It is something I’ll never forget. It was the middle of August 2008 and I was with my family on vacation at Walt Disney World. We picked this time of year to go in order to take advantage of Disney’s free dining offer which I heard so much about on a couple of podcasts that I listen to.
I discovered Disney podcasts about a year before this vacation and I was already hooked on a few of them. Before leaving on vacation I remembered hearing on one of my favorite shows that Mark Goldhaber of the MouseStation podcast and MousePlanet.com was going to be there the same week. I really wanted to meet Mark so I could tell him how much I liked the show. I was also very fortunate to have won a Disney Photopass DVD on the show and I wanted to personally thank him. Well, I never did see or get to meet Mark that week.
As luck would have it Mark wasn’t the only great podcaster at Disney World. I remember it was the last day of our vacation. We were all feeling pretty sad knowing our return flight to New Jersey was later that day. So, we decided to head over to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom and take in another show at the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory hoping it would cheer us up. While waiting in the queue I saw someone that looked remarkably like the legendary Lou Mongello host of the award-winning WDW Radio Show podcast. He was even wearing a WDW Radio Show shirt. This person was with his wife and two lovely children but I just wasn’t sure it was really him. For one thing, he wasn’t a little person or as short as the guys on the WDW Today podcast always make him out to be, Jennifer Love Hewitt was nowhere in sight, and he wasn’t eating. So, I mentioned to my wife that I think the person with the WDW Radio shirt on is Lou Mongello. She then told me to go over and say hello but I just didn’t want to bother him while he was with his family. It also doesn’t help that I’m a relatively quiet and shy person when I initially meet people. Before my wife could convince me to go over and say hello, the doors to the Laugh Factory opened and we all entered.
This was our third time at the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Factory and although the jokes were somewhat similar the different personalities of the guests made each show uniquely funny. After the show the audience disbursed and we went over to the Tomorrowland Speedway. Then it was over to Space Mountain. After that, my daughter and I decided to go on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority while my son went back to the Tomorrowland Speedway with my wife watching him from a nearby bench.
As my wife sat on the bench she spotted and stopped Lou Mongello and his family to tell him how much of a fan I am of his and Disney World. When I came back my wife told me how pleasant and kind Lou and his wife Deanna were and she handed me a WDW Radio Show bag that she said Lou left with her for me. To say the least, I was speechless and very appreciative of his generosity.
It was just about lunchtime and we were all starting to get hungry so we walked over to the Columbia Harbor House. It’s one of our favorite counter service restaurants for lunch at the Magic Kingdom and it seemed to be the appropriate place to have our last meal on this trip. After lunch we walked through Frontierland when all of a sudden the skies opened up. There was lightening and thunder to go along with the torrential downpours. Ironically, we just made it to Splash Mountain where we were able to seek shelter right before it started to pour. Having watched the weather forecast that morning and seeing it called for sunshine I threw out our dollar store bought ponchos so as not to burden us with any extra baggage to carry around on our last vacation day. What a mistake that turned out to be!
When the rain stopped and the clouds lifted we made our way to Adventureland for one final Dole Whip. Just before we got to Aloha Isle the sky got slightly brighter and that’s when my wife noticed Lou Mongello and his family again. Without warning she gently dragged me over to say hello. We spoke for just a brief moment but you could tell that Lou and Deanna are genuinely nice people as are their children. It all happened so fast that I think I may have forgotten to thank him for the bag. So, Lou if you’re reading this, I thank you so very much!
After enjoying our Dole Whips we made our way toward the front gate stopping to see the start of the afternoon parade and to take a few more pictures. Then it was back to the hotel to wait for the Magical Express bus for that long depressing ride to the airport. As with every visit to Walt Disney World there are memories made that will last a lifetime some that even go beyond the parks and meeting Lou Mongello and his family is definitely one of them.
Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is a contributor to the Disney Driven Life and is the author of the Disney Geek Dad blog.