Farewell to Disney Moms Panel 2010?? My Cinderella Story…

WDWMomsPanel

Originally written October 15th, 12:00pm:
Well, the emails have been sent and arrived for round 2 notifications for the 2010 Disney Moms Panel applications. I did not receive one. I had done my best the last two weeks to convince myself that I hadn’t made it and therefore prepare for the inevitable let down, but alas, the heart is stronger than the mind in these cases. I originally began to write this entry the day I got the news, but quickly realized that was not the best idea. I’ve now had a couple of days to process the news and feel the need to share my thoughts, now that I’ve collected them.

I have extended my heartfelt congratulations to all I know that have moved on, and I sincerely do wish them the best of luck. (In fact I re-congratulated all those I knew from Twitter that made the cut right before taking a deep breath and starting to write this entry!) I know many of those that were chosen and do not doubt their love, passion and commitment to sharing their knowledge on the Moms Panel. I can’t wait to hear who will make the final cut!

My initial reaction to not moving on was of course sadness. Really it was the greatest sadness I have felt in a long, long time. I think this is mostly because being aware of many of the activities and events the current Moms are involved in, through Twitter, the panel itself has been built up as truly the ultimate experience for someone with Disney knowledge to share. Most of the panel refer to themselves as Disney Mom BFFs and all those involved of course share their love of their position and all it involves. It is truly wonderful to see the ‘family’ that they are and the love they have for both each other, and the job they are doing and sharing with us. At the same time, being witness to that camaraderie and fun, doing something I have such love and interest in, makes it all the more difficult to step back and move on from, knowing it is not in your plan to be a part.

I think I must’ve experienced all 5 of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief in the hours following the news – twice. 😉 Now that I am finally at the ‘acceptance’ phase, I am able to better see perhaps why I wasn’t chosen. Of course, I…um. Wait. Stop.

Written today, October 19th, 2009: I was in the very process of writing this entry on Thursday, October 15, when I happened to click over to check my email. When I saw the subject line of the one new message bolded in my inbox – my heart stopped. It said “Walt Disney World Moms Panel Confirmation“. Even more heart-stopping – I recognized the person’s name as being involved with the Disney Moms Panel from following along as others got their acceptance to round 2. I clicked the email to read, while experiencing shortness of breath and a rapid heartbeat.

I read the message quickly. Words leaped out at me like “inadvertently” “incorrect”…”congratulations” “round 2” and “approved“. Of course I thought it must be a joke…a very cruel, heartbreaking joke…but it couldn’t possibly be REAL. I reread it about 5 times, muttering “ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh” the whole time. Finally, I followed the email’s instructions and went to the application site where I should’ve been able to now see the Round 2 questions. I had tried that link before, when it had been leaked on a message board, and I was not ‘validated in the database’, so I knew this would be the ultimate proof of legitimacy. It asked me to log in, I did…and…the questions appeared before my eyes. It was REAL. It was actually happening! I could not believe it, but I HAD to believe it because it was right there on the screen!

images ©Disney

images ©Disney

I thought just to cover my bases, I would reply to the email’s sender, of course thanking her profusely for catching this error, and also to see if I’d get a reply back confirming what I was now able to see. I thanked her about ten times, and double checked that the deadline for submitting the application was the same. I had been in such a daze since Tuesday, and my kids were off school on Friday, that I had my days confused and thought Thursday was already Friday. She wrote right back and corrected that I had until Friday at midnight – the same deadline as the rest of the selected applicants – but I had already given myself one less day in my head! Hearing back from her was the proof I needed that this was not a practical joke gone wrong, a dream, or anything else but the real, live, truth! It was my very own Cinderella story come to life!

I glanced quickly at the questions but I was still in such a state of shock that I did not even THINK about answering them until I had peace and quiet later that night. I was SO excited at that point I had to share on the message boards I’d been following and Twitter. I actually debated keeping it to myself because I knew the heartache so many were feeling, and did not want to be responsible for causing more…but I thought it’d look strange if by some miracle I DO make it through to Round 3 (phone interviews) and announce that, causing everyone to say, “wait, you said you didn’t make it past Round 1!?”. As anticipated, there was some confusion and hurt feelings as people hoped their lack of congratulations emails had also been a mistake. In addition, there was a lot of speculation regarding exactly what Disney is looking for and assumptions that it was more about online presence and less about actual Disney knowledge.

I really do not want to add any more unconfirmed hypotheses to the topic, but I can say that after having been on BOTH sides of the equation (wondering ‘why not me?’ and then ‘yay me!’ ) I *still* don’t know any more about what Disney may or may not have been looking for in the selection process. Of course we ALL believe we’d be a great fit, or we wouldn’t spend the time meticulously condensing our love of Walt Disney World into 100 tiny words. And no, no one knows what Disney is looking for. If we did, it would be even more difficult for Disney to find good matches, because we’d all be tailoring ourselves to what we knew Disney wanted, leaving our true selves on the other side of the monitor.

As hard as it is to accept when you first receive that email telling you your journey has ended for this year, I really HAD come to terms with – despite my belief that I would be the perfect person to share my Disney knowledge and passion with others – the fact that Disney didn’t see it right then, didn’t mean it wasn’t still there. That is truly why this has been such a roller coaster of emotions! I had finally gotten to that 5th stage of grief – Acceptance – and in a split second, my dreams rose from the grave and I was given hope again. I know that sounds dramatic, but how many of us have experienced that Denial or Bargaining stage of any form of grief? It becomes so important in your mind and heart, that you’ll do almost anything to have that experience or chance back again. I never in a million years thought all I’d have to do is check my email to get that chance again. Disney Magic does exist.

In the hours and days following my amazing reprieve, I learned that it was not a singular event. The very mom in charge of the Disney Moms Panel, Laura Spencer, had received a ‘no’ email in error, and discovered she actually HAD made it to the phone interview stage a mere 30 minutes before the interview itself! She made it to that inaugural panel and then secured herself her current Cast Member position. What a dream come true! Another moms panel applicant also received a ‘no’ email in error before moving on to the actual panel. So while of course I never counted on this happening, the knowledge that others had experienced it let me know mistakes can happen, and Disney will catch those and correct them.

My attempts at relaxing before answering my questions didn’t last long – after all, I had 48 hours less than the rest of the applicants to craft my answers, attach a picture and submit them before midnight on Friday! I feel like I should say though, I still would’ve been excited and grateful if Disney only gave me 10 minutes to write my responses!! I tried my best to speak from my heart and all that’s left now is Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust that my heart speaks the same language as those making the decisions. If this is as far as my journey takes me this year, I am honored that Disney saw something in me to pick me out of tens of thousands of applications down to 200 or so. This IS my dream, as I’ve said from day one and if now isn’t the time, perhaps next year!

I want to take a moment before I end this to thank the countless friends and supporters both online and offline that helped me through the last week. The response when I did not make the cut to the 2nd round was overwhelming. So many people assured me it was a mistake, that great things were in store for me, etc. Silly me didn’t believe them! In addition, the support I received when I made my announcement was UNBELIEVABLE. Complete strangers were congratulating me, as well as those I’d become close to over the months on Twitter. Even Raglan Road Pub and the Hilton Anaheim wished me luck!! I was in shock (again!)!! So I’ll say once more, if this is as far as I make it, I feel as though I’m already a success with the people I have in my corner, cheering me on. I’m not sure what more I could ask for, I feel like my Fairy Godmother has already given me the greatest gift!

I know it’s not nearly enough, but…thank you. ♥





About Suzannah Otis

Boston girl living and blogging in Walt Disney World's backyard. Wife, Mom of 3, coffee addict, lover of travel and adventure.