Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ready...Set...APPLY For The Disney Parks Moms Panel

Alright kids, it's that time of year again. Time to dust off your pixie dusted thinking caps and brush up on your Disney Parks nomenclature. The application for the Disney Parks Moms Panel opens TODAY, 9/7/2016 at noon ET.  Before the application opens, let's review some information for those who may not be familiar with the Panel.

What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel? The Disney Parks Moms Panel is a group of Disney enthusiasts who are chosen by a Disney selection committee to answer real-life guest questions using their own knowledge and experience. You do not need to be a mom, anyone can apply as long as you meet some very basic requirements like:

  • you must be 18 yrs or older
  • cannot work for Disney or be a travel agent
  • must have visited Disney Parks within a certain time frame--this requirement differs for each "specialty"(we'll talk about "specialty" in a minute), but usually to apply for a position as a Walt Disney World (WDW) or Disneyland (DL) mom, you must have visited the respective parks within the last 12 months. 
Those are just the basic requirements. The complete list of requirements can usually be found on the first page of the application website.

As I mentioned before, the panel is divided into "specialties". Until the application is open, we will not know what specific specialty positions will be open but in the past there have been the following:

  • Walt Disney World
  • Disneyland
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Vacation Club
  • runDisney
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports
Disney has also, in previous years, looked for bi-lingual panelists--those enthusiasts who are fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

If you are selected, you will answer real guest questions regarding Disney and although those selected do receive a compensated trip to WDW, this is not a paid position and I want every to understand that there is work involved here. Although I have never, ever, heard of a panelist referring to their time spent on the panel as work, you are expected answer a certain number of questions per week. However, if you enjoy sharing your knowledge of Disney with others, you most likely will LOVE this kind of "work".

How does the application process work?  Well, I can only advise on years past, so here goes. Traditionally, the application process has been three rounds. Round 1, involves basic "get to know you" questions, usually a sample question, one that is similar to that which the actual panelists answer, and usually one or two general knowledge Disney questions. Round 2 is usually a few more essay type questions and two sample panelist-type questions along with a required video submission. Round three is usually a phone interview with one of the members of the selection team--- sometimes another sample panelist question is added in here (typed and sent via email).  Panelists are then notified if they made it or not--sometimes with an email, sometimes with a phone call.   The selection committee likes to keep us all on our toes so things can change at anytime.....but this is how it has been in years past.

small victory followed by yet another agony of defeat.
How do I pick a specialty? Does it matter what I pick? Yes, it matters. You should pick what you know the best. Yes, the competition is greater for a spot as a WDW mom (dad/aunt/grandma..etc), but if you've only been to DL once but have been to WDW 6 times, you should definitely apply for a WDW spot.
How many spots are there per specialty? How many apply?  Well now that is the million dollar question, isn't it? The truth is, I don't know. No one outside of the selection committee knows. The  number of applications received for round one in years past has been rumored to be between a couple thousand to greater than ten thousand. The number of those applicant who move on from round one to round two are usually rumored to be around 500 with those moving on to round three around 50-100. My numbers could be WAAAYYYY off, but those are the rumors.
As for the number of spots--well I cannot tell you that either because no one knows until the committee makes their selection. In the past there have not usually been any more than two for each specialty other than WDW--which currently have 22 panelists. However keep in mind, that not ALL 22 spots will be open or filled. The number of panelists varies year to year, so we will not know for certain how many will be taken until they are...well...taken.

Any tips for applicants?  Well, I don't know if I am the best for giving out tips, since I have never been selected, but here goes.

  1. Spelling and grammar count--so read and re-read...then read it again
  2. Use PROPER Disney names---if you don't know, look them up
  3. Be yourself--because you cannot be anyone else...unless you can be a princess, then be a princess. I know that is totally cliche, but you have to write in your own voice. It's how you let the committee know who you are and how they can see your passion. 
  4. Spelling and grammar--yes, it is THAT important

i just LOVE Effie
Should I apply? It sounds scary and really hard.  Should you apply? Well I cannot tell you, dear reader, what to do. The process is grueling, I will not lie. You are applying for a job for which you have no real idea what the requirements are. You do not know what will set you apart if you are selected (what you did right) or what it is that you could change if you are not chosen (what you did wrong). Many hours I have spent pouring over my application, making sure my word count was correct and that I was using correct Disney terminology--only to have received that rejection email time and time again. It is hard. You have only a few hundred words to demonstrate to the committee not only your passion for Disney, but also your dazzling personality, your unbelievable writing skills, and strong voice. And there are a LOT of really passionate Disney writers out there. But, I do not say this to you to discourage you. Quite the contrary. I think you SHOULD apply. While I will never be a panelist, I have gained so much from the process over the past 8 years (or is it 9 years....bah! I cannot remember). I have learned to write, have created my own voice, became a blogger and also a writer for a few Disney and travel sites, as well as made some incredible friends along the application journey.  Plus, what have you got to lose? Rejection is painful, I will not lie, but if you are not chosen, you will move on, no worse for the wear. But, what if it is YOU the committee is looking for? You'll never know unless you stop reading my blog and get on the application page. And if you apply..let me know in the comments below. I want to be sure to send some positive pixie dusted thoughts your way. As my favorite Tribute Escort says "May the odds be ever in your favor"!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Reason For My Kindergarten Tears--A Letter To My Husband

My Dearest Husband,

Well you asked. You wanted to know how I was doing after dropping our last baby off at kindergarten. I didn't want to tell you because it is really something I don't think you CAN understand. Our roles in our kids' lives are different--both essential, but different. You come home at the end of the day for dinner and bedtime, so whether the kids are here or not during the day really has no bearing on your normal daily events. For me, the kids have been my full time job. Their constant care and well being the center of my very existence. With our last one off to school, I guess you could say I feel.......unemployed.

Picture for a moment you walk into work tomorrow and your "boss" tells you "Thanks for all of your hard work for the last twenty years, but you can go home now. Oh and by the way, you can never work in the rubber and plastics industry again. Have a great rest of your life."  What would you do? Your whole self is now changed--gone, abruptly and irreversibly, because that which has defined you for so long is over. How would you feel? Chances are you'd feel lost. I mean, you've spent a major part of your life at this company. You've worked hard and it wasn't just a job but an integral part of who you are. But it's over.  And not only is it over, but you cannot go back to doing that very thing you loved, the thing that has defined you for so long. Now what?

Now what, indeed.

For the past 16 years, raising our kids has been my job. It has been the center of my every day for those 16 years and has been what defines me, my purpose for existence entirely since giving up my nursing career 11 years ago. I have no regrets of being an at-home mom, of giving up a job I loved--NONE. I have embraced  every moment and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with our kids, to have raised them, to have been there to teach them, play with them, and love them.  I think I've been pretty great at it too. But now what?

The tears I shed when dropping off our baby at school isn't just for her, it is for me too. Yes, I miss her like crazy, just like I miss all of her sibling. But I know she is ready and she will go on to do great things. I cannot confidently say those same things about myself.

If you were to lose your job, your friends and family would rally around you, offer words of wisdom, comfort you for as long as it took for you to figure things out.

I have lost my job and I am expected to be happy. I'm supposed to celebrate having "free time" and be willing to "let them go". But I don't want to let them go because I don't want to let myself go. It's not that I don't want our kids to move on to greater things in life, because you know I do,  it's that I don't know how to move on by myself--just me.

So, my tears spilled, dear husband, are not just for my babies growing up. As sad as I am to let them go and as much as I miss them, I knew it was inevitable, as it is part of life.  My tears are shed in mourning for who I have been for the last 16 years. They are tears for the uncertain future of me.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ten Delicious Details You NEED To Know When Dining Onboard Disney Cruise Line

Let’s face it, there are a ton of things to research when it comes to taking a vacation and a Disney cruise is no exception. Disney vacationers, in my opinion, are the “Type-A” of all travelers and want to know and plan, well in advance, every detail of their trip. I get it. In an effort to help those planning their next Disney cruise, check out an article I wrote for WDW Fan Zone about the  10 things I think you need to know about dining on Disney Cruise Line. Ten Delicious Disney Cruise Line Dining Tips. Here, you will find my best advice, including details you may not know, about eating onboard the ship.  What are some of your best Disney Cruise Line dining tips? Comment below!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Easy Black Raspberry Jam--No Sugar, No Pectin

I love, love, LOVE this time of the year. Mainly because the weather is HOT and food is fresh. Every summer I take the kids fruit picking. We go several times throughout the summer to pick various fruits. Last week we picked black raspberries (which is NOT the same as a blackberry, I learned).  I used the majority to make jam. Who doesnt like homemade jam? I've become quite good at perfecting jam without using pectin and a ton of sugar. Plus it cooks in your crock pot, making easy work for you! In the recipe that follows, you can adjust the amount of honey you use based on the sweetness of your berries and to accomodate your individual tastes.

Printable Recipe HERE
Easy Black Raspberry Jam--No Sugar, No Pectin

Easy Black Raspberry Jam--No Sugar, No Pectin

Makes about 4, 8oz jars
  • 3-4 cups of fresh black raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 C Raw Honey (or more to taste)
To make jam:
  1. Place berries and lemon juice into your crock pot.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour
  3. After the 1 hour, take lid off and mash up your berries.
  4. Add honey and mix
  5. Turn the crock pot down to LOW and cook for 2 more hours with the lid ajar to allow steam to escape. This will helps to thicken your jam
  6. After the 2 hours, taste your jam to insure it is sweetend to taste. If not add more honey, in small quantities, until desired sweetness is achieved. Mix well
  7. Place jam into your prepped jars, leaving room at the top for expansion. 
  8. Leave lids off jars until jam has cooled
  9. Once jam is cooled, go ahead and put on the lids and place in freezer. The jam will keep about 1 year in the freezer and about 10 days in the fridge.

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