Don’t worry. There is an end in sight. Just not today.
Day 4 marked the official “conference day” which means it was the day that we all sat in a room listening to speakers while our families sat in the sun eating a never ending supply of ice cream cones.
Don’t feel sorry for me though. We had an amazing experience with every single speaker that graced the stage and shared how their role at Disney was relatable to us.
Taking the Stage
The event was hosted by the lovely Leanne O’Regan who is the heart and soul of this 8th annual conference.
She kept the show rolling, introduced each speaker, and gave out prizes in between.
Prizes, you say? What kind of prizes?
Oh, you know, normal stuff like private cabanas on the beach, Dooney & Bourke bags, and other silly stuff like that. And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t win anything. But I still clapped politely when everyone else won.
The speaker lineup was pretty top notch this year and I felt like a true Disney Insider. Here’s a quick overview.
Dave Mullins, Pixar Animation Studios, Animation Supervisor/Short Film Director
What a way to start the day! Dave has been at Pixar for 17 years and regaled us with the spark that first moved him into animation. Many lessons were learned that have inspired me in my blogging (saving that for another post) and that inspired my son (more on that tomorrow).
But the focus of his session was on his new animated short titled, LOU, that will premiere along with Cars 3 on June 16, 2017. And that’s pretty much all I can tell you.
No, seriously. We got to watch the entire short a full four months before its release and we’re sworn to secrecy. Which I get. One of my favorite things about new Pixar movies is the surprise short at the beginning and I wouldn’t want to ruin that for anyone. I’ll just tell you that there’s a lot of heart and soul in it and I loved hearing how Dave took LOU from an idea to a finished product (spoiler alert: it’s not an easy process).
Tom Smith, Disney Parks, Editorial Content Director
Tom, who I’ve seen speak before, talked to us like content creators. He pulled back the curtain to show what goes into making the Disney Parks blog a successful blog. It actually requires more than just the Disney badge.
From inspiration to implementation to the village it takes to run it, it was nice to see that content creation is a process we’re all learning and refining.
Chris Ostrander, Disney Parks, Synergy Director
I’m still not sure what a Synergy Director is but I was feeling the Synergy in the room. Chris gave us insight into the full release schedule for the year for Disney Studios and it does not disappoint.
He pulled us in with an 8 minute never-before-seen clip of Beauty and the Beast. Again, that’s about all I can tell you except that Emma Watson can sing and I’m pretty excited to see it.
Stay tuned for more Marvel, Pixar, and animated adventures.
Amy Smeed, Disney Studios, Head of Animation
First of all, can I just give a shout out to the fact that a WOMAN is the Head of Animation? And she’s super nice too. She was a lot of the creative force behind one of my recent favorite movies, MOANA. And her behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes into making authentic animated characters is fascination.
Fun fact: Disney developed software specifically to make Moana’s hair move in the film.
Chris Sonnenberg, Disney Channel, Executive Producer/Supervising Director
Chris focused on his latest project, Tangled: The Series. While I have no young girls at home, Tangled is one of my all-time favorite movies (read why).
His focus was on consistency of character. How do you create new stories while staying true to the characters we know and love from the movie? How do you write a script and keep the nuances for each character? It’s a challenging task but one that looks like it will be a success.
Alex Ruiz, Disney Parks, Digital Marketing Director
After lunch, before we settled into our food coma, Alex took the stage to talk about some of our favorite things: trends and innovation in the digital space.
Guess what? Disney has to stay on top of things just like us and they’re still figuring it out too. The key points: provide content your audience wants, keep it visual, and focus on video (oh snap, I have my video diary at the bottom of this post).
Ginger Zee, Good Morning America, Meteorologist
You might have seen on social media that we weren’t alone on this cruise. It was not only a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas for the general public but it was also the host for the Good Morning America crew. In fact, many of my fellow attendees got up at the crack of dawn to join the audience. I, however, enjoyed my extra hour of sleep instead.
Ginger stole my heart because she’s a chick who loves science, and more specifically, weather. She chatted about the struggle to be a career woman, maintain an online presence, be scrutinized online (because we all love that), and finding balance with her family. She admitted what most of us feel: it ain’t easy.
Food and Fun Following the Conference
After sitting in rooms all day, I just needed to feel the sun on my skin. So I grabbed my Kindle and headed topside for an unintentional nap. Well earned. But as fellow moms know, all good naps must come to an end. Evan was bored and begged me to play his latest obsession with him, foosball.
Turns out I’m not half bad and now he wants this exact foosball table at home. (It’s $1099 – I checked).
Now let’s talk food. Because it always comes back to food on a cruise ship.
We dined as a group at lunch again at Tiana’s Place where I snagged a picture to prove I was there (it’s my lead photo). But dinner was another story.
We ate midship at another of the large restaurants, Triton’s. This was by far my favorite meal. I’m not a huge beef eater but the chateaubriand was amazing. And our waiter kept us entertained with a little magic. Like, for real magic, not just Disney magic (I captured it all in my video).
After dinner, it was time for a show – this time I dragged the whole family for the stage show, Dreams, and then we made out way back outside for the Pirates Night!
I provided Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirts and bandannas for the family (did I mention we got a sneak peek of that too?) and they reluctantly put on the pirate gear just in time to catch the fireworks.
Here’s the only photo I have. I’ve titled it “The World’s Worst Fireworks Photo” but don’t worry. It all looks much better on video.
Speaking of video, let’s wrap up this day with a video recap. Enjoy – tomorrow we head to the Bahamas!