Now It's Time to Say Good-bye

by Mike Scopa, contributing writer

Now It's Time to Say Good-bye

That phrase has probably been overused but it is definitely a recognizable Disney sign-off from the Mickey Mouse Club and I feel appropriate to use it for this, my last column as a MousePlanet staff columnist.

This journey started about seven years ago and some 174 columns later I am grateful to everyone on MousePlanet for giving me the opportunity to offer everything and anything I could to those in need of some Walt Disney World vacation tips and to those who just wanted to join me as we explored the fascination of Disney magic.

There are so many people to thank that I'm afraid if I start listing them I will no doubt miss a few; but I'll take the chance.

Colleague Appreciation

I'd like to thank Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix and the rest of the MousePlanet Board of Directors for being so generous in giving me latitude regarding where I wanted to go with my column. Their flexibility offered me a chance to bring to my readers some insights that I would have never been allowed to had I been "slotted." To AVP and her board I am forever grateful for their faith in me.

I would also like to thank Mark Goldhaber for all his work and devotion towards the area of Walt Disney World content. Many times I would get a question and that answer would come to me only after checking Mark's WDW Park Update.

For my money, no one works harder than Mark and the proof is in the circles under his eyes; thanks Mark.

It goes without saying that dribble is dribble until someone puts it through a filter to make it read as something other than dribble. That is where Lani Teshima comes in. Without Lani serving as my editor I am sure that my words would have been surely not received as well as they have been over the years. An editor's job has always seemed to me to be a thankless job and I could not leave without saluting Lani and her incredible passion for making us all look good. Every compliment I received regarding any column should have had a cc that says "Thanks Lani."

Finally, I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Brian Bennett, who I met one night some 18 years ago on an AOL Disney chat. He was known as DVCClubber or something like that. It was Brian who brought me to MousePlanet after reading one of my rather long Walt Disney World trip reports. Brian asked me if I was interested in taking my trip experiences and turning them into a "seminar" of sorts and the rest is history.

There is no doubt that I would not be where I am today if it were not for Brian's foresight as to what I could bring to MousePlanet and its readers.

For that foresight I will always be incredibly appreciative of his faith in me and the special friendship we share.

There are other colleagues of MousePlanet who I also have great respect for and I will miss them except when I visit the site to read them each and every week. To all of you I give you my best wishes for continued success.

My Favorite Columns

As for my own column I do have some favorites that I am somewhat proud of.

  • "Magic Kingdom: Overnight – A tall tale of spending the night" (April 18, 2003) – This article will always be among my favorites. It was sort of an April fool's piece and from all the e-mail I received, it seemed to fool a lot of you... hopefully it entertained you as well.

  • "The Disney Zone: Why Disney magic doesn't work for some people" (March 19, 2004) – I wrote the first of my "Disney Zone" articles and the response was overwhelming. It seemed that many of you were aware of this "zoning" thing and I received many e-mails describing how it felt to be in the zone.

  • The three-part Howie's Angels series (May 7, May 21, and June 4, 2004) – created quite a stir. I remember when Part I appeared I received a ton of nasty e-mail and understandably so for these were authored by those who weren't sure as to what my perspective would be. It was gratifying to receive apologies after the final column was posted, as that told me that I had achieved my goal; to just report on what I had observed and not pass judgment on the actions of Howie's Angels.

  • "Mike's Surprise: A pleasant surprise in the mail" (April 15, 2005) – Of course I'll always remember being honored as one of the 50 Happiest Passholders on Earth contest winners and that particular column I wrote will always be special to me.

  • "The Question: Which is the perfect princess?" (September 2, 2005) – In that column, I did what every red-blooded male has done, but not always admitted. I did a very careful examination as to what Disney princess I was best matched with, and boy did I get the e-mail and the e-mail was all in fun, like that column.

  • "Dear Mr. Weiss... An open letter" (November 11, 2004) – I will always remember something special about that piece. It contained a letter to the then-President of Walt Disney World, and in the letter I made some suggestions. What was funny was that I received a letter from a WDW attorney saying that they could not let Mr. Weiss see my letter because if he did and if perchance one of my suggestions came to fruition, well you get the gist. Oh by the way, one of my suggestions was a one-day park-hopper; which by the way was offered to the public about two months later with the introduction of the Magic Your Way program. Must have been a coincidence.

  • "100 columns: A retrospective" (June 3, 2005) – I hit a milestone on with my 100th column. I had no idea when I started if I had 100 columns in me, much less 174.

  • "Thanks, Walt" (November 16, 2007) – Finally, I recently wrote a column entitled "Thanks, Walt" and what will always stick with me regarding that column is that it came out of thin air. Some 30 minutes before submitting the article I had written for that deadline something hit me and I sat down and what poured out onto the screen what would be known as "Thanks Walt" and that column says so much about Walt and about me.

There are others that come to mind, like my 2004 reporting on Hurricane Charley ("Charley and Mike, Part 1", "Charley and Mike, Part 2") and the Year of a Million Dreams Announcement that I was fortunate to attend in New York City in June 2006 ("An Event of Dreams: Disney's New Campaign").

I guess each column will have a special place in my heart because of the objective and goal of bringing to my readers something special, be it information for a future trip or just something to think about.

Why I'm Leaving

So you're thinking, "This is all well and good, Mike—but you have not explained why you are leaving MousePlanet!"

I had three goals for this farewell column: to make sure I thanked everyone for all they have done over these past seven years in support of my column; to express my thoughts on what moments and columns mean the most to me; and finally and most importantly, to explain my reasons for leaving.

Surely I had no problem with the working arrangement, my colleagues, or the "niche" for my column. On the contrary, I had the best of both worlds. All I had to do was submit a column every other week and that was it.

There were times when I could not type fast enough to put down my thoughts... be it a book review... an interview with someone who I thought my readers would have loved to talk to, some personal opinions on let's say the Dining Plan or an attraction, or just me rambling on about something called "The Disney Zone."

Then there were those times when I would put together a column and just not feel like it was worthy of the fine readership that MousePlanet has.

Over the last two years or so I've added a few things to my plate, and I have found that my time is not what it used to be.

There are some things that I want to do, and I need to free up some time to do these things—so the best way to put it is that I need to step away because I need to "pursue other interests." I firmly believe that it would not be fair to my readers and to MousePlanet if I could not continue to devote the necessary time and effort to continue writing my columns the way I need to write them.

Thus this decision had to be made. I can tell you that quite honestly I've been thinking about this since early 2006.

So as I bid everyone good-bye, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of my readers who have put up with me for these past seven years and especially to those who have taken the time to drop me a note. I appreciated all the e-mail whether it was complimentary or not... at least I knew you were out there reading me.

I have been very humbled by all the wonderful e-mail I have received over the years.

Finally, I wish my colleagues at MousePlanet continued success as they work hard day in and day out to give MousePlanet visitors the very best in the latest news and information from all things Disney.

I leave you all with the hope that through the years if I've given you, my readers, anything to remember these past seven years, I hope at least I've helped you...

...Remember the Magic!