If you’ve been a member of the online Disney fan community for any length of time, you probably remember Mousefest, the annual gathering of Disney fans from around the world typically held in early December. What you may not know is that, since Mousefest went on hiatus in 2009, several other events have come together to fill the void.
In 2011, during the second weekend of December, All Ears hosted December to Remember, in honor of the site’s 15th anniversary; WDW Today and Mouse Fan Travel hosted Reunion 2011; and Dis, Dis Unplugged and Dreams Unlimited Travel hosted DISApalooza 2011.
Rob and I were lucky enough to be in WDW during this special week in December, and we opted to participate in Mousetacular, three days of special meets and one-of-a-kind experiences hosted by Instant Impressions Travel Service.
We had a total blast connecting with fellow Disney fans, especially during the Toys Are Back in Town breakfast on Saturday, December 10, so I wanted to share our experience with you!
Rob and I met the group at 7 a.m. in front of a very-much abandoned Hollywood Studios. We were a little nervous: we’d met many of these fellow fans online but never in real life! As we waited in front of the Park, we began chatting, and soon the nervousness melted away. These were our people: Disney people! It was like being reunited with our oldest and best friends.
When the Disney Guide was ready for us, he ushered us through the turnstiles and led the way down Hollywood Boulevard. He stopped in front of a rope near the Sorcerer’s Hat, and it took me a second to realize: THIS is the “rope” in “rope drop.” I’d never actually seen it before—I’m usually way too far back.
As a group, we stared down the long, empty expanse of the Boulevard, quiet for a moment. As we snapped photos, a sort of nervous giggle took over the group, and pretty soon we were all chattering again. I know people use the word “awesome” all the time, but in that moment of quiet, we were all awe struck. How often do you see a totally empty Disney Park?
The Mousetacular parade headed through the Animation arch and back passed One Man’s Dream. At Pixar Place, we stopped.I don’t think anyone told us to stop. We just stopped, trying to comprehend the emptiness. Then, the spell was broken. We scrambled around, taking photos and noticing details that it’s impossible to see during operating hours. Soon, it was time to head into Toy Story Midway Mania for the first ride of the day!
Two pairs of 3D glasses and no waiting! Well … there was a little waiting, as we slowly walked through the queue, drinking in the details and testing our Hidden Mickey knowledge. (How many Mickeys have you found in the queue?) And then it was time to ride! (Spoiler Alert: Rob won. Rob always wins.)
By the time our vehicles returned to Andy’s bedroom, it was packed with excited guests, and we were quickly whisked off to the Prop Shop, a backstage area overflowing with incredible props and set pieces from Disney history. There was a breakfast buffet, but we barely saw it as we rushed around the room, taking photos and exclaiming over incredible items from Disney history, including Baby Sinclair from the early 90s ABC sitcom Dinosaurs.
Eventually, we settled down and tucked into breakfast: fruit salad, Disney pastries, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and French toast sticks. As I ate far too many French toast sticks, Sandy raffled off prizes and presented each of us with Fast Passes for another ride on Toy Story Midway Mania—no waiting! Again!
And then something even better happened: Lotso Huggin Bear walked in the door. And he wanted to get his photo taken with all of us! What luck! It was great to see him again, and he was just precious and priceless with the kids. I wish it could have gone on forever, but before long, it was time to go.
The whole morning was magical. We made some great friends and met up with some of them again later in the day for the Candlelight Processional. And, of course, the next morning, we were reunited for the Soarin to New Heights breakfast … but that’s another story for another day.
I know that it can be tough with work and school, but if you can get away in early December, it’s a great time to meet fellow Disney fans and be a part of some very special events. Whether you decide to be part of Mousetacular or any of the other Disney fan gatherings, I hope to see you there!
Are you a MouseFest alum? Or a Reunion veteran? Share your favorite Disney fan gathering stories in the comments below!
Full disclosure: Instant Impressions Travel Service owner Sandy is a friend of the site, but we paid for our own travel and all of the Mousetacular experiences we were part of.