TouringPlans.com: We Really Really Love Disney (Seriously, It’s Almost Unhealthy)

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Although it’s no secret that the TouringPlans headquarters are located in a gated compound deep in the mountains of Kentucky (no, we don’t moonlight as a moonshine bootlegging company, although…), we do like to keep our finger on the pulse of all things Disney. Okay, saying we like to keep our finger on the pulse of all things Disney is a real understatement. We are all rabid Disney fans. We own Mickey Mouse ice cube trays. We know the recipe for a Kungaloosh! by heart. We can recite the script from the MuppetVision 3D pre-show. Yeah, we’ve got a bad case of Disney fever.

And despite some of our transgressions, (my raving about “out-dated” attractions like Country Bear Jamboree in these posts, and the fact that Gadget’s Go Coaster and Primeval Whirl graced the covers of the Unofficial Guides to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, respectively, in 2010) we are knowledgeable and passionate fans of Disney. In dealing with some other companies in the “industry,” we’ve found this is not the case. Some folks in those organizations couldn’t tell you how to get from the Jungle Cruise to Pirates of the Caribbean, or even where all of the high-point targets are in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (okay, maybe it was unreasonable to ask them that one). But the purpose of this article isn’t to bash the other Disney organizations that are only in business to make money and don’t give a hoot about how they profit. The purpose of this post is to share our passion for Disney with you!

Let’s start with the man who started it all: the man, the myth, the legend, Len Testa. Easily the biggest celebrity residing in the state of (Editor’s Note: the state of Leonard Testa, Jr. the IV has been redacted due to concerns over paparazzi setting up camp outside his home), Len is co-author of a little book known as the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, among like 8 other books on the Disney theme parks. Len is also the class clown of the WDW Today podcast, and is the world podcast record-holder for stream-of-consciousness tangents. Recently, he has taken to Disney marathons, which he unsurprisingly dominates.

Fred Hazelton is the big block super-charged Hemi engine that powers the TouringPlans machine. He’s the man behind the Crowd Calendar and wait time models used here. Curiously, Fred’s favorite attractions include the American Adventure and the Hall of Presidents. Fred is also especially fond of Sam the Eagle. When he’s not toiling endlessly on perfecting our wait time models, Fred makes frequent guest appearances on WDW Today.

I still haven’t quite figured out what exactly a “web developer” does, but whatever it is, Henry Work spends freakishly long hours doing it. Henry Work is a Disney-knowledge powerhouse, with touring chops so excellent that he won the D23 Great Disneyland Scavenger Hunt! Henry is also the host of the Betamouse podcast, and his favorite attraction in a bug’s land at Disney California Adventure is Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. Seriously.

Katie Siloac-Lotoczky is the social media director extraordinaire for TouringPlans, meaning that she keeps this blog firing on all cylinders (censoring this crazy group of bloggers is really a full-time job). She’s the owner-operator-CEO of the dvc life, is a co-host on Betamouse, and also contributes to beersandears.net, a site about Disney beers.

David Davies is the Ultimate TouringPlanner. Among other things, David sends daily emails to Neil Patrick Harris, asking him if he will participate in an Ultimate Touring Plan the next time he’s in Disneyland. David has participated in three WDW marathons, including the Goofy this year, and one Disneyland half-marathon. David and his wife love Beaches & Cream so much that they introduced their son to the restaurant when he was 7 weeks old. Like a true Ultimate Tourer, his son ate an entire Kitchen Sink. By himself.

Scott Barrett is another “developer” for TouringPlans.com, doing super-duper-secret stuff. He’s also on that Betamouse podcast, and owns the website DizCollect.com. First and foremost, though, Scott is a Disney dad. He uses Disney as a vehicle for teaching his two daughters to dream big and use their imaginations. Luckily, he doesn’t use the Chew Chew Train as a way to teach these lessons.

Laurel Stewart, is a TouringPlans biz dev. She is an old school WDW fan, with trips dating to when the place was called the “Vacation Kingdom of the World.” Laurel is a Disney Vacation Club enthusiast, and a marathoner (no, it’s not a requirement to be a part of the team that you either run marathons or co-host a podcast!). Laurel also has a weakness for Vinyl, err…Vinylmation, and has been meticulously creating her own line of TouringPlans Vinylmations. Look for them in every single WDW gift shop in 2034.

Steve Bloom represents the other half of our burgeoning international statistician department. Steve enjoys frequent trips to WDW with his two kids. At age 4, his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirements for Test Track. His daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal.

Scarlett Litton doesn’t have an official title, but we refer to her as “The Crazy One.” You know, in an endearing way. She earned this moniker after her (in)famous #StarToursWatch, for which she set up shop outside of Star Tours all-day, every-day for the weeks leading up to the opening of Star Tours 2. Going through withdrawals from no compulsive attraction-watching, she has recently taken to riding Space Mountain numerous times per day. She also has the world’s largest Dumbo collection.

Josh Schlutz spams Twitter and Facebook with the TouringPlans gospel. His projections indicate that Google+ is being rolled out slowly because Google fears that once TouringPlans has a page on there, the system will be overwhelmed. Josh is another Disney Dad on the team, and he reads bedtime stories to his two kids each night over the “heroic” Disney Vacation Club and how it saves the day for the weary vacationers. Nice work indoctrinating them early, Josh!

Figment Convention!

As for me, I’m the Chief Photographer here, and the world’s premier (and as best I can tell, only) Disney Theme Parks Glyphish Designer. However, my passion for Disney lies with my freakish obsession with Figment. I also spend approximately 16.437 hours per day writing random musings about Disney that no one reads on all corners of the internet, including here and on my personal blog, Disney Tourist Blog.

As you probably guessed, our blogging team is pretty bonkers about Disney, too. Here are a few examples. Kristin Helmstetter is so crazy about Disney that she wrote her senior honors thesis about the Hall of Presidents and the American Adventure. While experiencing the attractions. She was also the Disney Drive Life’s “Neurotic Disney Person of the Year.” Speaking of neurotic, JL Knopp is the leader of the Disney-obsessed though TheDisneyDrivenLife.com and the Inner Mouse vid/podcast. JL also recently participated in D23′s Great Disney Scavenger Hunt. Todd Perlmutter reads and tweets about every single Disney blog-post. He also co-hosts the Disney Film Project podcast with his wife, Cheryl and fellow blogger, Ryan Kilpatrick. Speaking of Ryan, in addition to the podcast, he blogs about each of the films they watch at DisneyFilmProject.com.

So there you have it. We’re certifiably Disney-Insane. To our credit, though, it’s the good, harmless, kind of crazy (we prefer “over-zealous” or “uber-passionate”). We don’t just do “Disney-Stuff” for the benefit of TouringPlans.com. For us, Disney is a way of life.

Now that you know a little more about us, help us get to know a little more about you in the comments. What Disneyana do you collect? Do you have any interesting “Disney-facts” about yourself (for instance, you named your first-born “Dreamfinder” or have a large Horizons tattoo on your back)? We’d love to read more about everyone in the TouringPlans.com family!

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Posted on July 1, 2011

38 Responses to “TouringPlans.com: We Really Really Love Disney (Seriously, It’s Almost Unhealthy)”

  • it is comforting to know that i am not the only one with this obsession! thanks for all your tips and info!

  • All of you are to be congratulated on all the info you provide to us. It is very comforting to know that there are many of us who have this obsession (but who wouldn’t, it is the most magical place on earth) Anyway, my wife always brings back several decorations/ornaments from the Christmas storeevery year so it is more like a Disney celebration at the end of December than anything else for us and gets us in the planning stages for next year’s trip.
    Keep up the awesome job – the blogs are great and we buy the book every year just to see if anything new is added

    • Sarah and I bring back a Christmas ornament each year, too (although embarrassingly-enough, we forgot to do this last year, the year we got MARRIED! Talk about prime potential for a personalized ornament!) and Christmas in our house is a ridiculous time for Disney-decorating. Much to Sarah’s chagrin, I have acquired 3 Christmas Big Figs, among countless other S&C (I’ll let you all figure that one out ;) ). But she loves the decorations, too! Do you by chance have any photos of your decorations you can share?

      • Hi Tom – I don’t have anything to share at the moment, but will be sure have something just after Thanksgiving when it goes up. Thanks.

  • Discovering TouringPlans and all of its affiliates has been such a relief for me. I had to have a Disney fan “coming out” moment about a year go…my husband and I had only been married about 9 months and I had never really revealed my whole Disney obsession to him. I casually suggested we spend a couple of days in the World while on spring break in Sarasota. Once we were there, it became quite obvious to him that I knew too much and was way too excited to be just a casual park visitor. The light bulb moment was when I suggested that we use the bathrooms by the Imagination Pavilion because no one else generally uses them, and the ones by Soarin’ are always packed. He looked at me like I had two heads and it was at that point that I realized it was time to live openly as a Disney fanatic.

    • Haha, you have me laughing out loud with this. To take that Imagination Pavilion restrooms info a bit further, did you know that a different loop–the pavilion’s original–still plays over there?

      I may be a Disney dork, but at least I’m in good company here!

      • I didn’t know! I will have to check it out in December on my next trip. I still listen to the original Imagination music with the Figment/Dreamfinder dialogue on my official album from the 90s! You are definitely in good company.

        • Can you PLEASE tell me where to find that song or at least the official name of the song and album name? I’ve got snipets of it (along with the whole addictive tune) but I can’t ever find all of the Journey/Figment song anywhere so that when I sing it, I don’t end up humming half of it? I-magin-a-tion….. :)

          • So the album was given to me by a good friend who is a librarian…I’m fairly sure he used some ethically questionable top secret librarian tactics to secure me the tracks on a CD. I know you can buy the CD on ebay/amazon for something like $50…it’s just called the “Official Album of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and the Imagination track is called “One Little Spark.” Good luck!

  • It is true, I do love Sam the Eagle! Although it feels wrong to say on Canada Day.

  • Isn’t the behavior you’ve described considered NORMAL?!! Personally, I think it’s a problem to NOT be Disney-Insane….

    I’ve been a WDW fanatic since my first trip in 1973 and an Unofficial Guide/Touring Plans follower since 1987. The thought of a spur-of-the-moment trip makes me break out in a cold sweat–how can you possibly plan a Disney trip in less than a year or, even worse, 180 days away? Where’s the Unofficial Guide for Last-Minute Trips?

  • Tom,

    I have come to terms with the fact that being obessed, neurotic and maybe a little unbalance with my love for disney is ok. :) through this condition it has allowed me make really great friends.

    I remember getting to know who u & ur beautiful wife are thru WDW board that you would post your pictures you & Sarah shared and the trip reports were over the top so fun, it was like an addiction that would not stop.

    I will say that I love this group of folks even if I have not meet all of you, just a few in person. It is the true heart of sincere care that makes me coming back :)

  • Hi Shelley,

    Thanks for the kind words. The caring nature of the group is why we all, myself included, keep coming back!

    That said, why is no one else sharing their specific obsessions (besides Joe)?! I know just about every Disney fan collects something, or has some hidden Mickeys in their house–or something! Share it! Post your stories, link to your photos!

    C’mon, we’re pouring our hearts out here! Fred told us aboot his love for all things Disney-Americana on this Canadian National Holiday. I shared my crazy Figment collection. Tell us about your Disney-obsessions!

    • LOL, Tom, I did not know how far you wanted the sharing group to go. I think my obsession has went so far to I have put a 1yr plan in place to hopefully move to FL and be close to those that I admire for their Neurotic behavior ( putting you out there J.L.)then I try to learn at least 1 new thing on a daily basis of what is going on in the Disney community. I have gone to the lengths to become a Disney travel agent and take continued Disney College of Knowledge training.
      Oh yea our house always has Disney stuff around it yr around. then I have went so far to get 2 Disney themed tattoo’s. I am not sure how to post pics here.

    • Besides my huge collection of Disney movies, my obsession is planning for upcoming WDW trips! Since we are only able to go every 2-3 years, we usually decide when we’re “coming back” while we are still at WDW (so it doesn’t feel like we’re actually “leaving”). So I start secretly making plans 2-3 years before we actually go. I say “secretly” because my family can’t understand why I want to talk daily about what specific attractions we want to see, where we want to eat, etc. that far in advance. I begin my list of “must remember” tips, print out restaurant menus, read the park updates, etc. and put them in my Disney Trip Planner. Only when we’ve reached the 365-day mark before our trip will my husband and daughter have conversations about what I’ve already researched and planned.

      They may call it obsession, I call it fun!

    • I have a collection of those souvenir videos that highlight the parks. My favorite one is from an epcot one from the 80s that calls horizons “an exciting new attraction that will be opening soon”

  • You should have captions under the pictures identifying who is who!

    • Our identities must remain secret! ;)

      Seriously, I just don’t like how the captions display under photos on our blog. They look just like plain-text and run right together with body text. Hold your cursor over a couple of the photos for a surprise, though!

  • It’s comforting to know there are so many of us Disney obsessed around. I am not the only one. I can think of worse things to be. Like not being so into Disney. How sad they must be. It’s like the airport I work at. The neighbors complain about it until they need to use it. People scoff at my Disney passion, until they are going to WDW and ask my advise.

    • Me too! You can’t have it both ways I think. Either take the Mickey (pardon the pun) or ask for help. I’m not helping if you mock me! 8:o)

  • I’m obsessed with gathering Disney information (is that even an obsession?). As someone who lives in northern California, I make it to Disneyland a lot, but only WDW every 5 years or so. But yet I have listened to every episode of WDW Today, Betamouse, and many others. Plus my Google Reader is filled with Disney blogs that I check waaaayy too often. While my husband likes Disney, he thinks I’m weird when I bust out with dinner conversation like, did you know the best seat in Philharmagic is actually further back in the center? I also talk about Matt, Mike, Mike, and Len like I actually know them. This also confuses my husband. So there you go, my obsession is with Disney fun facts!

    Also, long live the Chew Chew Train Henry!

  • I, and to a much greater degree my wife, are certainly Disney obsessed. But I think what is more crazy about us is how touring plans obsessed we are. We are going back to the world in August, and already the debates over the most minute details of the touring plans have begun.

    However, what I really wanted to share was a story from this past January. My wife and I were having a fight and in the middle of it she looked at her computer saw a new e-mail. All of the sudden our fight ended and she beamed at me. “Len Testa JUST E-MAILED ME PERSONALLY!” She’d gotten an answer to a question she sent about the crowd calendar. But the fact that Len (a celebrity to her for sure) had taken the time to e-mail her personally made her night… and saved mine.

  • My nicknames are Mickey Mouse Analyst, Mouse Girl and Disney Dude (amongst other less flattering) and I use Touring Plans to create bespoke Disney itineraries for those less willing to spend 5 hours a day working out if a crisscrossing Magic Kingdom is better or worse than waiting 5 extra minutes when you’re used to it being 65 f and it’s 95 f and you feel like you’ve just been cooked.

    I too understand the excitement of getting a personal email from Les. I was hyper for days that one of my favorite authors wrote to me.

    Disney books, pens, stickers etc are my particular uber Disney love and I have a social name for them – listables. I feel I couldn’t say this to normal normal people. But to Disney people like your very good selves I feel I’m able to be a bit more Rach than is often advisable in public.

    We live in the UK so frequent visits are cost prohibitive, although I have just worked my bottom off for 2 years to get promoted so I hp an very every 16 months instead of every 2 years. Just 68 weeks to go, I can almost taste the Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich with Mickey Waffle chaser… 8:o) lastly, does anyone else have a mouse ears smiley? 8:o)

  • Oh my. When brushing my teeth in the morning I wonder what restaurant and resort I’ll be staying in . . . in Aug 2012. I peruse Disney menus online to places I won’t be to in years. I contemplate the differences between doing ToT before or after RnRC . . . while in boring business meetings. Is it faster to take the little boat accross World Showcase Lagoon, or walk? Same question for going between Epcot and DHS. When entering MK, do you go left or right? Thi is prob why I love TP so much (and idolize Len) . . . I love logistics and strategy! That is half the fun of battling the parks! I hope one day I’ll be in WDW during a TP meetup to meet all these celebrities!

    This is but a taste of the epic battles that hammer away in my mind during a normal day. I go to WDW about 3 times a year and DL once a year, and am trying hard to find ways to go even more!

    My fav thing about TP are the crowd predictions. Never lead me astray yet! Thanks Fred!

    I think the DSM IV needs a catagory for us people.

    • I think these questions are the ones we all ponder! I wonder how much productive time has been lost at workplaces around the world because of Disney Day-Dreamin’?!

  • Too much to go into about my Disney obsessions, but my daughter’s is her collection of space alien Skippy’s that she “rescued” from the iterations of Tomorrowland. Two of them (Little Skippy and Skiperella) were dressed in tuxedo and gown for her wedding. Keep up the great work Touring Planners!!

  • Considered a MAJOR Disney Dork at work and home I don’t care LOL – I love all things Disney..I do collect every type of Mickey I can find from Mugs to stuffed plushes, plates, anything and everything…I also have odd assorted Disneyana I “procure” from ebay or other sites where people sell things for dirt cheap because they don’t realize what they have..as 1 saying goes..one man’s junk is another man’s treasure! Going solo this year to POFQ and broke down and am doing the 3 night Bahamian Disney Dream Cruise in May 2012–my daughter is excited about that!

    Thanks for all you guys do to keep this site up and coming – you do a fantastic job and us Disney fanatics couldn’t live without ya’ll!
    Lisa

  • My dream of Disney has been the same for the past year: getting my 2 year, 4 month old boy potty trained so we can all take a Disney cruise and he can join his brother in the children’s club. I think I’m finally going to be able to do it next summer!!! Now THAT’s a potty training goal.

  • by Debbie from Chicago on July 4, 2011, at 9:27 am EDT

    I’m obsessed with the planning. I start planning a year in advance, creating my excel spreadsheet. I anxiously await my 180 day window to make my ADRs and hang on every word on touring plans and WDW today. It’s actually a let down right after my 180 day window because everything is planned:)….and if touring plans doesn’t have many updates it’s kind of a bummer.

  • It’s bad when your 8-year-old tells you you’re obsessed with Disney. On the way to school, he loves to chat…but has to say “Can we talk…about something besides Disney.” I have to consciously make myself not talk about Disney. Most people just don’t get it. Fortunately, I have a cousin who was Disney obsessed long before I was. We have trips planned out for the next decade. We were at Reunion 2010 in Dec. and hope to make to Reunion at least every other year. Our next trip (with other family as well) is in Sept 2011. Thank goodness I have podcasts to listen to and blogs to read since I have to wait 14 months to go again after my Sept. trip!

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