|Inside Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center|
The Disney Social Media Moms Conference is perhaps the most coveted conference available to bloggers out there. It is by-invite only and limited, making the conference a very exclusive event. To be invited is almost an achievement all on its own. And rightly so. It's an invite by Disney itself afterall. None can top that!
|Fairy Godmothers performing at the general session / Photo: Preston Mack/Disney|
Now while Disney Social Media Conference is an exclusive event, it's appropriate to note that it's just like any other conference. Invited bloggers have to pay registration fee to attend. And recently, you pay an extra fee for each additional guest that you bring to the event. The fees can get very expensive if you have more than three members in your family or have to fly to get to the event. However, though the fees can seem pretty high, nothing can equal the significant discounts that's inclusive of hotel accommodation, park hopper tickets and other complimentary products and services that Disney throws in to make the experience worthwhile.
|Star Wars Storm Troopers watching the session pretty close / Photo: Preston Mack/Disney|
Also worthy of mention is that, there is a limit to the number of times a blogger gets invited. Which is fair. Approximately, about 3 times. This is so to enable them to spread the Disney love to other deserving bloggers.
I have reached that limit 4 years ago. I was sad at first but I was also very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the pioneer group who attended the very first conference and who experienced it three times in a row.
"I did not expect to be invited again. I was rather happy watching on the side as each lucky bloggers tweet their delight of being invited. I know that happy feeling too well."Now imagine my utter surprise when I received the pixie-dusted email weeks after the official invites went out. I was numb with shock! I didn't know whether to squeal, scream or cry. I was in disbelief, I have to read the email three times to make sure it's real. I was also inside our car, with my family on our vacation driving up to one of our mountain adventure destinations - and I really, truly, wanted to keep it as a surprise. So, I held my burgeoning excitement in just like how I would hold my pee in! Total control. Struggle was real people!
The funny thing is, my family was already planning a trip to Disney this Summer but as luck would have it, Tinkerbell found its way to my inbox. I can't be more thankful for the timing. Big $$$ saved.
First time all over again
4 years has incurred a lot of changes. There's no denying the fact that I felt like I'm going for the first time - again. Most of the bloggers are new (to me anyway), the major changes in the conference's program formatting and scheduling along with special activities intended for attendee's families, easily added to the "all -so-new" feeling to me - and to my family. My family who have always been used to doing their own thing without me while I'm at the general session, now had an activity created for them as part of the conference. A nice touch that made our experience that more memorable this time around.
The thing about going to the conference during those years that my daughter was younger is that she forgot most of her experiences back then. Like Dory, she couldn't find any of that wonderful memories in the deep recesses of her mind. And like time, they've all vanished to the whimsical world of the past. But being older definitely have its benefits. Now, that she's a tween, she have a better understanding of her surroundings and have a much deeper appreciation of being a part of the conference through me - and of course, all the magic that Disney have to offer!
According to my husband, while they were trekking around Epcot, our favorite park, and I was at the general session, my 12 year old commented more than once how grateful she is that Disney invited me this year and says, "I'm really glad that Disney invited Mama this year. I'm having so much fun and it's really nice to be here with Disney taking care of us. It's so cool!"
I totally agree. It sure is cool to be "taken care" of by Disney. I'm also confident that this time, she will retain a lot of the memories we created together this year. I can hope...
|Reunited and it feels so good...Me, Maria Bailey, Jen Spink and Maria Ramos|
When you are in a sea of strangers, your first instinct is to find someone familiar. Fortunately, my radar immediately picked out familiar faces in the crowd. A few of the bloggers from the original group was likewise lucky to be re-invited and an impromptu reunion occurred right on the hallway on the way to the general session. Some of these bloggers have become great friends through the years. Ironically, this is one of those rare occasions where we get to see and hang out with each other. So, it was indeed a blessing!
Immersion into Disney's World
As with all the noticeable changes in this year's conference, one thing that was strikingly common during the general session was the majority of speaker and presenter who are either directly connected with Disney or works for Disney. Coming from a "first-time all over again" eyes, it's a huge contrast compared to how the past conferences was back then. I think this time, it is more Disney-focused which makes sense.
"I do appreciate the insider's info. It's like being a part of a secret society! You hold secrets about Disney that none of your friends know. "
Let's face it. Swags are a permanent fixture in a blogger conference. And DisneySMMC is no exception. Truth be told, the brands that partnered with Disney for this year's conference are actually smart for doing so. They partnered with a trusted brand and they get to put their products directly to the hands of highly influential moms and dads that attended the conference. As an attendee, I appreciate the opportunity to get the free products and samples of brands I personally purchase on regular basis. Products like:
Hanes. Free bras? We were all over it. Men included. No joke. I applaud Hanes for setting up a boutique and allowed attendees to "shop" for bras, men's underwear, shirts and socks - all for free! How can you not love that? Or love Hanes (more) for that? I will admit. I'm a big fan of the brand and was truly happy to see them there and did just that.
American Tourister. The official luggage of Disney World and Disneyland got me at Minnie Mouse Spinner luggage. Truth be told. I love their spinner luggages! I even purchased one for my mom. They are easy to maneuver and makes life at the airport a lot easier to handle. Getting one from them was like getting a Christmas present in May!
Alamo. They drove straight to my heart when they included a $50 Disney GC inside their swag bags that were dropped off in our room. How can you not appreciate a sponsor who gives you spending money at Disney? It just means that they appreciate everyone who attended the conference enough to gift everyone with that. They didn't need to do that but they did anyway.
Other sponsors included Joffrey's Coffee whose coffees can be found in-room and in the parks. Gogo Squeez whom my daughter loved when she was younger and Huggies whose little swimmer diapers were my favorite thing when my daughter was a toddler and swam a lot.
|The surprise giant collage featuring each attendees and their families work of art.|
Revealed at the Mother's day breakfast event / Photo: Preston Mack/Disney
|Everyone trying to find their tile|
|Mother's day breakfast and the official end to the conference/ Photo: Preston Mack/Disney|
|With Leanne. The un-hidden Minnie of DisneySMMC|
aka the Director of Social Media for WDW
I would like to think that Disney's magic is far reaching and never ending. Once touched by the magic of Disney, you're forever in love with Disney. This is true with the DisneySMMC. Once you experience it, you become a part of that community forever. Either you get invited again or not. You belong...
Thanks Leanne, Thanks DisneySMMC, Thanks Disney and Thanks Uncle Walt for your vision and the community you've created in the happiest place on earth!
THANK YOU WITH ALL OUR HEARTS
Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement or promotion for DisneySMMC but a coverage of my personal experience as an attendee. Disney sponsored part of my conference and accommodation package including that of my guests by giving us deeply discounted rates. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated. All additional materials in this article are provided by Disney and noted thereof.