Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflections on Disney Maker All Star Creators Conference - Day 2

As I awoke the on the morning of the first full day at the All Star Creators Conference, I tried to mentally prepare for everything that was about to happen that day, even though I didn't know exactly what it was going to be yet... I knew it was going to be BIG. I headed down to breakfast and found some familiar faces. I was happy to hear I wasn't the only one that decided to call it an early evening.

The food was great and I loved the "movie & film" details around the room as decoration. At the end of the designated breakfast period, we started hearing chimes to indicate we should start going... somewhere. And headed out to find the conference room.

WOW. That is really the only word that sums it up. The photo backdrop from the evening prior was outside the doors along with banners along the hall way with the All Star Creators Conference logo on them. We walked into a large banquet hall type of room... it was expansive, well decorated, and I instantly noticed the added technology in the room. Large monitors that would later be used for social media resources lined the room. Disney & Maker logos bounced across the screens, fun music was blaring... THIS... this was going to be a once in a lifetime experience.

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We had sessions in the morning after an introduction from George Kalogridis, President of Walt Disney World - who shared brilliant statistics of how long it would take to stay in all of the hotel rooms on property and eat at each single restaurant for a different meal each day... Niether of course I got on film, so I won't repeat what I *think* they are in case I am remembering them wrong... but it was amazing. Then we got right into sessions with chats from different YouTubers. Sam Macaroni and Mark Daniels were the hosts and did a great job of being entertaining and giving information at the same time. Shay Carl from the ShayTards, Stampycat from StampyLongNose, the Epic Rap Battles of History guys, and two directors from Disney's Creative Inc. all stopped by to talk to us about creative ideas and YouTube.

After the sessions were over for the morning, we had a chance to have lunch and meet with our Disney Representatives. (From this point, shall hence be called the "Disney Reps".) My Disney Rep was brilliant, they did a great job matching us up. She had a little one around Natalie's age, so she understood preschoolers and unspoken... I think she sensed the moments that I was missing the girls and helped to move those moments along. She also let me drag her around all four theme parks and log over 12 miles walked in 2 days... so for that, at the end I felt like thanking her and apologizing to her at the same time, ha! The Disney Reps accompanied us throughout the theme parks over two main conference days, to make sure we knew the rules of filming in the parks, but also to give us information along the way, help with navigation, and my Disney Rep, Melissa, even jumped in to hold the camera to film as well!

I, of course being me, was ambitious in the beginning and wanted to do as.much.as.possible. Feet be darned. I was doing everything! There were a number of challenges presented by Maker that we could do on that Friday, so I decided to give it a go on all of those. (Spoiler alert: I didn't win any of them.) They had amazing prizes like annual passes to Walt Disney World and a visit to the Cinderella Suite at CINDERELLA CASTLE... That's a life long dream, I had to least try, right? The three challenges were a Disneybounding challenge (dressing in clothing as your favorite character - no costumes allowed!), Vinylmation challenge (taking pictures of the cute little characters "roaming" the parks), and a Selfie Challenge.

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Hollywood Studios was our first stop, I was Disneybounding as Sully from Monster's Inc. and wanted to get a picture with him. From there we headed to Character Palooza and I got some great footage that I've since used for my new Disney collaborative channel, Moms with Mouse Ears.. and took some vinylmation pictures along the way as well for the third challenge. Riding Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom was one of my big personal goals for the weekend, since this normally wasn't a ride I could go on with the girls along... so we headed to Animal Kingdom to ride that and stop by to say "hello" to Mickey & Minnie while were there. Animal Kingdom is definitely growing on me and I see us spending a good day or two there on our next family vacation to Walt Disney World.

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After completing everything I set out to do at Animal Kingdom just as the park was closing, we headed to Magic Kingdom to have dinner and ride a few rides. Deciding what to ride was a tough choice, I normally have everything pre-planned based on our Fast Passes and the girls' schedule... so I was a unique experience just being to "come and go" as I pleased. We eventually decided upon riding Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, and tried the dinner at Columbia Harbor House.

It was my first time eating at Columbia Harbor House and I thought the food was really interesting, maybe not some place I will attempt to eat at each time we visit Magic Kingdom, but definitely some place to keep in mind if people in our party were wanting seafood.

After finishing up at Magic Kingdom, it was time to head back to the hotel to change clothes to go to the Hollywood Studios "after close" party! This was an amazing experience, to be able to go into the theme park after it had closed for the evening. We arrived via a back gate and used a back entrance to go into the theme park. Earlier in the day, we had signed up for character meet and greets - and I was particularly excited about an Olaf meet and greet. (It was not to be...) We entered right new Toy Story Midway Mania, and decided to wait in line to ride that first.

This was probably my only and/or biggest mistake of the weekend... thinking, "Oh the parks are closed, we won't have to wait long to ride things" I got into line at Toy Story Midway Mania with about 45 minutes to spare before my Olaf meet and greet time. What I hadn't calculated, is that there were not ride mounts (to film the YouTubers riding) on each car, so we had to wait for the ride mount cars to come back around and be available again. 45 minutes later... it was up to next in line and had to make the decision of whether to try to get out of line after standing there so long and trying to run to the Olaf greet (which was across the park), or just go ahead and ride since I'd already missed it anyhow. I ended up riding and we ran (literally, ran folks... and if you know how much I dislike running, you know how much I wanted to try to see Olaf!) to try to get to the meet and greet area... but alas, Olaf was gone and I had been the last Olaf time slot for the night. I met with Anna and Elsa after only having to wait a few minutes and we headed to the Tower of Terror area.

Then I had to make another decision of whether going to ride Tower of Terror or Rockin' Roller Coaster to get ride mount footage, and I chose to go to Tower of Terror. IF I could do it all over again, I would have skipped Toy Story Midway Mania, knowing I hadn't planned on using that footage anyways, and rode the two roller coasters for better ride mount footage. I blame my bad judgement on being tired from all of the walking. I had a fun time riding Tower of Terror and by that time, it was time to head back to the hotels and get a few hours of sleep before being up early the next morning!

Check out my vlogs from the first full day of the All Star Creators Conference:

** FTC Disclaimer: I received an all expenses paid trip to attend the All Star Creators Conference after winning a video contest showing my Disney Side! I was not paid to blog or vlog the conference. All opinions are my own.

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