Guest Author: Cheryl Anraku
So, it was the fall of 2004 and I was busily planning my family’s first real trip to Walt Disney World. We had taken the kids for a day trip when they were 2 and 5. Now said ‘kids’ were 17 and 20, and to say that hubby was a little underwhelmed at my vacation choice would be a real understatement. To say that hubby and daughters considered my endless planning overkill, bordering on a need for intervention would be more accurate. (“Are you kidding? I don’t know what I want for lunch on December 3rd, it’s only August”.) So the challenge was on. To prove to the family, that a trip to Disney World would be a fantastic, memorable, fun filled and dare I say magical vacation was up to me.
I had been to Walt Disney World when I was a child. To me Disney was magical, fun and a way to feel as carefree as a six year old again. I wanted that same feeling for my family. I needed the ‘Wow’ factor right off the bat. Now when you think of Disney, the iconic image that comes to mind (at least mine) is Cinderella’s Castle. No doubts, the first meal (a lunch) HAD to be there. Reservation made…let the waiting begin. I might add that my family was not properly impressed with this feat.
Now of course this did not go smoothly…first my flight was rescheduled, cutting my arrival time at MCO perilously close to lunch time. Okay…so no more Magical Express, time was of the essence…how magical would it be to wait for a bus and MISS our super special lunch? So I booked us limo service (I was a big spender on this trip as it was to be our ‘One and Only trip to Disney’ famous last words, right?).
Finally it’s the morning to go to Disney World and I am so excited I can barely be still. Our flight was delayed (of course!) and we arrived at MCO a bit later than planned. We impatiently waited to deplane and practically ran to bag check. We met our driver and grabbed our bags (took forever for them to come around!). Then began the drive to our resort. Just so you know. The Limo service guys don’t speed. Nope. They follow the speed limit all the way. Finally we made it to our resort and checked in. We had about 30 mins at this point to make it to our reservation at the castle. We ran to our room, dropped our bags off and headed to the Magic Kingdom. Where we discovered that this was the day they were filming the Disney Christmas Parade with Regis and Kelly. Needless to say Main Street was jam packed, shoulder to shoulder. And have I mentioned that we were short of time. And I NEEDED to make this lunch the best lunch of our entire lives so my family could see how gosh darned magical it all was?
I desperately found a cast member and explained our plight that we needed to be at the castle in like 15 minutes. The cast member took the situation in hand, told us to follow him and led us through a door, backstage to a shortcut through the people. My family at this point was giving me looks and I’m sure entertaining doubts. We emerged at the end of Main Street and still had hurry and navigate the crowd to the castle. I’m worrying the whole way that if we were too late they’d cancel our reservation. Those castle reservations are worth their weight in gold. So, we made it to the castle, struggled through the crowd to the podium and hear the cast member say “I’m sorry sir, we’re full, there is no availability”. My husband shoots me THE LOOK. He gets to the podium and says “We have reservations, the Anrakus”, clearly expecting that we won’t get in. The cast member says of course and hands us off to another cast member who says “Lord and Lady Anraku, right this way” and he opens the door to the Mecca that is Cinderella’s Royal Table. I’m feeling very smug about now; my mad planning has paid off. My family has no idea what they are in for, but I do, I have been planning like a madwoman for over a year.
We enter the castle foyer and feel as if we have stepped into another world, a fairytale. We have our picture taken with a fairytale princess, Cinderella. She was lovely. The cast members were wonderful, made us feel that they’d been waiting just for us, to serve us lunch. It was delightful. The décor was stunning, placed us IN the fairytale. As we enjoyed our lunch sitting by a window overlooking Fantasyland, we all began to unwind from the hurry of the morning, the rush to get to the airport, the rush to get our bags and find our driver, the rush to get through the very crowded Magic Kingdom…to this moment in time. A busy family taking time to enjoy one another’s company in this fairytale setting. With visitors stopping by to greet us, visitors like Jasmine, Aurora and The Fairy Godmother. My family even doubting husband and nearly adult daughters had a great time. Interacted with the characters and the magic began. By the time our lunch was finished, my family was believers, that Disney is a Magical Place like no other, and that this was going to be the best vacation ever. It is, and it was.
My family’s introduction to the Magic of Disney was successfully accomplished. From one little (very carefully planned and very memorable) lunch.
The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by “Magical Mouse Plans Travel“