You know how some blogs or websites have ‘Tag Clouds‘ where they list the words entries are tagged with, and the words used most often are bigger and bolder than the others? If my life had a Tag Cloud, the biggest, boldest words would be Disney Moms Panel. I swear it’s like those words are just hanging in the air above me everywhere I go, like some human Sims character or the “I’m Thinkin’ Arby’s” commercials. It’s become a part of me now, and pretty much everyone I know realizes that. I don’t personally think that’s a bad thing…just the way it is!

I wasn’t kidding when I wrote back in July that I was going to Do What I Loved and make it my goal to be on the Disney Moms Panel. My determination was strengthened in August when my family was able to enjoy the Mickey Moms Club Illuminations Party, put together by the Moms Panel cast members. My excitement then bubbled over as the date to apply approached and the 2010 Disney Moms Panel search began.

The funny thing was, in all that talk and excitement and hoopla, I never really thought my chances of making it into the Moms Panel were any greater than anyone else’s. In fact, so many others seemed to have such a huge online following as well as the knowledge and passion Disney was looking for. Still, the dream was there, the wishes and hopes were always with me. So of course when I first heard I hadn’t made it to the second round, I was crushed. The thought of having to wait an entire year to begin this quest again seemed so insufferably long, and heartbreakingly sad.

Then, as in all good fairy tales, something magical happened. A single glass slipper appeared on my foot, in the form of the email from the Moms Panel telling me I was meant to receive the “Congratulations, you made it to the second round” message all along. I had now become a part of something amazing – my very own Cinderella Story. If you recall, all of Cinderella’s family were already AT the ball when her Fairy Godmother arrived…just like what happened with me, it felt as though all my friends had already gone on to the ball without me.

glassslipperThe next few days seemed like a dream as I composed my answers, took my headshot picture, and hit ‘submit’. My friends and I waited patiently (and not so patiently) for news of when the next round’s finalists would be announced. Detectives all across twitter were scouring for significant tweets that might give us some clue we could go on. Of course at the end of the day, it’ll happen when it happens and no amount of willing it otherwise will help – but excitement and speculation are just part of the fun, I think. Thanks to twitter we all came to the conclusion that the finalists had been chosen in a big team-wide meeting held at Disney World on October 22nd. Then we all had to wait on pins and needles for the 27th to arrive, the date we had been told we would be notified about the next round.

I kept busy with my son’s 1st birthday party on Saturday, the 24th. Family and friends joined us for the fun-filled day full of frosting and presents. Sunday my good friend came over and decided to cook Beef Wellington! Who am I to say no to that? None of us had ever attempted to make it but it made for a fun night as she tried to figure it out (and succeeded!). I made super easy appetizers that don’t require worrying about beef being cooked enough! 😉 Monday, the 26th was my 13th wedding anniversary, so again, I was distracted by that celebration. Before I knew it, it was Tuesday the 27th.

For some reason, I woke up that day in the grumpiest of moods! I’m not sure what hit me but I was a total crankapotamous. I spent the morning watching the message boards and twitter, as we all guessed the magical time we’d hear the results. I noticed my oldest son had left his planner for school at home, so I thought I better bring him that so he didn’t get marked off for not having it. I gathered the baby and all his things and headed over to the school. It only took a minute, but while I was out, I decided to get an iced coffee and a bagel since I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch.

As I was waiting at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru for my plain bagel toasted with butter and medium pumpkin iced latte, I decided to check my email and twitter on my phone. I had no new emails, but twitter seemed to be buzzing with “I’m so sorry” and “I’m out, I didn’t make it” tweets. Wait, I thought, if everyone is getting their “No’s” where’s mine? Why am I not getting the “Thank you for applying” email? I must’ve hit refresh about 10 times on my phone waiting for that email to show up. (I had pulled over into the parking lot because I was starting to shake with nerves at that point seeing everyone else’s tweets.) Finally, it hit me – “OH! I thought, since I wasn’t in the same database when they sent out the “Congratulations” before, my email must be separate so they will be sending my “No” email separately too…” I resigned myself to that, hit refresh a few more times, and exited my email on the phone in order to drive home.

Again, all fairy tales have magic, and foreshadowing…right? I’ve always been a big believer in signs – whether or not those signs mean what I think or want them to is another story. I like to consider myself an eternal optimist because in my heart, I always hold out hope for something, no matter how bad it looks. However, in my head, I think of every possible sign and reason why that hope is foolish and NOT going to work out. (Hence the ‘oh, my “NO” is in a separate email!’ rationale.)

With that said, on my my way home, that bagel was the BEST bagel I have ever eaten. I know that sounds like a completely insane thing to say, but it’s true. And this particular Dunkin Donuts is known for making not-so-awesome bagels…but it’s the closest one to me, so I went there anyway. This bagel (unlike their usual ones) was crispy, perfectly toasted, with just the right amount of butter. I was in shock at how perfect that bagel was.

Then, on the radio, the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” came on. So I was just sitting there, enjoying my bagel perfection, singing along to the fabulous BEP and thinking “Hmm, I wonder if this means something good is going to happen? Nah…I’m sure my “No” email will be waiting for me when I get home…

When I got home I checked the real mailbox and for the first time in 35 years of planning and booking our vacations at Disney, I got a “Birthday card” from Disney Destinations, telling me to turn my birthday into a sweet celebration with a 40% off pin code for resort accommodations. Again, this was the first time I’d ever gotten a pin code like that, though I’ve heard of others getting them for years. We were already working on plans for my birthday weekend (December 11th), just deciding on the resort, so this was perfect timing. Another sign?! (Scary how my mind works isn’t it??)

I tweeted about getting the pin code before I even opened my laptop to check for email and read twitter again. By that time, I was getting direct messages from quite a few people on twitter asking me if I had gotten an email because no one had heard from me. So I checked and re-checked my email – checked my spam folder, nothing still. This was at around 12:30 I believe. So I began sending my condolences to my close friends that had been with me from day one in this application process, who had received the dreaded “thank you for applying” emails. I was really shocked by many of the people that did not move on to the third round. I truly felt though, that it was only a matter of time before I’d be joining them.

Time passed, people kept sending me messages asking “Are you sure you haven’t heard anything and you just can’t say so yet?” but I assured them I really had no clue what was going on, I hadn’t received ANY emails. The odd thing was my inbox almost always has a message from SOMEwhere in it at any time, businesses, message boards, etc. but I had NO new messages at all for about an hour it seemed! I pictured tumbleweeds blowing down the deserted streets of my virtual mailbox…

I spent the next few hours going through every possible explanation in my head, “I’ll get an email after everyone else” was still the top contender. Finally I got so caught up doing stuff with the baby that I actually FORGOT to check my email. What? Me? Forget to check my email obsessively? So I switched tabs and looked at 3 new messages in my inbox. I cannot for the life of me remember what those other two emails were, because the third one was from a familiar name with my now favorite subject line: “Walt Disney World Moms Panel Confirmation“.

I actually almost laughed when I saw it. That can’t be right, I thought. I clicked on it, and sure enough, it was a real, live Congratulations email! It was sent to me. Directly. Not a forward. Not two days later. Right on time. To ME. A huge grin spread across my face as my two older children happened to walk through the door right at that time. I blurted out “I made it to the third round of the Disney Moms Panel! I’m a finalist!” My daughter jumped up and down and ran over to give me a hug. I spun her around and then she said, “Wait, does that mean you’re on the thing now?” (bless them they’ve had to listen to me talk about it so much they probably tune me out half the time now!) I explained that no, I still had to do a phone interview and if they liked me enough after THAT, I’d be on the panel. She said, “Oh, ok. Well, still YAY!!” My oldest had made a bee-line to the bathroom so he had no clue what we were “Yay-ing” about but once I told him he ran over and hugged me too. He said, “I have a good feeling that you’ll make it onto the panel, Mom.” That was just about the sweetest thing ever.

Then, began the bittersweet process of sharing my news. I am and have been SO happy along this whole fairy tale process, but the one downside is witnessing the sadness of some of the wonderful friends I’ve made along this journey. I know all to well exactly how they are feeling, I felt it for 48 full hours before the winds of chance blew in my favor…but that empathy is small consolation when you feel as if your dreams have been dashed, I know. I know every one of them was and is qualified for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, it’s just a question of odds and exactly what Disney is looking for, which – if we all knew – would make for a very different process. I thought I didn’t have what it takes, but then I did…and maybe I still do, time will tell.

So for me, the tale is continuing, as I await information on the date and time of my phone interview. I have mixed feelings about the phone interview. I definitely do my best communicating in writing, and hope that nerves to not get the better of me…but I also think back to the four Disney interviews I have successfully completed when applying to be a cast member over the years – the first time in person, one phone and in-person interview for The Disney Store, and two phone and in-person interviews for the Disney Reservations Center. Of course I don’t want to delude myself into thinking this will be easy – I’m sure the questions for this position are quite different from what I’ve interviewed for before and I do not plan to go in unprepared or with any sort of inflated view of myself! I guess just at this point I’m trying to imbue the relaxed, Hakuna Matata view of the situation, and save my nerves for the day of that phone call, as I wish for my other glass slipper to arrive and be the perfect fit…

When the phone rings next week, I’ll be remembering my friends the Black Eyed Peas that got me full of good feelings a few days ago and think, “Let’s kick it – OFF!”

I couldn’t begin to properly thank everyone for their support and encouragement during this process. I am eternally grateful and can’t imagine how I’d be getting through this without all of you (I’m sure my family would’ve duct taped my mouth shut by now though!). I wish all of those I’ve met that are still with me in this final round the best of luck and pixie dust for your interviews too. No matter what happens, I can’t wait to see how this story ends!