Kim LaPaglia is a fairy godmother, of sorts.
The Palmyra woman helps many people magically find their way to their dream vacation in Walt Disney World.
If the star-struck lovers want to honeymoon in the Grand Floridian, LaPaglia will make sure they know everything necessary to make the most of it.
If the mom has a boy who won't be happy until he's hugged Winnie the Pooh, LaPaglia can tell the mom how to make his dream come true.
If the mom needs to know if a cruise or a land visit would be more magical for a family of five, LaPaglia knows what to say
Cruises, birthday parties, health issues , saving money, where to go when - LaPaglia has tips for everyone. She is a Disney World mom.
Last year LaPaglia was one of 11 moms and one dad selected to form the first-ever, online Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Throughout the year, these 12 parents, chosen from 10,000 applicants, answer specific questions that potential Disney guests submit to www.disneyworldmoms.com.
Disney World, said to be at least the size of San Francisco, can be overwhelming for moms - who tend to plan the trip, said Laura Spencer, Walt Disney World's social media manager. Spencer says "moms" because Disney and other businesses recognize that moms are often the decision-makers in the family.
Moms want one person they can go to for answers to a specific question, Spencer said. Guests don't want to know what the public relations people have to say. They want to hear from the moms who come here all the time and know the ins and outs, she said.
LaPaglia, 40, is certainly one of those kind of moms.
She remembers her first visit to Disney World with her parents and grandparents. At 11 years old, she was awed as she walked into Magic Kingdom and saw Cinderella's castle for the first time.
She and her husband, Michael LaPaglia, honeymooned at the Grand Floridian. Both Disney fans, they saved for a year to be able to afford Disney's grandest hotel.
At the time, the wedding pavilion was just being built. The LaPaglias told each other that someday they would come back and renew their vows in the pavilion, even though they both thought the possibility was ludicrous.
However, when 10 years passed and they had a 2-year-old son, they were able to return to Disney World for that vow renewal and bring many of their family members with them.
The moment was especially sentimental, LaPaglia said, because their son Nicolas had been born prematurely and they had feared for his life. Soon after he was born she remembers saying, in the midst of her fear of losing him, "I just wanted to take him to Disney World."
At 2, Nicolas was healthy and he celebrated the vow rededication with Mickey Mouse. A picture of the two of them, nose to nose, hangs over the LaPaglia mantel.
As Nicolas grew, they continued to return to Disney World as they could, watching their son's interest change from seeing Dumbo to wanting to be a Jedi in the Jedi Training Academy. LaPaglia has been to Disney World about 30 times.
In January this year, the family took a Disney cruise. It was LaPaglia's reward for working on the mom's panel - that and other special gifts and favors throughout the year. The moms panel does not collect a salary.
Panelists are considered independent contractors. As long as they answer 15 questions per week , they are allowed to say anything they want, positive or negative about specific attractions, restaurants or park features.
LaPaglia said she advises people to skip the Fantasmic show at the Hollywood Studios and the afternoon parades. The crowds and waiting are too long for these items when there are other worthwhile things to do.
LaPaglia believes she is made for this job. She graduated with a degree in journalism and legal studies. She loves to write, she loves to research and she loves Disney.
"It was a perfect fit," she said.
She puts in far more time than the requisite 15 questions, she said. Last year, as a stay-at-home mom, she spent about five hours a day answering more than 2,000 questions.
"You do it because you love it," she said.
The questions she likes the best are ones she has to research: May we bring our hermit crabs to the motel? Will my 6-foot son fit in the bunks at the Wilderness Lodge?
The answers are no and no.
Of course, she simply likes sharing her experiences to help others plan that perfect vacation.
"It's so rewarding to hear from people how we helped them," she said.
In 2009, she will continue on the Mom's panel but this time as the designated expert on Disney cruises. Disney sent her on a training cruise in January, the week after her family went.
She discovered that cruise vacations were much more laid back than the land vacations, yet there were still more activities than could be done in one trip.
It's a great compromise vacation, LaPaglia said, because there is so much programming for the kids that parents have time to do what they want to do for several hours in the day.
LaPaglia suspects that the time is coming when Nick won't be as excited about going back to Disney World for vacation, and she does want him to see other parts of the world.
Nevertheless, she said, Disney World will always be a part of our life, she said. She loves nothing more than inspiring other people to make magical memories of their own at Disney.
Tips for trips
LaPaglia offers the following tips for people planning a trip to Walt Disney World.
• You can't see and do it all. You need to pick your must-see attractions.
• Take a break at the resort in the middle of the day. View the resort as part of the vacation, and use it to pace yourselves. If you attempt a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. day at the parks without rest, "your magical vacation isn't going to be so magical."
• Pick at least one character meal because you'll feel young at heart.
• Ask any photographer for a photo pass. Use it throughout the day. When you return home from your vacation, you can look at all the pictures and decide which ones to get instead of making an impulse buy at the park.
• Get to the park before the gates open. You will see and do more in the first two hours of the day than you will the rest of the day. Besides, its magical to walk in the park and hear the music without the crowds.
• Use the free fast pass. If the line is long at the ride you want to go on, use your pass at the fast pass kiosk at the ride to get a time when you can return and jump in front of the line. "I never wait longer than 20 minutes for a ride, whether going in June or January," LaPaglia said.
• If you go to the same park for two days, see the evening entertainment one day and hit the rides during the evening entertainment the next day. The lines will be much shorter.
• Give each park two days. Don't try to squeeze four parks in four days, even if that means you don't go to all four parks.
• Travel off-season if you can. Avoid Christmas through New Year's and Easter. Pay attention to when schools around the country have spring break.