When it comes to events, whether it’s Disney After Hours, a holiday party or a private event, Disney knows how to make it magical. The #DisneySMC On-the-Road Celebration in Orlando this July was no exception. I was honored to be invited by the Disney Parks Influencer team. Here’s what I learned at #DisneySMC, what many would consider the ultimate Disney bloggers conference.
Thank you to Walt Disney World for extending an invite to experience the #DisneySMC event. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
What is #DisneySMC?
The acronym stands for Disney Social Media Celebration and the event is just that, a celebration of all things Disney and social media. In attendance, you’ll find lots of bloggers and influencers who tend to showcase a love for Disney. Despite the name, #DisneySMC attendees not exclusively ‘Disney’ bloggers. The On-the-Road events are a series of one day conferences, held across the US. Throughout the day, experts share tips for being a better blogger and everything new at Disney Parks. These events were formerly known as the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. #DisneySMC dropped the “moms” last year to provide more inclusion for dads and bloggers without children. Overall, the event is filled with great information, networking opportunities and LOTS of Disney magic.
How do you get invited to #DisneySMC?
Since attending this event, I have had a lot of people ask, “How do you get invited to #DisneySMC?” To be honest, I don’t know for sure. The Disney Parks Influencer team selects their attendees and sends out emails with information about the event. There is no application process nor is there a secret formula for being invited. Personally, I have always dreamed of being invited to a Disney Social Media Celebration event ever since I started blogging. I remember seeing posts from other bloggers, shortly after I began my blog, and made it a goal to attend. Receiving an invite to this #DisneySMC On-the-Road event was a dream come true!
If your dream is to be invited, I highly recommend being active on social media, especially on Twitter. Follow and engage with the #DisneySMC hashtag and also the main @DisneyMoms and @DisneyParks accounts. Be YOU! Write your blog posts, share on social, but above all, be genuine and showcase what makes you unique. Mix in some Disney content, but focus on what makes you happiest to write about. For me, that’s party planning, raising my two daughters and sharing tips from our many trips to Disney World as Annual Passholders. Many of the writers in attendance have blogs that focus on lifestyle or travel content with a happy dose of Disney.
Lessons Learned from #DisneySMC
We had the opportunity to hear from several speakers throughout the Disney bloggers conference type event. From Disney executives to entrepreneurs, each speaker had something special to share. Not only was the day educational, but also very inspirational.
Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey
First, we heard from Cappy Surette the Senior Manager Of Executive Communications. Cappy shared the importance of storytelling. He told us a story of Walt Disney, and where the original inspiration came from to create Mickey Mouse.
Walt’s original successful cartoon character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was stolen, along with most of his studio artists, by Universal distributor Charles Mintz. Shortly after that transpired, Walt Disney sent a telegram right before leaving New York for a cross-country train ride back to Hollywood. In the telegram, Walt said to his brother, “Don’t worry, everything ok will give details when I arrive.” Nowhere in this message did he share the possibly career ending blow that he just received. Instead, he shared positivity and reassurance. Despite circumstances, Walt Disney persevered and, shortly after, made Mickey Mouse, the icon that started the entire Disney empire.
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” -Walt Disney
Cappy gave us each a copy of the telegram sent by Walt Disney as a reminder that even when things don’t go your way, there is still hope. A reminder to not over react but rather sit down and come up with a solution when you encounter a problem. I loved this Disney quote that he shared (above). How true! Sometimes the things we think are knocking us down are really just propelling us to a better and brighter future.
Lastly, Cappy also shared the premise of the Hero’s Journey and how famous stories of the past stick to a similar formula for success. Here’s another great book on that concept if you want to learn more. Additionally, he explained how those same principles can be applied to blogging and gave examples of how to use that to better our own storytelling.
The Power of Story! Tips for Writing a Better Blog
- Give your audience someone to root for! It’s more about a character’s journey than their success.
- Keep it simple, less is more.
- Great stories (and blog posts) have clear structure.
- Stories have purpose. Why must is be shared?
- Take people on an adventure! Not necessarily sad, but emotional. Emotions are the key between good and GREAT writing.
SEO Tips & Tricks to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
Next, we heard from Steve Guberman, the Senior Manager Of SEO Team For Parks & Resorts. He shared some awesome tips and tools to help take your blog to the next level. At this point, I really focused on SEO, because it is so important to master for long term blogging success. I was very excited to hear from Steve and have already started implementing some of his tips.
Here are some of the SEO tips he shared:
- Is your site secure? ALL blogs should be https. 56% of users are scared away if it’s not secure.
- Surprisingly, the average content length for first page Google results is 1,900 words
- Blog posts with over 1,500 words are 68% more likely to be shared on Twitter, liked on Facebook
- Use your keyword/phrase to LEAD YOUR TITLE. Page Title Tags shouldn’t be too long! (10-70 Characters) Use Yoast to see a “preview” of what it looks like on Google.
- Meta Descriptions should tell a mini story to make people click on your post
- Keyword Density should be 3.5-4%. Use the SEO Quake Chrome Extension to analyze your posts.
- Great Blog Posts have an attention grabbing headline, a captivating first paragraph, supporting facts and a compelling call to action.
Happy People Can Do Anything
Then we heard from John Breckow, Head Of Corporate Citizenship. He shared with us all about how Disney gives back, and explained it’s not “what they do” but “why they do it”. Disney doesn’t solve world problems or cure diseases, but they do provide hope, happiness and confidence to guests globally. This is what Disney contributes to the world, happiness. Together, happy people can do anything. A few of the projects Disney currently has to ‘give back’ includes:
- Team of Heroes– Disney delivering comfort and inspiration to children’s hospitals through the Disney Toy Delivery Program
- Make a Wish Foundation– Disney has granted over 130,000 wishes since 1980. Thats on average 1 wish each hour of every day annually
- #ShareYourEars campaign which raises money and awareness for Make A Wish Foundation has had over 2 million participates over the past four years
- Disney VoluntEARS program which has provided more than 4 million hours of volunteer service since 2012.
- Disney Parks partnered with Points of Light to launch a new complimentary ticket program. It rewards non profit organizations and schools with Disney theme park tickets for hosting or participating in family volunteer activities. Learn more at www.pointsoflight.org/disneytickets
Ashley Eckstein from Her Universe
Lastly, we listened to Ashley Eckstein author of It’s Your Universe: You Have The Power To Make It Happen. Ashley created the Her Universe apparel brand and is the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Clone Wars.
She shared her inspirational journey of creating Star Wars gear specifically designed for women. The brand has grown to include Marvel and Disney among others. Her Universe apparel is available for purchase at Disney Parks, Shop Disney and HotTopic. I’m sharing a few of my favorite quotes and nuggets of inspiration below:
- Don’t let anyone tell you NO. Yes you can. The power to dream comes from the heart. No one has the power to take away your ability to dream when it comes from within.
- Where does your story begin? It begins where you choose to begin telling it, so identify your mission, know your audience and build your community. Identify your end goal and ask yourself “why not?”
- How can you explain to someone else who you are if you don’t know who you are first? Believe in yourself and don’t be consumed by the competition.
- Do something every day to get you closer to your goal. Break it down into smaller steps, but know it’s OK to fail.
- Another key point was to be prepared to work hard. No one is an “overnight success”.
- Lastly, she shared the need to be ready for change. Change is a necessary part of growth. Trust in yourself and know your value.
What’s New at Walt Disney World 2019
There are so many new new and exciting things coming soon to Walt Disney World in 2019. We heard all about what’s new from Leanne O’Regan, Director of Social Media for Disney Parks. #DisneySMC attendees even got a sneak peak at Galaxy’s Edge.
A Sneak Peak at Galaxy’s Edge Opening August 29th
We weren’t allowed to bring cameras or take any photos. However, we did get to walk through the Resistance side of Galaxy’s Edge. The entrance (by the Muppets) truly transports you into a laser cut mountain opening to a whole new world. Galaxy’s Edge is truly immersive. The land is built up to make it seem like you’re really in a galaxy far far away.
I spoke to Scott Trowbridge, Disney Imagineer and Executive Creative Director for Galaxy’s Edge. He shared the extensive work the team of over 1,500 workers have been doing to prepare the land for opening. He also explained that Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World is actually 180 degrees different from Disneyland. So while it’s bright and sunny in Disneyland, the Walt Disney World version has more shadows and shade. You could say Florida has the “dark side”.
Here’s what you need to know about Galaxy’s Edge:
- Opens August 29th and spans across 14 acres
- Enjoy memorable interactions from roaming characters like Rey, Chewbacca, Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren
- Characters will have games to play and more engagement with guests. You’ll still be able to enjoy a formal meet and greet and take photos at Star Wars Launch Bay
- Smuggler’s Run opens August 29th. This attraction lets you and five others fly the Millennium Falcon in an action packed, interactive adventure. FastPasses+ will not be available.
- Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance, opening December 5, will bring you right into battle against the First Order
- You can build a custom lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop or create a droid to take home at the Droid Depot
- Taste blue milk at the Milk Stand. Try roasted pork and sausage wraps at Ronto Roasters or sample flavored popcorn from Kat Saka’s Kettle
- Oga’s Cantina will serve beverages and interesting concoctions. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo will have you feasting right in the hangar on themed food and drinks
- Bring home souvenirs from Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities or Black Spire Outfitters
- Use Extra Extra Magic Hours (more information below) to access the land with less crowds and wait times
H2O Glow Nights
This special nighttime event at Typhoon Lagoon celebrates Toy Story 4 with some Disney·Pixar pals! Along with shorter wait times, guests can enjoy a DJ hosted dance party by the wave pool. In addition, meet Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie, plus enjoy special limited-time food and beverage offerings.
Happening Every Thursday and Saturday from May 30 – August 24, 2019 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Guests with event tickets may arrive beginning at 6:00 PM.
Skyliner Gondolas Opening Soon
Opening September 29, 2019, guests can discover Disney Skyliner, an incredible new way to travel around Walt Disney World Resort. This grand, state-of-the-art gondola system connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and International Gateway at Epcot to the following Resort hotels: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Epcot Forever Lights And Fireworks Show
After a dazzling 20-year run, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth takes its final bow on September 30, 2019. Bid farewell to this classic show, and then say hello to Epcot Forever, coming October 1, 2019. Celebrate the past, present and future of Epcot with dazzling fireworks, stunning laser effects and choreographed kites set to tunes that have become theme park favorites.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party happens on select dates from August 16-November 1. Read my tips for attending here. There is lots of new frightful fun coming for 2019 including:
- Brand-new fireworks show (revamped for the first time in 14 years) called Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular!
- Cruella’s Halloween Hide-A-Way. Dine in style with reserved seating for the parade and an appearance by Cruella De Vil
- Follow the treat trail into the Monster World at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. They’ll interact in all-new ways with the cast of monsters, as they learn about the curious Human World holiday we call Halloween
- Fancy Nancy joins other Disney Junior pals like Vampirina and Doc McStuffins at the “Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jam”
- Newly announced, a Disney Descendants Dance Party!
- The Incredibles and designer extraordinaire Edna Mode debut in “Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade.” Also, see Buzz Lightyear and Alien explorers discovering crystalline treasures on the surface of a planetary playset float
Food & Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a culinary and entertainment event held each fall in Epcot at Walt Disney World. This year, the event will run from August 29-November 23. Happening select nights November 8 to December 22, 2019, experience the all new Minnie’s Christmas Fireworks Show. Get in the Christmas spirit as your host—Minnie Mouse—invites you to take in a sparkling, yuletide fireworks display. Watch as the sky becomes alight with festive colors to the tune of some of your favorite carols like Deck the Halls and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Stay at a Disney Resort September 1 to November 2, 2019 and enjoy even more time at select parks. This includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios—earlier before the park opens. Valid theme park admission and hotel ID required. In addition to all of the incredible things coming soon to Disney Parks, there are also lots of new experiences at Disney Springs. In closing, my experience at #DisneySMC On the Road event was magical. Thanks to Disney for organizing this event. Be sure to follow @DisneyMoms on Twitter for updates on what’s coming to Walt Disney World and also for information about future #DisneySMC events.
New at Disney Springs
Happening select nights November 8 to December 22, 2019, experience the all new Minnie’s Christmas Fireworks Show. Get in the Christmas spirit as your host—Minnie Mouse—invites you to take in a sparkling, yuletide fireworks display. Watch as the sky becomes alight with festive colors to the tune of some of your favorite carols like Deck the Halls and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Stay at a Disney Resort September 1 to November 2, 2019 and enjoy even more time at select parks. This includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios—earlier before the park opens. Valid theme park admission and hotel ID required. In addition to all of the incredible things coming soon to Disney Parks, there are also lots of new experiences at Disney Springs. In closing, my experience at #DisneySMC On the Road event was magical. Thanks to Disney for organizing this event. Be sure to follow @DisneyMoms on Twitter for updates on what’s coming to Walt Disney World and also for information about future #DisneySMC events.
Stay at a Disney Resort September 1 to November 2, 2019 and enjoy even more time at select parks. This includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios—earlier before the park opens. Valid theme park admission and hotel ID required.
In addition to all of the incredible things coming soon to Disney Parks, there are also lots of new experiences at Disney Springs.
In closing, my experience at #DisneySMC On the Road event was magical. Thanks to Disney for organizing this event. Be sure to follow @DisneyMoms on Twitter for updates on what’s coming to Walt Disney World and also for information about future #DisneySMC events.