Friday, October 7, 2011

DIsney Moms Panel Meet and Greet

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to be on property to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World. There were numerous events going on all weekend, including a Haunted Mansion celebration, a runDisney meet and greet, Lou Mongello's 40 hour broadcast, and a Walt Disney World Moms Panel Fan Meet and Greet!

About 2 weeks ago, while waiting for my son to finish his piano lesson, and checking out Facebook on my iPhone (thank you Steve Jobs), I saw a post from the Disney Parks Blog that there would be a Mom's Panel meet and greet on October 1st. Since we would already be there, I made a quick call to @RNAWAYMAMA to make sure she too was interested, and made a speedy RSVP.  While I received a confirmation that they received my request, the response made it sound as if I may or may not be allowed to attend, and that a final invitation would be sent via email.  Well let me tell you I was on pins and needles to see if we would get that invite!

Move forward almost 2 weeks, and we are already having a blast at Disney.  Again checking that trusty iPhone, I see I have received the official invitation via email! Hooray!  The email contained both the official invitation and a copy of a photo release.  I was able to use the business center at the Contemporary where we were staying to print out our paperwork.

Castle Forecourt during 40th celebration
This was a LONG day for us.  We were up and in a taxi for Animal Kingdom at 5:50am to participate in Mickey's Halloween Family Fun Run 5K. After the run, we made a bee line for the Magic Kingdom to be part of the birthday celebrations.  We were able to see some of the festivities before we had to leave the hubbies and kids and dash back for a quick pre-meet clean up.  Next stop...Epcot!

After arriving at Epcot, we found the media table that was set up for the event near the turnstiles.  We were able to check-in, and we received blue wristbands for admittance to the party.  While we both had annual passes, they did have one day park tickets available for those that did not, and I thought this was a nice touch.  Originally the meet and greet was to be held at the Yacht Club, but was moved to the Odyssey a few days prior to the event.  I was excited to check out the Odyssey since my last trip inside was as a teenager when it was actually a restaurant.

Upon arriving at the Odyssey there was yet another table where we turned in our photography wavers, and could have gotten the blue wristband if needed. I presume this was for folks who might already be in the parks, or entered via the International Gateway.  There was actually a Cast Member stationed at the door to make sure that unsuspecting park guests looking for a restroom didn't wander into the party. We felt very special and exclusive!

For a former fast food burger place turned party spot, the Odyssey was looking good!  As you may have noticed on recent trips, the windows of the building are all covered, giving the interior a nighttime party atmosphere.  To really give the room that magical Disney touch, there were these beautiful pink sparkle trees throughout the room. I don't know how to describe them other than to say they looked as if they had been sprinkled with pixie dust. They reminded me of something you would see in one of the new Tinkerbell animated movies that have come out on DVD.  And really, what adds Disney magic like light up pink sparkling trees?

Daisy and Donald with the moms and dads of the panel
There was a very nice buffet of hors d'oeuvres, soft drinks, wine and beer, favorite...Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars. Ok, they had those Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches too, but I'm a Mickey Premium girl at heart. For those that had brought their families, there was a balloon artist there, who was probably the best I have ever come across. My favorite was a giant diamond ring made with lots of very small twists and turns in the balloon. Very cool.

Quite a few Moms Panelists and Panelists Emeritus were there (I don't know if that's their official title, but that's what I'm calling them!), as well as Laura Spencer.  The panelists were wearing the coveted pink polo (or blue as the case may be), and so were easy to spot.  The panelists did a great job mingling with the fans, and within a few minutes we had already met Dianne from CT.  What a sweet and friendly person she was, and I felt so much more at ease having her come and introduce herself, rather than us walking up to the panelists and saying "Hi! I think you are so cool and amazing and I want to be you!". That might be a little creepy.

We met quite a few of the moms and dads including Dianne, Kaylene, Ritzy, Angelo, Erin, Kim, Ca'Sandra, and Kay.  Each and every one of them was gracious and friendly to the fans, and I truly felt welcomed.  I was even able to have my photo in front of the Moms Panel backdrop, and so even if not chosen, I can add that photo to my Moms Panel wannabe collection. Who knows, perhaps it will bring me some good Moms Panel luck.

My good luck wannabe photo
After coming down from the stage for my wannabe photo, I noticed another familiar face in the crowd, and was just thrilled to realize it was Deb Willis from Allears! I always recommend this site to those planning a trip, and I use it myself frequently to keep up with the latest Disney happenings and events.  My weekly Allears Newsletter makes me smile every time it appears in my inbox.  I was able to sneak in and introduce myself to Deb, and I can truly say she was also a genuinely sweet person.  I can imagine it must be hard to have Disney obsessed people the world over know who you are, and constantly coming up and introducing themselves. I realized it's a lot like being a politician. You meet some neat people, but also some not so nice folks, yet you must always smile and maintain the pleasantries.  To top off my quick hello with Deb, she gave me a pack of Allears Trading Cards which I have been really coveting, and meeting Deb was one of the definite highlights of the entire trip.

To round out our afternoon, we were able to sneak an introduction to Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager for Walt Disney World.  She is know to fellow Mom Panel applicants as one of the original members of the Moms Panel, who now works for Disney and is basically in charge of the Moms Panel.  She is living the Disney dream, by starting out as a volunteer of sorts, and ending up a Disney Cast Member.  Meeting her was quite a treat, and I was impressed as she met other attendees that she even recognized some fans by their twitter handle. It was apparent she truly loves the Disney experience, and has great people skills.  At one point in the conversation, she brought up the fact that one of the wonderful things about Disney is that people from different places, different backgrounds and in various family situations can forget all that and just be together in their love for Disney World.  We can all have fun at Disney, even if we may lead very different lives at home.  I think this truly does sum up the Walt Disney World experience, and is a great answer to the continual question, "Why are you going there again?".

It really was an amazing afternoon for a Disney freak like myself.  Getting to meet some of the well known members of the online Disney community in person was just so exciting!  The only down side to this event, was that my desire to be on the moms panel has grown to a new level I didn't even know I had in me!

To poke a little fun at myself, I told my husband it was like the Disney nerd version of a Star Trek convention.  If ever given the chance to attend one of these events, I highly recommend it.  Here's to hoping that next year I'll be there as a panelist!! (I look really good in pink)

1 comment:

  1. It was so great to meet you as well! And I'm so happy to read that I was able to put you at ease at the Meet. I guess it's a good thing that I like to meet new people and hear their stories!

    Best of luck to you as you continue your quest for a spot on the Moms Panel!

    Diane L