As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am a Disney fanatic. I listen to podcasts, read books, and watch TV shows that have to do with the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney all the time.
Two years ago, through a Disney podcast, I discovered an annual fund raising event held by a group of Disney fans in Indianapolis, IN.
The "Indy Dis Meet" raises money to help support the "Give Kids The World" village in central Florida. If you're not familiar with what "GKTW" is here's a link that will introduce to this amazing place.
Give Kids The World Website
I went to the event in Noblesville, IN for the first time in August 2015. I had a good time and it was great to hang out with fellow Disney fans.
In addition, I got to meet a couple of the ladies who were part of one of my favorite Disney podcasts, The Dis Unplugged.
Going to both places wasn't in the cards so I skipped the Indy Meet.
As I watched the Indy Dis Meet Facebook page over the course of 2017. I saw that a popular Walt Disney World Resort entertainer and some of my favorite Disney podcasters were going to be there this year.
So on the morning of Saturday, August 26, I left Kentucky for the 2017 Indy Dis Meet. The 4 hour drive was rather uneventful. The trip was basically a straight shot on I-65 north.
I arrived at the fairgrounds in Noblesville about 20 minutes before the "official" start of the event.
I registered at the table just inside the door of the hall and then got my free raffle ticket. The hall was still relatively empty.
But believe me, the place would be pretty crowded by the time the event came to an end.
I walked past a table covered with raffle prizes to the one where volunteers were selling additional tickets. I bought a few more to increase my chances. Even if I didn't win anything, I was contributing to a great cause.
The back right corner of the main room was the area hosting the information expo. There were tables set up where you could find out about various travel agents and meet the hosts of several podcasts.
The 3 hosts of the "Be Our Guest" podcast would record an episode at the end of the day.
I met Chris and Danny hosts of the "Behind The Ears" podcast. They're two friends who live in different parts of the country (Indiana & New Jersey, respectively). I asked them for some advice in regard to starting a podcast. They were very helpful. Later in the day I would go into an adjoining room and be part of their live podcast recording.
The next podcasters, I saw, are a pair I've been wanting to meet for a while. They were one of the main reasons I decided to attend the event: Len Testa & Jim Hill.
These two Disney experts are the hosts of the Disney Dish podcast.
Len Testa is a guy with a plethora of accomplishments involving Disney to his credit.
He is co-author of all the "Unofficial Disney Guide" books, creator of Disney touring plans, and head researcher for the Touring Plans.com website and the "Lines" app. The foundations of those last two are the algorithms Len developed as part of his doctoral thesis.
I first came to know Mr.Testa as 1 of 5 co-hosts of the WDW Today podcast. He was part of that program until recently. The last original host to retire from the podcast.
I asked Len what he was up to lately. He told me that he was busy developing an algorithm to help doctor's find the right combination of medications to give diabetic patients.
Currently, there are 6 million combinations and it's difficult for a physician to hit upon the correct one for individual patients without a "trial and error" period.
Here is a link to an article published recently about Len's involvement in this medical research. Len Testa: Disney Fan To Diabetes Researcher
Just goes to show you how intelligent this man is. And nearly all of his accomplishments stem from his fascination with Disney.
I am honored to have finally met and had my picture taken with him.
Jim Hill, to me, is the ultimate Disney insider. He has a "college of knowledge" when it comes to all aspects of the company's past.
Of all the Disney experts I know, only, author Jim Korkis comes close to knowing as much about Disney history. But as far as insight or information about the present and the future is concerned Jim Hill has no peers.
I talked with Jim a bit about his most memorable "Wow" moment in his vast array of Disney experiences.
He said it happened when he was a part of the press corp during the 30th anniversary celebration at Disneyland.
It was at that time he and all the other members of the press were allowed to walk on top of the buildings on Main Street USA and look down at the other guests. Truly, a once in a lifetime experience.
Again, I am really proud of this picture.
One final thing about these two guys. They are well known and highly respected authorities in the Disney fan community but they are really just down-to-earth friendly guys with a good sense of humor. They don't take themselves too seriously.
I will be sharing a video featuring them later in this post. I'm sure you'll see what I mean for yourself.
Also part of the Expo was an author named Jeffrey A. Barnes. He is a professor at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA where he teaches a course called "History of Disneyland."
He also has written a couple of books under the title "The Wisdom of Walt". His first book explores success strategies and life lessons gleaned from Disneyland.
His 2nd book, which will be released in October, covers the same subject but from the perspective of Walt Disney World.
I am very interested in these books and look forward to reading them in the near future.
After I made my way around the Expo, I got in the line for some food. There was all kinds of things to eat. The plentiful pot luck set up was a combination of dishes and desserts brought by guests and catering from various sponsors. These included: Chik-Fil-A, Papa Johns Pizza, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, and KFC. There was even a table giving out free dole whip drinks. And it was all free!!!
I shot a couple of narrative videos throughout the day. I have posted them on You Tube. Here's the link to the first one; recorded while I was in line to get some food. (at the 40 second mark, take notice of the guy sitting at the table. I think he looks a lot like Star Wars creator, George Lucas) Indy Dis Meet: Part 1
Speaking of Star Wars, there were some of the characters from the "galaxy far far away" there. They interacted with the crowd and posed for pictures.
Although I didn't get a picture with any of the Star Wars characters I did get to meet one of my favorite droids. Here's the link to the video of that "close encounter. Meeting R2-D2
I did take a picture with a few characters. One of them didn't seem to be getting anywhere near as much attention as I thought he should. But I was more than happy to get my picture taken with Herbie, The Love Bug.
Some of the Disney fans at the meet dressed for the occasion. While waiting in line for food, I met this family dressed alike, celebrating the Epcot character,"Figment", with the father displaying a little "madness".Next I took a picture of the only guy I recognized from the last time I attended the event. As I sat enjoying my lunch at a table near the food, I saw him waiting in line.
I talked with him a bit. I found out his name is Scott and he is the co-host of a podcast called "Disney, Indiana." Check it out out if you get the chance. You can find it on I-Tunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or on their website: disneyindiana.com
After I had some free food, I decided to take a walk into the kids area and see what they had to entertain the younger set of Disney fans. Kids Room Tour
I had my picture taken with the princesses who were there.
They weren't exactly the "best" cosplay princesses that I've seen; but the kids seemed to like them.
Up next was a special Q&A session with Jim Hill and Len Testa. For reasons I've already explained, just the opportunity to listen to the speak in person and ask questions of these two guys, would make my day.
But as a bonus, Mr. Hill brought along a piece of Disney history that hardly anyone has ever seen. It was given to him by a friend from Disney Imagineering.
It's a map of the "original" plans for the Indiana Jones attraction in Disneyland. Here's a link to a video with Jim explaining little more about what Imagineers wanted guests to experience. It all started out on the Jungle Cruise. Jim Hill Talks About Indiana Jones Ride
As I sat around waiting to hear at least one of the numbers on my set of raffle tickets called over the PA system (BTW that never happened) I decided to walk around the tables with the silent auction items. I wrote down bids for several things including a pair of Lu La Roe leggings with Minnie Mouse on them. I figured Paula would like them.
Here's an update I shot about 3PM, when the meet was at it's peak. Everyone was having fun and waiting for the event's special guest
With the hall buzzing like a hive of Disney fans and activities, the afternoon was building
to a crescendo. It would be a performance by someone who, in addition to Jim Hill & Len Testa, was one of the main reasons I was there.
Bob Jackson, aka "Yeeha Bob", is a legendary entertainer who regularly performs in the River Roost Lounge in the Port Orleans Riverside resort in Walt Disney World.
He is an excellent pianist and a gangly kinetic performer. To say that the hall full of hard core Disney nerds was excited about seeing Bob on stage 1000 miles further north than usual would be an understatement.
Bob's show was full of his version of Disney classics that included: Main Street Electrical Parade theme, The Bare Necissities, Let's Go Fly A Kite, You've Got A Friend In Me and more. Of course the crowd sang along with each and every one of them.
One of Bob's talents is that he gets the audience to actively participating in the show.
Here is a video link where he gets the kids in the room to be part of a song that gets them up and moving. YeeHa Bob & The Kids Exercise
Once Bob finished taking his bow during the standing ovation there was only about half an hour left in the event.
I still listened intently to the raffle numbers being announced but again came up empty.
The last thing on the "official" schedule was the recording of a podcast by the "Be Our Guest" podcast, one of the event's major sponsors.
I decided to stick around and be a part of it. The trio of hosts chose to discuss with the crowd a subject that I really am not interested in: table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Out of respect I stayed through the end of the recording. But then it was time to go.
The last thing on my agenda was to check and see if I won anything in the silent auction.
As it turned out I did win the Lu La Roe leggings. I got in line, paid for them and left the hall.
My day at the Indy Dis Meet was over. I left with a gift for my wife, a belly fully of free food, and the satisfaction of having contributed to a very worthy cause.
Now it was time for the 4 hour drive back home. So a little after 7:30 I got back on I-65 and headed toward Kentucky.
I am so glad that I decided to go to the Dis Meet this year. It's grown so much in the last two years. Getting together with other Disney fans and doing some fun Disney related things and having it result in raising money for a great cause is just about the perfect equation.
Those who were in charge of organizing this wonderful event did an excellent job. The corp of volunteers in their purple t-shirts were outstanding in their service throughout the day.
Making something as big as the Indy Dis Meet takes a lot of time, planning, and teamwork. To find out how that happens, I would like to interview those responsible for making this great event happen before the next event. Something to put on my "to do" list.
Next year I'm going to ask some other Disney fans I know to come along with me. If you are interested in going too, go and "Like" the Indy Dis Meet Facebook page. Then you can watch for the news and information about the 2018 Indy Dis Meet.