Recently (ok, ok… actually it was over a month ago actually but to me it feels like just yesterday still) I had the sheer joy and pleasure of attending the Disney Social Media Moms On The Road conference that took place right here in Philly! This was such an exciting event in so many ways for me personally and professionally but mostly because it allowed me to be with fellow Disney lovers and experience a little Disney magic right here in my own backyard!
I arrived at the conference hotel and as I managed to work my way around the parking lot looking for a space to park I was giddy to see all the Disney car decals and themed bumper stickers! It’s not that often you get to see so many cars sporting their Disney pride all in one place and I just knew then that it was going to be a magical day.
Once inside the hotel I followed the crowds and started to stand in line to register. There were moms in Maleficient horns, Dads in Mickey Mouse ties, bloggers dressed up like snow white and of course plenty of ears!
The next bit of Disney magic came when I heard a loud voice happily bellowing about how the wait for a Fast Pass in was shorter than a regular line. Only later did I learn who the man behind the voice was (more on that soon…) but it immediately made me feel like I was in Disney World just hearing anyone talk about Fast Pass lines!
After a bit of eager and excited standing about they finally let us in to the main room and it was so fun to see everything and take it all in. The tables were all cutely decorated and some even had Disney stuffed animals on them. The centerpieces were a suitcase with a sign with table names like “Hashtag Highway” (my table)! I got to meet and be table mates with the adorable Amanda from Sneezing Pixie Dust. I’m so happy I got to sit next to such a huge Disney fan like her because the two of us were giddy with all the Disney joy together!
There were also several photo stations throughout the room and in one corner was a man dressed in a jedi robe with Donal Duck ears and a bill. Because I’m enough of Disney dork I was just excited to go have my picture taken with with “The Jedi Donald Guy.” Only later did I learn that this was in fact Gary Buchanan, social media guru for Disney Parks. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t know who it was because I was clearly not awake nor nearly caffeinated enough to be witty or aware and just sort of smiled and got my pix with him and shuffled off. Oh well, Gary – maybe next time! In the process of waiting for him though, I chatted up some great new friends and learned how to make more room on my iPhone for all the pix I knew would be taken that day from the super sweet Lori from Take Time for Today (“Hi Lori!”). Love meeting sweet and smart new blogging friends from other parts of the country! Lori actually drove in from New England for this event – aren’t we lucky here in Philly that it was so close for us this year??
I wandered next over to the Photo Booth area and got my Mickey hands pix taken which was fun and exciting for me too. Having never worn Mickey hands myself this was a new Disney first and hopefully won’t be the last. All of the Disney props and excitement had me feeling like I was back in Disney World again!! Soon we were all called to sit for breakfast and the official program began (we were here for a conference after all!). We were welcomed to the day by some of the Disney Parks Social Media team including Jen Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager for Walt Disney World, Disney Parks, and Disney Parks Blog (you know, she’s like actually a pretty big deal, right?!!) She had some fabulous Disney background to share and talked to us about some of the things that make social media work so well for Disney including the focus on storytelling, attention to detail, and the value of celebration. One of the things Jen shared that I just loved was the behind the scenes of the making of the Ultimate Tweet – a 140 character photo with 140 Disney characters making a hashtag symbol and shot from above. Brilliant, right???!! And oh so fun to see if you’re a big Disney addict like me. Check out more on the making of this Ultimate Tweet on the Disney Parks Blog post.
And then Gary Buchanan, Walt Disney World Social Media Managing Editor, took the stage. (You know the jedi guy from my early am photo opp??). Gary shared some great info about recent Disney campaigns. One of the funniest things he shared was this great video about the “Diaper Dans” which for any Disney fan will strike a fun chord! Check out the Diaper Dans video for a laugh! Another brilliant campaign Gary mentioned was a contest that just is wrapping up called Be the Eighth Miner. This is a totally fun contest in conjunction with the release of the awesome new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. What a fantastic way to get people engaged and in on the action, right? This contest is now over but you can see the winners of each challenge (to take a photo or video of yourself as one of the dwarfs) and find out the grand prize winner of the Be the Eighth Miner contest who gets a trip to Disney by following hashtag #8thMinerContest.
After Gary, we heard from HP, a premier sponsor of the event. HP had so much exciting info to share but the most exciting for me was something called Instant Ink – a subscription based ink service from HP that automatically detects when your HP printer is low on ink and sends you a new pack of ink cartridges. Um, HELLO – life changing, right??? You’re welcome. For more on HP solutions and ideas that will help you day in and day out, be sure to follow #HPSmartMom.
Next up we heard from Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations who talked to us about Creating Visual Content with ease. For me, Victoria’s talk was absolutely one of the most useful as she shared some incredibly practical tips and trips for making and delivering rich social content. Victoria has such great energy and enthusiasm and experience to share and really got into some of the details of the best tools for creators of multimedia content. Two big take-aways for me from Victoria’s talk were to “Zoom with your Feet” and to check out a cool and easy video tool called Videolicious. If you start to see more videos on phillyfun4kids it will be because of Victoria!
Our next session was a fabulous panel of three women focusing on the life of Mom Business Owners. This was a really interesting and honest panel of three highly successful Moms including Amy Bradley the inventor of Toy Dozer; Kristi Gorinas, creator of Dad Pack (and past winner of the Huggies Mom Inspired Grant program!); and Jen Grover, inventor of the Butler Bag. What I really liked most about this panel was how honest each of these women were about the costs and joys of their business success. Of course many questions focused on how to achieve that ideal balance between kids and family and achieving success. In some cases, the answers were not easy. One of the panelists admitted that she missed many of the early memories and moments in her kids lives and that she regretted it. Even though it was a hard answer to hear, I appreciated the honesty very much because I sometimes feel like we’re striving for a balance between business success and family time that might not exist. Of course it does exist in different shapes and forms but there are choices made and consequences from each, right?
Finally, the day ended with an inspiring talk by author and motivational speaker, Debi Silber, aka The Mojo Coach who was energetic, inspiring and very motivational. Debi talked about the effect of stress and stress induced behaviors on your body and mind, the immunity boosting effect of surrounding yourself with positive (not negative) people and the importance of being present in The Now. She was funny and awesome and ended her talk with a group toast (no booze just Diet Cokes and coffee of course!) to our health and success! What a great positive way to end this magical day, huh?
But no, that wasn’t the end of the magic. To cap off this most wonderful day, we were greeted by none other than Mickey Mouse too! I waited in line to meet the Mouse and got to talk with and meet more amazing people. And when I got up to Mickey not only did we pose together but he grabbed my arm as if to dance – so sweet and fun!
I became a Disney fan after we took our two small girls to Walt Disney World for the first time two years ago. You can read all about why Disney was so magical for us all and how much I encourage families to take young children to Disney here. Since then my love for Disney has only grown and increased each year and this conference was yet another magic moment for me as I got to hear and learn more from an insider perspective about how Disney Parks works its special magic!
Thank you so much to Disney Parks, Maria Bailey of MomSelect, all the amazing sponsors including HP, Huggies, and all the fabulous speakers and panelists for a most amazing day!! It was such an honor and privilege to be able to attend!
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post but I was provided with several awesome goodies from Disney Parks and the fabulous sponsors of the event (not the least of which was a Rice Krisipe Mickey ears treat straight from Disney!) and breakfast at this half day Disney conference event. As always all opinions expressed about all things Disney being magical or the opportunity to learn from smart successful women entrepreneurs being such a privilege are my own.