I’ve got a confession to make. I never stepped foot inside a Disney Park until I was an adult. My father wasn’t much into amusement parks, so growing up it was never a destination my family ever considered for vacation. It wasn’t until I was 22 years old and on a business trip to Southern California. With some down time, a colleague suggested we head on over to Anaheim and check out Disneyland.
Walking thru Sleeping Beauty’s castle, wearing my very first pair of Mouse Ears, riding on the Railroad, getting drenched on Splash Mountain and having my picture taken with Winnie the Pooh was like taking all those Disney movies and TV shows I watched growing up come to life right in front of my eyes!
It took me another two more years before I made it to all the parks in Orlando, but since then I’ve been back many times. My most recent trip was last spring when The Hubs and I took the kids on their first visit to Walt Disney World Resorts.
Seeing Disney through their first time eyes was amazing. It’s something I’ll always treasure as a parent and as a Disney fanatic. It truly is the “happiest place on Earth!”
So I was beyond excited when I found some proverbial “pixie dust” in my email earlier this summer. It was an invitation to attend a Disney Social Media Moms “On The Road” Celebration event!
For the past few years Disney has held an annual blogger conference at one of their US resorts, and throughout the year, they take a mini-version of it around the country hence the “On-The-Road” title.
These “On-The-Road” sessions not only share what’s new and upcoming at Walt Disney World Resorts, but feature panels and speakers who share helpful tips, trends and technology about the business of blogging.
It was great to catch up with my bloggy friends, especially my fabulous ladies of NJ Digital Moms. We always have to gather and take a group photo at any event where there is at least two of us – and in this one we all decided to show our #DisneySide with some fun props!
I spent the morning hanging with my friend Anna from Random Handprints/Barista Kids, it was her first OTR session too! We got a chance to meet Gary Buchanan, the Social Media Managing Editor and PR Manager for Disney Parks who takes his job so seriously, he even dresses the part (He reminded me of Ludwig von Drake – the Duck Professor)!
So first, what’s new at Walt Disney World Resorts:
MagicBands – There are no more ticket turnstiles at WDW parks. Now all you have to do to tap into the magic of Walt Disney World Resorts is just flick your wrist. These colorful wristbands are actually an all-in-one device that effortless connects you on your Disney trip.
They kind of look like a Fitbit. You use these bands to enter the parks, unlock your Disney Resorts hotel room and to buy food and merchandise. Plus MagicBands give you FastPass+ access to experiences that you pre-select online so you can concentrate on enjoying the fun and not waiting in line!
The opening New Fantasyland: This new area represents the largest expansion in the history of any Magic Kingdom park. New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World has nearly doubled in size and includes two new themed areas: Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus.
The Enchanted Forest area features the park’s newest ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which opened earlier this Spring. It’s a fun roller coaster for the entire family. The cars look like little mine carts and you take an adventure over bridges, thru tunnels and into the forest with Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Dopey and, of course, Snow White.
Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade is a new parade that pays homage to the inhabitants of New Fantasyland. The parade makes its way through the Magic Kingdom park each afternoon and features Disney Princesses, Ariel, Merida, Peter Pan & Wendy, a fire-breathing “Maleficent” Dragon and Mickey and Minnie flying high above in a hot air balloon.
From there it was onto the blogging portion of the conference. We heard from several great panelists about being an entrepreneur and how to grow your business, but two really stuck out to me as a blogger.
The first was Jenn Fickley-Baker, Walt Disney World’s Social Media Manager. She talked about what it’s like working on Disney Parks Blog. The Disney Parks Blog provides the latest, official information about Disney destinations as well as behind-the-scenes looks at Disney Parks. The blog features multiple posts per day on a variety of Disney topics from food to rides, to the making of Disney – so there’s lots of planning and creating that go into each post.
My biggest takeaway from her presentation is that content, make that GOOD content, is what matters most. Writing with emotion and a connection is what is going to keep readers engaged. She also offered ways to spruce up editorial content, such as introducing a blog series or ongoing features.
The other presenter I found fascinating was Victoria Lim, Managing Editor of Walt Disney World Public Relations. She talked to the group about creating visual and mobile content. She shared a lot of great tips for using today’s various technologies and apps to take pictures, record video, and she even assembled some of these elements on the fly to show how easy it can be to create a mini-movie. She was very inspiring and encouraged me to start upping my visuals game.
The whole event culminated with a visit from the guest of honor himself, Mickey Mouse! He’s definitely one of the biggest VIPs I’ve ever met and he certainly didn’t disappoint. I hope that Minnie forgives me, but he took my hand and we danced ear to mouse ear!
As if you couldn’t tell, I had a great time at Disney Social Media Mom’s “On The Road” Celebration. It was a day filled was filled with magical moments and memories mixed in with some valuable blogging lessons. I’m lucky and grateful to have attended, it’s one of the most coveted Disney events of the year (it’s invite only). I hope I’ll get the opportunity to attend another Disney Social Media Moms event soon!
Now it’s your turn to share. Tinkerbell is my favorite Disney character. Who is yours?
For Full Disclosure: The Harried Mom was invited to attend the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms “On The Road” Celebration in Philadelphia, PA. While the event was free to attend and I paid for my own transportation and lodging, I did receive some gifts from Disney and sponsors of the conference while attending. The Harried Mom was not obligated to write about the conference. As always, the opinions expressed in this post and on The Harried Mom blog are all my very own and are not influenced in any way. Please do your own research before purchasing any products as your opinion may differ.
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