Interview with Tony Caselnova – Webmaster of Disneybythenumbers .com…

As a hardcore Disney fanatic, I have the need to know everything about Disney, and I mean everything! Dates, cost, how much, who did it, who thought it, how many and the list goes on. A scant 5 to 8 years ago, there were only a few of these “Trivia” sites to consult. Today, like everything Disney on the Web; the amount is countless. Again, some good, some bad. One site that is a standout among the crowds is the “Disneybythenumbers” site. It is easy to navigate, has left no stone unturned with Disney information and trivia, and best of all, it is not crowded with myriad advertisements and banners that many sites have. The owner and webmaster of this jewel is Tony Caselnova. When you first meet him, you feel you have known him for years. He has an eternal smile and will talk Disney with you for hours! If you attended any of his meets, you feel welcomed as family. I had to opportunity to chat with Tony and get the low-down on himself and his site…

TMIP… Let’s get right to it. How long has your site been up?

TC… The site will be seven years old this January, 2014.

TMIP… So you started up at the height of the Disney web site rush?

TC… Yes.

TMIP… What made you choose a trivia type site instead of a generalized Disney site?

TC… There were two things that got me started with the numbers. When I was working in EPCOT in the ‘90’s, there was this book called “Just the Facts”. It was a little pocket guide that the Cast Members would get. It had all these numbers and facts in it so that when you were talking to the guests, you could relate some information to them, interesting information, even if you didn’t know much about Disney. I loved the book because it had so many interesting informational facts about Disney itself. But even before that, I was watching a lot of TV shows especially on the history Channel. These shows have a lot to do about the history of the parks, the cruise lines and had a lot of background information about them all. And while watching all the shows I was listening to them spout out all these facts and figures. I became so intrigued and, began to write down all this information, and even began taping the shows. Then one day I said to myself, “What am I going to do with all this information? Then I heard about this program for Apple computers called Rapid weaver which could design your own website and you don’t have to know anything about code.

TMIP…So you decided to make a website to post all this information?

TC…Yes. I got an Apple computer, the program and produced the site I now have.

TMIP… Does Disney in any way endorse or approve of the site?

TC… Well, they haven’t said “We don’t like your content, shut it down” so that’s good. But I don’t think they endorse any fan site. But I think in the back of their minds, they do support these sites. After all, they are getting free publicity and getting the word out.

TMIP… Your site has an amazing amount of information, facts and figures. How often do you update the material?

TC… Almost every day, as soon as it becomes available.

TMIP… How much time do you devote to the site, how many hours a day?

TC… Probably two to three hours every night. Updating the pictures, blogs and a podcast that requires editing every week.

TMIP… Do you have a chat room?

TC… We don’t. We used to have a forum, but it was not used much, so it was shut down.

TMIP… Do you have a staff to help, or do it all alone?

TC… I do have guest writers and staff writers. Some which are interns, which I found on Internship.com. Many fans also who like to write contribute to the site. But running the site itself, I do that all alone.

TMIP… When did you first come to Walt Disney World?

TC… My first trip was in 1976 as a teenager, 13yrs old. The whole family came down on Amtrak, my Mother and Father, me and my two brothers and sister. As I was walking through the Magic Kingdom, I kept wondering, “How do they do this?” “How do they put this whole show together?” It was this that drove me to become a Cast Member in the ‘90’s, and to eventually build my site around the “Numbers” of Walt Disney World.

TMIP… Prior to that trip, were you always a Disney fan?

TC… Yes. On Sunday’s, my Father was off and we would all watch Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. On Saturday’s my Mom would take us to whatever Disney movie was playing in town.

TMIP… Was the whole family as big a fan of Disney as you?

TC… They were, but maybe not as much. Even today, the family still comes to Walt Disney World when they can; my brother is a DVC member.

TMIP… What do you think of the maze of Disney Trivia sites popping up on the net today?

TC… Some are better than others, from what I have seen. On mine, everything starts with a number. The number and the fact. Many others are fact-based.

TMIP… What do you think of all the competition out there?

TC… Competition is great; it forces everyone to do a better job. The competition today is even greater. Almost anyone can have a Disney site. It’s easy to get a domain and with wordpress, you don’t have to know HTML, but the question is can you put up a quality site and maintain it for the long haul.

TMIP… Do you plan to expand the site, or keep it as a “Niche” site?

TC… I am always looking into ways to make it more interesting; and bring in more content. I will always keep improving it.

TMIP… Your site has a podcast. Tell us about it.

TC… It’s called the “Disney Parks Podcast. It’s about 2 years old and started with myself and John Donahue. I met him at a Disney fan meet. We became friends and decided to do a podcast. John left, but his wife Sid and another fan Krista is on the show. The original format was John and I babbling about whatever came to our minds. Today we do two shows a week. Tuesdays, we do a quick “News” show and tips on how to plan your next Disney Vacation. Also how to get the most from your trip, tips and tricks. On Thursdays, we do interviews. We try to host famous people, like Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula or Margret Kerry, the model for Tinkerbell. We had Mark Silverman who voices Rod Sterling in the Tower of Terror. We also have guests who own Disney fan sites, and they talk about them. I call the second show “Infotainment”

TMIP… Many podcasts are so long. What is your show’s length?

TC… Our interview show is an hour or less, and Tuesday’s show is about a half-hour.

TMIP… How do you decide on the content of the show? How are the guests lined up?

TC… Krista usually lines up our guests.

TMIP… Do you ever answer any questions or comments you receive on the show or site?

TC… Yes, all of them, and I do it alone.

TMIP… Do fans ever send in content for the site?

TC… Yes, Cast Members send in material and many fans do. I always check to make sure the content is accurate and validated.

TMIP… How can fans listen to the podcast?

TC… Go to “Disneyparkspodcast.com”. Listen there or download it. It is on “Stitcher Radio” and we are on “ITunes”

TMIP… Do you believe the Disney community has grown closer or further apart since 8 years ago?

TC… I have thought about putting together a Disney Community Website. This would be a place for all sites to gather and share information. But the logistics just makes it a daunting task. Just the number of sites out there, how to get them together and post all the other sites information and high points, makes it impossible.

TMIP… Do you believe there are just too many Disney Podcasts out there?

TC… It seems everyone has a podcast. Anyone with a microphone and computer can put one out; you don’t even need a computer. But again, it comes down to content and information.

TMIP… You said you were a Cast Member. Before we wrap up, tell us about your experience working for Mickey.

TC… My Dad had an opportunity to manage a new restaurant called China Coast down in Florida. So we moved here to the Orlando area in 1997.  I immediately went to the casting center, filled out my application and after several interviews, I decided on security. I worked for about a year; and my area was in EPCOT. I worked the American Adventure to the International Gateway. One pass would be onstage, the other off.  During the Christmas season, I was assigned to the Candlelight Processional. I would assist the Disney host bringing the celebrity to the stage. I met some famous celebrities also… Peter Graves from Mission Impossible and Erik Estrada from Chips. Another interesting assignment I had was when the Animal Kingdom was being built. I was assigned to keep the construction trucks going in and out of the property.

TMIP… And it was this stint as a Cast Member and the book that spurned your interest in creating your website.

TC… Yes. I still buy the book at the Theme Park connection store. I quit Disney when the family moved back to the North East. But several years later, I moved back permanently.

TMIP… That is a great story! And the fans are glad you moved back. Thank you for your time Tony!

TC… My pleasure.

ABOUT BILL IADONISI

Bill Iadonisi and Tim Devine have been friends for many years. Bill’s true skills are in researching and writing about the Disney

Bill Iadonisi

Bill Iadonisi

Parks. Writing fascinating articles about the Disney Parks, which are shared on several sites, is the cut of this guy’s jib! To read more of Bill’s articles at The Magic in Pixels, CLICK HERE!

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