As December pulls into sight, so does Mousefest 2003.
What? You haven't heard about Mousefest? Well, you have come to the right place.
In today's session, let's look at this thing called Mousefest and shed some light on its beginnings. We also focus on what the 2003 event has in store for all those Disney fans heading to Walt Disney World in early December.
If we were to look for a suitable one-liner to describe or define Mousefest, it would probably be, Mousefest is the largest Walt Disney World gathering of Disney fans from around the Internet."
Disney fans have connected through these online communities that have developed over the last 10 years, and Mousefest offers an opportunity for everyone to meet members of their own community at Walt Disney World, the venue that brought them together.
Some of these communities include the rec.arts.disney.parks (RADP) Usenet newsgroup, as well as fans of such Disney sites as All Ears Net, Passporter, Mousesavers, WDWMAGIC, Disney Dollarless, and of course, our own MousePlanet.
Also included are guidebook communities led by WDW guidebooks such as Passporter WDW and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
This year's Mousefest celebration takes place from November 30 to December 8. At last count, Mousefest 2003 is encompassing approximately 24 online communities.
The term Mousefest is new for 2003, and is the official moniker for this year's gathering. You might say that the beginnings of such a gathering began in the mid-1990s. The subscribers of the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup started holding some relatively informal meets or get-togethers at Walt Disney World. There were also regional meets held for the RADP community, to provide opportunities for others to meet face-to-face and get to know one another on a more personal level.
As the Disney Internet community grew, some of the original RADPers founded other Disney sites, and the entire Disney Web community exploded. Soon, there were not just Disney fan sites, but message boards, forums, and chatsbuilding many ways to connect with Disney fans all around the world.
So when would be a good time to hold such a gathering of Disney fans?
Walt Disney World historically had always seen light crowds in early December. Thanksgiving Week was busy, but there was always a lull between that week and the week before Christmas. That, plus the off-season rates made the first week in December the most viable candidate. It probably didn't hurt that the timeframe guaranteed that the weather wouldn't be too hot.
Soon, the firstand sometimes secondweek in December became recognized as RADP meet week. Even though many of the early RADPers may have gone on to start new Web sites and join new communities, the original RADP meet still served to anchor an annual opportunity for people to get back in touch and visit with old friends and make new ones. It is through the humble beginning of the RADP meets from the mid-'90s that we saw the evolution of what today we call Mousefest.
What happens at Mousefest? Plenty.
Remember that first and foremost, Mousefest is an opportunity for Disney fans to meet those who they have met and interacted with online. This interaction may have begun via message boards, chat rooms, e-mail, and perhaps eventually led to phone interaction. Today's technology has even produced the ability to hold Disney chats online in which all participants can speak to one another through their personal computer or laptop.
It makes sense that most Mousefest activities would revolve around things to do in Walt Disney World.
There are some communities that will get together to enjoy a new attraction for the first time. This December, a number of people are heading to Mission: Space at Epcot to experience that attraction as a group. Others will trek over to Mickey's Philharmagic so they can discuss it together afterwards. Still others may want to enjoy watching the Magic Kingdom's new nighttime spectacular Wishes! with their Internet friends.
Many will meet while dining, which allows for an extended time to talk and get to know one another without worrying about standing in a queue.
Some may hold contests, while others may just want to sit in a Walt Disney World atmosphere and get to know one another. Popular eateries such as the Biergarten in World Showcase and Trail's End Buffeteria in Fort Wilderness are favorites.
There are also special parties and get-togethers that are held throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Some of these are private, while others are open to the general public.
On Saturday, December 6, Mousefest holds its first Mega-Mouse Meet. This is an opportunity for Disney fans to meet Disney webmasters and authors, all under one roof, at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
At this Mega-Mouse Meet, Disney fans will find well-known Disney Web site founders and leaders, led by All Ears Net founder Deb Wills, Ahnalira Koan and Alan Moore of Our Laughing Place, Binnie Betten from Disney Dollarless, and Mary Waring of Mousesavers. Also present will be Disney guidebook authors such as Jennifer Watson and Dave Marx of Passporter WDW, and Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa from The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. For an up-to-date list of the Disney founders, leaders and authors who will be there, go to the Meet and Greet page at All Ears Net.
Many of these people have communicated with each other for years, and are excited to meet each other face to face. They are also looking forward to meeting all the Disney fans who frequent their sites and read their books.
The Mega-Mouse Meet will be the ultimate opportunity for Disney cyberfriends to meet and mingle.
There are designated park days during Mousefest 2003. Each day, the designated park represents the focal point for Mousefest visitors to meet and share the wonders of that theme park.
Park designation days offer everyone an extended opportunity to learn more about their new found friends and to enjoy what may have very well been the reason that pulled them all together.
This year park designation days are:
If you are fortunate enough to be heading to Orlando for Mousefest, please come and say hello to yours truly. I will be attending as an official representative of MousePlanet, covering Mousefest for our readers and hoping to meet some of you during this magical gathering hmmm, catchy phrase.
The 2003 holiday season has seen some changes for the Walt Disney World resort. We will try and get a handle on what is happening and not happening this year at Walt Disney World during the Christmas season.
I would like to make a correction to something I mentioned in my article The Trouble with Epcot, published on November 17. The wooden roller coaster I mentioned was not planned to be built in Epcot. The coaster was actually being considered for Boardwalk. However, the massive structure would have been visible from World Showcase and that was not a good thing, thus the project was dropped for now.
My thanks to friend and Epcot aficionado Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media for helping me clear that up.
(Send an email to Mike Scopa)
Mike Scopa first visited Walt Disney World almost 30 years ago. Planning a trip was simple back in the 1970s, with only the Magic Kingdom and a few Disney-owned resorts in Orlando.
Over the past 11 years, Mike has been perfecting his WDW trip-planning skills as he has hosted chats and bulletin boards about Disney for a Fortune 100 company.