I was honored and humbled to be invited to the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World last week.
In case you are unfamiliar with #DisneySMMC, it's an invitation-only conference for social media influencers, entrepreneurs, and bloggers. My favorite thing about the week is that it offers networking, hands-on workshops, and professional opportunities - while also including the whole family.
It's hard to pass up such a magical invitation so we booked our flights, packed our bags, and flew across the country to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Disney went all out for our Opening Night party with an all-you-can-eat buffet, live music, character meet & greets, and complimentary digital caricatures. We were thrilled to re-connect with Mike & Colleen Padilla and their two great kids (we originally met at Disney SMMC 2011 and later stayed with them for a few days in Pennsylvania when our family embarked on our year on the road).
Picture this - a buffet dinner on the sand, with glistening water just beyond. Plus, opportunities to greet Mickey & Minnie in their best beach attire! Our girls were thrilled to spend the entire meal barefoot and to top it off with toasted marshmallows around a blazing fire.
Speaking of our host resort, the pool connecting Yacht & Beach Club Resort is a fantastic oasis with sandy beach entries, inner tubes to float in, life vests for kids, and two water slides (including a small one that our just-turned-3-year-old couldn't get enough of!). We hit the pools after dark on two evenings after being in the parks all day.
There's a new picture program at WDW! You can now pay $169 for digital access to all the photos that your family has taken in the parks - including character meet & greets and ride photos. It made our trip all the more relaxing to be able to "stop, smile, and scan" our magicbands. Wish we would have stopped for even more, but we were running all over the parks!
Thanks to GoGo squeez and Disney for arranging for us to do a 1-mile fun run in Epcot (pre-park opening!). I had so much fun running with...er...trying to keep up with...Colleen and Suzanne. Probably an 8 or 9 minute pace (wouldn't you say, ladies?).
Our girls were at optimal ages for experiencing the parks to the max! Our 8-year-old and 6-year-old couldn't get enough of the action rides - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Barnstormer, Test Track, and more! In the end, our 8-year-old surprised us by saying with a grin, "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train goes a little slow for me." Plus, we enjoyed family favorites like Pirates of the Caribbean, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Soarin', Peter Pan, It's A Small World, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
What better way to be immersed in the magic of the Disney brand than to meet up with all of our favorite characters! We were fortunate to meet Mickey & Minnie, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Anna & Elsa, Belle, and a green soldier from Toy Story. Plus, my 8-year-old got stabbed in the leg by one of The Lost Boys (true story!).
I already mentioned the awesome Padillas! What a wonderful experience it was to re-kindle that cross-country friendship. I also loved chatting with the adorable and ultra-friendly Amy of Teach Mama and bumping into fellow-Tucson bloggers Karen of Desert Chica and Christine of Arizona Families. Plus, we extended our stay and had so much fun with some of our dear friends from New Jersey (who are DVC members and annual pass holders).
Walt Disney envisioned DisneyWorld and Disneyland as places that "parents and children could have fun - together." His dream definitely came true - and then some. We all laughed and shimmered and sparkled with the pure joy of being together. These are memories that will live on forever.
I was invited to the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I paid a conference fee to attend and received discounted & complimentary items from Walt Disney World and their sponsors. I was not asked to write about our experiences at the conference. All opinions are my own.