For all of the years that we have been traveling to Disney World, I have one moment that rises above all the rest: October 2004, we were chosen as the family to open the Magic Kingdom. When I title this blog “Bittersweet” it is because this memory is always tinged with a bit of sadness when I put all the pieces together.
Mr. T and I arrived at the park early that day to attend a “Behind the Scenes” tour. My oldest daughter accompanied us although she was not going on the tour. Being the Disney lover that she is, she just wanted to be at the park early. My youngest daughter, being the teenager that she was at the time, chose to sleep in at the hotel with her friend that she had brought along on the trip. We had offered to bring her friend, hoping to alleviate some of the moodiness and angst that accompany a teenager going on vacation with their
We were waiting at the gates to be let in for the tour and my daughter was talking to cast members and asking if she could open the park. The cast members responded that this honor usually goes to a family and not an individual. Running back over to us, my daughter said that if we would forego the tour, then we could be the family that opened the park. Weighing the choices of losing $150 for not taking the tour, or choosing the once in a lifetime chance to open the park, it was not a difficult choice. We hopped on-board the trolley in the Magic Kingdom, headed towards Toon Town and boarded the train with all of the characters. My heart was pounding wildly, Mr. T was visibly giggly, and my daughter was a hair shy of insane. I’m thinking all the while though, about my daughter at her friend back at the hotel. I’m trying to remember if we tried calling the hotel. It would seem odd that we wouldn’t, or else we were thinking that they could not possibly get here in time to join us. At any rate, we rode the train to the front of Main Street, got off on the platform with the characters, and heard the announcer say something about “the T Family from Missouri”, counted down from 10 and then whooped and yelled and threw confetti to open the park. Frankly, the whole thing was a blur because I could hardly believe it was happening.
The sadness comes in when I think about our family being incomplete on this occasion; my daughter, in her teen-age rebellion, not wanting to spend time with her family, and also because her friend passed away shortly after this trip. I wonder if life would have changed for either of them if they could have been with us that day to experience the pure joy and happiness of that moment. I don’t think it would have, but it is a wonderful thought to have.