This year’s Romance Writers of America® Annual Conference is being held at Walt Disney World Resort from July 26-29th. My friends already know that I’m a nerd when it comes to romance and a nerd for all things Disney. So to have both of my worlds merge come next July for #RWA17 is magical. It’s truly where all dreams come true (to use Disney-speak). I’ll be the girl not only wearing her RWA badge and pins but also my Mickey ears hat with pride. I just need to get a hat embroidered with “Elle” in advance.
I love helping friends and family plan trips to Walt Disney World. So I thought that I’d create an Unofficial Planning Guide here on my blog to help you plan your visit. Here are the links to the topics I have posted so far in my guide, so you have them in one handy spot.
- Discounted Theme Park Tickets (updated to reflect new pricing & options)
- Interview with Farrah Rochon, author and RWA Board Member
- Interview with Erin Fry, RWA’s Editor and Publishing Manager
- Disney Dining and Making Advanced Dining Reservations
- New Experiences at Disney
- Free Time Fun
- RWA Disney Park Event
- Disney Parks Touring Strategies
- Making FastPass+ Reservations
- Final Tips
*Bonus! Check out the Pinterest Board I’ve created to complement this planning guide.
Overview of #RWA17
The Annual Conference is returning to Walt Disney World for a second time. Back in 2010, the conference was relocated here, a mere two months before the conference due to horrible flooding in Nashville. I’m guessing many of you will be stretching this into a vacation and bringing family and friends along. There’s so much to see that I really encourage you to add a couple days (or more) on the front or back ends of the conference. While you won’t want to miss the fabulous workshops and speakers, you’re going to have to leave time for that all-important selfie with Mickey Mouse and a boat tour of Arendelle. Who doesn’t want to hear Let It Go just one more time?!
This post is a general overview. Click on those links at the beginning of this post for more detail about lodging, dining, and touring Walt Disney World. If you have tips to share, by all means, respond in the comments section below. It might seem crazy that I am starting this guide so far in advance, but the conference takes place during summer, a busy season at Walt Disney World. For instance, did you know that dining reservations open up 180 days in advance and many popular restaurants/times fill up at that time? By planning your trip, you’ll ensure yourself a most magical (there I go again with that word) vacation as possible.
If you haven’t attended RWA’s Annual Conference in the past and you’ve been wishing upon a star to go, then 2017 is your year. Since Orlando is such a huge travel destination, you’re bound to find a reasonable flight, and with the conference happening within the Disney bubble, you’ll have everything you need nearby. Once you check in at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (I’ll call it “Swolphin” for short) or surrounding Disney-operated hotels, you won’t have to leave the resort until the day you go home. You’ll have complimentary transportation to the theme parks and other major destinations at Walt Disney World. Not to mention, there’s plenty of things to see or do within walking distance. Chances are, you won’t need to rent a car or call an Uber!
Tip! If you’re an RWA conference first-timer, check out these helpful tips from me and my fellow Golden Heart ’15 finalists, The Dragonflies.
The Resort has grown in leaps and bounds since it first opened in October 1971. Aside from the four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and two water parks ( Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach), there’s a whole lot to experience. Did you know Walt Disney World is the size of San Francisco (40 square miles)? As a Floridian, I’ve visited many times and am nowhere close to checking every must-do off my list. There’s just so much to experience!
If shopping and dining are on your agenda, you can take a bus to Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. To satisfy all palates and budgets, this area has been completely reimagined in the past year with added shops and restaurants. From the Swolphin, you can also stroll over to Disney’s BoardWalk, which has several restaurants, quick eats including an amazing bakery, live entertainment (a fabulous dueling piano bar and dance club), and shops. There are several golf courses and even two miniature golf courses (one is right next door to the Swolphin). I also love hopping to Walt Disney World Resort hotels and checking out the grounds, shops, and restaurants. A popular activity is taking the “monorail loop” and exploring the expansive resorts (and bars!) at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I’ll get into more specifics in my future blog posts.
*The Walt Disney World travel agent calendar for July 2017 can be found here.*
Now-Nov. 15th: RWA is currently accepting workshop proposals. Visit here to submit your online application.
Mid-November: RWA will announce registration fees and featured speakers.
January 2x: Depending on your check-in date, Advance Dining Reservations for restaurants and special events at Walt Disney World can be made 180 days in advance. (refer to guide post on Dining for more information).
Feb. 7th: Bookings accepted for room reservations at the conference hotel.
Feb. 7th-Apr 19: Early Registration
April 19th: Last day to cancel conference hotel booking without a penalty.
April 20th-June 21: Regular Registration
June 21-July 29th: Late Registration
May 23rd, 5PM CT: Deadline to register for RWA’s Walt Disney World Park Event
May 2X: Depending on your check-in date, FastPass+ reservations can be made 60 days in advance for many rides and attractions at the Disney Parks. (For those staying at conference resort or a Disney Resort hotel
July 26-29th: RWA Annual Conference. The full schedule can be found here.
As Mickey Mouse says, “See ya real soon!”
This unofficial guide is not associated with Romance Writers of America® . I am not receiving any compensation or gifts for these blog posts.
Please share this blog series on social media. I want to encourage many people to attend and make the most out of #RWA17. By planning ahead, you can experience all that the conference and Disney have to offer. To ensure you don’t miss the next topic in this planning guide, follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Links are up on top.