You’ve been invited to the fabled Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.
You’re all proud and giddy and crazy excited to the point of hyperventilating.
Then you calm down long enough to breathe without using a paper bag, and realize you’re not quite sure what the whole event is about.
An informal look across the social space has led me to all kinds of interesting commentary past and present on the myth that is Disney Social Media Moms, and it’s mostly way off base.
Some think it’s an ultra exclusive brag fest where everyone flings mouse-shaped glitter and talks about the inimitable awesome online because they can. Others think it’s more of a drink-the-magic-Kool-Aid occasion, meant only to promote Disney’s interests and supposed evil mustache twirls.
It’s neither of those.
Sure, there is some exclusivity as it’s invite only, and yes, there is often glitter, and Disney does share its latest awesome and plans for the future, but the hybrid conference/celebration is so much more than ear hats and alleged secret society handshakes.
At its simplest, Disney Social Media Moms is a press event, blogging conference and mini-family vacation magicked into one 3-day(ish) visit. At its grandest, it’s an opportunity to network and engage with Disney Parks executives, speakers and Imagineers who are eager to share their wisdom and life successes with attendees.
Similar to other press events and conferences you’ve probably attended, space is limited. You’ll see about 150-200 participants there, including moms and dads, bloggers large and small, plus newbies and pros of all colors, shapes and niches.
And contrary to popular belief, there is a fee to attend.
Granted, that fee is significantly subsidized, and includes accommodations at a property of Disney’s choosing, all meals for the main attendee with some meals for plus ones and/or family members, unique experiences that only Disney can dream up (previous events have included going on Wild Africa Trek, a behind-the-construction-wall look at New Fantasyland, a night in Cinderella’s Suite for a randomly selected attendee), and 7-day park hoppers.*
Attendees are completely on their own for roundtrip airfare from their hometown, childcare (sessions typically keep attendees busy from breakfast through lunch, with family-inclusive events in late afternoon and evening), and any souvenirs, additional experiences or other meals/snacks they might need/want.
Inevitably, a panicked smattering of questions follows from those who haven’t attended before, to which I say, chill. Disney is meant for the young and the young at heart, so the most important advice I can give to anyone is be yourself.
Disney obviously saw something in you that they liked, so go with it.
With that said, use common sense. There is a difference between constructive feedback/hating and bragging/genuine enthusiasm. We’re all adults, so play nice. Don’t, and you’re on your own.
We all knew that already right?
Still feeling shy?
Worried because your child has special needs or your husband is allergic to shellfish or you don’t think anyone will like you?
Disney invented happy thoughts, and the effect is contagious. Most everyone at the conference will be excited to know you and will be ready and willing to lend a hand if you should need one. What’s more, Disney Parks cast members are always there to ensure your visit runs smoothly, and will do their best to accommodate any needs or special requests you might have. It’s kind of their thing and they do it well.
Then there’s clothes, and what to wear and when to wear it. Getting fancied up is definitely not required, though I encourage you to present your best self. Not only are you representing yourself and/or your brand, but you’re showing Disney you appreciate the hard work and planning that goes into the conference, and there is A LOT.
(Full disclosure: I don’t think looks matter in the grand scheme of things, but I sure think effort does. Learned that one from my parents, and their smarts have served me well in life.)
Many attendees opt for business casual while in sessions, and change into more relaxed resort wear for family experiences. Can you wear Crocs? Yes. Can you wear those super cute wedges that kind of hurt your feet but look fabulous? Yes. Can kids wear their usual t-shirts and shorts and those light-up shoes that flash incessantly when they stomp around like they normally do when they’re at home? Yes, yes, yes!
Disney’s online community is a powerful, positive force in social media, and has been extending its pixie-dusted reach further and further into the blogosphere to understand, acknowledge, respect and celebrate the contributions we make to the online world at large.
Do ask questions while you’re there.
Do read all the information in your invitation – there is typically a link to FAQs, agendas and speakers.
Do get excited about what you see and hear.
Do make connections and friendships and memories.
And perhaps most importantly – do love every minute.
* Please note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive representation of DSMMC’s itinerary, and that it can and will change from year to year.
Still have questions? Feel free to leave them in the comment thread and I’ll do my best to answer them as a three-time attendee. Keep up on all things Disney Social Media Moms, follow @DisneyMoms and #DisneySMMC on Twitter.
DisneySMMC alum? Join our private Facebook group!
Just want to share your love of Disney? Join our public G+ community!