I’m laying in bed, recovering from chemo and I swear the #1 thing keeping me from going stir crazy are the memories from our awesome time at Disneyland thanks to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference.

I got to hug friends. I got to spend time with my family. I even was inspired to remember why I blog.

While I get the feeling you don’t want to hear all about what my family did at the parks (although I might tell you anyway- hint, we LOVE CARS LAND) I did want to share some of the things I learned about Disney and Disneyland that you may not know. You know, not the usual stuff. Because you can get the usual stuff anywhere.

First of all, I rented a scooter from Apple Scooter to get me around the conference, the hotel, and the parks. It was a significant savings over renting once at the gates and it allowed me to move freely in our Disneyland Resort hotel, the conference area, Downtown Disney, and Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. I just plugged the battery pack into the scooter each night in our wheelchair accessible hotel room and it was ready to go each day. The bell stand had my scooter (already dropped off by the company) upon arrival and I returned it to the bell stand upon check out and arranged for Apple to pick it up.

In the parks, despite worrying about the new disability procedures, I could not have been more impressed with the cast members. As the kids and I arrived on day one I was a bit worn from the drive and last minute packing but I had two little ones BEGGING for a few rides before a family dinner event. Unsure of how well I felt and still shaky operating the new scooter, I took them into Disneyland and over to Star Tours where they could not have bent over backwards to help me more. I was kept out of the sun, as requested, and allowed to stay seated while we waited the few minutes to head up and board the ride. Clearly they had forgotten the last time I came through Star Tours with a scooter and took out an entire display of Star Wars Legos with the front end of my beast on wheels. Vroom Vroom!

In case you were unaware, your medication should not be a problem at the parks or resort. I even found sharp disposal bins in each bathroom!

Small tip: this time around we tied a balloon at about adult head level on the back of my scooter. It seemed to help people from accidentally bumping into me in the crowds, however when we re-tied the balloon the next day…a bit lower…it simply hit all of us in the face over and over. So, get a balloon but keep it higher!

Then, after a great show at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue along with some yummy grub (and again, cast members helping me with plates and table seating) we took in the fireworks from our hotel window, listening to the music via our special Disney tv station, and awoke in the morning with me heading off to the conference downstairs and the kids and my husband to the parks for some more fun.

Around lunchtime I regrouped with my family as they decided to go swimming (who can resist a resort with a monorail slide into the pool?) and we rested a bit before more conference sessions and park fun for them and dinner together before the Wonderful World of Color show at DCA.

…and we all slept very well.

Small tip: Always, always, ALWAYS try and make reservations for ONE MEAL per day inside the parks. While you can snack and stand in line here and there, you always end up HUNGRY and having to wait a long time for a meal is no fun when everyone is tired from walking. Many of the more popular park restaurants take reservations months in advance. I never leave for a Disney trip without investigating our dining options and making reservations for each day knowing we can work all our Fast Passes, snacks, and in room dining groceries around that day’s reservation.

The next day it was nothing but family and we did it all. From Pirates to Cars to shops we didn’t skip a thing- and didn’t have to because I had my scooter and plenty of motivation. Granted we left a before the fireworks and I spent more time building a bear/dog/animalwithclothes than any one nearly 40years old should ever spend time doing…but we did it as a family. And THAT is what is important.

I’m also not going to lie. After finding another gift card for Build-a-Bear, my son, daughter, and I built me the perfect treatment day companion. Tyler the Treatment Bear, complete with wheelchair, glasses, Detroit Red Wings outfit plus hockey stick and skates, and PJs for those days like today, he should be arriving any second now at our door. So…

Small tip: if one of the Downtown Disney stores is packed, try going on your way to the parks and having them send your package to your hotel room or hold it until the end of the night. Less crowds, no bag holding. This goes for the stores INSIDE the park too!

I would be remiss if I didn’t clue you in on a little perk we received as part of the conference. Not only did we have Toontown all to ourselves for a party one night, we had CARS LAND to ourselves for a runDisney event and breakfast (for those of us who can’t walk or run) on the last morning there. I can’t put into words what it’s like to walk into the park empty and ready just for us. Magic seems like the right word here, but it was beyond magical and something my family will never, ever, forget. But as I said, you probably don’t want to hear all about the things we got to do that you didn’t….so I’m going to give you another small tip on this front.

Small tip: if staying at a Disney resort property, utilize their special hours in the morning for the parks. Each day they open up a bit early just for you. Which means if you want to really ride Sally and Lightening in the best ride EVAH…use that park’s special hours and get there early and go for it. We got to ride a few times in a row and it was, by far, one of the biggest highlights of our trip. You are part of Radiator Springs and you can feel it in your soul.

As I continue to recover from the chemo that makes me better, I’ve been so inspired by runDisney and its commitment to GIRLS in sports, my new goal is to actually get well enough to participate – and Disney has MANY you can choose from.

They also have some things I learned about from the conference that I’m guessing you might not know either. Did you know Disney has an amazing ‘citizenship’ program? As in, they volunteer and give back to communities through their charity and through time…lots and LOTS of time by the Disney cast members. In fact, according to Disney PR, since the program’s founding in 1983, ‘Disney VoluntEARS have given over 7.5 million hours of volunteer service.’

This blew me away. I had not idea. And of course it made us love them even more.

Want to be part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration? Well, you might have a chance as the fun is hitting the road. Take a look at the cities and dates where Disney will be spreading its special brand of magic. Then go ahead and fill out the form! If chosen, I can promise it will be well worth your time. Because nothing can be more important than friends, family, and coming together to be inspired by that very special brand of pixie dust only Disney can create.

*I was invited to attend the DSMM Celebration. I paid my own conference fees and received gifts during the conference. All opinions, experiences and thoughts are my own.