Many locals may have thought last weekend to be the perfect time to visit the Disneyland Resort -- 2Fer Time, no holiday weekend, and finally clear weather -- but they were in for a surprise. Approximately 500 people swarmed the central hub of Disneyland around the statue of Walt and Mickey to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of MiceChat.com, the largest Disney park fan-site on the web.
It’s more than a fan site to these 500 people, and the 35,000 other registered members - its a family. That’s a feeling shared not just by the members, but the site’s creator, Todd Regan, known as “DustySage”. “Creating the forums allowed me to give a home to all my Disney friends...its a community that really is like a family,” DustySage adds, “everyone has a role in this family -- we have moms, dads, kids, grandmas, quirky uncles and aunts. Everyone has their own niche on the site.”
Obviously, these members aren’t just any old Disney fans. In fact, last year when the weather threatened to rain out the anniversary festivities, 350 members from around the country showed up to celebrate in the pouring rain! “For so many of them, its their one chance to come to Disneyland and know their friends will be there, too...a chance to come here and realize, its not just a username, its real people!” DustySage said. “The anniversary meet is always our biggest event of the year.”
While MiceChat may not be officially recognized as a Disneyland affiliate, Disneyland employees sure know the mice-chatters when they see them. This year, train conductors gave a special shout-out to the visitors, “(The) train ride with everyone was great epspecially (sic) the conductor making the 5 yr anniversary announcement added to her spiel at each stop,” commented TomRules1955.
Disneyland wasn’t the only place locals found a crowd of mice-chatters, “We are lucky enough to have the Howard Johnson Hotel as a sponsor. They’re right across the street from the park entrance, and visitors can see the fireworks from their rooms; its just a really great thing for us,” said DustySage. “They offer great discounts for MiceChat members and even let us give away free rooms as prizes for our events...They let us use their Private Cove pool area for our Gumball Rally event last year which usually has 350-400 people attending. Its a massive undertaking!” The MiceChat Gumball Rally is their second largest event every year, and gains its own national news coverage.
The festivities for the anniversary celebration start off at HoJo’s every year with a party there on Friday night. All-day Saturday is spent exploring California Adventure, and Sunday is the traditional Disneyland day. Sunday also marks the end of the celebration and is an emotional outpouring of goodbyes. When asked his favorite memory of the anniversary meet this year, DustySage commented, “The last meet; people I've never even met were standing in line and all around just to hug me and tell me their stories -- a mother and son who had lost their father...a family who had moved (hundreds of miles) away and came here and found instant family...a father and son who came for the first time and the father told me ‘I don’t get to spend a lot of time with him and this is the closest I’ve ever been to my son.’”
The event is clearly a great opportunity for fans, families, and friends alike, and DustySage adds, “the only way to experience it is to attend.”