Interview with Farrah Rochon
I’ve got a special addition to my unofficial #RWA17 at Walt Disney World Planning guide—an interview with Romance Writers of America® Board member, Farrah Rochon. As a USA Today bestselling author, Farrah has written an astounding 27 books and has several accolades under her belt. Just to name a few, she’s a two-time RITA finalist, 2012 nominee for the Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, and winner of the Emma award for Author of the Year in 2015.
While Farrah lives in Louisiana, that doesn’t stop her from making multiple trips to Walt Disney World each year. Like me, she’s a huge Disney fan, and I just knew I had to snag her for an interview to talk about the upcoming conference as well as share her tips for touring the World. Let’s get started!
As we all know by now, RWA’s next Annual Conference is being held at Walt Disney World. Why do you think this location is extra special for conference attendees?
As a self-confessed Disney World-oholic, I think any time a person can be in “the World” is extra special. However, I think the real winners here are the conference attendees’ families. This is the perfect time to turn your conference into a family vacation. Hopefully, attendees can steal away in the evenings and enjoy the Parks with their families.
Absolutely! I’m sure many attendees will pad a few extra days to their conference stay.
So Farrah, since you’re an RWA Board Member, are there any events planned that will take advantage of this unique conference locale? Any insider scoop you can share as to what attendees can expect?
I can’t give any special scoop (honestly, I don’t know any because I’m not on any of those committees). Just know that it will be fabulous as always.
I bet it will be. I’ve only attended one Annual Conference myself, and, although massive, it was amazing. What’s your biggest piece of advice for those who are attending the Annual Conference for the first time?
Remember to breathe! I know the conference can be overwhelming. I still remember vividly how it felt when I attended my first conference in Denver back in 2002. I’d advise first-timers to do a little pre-planning and don’t even think you can do everything. It’s impossible. Pace yourself, learn a lot, and have fun.
Wow, your first conference was 14 years ago. Besides being a Board member, what keeps you coming back year after year?
I have attended every single national conference since joining RWA back in 2002. It’s the one place where I feel that people “get” me. They understand what I go through the other 361 days out of the year. I cherish spending those four days with them.
That’s what I found special about this conference. There’s nothing like being surrounded with like-minded people. Speaking of shared interests, I know the two of us have a love for all things Disney. What’s your favorite thing about a Walt Disney World vacation? Why do you think attendees should consider adding a couple days to explore the World outside of the conference?
I’m a kid again when I go to Disney. I love the classic rides like “it’s a small world” and The Haunted Mansion, and the rollercoasters like Expedition Everest and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. I also love the shows like the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And the food! Disney has so many top-notch restaurants throughout the Parks and Resort. Even those who aren’t huge fans of theme parks or thrill rides can find so many wonderful things to do at Disney. If you’re already there, why not take advantage of it?
I concur! Earlier, we talked about how the Annual Conference can be overwhelming for first-timers. The same can be said for those who’ve never visited Walt Disney World. Do you have any planning tips?
Understand that you will not see everything, so decide beforehand if you want to visit one single Park and see as much as you can there, or if you want to Park hop to all four and get a taste of each. During the November Board of Director’s meeting, I gave one of my fellow board members who hadn’t been to Disney in over 30 years the four-Parks-in-a-day experience. It was grand! There are a ton of planning guides (including the fabulous blog posts you’ve already written for fellow RWA members) to help. A little research goes a long way.
In all the times I’ve been, I’ve never done the four-Parks-in-a-day adventure. That’s a lot of walking! I’m not sure many attendees would be up to that task, but if they were to only have one extra day outside of the conference to explore the World, what would you suggest they do?
I would suggest Epcot or Animal Kingdom. Epcot, because attendees can walk to it from the conference hotel, and because there is so much to see in World Showcase (not to mention the great restaurants). I recommend Animal Kingdom because it just has a more laidback feel. It doesn’t feel as rushed as the other Parks. Most people would probably want to visit Magic Kingdom, but RWA is smack in the middle of summer, and the Magic Kingdom is going to be super crowded. It wouldn’t be my first choice.
If I know anything about those who attend the Annual Conference, they liked to have a good time during their free hours at night. What would you suggest as a fun nighttime activity/outing at Walt Disney World?
The conference hotel is adjacent to Disney’s Boardwalk, which is perfect for dining or nightclubs like Jellyroll’s, with its dueling pianos, and the Atlantic Dance Hall. Also, conference attendees staying at the Swan or Dolphin have access to Disney’s free transportation, which can take them to the reimagined Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney). I recommend Disney Springs to anyone who doesn’t want to fork over the cash for park tickets, but still wants a subtle taste of Disney. There are so many fabulous restaurants there.
I keep thinking that for those Disney guests who have no clue about the conference, they’re going to be in for a treat when they notice some of their favorite authors walking by. I agree that Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk are both going to be hot destinations for conference goers.
I’m curious. What’s your favorite of the four theme Parks and why?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite Park, but if pressed, I’d have to go with Disney’s Hollywood Studios, simply because my favorite attraction, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, is there. I really do love all the Parks. They are all so unique and have something different to offer.
(Side note, Farrah sure does look like she’s having a blast on the stretched limo coaster racing to get to that Aerosmith concert. ha-ha!)
That’s why I think people should leave time to visit all of them if they can. Maybe that four-Parks-in-a-day adventure isn’t a bad idea!
One thing you and I both know is that Disney excels at customer service for their guests. They also sometimes add a little extra pixie dust to a guest’s vacation. What’s been one of your most magical memories?
We’ve had that sprinkling of pixie dust a few times while at Disney, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is when we did a Disney Land and Sea Vacation back in 2005. It was our first time ever staying at a deluxe resort (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) and our first time taking a Disney Cruise. We spent four days in the Parks and then drove to Port Canaveral. On our way to the cruise port, we realized that my little sister, who was twelve at the time, left her jacket. We called the front desk, provided our mailing address, and prayed that they would find and mail the jacket home. When we walked into our cruise cabin, the jacket was waiting on the bed. We all gasped. It was truly like magic!
That’s fantastic. It’s those kinds of experiences that keep us coming back.
Let’s chat about visiting with the Disney characters. Some might think meeting them is solely for kids. Do you agree? If you don’t agree, who’s your must-visit character?
The way I see it, it’s the parents who spend all the money. Why shouldn’t they get to meet the characters? As for my must-visit character, it’s Princess Tiana!
I love meeting her! Visiting with the Disney Villians is always a hoot, and of course, meeting Mickey Mouse is a must. Even before we had our daughter, I loved meeting with the characters and taking pictures. Like you said, part of the fun of visiting Disney is feeling like you’re a kid again.
Another great reason to visit Walt Disney World is the excellent food and unique snacks. What’s your favorite restaurant on property? When it comes to snacks, what’s a must-eat?
I love Ohana’s, 1900 Park Fare, and Tusker House, but honestly, you can’t go wrong when it comes to dining at Disney. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for. Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a hidden gem with a phenomenal breakfast buffet (Shredded BBQ Beef Eggs Benedict, anyone?). I also love, love, love Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s worth going for the bread service alone. My must-eat snack is a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. I have to have one. Also, the Caramel Pecan Bars at Karamell-Küche in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot are a must-have. I buy one to eat while at Disney, and a couple to bring home. They are fabulous!
Those are great recommendations, Farrah. And Karamell-Küche! I love the salted caramels and caramel popcorn from there. YUM.
People might think I’m a little crazy for having blogged so far in advance of the conference. I know YOU get it. Please tell those reading why it’s important to plan your Disney trip long before you arrive.
Everything must be done well in advance when it comes to Disney, especially during the time of year when RWA takes place. Dining reservations to restaurants like Ohana’s fill up 180 days in advance. Even the Fast Passes for popular attractions will be snapped up weeks in advance. If you want to get the most out of your vacation, it’s imperative that you plan well ahead of time.
Thanks. I felt like maybe they could stand to hear it from someone else. ha-ha.
July is a hot and humid month in Florida. How would you suggest conference attendees stay cool if hitting up the theme Parks or exploring the Resort?
There’s just no way to avoid the heat. Thankfully, many of the Disney attractions are indoors, and there are usually fans in the kiosk to help cool off guests. The most important thing is to stay hydrated. You may also want to invest in Ban Cooling Cloths. I used them on a recent trip to Thailand (during the hottest month of the year) and they were a godsend.
I’m going to have to look into those cloths. Great suggestion. Finally, is there anything I missed that you’d like to share?
Have fun and make the most out of your time at one of my favorite places on earth!
Thanks, Farrah, for taking the time to share your tips for both the conference and Walt Disney World. I am looking forward to finally meeting you in July, if I don’t see you wandering around Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom before that.
My next post will feature an interview with Erin Fry, Editor and Publications Manager at the Romance Writers of America®. She’ll give us some insight on the changes to the conference schedule as well as what to look forward to with the conference taking place at Walt Disney World.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them, so please post below. Show Farrah some love for her advice and fabulous photos!
Visit here if you’ve missed other topics in this planning guide. There, you’ll find a calendar to help you keep track of key dates. Be sure to also heck out my Pinterest Board which complements this planning guide.
This unofficial guide is not associated with Romance Writers of America®. I am not receiving any compensation or gifts for these blog posts.
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All pictures used in this post are the property of Farrah Rachon and are used with her permission.