Congratulations to Ashley Metz, the winner of our “Disney Memories Week Giveaway”! Ashley won a $50 Disney gift card in our contest honoring Disney’s year long “Let the Memories Begin” theme. Many thanks to all who entered by commenting and sharing your special memories: they were wonderful to read! And a VERY special thanks to our wonderful writers for sharing their special memories with all of us. I loved reading them….and I am sure you did too!
To wrap the week up, I thought I would share one of my favorite memories. This post was originally published on WDW Fan Zone. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂
There is something about Disney’s current promotion, “Let the Memories Begin” that truly tugs at my heartstrings. While there was a fair amount of grumbling when it was first announced, because it didn’t feature anything big or splashy, I have to say that the simple, heartwarming concept of celebrating those special family memories that we all have at Disney, may possibly be my favorite Disney promotion ever. Walt Disney created Disneyland as a place where families could spend time together….and so what could be more appropriate than honoring that intention with a year of celebrating that reality?
I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately, with respect to a very wonderful family vacation to Walt Disney World that we had almost 11 years ago. While my family has had many Disney trips, this particular one is memorable because it is the one and only trip that we took with my parents. And it is also memorable because for that reason, in many ways it was the most magical.
I am an only child and was fortunate to be close to my parents, both while growing up and later as an adult. And so when my daughter was born, it was natural that she, as my parents’ only grandchild, became the center of their lives. You name it, and they were there: school plays, dance recitals, soccer games, band concerts, brownies…they never missed any major event in our lives.
So it probably was inevitable, as the millennium approached and Disney began that year’s promotion, the memorable “In the year 2000, we went to Disney World!” series, that we began to discuss doing just that with my parents. In fact, it was our daughter that pretty much sealed the deal. Not yet 10, we were discussing a Disney World trip one evening and she looked at my mom and said “Well, you’re coming too, right Grandma!” Not a question, but a statement. And you need to understand, my parents never traveled anywhere….so when she replied “Yes we are!” I was astonished. Thrilled, but totally astonished.
It’s pretty amazing what the love for a grandchild will do.
And so began our most memorable, magical Disney vacation.
Over the next few months, we did our typical planning, only this time we were incorporating the wants and needs of my parents, then in their 70s into our plans. We chose to stay at Port Orleans – French Quarter because my mother thought it looked pretty and I knew my dad would enjoy the design and the grounds. We planned dinners at restaurants that we knew they would enjoy. And our daughter spent hours going over maps and books with them, planning which attractions they “had” to see, because they were going to “love” them. I don’t know which was more fun, doing the planning, or watching my parents patiently listen to our daughter describe each ride in Magic Kingdom, with all of the seriousness of two students who were listening to a college professor give a lecture on physics. The 3 of them read over everything a hundred times, then discussed it all, made lists, scratched things off the lists, made new lists, and thoroughly and completely enjoyed every second of planning. It was an amazing joy to watch them all share this special time together.
Soon enough we were on our way to Disney World. We created so many wonderful memories on that trip, experiencing the joy and magic of Disney with them: it was like seeing everything for the first time again. The funny thing is that, of all the trips to Disney World we have taken, this week with my parents was probably the worst weather week we have ever had. It may have been in late June, but it rained nearly all day every day, for pretty much the entire time we were there. Funny thing was, we didn’t seem to care too much: we just laughed about it, put on our ponchos and kept on going.
And what a beautiful mosaic of memories come to mind:
- Minnie Mouse falling in love with my Dad while at Chef Mickey’s for breakfast, and patting his balding head, while he just grinned from ear to ear.
- The smile on my mother’s face as she was loudly serenaded at 50’s Prime Time Café by our “cousin” who said he had been waiting for her for AGES. He may have scolded me for elbows on the table, and made my husband stand in the corner…but he LOVED my mother….and she loved every crazy minute of being there.
- The sight of my parents enjoying It’s a Small World again, years after seeing it for the first time at the World’s Fair in New York City: watching them relive special memories to them was it’s own kind of magic.
- My dad’s complete fascination with the incredible Disney landscaping as he investigated every detail, and tried to figure out, “how did they do that!” And how much he enjoyed the meals we had and that, ever the food connoisseur, he would always make sure the server knew to send his “compliments to the chef”.
It was a wonderful trip, and I believe it was all that Walt intended when he dreamed of a place for families to share together. It was the Disney trip that we truly will never, ever forget.
I cherish those memories now as some of the most precious possessions that I have. I lost my father only 3 years after that trip, and then watched my mother begin the long, slow descent into Alzheimer’s Disease as well, before she finally passed away 2 years ago. I often think to myself that I am so glad that they agreed to join us for that vacation, because we shared true magic together that week, creating memories that will stay with me always.
So yes, those commercials showing the excitement of families preparing to “let the memories begin” on their own Disney vacations, are especially poignant to me. Yes, I get teary-eyed seeing them. Yes, I know those families will be creating some very special magic. Yes, I believe that this is exactly the vision that Walt had for his parks.
And yes, I really think Disney got this right….as they usually do.