Last year I was a First Timer to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In fact, when I got the invitation, I had no idea what I had just received. Today I want to share with you just a few tips and things to think about if you are planning to attend DSMMC for the first time. Whether you've been to any of the Disney parks before or not, this is a family fun opportunity and experience like no other! I'd like to share with you what I wish I had known ahead of time too.
Let me say first… no matter how you go and what you prepare for, the most important thing is enjoy yourself. Enjoy your time learning and networking and enjoy the time with your family. You can truly experience both sides and every moment is an opportunity to discover and grow and fill your bucket with happy!
I'm not sharing general Disney tips today, instead I want to make sure to share info so you can skip the learning curve I experience by being a first timer.
I have been to a number of conferences over the years. Mostly marketing, but also some craft industry and some blogging. When I got the invite to DSMMC my schedule and budget felt like they were near capacity. So when I saw the invite, I hardly gave it any thought. I wasn't planning on attending – I didn't have time to a fun family event let alone one across the country with the prices of airfare last year. Thankfully I had bloggy friends that knew what I had in my inbox and demanded I give it some serious consideration. “You don't skip this event” was said more than once. So I registered. I came up with a sales pitch, dug out all the miles points and bribing tactics I could find and convinced my husband to make it a family adventure. It didn't take much, I can logically rationalize anything and selling fun is second nature.
Not only was I attending DSMMC for the first time, I was bringing my family to a work event. I was SO out of my element! I hardly knew anyone, names weren't even familiar to me and the entire experience ahead was completely foriegn. I had no idea what I was in for… and I'm so glad I took the leap.
Hopefully these tips will help you prepare and experience all the magic you can possibly manage in your time at DSMMC.
Tips for the First Timer to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration
Plan ahead – but don't over plan
More or less, familiarize yourself with all your options and opportunities of things to do. Don't pass up any of the sign-ups or side activities because you aren't sure what they are. The DSMMC event planners organize some amazing side experiences you won't necessarily have access to when you goto Disney as a regular visitor. DSMMC is an opportunity to experience Disney like you've never seen before. Remember, this is a celebration and social media is a focus. Share, tweet, shout out and connect… use your social media and pass on the fun!
Things to do ahead of time:
- Set up a Disney account and order Magic Bands
- Sign up for Magic Express
- Order food from the local grocer if you will need groceries
- Order business cards to bring
- Fill out your DSMMC profile and connect with others ahead of time.
- Set a reservation for your family at a restaurant – We went to Boma and LOVED it.
- Set up your own character meetings or extra events you want to do while you are there.
- Extra DSMMC planned activities that require a sign up, don't pass them up! I didn't do the morning run or the ride filming… I wish I had done both.
- Go through all the Disney options in your account and favorite the ones you would like… you might be able to accomplish many of them if you plan ahead.
“Best Thing EVER” as said by my husband about the Magic bands. Definitely sign up your credit cards so you don't have to worry about carrying anything with you. So worth it!
Things to prepare for:
- Get ready to network – DSMMC is full of amazing people and tons of conversations to be had, this is not the time to be shy.
- Bring a notebook and pen, you are going to hear and learn some fantastic info.
- Pack for the weather and bring comfy shoes.
- Take a ton of pictures, make sure to use a photo pass.
- If you have little ones, think ahead on the schedule and plan in some nap and snack time.
- Bring a small bag with extras you might need during the learning days. Include things like paper, pen, business cards and tissue… there were a few tear jerker presentations for sure. If you've never been to any kind of conference, throat lozenges are always on my must bring list too.
- You will be welcomed with open arms and smiles for miles. Get ready to make some friends!
Things to see and do:
- Attend all the sessions.
- Sit with someone new at lunch.
- Go to the mini break out sessions.
- Visit every park.
- Meet a new family at an evening event.
- Attend all the character photo opps
- Early morning activities with DMMSC, yes, do it!
- Watch each of the shows at each of the parks.
- Breakfast somewhere yummy (Boma is delicious)
- Park hop in a single day (you can close Animal Kingdom and still visit another park in the evening)
- Use your Fast pass
- Take pictures, pictures, pictures and make sure to use a Disney photo pass. (I did not bring a big camera, my phone was enough).
More insight about different aspects and opportunities when attending DSMMC
This is a social media “conference” but it's also a family experience you can't get anywhere else. I had never taken family to a “work event” so I wasn't sure how to work out the family time. At DSMMC there is a ton of time built into the schedule for families during this event.
DSMMC Family Time
There are organized family activities, photo opps and free time for the pool or parks. My kids are a little older so we didn't utilize the younger kid activities and play area available. Take advantage of all those opportunities. You can sleep when you get home! Go to the different parks, eat at places you haven't tried, enjoy an hour at the pool. However, don't over plan your agenda, put together a list of things you'd like to do and see but leave space to just hang out if everyone needs a little break. There were a couple days we spent the day at one park and the evening at another. One night, after dinner, we took a rest, then headed to Magic Kingdom for the special open until 2am magic hours. We did stop at the Magic Kingdom candy shop on our way in… coffee for me and sugar for them.. yes, I am that mom!
Enjoy all the newness
I can't say it enough… Be brave and don't be shy! Say hello to someone new, introduce yourself to a speaker, sit at a table with someone you don't know. There is plenty of time to spend with people you know, so take advantage of the chance to meet someone new.
On property benefits – use them
I took the family to WDW a few years ago. We stayed at a timeshare and rented a car. After DSMMC and the opportunity to stay on property, I would never do Disney any other way! We didn't need a car, we didn't need a shuttle to and from the airport, we enjoyed the “Magic Hours” and the service is top notch! Even when we decided to switch hotels, the concierge was able to help without a hitch. It was incredible. As the planner in the family, I felt like I was actually able to take a little break from being in charge!
Come with questions
You can chat with cast members, speakers and other Disney folks at the event. Everyone is so excited you are there and they truly love what they do. Ask them about their job or what they love or more about what they do. Everyone I talked to was eager to share and really did seem to love the opportunity to talk Disney.
Extend your stay if you can
We stayed at WDW an extra two days after DSMMC was over so we could enjoy some Disney fun. I wish we had come in a day early as well. Our park passes were available to use before the event, but we arrived the day of the opening reception. Traveling the day of, from Denver, was great for timing however, there's a little magic I missed. While I was at the event meeting new people, my hubs and kids went off for the afternoon to Magic Kingdom. I wish I had had that first day experience with my kids.
Say Thank You with Social Love
So much work and time has gone into this event from so many different people. The DSMMC team, all the sponsors and everyone else involved works really hard to make this an amazing event and share all kinds of great goodies. I know we all say thank you, but share your social love as a thanks too. Post pictures of treats you've received from sponsors, share content with your readers about the things you learn and experience with the different brands. I wish I had done more of this… in my previous social media world, tweeting about my goodies or posting products on Instagram didn't seem right… for DSMMC, do it, share the love, look at all these goodies – OH MY GOODNESS, the LOVE!
A few last DSMMC tips:
- My kids LOVED pin trading – another new-to-us activity. It doesn't cost much to get started and it kept them interested in exploring every where we went. We continued to trade pins on a second trip we made around Christmas to Disneyland. AND, thanks to Alamo, one of the DSMMC sponsors, we were able to get a couple starter packs at the park. (Plan ahead and buy some before you go to get yourself started).
- Leave room in your suitcases – if you get any swag, you want to be able to bring it home. We fly Southwest, so 2 bags per person is included. We had 3 bags for 4 of us, leaving plenty of room for take home goodies.
Soak up every minute, it's truly an experience to cherish. For me, I think the most important take away from this event is learning that family and work and live happily in the same day. Before DSMMC I was all work, all the time. Sure, I took vacations and did fun family things. Now, however, I look for opportunities to include family in work related events and look for events that are family related. Disney is a company I've always been inspired by not only as a Disney fan, but as a business owner and a creative spirit. So being a part of Disney's Social Media Moms Celebration, listening to members of the Disney team from film markers to cast makers, is a creative girl's dream! If you have the opportunity to attend, don't hesitate, you can make it happen. Take that leap of faith and register, you won't regret it!
There is so much more I could share, but I think this is a great place to start. Please feel free to ask questions or share your own tips and tricks in the comments below. More Disney fun for DSMMC: we made our own personalized water bottles, I made Mickey earrings and we made a couple personalized t-shirts to wear on the trip. Check out the tutorials!