I was invited to attend this years conference at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After a whirlwind of 3 days, I am exhausted, enlightened, and excited about Disney, meeting new friends, learning and remembering the wonderful memories my family made, magic that only a Disney experience can deliver. I had been waiting my entire life to make it to Disney World, and believe me, this experience was an unforgettable one!
Day 1: Arrivals and A Family Welcome Dinner
The 2013 Disney Social Media Moms Conference took place at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. We arrived on Thursday morning, Disney’s Magical Express whisked us away from the Orlando International Airport right to the hotel. We checked in to our room, then to the conference to obtain our credentials. We would need them, because the next three days would be filled with amazing events, food, and FUN! After a fun snack and story time with Winnie The Pooh, a long nap was required. Yup, a 3 hour siesta.
In the evening, we headed down to a cocktail welcome reception, then proceeded to meet up with our families at Epcot Center for a tasty dinner. There was a live band playing some of the latest popular hits, plus fun entertainment at the center of the ballroom. My favorite: Mickey Mouse break dancing! The kids and adults alike had a great time, such a wonderful way to welcome all of the attendees to the Disney Social Media Moms conference!
After dinner, we headed over to a VIP seating area to watch the “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” Fireworks show and indulge in various delicious desserts at Epcot Center. It was amazing! Perfect ending to a perfect day.
Day 2: Conference Day, and a little late Magic Kingdom Fun
Ok, so this day was jam-packed with Disney information! Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother was our host for the day, where she introduced a slew of motivational speakers and even gave her own tips. Between sessions, Disney reps spoke about the many fun initiatives they have in the works, I can’t wait to share them all with you! Here is a look at what we did…
Hanes Comfort Breakfast
We started the morning with a delicious breakfast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, sponsored by Hanes. This was a great way to get things off to a comfortable start, displays of Hanes comfort wear were out front so we could check out the newest gear.
We had a line up of great motivational speakers, they were all so inspiring. Among all of the great stories, the general theme was to learn from your mistakes and live out your dreams. Rene was an excellent emcee, she gave us a few of her personal tips for blogging success and even participated in a few fun on stage events. Gaston from Beauty and the Beast was diggin’ her!
We heard from Shannon Miller, USA Olympic gold medalist, who is an athlete turned entrepreneur. She struggled with many things throughout her life, cancer being one of them, and managed to push through it all to success with her company, Shannon Miller Lifestyle.
We also hear from Jackie Huba, author and keynote speaker, who compared our personal success to the likes of Lady Gaga and how she is able to harness so many die hard fans. After studying her success, and writing the book Monster Loyalty, her main take away was that Lady Gaga gives her community of top die-hard fans 100%.
Dayna Steele, an author and success motivational speaker, share how to build your stage for rock star success. See, she was a radio personality who met and interviewed many rock stars in her day. She used many of their stories as advice to be successful in your own business, or other personal endeavors. In a nutshell, she encourages people to make their business their passion, and constantly strive to WOW your audience, customers or readers.
Perhaps the most touching story came from Marc Mero, former professional boxer turned motivational speaker. He hit an extremely low point in his life, where he literally lost everything. Family. Friends. Homes. Cars. This man has gone through it all, and just when he thought it was over, a new door opened. If he can prevail, anyone can. He is now empowering people to make positive choices with his non-profit, Champion of Choices.
In the midst of the keynote speakers, we heard from Disney’s social media team members Thomas Smith and Gary Buchanan with a “Fire and Ice” session on how Disney strategizes their social media and creative efforts to showcase Disney parks and events. We learned a whole lot about Disney’s healthy foods initiative, the new Disney TryIt! program, the new Disney Story App, where you can tell a beautiful story using your photos, and Disney Infinity, a new gaming experience that includes many of your favorite Disney characters.
Some other fun stuff: Gaston from Beauty and the Beast came on the stage and did a little sing and dance number. Also, R2D2 came rolling through the room, and soon, the Star Wars storm troopers, well, “stormed” in and bombarded us! I got a photo with them, never felt safer!
That evening, we got to attend a Red Carpet Social family dinner at the Lights, Camera, Action! Stunt Show Set at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The French themed background props make a beautiful place to have dinner under the stars, even if it is a show set! With a live DJ, this dinner party quickly erupted into a dance party! The favorite song of the night; Gangnam Style! Oh, and there were a few character appearances, too. Mickey, Minnie and Goofy all came out to say hello and take photos. My daughter was so excited to meet Minnie Mouse, she cried when it was time to walk away!
First time meeting Minnie Mouse = A little girls dream come true!
Magic Kingdom was open late this day, so we went there late. There were no lines in New Fantasyland, so it was the perfect time to ride Dumbo and The Barnstormer roller coaster, perfect for my 2 and 6 year old kiddos. As the park closed, we stayed for one last hurrah: The Main Street Electrical Parade. Brings back childhood memories, they has this parade at Disneyland when I was younger.
Day 3: Merida’s Induction into The Disney Princess Royal Court, plus more theme park fun!
After an early breakfast, we all hopped on the bus to watch the 11th princess to be inducted into the Disney Princess Royal Court… MERIDA! Her courageous role in BRAVE and fiery red locks gave her the honor, joining princesses Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Tiana, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Rapunzel, and more. The royal ceremony was held at the Magic Kingdom at the Cinderella castle, such an honor to be able to see this once in a lifetime event!
We had some free time after this, some people decided to head over to the Monsters University movie preview, but my family decided to hit a couple of other parks. First we went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Imagine a lush zoo with a magical Disney twist, so awesome! We only had a couple of hours here, so we decided to visit the lands of Asia and Africa. I love how each of the areas is themed to represent it’s territory, there is so much detail here, its’s amazing! Afterwards, we boarded the bus and hit Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. With little ones, we spent most of our time in Tike’s Peak, perfect for children 5 and under (height requirement is 48″ or less). My kids loved the mini water slides, splash pools, sand castle area, and the inner tube ride!
This evenings dinner was all about Disney TryIt! and the Magic of Healthy Living initiative. Held at Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf course, this family dinner was actually a celebration, and our last meal together, made to encourage kids to try new foods and activities to promote better health. Food choices were fruit, vegetable, whole grain and flavor packed, while there were lots of fun game stations and activities to get the kids moving! Goofy even came out during the dance party to show off his drumming skills and a few moves. The kids really had a blast here!
On departure day, we missed the Mother’s Day morning brunch, where I heard they had an amazing Mother’s Day musical tribute and special guest Soleil Moon Frye! There is so much more to share, stay tuned for more posts about our first visit to Walt Disney World!
Magical memories we’ll cherish forever
In all, the entire event was a wonderful success. The amount of detail, surprises and the time spent on the whole thing is unmatched. We loved every moment, I appreciate a conference that involves my family while giving us great benefits and magical moments our family will cherish for a lifetime. Also, a special shout out to the events sponsors, including Rayovac, Hanes, GoGo SqueeZ, and H20. Thank you so much to the whole Disney team, truly an amazing experience!
Disclosure: I was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, there are no obligations that I attend or write about my experience. No compensation or sponsorship was received, discounts were offered for lodging, meals and activities and some gifts were provided during our visit. Unmarked photo credit: Josh Hallet. The rest are mine.