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2009 Disney Moms Panel – First Night – But Wait, There’s More!

My Hidden Mickey Picture!
My Hidden Mickey Picture!

Are you SERIOUS?  The castle suite is not the cherry on top of the cake here?

Our dinner this evening was at the Crystal Palace – one of my favorite character meals.  How can you not enjoy a meal when you are surrounded not only by 15 of your new BFFs, but also Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet??  There is a lot of getting to know each other, a special guest visit from Brett – the 2008 Disney Moms Panel dad, and a few awkward moments with a camera crew in our faces.  I think we did okay – although if my husband ever sees the video footage of me telling the crew that he certainly wouldn’t mind taking our two youngest children to the park while I suffer through taking the oldest to the spa for a manicure and pedicure, there may be a few less Magical trips in my future!

Following the delicious meal, we headed for our VIP seating for the parade and fireworks.  Three words – A Maze Ing (okay, so technically, ing is not a word, but I must invoke my right to a little poetic license).  We are treated to cocktails (I know, right?? Cocktails at the Magic Kingdom!  Who has ever heard of such a thing????) and hot cocoa, along with some delicious looking cookies from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  But the best part of the party?  It’s being held up above Main Street, USA at the train station!  The view from here is spectacular, stupendous, breath taking.  Pictures cannot possibly do it justice, but I’m going to show you some anyway…

Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle
The Real Deal!
The Real Deal!Christmas Wishes

But that’s not all, folks! Okay, catch your breath, because you’re going to need some to let out a huge gasp in a second when I tell you what the REAL cherry on the top of this cake was. Got it? Holding it in? They do a drawing, from the names of all of this year’s Moms Panel and last year’s – one name from each panel. And that mom gets to spend a night in Cinderella Castle! Pick yourself up off the floor – I’ll wait. So they do the drawing, and from the 2009 Moms Panel, Cathy wins!
Well, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Cathy happened to be on vacation with her family, and had to interrupt that vacation to come to training. We all think this could not have been a more perfect selection – she will get to share this with her family! There is not one, evil, jealous thought among us (okay, to be honest, there are probably several hundred, but we are so incredibly happy for Cathy that we find the motivation to squash those nasty plots involving Cathy, Pooh, and a tragic honey related incident).
We finish up the evening with the option to run like children through the Magic Kingdom, as long as we are back to the bus by 11 for our ride back to Coronado Springs. Cinderella has a curfew, even if the ball isn’t over just yet. Feeling a little tired and a lot overwhelmed, I opt for a comfortable table and a casual conversation with Kay, just outside of our meeting spot. Coronado looks warm and inviting at the dark hour we return home.
Coronado Springs at Night
Coronado Springs at Night
The bed is turned down, and it doesn’t take long to get settled in for the night.It has taken me multiple blog posts to detail for you just one day in this experience so far.  Believe me when I tell you, the magic has just begun!

2009 Moms Panel Training – The First Evening Events

I head back to my room to check it out and get ready for the evening.  I won’t lie to you – I am loving everyone I’ve met so far, but it takes a little while for me to come out of my shell.  I’m worried they won’t like me!

My room is lovely!  It has recently been renovated, and is so comfortable.  There are two large, comfy beds with lots of pillows, and without the girls here, I feel an obligation to take all of my clothes off, throw them in a heap on the floor, and bounce on at least one of the beds until the mattress is nearly on the floor.  But it’s too pretty and neat and clean, and the mom in me kicks back in, and the mattresses rest comfortably on their bed frames.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Bedroom
DisneyDesk at Coronado
I decide not to change for the evening.  We are meeting for a cocktail party at Rix lounge here at the Coronado, and I’m dressed okay for the event – not too dressed, but looking okay.
I have a few minutes, so after unpacking all of my stuff, I check out the itinerary and the stuff in my big envelope. 

Welcome Information
Welcome Information

I now see how exciting this weekend will be, with all of the activities they have planned!  And I have a name tag!!  How cool is that?

Before long, I am standing with my 15 new best friends at Rix.  Kay, who will become one of my most favorite people on the planet, arrives bearing gifts.  This is one sweetheart of a woman!  She presents us all with these adorable snowman Mouse ears, and they have Mom embroidered on the back!!
Kay's Gift

We spend some time chatting, drinking, eating and getting to know each other, and then a few of the girls decide to model their beautiful hat!  They look adorable, don’t you think??
Whitney, Kathy, Kay, Jodi, Diane, Joanne, and Jen
Whitney, Kathy, Kay, Jodi, Diane, Joanne, and Jen
So, did I mention that on this itinerary for the evening, it says that we are going to be visiting the suite at Cinderella Castle??  Holy cow, are you serious?  I have seen photos of the suite a few times – and believe me when I tell you that it is every Disney fanatics’ dream to see it up close and personal. 
They take us by private coach to the backstage area of the Magic Kingdom, and we are escorted over to the castle.  As you might expect, just like at Buckingham Palace, you can’t just walk right up to the front door, knock, and have someone yell, “Come on in, I’m in the bathroom!  I’ll be right out!”  Of course not, because Princesses don’t have to pee – especially at inopportune moments, like just as company is arriving.  That only happens to Me! 
Because we are such a large group, they are going to take us up half at a time.  The suite is not so enormous that it can accomodate more than 20 people comfortably, but when you factor in that you have to go up to the suite in an elevator, we just won’t all fit. 
The first thing we see in the foyer is the clock.  This clock is set so that it permanently indicates at time of 11:59.  It will never strike midnight, so we can rest assured that this beautiful dream will never come to an end, with life as we know it reverting back to how it was before the Fairy Godmothers, Laura and Leeanne called to invite us to the 2009 Moms Panel.  Oh, wait, this castle is Cinderella’s dream!!
Cinderella's Clock
The elevator that takes you up to the suite is designed inside to resemble the inside of the carriage that Cinderella might ride in.  When the door opens, you are at the entry way to the suite, and standing on a mosaic tile floor, staring at Cinderella’s glass slipper!  I am certain it is a perfect size 8, although our host does not offer to yank it out of the case and let me try it on.  Maybe if I had brought one of those Rix Royale cocktails…….
Cinderella's Glass slipper and crown
Mosaic Tile Floor
Mosaic Tile Floor
When the suite is opened, you can hear a collective gasp!  This is too good to be true – a group of moms, who just 24 hours ago were correcting homework, changing diapers, making dinner; and a dad who just 24 hours ago was sitting in a recliner watching TV while his wife corrected homework, changed diapers, and made dinner – we are all standing together in the Cinderella Suite! 
See for yourselves how incredibly attentive to detail the Disney Imagineers were in putting this beautifully appointed room together….
Wanting desperately for Cinderella to run off with the gardener so that maybe one of us can remain behind, consoling the poor broken hearted Prince Charming, we do our best to delay our departure by handing 8 or 9 cameras to our host and asking him to take our picture.  He graciously does so.

Kathy, Joanne, Anna, Diane, Karen, Tanya, Margaret, Fay, Amber, Jo
Kathy, Joanne, Anna, Diane, Karen, Tanya, Margaret, Fay, Amber, Jo

You can’t see me, but know that even the memory of seeing it for the first time gives me goose bumps.  I’m a little verklempt – talk amongst yourselves – go….

2009 Disney Moms Panel – Arriving in Orlando

After a short flight from oh so cold Philly to perfectly comfortable Orlando, I wait in my seat on the plane for all of the passengers traveling with children under 5, those needing special assistance, anyone who is related by blood or marriage to a US Airways flight attendant, people under 5’4, men named Xavier, and women who own or would like to own a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes to gather their carry on bags and get the heck off of the plane, and then it’s my turn!  I head off to the train that takes me to baggage claim, where I expect to meet someone who will drive me to the hotel.  I know there are a couple of other moms coming in at the same time, so I figure we’ll all be riding a short bus (no offense, ladies, I mean the short DVC type buses) to Coronado Springs Resort.  I head down the escalator and find Tom, the driver, holding my name in his hand.  I walk over and introduce myself, and he immediately congratulates me for making it on the panel, and he walks over to where my luggage will eventually come down.

He informs me that I was going to ride with Tanya and Joanne, but their flight is delayed, so I have the car to myself.  I feel like a rock star – only without the money, talent, groupies, and drug habit. 

So I’m standing chit chatting with Tom, and I find out that he has been in Orlando almost since he graduated high school, and he graduated just 3 years before I did.  He’s from Mt. Laurel, NJ – two towns over from where I went to high school.  Then I find out that he went to the “enemy” high school!  I went to Shawnee in Medford, NJ, and he went to Lenape!  We are nearly related! 

Tom is so friendly, and we have a great chat about Jersey, Orlando, Extreme Home Makeover, and how absolutely amazing all things Disney are.  He and I are soulmates, I can tell. 

I arrive at the Coronado Springs Resort.  Years ago, when they first opened this resort, I got to tour here.  I thought it was so nice, and always thought I’d stay some day.  Then we had kids, who want to stay at kid type place – All Stars; Pop Century; French Quarter; Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Coronado fell far on the list of places to stay when we bought DVC, and now that we are here, I’m sorry it did.  This has a very deluxe feel for a moderate resort, and I know immediately I am going to like it here.

Tom grabs my bag – he is such a nice guy – and we head in.  As I walk into the lobby, a throng of moms is standing there and before I know it, I am kissing off my lipstick, hugging everyone in sight, and squealing like I’ve just been invited to the prom by George Clooney! 

I head to the front desk to check in, followed by a group of the moms (some of them decided to run into the parks), find out that my room is not ready, and decide to head to Margaret’s room, which is ready, to store my bag.  The group of us that has stayed behind talked briefly about going to Downtown Disney, but end up opting to grab lunch here and get ready for our 4:30 cocktail party. 

Jackie, Diane, Margaret and I head to the Pepper Market.  If you’ve never eaten here, it’s a great experience!  You are seated and a drink order is taken, then you go to one of the stations, order your food, and get a card stamped.  You eat your lunch, then take your stamped card out to the cashier to pay.  Great for families that want something quicker than table service, but still want to satisfy the whole family.  As we were just settling into our meals, Tanya and Joanne came in, so we moved to a larger table.  It was so nice to have a little while to meet everyone face to face and hear about their journeys and share the excitement of the itinerary we are FINALLY getting to see!

Jackie, Diane, and Margaret at Pepper Market
Jackie, Diane, and Margaret at Pepper Market

After we pay for lunch, I head back to the front desk and find out my room is ready.  Room 9600, here I come!