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Disney in the Community Archives

June 20, 2016

Disney fan clubs have captured people's imaginations, and fueled their passion, for years

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The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet planning committee. That's founder Don Morin, second from the right. [Courtesy of the Northwest Pacific Mouse Meet]

CHUCK SCHMIDT / Still Goofy about Disney
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

During the weekend of May 14-15, 2011, I attended my first Disney fan convention. I walked through the doors of the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center at Walt Disney World at 8 on that Saturday morning and stepped into a different version of Disney's world ... a world populated by people wearing Mickey Mouse ears and Figment T-shirts, Disney-themed leather jackets and multi-colored vests adorned with the faces of Disney characters ... a world where nostalgia and memories were about to be rekindled and celebrated, with the help of many of the people who played such an integral role in generating all those warm memories in the first place.

I was walking into D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World's 40th. Even though I was a first-time fan event attendee, I felt a kinship with all those in attendance and anxiously looked forward to drinking in everything the two-day experience had to offer.

It turned out I was late on this very important date. Even though the first of the speakers and presenters wouldn't take the stage for another hour and a half, the queue stretched farther than the eye could see, from one side of the massive entrance lobby to the other, then around a corner and beyond. I walked to the end of the line, official event lanyard dangling from my neck, and joined the others, who didn't seem to mind the long line at all.

After the doors opened and everyone filed into the massive auditorium, I began to understand what all the excitement was about: What followed was a weekend worthy of an E Ticket park attraction: Exciting, thrilling, fun and entertaining, with memories that will truly last a lifetime.

D23, of course, is the official fan club of The Walt Disney Company. It was formed in 2009 as a way to keep Disney fans "in the middle of the magic." The group has its own website, throws a huge biennial Expo in California and even publishes its own magazine four times a year.

At each D23 Expo, the past, the present and the future all share the spotlight during the always jammed-to-the-rafters event in Anaheim, Calif. Disney Legends reminisce about their glory days, product displays give attendees an idea of what's hot on the market now, while Disney's top executives take the opportunity to introduce new theme park attractions or upcoming blockbuster movies to appreciative audiences.

In addition to its Expo, D23 offers a variety of events around the country for its members, including behind-the-scenes tours and exclusive movie screenings. On Nov. 19-20, they'll be hosting a major event at Walt Disney World. It's called Destination D: Amazing Adventures, to be held in the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. Presenters and panelists will include Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Tony Baxter; Walt Disney Imagineers Joe Rohde, Chris Merritt, Jason Grandt and Wyatt Winter; producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast); and Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline. A selection of exclusive Imagineering merchandise as well as limited-edition pins, T-shirts and collectibles themed to the event will be available for purchase by eager fans.

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Disney Legend Marty Sklar signs a copy of his first book, "Dream It! Do It!", during an appearance at a Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. [Courtesy of the Northwest Pacific Mouse Meet]

But D23 is far from the only Disney fan club out there. Regular gatherings, whether they are once a year, every other year or every few months, are the hallmarks of these groups ... as is their affection for all things Disney. They get together to share that mutual love, reveling in the past while keeping a watchful eye on what's planned for the future.

One of the most popular fan gatherings, the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet, is held in Lynnwood, Wash., outside of Seattle, each year [it'll run from July 9-10]. Guest speakers this year include Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar, as well as Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin. In addition to its main event, the group also hosts smaller 'mini-Meet Ups' throughout the year both locally, in the parks and at other select locations, including at the D23 Expo.

Founded in 2009 by Don Morin, the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet strives to capture the essence of what it means to be a Disney devotee. Morin is proud to say his Mouse Meet is "by Disney fans, for Disney fans."

Morin's love of Disney began in 1974 when his grammar school class was asked to write a report on a famous person from the 1900s. He chose Walt Disney. The experience "had a profound affect on me, for sure," he said. From that point on, with his Disney switch flipped, "I had a desire to learn who was creating all this magic."

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Stacia Martin, an artist and Disney historian, will be featured during this year's Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. [Courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet]

The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet grew out of that quest to take a deep dive into Disney history and culture. Morin says he devotes hundreds of hours into giving guests as rewarding an experience as possible; he has many hard-working volunteers helping him to achieve that goal. The work includes "prep on so many levels. Contacting vendors and guest celebrity speakers; working with the convention center and the volunteer team; updating the website; planning, building displays and securing photo ops; writing, producing and recording videos, scripts, travel, set-up and so much more. It's definitely a love and a passion for what I do for Disney fans."

This year's event is already sold out, with a crowd of about 500 fellow Disney fanatics expected to be on hand for presentations, product displays, memorabilia sales and, as an added treat, Dole Whips.

Marty Sklar, the former creative leader of Walt Disney Imagineering, has high praise for the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet and Don Morin.

"It's the second time for me, and I know it is for Bob [Gurr]. Don Morin runs such a great show and is a grand host. He's had Tony Baxter, Don Hahn, Kevin Rafferty and many other Disney and Pixar people participate in the past."

Getting Disney's blessing is a major coup for Morin. In 2015, D23 participated in the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet by supplying guest speakers. This year, D23 will be a sponsor. [The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet has a number of sponsors, including AllEars.Net].

"Earning the respect and partnership of so many people over the years has been key to longevity, growth and building of the PNW Mouse Meet brand," Morin said. "From early on, guest celebrities have been so impressed with the event, how it is run, what it represents and what it offers the guests, that these guest celebrities go back home and talk to others about the event and even recommend them being a part of the event in the future.

"One Disney Legend has been noted as stating several times, 'The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet is by far the best fan run Disney fan event in the country.'"

During the 2013 event, Morin presented a donation to Marty Sklar earmarked for Ryman Arts, a cause near and dear to Marty's heart [he and his wife Leah, as well as Lucille Ryman Carroll, Sharon Disney Lund and Harrison and Anne Shaw Price founded the arts education group in 1990 in honor of Disney Legend Herb Ryman].

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A poster advertises the upcoming Disneyana Fan Club event where proceeds will benefit Ryman Arts. [Courtesy of Disneyana Fan Club]

Another well-known Disney fan group, the Disneyana Fan Club, will be holding a dinner and fundraising event of its own on July 13 in Garden Grove, Calif., with proceeds also going to Ryman Arts. "This event is our 'big' fundraiser for Ryman Arts," said Dennis Ritchey, Ryman Arts Fund Raising Event Coordinator for the Disneyana Fan Club. "This will be our 10th year doing this and currently we are about $4,000 away from having donated $100,000 to Ryman Arts over the past 10 years." The club also holds fundraisers throughout the year for other worthy causes.

The Disneyana Fan Club is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich legacy of Walt Disney. Its common goal is to provide Disneyana enthusiasts of all ages from around the world with news, information and events that enhance their experience with, and love of, all things Disney. The group also publishes a member newsletter, called the Disneyana Dispatch.

The Disneyana Fan Club holds an annual gathering, called DisneyanaMania Convention, July 13-16, while staging other events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

"In addition to our annual convention in July, we usually have several special events," Ritchey noted. "Last year, we had an event at the Smoke Tree Ranch, and a great afternoon at the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood, where Lisa Henson accepted our Legends Award posthumously for her father."

Cathy Perrone, a Disneyana Fan Club board member in charge of special events, adds that the group "hosts events that showcase some of the finest talent the Disney brand has to offer. ... A recent outing was a weekend at Walt's 'happy place,' Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs. Our group was able to see Walt and Lillian's two homes, learning why they were so special to them."

Ms. Perrone added that Disneyana Fan Club prides itself "in bringing 'intimate' experiences so our members and their guests are able to speak to, shake hands with and, yes, get autographs and pose for pictures" with some of Disney's most prominent Legends.

"One of our personal favorites was a magnificent luncheon in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel. There, we were treated to a rare opportunity with eight of the original Mouseketeers. They surprised us with interviews, live music and dance. To top off that special day, Tommy Cole sang 'Annette,' which was written by Disney Legend Jimmy Dodd."

At its DisneyanaMania Convention, "we have an annual Luncheon with a Disney Legend. This is an opportunity for our organization to honor and salute those individuals who have helped make so many of our dreams come true through their talents, skills and artistry.

"We began this tradition in 1993 and to date have bestowed this honor to 137 individuals," Ms.Perrone added. "While a few have been presented posthumously, I'd say 98 percent of all those honored were able to attend in person and were very moved by this honor. It is a highlight of our club and one that makes it very special."

According to Ritchey, "there are Disneyana Fan Club chapters throughout the country and we have members worldwide."

There are other clubs out there, as well ... smaller, less well-known, perhaps, but drawing devoted Disney fans to the fold. Many are popular online sites, some are tied to the Disney Vacation Club, like Mouseowners. But all have one thing in common: A desire by its participants to spread the word about Disney and share their thoughts, ideas and opinions about their passion.

November 17, 2014

Rhode Island Comic Con

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by J. Scott Lopes
AllEars Guest Blogger

If you don't think you can find much Disney at a Comic Con event, think again! Over the weekend of November 1-2, the Rhode Island Comic Con was held at the RI Convention Center. This was the third year of the event and was the biggest so far.

Besides meeting Star Trek stars such as William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig, I decided to set off on a mission to find as many Disney-related things there that I could.

The Stars

There were numerous stars on hand over the weekend, including many who have Disney ties. Rebecca Mader, an English actress who played the role of Wicked Witch of the West in ABC-TV's Once Upon a Time, was at the event signing autographs for a long line of fans.

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Christy Carlson Romano, voice of Disney Channel's old show Kim Possible, was also on hand to sign autographs and record voicemail messages. I was able to speak to her briefly before the show floor was open to the general admission ticketholders, and she discussed with me how she liked working for Disney and tries to keep in touch with them. She is also working on a new TV movie, Where Fate Meets.

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Brian Muir, a famous sculptor who created the Darth Vader helmet and armor, talked to me about how it took about a month to create the costume. He is currently working on the new Star Wars VII movie but was unable to comment further on that. He has also worked on other Disney/Marvel Comics movies, such as Guardians of the Galaxy.

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There were other personalities, too, such as Michael Kingma, who played a Wookiee in Star Wars: Episode III, and other illustrators and artists.

The Merchandise

There were many opportunities to purchase Disney-related items and artwork. From prints, to Frozen-inspired jewelry, to patches with Disney princesses -- there were items that would appeal to fans from all branches of the Disney universe, including Star Wars and Marvel Comics fans.

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The Fans

Cosplay, the art of dressing up as your favorite character, is another popular thing to do at Comic Con. Here are a few folks who dressed up as characters with Disney affiliations:

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Kids Con

Also at the convention, there was an area that had many sessions devoted to kids' interests. There was even a story time with Disney princesses, Frozen characters and Merida from Brave.

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Everything Else

There were also many replicas on display as well, such as a replica of a truck from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Star Wars, too, was well-represented, with a replica of a landspeeder from Star Wars on hand, as well as an R2D2 roaming the halls.

I wanted to get in on the action, so for a small donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation I was able to jump into a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark and swap the idol!


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Overall, this was a great event, and I am looking forward to going again next year. It's going to be a huge undertaking to top this year's event! This event is one that every Disney and Marvel comic fan should attend.

September 28, 2014

The Disney Wilderness Preserve

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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and how you can be a Conservation Hero. While I was browsing the Internet, doing research for the blog, I came across an intriguing web page. The headline read "Butterflies by Swamp Buggy at Disney Wilderness Preserve"

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My first thought was, "What better way to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of nature than by chasing butterflies through a wilderness preserve with a swamp buggy?"

My mind drifted back about 15 years to the vacation Carol and I enjoyed at Pelee Island, Canada's southernmost point.

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Every summer Pelee Island is teeming with Giant Swallowtail butterflies and we spent a glorious, sunny summer afternoon snapping pictures of swallowtails. I still have vivid memories of Carol, camera in hand, bounding through farm fields following flitting butterflies. Butterflies can flit faster than Carol can bound so her antics kept me entertained all afternoon!

My second thought was, "Disney Wilderness Preserve? What's that?"

Did you know that there is a big Disney conservation project just minutes from Walt Disney World?

You are not alone . . . neither did I. Not many people are aware of the Disney Wilderness Preserve, just 15 miles from Walt Disney World. It's at 2700 Scrub Jay Trail in Kissimmee.

It's a huge preserve, about 12,000 acres - almost 19 square miles!

The project began in 1992, before the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was established. The Walt Disney Company heard that an 8,500 acre cattle ranch located at the head of the Greater Everglades Watershed was going to be re-zoned for extensive residential and commercial development. This would have destroyed a huge tract of natural wetlands, as well as habitat for many endangered plants and wildlife.

Disney acted quickly and quietly to preserve this sensitive property. Working with The Nature Conservancy, the State of Florida, and a number of other groups, The Walt Disney Company purchased the property to mitigate its expansion and transferred it to the Conservancy. They were instrumental in the creation of a nature preserve dedicated to wetlands conservation on an unprecedented scale. After the initial purchase The Walt Disney Company provided funds for restoration and wildlife monitoring on the property and they continue to endow a number of on-site projects.

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How successful has the project been? On their web site, The Nature Conservancy refers to it as "A Model Preserve" and goes on to say, "Land that was heavily logged and ranched for decades has been restored to very near to its original state and once again resembles the descriptions left by the area's first Spanish missionaries."

Sounds good to me - sensitive wetlands preserved as natural animal habitat rather than littered with factories, roads, houses and strip malls. Just another heroic initiative that makes me proud to be a Disney fan!

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But let's get back to the swamp buggy and the butterflies. I mentioned the web site to Carol; she immediately said, "We're there in October, let's sign up!" So we did!

This is one of many events which makes up Central Florida NatureFest, an Outdoor and Photography Festival organized each year by the Central Florida Visitor's and Convention Bureau. The cost is a mere $5.00 per person!

Here's how they described it. "Fall is the best time for butterflies in our area when wildflowers are abundant. Disney Wilderness Preserve is a mosaic of habitats such as marshes, lake edges, open meadows, flat woods and roadsides. All of these areas are attractive to butterflies. To be expected here are swallowtails, sulphurs, hairstreaks, crescents, fritillaries, skippers and more.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve is a vast and beautiful natural site and the best way to travel in these parts is by Swamp Buggy. So all aboard the Swamp Buggy and be ready to hang-on while your guides point out butterflies and nature's beauty. This is a spectacular excursion that everyone can enjoy."

Our friend and fellow Fort Wilderness camper Al, from Missouri is joining us. Carol is keen on the butterflies but Al and I are really looking forward to that swamp buggy ride!

I hope to do a blog about the Butterfly/Swamp Buggy adventure so stay tuned! If I can get any good action shots of Carol bounding after butterflies I'll be sure to include them!

In the meantime, here are a few pictures provided by VisitCentralFlorida.org and The Nature Conservancy.

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Giant Swallowtail

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Zebra Swallowtail

Can you enjoy the Disney Wilderness Preserve? Yes, you can. The preserve is open daily Sunday-Friday (closed Saturdays and most major holidays) 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. There is no entry fee, but donations are always welcome.

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The 2 1/2 mile hiking loop takes you past the shore of Lake Russell and then offers a closer look at the preserve's natural communities. What will you see? The landscape and foliage includes: cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, scrub, flatwoods and oak hammocks.

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Lake Russell at Reedy Creek

There is a rejuvenated longleaf pine forest with a lush understory of native grasses, saw palmetto and other shrubs. The rejuvenation is the result of "prescribed fire" on the land. They have used "controlled burns" to remove invasive plants that are not native to the area. These fires have resulted in an amazing return to the type of pine forests those first Spanish missionaries saw.

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Key flowers include the fall-flowering ixia, Catesby's lily and terrestrial orchids.

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Rose Rush

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Pickerel Weed

Animal life includes bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stork, sandhill crane, northern harrier and crested caracara. The preserve is also home to the southeastern big-eared bat, Sherman's fox squirrel, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The Florida panther has even been documented crossing the site!

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Read about the Disney Wilderness Preserve HERE.

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Next time you visit Walt Disney World, set aside a day for a hike at the Disney Wilderness Preserve.

It looks awesome, I cannot wait to experience it first-hand!



Sincere thanks to VisitCentralFlorida.org and The Nature Conservancy for agreeing to share their photos!

August 31, 2014

Be A Conservation Hero

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Are you a Conservation Hero?

Do you own any of these?

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If your answer was "Yes" - you are a Conservation Hero!

Do you own any of these?

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If your answer was "Yes" - you are a Conservation Hero!

Have you ever tossed a coin in here?

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If your answer was "Yes" - you are a Conservation Hero!

You didn't know that you were a hero? Most people don't . . . but when you buy those conservation buttons, when you press those pennies or when you toss coins in a Disney fountain you are making a donation to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. And your contribution is bigger than you think it is! I'll explain how it all works, but first here's a bit of preamble:

The Walt Disney Company takes their social responsibility very seriously and have developed a comprehensive environmental policy as a key component of their corporate culture.

This is how they explain it on their web site: "Acting responsibly is an integral part of our brand. It strengthens the connection we have with consumers, makes our company a more desirable place to work, and helps us attract the very best and brightest to join our global cast. It builds goodwill in the communities in which we operate. All of these things contribute to The Walt Disney Company's continued growth and success."

One of the six key factors in their statement of business ethics reads as follows: "Environmental Stewardship: Use resources wisely and protect the planet as we operate and grow our business"

You can read more about Disney's Corporate Ethics Policy HERE.

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The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was established April 22, 1995 (Earth Day) and since that time they have awarded over 1,000 grants totalling over $24 million to fund environmental projects in 112 countries.

WOW! That's over half of the countries in the world!

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What sort of projects do they fund? According to the Disney web site: "Grants provide financial support for: the study of wildlife; the protection of habitats; the development of community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems; and experiences that connect kids to nature through exploration and discovery."

Here is a sampling of the animals and locations involved in 10 of the 150 projects funded in 2013:
1. Umbrellabirds - Ecuador
2. Maasailand Lions - Tanzania
3. Painted Dogs - Zimbabwe
4. Tigers - Indonesia
5. Grizzly Bears - Canada
6. Golden-Winged Warblers - United States
7. Golden-Capped Fruit Bat - Philippines
8. Cheetahs - Namibia
9. Bottlenose Dolphins - United States
10. Ploughshare Tortoises - Madagascar

Where does the money come from? This is where you come in - every time you buy a Conservation Hero Button you are donating to the fund. When you press a penny you are helping preserve our planet. When you toss a coin into a Disney fountain you are a Conservation Hero! Doesn't that make you feel good?

There are even Disney tours and experiences that support the fund. Take the Backstage Safari Tour, the Wild By Design Tour or the Wild Africa Trek and you are supporting the fund!

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Would it make you feel better if Disney were to match your donation?

Well start feeling better . . . because they do! Disney pays 100% of the overhead costs for all of the contribution streams. Every cent you pay for a button, every cent you pay for a pressed penny and every cent you toss into a fountain is fully matched by the Walt Disney Company. They even pay all of the administrative costs to operate the Conservation Fund! That means that when you donate $1.00 for a Conservation Hero button, Disney pays for the production and distribution of the button and $2.00 goes directly to a worthwhile conservation project.

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Even Rizzo and his friends volunteer their time to help collect the donations!

The Walt Disney Company very quietly and modestly does some pretty amazing things, and this is one of them! Things like the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund make me very proud to be a Disney fan!

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There are some other ways to donate, outlined in the picture above.

If you want to read more about the projects, or about other ways to contribute, click HERE and follow the DWCF Featured Links.

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So now that you know about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund . . . what are you waiting for? Get to a Disney park as soon as possible. Buy some buttons, press some pennies and toss some coins in the fountains.

Be a Conservation Hero!

October 28, 2012

New Disney Outlet Opens at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

by Scott Lopes
AllEars Guest Blogger

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I recently had the pleasure of previewing a new Disney Store Outlet during its soft opening. The store, located in Wrentham, MA, is a great addition to the portfolio of more than 300 Disney Stores located worldwide.

As soon as I entered the door I was greeted by a friendly Disney Store cast member who was eager to assist me. I could easily tell by the behavior of all the cast members that they were both excited and proud to be working at the new store. So let's take a look around the new store:

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The store stocks a variety of great items, such as Mickey and Minnie clothing and Princess Costume Collections along with Cars and Toy Story clothing.


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As with anything Disney related, there has been a lot of effort to include details such as character themed light fixtures:


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The store held a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, October 20, and gave out free Mickey ears to celebrate (Pictured below).


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May 27, 2012

D23 Fanniversary: Boston

by Scott Lopes and Monica Cesar
Photos by Scott and Barbara Lopes


It was a long awaited day for Disney fans in Boston, MA, as Disney's D23 held its third Fanniversary event on May 20 at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

(I'll stop at this point to add a disclaimer: the rest of this article contains spoilers and if you already have tickets for an upcoming Fanniversary event -- or are hoping that they add more stops on the tour -- you might want to stop reading at this point.)

We headed to Boston by train, which we think Walt would have appreciated, and arrived in Boston around 12:30 p.m. The event was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and we were let into the museum around 1:30.


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We then proceeded to the contemporary art wing, where we joined hundreds of other fans in line waiting to get into the Remis Auditorium.


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Since this was a Disney event, there were lots of little Disney details that you might expect. For example, as I walked into the museum I noticed a hidden Mickey formed by a trash can and two in-ground lights. Also, it sounded like they used the same announcer from the parks to do the pre-show countdown, making you have to think twice as to if you were in Boston or waiting to see the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom.

After arriving in line each person was handed a D23 button and D23 members received a 2012 Fanniversary pennant. After being checked off the list, we entered the auditorium. Once in the auditorium we selected our seats and I was able to take one last picture, as photography, video or audio recording were not permitted during the presentation.


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The show began with the introduction of the hosts, Becky from the Walt Disney Archives department and Jeffrey from D23. Also on hand during the presentation were cast members from local Disney stores, such as North Attleboro, MA.

It was clear from the outset that Becky and Jeffrey were passionate about Disney, and they were clearly excited to be amongst numerous Disney fans. The Fanniversary presentation consisted of a 90-minute slideshow of major Disney anniversaries being celebrated this year. The kick-off began with the 85th anniversary of the debut of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a prelude to none other than the most famous Disney character created, Mickey Mouse.

Speaking of famous Disney characters, it was also brought to the audience's attention that the lovable character of Goofy turns 83 years old this year. A special treat was provided when we got to see Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy since 1985, on the screen welcoming us D23 fans.

Disney's first color animation, Flowers and Trees, debuted 80 years ago, thus paving the way for a future of great accomplishments in the world colored animated features. One such animated feature was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White not only celebrates a 75th anniversary this year, it also accomplished a few firsts back in the day. It was the first animated film to have a soundtrack released and the first film to have merchandise associated with the film sold to the public. Fans of any generation have Walt Disney and his creation of Snow White to thank for their favorite movie dolls, cups clothes, etc.

Next on the list, the beloved Bambi made its debut 70 years ago. As Jeffrey and Becky presented in their slide, Bambi was a difficult movie to make. The artists had to work diligently to create an animated world of forest animals. These artists and others worked closely not only with Walt Disney himself, but also with the gifted group of Imagineers -- a team Walt created 60 years ago of individuals who were not only engineers, but were tasked to use their wild imagination in creating Disney products.

The last animated feature personally supervised by Walt was the Jungle Book, which debuted 45 years ago and is still a favorite among Disney fans everywhere.

Walt's Imagineers worked hard to make his vision of a futuristic environmentally conscious world in the creation of Epcot, which opened in Disney World on October 1, 1982. Walt's imagination was not contained after his untimely death: Disneyland Paris opened its doors 20 years ago and is to this day the most popular tourist destination in Europe. Many more Disney anniversaries were highlighted, proving to the fans present that the next generation of Disney fans will have much to celebrate.

It certainly would not have been a Disney fan event without hearing and seeing Walt Disney on screen in rare, never-before-seen footage of him working to create his magic.

After the event guests were able to chat with the presenters, Becky from the archives and Jeffrey from D23.


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Becky and Jeffrey were very personable and were very informative both during the presentation and after. Overall we recommend this event to any Disney fan!


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NOTE: Tickets for this event went on sale for D23 members on March 16; general admission opened on March 30. The remaining D23 Fanniversary events (Orlando on June 23, and Chicago on June 24) are sold out, however there is a waitlist for Orlando. Pricing for the event is $18 for D23 members and a guest and $25 for general admission. Fanniversary events have already been held in the following cities: Los Angeles, CA on April 27, San Francisco on April 28, Boston on May 20, and New York City on May 22.

January 18, 2012

Meeting Disney's Spin and Marty

by Pam Passwater
Guest Blogger

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Like most of us growing up in the late '50s, every afternoon found me glued to the television watching the Mickey Mouse Club and the Mouseketeers, and enjoying one of their special series. My very favorite, hands down, was The Adventures of Spin and Marty, a serial about a group of boys spending the summer at a horse ranch, the Triple R. There were picnics, trail rides, swimming, a rodeo, campfires, the infamous snipe hunt, and lots of camaraderie. Later editions featured Annette and Darlene (two of the Mouseketeers) attending a neighboring girls' ranch. Tim Considine and David Stollery starred in all of them, and the show was wildly popular.

Flash-forward to December 2011 when the World Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club in Orlando announced that its holiday party would have Spin and Marty as the special guests! I immediately signed up and got the second to the last of the 90 limited tickets, but I promise you that I would have been the first gate crasher in their history if no more were available! Ticket in hand, I began telling friends, as well as anyone who would listen to me, that I was going to meet Spin and Marty, and to a woman, they swooned, confessing their love for one or the other. No one needed an explanation of just who they were.

The evening started when we got to the Hollywood Studios and waited a few minutes for our guide to lead us through the park to the Backlot area. We looked just like those foreign tour groups, except that we were all carrying gifts for the Toys for Tots campaign. We arrived at the old prop room, which had been part of the park's old walking tour, and discovered a beautiful set-up with tables full of auction items and two tables loaded with food produced by the Disney catering company.

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My fantasy started when I barely got inside and a photographer from the Orlando Sentinel grabbed my friend and me and took our photo with David Stollery (AKA Marty)! We visited with him for about five minutes and then it was someone else's turn.

We walked around looking at the great silent and live auction items and bid on a few, with all proceeds going to Give Kids the World village in Kissimmee. Thanks to all of the generous attendees, they will receive a sizable check for their programs. After an enjoyable dinner, one of the first Disney cartoons was shown, and then Tim and David took the stage.

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Although they were both from theater families, and had worked extensively before Walt Disney discovered them, neither made a career out of acting. They told us about their lives "after Disney" and then answered audience questions; mostly about their days as Spin and Marty. They said that they didn't know how to ride before filming and had to take riding lessons every day for four months to get them ready for the show.

David worked a few more years for Disney Studios and then went back to school to get a degree in Industrial Design from The Art Center College of Design. He worked for General Motors for seven years and was then hired by Toyota to establish and manage the California first Design group. David is credited with the design of the Second Generation A-40, 1978 Toyota Celica that was named Motor Trend Import Car of the Year! He later worked on 22 other vehicles for the automotive giant. He also designed a monorail and formed his own company, which now produces high-quality fiberglass lifeguard platforms.

Tim also did more work for Disney and then played the older son, Mike, in the TV show My Three Sons, before embarking on a career as a photographer and author. His latest book, American Grand Prix Racing: a Century of Drivers and Cars, shows off his skills as an automobile historian, photographer, and writer. Several of us had pre-purchased the book and he graciously autographed them for the future recipients. (My husband is a racing buff, and he was more than pleased with it.) Tim is now a high-priced and highly prized Beverly Hills photographer.

At the end of their talks, Allan Halcrow, Disneyana Fan Club Legend Chairperson, presented Tim and David with the highly coveted Disney Legend award. Only a few of the tens of thousands of people who have worked for the Walt Disney Company have been selected to receive this, and Tim and David were both surprised and appreciative. Then they signed photos and other mementos for guests, and graciously posed for pictures.

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Local artist, Barbara Schneid, who had met Tim and David at several previous Disney events, presented them with personalized quilts depicting their varying careers while highlighting their Spin and Marty days.

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All night I was wondering why there were so many people there that I didn't know, and later I found out why -- they were from all over the country!

"It was a perfect evening," said Arlen Miller, past president of the Disneyana Fan Club World chapter. I couldn't agree more.

For information: go to www.DisneyanaFanClub.org Meetings are every other month, and the next one is in February.
For more information, Contact us at: worldchapter@disneyanafanclub.org Also visit World Chapter on Facebook at:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/95390299991/

August 31, 2011

Disney Store: New Look, Same Magic

by Emily Owens Pickle
Guest Blogger

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In 2010, Disney launched the new face of Disney Store. Disney Store was launched in 1987 and fall 2011 starts a 25-year anniversary kick-off. One of the redesigned locations opened last week near my home. While running some errands last week, my family and I decided to check out this new and improved Disney Store.

The first thing that catches your eye is a large gazebo placed in the middle of the store. It is lit in bright purple (comment below if you know why designers *most likely* chose this significant color to Disney history) and this structure draws you right into the heart of the shop.

Movie clips play continuously underneath the gazebo and there is a coloring station.

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The path through the store is very dark with glittering detail and is lined with beautifully designed 'trees'. The white trees, which are flat and have projectors mounted above on both sides, fade between projected images of a 'normal' tree, with leaves and bark, to photos of children dressed as Disney characters and the characters themselves.

The effect is wonderful!

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The theme of the store (right now) is 'i am'. It is a great melding of Disney characters and your child's imagination. This is very different from a one-way message that simply has items for sale from your favorite movies. Like the parks, the ambiance of the store was surprisingly immersive and touching.

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A recurring criticism I have heard about Disney experiences and merchandise, particularly in the Magic Kingdom, is an over-emphasis on everything princess, pink, and glittery. At the entrance, the store was halved by a main aisle. On the left was what most would term 'girly' merchandise. There was a large castle display that had a three-way mini mirror inside and the far wall was lined with almost every female Disney character costuming imaginable.

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The right side had many wonderful boys' costumes as well! Lining the far wall of the right side were pirate costumes, Peter Pan apparel and an entire Cars display complete with Lightning McQueen jumpsuits.

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As you moved toward the back of the store, there are many toy displays and fun souvenir items for sale.

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There was an adorable wall of jammies in all characters and sizes.

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The part I most enjoyed about this store was classic Disney Imagineering: magic in the detail. Along the topmost part of the wall lining the entire store, there is a running monochrome mural with many familiar Disney landmarks and figures.

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About every thirty seconds special equipment 'hidden' in the ceiling project fun images on the mural and some of these were very special " and surprising!

I was curious about the quality and uniqueness of the merchandise; would the store offer something different, especially when located so close to the Disney World property? I have spent a fair amount of time in the Disney Parks and can say that I found some very unique items in this shop.

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Prominently displayed was the brand-new Disney Princess Designer Doll. Each doll is portrayed in classic design with a new fashionable twist. Other items part of this line included make-up and china.

If you are at home feeling nostalgic, I think the Disney Store is a wonderful place to spend some time scratching your Disney-itch. Confession: you saw a few paragraphs above I said this store was located "so close to the Disney World property" -- we recently moved to the Orlando area. And though I thought the re-design of the store was great, it is really to be viewed through the eyes of the child.

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Last week when discussing our weekend plans my 4-year-old asked if we could visit the Disney Store.

Yep -- you can't get a better endorsement than that. Enjoy!



March 31, 2011

Walt Disney Pavilion Opening Ceremony - Florida Hospital for Children

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The opening ceremony and dedication of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children was on Wednesday, March 30.

I arrived early because I had allowed extra travel time since the weather was supposed to be bad and it wasn't- not that I'm complaining! When I arrived, I saw several familiar faces from Monday's tour. They gave me a wristband for the tour following the ceremony and took me over to the lawn where the ceremony would be taking place. It had a nice view of the pavilion:

Walt Disney Pavilion

A stage had been set up to use for the ceremony:

Ceremony stage

The event was very well attended by Disney Cast Members and Imagineers, hospital staff, media and patients:

Attendees

The mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, spoke first. He was very enthusiastic about the pavilion:

Mayor

Next, "When You Wish Upon a Star" was sung. The children's choir was from a local school:

Singers

The Florida Hospital for Children administrators spoke and shared inspiring stories about two young children who beat incredible odds:

Administrators

Administrators

Next, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, was introduced. He spoke of how proud Disney is to be a part of bringing a smile to children when they need it most.

Bob Iger

Mickey Mouse was on hand to help lead the choir and a local singer in singing "True Colors":

Mickey Mouse

Confetti

Grand Opening Confetti

After the ceremony, those going on the tour broke into their groups. We went many of the same places that the tour on Monday went to. For more information and pictures, please click here. One of the first places we went was the Pediatric Emergency Department:

Emergency Department

We also went to the savanna-themed floor:

Savanna themed floor

On this tour, we got to see one of the pediatric ICU rooms.

Pediatric ICU

I left the hospital through the main lobby. Confetti was still on the ground and it was neat to hear the kids getting excited about it when they saw it:

Confetti

I would like to say thank you to the staff of the Walt Disney Pavilion and Florida Hospital for Children. Their hospitality Monday and today was much appreciated and they couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. Everyone was so enthusiastic about it. Thank you for allowing us to have a peak at this wonderful facility and to be part of the opening ceremony. It is truly going to make a difference in the lives of so many children.

Have a great day!


Florida Hospital Unveils New Details, Name for Disney Children's Hospital - August 2008 - Press Release

March 29, 2011

Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children

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On Monday, March 28, the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children hosted a media preview. The preview included breakfast and a tour of the facility. The state-of-the-art facility was announced in 2007 and is expected to be completely open around the beginning of April of this year. It is opening in stages and does currently have patients. This pavilion is for pediatrics and the specialties include, but are not limited to, asthma and allergy, cardiology, diabetes, intensive care management, oncology and pulmonology.

They currently have 185 beds now and hope to have 200 by the end of the year. Their goal is 240. All of the patient rooms are private.

Walt Disney Pavilion

I allowed a lot of travel time because of the rain so I arrived about an hour early. The pavilion's ambient lighting is a treat to look at- as you stand and look at the building, the lights change colors.

Walt Disney Pavilion

Inside the pavilion, this sign greets guests:

Pavilion sign

Since I was there early, the wonderful staff of the pavilion encouraged me to wander the lobby. Four movies are featured: The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Brother Bear and The Little Mermaid. Dave was setting up the cameras in the lobby and was kind enough to take the time to show me some of the interactive elements that the lobby has.

Looking into the lobby:

Lobby

The Lion King:

The Lion King

The lobby is interactive. In this area, when you press your hand to the hand prints, the effects light up on the walls:

Hand print

Lit hand print

The Lion King lit up

Simba lit up

There's also a game to play- when you press the red bug, you have to get the order of the bugs correct to win:

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The Jungle Book area:

Children playing

King Louie's throne and organ were featured in the lobby as well. When you pressed the keys on the organ, it played music and the jewels lit up.

King Louie's throne and organ

The spots on the floor triggered animal noises, Baloo's voice and other effects:

Jungle Book

The Brother Bear area:

Brother Bear

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The salmon pond was my favorite portion of the interactive area because it was the most unexpected. When you first see it, you see the salmon swimming around. But if you step near or 'in' the water, it ripples.

The Little Mermaid area:

The Little Mermaid

Ariel's treasure cove features a bubble effect but the effect was not turned on when I was there... but it's something to see!

Ariel's treasure cove

On the opposite side of the lobby, near the elevators, there is a waiting area that shows Disney movies and looks very inviting:

Waiting area

I was sent up to the second floor to check in. Ashley was telling me how much she enjoyed the interactive elements and watching the kids find them. She took me over to an area overlooking the lobby and pointed out the clouds. The kids are able to design their own fireworks from computers in their rooms and every night, they do a fireworks display. They video the performance and are able to put it on screens in the rooms of patients who are unable to go see the show.

Clouds

Not long after I went back downstairs, it was time to be seated for breakfast. The centerpieces they had for the tables were much admired:

Centerpiece

Around 8 AM, Samantha (left) and Marla (right) introduced themselves:

Samantha and Marla

Marla talked about how the pavilion is able to have advantages, such as access to capital and resources, of being a hospital within a hospital. Disney and Florida Hospital have had a long-standing relationship and when the plans for the pavilion first came about, Disney told Florida Hospital to "dream big." The pavilion was built with a "high tech, high touch" philosophy. The staff of the pavilion were all trained at the Disney Institute.

Wyatt, a Disney Imagineer, was introduced and he spoke of how Disney featured movies in the lobby:

Wyatt

Tim spoke next and talked about how the theme continued upstairs into the patient rooms. The characters stayed in the lobby but their environment went upstairs. For example, The Lion King characters were in the lobby and a floor upstairs was savanna-themed to continue the story.

Tim

Next, Connie shared her family's emotional story of how the Florida Hospital for Children helped save her son's life from a form of leukemia:

Connie

We were then asked to break into our smaller tour groups to begin. My group went to the jungle themed floor first. The area we saw was called the "Family Zone" where the families can come to rest for a few minutes. There is also a wash station before they go back to the patient room area.

Jungle themed floor

The Walt Disney Pavilion is the first in the country to feature ambient lighting. The ambient lighting is the changing lighting- for example, the lights on this floor were yellows and greens. On the ocean floor, they are blue tones. Also on this floor, you could hear birds chirping.

Along the halls, these screens show different images depending on which floor you are on:

Screens

Next, we went to the ocean themed floor. The lighting is blue and it smells like the ocean.

The nurse's station was lit with blue tones:

Nurse's station

We were told the nurses were able to customize the lighting.

We were taken to a patient room that had been prepped for us to see. The themeing extends to the room number signs:

Room number sign

The patient (or parents) have can change the color of the ambient lighting over the bed. So, if the patient wants red, the lighting can be red. If he or she wants blue, it can be blue.

Room

Next, we went to the pediatric emergency room. They have an emergency room for adults and one for kids. The hospital has a gorgeous lake on site:

Lake

Pediatric emergency room:

Emergency room

Again, the patients can control the lighting in the room. Images can be projected on the wall and the patients can change the image:

Image on wall

Image on wall

After that, we were escorted back to the lobby and the tour was concluded. I don't know what I was expecting but the Walt Disney Pavilion far surpassed an expectations I could have had. It's great to see that Disney is helping to make such a positive difference in their community- not just in the Orlando area but in the state of Florida and the region. I expect we'll be hearing great things from and about the Walt Disney Pavilion. Kudos to the Florida Hospital for Children, the Walt Disney Pavilion and Disney.

The official opening ceremony for the Walt Disney Pavilion is Wednesday morning (March 30).

Florida Hospital Unveils New Details, Name for Disney Children's Hospital - August 2008 - Press Release

Have a great day!


December 13, 2007

MouseFest 2007

by AllEars Guest Blogger: Michelle Scribner-MacLean

MouseFest 2007 is over and I am left with one question: How can it be possible to pack so much into a few days?

As I waited at the airport, ready to leave the cold New Hampshire weather, I ran into my AllEars® buddy, Mike Scopa, who, of course, was also off to MouseFest.

We spent the day visiting EPCOT and listening to storytellers from around the world. One of the things I really enjoyed about this was watching the way many of the performers really tried to make special connections with the children in the audience by asking them questions, involving them in the skits, and by displaying artifacts from their lands.

Illuminations at EPCOT is one of my "can't miss" experiences when I visit, but I'd never seen the "holiday tag" before. At the end of the regular Illuminations during the holiday season there about seven minutes of additional show featuring narration by Walter Cronkite and music by the Harlem Boys' Choir. The ending is a blend of spectacular fireworks, lasers, and holiday music".The only thing I can say is that I was speechless. So I had to see it again two nights later".

Being a MouseFest veteran, Mike was able to make suggestions about how to get the most of out my experience. The next day Mike and his co-presenter, Mark Goldhaber, later shared many of his suggestions with a crowd of nearly 300 at the highly-successful MouseFest 101.

During the meet, I also got to meet Masayo and her husband, Marumu, from Japan. We were surprised with Scopa Towers sweatshirts - Masayo for coming the furthest to MouseFest, and me for helping out a teeny bit with the development of MouseFest 101.

Masayo, Mike and Michelle


The view from my balcony at the Boardwalk on Saturday morning provided a terrific view of the site of the Mega Mouse Meet on Saturday - The Dolphin.

Walt Disney Worldl Dolphin


What a thrilling experience to be surrounded by so many webmasters, podcasters, writers, photographers, and fans who all love the mouse! In addition to meeting many of the other AllEars team members, I had the opportunity to meet dozens and dozens of AllEars readers from all over the country.

On Saturday night I attended the Fantasmic Dessert meet hosted by Matt Hotchberg of StudiosCentral.com. As we waited in the courtyard to go backstage to join the party, I got a nighttime glimpse of my favorite ride at MGM - but with a 70 minute wait, I opted to forgo a ride until my next trip. During this meet with had the opportunity to chat and visit with friends as we ate dessert and watched Fantasmic. Very fun!

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Although this isn't really MouseFest news, I just have to mention that I was lucky enough to get a chance to ride SpaceShip Earth during one of the infrequent soft-openings. I didn't get to hear the entire audio program because it broke down toward the end (which, of course, is probably the point of a soft-opening - to fix those things). However, with Dame Judi Dench narrating a new script, several difference scenes, and personalized touch-screens (which very much reminded me of the ending of the extinct Horizons), it is significantly different than the last version.

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So ...now I've participated in two MouseFests.

I met so many interesting people from all over the country and around the world. There were families with children, people traveling on their own, senior citizens, and grade school kids. I'm not sure I would call myself a MouseFest veteran (I made "rookie" mistakes like forgetting to eat"and sleep), but I do know that I'm thrilled to be part of the Disney committee and can't wait until next year.

************

Michelle Scribner-MacLean is a college professor by day and a Disney fanatic in every other bit of free time. She first visited WDW when she was a teenager and now is a DVC owner who visits Walt Disney World two or three times per year. Michelle lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two boys and loves roller coasters, the fantastic food at Disney, and always cries when she sees IllumiNations. She is also a Disney podcast addict and adores WDW Today.

Michelle is a guest columnist for the AllEars® newsletter. Here are links to other articles by MIchelle:

MouseFest Primer: http://allearsnet.com/btp/issue421.htm

Tune In to a Disney Podcast (or Podcasts 101): http://allearsnet.com/ae/issue417.htm

Vero Beach with Kids: http://allearsnet.com/ae/issue403.htm

Navigating WDW with a Picky Eater: http://allearsnet.com/ae/issue395.htm

Science in the Parks: http://allearsnet.com/ae/issue390.htm


July 14, 2007

MagicMeets Guest Memories

Just walked around the Ballroom during a quiet period and got some comments to share:

Tacey: St Catherines ON
The pixie dust is flying and it was well worth the 7 hour drive.

Carolyn "Crazy Lady 1" - Bedford, PA. The magic here is amazing!!! Having a great time and can't wait to win more prizes! The VIP gathering was a lot of fun, and I always love meeting with Deb!


Jill "Crazy Lady 2" - Osterburg, PA. Amazing time here!!! The magic is certainly flowing. Pixie Dust all around!! Meeting lots and lots of other Disney fanatics!! Can't wait to see what the afternoon brings!

Michelle Scribner-MacLean - Nashua, NH. Wow! What great experience. The ballroom looks so beautiful with the gorgeous Mickey and Minnie balloons. All my Disney-geek idols are here - Deb Wills, Mike Scopa and the WDW gang. The food is fantastic, too! My favorite part of the day has been meeting all the really nice people at my table - everyone is very friendly and we all love Disney. See you next year!


Tim Foster-Chester Springs, PA Had a wonderful time introducing our new Guide to the Magic for Kids book, and particularly enjoyed Lou's Trivia Challenge! And yes, I got a bit weepy during Mike Scopa's presentation. Looking forward to next year and more magic!!

Matt Hochberg og MGMStudios.Org: Another fantastic event and it was great to see all of my friends and other Disney internet fans out there. It's one of these events that is impossible to describe and you just had to be here so if you haven't come yet, be sure to mark your calendars for 2008.

Jeff Pepper - 2719 Hyperion. My first MagicMeets and what a terrific, wonderful experience. Super friendly people, great events and activities and that incredible Disney Magic!


Fred's Opening Remarks

Everyone is seated in the main ballroom. Fred is going over his welcome remarks and the crowd is cheering.


Claire rozzi/Cinderella from Pennsylvania stopp by to say: "Great site great meet. We'd love to be on a cruise, how do I get my husband to go. Hello to all the Taginators back home..;.. having a great time. "

Mike Scopa's talk will start soon.

Here's the ballroom before the doors opened.


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About Disney in the Community

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in the Disney in the Community category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney History is the previous category.

Disney Interactive is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.