My birthday was one of those magical days when you realize you are loved. It was one of those days where all the little “extras” added up for one life-long memory.
I’ve been to Disney a few times before, but this particular day the magic started at the ticket counter. I took advantage of the FREE birthday ticket! Already it’s a great day! I stood in line with my printout and a kind cast member was going through the lines telling everyone who was there for a birthday ticket to get in a special line. It was kind of funny because as we were all standing in line we realized we all shared the same birthday, so we started chuckling and greeting each other with “Happy Birthday!” “Well Happy Birthday to you too!!” At the ticket window, the gentleman greeted me with a big smile and the first of many, many cheery “Happy Birthday!!” greetings. I got an ultra cool souvenier ticket and a button to wear all day long announcing that it was my birthday. And everywhere I went ALL day long, ALL the cast members told me Happy Birthday. Never, ever, ever have I heard that phrase so happily said to me so many times in one day. In fact, we were walking down the street in Liberty Square when my father-in-law nudged me and pointed out a guy standing just outside a shop who had been HOLLERING a birthday greeting to me several times to get my attention. I hadn’t even seen him. But he saw me!
Our first stop of the day was a gift shop so Little Miss could purchase an autograph book with her birthday money. As she was checking out, I noticed the cashier cast member had a Spanish accent, so I told Little Miss to tell her “gracias!” As Little Miss thanked her in Spanish, the lady’s eyes lit up and she reached behind the counter to get a special pin. She told Little Miss that she wanted to give her something, and handed her a TinkerBell pin that Little Miss wore proudly all day long. “Now we both have pins, Mama!” I instructed her to tell the kind lady, “MUCHAS Gracias!!”
I had wanted to do a few things we had never done before at Disney – the big one being having lunch with the Pooh characters at the Crystal Garden. I had called the day before to make reservations but they were all booked up. The kind lady on the phone instructed me to try to stop by the restaurant the day of our visit and see if they had any openings. I figured it was a lost cause and wasn’t going to plan our day around trying to get into a restaurant. But as lunchtime approached, my mother-in-law sent my father-in-law and her brother (who works at Disney) over to the restaurant to check availability while the kids and I rode the teacups. (Since I’m the only one in the family who can take the spinning with the kids!) My father-in-law said he asked if they had any openings and the lady told him at first that they didn’t. Then she thought for a second and said she’d check with her manager. She came back and told him they had 1 table open in 35 minutes! We had a flurry of cell phone calls to each other and we rushed from the teacups over to the restaurant just in time to have our name called.
Oh. My. Word. Lunch was AMAZING. I was so glad that we got in. First off, it was all-you-can-eat buffet and it was maybe the best food I’ve ever eaten. In fact, you know it’s good when the Uncle who works at Disney is impressed. We ate so much that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to walk around the rest of the day! While we were dining, Tigger, Eeyore, Pooh and Piglet walked around to all the tables signing autographs, conducting a parade, taking pictures and making the kids feel really special. It was so delightful to eat in a relaxed environment and have the characters come to the table. Our server noticed my birthday button and returned with confetti that she sprinkled on the table (mickey shaped of course!). Then after we had eaten, she returned with a cupcake and a candle and everyone sang to me. One of the little extras was that the table next to us also had a birthday. Their little boy turned 3 that day. They had pre-ordered a birthday cake and when they were finished with it, they brought the remaining half to our table and said they wanted to share it with us because they couldn’t eat it all. That was so nice of them! So I told the little birthday boy that I was also 3, but with a 2 on the end! The parents laughed.
It was just magical to experience Disney through my kids eyes and see their eyes light up talking to the characters. (T-Rex couldn’t stop “petting” Pooh!) The funniest of funny was watching T-Rex get all googly-eyed around the princesses and fairies. He’s all gung-ho and chatty the rest of the day, but around the pretty girls he is SPEECHLESS and all grins. Oh my goodness what a riot! And of course Little Miss is all chatty with the characters, but she couldn’t quite understand why the big fuzzy characters didn’t talk – only the people characters did. It didn’t make any sense to her because in the movies Pooh and Tigger talk. Ah the magic for them at this age is that everything is REAL to them. It’s a joy as parents to re-live a bit of that mysterious, magical imagination that we lost somewhere along the living of reality. To see the nighttime parade through their eyes for the first time, to see the wonder of fireworks over the castle – it truly was a magical day, and I loved every minute of it.