For the last 3 years or so I’ve thought about applying to the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The Panel has always intrigued me and feel I have a solid knowledge of planning trips to Walt Disney World. I have always been heavily encouraged to apply by my good friend Carrie Burrows every time I talk to her about it, so this year I finally decided to try. “Wait “Moms” panel? But you’re a dude!” is a response I often got when talking about it with friends. Yes! They do have dad’s on the Panel. In fact they have all kinds of members on the Panel from all backgrounds. So much so, that I personally believe that it should be renamed the Disney Parks Parent Panel to better reflect the variety of talented members they have; but what do I know? For a list of current members follow this link.
Some of you may be asking “What is the Moms Panel any ways?”
The Disney Parks Moms Panel is a forum where online “Moms” (and Dads!) answer your questions and offer advice and tips about Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, team sports at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and runDisney events.
Now back to me. This past September I decided to “take the plunge” and see what the application was all about. The first round involved answering a sample Mom’s Panel question, uploading a picture showing your #DisneySide, and, answering a fun question about Frozen Fractals. The whole process is meant to be fun as well as assess your knowledge of your chosen speciality; I chose Walt Disney World. The application questions really were fun and I had a great time answering them. It was a chance for me to be a little creative; a part of me I don’t think I tap into very often! I had formulated my answers in my head the days leading up to the deadline and thankfully was able to submit them just in the nic of time!
Surprise! I made it to round 2!
I was surprised, excited and nervous all at the same time when I received this email from Gary Buchanan the Social Media Managing Editor for Disney Parks . I actually didn’t think the answers I had come up with were very good but apparently they caught the eye of the committee enough for them to ask for a second look! Yay!
In round two the committee had increased the stakes a little with more of an emphasis on writing ability. It included two sample Moms panel questions and 5 questions that gave you the opportunity to tell them a little more about yourself & your family tied together with your Disney knowledge. The final item was a 71 second video answering the question “What does a Disney vacation mean for you and your family” The video was also meant to be fun and was stressed as such. However, this was one of the areas that caused me the most stress during this phase of the application process. My wife and I spent a few hours one day doing take after take before we had to stop. I’m always very nervous when being recorded and that was making me forget my lines! 71 seconds is a really long time for me to speak on camera!! We tried again the next day after I had a chance to practice my lines some more and I was finally able to get something that was worth submitting. I did not hit my lines exactly as I had written but it was something I was happy with. I submitted the best responses I could come up with for the questions along with my video and waited ……
While waiting in (what most online were calling) the round 2 waiting room my family and I had left for our annual Disney trip (stay tuned for posts on those experiences). Through clues posted by Gary Buchanan I learned that the announcement emails for the successful applicants that would be moving on to round 3 would be announced while I was there!!! I as well as my family were very excited at this point!! What a perfect place to receive news like that!!! I remember the day I received the email quite vividly. It was one of our Hollywood Studios days and it was supposed to land in my inbox around 1300. We had lunch at Pizza Planet and headed over to Toy Story Mania to make use of our fast pass. Receiving this email had consumed the majority of my thoughts for most of the morning and pretty much all of lunch. Before we left for Toy Story Mania I had noticed that I had received the email and kept this fact to myself!! I was too afraid to open it …… Just outside the ride my wife had remembered that it was after 1300 and I should have my email by now. “Did you get the email yet???” 😀 I had also received some texts asking the same question! I told my wife that I had the email but I was too afraid to open it! “WHAT??? Open it! Open it!”. So after some convincing by her and all my family (now standing around me looking over my shoulders at my phone) I reluctantly opened the email. Avoiding my fate was in no way going to change it!
I think that is the best word to describe the sheer disappointment in reading those words. It was a wonderfully written letter but it was still a rejection 😦 I felt like I had let myself, my family, and all those who had been rooting for me, down. Everyone had done their very best to cheer me up and try to make me feel that I still was the perfect candidate no matter what the email said. In the end, though, it was not their decision to make and it was still a “not this year” email. That was a hard pill to swallow and it pretty much bummed me out for the rest of the day. I don’t think their has been anything in my life (so far) that I had wanted so badly and not succeeded on.
Looking back on the whole thing with clearer less emotional eyes I will say the whole experience was very positive. It was a lot of fun as the committee had meant it to be. It was also made more fun on the social media side of things with many clues being posted by Gary, as well as chatter/playful banter by some of the applicants. I have made new friends through this and look forward to sharing more with them! I have learned more about myself and have increased my knowledge and LOVE of all things Disney. As with any application process their is no feedback given by the selection committee with regard to what made you a less appealing applicant over the others. I have gone over in my head a million times now how I answered each question and where I “think” I may have gone wrong. While I will never fully know which characteristic or element it was that made not as strong as the other candidates I do know myself which answers that were weaker and I am more aware of some of the elements of my writing that need improvement. I am empowered with the knowledge of what I need to improve and I have a direction on how I am going to do it!
I want to send a huge thank you to Gary Buchanan and the rest of the selection committee for the opportunity to showcase myself and my Disney knowledge to you. It was a very organized, well thought out, entertaining process. I found myself checking Gary’s tweets multiple times/day to see what graphic clue or questions he had answered and that added to the excitement . It helped pass the time between rounds and I even kept checking after I got my “not this year” email! He did a stellar job of answering peoples questions and keeping it fun while not compromising the process.
In the end I am still on the fence on whether I want to put myself through the process again and I think I will make that a game time decision come September 2015. I will say though, that I think it makes you a stronger more intelligent person when you continue seek out and attempt new challenges. So I am leaning more to the side of applying again. In the end, though, I still have a beautiful and ever supporting wife (who also is just as much a Disney fanatic as me and is actually more Disney smart!). I have an amazing family that I love dearly and will do anything for. I have an amazing job and still look forward to our family vacations at the happiest place on earth.
Still lots of reasons to #KeepSmilin 🙂