When I was younger, my family vacationed to Disneyland 1-2 times a year. Walking around the park, and waiting in the lines that would go on for miles, I often thought to myself how much fun it would be to work for Disney. At the time, being a ride operator or the big dream of perhaps playing Snow White in the daily parade would have satisfied me. I just wanted to be apart of the magic. It was the “happiest place on Earth” after all. There are few things that have happened in my life that I never would have guessed to happen in a million years: 1. That I would be the proud parent of identical twin boys, 2. That I would have the honor to work with Disney in the capacity I have been granted since I started blogging 4 years ago.
It all started with BlogHer in San Diego, one of the largest and most premier blogging conferences available to the blogger, no matter how big your site or how many years its been established. During the BlogHer conference, I took advantage of the advanced screening of the movie, The Help. There, I met a Publicist at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and was invited to attend D23 as a media guest. D23 is the ultimate Disney fan conference that takes place every two years. It’s amazing. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, if even just for the Studio Presentation, I would recommend it. Fabulous highlights, insights, and presentations by the brilliant minds behind Pixar Animation and the Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures. I brought my then 6 year old daughter, and she loved it, too. We were both impressed forever with the fun and the magic; we ended up spending two days at the conference.
Shortly after, I joined the TravelingMom network. A network of travel bloggers and writers from around the country and the world. As most of you know, I write as the Las Vegas TravelingMom, featuring sophisticated options for the family traveller. A few months into writing for the network, I was offered an opportunity to participate in a FAM (Familiarization Tour for Media) of an up and coming luxury residential development, Golden Oak, in Walt Disney World. I, nor my children, had ever been to Walt Disney World. I was besides myself with excitement to be included. There, I met the fabulous Kim-Marie of Luxury Travel Mom, learned an incredible amount, and felt quite honored to be included in an exclusive group of travel writers.
Later that year, I tested the waters and pitched my heart out to be invited to the Mickey’s Halloween Party blogger event in Disneyland. My big sell? Nevada schools have a 3-day weekend during the Halloween weekend (Nevada Day), and what better way to spread the word about how to spend it than in Disneyland with Mickey and his gang and all the villains- send a Las Vegas travel blogger!
The following year, I had the surprise of my life when I was invited to a special social media conference, the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Walt Disney World. The Disney Social Media Moms Conference was created 7 years ago when Mike Hyland, Director of Disneyland Public Relations, set out to create deep and meaningful relationships with moms involving motivational speakers and networking within an intimate setting. In collaboration with Maria Bailey, of BSM Media and mom blogger marketing fame, the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was born. Over the last 5 years, this annual, multi-day conference brings together 150 bloggers and travel writers exclusively invited to attend and learn not only about Disney and what is in store for the immediate future, but also to inspire and connect on various levels. Once again, I was most honored and surprised to be one of the 150 selected, and amongst some pretty big names in the blogging industry.
Shortly after, I attended the debut of Mickey and the Magical Map show at Disneyland, and was one of the select bloggers invited to interview the new Disney Parks President, Michael Colglazier, with a chance to tour Walt Disney’s apartment. Um, wow. Much of this attributed to my connection with the TravelingMom network, which whom I am a grateful and proud member. To be honest, after all this excitement, I was sure my Disney streak was about to run out. I mean, how could one little person like me continue to make a large enough impact for this gigantic company? When the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration invites started to hit my fellow bloggers and writers in-boxes, I truly was not expecting to get one.
But, I did. And, the most wonderful thing about the conference this year? It took place in Anaheim, the home, the birth place of Walt Disney’s dream- Disneyland. The park I spent so much time growing up in and experiencing magical memories, was host to the most magical celebration of all time. To add to the magic, invited bloggers are allowed to bring along 3 additional guests. Though I really wanted my husband to come with me to see what goes into events and behind the scenes, like only Disney can do, I knew in my heart the only person I really wanted to share this with, besides my children, of course, was my mom. The biggest Disney fan I know. The one who passed her Disney gene down to me- I wanted her to have this once in a lifetime chance to get to know Disney the way I have gotten to know Disney over the last few years.
As usual, Disney did not disappoint. Fabulous parties, inspirational speakers, informational hosts and sponsors filled my world for four days in a row. I also checked a Run Disney event with a 2-mile fun run through Disneyland and California Adventure ending at the finish line in CarsLand, off my Bucket List.
My kids started their Spring Break off with a bang, and kept thanking me every day we were in the parks. My twins can’t stop talking about Mater and Mickey and Doc, and ask me every time we get in the car if we are going to Disneyland. I don’t know how else to thank Disney for these amazing opportunities, than to continue to share as much information as I can with you, my valued reader, in hopes that you also find magic in my stories, and become inspired to create your own. As far as me and my continued “work” with Disney? I’ll never forget being at a conference in Vancouver several years ago, and the speaker saying, “Yes, I’m talking to you. The one taking up one of the seats in this room right now. You deserve to be here. That’s why you are here.” As I remind myself of that, and pinch my arm every now and then, I will continue to be grateful for these chances and generous in helping Disney touch the lives of many by sharing what I learn.
Am also reminded of a quote from one of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration speakers, Maxine Clark, Founder of Build A Bear Workshop:
“It’s not what you have, it’s what you give that determines your legacy.” – Maxine Clark
I will have a series of Disney posts on my blog over the next few days covering sponsors and new programs introduced during the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. For now, here is a fun look at our time shared in Disneyland….where the magic begins!
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the DSMM Celebration. I paid my own conference fees and received gifts during the conference. I was not asked nor expected to post about my experience. All opinions, experiences and thoughts are my own.
Several Photo Credits in the Slideshow Credited to @hyku