The 2013 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration officially came to an end on Sunday, May 12 - but the memories our family shared and the pictures we took will live on for generations to come.
Here are 10 highlights from our time spent at the conference.
2-MILE FUN RUN
Every time I have an opportunity to combine fitness with family travel, I take it! I am so grateful to the RunDisney team for giving us the chance to run through the empty ESPN Sports Complex on an early morning.
At every event, there were costumed characters and extravagant backdrops - a photographer's dream! I loved being able to capture silly and spontaneous "meet & greets" with Disney pals...Mickey, Minnie, Jake, Star Troopers, Tarzan, and the Monsters Inc. crew.
Disney knows how to plan interactive and fun events. The family meals were so well-done...rows of buffets with kid-friendly and healthy food, lively entertainment, delightful scenery. The dinner at Fantasia Gardens was particularly nice - loved the casual outdoor environment with room for little ones to run and explore.
The Magic Kingdom remains my favorite park for making magical memories. If you can only visit one theme park on your first trip, make it MK. Our children were delighted by Peter Pan, Dumbo, Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.
RIDING THE "BIG RIDES" WITH MY 6-YEAR-OLD
Blink. I turned around and my 6-year-old is a brave, intelligent, and beautiful young lady. "It's like she's 6 going on 10. She's so mature!" my cousin's wife commented last week. At Disney, she boldly went on all of the biggest rides - Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, even Tower of Terror (though that one was a bit much).
HAVING A BABY AT DISNEY
This was simultaneously one of the hardest and best things. People stopped us everywhere on the street to comment on our beautiful baby. Rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed, and gorgeous, she makes a scene - in a good way. I loved having her by my side and in my arms...and I love that Disney welcomes the smallest of guests.
The Contemporary was a fantastic choice for this year's hosting property. Our family of five really appreciated the layout of the room - with two queen beds, plus a sofa that doubled as a twin bed. Our room was spacious, clean, and modern. The property itself featured a pool with waterslide, separate children's pool, and splash pad - plus on-site activities. Best amenity? The resort is within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom.
MEETING & RE-CONNECTING WITH BLOGGERS
As always, the people made the event. Tim & I enjoyed chatting with the power team that is Michael & Jennifer James (such great people - humble, influential). I also loved seeing Lisa of Workout Mommy, Shannon of Simple Mom Reviews, Janice of 5 Minutes for Mom, Christine of From Dates to Diapers, Jessica McFadden of A Parent in America, Maria Galati Smith of Mamalicious Maria, Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan, Amanda of Disney Go To Girl, Sara of Mom Endeavors, Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine, and Lisa of Babes in Disneyland.
SESSION WITH GARY BUCHANAN AND THOMAS SMITH
My favorite session of the conference was by Disney Social Media Managing editor Gary Buchanan and Disney Parks Social Media Director Thomas Smith. Enlightening, entertaining, and educational - I appreciated their enthusiasm. It was also a more "practical" session than some of the more entertainment-focused selections.
SNOW WHITE T-SHIRT
Disney gifted all of the attendees with a red v-neck tee, not available for sale in the parks or online. Featuring Snow White and a carefully crafted social media message, the t-shirt is comfortable and cute. I saw many of the Disney Social Media Moms sporting it at events and at the theme parks during the day.
For those of you who attended, what were your highlights from this year's celebration?