I often ask other bloggers this question: "What is the best blogging conference you've ever been to?"
If they have had an opportunity to attend, they inevitably answer, "The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration!" The answer is a no-brainer.
It truly is a spectacular feat of event-planning. Full of surprises, over-the-top performances, and character appearances, it's an epic weekend. Best of all, it's specifically designed to include families!
There is no way I would be able to mention everyone and everything that made this weekend magical, but here are seven of my highlights from the 2014 celebration.
Toon-rrific Dinner in Mickey's Toon Town
Disneyland closed down Toon Town for an exclusive dinner for the Disney Social Media Moms. From 6:30pm-8:00pm, we had access to a full buffet, slushy drinks, popcorn, decadent desserts, and all of the Toon Town attractions. No line for Gadget's Go Coaster meant the girls could ride (and scream) to their heart's content.
2 Mile Fun Run
One of my favorite things on the schedule was the 2 Mile Fun Run, put on by runDisney. I donned a red runDisney shirt, a Distance Athletic Skirt, and purple running shoes (Thanks, New Balance!) - and met up with the other bloggers at 5:30am in Downtown Disney. After a Good Form Running Clinic, we set out. A lovely jog through the empty and pristine streets of Disneyland! We ran right underneath the castle, past Splash Mountain, into California Adventure, with a celebratory finish in Cars Land.
Breakfast in Cars Land
Immediately following the run, we were treated to an all-you-can-eat breakfast and private access to Cars Land. You know what that means - Radiator Springs Racers with NO line! Sweet! It was my first time on the ride and it quickly became a family favorite. Kayla and Liv wanted to ride it again and again.
Storytime and Presentation by LeVar Burton
On Saturday morning, I caught my breath when the "Reading Rainbow" theme song came through the speakers...and LeVar Burton walked into the room! As a bookworm, writer, and literacy advocate, I was duly impressed. I enjoyed his serious and passionate style of speaking. Favorite quote from his talk? "My mother read to me AND in front of me." More on that later. After the presentation, LeVar did a storytime WITH our kids. Do you see the sweet blonde-haired girl with glasses in the front row? She's mine and she later told me that he was one of the best storytellers she'd ever heard. I completely agreed. A definite highlight.
Meeting New Friends
One of the best things about any conference is the people you meet - and the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was no exception. It was a joy to hear about how Pebbles and her family of six are living in a one-room cabin in North Dakota (yay for unconventional living!). I also briefly rubbed shoulders with Colleen Lanin of Travel Mamas, Melissa Angert of Girlymama, and entrepreneur Erin Kelly of Hulabye. Wish we would have had more time to talk!
Connecting with Old Friends
What a delight it was to give hugs to Shannon McAvoy of theSIMPLEmoms and Caryn Bailey of Rockin' Mama! I also ate lunch with Susan Carretto (5 Minutes for Mom) and Heather & Whitney (Rookie Moms) - haven't seen them since 2008! I also loved the small bits of conversation with Lisa Robertson (Babes in Disneyland), Aubrey Hang (runDisney), Jessica & Becky (Disney Sisters), and Maria King (Mamalicious Maria). Plus, we had a great crowd from Arizona at the conference this year - including Becca Ludlum (My Crazy Good Life) and Karen Heffren (Desert Chica Ramblings) from Tucson! So many beautiful, familiar faces!
Having My Family With Me
The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is a new kind of conference - an event designed for the whole family. Attendee-only sessions were intermixed with kid-friendly meals and activities. I'd love to see more conferences follow suit - for men too. Wouldn't it be nice if business and academic conferences were tailored so that fathers could bring their wives and children along? Two thumbs up for this concept!
If you attended this year's celebration or a #DisneySMMoms celebration in the past, what are some of your favorite memories?
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Disney On-The Road is coming to Chicago, Philadelphia, and Phoenix this June! Fill out the interest form to be considered.
* I attended the invitation-only 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration event. Conference fee included hotel stay, park-hopper tickets, and special events. Thanks to Mickey Mouse for being a terrific host!