So, I’m calling this a [Sponsored] post because I was a guest of Disney at the Fairmont Copley hotel for a morning. I didn’t pay to attend this event that I was invited to, this post isn’t selling anything, and I’m not being paid (directly) to write about my experience but…Free breakfast, free valet (that’s valuable enough! Believe me!), a lot of awesome information and a pretty lovely gift bag afterward are enough goodies that it constitutes a disclaimer in my point of view. I feel like I was given a lot yesterday morning, so I want to be clear about where this is coming from. That being said: I was not asked to write about my experience, nor told how to write about it.
So, as I wrote about on Monday, I got up early on Wednesday morning and drove into the city to make my third ever visit to the Fairmont Copley in Boston. I’ve only ever been there for work functions, never for an overnight… someday! If you’ve never been, it’s an experience that you should have at least once in your life. The Fairmont Copley is opulent, distinctive, distinguished… it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Every sight, every surface, every fabric… there is no other word but to call it opulent. But not crass, not tacky, not gauche…edited just enough. I mean, I wouldn’t decorate my home that way, but I understand why people come to this hotel and the style they are looking for. You feel like royalty from the time the valet opens your junky mini-van’s door without any judgement until the time you leave. I’ll tell you one thing, whenever I’m at that hotel, all I can do is stare at the ceiling: in the grand ballroom (oh my goodness, wow), in the main hallway (wow!) and even in some of the state rooms. Opulent. Incredible. Visit some day. Seriously.
I will say off the bat that when I received the emailed invitation for this Disney Social Media Moms event, I thought it was spam and then I thought it was a scam. I started googling around to see if it was legit. Longtime readers are probably scratching their head: I’ve never mentioned Disney on this blog in any capacity. I’m not anti-Disney in any way, but I’m just not a superfan, either. Mine is a pleasant, fairly ambiguous relationship with Disney: I had a great childhood singing along to the movies, I played my share of Disney video games, there are certainly pleasant memories of various toys from various movies (often from a 90’s Happy Meal), and I had the pleasure of visiting Disney World when I was a rising 6th grader.
As an adult, Disney DVDs are in the house and we’ve slowly introduced the boys to certain movies. We don’t really watch the Disney Channel, though they’ve watched a few shows and liked them. Disney is just one of those things: part of culture, part of life, but not thought about often.
Anyway, cursory googleing found that the event was legit, and my curiosity was piqued enough, so I signed up. Again, who doesn’t want to spend a little time at the Fairmont Copley?
The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “on-the-road” event is a half-day training for mom bloggers. It began with a presentation of “what’s new” at the Disney theme parks which, seeing as I haven’t been in 2 decades or so (yeesh), there have been a lot of changes since I was last there. The preview of the Avatar world looked incredible (I’ve always had a fascination with the Imagineers and what they do), and there were photos of upcoming Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
But after that, they got into the meat of it: how Disney does social media and shares the parks in different ways with the fans who really love the brand and want to tune in. Jenn Fickley-Baker, who is the head of the Disney Parks Blog and social media channels, gave a wonderful talk about storytelling and finding new ways to tell the Disney story to audiences, specifically through social media. Of all the talks, this one was most interesting to me, not simply because it hit my writer’s button, but because I enjoyed seeing all the different ways that Disney is Disney: the magic comes not just from the big castle and the blockbuster movies, but through beautiful food and awesome parades, happy little touches from top to bottom, little traditions that matter and a company culture that is clearly well-honed and carefully crafted. Case in point:
There were fun giveaways throughout the day, but we all walked away with little trading pins. It’s a “tradition,” we were told, and a lot of the other moms in the room seemed to be familiar with it. That little yellow pin is my first one, and I had to do some research when I got home about the pin culture at Disney. It would seem that this is a Hidden Mickey Pin, only given to Cast Members (employees) of Disney, and a fun trading/collectors item for those in the know. There are limited editions, editions that come out every year, and if you are ever at a Disney park, they live on Cast Member lanyards. I think this was adorable, actually, and that brings me to the ultimate thing I’d like to write about.
What I was most impressed with by the entire morning was the production of it all. I realized that the “magic” of Disney that was part of my childhood was thanks to a very carefully cultivated culture by the adults in charge. One of the presenters said, “we are taught from our first day as a Cast Member that we are the ‘direct legacy of Walt.’ We carry on his work.” Nothing is thoughtless. Nothing is missed. But because of that, the possibilities are seemingly endless. From rice cakes shaped like evil King John from Robin Hood to watercolor paintings drawn by Disney artists and videoed for Instagram, little collectible pins for people in the know to a massive re-creation of a movie world. The culmination of many, many thoughtful and well-executed parts turns into something incredible. It turns into something unmistakable. It turns into Disney. Do you know of anything comparable?
So that’s what I’m most grateful for: a re-introduction to a company that’s always been a “kid” thing for me. I took plenty of notes about different social media strategies and… who knows? Maybe I’ll get a little bit brave and try some new things this summer?
I walked away with a bag full of lovely gifts. It’s tacky to share everything that was in it, but I will say that I enjoyed the pretty journal and pen that came in the bag:
I’m a total sucker for journals. Ya’ll know that!
If you’re wondering if I’m some sort of new spokesmom for Disney or something, the answer is no. I don’t expect anything to happen from here. I had a lovely breakfast, gleaned a lot of wisdom from cool people (if you follow me on twitter, you can see some of my new connections), and met one mom in particular, Alexandra, who is amazing and I hope to get to know better. When the boys are older and we get the chance to take them to Disney, maybe I’ll trade my pin with someone and feel good about my insider knowledge. But that’s it.
I know there are some other blogs out there that have posts telling other moms how to get on the list to get invited to one of these events (or to the big event in Florida, that I hadn’t heard of before, haven’t been to and do not expect an invitation to. I do not believe that an invitation to one of these “on-the-road” events is a precursor to being invited to the larger celebration. I really don’t know, but I don’t expect so). I will tell you that I did absolutely nothing to seek attention from Disney and I would not consider myself a big-huge blog with a super-large following, so I’m not sure if any of those formulas are true. I asked several different people how they found me (out of very sincere curiosity) and no one could answer. So, if one of you Dear Readers is connected to all of that magic: thank you. Thank you for thinking of me and for honoring me with that invitation. I’m not sure I was worthy to be on that list, but I really appreciate the chance to sit in a room with other bloggers and learn some new things, not to mention being treated like someone important at the Copley. 🙂 Or, if you are some Disney wizard who found me and decided to give this little-known suburban mom a golden ticket for a day, again: thank you. I’m grateful. I don’t know what I did to earn it, but I’m grateful.