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Mike Scopa

Sites Worth Citing

Visits on the Internet that make your surfing magical

Friday, November 5, 2004
by Mike Scopa, MousePlanet staff writer

I thought I'd point out some of the Disney related sites I think are informative and helpful. First we will look at a relatively young Disney internet community, followed by a site that some of you may find useful for a special visit to Walt Disney World, and finally a site that will both educate and amuse you.

Magical Mountain

Last year at Mousefest I met some very interesting people. One such person was Nathan Rose, founder of Magical Mountain (link). I was the first to admit that I knew very little about this site but always being interested in seeing what's out there I sat down with Nathan to get a better idea as to the origins of his site and what he sees as its future. I thought I'd share with you what he shared with me.

About nine years ago, Nathan began working in the Web-development industry. As he honed his skills, he soon discovered a need to use those skills in an area he really loved. However, he could never seem to find that right area or time to do it right.

Then one day he thought about Walt Disney World and said, “During my early years I always enjoyed Walt Disney World, and would often go to the parks at least once a year. That changed once I met my wife Linda (in the fall of 1999). Throughout the first few months of dating we visited Walt Disney World several times and eventually got engaged there. We then proceeded to have our honeymoon on the Disney Cruise Line. It was then I decided upon what shape my Web site would take; A Walt Disney World Web site.”

It was at this point, being a full-blown Disney enthusiast, Nathan decided to start selling Disney items online, and work in a field that held so much meaning for him.

In the fall of 2002, Nathan found that online e-commerce sites did not fully meet the needs of selling Disneyana. It was at this point in time that Nathan designed and launched Magical Mountain, an e-commerce Web site for Disneyana.

Nathan was satisfied with Magical Mountain, but always thought it could be something special.

He went on to describe how his site changed over its first few years in existence. Nathan explains, “Magical Mountain has gone through many renditions since its inception. In the beginning it was strictly an e-commerce site selling Disneyana. I decided the site needed to constantly grow. We slowly added the Magical Countdown Clock, the pictures, the toolbar, and finally the news stories.”

In January 2004 Magical Mountain became a limited liability corporation and this day continues to grow in size and information daily. Aside from selling Disneyana products Magical Mountain also offers its visitors a wealth of information on both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

The site also helps its visitors with travel information and offers a Magical Countdown Clock, Walt Disney World photos, guest columns from experts on Walt Disney World, and much more.

Beyond the e-commerce aspect of the site there is also a community forum area in which guests can discuss all things Disney.

I asked Nathan to assume I was surfing the Web in search of a Disney Fan site or two to add to my Favorites list and gave him a chance to tell me about the strengths of his site. He beamed as he described his site and said, “I would have to say our Magical Countdown Clock, our Magical Mountain toolbar, our high resolutions photos of Walt Disney World, and our daily news.”

Rose also pointed out that there is more to come. “Everyday Magical Mountain is evolving (some of it is behind the scenes). I am constantly reviewing which pages are most popular, and trying to add more functionality to those areas first. If there doesn't appear to be anything further to do in a particular area I brainstorm until I find something to do.”

As to what lies ahead Rose says, “In the future I envision Magical Mountain to be a hub that guests can visit for all their Disney World needs. I have also currently expanded to become an independent travel agent for The Magic For Less travel, and the early stages of a new Web site MouseTravel.net are currently live.”

Nathan Rose currently lives in South Florida with his wife, Linda, has a stepdaughter, Lauren, and granddaughter, Victoria. His family vacations in Walt Disney World over 12 times a year, and he is member of the Disney Vacation Club and various Disney enthusiast societies.

Gift of a Lifetime

I'd say about four or five times a year I'll get a phone call or an e-mail asking me who to call in Walt Disney World to help make for a very special trip. This usually involves something in the romance department like an engagement.

Or someone will say, “Hey Mike, got any special ideas on how to celebrate a special birthday at Walt Disney World?” I even get questions on how to put together a family reunion at Walt Disney World.

Sure there are several things to do to celebrate these occasions. It does take some time and careful planning to get everything just right.

Over the years however there has been an enterprising group of individuals (or pixies) who recognized this special need for many WDW guests and offers this service. These pixies can be found at Gifts of a Lifetime (link).

Here are some of the services they provide:

  • They call their events “Pixie Dust Occasions” and they include such things as scavenger hunts within the theme parks.
  • Birthdays can be celebrated with secret parties with in the park, especially in a favorite attraction.
  • The “I Love You” events are designed for engagements or honeymoons.
  • Wedding proposals
  • The Catching the Magic event involves the pixies discreetly following you around in the park and snapping photos to be later presented as a gift. This would work great for an engagement, honeymoon, or even a family reunion.

So tuck this site away in your favorites because you never know when you may find yourself either planning or helping someone plan a special WDW vacation.

Please Leave Your Brain at the Gate

That phrase is the subtitle of the Web site Stupidguesttricks.com (link) and that's exactly what it's all about: things that guests do that make you go “Hmm?"

In August, a cast member friend of mine mentioned this Web site. Upon my first visit I found the content to be amusing, fascinating, and even troublesome.

The site is basically a forum for mostly cast members who describe some of the things they see in the course of their jobs. I think you will be amazed as to what some guests do when visiting one of the WDW theme parks.

For instance, attractions like Splash Mountain and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror have points in the ride where photos are taken. If you've ever gone to look for your photo and never found it there's a good reason for its absence. If a guest did something “un-Disneylike” then that photo was probably discarded. Use your imagination.

I'm sure you've all been in an attraction where flash photography is not allowed, yet someone always ends up snapping away. This forum talks about how some of the cast member deal with these “flashers” and gives a greater appreciation for what they do in their job.

Imagine you are a cast member and a guest comes up to you and asks where the Star Trek ride is or in which direction they will find the Limo Ride. Yes, cast member hear many names for attractions and hopefully they know what the guest is looking for when they hear the name of the attraction.

The name game doesn't stop with attractions. This forum also recaps some guests who really have no knowledge of some characters. Some do not know the difference between Pluto and Goofy. Then there's the problem when Chip and Dale are mistaken for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Of course there are the not so funny episodes where guests do things to endanger themselves, other guests, cast members, and even the theme parks. Would you believe guests who smoke on the Walt Disney World Express, stand up while riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, or stuff tissue paper into their childrenŐs shoes in full view of cast members so that their children will meet height requirements.

Finally there are those neither so pleasant nor funny moments when a guest angrily confronts a cast member. Such stories will give you a higher appreciation for what WDW cast members go through.

I think that everyone who is planning a trip to Walt Disney World should visit the Web site (link) and become educated in the area of theme park etiquette.

These three sites have a little bit for everyone and my hope is that someone out there reading these words will benefit from this information.

Next time

It's that time of year when Walt Disney World gets ready for the holidays. We'll discuss what's in store for guests this upcoming holiday season as they visit Mickey and the gang.

Right here is where I'd say, “Class dismissed.” That has gotten old and it just doesn't ring right so from now on we we'll part with the words from a parade that use to grace Main Street U.S.A.:

Remember the Magic!


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

Mike brings his experience to MousePlanet in a series of lessons to help you with all the phases of planning a WDW trip.

Mike pays special attention to all the details that ensure your family has the best possible time at the Happiest Place on Earth.

You can contact Mike here.

OTHER LINKS

Here are trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives:

Michael Scopa -- August 1999 -- Walt Disney World (CSR)

Michael J. Scopa -- July 1997 -- Walt Disney World (WL/CBR)

Mike Scopa -- July 1994 -- Walt Disney World (WL / CBR)

Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, “The Trip Planner” for more travel planning information.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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