We arrived on Friday afternoon and checked into the Copthorne Hotel, Birmingham. Nice hotel. We dump our bags, freshen up and then head downstairs to help Adam set up, mainly poster hanging and deflecting questions from a scary hotel worker who ‘had no knowledge of why we were there’ and ‘did we have permission’. Eeek!
We at dinner at Nando’s as we had 2 vouchers for 2 free combo meals followed by a canal walk with Matt Clow and his lovely family. Afterwards, we head for bed and listen to the ‘delightful’ stylings of the jazz club under our window! Until 1am…
Saturday dawns and during breakfast we get a phonecall from Adam asking me to run registration – so I agree and get to meet everyone first, apart from Alan Hooper who started without me! Bad Alan, lol. My hopes of remembering everyone’s names soon fade as I tick names of, get signatures, hand out lanyards and invite people to add their upcoming Disney holidays to the calendar. One or 2 people stand out though. At 10.45am Mousemeets 2011 officially begins!! We start with a talk from Adam about Thunder Mesa followed by Phantom Manor, it was very interesting and their was some great music! I loved how the 2 attractions are linked. Next up we have Catherine Ryan Howard chatting about her book ‘Mousetrapped’. What a lovely friendly girl she is; her talk was very good, humorous and interesting and I am now a proud owner of a signed copy of her book. (Which I am now halfway through and can’t put down!)
Lunchtime! We run out to Greggs for pasties and doughnuts. Once we were back we got to know Kelly Brice and her hubby David a bit better (yay!) before settling down for ‘Who Wants to be a MillionEar’. We really enjoyed this. The scores, and prizes, were: Laura – 1,000 pts – Krabby Patties and a Mars egg;
Matthew – 10,000 – Krabby Patties, Mars egg, 6 pack RC Cola – during Matthew’s turn Louise Waghorn gave a correct answer for ‘Ask the Audience’ and won an easter egg;
Kids next (Raymond, Eve, Tommy, Ben, Billie and Matthew) – 1,000,000 – pins, creme eggs, tootsie rolls;
Joe – 50,000 – Pack of 40th Anniversary WDW playing cards – during Joe’s turn Barry Gornall gave a correct answer and won a Mars egg, Nicola gave a correct answer and won a Mars egg, Angela gave a correct answer and won an autograph book, Billie gave a correct answer and won a Hannah Montana hair set.
Immediately after the end of MillionEars it was announced that a lovely anonymous person had donated a POTC pin bag filled with 200-300 pins to the silent auction. Whoever you are, thank you, what a generous thing to do! The kids were allowed to trade pins with those in the pin bag until the end of the auction too. It was great to see the kids taking advantage of that. Next up was ‘In Conversation with a Disney Mom’. Emma Nicholson, wearing her bubblegum pink Disney Mom’s Panel t-shirt came across as much more relaxed that she had told me she was earlier She is SO down to earth and it was a great chat about the panel, the selection process, her training trip to Orlando, how the panel works and a brief Q&A session… no longer shall we wonder about rice cookers in WDW…. It was to become a theme…
‘The Pixar Story’ was next, we’d seen it before but enjoyed watching it again, it was still very interesting, although I must admit to struggling to stay awake at one point – hey the lights were down and it was warm!. Time for a break before the recording of ‘Your Mousecast’ – oh my goodness, this was sooo funny! Chris Speed, Alan Hooper and Steve Dockree are insane genuises! Highlights were… Favourite things about Disney – the food! Let’s Get it on!!!! Steve’s drinking his way around ‘The World’, EPCOT. My sides ached by the end. The guests were very amusing too – Brent Dodge’s video about what Disney meant to him was hilarious even if we couldn’t see him too well; Ricky Brigante’s audio was very interesting, echoing others feeling about WDW being an escape from reality; Adam did an impromptu trip report about DLP and then came The Alpha Quiz – the letter ‘Z’. Thanks to our son, we have a trophy sitting on our mantlepiece. Finally there was a Q&A session where the rice cooker reared it’s head again! Thanks Fred!
Next up was DisneyBrit Live! Adam was u-streaming live and I was sat right in front of him, eeek! Juz joined us via the magic of Skype, but we’d have rather had him here in person. Lee had to go and embarrass himself by Skyping Juz during the recording – it was hilarious when he got caught! As well as the usual we had ‘’Name That Disney Tune’ which was very funny with lots of cheating going on from Juz and Craig’s team – I’m pretty sure Alan Hooper’s team didn’t resort to such tactics, but you never know…. 3, 7 or 15 notes and the lowest score won. It was funny and the tension was palpable. Craig and Juz’s team won by the skin of their teeth. A Q&A session followed with the rice cooker cropping up again. Then we had ‘Mallet’s Mallet’ with a Disney theme of course! It was very funny to watch. I think everyone enjoyed being part of the recording, I know we did. The planned group dinner at Nando’s didn’t quite go to plan as the staff were taken aback at our numbers and claimed to have no idea we were coming, but it all worked out in the end. Raymond was flagging so we had to head back to the hotel room shortly after dinner. I laid awake listening to more ‘Jazz’, although I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out there had been many cats murdered – it was just screaming….
Sunday!! After breakfast we walked along to The Electric Cinema, the UK’s oldest working cinema for a private viewing of Up! on 35mm no less! We were lucky enough to bag one of the leather sofas at the back too, although 2 adults and a pre-teen in a 2-seater was a bit of a squash. It was great watching the film with other like-minded Disney fans and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Afterwards we had 1 1/2 hours free for lunch and shopping so we headed off to The Bullring with Craig Lucas and his gorgeous daughter with the aim of visiting the Disney store. We bought some Tangled Silly Bandz for our daughter who was staying with her Grandma. We avoided the Andrex dog just outside the store and bumped into some other Mousemeeters, we were informed by Louise Waghorn that there was a Krispy Kreme’s in the vicinity; so we made a beeline and bought a box of 12 before walking back to the Copthorne for the ‘Disney Drawing Masterclass’ with Kelly Brice. This was so much fun, learning to draw Mickey Mouse and Goofy with Kelly who is such a lovely bubbly girl and made the session a blast! She’s reignited my passion for drawing as well. Once we were all budding Disney illustrators it was time to retake our seats for a WDW tour with Nick LoCicero. Wow! This was really cool and funny, (and I’ll admit to envy, I’m desperate to return!) it was great to be able to direct Nick (and his cameraman MC) wherever we wanted him to go and it was a real shame that the time passed so quickly It was great to ‘ride’ the TTA (one of our faves) and try and spot other favourite places during the tour. I loved the Union Jack vinylmation and want one now! It was a shame that the feed crashed while we tried to ‘meet’ Mickey Mouse in the Town Square Theater but it was cool to spy on Beast’s castle, get the CM to say hi and ‘stand’ at the bridge at Splash Mountain. Once we had said our sad farewells to Nick we had the quiz. Our team had 6: Myself, Lee, Craig Lucas, Mike Moody, Raymond and Eve. We had 8 categories with 10 questions per section. There were some tough questions… Long story short… our team won after a nerve-wracking tie breaker! Thank you Yale Gracey! We had 3 Mickey bags to share filled with goodies such as a Cinderella glitter-globe, pins, Belle plush, puzzle books, bookmarks, signed postcards, lanyards, a photo album, Tron Legacy toy, Lego Prince of Persia and sweets. We didn’t need the prizes, the glory was enough, but we took the prizes too lol!
1st dinner break, but as we weren’t hungry we just went for a walk before returning for Karaoke!!! A few people were leaving/had already left by this time but there were still enough for a good singsong. I can’t remember who sang what exactly but I know that Kelly Bricewas up first and really good with ‘Part of Your World’. We had 2 fun group songs – ‘It’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow’ and ‘Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious’. Highlights: Alan Hooper – ‘Let’s Get it On!’; Chris Speed and Fred Thomas with a HSM song; Adam and Craig – ‘A Whole New World’ (I’m not being the girl…); Kymie (I think) – ‘The Climb’; Chris Speed, Alan Hooper and Steve Dockree – ‘It’s A Small World’; Fred Thomas, Chris Speed, Alan Hooper and Steve Dockree – ‘You’ve Got A Friend in Me’; Sharon sang a song from Enchanted, got the giggles and fled immediately after the final note . Kerry (I think) – ‘Almost There’ and, with her partner – ‘Hakuna Matata’; Kerry (again, think) and Mike Moody – ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’ and ‘Be Our Guest’… quite a bass you’ve got on you there Mike! A few of us were surprised to hear that booming out! Well, the karaoke was over too soon and there was lots of chatting going on. It was literally at the end of the proceedings that Lee turned to me and told me who Fred was… with his wife Nicola, we are all fellow admins on DisCOT!.. erm, blush? It just hadn’t registered and we hadn’t really had time to talk to them. Of course we introduced ourselves and, wouldn’t you know it, hit it off! Typical! Still, we have more new friends to chat online to now. Once everyone was done chatting and more had left the remaining few of us – Adam, Craig, Myself, Lee, Raymond, Steve Dockree,Alan Hooper and Chris Speed wandered down to the canal-side and The Handmade Burger Co for dinner. It was really great, podcasters together, mulling over the weekends events and relaxing together. Raymond fell asleep at the table so we left the others to their drinks and headed back to our room.
All in all I think a great time was had by all. Personally, I had a blast! It far-exceeded expectations. I got to meet like-minded people, made some firm friendships (you know who you are), chilled out, laughed until I couldn’t breathe, ate more doughnuts in an hour than I do in a year, although not as many as Alan Hooper! I really liked Birmingham and the hotel, I geeked out at The Electric Cinema, cried (secretly) at times and revelled in the fact that I had 4 days off from cooking and cleaning. Mousemeets 2011 I salute you, will I be at Mousemeets 2012? You try and stop me!
Thanks to Tracey Mallaby for her review