Meet Your Walt Disney World Moms Panel – Margaret Fries

Ten weeks into our Meet Your Moms Panel series here on ZannaLand and we finally get to meet Margaret F, better known to some as MEFRIES! These informal interviews are meant to be a jumping off point from the bios that appear on the DisneyWorldMoms.com site where you can learn about every panelist’s background and experience with Walt Disney World, and see their personal videos as well. Once you check them out there, you can get to know the panelists a little better here!


Walt Disney World Moms Panel

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel {image ©Disney}


When I first began posting on twitter and started this blog, one of the first Disney Moms I discovered on twitter was @mefries. I soon discovered that she was the life of the Moms Panel party. In fact, it was Margaret’s tweets about meeting up with her “Moms Panel BFF’s” and all the fun they had together that really made me more obsessed with becoming part of the panel. So there you have it, this is all Margaret’s fault. ;) Now that I’ve met Margaret and spoken with her in person and on the phone, I can see why she is so beloved among Moms panelists and Disney fans alike. She is just SO fun and full of life, she has such a great sense of humor and love of Disney – it’s contagious. I’m so happy and honored to have Margaret here to share some more about herself with all of us –


How did you first get interested in the Disney parks?

When I was a little girl, I recall wanting to visit Disney World so much, but our family vacations were always spent visiting out of state friends and family. Growing up, I watched all of the Disney classics over and over and was thrilled when a girlfriend moved to Tampa my freshman year of college. She invited me to spend my spring break with her, and we drove back and forth from her house to Disney World a number of times that week. I still remember the feeling as we drove to Magic Kingdom that first day, and I could barely contain my excitement as we entered the park and headed down Main Street. My first view of Cinderella Castle was a memory I will never forget. I was immediately hooked and made a number of trips down to visit my girlfriend and the parks. Luckily I met someone a few years later who enjoyed the Disney parks almost as much as me and had vacationed there many times as a boy. We knew Disney World was a place very special to both of us and a place we wanted to share once we had children.

 

Besides Disney, what are you most passionate about?

Certainly my family and friends. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life starting with my husband and my boys, and I could never tell them enough how much their love and friendship mean to me.

The other passion in my life is sports. I am a sports nut! Unfortunately athletic ability was not something I was blessed with, so I make up for my shortcomings with my passion as a fan. I love most sports but especially baseball. I am a Die-hard Cubs fan, with Cubbie blue running through my veins. I also coach a number of my sons’ teams and love working with the kids to teach them the love of the sport.



Diane C Margaret

Diane C. and Margaret plant a tree during the Disney Social Media Moms event


Tell us about your family – are they Disney fans too? What are some of your most memorable family experiences?

My husband Mark, and I have been married for 16 ½ years. We have three crazy, loud, adventurous boys. My oldest, Zachary, will be 14 in a couple of months and entering high school in the fall (eeks). Jacob just turned 10 and my youngest, Matthew was 8 just a few days ago (although I still consider him my baby). Luckily my husband was a Disney World fan when I met him, and the love of Disney was something that came naturally in our children. The boys have been visiting since they were babies and it is has come to be an escape from the craziness in our daily lives. My oldest son’s first trip was when he was ten months old and we have visited over forty times as a family since then. We are Disney Vacation Club members and there is never a week that goes by that we are not laughing at a past Disney World memory or anxiously finding a way to get back there again

Like any Disney family, I have so many incredible family memories but a few favorites pop to mind:

After enjoying a late breakfast at Cape May Café, I exited the restaurant to find my two youngest boys, about 4 and 2 at the time, laying flat on their stomachs in the resort lobby hallway. Lying right next to them, also on their stomachs, were Chip and Dale. The boys were playing with small matchbox cars and Chip and Dale were having a great time playing cars right along with them. They all laid there for some time with no thought of where they were, happy in their own little world. It was so funny to see Chip and Dale kicking their feet in the air right along with Jake and Matt

I am very close with my maternal grandmother, who is rather young and active still to have three great grandsons. She had never been to Disney World so we took her for her 75th birthday. It was such an amazing week with the boys so excited to show her around and share the Disney parks with her. One of the greatest things was to see the boys’ smiles and her tears of joy when Pooh and Eeyore helped lead the guests at Crystal Palace in singing Happy Birthday to her at dinner.

Recently my favorite memory has come from the boys’ fascination with Hidden Mickeys. Given that we travel to Disney often, the boys quickly picked up on the habit of searching for Hidden Mickeys throughout the parks and resorts. This has become such an interest for them that they have each bought their own set of Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickey books. They get so excited when they find a new one and will actually stand and wait to point it out to other guests. We have spent many afternoons riding and re-riding the same attraction until we spot the last Mickey that we haven’t crossed off yet.

What is your dream job (you can answer at Disney, not Disney, both or neither!)

First and foremost it would be a job simply at Disney. While serving as a Mom Panelist, I have been able to experience a little taste of what it is like to “work” with such an amazing group of Cast Members and I would love to be a part of that family in general. However, if I could pick one specific role it would be an Imagineer. Now the frightening part is I am not sure I have even a tenth of the imagination that this talented group does, but to be in a position to dream and design ways to share the Disney magic would be a dream come true for sure!

What is your favorite Disney restaurant and why?

Crystal Palace is our family’s favorite Disney World restaurant. The boys love the buffet choices and I could eat the flan there all day long. The main reason it is our favorite however has nothing to do with the food. This restaurant holds so many memories of wonderful times together from character meals for my sons’ first trips to my grandmother’s birthday dinner, that it means a great deal to us as a family.



Diane C, Margaret, Kathie F and me at Disney Social Media Moms

Clockwise from left: Margaret, me, Kathie F and Diane C at breakfast during Disney's Social Media Moms


What is the first thing you do when you arrive at Disney visit? What is your MUST DO during each visit?

Actually the first thing we do as a family has changed during the last few years. We typically stay at the Boardwalk or Beach Club resort, so we use to walk to Epcot once we arrived and head straight to the Land pavilion. Our first stop (and last before heading home) use to be Food Rocks. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Soarin‘ but for nostalgic reasons, I really miss Food Rocks. The boys loved the funky singing food and cheesy remade songs and I think we loved that there was little line and we could get them into an attraction and make them happy almost immediately. Since Food Rocks has disappeared, we often begin our trip by heading to Magic Kingdom and the required stop at Aloha Isle before heading over for our first of many spins on Pirates of the Caribbean.

We definitely must see Wishes and Illuminations during our stay and I refuse to leave Disney World without at least three or four trips on Pirates of the Caribbean and just as many Dole Whip floats in my belly. Every trip has to include a round or two of miniature golf and a stop at the lego play area. Even if we are not staying there, we must hang out on the Boardwalk at least one night and enjoy the free entertainment. My kids love the comedians and magicians that perform there. We have seen them so many times that they know most of them by name, and all of their shows but we still must sit and watch every performance. My middle son will not leave until he has rode all the various forms of Disney transportation and we have often spent an afternoon using monorails, boats and buses just moving around property to make him happy.

 

What do you wish there were more of at Disney? Less?

I really think there is a perfect balance at Disney World. This balance is what makes it a perfect vacation destination for all as there is something there to please everyone. I do wish there was an easier way to move from one resort to another. We love to resort hop but rarely have a car with us, so it does become an exhausting process to take multiple forms of transportation to get from one Disney resort to another.

I would love for there to be shorter lines, or more hours in the day to enjoy while there but I’m not thinking either one is possible. Ah wait, I do know one thing…I wish there was more of Captain Will Turner there. ;) {I’m on board for that! ~Z}

What type of music are you into?

I would like to say I enjoy most music but as I think of the various types I notice there are a number I don’t care for as much. I typically stay away from rap, blues, jazz, techno. I have to turn all of that off. I enjoy country, as it is what I grew up listening to since my family is from the south. Now days I would consider myself a top 40, classic rock gal. My absolute favorite artist is Billy Joel and my favorite band would be REO Speedwagon, but I have spent plenty of money and time at concerts ranging from Amy Grant and the Beach Boys to Rush, Metallica, the Police and Bon Jovi. I also have plenty of Radio Disney selections in my car like Jonas Brothers and Mitchel Musso and we listen to Disney movie collections quite frequently.

 

What’s the last book you read that you really enjoyed?

The last two books I read were actually Ridley Pearson books (who I was lucky enough to just meet and chat with and he is awesome). I read Kingdom Keepers III Disney in Shadow and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Then knowing I was going to have a chance to chat with Ridley, I purchased the first book in the Peter and the Star Catcher series. The boys and I enjoyed Peter’s adventures so much that I just went and purchased the next two books in the series. I like to read numerous books at the same time so I also just finished Nicholas Sparks’ book, The Last Song, and yes I cried.

 

Describe YOUR perfect Disney vacation (could be solo, with family, friends anything, no limitations).

I actually have a three favorite Disney vacations:

Certainly the first is with my family and extended family. Especially now that the boys are old enough to help plan the trips and give their input it makes it wonderful to know the vacation is something that they helped create.

I took my first solo trip a few years ago and while I was concerned that I would look odd alone at Disney, I quickly discovered how it is a perfect place to travel alone. There are so many incredible tours you can take and exhibits and shows that you can wander through. I loved having the chance to actually take my time and look at all the details and special touches that go into Walt’s dream and this incredible place.

The last favorite Disney trip has become one with my fellow Disney Moms Panelists. We have become such a close group of friends and I miss them all so much since we are spread out everywhere, so to have the chance to spend time with them, in my favorite place, is a perfect combination.


Feel free to share your little “interesting tid-bit” from training or some other surprising fact about you. (that you don’t mind the internet knowing!)

Hmm not sure that I have anything interesting about me to share. First and foremost I love people and I love to talk. I love meeting new people and consider myself outgoing and friendly. I tend to be a bit obsessive, meaning there is no halfway with me. I love the saying go hard or go home meaning take everything you do, and do it full steam ahead. Of course this obsessive behavior leads to things like me watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies over 400 times due to a slight infatuation with Will Turner aka Orlando Bloom. Yes I know it is an illness J I am a Disney trivia/history nut. I love to learn about why things are where they are or the story behind every prop or attraction and will peek behind every curtain and chat with every Cast Member if given the chance. Oh and contrary to the belief of my fellow Moms, I do sleep, I just don’t sleep very much.

I have recently begun co-hosting a Disney podcast called Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride which is broadcast on the WDWNT network and can be found at www.mrfrankswildride.com.

When I was a teenager I use to spend all my extra money and time to go to Cubs games hoping to talk to now, Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. I once waited over four hours for a chance to have my picture taken with him and for my 16th birthday all I wanted was a ticket to the Cubs Care charity dinner so I would have the chance to meet him. (which I did, yeah!)

I was chosen as a Presidential Classroom scholar while in high school and spent a week in Washington DC as a guest of the government and during college was a delegate with the Mock United Nations representing the Ukraine.

Pretty cool! Thank you so much Margaret for sharing a bit more about you and your family! Remember to look for Margaret at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, where you can ask her all of your Disney World vacation planning questions. You can also keep up with Margaret on twitter @mefries and listen in to the Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride podcast too! And just maybe you’ll see her closing down the parks next time you visit Walt Disney World, too!





About Suzannah Mitchell

Boston girl living and blogging in Walt Disney World's backyard. Mom of 3, coffee addict, oh and Princess of course!