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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
Top Disney World Internet Sites: All Ears Net
Friday, February 7, 2003
by Mike Scopa, MousePlanet staff writer
The Internet has certainly established itself as a tool to help locate all kinds of information, and there are plenty of sites devoted to all things Disney. In this session we will look at some of the best sites devoted to Walt Disney World and get the "story behind the story" on how these sites came about.
All Ears Net
When you want specific Walt Disney World information and you want it fast, you cannot find a better site than Deb Wills' All Ears Net, formerly known as Deb's Unofficial Walt Disney World Information Guide. It is the most comprehensive Walt Disney World site on the Internet, and offers the easiest navigation to just about anything you need to know about the Walt Disney World Resort.
If you want information on tickets, resorts, operating hours, menus, telephone numbers, theme parks or just how to go about planning a trip, Deb's got it. Deb's site may very well be the most bookmarked Disney site on the Web because it provides the quickest access to all base information on Walt Disney World.
Happy 7th Birthday
So where did it all began? It started back on January 17, 1996, when Deb Wills launched an AOL Web site called "Deb's Disney Digest." Does that name sound familiar? I see some heads nodding out there. That's right! Many of us have taken this journey along with Deb.
So what prompted Deb to launch this site?
"I felt there was a severe lack of information available about vacationing at Walt Disney World", said Deb. "When I plan trips, I like to thoroughly research the destination beforehand. The only things available in the mid-'90s were the Birnbaum and Sehlinger books, and a few very small fan sites online."
Deb felt that the Internet needed to offer more to those who sought out and thirsted for knowledge on the Walt Disney World Resort.
Deb says, "My original objective was to begin to fill the void of information online. I began with menus and behind the scenes tour reports, because these were the things I was most interested in at the time. Online menus were nonexistent. In fact, until a few years ago, All Ears Net was the only place to go for menus! "
There were other reasons for Deb's motivation to put together an informative site on Walt Disney World.
Deb noticed that there were very few Disney online communities like bulletin boards and message boards. She became a regular in the rec.arts.disney.parks (r.a.d.p.) newsgroup and she and the other regulars found themselves constantly being asked the same questions over and over again. Soon a Disney FAQ team was formed to handle these questions on Deb's site.
Word soon spread about Deb's site and the information it provided. Deb recalls, "As folks learned about the site, there were always suggestions of things to add, and fortunately, I was able to do just that."
A Labor of Love
To say that Deb's site is a labor of love would be an understatement. Not only has many Walt Disney World fans gotten what they wanted out of the site... so has Deb.
Her words tell it all.
"To say my life has been enriched beyond my dreams would be an understatement. I am really blessed! Not only am I able to channel my obsessive personality traits into something productive, but also I am able to help people at the same time. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction being able to help folks out. And, along the way, Tinkerbell has allowed me to spread some of her pixie dust! I have received many messages from readers thanking me for the information I have provided and for saving them hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on their vacation and that makes it all worth it!"
Along the way, Deb has truly made use of her site in ways that should be seen as a model for others. Sure, she's developed special friendships with people around the world, but there's something else… more special… more important to Deb…. something that hits home.
"All Ears Net also provided me with a tremendous vehicle for championing my personal cause the fight against breast cancer," said Deb. "As a 17-year breast cancer survivor, I participated in three Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day 60-mile walks, and my generous readers enabled me to raised more than $24,000 in 2 years!"
It doesn't stop there. Deb works with Pink Ribbon Cruises, which donates a portion of every cruise booked to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Along with Chuck Wagner, who played the Beast on Broadway, Deb plans to attend a Disney Magic 7-Day Pink Ribbon Cruise on September 20, 2003, as a special guest.
This lady never stops.
Deb keeps looking to improve All Ears Net. "I want to provide my readers with the most current, dependable, and accurate unofficial information about the Walt Disney World Resort, with a little fun mixed in, too! Through my advertising affiliates, my goal is to continue to offer high-quality services and products for my readers."
As far as the future goes, Deb sees no limits. "As Walt himself said," explains Deb, "If you can dream it, you can do it! I've certainly found that out!"
Last September, Deb launched a new site design, and the site never missed a beat. The readers loved it. Complacency is not in Deb Wills' dictionary.
"We are continuing to fine tune and hone the new design," said Deb. "During the coming months, we will be making a number of changes to the hardware aspect of the site, which will provide even quicker access than users now experience."
Thus the site will continue to serve as Deb says as, "an informative and entertaining place to visit."
In our next session, we look another Walt Disney World Internet site that stands out because of its special niche.
Here's a list of the trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives!
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, "The Trip Planner" for more travel planning information!
MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.