Hey, Bloggers and Friends.
Last week was AMAZING! I had the chance to go to Disney World and speak at the Niche Parent Conference. I’ll tell you more about the conference in a minute, but let me let you in on a little secret.
When I looked at the itinerary I was a little dismayed; there was very little if any time blocked out for the parks. This is not my first conference at Disney. I’ve done Disney Social Media Moms and the opening of New Fantasyland – both of which are given by Disney – so of course you’re sitting in the park the whole time. Niche Parent had us going to see Blue Man Group and Sea World. Nice places, but if I was going to ride 24 hours (both ways) to Florida I wanted my Mickey time.
Screeeeeech! Was I completely being Snobby McSnob for no reason!
Being my usual go with the flow self (because I wasn’t a prisoner; I could go to the park when I wanted with the park hoppers we got with registration), I decided I would let the conference dictate what I did vs. the other way around. After all, they were smart enough to book me as a speaker, let’s see what other smart cookie ideas they had for me.
So here are my reasons that #NicheParent14 TOTALLY rocked and why I’ll be back again.
1. Disney. Nope. We weren’t in the park for days on end, but Disney was the major sponsor. Their Coronado Springs conference facility was great. The food was sooooo good I’m going to mention it again. I even had my business cards delivered to the business center. They accommodated me prior to even arriving in Florida and didn’t seem bothered at all (the Disney way) when I checked on my shipment’s arrival a few times before it was even supposed to be delivered.
2. Animal Kingdom. Yeah. We got to go to Animal Kingdom and were treated to a safari ride. Seeing my daughter identify all the animals was a cool experience. An elephant tried to uproot a tree in front of us! I don’t think we’ll forget that one. It was a very peaceful yet exciting way to end a day of travel to experience the outdoors with some of the most beautiful creatures in the world.
3. Mickey and Minnie! While at Animal Kingdom two of the most famous Disney characters came to meet and greet the Niche Parent children (and adults). Joelle was super excited and seeing your child that full of glee does something to you. I’m so thankful to Niche and Disney for giving us that moment. Oh, and bonus Joelle was wearing her Minnie costume… Super duper bonus, Minnie chased Joelle down for an extra hug. YAY! Oh, and dinner… C’est Manifique!
4. The attendees and speakers. I’ve only gone to conferences where everyone was friendly, but there are always whispers about the conferences for which you’ve paid too much or there wasn’t enough interaction. Joelle and I made such great connections she cried when we left our hotel – not Disney, our hotel where we hung out with her new blogger buddies.
5. The information. I am so glad I didn’t skip out on the conference at any point because I would have missed taking my business to the next level. Everyone was energetic and passionate about their subject matter and I have plenty of action items to complete. Plus, I’m going to not only sound smarter when I consult, but BE smarter and more valuable.
6. I WAS A SPEAKER! Yes, one of the reasons I’m bonded to Niche Parent is because they gave me a chance to teach other people. Being a speaker at a conference is unique in that you get questions or suggestions afterwards that spark ideas for your growth, too. I know I’m on the right path with my endeavors and I so appreciate getting that kind of feedback.
7. More of Florida. Now I don’t know if Niche is going to do Disney again next year, but I’m so glad they didn’t “just” do Disney this year. When I envisioned my trip to Disney even before I was invited to speak, I saw Sea World as a part of my next Florida visit. So when we got the email saying that Sea World was on the agenda, I couldn’t have been more pleased. They had bubbles and more bubbles for their #Spooktacular which made it all the less spooky, candy stations, music, colorful characters, and not to mention the whales! I’m very glad that I got to see what other parks are doing to entice people. (Side note: Joelle wouldn’t take a pic with a Blue Man, but that possum got all kinds of love. Kids!)
8. Even MORE of Orlando. We also visited the Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando! I love theater, music, creativity, fun, humor, the dark, surprises, and innovation. Blue Man Group had all of that! It was a treat to experience that with my daughter and fellow bloggers. We even got to get up close to the blue men. Side note: Joelle didn’t want to take a picture with the Blue Man Group member, but the possum at Sea World? She just had to touch it. That’s definitely what trekking with your kid will yield you. Surprises!
9. The travel. For this adventure I was riding the Amtrak rails for 48 hours with my baby girl. Yes, as a big part of the experience we took the train to Disney. Of course, just booking the ticket made me an optimist about the endeavor, but the rides to and from Disney made me an advocate. I don’t know if you’ll be so lucky to find other parents who are as inviting as the ones I found on both legs of the trip, but Joelle and I made fast friends and were able to fully enjoy the ride.
10. Painting With A Twist. Sitting in a room full of creative people creating the same thing with our own “twist” (not the real twist in Painting With A Twist) was amazing. Having a handmade souvenir is awesome! And having a chance to paint next to my daughter gave me chills.
In the end, we did make it to a few of the parks. We did an official park hopper in that we just rode the monorail and the bus and the ferry to Epcot and Magic Kingdom (where the below Coolest Shot Ever was taken). I thought my daughter would be devastated that we weren’t inside the park, but she totally wasn’t. Turns out I’m raising one of those go-with-the-flow #DisneyKids; one of the #NicheParent14 bonuses I love.