Disney moms_panelWhat happens at Disney is shared with the world and relived over and over and over again!

Now approaching its fifth year of existence, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel continues to grow in numbers as well as in influence as the panel has expanded to include specialists in the areas of Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, runDisney and Disneyland. This fall, as the 2012 panel was still being selected, many current members of the panel as well as several alums gathered at Walt Disney World for what has become a tradition around the same time every year – the Disney Moms Panel Reunion.

Since I couldn’t make the pilgrimage this year, fellow Disney Mom Deborah Bowen kindly agreed to serve as a TravelingMom.com reporter for the weekend and now is a TMOM Guest Blogger this week. As Disney Moms, it’s obvious that we all enjoy each other’s company as panelists and go to great lengths to meet up at Disney as often as we can.  Plus, anything done, seen or experienced together is oftentimes posted on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and personal blogs almost instantly.  We’re a “connected” group…so the code which may apply in Vegas does not apply at Disney. Everyone’s gonna know and hear about it for years to come!

Deborah is a Florida native and probably has lost count as to how many times she has visited Walt Disney World. She is a wife, mom to two adorable sons, a runner, and a professor for the Department of English at the University of South Florida. Deborah is the kind of person who would intimidate you if you didn’t know her personally, but her warm personality, quick wit and genuine heart instantly make you feel at ease and as if you’ve known her all your life.  Enjoy her recount of the weekend!

Disney Princess_Half_2011_273No one has ever accused me of being lucky. I’m not the girl who wins the prizes, or is selected to be the audience participant, or who’s the right caller at the right time. But in November of 2010, my luck took a turn for the incredible.

The fourth year of my applying to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel saw me welcomed with open arms and delighted smiles. This was my new “Ohana,” my beautiful family made up of women and men of different beliefs and political persuasions and life paths, all of whom share a single commonality: our love of helping people experience Disney the way WE experience Disney.

Every year, we try to spend some quality Moms Panel time at our favorite destination: Walt Disney World! Many of us met over the last weekend in September — some with families, some without, all of us ready to make new memories.

I wish I could break down each activity, offering a travelogue of what we did, what we saw, what we ate. But how does one go about distilling joy into words? From the heartbreakingly beautiful check presentation and tour at Give Kids the World to the private Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks dessert party to the incredible Moms Panel Meet & Greet at Epcot’s Odyssey Restaurant, memories of the weekend are awash in a sea of glittering pink, a blur of smiles and pixie dust.

The weekend was about making a difference in the lives of children via Give Kids the World, by delivering over $12,000.00 in donations.

The weekend was about feeling like celebrities during the Meet & Greet, even while we engaged in providing Moms Panel hopefuls with our best advice, suggestions, and tips.

The weekend was about triumphs, as several of our members participated in the nighttime Wine and Dine Half Marathon, some running for health, some running in joy, some running as therapy.

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The weekend was about spontaneous chanting, as many of us greeted early-morning Cast Members at the gates of the Magic Kingdom on its 40th birthday with cheers and songs.

The weekend was about breaking boundaries, as most of us non-dancers took a deep breath and bravely participated in the Magic Kingdom’s first flash mob, a dance choreographed by one of our members,, held during the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party.

The weekend was about childlike fun, as we blazed through the streets of the Magic Kingdom after sundown, ripping into our trick-or-treat candy and oohing and aahing at Halloween fireworks.

But mostly the weekend was about family. And realizing that family isn’t always what you’re born into – it’s who you choose, and, sometimes, who chooses you. Despite our differences – and there are many! – we know, daily, that we can depend on one another for a joke, a text, a shoulder, a friend.  This is my ‘Ohana, and they are what makes me the luckiest girl I know.