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January 27, 2009

MouseFest 2008 – The Homestretch

Day 4 – Saturday

Saturday was an early call.

I got up early and met Michelle at the 50’s pool and we headed off to the Yacht and Beach Club.

I know she’s going to give me a “look” when she reads this but I need to say here and now how much I appreciated my MouseFest buddy Michelle Scribner-MacLean for always seeming to know what is needed to do… knowing I would probably not make time to take care of myself Michelle had taken the time to get up early and grab some breakfast for me…yes…Michelle is as my wife says one of my wonderful “Disney wives”…each one of them being a special person.

Well the Mega Mouse Meet was pretty special. If I had not seen everyone by this day I knew I was sure to finally meet up with them. Seems the Mega Mouse Meet is the only time I get to talk with people such as Kevin Yee, among others.

I was pretty excited to sit with former Walt Disney World Vice-President of Operations, Lee Cockerell as he welcomed guests and signed his book.

Once again I was thrilled with the number of people who took the time and effort to come and say hello.

The Disney internet community is made up of some wonderful folks and it is at the MMM that the glow from these people shine the brightest.

I would love to give a shout out to each and every one of you who spoke with me at the Mega Mouse Meet…but I would hate to overlook anyone.

But I must share a story with all of you…and I find myself wiping tears as I relate this story.

Back at MouseFest 101, after Mark Goldhaber and I had finished and Dave Marx had delivered his Chairman’s kickoff speech, I met a lot of people and made sure I respected everyone’s time and talked with everyone.

One of those with whom I talked was a young man who had several questions. We had a pleasant conversation and afterwards he thanked me for spending the time and answering his questions.

Two days later towards the end of the Mega Mouse Meet a woman came up to me and said, “Hi Mike. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated you spending the time and helping my son the other day.”

“Your son?” I asked.

“Yes, at MouseFest 101. He waited to speak with you and you took the time to talk and answer his questions. You helped him tremendously and I can’t begin to thank you.”

Okay…I was kind of stunned. I had not done anything differently with her son than I had with any of the other folks in line. I was obviously missing something.

She looked at me and was obviously holding back tears.

All of a sudden it was if everyone and everything else in that huge ballroom had vanished and I became focused on this woman’s face. I was hoping she would explain more…and she did.

“You see Mike,” and her lower lip kind of quivered a bit, “My son has Autism.”

How could I have missed that? My wife has worked with children with Autism for years so I am not a stranger to children with this condition.

She went on to say that after he had spoken to me that she had seen a difference in him.

I was dumbfounded…did not know what to say.

I thought she was going to burst into tears as she said, “I can’t thank you enough from the bottom of my heart as to what you have done for him. It’s as if someone flipped a switch.”

So…I’m searching for words and fumbled around in my mind what would be appropriate to say. I don’t recall exactly what I said but I think the gist was that I told her that her son was a fine young man and that I had enjoyed talking with him.

I don’t remember if I hugged her…if not I wish I had.

I was touched.

It made all those days, weeks, and months of planning all so worthwhile.

That’s just one example of why a lot of us do what we do.

Every once in a while when we least expect it a moment like that takes We don’t get paid for all the hours and effort it takes to do our “thing” but when moments like those occur, it just fills me with so much joy knowing that I never know when somehow, somewhere, I can touch someone’s life, in a positive way…and it’s just from doing what my personal philosophy tells me to do …treat others as I would like to be treated.

After the MMM it was off for a quick change and then to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

I strolled through The Osborne Dancing lights with several thousand people.

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I noticed something unusual in one of the windows. Take a look at this photo and tell me if “A Christmas Story” comes to mind.

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From the Osborne lights I headed over to Sunset Blvd. for the Fantasmic Dessert Party.

Following the dessert party we were faced with a decision….enjoy a private ride on the Tower of Terror or scoot over to see the Osborne lights one more time.

Michelle and I looked at each other and almost at the same time said, “We can ride the Tower all year long…the Osborne’s are once a year.”

It was a good move because the finale was just about to start and you haven't experienced the Osborne's until you see them dance to the sounds of the Transiberian Orchestra.

After the Osborne finale we slowly made our way to the exit…stopping off at Star Tours….hoping to hear Ewok chatter…they must have been asleep.

The park was emptying out…and so was our energy…it was a long day but very much filled with joy.


Day 5 – Sunday

No rest for the weary. Sunday was to start off early…just like the last two days. I got up early and headed over to host a breakfast meet at the Kona Café and gave away a few goodies…always so much fun.

This is the morning that starts the good-byes and after breakfast there were some sad hugs.

I escorted several friends over to Luau Cove to check out the Scopa family brick and then moved on to see the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian Lobby.

Sunday late morning and early afternoon was wonderful as I got to sit and talk with some of my most favorite people in the world and you know who you are.

Nothing beats sitting on a WDW bench anywhere…park or resort….and chit chatting with a friend who you just don’t get to see enough during the year. So when MouseFest offers that opportunity to me you can bet I will go for it.

The Capture the Magic Meet was held that afternoon. I did not participate but ran around and took pictures of the AllEars team who probably had more fun than any other team in the competition.

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I noticed something during Capture the Magic. Stroller parking is becoming a huge issue at the theme parks.

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I wonder if strollers were in mind during the design phases of WDW's Magic Kingdom.

MouseFest always brings with it impromptu meetings and Sunday afternoon was no exception as certain matters were discussed before heading off to Epcot for a nice dinner with friends and then taking in a very traditional viewing of Illuminations while enjoying a dessert party at the Rose and Crown Patio.

Anyone who knows me understands what Illuminations does to me, especially when the song “We Go On” is heard around the World Showcase Lagoon.

As that song was being played I looked around at my friends who were there enjoying the night and the atmosphere and I yearned to hold them all close…it was the last full day and night of MouseFest and I knew it would be sometime before I would again be in their company…it was a bittersweet moment.

Following Illuminations we were treated to a private party at Soarin’…one last attraction ride together.

As we took off I suddenly realized that I had landed in Orlando some 110 hours go and this was my first attraction of the trip.

Following Soarin’ reality had started to hit me and I knew that as other MouseFest Sundays it was time to seek out those friends who would be flying out on the morning and to bid them goodbye.

The goodbyes in the morning were difficult enough but the ones on Sunday following Illuminations are ten times as difficult for me.

I was beginning to realize all too soon that MouseFest was indeed in the homestretch.

I had been a part of MouseFest from the start….from way back in 2003…I had experienced many MouseFest Sunday nights over the years…but nothing…nothing could have prepared me for the deep feelings that would drape over me on this evening.

Of all the MouseFest Sundays I have no doubt that MouseFest Sunday 2008 will stand out as the most memorable Sunday evening of them all.

Monday – The Finale

Monday would continue to bring MouseFest to a gradual end.

My day started off with wonderful breakfast company in Deb Wills, Linda Eckwerth, and Michelle. This breakfast, at Fresh at the Dolphin, was followed by the traditional “I don’t want to let you go” hug that always seems to befall me when I say goodbye to Deb and Linda.

After we said goodbye to Deb and Linda, Michelle and I walked over to International Gateway and made our way over to the Canadian pavilion to meet up with some friends to have a bit of fun on this last day.

The fun is called “Sip and Snack” in which a number of my friends and I walk around World Showcase and attempt to eat or drink something that is unique to each of the 11 pavilions.

It’s not as easy as it seems.

I took one photo all day. Here it is. this is Annette Owens contemplating the thought of starting off Sip and Snack by downing a small bottle of Maple Syrup.

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This four to five hour commitment will find me making all kinds of decisions…decisions which all play a factor into whether or not I can actually complete the challenge.

But the point that I want to make here is that it’s not the challenge but the camaraderie that makes this so much fun. There is a lot of mini challenges between all of us that arise over the course of the day and these in conjunction with the friendly kidding makes “Sip and Snack” a wildly different experience each time I do it.

We recorded our experience that day and you can hear all the fun on the WDWTODAY Podcast

As the afternoon Sun settled we all knew that the final goodbyes were close at hand…well for most of us.

One unexpected tough goodbye occurred for me late afternoon and early evening.

This farewell was to my fellow New Hampshire buddy Michelle.

Michelle was flying home that evening; I was to fly home the next morning.

Throughout the week Michelle had been my best buddy. We supported each other knowing the hardship our families were going through back home.

As a result of the worse ice storm in state history our families were going on five straight days without power.

We watched over each other although she did far more for me than I had done for her.

Michelle remained true to her pledge to my wife Carol, and made sure that MouseFest matters did not cause me to wear myself out and not forget to eat.

I have learned never to stop learning and I learned this MouseFest how important it is to have your own personal “buddy system” at MouseFest.
For MouseFest 2008 Michelle was my buddy.

I know my MouseFest would have been far less enjoyable without my buddy there to kid with me and to show me what friendship is all about.

Thanks Michelle.

After saying good-bye to Michelle I headed over to meet some friends for dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

During dinner Carol calls.

"Hi Honey…power on yet?"

"No…I'm staying over Holly's (our daughter) place until it does."

"Good. At least you’re warm."

"Where are you?"

"Oh just having dinner?"

"Where?"

"Oh just a restaurant?"

"Which one?"

"Ehhh…Yachtsman Steakhouse?!?!?"

"Aaaacckkkkkk!"

"So I'll see you tomorrow late morning okay honey?"

"Hmmmm….yes come to Holly's. Have a nice meal."

Talk about guilt.

After dinner I skipped through Cape May Café and found Mary Waring of Mousesavers and Bob Sehlinger of the unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World having dinner.

After exchanging pleasantries I sped off to pack for my 6:30 A.M. flight.

When I got to my room I sort of just collapsed and sat for a long time thinking about the week I had just experienced.

Thoughts on MouseFest 2008

This was the 6th MouseFest. I had been to all of them.

I have seen this annual event grow beyond my wildest dreams and exceed all my expectations.

As much as I have given to the event it has given me so much more in return…thrills….smiles….tears of joy…wonderful friends….random acts of kindness… and the understanding that life is too short NOT to stop and smell the roses.

I think that some in the Disney International Community look at each MouseFest and say "Wow I wonder how much bigger and better MouseFest will be next year?”

I don't look at it like that al all.

I recognize that each MouseFest has a personality…and that each year there are many MouseFest stories that take place…magical stories filled with good times and fond memories.

MouseFest doesn't have to be bigger or better for me…it just has to be there…or at least some vehicle has to be there…that draws all my friends from around the world to a place that we all love.

That's what counts….because it's those friends that make it so special…it's those friends who make me smile…it's those friends who help write my MouseFest story every December.

The story does not have to be bigger, or better, or brighter….it just has to be there…and that makes my December every year not just a month that brings snow and cold winds but friends who being warm smiles.

Is it a wonder to you as to why December is one of my favorite months?


January 17, 2009

MouseFest: Looking Back – Wed. thru Fri.

By now most of the trip reports have been written, most of the colds have passed (I hope), but the memories still linger from just an extraordinary MouseFest 2008.

I thought about delivering a blow-by-blow description of how my MouseFest 2008 experience went but it would take forever for me to bring you each and every detail.

So my purpose here is to bring you my fondest memories of MouseFest 2008 and a perspective as to what it all meant to me.

Day 1 – Wednesday

I flew down on Wednesday morning of MouseFest week with fellow AllEars colleague Michelle Scribner MacLean.

As the day moved along we gradually ran into more and more familiar faces followed by warm embraces and quips of “How are ya?” and “How long you stayin’?”

Highlights of the day included a visit to see what T-Rex was all about (this restaurant opened earlier this year at Downtown Disney)...

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...a gathering of about 60 friends at Trail's End at Fort Wilderness for a pre-MouseFest dinner...

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; and an end to my first day with a viewing of Holiday Illuminations at EPCOT.

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I love MouseFest Wednesday because it is essentially the only real flexible day of the week and one in which a schedule does not dictate where I should be and for how long.

That flexibility allows me to spend time with friends who I may not be able to see as much once the official land portion of MouseFest begins.

Day 2 – Thursday

Thursday morning I woke up, stared at the ceiling and said to myself, "This will be a long but fun-filled day."

The first order of business was to co-host MouseFest 101 with Mouseplanet staffer Mark Goldhaber. We addressed about 300 plus people at the Contemporary Resort with over 100 of them coming to MouseFest for the first time.

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The highlight of MouseFest 101 for me was handing tickets for the Sunday night Illuminations Dessert Party to David and Nancy Dunkowski. I had wandered about the hall prior to starting MouseFest 101 and talked with several folks…looking for some first-timers. David and Nancy seemed most deserving.

After MF101 I was overwhelmed by the number of first-timers who stood in line to talk with me. Their patience fueled me into making sure I talked with every person in line and meeting all those wonderful people for the first time was one of my overall highlights of MouseFest 101. Imagine, I made over 100 new friends in an hour…awesome.

I remember afterwards rushing over to the Dole Whip meet with Beci Mahnken of Mei/Mouse Fan Travel right afterwards and running into my friend Val who works at Magic Kingdom’s Guest Relations.

When I saw Val I sort of shrugged my shoulders and asked, “Val is it too crowded at Aloha Isle?"

"No Mike” she sort of chuckled,”It’s fine…go enjoy your meet and have a Dole Whip."

I did.

Other memories for Thursday center on Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the Wishes Meet in the upper Rose Garden. I co-hosted that meet with Michelle and with Mike Newell of MouseWorldRadio.

That meet, along with MouseFest 101 and the Dole Whip Meet was an unbelievable way for me to kickoff MouseFest.

Those three meets always bring me into the spirit of what MouseFest was all about because they are designed to encourage the greeting of both old and new friends from all the MouseFest Communities.

Way back early in the morning I should have realized that this day would be special. You see, Michelle and I rode up front in the monorail en route to the Contemporary.

But it gets even better; to finish off the day we rode up front in the monorail from The Magic Kingdom to the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Meeting old friends; making new friends; eating Dole Whip; and riding up front in the monorail twice in one day. That sounds like a formula for making Day 1 of MouseFest 2008 a day to remember.


Day 3 - Friday

MouseFest Friday started out early with everyone heading to Disney's Animal Kingdom.
The All Ears meet in Africa at the Harambe Fort was very successful and that too was an opportunity to meet up with old friends and make even more new acquaintances.

MouseFest Friday is a split day and that means two parks.

At mid-day international MouseFest icon Masayo Kano and I drove from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

We both had commitments and split up immediately after rushing through the turnstiles.

I walked over to the Brown Derby to find Michelle, Deb Wills, Deb Koma, and Linda Eckwerth enjoying a quiet lunch.

Now here is where I tell you how blessed I am. My wife Carol is a big supporter of all the Disney “stuff” I do and one reason she doesn’t worry about me is because she knows that when she is not with me at Walt Disney World that I am surrounded by those who she calls my “Disney wives.”

The week before MouseFest Carol had asked Michelle, who lives but 10 miles from us, to make sure that I ate at MouseFest.

It’s true…I have all these rules about MouseFest yet I always find them difficult to follow.

Once I walked into the Brown Derby and found these ladies I was immediately “convinced” by them to sit down and eat something…or else. I never want to find out what “or else” means so I gladly sat down and had a bite to eat.

This day was to have two major highlights for me.

The first highlight was the celebration of the 500th WDWTODAY podcast held at the Studios Prop Shop. If you’re wondering what the Prop Shop is, it used to be part of the old animation tour…it was the room in which guests watched how Disney Magic was used in the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie.

We recorded two shows with a live audience and had a blast being able to have folks not just only hear us but to see us as well.

What made that memory even sweeter was the fact that we were able to use that milestone show to raise funds for Deb's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

The other Friday highlight was the wonderful AllEars team get-together at the Gaylord Palms Resort for a memorable dinner...

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...and afterwards the touring of "Ice" which is an amazing display of ice sculpture.

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MouseFest for me is usually scrambling from one place to the next….sometimes having no time to eat.

However, on this night I got to spend five, count' em, five hours with some very special people, look into their eyes, enjoy great conversation, and realize just how fortunate I am.

Thanks Deb.

Next Time: Saturday thru Monday

December 12, 2008

Mike's Mousefest 2008 Chronicles: Day 1

Well the day started real early...like 1:58 A.M.

The overnight attempt to get some sleep was eerily familiar to the difficulty one has trying to sleep before doing the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

At least today I didn't have to run 13.1 miles.

I got to my airport around 4:30 and took off with fellow staffer Michelle Scribner-McClean at around 6:30.

The flight was smooth...landing about 9:45.

First task at hand was to hit Down Town Disney to do shome shopping, meet some friends, and try T-Rex.

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From there we all checked into our respective resorts before heading off to Trail's End for a nice pre-Mousefest meal with about 54 of our closest friends from Tagrel.

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From there a few of us drove over to EPCOT to enjoy a little bit of Holidays Around the World and Holiday Illuminations of which I did not even have the energy to take out my camera.

Egad, it was closing in on 11 P.M. and I just realized I had been up for at least 20 straight hours.

i returned to my resort....fighting fatigue and thinking, "Hope I finish writing about Day 1 before I fall off to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

December 5, 2008

Mike’s Mousefest Chronicles: The Pre-Trip Lists

Well with less than a week to go before heading to Mousefest it’s time for me to go through the first of my annual pre-trip rituals and that is to compile my sanity lists.

My sanity lists are my packing lists and my to-do lists.

The packing list is self-explanatory…it’s everything I need or want to take to Mousefest. I’m sure everyone at one time or another will put together a packing list for an impending Walt Disney World vacation.

I used to make these lists for every trip…not so any more….the list has been ingrained in my head…well the regular list…but not the Mousefest list.

As Mousefest adjusts every year the list also adjusts.

The items I had on my Mousefest 2003 list are certainly not the same as I have for the Mousefest 2008 list.

Why?

Well, with every Mousefest comes changes in the forms of meets I may host or co-host and with that comes the need to bring some trinkets to the meet to handout or give as prizes. So the “treasures” I may have brought a year or two ago are far different than those making the trip this year.

Also, depending upon my schedule I may need to bring something other than jeans or shorts which are my basic code of dress for any WDW trip. I may need to pack some business casual wear one year but not the next.

So how do I compile this year’s packing list? The easiest way for me is to sit back and say, “Okay, what do I need to bring for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and so on. To me that breaks it down real easily and as I go through each day of Mousefest I will be checking off my needs for that day.

Of course there is the general WDW trip packing list that includes the basics…camera…batteries…laptop…toiletries…and all that jazz.

The to-do list is my baby however.

On this list I write down everything I need to do prior to my leaving for the airport and I take it one step further…I assign not just a task but when to complete it.

For instance….for Mousefest I always make sure that my outside holiday decorations are all set up with timers and all that jazz. I live in a State in which I’ve seen it snow as early as October 20th and as late as May 15th so I need to be ready.

Of course that also means making sure the interior of the house is all decorated for Christmas as well.

I use a wood pellet stove to heat my house and so prior to leaving for WDW and Mousefest I make sure there is a good supply of wood pellet bags in my back porch…easier for my wife Carol to feed the stove. Also, starting two weeks before I leave I feed the stove half-bags and save the other half for Carol. That way she does not have to lift a 40-50 pound bag of pellets while I’m gone but instead a 25 pound bag.

I also need to give the snow thrower a test drive to make sure that thing is ready to rock ‘n’ roll with Old Man Winter says, “It…is….TIME!”

So the to-do list includes a lot of winterizing tasks to complete before I step onto that plane.
Of course there are things like charging all my batteries, maybe getting a haircut, and other basic trip preparedness tasks to handle but the fact that Mousefest takes place in December makes for more pre-trip work.

So the ritual has begun…my lists have been made.

Once the lists have been compiled I then take the next step which is to dig out the luggage.
In the past I’ve shipped stuff down to MF rather than take it with me on the plane.
This year I plan to bring a second, but smaller piece of luggage with me…for the trinkets and extra stuff.

So….without further ado…I must get started and bring out the luggage because, just as Rafiki and Old Man Winter….I too must say, “It…is….TIME!”

July 5, 2008

MouseFest 2008

Mousefest 2008


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We are now under the 180 day mark for Mousefest and I know there are plenty of you out there who are making plans and thinking about meets and making ADRS.

As the Mousefest Executive and Organizational Committees put Mousefest Plans together there are many t’s to cross and i’s to dot and I want to point out that as Mousefest grows every year that with that growth comes the fact that we all face the prospect of making more and more decisions each year.

As much as many of us would love to do every meet at Mousefest it is neither practical nor humanly possible to do that.

So if you have an opportunity to make an ADR at a restaurant and have a group of friends join you by all means MAKE the ADR now and see how things work out. Don’t wait long as those open slots will be scooped up ASAP. IF the Mousefest Schedule, when announced, shows a conflict with your ADR and a meet then you may have to make a decision. But remember that it’s easy to cancel an ADR a month a few months before MF than it is to make one a month before you go.

For those of you who have never been to MF or who have not been in a while be advised that Mark Goldhaber of Mouseplanet and I are planning on delivering “Mousefest 101” again this year although the exact time and venue has not been established.

Last year we conducted MF 101 in Magic Kingdom’s Noodle Station at around 1 P.M.
We were fortunate in that the Noodle Station was closed and thank goodness for that as we had over 300 people there.

Stay tuned for more of that.

I also plan to hold yet another Dole Whip Meet and maybe we should warn Aloha Isle as to when we are coming because I’m sure on that day they will need plenty of Dole Whip and plenty of CM’s on hand to handle the crowd.

So as much as you have not heard much as far as Mousefest news please understand that the wheels are turning and that plans are being put together as you read my words and I’m sure that fairly soon you will begin to hear some news about MF…just remember that things cannot be announced until they are set in stone.

Here are my 2007 MouseFest Blogs!

December 25, 2007

MouseFest Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, December 10th

I always try to give myself one day before Mousefest and one day after before going home. It gives me a chance to do some things I cannot do during the actual land portion of MF.

On this day I was out looking for Disney ornaments for our tree back home. This was the year that we were going pure Disney with our Christmas tree. Despite having enough ornaments for the tree I felt we needed about another two dozen or so to really give it a full look.

So I headed for the outlets but halfway there I changed my mind and instead went to Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney

I looked around and found plenty of ornaments but they were all made of glass and I was not willing to take a chance and bring them on the flight home.

Disney Ornaments

The visit was not in vain however as I did pick up a few gifts for Carol for Christmas.

I headed over to EPCOT to have lunch with Brian Bennett. As I walked past Spaceship Earth. I noticed they were having sneak previews.

Spaceship Earth Soft Opening

Having heard from CMs and Imaginers regarding the unpopular decision to open Spaceship Earth “before it was time” I decided to forego the sneak preview and wait until the attraction is finished and officially open to the public.

I don’t know if I would have done that five or ten years ago but I do realize these days how much pride imaginers have regarding their creations and it just doesn’t seem fair to me to see partially completed work and pass judgment on this work.

So no Spaceship Earth for me.

Have I mentioned how sparse the decorations seemed this year?

Holiday Topiaries

I was to meet Brian at the Biergarten and when I got there I ran into Dave Marx. Dave and I exchanged more observations regarding this year’s Mousefest. There’s a lot to discuss.

Brian showed up and I tried to check in online with Southwest through my cell phone. I was a few minutes away. We got into the restaurant and I tried to check in online…no luck.

The meal was good and afterwards Brian and I strolled through WS noting some interesting aspects of each pavilion.

We ran into “crash” a.k.a. Linda Eckwerth who had planned to stay for a few days due to her father’s impending operation. We chatted for a few minutes and then we said our goodbyes again. I had a meeting and Brian had to leave as well.

My meeting was with Beci Manhken but she was running late and on top of that had no ride to the airport. I offered to drive her to the airport and you would have thought I had offered her the world.

I have noticed that those people in this world with huge hearts and who always do their darndest to bring smiles and happiness to others are in turn the most appreciative of the tiniest gesture of help towards them. Beci is one of those people. She has one of the biggest hearts of all my friends and is forever thankful of the tiniest favor you can do for her.

I picked Beci up at the Beach Club and we sped off to the airport and we chatted about Mousefest and of course how exhausted we were.

At the airport we hugged goodbye and I returned to the Beach Club to have one last meeting with Mark Goldhaber. Mark and I were coordinating our Mousefest reviews and other things and wanted to get everything straight before he left for the airport.

See everyone was leaving Sunday or Monday. Not me.

I walked along Stormalong Bay and entered though the International Gateway.

Heck all my friends were gone…but that’s what cell phones are for…to connect from across the miles.

I decided to call a friend of mine who could not make it to Mousefest and chat for awhile. I asked her what she would do if she were me. Now she knows I like Wishes but since I was already in EPCOT she said just walking around WS at night and taking in the atmosphere is something she would do.

I was hungry and wondered where I could eat without too much of a crowd or noise. My friend suggested the Tangierine Café in Morocco. I told her I’d give it a try. She was right. The Tangierine Café was not crowded, not noisy, and very reasonable. I had some sort of chicken dish. It was good.

I walked around World Showcase and Future World and just took it all in. I thought about staying for Illuminations but after the previous night’s experience it would not be the same.

I captured one last image of the Lights of Winter.

Most people think of the Lights of Winter as the shimmering lights on the trellis that spans the bridge between Future World and World Showcase..

Lights of Winter in Epcot

I recall however that the Original Lights of Winter was the display in front of this trellis.

Original Lights of Winter

Argue amongst yourselves.

What was funny was that not only were the batteries in my digital camera, cell phone, and video camera low…so was my own physical battery.

I walked back to the Beach Club, took my next to last picture of the trip...

The Lights of the Night


..and then took my very last picture of the trip as I observed the gingerbread Carrousel in the lobby...

Carrousel in the Beach Club

and then headed back to my car.

It was a somewhat melancholy return back to the resort and my room.

I thought about packing but since my flight was at mid-day I decided what was more in order for me to take a walk and relax and reflect at Generation Gap Bridge at Pop Century.


Mousefest was over and next on the horizon was Marathon weekend.

Oh...one more thing...I left sunny Orlando and arrived home in quite a different type of weather.

Here is my "chariot" to take me home...brrr

Arriving in New England

Mousefest 2007 was history.


December 24, 2007

MouseFest Sunday December 9, 2007

Sunday, December 9th.

This was an early start again as the first meet of the day was the Tonga toast Breakfast at the Kona Café at the Polynesian Resort.
There were a lot of people waiting for breakfast.

Waiting for the Tonga Toast Meet at Kona

A good time was had by all especially when Annette, Deb, and Beci began the raffling off of goodies for all.

Annette, Deb and Beci

After breakfast Matt Hochberg handed over the funds raised at Mousefest 101 for Lou Mongello’s make a Wish Foundation efforts and for Deb Wills’ Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Matt hands over the Charity money to Lou and Deb

Your hosts for the Kona CafeTonga Toast Breakfast meet.
Tonga Toast Meet Hosts

After the breakfast I wanted to grab a little “me” time so I sort of faded away from everyone and sauntered over to the Grand Floridian to check out the decorations.

In years passed the lobby tree basically had a beige/white color scheme going but this year the tree had that natural look.

Grand Floridian Tree


The gingerbread house was looking good and even more detailed than in past years. I noticed a few not so hidden Mickeys.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House


Grand Floridian Gingerbread House


Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

From there I went to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with Lou Mongello and Jeff Pepper as they ran their first Disney Scene Investigation meet through the area of Frontierland.

Lou and Jeff had about 120 people at one point.

I need to let everyone know that it may not be a good idea to plant yourself under any trees in Frontierland.

It seems that the bird population, namely those miniature cranes that frequent the area, like to perch on the trees and if you do the math, if some 30 or 40 birds are perched on a tree above your head then chances are that they may deliver an unwanted present.

Birds Up Above

Thanks to Deanna Mongello for warning me.

Well the crowd following Jeff and Lou was pretty big and I had a hankering for a Dole Whip.

Once the Dole Whip hankerin’ was fed I headed out to Tomorrowland to check the Tomorrowland speedway. I have a friend who is working there and wanted to check to see if he was working on this day.

He wasn’t. I guess if I had to choose the absolute last CM job in TMK that deals with an attraction my guess is that the Speedway attraction would be it…especially in the summertime…don’t think I could deal with the smell, heat, and noise all day long.

I met up with Dave and Jennifer Marx, Mark Goldhaber, and Deb Wills for lunch at the Plaza restaurant. We chatted a bit regarding what we observed for Mousefest 2007 and tossed around ideas for Mousefest 2008.

Yep, you might say the planning has already begun.

From there we went over to watch Lou Mongello do his Triviafest meet, always a popular meet.

It was during that meet that folks start to say goodbye and head home. I said goodbye to a few friends and then convinced a few friends that we needed to visit Aloha Isle for, you guessed it, another Dole Whip. I figured this was my last day in Magic Kingdom so I had to make the best of it.

From there I headed to Boardwalk to check out the Patriots-Steelers football game at the ESPN Club.

I then joined the All Ears team for dinner at Spoodles.

 AllEars Dinner at Spoodles
Spoodles has come a long way since the mid 90’s. I have eaten there several times over the last few years and have enjoyed every meal.

After Spoodles it was on to the International Gateway and the Illuminations Dessert Party. Ahh yes more desserts…I guess I shouldn’t tell you that I lost about 12 pounds on this trip…despite the dessert parties.

Watching Illuminations with friends on the last full day of the land portion of Mousefest has to be the only way to properly finish Mousefest.

But there was more.

After Illuminations we were taken backstage through the gates to where the Millennium Village had been set up and down towards a portion of the park.

There was no indication as to where we were going until Deb Wills whispered something into Fred Block’s ear and Fred’s eyes exploded as he yelled out, “Hey Everyone! We’re going Soarin’.

Yep, Beci Manhken and Mouse Fan Travel had raised the bar yet again with this little bonus to the Illuminations dessert party.

Being Back Doored at Soarin!

Imagine riding Soarin’ with a slew of your friends.

Riding Soarin with Friends

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Riding Soarin

Of course it gets worse because at the end of this day comes all the rest of the goodbyes.

All the planning and execution regarding everything Mousefest finally comes to an end and the hugs and handshakes are for a job well done and an emotional “See you next year.”

I headed back to my resort room and along the way flashes of memorable Mousefest moments danced around my head.

I was tired, but I was a happy tired.

December 22, 2007

MouseFest Saturday, December 8, 2007

This day is best described as the day where everyone attends the crown Jewel of Mousefest; the MegaMouse Meet.

I got up early this day and gathered the essentials for this day, the banner for the table, trinkets in the forms of buttons I was bringing, 300 to be exact; would that be enough? I could not forget business cards.

I drove over to Boardwalk and from there walked to the Dolphin hotel. I made my way to the Atlantic C ballroom and when I first walked into the ballroom my immediate reaction was comparing the size of the room to the Copabanana lounge where the first MegaMouse Meet was held back in 2003.

It was quite a difference.

As much as I feel I am always prepared for the MegaMouse Meet I am constantly surprised by the number of people who come and meet and greet everyone.

This day was no different.

It is so gratifying to hear people say how much they enjoy reading our websites or listening to our podcasts that it gives many of us the satisfaction that we are bringing valuable information to our audience out there.

Mike and Deb Wills

It always amazes me how even though there are some faces I see only once or twice a year, somehow, some way a name pops into my head and most of the time I am fortunate to have the right name pop into my head.

This year I met more people for the first time than any other Mousefest and that includes the very first Mousefest. Mousefest 2007 just literally exploded. I spent over three hours saying hi to folks aa they walked by the tables.

I was totally exhausted after the MegaMouse Meet. I went back to my resort room, checked my email, and then headed out to Disney/MGM Studios.

I had never seen the parking lot so crowded. It took me 30 minutes to get from the guard shack to my eventual parking space. It was easy to understand the crowd. It was a weekend night in December. Add that to the Osborne dancing lights and you can understand why it was so crowded.

I hadn’t eaten all day. I grabbed a bite to eat at the Backlot Express. This was a good choice as not too many people were there.

I then found my cousin Patty and we joined up with everyone to attend the Fantasmic Saturday at the Studios dessert party.

This took place at the far rear of the theater, next to the projection room. There are pros and cons to doing this party.

Of course a big plus is the ability to walk around and enjoy the company of friends while munching on some very tasty desserts.

That plus the comfortable table seating really makes for an enjoyable evening.

However, in order to watch Fantasmic you need to either sit up front or go to the back and stand up.

After Fantasmic the park was closing but we were able to go and see the last performance of the night from the Dancing Osborne lights. The best part of this was that there were no more than maybe 100 guests watching this finale. It sure beats fighting the huge crowds.

Here's how the lights looked just before the finale ended.

Osborne Lights


...and when it REALLY ended,,,

Osborne Lights  dark


So Saturday came to a shimmering end and tomorrow would be yet another day in the Mousefest 2007 Adventure.

December 21, 2007

Mousefest Friday, December 7, 2007!

MouseFest Friday, December 7th.

It seemed that no sooner did my head hit the pillow the night that the alarm went off proclaiming “Day 2 Mike! Time to get up!”

First stop was Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the annual Kilimanjaro Safari Meet.

It was quite a challenge gathering everyone for this annual event. Deb welcomed everyone as the Mousefesters gathered to the left of the attraction. This meet was huge as in a total of 257 people for this meet.

Kilimanjaro Safari Meet Group


Nothing beats riding Kilimanjaro Safaris with Fred Block, founder of MagicMeets.

Nothing.

Mike and Fred


I had a tough time trying to take photos as Fred had me laughing so much I almost dropped my camera.

Out of about 20 shots only this one of some Rhinos came out decent. All the other photos can be used in a course called, “How not to take photos!”

Rhinos!


From there it was on to Dinosaur to witness Matt Hochberg meeting the challenge made on the previous day. Matt gutted it out and has lived to tell the tale. However next time he needs to keep his eyes open.

The next stop on this day was the AllEarsNet team luncheon at Pizzafari. This was one of two times on this day where I treasured the opportunity to just relax between the time blocks of meets.

All Ears Team Lunch at Pizzafari

It reinforced the notion that during Mousefest everyone needs to make time to stop, relax, eat, and hydrate. Even if you follow this rule you will most likely be exhausted come Mousefest end so it is best to do whatever you can to keep this eventual exhaustiveness to a minimum.

After lunch it was on to Disney MGM/Studios for two specific meets.

The first of these was the second annual Studios Central Star Tours meet which is growing in popularity every year. There was a good showing for this meet as my estimate was in the range of 80 people.

Next came the second annual Podfest hosted by Lou Mongello. This meet is the annual gathering of all those who do Disney related podcasts. I don’t know how many podcasts were represented but there were a LOT. It took almost 30 minutes to introduce each podcast and hear from the principles.

It was after Podfest that I wish I could have cloned myself to be in two places at once. Although I wanted very much to attend the MuppetVision3D meet I had to leave to host a dinner at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.

Again I was glad this dinner was on my schedule. Once more I was offered time to just sit back and relax in between the running around I was doing. Funny though, I did not find myself eating as much as I normally would during a Walt Disney World trip. On the contrary, that morning I had to cinch my belt one more notch because my usual notch was just a bit too loose.

Oh wait; this is Mousefest…the ultimate diet program…how silly of me to forget.

I have to mention that the “entertainment” at Ohana left a lot to be desired. I would go so far as to say that the entertainment would not have been even good enough to make those early American Idol shows…if you catch my drift.

After dinner I realized I had the luxury of having nothing on my schedule for that evening so I wandered back to EPCOT with some friends in search of my cousin Patty who that evening was attending the Candlelight Processional.

We took in the Lights of Winter, and then walked around World Showcase before stopping to watch Illuminations (my second time this trip).

I never found Patty at EPCOT but did talk to her later that evening. She enjoyed CP.

I enjoyed Illuminations

IllumiNations

I began to notice a little fatigue settling in so it was off to Pop Century for a long winter’s nap for tomorrow would be Saturday, the big day…MegaMouse Meet Day.

December 14, 2007

Mousefest Land Portion - Day 1

Thursday morning was of course the official first day of the land portion of Mousefest. For me it was to be a busy day.

I made it over to the Magic Kingdom early and when I arrived at the Tommorrowland Terrace I had a surprise waiting for me. There were a number of people setup at the patio area that spans a bit over the water and faces the castle. Hmmmm, this was the area I had planned to use for Mousefest 101. There were all kinds of equipment setup and quite a few people there.

I approached whom I later found out was a radio personality and I asked what was going on. He was part of an Ottawa radio station that was broadcasting from the Magic Kingdom on this day.

I asked how long they would be there and he said they would be there only until 2 P.M. Well, that’s good but Mousefest 101 was scheduled to begin at 1 P.M.

No problem. I moved everything to the upper level just across from the registers. Thank goodness Noodle Station was closed.

Mousefest 101 was received rather well. Crowd estimates ranged from 280 to 320 people, most of whom were first time Mousefesters..
MouseFest 101 crowd

I presented Scopa Tower sweatshirts to two special people. The first was Masayo Kano who came all the way from Japan for Mousefest 2007.

The second sweatshirt was presented to Michelle Scribner-MacLean who first presented the idea of a Mousefest Primer.

Masayo, Mike and Michelle

The meet served everyone well.

One of the highlights was the raising of over $500 for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Fund in support of Deb Wills and for Lou Mongello's DisneyWorldTrivia.com Dream Team Project” to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. The amazing outpouring of generosity was moving and special kudos go to Matt Hochberg of WDWTODAY for agreeing to accept the challenge and ride the bane of his existence the dinosaur ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Matt Hochberg


Following Mousefest 101 was the Chairman’s Kickoff and Dave Marx made several announcements and wished everyone a most enjoyable Mousefest.

Chairman Dave Marx

The next stop was Aloha Isle for the annual Dole Whip Meet. I’m not sure how many people attended this event but I do know that I ran out of 100 “Dr. Scopa’s Magical Elixir” buttons.

This year Fred Block, Founder of MagicMeets, made sure that this year I did not miss out on the delicious treat. Thanks Fred.

From there we all went to Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickey’s meet at Pirates of the Caribbean. The meet was extremely popular and Steve had quite the challenge to make sure everyone noticed the HM’s in the attraction.

During the meet the attraction stalled and we all got quite an earful of the attraction’s song. You see this fellow? On his hat is a skull and the left eye of the skull is a Hidden Mickey.

Pirate Hidden Mickey

Pirate Hidden Mickey

After the meet I stole away be myself to do a bit of research for some future projects.

I also made it a point to grab my Extra Magic Hour wristband before having dinner with some friends at the Plaza Restaurant.

After dinner I stole away again and checked out the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” show at the Tomorrowland Galaxy Theater. Even though it was the first performance of the night there was standing room only.

I checked out a few things in Tomorrowland before heading to the Rose Garden to meet everyone for the annual MouseFest Fireworks meet. Along the way I was struck by the beauty of the frosted castle lights.

Frosted Castle

During the fireworks however I along with fellow AEN staffer Michelle Scribner-MacLean watched the fireworks from Main Street USA because I wanted to videotape the show.

We then returned to the Rose Garden to see the folks who were still there.

The next stop was Frontierland and the Frontierland Shootin' Gallery for the mix and Mingle Passporter Parade meet.

The energy level was certainly starting to wane but some of us had enough energy left to watch the show in front of the castle before calling it a day.

Frosted Castle Show

While watching the show we all noticed that Mickey and friends seemed a little more animated than usual. The performing fab five as well as Chip and Dale seemed to be mouthing the words to the songs rather well and were also blinking their eyes. It made them seem so much more animated.

Day one was over.

As we all headed out the park we all wondered if a good night’s rest will recharge us enough for Mousefest Day 2.

I’ll tell you the answer in my next entry.

December 6, 2007

Mousefesters…Start Yer Engines

How does that song go?

Oh yeah….”It’s that most wonderful time of the year.”

No, no! Not Christmas time silly….MOUSEFEST BABY!

Yes sir.

It all started for me on Wednesday.

I won’t tell you what time I woke up to prepare to leave….uhhh….many of you were probably still doing the R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) part of your evening.

Anyway, I got to the airport early because I still wasn’t sure how this new Southwest boarding policy was going to work

It was even a bit more confusing when I came across this…

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While waiting to board the plane I was joined by my neighbor and fellow AEN colleague Michelle Scribner-MacLean.

This made the flight all more enjoyable and FAST because we talked Disney and Mousefest all the way down…not to mention educational and training philosophy…two areas which we are both immersed in.

We made plans to have lunch once we were checked in…unfortunately one of the drawbacks of flying down early is that there is a good chance your room wasn’t going to be ready. This was the case with the both of us.

We had lunch at the Big River Gille and Brewing Works…..we both ate light because of the impending Begin and the end trail’s end dinner later in the day.

We then walked over to EPCOT and made the rounds through world Showcase and saw a few story tellers...France...

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Japan…

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We noticed something we hadn’t noticed last year….a little village and train set up around the Christmas traded outside the American Adventure Pavilion.

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We went into AA and listened to the story of Chanukah and checked out the Kwanzaa exhibit.

The Voices of Liberty performed in their Victorian Christmas Garb. Some of the arrangements for the songs they did were “different” and I didn’t think it was one of their best performances….it could have been that some of my favorite “voices” weren’t there either.

Up to the American Adventure attraction…my favorite and most appreciated attraction in all of Walt Disney World.

Hmm…next time you enjoy the attraction during the scene with Teddy Roosevelt and john Muir…check out the mountains on the left….is that a hidden Mickey on the slope?

Saw the Monkey King storyteller in China.

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Tried to do the Maelstrom…queue was too long for our taste.

Went into Mexico…sent a few cliff diver video postcards and continued walking around World Showcase.

We checked out the Christmas ornaments in one of the World Showcase Plaza stores…I need to bring some home.

We continued walking around World Showcase….saw Off Kilter and British Invasion.

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I ran into my cousin Patty and her two traveling companions, Peg and Richard. They were on their way to the monorail to the Grand Floridian for dinner at 1900 Park Fare.

Since I was going to Fort Wilderness I offered them a ride.

I dropped them off and Michelle and I went to FW.

We got to Trail’s End and met up with 60 friends and wed all enjoyed our traditional pre-Mousefest meal…where we Begin at the End. Get it?

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My friend Masayo and her husband Mamaru were there and Masayo always so generous…brought me some wasabi beans from Japan.

After dinner we went to Epcot…took in the Lights of Winter

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We saw Oh Canada, and then settled in to see Illuminations…one of my favorite things to do at Mousefest.

Then it was time for me to call it a day. .I was in hour 21 of my day and the energy level was dropping fast.

I returned to Pop Century and dropped off Patty, Peg, and Richard…called the front desk to find my room number…and then made good use of my time to unpack and settled down for a long winter’s nap.

It’s Mousefest Baby!

Time to recharge because once Thursday morning hit I knew it would be time for someone to say,

Mousefesters…start yer engines!


November 19, 2007

Mousefest Tools

When the calendar says it’s less than a month before Mousefest that tells me it’s time to really get a handle as to what I’m actually doing during the land portion of Mousefest.

Many, many, many years ago when I took my young family to Walt Disney World I used to put together a semi-commando touring plan for week one of our trip (we’d go for two weeks) to make sure we covered all the spots I wanted to cover and then week two was sort of a lazy-butt touring approach.

I can’t do that with the land portion of Mousefest. Although I am wise enough to realize not to book every minute of every day I still tend to hit the 75-80% threshold.

I also realize that because of the excitement of Mousefest and the fact that I can easily get caught up in everything that I sometimes lose track of time and exactly where I’m supposed to be on a certain day at a certain time.

So I use two basic tools to help me get through the land portion of Mousefest. One is made for me and the other I make myself.

Mousefest Pocket Guide

If you have registered for Mousefest 2007 then you may have already received your 2007 yellow covered Mousefest Pocket guide.

It is in my opinion the best Mousefest Pocket Guide ever produced and it may serve as the model to go with from this point on.

Jennifer and Dave Marx and the Passporter Press folks have done an outstanding job over the years designing and putting this little guide together.

They’ve managed to keep the guide small and thin enough so that it’s not a big deal to carry it with you in the parks. It works for people and mice.


Mousefest Pocket Guide and Mickey


Also, they had the foresight to realize that there needed to be two main sections of this book.

The first section is just a few pages of a table that lists the day and time of every Mousefest Meet. I’m talking both the cruise and the land portion of Mousefest.

It’s sort of a Quick Reference Section of the guide and is great if you want to double check as to what time a certain meet is.

The second part of the guide involves the deep dive discussion of each meets. That is, besides the day and time of the meet other information like an abstract of just what the meet is and who is hosting it and other information that will help you answer any questions you may have about that meet and even help you decide if it’s a meet you would like to attend.

This guidebook is a Mousefest bible and every ‘fester should have it on their person at all times.

Kudos to the Passporter folks for once again compiling and arranging all the Mousefest meets data into a very practical package.

Mike’s Mousefest Grid

As much as I think the Mousefest Pocket Guide is a great tool for 'festers to carry with them during Mousefest, there are obviously events that are not captured within that book.

What are these events?

Well, although there are quite a few official Mousefest events for all of the 'festers to attend there are also the following:

Community Events

A community event may be a special meet that has been set up by one of the many communities attending Mousefest. This event is not an official Mousefest event yet it is a special event for that community. For instance, a community may elect to have a gift exchange/swap event for its members. Obviously a private event like that would not be part of the official Mousefest schedule.

Travel Partner Events

Mousefest has a number of official travel partners and these agencies will usually offer to their clients an opportunity to attend a special event. Since these events are offered only to their clients and not any festers outside their circle of clients the events would not be listed in the pocket guide.

Dining Dates

Dining dates are simply those times which you have set up Advanced Dining Reservations for yourself and friends. Obviously these are private events and not sure all of Mike Scopa’s ADRs should be listed in the official pocket guide.

Private Meets

Actually by private meets I mean things you may want to do on your own or with some friends like you may want to take in a Candlelight Procession, or take a sleigh Ride (if offered) at Fort Wilderness, or do a Segway Tour, or just chill out one night along the beach at the Polynesian to watch the Water Pageant Parade.

SO when you take everything into consideration you may find yourself doing quite a lot at Mousefest.

The first two Mousefests were easy for me. I could pretty much hold everything in my brain and not miss a beat.

The last two years however , have seen a Mousefest explosion and in 2005 a week before leaving for Mousefest I realized I needed “help” so I started putting together a little grid that I could print out and carry around with me to remind me of everything I needed to do for my Mousefest.

The grid is simple.

Across the top you would have your days. Along the left you would list times.

You then plug into each cell what your schedule calls for at that time on that day.

Then you print it out and carry it around with you, maybe even use it as a bookmarker for your Mousefest pocket guide.

Here is a screen capture of a portion of my current grid.

Mike's MouseFest Events Grid

There are some general entries like “MK” or “lunch” or “dinner” or even “?” which I will adjust as I get closer to MF.

I will continue to update this grid until the day before I leave for FLA. I know that things will constantly change but I’ll be confident that I’ll have about 99% of the information I need on that grid so that I’ll be ready for the most exciting five days of the year: Mousefest 2007.

So...will these work for you?

November 15, 2007

Of Nighttime Races and Mousefest Preparations

First an apology for my absence.

Buckle your seatbelts however, because from here until the aftermath of the d2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend we are on for quite a ride.

Thoughts on my Tower of Terror Trip

On Friday of my trip Len Testa and I took in the newly refurbished Haunted Mansion. If you plan to go to WDW soon and want to be surprised about the new enhancements to HM then you may want to skip the upcoming bulleted list, if not then read on:

• The first notable change was in the stretching room. The audio seemed to completely surround me. Also as the room starts to “stretch” you could hear squeaking sounds. Oh and our ghost host showed us (with better lighting) his way out.
• One more thing about the stretching room…are those gargoyles saying something?
• Once in the doom buggies the fun really began. As we entered the corridor we saw some stairways with candelabras…that’s new.
• The left side of the corridor/hallway has very long windows and it seems it was thundering and lightning outside.
• There were many new pictures adorning the walls.
• There also seemed to be eyes following us on our journey.
• Then there were the stairs…seemed taken out of an M.C. Escher painting with footsteps appearing and disappearing at the same time…upside down.
• The séance room had a fresh well lit assortment of instruments and Madame Leota…the new Leota…was floating in her crystal ball about four feet higher than I recall in the past. There is a flaw in this room…look for it.
• The attic was very different as special photographs told us about the famous Masey family and we learn quite a bit more about the Widow Masey.

From there we toured the Caribbean with some swashbuckling pirates. We noticed that this attraction has some deliberate debris placed in the water. Look for it the next time you ride this attraction.

We then strolled over to Tomorrowland and rode Buzz Light-Year.

Here's proof...

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Then while I made a few phone calls Mr. Testa rode Astro-Orbiter.

As we were leaving the Magic Kingdom I was accosted by some wild woman.

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Here is one of the scarecrows that adorned Town Square.

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We then took off to visit the monorail resorts…first stop the Contemporary…work coming along fine on the new DVC addition.

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From there we shot over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Neither one of us had ever seen Victoria and Albert’s so we ventured over and looked into the restaurant. If you ever saunter over to V&As to check out the menu bring some smelling salts… for when you gaze at the prices.

From the GF we walked to the Polynesian as were we were meeting friends for lunch.

Along the way as we past by Luau Cove we checked the Scopa family brick…looks worn.

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Lunch was at Kona.

From there it was time to head to Pleasure Island to pick up the race packets.

I ran into many friends there.

From there I drove some friends to All-Star Sports to check on the refurbished rooms.

Check them out.

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From there it was onto TMK and the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party where I ran into my friends Matt, Marissa, Sara, and Josh.

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The party was just like the last two years. We did our trick or treating and did a few attractions and saw the fireworks...

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...the Villains Mix and Mingle....
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...and the BOO-To-You Parade.

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I was kind of fading and had a race to run the next day so I headed back to my room. I did run into Batman and Robin at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

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I fell asleep about 12:30 A.M.

Saturday morning I spent in Epcot with a friend who I hadn’t seen in almost two years.

One of the "Can't Miss!" off the beaten path places everyone should visit is the mini-museum devoted to the history of Epcot. It just behind Club Cool.

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Be sure to visit this exhibit, especially if you are a Horizons fan.

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By mid day we each had commitments to attend to. He went to PI to get his race packet and I met a young lady by the name of Deb Wills for lunch at Fresh at the Dolphin…highly recommended….both Ms. Wills and the restaurant.

After lunch I went looking for some pins in Epcot before going back to the room to rest before the race.

I tried to nap but it must have been the rolling thunder that kept me awake.

The Race

I headed to Disney MGM/Studios around 7 P.M. and met about a dozen of my friends at the start line.

The race was really building up…thought it was going to rain. The weather was mild.

The race was late in starting because of traffic snarls and runners being held up.

The race began just about 9:50 P.M. or 20 minutes later than scheduled. But if you want to be real technical the race started 50 minutes late from the originally scheduled start time.

As expected it was a dark and at times a challenging course. Somewhere around Mile 2 the course was diverted into a gravel road. Thanks to some rain a few days earlier there was a portion of this road that offered a few sections with mud.

It was along this portion of the course that the runners were provided with entertainment in the form or volunteers who were dressed as insane asylum escapees. I’m sure it was entertaining for many of the runners but for me I questioned why this entertainment was focused on this area of the course when it was most important for the runners to concentrate on the footing…the uneven ground…the mud…and those poorly lit portions of the course.

The 13k (8.2 mile) course finished in the MGM Studios theme park. Runners came in through near Sid Cahuenga's then turned left to go up Hollywood Blvd and down towards the Commissary and the Sci-Fi Drive-In restaurant before heading toward the Lights! Motors! Action! Stunt Show stadium. From there we weaved our way through the Backlot Tour route.

The course also winded through some off-stage areas before coming out somewhere near Sunset Blvd. and then taking a right to go to Hollywood Blvd…then once on Hollywood Blvd. the course headed towards the front of the park and took a left at Crossroads and then made it’s way up the hill to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and then eventually finishing just behind the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Courtyard.

This race was described as the first Annual Tower of Terror 13K which suggests it will return in 2008.

Hopefully the feedback the race organizers get from this race will provide some improvements in next year’s race.

If in fact this race returns next year here are some suggestions I have for the race directors.

• Regardless of whether packet pickup is at Pleasure Island or Disney’s World of Sports the setup should be such so that the line flow should be packet pickup, shirts, and tickets. This year there was some backtracking involved and people were bumping into one another. I truly think the pickup should be at the WoS.
• Begin the race earlier in the evening. I would suggest moving the start time to 9 P.M. or even 8 P.M. Most of the runners struggled because let’s face it, it’s Walt Disney World and curbing your daily activity to save energy for a nighttime race doesn’t work for everyone.
• Also, for those participating in the race, there was little time to enjoy the party afterwards. With an earlier start there is more opportunity to enjoy those attractions which are open for the party.
• Some consideration should be given to the medals. The 13K participants and the 6.5K participants both received the same medals even though the 13K participants ran twice the distance and paid more for registration. At least maybe change the ribbon color and décor to identify the course covered by the medal wearer.
• Regarding the course, there should be two corrals at the start with the 13K corral up front and the 6.5K corral at the rear. When the race started there were 6.5K participants in the midst of the 13.5K participants. This made for an awkward start.
• I’m sure I speak for most of the 13K participants when I say to scrap the gravel road portion of the race. It is difficult enough to run at night without worrying about an uneven surface. A slight adjustment in the course still allows the finish line to remain where it is.

After the race several of us had a late dinner/early breakfast at Picabu’s at the Dolphin Hotel…at around 2:30 A.M.

I got back to my room around 3:30 A.M. and after a much welcomed shower hit the pillow about 4 A.M. but never really got into a deep sleep.

I was up at 7:30 and spent the morning strolling around Pop Century in search of information regarding the beginning of the Legendary Years Phase for this resort. All I could find was some refurbishing of the Generation Gap Bridge.

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I called up Disney Dining and was surprised that I was able to make an ADR at Boma for dinner that evening. I was planning to dine with some friends from the United Kingdom who favor the restaurant.

I headed into Epcot and had lunch with Beci Mahnken of MEI & Mouse Fan Travel®
At the Garden Grill in the Land pavilion. It was a very enjoyable and restful lunch.

I then went on a search to locate a special Halloween pin for my wife but came up short.

In the late afternoon I left Epcot and drove over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where I met my friends for dinner.

We checked into Boma and waited to be called.

When our little gizmo buzzed and flashed we went to the podium where we were surprised to be announced as “Boma Family of the Night.” This meant we were escorted into the restaurant serenaded by drums and were seated at the front center table and made our way to the food before everyone else.

It was a nice final meal for me as Boma is one of my favorite restaurants and my company was exceptional

We then went to Epcot with plans to watch Illuminations before finishing the night at Beaches and Cream where my companions had visions of attacking the Kitchen Sink.

However after seeing the Oh Canada! film I felt the fatigue suddenly hit me. The past two days were finally catching up to me. I knew that sleeping just seven hours over two days while touring the parks and putting in an eight mile race would lead to fatigue at some point. This was that point.

I bid my friends farewell and would see them again in January for the WDW half-marathon.

I passed through the International Gateway and made my way along Boardwalk, stopping to capture my last photograph of the trip.

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It was one of my shortest yet most intense WDW trips because of many factors, mostly of trying to squeeze so much into a few days. If I could have done it over I would not have done the MNSSHP the night before the race. I hope someone besides myself learns from this experience.

However, I came away from the trip with the satisfaction of knowing that I made each moment count as I spent 90% of my time with friends and it seems that more and more that seems to be the most important part of my WDW trips…to share the joy of the Disney culture with those with whom I care about.

One thing for sure….it made me even more excited to look forward to Mousefest.

Speaking of Mousefest

Are you ready? We are less than a month away and those on the Mousefest Organization Committee, Sponsors, and everyone else are working very feverishly to get everything in place for this annual event.

I’ve been making a list of things I have to do and this is the week I need to complete some tasks.

One of my tasks is to prepare for a new meet this year. It takes place on Thursday, Dec. 6th at 1 P.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom. The meet is called “Mousefest 101” and it is geared towards helping first time Mousefest attendees understand what Mousefest is all about and how to get the most out of the event. I will be joined by Mark Goldhaber who is co-hosting the event with me.

If you are coming to your first Mousefest please try and attend this meet. I’m sure it will help you enjoy Mousefest.

A Word about January

We are about eight weeks from the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Where should you be? Well, I’m thinking that for those of you planning to run in your first half-marathon that you should be in the 8-9 mile mark right now.

At this point you should be taking note of your pace.

Over the next few weeks we’ll talk about what you should consider as we close in on the race, be it your first half or full marathon.

For now as you get into the 8 or 9 mile workouts consider giving yourself an extra day or two of rest between these workouts. Your body will appreciate the gesture.

Sometime in the next few weeks we will all be receiving race information from the race organizers. This information will include a waiver sheet and a booklet that explains just about all you will need to know about the race.

Keep your eye out for that chunk of mail.

I’ll be back in a few days, and that’s a promise!


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About MouseFest

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The View from Scopa Towers in the MouseFest category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

MagicMeets is the previous category.

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