Meet Your Walt Disney World Moms Panel – Andi S

We are now at week 7 of the Meet Your Moms Panel series and we are ready to get to know Andi S. 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 the calls had been made last November and the 2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panelists had been named, we began to find each other on facebook and message boards. When I first read Andi’s info, that she was a ballet teacher in Alabama and saw her beautiful photo on her facebook page, I will admit, I was a bit intimidated. She just seemed like the perfect Southern Belle and I worried that my galumphing self would be of zero interest to this pageant beauty. When we finally met in December at Moms Panel training, she lived up to all my expectations of her charming, gracious persona. What I did not expect was the hysterical sense of humor, wit and even a bit of self-deprecation thrown in for good measure. In short, she was a real person, one I could, in fact, identify with and feel at ease talking, laughing and sharing memories with. The Southern Belle is very much there too, which makes me want to be a better, kinder, gentler person. I consider myself truly blessed to know Andi and was so happy our families got to meet, even briefly, last month. I look forward to the next time we can all get together and am so grateful and honored to call her friend. Please meet my friend, Andi –

How did you first get interested in the Disney parks?

Since my first visit in the spring of 1976 (please don’t tell me how old you were then or if you weren’t alive!), I have been in love with all things Disney…especially the attention to detail. My family — consisting of my mom, dad, 12-year-old brother and me — drove down from my small Alabama hometown to The Contemporary where we stayed for three glorious nights. To this day, that resort is still my favorite! I remember my dad said that it was unbelievable to pay $100 per night to stay there. (I wish we could’ve locked in that rate!) I remember eating prime rib for the first time at the Concourse Steakhouse, and I marveled at the monorail passing straight through the resort. My mom and I were awestruck at the topiaries which looked like the characters, and my brother and I eagerly tuned our car radio to the station which gave us instant information about the park…singular!

 

Besides Disney, what are you most passionate about?

As a follower of Christ, I am most passionate about my relationship with God and His allowance for that relationship through the person of Jesus Christ. I am who I am, and I’m blessed with everything I have in life because God has richly infused His life into mine. I feel very unworthy to carry His name wherever I go because I do a lot wrong on a daily basis. However, when I allow for His Spirit to truly live in this broken vessel, there is nothing more peaceful, satisfying or attractive than living in His good and perfect will.


Andi Amanda Suzannah

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

My husband of almost 19 years, Scott, is an attorney who is probably a bigger Disney fan than I am – well, he’s literally a big guy, but he’s also more obsessed, too! Through the years, we’ve vacationed and traveled to many places. However, it is at Disney Parks where he can truly melt into the carefree boy I fell in love with many years ago. Together, we have three sons – ages 15, almost 10 and 6 – and one daughter, age 12 ¾. We are all huge Disney fans, and it was no surprise to any of our friends and family that I had been selected for the Disney Moms Panel. In fact, they asked if it was actually a support group to help moms and their families with their Disney addictions!

Our family lives in Alabama, and we are big Crimson Tide fans, too. (They won the college football national championship this year in case you didn’t know!) We even named our new Samoyed puppy Crimson Tide! If they didn’t before, all of my Moms Panel family now realize that college football is a subculture in the South, and each one of them even can belt out the battle cry of the University of Alabama, “Roooolllll Tiiiiide!” (I especially love to hear them all imitate a Southern accent!) One of our favorite things to do at WDW is to count how many UA shirts or hats we see in the parks and give the wearers a little shout-out, too! I think we stopped counting after 100 a few weeks ago on Spring Break.

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

I am a former public relations/marketing director and freelance writer who now — instead of using my education and experience in that field — use my 20+ years of dance training to teach ballet to preschoolers. I love what I do, but I think the primary reason I teach ballet to the youngest dancers is because they don’t think twice about my “need” to wear a tiara on a daily basis and pretend I am a princess. They totally get me!

For Disney, I would love to play the part of a princess (if I wasn’t so old)…I could really get into playing Snow White, Belle or Pocahontas….or even Tiger Lilly! (I would love to play one of the others, but I just think my features are too dark.) The next best thing to playing a princess would be to dance on stage or as a parade dancer…although my knees would probably give out and my partner may have trouble lifting me!

 

What is your favorite Disney restaurant and why?

I have different favorites for different reasons or memories. My favorite signature restaurant is The California Grill since my husband and I enjoyed our 10th anniversary celebration there watching the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, and we filmed our Moms Panel videos in the restaurant! (Besides, in my three visits there, the food and service wow me each time.) My favorite character meal is Chef Mickey’s because of the variety of food and being able to see Mickey. We’ve also been there the most and enjoyed it with several families with whom we traveled. My favorite quick-service restaurant is The Colombia Harbour House at the MK because I love their albacore tuna sandwich and I enjoy getting a table upstairs which sits over the walkway between Fantasyland and Liberty Square. My favorite snack is the Toll House Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Snacks at the Magic Kingdom. (Go, Team Toll House! It’s a Moms Panel friendly “fight” between Toll House Cookies and Dole Whips as the best snack!)

 


Andi Minnie and Mickey

Andi with everyone's favorite couple, Minnie and Mickey!

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

We usually drive to Disney, and going through the arches where it states, “Welcome to Walt Disney World,” is particularly spine-tingling for us. In fact, we always yell, scream and hold our arms out the windows as we pass through. For this spring break, with a new driver among us, we let our oldest son drive through the arches for the first time. First haircuts, lost baby teeth, braving new rides, growing tall enough for certain attractions and now driving on WDW property have all been rites of passage that my children have experienced at their “home away from home.” By cementing some of these memories at WDW, we feel as we have preserved them forever, and they come flooding back to us the moment we enter the property. For us, Disney World is more than a vacation destination. It’s a living scrapbook of family memories. {I just have to comment on how wonderful this is, I feel the same way and I love how eloquently you’ve put those feelings into words! ~Z}

For each member of our family, the list of “must do’s” are different and growing longer every year. However, we all agree that we must begin and end on Main Street, and we must get a hug and photo with Mickey. After all, Walt always said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

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

I wish there were more character meals at all the parks. I am such a practical planner, and to be able to eat, rest in the air conditioning and see characters is such an efficient use of my vacation time. Also, since we’re such frequent visitors, I would enjoy seeing and visiting with characters such as the villains or the secondary characters such as Daisy, Clarabelle, Roo & Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh) or the Country Bears.

I wish there was less whining, complaining and arguing at WDW. I wish we all could just agree to leave all that outside and enter with thankful hearts….and I’m certainly including myself and my loved ones in that number as well. I think that so many times we all have certain expectations of how things should be and when those thoughts aren’t realized (even at WDW) we lose sight of all the wonderful things that we DO have. If I overhear other guests upset about a particular detail of their trip, I have to fight my instinct to turn around and say, “You know, that’s disappointing, but look at where you are…do you know how many people only dream of visiting a place like this?!” {I love this attitude! So true… ~Z}


What type of music are you into?

Although there are certain songs that I don’t like, I truly enjoy all genres of music…it all depends on my mood. My favorite “flavors” are classic rock, Broadway, classical, praise/worship and Disney music from movies and the parks, of course.

 

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

I’m such a fickle-minded reader and a hyper personality that it takes one that grips me from the beginning or steps on my toes to capture my attention. I recently read and loved, Time Traveler’s Wife. My husband said that it even made me a better and more loving wife after I read it! It’s a very romantic novel which makes you appreciate who you have for how long you have them.

 

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

Since we usually drive nine hours to WDW from Alabama, we have some time in the car to play games. One that we’ve come up with is “Design a Day at Disney.” Each member of our family shares what park, restaurants, attractions and entertainment they would enjoy if money, time or anything else was not a constraint. We even choose our favorite character to come alongside us!

For my perfect Disney vacation, I would take my immediate family and our best friends’ family to enjoy a week in a Grand Villa at Bay Lake Towers with a Magic Kingdom view. (My husband and I enjoy the fact that each of our best friends is married to one other, and together, they also have four children with similar ages.) Then, our immediate family of six would take a four-night cruise aboard the new Disney Dream!


Andi's kids

Andi's adorable, polite, wonderful children!

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!)

Take out my obsession with all things Disney, and I’m a fairly boring person. I do love to dance, and I can play the flute, the piano (a little), twirl a baton, speak a little Spanish and even less French and eat chocolate like it’s going out of style. I worked as a lifeguard for a water park when I was a teenager and actually have saved a few people from drowning — including a couple of my own children! I’m a bit of a clothes horse, and I get a little carried away with containers and bags. I always need to know where my children and my iPhone are, and I expect grown-ups to act like adults. God has granted me supernatural patience with other people’s children and a tolerance for chaos like I never thought I could withstand. I’m learning to be choosy about volunteering, but I tend to take over when I do donate my time. I could talk the paint off a wall, and I love to write when no one is around. I’m bossy, stubborn and downright silly when I’m acting out of my own will — and decisive, tenacious and fun to be around when I allow God to be in control of who I am and what I’m doing. He has blessed me beyond anything I deserve, and the Disney Moms Panel (the opportunity, the people who serve on it and for it) is truly a blessing from Him for which I am entirely grateful.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your photos and a bit more about your family, Andi! I loved learning a bit more about your background and outlook on life. Remember to look for Andi. at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, where you can ask her all of your Disney World vacation planning questions. You can also follow along Andi’s journey at her blog Wife and Mom University and keep up with Andi on twitter @wifeandmomuniv. And just maybe you’ll see her the 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!