I am so excited to be starting this series on ZannaLand. I know last year at this time, I was just starting to find some of the 2008 and 2009 Walt Disney World Moms Panelists on twitter, and was checking out their bios on DisneyWorldMoms.com. Now that I’m actually on the panel and was able to meet almost all of these wonderful people during my Moms Panel training in December, I was left with the overwhelming desire to share just how amazing they all are with you. I’m hoping that the questions they answer here (they are used to answering questions after all!) will give you a little more insight into the people behind the panel and just why Disney saw something special in them.

I’ll be mixing in 2010, 2009 and 2008 panelists. Feel free to comment and say hello!

Walt Disney World Moms Panel
The Walt Disney World Moms Panel {image ©Disney}

First up is my friend Kathie Flood, with whom I was lucky to spend some more time getting to know during our recent Disney visit at the Social Media Moms Celebration. Before that, one of my favorite memories from training was getting to ride Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with Kathie. She’s a wonderful mom, wife, and friend and I can’t wait for her to share some of her background with you!

How did you first get interested in the Disney parks?

Disney has been a part of my family’s lives for as long as I can remember, but my love for Walt Disney World was cemented when my parents bought a timeshare in Orlando during my teenage years. “Having to” spend two weeks every year just a mile away from WDW was heaven! I became a die-hard fanatic the first time I brought my 18-month old daughter to Disney though – seeing her eyes light up when she saw the castle and seeing her have breakfast with Pooh just melted my heart!


Besides Disney, what are you most passionate about?

Another, more recent passion of mine is going green. I’m always looking for ways to reduce our families impact on the environment. We also extend “going green” to our family’s health — how to be the eat the best, exercise, and just do what we can to be healthier. We’re definitely a work in progress with all of this!

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

I’m a Wife & Mom to two wonderful kids – a now tween (as of yesterday!) and a teen. My son (who took his first steps on a Walt Disney World vacation) Is a die-hard WDW fan. I don’t think a day goes by that he doesn’t ask when we’ll be returning. My daughter has been known to cry when driving off of WDW property — even though she will deny that vehemently and pretend she’s just “too cool” for it all! My husband, Josh, is a pretty huge Disney fan as well. Yup – I’ve trained them all well!

One of our favorite family events at WDW is riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad during Wishes. Its become a tradition to try and time the finale perfectly. There is something so magical to see fireworks around each and every turn the railroad takes! I love hearing the screams of excitement mixed in with the “ooohs and ahhhs” as they catch glimpses of Wishes! {I love this! ~Z}


Robert Irvine Moms Panelist Kathie and Suzannah
Chef Robert Irvine pausing for a photo with Kathie and me in the middle of his Dinner Impossible challenge!

What is your dream job (Disney or non-Disney)

Oh, if I could have any job at Disney! OH!! I’d love to be a window designer. Creating new and unique windows on Main Street would be heaven! I’d get to use creativity AND have an excuse to paw through and select all of the merchandise — without having to pay for it! HEAVEN!


What is your favorite Disney restaurant and why?

This is a super tough one – there are so many we love! The family loves Teppan Edo – and with my being a vegetarian, I love it just because its so easy for me to eat there. Actually, I love ALL of Disney for this reason — This is the only vacation place I can go and KNOW I’ll have plenty to eat without a fuss. I can tell you nightmare stories of beach vacations and restaurant visits that went horribly. I know that won’t happen at WDW!


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

When we arrive at WDW, we love to go to the Magic Kingdom first. Even after all of our visits, we feel like we are truly “at Disney” when we walk down Main Street. We may try to hop on Space Mountain, or head over to Big Thunder – but it doesn’t really matter. We just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy our first hours at WDW.


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

Although this could be controversial — I really miss the days of specific, varied merchandise themed to the shop location. I loved that you could only purchase the “Is that you Tigger” t-shirts in Animal Kingdom. It always seemed like a scavenger hunt to go and find those unique items throughout the parks!


What type of music are you into?

Ok, I’m eclectic here. I listen to everything! But, most recently I’ve been looking for some good, pounding music to run to. I’m finding that in order to keep my running training going I really need to crank the tunes to keep motivated! If you’ve got some suggestions let me know!!


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

I tend to gravitate to murder-mysteries. I’ve recently read books by J.D. Robb and Sue Grafton (although since making the moms panel I find my reading time has been cut dramatically!).


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

Would you believe me if I said I don’t know?? I love each of our vacations – they are all so unique. Sometimes its just the four of us in our family, enjoying time to reconnect in our busy lives. Sometimes we’ll meet family members or neighbors at the World. I cherish each and everyone of those experiences and wouldn’t trade them for anything! BUT, if there is one thing I’d love to do… and haven’t been able to… its to be the Flag Family at the Wilderness Lodge. I’d love to have that experience… but we never seem to be quite lucky enough. Some day though… I hope!


What is an interesting tid-bit or surprising fact about you?

While studying in Spain during college, I actually became a bull-fighter for a few minutes. Our group was given the opportunity to get into a training ring with 1-yr old bulls (Really, a 1-yr old is bigger than you think!!!). Well, of course, when I overheard a comment from our teacher on how women shouldn’t do such a thing – I had to prove to him that women are perfectly capable. So I hopped right in the ring and grabbed the red cape. Luckily for me, after a pass or two by the bull, I managed to escape the ring unharmed.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was a Moms Panel finalist during the very first year. I did make it all the way through to the phone interviews. It was a crushing call to hear that I hadn’t made it onto the inaugural panel. BUT, I do think things happen for a reason and am SUPER happy to be on the 2010 panel. My advice to anyone who hopes to be on the panel is to try and try again. Maybe you’ll make it onto the panel in your first try, maybe it will take three tries (like me!) – but its a goal worth keeping at. I can’t wait to welcome the 2011 panelists to our family! Good luck everyone!

Thank you so much for sharing a bit more with us, Kathie! Remember to look for Kathie at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, where you can ask her all your Disney World vacation planning questions. You can also keep up with Kathie on her blog, What Now Kathie?!?!? and on twitter @magic2go. And just maybe you’ll see her the next time you visit Walt Disney World, too!