Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
I just applied to the planDisney panel. This is something I’ve done annually for the past few years. I’ve made it to round 3 in the past but I’ve never gone all the way. But here I am again, applying with the hope that this is the year. I don’t give up. Why do I keep trying you may be asking? Here is our Disney origin story and why I’m applying to the planDisney panel.
Well, I LOVE Disney. Like truly, maybe too much, genuinely love Walt Disney World and Disney Studios and everything Disney. It has been a HUGE part of my happily ever after. You see, on my very first trip (I was a poor kid so I didn’t get to make these magical memories as a child. Disney was the dream but I knew it was something I’d have to take the initiative to attain on my own) was for our honeymoon. I’m sure I’ve shared this story here before in some capacity but here it goes again.
This is our Disney origin story
I met the Big Guy in college. He comes from a perfectly nice, middle-class American family from the suburbs. They did things like travel to Disney World and stay at the Grand Floridian. His grandmother traveled the world and went on African Safaris, danced the tango in Spain and had roots in the Black Forest. I was what they affectionately refer to as a “region rat” (IYKYK). Yes, we’re everywhere. I even met a fellow Region Rat working at the Yacht Club and hey, Bob Chapek is one too so don’t turn your nose up at the region. My point is that I’m a first-generation freckled Mexibilly from the Chicagoland area who grew up in an urban area surrounded by fellow minorities and was raised by two Catholic parents (6 kids) and one factory worker’s blue-collar salary. All of our “vacation” money went to travel to see our grandparents in Tennessee and Mexico. No matter how much we wished for Disney, it was not feasible for us.
So I met this cute, funny, tall, smart guy from the suburbs and he had this very normal, idyllic childhood and when we got married he only had 3 requests.
1) we walk into the reception to the Star Wars theme
2) he either got to lick my face at the altar (instead of the proposed demure, closed-mouth kiss in front of 300 of our closest family and friends at our high noon full wedding mass or he got to shove my wedding cake into my face Mexican style (both of which I was vehemently opposed). I ultimately chose to sacrifice our first Mr. and Mrs. kiss in lieu of a face full of cake.
3) This was his number 1 request; we honeymoon at Walt Disney World.
Everything else was my fairy tale wedding.
Not going to lie, I was not thrilled at the idea of spending my honeymoon running around a theme park. This is not how I expected our Disney origin story began. I wanted either Europe or a tropical island somewhere filled with lazy days on the beach frolicking in the sand while sipping mojitos with my beloved but the Big Guy wanted to share the world with me, via a mouse. I was super in love and totally agreed because it didn’t matter where we went, as long as we were together.
Long story slightly shorter (it’s not lost on me that it’s still pretty damn long and I’m not even halfway through), everything was club level, 5–star and surprisingly romantic. YES, holding hands, walking on white sand beaches, kissing under the stars, watching fireworks wrapped in his arms and sipping champagne and eating dessert like calories didn’t exist. It felt like everything I ever wanted on my honeymoon, even if it didn’t look like it. In those 8 days, I grew closer and fell deeper in love with the Big Guy as he shared his magical place with me. Even though there were thousands of people around, it felt intimate and special like it existed just for the two of us. In those moments, Walt Disney World became “our magical place” and I wanted that magic to last forever so we went back every chance we got (get). This is one of the reasons why I’m applying to the planDIsney panel.
We ended up being “those” people. The obnoxious people who couldn’t stop touting the wonders and magic of WDW. We tried to convince everyone we knew that they needed to go because, we believe, everyone does need to go and often. Who doesn’t want magic and happiness in their life? We’d go with friends. We’d go ourselves. We didn’t care, it just made us feel happy every single time. That’s part of the magic, the nostalgia of feeling like you’re 4 years old and there’s not a worry in the world. It’s just pure, unadulterated joy…unless you let it stress you out and overwhelm you, in which case, some of the magic is dulled. Just go there with a tentative plan and an open heart and mind and you will not be disappointed. If you’ve been, you know.
Fast forward a few years (and all of our friends and family coming to us for insider tips on planning their Disney trips) and we expanded the Disney lovers club by 2 (our two daughters, Bella and Gabs). We’d been in our twenties, we’d been with friends and family, we’d stayed at all levels of resorts, all times of the year on all different kinds of budgets and every single trip was different. WDW is 1000% a choose-your-own-adventure and every single trip is sprinkled with its own kind of pixie dust and filled with a different kind of magic.
Then we went as parents and I’m not sure how but somehow, the magic was even greater experiencing it through the eyes of our two favorite human beings. Our first trip as a family of four was when the girls were 3 and 5 years old and my heart swelled up so big that I was sure I would die from happiness.
That trip was full of oohs and aahs and wonder, the kind that can only be experienced from the princess chair revealed from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. If you’ve ever gotten to see your child’s face when that happens, you know that it is a feeling beyond words and unlike anything else. It is palpable joy. And that was it for us. We’ve gone every year since, sometimes twice.
The girls are teenagers now. Bella’s about to go away to college next year and her biggest dream is to join the Disney College Program and eventually, become a Disney imaginer. That’s her dream. She wants to be a part of the magic for other families and I get it.
Our family of four has always been one that does everything together. That’s one thing our two very different families did the same. We eat our meals together, we travel together and we share our good times, our bad times and our magical times.
Love is like that; someone to share everything with. Disney puts an exclamation point on the love and togetherness for us and I suspect, it always will.