In 1988 our honeymoon consisted of a 3-day/4-night cruise to the Bahamas, a tour of Cape Canaveral and 2 days admission to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Our time spent at Disney was exhausting and somewhat of a blur. My newlywed husband had released his inner child and was determined to see everything in the short time we were there. He literally dragged me from one end of the park to the other. “Slow down, we can always come back,” I said. Stopping for a moment, he turned towards me and said “But…. you never know when we’ll be able to come back here.” He was right.
Fast forward ten years to 1998. My husband and I would be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. Where should we go? What should we do? How much can we afford? These were some of the questions we bounced around. We wanted to do something special since we hadn’t gone anywhere since our honeymoon. My husband, being in the Army Reserves, decided that we were going to take advantage of one of the military’s best kept secrets. We would be staying at one of the Armed Forces Recreational Centers. The high demand to stay at one of these centers often required that reservations be made at least a year in advance.
Hawaii, Japan, Germany, and Florida were the options. Financially, the first three options weren’t viable at the time, so naturally we picked Florida. We would be staying at The Shades of Green Hotel located on the grounds of Walt Disney World. This would be a combination family vacation/ 10 year anniversary celebration. It seemed preposterous that we would be making reservations a year ahead, but we did. We booked two adjoining rooms. One room for my sister and her family. The other room for our family of four.
Our daughters were both at a perfect age to experience the Wonderful World of Disney. The oldest was 8 1/2 and the youngest was 4 1/2. I really don’t know who was more excited about spending 10 days at Disney World. Was it the girls or us, their parents? I think that it was pretty neck and neck. Personally, this time around, I was so excited to be able to see things at a much slower pace. Ten days, on the grounds, and the ability to go in and out of the park whenever we were tired. It was heavenly .
There were many magical moments during this family vacation/ anniversary but two in particular stand out for me. One was when my youngest daughter had the opportunity to talk to Ariel, The Little Mermaid. She absolutely loved Ariel. When it came time for her to say hello to Ariel, she asked “Where are all your sisters?’ The young woman apparently taken off guard took a moment before answering. With a sweet smile on her face, she answered in a gentle voice and said, “My sisters are at home in the sea.” Her answer seemed to satisfy my daughter, who knew the movie both backwards and forward.
The second memorable moment came during the Electric Parade when all the Disney Princesses were parading down the street in front of us. Such joy and excitement pulsed through my 4 1/2 year old that my sister and I swear she had an out of body experience. Whether young or old, during that vacation we all experienced the magical world of Disney.