It’s the last night of the first Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and I’m left with a tired, but magical glow. For the record, I wasn’t on the original invite list for the conference, but as soon as I heard that the registration had opened for everyone, I jumped on board. I have a long-time love relationship with Disney and, in particular, Mickey Mouse, and knew that they would put on quite a show.
The first night of our experience was actually a press event. Families of attendees took part in activities, while bloggers joined a cadre of other journalists to learn about new Disney ventures. In particular, we learned about the Fantasyland expansion and the newest addition to the Disney Cruise line (what I wouldn’t give for a cruise on that gorgeous ship!). We also heard about the long-term ESPN vision and how they are working to achieve those goals. After the press conference, we joined back with families for a rousing dinner filled with music, dancing and plenty of Disney character opportunities.
Day 2 started far earlier than I would have preferred with a 7:30am bus to EPCOT. That said, it was fun to arrive backstage before the park was open to the general public. We had breakfast and then listened to Guy Kawaski speak about using Twitter as a marketing tool. It was my least favorite part of the conference, in part because it was so early, in part because there was almost nothing I could/would eat, and in part because most of what Guy was talking about didn’t apply to me.
After that, we walked to a different World Pavilion for the Family Volunteer Celebration. One volunteer family from each of the 50 states was invited to Disney World to kick off a year of Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program. The event, which was staged in a Disney-typical grand manner, involved the families marching in to applause from media (including us) and Disney cast members. We had special appearances by Kermit the Frog and Ty Pennington before Disney unveiled a can sculpture involving nearly 120,000 cans, plus an additional 10,000 other food items. As an aside, when I later asked where the cans came from, they told me, “We bought them. We went over to the local Publix and picked them up.” The afternoon was filled with volunteer opportunities, but by the time we made it back after lunch, they had finished all of the work.
That night, there was a massive VIP party that closed off portions of EPCOT. We enjoyed a dinner by Chef Robert Irvine of Dinner:Impossible fame, and performances by a variety of Disney Channel stars (including Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato.)
The last day of our experience was the actual conference at the Contemporary Resort. We heard from Kathy Ireland, Marissa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray/Dancing with the Stars), Chris Brogan (Social Media Guru), Maxine (the founder/CEO of Build-a-Bear) and comedienne, Mary Ellen Hooper. All of the speakers were wonderful. There were goodies and giveaways, including a magical night in the Princess Suite at Cinderella’s Castle.
This evening, we had dinner at Hollywood Studios and then had two hours of private time at the Toy Story Midway Mania ride with access to Woody and Buzz Lightyear for pictures. I rode the ride countless times with the lovely and sweet KristenWDW before securing the high score of the night. By the end, the cast members let us just stay on the ride over and over!
Our conference registration of just $350 included all of the above activities/meals, as well as 7-day park hopper passes for the attendee and up to 3 additional family members. It also included 2 nights at the Polynesian resort. My favorite perk came in the form of a media fast past card that allowed us to get immediate fast passes on rides with no wait time and no restrictions, even when regular fast passes had already been distributed. Wow! And, because Disney knows how to treat us right, we were loaded down with all manner of swag from custom watches and bags to t-shirts and jackets. It was truly a magical experience both for conference attendees and their families.
I thought I’d share some highlights from the conference, as well as some things that I hope will change for future events.
- Those crazy fast passes
- Inspirational, high-quality speakers
- Plenty of surprises and goodies
- Bloggers without families felt treated the same as bloggers with families
- The opportunity to include families with family-friendly activities
Could Use Improvement:
- Communication before the conference and especially before travel arrangements were made
- Lack of quiet space/time early on during our stay for us to connect with each other without other media present
- Extremely early mornings followed by events going into the night (give us a day with a bit of sleep-in time)
Want more details? Head on over to the Cutest Kid Ever – she did a fabulous job of liveblogging the sessions. I am a pitiful liveblogger. I can’t blog and listen at the same time!
* Disclosure: I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at my own cost, but the price of the conference (including meals and hotel) for all of the attendees was at a discounted rate. The opinions contained in this post are my own.