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I’d heard of this conference – Disney Social Media Moms – but never knew how to attend. You see, it is by invite only. And who does the inviting and how they choose is beyond me. I had heard so many cool things about this event – how participants receive a whole day of Ted-like talks from Disney influencers. Not to mention the park attractions – once you are invited, so is your family! Even though DeAngelo and Maya are Disney kids, they aren’t exactly little ones, you know? They are 21 and 23! I pretty much ruled out that I’d be invited to the conference, I assumed it was for mommy bloggers mostly.

That’s why I pretty much hit the ceiling last December when I recieved THIS:
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So a couple weeks ago, with the help of Ford sponsoring us with a Ford Fusion (as part of the #FordLocal Ford Coast-to-Coast Ecoboost Challenge!) we drove from Arizona to California for an amazing weekend of inspiration and family fun at Disneyland.

Here’s is how excited the kids were on the drive over there (link):

OK, so about the event. The four of us haven’t been on a family vacation in a few years. Sure, we did the Crafty Chica cruise every year, but our attention was focused on work. This trip was all about the four of us hanging out together. I love that my kids are so receptive to adventures like this. They are really good sports about entertaining us, and at the same time, they are comfortable going off on their own to explore.

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, which was super swagalicious with its new makeover and such. With the four of us in one room, we had no choice but to get silly, share stories and crack jokes. I get a flutter in my chest just thinking about it. Some day the kids will be out on their own and won’t have time for things like this. But for this weekend, everyone was living in the moment, focusing all our energy on each other. BEST mom feeling EVER!

On that Friday, all us moms had our own special agenda, while our families went off to explore the Disney Parks. I had no idea what to expect. We all walked into a huge room with a stage and large round banquet tables that each had a power strip in the center. It was kinda like musical chairs. I was so overwhelmed, by the time I figured out what was happening, I almost couldn’t find a seat. Luckily, my friends, Yolanda from Sassy Mama in LA and Ruby from Growing Up Blaxican had a spot at their table. It’s like it was meant to be!

Throughout the day’s program, we were fed inspiring Walt Disney quotes. Even though these quips are decades old, they fit perfectly with us creative entrepreneurs!

“When you’re curious, you’ll always lots of interesting things to do.” – Walt Disney

I took about 12 pages of notes over the eight-hour time period. Here are some of the highlights!

– “Trust is the most important word in your business.” Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks. He explained that it doesn’t matter what level of business you are at, you have to relay TRUST in all you do so you customers will know to always be able to count on you. Side note: He also told us about a new Disney park in Shanghai that will have a full-on Pirates section. “It’s the first time we’ll ever have an attraction based on a move, based on an attraction!” he said. And he quoted Steve Jobs: “Only make the good stuff, and make less of it.”

– “Only do things that will enrich your brand.” – Jay Ward, Legacy Guardian, Pixar Animation Studios. He says to hold everything to a high standard. Make sure there is quality, innovation and storytelling. He really stressed the aspect of storytelling. “Make it purposeful storytelling, do your best to share remarkable experiences.” He also stressed that storytelling should go into products so consumers will get excited and feel relatable. “You always want people to experience the WOW factor with your brand.”

Here are other tips, these are by Tom Smith, Social Media director of Disney Parks:
– Know your audience, see what they respond to and like, and give them more.
– Make sure your blog/site is mobile friendly, because the majority of people go online ot sites from their phones/tablets.
– Offer behind-the-scenes and first-look sneak peeks.
– Be concise.

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Leslie Kay of DisneyBound also gave tips. She runs a blog where she offers fashion ensembles in the spirit of Disney characters. On other people using her site for “inspiration:”
“Know that the second you post something online, it is no longer yours,” she says. “You can drive yourself crazy Mother Goosing or take it as a compliment to be mimicked.”

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After lunch, Donald Driver took the stage. I had never heard of him, I so not into sports or Dancing With the Stars. BUT, after hearing him speak, I will never forget this man. He shared stories about trying to do right by his kids, the failures and successes in his life, self-publishing his books, and navigating his way through fame. OOOOhhh, I’m tearing up as I type this. I loved that all his advice was geared toward us bloggers. He was so passionate with offering tips for success. One of the main messages he gave us?

Next was Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear. She told us to dream your biggest dream – and then write a business plan based on it. If you have an idea for a business idea, go work inthat field to get to know reverse engineering, to know details from the inside out. Get as much expertise as you can.

We also had Gary Buchanan from Disney Park blogs. He says:

– If you are coasting, that means you are going downhill, always keep your foot on the gas to move forward. (This may have been a WD quote).
– Always have a hook for your reader.
– Create ideas that have layers so they can be built upon.
– You can date an idea, but know that you don’t have to marry it. Be willing to change and adapt in order to achieve the best result.
– Think like a kid and ask a lot of questions. Actually take count of how many questions you ask a day.
– Embrace a beginner’s mindset when developing new ideas.
– Collect questions from leaders.
– Be ready to have fun and PLAY – a “haha” moment can easily turn into an “a-hah!” moment.

Whew! Are you overwhelmed? Or inspired? That’s how I felt at the end of the day. It was such an awesome weekend! The next day was all about family. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in years and boy am I out of shape. I couldn’t handle all the walking. I pushed through it, but next time, hopefully if I’m invited to next year’s conference, I’m going to be much more fit!

Thanks for reading through all of this! Thank you again to Disney Social Media Moms and Ford for making this happen for us!

Love & light,


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