Disney 'Moms Panel' Also Has Dads
The highly competitive Walt Disney World Moms Panel, now in its fourth year, is a dream come true for super fans of the Disney parks in Florida, but it is not limited to just moms.
Walt Disney World
In the 2011 "class," as Disney calls it, of the 15 panelists chosen from out of 20,000 applicants, two men joined the elite group, which answers questions posed by potential visitors on an online forum.
Angelo Alomar, from Simpsonville, S.C., tells AOL Travel News, that he had been thinking about applying for more than two years and was so superstitious about the process that he didn't tell anyone, not even his family, when he finally did last September.
"If I didn't get it, I didn't want to disappoint anyone," said Alomar, who has a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.
Considering all the interest that the panel generates, he had cause to worry.
"Our Moms Panel has significantly grown since its launch in 2008 and has successfully tripled in traffic and size," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "This year's Moms Panel search generated the most applications we have ever received," said Crofton.
Alomar managed to keep the secret through the three rounds of the application, he told AOL Travel News, which included answering essay questions, putting together a video submission and doing a phone interview.
"I'm a Disney freak," said Alomar, who was convinced he wouldn't get in, and still tears up when he talks about the phone call late last year confirming his inclusion that "completely changed my life."
Alomar's duties, which began earlier this year, include answering 25 questions a week on the forum. His compensation, like all panelists, is a week's vacation at a Disney park with his family, but that doesn't seem to be Alomar's reason for applying.
"It's not about myself," Alomar said. "Helping people with Disney takes a little bit of stress out of my life. I will treasure this for the rest of my life."
The panelists, which include 30 alumni, are a mix of moms, dads and grandparents considered experts on planning Disney vacations. They offer their own tips and insights for navigating the parks. Oscar-winning actress and mom of three, Geena Davis, serves as an honorary guest panelist.