By AFWA National President, Karyn Hartke, CPA
Groundhog Day has come and gone. Even though many of our members just experienced a “polar vortex” with freezing temperatures, Punxsuntawney Phil predicted an early Spring is on it’s way. Even with spring and summer to look forward to, it’s never too soon to look ahead to the fall, more specifically AFWA’s Women Who Count Conference this October!
I’m excited to welcome AFWA members and friends to my state of Florida and the Most Magical Place on Earth! – Walt Disney World. In addition to the Annual Business Meeting, the Foundation events and the educational offerings, there are so many things to do in the area. We invite everyone to bring their families and spend a few extra days. The hotel room rate will be available for days on either side of the conference. Our event planner also let us know about specially priced Disney tickets for “after conference hours.”
I wanted to take the time to share some of my family’s tips with you for planning your time in Florida. October is one of my favorite times to stay near the Magic. The Wyndham Grand Resort at Bonnet Creek is a full service hotel with restaurants, a Starbucks, a gift shop, pools, lazy river, and shuttle service to the theme parks. Make your reservations as soon as possible because this is a gorgeous hotel and some rooms have balconies with views of Disney fireworks.
One of my favorite events is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! We have been going as a family to this event at the Magic Kingdom for more than ten years. In the past our whole family has chosen a theme and dressed up for the occasion. The party is an additional cost (around $100 a person) and occurs on select nights August – October. The last two weeks in October sell out quickly and the tickets are already available. The party features a Halloween themed parade, fireworks, snacks and Disney characters in costume. We love to get a treat bag and take advantage of the free candy offerings.
Another event that begins in September and runs through November is Disney’s Food and Wine Festival. The festival requires admission to Epcot and features food and drinks from around the world. We usually load a Disney gift card so we don’t have to take out our payment when we go to each booth. The Eat to the Beat! Concert series features live performances each evening at the American Gardens Theatre.
Disney Springs is another favorite location to visit. Six James Beard award winning chefs have restaurant locations at Disney Springs. Unlike the four Disney theme parks, there is no admission for Disney Springs. There is live music every night and some of our favorite places to stop are Sprinkles cupcakes, Ghiradelli chocolate (I recommend the dark chocolate hot fudge sundae) and the Ganachery! The Town Center offers shopping from Kate Spade to Levis to Pandora and a lot in between. It’s also a great place to get the Disney souvenirs to take home. Make sure you stop at Goofy’s Candy Company and order your custom caramel apple or fresh cotton candy.
The biggest tip that I would offer is to plan ahead. Disney World recently opened Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land is scheduled to open some time this Fall at Hollywood Studios bringing larger crowds to the area. I welcome any questions that you would have and look forward to seeing everyone at the conference!