Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Disney's Earmarked Conference 2013

Mouse World Travel owner, Michelle Adams, and manager/agent Brook Wozniak, recently attended Disney's Earmarked Conference held at Walt Disney World from September 16 to 19, 2013.  During this conference they were able to hear from and speak with Disney Executives and use Disney's newest tech, MyMagic+ and the MagicBands first-hand.

If you haven't yet heard of MyMagic+ or MagicBands, the bulk of this technology allows you to make FastPass reservations from home without having to dart to the rides first thing in the morning to obtain FastPasses.  The MagicBands are a colorful wristband that basically replace the blue Key to the World card and hold all the data for your reservations.  The MyDisneyExperience website and smartphone app let you create, see, and make changes to all your plans and reservations.

Follow me, Brook, along in this blog for a recap of the conference!

September 16 - Check-in to the conference
This day was a 'free day' and not an actual conference day, there were some optional resort tours scheduled and check-in was being held all day at the Contemporary Resort Convention Center and then you were free to enjoy the resort and/or the parks.

The conference center was decorated with large banners in the conference theme "Mission: Incredible"
Conference goodies - bag with water bottle, lanyard with credentials, PhotoPass+ CD, notebook with pen, and an "I am Incredible" t-shirt

We also received some 'bling' for our MagicBands:

The top two items on the Band are called Sliders, the Mickey Incredible Slider was for the conference, the other was given to guests at check-in.  The bottom item is called a Bandit and is much like Jibbetz for Crocs, they just pop right into the holes on the Band. This was for conference attendees. You can purchase Sliders and Banditz and more in all the resort gift shops that are participating in the MagicBand testing and in the World of Disney in Downtown Disney.
After relaxing in the room for a bit, I ran off to the Magic Kingdom for a quick lunch at Casey's Corner (anyone who knows me knows I cannot resist those Corn Dog Nuggets!) and for a spin around Tomorrowland on the Peoplemover.  Later I joined up with Michelle for some time at Epcot.  We walked around the World Showcase, sipped on American Dreams (have you had that delicious treat?) and enjoyed the American Adventure and Living with the Land.



I stayed in the park for a while longer to ride Soarin' while Michelle returned to the hotel.  Later that evening Michelle, her husband, and I all stuffed ourselves silly at Whispering Canyon Cafe.  All in all, a fun day at Walt Disney World and we were both very excited for the conference to begin!

September 17 - the conference begins!
In true Disney fashion the conference began with entertainment!  The theme was Mission: Incredible and we were all "Super Agents".

Mr & Mrs Incredible along with Ivanna Dream

Today we heard from many Disney executives, Ed Fouché, Senior Vice President, Travel Industry Sales, Americas and Craig Parsons, Vice President, Travel Agency Sales and National Accounts welcomed us.

We covered the 2014 campaign, of which we were told was TOP SECRET and was just launched yesterday!  The ads are very fun (check one out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK64XOtDw4Y) and Disney has some great interactive elements in store for the rest of the year.


Nick Franklin, Executive Vice President, Next Generation Experience spoke about how MyMagic+ works, the goals, and partnering with us as travel agents in using this new technology.  He also reviewed some interesting statistics showing that Walt Disney World guests that have booked through a  travel agent are prepared upon arrival with their MagicBands customized and their FastPasses selected.  Versus guests who book on their own generally not being aware of MyMagic+.  Nick Franklin also gave us a peek into what is coming down the line with MyMagic+, but again - we were asked to keep quiet about this!  One very important piece is that the MyMagic+ test will be expanded to all Walt Disney World Resorts in October.


After lunch we were let loose in the parks to test and explore MyMagic+ and the MagicBands.  Since both Michelle and I had used them the previous day (and Michelle for a few days prior as well), we were pros by now!  We easily made on the fly changes to our FastPasses both online and on the MyDisneyExperience app and highly enjoyed our time in the Magic Kingdom.  That evening we attended Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Hilarious entertainer at the Haunted Mansion during Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party
HalloWishes - the unique fireworks show for the Halloween Party
September 18 - full conference day
The next day started bright and early.  After breakfast we almost immediately went into breakout sessions.

My favorite of the three breakout sessions was "Building 21st Century Relationships" by Terry Jones.  Terry Jones created Travelocity and Kyak.  He prepped us by telling us he knows we despise him.  Ha!  However, Terry is one very, very smart man.  His session was motivating, full of great ideas and it ended with him giving each of us a copy of his book On Innovation.  He also explained that he uses travel agents!  And his daughter IS a travel agent!  He loves to use a travel agent, a specialist, a destination pro, for many of his trips because they know tips and hints that would take him mounds of research to learn.  He cheered us on and was incredibly encouraging.

One session was also focused on MyMagic+.  This covered a few items coming down the line, including a booklet that will be sent to guests and the new "Thank You" postcards Disney will be sending that will interact with your smartphone/tablet.  Very cool.

I was able to sneak in a few "hot" questions about MyMagic+ after this session and while I did get a deeper understanding of things, quite a few things were still in testing and being worked on at this point.  However, if you are one who has encountered problems, be assured Disney is still working on the MyMagic+ program and making many, many tweaks.  We are all learning as we are going.  Your travel agent at Mouse World Travel is here to assist you every step of the way!  We are all plugged in to the latest news regarding MyMagic+ and working with the technology to make the best possible experience for your vacation!

After the breakout sessions we moved back into the main conference room for a review on Disney Cruise Line and the Disneyland Resort.  And our last session was “Disney Parks: A Look Ahead" with Scott Trowbridge, Vice President Research & Development, Walt Disney Imagineering.  This session was fantastic - it was so much fun to see what Disney has in store and get a peek into their ideas!  The conference ended with 600 travel agents donning "Glow with the Show Ears" and them dancing away to the music.  Unfortunately Fantasmic! wasn't quite ready to have the Ears (debuts on October 15), but it was still a thrill to experience it for a few moments!

That evening Disney took us to Hollywood Studios for a closing event.  We had dinner with a DJ on the set of Lights! Motors! Action! followed by dessert on the Streets of America with the Pointer Sisters live!  And they finished the conference with a bang with a personal fireworks show over Mickey's Sorcerer Hat at the front of the park.



All in all, it was a very fun conference.  We learned, we networked, we were encouraged.  Disney has a lot in store for us that will change how we work with our clients, and how we tour the parks; however, we are excited for this change and face it head-on.

Both Michelle and I found the MagicBands to be an excellent tool!  We were able to make and adjust our FastPasses on the fly using both the website and the smartphone app.  There are still a few kinks to be worked out; however, we are both confident this will greatly enhance your next next Walt Disney World vacation.  For a couple days after the conference I spent time with my family and it was pure bliss not having to run for FastPasses, we slept in and strolled through the park knowing we already had reservations for our favorite rides.

Leave a comment below or contact your Mouse World Travel Agent if you have any questions, otherwise stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates on MyMagic+!

Michelle & Brook enjoying the conference

7 comments:

  1. Brook GREAT blog and summary of your conference. You really do have the best job ever! Show Glow ears are TOP on my must buy list on my trip....Can't wait to be there for the debut on the 15th!! I didn't think that Fantasmic would be ready till the 19th so thanks for the heads up!

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