Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Disney Mom's Panel Interview with Suzannah "Zanna" DiMarzio

I personally did not know much about the Disney Mom's Panel and when I saw that several people that I knew were applying for it, I wanted to find out more about it and what it was all about. Here is the interview that I did with Suzannah about her experience with it.

What made you want to apply for the Disney Mom’s Panel?
I first learned about the Disney Moms Panel before last year's applications in September of 2008. I guess I totally missed the first year! The instant I heard, I knew it was for me. Having been a self-professed Disney expert (and fan) for almost 30 years and a mom for almost 10, I felt like this was my calling. The fact that it was online was a bonus, because I had been communicating and writing online since 1999 and knew my way around the internet. It was as if this position had been created for me - unfortunately tens of thousands of other people felt the same way! When I didn't make the cut last year, I was disappointed of course, but the reasons I wanted to apply did not change - my love for Disney did not lessen, nor did my desire to share that knowledge with others online (and in person). So I knew I'd reapply every year, that was just a given. In the past few months that desire has increased ten-fold, because I decided to turn my 5 year-old website into a blog and write about my Disney experiences. That led me to twitter and I met some wonderful people that thought just like I did. Soon the Disney Moms Panel not only seemed like THE perfect job, it actually seemed attainable. If I don't make it this year, I'll just keep applying. I feel like I am destined to be a part of the panel eventually!

What did you have to do to apply?

The first step in the process is making sure you are registered at www.disney.go.com. You will use that registration to sign in to Disney Moms Panel application page. That page will feature 3 questions and 3 boxes for you to write your answers in - in 100 words or less. That part is the killer, it's so difficult to concisely say all that you want to tell whoever will be reading your answers, to prove your worthiness for the panel! The first questions are about you, personally. Disney has in the past asked you to describe yourself and your family. This year it was to describe both yourself and your family in 100 words or less. Next you need to explain why you feel you should be on the panel. The third question this year was a new one - asking you to share any expertise you might have that would be useful to the Disney Moms Panel.

The judging process for the first round usually takes about a month. From there the second round applicants are chosen, and must answer another set of 3 questions, usually more Disney Park-related: favorite tips, memories or celebrations having to do with Disney Parks. The lucky few from that round are notified in about two weeks that they have made it to round three, which is a phone interview. A couple of weeks after that, the new panel is announced.

What were the requirements to apply?

What most people don't realize is you don't even have to be a mom to apply! You don't even need to be a parent! The requirements are listed on the application page, but basically you must be 18 years of age or older, have visited the park within the past 12 months, not be a cast member or travel agent, or live with one. You must be available to travel to Disney World in the beginning of December for the training process and be willing and able to answer a minimum number of questions online for the panel.

What exactly does someone on the Disney Mom’s Panel do?
The Disney Moms Panel assists people planning magical Disney vacations by answering their questions at the Disney World website. Because the Disney Moms Panel is not technically employed by Disney, their opinions are their own. No sincere question regarding the planning process or Disney World is off-limits and the answers the panel gives are usually filled with not only the facts, but personal anecdotes to help planners better understand what might work for their family. If you want to know the best place to view a certain parade, or what there is to do for your son that doesn't like going on rides, the Disney Moms Panel is there to help.

What do you feel qualifies you to be on the Mom’s Panel?

The first trip I remember at Walt Disney World was in 1983. My parents and I drove down from Boston and stayed in the Lake Buena Vista Vacation Villas (which are no longer there and in the location which now holds Saratoga Springs Resort). I fell in love. We visited a few more times and then actually moved to Ocala, FL when I was 10, only 75 miles away from Disney World. I was in heaven. We'd visit almost every weekend during that time, so Epcot became like a second home. Years later, when I was in college in Boston, it hit me that I wanted to work at Disney World. I got a degree in Travel and Tourism Management and set off to live in Orlando and become a cast member. I loved my time as a cast member but later moved on to be a travel agent and manager. I then became a stay-at-home mom after having my first son in 1999. I worked briefly for the Disney Store in Massachusetts and then the Disney Reservations Center in Orlando before we moved to Tampa in 2005. (We moved around a lot!) Since settling in Tampa, we realize this is the perfect location to access Disney within an hour and get to enjoy all the benefits of being an Annual Passholder. During all those years, I developed my Disney planning skills and my interest and love of all things Disney did not fade. I am constantly looking for Disney news, tips and ideas and love sharing those with everyone I meet. I am the go-to person for Disney questions among my friends and family. Like I said above, it feels like the panel was made for me!

If you got onto the panel, what would you want to do?

Once I picked myself up off the floor after I fainted from excitement you mean?? If I got onto the panel I would just be so grateful to Disney for recognizing my Disney love, knowledge and passion. I would be super happy to start right in helping others with their vacation planning. I will be able to share my family's experiences, as a mom of tweens, an almost-one-year-old, traveling with grandparents and friends, and the times before we had children, when my husband and I would vacation at Disney as a couple, in hopes of helping others plan the very best Disney World vacation for their needs! I would also look forward to meeting the members of the existing Disney Moms Panel, some of whom I've gotten to know through twitter and my website, and meeting all the new Disney Moms Panel and becoming friends as we join the team!

Any other thoughts?

I think you asked all the important questions!! I guess all I have to add is again, I know I'm not alone in my love and passion for Disney World and desire to be on the Disney Moms Panel. I am in some amazing company, actually. I don't envy Disney's job of finding 10 people out of 20,000 for this new panel. I know everyone that's applied believes they should be on the panel, and feels strongly about their love and knowledge of Disney. Whatever is the magic formula that Disney's looking for, I know I possess the magic and pixie dust needed to be a great Disney Mom and hope Disney sees that too! Best of luck to ALL applying and if I don't get to join you on the panel this year, I'll try for next year!

Check out Suzannah's entry about the Mom's Panel by clicking here. Make sure to check out her website at http://zannaland.com/


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