Well, it's that time of year again, when all Disney Internet addicts' thoughts turn to one thing: "Can I make it down for MouseFest this year?"
As of the close of registration on Tuesday, 2,071 Disney fans from eight countries and 48 states (we have to put more pressure on those fans from North Dakota and Wyoming next year) have registered as attendees to do just that, and 276 of those fans will also be going on the MouseFest cruise aboard the Disney Wonder from December 3-7 prior to the land portion, which takes place from December 7-11.
For those of you who have not heard of this event, it is a gathering of the tribes, of a sort. The brainchild of AllEarsNet's Deb Wills and Passporter's Jennifer and Dave Marxwho, at an annual gathering of the rec.arts.disney.parks Usenet newsgroup (r.a.d.p., or RADP), wondered why all of the different groups couldn't all come together and meet each otherMouseFest is a time for all of the Disney Internet communities to come together once a year to chat, laugh, hold all sorts of meets andin generaljust enjoy each other's company. Whether you visit just one Web site or dozens, whether you collect all guidebooks or none, whether you listen to every podcast or don't even know what a podcast is, you'll be welcomed with open arms by all communities, and you'll have a chance to find out about all of the cool stuff that's out there that you haven't heard about yet.
This year's MouseFest will be bigger than ever before, with 21 Web sites, about a dozen podcasts, 11 authors, the RADP Usenet newsgroup, and even Disney's PhotoPass as official participants. Yep, PhotoPass has decided that the Disney Internet community is an important thought leader in the acceptance of Disney products at the theme parks, and wants to hear from everybody about their opinions regarding the service.
You know, every year when I write about MouseFest, I try to write a straightforward piece with a news slant, but it's really hard to do that when it's such a personal experience. ("What? How can a gathering of 2,000+ people be a personal experience?")
Well, all of the attendees are not in the same place at the same time. At least, not all at once. While most of the attendees usually manage to stop in at the Mega Mouse Meet at one point or another, that's spread out over two and a half hours. And that's only a small portion of MouseFest (though it's definitely the most impressive).
For those unfamiliar with the event, the Mega Mouse Meet is a time when all of the participating communities, Web sites, podcasts, authors, and so forth host tables in a large ballroom at the Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel, and anyone that wants to talk to any of them can stop by and schmooze with as many people as they care to meet. In addition, there are door prizes and other giveaways. MousePlanet will be providing a door prize of a gift basket featuring two nights at the Radisson Resort Orlando - Celebration (thanks to the generosity of that resort, a MousePlanet sponsor), and will also be holding drawings for a couple of MousePlanet T-shirts at our table. There's even a kids' table in case your children would rather color and play with stickers or listen to a story than walk around the room with you.
Of course, a great deal of the fun of MouseFest is the various community meets scheduled over the course of the five days of the land portion. In fact, there are about 75 such meets scheduledI should know, as I served as the schedule coordinator for the land portion. With so many communities scheduling so many meets, it was hard to try to keep conflicts between meets to a minimum, especially in high-demand time slots.
In addition to welcoming visitors to our tables at the Mega Mouse Meet, MousePlanet is officially hosting three events, with more events being hosted by MousePlanet personalities.
On Thursday, December 7, MousePlanet is hosting what is expected to be the first major event of the land portion of MouseFest with Mike Scopa's Third Annual Dole Whip Meet from 3-4 p.m. at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland. Friday, December 8, will see the second annual mini-MouseAdventure, launching at 11:30 a.m. from the lower seating area at Flame Tree BBQ on Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The difficulty level has been turned up a little this year, but it should still be possible for teams to complete this year's event in the allotted time. After the Mega Mouse Meet on Saturday, December 9, I'll be hosting the second annual MousssseFest (a.k.a. the Parker Brothers Memorial Shocolatte Mousssse Meet), an event in honor of the favorite snack of our MousePad discussion forums. It'll take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot's France pavilion.
MousePlanet's David Koenig is hosting a Ramble in Roy's Footprints" meet on Sunday, December 10 (inspired by the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour at Disneyland), departing from the former Swan Boats dock in the Magic Kingdom's lower Rose Garden (that little pavilion down by the water to the right of the Hub, between the bridges to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, across the water from Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café) I'm hoping that David will be giving at least a small preview of his upcoming book, Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World.
I'll also be wearing my other hat as co-host of the Magical Moment Podcast, which will be hosting a gathering in the garden behind the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, December 9. My co-host, Mike Demopoulos, will be hosting his own meet aboard the Wonder on Wednesday, December 6, at 10:30 a.m. in Diversions, along with joining me at our Epcot meet.
Finally, groups of MousePad discussion forum members will be gathering for meals during MouseFest, with probably the largest being dinner at the Biergarten following MousssseFest on Saturday night. Reservations have already been made, but if you're interested, stop by the Walt Disney World forum, check the list of meets and ask if there are any spots left at a meal that you'd like to attend.
But wait, there's more! ("More?" "Yes, more!") There are over 70 other official events and more unofficial events during the course of MouseFest. From the huge fireworks meet during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on December 7 to the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris meet the next morning; from Lou Mongello's TriviaFest at the Magic Kingdom to Steve Barrett's Hidden Mickey Hunts in all four parks; from Tagrel.com's Brunch at the Ball and Stop, Drop and Roll meets to the RADP Adventurer's Club meets; and so many more, there's wall-to-wall fun to be had, and lots of camaraderie to be enjoyed.
You can attend as many or as few events as you like. Some folks will go to one or two meets, others (like myself) will try to cram in as many meets as humanly possible. No matter which way you slice it, though, MouseFest is tons of fun at a time when the parks are beautiful, the crowds are light and the weather is mild. And with a couple thousand other Disney fans around, how can the meets not be fun?
I'll have a wrap-up of the events next month, but in the meantime I look forward to meeting all of the MousePlanet readers and community members (as well as those who haven't yet seen our site) that are able to join us this year. And if you can't make it this time, you owe it to yourself to try to make it in a future year.
The dates for MouseFest 2007 are December 2-6 (sea) and December 6-10 (land). If you plan even further ahead, the dates for 2008 are December 7-11 (sea) and December 11-15 (land). Dates for 2009 (December 6-10 and 10-14) and 2010 (December 5-9 and 9-13) have already been set, as well.
Come and join the fun!
(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.