Category Archives: Family

When You Wish Upon a Star

After the extreme sadness that we endured after returning home from our amazing adventure, we weren’t sure what was going to snap us out of our funk.  We had made so many amazing memories and been able to explore so many fantastic voyages, that we just didn’t want the dream to end.

As we transitioned back to reality, our daily thoughts involved sentences like “I miss Disney!”, or “I wish we could go back!”.   After showing my parents all of our photographs and memorabilia, my Mom got the itch to go.  And that is exactly what we did….we returned just three and a half months later, for a September getaway with my mom.  Did I mention my mother had never been to Disney before?  This was a real treat, getting to be her tour guide and I definitely wanted to make incredible memories that we could hold onto forever.

I reached out to a friend of mine who was an avid Disney lover as well.   Her family traveled to Disney once, sometimes twice a year, and I knew she used a friend as a travel specialist when booking her trips.   She referred me to Nikki, and that, was a major game changer.

First of all, I didn’t realize that by reaching out to Nikki, that her services would be free.  I assumed, like many, that using certain agencies would be an extra expense.  Next, I also didn’t realize how much I would LOVE talking to her.  Let’s be honest, the girl KNEW her Disney, so that made every conversation so much more enjoyable!!  One email and one questionnaire later, she introduced me to an entire new set of excursions and extras that I had never heard of.  We booked our package, and she made everything just as simple as it could be.  I could literally feel her enjoyment shining through the emails.  I felt I had tapped into a gold mine.  Here I had someone who had an incredible amount of Disney knowledge, helping me plan my trip, and it was free!!!  Life was so easy!!!

The time came for our trip, and I am not sure if my children, myself, or my mom were more excited.  It was an amazing sense of anticipation and dreams realized.  As our plane landed and we prepared for the Magical Express to take us “home”, we realized that we were living out an incredible time of our lives and we want to savor every single second.

What happened during the next week was simply beautiful.  We enjoyed Disney World during a time of year that wasn’t as busy as the summer.  The weather was cooler, the lines were not as long, and, maybe because we were missing school to be there, but it just felt like we were the only people on the planet who were there.  We spent our first day enjoying all of the things that the Magic Kingdom had to offer, and I loved catching glimpses of my mother, with the brightest smile on her face.

We journeyed over to Epcot for our next day (and the next one after that), and when we entered the gates, something just came over me.  I felt as if I had been missing out on such an incredible piece of the Disney magic.  I can’t believe we didn’t book a day at this incredible “future world” during our last stay, but we had too many other things planned and felt we couldn’t stay an extra day.

Epcot was even better than I hoped it would be.  With our fantastic character dining, and getting to actually learn new things on the amazing rides, I wasn’t sure which piece of Epcot I loved more.  We journeyed through all of the countries, ate incredible food while touring, and felt we were truly diving into new cultures and experiences.  It was such a calm and serene vibe.  I think if we could have gone back for a third full day, we would have.

The next day we had to endure some heavy rain off and on, but we headed over to Hollywood Studios.  We had just finished getting some yummy treats when we heard the thunder rumbling.  Very shortly after, a downpour transitioned right over us.  Now, if we had been anywhere but Disney, I may have been a little mad about all of this.  But we just went with it.  The rain began to empty out the park, and we decided to power through.  We did as many inside rides as we possibly could, and the best part was that they let us keep doing them as much as we wanted to because there were no other guests waiting in line.  The rain would let up,and we would venture over to a shop or two.  Then it would come down again, and we would just make the most of it.  The kind and gracious cast members helped us get in and out, and all while having the most beautiful smiles on their faces.  We finally left after a few hours, and while we were soaking wet at this point (except for what our ponchos covered!), we all agreed that it was a pretty magical night.  How many people can say that they were one of about 50 inside the park and could do pretty much anything they wanted to without waiting in line.  Sure, we missed out on the fireworks show that evening, but we decided it was alright.

As we braved Animal Kingdom the next day, we realized that our trip was getting close to being over.  Once again, we were surrounded by great food, magical rides, fantastic shows, and characters that were so endearing.   We saw amazing animals as well on a guided safari ride.  What can I say…..Disney doesn’t disappoint.

The time came for our last full day, and we decided to end our trip at Magic Kindgom.  I watched my children transform into a pirate and a mermaid, we delved into more sweets and treats, journeyed into Neverland, and loved introducing my mom to a fantastic new mine train ride.  We park hopped over to Epcot to ride our favorite ride one last time, and went back to our room to clean up and prepare for our evening meal at the castle in Magic Kingdom.  As soon as dinner was over, it was time for fireworks.  We were escorted out and got to sit front row for the nightly show.  Breathtaking is probably the best way to describe this glorious evening.

The next morning, we were able to get in one more character meal, and we headed back over to Hollywood Studios, but for a dry day this time.  We did a few things we missed due to the rain last time, and then it was time to say good-bye.

Once again, it felt as if my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  As we were leaving, I saw a sign that read DVC and it piqued my interest.  What was this Disney Vacation Club?  I knew I liked clubs, I loved to vacation, and I was in love with all things Disney.

It wouldn’t be long before I knew what DVC was as it held the key to all of my wishes coming true.img_0244

A Whole New World

It seemed like it took an eternity to return to Disney World after my first trip when I was twenty years old.  I was able to return with my family for a very quick, one day trip, when I was 29, but that only left me yearning for more, wishing for a day in which I could relax and enjoy myself, without the pressures of trying to cram in a week’s worth of rides, dining, and character meet and greet opportunities in just a day.  As we all know, that is IMPOSSIBLE!  But, I took my one day, and I ran with it, choosing to be glad that I was there for one day instead of not getting to be there at all.

Flash forward nine years, and I began planning a return to Disney for our family, but this time, for the week I had always dreamed of.  As plans were made for this trip, I found myself more ecstatic than I ever imagined being.  Every moment I had “down time”, I found myself researching ideas about how to navigate around the parks, which rides I should select for my FastPasses, which parks had Extra Magic Hours for the day we were there, and how to maneuver through the various options for Park Hopping.  We customized shirts, packed bags, and eventually, our time came to fly to Orlando.  We optimized using the Magical Express, and began to realize that our dreams were coming true.  Living in the particular moment of seeing dreams come to fruition is a beautiful thing, especially through the eyes of your children.  I thought that I couldn’t contain my excitement, but seeing my children, and the sense of anticipation through them, was even better than I could have ever imagined.

Our week flew by, as we spent multiple days at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.  No, I didn’t forget Epcot, we just didn’t go there on this trip, but I will get to that in my next post.  We spent a day swimming, and going to the water parks.  We battled the rain, enjoyed the fireworks, relished the amazing food, and truly appreciated all of the hard work that each cast member put into making our days and nights as magical as possible.  We had autograph books filled, photographs taken with dozens of characters, and loved using our Magic Bands to open doors when our hands were so full from shopping or carrying our drinks.  Finally…..the rides…..OH the rides.  From hearing my children scream with excitement, to singing along as we glided through classic favorites, to stealing a snuggle with my husband, the rides were simply unforgettable.  We didn’t sleep much, but when we did, it was just enough to recharge our batteries.

Don’t get me wrong….we had a few moments that weren’t so bright and shiny.  We got lost a few times, we were sunburned, tired, and thirsty.  However, all of those situations were our own fault, from not paying attention, not reapplying sunscreen enough, not putting our phones down when we went to bed and not drinking enough water.  This had nothing to do with anyone at Disney making things less than perfect for us.  In fact, it was things AT Disney that would get us back in a good mood again after we got through our little challenges.

Finally the day arrived in which we had to leave.  Bags were packed, we had checked out, and decided to leave our things at Bell Services to enjoy one last jaunt through Magic Kingdom before we went home.  The day didn’t seem as bright to us, we were a little down (ok, REALLY down), and the thought of this being our last time was overwhelming.  After a great morning of three final FastPasses, we made our way out the exit one last time.  I look down at my children, who were crying, and I cried as well.  Something amazing happened on that trip….something I truly can’t put into words.  My then seven year old son said to me, “Mommy, is this the last time we will ever be here? This is my favorite place!”.  I promised him that we WOULD return, we WOULD come here more often, and we WOULD make this a family tradition.  Disney had created a bond within our family that, while it is impossible to describe, it is so easy to feel.

That next trip came sooner than we would have ever thought on that final day at Disney.  Just three and a half months later, we were back on a plane to The Happiest Place on Earth.  Stay tuned to read the details of that magnificent trip, and our return to Epcot.img_0229

Once Upon a Dream

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of the day that I would be able to spend a vacation at Disney World.  Every Disney movie was etched into my mind and heart, every single princess was an icon to me, and every Disney song was on constant replay in my mind.  I wanted my life to be like a Disney movie, and I felt, what better way to experience the true Disney life than vacationing at Disney World!

Although it took some time for those dreams to come true, I did eventually see my long awaited dream become a reality.  I was 20 years old and a sophomore in college when I first walked onto Main Street, smelled delicious treats baking, and watched as cast members greeted me as if they had known me their entire lives.  I strolled down a bit farther and was instantly struck by the enormity of Cinderella’s Castle.  I must have stopped and stared with the silliest grin on my face for a solid two minutes.  I was suddenly transformed to my childhood, to all the songs, friendships, families, and happy endings that I watched over and over again.

Was this real?  Or was I floating on a cloud, living in a dream?  What I did know, was that I didn’t want it to end, and I wanted to continue to live this life again and again.

Little did I know, it would be ten years before I would return to the land of Mickey again.  Little did I also know, that my dreams of having Disney as a permanent part of my life, would also come true.  All I needed was a little bit of pixie dust, which I received, literally, nineteen years after my first trip.

Stayed tuned for details on how I made my Disney dreams come true.