I’m writing this on a plane sitting next to Kyle as we fly home from the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Part of me feels like I need to stop and process everything before I can really write about it, but I always want to get my recap going while my hair still smells like hotel shampoo and we’ve got our MagicBands on because why not? It was a dream, not to be eye-rollingly cliche. A dream to be invited. A dream to be able to make it a trip for just the two of us. Surreal, chaotic, imperfect, and overwhelming like dreams can be, but a dream nonetheless. So I’m going to spill out all the details because if I could have put you in my pocket I would have. If you skim everything but this, though, I just want to say: I had so much fun.
This conference was much different than any other blog conference I’ve attended. For one thing it really wasn’t a blog conference. It seems like a blog conference because the people that attend are bloggers and influencers, but at the blog conferences I’ve been to there’s a selection of different workshops and panels so we can hone our skills and talk about what it is to be in this community and how we can work with brands or in new forms of media. This gathering had a little bit of that here and there but the general feel was less like work and more like a real celebration.
We did get some idea kernels and a few technical tips but most of the information that we received was related to sponsorship with a heavy focus on Disney, obviously. No argument here! I think the whole thing is genius. Disney wants to show the world what they’re up to and what kind of magic is possible…what better way than to bring in a group of people who are obsessed with capturing moments and sharing them with the world. If they had completely pulled everything but the Disney-focused stuff and just kept throwing info and experiences at us I would have been perfectly happy. Everything else was cream on top.
I had a moment where Kyle and I were sitting on the beach in front of the Beach Club resort, looking out over the water at the lights of the BoardWalk, glasses of wine in our hands and our bellies full and I realized that I was sitting there with my husband having this amazing moment simply because Disney wanted to make me happy in the hopes that I might share that happiness over the Internet so other people could come to the same place to be happy as well.
I have the best job in the freaking world.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
We caught the red-eye leaving Salt Lake City at midnight and arriving in Orlando at sunrise on Thursday morning. The journey was rough, partly because I’m not great at flying and partly because the stranger next to me was unfamiliar with the concept of personal space (or rather my personal space). Mostly I was also feeling a little pulled away from the kids, who were left behind in Salt Lake City as we journeyed across the country and away from them for the first time. I don’t like to leave Eva for a few hours to catch a movie. How was this going to work?
(I could probably make this bit of the story into a whole separate blog post about separation and how ultimately we discovered that our children can in fact survive without us for a few minutes but there’s no reason to go into it because all of the other adults in the world seem to be able to leave their children. So I will just say that I’m forever grateful to my parents for taking our kids and giving us this time together. And the kids were just fine.)
Anyway, when we rolled into Orlando I hadn’t caught any sleep at all and was starting the game a few points behind, so to speak. We sleepily made our way to Magical Express, boarded the bus with the only other couple going our way, and were magically transported to Walt Disney World. As a side note, I think Magical Express is one of the biggest draws of WDW because traveling around at vacation destinations is the most stressful part for me. One of these days I’ll have to tell you my horror story about trying to get from LAX to Disneyland…they really need to make Magical Express a bicoastal thing.
Coming “home” to Yacht Club was fantastic. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never been drawn to the Yacht Club. I think of the Grand Floridian as the super nice hotel (even though we got that tiny room last time) and if I could pick any WDW resort to stay in it would be the Contemporary. Still, I’d never stayed at the Yacht Club and a new Disney resort (deluxe, no less!) is always exciting.
Spoiler: Yacht Club is my new favorite. Better than any other Disney resort I’ve ever stayed at. Anywhere.
I was very impressed when we were greeted by name as we stepped off the bus. We were walked inside and the woman who checked us in was so pleasant and friendly we had to pull ourselves away from the registration counter because we wanted to keep chatting with her. She was able to get us into a room at 8 AM, even though the official check-in time isn’t until much later in the afternoon, and our luggage was automatically taken care of.
I wanted to check in before we headed up to the room so we walked over to the convention center to pick up our credentials and swag. There’s always a bit of first-day-of-school when it comes in to checking into a conference for the first time because you sort of know people from the Internet but everyone is checking their schedules and fussing with their bags and peeking out under their eyelashes for a friendly face. We found one, at least, because Mickey Mouse was there to give us all a photo moment but since Kyle and I were traveling without kids and lots of kids were milling around we decided to duck out and let everyone else have him.
Our room was a far walk from the convention center, but ultimately it was close to the Boardwalk which meant it was close to the water and would have had a gorgeous view if it wasn’t for a large tree (which I sort of preferred because I didn’t think everyone down there needed to have a gorgeous view of us). I love Disney hotel rooms. They’re always so cool and clean and crisp and full of hello-you’re-about-to-have-an-amazing-time. I was also pretty drawn to anything that looked soft and comfy at that point since it had been a solid 24 hours since I’d slept, but we had breakfast reservations at Magic Kingdom for Be Our Guest so we dropped the swag off and headed to the resort busses.
Little side note: we only had the chance to glance at the swag before heading out, but Kyle was beside himself excited to see the Mickey and Minnie figures from Disney Infinity 3.0 (which hasn’t been released yet). I was happy we got them, but since I’m not the one who is the die hard fan in our family, I didn’t realize how cool it was to get the figures before they’re released. I really think those two toys might have been the big highlight of the whole trip for Kyle! It turns out that we got them so we could participate in this special promotion and it ended up being one of the most fun things that we did. Just a little extra pixie dust!
We caught the bus to Magic Kindom and I went in and out of sleep the whole ride. I’m sure that the other guests on the bus thought there was something wrong with me since it was almost 8:30 by then and no respectable adult woman should be struggling to keep her eyes open at that time of day but nobody said anything. In fairness, it was about as nice a group as I’ve ever seen on a Disney resort bus.
One thing I’ve definitely noticed on the Disney resort busses is that people get nicer as the cost-per-night of the resorts increases. We’ve been on the All-Star resort bus before when people have jostled over space, yelled at their kids, sprawled out across seats when other people are standing, and complained loudly about wheelchairs. On the bus from the Yacht Club, people fell over themselves to give each other space, let others go first, and give up seats to people who looked like they needed it. There was one interaction where a couple gave up their seats for a mom and her daughter and then the mom put the daughter on her lap and insisted that the lady who had stood took her seat back and she kindly refused and the mom kindly refused and eventually an older gentlemen was recruited from the standing room at the front of the bus because everyone had reached a kindness impasse on who was going to get to sit down. I probably would have been inspired to jump up and try to give my seat away but I was in and out of consciousness so no heroic gestures were made.
Kyle was very perky despite only getting a couple of hours of sleep because Kyle can convert Disney ambiance directly into energy cells in the same way that other people process caffeine. By the time we got off at the parks, he actually hopped (hopped!) off the bus and started to gently sprint toward bag check, dragging me behind him like a small child. I was trying, but man alive is it surreal to be on main street with everyone high on life when you haven’t had any sleep.
We headed straight to Be Our Guest but arrived about fifteen minutes too early to check in so we found ourselves with time to kill. I was just happy that we had arrived at the restaurant at all since this was our first experience with Be Our Guest and the rest of the weekend was tight enough that we wouldn’t have been able to go at any other time. We killed our wait time with a quick jaunt through the Little Mermaid ride (fine but better with kids) and then came back to check in.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it was a little crazier than I thought it would be. We got a short breakfast menu while we were waiting in line so we knew what we wanted to order (a bacon sandwich for Kyle and eggs florentine for me) but I didn’t realize that it would be up to us to find a seat. There are three rooms at Be Our Guest: the West Wing, the ballroom, and the Rose Gallery. I had assumed that it was a luck of the draw kind of thing, but when faced with having to make the choice for ourselves we totally went into overload mode and wandered back and forth a few times before we realized that they were probably trying to find us to give us our food.
So we sat down in the Rose Gallery, panicked that we had made the wrong decision because the room was half empty, jumped back up, and found a spot in the back corner of the chandelier room where it was quiet enough to almost be able to hear each other talk. If we were to do it again, I would have sent Kyle ahead to try to snag us a spot in the West Wing because it seems like hovering and pouncing on clean tables is the best way to grab a seat in there. The ballroom was so fun though and I was just sad that Eva wasn’t with us because she would have really loved it.
The food was great, although I think the greatness was dimmed a little bit by how tired I was. I don’t regret grabbing that breakfast reservation because a second trip without eating at Be Our Guest would have been ridiculous, but I am bummed that we weren’t able to make it more of an event. I was very impressed with the service, though, because it was so chaotic in there and the staff was still friendly, patient, quick, and able to magically find our table simply by tracking something on our Magic Bands. We also really loved that the drinks were open to anyone once you’d pay for them so we had our fill of coffee and the fantastic Disney hot cocoa with our meal.
As it was, I finished the meal with a satisfied tummy and a desperate urge to take a long nap so Kyle led me back out of the park and onto the bus where I promptly fell into an embarrassing slack-jawed drooling-on-my-husband sleep. Later that evening, I introduced myself to a blogger and she said, “Oh, I remember you. You were asleep on the Magic Kingdom bus this morning. I wasn’t sure if you were ok.”
First impressions. I rock them.
We stumbled into our hotel room, took some hasty showers, and laid down for what ended up being one of the best naps I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t exactly know what’s going on with the deluxe beds and if its the bedding or the mattress or the pillows or the fact that you know you’re sleeping in the Yacht Club but every minute of sleep we managed to steal on this trip felt like the greatest sleep ever. Upon waking, I almost made myself late for the opening reception because I couldn’t quite pull it together to peel myself out of bed, but Disney Social Media Moms waits for no man…er…mom.
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