Golly- just 2 weeks before the big 50th Anniversary Celebration! Today, Beth saved her family’s best Disney magic for last Walt Disney World 2008.
Walt Disney World 2008
In 2008, I decided it was time to take our children to Walt Disney World for Joey’s second trip and Hayley and Emily’s first trip. It took just one phone call to my parents and one to my brother! I convinced everyone we were ready for a full-out family reunion in Disney. As the appointed Disney leader of our family, I was so excited to start planning for the ten of us. We would be six adults and four children (ages 3.5 and under). I was convinced this was going to be absolutely the best Disney trip of my nine trips so far. My children were ages three and a half, two and 10 months. And my nephew was just 18 months.
Well, I won’t go into the details of the security nightmare we had at the airport. Let’s just say, my wheels started turning on all the things I didn’t consider about traveling with three little ones. And did I mention that 2 were in diapers and one mid-potty training? I realized immediately that having my parents with us was going to be a lifesaver.
Our motto became “three kids, two strollers, one diaper bag.” I think I spent most of the vacation counting and checking to see which child was with which adult. I counted how many diapers and pull ups were left in the bag. I searched out our two strollers in the stroller parking. And I tried to find the closest bathroom for Joey who never asked to use the bathroom before Disney. But of course, he wanted to use them ALL in Disney. Since he was potty training, I couldn’t say no. With my luck, the time I said no would be the time he actually had to go.
In all honesty, leading up to this point, I thought I was a Disney expert. But let’s just say traveling with three little ones taught me some valuable lessons. It made our trips even better. Though this was the busiest trip of my life, it was also the most magical. When I say Disney magic was at work, I truly mean it in every sense of that phrase.
Hayley had just turned two prior to this trip. When I say she loved the characters, that is an understatement. Any time we saw a character, she had to kiss them, hug them and anything else she could do to keep their attention. One of my favorite moments was when Donald Duck was playing peek-a-boo with her at Goofy’s Beach Club Character Breakfast. She was having so much fun! Then he squeezed into the booth and sat down next to her and she muckled onto his beak pulled him toward her and gave him a big kiss. Even when she sees photos of that moment now, she says, “I just love that Donald Duck.”
Emily was the opposite when it came to the characters. She wanted nothing to do with them. BUT, she did like to watch them from afar. What she did love was all the background music around the parks. We would constantly look at her and see her dancing in her stroller. But she showed off her best dance moves at our favorite last night dining spot ~ Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review. She danced the entire night! She actually danced so much that whenever the performers came off stage and passed our table, they would comment on her dancing. This was a place that was already a special family event before kids. But seeing my children enjoy just as much was very heartwarming.
Joey was just three and a half at the time. He was well behind his peers as far as language development. Therefore, he had recently been enrolled in a special preschool. He wasn’t talking though. After an incident at a daycare, he had stopped talking all together. It was a really hard time on all of us. (Especially as his mom who had chosen to go back to work. But I digress!
Just before leaving on this trip, his preschool teachers had called me in for a meeting. During this meeting, I was told that they felt Joey had some tendencies of autism and wanted to have him tested. Being a former teacher, I felt the lump in my throat and honestly just wanted to burst out in tears because I too had already been thinking it. I held myself together long enough to tell them that I wanted to take some time to talk with my family and do a little research myself. I knew my little guy was in there, and I needed to find a way to get him back to his happy go lucky self he had always been.
Goofy’s Beach Club Character Breakfast
This is where the Disney magic comes in. We went to Goofy’s Beach Club Character Breakfast at Cape May Cafe one morning. Joey was beaming and loving every character that came to our table. He would slap them five, hug them and kiss them. But it wasn’t until Minnie came to our table that it happened. The girls were both wearing Minnie Mouse shirts. I said to Hayley,” Show Minnie your shirt.” Minnie made a big deal about it.
Joey popped up out of his seat, pulled his Lightning McQueen shirt forward and says, “Minnie, look me.” Minnie made just as big of a deal about Joey’s shirt as she did Hayley’s. My family sat in stunned silence. We could not believe that our little guy, who didn’t talk to anyone, burst out with these three words like he had known Minnie for his entire life. Yes, I was teary-eyed because in that moment I was so grateful to Minnie who probably had no idea the significance of that event. It was the day Joey started talking, and he hasn’t stopped since! Walt Disney World has always been a place we loved, but this made it even more so.
We knew after having Emily that we would not be having any more babies, so though this was the busiest trip of my life, it was our first official trip as a complete family. We have been back since, and I am happy to report that all three of my children are Disney fans. I am not sure who is more excited for our next trip (in 32 days) them or me and I am not sure who talks about it more! Either way, every trip with my children has been an adventure, and every trip we create amazing family memories that we share throughout the year, while counting down to our next trip.
How many of us have heard anecdotal stories of special children doing special things at Walt Disney World? How many first steps, first character hugs or first words have the Parks witnessed over the past 40 years? True Disney fans know how real this magic is; it is not a buzz word, a commercial nor purely a childish notion. Beth has articulated this so well time and time again.
Tomorrow, Lynn from My Pixie Dust Diary will move the clock forward to 2009…