Magical Express/EMH Outrage, The DIS Unplugged, and My Long-Time Crush on Pete Werner


Apr 12, 2009
Well hello everyone. I’m the weirdo who posts on these boards and then disappears for years at a time. I’m not a social media person really, so the fact that I’ve posted anything here at all is an exception for me. I don’t even have a Facebook account, though my cat does have a modest following on Twitter (@LordThursday if you’re into cats that tweet).

I’ve not only been gone from the boards for a considerable amount of time but I stopped listening to (or watching) the Dis Unplugged as well… for reasons… That is, until today.
I heard the news along with everyone else about Magical Express, the luggage service, resort airline check-in, and Extra Magic Hours going away. Sheer lunacy! At first I thought it must be some kind of fake news hoax or something, but when I realized it wasn’t, I became angry. And more than angry… disappointed. Extremely disappointed that Disney would remove these things that in my view really made it unique. I do remember the dark times… before Magical Express. I remember booking a Mears bus only to be told the bus was full and then being stuck in crazy lady’s cab that almost killed us. That deserves its own story for another time perhaps, but Magical Express was so convenient, particularly with the luggage service as well. It’s such a great thing to arrive in Orlando at the start of your vacation and not have to worry about picking up your luggage. Especially for old guys with back issues like me! (I’m turning 51 shortly) What I’ve always loved about a Walt Disney World vacation package is how you can do all your planning ahead of time and then all you have to do is show up and enjoy your vacation. Magical Express was a big part of that for me.

Extra Magic Hours was also a huge part of my Disney vacation planning. With only 3 fast passes per day. How does one actually experience the attractions without waiting in hour-long (or hours-long) lines? Yes I know you can get more fast passes after you use your original 3 but it’s not like you’ll suddenly be able to get one for Flight of Passage or Frozen! The nighttime Extra Magic Hours was always my “secret weapon” to just be able to hop form attraction to attraction without the need for waste hours in a line. I love Disney at night… so being able to be in the park that long after dark was something that really made the trip for me. Oh, and I always tell people: you haven’t really experienced a Walt Disney World vacation until your standing on an overcrowded dark bus at 1 AM on the way back to your resort from Extra Magic Hours, but I digress.

So now no fastpass AND no EMH? Well that seems like little opportunity to avoid the hours long waits for the popular attractions. Sure, there’s the hard ticket events, if you want to spend $100 for a few hours in the park and STILL have hour-long waits! (Waited almost 90 minutes for Pirates at MNSSHP!)

Well this is just outrageous. I was so angry I went on a rant about it to my roommate and accidentally tore open stitches in my mouth from a recent surgery. Ugh! (it was painful... couldn't eat dinner after that!)

My Crush on Pete Werner:

Switching gears here now to my long-time crush on Pete. It will relate back around at the end of my rambling, I promise!

So as I said I’m about to be 51. I am a single gay man. My romantic life ended a good 20 years ago. I mean, 30 is like 179 in gay years. We age and become less attractive and find that we get less and less attention from those we might fancy. I had given up completely, not just on the idea of anything resembling anything romantic but even on the idea that I would ever be interested in anyone ever again. I felt broken, in that regard, almost as if some part of me had been removed and it was never going to come back.

And then there was Pete. (I was going to write “Enter Pete” as a heading here but quickly realized how that could be taken the wrong way and I’d probably be cancelled or something due to the snowflake culture we now all live in, but I digress, yet again.)

I used to love listening to the Dis Unplugged. Even when I was broke and couldn’t afford a bowl of soup let alone a trip to Walt Disney World, I loved listening to Pete and John and Kevin every week. I always found Pete’s rants entertaining, but underneath those rants there was always an incredibly valid point. I remember thinking to myself the first time I ever heard the Dis Unplugged “Wow, this guy really is a tremendous Disney nut… but also incredibly funny, smart, and insightful!”

Thus the start of my crush. Call it an intellectual crush if you want. In those days i only knew his voice. But I loved listening every week. My Sunday afternoon routine at that time was a hot bath with a nice cup of tea with DIS unplugged playing.

Time went on and things changed. I was no longer broke. I could go to Disney World again! YouTube was a thing and now I actually got to SEE Pete every week, and man oh man, there’s nothing that can beat actually seeing Pete go through one of his famous rants!

I made up my mind that I was going to go on a date with Pete Werner. Okay, well, maybe not an actual date but at least a sit-down just the two of us for coffee or lunch. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it, but I really wanted to understand the amazing man better and just be able to chill and talk.

So I started on a quest. A quest to get Pete to notice me. How was I going to do it? Posting on the boards? Direct email? Hire the Goodyear blimp and fly it over his house with a message? I poked around at this for years before I figured out that getting involved with Give Kids the World might be the ticket. I was doing very well financially at the time, so I started donating. Not just a few dollars, but substantial amounts that I thought might get me noticed. I felt pretty good about that fact that I was helping to do some good AND doing something Pete would hopefully notice. On top of that, I had been trying to throw a not-so-subtle hint Pete's way for months that we should have lunch or something. I'm not sure how much of that message actually made it through.

I don’t quite remember the exact details of how it happened. It was a while ago now. But… IT WORKED! OMG MY PLAN ACTUALLY WORKED!!!! I got a message form Pete that said something like “Hey, next time you’re in town lets grab a cup of coffee.”

Well, that was the best day of the last 20 years of my life.

Not so much because I had achieved my goal, but because of how I felt. I hadn’t felt that giddy since high school when my best (albeit straight) friend who I’d had a crush on for years kissed me. I felt like I was high for the rest of the day. People at work kept asking me why I was so happy!

Because you see, that’s been the only time in the last 20 years when I felt like that part of me wasn’t broken, and that maybe there was hope for me. Maybe my heart wasn’t dead after all.

And then everything fell to pieces again. I hit some hard times again and was no longer as financially sound as I had been. Okay I wasn’t homeless again, but I certainly couldn’t afford to be flying to Orlando to keep that coffee date. I was disappointed in myself and so embarrassed. So I didn’t communicate any further with Pete, I stopped coming to these boards, and I stopped watching the Dis Unplugged. I just didn’t want to be reminded that the one time I actually triumphed I messed it all up again by my poor handling of finances.

I do still wonder what our coffee "date" would have been like.

Now fast-forward to today. I was so angry and disappointed in Disney. And then I felt bad for feeling that way. I mean what does it really matter? I’m hoping to get back there in 2022, and hey, I got there without magical express in the past, and I can do it again. I felt like I was being too emotional about something that some might consider trivial. Maybe I’m just crazy.

Then I was scrolling through YouTube and saw that Dis Unplugged was going to discuss this very thing. I scrolled passed it. But something made me scroll back to it. So I hit play. And there was Pete… beautifully ranting just the way I remember, but basically just echoing back to me everything I was thinking and feeling, and though I was still angry, I didn’t feel bad about being angry anymore. Instead I felt justified! It was like validation, and it was wonderful. Once again Pete had substantially changed my mood for the better, just by being Pete.

Thank you, Pete, for giving me that offer for coffee. I’m sure it didn’t seem like much to you, but your small gesture of kindness meant so much to me, and I will treasure my “the day that Pete Werner noticed me” memory forever.

Maybe I’ll still get to meet you one day.
All the best, my friend.
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Apr 12, 2009
Well... Just watching the Q&A show and hearing Pete's story...

- First Disney Trip in 97... (me too)
- Recovering Addict... I wouldn't quite go that far in my case but I got into my share of trouble and stupidity in my 20's.
- 2 Modes Going to Disney or Planning to go to Disney... I think that still might be me
- Between Husbands but accepting applications

Yeah that last one got me a little giddy again. OMG Pete. (Is there a fastpass line to apply? Does it come with Extra Magic Hours?)

Well I am now more motivated than ever to get back on track and get back to Florida. Plus... the company I work for recently opened an office in Tampa. Nothing concrete yet, but I'm thinking about a possible future move. I've been in the Pacific Northwest for about 5 years now, and it's never really been to my liking, though the scenery can be beautiful.

One thing that's come to my mind a lot over that last 10 years or so ... and this sounds crazy, I know... but I'd have these thoughts of "Am I even still gay?"
I mean... I wasn't interested in anyone... or wanting anything at all with anyone. One starts to examine what being gay even means at that point. But I'm not wondering that any more.

Well... probably made enough of a fool of myself here for now...
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DIS Veteran
Aug 5, 2019
Actually your story is unique and interesting... should have kept a better diary to document a story.
Good luck. It sucks getting old but Maybe your true Romance is Disney.
Keep Disney in your heart no matter how it changes.


Apr 12, 2009
It does suck getting old, no argument there. It's not all bad though... the older one gets and the more experiences you have, the wiser you become. That's what I'm going to go with anyway...

Thanks for the comments!