Belle was the brown-haired Michelle Moreno, Fabio's friend and fellow cosplayer. "I'm mostly here as a fan," she said, holding still. "We love Disney, but we're also actors. All of us want to work for Disney."

Two little girls wandered up to Belle, clinging to her dress. "You want to take a picture?" asked the princess. The children nodded, and Mom snapped a couple of shots.

As they were disbanding, a male business traveler in a polo shirt came from the elevators. "Can I get one too?" he asked, handing his smartphone to a bystander. "I want to show the guys in the office."

Across the street on the ground floor of the convention center, a crowd had formed for the big arena event of the afternoon: a screening of a new 3-D version of The Lion King. The hoi polloi gathered in the main queue section, while a smaller line formed near a set of side doors for a select group: the 50 people who had paid $1,000 for Expo tickets at the "Sorcerer" level.

Winn Gillette, who had been across the street at Disneyland on the day it opened in 1955 and was a charter member of D23, was also first in line among the gathering Sorcerers. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a summer hat. He was annoyed that anyone who had gotten media credentials (and free admission) was ushered into presentations at the front of the lines, before even the Sorcerers and their slightly less-exclusive brethren, the 250 Premiere Package ticket holders, who had paid $500 each. He was sick of seeing people — including one family of mom, dad, and son — with press passes, cutting him in line.

"When you promote that extra access, it should mean something," Gillette griped.

The media armada appeared to be part of Disney's public-relations strategy. For the price of a few dozen free tickets, Disney could unleash through these "exclusive" presentations the next round of Disney news and rumor to scores of websites, YouTube channels, discussion boards, and podcasts. Staff from the California-based MiceChat site manned a booth on the show floor and roamed the halls wearing custom name tags. Independent bloggers tweeted #D23Expo updates to their followers. Before a presentation on the art in the upcoming Pixar movie Brave, production designer Tia Kratter said, "We ask that you please keep these images private and not photograph them, because we're going to show you a lot." Yet throughout the presentation, the screens of digital cameras lit up continually, and no one seemed to mind.

But one person was notably absent: Pete Werner. Lime-green Mickey heads were everywhere, but DIS had no table at the convention.

Later that evening, as vacuums prowled the show floor, a crowd emerged from the last presentation of the day: a panel of Disney "Imagineers," who design and build the whole elaborate show of parks, cruise ships, and resorts.

Andre Willey, a computer programmer from the United Kingdom wearing a black T-shirt with an airbrushed Walt and Mickey, and Trey Walters, a fluid engineer from Colorado wearing a lime-green Mickey head, stopped to talk by a railing over the atrium. After a day of waiting in lines together, the two men realized they had already been in contact for years on the boards.

Walters is "HydroGuy," with 9,967 posts (as of presstime) on the disboards. His magnum opus is a post titled "World of Color Superthread," which explains all aspects of the light-and-water show at Disney's California Adventure Park. Willey, with 1,857 posts (and more on another British Disney fan site), runs PortOrleans.org, an unofficial guide to the resort that he, his wife, and his daughter visit every year.

Willey and Walters were just two of hundreds of online fans who traveled to the Expo — and they didn't share Werner's negative view of the proceedings. In fact, they wondered why he wasn't there.

"Someone should ask Pete Werner why there's no DIS booth at D23," said Walters. "Tell him to get real. He should be here if he wants his website to succeed."

Willey agreed. "There are 50,000 people here who are into Disney. He should take advantage of it."


"Why didn't I have a table there? Because I didn't want to be there," said Werner, digging into a Monte Cristo sandwich at his favorite restaurant in Epcot, Les Chefs de France. The room filled up with people taking refuge from the pouring rain outside. "And you know what? You're not the biggest fan club, or the biggest anything, if my site isn't represented there. If they had reached out to us and other fan communities when this was launching, and said let's work together on this, I'd have been right on board, absolutely. But they didn't."

Werner wore a black polo, embroidered with the Shanghai Disney logo, and a pendant necklace. He enjoys his food, his coffee, his cigarettes, his camera equipment.

"If your life hasn't been picture-perfect, you find something to grab onto. One of the things I learned with my addiction was the energy behind how I did drugs and drank and self-destructed, that energy's always there. It's just a question of how I choose to move it."

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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

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?

Tsmith1005
Tsmith1005

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

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

Scoutfreckles
Scoutfreckles

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

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 !!!

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.

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.

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."

missy12
missy12

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

 
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