where wishes come true

Tomorrow Lucas and Abigail star in their school Thanksgiving performance. They’ve been practicing hard, “standing for a really long time.” I’m arriving early to play photographer to a few classes, capturing the preK Native American love, then sitting stage center with a tissue and waterproof mascara. Because, yes, I’ve become this mom. The mom I used to dread. The mom I no longer mind. The sap.

After their performance, we’re whisking them home, then they’ll do as they do each day: they will check the mail. In our mailbox, inside a silken blue bag laced with pixie dust and a shower of glitter, they’ll discover this: The Keys to The Magic Kingdom.
disney surprise
I’d better make sure the cameras are rolling. More pixie surprises will arrive for them en route. But a surprise to no one but me, apparently, will be the way I SOB at witnessing all of it. Because they’re still at the age where they can believe that Cinderella isn’t some person who went to an upscale Party City for a costume. No, they can believe that this woman before them actually lives here, in the castle… working with a therapist on curbing her incessant need to mop and scrub floors.
We’re staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where I’ll be unloading our bags for a four night stay… unloading costumes and hair glitter, two tiaras, healthy snacks, and Family-Dollar Store Disney gifts that will arrive magically when they awake each morning. It just makes more monetary sense to me to do it this way, to come with our own costume instead of spending a hundred dollars on a fairy dress and hair extensions. More posts obviously to come, and I welcome any ideas on anything Disney World related. This is so so last minute, that we can use all the tips and opinions we can get.



  1. Happy Birthday to your lil’ ones! This sounds absolutely magical.

    Be forewarned, and not to damper the fun, but this time of year is super busy at WDW. Plus, Florida public schools have all of next week off.

  2. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is currently going on, but I believe that is after park hours and a separate fee.

    Get there early when the park first opens. Since you are staying at a Disney Resort, I believe you’re allowed to get in before the crowds (I think it’s called EMH – extra magic hours) and stay later.

    Don’t stay at the park all day. Take a “rest time” for a few hours during the hottest part of the day before hitting the parks again in the late afternoon/evening.

    Try to make reservations for a Character Meal….like at Crystal Palace with Pooh and Friends, dinner with Chef Mickey, or the Princess dining at Cinderella’s castle…to name a few. Lotsa photo ops.

    Don’t forget swimsuits and ponchos. Florida weather can get crazy.

  3. HAve a wonderful time! The Obsorbone light show at Hollywood Studios is awesome. It’s after sunset. I always bring a refillable water bottle to save money on buying bottled water. If your kids are into characters – Epcot has a character station where you can wait in one line and meet all the majors: Micky, Minnie, Goofy, etc. Toy Story has a character greetings just outside the Toy Story ride in Hollywood Studios. All parks have water features so bring a change of clothes. It’s a good chance for the kids to run around and cool off. No ride is worth more than a 45 minute wait. Use wait times as snack times. Take it slow. You’ll enjoy it more.

  4. To avoid lines, order room service for dinner….early…then hit the park when others are having their own dinners. It worked for us.

    I love your surprise element. Many years ago when our kids were young, we told them that we were going to fly to D.C. because it was only 15 minutes instead of a 3 hr. drive. When we got to the airport they learned that their plane was heading for L.A. & Disneyland. It was a wonderful trip, as I’m certain yours will be. Love the byo costume idea.

  5. I’m such a sap I cried when I read this! Hope you share some video of this surprise. I’ve got no tips to offer, you are much more creative than I ever was when it comes to “The Disney trip”. Have a blast!

  6. I can highly recommend Boma, the restaurant that is located inside the Animal Kingdom lodge. You have to make reservations in advance, probably a day or two in advance but its worth it. It’s a buffet but its all African food that I still dream about years later.

    I hope they have a amazing time! Sounds like a pretty awesome birthday!

  7. Fast Passes are the best thing ever. If you don’t already know about them, look it up ASAP.

  8. The “Unofficial Guide to WDW” is a must-have, even if you skim it. Saved us tons of time and money. Reviews the “fear factor” of every ride and show, plus tips for touring the parks.

    he AKL has African drumming and other activities for the kiddies at around 5 p.m. each day – usually not crowded and a lot of fun.

    BOMA – the buffet in the hotel – is actually decent for WDW food. If you and DH can go out, Jiko, also in the hotel, is nice for a date night and has an insane wine list and good menu.

    If you need a sitter, I have someone I’ve used there a couple of times. Email me.

    For an overwhelming amount of information on every single ride, restaurant or activity at any of the WDW parks, try disboards.com. Try not to freak out and start making laminated itineraries like most of the disboard members. Just search for your topic and quietly leave.

    Oh – I almost forgot the most important thing. We loved the “Lines” app. It tells you the wait time for any ride in the park in real time. We tested it against the park’s listed wait times and the app was usually more accurate. You can get a discount for the app if you buy the Unofficial Guide.


    Have fun!

  9. Wow…

    That sounds amazing, When we went to Disney World a few years ago we had a meal in the ‘Top of The World’ resturant (I think that was its name). It is up a tower & revolves, it is the perfect place to watch the fireworks in the evening…

    Have an amazing time!!!

    Lucky Lucas & Abigal. x

  10. I seriously teared up when I read this, I can’t wait to read about their reactions!

  11. I heard from friends that if a kid is dressed like a certain character (i.e., Buzz, Belle, etc), they get special attention from the park’s same character, like getting invited onstage, front of the line etc. If your kids are outgoing and might like that sort of attention. God bless ya for doing this for them, they are the perfect age!

  12. Oh this is so my thing, wish I’d read earlier and could have given you my list of tips! We had annual passes to Disney California for several years, have been to the Florida park only twice. With your kids the age they are, I’d say do NOT try to see it all…focus on the main Disney park and one other. The strollers are going to make you crazy. People park them with abandon all over the place. Make time for naps with the kids if they still take naps. And know they only remember two things, the castle, and meeting the characters. Everything after that is gravy. RE: Food…we worked our budget to only eat one meal in the park, they’re pricey! Split dinner with the kids if you can. We’d have breakfast at the hotel, then lunch at the park unless that was near a nap time, then lunch at mc’donalds or something and dinner in the park. I know you’ll have some fabulous pictures-hope you share a few here upon your return! :) Enjoy!!

  13. Okay, I know I’m usually the Pollyanna of the bunch, but hell. When the babies were little and I was in the business of making everything magical and perfect and fairytale-ish, I felt very smug knowing that I was so very privileged and superior.

    Then – suddenly – life broke. Not only did those fairytale expectations become unattainable, but almost grotesque. When there are so many who have so little – is it decent to flaunt such conspicuous consumption?

    And on a more personal level still – once those expectations are set with the poppets, ponies and dragons and cinderellas, Santa and Easter bunnies and magical leprechauns, tooth fairies and flowers at every school musical, lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and …and…and…it’s a) impossible to keep topping yourself as they get older, b) demoralizing when they realize the magic isn’t growing more intense as they get older and c) exhausting for everyone who encounters those entitled children.

    I stopped. Had to. Didn’t want to. But I stopped. Divorced, sick, hurt, broke, broken. I had to rebuild the magic just within the 4 of us. Little, tiny things had to become the magic that Disney once represented. Notes in lunches written on scraps of paper. A lullaby played on the piano. A snuggle right before bedtime.

    If I’d continued on the trajectory I was on when they were small, we’d have to live in a palace with carriages pulled by white horses, lear jets, yachts and perfect, plastic people with no emotions. I guess everything happens for a reason.

    1. I just wanted to say that I thought your post was beautiful, just beautiful. I watch my friends literally overstretch themselves emotionally, physically, financially to create “perfection” and I worry for them if something should go wrong.

    2. 3 Teens Mom: This post is truly amazing. When will you start your own blog? I think your story of getting through a divorce, raising your children, and carving out a new type of life for yourself would be so interesting.

  14. Not having any and it being a while since those versions of software were overwritten within myself; kids are something of a foreign country to me. But isn’t a Floridian going to Disney a coal to Newcastle sort of scenario.

  15. There’s a great Lego store with tons of bricks, etc to play with in the Disney mall there – whatever it’s called, I can’t remember.

  16. You HAVE to go see the Christmas lights in the evening at Hollywood Studios. I’ve never seen anything like them in my life. And eat at the Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurant. At EPCOT they’ll have Santas from every country out telling stories and taking pictures with the kids and the Japan store has all kinds of neat toys and trinkets. I always do a lot of my holiday shopping at EPCOT in the world showcase.

  17. The Contemporary Hotel has a wonderful spot to watch the fireworks from a different vantage point. It’s the top floor restaurant. There’s like a catwalk outside for a bird’s eye view. But you have to see the fireworks from ground level, too, near Cinderella’s castle, so you can see Tinkerbell fly down. The lighted parade after dark is enchanting, too.

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