Are you a Disney expert? Raises hand. Want to share your knowledge with others and get a free vacation out of it? Here's your chance... except it's not quite as easy as it sounds.
Perhaps you've heard of the legend of the Disney Parks Mom Panel. Well it's true: Each year the House of Mouse opens up a search for new members to join its esteemed panel that acts as a go-to resource for people who are planning vacations to one of Mickey and friends' worldwide theme park destinations. Panelists can take up to three family members on a reward vacation too, just for fulfilling their duties of answering approximately 10 to 20 questions per week.
This year, the window to apply opens on September 5 at noon EDT, and closes on September 12 at noon EDT. And all you have to do is go online to start the process. Sort of.
According to the company, if you are the person friends and family consult on all things Disney-trip related, then you're a great candidate to join the panel. A selection committee reviews all applications from moms, dads and family members who can offer vacation-planning insights and tips in a friendly and relatable way.
But the competition is about as stiff as Mother Gothel's policy on whether Rapunzel can leave her tower. The selection process begins in September, with a first round short-answer style questionnaire to fill out online. Round 2 requires applicants to submit a video, and if you make it to round 3, you'll have a phone interview. Winners are announced in January, and will be asked to attend a training session.
A small price to pay for an all-expenses paid trip, right? Well, yes! But according to the many blogs devoted to helping potential applicants figure out how to crack the Moms Panel code, getting to the final round of consideration is as hard as landing a table at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom without a reservation.
According to the My No Guilt Life blog, as many as 20,000 applicants compete for just 40 spots each year, although she doesn't know the exact number for sure. So clearly, your odds of being chosen are slimmer than the typical princess's waistline. And how hard is the application process? It's "not for the weak of heart. Especially if you want it REALLY REALLY BADLY," writes this blogger.
I applied in 2016 (spoiler alert: I didn't make it) and I can attest to the fact that as My No Guilt Life says, the questions seem easy enough. For instance, in the first round, you are asked to share your most memorable experience at one of the parks. So it's not like you need to know every fact about every inch of the parks to apply. But as Run the Great Wide Somewhere explains, "You don't have to know everything, but you should genuinely love Disney and you should be an expert in your chosen specialty."
Wait, specialty? I don't remember that part of the application process, but apparently you are expected to choose one of the following categories:
- Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
- Disneyland Resort in California
- Disney Vacation Club
- Disney Cruise Line
On top of that, there are other prerequisites to apply. For instance, as The Main Street Moms reminded me, you must have visited Disneyland, World, or another park within the past 12 months.
The good news: You don't have to be a mom to win a spot on the panel; dads, grandparents, or anyone else 18 years or older who loves everything Walt built can apply. The bad news: Even people who have been asked to join the panel don't know exactly why they were chosen.
One former panelist, who writes at Redhead Baby Mama, says "It's a mystery. Even to me, a current panelist. Thousands upon thousands apply for the panel, and only a few are invited to the ball." She further confesses, "I still don't know how it's done. I just know that I tried my best, put forth a huge effort, a dose of my real self and that was what was needed in this moment."
Huge effort. Yup, other than not knowing how they were selected, what past panelists all seem to say about the application process is that it's far from a walk in the theme park. One panelist who writes at Do Tell Anabel says she answered all questions from her heart.
"I also made sure to double check my grammar and punctuation on every single submission." She adds that if you are lucky enough to win the big prize, "Being on the [panel] is an honor." And there are lots of perks!
Check out these tips for how NOT to apply for one of the coveted spots. And good luck out there!