Lane Merrifield opened the Dust or Magic Lane Merrifield avatarconference by giving us a front-row seat to the creation of Club Penguin. If there was ever a testament to the Power of Nice it’s Lane’s story.

Although Club Penquin seemed to burst on the scene last summer when it was acquired by Disney, it’s been far from an overnight success as Scott Traylor documents in his blog post Just the Facts Ma’am – The History of Club Penquin.

Lane made clear in his remarks is that the decision to partner with Disney was far more than pure economics. Born in Canada and raised in Southern California, Lane visited Disneyland so many times that he was his family’s official tour guide whenever cousins visited. Later, his first paying job was operating one of the animatronic puppets that parade down Main Street.

Fast forward to after college, Lane and his wife decided to move back to Canada to raise their son in a more family friendly environment. He joined a small web design company in British Columbia and over the next several years partnered with the company’s founder and technical architect to build what’s become Club Penquin. The rest is history.

Although Lane spoke to us off the record I was able to record this video of Warren Buckleitner’s introduction to Lane before we were asked to turn off the cameras. There’s also an older interview with Lane and Disney’s Steve Wadsworth that ran last summer in paidContent.

>>> Update 11/13/07: Scott Traylor posted an in-depth interview with Lane Merrifield on his blog which he conducted right after Lane’s presentation at Dust or Magic. Much of what Lane had to say but we couldn’t videotape is captured there.