If I weren’t recovering from the flu followed by the stomach flu, I probably would have made a fun little video that went something like this…
Hey Fadra, you just made it through airport security without a single patdown. What’re you gonna do now?
(casually look over my shoulder) I’M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!
Because that’s exactly what I’m actually getting ready to do. I’m heading to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration being held at the Disneyland Resort this year.
In fact, by the time you read this, I may be somewhere over the continental U.S. headed to Los Angeles, California. The conference officially starts on Thursday, April 10th (my mom’s birthday, BTW. Happy Birthday, Mommie!) And like last year, I plan to video some highlights from the whole thing. Expect a 24 hour delay so you’ll see day 1 of the conference on day 2 and so on.
I promise I’m not making the videos to make you feel bad if you were really wanting to go this year but couldn’t make it. It’s simply to give you a glimpse into what it’s all about and for those of you who have never been to Disneyland, it will give you a glimpse of what the magic looks like on the other coast. Which takes me back to my very first Disney experience…
You see, I’ve experienced Disney in stages. Here’s where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
Stage 1: My parents are taking me to Disney World!
If you’re like me, you are NOT a young child thrilled by the prospect of Mickey and the princesses. You are 16 years old and your parents have rented a minivan to drive seven of you on the long long drive from Baltimore to Orlando. Except you don’t leave until the middle of the afternoon and arrive sometime around 2am. Did I mention it’s August? It’s hot, humid, and rains frequently but we got to meet Phylicia Rashad and Malcolm Jamal-Warner while they were filming a commercial for Disney! (You guys, it was 1987. It was VERY exciting.)
Stage 2: What’s with all these people going to Disney?
Once I grew up and started working in the travel industry, I took full advantage of my travel benefits. I went to the Caribbean and to Europe. I spent time on the West Coast and in the Southwest and Pacific Northeast. But some of my travel friends spent every vacation at Disney. What a waste, I thought. There’s a whole world out there ready to explore!
Stage 3: Heading to Disney for a corporate conference
When I reached that DINK (dual income, no kids) stage, I lived for corporate conferences which often occurred near Disney. We usually stayed at the Dolphin or Swan or sometimes the Yacht and Beach Clubs. We had private dinners in various parks (I chose to have dinner with the EMEA crowd in Animal Kingdom) and saw private performances like The Lion King. I worked the trade show floor but, unlike my corporate comrades, when I had free time I took full advantage of the water slides at the resort instead of drinking or nursing a hangover like the others. I started to think Disney wasn’t so bad after all.
Stage 4: It’s time to take the kid to Disney
This wasn’t even on my radar until just after my son turned 3. A friend was taking her family and halfheartedly suggested that we should go too. So we booked our package and room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and three weeks later we were off. We had such an amazing time that we did it again the next year. And then two years later. And then…
Stage 5: Maybe the Disney Vacation Club isn’t such a bad idea
While we always book last minute and off season (because we’re bargain hunters, don’t like hot weather, and can’t stand crowds), we still thought that becoming DVC members might make sense for us. After I finally shook off the Ew, but it’s a TIMESHARE feeling, we made the investment (thank you, tax break) and now we’ve pretty much ensured that we’ll take a trip to some Disney property every year from now to infinity.
Stage 6: Can we sneak away to Disney alone?
We love experiencing Disney with our son but… Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go on all the scary rides by ourselves? Drink ourselves around Epcot? Have a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant? Go see a show and actually enjoy it? Since we joined DVC and bought annual passes, we’re itching to head to the International Food & Wine Festival in the fall. I just don’t know that 7 years old is the right age to hear Mommy and Daddy are going to Disney World without you. But you’ll be fine. Grandma’s here!
Stage 7: Is there really more Disney stuff to experience?
My neighbor, just the other day, said, “haven’t you been to Disney, like, 4 times this year?” Answer? No. We’ve been once (this year, that is). But there’s Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney, Adventures by Disney, Disney Institute, Disney Cruise Lines. I mean, yes, I like to see the other non-Disney parts of the world but I’d like to do that in addition to all the other Disney stuff.
I’m sure there are more potential stages. I’m sure some people reach the “kids are grown so we’re done with Disney” but for some people, having kids doesn’t even play into it. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, that’s okay. That’s why there’s a great big world out there. I just kinda like Walt’s version of it.