So as we return from our seven day adventure to Orlando and all things Disney I am reflecting on the trip and what I consider the stand out moments. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our lovely friends we managed to get what I consider the fully immersive experience, all the while enjoying each other as well as our surroundings.
We visited all four theme parks, relaxed at our resort, and tested our families ability to hold it together on a long haul – traveling by car from NC to FL with an overnight in Savannah each way.
Between the Princess lunch, getting soaked to our underwear on Splash Mountain, watching the storied fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, traveling the world at Epcot, being dazzled by Belle and the Beast on stage, and feeling a childish awe on the Safari in Animal Kingdom….the highlights may be too many to count.
Interestingly, ironically, or maybe a little of both, the moments that truly stand out to me are not what you might expect. We experienced some interactions with individuals while at the parks and even on the drive that are rising to the top for me.
As we sat on a stone wall in Magic Kingdom next to the Carousel, waiting for Virginia and Maddie to finish we decided to give Kimberly her lunch bolus feeding. After a few years of “feeds on the run” this is commonplace for us and I hardly think about what it must look like to a passerby. Because of this it startled me a little to hear the child and woman walking by us comment. As it happens, the younger sister, who was in the stroller and at Disney for her Make A Wish Fndn trip, is also tube fed. The older sister, walking with her mother, noticed that we were feeding Kimberly through a tube…just like her sister! This surprised and delighted her. Let’s face it, we ALL want to feel we fit in. Seeing us feeding Kimberly without reserve seemed to represent to her that it’s “ok”. It can be “normal” for other families too. The mom was very sweet and we spoke for a few moments. As they walked away I told our friend, an interaction like that had never happened to us before. She was quite surprised and we shared a thought…Disney is a magical place!
Secondly, as we wrapped up our visit to the “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” play area at Hollywood Studios, an woman approached us. Brad was holding Kimberly in his arms. This attractive stranger said out of nowhere, “I just wanted to say, when I was little my eyes looked like hers (indicating she had strabismus like Kimberly). And now I fly helicopters. My eyes watered as I realized that her words might as well have been….”don’t worry, it will be ok. She can go so far!” This kind stranger had too had surgery, and worn glasses, and then it went away and she has 20-20 vision – and the loveliest pale blue eyes. The magic strikes again!
Regarding Virginia’s dairy intolerance, and the difficulty in avoiding it while eating out – actually difficulty is a gross understatement: I have to hand it to the Disney chef/wait staff in making us feel so comfortable requesting a dairy free preparation, coming to our table to discuss the best options, and even providing tasty sweet for dessert such as sorbet and dairy-free cookies so she would not feel left out. I am certain we take for granted Virginia’s stoic approach to going without -especially while all those around do not. I am thankful for their assistance in making this trip extra special for Virginia Dare as well!
All the staff we met were thoughtful, inclusive, and patient, as were many of the fellow visitors. These moments will remain in my heart long after the music from the street parade fades.