Tag Archives: disney social media moms

First Impressions of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

The closing night party of Disney Social Media Moms was held at the soon-to-open Art of Animation resort.  We were all so excited to see what magic Disney had in store for us, but no one was prepared for how amazing this resort is turning out.

Here’s the view when we pulled up on the buses, and would probably be your first view of the resort as an arriving guest.  Right away, I knew we were in for some fun.

The resort celebrates Disney’s history of leadership and creativity in animation.   That’s on display right away when you enter “Animation Hall.”

Animation Hall traces the history of animation as only Disney could.  When you come through the doors, you see very simple pencil sketches lining the walls. You may also notice that the floor is black and white.  But as you walk along, the sketches start to evolve into more finishes images.

The floor too changes from monochrome to brush strokes and rich colors, finally to the pixels that represent digital animation.


This shot gives you a wide view of the other side of the reception area as it leads away from the entrance.

Once you’ve checked in, guests can head to their rooms, or get a bit to eat at the food court on the other end of Animation Hall.  It’s not functioning yet, but I got a few shots of the dining area.

Disney really knows how to roll out the welcome mat.  When we showed up at the hotel, there was a line of cast members who broke out into applause.  As if *we* had done anything to create this magic resort!  Plus, they had cocktails for us.  I liked these people immediately.

We soon left Animation Hall, because as lovely as it was, it was only the beginning…

There was FOOD!  Around the most beautiful sight you could imagine.  This is the Finding Nemo themed pool, and once open it will be the largest pool on Disney property.  The theming and imagery was OFF THE HOOK.

Soccer Girl was walking around with her mouth wide open in amazement.  Or maybe that was from the food.  Whatever it was, this place was winning her over.

If you have a kid who is into the animated films, specifically The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid or Cars, you have got to consider Art of Animation when making your Disney travel plans.  It’s as if your favorite movies have come to life.

Soccer Girl was in heaven, and she knew her little brother would be too.  But I already had confirmed reservations at another resort on property and wasn’t sure we wanted to change.

In my next post, I take you on a tour of one of the family suites at Art of Animation.  You’re going to see how an already tough decision got tougher.

Disclosure: As an attendee of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received for a fee hotel accommodations, park tickets, many meals and access to special events not made available to the public.  Disney did not ask me or anyone to blog about this event, but being a fan of the company I can’t help myself. This post previously ran on Confessions Of An It Girl.  

Photo Memories with Photo Pass Plus

This post was originally published on ConfessionsofanITGirl.com

Attendees of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration got a surprise on opening night when we were all given Photo Pass Plus kits.

If you’ve been to a Disney park, you’re probably familiar with the Disney Photo Pass photographers in key photogenic locations around the parks.  They take your picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle…

or the Eiffel Tower in EPCOT…

and then they beam your photos onto a plastic card.  The card is reusable, allowing you to load all your pictures on for safe keeping.  At the end of your trip, you can take the card to a Photo Plus station and get prints made or order a CD of all your pictures, for a fee.  You can also do this at home from the Photo Pass online site.

Photo Pass Plus is a little different.  With PhotoPass+ you get access to digital files of all your PhotoPass photos, attraction photos, and Dining photos taken within a 14 day visit to Walt Disney as well as print packages at select dining locations.  Once you arrive home from your vacation, you can view your photos and order a PhotoCD with all the high resolution photos plus a limited license agreement, which allows you to print photos at any local photo processing center.

Photo Pass Plus kits are sold at PhotoPass View Stations located throughout Walt Disney World – you can’t buy them online.  They are currently priced at $199.  I won’t say that’s cheap, but if you are the type of person that likes to have a lot of pictures, especially the ones from attractions and the dining packages, this might be for you.

Soccer Girl and I were on a such a quick trip it was hard to get the most out of it.  But I know what when we bring the whole family back in November, this is definitely something we will want.

I’d never take the time and spend the money to buy this picture on it’s own.  But, it’s included with Photo Pass Plus.  As soon as we realized it, we started getting photos from all participating attractions.

Who WOULDN’T want this beauty?  We didn’t do any Character Meals, but knowing that we could get those pictures added to the Photo Pass Plus would certainly appeal to me.

With the regular photo pass, you can get all the photos loaded onto a CD either during or after your visit.  If you do it during, they usually give you some free printouts along with your CD.  If you do it after, you get to add all sorts of cool photo borders to your pictures.  I love these and hence prefer to do it after the trip through mail order.

So, while we hardly had enough of time to make proper use of this, I was super grateful for the opportunity to give it a test drive.  I definitetly would consider it for future trips because I like that kind of “all you can eat” option.  For more information, visit the Disney PhotoPass site.

Disclosure: As an attendee of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received for a fee hotel accommodations, a Photo Pass Plus, park tickets, many meals and access to special events not made available to the public.  Disney did not ask me or anyone to blog about this event, but being a fan of the company I can’t help myself. 

 

Going FREE-RANGE at EPCOT

Are you familiar with Lenore Skenazy and her movement (and Wiley book of the same name) “Free Range Kids”?  Lenore is the mom who wrote the article for the New York Sun on how she let her 9 year old son take the subway home alone, a ride that he had taken with her many, many times.   She got a huge amount of media attention, for and against, and used it to launch her Free Range platform.

I felt a lot like Lenore while I was at Disney Social Media Moms.  You see, the celebration is very much a professional business conference.  As such, on day 2, there was a full line up of speakers for us to learn from and be inspired by.  This action packed day was just for attendees – the assumption was that family members would tour the parks or hit the pool while we were getting our learning on.

For most families, that was not an issue.  But for me, I didn’t have my spouse or partner with me to look after my 12 year old daughter.  I didn’t want to try and bring her to the conference – it was clearly not allowed, and even if I could get an exception, she’d be bored out of her mind listening to the speakers, which would make me miserable.  Disney does offer “kids clubs” and in-room babysitting, but since the age ranges was listed as 4-12, I felt silly considering it for someone at the top of the range.

While it seems like I debated this issue, I really didn’t.  As soon as I realized she and I would be going to Disney Social Media Moms, I assumed she would tour a park by herself while I attended the conference.  And with that, you would think I put her on the subway herself the first time.

I heard from a number of friends, and Mr. IT about how this was NOT a good idea.  That “things could happen.”  That she wasn’t to be trusted by herself.

Hogwash, I thought.  First off, she’s been to Disney more times than I can count.  She knows her way around better than most adults.  Secondly, it’s not as if I wasn’t close by and reachable by cell phone.  And lastly, she’s a good kid and I trust her.

We came up with a plan, and I was so impressed to see her doing most of the planning.

We decided that it was best for her to go to EPCOT.  The Disney conference was at the Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center, and EPCOT was the park that was closest and within walking distance.  I mean, it’s not like Disney transportation is dangerous, far from it.  I just wanted to know that if something happened that she couldn’t handle, I could walk to her.  She seemed ok with that, and understood my concern.

She was to carry her cell phone and Epi pen (food allergic) with her in a small purse.  She was NOT to lose her room key, park pass or anything else – on penalty of extreme mom rage as these were not replaceable.  She could buy food, within reason, and had to have the discussion about food allergies with the staff at the food service places herself.  She was not permitted to buy expensive souvenirs or do any shopping.  That had to wait for me, so I could join in the fun.  I also asked that she text me every once in a while, partly to make sure I knew where she was, but also so I could vicariously live the day through her. She researched the park online and used apps to view maps so she could remember where everything was.  She knew she could do it, and I was going to cheer her on.

When I settled into my seat to begin the day at the conference, I kept my iPhone on the desk waiting for texts.  She kept to her word and texted about every hour.  I learned that she road “Soarin'” about 6 times and visited Figment at “Journey to Imagination”.   Breakfast was easy – she got some sort of breakfast sandwich at the food court in “Living with the Land.”  Lunch was not so easy – there were a couple of places she wanted to go, having researched all the menus on her iPod app beforehand, but she really wanted to find a place with good seating.  As she said, she didn’t want to be “that person eating with their tray perched on a garbage can.”  What a great image.  She ended up in Mexico after walking through several of the pavilions in World Showcase.  Seemed to be a good choice for her.

I was thrilled when I viewed our PhotoPass pictures and saw that she went through the Character Spot in EPCOT all by herself, autograph book and pen in hand.

She also tracked down a PhotoPass photographer to do some fun outside shots.

When we reunited at the end of the conference sessions, I planned for us to head straight to Animal Kingdom where our dinner was that night.  Nice idea, but she had other plans.  It was hot, she was tired and she ran herself ragged.  While she agreed to go to AK with me because I wanted to go, I knew she really wanted to head to the pool.  Which we did.  She had a new-found confidence about her that was so great to see. I’m glad she had the opportunity to go “free range” that day. She learned a lot about herself and what she was capable of.  She learned to trust her gut and make the right choices.  Now, I am left to wonder if she will want “me time” on our next visits – I hope my coaster buddy still wants to hang out with me!

Disclosure: As an attendee of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received for a fee hotel accommodations, park tickets, many meals and access to special events not made available to the public.  Disney did not ask me or anyone to blog about this event, but being a fan of the company I can’t help myself.  It was originally published on ConfessionsofanITgirl.com on May 24, 2012