This is now the 6th week of the Meet Your Moms Panel series and we are ready to get to know Anna S. These informal interviews are meant to be a jumping off point from the bios that appear on the 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}

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Anna, you may not realize it, but your life is not complete.  Prior to meeting her at the December Moms Panel training trip, I had started to follow her on twitter and facebook and got to know a bit of her incredible sense of humor. In person (like me) she is actually very soft-spoken and quiet, so I also instantly felt connected with her since most of the other moms expected me to live up to my twitter persona of being a crazy person. 😉 What you might not realize is that behind Anna’s hysterical stories and way with words, is that she has a heart bigger than all 42 acres of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is one of the most caring, compassionate and giving people I have ever had the pleasure and honor of meeting. I know you’ll love her just as much as I do:

How did you first get interested in the Disney parks?

Well, since I’m old enough to have been a waitress at the Last Supper, my first trip to Disney World was when there was just one park and two hotels. My dad took my sister, my grandmother and I down to Disney, and we spent 4 days. It was the best 4 days of my young life, and we got to do and see everything there was there at the time. My sister and I started plotting ways to stay on the way to the airport home. It was the start of an obsession that lives on.


Besides Disney, what are you most passionate about?

My mother likes to say if there’s a cause, I’m behind it. She lies 😉 Actually, I was very active in Irish politics for quite a while, with a former US Ambassador to Ireland among my clients. My oldest daughter was a champion Irish step dancer, so I spent many weekends traveling to feisanna (the word used for dance competitions). My father was the recipient of donated kidney, so I volunteer my time to the local organ donor awareness organization, and I walk annually in the National Kidney foundation walk at the Philadelphia Zoo. We make sandwiches monthly for one of the homeless shelters in Camden, NJ; and I am currently collecting books for Project Night Night and several area schools. And I have a whole gay rights thing going. Don’t think I’m a total do-gooder, though, as I hate cats and have a strong dislike for some old people.

Anna S Moms Panel training
Anna and our "bosses" during 2010 Moms Panel training. Photo ©Kathie Flood

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

I am mom to three daughters – Brighid Lora, age 18; Eilis Mary, age 9; and Granuaile Frances, age oh so close to 5. Jim and I have been married 19 years, and while he’s a take it or leave it kind of Disney guy, two of the three girls are die hards like me. The middle one sides with her father, and while she loves it when we’re there, it’s not the first place that comes to mind when you ask her where she’d like to go. I have a special memory for each daughter at Disney. My best day ever with Brighid was when she was about 5. We went last minute to Magic Kingdom (we lived in Orlando at the time), and walked up at Crystal Palace, where we were not only given a table, but Brighid was Chef of the Day and got to open the lunch buffet! We left there, headed to Haunted Mansion, and the parasol cart was there. We walked over, and there was a parasol that had Brighid’s name on it!! Having a name that you NEVER see anywhere, we were shocked, but even more shocked when the CM told us we could HAVE the parasol, as it was actually a misspelling of another child’s name LOL! On our way out for the day, Brighid was invited to participate in the parade. It was just a whole Brighid day, and I can’t remember a happier day for her as a kid.

Eilis’ big day came when she was a year old. She showed no interest in walking anywhere, at all, ever, having parents and a big sister to carry her everywhere. We were at EPCOT, and we had stopped to have a snack, and she was sitting on the foot rest of her stroller, having wiggled her way out of the stroller. You could have knocked me over with a feather when shortly into the snack attack, this kid stands up and starts to wander away, as if she had been a professional walker her entire life. No training wheels on that kid – Jim and I just kind of stared at her and at each other before we realized she was actually leaving us. Not our finest parenting moment, but magical never the less.

And Granuaile’s story you can hear on my Moms Panel video. She was terrified of the characters, but on her 3rd birthday, walked right up to the window at Character Connection to peek at them from afar. Goofy cam running over to her tiny pressed against the glass face, and he crouched down to be eye level with her. I was sure she’d tackle people in a race to get away from the window, but he put his hands on the glass, and she put hers on the glass, and they just kinda hugged each other a minute. I get misty eyed just recalling!

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

Seriously, I want to be a Secret Service agent, but not the kind that runs alongside the presidential motorcade (heaven forbid there be exercise involved). I want to be the one that hangs out at the White House, walks the First Dog, picks up the first coffee and newspaper in the morning – stuff like that. If I can’t do that when I grow up, I want to be a cruise director. One with an Australian accent. .


What is your favorite Disney restaurant and why?

Oh my. The questions get harder! If I can only choose one, it would be Jiko. We’ve never had a bad meal there, and we’ve celebrated most of our last 6 anniversaries there. I also really love Animal Kingdom Lodge, so that adds to my love of this restaurant.


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

We usually drive, so our first thing is typically to grab something quick to eat and relax at the resort! Beyond that, we don’t really have any first night traditions, and we change up which park we hit first depending on what’s going on and what we want to see. And as a result of going so often, we don’t really have a must do each visit. We always feel like whatever we don’t get to that visit, we’ll do next time.

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

Honestly, I think Disney is a perfect balance. I can’t think of anything I’d like to see more or less of. I’m excited over each new addition, and saddened by the loss of some of the old, but adding or taking away things is a job they seem to have well under control.

What type of music are you into?

I have to laugh at this question. It’s a bitter bone of contention between my husband and I. Not a fan of country and western music, but anything else is pretty much fair game. My go to bands include U2; Gaelic Storm; Black Eyed Peas; and Sting, but my iPod is loaded with all types of music.


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

I read a lot, but the last book I read that really touched me was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.


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

Getting there and not leaving would be my perfect Disney vacation! But my favorite ones are the ones we go on with extended family. I love it when my parents and my brother and his family all join us. It’s like the best holiday celebration, where no one has to cook, clean up, or stress out! My kids love having their cousins there to do the rides with them, and I love it when my parents can be there to enjoy seeing the kids have fun. The best part are the big family meals, where even if we’ve spent the day apart, we are all together, sharing the magic of Disney. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anna S and Cathy S at the Mickey Moms Club Party
Anna and Cathy at the August 2008 Mickey Moms Club Illuminations Party. I actually saw them both, but was too shy to say hello. Silly me. Photo ©Marc Lorenzo

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!)

Well, the tidbit I used for training last year was my brief career with a drag racing team. My race car driver name was “Ghia Garland”, and I was basically hired because each drag race team was supposed to have some number of female employees. They sent me on a few photo shoots, I did a couple of interviews, and they taught me a bunch of stuff about the car and about drag racing, but I was never allowed to actually touch the cars.

I’m not all that interesting, but I met Jim when I was the manager of an orthopedic rehabilitation facility. His mother had been hit by a truck, and after inpatient rehab, she was sent to us as an outpatient. I was engaged at the time, but she came up to me one afternoon and asked if I would be willing to take her son to a movie or something, as he had just relocated back to the area after being in the Navy. I figured there was no harm in seeing a movie, but after that movie, I called my fiance and broke up with him that night. It really was love at first sight – we’ve been together ever since.

My most embarrassing moment – at Disney, of course, Brighid was about 8 and got sick. We were at DHS, and she started throwing up. Being the Disney expert that I am, I couldn’t remember where the closest ladies room was, and walked her nearly all the way through the entire theme park, vomiting into her hands, until I got my wits about me and remembered where the bathrooms were. As if that wasn’t enough, the next day, she said she felt fine, so we met some friends at DTD. We grabbed a table at Ghirardelli’s, and I went inside to pick up a gift, leaving Brighid with her father. He decided he needed to use the bathroom, and left her unattended at the table. Of course, Brighid started vomiting again. Out I walk, all happy and Disney-fied, and there’s Brighid, covered in vomit, while people at surrounding tables are running for their lives. Fine Mommy moments there, I’ll tell ya.

Clubs in High School – I was in the big sister’s Baby Sitters club. My mom worked 3-11, and my stepfather 4-12, so I took care of my 2 younger sisters after school. Good times 😉

Extra things you might want to know – brevity is not my strong suit. {and we’re glad it’s not!! ~Z}


Thank you so much for sharing a bit more with us, Anna! I personally loved the little insights into your family life and Disney memories. Remember to look for Anna. 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 Anna on twitter @beautygirlsmom. And just maybe you’ll see her the next time you visit Walt Disney World, too!