In an effort to reach out and “connect” to all the Disney World neophytes who visit the parks, Disney has this thing called a “Mom’s Panel”. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Basically, it’s a place on the official Walt Disney World website where people who are unfamiliar with the parks can get answers and trip-planning advice from non-threatening Mom’s panelists. Not all of the panelists are women (some are men who have been biologically altered to bear children) but they’re there to give commonsense advice from the perspective of a parent with kids, as opposed to a professional travel agent. So, not only can they answer travel agent-y questions about resorts and ticket prices, but they can also tell you what to do if your three-year-old ralphs all over Mickey. (Note: that joke about the male panelists being biologically altered to bear children was not true. As far as I know.) It’s pretty obvious by their advertising that Disney markets their parks mainly to families with preteen children. The Mom’s Panel is a natural part of that, and I want to emphasize that all of the Mom’s Panelists are fantastic people who are great at what they do. Especially ones like Zanna who link to this blog.
Anyway, I got to thinking about the Mom’s Panel recently because Disney had some kind of social media event for them last week. My Twitter timeline was full of #DisneySMMoms hashtags accompanied by tweets about what a great time the tweeter was having at World Showcase or Adventureland or some other Disney World location that was much more fun than my cubicle at work. Naturally, this made me a little jealous. It also reminded me of an idea I’d had for a sort of Mom’s Panel alternative.
While the relentlessly sunny demeanor of the Mom’s Panel fits well with Disney’s company image, the fact is that the Internet is largely populated, nay, infested with people who have strong opinions and an ironic sense of humor. You know, people like me. Shouldn’t we have our own panel? I’m thinking of a sort of Disney Geek’s panel. Only we’d call it the WEDHead’s Panel because it sounds cooler. How would the WEDHead’s Panel differ from the Mom’s Panel? Let’s take a look: (NOTE: The Mom’s Panel answers given here are simulated, and should not be mistaken for the real thing)
Question: What’s the best time to visit Epcot?
Mom’s Panel Answer: There’s always something to do at Epcot! In the spring, you can enjoy the Flower & Garden Festival. And don’t forget to come back for the Food & Wine Festival in the fall!
WEDHead’s Panel Answer: 1989. Next question.
Here’s another example:
Question: My six-year-old daughter loves the fairies and I know she’ll want to drag me along to meet them. The thing is, I’m a 40-year-old man. I love my little girl very much, but the thought of standing in line to meet Tinkerbell just makes me feel foolish. Do you have any advice?
Mom’s Panel Answer: The magic of Walt Disney World makes everyone into a kid again! Don’t feel foolish about meeting Tinkerbell with your daughter; rest assured there will be lots of other dads in line with their daughters, too. And don’t be afraid to play along with the characters! It’s lots of fun and it’ll give your daughter a memory she’ll cherish forever!
WEDHead’s Panel Answer: I know where you’re coming from, dude. I mean, what’s a grown man going to talk to Tinkerbell about, the pitiful state of the New York Knicks defense? But look at it this way: Tinkerbell and her friends are attractive women in short skirts who are required to pretend to be nice to you. As long as you’ve got your daughter in tow, you can go see them and your wife will be totally okay with it. Just don’t do anything creepy and you’ll be fine.
And one more:
Question: My three-year-old tends to throw up when he gets nervous. What if he vomits on Mickey during a meet-and-greet?
Mom’s Panel Answer: I really hope this doesn’t happen to you and your child, but if it does, don’t sweat it! Disney’s Character Attendants are well-prepared for these little accidents.
WEDHead’s Panel Answer: Start loudly insisting to anyone within earshot that this is not, in fact, your child. Then run away.
After witnessing these examples, how can you doubt the usefulness of a WEDHead’s Panel? Still, I know what a lot of you are thinking: “This WEDHead’s Panel of yours is just a scheme to get Disney to let you into their parks for free just for being sarcastic on the Internet.” And you would be correct. But aren’t I also opening Disney’s eyes to a new market? I mean, we opinionated and sarcastic Internet denizens may not always say what people want to hear. But we’re a sizable market segment that, if catered to properly, will pay top dollar for pretty much any fool thing you can think of.
And isn’t that what Disney really wants?