I’ve always had a soft spot for all things Disney. There’s just something about the fairy tales, the dreams come true, the good overcoming evil, the hope that all his stories inspire.
I love everything about Disney World. The sights, the smells, (there is nothing in the world quite like the glorious smell of walking down Main Street USA) the rides, the food. Even the lines.
Because it forces you to stand still in an ever moving world. To stop and talk to the people you love. To watch and see the people going by, and imagine what their stories are.
Disney World has always been a special place for our family. Jeff and I were supposed to honeymoon there. We had it all planned out. We were going to stay in the Contemporary resort, with a view of the castle from our room. The nasty flu I came down with on our wedding day ruined those plans, and that honeymoon never happened. But when Emily turned 5, we planned our first family adventure.
We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Emily learned to swim there in the resort pool.
I’ll never forget the magic in her eyes and the joy on her face as we walked down Main Street for the first time and she caught view of that castle. Pure magic.
And again, the joy and wonder I saw in her eyes was something I’ll never forget.
After that year, we returned almost every year for our family vacation. We’d been bitten by the Disney bug. We would always say, “we should go somewhere else this year”, but always ended up feeling the pull to go back.
There was just something about the magic it brought to our family and we just couldn’t stay away.
In 2013, we took our last family trip to Disney. It was Emily’s 16th birthday.
The next year, 2014, we didn’t go because we had planned a California coast trip. We finally did something other than Disney that year because we wanted to do something grand and memorable, knowing that Emily would be graduating the next spring and we wanted to do something special.
And the year after that, well… 2015 happened. The affair happened.
And after the affair, it felt like everything about our world changed.
There was no family vacation.
That October, Anna Kate and I joined my parents and family at the beach. Emily couldn’t leave school and Jeff and I were separated, and I remember thinking that we should have been at Disney World.
I remember the grief I felt over the realization that we would never do that as a family again.
It was one of the first things that Anna Kate said when she realized that we were getting a divorce.
“But we will never go to Disney all together again.”
So this year, after all we had been through, it seemed right that we should plan a trip to Disney World. It’s such an inherent part of who we are, and who we are as a family. And it’s one of the very few parts of the old us that we actually wanted to keep.
So back in the spring I started planning. And this year, since all things are new, I decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of October, which is when we would normally go, we would go in December. I’ve always wanted to go at Christmas time. We were supposed to have gone at Christmas time for our Honeymoon, so this year, 25 years later, we would finally get to do that.
And as it turned out, this time we ended up staying at the same resort that we stayed in on that very first trip with Emily.
It didn’t really happen that way purposefully, it’s just where they had available rooms, but I like the symbolism of it. Full circle.
Jeff’s sister, his cousin, and their families joined us, and Emily’s boyfriend also came along. It was his first visit ever. Which was great because there’s just something magical about watching someone experience Disney for the first time.
And Anna Kate’s boyfriend’s family was vacationing there for a couple of days too, so we got to spend some time with him also, which made her super happy.
It was definitely a little different seeing them there, so grown up now with boyfriends, holding their hands instead of ours, but sweet to see how you never really outgrow the magic. It stays with you.
It was a little more crowded than what we are use to, but being the Disney expert that I am, we were able to plan out our days to avoid the crowds and long waits and make the best use of our time there. If y’all need tips, let me know. They don’t call me Mrs. Disney for nothing.
And the food. Oh the glorious food!
Steaks, lobster, gourmet sandwiches, pasta, sticky wings and dumplings, bananas foster bread pudding, creme brûlée. And the snacks! Ohhh the snacks!
Have y’all figured out yet that the food is a good 75% of the reason I go? That percentage may or may not actually be higher, but we will go with 75% so as not to make me look like a complete glutton. Ha.
It was an amazing trip. I wish we could have had just a couple more days to fit in a few more things we didn’t get around to doing.
The food was amazing.
The Christmas spirit was everywhere.
And standing there, in the midst of all that magic, I couldn’t help but feel it.
Being there, as a family again, in a place so full of memories. All of the really good ones. The ones where we were whole. The ones where we were hopeful. The ones where we were the best parts of our former selves. Realizing that we didn’t lose all of who we were. We kept a little bit, that little bit of magic within us.
And finding that little bit of magic, there in that magical place with the people I love the most, felt like everything was right in the world again.
It felt like joy.
It felt like a gift.
It felt like reclaiming something that had been stolen, and thought to be lost forever.
It felt like….
Amy Thurston Gordy