I have never been a crazy Disney enthusiast. I like Disney. When I was 9, I went to Disney World for the first time and had a blast. But then I didn’t go again until I my own kids were school aged, some thirty years later. Don’t get me wrong – I love the classic movies. I’ve seen Dumbo, and Cinderella, and even Beauty and the Beast a bazillion times. I smile every time I see a little girl walking down Broadway in her princess costume. But I’m not one to wear Disney logos on my clothing, or purse, or jewelry. I’m not one to go to Disney without my kids.
I have friends (are you listening Ellen Gerstein?) who seem totally normal, smart, and respectable, and then step foot on Disney soil and become, well, a little bit crazy. Like they’ve drunk the Disney Kool Aid. Friends who (not to call out Ellen again, but…) know whether it’s best to turn right or left as you enter a ride for primary seating, who know precisely where to stand at a Disney parade, who have a closet full of Mouse Ears – each customized for various holidays and occasions – and who aren’t afraid to wear them. And I’ve never really understood that part of those friends.
Until now. Because recently, I’ve taken a few sips of that Kool Aid myself.
Because over the past few months, I’ve been to Walt Disney World twice. First, back in October, I went on a press trip to
preview The New Fantasyland. And a few weeks ago, I went to The Disney Social Media Moms conference. And both times, the magic of Disney kind of got to me. I’ve already written about the spectacular attention to detail in Belle’s Village, and the amazing Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast’s Castle. But what really got to me at both events was listening and talking to the Disney people.
Diego Parras is a well-known Disney Imagineer. His job? To think up fantastic things to add to Disney World and see them come to fruition. At dinner with him one night, I understood on a whole new level the incredible intellectual and imaginative capital that’s expended on the parks. His passion was palpable. And when I asked him where he went on his own vacations, he told me he hadn’t taken one in nine years. “I just can’t imagine going anywhere that’s more fun than going to work every day with these creative, fun, interesting people and doing what I do.”
That doesn’t sound like drinking the Kool Aid, that sounds like real, honest to goodness devotion to and love for your job. We should all be so lucky. And why would someone be so devoted? Because Disney gives Diego a place to let his imagination soar. It encourages creativity. And in the end, it really does bring Magic to life. You only have to see Lumiere greet you in Adventures with Belle, or simply see a child’s face light up when a life sized Mickey gives her a hug, to understand that.
Are they careful and strict about protocol? Do they protect their image at every turn? Yes. But rather than see that as a bad thing, I see it as what has made Disney…well, Disney. You can’t have a strong brand identity if you don’t protect your brand.
At the Disney Social Media Moms conference two weeks ago, where I was incredibly lucky to be among the 150 or so bloggers invited to Disney for a few days of talks and amazing treats, the best part of the event was listening to the Disney people talk about what they do. How they handle a social media campaign. What they do to foster engagement. How they make videos that get people watching and talking. (I wish, quite honestly, there had been more of that and less of the general inspirational speakers. Those Disney people are at the top of their profession now. And they rock it.)
Lastly, what you find out when you go to Disney with Disney, is that there are people behind all the magic. Of course I always knew that, but I didn’t know them. And now I do, a little. I know that when the husband of one of the Moms at the Social Media Conference had a major medical emergency a day after the conference ended, the Disney people were there for her. Helping her out in so many ways. I know that they honestly cared about us having a good time, and learning something, and about inspiring us.
Do I also know that the conference is, in large part, about us Mom Bloggers promoting them? Sure I do. And that’s because Disney isn’t just magic. It’s business. And sometimes, blogging is too. And isn’t it nice that Disney has found a way to make business magic?
Will I start wearing Mouse Ears any time soon? Will I trade in my Tourneau for a Mickey? Not likely. But I did wear the wig you see above – and I wore it with price! And after my press trip, The Disney Social Media Moms conference, and the Disney People I met, I’ve happily drunk the Kool Aid. And I’ll even drink some more.