Dawn Cullo’s Top 10 Moments of 2014

Last year I wrote a blog post called “Disney Nerd’s Top 10 Disney Moments of 2013 and it was a fun process.  So this year I present “Dawn’s Top 10 Moments of 2014” and this list was really hard to chop down into only 10 moments.  It has been an incredible year, one that I will never forgot.  These are moments in my professional life that shifted me or touched me in a way that I needed at the time and I learned a lesson from each moment.

Unfortunately, I was unable to share more than half of my accomplishments with my dad as he passed away in April of 2014.  It was a really hard year for me personally because I was grieving while taking part in these remarkable opportunities.  But I did my best and kept moving forward, it is what my dad would have told me to do anyway.

Most of these moments would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible generosity of Walt Disney Pictures and the press invites from Marshall Weinbaum.  I attended two blogger tours this year for 5 Minutes for Mom and thanks to Susan and Janice they have allowed me to attend these events on their behalf.  These blogger trips are fun but they are a lot of work and I love doing them.

Without further delay here are my top 10 moments.

Top 10 moments of 2014

#10. Meeting Grumpy Cat at Disney Social Media Moms On the Road in Phoenix

DSMM Phoenix - Conference - Grumpy Cat Likes Me

This was a great trip that I took by myself to the hottest place on earth.  It was July in Phoenix and it was at least 100 billion degrees there.  However, I had a great time making new connections and seeing my wonderful Disney blogging friends.  On this trip I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people.

The highlight of the trip (besides air conditioning) was being able to meet Grumpy Cat (a.k.a Tarder Sauce).  She was a lot smaller than I thought she would be and I was sad to hear that I couldn’t pet her.  I’ve been following Grumpy Cat for a while now and I think despite her sour pout she is really cute.

The lesson here was to step out of your comfort zone, even if it is 110 degrees outside.

Read more about my trip to the desert.

#9. Voicing Baymax at Walt Disney Studios

Baymax Recording Session - end

What? Did that happen? Yes, it happened and I was able to step inside a recording booth at the Walt Disney Studios to lay down some tracks for Baymax.  It happened really quickly but was such a fun experience. I was a little nervous but was the first one in my group to make the recording so that I could relax and enjoy seeing everyone else do their recording. I am not sure I will get a call back for doing other voices (haha) but it was still a fun experience.

The lesson here is to be eager to take part in new experiences.

Read more about the time I voiced Baymax.

#8. Walking the Red Carpet for Big Hero 6 AND meeting Katie Lowes

Big Hero 6 Premiere Party -Katie Lowes

Walking the Red Carpet for a movie was never something I thought I would ever do in my lifetime EVER. But thankfully due to being invited to attend the blogger tours for 5 Minutes for Mom I have been able to have some incredible experiences.

The Red Carpet experience for BIG HERO 6 was a little bit more laid back than the one earlier in the year for MUPPETS MOST WANTED.  The walk down the carpet this time was more calm and we were allowed to take more time enjoying the experience.

I am a big “Scandal” fan and once I found out that Katie Lowes (Quinn) was in the movie BIG HERO 6 I was hoping that she was going to be at the premiere.  Even though she had a small part in the movie she was still there! At the after party I saw her around but I didn’t want to go up and grab her away from her friends and family.  As the night drew to a close I was getting ready to leave and waiting for our shuttle back to the hotel.  I looked over to my left and there she was.  Katie was walking my way and I quickly jumped up and handed my camera to a friend and said “Hi Katie, can I get a picture with you?” She was so sweet and said “Yes!”

The lesson here was to stand up and ask for what you want.

Read more about my BIG HERO 6 Red Carpet experience and after party.


#7. Meeting Ming-Na Wen and Patricia Heaton

Ming-Na Wen and Patrica Heaton #ABCTVEVENT

On my first Blogger Tour in March I found out that one of the events we would be attending was called a “Moms of ABC TV Cocktail Mixer.”  The event included many of my favorite ABC TV moms such as Patricia Heaton, Jamie Gertz, Ming-Na Wen, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Malin Akerman.  We were sat at tables and couches and each actress moved around and sat and talked with us for about 15 minutes.

I still can’t believe that I sat on couch and talked to Patricia Heaton about her movie MOMS’ NIGHT OUT and listened to her stories about her sons and what she was going through as a working mom.

When we got up from the couch to take a picture I got shuffled to the back of the line of bloggers and when it came to be my turn it looked as though Patrica was walking away to visit with the next group. But then there was a savior and her name is Ming-Na Wen! She came over to talk to Patricia and said “Let’s take a picture togehter” and my friend Stefani grabbed my phone and snapped this awesome picture.

Day made and the lesson is that good things come to those that wait.

Read more about the time I meet the moms of ABC TV.

#6. Interviewing Kermit, Miss Piggy and Constantine

Dawn-Cullo-with-Miss-Piggy-and-Kermit - #MuppetsMostWantedEvent

This was major highlight of my time in Los Angeles for the MUPPETS MOST WANTED blogger tour.  When I was younger I watched “The Muppet Show” all the time and loved Miss Piggy.  Being in the same room with these amazing talents really brought me back to my youth and it was a delight to interview them.

When I returned from my trip I showed my dad the above picture and he really got a kick out of it.  It was one of the last times I saw him laugh so when I see this picture I always think of his smile.

The lesson here was to remember the small moments because one day they will become the big moments.

Read more about the time I interviewed Kermit, Miss Piggy and Constantine.

#5. Visiting Disneyland during Halloween Time and Attending Mickey’s Halloween Party

Mickey's Halloween Party 2014 Cullo Family

One of our favorite times to visit Disneyland is during Halloween Time and each time we visit there is always something new to do.  This year we were honored to be able to attend Mickey’s Halloween Party as part of the Family Blogger Event. In addition to attending Mickey’s Halloween Party my girls were also part of the Pirate’s League and were transformed into Pirates.  We had a blast and can’t wait to go back next year.

The lesson here is to work hard and do a good job and your efforts will be recognized.

Read more about the time I attended Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland



In March I went on my first blogger tour. Since this was my first Red Carpet experience I had no idea what to expect.  It was a little bit crazy and the photographers taking the pictures of the movie stars were loud and yelling at us “Get out of the shot” or security was telling us “Move along” and I just chuckled because I couldn’t believe where I was.

The after party for the MUPPETS MOST WANTED was pretty epic as well. There were many stars at the party and it was crazy to look around and see Tina Fey, Ty Burell, Josh Groban and the Disney Chanel kids running around the room, oh and the food was good too. 😉

The lesson here was to enjoy every single moment because you never know if another kick @ss opportunity will come along.

Read more about the time I walked the Red Carpet for Muppets Most Wanted and attending the After Party

#3 Invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Disneyland

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014 - Day 1 - Registration - Cullo Family with Mickey

Attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was a new goal of mine for the 2014 year.  I had heard about it in 2013 but didn’t know it was an invite only event.  I worked my magic and continued to work on my blog throughout the year and my hard work paid off. I was blessed with an invitation to the event and obviously I accepted.

Sadly, this event happened just shortly after my dad’s passing and I was really torn if I should even go. But I knew deep down inside that attending the event would be something my dad would want me to do.  We both shared an intense love for Disneyland and being there with my friends and family was a good way to start the healing process after his passing.

Lesson here was to embrace each moment as they come and enjoy life.

Read more about when I was invited to attend Disney Social Media Moms in Disneyland

#2. Attending Dancing with the Stars (OMG)

Dawn Cullo - Dancing with the Stars - Seats

I have been watching “Dancing with the Stars” since the second season and this was a tradition I did with my family.  We always had our favorite couples and watched every week to see who would be voted off.  Being able to step onto the dance floor, stand near the judges desk and on the stage was really a highlight of my year.  For a time I even appeared on camera when the celebrities were being interviewed by Erin Andrews.

The lesson here was to never say never!

Read more about the time I attended Dancing with the Stars and the after party.

…and the #1 moment of 2014 is:

Ok, so I can’t decide which #1 to go with, I was torn for quite a while trying to decide which event is THE #1.  All three of these events have moved me in my professional career goals but in different ways.

#1A –  New Job at St. Francis High School

For years I’ve struggled with finding the right job for me.  I have tried many different jobs and stayed with them for a few years but in the end they just don’t seem to work out for some reason or another.  I had written down on paper a few years ago the type of job I was looking for. Finally a job opening happened at St. Francis High School and it was perfect.  I applied and then the waiting game began, I had one interview and then the second one.  A few days before leaving on my last blogger trip for BIG HERO 6 in November I had learned that I got the job.

The lesson here is to dream it and you will do it.

Read more about my new job at St. Francis High School

1B – Finalist for Disney Parks Moms Panel


Making it to the finals of the Disney Parks Moms Panel search in my second year of applying was a very stressful YET rewarding experience. This is a weird moment because even though I failed to secure the Disneyland spot I still achieved a momentous goal of being in the finals.

The search starts in late August when thousands of hopefuls apply. The process has a total of four rounds comprised of answering mock Disney Parks Moms Panel questions, and a few questions about your opinion on various aspects of the Disney Parks.

DisneyMP Research

After a few weeks some people are selected to move on to the second round.  The second round has even more Disney Parks questions, questions about your family as well as the opportunity to submit a short video answer.  After a few more weeks some people are selected to move to the third round. This is the biggest cut in people applying and includes about 150 – 200 people.  During the third round there is a 15 minute phone call interview with Gary Buchanan from Walt Disney Parks.  The fourth round happens the moment you hang up the phone and it is to answer a real Disney Parks Moms Panel question but it must be submitted within 45 minutes. Each year there is only 1 Disneyland Parks Mom panelist chosen.  In the final round I was 1 of 8 being considered for the Disneyland spot.

I never wrote a blog post about this process because I was feeling hurt at the end of the search.  It is really hard to figure out what Disney Parks is looking for in a Disneyland panelist but the only thing I know is to be myself.

Part of me really just wanted to hide under a rock for not securing the Disneyland Moms Panel spot, I was embarrassed.  I got so far in the process and to come so close but to not be picked was a heartbreaking experience.  Writing about it now just stirs up emotions that are conflicting for me. I am a little bit sour, a little bit sad yet still looking forward to applying again next year.

The lesson here is that life isn’t always going to go your way.  Pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

#1C – My 10 Year Blogging Anniversary


This past summer I passed my 10 year blogging anniversary and if it wasn’t for that time in 2004 when I thought it would be a good idea to write my stories in blog format then none of these opportunities would have come my way.  I feel extremely blessed to be able to have achieved what I have in these past 10 years, there have been a lot of late nights and hard work but it has all been worth it.

The lesson here is to keep on truckin’.

Looking Ahead to 2015

That is quite a list for one year and most times when I think about all I have accomplished in 2014 I am amazed at what has happened.  I am looking forward to 2015 with an upcoming Blogger Trip set for mid January to Skywalker Ranch (yup that one) and Pixar.  I am also looking forward to expanding my professional horizons with my new job at St. Francis and giving back more of time to my community.  In August of 2015 I will be attending the D23 Expo and applying again for the Disney Mom’s Panel for that elusive Disneyland spot.

About Dawn

Dawn is a social influencer and has been writing about her nerdy side since 2004. She enjoys writing about Entertainment, Travel, Disney, Star Wars and life with two little girls. Her advice is to keep on dreaming, do what you love and life will lead you a path to your happiness. Dawn also writes for 5 Minutes for Mom.


  1. Tiffany Dahle says:

    Wow, Dawn. What a year!! I am so glad we met at DisneySMMoms in April because I have so enjoyed following along with your adventures this year. It is really something to see them all laid out like this. Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you!

  2. Wow! 10 years! I had no idea, Dawn, that you had reached such a milestone. Congratulations! Great memories, I’m sure, and good luck with everything in 2015!


  1. […] together a year-end review for my blog but after reading one of my newest blogging buddies Dawn at I’m A Disney Nerd’s post and seeing a few statuses on Facebook I knew it would be a great way to end the year.  So […]

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