When I first moved to California in 2007, I went to Disneyland. At 22 years old, I was thrilled to finally see the Magic Kingdom that we had watched on television every Sunday night in Vermont. That television show, The Wonderful World of Disney showed a place that we could never have imagined seeing for ourselves. California was so far away, and very different from Vermont where I had grown up. I’ll never forget the first time I visited Disneyland…magical!
A few weeks ago I had the chance to go to Disneyland again for TechMunch, a conference for food bloggers. The conference included two nights at the Grand Californian Hotel. I have dreamed of staying at the Grand Calfornian for years, so this was a bucket-list experience and I can honestly say that the hotel exceeded all expectations. The hospitality of the staff, the beauty of the lobby and the furnishings, the superb service, the amazing restaurants…and it’s right next door to the Disney parks!
Craftsman bungalow style on a magnificent scale! Every detail of this hotel is exquisite.
As soon as I checked in, I knew I had arrived in the Happiest Place on Earth. I was tempted to take the opportunity to relax, take a nap, hang out in the fabulous lobby, ….and then my cell phone rang. Liz from Liz The Chef had arrived and was hoping to find some lunch. Not only that, but she admitted that she had NEVER BEEN TO DISNEYLAND BEFORE!
I was delighted to usher my friend Liz through the gates and down Main Street….we walked directly to the Blue Bayou, the restaurant next to Pirates of the Caribbean, where I have always wanted to dine…another bucket-list moment! Reservations are usually required, but we walked right in and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. (It’s very dark inside…after all, it’s in a bayou!)
It was really fun listening to Liz exclaim as we walked through the various areas of Disneyland…”there’s the castle!”…”look there’s Minnie Mouse!”…”let’s go in the Haunted Mansion!”…and “where’s that cart with the iced lattes?”
We arrived back at the hotel in time for the opening party for TechMunchLA. Imagine a room full of excited food bloggers, hugging old friends, getting acquainted with bloggers we’ve never met, being introduced to brand representatives and public relations representatives, and a Disney executive chef! Meanwhile we’re enjoying a signature cocktail created just for us, and fabulous appetizers.
The next day was a whirlwind of panel discussions, speakers, and networking. We learned about finding our niche, tips for better food photography, improving the security of our website, making an editorial calendar, designing with fonts…and much more. It was a very full day!
Did I mention that we had a two hour lunch break? We were invited into an adjacent ballroom by Executive Chef Christine, the only woman to hold that title in the entire Disney organization. We were flabbergasted to see the outstanding display of food demonstrations, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions, take photos, and taste all of the dishes!
So many restaurants were represented! Each station had a special dish ready for us, offered with unmistakeable Disney hospitality. I realized that Disneyland Resort is an outstanding destination for foodies of all ages…I plan to return just to enjoy the restaurants! Think you’re too old for Disneyland? Think again!
Many of the other bloggers brought their families and enjoyed the parks throughout the conference. Our conference fee included our hotel room for two nights, two 3-day park-hopper tickets, and fast track tickets to the evening Wonderful World of Color show. I could hear the music, and see the lights, giant fountains, and fiery display from my room, and was looking forward to seeing it all up close. That is, until Lisa from Whisk and Cleaver mentioned that she wanted to have dinner at Napa Rose. We called for a reservation and walked right over to the restaurant, where we were offered the opportunity to dine at the chef’s counter.
Situated right next to the kitchen area where the chefs were preparing food for the evening, we experienced a five-course dinner complete with wine pairings, and wonderful conversation with our waiter and chef. We spent all evening in the Napa Rose and agreed we would never forget that meal.
We were happy food bloggers as we made our way back to our rooms to enjoy some relaxation time. I loved my room, with the view of the pool area and the huge ferris wheel of California Adventure, changing colors like a kaleidoscope all night long.
In the morning we checked out of our rooms early so we could be ready for our last adventure of the conference. Twenty lucky food bloggers were invited to meet Executive Chef Christine for an intimate cooking demonstration in a special events kitchen backstage. We were treated to a very special hour with our vivacious and gracious hostess, along with a team of Disney public relations and management.
I spent the rest of the day visiting the California Adventure Park and Disneyland … all by myself! People-watching, enjoying the rides, and one more lunch!
What a magical three days! TechMunchLA at Disneyland 2014 was over the top!
This wasn’t my first TechMunch experience. When I was first beginning to think about starting my blog in 2011, I went to a one-day TechMunch conference in Santa Monica, right next to the beach. On that day I met my dear friend La Fujimama for the very first time. I had lunch with a lovely group of bloggers who helped me finally decide on the name for my blog. I won a Kitchenaid food processor! And I met Andrew Wilder from EatingRules and NerdPress who generously helped me set up my domain the very next day. That day was very special for the founder of TechMunch, Babette Pepaj as she announced the unveiling of her newest project at that time, CookBookCafe.com, a site where anyone can publish their own cookbook.
Visit http://techmunchconf.com to learn about upcoming conferences!