I think we have another year before we make the trek south to the happiest place on Earth. In the meantime, I’m counting myself pretty lucky to be a contributor to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Disney threw a party for us contributors and our families last Sunday. Mr. Skeptical, my husband, believed it was a ruse to bring all these families in and give them timeshare presentations (the ol’ bait n’ switch, he maintained). Yea, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright! What he doesn’t realize is that the problem with that idea is that the ensuing posts wouldn’t shine the best light on Disney for sure. I think it was the opposite.
Disney wants to understand us mommy bloggers. Not only are we their target audience (who has control over [most] everything our children get to see and do), we are making our voices heard. We are writing our stories, thoughts and ideas about raising our families and throwing them out into the blogosphere. For the marketing astute (such as Disney), this presents incredible opportunities to know their target customer. For companies that sell to the consumer, take note. Disney really is onto something here.
While the potential to overdo it, to employ “in your face” advertising and use hard selling tactics was there, Disney restrained itself. And my husband and I were quite pleased. In fact, my husband said it was “a great party.” If you knew my husband, that is high praise indeed. You see, like many parents, we’re trying to be careful in this crass commercialism-filled world. We know we can’t escape the mass advertising of Disney movies and characters in cereals, candies, posters, toys, clothing, linens, etc. etc. etc. We don’t live under a rock. On the other hand, we do want them to know Disneyland, its characters, the fairy tales it tells, the fantasy worlds it creates. This is the stuff of my own sweet childhood memories and I want the girls to know the same.
So yes, it was a Disney party with kid-friendly activities filled with Disney characters to delight our girls. No timeshare presentations anywhere – thank goodness! I don’t know what Cinderella told L and K but both walked away from their visit with the biggest smiles. Mickey and Minnie Mouse may have been a bit large for them to initially feel comfortable with but they didn’t run away and eagerly thrust their autograph books at them. Buzz Lightyear seemed an old friend as they enthusiastically went up to get his autograph and pose for a photo. Face painting (and body art for L and K), characters to color with crayons and markers, Mr. Potato Head Disney-style (e.g. Goofy hat and teeth, Mickey Mouse ears, gloves, balloons, glasses), video games on large screens, castle cookie decorating and a stage for freestyle dancing – our girls happily hopped from one station to another. They were beside themselves with so much to do…and take home! They got to keep their Mr. Potato Heads with that Disney flair, the castle cookies they decorated, the Mickey Mouse ears that lit up, the autograph books that Cinderella, Mickey & Minnie Mouse and Buzz Lightyear all signed, the Disney logo cookies, and the temporary tattoos of well-loved Disney characters. It was quite a special Disney goody bag.
So while Disney assured us that they were asking nothing in return, we families gave them quite a bit anyway (from a marketing perspective) – by simply joining in the party. We let them into our world (albeit a party world) for a couple short hours. We let them see our children at play while we, moms and dads, took advantage of the photo opps and enjoyed watching our kids’ unrestrained enthusiasm. There’s a lot to be learned by simply observing your customers. You could say we were a focus group of sorts…but without the focus questions, answers and measured results. I guess you could call it a focus party. Moreover, we had a lot of great things to say about the party afterward in our personal blogs…like this one. 😉 Talk about great PR.
Disney made sure there was something for everyone. Like all other mothers there, I wanted to make sure our girls ate something, if not dinner, between activities. The party was going to end right around the end of our usual dinner hour and one of the hidden benefits of this party was not having to conceive of and make dinner. They managed to serve something both my picky eaters loved – Mickey Mouse-shaped pasta and cheese and large dinosaur-shaped chicken along with veggies sticks, applesauce and sugar cookies with the Disney castle logo. Likewise, the dinner – prime rib, pasta, roast turkey, lamb – and dessert selections for the adults – chocolate mousse cake, mini cheesecake rounds, pound cake with fudge and fruit topping, chocolate covered strawberries and more – were delectable. My husband was well fed and entertained by our kids *and* the NBA game on the TV behind the bar. And finally, with husband and kids happily occupied, I was able to meet more of the other SVMoms contributors – the main purpose of the event. And what fun it always is to put a face to the blogger name.
So here’s a big Thank You to Disney for a fantastic party. While this may be part of a new PR or marketing program, it was a wonderful event for our family. Our greatest delight as parents is watching the wonder, excitement and joy in our children’s faces which that special Disney magic can inspire. Thank you for bringing the happiest place on Earth to us to enjoy.