Our family loves all things Disney, and everyone in the family had been talking about taking another vacation to the Disney parks this year. We have visited Walt Disney World many times, though on our last Disney trip we changed things up and headed west to Disneyland, which was marvelous.
This time, we decided to return to Walt Disney World in Florida. Over the years, we’ve stayed at every level of Disney resort — from the budget-friendly All-Star Value resorts all the way up to the comfort of a Home Away From Home villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs resort. We have a particular affinity for Disney’s Coronado Springs resort, which has been our “home” for most of our trips. This time, however, I wanted to return to Disney the way I always experienced it as a child — camping at Fort Wilderness.
When I was a child, every one of my family’s Walt Disney World trips was spent at Fort Wilderness, which I believe is the most beautiful and unique camping resort I’ve ever experienced. In fact, on every trip I’ve taken to Walt Disney World as an adult, I build in some time to take a little detour over to the Fort to walk, rent boats at the marina, or just experience a nature-filled respite from the theme park hustle. I wanted my children to experience staying there at least once.
So, we started the “soft” planning for our Disney camping trip last year — my popular post about choosing the perfect family tent was created with a future Fort Wilderness trip in mind.
And then, a few weeks ago, everything changed. Everything.
For the past six years, Disney has hosted an annual conference for mothers who blog. The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is a four-day conference that encompasses everything from professional blogging advice to improving one’s content, reach, and passion for writing. A wide range of speakers cover topics from family to entertainment to humanitarian efforts. Attendees also have the opportunity to learn about and experience all that’s new at Disney — from parks to gaming to motion pictures.
For bloggers who love Disney, receiving an invitation to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is one of those things you just dream about — it’s an event you cannot apply for or ask for. Disney uses their own magical and secretive criteria to select a small group of bloggers to attend the conference each year. Each year, when invitations go out, I’ve followed Disney’s #DisneySMMC hashtag and celebrated with friends who received invites to this amazing event.
Disney also hosts a smaller, one-day blogger conference at selected cities around the country each year. Last year, Disney’s Social Media Moms On-The-Road blogger conference came to Chicago, and I was elated to receive an invitation to it (here’s my recap!) The one-day event was an incredible morning of learning and networking, and I continued to dream of perhaps — someday — attending the national Celebration.
In March, I was in California to film a television segment. Before heading to the studio that day, I took a walk down the Boulevard to the Disney Studio Store in Hollywood for a little Disney fix! I gazed at the marquee of the El Capitan theater next door. I took a photo of Disneyland’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I entered the store and took photos of the Disney characters on the walls as I picked out some Mickey Mouse T-shirts for my children. As I paid for the shirts, I checked my email on my phone. That’s when I saw this:
I cannot even express how magical this moment was for me — surrounded by Disney in California on one side of the country and finding out my family and I were heading to Florida on the other! We were off to Disney sooner than we’d discussed and in a completely different way than we’d begun to think about. As John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
We just returned from an incredible week of learning, networking, unforgettable experiences, and memorable family time at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015. (I spent Mother’s Day at Walt Disney World with my children!) I’m working on a series of posts about the conference, what’s new at Disney, and trip-planning resources for you. I have had many readers emailing asking for an updated Disney tips list for 2015 — that’s coming too!
Take a peek at my Instagram for photos of what we’ve been up to over the past week — we went to a beach party with Mickey Mouse, Stormtroopers crashed our bloggers’ conference, and I even participated in a running event at Epcot at 5:45am on Mother’s Day, watching the sun come up over the World Showcase. At the risk of saying “magical” too many times, the event truly was magical from start to finish. Magical, magical, magical. I cannot wait to share more about all that’s going on at Disney with you.
If you’re interested in the conference side of things, I live-tweeted each conference session as it happened on Twitter. Follow the #DisneySMMC hashtag on all networks to check out the other bloggers’ coverage too — there were 180 bloggers in attendance this year.
And, oh yes — we even made time to visit Fort Wilderness again:
More posts on the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, new attractions, movies, events and all things Disney are coming.
Disclosure: I attended the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. I paid for my and my family’s transportation and conference admission, which included lodging at Disney’s Yacht Club resort, discounted park tickets, some meals and many special events.