As a blogger, an invite to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference is a big deal. Each year, bloggers post updates on Facebook about getting the “Pixies Dust” email. Year after year I’ve been disappointed not to receive an invite. This year, the Pixie Dust finally came my way. When I told my kids, who had never been to Disney, they were super excited. To find out that this event also included a Disney Cruise (we’ve never taken a cruise), even peaked the interest of my Disney-averse husband. I’ve created a list of the top tips I learned from other bloggers to help with my first Disney Conference.
As part of the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I received complimentary items, special discounts and other exciting benefits, such as food and entertainment. All opinions are 100% my own.
After purchasing our ticket, I joined the 2018 Disney SMMC Facebook group and quickly became overwhelmed by the plethora of information about the event. As a planner, I was a bit freaked out about how to make this event amazing for my first-timer Disney family. I’m actually not a first-timer, but I had not been to Disney World in 25 years so I was pretty much a newbie since so much has changed at the parks.
Don’t Freak Out
Beyond freaking out about getting invited, the Disney Social Media Moms group is truly welcoming and provides all the information you’ll need to have an amazing time. Group leaders provide itinerary details and past attendees and Disney super-fans provide information about the parks and cruise. I could not believed the number of helpful posts created by this group. Here are some of my favorites:
- 75 Disney World Tips and Tricks
- 20 Tips for First Time Disney Cruising
- 20 Things to Pack for a Disney Cruise
- Going to Disney World? 6 Tips to Help Maximize the Magic
- How to Pack for Disney World and a Disney Cruise
Book Your Fast Passes Early
The fast pass system can be a bit confusing so I referenced a number of posts specifically explaining how they work. The most important points are to book them early! Popular rides book quickly so it’s best to book them as soon as your window opens. If you stay at a Disney Resort, you are able to book Fast Passes 60 days in advance. Folks off property can book 30 days out. Helpful Fast Pass Posts:
- 5 Simple FastPass Tips to Plan Your Disney Vacation
- Understanding the Fast Pass System
- Guide to Fast Pass+ at Disney World
Fast Passes we used:
Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion
Epcot: Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World, Mission Space
Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari
Hollywood Studios: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
Arrive Early or Stay Late
If at all possible, Arrive 1-2 days before or stay 1-2 days after the event for some extra park time with your family. There will be times during the conference only for influencers so if you want to maximize family time, I recommend adding at least one extra day on either end of the conference. We stayed at the Pop Century Resort for one night so that we had a full day at Magic Kingdom before checking into the conference resort at Coronado Springs.
Our 5-day park-hopper passes kicked in on the official conference check in day. Many attendees take advantage of the extra days on the passes after the event as well. I wish we could have done that, but our teens needed to get back to school.
Bring Snacks and Research Dining Plans
Some attendees had groceries shipped to their hotels and I wish we had done the same. Snacks at Disney World can add up so having easy-carry items like snacks bars, candy, fruit, etc., is helpful. You can get free ice water at any quick-service restaurant in the parks, but if your kids want other drinks, juice boxes/bags come in handy. Understanding the Disney Dining Plan is helpful as well.
Book Cruise Activities, Port Adventures and Dining Reservations Early
Unfortunately, we did not have our cruise confirmations until about 30 days before our cruise. New cruisers can book activities 75 days prior to departure. In one Disney Parks Moms Panel post, it is recommended that folks book activities at the stroke of midnight as the 75th day begins. The reasoning behind this is that Castaway club members (depending on their level) can book 90, 105 and even 120 days before the cruise.
So, competition is high for certain activities. For example, I was unable to book activities of interest for my husband and I like a Mixology Class or Wine Tasting. I was also unable to book time slots Virtual Sports simulators. My kids were not interested in Character Dining or Meet & Greets, but these book quickly as well. I was able to book spa treatments and dinner at Palo. We did not book any shore excursions on this trip.
Consider a photo package
Instead of worrying about capturing all of your family’s magical moments, you can leave it to the pros in the Disney Parks and on the Disney Cruise. In the Disney Parks, the Memory Maker package gives you photos from rides and those that cast members take in key areas like Main Street USA, in front of the Epcot Globe, etc.
Some folks split the cost of a memory maker with other attendees. We did this, but I found sorting through our pictures with other families to be confusing. It also seemed that when my family took rides without me, they did not connect to our Memory Maker package. On the cruise, you can purchase a photo package or individual prints. We did not purchase cruise photos this time around, but might consider them next time. Helpful posts:
Plan Your Day on Castaway Cay
There is so much to see and do on Castaway Cay that it can be challenging to decide what to choose. We rented snorkel equipment and float tubes. I highly recommend snorkeling. It was our favorite activity on Castaway Cay. Other activities include:
- Sting Ray Interaction
- Fishing excursions
- Bike Rentals
- Run the Castaway Cay 5K
- Rent Beach Cabanas
and much more!
Do’s and Don’t’s of Disney’s Castaway Cay
13 Things You Need to do at Castaway Cay
There is so much more to share about our experience, but this is a great getting-started guide even if you are not a Disney Social Media Moms attendee. Search #DisneySMMC for other great tips, tricks, Disney updates and images from the conference.
These are such great tips! We were at Disney in October and took advantage of that photo package, too – it’s so amazing to see all the things they capture!
I’d like to take better advantage of it next time. I was not sure where to find the photographers.
The Disney Social Media Moms conference sounds like so much fun as well as being quite informative. Looks like you had a really good time and that is so cool that you could bring the family along for this event since they’d never been to Disney before.
I agree. There was a great balance of conference time and family time.
Sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve never been to Disney before. I’ve always wanted to go ever since I was little. I hope that one day I’ll be able to go and take my kids.
We had not been as a family. The kids really enjoyed it. They would love to go on an Adventure by Disney Trip next,
Great tips! It’s so easy to not want to plan ahead and just do everything on a whim but that doesn’t always work. We need to plan a ahead so we maximize our time. So much fun!!
I think Disney with no planning might cause a lot of headaches in the end.
Awesome tips.disney is always a fun experience. We like to go during slow times.
We were really lucky to have extra fast passes to help alleviate long lines.
This looks so fun! I know my three kids would love to visit Disney! Some day I will head there!
Totally worth a visit at least once as a family.
Thanks for sharing the highlights of your Disney adventure- I am loving all your pics and all the info and it is definitely convincing me to consider planning a family vacation there in the very near future!
Thanks so much. It is a great place for a family vacation at least once in your life.
This is an amazing amount of information to help plan the perfect Disney vacation! It’s overwhelming to try and make sure you do everything you want so being prepared is key.
I agree. I felt really overwhelmed before the other folks from The Disney SMMC group posted some really helpful tips.
What a blast! My family is definitely a Disney family. Going on Monday as a matter of fact.
Wow! How fun. What are some of your favorite rides?
It looks like your first DisneySMMC was a blast! You included some wonderful tips!
Thanks very much. I feel blessed to have been invited.
Thanks for the awesome tips. Knowing what to do ahead of time sure makes things go so much smoother. Looks like a really fun time.
I agree. Visiting Disney without a plan can be really challenging.
These are some great tips, it looks like you had a blast. I especially love the tip of considering a photo package, this is something we have to look into for our next trip.
Thanks. Glad you like the tips.
That looks like it was a lot of fun. I like the tips you have here! We did a lot of these tips ourselves. When we went we stayed for a few days extra so that we could just have family time.
The extra family time is so great!