Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

Photo Credit: @hyku

Photo Credit: @hyku

Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

 

I can hardly believe that it’s just about the end of March. This year has been flying on by and it’s been a long time since I’ve shared anything here with you all. I think my writer’s block may have taken off for a while – thankfully!

Being on social media a little bit the last couple of days has me feeling all Pixie Dusted because I’m seeing that invitations were sent out for this year’s Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, i.e. the MOST Pixie Dusted social media conference you will EVER attend in your life!

My family has been able to be a part of this magic several times since the first year this magical celebration took place and when I think about all of the incredible memories we have to share because of the experiences we have had, it gives me goosebumps!

Related: My Disneyland Experience With A Toddler In Tow

The amount of thought that goes into the planning is just amazing. From the very moment you arrive and through each Pixie Dusted event, you and your family come to realize just how very special it is to be a part of something so magical.

I’m just elated to see so many new faces receiving invitations this year! It truly warms my heart that so many of you will get to experience this wonderful celebration and I can hardly wait to watch and enjoy the magic through the eyes of your families! I’m so excited for all of you!!

My family attended in 2010, 2011, 2012 at the Walt Disney World Resort and in 2014 at the Disneyland Resort and I’ve shared my experiences with lots of photos right here on my blog if you want to take a peek. Just click on “social media” at the top of the page and choose the year you’d like to read about!

If you’re trying to work out the details like airfare and conference fee costs, take it from me (and, I’m certain of many others), if you need to move mountains to attend this celebration, move ’em! No, really.

My Disneyland Experience With A Toddler In Tow (Part 3)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are a few of my vacation pictures to share with you as well as a few Disneyland tips and tricks you will definitely want to know about!

1. A Room with a View

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We were lucky enough to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. This was great because we were close to our room for nap time. Eldon was more than excited to spend time looking out at the parking lot from Fantasy Tower. In fact, he spent a lot of time looking at the hustle and bustle down there, seeing buses, taxis, and limos come and go...

My Disneyland Experience With Toddler In Tow (Part 2–The Experience)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

If you’re just joining in, check out My Disneyland Experience With Toddler In Tow Part 1 to get up to speed.

Now that you have officially packed and are proudly wearing your newly-earned “Always be Prepared” badge on your scout vest, let’s dive into the FUN. I will never forget the time when we took our then 12-month old to his first Disney Park. It was about the third morning into our vacation and while we ate breakfast in our room, he crawled to the door, stood up, banged on the door with both hands wide open, then quickly crawled as fast as he could to his stroller. At 12-months old, this kiddo had no doubt in his mind where the fun was. :)

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THE PARK, THE RIDES, AND THE EXPERIENCE–

  • STOP! Go Back!!! Did you grab not only a Park map but an Entertainment Times Guide when you entered the Park? Be sure to! Because it contains show information you need to know as well as tips to help you manage your time. Another helpful tool if you have a smart phone is to check your phone’s app store for a wait times app like My Disney Experience or other Park apps.
  • Everyone’s family travels a little different, but peak times of attendance at the Park tend to be about late morning to midday. If you want to do your best to avoid crowds, you may choose to get up early and/or stay out late–with a trip to the pool in the middle.
  • If you are looking to ride a popular ride, see if there is a Disney FASTPASS available. Get them first thing in the day though, because once they are gone, they are gone!
  • Realize that your toddler may want to experience the park SLOWER differently than you do. And that’s OK! Enjoy the pace and take a deep breath. Some of the best things we did was to stop and enjoy the parades! I highly recommend the Pixar Play Parade in Disney’s California Adventure Park as well as Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in Disneyland Park. See your Entertainment Times Guide for times.
  • Grab your treats and toys and tricks up your sleeves for waiting in lines. Most of the smaller, toddler rides don’t have FASTPASS available. If you go in line with a plan, waiting isn’t as bad as you are dreading it to be. When you forget to grab something, bust out your “I Spy” skill-set.
  • Measure your toddler either at home or if you forget (like THAT would ever happen! ;) ) at the first opportunity when you see a “You Must Be This Tall” yardstick. The Park map prints all the rides requirements. It is helpful to know before migrating your family across the expanse if your kiddo can ride Gadget’s Go Coaster in Mickey’s Toontoon when you are currently all the way over at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland.
  • Know that there is a Baby Care Center in each park for you to take a break, nurse, or purchase any forgotten supplies you may need. They’re located at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Pacific Wharf and at Disneyland Park on Main Street U.S.A. And most, if not all bathrooms have changing stations.
  • Disney has done a great job of getting healthy food into the Parks. Look for the Mickey Check on everything from quick service stations to restaurant menus!
  • Hang on to your hat and literally your kids especially on faster rides like Mad Tea Party teacups, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie teacup-like ride, and Gadget’s Go Coaster roller coaster even if they are in their seat belts. They can be swingin’!
  • For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disneyland are climbing on the antique Fire Engine (Main Street, U.S.A.), The Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), Jungle Cruise (Adventureland), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Critter Country), King Arthur’s Carrousel (Fantasyland), Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland), Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland), “it’s a small world” (Fantasyland), Goofy’s Playhouse climbing structure (Toontown), Gadget’s Go Coaster (35″ height requirement, Toontown), Mickey’s, Minnie’s, and Donald’s houses (Toontown), Autopia (Tomorrowland), Astro Orbitor rocketships (Tomorrowland), and the Disneyland Railroad the circles the Park (Mainstreet, U.S.A, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown,Tomorrowland). FYI, I am sure Nemo’s Submarine Voyage will be amazing too once it reopens in Fall 2014.
  • For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disney’s California Adventure Park are Flik’s Fliers (“a bug’s land”), Princess Dot Puddle Park Splash area (“a bug’s land”), Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train (“a bug’s land”), Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride (Cars Land), Luigi’s Flying Tires (Cars Land) and the World of Color show will not disappoint if you are out late (Paradise Pier). But I would also have loved to see Disney Junior–Live on Stage! (Hollywood Land)

MY LAST BIT OF ADVICE–

Go into your adventure with all of your patience. Know that nothing is quick, but you will get your turn! When you are relaxed and smiling, your kiddo will follow your lead. One thing that I had to learn as a parent on this trip was if my toddler was content, leave him and let him play–even when you see a new character come or a new opportunity present itself because when you pick up your happy kid and race him across the way, you spend your time consoling a now-upset toddler instead of enjoying a fun experience. Know too that it is impossible to see everything! You just can’t because there is SOOO much to do! So come up with a daily plan that includes your favorite activities, and try to do all the rides you want in one area before moving on to another, then there will be less backtracking and scurrying. Be sure to schedule some breaks in your day. No one, especially your toddler, can go non-stop for days on end.

Related: First Look Inside “it’s a small world” And Meeting Snow White…

Lastly, no matter what you do, walk away from your vacation knowing that everyone, including your toddler had a blast. When I talk to other moms about bringing their toddlers to Disneyland, they all say how shocked they were that their children really did enjoy themselves and really did remember their trip for a long time! (And be sure to take lots of pictures! Those toddlers LOVE to go back and look at them, parents too!… like I had to tell you that.) There really is something for everyone, so don’t assume that your toddler is too small to really enjoy it. Would I do it again?…. Does a Mouse have Ears!? :) …In a heartbeat.

Stay tuned for the last post in this series, a slideshow with the last of my tricks and tips!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

My Disneyland Experience with Toddler in Tow (Part 1–What to Pack)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

We recently went to Disneyland with our two year-old toddler during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration April 10th – 13th (despite my initial fears of Eldon throwing fits in inappropriate places).  But we really did have a wonderful time! As we were leaving, I thought about other parents heading to Disneyland whom may have all of the fears and questions that I had once too. And, it might help a mom or dad out by blogging my own experience and newly-learned tricks for others to use or jump off of for their own solutions.  Granted my trip was in the spring time, so if you are traveling during a different season you may need to adjust your supplies. Hello, Weather.com.

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BEFORE YOU FLY OUT

Boy was I glad that I had some tricks up my sleeves all ready to go! I needed them before we even got on the plane! And not to mention, once you arrive, you want to just get out and have some fun! … not finish your errands…Also, if you buy your products at home, you will likely spend less money on said supplies.

  • Sunscreen — I buy one new, baby, tear-free, waterproof bottle and then use it on the kiddo and myself and my husband.  It helps my liquids load when I fly so that I don’t have to check any bags. My favorite is Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Faces. I love that it is new because sunscreen can loose its effectiveness over time or if stored in the car since last summer and who knows what else. I also love that it is tear-free because I hate that sunscreen burn in my eyes, OUCH! Additionally, it contains the active cancer fighting ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. And when I am on vacation, I just don’t want to worry about running out or who knows what else! Also, I like the swimsuits with the SPF shirts. This saves on sunscreen product and application time and I worry less that I missed a spot somewhere important… LOL!
  • Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen or the like for your toddler. This way, if you wake up one morning at 3:00 AM and the kiddo is unexpectedly teething something fierce, you have everything you need. Sometimes I haul my favorite toddler cough and cold medicine too just in case.
  • Sunglasses for everyone
  • Filling Snacks–We never left the room without some granola bars with little or no chocolate (because of the sun) or slurpable single-portion applesauces like Go-Go Squeez
  • Special Snacks–Bring something that is special or that your kid hasn’t had before.. I grabbed Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks, which our toddler loved! These kinds of things come in handy when waiting in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant or you just need a quiet activity to give yourself 5 minutes of peace… :)  Keep a few in your purse, sometimes you need them while away from your stroller…
  • Water bottle(s)–You may choose to share in order to cut down on the object weight you are hauling around the park
  • Thin blanket–It really can cool down at night, especially in the spring, and when you started out your day in shorts, it’s easy to forget.
  • Small Toys–One of my favorite purse toys is a travel-size magnet doodling toy. Do you have any idea how many bulldozers and tractors I have drawn? .. My toddler then scribbles over the entire picture to add his “smokestack.”
  • A change of clothes for the toddler including pants and shorts.. you never know what the weather is going to do, and those Mickey Bars are messy!!! (..but worth it)
  • Light coat or sweatshirt for everyone
  • Stroller and small bag for contents when folding, see below for more
  • For extra questions about your upcoming trip, check out the Disney Parks Moms Panel, a site of Disney-fanatic “moms” who simply love to answer questions about Disney Parks.

AND IF IT’S LOOKING LIKE IT WILL BE ESPECIALLY HOT–

  • hats for everyone
  • battery fan with mister for the stroller

WHAT KIND OF STROLLER TO BRING

I know that a lot of people out there wear their babies, but with a heavy, slow-walking toddler, I without question advise you to bring a stroller. (Or, you can also rent one at Disneyland.) The stroller we brought was The First Years Ignite Stroller. Disneyland is SUPER stroller friendly, so whatever stroller you have will probably be fine, but if you are in the market for a good traveling stroller, this is my favorite for sure. We also have a Bob jogging stroller in our stroller army which I love for home excursions, but when I travel, I like the Ignite stroller because it folds really small, is lightweight, has a shade to help keep off the sun or rain, has small basket underneath for storage, a cup holder and zipper pouch for snacks, and taller hand holds so that my husband doesn’t look ridiculous when he is “driving” it. No matter what stroller you bring, know that you will have to fold it up on the monorail and the train around the park.  I kept a small fabric bag flat at the bottom of the basket so that when I had to collapse my stroller, I had a place for the basket’s contents.

Now that you know what to bring, stay tuned for part 2, The Park, the Rides, and the Experience!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

DisneySMMoms 2014 Conference Day Take Aways – My Favorites

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Photo Courtesy: @hyku

DisneySMMoms 2014 Conference Day Take Aways – My Favorites

After attending the first 3 Disney Social Media Moms Celebrations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, you can only imagine how excited I was last year when the announcement was made that the exclusive event would be held at the Disneyland Resort in California in 2014! I absolutely love Disneyland and haven’t been there since we relocated to the East coast back in 2010. I was over-the-moon excited to have received an invitation for the event this year, and although it was too short of notice to organize flights and vacation time for my hubby and the kids, most of my family from Seattle was able to fly down and attend with me which was pretty awesome!

Each year that I’ve attended this event, I find it so fabulous to be surrounded by so many wonderful men and women who are just good people. It’s sometimes hard to meet people that have some of the same things in common with you but this is one event that, not only do I meet new people each time, but I also meet people who I’ve interacted with online for years so it’s somewhat of a reunion! Plus, it’s always good for the soul to meet people in-person and get real hugs from them, but it’s even better when you automatically know who they are because of their online profile pics. Social media is pretty cool, isn’t it? I have so many things still to share with you about this year’s event, but I thought I’d take some time today to share 6 of my favorite take-aways from our day of sessions.

Here goes…

1. Mickey Mouse Hugs Are The Best No Matter Your Age!

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Remember I told you that some of my family from Seattle was able to join me this year? Well, my mom was one of them! I absolutely love visiting Disney Parks with my mom.

After we checked in at The Disneyland Hotel, her and I walked into the ballroom together to get registered for the event when we stopped to look around before proceeding. There's nothing in the world like the feeling of walking into a grand welcome reception and looking over to your left [or right, whichever the case may be] where Mickey Mouse is standing by himself looking RIGHT AT YOU with open arms! When my mom and I saw this, we knew what we had to do which was to race right over to Mickey for big hugs and pictures! I love Mickey Mouse and so does she! It was sure fun to be greeted by The Big Cheese upon our arrival! We also got to spend some quality time with a few other Characters during registration! What a kick!

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Celebrating The Launch Of Disney Junior’s Give A Book, Get A Book Campaign

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Photo Credit: @hyku

Celebrating The Launch Of the Disney Junior
Give A Book, Get A Book Campaign

I’m really excited to share the brand new Give-A-Book, Get-A-Book program that Disney Junior launched this week and announced during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration I attended earlier this month.

I was looking forward to our breakfast sponsored by Disney Junior that morning because my little 2-year old nephew was with us and he’s a huge Disney Junior fan. Genevieve Goings from Disney Junior’s Choo-Choo Soul kicked off our breakfast. It was fun to see all the moms out there who were so excited to see her. Since my kiddos are 12 and 16 and watch more of the “older” Disney shows, I’ve never seen Choo-Choo Soul, but Genevieve was a firecracker on stage and I loved her, so, I may or may not have watched Choo-Choo Soul after my kids went to school. I’m just saying. I had a chance to meet and hug her at a party later that day and she is just a doll!

Genevieve Goings

We also heard from Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide; and First Book Board Member, Dr. Martha Bernadett who gave us some insight into this new wonderful program that would provide the donation of up to one million books by putting codes on specially marked Disney Junior books, products and receipts where you’ll be able to donate a book directly to First Book! Once you donate a book, you’ll be given access to a free digital book from Disney Publishing Worldwide for your own family to enjoy. Also, there will be lots of fun things going on locally in your communities at public libraries and Radio Disney events where bookmarks with redemption codes to donate a book to a U.S. community of your choice will be distributed. It’s going to be really easy for us all to donate and to be a part of getting books into the hands of children who need them!

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Photo Credit: @hyku

Our next speaker to take the stage was LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow! Now, I wasn’t allowed to watch a whole lot of TV growing up, so it took me a moment to make the connection with Reading Rainbow. But, as soon as the theme song played, I recognized it and it was so fun to hear the excitement in the room and to hear his voice! I totally remember seeing an episode or two…maybe at a babysitter’s house.

As soon as LeVar took the stage, he applauded all of us moms which was so cool! He talked about his mom and about the importance of fostering a love for books with our children at a young age. You guys, this man is so passionate about reading. You can just see it right here in his expression as he applauded us…

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Photo Credit: @hyku

I just wanted to get up and hug him! I did some looking and actually found a clip of one of the episodes of Reading Rainbow that I remember seeing with Kermit the Frog! I absolutely love it! It made me smile from ear to ear watching it and how LeVar knows exactly what’s going on but Kermit won’t fess up to it. Watch below and see if you remember!

What a truly amazing man who is still out there doing what he loves so many years later!

After a fabulous breakfast, we met up with our families where we were in store for some more celebrity magic! David Arquette (voice of Skully in “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”), Ariel Winter (voice of Sophia in “Sophia the First”), and Tim Gunn (voice of Baileywick in “Sophia the First”) took to the cozy living room chairs in front of the stage where all the kiddos were hanging out in bean bag chairs to read us a story! It was pretty awesome.

Photo Credit: Disney Junior

Photo Credit: Disney Junior

LeVar pulled up his own cozy chair and read to us from the Reading Rainbow app on a tablet! I loved how all of the kids could see that you can still read a book from an iPad or other electronic device…especially in this day and age!

It was such a fabulous morning and I’m so excited to be a part of helping with this unbelievably important cause! Please do everything you can to redeem those codes!

Wordless Wednesday: I LOVE The Disneyland Hotel

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Wordless Wednesday:
I LOVE The Disneyland Hotel

Anna And Elsa From Disney Frozen Greeting Guests At Magic Kingdom Park

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Anna And Elsa From Disney Frozen
Greeting Guests At Magic Kingdom Park

I have been to Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort several times since the extremely popular Anna and Elsa from Disney Frozen started doing meet and greets in the Norway Pavilion. Each time I’ve been, I haven’t had the time to spend 3-4 hours in line waiting to meet these lovely ladies.

I was so excited to attend my very first Type-A Boot Camp where Disney Parks sponsored our evening party with a Frozen theme. Much to all of our surprise, Anna and Elsa made an appearance! I’ll fill you in on all that amazing-ness real soon, but in the meantime, the picture above was taken at the Disneyland Resort during the 5th Annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration where I was able to meet Anna and Elsa on the West coast! They are so sweet and really fun to chat with. I encourage all of you to take some time to visit with them on your next Disney Parks vacation.

Speaking of time, I’ve got some great news to share with you! Anna and Elsa have moved from Epcot to Magic Kingdom Park to join some of their fellow Disney Royals at Princess Fairytale Hall where Disney FastPass+ service is available! I highly recommend utilizing the FastPass+ service for Character meet and greets, especially this extremely popular one! The pic below shows the wait time from about 2:00 p.m. EDT their first day at Princess Fairytale Hall. Wowzers!

Photo Credit: BigFatPanda

Photo Credit: BigFatPanda

If you’ve got a Walt Disney World vacation coming up soon, be sure you log into your My Disney Experience account and get your FastPass+ reservation! If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you are able to make your reservations up to 60-days in advance plus up to 10-days into your vacation. If you are staying at an off-property location, you can make your FastPass+ reservations up to 30-days in advance!


Would you wait 240-minutes to meet Anna and Elsa or would you Let It Go?

“it’s a small world” 50th Anniversary at Disneyland With Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman Collage

“it’s a small world” 50th Anniversary
at Disneyland With Richard Sherman

 

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a couple years may remember when I told you briefly about my mom’s love for “it’s a small world” and how she originally saw it at the 1964 World’s Fair.

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I was so excited to find out that the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world” would be taking place while my family was visiting the Disneyland Resort for the 5th annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! There were all different things going on for the special occasion including a sing-a-long where Richard Sherman would be parading down Main Street U.S.A. singing along with the world! We even had a special, reserved place on Main Street to watch the magic!

Small World Collage

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My mom was the cutest thing ever, you guys. She hand-wrote the lyrics before she left home and brought them with her to Disneyland so she’d be all ready to sing along. Seeing the excitement on her face when she heard Richard Sherman singing and hearing her sing along with him was an absolutely priceless memory that I’ll cherish forever! It was so sweet!

I was able to capture some video, but I really love the video that Wendy of Plugged In Family took, so have a look!

This was such a special treat to have a front row viewing for this super special afternoon and to be able to share it with my mom and family! A big thanks to the folks at Disney for continuing to make magic for families! These are the moments I live for!

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Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014: I’m Going!

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Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014:
I’m Going!

 

I’m so excited to share with you all how excited I am to have been invited to attend this absolutely fabulous event again! Even more exciting? The event is taking place at the Disneyland Resort this year! You guys, when we lived in Seattle, Disneyland was our Disney Park of choice and we haven’t been back since 2009. I miss it so much and we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get back there since we moved to the East coast. While I’m not bringing the entire family with me this time due to not enough notice, work and school, some of my family from Seattle is joining me for the fun!

I was lucky enough to have been invited to this special Celebration for it’s first year in back in 2010 and then again in 2011 and 2012 when the event took place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. I’ve made some friendships over the years with people that I cherish so much. You’ve probably heard many people talk about how this event is life-changing and wondered how it could be. Well, let me tell you…it is life-changing.

Related: DisneySMMoms Celebration 2010: Friends & Parades

See, when you take a group of people who love to share their experiences online with the world and you bring them to a Disney Park to learn and bond with each other and their families, some pretty magical things happen. The folks at Disney are already unbelievably passionate about what they do and when those same people put together a Social Media conference, it affects people in ways that you just can’t imagine. Fadra Nally of All Things Fadra says it beautifully in her article titled “Why Gary Made Me Cry.” I was a blubbering mess after reading her piece. I just love it. Go ahead and go read it. You’ll love it too and you’ll see why this Celebration is so special.

The planning is well underway at our house as the Celebration is coming right up around the corner! I sure hope you’ll keep checking back here as I’ll be sharing my adventure right here will you all.

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.