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The Magic of the Mouse

Last year, my family went to Walt Disney World for the first time. We’d planned the trip for nine years, putting aside a small bit of money each month specifically for the purpose of going when the kids were old enough to enjoy themselves and have a firm memory of the trip.

I don’t remember the exact impetus, but one morning we made the decision that it was time to go. We researched it, set a date, and used Small World Vacations to coordinate. We talked to everyone we knew who had been there; we read website after website; we dog-eared our copy of the Unofficial Guide; and we made a plan.

For seven days and seven nights we explored four magical parks, resting each night at the expansive, yet cozy, Wilderness Lodge. Honestly, it was the best time I’ve ever had. Oh, there were things that went awry, but we refused to allow those moments to interfere with our overall vacation. Consider them “learning experiences,” because now I know what few things I’d do differently.

Even though it’s been a year, we still can’t stop talking about it. All around us, little things continue to remind us of our Disney vacation. A few weeks ago we walked into Cabelas in Fort Worth for the first time; we looked around in awe at the beautiful store and almost simultaneously began pointing out to each other how this feature or that looked like the Wilderness Lodge.

While most people associate WDW with a sticky humid heat, our January visit included two overnight freezes and record-setting lows. We wore layer upon layer, bought gloves, and carried hand warmers. One morning we threw out our plan entirely, refusing to go to the park for the opening because we just couldn’t bear the thought of being below freezing again. (We left that early morning trip to those guests we’d met from Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, who thought 30 F was a pleasant balmy morning.)

A year later on a bitter cold morning, when I’m telling my daughters to dress warmly they want to know how cold is it outside. They ask if it's Magic Kingdom cold or EPCOT cold? (For the record EPCOT cold is freezing or below. Magic Kingdom is upper 30s.) As recently as this morning my younger daughter talked again about finding Hidden Mickeys.

Naturally, I had planned for us to have a good time on our vacation. Maybe it’s a “Disney magic” secret, but I’m pleasantly awed and amazed at the unexpected bond that developed between us. It’s like sharing a secret that only we know and it permeates even the most basic daily events in our lives, bringing a smile to my face and a warmth in my heart.

We’ve been saving and already planning our next family vacation this summer to Washington D.C. but there are moments when I think I just might chuck it all and book a flight to Orlando.

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