He did not directly respond to a question asking whether a public forum of millions of obsessive, opinionated fans is more of an asset or a liability to Disney.

Werner believes that his boards have changed the company's business forever, whether Disney execs acknowledge it or not. "Before the internet, you come to the parks, something's not right, you fill out a feedback form, and the only people who read that are people at Disney. Now you go to a website and you post on a board, and suddenly 10,000 people know what happened. And the louder that gets, the more likely Disney is to fix it."


The queue (that's line in Disney parlance) stretched on: men, women, children, strollers, wheelchairs, scooters. It started at the door of the Anaheim Convention Center Arena and spilled onto a vast, blue-carpeted convention floor. It passed through a retracta-belt corral with 60 switchbacks, past autographed original Mickey cels, past collectors and traders and entrepreneurs churning in the deep fiscal wake of all things Disney, past a ship's wheel from Pirates of the Caribbean, some pounding technology ("Come see yourself in 3D!"), and grownups playing games on Xbox Kinect.

Pete Werner, 46, near the site of his 1991 Epcot epiphany.
Stefan Kamph
Pete Werner, 46, near the site of his 1991 Epcot epiphany.
At the Magic Kingdom, a real-life "DIS meet" of Disney fans from the online boards.
Stefan Kamph
At the Magic Kingdom, a real-life "DIS meet" of Disney fans from the online boards.

The air smelled of popcorn and vinyl, and people in sneakers milled across the carpet at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on this exciting Friday. On a red carpet, the original Tinkerbell model signed photographs, and on a stage, Radio Disney's barely pubescent Zack Montana postured to a hip-hop track. It was August 19, the first day of the second biennial D23 Expo, "the ultimate Disney fan event." Disney had announced that it was expecting 45,000 attendees, yet the arena at the front of the line would hold only 4,500 people. Many eventually were turned away. Disney has not yet released actual attendance numbers for the expo.

For three days, Disney was king at the convention hall. Fans in costumes made the rounds, stopping for photographs. Disney theme music bah-bah-baaaaahed in the entrance hall. Area hotels were heavily booked. A presentation of future Walt Disney Studios movies featured surprise appearances by celebrities. Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. appeared for a preview of The Avengers, a product of Disney's recently acquired Marvel division. Jason Segel, Jennifer Garner, and Two and a Half Men's John Cryer also stopped by.

In just a few minutes, the Walt Disney Co. was set to reveal details about future changes to its parks and resorts in front of the lucky, merry fans who had lined up in time. Finally, the crowd waiting for the Parks and Resorts presentation surged into the large arena. Guests answered trivia questions as they waited for the show to begin. Then Tom Staggs, the company's director of theme parks, came out onto the stage. Mickey played a set on the drums, movie clips were shown, a boy received a free ticket to Disney's new resort in Hawaii, and the company revealed...

"They didn't release any more information than they did two years ago," T.J. Alioto said afterward. Alioto is a fan from Wisconsin who had paid $1,000 for a "Sorcerer" pass that enabled him to skip to the front of the line.

"There was nothing that was exclusive," agreed his friend Thad Parker, who had come up from San Diego.

This is what Disney was dealing with: fans who were already experts. They wanted something new and exclusive, not just a sales pitch.

As afternoon turned to evening outside the fluorescent confines of the conference center, Doug Moore — who had shown up at the convention, spirits undampened, despite his termination as a monorail driver — prepared for the trivia championship. In two rounds, contestants would answer questions of increasing difficulty about all manner of Disney facts.

Moore wasn't concerned about the difficulty of the questions. The dude lives trivia. What worried him was the good chance that he'd miss what would happen in the room immediately after the tournament: an intimate musical appearance by Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix. A new line had already formed in the hallway for access to his show. By the time the trivia contestants got back in line, they would be too late, Moore worried.

Who was accidentally left behind at the station when Richard Nixon took the inaugural Disneyland monorail ride in 1959? His Secret Service detail. Easy.

During a break between two rounds, Moore returned to the backroom. He looked up, and a spry old man was walking past him. It was Dick Van Dyke. "Sometimes God smiles on you," Moore said later.


Someone stepped on Belle's golden ball gown on Saturday morning, breaking some of the seams, so Cinderella's Fairy Godmother knelt behind her in the lobby of the convention center Marriott, carefully restitching the bunches of silk in her elegant train. The custom-made gown, explained the Fairy Godmother, more precisely followed the movie version of Beauty and the Beast than the Disney-approved costumes used during character appearances at the parks.

"Obviously, a bunch of executives don't know anything about dresses," she complained. Her real name is Lisa Fabio, and she's a designer in Southern California who makes costumes for "cosplay," the branch of fandom that involves dressing up, to the most exact degree possible, as a fictional character.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
68 comments
AngelElement444
AngelElement444

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.

COS
COS

Circle of sarcasm it's the UnDis!

Songbird13291
Songbird13291

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.

Loot101
Loot101

I think Pete sounds like a cool, no-bullshit guy.  Nice article

JL
JL

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!

Dark1wolf
Dark1wolf

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.

JezusC PETE!!!!! :-(
JezusC PETE!!!!! :-(

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.  

Robsmi
Robsmi

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.

David Graff
David Graff

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 !!!

disneyfan
disneyfan

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.

missy12
missy12

what a douche bag and people follow him on the Dis?????? WTF???? is wrong with people?

Songbird13291
Songbird13291

Seems there are a lot of unhappy former DIS board members. And a lot of unhappy former customers of Dreams Unlimited. Can it be because of the way Pete treats people?

Scoutfreckles
Scoutfreckles

On that,  you are wrong.  There is nothing "cool" about Werner, and he's so deep in bullshit, he's drowning.

Holy
Holy

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.

missy12
missy12

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.

Stefan Kamph
Stefan Kamph

"She won't remember much of it, but watching her reactions, seeing it through her eyes, was a whole different experience," he says. "If you want the real experience, come here with someone you love."

Tsmith1005
Tsmith1005

Couldn't agree more, they talk to talk but don't walk the walk. Poor business.

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...