MouseFest Primer: What to Know Before You Go and How to Get the Most out of MouseFest When You Arrive
by Guest Columnists Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Mike Scopa, and Jennifer Marx
This article appeared in the October 16, 2007 Issue #421 of ALL EARS®
Confessions of a MouseFest "Newbie"
by Michelle Scribner-MacLean
Imagine yourself at Walt Disney World about to ride an attraction with 20 other Disney-crazy friends. Got that image? Okay, now imagine four days at Disney, chatting, sharing tips, and making friends with hundreds of WDW lovers from all over the country and even throughout the world. If that sounds appealing to you then you are a perfect candidate to attend the 5th Annual MouseFest in December 2007.
Last year at this time I was doing what most Disney fans do — surfing Disney websites, reading Disney books, and listening to Disney podcasts — and I heard about this annual event called MouseFest. I learned that each year fans got together for a land and/or sea "conference" on all things Disney.
I popped onto the MouseFest website (www.Mousefest.org), and read about dozens of meets hosted by Disney authors, webmasters, podcasters, and other members of the Disney community. This sounded like something I'd be interested in so I signed up to attend the land portion of the event and was on my way!
Although MouseFest is a low-stress, highly entertaining event, there are certain things I wish I had known ahead of time that would have made the experience even more enjoyable for me. So, now that I'm a MouseFest veteran, I thought I'd share some tips for anyone thinking of attending this annual event.
Tip #1: Plan Your "Menu"
The MouseFest website has descriptions of all the meets and hosts and these are very helpful in planning your MouseFest experience. Print out the schedule for each day and check off the meets you'd like to attend and make a plan. You will not be able to do it all, so planning your menu will ensure that you get to the meets that are most interesting to you and that you're not scrambling around trying to figure out where to go next. Take note that some meets may require RSVPs to attend.
Tip #2: Make Friends
For many people, MouseFest is the time to get together with like-minded Disney fans. Before you go you might want to hop onto one of the many online Disney communities and make some connections. My experience is that people are friendly, welcoming, and many of them attend MouseFest. Some examples of websites with threaded discussions are: www.tagrel.com, www.PassPorter.com, www.MousePlanet.com, and www.disneyworldtrivia.com.
Many of the webmasters of these online communities have meets at MouseFest, which are attended by people who post in their forums, so attending one of their meets may result in you meeting some of your Disney online buddies.
Tip #3: It's Okay to Go Solo
I decided that, although I am very comfortable traveling on my own (and do so frequently), I wanted to take a friend with me to the event. She likes Disney but does not love Disney, as I do. All weekend long I felt torn — my friend wanted us to tour the parks, while I wanted to attend meets. This year when I go, I'll be attending solo and going to many more meets. There are so many friendly MouseFesters that I know I'll have a much better time.
Tip #4: Leave Room in Your Suitcase
The Mega Mouse Meet is the culminating event of MouseFest and it's a blast. You will get a chance to meet authors, webmasters, podcasters… it's a chance for the MouseFest attendees to come together all at the same time.
What I wasn't prepared for was the amount of stuff I walked away with when I left the event. Many of the hosts have booths with fun, free, Disney-related freebies which can accumulate quickly. You'll also have the opportunity to browse through Disney-themed books — I walked away with several of these. Finally, there are several raffles at the end of the gathering… so there is a chance that you'll walk away with even more Disney items — possibly even a free night at a Walt Disney World resort hotel — so save room in that suitcase!
So, right about now you might be saying, "Michelle, we are in awe of your MouseFest knowledge," but read on… there is more to be learned! Because I am still a rookie, when searching for more info, I look to the likes of those who have ventured those frontiers (or those Frontierlands) before me. I look to people like Mike Scopa…
Confessions of a MouseFest Veteran
by Mike Scopa
Yep, I confess.
Even though I've been there since the very first MouseFest I confess that the lure and anticipation of this event every December still finds me prone to making mistakes I hope those attending their first MouseFest will avoid.
So, as a reminder to me and as a guideline to those attending for the first time, here are some MouseFest Guidelines, MouseFest Do's and Don'ts, or just call them whatever you want… wait, I have a better idea.
Let's call them the "Ten Commandments of MouseFest," as seen through the eyes of a MouseFest veteran who has paid his dues, made the mistakes, and has advice for all who venture toward MouseFest 2007.
Thou Shall Plan Thy Week: We all go to WDW with a plan don't we? This is no different. Go to the MouseFest.org site and make a list of your top 10 meets. Then you will have a general plan and if possible and if need be, adjust it as you see fit.
Thou Shall Go to MouseFest 101: This meet is being offered to all those first time MouseFesters. It's a great opportunity to dive into the MouseFest atmosphere and get your questions answered early on for the land portion of Mousefest. This meet will be held Thursday, December 6, at 1 p.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace area.
Thou Shall Ask Questions: This is very important. There is no such thing as a dumb question and if you're going to your first MouseFest you will have lots of questions. Seek out those wearing special MouseFest credentials because they will most likely have the answers. Of course you can start answering your questions today by going to www.MouseFest.org or visiting the many MouseFest forums on the Disney fan sites (See Michelle's Tip #2).
Thou Shall Seek Out and Greet the MouseFest Personalities: I like to call these individuals those who "stand behind the tables," but you know who I mean. We're talking webmasters, podcasters, and authors… personalities. They are there to see you, too, so in a rhyme let me say, "Don't be shy, come up and say hi."
Thou Shall Mingle: Remember this is a gathering of Disney fans from all over the world. Their interests are your interests. They share the same love for Disney that you do so mix and mingle.
Thou Shall Not Burn the Candle at Both Ends: There is no way, I repeat, NO WAY that you can do everything listed for MouseFest. Well, you can, but you will need to have a personal physician at your side 24/7. It's just not humanly possible to do all the meets and emerge from this week without a MouseFest hangover. This should not be taken lightly as the first few days will be an adrenaline rush and then all of a sudden you can easily "hit the wall."
Thou Shall Sleep: Everyone at one time or another will hear the phrase, "No one sleeps at MouseFest." It's not true. The wise 'festers will sleep at MouseFest; otherwise, they won't enjoy their entire time. To ensure you will get enough sleep, start your day early, don't end it too late, and when you retire for the night, do not, I repeat, do not turn on your television set or jump on the laptop. Trust me.
Thou Shall Eat: I know. You're saying, "Of course I'll eat." Well it's very easy to get caught up in all the meets and talking with people and such, and you don't want to find yourself low on energy. Stuff some snacks in your pocket or bag and keep them with you, just in case. Also, if you're concerned about time then I suggest starting the day off with a big breakfast and do quick-service throughout the day.
Thou Shall Enjoy the Holiday Setting: This is especially true for those 'festers going to WDW for the first time during the Christmas holidays. Be prepared to be wowed by all the Holiday Happenings and plan ahead to figure out how to fit in your Christmas touring with your MouseFest touring. In some cases you can do this at a meet.
Thou Shall Take Pictures: When you go home and try to tell your friends and family about MouseFest you will need help. Be sure and take your camera to MouseFest because those pictures you take will aid you in trying to explain what MouseFest is all about… and they will help you convince your friends and family to think about going down for MouseFest '08… because after your first MouseFest in '07, you will be hooked.
See you there!
Confessions of a MouseFest Founder
by Jennifer Marx
I have a confession, too. MouseFest is an amazing, wonderful, magical event, but after nearly a full year of planning and coordinating MouseFest with my co-founders Dave Marx and Deb Wills, I confess that I most look forward to the more relaxing aspects of MouseFest. For me, the MouseFest cruise onboard the Disney Wonder is hands-down the most relaxing and enchanting experience. I adore Disney cruises, and the MouseFest cruise is a perfect combination of friends and fun. So for those of you sailing with us on the MouseFest Cruise December 2-6, here are my top three tips and pointers for a magical MouseFest cruise:
Attend the MouseFest Sailaway Party. This is the first real MouseFest meet onboard, and it's the perfect place to meet other MouseFest cruisers in a relaxed, festive environment. This event sets the tone for the entire cruise and gets us all into the Disney spirit!
Show your MouseFest Pride. Identify yourself as a MouseFest cruiser by wearing something with the MouseFest logo on it, be that your registration nametag, a lanyard, pin, or something you make yourself from the graphics available at http://www.mousefest.org/logos-2007.asp. This lets everyone know you're "one of us" — you'll be amazed at how it opens doors and sparks conversations! And don't forget to decorate your stateroom door (see the MouseFest.org site for details).
Tap into the Collective MouseFest Experience. Some of the folks you'll be cruising with have cruised before, some several or even a dozen times. These experienced cruisers are a fount of knowledge and experience, and can offer excellent tips and ideas. If you have a question, ask a fellow MouseFester! And your resident Disney cruise guidebook authors and webmasters (that'd be me, Dave, and Deb!) are always delighted to help, too. What other cruise can boast such a heavy concentration of Disney cruise experience, knowledge, and expertise?
Relax, relax, relax. If you'll be continuing in the MouseFest fun at Walt Disney World, get your rest and relaxation in now… you're going to need it!
See you onboard and at Walt Disney World!
MouseFest '07 runs December 2-10, 2007, starting on the Disney Cruise Line and then moving to land, scattered around Walt Disney World locations. For details on MouseFest '07, be sure to visit the official site: http://mousefest.org
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.