By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Today, the DIS contains the world's largest online community of Disney fans. It has guides to each of the parks, a weekly podcast hosted by Werner and some of his dozen-odd staff, and up-to-the-minute news blogs. The core of the site is its discussion forums, the DIS boards. The focus is mainly Walt Disney World (Werner's first love), but there are discussion boards for everything from Disneyland Paris to losing weight. There are other sites on the web for hard-core Disney fans (notably MiceChat, based in California; Intercot, focusing on the ins and outs of Disney World; and AllEars.net, the evolution of a Disney fan Usenet group), but the DIS boards get a quarter-million visitors each week.
Unlike many other fan sites and communities on the internet, Werner says, his site remains dedicated mostly to travel-planning. Members share tips on everything from where to sit when you're dining alone to where the trash cans should be placed.
Sometimes they get off the computer and meet in person. To identify one another in real life, they don the unofficial signature color of the DIS boards: neon lime green. Before their Disney trip, they go to the Home Depot and grab Disney-brand paint chips in the shape of Mickey heads. Lime-Green Mickey Heads. LGMH, they call their insignia. They pin these chips to their clothes, backpacks, fanny packs, and electric scooters when they go to the parks.
Some fans also look for love on the boards (Werner and his staff discussed, at one point, whether to allow dating threads). Today, there are multiple Disney singles threads (although some of the more debaucherous members, who enjoyed heavy social drinking at Disney bars, split off from the group and started their own thread, the Singles Social Club). Singles plan meetups at Disney bars or under the "Partners" statue at Magic Kingdom that shows Walt holding Mickey's hand, pointing into the future. The site has been responsible for many weddings.
But Werner's dark past wasn't behind him. For a while, he struggled to balance it with the dual businesses of selling and critiquing the "Most Magical Place on Earth."
He relapsed and began drinking in 2001, when his father died and his relationship started falling apart. "The next eight years were a living hell," he says. "I was incapable of functioning without something in me."
All the while, he was moderating the boards and hosting the weekly "DIS Unplugged" podcast. In recordings from those years, Werner sounds distant, removed from the full enthusiasm of his current, sober self. On the podcasts, his rants became vicious, targeting whoever offended him that week: Disney, the Orlando Magic, Mayor "Buddy" Dyer.
Though he's sober now, he's still opinionated, and some of his old unsuppressed rage comes forth in diatribes against Disney management when he perceives it to have a condescending attitude toward hard-core fans.
When Werner sobered up again in 2009, he talked publicly about his addiction. He could no longer bear to balance Disney cheerfulness with dark retreat. But that same year, Disney did something to provoke the old Werner anger: The company decided to one-up him at his own game.
Doug Moore, 50, is a different kind of Disney fan. The kind that "snorts the pixie dust," as Werner says.
Every summer Sunday night of his childhood, Moore went to play in the yard while the grownups had cocktails, then joined his family for dinner and helped wash the dishes afterward. Then, like millions of other little boys and girls, he sat down in front of his grandmother's color television at 7 sharp to watch the Wonderful World of Disney.
Growing up in San Diego in the 1960s, he traveled with his family to Disneyland and listened to Disney's storybook records, reading along with the crackling recordings. All the while, Moore collected bits of trivia. His parents bought him trivia books: Disney, sports, movies. He remembered just about everything. Still does.
He was in the marching band at San Diego State, combining his zeal for performance with an all-American dorky wholesomeness. Meanwhile, he kept an eye on Disney. Walt had died back in '66, leaving Disney in a long state of flux and misdirection until Michael Eisner took over the year Moore graduated: 1984.
Eisner would vastly expand Disney's media dominion, buying up ABC and ESPN and releasing totems of cultural upbringing like the Little Mermaid and Aladdin during a thriving period of hand-painted animation that's known today as the "Disney Renaissance."
After college, Moore went to work at Edwards Theaters, a cinema chain based in Southern California. He became a local manager and attended company meetings in Orange County, 90 minutes to the north. If he had a bad week, he'd sneak off afterward to explore Disneyland for a few hours of respite.
He got married in 1985, and his daughter was born soon after. But the Disney-loving family man was not immune to darker urges. He started going to the Indian casinos around San Diego, spending hour upon hour at the seven-card-stud tables until his money was gone. "You get hooked on it, and you want it again, and you'll stay at the table and lose everything you've got," he recalls. After seven years of marriage, his wife called it quits and moved away.
LOL! Not too surprised by any of it but the forums are fun, though I haven;t had much time to visit this past year. Funnily enough, I DID have a lot to do with picking the lime green! it was about the only color not being used to recognize some illness or organization, that would stand out in a crowd.
Could barely wade through the article. Former member of Werner's board and current Disney fan. I didn't learn anything about Pete that I didn't already suspect. On my most recent trip to WDW, planbed without Pete's help, I had a wonderful time. Won't be giving him, or his travel agency, any more of my vacation money.
hmm...I had to stop reading the article halfway through b/c it was so poorly written but I got the gist of what the author was attempting to say. Being a long time listener of the DIS Unplugged podcast, and random browser of the DIS Boards, I guess I kinda know Pete's personality and it doesn't bother me at all. He has a dry sense of humor, he has the NJ attitude, and I think it's hilarious. He does love Disney and has every right to be extremely critical of the company. He has the only 'real' opinion in the Disney community, if you ask me. All the other extremely popular podcasts sugarcoat and gloss over everything. In their eyes Disney can do no wrong and it's annoying. Not everything is pixie dust and princesses in real life, and Pete makes sure to point out the flaws. Bravo to him!
Pete sounds like a real douche. I run a Disney blog and I've always said that "Disney fans" who don't embrace Walt's optimism and hope for the future aren't real Disney fans. Try to look on the bright side of life once in a while.
Pete, if you are REALLY so called "clean and sober", then you have ALOT of amends to make. ie, all the money you owe from the DIScons, banning people, etc, so much more! But, hey! I'm not your sponser, thank God. Keep on thinking, on that third column, "what's MY part?" instead of blaming everyone else. (And sending over a few minions over here to defend you.) Pathetic really.
If you don't like Pete, don't go to his website. That seems simple enough.
Besides he said that he used to be annoyed by small kids and since he took a small child he understands. That's at least a step in the right direction.
So much whining both in the article and in the comments.
Pete rules, he is a REAL person, he has flaws, imperfections just like everyone of the people who are writing negative comments about him on here. I think he is awesome, he is super funny, he does a LOT of charity work and he does a LOT for disney fans (who else rents out a Ride at Disneyworld at their own cost?) I love listening to Pete, i may not agree with everything he says, but im glad i live in a world where he is allowed to say what he thinks freely. DisUnplugged for the Win !!!
Oh, honey, every person on this planet is a REAL person. To single Pete out for being REAL because his life has been a total train wreck is to dismiss the lives of the other seven billion people on the planet, most of whom have things so much harder. Try living in abject poverty in a part of the world where help is not available. When you look at REAL problems, Pete comes off as a whiny, selfish, insecure, insignificant brat who blames everyone else for his own failings as a human being.
Keep drinking the juice David, I suppose you think everyone is great and wonderful! He hates kids and is not a fan of Disney, but he makes his money off of those people, NICE.
No wonder the atmosphere on the DIS is so negative...look at their leader! Ask a question and get your head bitten off by "experts". I have a 10 year old who can give a better, more detailed answer...but he would never listen to her because she was, at one time, sat in"the shin-attacking strollers" having a "red-faced screaming fit". What an ass...who does he think Walt designed the park for?? A middle aged man with a drinking problem who is making money hand over fist off of Walt? Or families who want to make lasting memories? Oh that's right...for Pete - because apparently it is all about him.