We are re-posting this story tonight for Corey. He and his family suffered an enormous loss today, with the passing of his father, Harold. We send Corey and his family our deepest sympathy and prayers during this time. TMSM is a family, and we are here for you! ~M
It seems as if I have been a Disney fan for most of my life. From the first time I set foot in a Disney park at 6 years old, I’ve felt a connection to the place. I enjoy the movies, the animation, the T.V shows, but the parks have always been my favorite. I love the way they suck you in; at times you tend to forget about what lies outside in the “real world”. It often seems like a foreign land, which is exactly how it was designed. I love to learn the mechanics of how things work in Walt Disney World. All of the books I’ve read, stories I’ve heard or things I’ve seen have never ruined the “magic” for me. It has only intensified my interest and fueled my appetite to learn even more. I enjoy the secrets and little tid-bits that are incorporated into an attraction for fans and visitors to explore exactly why it was put there. Along the way I was pretty much a closet case fan. Not many people outside of close friends and family knew how much I enjoyed all of the aspects of the parks. Growing up we went every other year. I honeymooned there when I got hitched and currently go multiple times a year.
Over the years technology has changed, a lot. The Internet has become a staple in most people’s lives and within that has come social networking. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become a part of everyday life. And with them a whole new life has taken form. You can now really reach out and find others that share your common interests. Whether it is movies, music, fashion or Disney, nothing is barred. A whole new world has opened up with the introduction of social networking. I for one have never been a big fan of Facebook but I kept an account to catch up on the latest Disney news and rumors. Along the way I have met fellow Disney fans, some I liked and some I did not. As a Disney fan I have a lot of random Disney Facebook friends. 99% of them I have never had any kind of contact with outside of Facebook. Some are more dramatic than others, but there is a certain Disney bond there that makes me seem to always accept a friend request when I get one.
On June 7th, 2010 I accepted one of those random requests not really thinking twice about it. The random friend request was from a young lady that went by the name of Michele Atwood. Like most others we had never chatted, messaged, or e-mailed but I clicked that “Accept” button. The following day I had a request to check out a site called The Main Street Mouse. I admit that I “liked” the Facebook page but didn’t go to the main site right away. Website forums have never been something I was into. I saw it pop up occasionally on my feed but just scrolled on past…several times. Then one day I decided to click on it and see what the page was all about. Immediately I could tell it was in its infancy stages but upon looking around on the page I could tell it had great potential. I went ahead on signed up for the site and began to go on everyday to read what all was posted in the forums and to catch up on the news that was coming out daily. Then I got suckered in. I began to post in the forums to just try and help them along, trying to get some interaction going. The time I was spending must have caught the eye of the two upper echelons in charge. They would send messages saying that they appreciated me helping within the site and my basic response was probably “no problem”. Several weeks went by and a fellow that went by the name of Scott approached me and he asked if I would be interested in helping him with the site. Of course I told him that I would be glad to help out. But in the back of my mind I thought that he was being pretty trusting to give access to his site not knowing who that person really was. But I accepted the challenge and began to help the two of them with the site. Along the way I’ve been drafted to be a mod for the Facebook and the Nation pages. Went from a monthly newsletter contributor to a weekly contributor, then to a magazine contributor, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve the seen the site go through its ups and downs throughout the years and I’ve been behind Scott and Michele through all of them.
Over the years I’d often wonder if I would ever get to really meet the Atwoods. They lived way up in Michigan and I lived way down in Alabama, so it wasn’t very feasible to swing by and meet and greet. So we mainly just communicated through text and e-mail over the years. Then one day Scott emailed me and in that email he made the statement that they may be moving to the Orlando area. I was a little taken aback. Moving to Orlando would be a huge push and bigger exposure for the site, but on the downside it would mean having to do something out of their norm. They would be leaving behind friends and family in Michigan. It was a hard thing for them to do, but they did it for the sake of the site. After reading his email, I knew if they went through with it there was a bigger chance to meet them face-to-face.
Last October the wife and I decided to attend a D23 event that was being held at the Boardwalk. So I messaged Scott to see if they may be attending (They had decided to go through with their plan and move to Florida) the event, he said they weren’t. But we then found out a fellow mod, Mike Mozena was going to be down at the same time and then Autumn Barnes made plans to come down. So then it was on like Donkey Kong. We started throwing around ideas to have a big meet-up. It was decided that the meet up would be held at EPCOT. Being the first big meet-up I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect but there was a pretty decent response on Facebook by people who said they would attend. At the time I still hadn’t met either Scott or Michele and I didn’t really want the meet-up to be the first time so I decided to invite them to get a bite to eat a few days before the shindig. So we all met up at Raglan Road. I’m not going to lie when I say I was little nervous. Just the whole idea of not really knowing either one personally, I just didn’t now what to expect. Sometimes people can end up not being what you imagined them to be. What if I didn’t like them or they didn’t like me. But we ended up hitting it off without a hitch. It felt like we had known each other for half our lives. We sat there amongst the Irish cloggers fellowshipping, laughing and bonding to what has become a great friendship. A few days later we had the big meet-up and the turnout was great. People came and left throughout the day and we were all able to match up Facebook profiles to actual faces.
Fast-forward to a year later and it was coming time for the 2nd big meet-up. I figured it would be bigger and better than the previous year and it was. Michele being her usual self was nervous and a little scared. In the back of her mind she wanted to please everyone and have a great turnout. When she and Scott finally showed up they were greeted by a group of faces that all come to support her and Scott’s cause. We had people from the previous year and many new faces. And everyone had something in common, the love of Disney and TMSM. The site and all that comes with it is a labor of love for Scott and Michele. It doesn’t’ make them rich (yet) but it is their full time job. I tend to look at the two of them as Walt and Roy. Michele is the face; she’s Walt in female form, the dreamer. Scott is very much like Roy, the master juggler, making it all come together some way or another. As I said before, there have been many bumps along the way. There have been failures, but with those failures it has helped make TMSM what it is today. Walt and Roy had many failures, but just look what they left us with in the end. Maybe all of us who work with them are the Imagineers. Walt said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”. I think TMSM will be the same way. They continuously listen to fans’ comments and try to bring them what they want. The TMSM magazine was one of those things that people wanted and Scott and Michele listened. The magazine is still in its early stages but each and every month gets better and better. And it’s a steal at $1.99 and issue. It’s loaded with awesome articles from awesome contributors and awesome photography. There’s always talk going on backstage of what bigger and better things can be brought to the fans and trust me when I say you’ll want to be around to see what the future has to offer for TMSM.
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