In January, 2004, I created and opened the doors to the WDW Radio Forums, a “clubhouse” where anyone (and everyone) who was a fan of Walt Disney World could come to meet, share, connect and collaborate with others in a safe, family-friendly and welcoming environment. From the first day, I called members part of my extended family, because that’s how I look at them, and more importantly, how I wanted to make everyone feel.
The first day I turned the forums on, 29 people signed up, and I couldn’t believe that there were others out there who loved Disney as much as I did, and wanted to talk about it with me (remember, this was pre-Facebook and Twitter, so I thought I was alone). That number quickly and organically grew, and the wonderful conversations I saw and participated in were out-shined only by relationships and friendships I made. Some people I met online through the forums have become my best friends offline in life.
In time, the community YOU created here grew to over 60,000 members and literally millions of posts. YOU created the content, nurtured the clubhouse, and grew our family. It was an amazing thing to witness, and a true testament to you and the power of community.
In time, as new social media sites and networks were introduced, many conversations were carried over to different platforms, most notably Facebook. Which makes total sense – it’s just easier to have conversations about Disney or anything else, where 1.5 billion other people are already living. But we (YOU) kept the forums alive and discussions happening, although there is a great deal more engagement on places like Facebook. Like Ariel said, “I wanna be, where the people are…”
For years, I and the development team have worked to keep the forums updates in terms of software, bug fixes, security patches, etc., but unfortunately the developers have all but abandoned the platform. This has lead to crashes, security flaws, and other way-too-geeky tech issues which has resulted in a massive investment of time and resources to keep the forums going.
I have struggled for years about the forums, as I have always wanted them to continue, despite a the reduction in frequency and amount of posts and conversations. However, a recent security flaw in the software which was not addressed by the forum developers lead to a massive database crash. And while we have backups, this was a sign. Because of the software issues, the forums would repeatedly bring down the entire WDW Radio site and create other “gremlins” in the servers which caused numerous other issues as well.
“So, what are you trying to say, Lou?”
After 11 years, I think it’s time that we move the conversations to another, more functional and robust platform. I have spent a great deal of time considering the options, and the best way to facilitate and continue (and grow) the community which you have created is to move to Facebook.
By moving the conversation there, it will also allow us to introduce more people to WDW Radio, and have more meaningful, engaged conversations. But in order to do that, we need YOUR help. In order for posts to show up in people’s News Feeds, it’s up to you to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE posts that you enjoy and find interesting, and you think your friends would as well.
The WDW Radio Facebook Page also allows us a number of advantages and features, including:
- Photo galleries
- Custom apps
- Upload and share videos
- New post notifications
- Custom tabs
- and much more!
But to be clear, the mission and message of the page is the same is it was on the forums and will always be – to create a true community where everyone is welcome to post, share and comment in a 100% family-friendly environment. To create real relationships, not just online but offline as well. To serve ever member of the community, and help it grow to reach others who want to belong to a group of friends that simply enjoys talking about the things that make us happy about Walt Disney World and Disney in general.
And while I know that there are a number of unofficial groups on Facebook, I personally really want to be part of the conversations (something I was unable to do on the forums). Having many different pages and groups has made it increasingly difficult for me to be as active as I would like to, so I want to focus on the WDW Radio Page to post and comment there more frequently. And by ALL of us doing the same, we can hopefully introduce even more people to our friendly community.
Please don’t look at this as closing down the forums, but instead as simply moving the conversations over to a much more robust, simpler, safer and sharable platform. While there is a part of me that is nostalgic (and maybe even a little sad) about closing the forums, I am truly excited about this new chapter! I think we have a great opportunity to not just keep the amazing sense of community alive, but foster new conversations, and more importantly, friendships.
You can find the page at http://Facebook.com/WDWRadio. When you Like the page, please also post and introduce yourself to everyone! Share your story, interests, favorite attraction, resort or (of course) food at Walt Disney World. And as always…
Please… help spread the word!
I look forward to seeing you in the community!