Day Two of Disney Social Media Moms started bright and early for me. A little before the conference, attendees were sent a choice of sessions to choose for Saturday. There were some amazing choices, including the chance to go on Disney’s Wild Africa Trek, which I really wanted to do. But, there was also a chance to have a “sneak peek” of the New Fantasyland expansion early on Friday morning. I tried registering for both (hey, it doesn’t hurt to try right?) but when I couldn’t, I went ahead and picked the new Fantasyland sneak peek.
So those of us who were attending loaded up into vans and headed to Magic Kingdom. We ate a suprisingly delicious boxed breakfast on our way and headed to a “backstage” area. There were strict instructions to not take any photos or videos in the backstage area, or while we were behind the fence for the sneak peek. Once we got to the fence, our Imagineer guide Tim, showed us the lay of the land. Beast castle is very visible even from outside the fence, and we learned that it is only 30 feet tall, but looks much larger due to forced perspective. This area will house “Be Our Guest Restaurant” which has been painstakingly recreated to look exactly like the famous scene from the movie. I especially love that they are going to have the “mysterious West Wing”
To the right of the Beast’s castle will be Prince Eric’s castle, and the entire Little Mermaid area. Just in front of the Little Mermaid area is the new Snow White area, featuring the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train roller coaster. We could see the steel beams and deep pit that are forming the skeleton of this attraction. This sounds like it will be such an awesome ride, using a special vehicle that will take guests on a traditional dark ride and then it will come outside and I think he said be suspended…ok, don’t quote me on that, but I think that’s what it will be like. This is the last segment of the expansion to open, not until 2014.
The section that is opening the soonest, July 2012 was the announcement, is the Storybook Circus area. This will feature the expanded Dumbo and the Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. Dumbo is being expanded to double its current size and will feature an indoor waiting area where parents can sit and kids can run around and play, all while still waiting for your place in line. You can check out this site for a compilation of news about the New Fantasyland including a video of inside the Be Our Guest restaurant!
After the tour we went right back to the Yacht Club convention area where the main day of conference sessions was about to start. The room was so pretty, check out the castle stage:
And our tables had the most functional centerpieces ever:
So once we were settled in and powered up, the stellar social media line-up of speakers began. Our host was comedienne MaryEllen Hooper, and the speakers were Meg Crofton (President of WDW!), Amy Jo Martin (social media expert for clients like Shaq & The Rock), Ramon DeLeon (marketing guru for Domino’s Pizza in Chicago), Gary Buchanan (social media managing editor for Disney), Ann Foster (Director of Consumer Insights for Disney Destinations), Peter Shankman (social media expert), Lisa Druxman (“Chief Founding Mother” of Stroller Strides) and Chris Brogan (social media expert). Phew!
As you can tell by that list, it was a TON of good stuff. It was interesting to hear from other attendees just who really “spoke to them” and who did not. For me, I found I really got the most out of the presentations by Amy Jo Martin and Ramon DeLeon. I found Amy Jo’s laser-focus inspired me to really take a step back and “find my why” (and no, I haven’t found it yet! I think I will also need to try her practice of “Ready, Set, Pause” as well) Ramon’s message was so high-energy and fun that all I have in my notes is “Don’t have social media icons in your advertising without specific URL’s/handles!” which, while extremely useful (I mean, really, isn’t that annoying when a business says “Follow us on Facebook!” and then you can’t find them?!) is not all I really took away from him. He tied his message into family, which will always be my #1. He mentioned almost sending his son off to a leadership camp and then thinking, what the heck? I’m a leader, let him learn from me!–We are all teaching our children by example every day.
As you can tell from the list, there were some Disney employees in there as well, sharing some insights about the parks (including a fun presentation about Star Wars weekends). One thing that really jumped out at almost all of us was this concept presented by the Consumer Insights lady: as parents we have 18 summers with our children to build these lifelong memories. I think all of us got a little teary-eyed when you think of it that way. Children grow so quickly, and there’s nothing like vacation time to really connect one on one with your children and make quality memories that will stand out and last a lifetime.
So speaking of memories, we made some really great ones on this Day Two. After the conference, we got ready for our family dinner which was going to be at Animal Kingdom! There’s nothing like having a Disney park open just for your group, it was amazing. We ate a delicious dinner and then got to enjoy unlimited games and rides at Dinoland USA and even Expedition: Everest at night! There was also a DJ playing fun dance music for the kids and characters out for us to have some photo ops.
This night has to be my most favorite part of the conference. Rayna and I rode TriceraTop Spin together a few times (it was the only ride open she was tall enough for!) and we danced and enjoyed Animal Kingdom after dark. I wanted to just bottle up the sweet things she was saying, like this gem: “I think that the dinosaurs all came here and then stopped moving (because there’s a giant dinosaur statue at the entrance to the area) and that’s why there’s no dinosaurs anymore!!”
So stay tuned for Day Three (and if you missed Day One you can read it here)!
Disclosure: I paid a conference registration fee to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. This fee provided a greatly reduced rate for lodging, park tickets, meals and events. I was not obligated or asked to write about my experience. All opinions are my own.