Autumn has fallen upon us in Indiana. In our home that means field trips to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard, fall parties, cooler jogging weather, Notre Dame Football, and a seasonal craziness that overtakes mom (me) known as the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Both exciting and anxiety producing, the results of the process can either mean a coveted spot on the panel of pixie dusted planners, or an evening of crying into your homemade faux Dole Whip.
Since 2007, each fall the several month process begins to choose 10-20 new panelists from among thousands of hopeful applicants. Those that are chosen for the coveted spots will spend time each week answering trip planning questions from guests around the world! You can visit the panel at http://disneyparksmomspanel.disney.go.com/. While the majority of the panelists answer inquiries about Walt Disney World, there are also panelists who specialize in Disneyland, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, and runDisney events. Questions can also be asked and answered in Spanish, and it is hoped that more languages will be added in the future. And while the name suggests a group of ladies, the “Moms” part of the title is more for fun and tradition. Moms, dads, grandparents and even kid-less Disney experts are welcome to be on the panel!
The process begins in early September with the Round 1 application opening on a set day and time. Any guest who has visited within the previous 12 months, and meets the eligibility requirements (no Disney employees or travel agents or their families, etc…) may apply. This year the process opened on the Tuesday after Labor Day, and interested guests had until noon on Friday of that same week to submit their application. Round 1 usually consists of some general background questions, followed by secondary essay questions based upon the specialty that you choose to apply for. While no one knows for sure exactly what the selection committee is looking for, it is generally accepted that applicants should have excellent writing skills, a good basis of Disney planning knowledge, research ability, and should be able to show these with some fun and creativity! For example, the one question that all Round 1 applicants had to answer this year, in 100 words or less, was, “How many frozen fractals did Elsa have all around?” While there is no incorrect answer to the question, the idea was to do a little creative writing, and show a bit of your “Disney Side” to the selection committee.
To make the process even more fun, Managing Editor for Disney Social Media, Gary Buchanan heads up the application processes and is the liaison between the applying guests and the selection committee. This year he has been exceptionally engaging with rhyming riddles, haiku’s and photoshopped clues to keep us guessing! Even if you did not apply, but would like to check in on the fun, follow #DisneyMP on twitter for a view of the “wildest ride in the wilderness (or in social media as the case may be)!”
After 6 long weeks, applicants were notified via email if they would be moving onto the second stage of the process. Known as R2 (Round 2), even advancing to this second stage is a huge accomplishment. While Disney likes to keep a little fun and mystery in the process, and actual numbers are not known, it is estimated this year that 400-500 applicants are in this round. R2 again had a set number of days to submit your application. It consisted of several more essays, and everyone’s favorite part of the application, the video. Similar to previous years, you had a single question to answer, via a video, within a set time limit. While in the past it has always been 60 seconds, to add a little fun and Disney World flair, this year we had 71 seconds. Having done two 60 second videos in the past, having those extra 11 seconds was a treat!
In previous years, third round has been phone interviews, and the final panel has been selected at that point. This year however, we have been promised an additional 4th round, so the next step is a bit of a mystery to this year’s hopefuls. The final panel will be notified no later than November 22nd, so the next two rounds will likely happen very quickly. What will that mystery extra round entail? Skype interview? Trivia round? Online scavenger hunt? With Gary Buchanan’s penchant for fun and creativity, it could be anything!
Congrats to all our readers and writing staff who have moved on to R2. And for those that are lucky enough to make the cut to R3, good luck! Remember to have fun and put your best (giant yellow) foot forward! Above all, as Gary says, HAVE FUN!