Looking back on Mousefest 2008, I can't help but recall lots of great memories from the event. For those who don't know, Mousefest is an annual event in Walt Disney World where many Internet communities hold meets around the parks. Studios Central is part of Mousefest once again, and it was our third year holding the event and I was genuinely pleased with how everything went.
Each year Studios Central has participated in Mousefest, we've held a Star Tours meet. The premise of the meet is to fill an entire Star Speeder with fans of the site. The first year we nearly filled it and last year we filled two and a half star speeders. I intentionally played down advertising the meet this year because I wanted to get a more intimate meet and fill just one speeder. We were able to fill up an entire speeder along with a few extra rows in a second speeder and I think those in attendance enjoyed it. We even joked that next year we should hold a Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Star Tours meet where everyone yells out the lines. It was great seeing some familiar faces along with new ones and sometimes I honestly wonder if it's holding the event again each year but I can see it's certainly still fun.
During Mousefest this year, I was able to make a little magic of my own. A good friend of mine, Deb Wills of All Ears.net, has never ridden Toy Story Midway Mania and each time I was reminded of it, I was always shocked that someone as in tune with what's going at Disney has not ridden it yet. To her credit, she always cites the long line as the reason. With the help of a very kind Cast Member (thanks Danny!), I was able to get Deb that first ride on Toy Story so she could finally experience it. At another meet at the Studios, I took Deb aside and surprised her with the FASTPASS's to go ride Toy Story and to say she was ecstatic would be an understatement. It felt so good to bring a little Disney magic to someone else.
On Saturday night we once again held a Fantasmic! dessert party and this was the highlight of Mousefest for me. I love being able to hold special events and this years event was just a little bit more special than last year. Following Fantasmic!, those who attended the dessert party and were clients of our travel partner MEI-Mouse Fan Travel were invited to a special VIP ride on Tower of Terror after the ride had closed. This was a real special treat that I think everyone really enjoyed because like Star Tours, we were able to fill the ride vehicle on Tower of Terror with friends of ours. It meant a lot to me and I only wish we had more time to talk because there were so many friends in attendance.
What I really like about Mousefest is about supporting the Disney Internet community as a whole. It isn't just about spending some money on knick-knacks, events and giveaways and calling it a day. Rather, it's about showing up to other communities' events and showing your support for them. It's about seeing folks who contribute to the Disney Internet community via blogs or podcasts or web sites and telling them that you enjoy their effort. And it's also about making friends with those who "get" the whole Disney World thing. I really love going to Mousefest each year and when the event comes to an end, I really feel sad that everyone has left and it'll be another year before we can do this all over again. I love to meet folks who frequent this site, whether they are active members of the community or just those who visit passively and read what's here, because it's a thrill for me to meet these people in "the real world" and talk about our common experiences. In short, I had a fantastic time and can't wait for Mousefest 2009!