Hey all! Exciting news. Remeber how I told you 2011 was going to be awesome?! Well your very own Dragyn has big news! I will be a writer for a brand new Disney fan site! (Eeeeppp!) Started by Lisa Battista (@DisneyExplorer) and Stuart Sternberg (@Disneygeekdad).
When they asked me to write for their brand new site I thought what every young blogger does: "Are you sure you read MY blog?" But they have assured me they have and enjoy it! (Yay me!) So needless to say I am also a fan of theirs and appreciate this opportunity.
But enough about me. Let Lisa and Stuart tell you about themselves and the site in their own words:
DragynAlly: Tell me about yourself.
Stuart: I am a native New Yorker having been born and raised in Queens, NY. I moved to New Jersey 16 years ago with my wife and then 20 month old son now 17. A little over two years later we had our very own Jersey girl. I have always been an avid sports fan and a diehard Yankee fan. I bleed Yankee pinstripes but my pinstripes have Mickey ears.
Lisa: I was born and raised at the Jersey Shore and almost nothing is better than feeling sand under my feet and smelling salt in the air. I have three wonderful boys and am the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers. I love to be in the kitchen trying out new recipes. If baking and taste testing are involved, I have two very eager little helpers.
D: What sparked your love of Disney?
Stuart: I always had a fascination with theme parks although I am not a thrill ride person and I had never been to Walt Disney World. That all changed in May 1990 when as a young adult I got to experience the magic with my then fiancé, now wife for the very first time. We spent four days at Walt Disney World and I got to see the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the recently opened Disney-MGM Studios. To say this vacation was the start of a life changing experience would be an understatement.
Lisa: I visited Walt Disney World as a child and enjoyed it but didn’t have the passion for it that I do today. It was on our family honeymoon, when my stepson joined us at Walt Disney World and we became a family, that I truly appreciated the magic. Walt Disney World gave us something priceless – memories and time together as a family where all the distractions of the “real world” couldn’t intrude. That gift continues today when my two small children spend time with their big brother, who they don’t see every day, on our family vacations to the World.
D: What is the name of the new site?
WDW Fan Zone: WDW Fan Zone (http://www.wdwfanzone.com). We can also be found on twitter (@WDWFanZone) and on Facebook.
D: Who was involved in the creation of the site?
Lisa: We have many people to thank for helping us make our dream into a reality. Stuart had the idea to create an inviting place that captures our love of Walt Disney World and lets us share it with others. We talked and talked and the ideas kept pouring out for a community people will want to return to every day for their Disney “fix.” Our families have been very supportive and we bounce ideas off them daily.
Stuart: Lisa has some experience with web technologies so she began working on the website while Stuart really developed the concept for the website and asked old and new friends in the Disney community to share their Disney passion as columnists. We are so fortunate to have a warm and welcoming group of people with diverse Disney experiences and views to share.
D: Where did the idea come from?
WDWFZ: We became Twitter friends who at some point realized we live in the same town in New Jersey. Well, this past spring Stuart organized a Disney meet which was mostly an unofficial gathering for those attending Lou Mongello’s WDW Radio Show Dream Cruise that takes place at the end of February 2011. Though Lisa is not going on the cruise she and her family attended the meet. After the meet Stuart and his wife got together with Lisa and her husband a couple of times. In speaking, we discussed each other’s ideas for starting our own websites. We don’t know exactly when or how it happened but we decided to collaborate on the website. It’s funny but, we didn’t use the original ideas we had for our own sites although we plan on incorporating those ideas into the website down the road. Stuart already had a name for my site so when we decided to do the site together the only thing Stuart insisted on was the name for the site which Lisa agreed to.
D: What makes this site similar or different from other Disney fan pages?
WDWFZ: One thing we think you will notice is the clean, organized look of the site. We have also added a charity page, a contest and giveaway page, and there will be other features geared towards both the casual and most passionate of Disney fans added as we grow.
We also have regular columnists bringing their different perspectives and views together in one place.
D: What do you hope the site will bring to the Disney community?
WDWFZ: We are hoping it will become a daily fan friendly source of information for all Disney fans and ultimately a place to connect and interact.
D: Who is the intended audience for this site?
WDWFZ: WDW Fan Zone is a place for longtime Disney fans, people who have just fallen in love with the Mouse, and for future guests planning their trips. At WDW Fan Zone, our diverse group of columnists will help Disney fans keep the magic alive in between visits by sharing information and memories in a fun and personal way. First-time guests will find a virtual gathering place reminiscent of the local breakfast place where neighbors share their Disney experiences and advice over a cup of coffee. They’ll read about what worked and what didn’t from columnists with families like theirs.
D: Who will the columnists be?
WDWFZ: Our columnists include some of the big names in the Disney community as well as a few up-and-comers who we strongly believe will become stars in the community in a very short time. We will have writers covering all the major aspects of Disney World along with a few surprises that are meant to entertain and inform our readers too.
D: Seems like you have a nice mix of Disney fan vets and newbies. How do you think will play out on the site?
WDWFZ: We think it’s important to have experienced and fresh voices as part of our website. With a combination of Disney veterans and writers who are newer to the community but who love Disney just as much, our readers will get different perspectives on Walt Disney World. It’ll be fun to see different takes on the same topics.
D: What topics will the columnists cover?
WDWFZ: Our topics fall into two main areas – bringing Disney into your every day and resources to plan your perfect Walt Disney World vacation whether thrill rides or stage shows are your thing. To help spread some pixie dust in between visits to the World, our columnists will put a Disney twist on lifestyle topics such as fitness and running, photography, crafts, and cooking. Fans interested in Disney history, film, and technology won’t be disappointed. We even have teachers showcasing the educational value in Walt Disney World. To help our visitors plan their vacation, we’ll have information and opinions on the resorts, recreation, touring, vacationing with disabilities, and more.
D: I noticed a place on the site for charities. What do you hope will happen with that?
WDWFZ: We are very fortunate. We have healthy families and we have had the opportunity to travel to Walt Disney World and create priceless memories, the real souvenir from any vacation. We don’t want to lose sight of what we have especially in these times when so many are struggling. Oftentimes people remember charitable giving during the holidays but the need doesn’t stop when we ring in the New Year. By having a charity page on WDW Fan Zone, we hope we can give back to the community in some small way by spotlighting worthy charities our columnists support.
D: What is the future of the site?
WDWFZ: As we already mentioned we want our site to be a daily source of information and gathering place for all Disney fans. Our hope is to build a strong readership and relationship amongst Disney fans with a website the captures the essence of Walt Disney’s World
D: Where do you see it in a year? 5 Years?
WDWFZ: We are dreamers but we are also realists who know you have to crawl before you can walk. It’s hard to look at something in its infancy and know where it will be five years down the road. We started this site as a way to give something back to the Disney community and we’ll be around as long as there is a Disney community to give back to.
Thank you Lisa and Stuart!
You can find out more about WDW Fan Zone at WDWFanZone.com and make sure to follow them on facebook and twitter!