Interview with RWA’s Erin Fry
Welcome to my unofficial #RWA17 at Walt Disney World Planning guide! Before I dive into my interview with Erin Fry from the Romance Writers of America®, I want to share that Walt Disney World Resort has released its operating calendar for July. This calendar includes the Disney Theme and Water Parks hours, information on Extra Magic Hours, and parade/firework show times. Please keep in mind this schedule can and, most likely, will change. Theme Park hours are typically extended (especially for Magic Kingdom Park) as the time period gets closer. In addition, there is a chance that the all-new Pandora – The World of Avatar might be open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in time for the conference. This new land will feature two major attractions along with floating mountains and bioluminescent plants. How cool is that?
In this latest update to my guide, I’m thrilled to have Erin Fry with us to share insider knowledge about RWA’s 2017 Annual Conference. Erin began working for Romance Writers of America® in September 2002. As Editor and Publications Manager, Erin oversees the editorial and production of the association’s magazine (the Romance Writers Report), RWA eNotes, and all printed conference materials, as well as managing RWA’s social media and public relations.
Welcome, Erin! The last time the RWA Annual Conference was held at Walt Disney World was back in 2010. It was a quick venue change due to the devastating floods that hit Nashville that year. [RWA will be in Nashville come 2021!] Why did RWA decide upon Walt Disney World Resort as the location this year?
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is a great location for an RWA meeting: good meeting space, plenty of sleeping rooms, lots of dining options and activities and, of course, Disney! Conference attendees can combine business and pleasure in one trip.
Since there was more time to plan for this destination/location this time around, is there anything RWA is planning that takes advantage of this unique location?
We have some ideas percolating right now, but nothing I can share at this time.
Exciting to hear. I can be patient. In your opinion, what do conference goers have to look forward to with the conference located at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort? Can you share some details about this particular resort?
I was at the resort in November to attend the RWA Board of Directors meeting, and I’m happy to report that attendees are in for a great time! There’s a pool, spa, health club, art gallery, shops, and award-winning dining. The resort has been making updates, one of them being renovating the sleeping rooms—they’re fresh and modern.
Also, resort guests get perks like Extra Magic Hours at the Disney theme parks and free transportation to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the other Disney theme parks.
For you personally, why are you excited about the conference being held at the Walt Disney World Resort?
I love the convenience of everything—food, shopping, and entertainment–being in one location.
As you said, conference attendees can combine business and pleasure into their trip. Many attendees will probably take family members with them this year to enjoy all that Disney has to offer. People have asked me if the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort will be extending their conference room rate for additional days outside the conference dates? If so, what dates are specifically covered under this special conference rate?
There are rooms at the conference rate on shoulder dates, but availability will depend on room type and the dates selected.
For first-timers attending the Annual Conference, what are some of your biggest pieces of advice?
Go to the First Timers’ Orientation! You’ll get a lot of great info and meet other first-time attendees at the orientation. Also, take care of yourself throughout the week so you don’t get burned out.
I agree. There’s so much to see that pacing one’s self is key. So what about for the long-time attendees? Do you have any suggestions on how they can keep things fresh and new?
RWA’s conference schedule has been revamped this year, and long-time attendees will have new opportunities like master classes on Wednesday and a blogger day on Saturday.
The schedule has been significantly revamped this year. Can you share why changes were made?
The Board and staff are continually looking for ways to increase the value of the conference and provide even more return on your hard-earned dollars. Given changes in the industry and the current needs of career-focused romance writers, we decided to try something new.
I’m hoping the changes are a success. What changes are you most excited about?
I’m excited about all the changes, including the intensive workshops on Wednesday, the Golden Heart Awards Luncheons, the RITA Awards Ceremony, and Blogger Day.
Will there be any accommodations for those traveling solo to the conference (especially those who perhaps do not know others…just yet). For example, say someone is attending that fits this description. Perhaps they’d like to go visit a Disney Park during their stay, but they’re hesitant to tour on their own. Will there be a way for people to meet and travel together so they have company?
We don’t have anything like that planned at this time; however, we are going to host fun activities at the resort that will give attendees chances to get to know each other.
I think meeting others is one of the best benefits of this conference. When I attended in 2015, I made many new friends.
With the conference being held at Walt Disney World, are there any special considerations a conference attendee should keep in mind? For example, reservations at restaurants at Disney open up 180 days in advance and many visitors snag sought after reservations when this window opens. Will there be dining options at the hotel in case one has not secured a dining reservation? [Side note: Dining and reservations will be my next update to this guide and will post next week.]
There are lots of places to eat at the Swan and Dolphin—everything from grab-and-go to fine dining. The Swan and Dolphin website lists all the options.
Registration opens February 7th. What are the benefits of registering early for the Annual Conference?
Registering early gets you the early registration rate and your best chance to book the hotel room nights you prefer. Room availability gets limited the later you register.
I asked you a lot of questions, anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to share about the conference?
We’re working hard to plan a fantastic conference, and we hope everyone will give the new schedule a chance and come have fun with us in Orlando!
Change can be difficult, especially for people who’ve attended the conference many times. But with change, can come new opportunities and overall improvement. That can be a very good thing.
Thanks, Erin, for agreeing to participate in this interview. I really appreciate your time and insight.
You will not want to miss my next post as it will be very timely. I’ll be discussing dining and how to get sought-after reservations. The “180-day window” to make Advanced Dining Reservations will be opening up toward the end of this month. You’ll learn how to secure reservations and about your other options should you miss this window or not wish to make reservations just yet.
Any questions/comments can be posted below, and I’ll get back to you.
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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Photograph of Erin Fry courtesy of Erin Fry.
Photograph of Annual Conference Hotel courtesy of Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort.