Today it was announced that the 2016 search for the Disney Parks Moms Panel begins September 8, 2015 at 10 a.m. I participated in this search last year for the first time and while I made it to the very end, I did not make the panel. Yes, I was sad and disappointed, but as this year has gone on, I’ve realized I gained so much more from just being a part of the search, primarily incredible friends I would have never met otherwise. So as we embark on a new application process for 2016, I can’t wait! The application process itself, and all the friends you make along the way, is really a reward in and of itself.
But don’t get me wrong – I REALLY want to make the panel also.
You may be wondering what the Disney Parks Moms Panel is. It’s a Disney Parks resource of moms, dads and grandparents who provide advice, information and tips based on personal experience to the millions of people who have questions about the various Disney Parks or Disney Destinations. Got a question about Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney events, Disney Cruise Line or the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex? This is the go-to resource, available now in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Guests can ask questions about topics ranging from rooms with the best views of the savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, timing of advanced dinner reservations, recommended activities for teenagers at the various parks, how to handle food allergies, to fastest transportation in between resorts and the parks. Plus a plethora of other questions. Basically it’s those moms/dads/grandparents you know who are more than just experts on all things Disney – they’re experts who love to share their knowledge with anyone and everyone and love to help others plan a magical vacation at a Disney Park or Disney Destination. Created in 2008, each year a new panel of 15-20 “moms” is chosen, so even if you don’t make it one year, the following year may be your magical year to be part of the Disney Parks Moms Panel.
And I want to be one of those moms/dads/grandparents. I grew up visiting Walt Disney World Resort with my parents and sisters, travelling to Orlando at least every other year well into my college years and beyond. Now we’ve started that tradition with our own children. I consider Walt Disney World Resort a home away from home. Since visiting with our children, who have severe food allergies, Walt Disney World Resort has carved out an even more special place in my heart because of the care and concern exhibited by all of the Disney Chefs and Cast Members for Guests with food allergies and special dietary needs. One of our most cherished memories from Walt Disney World Resort is the first time my two older peanut/tree nut allergic children were able to safely eat an ice cream cone from an ice cream shop. Since then, we’ve eaten more than our fair share of ice cream in the various parks, and are already looking forward to our next trip home. Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk about anything Disney, especially Walt Disney World Resort (and, most likely, would say sometimes I can’t stop talking about it). Nothing makes me happier than helping someone experience the same magic my family has experienced during our various visits.
I’m sure some people I know may question why I want to be a part of this process. In my lifetime I’ve been a claims adjuster/risk manager, attorney, expatriate living in Paris, France and Geneva, Switzerland, a pastry chef, and a business owner. Today, I’m tackling the hardest job of all: stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. Ever since I worked at a law firm where The Walt Disney Company was a client, I have wanted to work for some Disney entity. However, I am now firmly settled in Louisville, Kentucky and my adventurous days of moving anywhere and everywhere are over. Not only does this process allow me the opportunity to fulfill a life long dream of being a part for a company I respect and admire, it also allows me to chat endlessly about all things Disney with like minded people, and if I’m really lucky, help sprinkle a little pixie dust on Disney Parks Guests’ vacations.
But that’s not all that this search is about. I started the search last year having no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect having so much fun along the way, and making so many truly great friends. I absolutely did not realize that there was an entire community out there of thousands and thousands of people who share a common goal and love – Disney and being a Disney Parks Moms Panelist.
Someone recently noted on Twitter how social media introduces you to people you’d never find otherwise and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to this experience. What started out as casual interaction with other Disney loving applicants on Twitter and Facebook during the application process has grown into true friendships with people as far away as Montreal, Canada and as close to home as Nashville, Tennessee. These are friends I now chat with regularly about not only Disney, but family, blogging, life, and any number of other things. We supported each other along the application process, consoled each other when some of us didn’t make the panel, and I am sure we will be cheering each other on as the application process unfolds this year. It’s unbelievably amazing how supportive this community is of each other.
It’s often said that making friends as you get older is hard, especially for stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, and I wholeheartedly agree with that thought. As adults we get wrapped up in work and parenting, and no longer spend time footloose and fancy free at the playground or at recess making new friends and planning play dates. It’s harder to find people who share common interests and who you can bond with over the same things.
I may not have made the panel last year, but I truly gained so much more during the process that I will be forever thankful for. I can’t wait for this year to begin – not just because I want another opportunity to make the panel, but also because I can’t wait to experience this again with friends I made last year, and new friends I know I will make this year. It’s quite possible I may never make the panel. And while that would be really sad, in the end it would be alright, because I still would be so much better off for having gone through the process. I’m so grateful for the people that I now call friends, and so happy I had this opportunity to meet them. To me, that is really the true magic of Disney and the Disney Parks Moms Panel.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the panel, and the 2016 search, check out www.momspanelsearch.com and www.DisneyParksMomsPanel.com. No matter what, I am confident you’ll be sprinkled with some Disney magic and pixie dust along the way just by participating in the application process!
And for your amusement, my 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panelist Search video. My kids helped me with this video – it was great fun and the whole family loved making it!