One week before the annual gathering of internet connected Disney World fans, Mousefest, arrived this year I was not planning on attending. It’s not that I didn’t want to go. In fact, I had put in for vacation time for that period at the very beginning of the year . I was not planning on going for the same reason a lot of folks who would liked to have been there didn’t go, namely money. Like a lot of people the last few years my wife has had to deal with an extended period of unemployment, which has left out budget a bit on the tight side. I had reasons I did want to attend, a lot of these folks I have known for some time and consider friends, for that matter the same goes for some I have known less long, and being gathered with a bunch of other people who feel the same way about WDW as I do is just a great feeling.Additionally over the past year I have gotten a lot more feedback than I ever had in the past on things I have written that are on the internet, in the All Ears newsletter and on my web site (which many folks discovered because of those All Ears articles) so it would be neat to get to be at one of these meets and be a person who others might know even if I didn‘t know some of them, also, we had not returned to WDW since our honeymoon in October of 2002.
A week before Mousefest my wife suggested that we could go after all. I got such a good deal on a nights stay via Priceline that she suggested we stay another night, so accommodations were made for two nights at off-site hotels (on 192). We made the trip down overnight it was uneventful, though at one point in South Carolina we followed a van with Pennsylvania tags ILOVWDW I was in front of him a few times as well and hoped that he noticed that my North Carolina tags read GOIN2WDW. Since this was a budget trip we were not panning on buying any tickets. I figured keep it simple, Friday shopping, and hotel, Saturday go to the RADP and Mega Mouse meet and greet, Sunday a little more shopping before heading home, Carlene kept thinking that I would decide to go ahead and use my ticket (a park hopper with one day left over on it) one of these days and made sure that I knew that would be alright with her, she would go Christmas shopping if I did.We breakfasted in Orlando before heading for our hotel. We got on 192 checked into our room at the Radisson, we had first stopped briefly to see how much further it was at another Radisson before we got to it that Radisson looked particularly nice but it set next to a closed hotel that got my attention even more, the hotel in question had a chain link fence around it, and realized later, sits at the intersection of 192 and I-4, a few days later once I realized that we made sure to stop and take another look at it on our way out of town (more on that later).
About our room it was nice with a small refrigerator, coffee pot hairdryer etc, looking out the window I looked for signs of WDW, there was what looked like a large brown mound in one direction, and , since I knew we were at the west end of the property I figured the crane might be working on the new Coaster at Animal Kingdom, the mound had me puzzled it was not anywhere near the crane, was it a mound of dirt for something else? I later realized it was almost certainly the roof of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, our room was in the south tower and a room in the North tower of this hotel might have even better WDW views (perhaps you would be able to see the All Stars? I think we had to be awfully close to them). While Carlene settled in for her nap I headed out onto 192 then made my first trip onto the WDW property since we were at the west end of WDW property anyway
Carlene took a nap while I went postcard hunting. I decided to start by visiting Animal Kingdom Lodge, this ended up being one of the best decisions I made all trip, I pulled up to the guard shack said, I’m going to the gift shop, the guard asked for my identification took it and wrote information down and gave me a parking pass, this was the most thorough any of the guards were this trip, only one other even came close, it doesn't take that long to do this, I can see guards waving you on quickly when it is busy but if it is not more of them should be like this one was. I had never been to this resort before and it’s just beautiful, I think perhaps I even like it better than the Wilderness Lodge. I walked into the lobby and spent a few minutes with my jaw agape and looking up in awe at the lobby decor, the Christmas tree, the details, and the overall beauty of this place! Eventually I wandered over to the gift shop, I had some pretty good luck with the postcards here, first, in the gift shop I found a couple of cards from the first (pre-Asia) year of Animal Kingdom. Cards that were first printed before the Asia section opened had the 00141 as the "prefix" section of their UPC number later cards were "prefixed" with a number beginning with 00139. Only these "00141" cards weren’t printed before the Asia section opened, there are two things that point this out, first these cards have an Animal Kingdom logo printed on the front of the card that the earliest Animal Kingdom cards that I have do not, more conclusive evidence, however, is the fact that on the back of the card of this type that features the interior shot of the Dinosaur ride calls the ride by that very name "Dinosaur" on the back of the card, the attractions name was changed May 1, 2001 (information courtesy of the Disney A to Z .pdf supplement available at Disney.com) http://disney.go.com/vault/read/dave_smith.html Also not only were there a few of these "logo on front" versions of Animal Kingdom 00141 series cards but also one of the American Zoo Association Postcards that were also sold early on at the park (I remember hearing that Animal Kingdom had actually gotten these cards from the San Diego Zoo when AK first opened) . Also, this being the first stop in a Disney World Souvenir shop in two years there were a couple of new cards including a foil card for with a 2005 logo Goofy, Mickey, Donald behind the logo a giant "swirl eared" Mickey logo behind them Tinkerbell flying in front of that swirl eared decor Mickey logo, the phrase "Where the party never ends" between the ears of that logo, Pluto lying down in front of the 2005 with Chip and Dale by his Tail and Head respectively and a small Walt Disney World logo below them, all printed on a red foil background with stars and swirl Mickeys’ imprinted in the background throughout. I asked the sales person at the counter if he knew if this resort gave postcards to the people that stayed there, he didn’t know but told me that Guest Services should know. I figured that even if they did they might not want to hand them out to those not staying there, but even if that was the case I might be able to see what one looked like at least... knowing what you are looking for is half the battle in postcard collecting, if I don't know a particular card exists I might not look all the right places. Registration was swamped but guest services had no line I stood there a bit and a few more folks got in line over the few minutes I was there, I decided to move on and try back in a bit. I saw the DVC vacation club desk nearby and decided to see if they had any new cards for me, the desk was momentarily unmanned but there was a thick stack of a new photographic view of the Saratoga Springs resort, I had two previous artist concepts cards of it (both with the same art but other variations between the cards), so this was a new one to me and I picked up a few , then proceeded out on to one of the overlooks of the animals just off the lobby, I took a few pictures and just enjoyed the scenery a bit, then returned to the lobby and took a few more pictures. I tried guest services before I left and the woman there was able to tell me that she did not think there was a free with stay type card for this hotel. I treated this as good news in a way, since after all, if there is no card for a particular resort, then I’m not missing one from my collection right?
Soon I was on my way to the All Stars resorts, I told the guard I needed to go to the gift shop (I had my ID out and held it up) she said "which one?" I told her I would be going to each of them and she waved me on. At the first All stars resort I went to I found a couple of cards new to me, one a red foil of Mickey and Minnie in front of Cinderella's Castle with the phrase "Walt Disney World" at the bottom really caught my eye! Not only did it seem to complete a series of foil cards I had collected on previous trips that had Mickey on foil cards at Epcot, Disney MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom (In fact all four of these cards were displayed side by side, here, and at most of the other resorts I would visit in the next few days!) it also proved a point I had just made in an article I had just submitted to All-Ears newsletter a few days before I left on my trip. The article was about (in part) how many guests refer to the Magic Kingdom as Walt Disney World, and how WDW has re-enforced that over the years, and how the history of the resort had caused that to happen somewhat naturally. There was also a new Pooh foil (4 x 9ish), and a new die cut in the classic Mickey head shape with the "fab five" and a saying relating to each of them on it. I also tried to take a picture of the Price signs affixed to the postcard racks at these resorts, I’m not very pleased with the result but between my two attempts got a pretty readable set of images. I tried the desks at each of the All Stars resorts for room cards, but it seems they have discontinued them, in fact this proved to be a theme of this trip. I also encountered my first staffed DVC desk at All Stars and checked to see if they had any other cards, I know that in the past they had a information packet they sent out to folks who inquired about DVC that had a postcard strip with 5 x 7 photos of the resorts they had at that time, the DVC cast member said they didn’t do that any more.
After this I stopped at the Winter Summerland Mini Golf course to see if their shop held any postcards it did not, I started to pull in to Blizzard Beach then saw that they were closed, I’m not sure if I would have been able to visit their gift shop even if they had been open as I do not know if it is inside or outside their gate. Next up was Coronado Springs, I was really impressed with their Christmas Tree, for a moderate they seem some ways more like a deluxe. On my way in I heard a few people talking in Spanish not all that unusual for Florida, but I heard it several times in the short time I was there, I had heard that they were making an effort to market more to the Spanish speaking community and it seems that is the case, it also is appropriate I mention that at this resort as this was the first place I saw the new WDW four park card that says ¡ Saludos de Walt Disney World !. As I was wandering around considering if I should get in line to ask guest services if they still had postcards that go in the room here I noticed that the DVC fellow working here was about the only cast member who wasn’t swamped, so I asked him if he know anything (showing him some of the examples I had in my bag (I had two folders full of cards with me all of this day) he said he didn’t know and started to walk off saying something about checking with a manager for me I said something about don’t bother (they were awfully busy) but he was already gone the lady he came back with at least came out of the back offices rather than from behind the counter and she was interested enough in my cards that I gave her my web page address, and she gave me one of the old cards, she told me that she knew that they don’t put them out in the rooms any more. On my way out, I ran into an RADPer checking in a long time RADPer who I had met at a few meet before so we talked for a few minutes before I headed on my way.
Since I was working my way across the southern end of WDW property from West to East I headed next to the Wide World of Sports complex, I had gotten cards there in 2000 but they no longer have postcards there. Soon I was off to the next resort and another one that was new to me Pop Century they offer a die cut card of the resort, but I already had gotten one of these (I believe I bought it from the president of the International Disney postcard Collectors Club, Jay Patel) they did, however, have another die cut card I did not yet have, one in the shape of Pooh’s Honey pot with four of the main Pooh characters in the art on the front. I looked around the resort and took a few pictures.