Disney Fan Gatherings

Do most of the people in your life look at you like you are nuts when you announce you are going to Walt Disney World again?  Do they constantly ask you why you go so much?  Do they roll their eyes when you bring up WDW yet again in conversation?  Well then you need to get yourself to a Disney fan gathering and meet people who are just like you and can talk about Disney for days on end.

Several Disney podcasts, blogs, magazines, and websites host gatherings for their fans throughout the year.  Some of these events take place around the country, but many of them happen on Disney World property.  I cannot speak of those off site since I have not been able to attend any of them.  However, I have been to several held within in the World so I can easily discuss them.  I’ve been to both big and smaller events and I have to say the really large ones are be fun, but it’s harder to meet people and make new friends.  People tend to stick with the people they know at events with several hundred people rather than branching out like they tend to do at the smaller ones.  If you are heading to your first fan gathering I would recommend starting with a smaller one.

So what goes on at these sorts of events?  Each is different.  Some are smaller affairs like Lou Mongello’s WDW radio meets of the month.  Other communities host similar meet ups generally somewhere in a park and advertise them via their podcasts or blogs as well as on facebook and twitter.  Some people may just stop by to say hello, but many will linger and chat for hours.  These types of  are a great way to get your Disney meet up feet wet if you aren’t so sure you’d like to commit to a whole weekend of events.

Folks enjoying the Tentfest barbecue

Other events such as the upcoming wdwtoday Reunion will feature days of meets, group rides, and fun.  Guests do not need to feel obligated to attend all of the various activities, but of course they could.  For example, at Tentfest there was a barbecue at the Fort Wilderness Campsites, a night of group rides during Epcot’s extra magic hours, and a time to meet at the Mexico’s tequila bar, La Cave del Tequila, to name a few.  Many members of the Disney community (like me) will plan their trips around these kinds of gatherings.  However, if you just happen to be in Orlando at the right time and would like to stop by to check out the scene you would be more than welcome.

Some of my new friends from Tentfest

My most recent fan get together was in early March for wdwtoday‘s Tentfest.  It was a blast!  Some friends I had met at previous fan events and I planned to travel together to this one.  We made some of our plans and also attended many of the organized meets throughout the weekend.  It was a great opportunity to a great time with old friends, but also make a lot of new ones!  I have to give a shout out to all of the new friends I made that weekend.  You guys were a ton of fun and I can’t wait to hang out with you at WDW again soon!

Friends having fun in Epcot

If you’ve ever thought about signing on to a Disney community meet, I encourage you to try it.  I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of great people from all over the country (and a few from across the pond) and there is almost an instant bond with fellow Disney geeks.  It’s nice to hang out with people who understand why you are so passionate about Disney World and who don’t look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them you average three trips a year.  I love not having to explain what an ADR is or who the Voices of Liberty are.  Don’t be shy!  We crazy Disney folks couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming.  You’ll come away with a bunch of new friends and a smile on your face.

Still going strong long after the meets were done for the day

It may seem silly, but you won’t believe how the people you meet at Disney fan gatherings will impact your life.  My Disney friends have quickly become very near and dear to my heart and I know they all feel the same way.  My next two trips to WDW will be planned with friends I have met through the Disney fan family.  If you are willing to put yourself out there you will be adopted by our fun, inviting, silly, and genuine group.  It’s nice to know I am a part of such an awesome community and I count myself lucky every day.

If you aren’t already a part of our Disney addicted bunch, consider this your formal invitation.

Next week I’ll take a look at this year’s Flower and Garden Festival…

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

16 thoughts on “Disney Fan Gatherings

  • April 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Great article Kristen! I remember meeting you for the first time and you’re so right that coming to fan meets in the parks really lend themselves to not only enhancing the overall experience as a fan, but you make so many friends at each event!

    • April 1, 2010 at 8:57 am

      Thanks, Matt! Its pretty awesome to meet so many people isn’t it? See you at WDW soon!

  • April 1, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Great Post, Kristen!! Amen! I agree totally. The Disney friends I have made at these events are near and dear to my heart and I look forward to seeing them.
    I count you among them!! 😉

    • April 1, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Thanks, Caroline! You are certainly on my list of people I can’t wait to see when I head to WDW too!

  • April 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Great blog, Kristen! I am a wannabe attendee……some day maybe. Would really love to meet everyone…… I am totally with you about people giving us funny looks (rolling of the eyes etc) when I talk about going (again) to WDW or just WDW in general. I have learned to just keep my excitement to myself. 🙂 Blogs like yours really make me feel like I’m not alone (or crazy) and I’m part of the group, even if I have never made it to an event (yet). Someday, someday…..with any luck. 🙂 Thanks!!

    • April 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Thanks, Karen! I hope you can make it to a meet sometime. You’ll definitely feel like you aren’t alone and there are a lot of people out there just like you. Plus we’re a lot of fun to hang out with 🙂

  • April 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Kristen — I never thought about needing to talk Disney with other Disney lovers until I recently realized that a new friend was a Disneyite as much as I was!!!! Now we call each other to share the latest happenings or to talk about upcoming trips. The idea of a whole party of people I can talk to now has some serious appeal!!!!

    • April 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm

      You and your friend should head down to a meet! You’ll be welcomed with open arms!

  • April 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Great post, Kristen!

    Meeting wonderful folks such as yourself has added a whole separate, equally awesome layer to my Disney experience. Well, that, and doing ultimate touring plans!

    • April 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks, Henry! Its become just as much about hanging out with you guys as it has about doing attractions for me. In fact I’m pretty sure I did more hanging out with you guys than attractions on the March trip. I’ll leave the ultimate touring to you.

  • April 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I was wondering if there is a site I can sign up for that will keep me updated on things like this or just where you can chat with other Disney fans!
    This sounds like a lot of fun and ways to meet new great people!
    If you could post some links that would be fabulous!

    • April 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      I dont know of any official list of gatherings but there are a few groups who regularly host events. the guys at http://www.wdwtoday.com will be having one in December that I will attend. Also Lou at http://www.wdwradio.com has monthly meets in the park. There is a group called wdw celebrations who also periodically put on events. I’ve been to things from all of those and have had a good time at each. I’m sure there are others out there too so happy hunting for them!

      There are also several Disney fan message boards to be found. Try a little googling and see what you come up with. I’m not particularly active on any of them so I can’t really recommend one. Maybe if one of our other readers could point out a few that would be great!

      Thanks for reading, Amy!

      • April 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

        I should also mention that there are a lot of Disney folks on Twitter. Its been a great way to keep in touch with my Disney geek family.

  • April 2, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I love WDW, but it never would have occurred to me to go to a gathering like this. I’ve only been a few times, but boy, would we like to take our family again. We still have 3 days of unlimited passes out there floating around with our names on it! I assume other Disney lovers are aware that a graphic novel (“Prilla’s Talent”) featuring the Disney fairies comes out later this month? It’s based on the best-selling Gale Carson Levine novels (and she’s a fabulous author — a favorite of one of my daughters) that launched the Disney Fairies franchise.

    • April 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks for reading, Liz. I haven’t heard of this book before, but I’m generally most geeky about the parks and don’t always keep up on what’s going on elsewhere in the Disney realm. Thanks for the tip! I’m sure some of our readers would be interested in picking it up.

    • April 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks for that info. Just in time for my daughters birthday.

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