This last Saturday we went to the 5th annual Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet! It is held at the Lynnwood Convention Center in Lynnwood, WA. We have gone every year and every year it gets bigger and better.
The PNW Mouse Meet was started in 2009 by Don Morin and his elite team of volunteers. Every year they put together an amazing show for Disney fans and they do it all with volunteers that put in untold hours throughout the year. The event includes guest speakers, Disneyana vendors, two dole whip machines (yum!), pin trading and celebrity meet and greets (including being able to get autographs). There are also displays by fans. Every year these are different and it is always so wonderful to see what other people collect. I’m not sure why (except that I was having so much fun) but I didn’t get around and take pictures of these displays…..I expect that there will soon be lots of photos on the PNW Mouse Meet website.
One of the reasons (there are many many of course) we keep coming back every year is because it is a room full of Disney fans just like us. There is never anyone that says “why are you going to Disneyland or Disney World AGAIN” or “Disney is just for kids” or “you collect WHAT!!” We all feel the same way about our favorite place or our favorite thing to collect. And the interest in Disney can be different for everyone; some like the parks, some like the movies, and some like the collectibles but we all love Disney and that is a very comforting place to be. We all “get it”.
This year, one of the vendors that I was most looking forward to seeing was David Lesjak. He was at previous Mouse Meets as a speaker and did a wonderful presentation on the early Disney Studios history. It was wonderful and Kevin and I got to talk to him before one of his talks. He is passionate about Disney history and the role the Disney Studios played during World War II. He has 2 blogs: Toons at War and Vintage Disney Collectibles. He also has a new e-book out (available at amazon.com) called: “Service With Character The Disney Studio and World War II”. I am reading it now and I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in history and / or Disney. I hope he can come back to a future Mouse Meet as a speaker again!!
The following people were speakers at the event. While I have read much about these people and could have written about their history with the company, the folks at PNW Mouse Meet did a really good job of this so I am including a link to each page and will let them explain who they are.
The first speaker of the day was Dave Smith. He is the former chief archivist at the Walt Disney Archives and joined the company on June 22, 1970. He has a new book out that he was signing that day called: “Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered”
His presentation was stories and photos from the archives and it was wonderful to see and hear about things that are not often seen by the average person. You could tell he had a real passion about Disney history and preserving and adding to the archives. Having read his books and columns for years, it was wonderful to see him in person!
The second speaker was Kevin Rafferty. He is a Senior Concept Writer, Creative Director with Walt Disney Imagineering. He has been with the company since 1974. In addition to the link above, I also found this blog post and a really beautiful video that explains his career and his love of Disney. His presentation was about Carsland and it was great hearing about the beginning of the concept to the finished product. He also had many photos of the planning and building of this wonderful new area in Disney California Adventure.
For the third presentation, they had both Tony Anselmo and Bill Farmer on a panel with Jeff Kurtti interviewing them. It was fascinating to hear how they both got into the business.
Tony Anselmo is both an animator, working on Little Mermaid and Lion King among others and a voice actor. He does the voice of Donald Duck mainly but also does Donald’s nephews. Tony was actually trained by the original voice of Donald Duck, Clarence Nash. He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.
Bill Farmer is the voice of Goofy and Pluto. He has also done other voices such as Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn and many others. He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.
Leading the interview (and providing stories of his own) was Jeff Kurtti . Jeff has been involved with PNW Mouse Meet since the beginning. He is a Disney author and historian and worked with the Disney family on The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
Website for PNW mouse meet http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Home.php
Dave Smith http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Dave_Smith.html
Kevin Rafferty http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Kevin_Rafferty.html
Tony Anselmo http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Tony_Anselmo.html
Bill Farmer http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Bill_Farmer.html
Jeff Kurtti http://www.pnwmousemeet.com/Jeff_Kurtti.html