Magic and learning at Disney World

standard May 14, 2012 7 responses

28 years ago, give or take a few months, I went to Disney World for the first time. Until two weeks ago, it also happened to be the last time.

So, there I was, packing for a very short trip to Disney World, not sure what to bring, even less sure what to expect. Only one thing was certain, with less than 48 hours to spend in Florida and many of those being taken up by sleep and conference sessions, I didn’t really think I’d have time to explore the parks.

I thought for sure I’d be able to avoid the ride that had caused me sheer terror as a 7 year-old.

Here’s a helpful hint: Don’t tell your friends that you were terrified of Space Mountain as a kid and don’t even want to think about going on it this time around. On the one evening you have to go visit the parks they’ll drag you there first thing.

Wait, let’s back up for a minute. Disney? Conference? Friends? Eh? What about the kids?

OK, here’s how that happened. Every year for the last 3 years, Disney has invited a select group of bloggers to attend their now infamous Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. It’s an incredible one day(ish) conference held at Disney World and trust me, people have been trying to decode the magic algorithm that Disney uses to decide who to invite and no one has yet to crack the code.

Like everyone else, I have not figured out the magic math. I just happen to have a lovely friend who took me as her +1.

The conference itself was amazing and drew speakers such as Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out, amazing resource every blogger and journalist should know about, Amy Jo Martin, founder of Digital Royalty, who has rocked my brain with her “Find your why!” injunction, and Ramon DeLeon, aka RamonWOW of Domino’s pizza in Chicago.

Peter Shankman, making sure his empire is intact after taking time to speak to us.

I go to conferences and hope to learn one thing or make one meaningful connection.

Here I feel like I did both of those things time and time again. Not to be overly corny, but it really was a magical experience.

And yes, I did find the time to hit a couple rides, see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, gawk at the lighted parade, and turn into a little kid for a couple of hours.

C as a 2-year-old developed a terror of people in costumes, so we always assumed that Disney was out of the question for our family. Part of my goal for my time in Florida was to really assess how bad it would be for her if we went. Now that I’m home I’m checking prices for DisneyLand. It’s time for the kids to discover the magic for themselves.

For me I think the magic was all about being in the right place at the right time. I needed to hear Peter urge me to be more myself and less like the rest. I needed him to tell me that it was time to step out of my comfort zone. I also needed to hear Amy Jo ask me about my “why.” I’ve lost my purpose and need badly to find it so I can feel whole again. And I needed to drink in the excitement and enthusiasm of the other speakers, needed to remember what I loved about the social media space, needed to regain some of what was lost towards the end of my last job.

And yes, I needed to ride Space Mountain, to face my childhood fears, to thrill at the stars whooshing by, and to yell in delight the whole way through. Makes me wonder what else I’ve talked myself out of doing because a previous version of myself was too scared.

I brought home a Mickey charm so I could keep it all in mind and keep some of the magic at hand.

I wasn’t paid to attend this conference, though our trip was heavily subsidized and we received a ton of super fun things to bring home. My experience and thoughts are all my own though as is my gratitude to the Disney staff who made this experience possible. I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to go to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

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7 responses

  • PS is so like us! Always checking on our “empires” lol – Love the charm bracelet. I got me a Minnie Earrings and love it too!

  • We went to the Magic Kingdom on our last day and it started out awful. The kids were cranky, I was getting sick and it was raining. After lunch I told my husband that I needed to ride Space Mountain alone, scream my head off and then I would be fine. I haven’t been on that ride in at least 10 years and this time it was much more intense than I remembered. And exactly what I needed to regain the magic. So glad you had a good time!

  • Until this year I had not heard of this conference. It seems very interesting and if Disney does as they usually do {everything over the top} it must be a fun event, decorations and themes… I act like a kid every time we go to a Disney park. Your bracelet is beautiful and that Mickey charm has so many memories for you, it’s a great idea to get a charm as a souvenir. I think I will do the same next time I visit D-Land in Ca. 😉

  • part of me really wants to attend DSMM someday, and another part is like – eh, just another conference. I’ve never really been a big fan of Disney movies…..so I don’t have an attraction to the “magic” of that place.

    But I’d love to hang out with my friends! That sounds like such a fun time – and I love that you brought back a Mickey Mouse charm!

  • Seriously? I didn’t know there was a Mickey charm that would fit on my Pandora! Off to shop…. thanks for the inspiration!

  • So glad I got to share that special time with you-especially the screaming our heads off on Space Mountain time. 🙂

  • I needed to hear so much of what the speakers said too and what better place to hear it than Disney World? And to talk it over with friends as we ate too much and laughed a lot.

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