Monday, August 13, 2012

Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet 2012--Part One

On August 4, 2012, I attended the 4th annual Disney fan gathering known as "The Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet" in Lynnwood, Washington. Now I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve never even heard of Lynnwood.” Well neither had I. But for me that little town 17 miles north of Seattle will now be synonymous with an incredibly delightful weekend, and in addition I hope an annual trip for many years to come.

The weather was gorgeous, the modestly sized Lynnwood Convention Center was wonderfully decorated, and the roughly 400 Disney fans were all ready to have a great time, a desire that Don Morin and his crew thoroughly fulfilled. My readers and I first got to meet Don in May, during his Pacific Northwest Mouse Trek to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

The PNWMM magic began right away. Upon entering the building, little Disney touches were strewn about the hall. I checked-in, received my name badge and goodie bag, and mingled with fellow Disney fans while waiting for “rope drop.”

The event officially began at 11am with a few quick words from Don, and a confetti shower for the attendees. As we all turned the corner en route to the event, we quickly realized that the fun wouldn't be relegated to the conference rooms. In the second hall there were several displays featuring creative works from various Disney fans, adding a dose of pixie dust to what easily could have been an undecorated area. The first thing I happened upon was a map of the United States, complete with a few pins already in it (I was towards the back of the crowd). I grabbed a white pin and inserted it firmly where the map read San Francisco. I noticed right away that while I was one of the few to have inserted a pin that wasn’t from Washington or Oregon, I had not nearly traveled the greatest distance to be there. A little red pin protruding from central Florida was reflecting light off its shiny tip, and I could only assume the joy its operator must have felt placing it there after having traveled about 2950 miles more than they normally had to for a little Disney magic. I found out later that it was placed there by the wonderful Miss AllEars Deb!

The creative exhibits ranged from homemade attraction displays, to models of Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Barn. LEGO superfan Steven Walker was on hand to showcase four of his LEGO pieces: Mickey’s House from Toontown, The Haunted Mansion, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad. Steven’s works have been on display at places like BrickCon (an annual LEGO convention and exhibition), and are comprised of literally thousands of LEGO bricks. His most impressive piece, the Main Street Station, involved over 500 hours of labor, and is made up of over 18,000 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Main Street Station

Joanna Hiltz came up with the idea for her innovative exhibit after a trip to Disneyland for her daughter’s first birthday. “Small World caught my attention as a great bedroom theme and I started dreaming up installations for her room,” she told me. And six weeks and more than 100 labor hours after she put her idea into motion, Joanna had completed an absolutely charming homage to the classic attraction that included just about any material you could think of. When asked exactly what materials were used, she replied, “The easier question is what wasn't used! Metal, wood, foam, grout, mâché, clay, kiln fired art glass, corduroy, lights, motors, sound card, glitter, paint, solar tube, resin ice chunks, 5 ping pong balls and a pool noodle. That's by no means the whole list, but it gives you an idea of what it takes to create.” The exhibit even has an audio track, which features narration by Walt himself!

Joanna proudly shows off her hard work

Future projects for Joanna include: A Small World rainforest sculpture, converting an old popcorn cart to look like it’s fresh off of Main Street (with a hinged lid that actually hides her daughter's laundry basket), and an original ride concept model, complete with concept art. I hope you’re reading this, WDI!

Once inside the main exhibition room, each section was easy to distinct. On the right there was a long table showcasing and selling some vintage Disneyana, just beyond that was Disney Legend Paige O'hara’s station (Paige was the voice of Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), where she was signing autographs and selling original artwork.

Paige signing an autograph
Some of Paige's terrific art

Past her station was the raffle area, with dozens of great prizes to win, all in the name of charity. In the back there was a Dole Whip stand, a PNWMM table, and a WDW Radio table with podcaster Lou Mongello himself.

I spy my friend Vanessa Hunt's Poster Art of the Disney Parks book!

Sad to say I didn't have one because of the stupid diet I'm currently on

On the left wall was a Mouse Fan Travel table, a Mousetalgia table, and of course, the Disney celebrity tables! From right to left it was: Tony Baxter, Jeff Kurtti, and Marty Sklar. All three gentlemen not only signed autographs and posed for photos, but were happy to converse with Disney fans as well. And in the center were all the tables where fans could chat, exchange stories, and trade pins. I knew right away that I was going to have a good day.

Becky and Dave from Mousetalgia

Fans gather in the center of the room

Tony Baxter

Jeff Kurtti chatting with fans

Marty Sklar

Because of both the size of the crowd and the layout of the event, lines were never really that long for any of the Disney celebrities on hand, which was awesome. The first hour was sort of a whirlwind, with fans bustling around soaking up the atmosphere, chatting with one another (as well as the aforementioned Disney celebs), and enjoying the displays out in the main hall. Keynote presentations by Paige O'hara, Tony Baxter, and Marty Sklar with Jeff Kurtti were still to come, and the results of the charity raffle were slated for the end of the day, dangling like a carrot for those of us hopeful to win some amazing prizes. How were the keynotes? What kind of cool stuff did the PNWMM crew produce as pre-keynote entertainment? Would Keith get his 200th picture taken with Jeff Kurtti? Good questions, all! And they will all be answered. In part two.

Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet 2012--Part Two

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