A Taste of What It's Like to Write About Disney World: The Marathon
Disney has a good sense of humor — and I mean outside of scenes like Maui struggling to not turn into a shark-man. I’m talking a real prank on the press struggling to cover everything that happened this January.
Here’s My Crazy 3-Park Day as a Disney Reporter
Last December, with a wink and a grin, Walt Disney World dropped press releases for four new events happening at all four Orlando parks. And they all started the same day.
On January 19th, Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration began at Magic Kingdom, the Festival of the Arts kicked off at Epcot, the much-anticipated Incredible Celebration opened at Hollywood Studios, and the new Hakuna Matata Dance Party started at Animal Kingdom.
What a party, right? Yes, this is the rational reaction — unless you are a member of the media looking at that one date and suddenly imagining the Ocean’s Eleven planning session it will take to pull this thing off.
How was I Going to Cover all of This in One Day?
I sat in front of my computer wondering who to pitch to and what I was going to try to take on.
One lesson I’ve tried to glean in the past few years has been NOT taking on too much. I’ve always been able to get it all done, but at the expense of my own self care. I’ve learned to take a step back and do a little bit less than I want to.
I decided to retain my sanity and cover just three of the four events for InsidetheMagic.com.
I spent that fateful day covering three events at three parks (foregoing the new Animal Kingdom parade) to suss out what parts of these events were worth the reader’s attention.
Here’s What’s Worth Celebrating With Mickey
Our morning landed my husband (best boy), daughter (key grip) and I at Mickey & Minnie Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom, where I was able to immediately grab on to an angle… what’s new here? Our readers likely wanted to know what about the celebration was worth their precious time (and ticket money).
I gathered up the goings-on and listed them out here as Your 5 Must-Dos for Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration. My mission was to say exactly where and how to get your Mickey Bday on.
Aside from the new activities, I was struck by the cool chance to tell Mickey “Happy Birthday” after this park had helped me celebrate my family’s birthdays for years. Awww.
I ended up being dazzled by a lot of the adorable fanfare at the birthday party, but after dancing my butt off to that catchy new parade tune, we had to book it to Hollywood Studios to check out the newly transformed Pixar Place.
While you may envision the life of a Disney columnist as all Mickey bars and pool chairs, it’s more like a lot of standing in line for a thing, trying a thing, photographing a thing, then moving on to the next thing. I can get some enjoyment in there, and I’m reaaally probably too enthusiastic about it, but the job is in no way like being on vacation.
As soon as the parade ended and I thought I had a feature-worthy photo of the birthday boy, we were off to Hollywood Studios. That sounds like we were really whisked away, but with the TTC between us and our car.. it takes a while to get out of Magic Kingdom.
Stretching This Story Like Mrs. Incredible
Municiberg is an all-new area, but admittedly really small, so I had to dig around to really build up a story.
Reporting news that doesn’t seem to have a lot to cover can be difficult, so I deep-dive into each topic until I find what our readers need or a special tip they can take advantage of.
You’d be surprised how much is actually going on when you pay attention. It’s easy to say “yeah, there’s a dance party and a character greeting and some food down there”, but that’s not true to everything a guest can experience… and if I can uncover something that they’d love to see, it could create a family memory or make the difference in their vacation.
I also found out what’s not worth spending money on here (it’s the Jack-Jack cookie, sorry). Here’s my photos and reviews as I Got Supercharged at the Incredible Celebration.
At this point, I was already tired, but still took part in the Shindig dance party. I always have enough energy for a dance party. This area isn’t well known for it’s shade, and that is still true after it turned into Municiburg, so we were ready to cool off with some free pop and not-so-free food at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts.
Let’s Play “Eat This, Not That” at Epcot
We reached park #3 a few hours before sunset, which didn’t give us much time for snazzy sunlit photos.
We did our best to hustle around the world because my angle for this story is what I myself was dying to know (which always makes for the best angles): Did these pretty snacks taste as good as they look?
All Epcot festival foods are designed to look, well, sexy, and if Food & Wine is the evening gown runway, then Festival of the Arts is the swimsuit competition.
The foods here are designed to look amazing, thus living up to the artful theme of the fest. And with so many beaaauuuutiful Disney cupcakes fooling me in the past with lackluster flavor, I really had to wonder if these snacks were just pretty faces.
My husband, daughter and I rushed to try the most beautiful snacks and see if they were worth the money. My resulting post guides the reader to skip the ones that are just nice to look at: Review: As Good as They Look? 16 Best and Worst Foods at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts 2019.
The hardest part of this one was getting it all done in time… and we didn’t. I was still struggling to get a good photo of a bread bowl while dodging drunk revelers in France, shoving it under the light of a window facade.
Covering Even One Event is a Lot of Work….
I walked 20,000 steps on January 19th.
And during this hectic day, I was also doing one of my first Instagram takeovers for Inside the Magic (@itmnews on Insta). I was plotting where to go next, getting photos of what we needed, taking Insta story videos, doing live casts, and taking notes to remember all of this so I could sit down the next day and bang out three posts.
For example, to cover one piece of food at Epcot, I had to:
Have planned for it on our list (spending time to research the pretty stuff before we arrived), get over to the booth.
Stand in line to purchase it
Get in some good light and take photos
Fire up Instagram and do a story video to get our viewers in on the fun in real-time.
THEN. Then I got to take a bite. (Also, picture my husband and daughter salivating and impatiently brandishing their plastic forks.)
After that, I took notes on what I thought and added my husband and daughter’s input (never taste alone!). Back at home, there would be photos to edit, notes to comb through, the actual writing, and then formatting the post, optimizing for SEO… weeee~! Isn’t it fun to eat things for a living?
Now, if writing about Disney World sounds like a dream to you, trust me, it is. But sometimes it can be one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to cover… because there’s so much to report on. It’s a lot to take in, and then distill into an angle that serves the reader.
This was a non-stop marathon of getting what we needed and moving on to the next thing. It was tough, it was frustrating at times, and it was exhausting.
When can we do it again??