The Unheralded Treasure of
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the August 18, 2009 Issue #517 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
MagicMeets 2009 has come and gone but the memories still linger. This past MagicMeets was the 6th in the Fred Block series and one would have thought that after last year's extravaganza that things would be not just different but perhaps just a little subdued.
After all, last year was the big 5th and this year with the economy struggling it's easy to expect less. Guess again.
This year's event was truly amazing in so many ways. I must confess that when I checked in on Thursday that I was fearful that the 2008 event had done so well that there was no way that this year would match that experience.
Friday night should have given me a clue as to just how wrong I was to be. The Meet Before the Magic was an extraordinary event in which I witnessed first-hand and remembered once again how the joy of giving can be so contagious. As prizes were given out an uncanny turn of events occurred by which cash donations were coming out of nowhere just to see perhaps a podcaster, book author, or vacation planner do a few steps of what was supposed to be a moonwalk. Or even more amazing was the price paid for an opportunity to go to a karaoke party later that night.
All in all this Friday night event proved to be a harbinger of things to come.
Later on that evening the second annual MagicMeets Celebrity MagicTunes took place and once again there were signs that this weekend would hold for everyone something special, and something memorable. Attendees at this entertaining hour of fun did not pay attention to the $5 suggested donation at the door... all for charity. Nope. Instead, sightings of 10 and 20 dollar bills were noted accompanied by sound bites of "Keep the change." At the end of the hour the amount raised was staggering.
It was fitting that Mary Blaine, who had donated several hundred dollars to charity for a MagicMeets ticket, was asked to take a bow that evening as she personified the type of person who attends MagicMeets.
As Saturday arrived you could feel that electricity building at the Conference Center. The hallway outside the ballroom began to fill up well before I had finished breakfast and started to head down to set up for the big day. In the ballroom there were sounds of popping as the volunteers frantically filled and tied Mickey balloons to add even more decor to an already Disneyfied ballroom.
As always the day just seemed to race by... never enough time to talk with old friends while at the same time making new acquaintances and putting a face and a voice to a screen or Facebook name. I myself got caught up in everything, doing a live podcast, greeting people at my table, and doing both a Saturday and a Sunday breakout session.
In this 6th year of MagicMeets, I also noticed that the entire weekend seemed to move much smoother than ever before. In fact I saw MagicMeets 2009 as a model for all events as everything that you could imagine you needed to go right, went better than right.
Over the years much has been made regarding the wonderful outpouring of generosity by the attendees of MagicMeets. The last two years saw totals of $20,000 and $26,000 being raised for the Dream Team and Make-a-Wish Foundation. The $26,000+ that was raised this year of course had everyone in tears, including your humble author. Thanks to everyone who not just opened their wallets but their hearts as well.
I've often wondered if MagicMeets attendees ever thought about just how much work goes into this annual event. More than that, how much love, dedication, and that special Disney something is needed to pull off such a glorious weekend.
At this past MagicMeets I found myself presenting the last breakout session of the weekend.
I entitled it, "The Unheralded Treasures of Walt Disney World" and in this presentation I touched upon those aspects of Walt Disney World that are not part of the hype, not fueled by the powerful Disney marketing machine, and certainly not showcased in video, websites, or park guides.
These are the things we don't notice until we step back and observe... until we take note of their value... until we come to the realization that they are just as much a part of the WDW experience as the showcased attractions.
Well, there are some unheralded treasures at MagicMeets, and more so than ever before it's time to pay homage to them. I'm talking about the many volunteers who work so feverishly on Fred Block's staff to make 36 hours of everyone's time so memorable. There are so many people I could name and forgive me if I miss you -- but kudos to folks like Colleen, John, Tacey "Poppins", Brad, Jim, Mary, Brian, Laura, Sandy, Brian, and the rest of Fred's staff for putting on a most perfect weekend, a remarkably run event, and providing everyone with just a wonderful time.
I know that such a quality event does not get pulled off without a lot of planning. For a year Fred and his staff met for two hours every week to discuss the needs of the event, the problems of past events, and come up with solutions and ideas for this year's events. Obviously that time was well spent.
I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful job put on by the Dream Team for the silent auction and I tip my hat to the hard-working folks there led by Pat, Tracy, and Lori. Great job, everyone.
Finally, as the saying goes, it all starts from the top. In the five years I have come to know Fred Block I have seen in him unparalleled love for making people smile.
His influence on those around him has no bounds and his personality, generosity, and love for his friends is something I truly admire and strive to emulate every day in my life. However, my efforts pale in comparison to this wonderful man and what he has given the Disney community these past six years.
The quality that this man brings to the table has certainly rubbed off on his staff, his friends, and all who have attended MagicMeets. When the dust settled on this year's MagicMeets there was Fred, all smiles, happy, content, and pleased that all had gone well. Any other man would then sit back and enjoy the fact that it was over and rest on his laurels.
Not Fred. Already he's thinking about MagicMeets 2010 and beyond.
I remember listening to Walt Disney talk about Disneyland and how he envisioned it to grow every year and get "... even more beautiful..." than the year before. Somehow Fred Block strikes me as doing the same thing for MagicMeets.
Fred Block is a true unheralded treasure of the Disney community and we should all be grateful that he has touched our lives with MagicMeets.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a
regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net:
Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm
Team Members Deb Wills and Scott Thomas shared their MagicMeets 2009 experiences in their blogs.
Deb's blogs on MagicMeets start at: http://land.allears.net/blogs/debwills/2009/08/magic_meets_arrival_day_1.html
Scott's blog is at: http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/2009/08/2009_magicmeets_photography.html
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.