I was originally planning to write this story as straight reportage of the events that MousePlanet hosted at Mousefest this year. But after all of the weekly Park Updates and the Business of Magic articles I've written this year, I just have to take advantage of the opportunity to write something chatty for a change, so you'll just have to humor me.
Last year, I was completely unprepared for and overwhelmed by Mousefest. I had no idea how many people would be there, how nice everyone would be, or how many people Mike Scopa knew. I was much better prepared this year.
Part of the closing of my Mousefest recap article last year read:
It was wonderful to get to meet everyone and to finally be able to put faces to names. I just wish that I was better prepared for everything going on. Next year, I think that my personal schedule will change to include more meets with other communities, and perhaps an extra MousePlanet event or two. Yes, I have a feeling that MousePlanet will be arranging additional meets outside of the big Meet next year, though there's time to work on that.
I'm pleased to say that the mission was accomplished. I was ready for the events surrounding Mousefest (though some of the planning of our stuff went down to the wire). I was able to attend more of the meets with other communities. Oh, and we ran three MousePlanet events this year, with great success. In fact, the biggest problem this year was that there wasn't enough time to talk to everybody!
The first event of Mousefest brought a small group of us to ride the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Photo courtesy of Mark Goldhaber
Let's start with some of the events run by other communities. I was able to attend the first scheduled event of this year's Mousefest, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster/Tower of Terror meet organized by Disney World Trivia's (link) Lou Mongello and Magical Mountain's Nathan Rose. Our little group had a blast riding the two thrill rides, then besieged a PhotoPass photographer with about a half-dozen of our cameras to take pictures for us. Afterward, most of us continued on to the next meet, where Mousefest folks filled about half of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire ? Play It studio, and Mousefester JamesD got into the hot seat.
There seems to be some disagreement about the correct answer at the DisneyWorldTrivia.com TriviaFest. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
I got to hunt for Hidden Mickeys at the Studios with Steve Barrett, the man who literally wrote the book on the subject (link), visit the Adventurer's Club with Lou and Nathan, and attend DisneyWorldTrivia.com's TriviaFest. During the Very Merry Christmas Party, I viewed Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with Ray Sharpton and the DISboards folks, and watched the fireworks from the lower Rose Garden with a whole mess of folks from AllEarsNet and the Tagrel forums. I even had time to stop by the launch of Kevin Yee's Ultimate Orlando Challenge on Saturday night, though I didn't have time to play as I had to run off to an event featuring Jim Hill of JimHillMedia.com and Disney historian Jim Korkis.
Ray Sharpton welcomes all comers to the DISboards meet at Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas during the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Oh, and of course there was the "webmasters' breakfast" to allow the authors and other Web folks in attendance to have some quiet time together before the madness of the Mega Meet. After the difficulty of talking to everybody during the same event last year at Tubbi's Buffeteria at the Dolphin, where our mobility was restricted and the tables and chairs made it too easy for people to sit and not meet everybody in the room (guilty!), having the event in a suite at the Swan made it so much nicer. The open space allowed everyone to flow through the room and definitely made it easier to mix and mingle.
Josh Fippen and Dann Hazel, authors of Making Walt Disney World Vacation Memories (link), chat with Jennifer Marx (and young Alexander Marx) of the Passporter travel guides (link) during the webmaster breakfast, while Bob Sehlinger, author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (link), chats with MousePlanet's Mike Scopa on the balcony. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
OK, enough alreadywe want to hear about MousePlanet's events! (At least, that's what I think I hear you saying.)
So how did our events go? Overall, I have to say that I was very pleased at how things went.
Mark Goldhaber explains the history and rules of MouseAdventure before sending people off to solve puzzles in the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Mike Scopa.
Thursday morning, we had a crowd of about 20 to 25 people for the inaugural Mini-MouseAdventure at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Latecomers would boost the number of those attempting the game that morning to about 30 to 35. The event went off well, though we had a couple of late glitches in the scavenger hunt portion of the event, when the Fastpass machines for Mickey's PhilharMagic were not opened for the day and we failed to realize that only one location in the entire Magic Kingdom still served relish in packets. Reaction to the event was overwhelmingly positive, though, with opinion divided between those who thought that the event was the right length and difficulty and those who wanted something a little longer and tougher. We'll have to re-evaluate before next year's event.
A group works their way through the mini-MouseAdventure puzzles. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Quests included having folks look for specific windows on Main Street to solve a puzzle, the famed MouseAdventure Evil Paragraph, and the first of two tributes to the Parker Brothers of our MousePad discussion forums (link), where a puzzle asked to find which of the two spent more on lunch, given their food choices and locations. (Hey, it was a food question! Who else's names should we have used?)
Crowds gather for the Mike Scopa Dole Whip Meet. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
We wrapped up Mini-MouseAdventure by going through the questions and answers next to Aloha Isle, as our second event was about to get underway. The Mike Scopa Dole Whip Meet was by far our most well-attended MousePlanet event of the week. Whether it was the fact that Mike Scopa Knows Everybody or just the lure of the pineapple soft-serve treat, we had well over 50 people in attendance. The mix-and-mingle lasted quite some time, and then we finally broke up and went our separate ways. Much discussion and fun was had by all.
The groups toasts to NJ Mike and 91wingnut with their mousssses. Photo courtesy of Mark Goldhaber.
Despite people having an extra few minutes to show up (due to delays in my cleaning up our table at the Mega Mouse Meet), the event with the highest percentage of no-shows was probably our long-anticipated Shocolate Mousssse Meet Saturday evening. However, we did have about a dozen people there, including author Kevin Yee, who generously handed out copies of his book 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland (link) to all in attendance. [His new companion book, 101 Things You Never Knew about Walt Disney World, has just been released, and is available now at his Ultimate Orlando site (link) with wider release at the end of January (link)]. Of course, since they started the whole Shocolate Mousssse phenomenon on our discussion forums, we began the event with a toast to the Parker Brothers. While the crowd was smaller than expected, that made it much easier to hold a conversation that we could all participate in. Therefore, I must deem MousssseFest 2005 to be a success.
MousePlanet is proud to have been a Gold Sponsor of this year's Mousefest. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
And then, there was the Mega Mouse Meet. Last year, things in Ballroom 10 at the Swan were so crowded that it was hard to make your way through the crowds, let alone hear yourself over the din of so many voices in such a small space. This year, the event was moved to the Northern Hemisphere Ballroom E at the Dolphin, which was at least three times the size of last year's facility. There were probably a great deal more people coming through the room than last year (I don't have final numbers from the organizers yet), but the room was much less crowded and the noise level was much lower.
The group of authors, webmasters and sponsors from this year's Mousefest dwarfs the group from last year. Photo by Lisa K. Berton.
It was great to spend some time with folks that I had met previously, and to chat with dozens of new acquaintances. Our official representation included the advertised trio of Mike Scopa, David Koenig and myself, plus a surprise appearance by staff member Brian Bennett, who was able to leave a business event long enough to join us for the Meet.
This year's MousePlanet presence at the Mega Mouse Meet included Mark Goldhaber, Brian Bennett, David Koenig, and Mike Scopa. (And we didn't even plan to line up in height order!) Photo by Lisa K. Berton.
Another special guest at the Mega Mouse Meet that I must mention was Margaret Kerry, the life model for Tinker Bell in the Disney animated feature Peter Pan. This delightful woman, who is still sprinkled with pixie dust, was the guest of the also-delightful Kendra Trahan, author of Disneyland Detective (link) and the new president of the NFFC, the Club for Disneyana Enthusiasts.
I met Tink! Photo by Dave Marx.
This year's event was even bigger and more successful than last year's. I can only imagine what next year's event will bring. Mousefest 2006 will be held December 3-7 (Sea) and December 7-12 (Land). We will update our Mousefest information page (link) to reflect next year's event dates in the near future, and to add our 2006 meets as they are scheduled.
Thanks to all who made this year's event a huge success, and we'll see you all next year!
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.