Buckle up, nerds! This post is gonna be a doozy.
If you’re a Disney nerd, odds are that you’ve at least thought about visiting the international parks at some point. As of this writing, there are 12 Disney parks worldwide, and only half of them are located in the United States.
Each provides a unique experience with a wealth of rides, attractions, shows, and cultural influences packed in. The internet is filled with information and opinions about all of them, and there’s certainly no shortage of Disney sites willing to overwhelm you with the minutiae of every Disney park.
The purpose of THIS post, though, is to give a detailed comparison between the two Chinese parks – Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney Resort. How do they compare? How are they different? If you can only visit one, which should it be?
In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity.
If you haven’t already listened to my podcast or read my FAQ about my experience at DSMMC, you might want to go ahead and do that for some background.
This post is all about the recap — an image-heavy and pixie-dust-free recap. It’s the details of what happened and what attendees got to do and see during the event. It’s long, so buckle down and get scroll happy.
In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity. I’ve heard many fellow attendees refer to it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. However, I’ve had more than my fair share of legitimate once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so I’m fairly judicious when using that term.
Still, it was incredibly memorable and — as you’ll see — I have quite a bit to say and share about it. This is the story of my DSMMC adventure. As with many things Disney, there’s a heavy fog of mystery surrounding the event. I’m here today to try to dispel some of that mystery, pull back the curtain a little, and let you know what it’s all about.
Search Twitter for the #DisneySMMC hashtag or read other event recaps, and you’ll probably notice a heavy coating of pixie dust over everything.
That’s all fine and good if that’s what you’re looking for. But I’m much more interested in being honest, transparent, and helpful for those on the outside looking in. With that in mind, I’ll try to be as straightforward and honest as I can. I’m not going to hide anything.
I’ve already discussed some of my thoughts about the event on my podcast here. It caused a few ripples, which is good in my opinion.
But now I want to present a more detailed FAQ for those who are curious and want to learn more about it or for those who are interested in attending in the future. (I posted a detailed recap of the events separately here.)
A trip to Walt Disney World is fairly expensive if you do nothing but visit the parks. But then there’s meals, special events, tours, and merch, merch, merch! If you’re not careful, your trip can easily break the bank and spill over into excess. Even if you ignore the rest of Central Florida, there’s just a ton to do on Disney property.
We don’t visit all that often, but when we do, we like to try new things. And I usually budget for one splurge event. On our most recent trip, that splurge was the luau at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Officially, it’s called Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, but that’s a mouthful. I’m just going to call it the luau.
(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)
Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.
Disney imagineers are like LEGO master builders. Almost everyone has heard the term but relatively few know what it really means. Who are they? They’re the designers behind Disney theme parks, attractions, shows, resorts, and cruise ships, and they’re self-described “dreamers and doers.”
What do they do? Surprisingly, Walt Disney Imagineering is composed of more than 140 unique disciplines. They’re not all artists and designers. Imagineers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include architects, illustrators, graphic designers, writers, engineers, interior designers, multimedia gurus, project managers….even corporate and administrative support positions are considered imagineers.
Joe Rohde is currently one of the top guys at Walt Disney Imagineering. But he’s been around for a long time and has had a hand in a whole slew of Disney Parks projects dating all the way back to the development of Epcot in the early 1980s.
Character meals at Walt Disney World can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the food scene at Disney is often unmatched. It really has become a high-quality foodie destination with some world-class restaurants and stellar dishes.
Character meals, though? Most of them are breakfast buffets with your typical breakfast buffet fare. Though the food is good, it’s hardly the point of the meal. In other words, families don’t go to a character meal for the food.
They’re also often on the pricey side, but if you have kids who want to “meet and greet” various characters or maybe get an autograph, you can knock out a few A-list characters in one meal and not have to waste time queuing up inside the parks. This was the selling point for us.
I really wanted to like the Lilo & Stitch character breakfast at the Polynesian Resort. Stitch is a personal favorite of mine, and the little Roarbots love meeting characters. However, we were coming off of a 17-hour day in the Magic Kingdom the day before. The kids were on very little sleep, and they just weren’t feeling it. I fully admit this was on us.
The Roarbots blog is relatively new. It’s really less than four months old, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was invited to attend the DisneySMMoms mini-conference for mommy bloggers last week. It was even more of a surprise since I’m a dad!
Disney Social Media Moms is run by the Disney Parks PR and Marketing teams as a sort of “brand awareness” outreach for the Disney resorts, as if they needed any help. They have a big, multiday conference in the spring, and during the summer they have a series of small, half-day conferences spread out around the country. They call these their “On-the-Road” events. This year, the events were held in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. I spent the day in lovely suburban Plymouth Meeting, PA, for the Philly event.
Since today is the day that registration opens up to the general public for the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon in January, I thought I’d take this opportunity to report on one of the best aspects of any runDisney event: the kids’ races.
Disney bills the 5k as a “family-friendly fun run,” but 3.1 miles is still a heckuva distance for the littlest ones among us. In response, they’ve set up the kids’ runs, which have a “race” for every member of the family–right down to babies crawling in the diaper dash.
We happened to be in Orlando and at Walt Disney World last October during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Timed to coincide with that event is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. We couldn’t resist signing the kids up for a race and checking out what runDisney has to offer our youngest athletes.
Walt Disney World offers a lot of tours. Most of them are very expensive, and very few are good for kids (i.e., there’s a lot of walking).
When we were last there, I took the opportunity to sign up for DiveQuest at Epcot. Basically, it’s a chance to scuba dive in the huge aquarium at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. It may not be the Caribbean or the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s certainly a unique place to dive.
I’ve been diving in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Thailand. Obviously, this was the clearest water with the most…well-curated fish.
A few months ago, we made the pilgrimage to Walt Disney World in Florida and just did So. Much. Stuff. We were there for 2 weeks (not in a park every day, thank goodness), and the kids (then age 2 and 4) had a blast. I know a lot of people have taken kids this age and been horribly disappointed or upset that their kids “just weren’t ready” or were too young. We didn’t find this at all.
Zoey had already been to Disneyland in California and Tokyo Disneysea, so she knew the score. It was a first for Sam, but, at 2, I don’t think it could’ve been any better. So much of what he saw and did just thrilled him to the core.
Since the point of this blog isn’t to be the first out of the gate, I don’t feel bad about going back and revisiting some of the highlight and lowlights of our experiences.