 less than retail or anything you'll find on the internet.

I highly recommend these beverage seminars as a great way to taste and learn about the various wines and winemakers!

NOTE: Some information has been taken from the website for Twomey Cellars and Silver Oak. If you are visiting California and wish to tour the winery, you must make advance reservations.

March 8, 2012

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival Opens

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The 19th Annual Epcot Flower and Garden Festival opened on March 7th.

I spent several hours in Epcot and just scratched the surface on what to see this year.

The floral displays begin before you enter Epcot with the Fantasia mushrooms.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

This year's grand entrance topiary is Sorcerer Mickey conducting Floral Magic.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival


Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

First thing to do as you enter Epcot, is pick up a Flower and Garden Festival Guide Map and the new Topiary Scavenger Hunt flyer. I didn't see any Scavanger Hunt flyers at the main entrance, but did find them at the Information Booth (back side of pin store). You can also download your own!

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There is also a mobile website called Epcot in Bloom: http://m.epcotinbloom.com. You can look at it from home but certain features can only be unlocked when you scan a QR code inside Epcot. There are 12 audio tour locations and 14 topiaries that have QR codes.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival Mobile Map

I liked the map feature of the mobile app. Also, if you are new to Epcot's Flower and Garden festival the audio tour provides interesting information. While it is true the there is in-depth information on the topiaries, the photos are from previous festivals so don't get confused if the photos don't match the locations in the app. Would be great if the photos were updated now that the topiaries are on display.

Here's more information on the Epcot in Bloom Mobile app!



Bambi's Butterfly House
is always a favorite with adults and kids. This year it has moved across the way and is larger than before. It can get crowded in here which can make stroller and wheelchair maneuvering difficult.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

There is a butterfly identification poster at each end of the exhibit. It is great to know what you are actually seeing. The butterflies are quite plentiful and found my bright yellow shirt particularly interesting. Several landed on me, briefly.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

This is a Mangrove Buckeye butterfly.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

The ever popular Bambi, Flower and Thumper topiaries are now in the Butterfly house.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

As you make your way to towards World Showcase, the fab 5 as farmers and gardeners greet you!


Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival


Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

New this year is the Haiti exhibit. Be sure to check it out, there are even Haitian beverages for sale!

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

Be sure to check out the Flower and Garden Festival Kids Activities blog

AllEars will be bringing you lots more photos and information about this year's Flower and Garden Festival so be sure to check back for updates on our website!

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy a 10 minute tour of the Festival:

February 9, 2012

Long Over Due Thank You!

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THANK YOU to everyone who attended the December to Remember meets and especially, those of you that took the time to write a "balloon" message for me. I was quite surprised at the Ducky event when Melanie and Deb Koma presented me with the basket of balloons. Balloons filled with well wishes and memorable thoughts from so many of you.

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December to Remember Balloons

The basket has a special place in my office and I love dipping into it and selecting a "balloon of the day" to read.

A special thank you, also, to Karen Jellyrolls, for the Disney autograph book that so many of you wrote in as well.

Disney friends are indeed the best friends. Thank you.

Don't forget, we have all the December to Remember Photographs online at: http://www.barriebrewerphotography.com/Walt-Disney-World/Fan-Meets



October 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World

40 years ago today, Roy O. Disney officially opened Walt Disney World - the Vacation Kingdom of the World.

To help celebrate the Birthday, I have scanned the cover of what I believe might be the very first Eyes and Ears, Cast Member publication.

Dated October, 1971, Roy writes:

"To the Cast,

On the eve of Walt Disney World's opening day, may I thank all of you for your spirit--your cooperation and the fine job all of you have done in getting ready for our opening.

Years of planning and long hours of work have brought about this historic moment. It will be an experience none of us will forget.

At this time I think it is appropriate that we remember Walt's comment:

'You can dream, design and build the most wonderful place in the world but it requires people to make the dream a reality.'

You, the cast, are responsible for making Walt's dream come true .... yesterday, today and tomorrow."

Roy O. Disney
Chairman of The Board

Were you at the Magic Kingdom 40 years ago? Please share your story with us in the comment field below.

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June 7, 2011

Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet June 25, 2011

Last year I attended my first Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet and was I ever glad I did.

This year's date: June 25, 2011

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Not only did I get the opportunity to meet AllEars® fans from the west coast......

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......but I got to meet and hear some amazing Disney Celebrities too. Here I am with Bob Gurr!

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The event takes place over the course of one full day and it sure is jammed packed.

There are about 30 tickets still available for this year's event so I want to clue you in on some of the fun to be had at the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet!

There is one huge room where there are tables and chairs for everyone and vendor/collector/celebrity tables are around the perimeter. In another room, a stage and theater seating to hear from Disney celebrities.

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The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet is run by Don Morin and his planning committee! Having done my share of events in the past, I know how important a strong committee is to the success of the event.

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I recently asked Don how the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet event got started:

Don Morin: "As Disney Fans here in the Pacific Northwest, we would read about all of these great fan events happening around the country and at or near the Disney parks. Our idea developed from the desire to have an event closer to home that we could attend and not have to travel a long distance to participate.

Our first plans were for the event to be in a small Community Center with a few tables and grand hopes of 30 or 40 guests attending. It quickly transformed into a sold out 150 guest celebration of all things Disney. The event went well beyond our wildest dreams and we are now finalizing plans for our third year event! During those early days of planning and hoping that there were at least 30 Disney fans in the PNW, it is surreal to be here preparing for our third event to include two Disney Legends, numerous other celebrities and 400 amazing Disney Fans."

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I thought I'd give you my TOP FIVE reasons to attend the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet in 2011!

#5 Swag -- swag? You know all that cool free merchandise that folks give away! In addition to what you get as a registered attendee, the AllEars® table will have an assortment of goodies for you PLUS I'll be having a silent auction (items from Club 33, Walt Disney Imagineering....) to raise funds in the fight against breast cancer!

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#4 Incredible Collector Displays - like this Lego exhibit from 2010! Uber Disney fans set up displays of their special collectables for everyone to enjoy!

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#3 The Return of the 501st Star Wars Team

Great photo ops with these folks!

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I hear Darth Vader is a Disney fan too :)

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#2 Special Celebrity Guests

This year Disney Legend and author Jack Lindquist - first president of Disneyland (he'll be signing his book In Service to the Mouse!)

And yet another Disney Legend, Floyd Norman who has worked on films from Disney's Sleeping Beauty to Pixar's Monster's Inc and Toy Story2!

Returning this year, is Disney Historian, author and former Imagineer, Jeff Kurtti (author of over 25 books).

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and the #1 Reason --- DOLE WHIP!

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But you don't have to take it just from me.

Here's what has Don jazzed about 2011's event!

"I am so excited for this year's event as it becomes bigger, more interactive and "plussed up". We are so honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to bring TWO Disney Legends, Jack Lindquist and Floyd Norman, to the Pacific Northwest. In addition, Guests will be taken on an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Walt Disney Family Museum by Jeff Kurtti who was a driving force in the creation and design of this magnificent institution. New this year is an expansion of our incredible themed displays and more interactive events such as a live Trivia Contest, expanded Pin & Vinylmation trading, Main Street Magic and a Children's story time."

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Here are some folks I met at the 2010 event who wanted to share their excitement and anticipation about 2011 with you.

Lori and Michael

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We are making the 3 hour drive from Portland again this year to attend our second PNWMM! Last year Michael and I both enjoyed listening to all of the speakers including the original inspiration for Tinkerbell, Margaret Kerry! After corresponding for several years, we got to meet Deb Wills in person for the first time! We are looking forward to seeing her again and reconnecting with other new Disney friends. Oh, and how could I forget! Last year we had our picture taken in an original vehicle from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!!!

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Anna Burch

Anna Burch

My first Mousemeet was in 2010. Being from the Seattle area, I was SO excited to have something Disney so close to home. The event is only 15 minutes from my house, so it was REALLY close to home for me! There is such a huge Disney fan-base here in our area and the Mousemeet is the perfect event for all of us who just can't get enough Disney.

My favorite part of the meet was meeting like-minded people. To my friends and family, I'm a bit extreme. To everyone at the PNW Mousemeet, I am completely normal. I love it. I can't wait to see my new friends again and be immersed in a day of Disney. Since the economy has not been too kind to my family, we haven't gotten to go to the parks lately and this event helps ease my ache to go visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Thanks to Don and his team for providing us with laughs, trivia, wonderful people and DOLE WHIPS!


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Kayla Boe

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My name is Kayla Boe and I reside in beautiful Lake Stevens, Washington. I was lucky enough to have attended the inaugural Pacific NW Mouse Meet in August 2009 and I was hooked!

After having an amazing time in 2009, I absolutely had to come back for 2010 and will be there for 2011! While I enjoyed every aspect of the meet, I think my favorite part is meeting new friends who share the same Disney passion. I have developed many new friendships and love any opportunity to get together and talk Disney!

The whole conference is an event to remember. From the guest speakers to the Dole Whip, it is truly a magical experience!

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And finally a few words from Don pictured here with his wife Michele:

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A few days before the very first PNW Mouse Meet, I was speaking to Margaret Kerry on the phone. I told her I didn't know if I could pull off the event, that I can't create the Magic that Disney creates.

Margaret, in her remarkable Tink wisdom replied, "Don, you've done everything you can for the event and you have created place, you don't have to create the magic. Each and every Guest will bring a little bit of Pixie Dust in their pocket; THEY will bring the magic..."

"My hope is that each and every Guest at the end of the day leaves with a little more Pixie Dust in their pocket than they came with".


If you'll be in the Seattle, WA area on June 25th - come join the fun and purchase your ticket today! (no tickets at the door)

Photographs courtesy of Barrie Brewer!

May 29, 2009

American Idol Kris Allen Spends the Morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios

American Idol Kris Allen


American Idol's latest star, Kris Allen, fulfilled his announcement last week, "I'm going to Disney World".


American Idol Kris Allen

The park was very crowded, between Star Wars Weekend festivities and Kris Allen's appearance.

American Idol Kris Allen


Prior to the motorcard down Hollywood Blvd, Kris taped a promo spot with some lucky fans.

American Idol Kris Allen


Mickey accompanied Kris down Hollywood Blvd.

American Idol Kris Allen

After arriving at the Stage outside the American Idol Attraction, Kris said a few words.

American Idol Kris Allen


American Idol Kris Allen

He then sang "Heartless" and played guitar

American Idol Kris Allen

Minnie came out and fawned all over her American Idol.

American Idol Kris Allen

We went inside the American Idol Attraction for the 11am show. Arriving about 40 minutes prior, we were able to see the show's contestants practive their songs and get all set up.

Kris came out briefly and then left while the contestants sang their best.

Kris reappeared to announce the name of the contestant that will sing in tonights final American Idol show and win a "golden" ticket to an American Idol show audition.

American Idol Kris Allen

Afterwards, a media question and answer session took place on the Sounds Dangerous Stage.

American Idol Kris Allen


American Idol Kris Allen


American Idol Kris Allen


American Idol Kris Allen

An American Idol Star Dedication was on the schedule, but cancelled. Maybe weather concerns?

No word on how first time WDW visitor Kris Allen will be spending the rest of his day, although he did indicate he wanted to try Rock n Roller Coaster!


Disney's Official Press Release

More information about the American Idol Attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

March 9, 2009

Disney twenty+three D23 Premiere Issue

UPDATE - The Official Website is now live:
http://d23.disney.go.com/

For a number of weeks now, the Disney online community has been buzzing about D23 trying to figure out exactly what it meant! Speculation began to turn towards a new Disney Fan Club and early last week a few websites were displaying photographs of what appeared to be D23 membership pins.

Over the last several days, the premiere issue of Disney twenty+three (slated to debut on March 10, 2009) began to surface in book stores. So this morning, as I passed my local Barnes and Noble store, I decided to stop in.

In the magazine section was a small black stand with a couple layers of the new magazine.

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

It was packaged very nicely in cellophane to protect the pages, or perhaps to keep folks from thumbing through it before they pay the list price of $15.95.

A simple black and white cover with Walt, the magazine is on heavy glossy paper and measures 11 x 12 1/2.

"Welcome to the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three, the new quarterly publication exclusively for D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans."

Below are some snapshots of the issue. It even includes photographs from the February American Idol Press Event!

You'll see a wide range of topics from Walt himself to themeparks, dining, movies, imagineers, and broadway.

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

 Disney twenty+three Premiere Issue

More to come as I look through the magazine.

January 10, 2009

Congratulations Michelle! Our Reluctant Runner Finishes!

Congrats to AllEars team member Michelle Scribner-MacLean. Today she completed her first half marathon!

YEA MICHELLE

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

December 1, 2008

Winners Announced!! Special "Dream" Opportunity for 10 Lucky Readers

Last week I announced the 3rd Annual IllumiNations Party Ticket Giveaway!

Over 300 persons entered the contest. It was VERY hard to select the final 10 winners. I only wish I had more tickets available.

Below is a list of all the winners. Each was notified via email Sunday, 11/30/08. All winners must RSVP back to me by midnight Tuesday, 12/2/08 to claim their tickets.

Congrats to the following persons:

Kristin Harmon and Stephanie Derga
Lisa and Ben Huffman
Danny and Michelle Bishop
Kathy Jones and Vickie Free
Randy Katz and Shane Faullin
Gale and Sam Bell
Michelle Andriani
Bree Elms
Sharyn Snell-Rudy
Joanne


Thanks to everyone that entered the giveaway!!! May your holidays be safe and warm :)

Deb

November 21, 2008

Special "Dream" Opportunity for 10 Lucky Readers

It's time for the THIRD ANNUAL IllumiNations Party Ticket Giveaway!!!!

Have you ever wandered around Epcot in the evening and seen those people in the private IllumiNations viewing areas? Have you ever wondered how YOU could be one of those lucky people?

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Copyright © 2003 Barrie Brewer, Nikon E3100


As a special holiday thanks to all our readers AllEars® is giving away 10 pairs of tickets to a Private VIP IllumiNations Reception to be held in Epcot on Sunday evening, December 14, 2008. Meet time will be approximately 8:15 pm (inside Epcot) with a special after-IllumiNations experience that may last 30-45 minutes after IllumiNations.

You must have your own admission into Epcot.

You and your guest must be 18 years of age or older.

To enter, send an email to allearsnet@yahoo.com no later than midnight East Coast USA time on Monday, November 24. Winners will be emailed and announced no later than December 1.

Email Subject line should say: IllumiNations Dream Tickets
In 30 words or less, tell me why you should win a pair of tickets.

All decisions are final. I am not responsible for lost emails. This is ONLY for two tickets to the Private IllumiNations event on Sunday December 14, 2008. No other date or event may be substituted. This offer does not include air, hotel, theme park admission, souvenirs or anything else. ONLY the IllumiNations party event.

You may not transfer your ticket.

You do not have to be a registered MouseFest attendee. Anyone who will be in Epcot on December 14, 2008 is eligible.

This is a land-based event and not the IllumiNations boat cruise.

Meet time is subject to change - Meet location will be provided to winners approximately 7 days prior to event.

Anyone from any country who meets the criteria above may enter.

August 29, 2008

Winner Announced - A Bit of Magic for you and me

Thank you SO much to everyone you sent in entries for the American Adventure Dinner on Sunday August 31st. I wish I had enough tickets for all of you.

We held a random drawing this morning and the winning email belongs to

Chris and Jenny Murray!!!! Congratulations.

Thank you everyone!!!!!

Deb

August 28, 2008

A Bit of Magic for you and me

Every now and then I have the opportunity spread a little magic and support a great cause at the same time.... It's one of the really fun parts about being the All Ears guru.

Today, I have a very limited and very unique opportunity for 2 lucky folks.

Here's the scoop.

1) You must be in the WDW area on Sunday night, August 31, 2008
2) You must have your own admission into Epcot
3) You are TWO adults (both over 18)
4) You don't have dinner plans or you can cancel the plans you do have.
5) You must be free from 6:30pm until park closing.
6) You are interested in making a donation to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

So far so good?

Ok, Here's the deal. I have 2 tickets for the special private American Adventure Dinner Party hosted by Steve Barrett and Myself on Sunday night August 31, 2008.

These tickets were selling for $70/a piece, so it's a $140 value.

How this works....

By midnight tonight send me 25 words or less on why you'd like to attend the American Adventure dinner on Sunday night. Include the names of both adults who will be attending and where you are staying.

Mail this to allearsnet@yahoo.com Put AA dinner in the subject line.

I will do a drawing and select one winner who will receive 2 tickets. I will notify the selected email by email on Friday morning.

Once notified, you make an online donation to my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Fundraiser. The amount is up to you, but a minimum of $10 is required by the Avon Website. Once that is done, I'll send you specifics on where and when to meet me on Sunday.

This is not a contest or a sweepstakes. All decisions final by me. Lost emails are not my fault. There is no complaining or anything else. It's a bit of magic for you and a cause near and dear to me.

Time is a factor so act VERY quickly.

Good Luck!


May 10, 2008

A Wild Decade - Animal Kingdom Turns 10!

On April 22, 2008 Animal Kingdom theme park proudly turned 10 years young!

Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

In conjuction with Walt Disney World and Animal Kingdom, the WDWCelebrations.com team hosted their 2nd anniversary event, A Wild Decade. You may recall these were the same folks that brought you Celebration 25 -honoring Epcot's 25 years in 2007.

Registration for the Wild Decade closed a few weeks prior at 400. Not too shabby considering the event was on a Tuesday!

Check-in began bright and early near the Animal Kingdom ticket booths. Then the lines to get into the park quickly developed.

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary

A Wild Decade at Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary


Animal Kingdom offered just a few events to commemorate the birthday.
First, a Re-Dedication Ceremony at park opening, hosted by Erin Wallace, Joe Rohde and Jane Goodall.

Animal Kingdom Re-Dedication Ceremony with Erin Wallace, Joe Rohde and Jane Goodall


Animal Kingdoms 10th Anniversary Crowd awaiting Ceremony

After the ceremony, Animal Kingdom Vice President Val Bunting greeted guests at the Attraction Times board. The first photo is Adam Roth and Val. The next one is me with Val.

Adam Roth and Val Bunting

Deb Wills and Val Bunting


Then there was a very special opportunity to hear Joe Rohde speak in the Theatre in the Wild. He is quite the storyteller and it's easy to see why he is such a successful imagineer! His facial expressions really added to the talk.

Special thanks to Patty Cook, who I met at the talk, for the cool photographs of Joe.

We have the audio for listening.

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Joe Rohde talks about Animal Kingdom's Beginnings

Lastly, Joe was available for autographs and photographs from 1-2pm in the afternoon. Here is AllEars Team Member Linda Mac with Joe!

Joe Rohde and LindaMac


Soon it was time for the WDWCelebrations.com Wild Decade events to begin!

The Wild Decade had their first attraction meet of the day enjoying Finding Nemo the Musical. From there, it was on to Expedition Everest!

At 2pm, the now traditional History Walk took place. Prior to the walks beginning, there was a very special visit by Animal Kingdom Vice President Val Bunting. Not only did she speak with the Wild Decade group, she entertained a few questions from the crowd and then stayed on for photo ops and even some pin trading. I asked Val about future attractions and new animal species that may be coming to the park. She replied with the standard Disney answer... we're always looking at new opportunities.....etc etc! In otherwords, no special announcements on April 22nd!

Attendees were split into 2 groups for the History Walk, one led by John C and one by Tom Corless. I attended Tom's walk and really enjoyed it. I even learned a few new things that I can share with friends on our next adventure to the park!! To the WDWCelebrations Team - kudos on the history talk!!!

Tom Corliss History Walk of Animal Kingdom Asia

Tom Corliss History Walk of Animal Kingdom

Next, the folks at Animal Kingdom reserved 2 of the areas at the Flame Tree BBQ for Wild Decade Attendees to use for dinner. That really worked well. People were able to mingle and have some down time together. It was VERY nice.

At about 6:15pm, most of us having now been in the park almost 12 hours, I was starting to get tired. There were 2 events I still wanted to get to....but made the decision to forgo the last meet on Dinosaur!

We gathered outside DinoLand USA for a presentation. The Wild Decade organizers, led by 17-year-old Adam Roth, presented a $500 check to author Lou Mongello (The Walt Disney World Trivia Book) to go to the Dream Team charity he has established, which benefits terminally ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Adam and Jason present Lou with the Make-A-Wish Donation

Afterwards we posed for a group photo that was a lot of fun to organize.

Wild Decade Group Photo

Larger Wild Decade Group Photo Image

Soon it wsa time to say goodbyes. The day went WAY too fast but the memories will last a long time.

Thanks to Val Bunting, Joe Rohde, the Cast Members who helped create Animal Kingdom and those that have worked there over the years, the WDWCelebrations team and all the attendees who made this a wonderful day.

Their next event, a World Wide Weekend will be held in late September. Registration is already open. I'll be there, will you?


October 14, 2007

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Souvenirs

Every year the Food and Wine Festival sports new logos and merchandise for you to purchase, this year is no exception.

There is plenty of merchandise to choose from, both with and without Food and Wine logos. Here are just a few of the items I found in the Festival Marketplace in the Wonders of Life pavilion.

Epcot Food and Wine Merchandise

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Epcot Food and Wine Merchandise
Chef Mickey Plushes cost $9.95 plus tax.
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Epcot Food and Wine Merchandise
Festival Aprons

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Epcot Food and Wine Merchandise
Mugs cost $12.00 plus tax.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival Trivets
Trivets cost $12.00 plus tax.

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Epcot Food and Wine Merchandise
Wine Store - if you see something you like, get it! They do sell out of popular wines as the Festival goes on.

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Epcot Food and Wine store
Wine Store
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Epcot Food and Wine Limited Edition Pins
Limited Edition pins

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival Poster
Festival poster is $16 unframed. Artist does signings off and on during the festival.

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October 6, 2007

Epcot's 25th Rededication Ceremony - Part 2

Part 1 Epcot's 25th Rededication Ceremony

Marty continued to reminisce about the early days of speaking with Walt about Epcot.

Marty Sklar

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He went on to say: "I'll never forget that opening day of Epcot"

Marty Sklar

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Marty: -�One of the things I remember the most was a water pouring ceremony to start the Comunicore fountain behind us. Don't you think it would be wonderful if we could do something like that today?"


Marty Sklar

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Tracy: "Today we have the incredible privilege of having our own cultural representatives right here at Epcot. It's time to meet the representatives of the countries of World Showcase."


World Showcase Cast Members

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 World Showcase Cast Members

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Tracy: "The cultural representatives are carrying colorful banners representing the countries of World Showcase: Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, Canada, America, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico.


 World Showcase Countries

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 World Showcase Countries


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Tracy: The cultural representatives are "carrying many different types of water containers, representing famous rivers or bodies of water."

For each country, the name of the container and the body of water was announced as the processional continued.

Cultural Representative

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Morocco
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Italy

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Norway

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"The Pouring of the Water"

Mickey, Tracy, Marty, Minnie

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Music, fireworks and fountains filled the air.


World Showcase Countries

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 Music, fireworks and fountains filled the air
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 Music, fireworks and fountains filled the air
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All too soon, the rededication came to an end"�.

 Rededication winds down
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Marty Sklar and Minnie

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Mickey
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Marty and Minnie

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Jim MacPhee publicly thanked his team that created Epcot's 25th Anniversary events.

Jim MacPhee and Team

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The Celebration 25 fan group then gathered for a photo in front of the fountains and Spaceship Earth.

Celebration 25 Group Photo

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Jim MacPhee and Walt Disney World Ambassadors Michael and Lowell joined the photo op!

 Jim MacPhee and Walt Disney World Ambassadors

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October 4, 2007

Epcot's 25th Rededication Ceremony - Part 1

It really was a beautiful morning which was good since we spent a lot of time waiting. Even though Spaceship Earth remained closed for renovations, it made the perfect backdrop for the festivities against the blue sky.

I purchased a limited edition T-shirt and a Figment for myself which took quite a bit of time. So much time that I could not wait in any of the Limited Edition pin lines. (If anyone has any extra of the limited edition 25th Anniversary pins, please let me know.) From the shop I headed over to the rope drop area. My souvenir shopping put me much further back from the rope than I had hoped. Nonetheless, I was there in person and very excited!!!

Rope drop in Epcot on October 1, 2007

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We waited at the rededication location for well over an hour. It provided a wonderful opportunity to talk to those around and listen to the stories of what brought people to Epcot on this special day. Many knew the significance, some, "just followed the crowd."

Here is a photo from my spot, about 5 rows from the front, looking back toward World Showcase. It'll give you an idea of how many folks attended the ceremony.

Crowd waiting for Rededication to Begin

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AllEars® Senior Editor, Debra Martin Koma, with AllEars® Guest Columnist, Brian Martsolf.

Debra Martin Koma and Brian Martsolf

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Adam Roth (co-founder Celebration 25 one of the unofficial fan gatherings) is being interviewed for a podcast. Adam is holding an original Figment from the early 80's which belongs to Celebration 25 co-founder Jenn Waitt.

Adam Roth and Figment

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The fanfare began with Ambassador Michael taking the stage. He welcomed everyone to Epcot's 25th Rededication Ceremony...

Ambassador Michael

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... and introduced Tracy Wui, Rededication Ceremony Hostess.

Tracy Wui, Rededication Ceremony Hostess


Tracy explained that in the original dedication ceremony, one of the speakers said of Epcot, "This represents a dream come true". The original musical score played 25 years ago, We've Just Begun to Dream, was played again on this special day. And, as Tracy said, "After 25 years we can still say "we've just begun"!

As the music played, Tracy introduced Epcot Cast Members representing Future World. The processional included 2 Cast Members from each attraction, one holding a sign representing that attraction. Spaceship Earth's sign was the original icon for the attraction, followed by Innoventions, Energy, Mission Space, Test Track, Seas with Nemo and Friends, the Land and Imagination. The crowd cheered and applauded as each attraction was announced.

Parade of Future World Attraction Representatives

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Next on stage came Erin Wallace, Senior Vice President Operations Walt Disney World Resorts and Jim MacPhee, Vice President Epcot.

Erin Wallace and Jim MacPhee walk on stage.

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Jim asked for applause from everyone who was here 25 years ago when Epcot opened. He then recounted his opening day story, of being an Epcot Cast Member and working in the Parking Lot! Standing center stage at the 25th Celebration for a Cast Member who began as a parking lot cast member, certainly had to have been "A Dream Come True" for Jim as well.

Jim MacPhee

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Erin spoke of the significance of Epcot's opening in 1982, "When Epcot was built and opened, it really signaled an era of growth on this property."

Erin Wallace

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Jim: "We recognize that the heritage and tradition of our founder is woven through the fabric of everything we do here, every moment of every day.

Jim: "You can dream, create, imagine and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it requires people to make that dream a reality." He went on to say, "We have one special person, who was right next to Walt."

Jim MacPhee

Erin continued: "He began his career in 1955 working with Walt on Disneyland. He is the only Disney Cast member to participate in every opening of our 11 theme parks worldwide; named a Disney Legend in 2001, Executive Vice President and Imagineering Ambassador, Marty Sklar." The crowd broke out in a loud applause.

Mickey and Minnie escorted Marty on stage to a huge applause from the audience.

Marty Sklar escorted by Mickey and Minnie

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Marty: "Walt's vision for Epcot really set the course for everything that has happened here at Walt Disney World in the 41 years since he announced his vision."

Marty Sklar


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"The passion for excellence that Walt Disney inspired, motivated all of us, Disney Cast Members as well as the designers, engineers, architects, and film makers who joined us to dream big dreams, invent new experiences and tell new stories about the lessons of yesterday, the challenges of today, and the promise of tomorrow."

Marty Sklar


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Marty then read Card Walker's dedication of Epcot 25 years ago and added his own remarks:
"25 years ago we said, the 21st century began on October 1, 1982. Today, on October 1, 2007 we rededicate Epcot, and ourselves, to a new future that begins now. "

Marty Sklar

PART TWO

September 30, 2007

Epcot - Sunday 9/30/07 Part 2

After our lunch break, the Celebration 25 history walks reconvenied at the Living Seas, or rather, the Seas with Nemo and Friends.

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The Land... from Kitchen Kaberet to Food Rocks to Soarin'

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Journey into Imagination becomes Journey into Your Imagination.

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Spaceship Earth


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A surprise guest appearance by Epcot Vice President, Jim MacPhee.


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Epcot - Sunday 9/30/07 Part 1

For those of you wondering where the rest of Friday and all of Saturday's reports are, well, I'll have to fill them in later.

Today I want to tell you about the start of Celebration 25.
If you are just tuning in here are the previous blogs:
Part 1 - Epcot Turns 25

Journey into Imagination - a look back.

Epcot Celebrates 25 Years - a Chat with Adam Roth

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This morning registration tables opened bright and early near Epcot's Kennel facility. When I arrived it was 9:40am and other folks were also still checking in. It was a very orderly process and everything went smoothly.

Here are the Roth's checking in an attendee.

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It was at this time I met Adam Roth and Jenn Waitt, the Celebration 25 co-founders as well as other members of this amazing team. Here is a photo of Adam and myself.

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Jenn accepts an Appreciation postcard from attendee Chris.
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Matt Pezzula, event videographer, interviews a couple in front of Spaceship Earth. The team is capturing attendee memories of their first visit to Epcot.
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Today's events were primarily history walks hosted by John Corigliano (Mouse Times). John did an amazing job of keeping his presentations brief and concise. I think everyone attending probably learned some new things about the Future World attractions. John would talk about the original attraction and then how it has evolved into what you see today.

The first history walk began at 11:30 at Test Track. John spoke about the World of Motion pavilion.

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Next we went to Mission Space where John began with a discussion about Horizons.

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The final stop in the Future World East tour was at the Universe of Energy.

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Adam shares some historical facts as well.

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Before breaking for lunch, Jenn, Adam, John and Matt pose for a photo.

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Next up.... the Future World West tour and a surprise visitor!

September 26, 2007

Epcot Celebrates 25 Years A Chat with Adam Roth

This is the 3rd in a series of blogs on Epcot's 25th Anniversary.
Epcot Turns 25!
Journey to Imagination Postcards .

Less than a week from now, Epcot will be buzzing with all the excitement! Yes, the Food and Wine Festival begins this weekend, but also Epcot turns 25 on Monday, October 1st and there is a very special 2 day event called Celebration 25.

I had the pleasure recently to chat with Adam Roth, one of the co-founders of Celebration 25, an event designed to celebrate 25 years of Epcot. Adam is a 16 year old high school junior who lives in the Orlando area. Adam wasn't even born when Epcot opened. However, there is an Epcot connection with his family. Adam's father was a reporter who covered Epcot's opening and still has a pre-opening Epcot press kit!

Adam recalled for me one of his early visits to Horizons and also talked about the Journey Into Imagination attraction, especially how much he enjoyed the Image Works. In fact, his website (Dreamfinder Forever) started as a campaign to bring back Figment's buddy the Dreamfinder.

When asked what makes Disney special, Adam explained: "I'm a passholder for many of the local parks. When I look and try to compare...I can't honestly go to Universal or Sea World every weekend, but for some reason, I can go back to Disney every weekend! With Disney, I don't get bored. It's always something new for me - something new to find and to do"

Celebration 25 was actually the idea of Jenn Waitt who started a discussion on the WDWMagic message boards. She wanted to organize something to pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of Epcot. Adam offered space on his website, Dreamfinder Forever, and that was the start.

As more people registered, Jenn and Adam were busy adding more folks to their team. "It's amazing to think that 8 months have passed since we started this and we are over 1,000 people past what we imagined," Adam explained.

The Celebration 25 team is comprised of many folks. "Jenn - came up with the idea; Jason is in charge of the IllumiNations dessert party; John Corigliano is doing several history walks; Lou Mongello is an official sponsor and has provided name tags and lanyards in addition to lots of support; Jeff Pepper another sponsor is providing the printed schedule; and there are many partner websites too."

One would think Adam had lots of experience planning events, but this is the first time he's ever done anything like this. It's amazing especially when you consider that he is also keeping up with his high school AP classes and preparing for a school trip to France at the end of October.

"What about your folks?", I inquired, "What do they think of all this?" "They're amazed!", Adam said excitedly. "I first told them about it 8 months ago, that I was going to miss school on October 1st. After I explained they said 'that's fine'. As it started to grow, they said, 'We're not missing this!"

Initial plans for the event were very small with hopes to get 200 persons signed up. The IllumiNations dessert party was the first thing the group officially organized. That was the foot in the door at Epcot. Scott Powers wrote about Celebration 25 in the Orlando Sentinel and then things really took off.

All along, it's been very important to Adam that Epcot officials be aware of the group's activities. He didn't want any issues during the event. Working closely with Epcot cast members, space has even been provided near Epcot's Kennel Club for the Celebration 25 registration tables. All registered attendees will receive a lanyard/nametag and IllumiNations dessert party attendees will have a separate identifier.

And if this isn't enough, Adam made it clear to me how important having a charity associated with the event was to him and the team. Lou Mongello's Dream Team fundraiser for Make a Wish will be the charity associated with Celebration 25. All proceeds from the Celebration 25 DVD and Scrapbook and any extra from the IllumiNations dessert party will go to the Dream Team fundraiser. "Now we can do something for the community and not just Epcot."

Adam isn't sure if all 50 states are represented in the registered attendees, but he does know that there is a large group coming from the United Kingdom. There is also a couple getting married on October 1st and rather than head off to their honeymoon, they are coming to the Celebration 25 activities and the dessert party.

According to Adam, and most of this has also been reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Epcot will have several special displays/activities to celebrate 25 years!

The Epcot Gallery in Innoventions West opens October 1st for guests and promises to be a step back through the years of Epcot's history. While it is unclear how long the gallery will be open, it sounds like through the end of this year. There will be 2 sessions with Marty Sklar. All Celebration 25 registered IllumiNations dessert party attendees will have a ticket to one of the two sessions. Disney is also planning special 25th Anniversary merchandise including t-shirts and pins.

IllumiNations will have a special "tag" after the regular show which will be a one time only tribute that's 5 minutes long. Adam shared that there will be additional fireworks, lasers, music from Epcot's past (Tapestry of Nations) and possibly Spaceship Earth used as a canvas.

And....when it's all said and done, Adam wants "to remember this as something I had a part in. I think that everyone who has been involved and everyone who has signed up has made this event so strong... I"m proud to be involved. This is one of those times we can say to Disney; this does mean something to us! I know that our presence has reminded them in a friendly way, that we do care."

I, and many others, will be in Epcot Sunday and Monday to be part of all the excitement! See you there!

July 28, 2007

The Magic of Meets

( This article was originally published in the AllEars® weekly newsletter on July 24, 2007.)

The Magic of Meets!

by Deb Wills,
ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief

Having recently returned from MagicMeets, an incredible weekend in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, I was finding it very difficult to "put pen to paper" and get my thoughts and emotions written to share them with you. Every time I sat down to write, I found myself staring at the screen, wondering where to start. An overdose of Pixie Dust will do that to you! You know what I'm taking about, right? Like when you come home from a Disney trip and images of Mickey and Donald and the Queen of Hearts and Alice are still dancing in your head, but you don't exactly know how to describe it?

Then, I received an email from reader Teddy Beaver that put things into perspective for me:

"I just want to tell AllEars®subscribers that if you read this newsletter or Mouseplanet or PassPorter or any of the other fine websites, books, e-newsletters, etc., do not ever hesitate to attend functions they sponsor or tell us about. I have read over the years about MouseFest, MagicMeets, trips, gatherings, whole bunches of stuff that they have invited us readers to. Well, finally, this past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending MagicMeets. WOW! What a blast! The whole day was fun and informative. But I have to say, the high point was meeting all these folks who week-after-week share and spread Disney magic. The Debs, Mike Scopa, Fred Block, the Marxes, and just too many to mention, ALL were friendly, welcoming and truly made us feel part of the experience. My warmest, sincere thanks to all of our publishing friends who bring us a little bit of magic all year round. It was great being with people who not only 'get it,' they make it happen!"


THAT, as my dear friend Mike Scopa said during his keynote talk at Magic Meets, is "Why We Do What We Do."

We do it because we still believe in spreading the Magic -- the Magic that we find at Walt Disney World and want to carry with us in our day-to-day lives.

So what exactly was MagicMeets? It was rather like a mini-convention, a gathering of Disney lovers who wanted to get a little "fix" without making the trip to Orlando. There were keynote speeches in the ballroom; 12 breakout sessions on everything from Home Imagineering to dining at Disney to what it's like to be a Cast Member; Segways available for trial in the conference center area; webmasters and book authors and others on hand to discuss all manner of things Disney; a kids' area; a wonderful luncheon -- and it was all broadcast live on the web via folks who usually bring you Disney podcasts. And, for those who stayed through the weekend, let's not forget the adventure to nearby Hershey Park on Sunday when we had our own chocolate-covered version of Extra Magic Hour.

Every person I saw on Saturday at the MagicMeets event had a huge smile on his or her face. Whenever I asked someone how the day was going, "Outstanding!" was the typical response. If we could have harnessed the energy from the laughter alone, Monster's Inc. style, who knows what we could have accomplished.

Since I returned home, I've heard story after story of heartfelt joy, surprise and magic from that day. I'm sure every attendee has his or her own special memories. Here are just a few of mine:

-- talking with a gentleman who came up to me and reminded me that I had met him at Walt Disney World some time ago when he was in a wheelchair. He thanked me for my kindness that day.

-- hearing the giggles of Beci and Annette from MouseFanTravel after they tossed pixie dust on a woman and awarded a ticket to a private party for this December's MouseFest.

-- hugging two ladies I met several years ago in the Magic Kingdom while waiting for the Christmas parade, as they excitedly told me they would be sailing on the cruise I'm hosting along with Steve Barrett (the "Deb and Steve Cruise") in September 2008.

-- seeing the breast cancer survivor I met two years ago at this event. At the end of the day, this woman approached me and I immediately remembered her. We hugged, shared a few private words and then gleefully looked into the camera for a photographic record of our brief encounter.

-- being convinced we were going to float in the air with Peter Pan and Wendy when the couple bidding on tickets to a special IllumiNations party I am co-hosting in December ran up to me to tell me they had WON!

Topping off all these memories is the one I've saved for last: More than 110 items were donated, packaged, and brought to the MagicMeets event this year for a silent auction, with the proceeds to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Under the guiding hands of Lou Mongello, of DisneyWorldTrivia.com, and Pat Whitson, auction coordinator for the project, "Dream Team" volunteers assembled an auction area that looked incredibly professional in the hopes of raising enough money to send one family to Walt Disney World ($6,000). Through the generosity of the 520 people gathered in that ballroom in Camp Hill that day, a grand total of $9,000 was raised! When the total was announced, there were many folks dabbing their eyes with tissues and many others were speechless.

Mike Scopa summed up what I was feeling: "I walked over to the silent auction area as Fred (Block) was doing more prize giveaways. I saw the total money raised -- $9,000 -- and grabbed Pat (Whitson) and started crying. Amidst all that was given the attendees during this special day they had turned around and had given back. I was so moved."

The power of the Disney community is incredible. Lou and Pat -- many of us are already thinking of creative donations for the 2008 auction so we can break five figures!

Kudos to the folks who donated items, and to all the folks who bid on items. Everyone who attended deserves a huge round of applause. And I mean everyone.

Did you know that everyone who attended MagicMeets purchased a ticket? That included each speaker -- each paid all his or her own expenses. Each table holder paid a sponsor fee in support of the event. We all gave of our time freely, so that all attendees would have a day to remember. I believe we achieved that and much more.

Speaking of applause, I want to be sure to acknowledge Fred Block, the mastermind of this event -- he outdid himself. Fred is supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters, who willingly (OK, maybe not that willingly) made their own sacrifices so that their husband/father could spend countless hours/weeks/months putting together the MagicMeets gathering. I'd like to also thank everyone who stopped by the AllEars® table to express their thanks for the website, newsletter and blogs. Team Members Deb Koma and Linda Eckwerth worked very hard all day to keep things flowing at the table. To everyone who attended my talk, "Ahoy Mateys, Disney Cruises for Adults" -- we had a great time, didn't we? Many thanks to my team and the MouseFanTravel.com folks for assisting with the presentation.

Just before the MagicMeets event, I was really tired, burning the candle at both ends. I found myself falling asleep every night on the living room couch, dragging out of bed at 5 a.m. when the alarm went off... make that 5:25 after I hit the snooze button two or three times. I'd been spending the last few weeks very busy on the final prep for MagicMeets, gathering swag to pass out, putting finishing touches on the gift baskets for giveaways (Linda Eckwerth gets special kudos for these), deciding on decorations for my "Ahoy Mateys!" break-out session, finding last-minute goodies for the Make-A-Wish silent auction, packing everything up...

And then I went to MagicMeets, and that made it all seem worthwhile. Yes, I came back from Camp Hill still physically tired (I think those late nights staying up after midnight had something to do with that), but mentally I was rejuvenated. My batteries have been totally RECHARGED and I feel the creative juices pumping again.

You see, while the umbrella under which we gathered was Disney, MagicMeets really has as its underpinning -- Magic. The smiles and laughter, hugs and tears, sharing in the joys of friendship are what make MagicMeets special.

We hope you'll consider joining in the Magic of MagicMeets along with us next year.

July 14, 2007

MagicMeets Saturday Update

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MagicMeets - More Friday Night

The alarm going off at 5:30am this morning was just plain "rude", LOL. Especially since we didn't get to bed until after midnight last evening. There is SO much going on and so many people here, you don't want to stop.

At 7:15, the sponsors and speakers have breakfast with Fred to go over all last minute items and run thru the day's events. I know once it starts.... it'll be like a roller coaster.

We have to have our tables all set up for the doors to open at 10am!

Here are some additional photos from last night's VIP reception.
Mike Scopa (WDWToday, MousePlanet, AllEars), Dave Card (Tagrel), Debbie Koma (All Ears)

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Ann, Deb, Carolyn and Jill


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Folks enjoying the refreshments.


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Mike Scopa and friends.

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MagicMeets Friday Evening

What a day! It's almost midnight and we haven't stopped since we got here around 3pm. Waves of folks are checking into the hotel. It's hard to walk 5 feet without running into someone who is here for the event.

We spent our afternoon setting up our tables and meeting and greeting all the folks we haven't seen in a long time. The ballroom looks awesome!!!

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Pat and Tracy begin to set up the Dream Team auction area.

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Debbie Koma and I set up the breakout room for tomorrow's talk on the Disney Cruise Line.

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A few of us had dinner at the hotel restaurant and then got ready for the VIP reception. Fred Block asked everyone who had booked 2 or more nights at the hotel to send in their name for a random drawing of 40 persons. The VIP reception had lots of perks, but the big one was checking in for the Sat meet in advance. No waiting in line!

Here's Colleen and some of the other staff of volunteers that were checking in folks who won tickets to the VIP reception.

 Colleen and some of the other staff of volunteers

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Fred welcomes everyone to the VIP reception.

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July 13, 2007

Magic Meets - Friday Morning Update

9:30am -- Just spoke to Fred on the phone. Things are going great.

Here is Fred's morning report:

Just woke up a little while ago. We were in the ballroom late last night getting a head start on things. Screens and projectors needed to be setup and fine tuned and audio systems had to be turned up and tested.

Mike Scopa, Mike Newell, Lou Mongello, two very helpful volunteers ( Jim Felty and Brad Garfinkel) and myself all worked in the ballroom with setup.

Shortly after midnight we were joined by Beci Mahnken who flew in from Seattle WA. She gave me one heck of a bear hug! It's GREAT to see friends again!

Trying to remember what else as I'm still not completely awake but alas, as has been said, THERE IS WORK TO DO!

Today I will be doing more work in the ballroom and also preparing for most of the sponsors and speakers to arrive. Being that some people got a head start setting up yesterday, those arriving today find extra hands to help out.

Aside from setting up the ballroom and breakout rooms, we also have to prepare for our first (hopefully annual) Friday Night Pre Meet VIP Party.

Well that's all for now, I'll try to get some more to you all later if I can squeeze in a fraction of time from my loaded schedule.

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Deb's Update
Last night Linda and I were busy doing last minute touches on everything. We are both working this morning and then will head home around lunch time to pack the car and head out. Of course, packing the car is not as easy as it sounds. We have 4 gift baskets (yes 4) that will be given away at the meet, plus AllEars® Swag, plus decorations for my breakout talk.

Also, we are bringing several Disney posters that will be on easils at the AllEars tables. These posters are "for sale" with all monies going to the DreamTeams' Make a Wish fundraiser. The posters are very cool - I'll try to get some pics up later.

We are only about 90 minutes from Harrisburg so the ride will, hopefully, go quickly.

Today we will probably run around like little kids -- screaming with delight to see our dear friends again.... and meeting lots of new folks.

I'll be checking in again later this afternoon once we arrive at the hotel. Will also see if I can get a couple blog interviews with folks who have already arrived.

Hold onto your hats and glasses folks - this here is the "wildest" ride in the universe.

Deb

July 12, 2007

Magic Meets - Thursday Afternoon Update

Photos being sent live from cell phones.

Mike Scopa has arrived in Harrisburg.

Fred just called.. he's **so** excited. "All the months and months of planning are coming together. You can already feel the Disney Magic in the air."

He's got a busy afternoon still. Headed now over to one of the Sponsors, Kathy's Christmas, that is holding a special "after meet" event on Saturday.

After that, he and Mike Scopa are going to pick up the PA equipment and get started setting it up in the ballroom.

Fred said the hotel did a great job setting up the huge ballroom -- "now it's our turn to sprinkle it with Pixie Dust."

Some meet attendees, including some of the volunteer staff, have begun to arrive. They are being greeted in the hotel lobby by the Welcome to MagicMeets signage!

Fred recently spoke to the Lou Mongello, afternoon keynote speaker, and he's on his way from New Jersey and plans to arrive this evening.

The last thing Fred said to me was: Hang on Deb -- The Ride is About to Start!!"

Here's Mike next to one of the MagicMeets Signs at the Hotel.!

Mike Scopa Arrives at Magic Meets

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Fred Block and Mike Scopa

Fred Block and Mike Scopa

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Fred Block on his segway
Fred Block on his segway


MagicMeets - Pre-Meet setup

MagicMeets Organizer Fred Block arrived in Harrisburg yesterday. As chairperson, he needed to get to the hotel a few days early to make sure everything is as planned. Those of you who have run events know how those last minute items always get you!

Fred tells me he has a busy day planned including meeting with the hotel conference staff this afternoon.

Here's an early photo of the ballroom as the setup begins.

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MagicMeets Ballroom Setup
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Scheduled to arrive in Harrisburg today is morning keynote speaker Mike Scopa and MEI - MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken.

Fred promises to call me later with more updates.


July 2, 2007

Getting Ready for MagicMeets!

All Ears is a Platinum Sponsor of MagicMeets

In less than 2 weeks time, I'll be in Harrisburg PA for Fred Block's MagicMeets event! This will be my 3rd appearance at MagicMeets and the 4th meet overall. I'm getting really excited.

The 2006 Ballroom Buzzes with Excitement

I know, some of you are wondering, what exactly is MagicMeets. For those of you who have had the good fortune to attend a December MouseFest, think of MagicMeets as one day of MouseFest. Now that you have that image in your minds, condense it into 8 hours in a huge ballroom, with 500 of your closest Disney internet buds, well known Disney-related Authors and Webmasters and well, you get the idea. But let me back up a bit....

MagicMeets began 4 years ago (then called DisMeets) by Disney fan- extraordinaire Fred Block. Held in a small ballroom in North Jersey, approximately 40 folks gathered for several hours of a concentrated Disney Fix. Speakers that year were WDW Trivia book author and webmaster, Lou Mongello and John Rick, founder of the Central Jersey Pin Traders group. It was such a huge success, that Fred wanted to build on it to become a Mid-Atlantic day of Disney.

Fred Block, Deb Wills, Mike Scopa

The 2005-2006 meets were held in Allentown PA - kind of a central point Fred discovered on a map as he tried to find a location central to folks in Ohio and Pa as well as the northeast and Maryland and Virginia. Over 350 fans attended in 2006 and enjoyed 2 keynote speakers, a total of 9 breakout sessions and a day full of fun and magic.

Fred's event quickly outgrew the Allentown Crown Plaza facilities and he spent much of last fall and winter scouring the mid-Atlantic for a new venue. After months of research and discussions, he decided upon the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center in Harrisburg, PA, just 20 minutes from Hershey Park's chocolate world. The Radisson offers a separate conference facility with a huge ballroom and breakout rooms. The conference area is just across the parking lot (a short walk) from the main part of the resort where you will find the guest rooms, front desk, and restaurant and lounge.

The morning keynote speaker for the 2007 Magic Meets will be none other than Mike Scopa (columnist on MousePlanet, co-host on the WDW Today Podcast and AllEars blogger). Mike hasn't disclosed his theme yet, but he promises to have some Disney Magic :) When I asked Mike to tell me what MagicMeets has become for him, he explained, "After experiencing the 2006 DisMeets I was convinced that along with Mousefest that MagicMeets will also be a must do on my calendar every year. The enthusiasm, the energy, the people, and the "Disney Magic" I discovered that weekend has hooked me forever."


Steve Barrett Mike's talk will be followed by 3 separate breakout sessions with speakers including: Len Testa (Unofficial Guide), Dave Marx (Passporter Guide Books), Steve Barrett (Hidden Mickeys), Tim Foster (author), John Rick (Central Jersey Pin Traders), Sharla Whalen (scrapbooking and photography), Kevin Fonner (Home Imagineering), Annette Owens (travel planner) and Becky King (former Cast Member).

After lunch, the afternoon keynote speaker Lou Mongello (one of only 2 speakers to attend all 4 meets) will talk about the Seven Wonders of Disney World. I've seen a few of Lou's mini articles on this topic and it should be a great one.

WDW Today podcast hosts Mike Newell and Matt HochbergBut wait, there's more!!!!!

Several activities also run concurrent to the day's schedule that you'll want to know about.
First, the guys from WDWToday Podcast will be broadcasting live; much like they did in 2006. There will also be a special segment where you can call in during the afternoon. Be sure to tune in and listen to Matt Hochberg, Len Testa, Mike Newell and Mike (will he lose his voice) Scopa and their special guests! For details visit the WDW Today website!

Also, is the 2nd annual DisneyWorldTrivia.com "Dream Team" silent auction! Over 110 lots of new and collectible Disney merchandise will be auctioned to raise money to send children with life-threatening illnesses on a Walt Disney World vacation. This year's recipient is the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America through Firstgiving.org. In 2006, the Dream Team was able to sponsor the wishes of two children through the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation of NY/NJ/CT to go to Walt Disney World. Over $3,800 was raised at the MagicMeets silent auction!

Dream Team Final Total Pat Whitson, Dream Team 2007 Auction Coordinator, told me: "I'm really hoping to blow that $3800 total from last year out of the water. We have so much more to offer - more merchandise, more variety, better quality overall. Firstgiving makes it a lot easier for us to collect the funds, encourages more people to donate, and distributes the money directly to Make-A-Wish. Our donations page is at http://www.firstgiving.com/dwtdreamteam.

This year's MagicMeets event also has some new activities that will be sure to put smiles on everyone's faces.

Friday night is a special VIP event. Hosted by MouseFanTravel.com, AllEars.net, and MagicMeets, 40 adults staying 2 nights or more at the host hotel will be selected by random drawing for special perks. In addition to limited merchandise, attendees will be able to get their event registration completed so no long lines on Saturday!


Also at Saturday's Magic Meets will be Segway of Central PA! Fred plans on bringing his own personal Segway to the meet as well! Saturday evening Sharla Walen will be hosting a Scrapbooking Meet.

AllEars Linda Eckwerth and Deb Wills
Oh and did I mention that there are author, webmaster and vendor tables located around the ballroom too!

On Sunday over 145 attendees will be heading to Hershey Park for a day of amusement park fun and games.

I recently spoke with Fred and asked what his hopes are for the 2007 meet: -This year's event brings lots of new things that I'm really excited about. It's the first year we are doing the Friday night VIP Party and it's also the first year we will have MagicMeets pins. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of new, and returning, friendly faces and having an overall good time."

Last, and certainly not least, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the tireless volunteer staff that Fred has assembled that help make the event run smooth as silk.

I'm ready for a weekend of Disney and excitement, seeing dear friends again and meeting new ones. I hope to see you there!

If you weren't one of the lucky folks to snag a ticket before the event sold out, you can follow the activities right here in Blog Central! Mike Scopa will be posting daily blogs as will Deb. There will also be a laptop at the AllEars table so folks can blog live on our Guest Blog about the experience!

IMPORTANT: Magic Meets is SOLD OUT and there will be NO walkup tickets available. You must be a registered, paid, ticket holding participant to get your event day credentials and entrance to all the sessions. The 2007 event sold out hours after Fred announced it. So if you want to attend next year, i suggest you go to his website and sign up for the newsletter!!!

Hope to see you there!


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About Special Disney Events

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