“Did you have a nice holiday?”
It’s the classic question you’re asked when you return from a break. Nice, nice? How do you describe the amazing experience of having Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom to yourself? How do you explain the adrenaline rush from having the freedom to go on any of the rides as many times as you like without a glimmer of a queue?
What about the chance to eat and drink until you physically can’t take any more? And not just any food or drink, every kind; blue velvet cakes adorned in s’mores and topped with white chocolate Frozen Olafs, freshly frozen popcorn (yep, that was a new one on me too. The perk of being able to blow steam from your nose like a dragon is a worthwhile one), and Mickey Mouse ice-creams. Oh the food.
How do you convey that the sight of Mary Poppins and the penguins, or Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts made you giddy like a five year old? As for the twenty minute firework display and the light spectacular on the pink castle…well, the moment that a real life Tinkerbell flew from the castle into the moonlit sky I knew I shouldn’t even try to explain the magical feeling. I’d never do it justice.
That amazing evening was the opening night for IPW; the travel conference that I was lucky enough to win a ticket to (and a lot more –recap here). They say that everything is bigger and better in America, and after my stint at IPW 2015 I’m sure that’s true.
IPW spanned four days in Orlando, Florida over in the States. It brought together a record breaking number of delegates (more than 6,500), including over 1,300 travel buyers and 500 media delegates. During the days of Monday – Wednesday we worked hard. We held pre-arranged meetings, we organised more meetings, we had impromptu get-togethers and pitched on the spot.
We attended press conferences, listening to the exciting news from various states and attractions in America. We networked and swapped contacts, we pitched story ideas and we began to think up new ones. We shared our passion for travel. Yes, it was bloody exhausting and fun in equal measures. We worked hard, but we partied even harder.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Lunches during the conference were usually around sixty-ninety minutes. They were fairly short, but they were nothing like I imagined they’d be. They blow every other conference lunch out of the water.
They were laid out like fancy evening affairs (minus the wine – it was a working conference after all). Yes there were speeches, but what followed was a celebration…at each and every one of them. One day saw the likes of Foreigner perform. Ladies (and some men) came undone, revelling in what I guess was a teenage crush. Foreigner lapped it up, climbing on tables and giving the stage crowd what they wanted.
One lunch was hosted by David Hyde Pierce (well known for his part in Fraiser as Dr. Niles Crane) and included an epic montage of Broadway musicals, combining the talents of many. We were treated to snippets of Aladdin, Matilda the Musical, The Lion King and more. For a self-confessed musical lover it was a real treat. I just wish my equally giddy sister could have been there to see it.
The evenings during IPW were also filled with pre-parties, parties and post-parties. I’m not even joking. It was intense trying to dash from one reception to another. However, with the opportunity to visit some amazing venues (Four Seasons Orlando, The Orlando Eye etc), to indulge in fine foods and drinks, and to meet more like-minded travel enthusiasts it really was worth the effort. I will admit it’s easier to say that now than it was at the time. IPW is for those with stamina and passion!
A Private Party at Universal Studios
And there was the IPW closing party, held at Universal Studios. Again, we had the park to ourselves. We walked a red carpet as we entered, with classic characters (hello, Beetlejuice) and new ones (hello, minions) clapping us in. Confetti bombs erupted every few minutes, showering us in a sky of pretty colours as we excitedly decided which rides we wanted to rush to. The new Simpsons land was a close second, but first place ultimately went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s like the Warner Bros. Studio tour here in England x 100.
All too soon it came to an end and we were watching the finale show from Universal Studios.
So, nice break? I’d say it was more about making memories. Ones that I’ll remember for a very long time. If you’re part of the travel writing world and you ever have the opportunity to go to IPW, I can assure you that the work you’ll get out of it and the fun you’ll have is worth it. Just check out my #TravelTrailer vlog if you need further persuasion…
Next year’s IPW is in New Orleans. The New Orleans press conference was one of the best (think live music, soul food and good times), so I have no doubts whatsoever that they’ll put on an epic event.
I’ll be sharing my IPW tips shortly for those of you who want to know a bit more. They’ll be especially handy if you’re new to IPW and/or you’re a blogger.
Read More on Orlando…
An American Adventure at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (Stylish hotel review)
In the meantime, what do you think of my IPW experience? Were you there? Would you like to go? X