WORK for Disney without pay? 10,000 applied : Some see it as a honor to be chosen for a panel that advises visitors.

At 7:30 in the morning on a recent Saturday, 14 people gathered on the 10th floor of Disney's Riviera Resort in Orlando, Fla., at the Topolino's Terrace restaurant.

The resort would open in two days, and this group had been among the first to experience it - a treat for many, but especially for this collection of self-described Disney superfans.

These 14 adults - a mix of stay-at-home moms, young professionals, without children and middle-aged parents from across the country - aren't just Disney fans. They are now considered experts.

They beat out more than 10,000 other applicants to become members of the 2020 Disney Parks Moms Panel, a website were people planning to go on a Disney cruise, or visit a Disney Park or Disney Vacation Club in the  United States, can ask questions and get responses from these experts.

Eleven of this year's new panelists are women, three are men and two are not parents. The panel also has an additional 28 panelists returning from previous years.

During breakfast, Mickey Mouse walked into the restaurant and most members of the group rushed to give him a hug and take photos. When Minnie Mouse arrived, others got up, complimented her dress, hugged her  and asked for pictures.

Group shots, selfies and posed photos were all taken. By 8:15 a.m. when Donald and Daisy Duck arrived, the panelists were too excited contain themselves - they clapped and danced to the music as the  characters put on a performance.

''My kids are going to be so jealous,'' said Aena Drone, 36, whose area of expertise on the panel is the Orlando Park. Her peers who have children agreed. 

The group had been together in Orlando for four days, receiving training about how to be panelists. They leaned how to ask each other for help, how to answer a question politely, how to urge someone to try something new.

After breakfast, they headed to the office building where the Disney team behind the panel works [on a street fittingly called Celebration Place] to get their headshots taken. Afterwards it was on to lunch at Sebbastian's Bistro and then tours of some of the Disney resorts.

The tours were meant to give panelists information that could help them answer tough questions from travelers.

Millions of people visit Walt Disney World annually. For many visitors, every moment spent at a Disney Park or resort might be well accounted for, which means that planning the perfect Disney vacation is something of an art form - or, at the very least, an in-demand skill.

The desire to maximise time spent at Disney has spawned an entire market of Disney planning books, guides and podcasts. Some travel agents focus solely on planning  Disney trips and are able to tell guests things like how to avoid waiting in line to get on rides and how to best get around the resorts.

Every week for the next year, each panelist will answer about 15 questions from eager travelers seeking advice on where to stay, which rides to go on, where to eat and how to activate wristbands, among other questions.

In most cases, the panelists will pull from their own Disney experiences and also do some research to see if there is new information available. Some questions may take 10 minutes to answer,  others 30 - it all depends.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Operational Research on Working For Disney, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Tarito Mzezewa.


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