I had a fantastic time and I am so glad I was able to go. Again, I thank Tom and my sister for making it possible. You all know I am a Disney fiend and to be able to go to Disney on a special trip and be treated like royalty was a once in a lifetime experience. Disney always knows how to do it up right.
So as usual, I will write every single thing I remember and this is why my blog posts are always so long! I apologize in advance to all the people I will forget meeting at the conference because my mind is like a sieve and while some things stay in my head many just fall out into the air.
The morning started early and sort of snowy. Luckily, Tom had decided that he would drive me down to the airport. I never would have driven down myself in that weather, even in Tom's car. I hate driving in any weather except rain. The night before I was worried it would snow and I would be stuck here. But although the drive started out a little iffy once we hit Asheville, the weather was clear and I knew that I was going to make it out safely. The trip from Asheville to Atlanta was uneventful. I had stocked up on my trashy celebrity magazines and they kept me entertained for the 40 minute flight and then the 2 hours spent at the Atlanta airport. I once again have to stress how much I hate flying. I always feel like I am in a freaking cattle wagon. The seats get smaller, there is no leg space and it is just unpleasant.
The trip from Atlanta to Orlando was uneventful as well. I can't even remember who I sat next to. I was too engrossed in the lives of the rich and famous, I guess. Once at the Orlando airport it was easy to get my luggage and get on the Disney Magical Express. Free transportation to and from Disney Resorts. That so rocks!!
I can't tell you the excitement I felt when I saw all the Disney signs. I swear it was like being a little kid all over again. I remember when we were small and used to go to Disneyland, we would sit in the car and from the freeway we could see the Matterhorn Mountain and we would squeal with delight every time we saw it. I felt like that when I saw the Magic Kingdom sign. I didn't squeal with delight because that would have been too weird. But you know what I mean.
Anyway, I had never stayed at the Polynesian resort since that is one of the Deluxe Resorts and is pricey. So it was nice to be able to stay there. So I get off the bus and the first person I see is Nicole from Pink & Posh. (yes, I stole this picture off her site because I didn't get one of her in person - DOH) I swear I almost fell off the steps because when I went to my first blogger conference in Asheville last August, she was the first person I saw when I got there. So it was fitting she was the first person I saw this time. I knew then, that it was going to be a good time at Disney. It was fate! After hugs and greetings, I had to run in and get my room. After registering which was easy peasy, I was off to the hospitality suite to pick up all the info I needed.
It was great. In the suite was Amy from Resourceful Mommy. If you remember from the Asheville Conference I attended. I went to dinner with Amy because she was a guest speaker. I also have to say that she is one of my favorite peeps. Not only did she create Twitter parties (which I love) but she does these wonderful community Twitter parties to showcase bloggers. I was one of the first blogs that got showcased and I am always thankful for that. So it was nice to see her and get a hug. I got all my credentials and info and then they handed us a huge goody bag stuffed with Disney swag. And you guys know I love swag and free stuff. WOO!
I finally dragged all my crap to my room which was perfectly lovely. And since I posted a video here, I won't go into many details. But I had arrived around pretty late and had to freshen up and get ready in 10 minutes to get on the bus for our first event. So I changed and threw on some mascara and ran down to catch the bus.
Downstairs I saw Kim from Crafty Mama of 4. I had met her at the Type-A-Mom conference in Asheville. With her was Zippy from Champagne Living, Melissa and Daniel from Consumer Queen , Danielle from Extraordinary Mom and Shannon from Coupon Princess. I also got to hang out with Tamara from MomRn who I had met at the Asheville conference as well and is one of the sweetest ladies ever!
We were bussed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Now I had never been there when we visited Disney because we aren't sports people but it is a huge complex and if you are a sports fiend, this is one place you have to visit when visiting Disney. Can I also tell you that it was wickedly cold in Florida? We were freezing. But once inside we were a mix of bloggers and press people. They had drinks and popcorn while we waited to be ushered into a presentation of the new and cool things that are going on at Disney. The presentation was actually quite interesting. All the Disney big wigs were there and they went through different changes and new things that will be happening.
What I loved the most was that they were going to add Princess villages at the Magic Kingdom. How cool is that? I know I would go visit them. The other thing that caught my interest was that they are going to be offering Disney Cruises to Alaska (hint, hint Tom). I mean how cool would it be to go on an Alaskan cruise with a Disney twist?
After the presentation, we were lead into a huge area where they had set out a wonderful spread. It was some great junk food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, BBQ chicken and anything else you could imagine. I totally fell off the Nutrisystem wagon and stuffed my face. The best thing though was they had a table full of cotton candy and I stuffed my gob full of it. There is NOTHING like cotton candy.
At the dinner, I met more great people including one of the founders of the Latinos in Social Media (Latism) group I belong too. Ana from Premier Social Media was there and I got to give her a huge hug and meet her three little boys who are so adorable and so well behaved!!! I saw Amy again and so many others but I can't remember everyone! But we had a great time. Kim suggested we go to Downtown Disney for some shopping and I was all over that.
So me, Kim, Zippy, Melissa and Tamara headed to Downtown Disney. It was FREEZING cold but we had fun doing a little shopping. I bought a spoon rest because I broke one I had. We also were acting silly and took pictures at the Pooh store. Can I tell you I love the Pooh store? We headed back and I was pooped. It was nice to be out of the cold. I honestly couldn't believe how cold it was in Florida. BRR Once I got back to the hotel, I took a shower, checked the internets and watched a little TV then I passed out cold until the wake up call the next morning!!
We had to get up wickedly early on Thursday to head out to Epcot. We had a breakfast scheduled at The American Adventure with Guy Kawasaki. We arrived to a great set-up for breakfast. It is really cool to have events in the attractions themselves. I love that. Breakfast was tasty. I finally saw my Ocean Isle navigator Maricris from Zen Mama Adventures. If you remember we rode together to the Ocean Isle Inn last month and had a blast. I also saw the rest of the Ocean Isle gals: Jen from One Moms World, Malise from Carolina Mama and Molly from MyGOMOM.
Before Guy started speaking I also got to meet the Latina contingent present at the Disney event. Woo! Mi hermanas. I had met Ana the night before and I had met Melanie from Modern Mami at the Type-A-Mom conference. But that morning I finally met Mariana from Riding with No Hands. Jeanette from Todo Bebe and can I tell you that Jeanette is gorgeous and is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I also met Denisse from the Coupon Chica and Daisy from Dr. Mommy.
Okay, I am going to be totally honest here but I wasn't sure who Guy was. I knew he founded Alltop and was hugely popular with people who I spoke to about him. He is what I would call a social media guru. But let's face it folks, I was clueless when I started my blogs and joined Twitter and I am still pretty much clueless. So I wasn't sure what to expect. What I didn't expect was that Guy looked like my ex-brother in law, Joji. He is an ex but he is still part of the family! Anyway, it was weird. I was sitting there listening and I kept thinking wow he looks like Joji! Now am I crazy or can they be brothers? Now Joji is probably a decade or more older than Guy and he has gray hair now but in my demented little head, they look alike. and even more so when Joji was as young as Guy. I even did a side by side pic for you all to see. What do think? Lookalikes or is Carolyn just crazy? (I already know what some of you will say, so don't say it) But I think it's the smile.
But, I digress. I have to say that I actually learned a lot from Guy's presentation. It also confirmed that I am still pretty clueless but actually do some things that are good like engage people on Twitter and just be myself. I also learned about new sites I never heard of to check out like Objective Marketer. But I know you non-social media readers are like WTH is she talking about so I will keep it short and sweet. In the end, let's just say that this was a valuable session for people who do use social media like me.
After our breakfast, we walked over (in the cold) to Britain. No not the real England but the one in Epcot. We were ushered into a hall where they had set up a ceremony to honor families who did some wonderful volunteer stuff this year and they were being honored. That was so cool. And this goes hand in hand with Disney's program "Give A Day, Get A Day" promotion. Basically you volunteer somewhere in your community and then you can get a free Disney pass. So get out there and volunteer.
It was nice. I met Carter Oosterhouse who is totally cute in person. I had to be a dork and get a picture. I know, I know, how tacky Carolyn. Sue me! They had other celebrities there like Ty Pennington from Extreme Makeover and I heard some Food Network stars were there. Now you all know I am all about Food Network but I will be honest and say that after the ceremony, I took off with Melanie to the Magic Kingdom because I knew that was the only free time I would have. So I missed the Food Network peeps. I didn't hear Guy Fieri was there so I felt better. Because you all know of my love for Guy!
Melanie offered to have me hang out with her and her family but I felt weird doing that plus I knew there were several things I had to do and most people aren't into them. My first stop was the Hall of Presidents. Yes, the Hall of freaking Presidents. I love it. I love anything American History and I also wanted to see the new Obama robot because you all know I am a fan of the president. I couldn't do a lot of rides but I was able to do the classics: Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Carousel of Progress and, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean. *sigh* If only Johnny Depp had been there! I also went on the Buzz Lightyear ride twice thanks to the cool Media Fast Pass we were all given. OMG it was great. This thing trumps the Fast Pass and everything else. You get on right away. I can't image Disney without it.
I had my great Carolina walking shoes on but I forgot to double sock so my feet started hurting so I walked into a store and bought the MOST expensive socks I will ever buy. Yes, I spent $13 on socks. I am ashamed to say it but I NEEDED them so don't judge peeps, don't judge. I am hand washing those and never wearing them again. hee hee
I can't remember what else I rode but I must have walked twice around the park, ate some lunch and then headed back to the hotel to get some rest before the evening activities. I ended up taking the boat back tot he Polynesian which was cool. I have a vlog up of the Polynesian resort here, in case you missed it the first time! I rested and then got ready to go back to Epcot for dinner and entertainment.
While the event at Epcot that night was great, it was hard to find anyone. They had closed off a huge part of the park from the Fountain near Innovations all the way to the lake. The tables were everywhere and since I had taken the bus alone, I was pretty much alone. But luckily, I am not a Debbie Downer so I found a great table near a heater and the bar and grabbed some tasty treats and beer and relaxed. I figured at some point I would see someone I knew.
While there, these two ladies who were not mom bloggers came by and asked if they could sit at my table since many were already taken. I said of course because that's how I roll. I am anti-social but nice about it. So they sat down and they realized I was with the Mom group and started asking questions and we chatted for a while. I ended up finding out they were with the Disney event staff. After a while 4 more people joined us and I actually had a great time. They were really nice and funny and I was able to joke around with them and ask questions. I swear if we ever move to Orlando, I would try to work for the Disney Event Department. How awesome would that be?
So the night went really well because it was nice to meet just random people and since they were fun and interesting it was fantastic. I had decided to leave because it was cold, I was full because I stuffed my gob with Asian food, soup and then some decadent brownie that was supposedly made by Chef Robert Irvine who was actually filming an episode of Dinner Impossible with the volunteers that were honored earlier on. The entertainment by the way was Demi Lovato and one of the Jonas brothers. I think Joe but who knows. It was okay but I think all the kids loved it.
On my way out with the Disney people, I saw Ana and Jeanette and decided to stop and say hello. Ultimately I stayed a lot longer than I had thought I would because they are such fantastic ladies and Ana's boys are delightful. Y'all know my "dislike" for children but I do like polite well-behaved kids and Ana's are just that. By the end of the night the little one was holding my hand as we headed off for the Monorail. What can I say? Kids like me.
So after a Democratic vote to decide if we should watch the fireworks or head over to the Soarin' ride there in Epcot, we headed over to Soarin' because they said I had to go on it. Now I freak out on these types of rides but I figured if a 4 year old can go on and not freak, I better put my big girl panties on and suck it up. So I did and it was such a fantastic adventure. OMG what an awesome ride it was!! I will definitely do it again if we ever go back to Disney World. After the ride we headed to the Monorail and back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.
Disclosure: I paid for my trip to the conference but we were also given exclusive stuff and a discounted rate on the rooms etc.