2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-The-Road in Philadelphia Recap Pt 1

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's been more than a month now since I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (SMMC) On-The-Road conference in Philadelphia.    It was a wonderful event full of fun, learning and surprises.  They packed so much information in those 5 hours that I've had a hard time trying to organize it all and get it down in one post!  I figured I'd break it up into a couple posts.

This was my first time attending a conference of this kind.  I've attended conferences for work but the main goal there was just to get in and earn your continuing education hours.  There isn't that much networking that takes place.  Some attendees don't even listen to the lectures and aren't very enthusiastic at all about the subjects being discussed.  The Disney SMMC event was entirely the opposite.  Attendees were encouraged to network and told to bring plenty of business cards.  The speakers had our undivided attention and instead of being on our phones and laptops to tune out the speakers, we were taking pictures and posting what they had to say.

I was so nervous the weeks before the event.  Many of the others attending were seasoned bloggers -- many of whom I had been following for awhile.  I didn't personally know anyone going.  I also felt that my little blog was nothing compared to all the other great blogs that I had been reading.  I didn't even have business cards or a Facebook page!  So, a couple weeks before the conference, I did a little revamping of my blog and made a little logo to put on my business cards.  I thought it would be cool to incorporate an eye to show my optometrist side.

The logo I made
The conference was going to be held at a hotel outside of King of Prussia Mall (one of my favorite places to shop when I was attending grad school in Philadelphia!) on a Thursday.  My husband was supposed to be teaching that day but had promised me if I got an invite to the conference, he would find a sub to teach.  We arranged for my parents to watch my older three kids and just planned on bringing the baby with us, since she breastfeeds and could never drink from a bottle.

The day before the event was kind of hectic.  It was the kids' last day of class and my husband still had work that day.  The plan was to drive my husband to work in the morning, drop the kids off at my parents' house after school and then pick up my husband and drive up to Philly.  There was going to be a little meet up at a family entertainment center that evening for conference attendees and I really wanted to attend.  It would give me a chance to get to know some of the other attendees, so I wouldn't be going in not knowing anyone.  I even exchanged contact info with one of the girls going so we could plan on meeting up.

But things didn't go exactly as planned.  My seven year old threw a tantrum and refused to stay with my parents, so I had to repack his things so he could come along. Traffic was heavier than I anticipated.  By the time we checked into the hotel, it was late and the baby was getting tired.  So, I wasn't able to go to the pre-party (which I heard was a lot of fun!).  After a quick dinner at the mall and an attack by ants in our hotel room (it was my 7-year-old who discovered them so I was glad he came along!), I went to bed.

I barely slept.  The baby kept waking up and I was just so nervous!  Registration was set to start at 7:30, so I got out of bed around 5:30.  I showered and got ready and followed posts on Facebook and Twitter to see when others were getting there.  I also wanted to feed the baby as close to the start time as possible because I wasn't sure I'd get a chance to feed her until the end of the conference.  My husband and the kids dropped me off at the front of the hotel and I walked in.  I saw a line of women standing at the back of the hotel and figured that's where I needed to be.  I asked the girls at the end of the line if it was for the Disney thing and it was.  I chatted with Aurie from Our Good Life.  She was local and had driven over that morning.  We talked about, what else, Disney.  Sadly, once we were registered, I lost her and didn't get a chance to talk to her more.

At the registration table, we were given these great tote bags filled with goodies!

The tote bag we all were given at registration.
All the goodies we received!
My nametag
While waiting to go into the conference room, I finally got to meet Lori from Take Time for Today and Heather from Sugar N' Spice Life.  We all got a table together and then made our way over to the side of the room, where there was a Selfie station where we could take pictures and pose with props like Mickey ears and Disney dolls.

Heather, me, Lori and Anne.

Then, we saw a bunch of people lining up to meet Gary Buchanan, a Social Media Managing Editor and Public Relations Manager for Walt Disney World Resort & Disney Parks.  If you follow any of Disney's social media channels, then you might know he's kind of like a rock star, so of course, we all got in line, too.  He was dressed in a Jedi robe, Mickey ears and posed with a Donald Duck noisemaker.  Lori met him first and wanted me to be in the picture with her and Gary.  So, I didn't really get a chance to talk to him, but that was okay.  I wasn't sure what I was going to say without sounding like a little fan girl!

With Gary Buchanan and Lori.
Then, we got settled at our tables.  Each table had a social media themed name.  Ours was "Hashtag Hwy."  Other names included "No Trolling" and "Character Limit 140 (like a speed limit sign)."   At each seat was a Mickey Mouse Rice Crispy Treat.  I totally was going to save that for myself!

Mickey Mouse Rice Crispy Treat
They served us a yummy breakfast of quiche, hash browns and fruit.  Plus, there was a basket of pastries and coffee and juice.

Jamie Langdon, Walt Disney World Public Relations and Social Media Manager, was the first to speak.  We started the day with some pin trading.  I've never traded pins at Disney before, so this was a fun experience.  They passed out several pins for each table and then we had to go and meet others and trade pins until we found one we liked.  I didn't even pay attention to the pin that I started with, but after just one trade, I ended up with this Stitch on Space Mountain pin and had to keep it!

Jamie Langdon, WDW Public Relations and Social Media Manager

Space Mountain Stitch Pin

Next up was Gary Buchanan.  He's the genius behind these social media themed Disney posters that we received in our goody bags.

Gary Buchanan, WDW Social Media Managing Editor and Public Relations Manager

He talked about all the new fun things coming to the Disney Parks, including the new Festival of Fantasy parade and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride at the Magic Kingdom.  He also shared these cute #DisneyKids videos.  Jamie Langdon's daughter is featured in some and she's adorable!

To go along with the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Disney had been holding challenges in their Be The 8th Miner contest.  Each week, challenges were posted and each weekly winner was awarded $500 and a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train trading pin.  The grand prize winner would win a 7-night trip for four to Walt Disney World!

Jenn Fickley-Baker, Walt Disney World Social Media Manager, was the next speaker.  She spoke about the Disney blog.  The take home was that content is king!  She talked about the importance of blog post series to keep readers engaged.  One of the blog posts she highlighted was of the 140 Disney character tweet to announce the 24-hour Rock Your Disney Side party held at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort back in May.

Jenn Fickley-Baker, WDW Social Media Manager
Next, Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media and co-host of Mom Talk Radio, gave away some prizes.  At registration, we had to put our business card into a bucket.  They picked winners from the bucket.  Sadly, I didn't win anything.
Maria Bailey and Jamie Langdon giving away prizes!
While the next speaker, Noah Lomax of HP, spoke, I took a break to feed the baby.  So I'll end this post here.  Read on for Part 2!

Noah Lomax of HP


  1. Loved sharing this experience with you! I still need to write my recap too!

    1. Me too! I wish I hadn't waited so long, though, to post this! It was hard to remember everything that happened!