Feature: How I Became a Disney Fanatic (and how it changed my life!)
I started Modern Mouse Radio two years ago as a podcast and had worked for a year prior doing articles for another site. After two years, we are soon to reach 500 posts. That means as a cumulative group at Modern Mouse we have made 500 radio shows, videos, articles, and more. I started this site for my love of Disney and my hope to create something good from a crumbling year. This site has surpassed what I thought it could be and it stuns me continuously. We grow bigger and better, we’ve gained friendships in loyal readers, listeners, and Disney lovers alike. We’ve had the opportunity to talk to and meet some of the people we admire. So how did I get here? After nearly 500 posts and 2 years, I think it’s about time I open up and tell my story about how Modern Mouse and my love of all things Disney really started.
Growing up, my family loved going on vacation and about every other year, we stuffed everyone (my grandparents on my mother’s side, my mom, my dad, and little me) into the family van and we hauled across the western part of the U.S. to visit Disneyland. Living in Denver, the easy half way point for us was always Las Vegas so I can rarely separate Disneyland and Las Vegas from my brain. Even as an adult I still stay up on both what’s happening in Las Vegas as well as at Disneyland, I just don’t have a website dedicated to Sin City. I loved Disneyland so much and we would always spend a few days there on each trip. On years we didn’t go to Disneyland, I begged to go. When I was nine, we made our first trip to Walt Disney World. That’s when it most likely began. The begging continued each year, and when I knew we were vacationing in some other place, I had to find my way into doing other Disney things.
On top of my love for all things Disney Parks, I also loved animation and Disney is of course my preference for animated films. When it became a choice, I took art in school, all the way through my senior year of high school. I was never the best artist, but I loved cartooning. My other idol beyond Walt Disney was Charles Schulz. I had posters of Peanuts characters and still love those comic strips to this day. I thought I would be better as a comic strip artist than as an animator as I could draw, but not at the skill level of a Disney animator. Those guys were kings! Then Toy Story came out. I saw it in the theaters twice, the first time I ever saw a movie more than once in the theater. It took my breath away, as I’m sure it did most movie-goers. How could they do this? Animate a whole movie in 3D on a computer? Our family had a computer, but I felt at this point that we needed internet and I needed software to learn how to be a Pixar animator. Well…..that failed. I learned that drawing on a computer was even harder than drawing on paper. I ditched my animation ambitions and stuck with comic strip cartooning, but our family now had internet and I learned pretty quickly that I could visit forums and talk to people about Disney and what was going on with the studio or the parks.
I became obsessed with two games on the computer in the 1990s while I was still in school. Roller Coaster Tycoon became my most favorite past time (except for NBA Jam because Charles Barkley is the best and nobody can ever take that away from him!) even to the point that it was like a part time job. My other love wasn’t really a game but more of a guide called Walt Disney World Explorer. The “game” if you were to call it that, let you virtually wander the parks, watch small commercials for the attractions, and gave you trivia about Walt Disney World. I not only enjoyed it but studied it, waiting for my next chance to be back at the parks!
When I graduated from high school my parents asked me where I wanted to go for a celebration. It was a no brainer. Walt Disney World! So we went and had an amazing trip in Florida. My mom had a new found appreciation as well considering that we didn’t just have to go on kiddie rides all day long or wait in line to meet Pluto for the 10th time. That being said, just her and I returned to Walt Disney World the following year. My first vacation away from my parents came when I was 20. It had been a few years since we had taken that family vacation from Denver to Disneyland and I decided to do it again, but with my best friend this time. We travelled across country telling jokes and rocking out to all of our favorite punk rock records. It’s a trip I will always keep close to me. I followed that up with the same road trip the following year with a few other friends. Each time I took a trip, I fell deeper in love with the parks.
By 2005 I was obsessed! I followed countless websites finding out trivial information and seeing what the latest news and rumors were for the parks. My love for the film side of things had subsided, but I still loved some of the old films I saw as a kid. Over the couse of the next few years I stayed busy playing in punk rock bands, working hard, going to school, and trying to become an adult. In 2011, I finally took the plunge and started a small site on the side which would be my portfolio to writing articles for bigger websites. I started listening to podcasts thanks to Intercot, a forum site I had followed for years which had just started their own show. I listened to a few other podcasts before settling on WDW Radio and Lou Mongello. I sent him a few demo articles I had written and I was brought on as one of the first writers for his blog. I spent a year writing a series for his site called “The World that Never Was” focusing on things that almost made it to Disney World but for various reasons never saw the light of day. I enjoyed the series and wrote bi-monthly for him, while also continuing to write for my own small site. It was a great time to get my feet wet and I found that those that were reading enjoyed my work and that I was delving more into the Disney fan community and taking on an active roll.
The summer of 2012 was a rough one for me. I got fired from my job, the band I had devoted 6 years of my life to called it quits, and I had been dumped after a long term relationship went sour. I moved back in with my parents and started life all over again from the bottom. By the fall I had a better job than I had before and I had this attitude of burying my head in work and not looking up until I could plant my feet back into adulthood. I hardly went out and I became very reclusive. So what did I do with my time at home? I became friends with people in the Disney community. I emailed Keith Lapinig and we started tossing around ideas for podcasts. I researched and asked questions of the new friends I had made. I spent countless hours learning some html coding and designing a better look for my small site I had been posting to every other week. I started posting articles more frequently, and I started researching even deeper. The outcome became Modern Mouse Radio. The name came with a guest appearance on the Wedway Radio show. I wanted to announce a show and Keith and I came up with the name right before I did an interview on the show.
Modern Mouse Radio became a bi-weekly show, with a news show tucked in between weeks. The news show brought back my love for all things Disney, not just the parks. I started seeing more Disney films, started playing more Disney games, and kept up with all the news going on with the company. The regular show became somewhat of an outlet. I satirical and editorial view of Disney from Keith and I’s perspective. By the end of 2012, the small site officially got named ModernMouseRadio.com and we were doing more with it. We had others join onto the site and I stopped writing for anyone else but myself and my own site. We ramped up the content at the beginning of 2013. By the Spring I met my Angie who became my companion and my soon-to-be wife. We dated long distance for a short term before she made the leap and we moved in together. I had finally lifted my head and I had planted my feet back on the ground again. I started writing music and playing acoustically. I started hanging out with long time friends….BUT through all of that time I needed to focus, I always had Disney and it helped give me a second chance at life again.
Thanks to this site and folks like you that read, listen, and watch our content, we are self-sustainable and are able to afford to upgrade and make changes to the site periodically. I was also able to meet the love of my life through this crazy thing and I’ve made friends and acquaintances with so many of you that I could easily visit any state in the U.S. and know that I could meet up with someone. It’s wonderful. Coming up on 500 posts, I hope to bring you 5,000 more and I can’t thank you enough for your overwhelming support with this site, my hobbies, my goals, my love for Disney, and my love for you guys. I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. You guys are that much closer to me now. You’ll probably have to wait another 500 posts before you get another sappy story like this out of me again!
Posted on September 10, 2014, in Articles and tagged Animation, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland, editorial, Fan, fanatic, Josh Taylor, Keith Lapinig, Las Vegas, life story, Pixar, thank you, thoughts, trips, WDW Radio, Wedway Radio. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.