More Than Magical

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride in a parade through the streets of Magic Kingdom with 100,000 people watching you and waving to you? Apparently this a thing that can actually happen to an average person.

My family had just walked into Magic Kingdom and of course had to do the stereotypical picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle. As we were trying to figure out how to get a picture with everyone in it, two Disney cast members approached us and offered to take the picture for us. Of course we accepted. Little did we know that those two people would totally change our day and our Disney experience forever. After lots of dialogue and questions back and forth with the two cast members, they proceeded to ask us if we would like to be the honorary Grand Marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade. The first picture above shows our reaction when we were first asked. Unbeknownst to us, they had a photographer capturing the entire moment.

I’ll be honest, I really had no idea what being a grand Marshall of the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom truly meant. It was a much bigger deal than I had expected.

We all met back at the predetermined location later that afternoon. Those same two cast members were there ready and waiting for us. The first thing they did was gave Mickey ears with “Grand Marshals” embroidered on the back. The photographers were there as well. We were quickly told what would happen but I still had no idea what this was experience would be like for us . The entire moment was surreal. We were ushered back into a cast members only area. We loaded into this beautiful car and were told to smile and wave the entire time. As the main cast member instructed, if our mouths and arms don’t hurt by the end, then we didn’t do it right. The gates opened and we were on our way.

Next was the surreal part. The entire streets of Magic Kingdom were roped off. There were nearly 100,000 people lining the streets. We were well ahead of the parade and the only thing on the road. The entire crowd began waving and smiling at us. At this moment over the entire loudspeaker of the park, our family name was announced; “our honorary grand marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade is the Handley family from South Florida”. They proceeded to make this announcement multiple times through the entire route. As I am smiling and waving to the crowd, I felt like I was in a dream. Everyone was looking at us.  Everyone was waving at us. It was probably one of, if not the coolest thing that has ever happened to me and my family. We ended the route but it was not over.

The cast members had roped off a special location for our family to watch the parade. They were literally kicking people out of our area as it was specially roped off just for us. The amazing and cool thing is that not only did we had a photographer shooting the entire moment, but everyone in the parade, all the characters; Belle, the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey, Minnie, etc. were all paying attention to us; waving to us and talking to us. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what it feels like to be a celebrity. The parade ended, but there was still one last thing.

Our paparazzi photographer (as they called it) took us to Main Street in front of Cinderella’s castle. From there she took a ton of awesome photos of our entire family. This moment was bigger and better than I had ever imagined or expected. This moment in our lives and our Disney experience, was more than magical.



Danica and Trey Po Disney SignHot Air Balloon Danica in Zero Nell 1970 Nell and Dee Matching Shirts Typhoon Lagoon Trey and Grumpy Donald Nell Flower Wall Steve and Trey Donkey King Trey on Bus Nell and Trey Pop Century Nell 70

This amazing young man is now 16. I remember very clearly the day that he was born. There wasn’t much toil. There wasn’t much labor. In just five hours short hours he made his appearance into the world at 10:35 on a Tuesday night. I couldn’t believe that I had a long, skinny, blonde hair, blue eyed baby.

As I’ve mentioned here on the blog previously, when I was raising my babies, I looked too much into the future and did not enjoy the moment. This is definitely one of my regrets. That being said, one of the things I did right was when Trey was a baby. I had a sinking feeling that he would be my last and every single night, when I rocked him to bed, I held him extra tight and extra long and just gazed at him as he slept in my arms. I didn’t want to put him in the bed before I absolutely had to. I treasure those deep longing moments with him cuddled in my arms sleeping. If I close my eyes and think really hard, I can still see that sweet baby face in my mind.

How to fast time flies. It seems that you blink and suddenly your baby; your youngest is 16 and and in high school.

In those younger days we was all boy and very hard to keep up with. He made us laugh all the time. I guess looking back he’s always been the “funny guy”. This kid was ALWAYS hungry; so hungry, in fact, he wanted to eat every 30 minutes yet spit out all of his vegetables.

Today, he loves football, working out, laying in bed and watching TV,  playing video games, going to water parks and eating.  He is a thoughtful, considerate and kind young man.  He considers my feelings.  He thanks me every night for cooking him dinner.  He apologies when he thinks that he has upset me.  What mother of a 16 year old boy can say that? Not many! I am blessed beyond measure.  Trey is excelling academically, socially and athletically.  I am so very excited about the amazing young man he is becoming and am so grateful to be on this journey with him as his mom.  I think he is just down right pretty darn awesome!

Happy 16, bud!  Here’s to many more together.  I love you!

*Since he loves water parks, we did a weekend trip to the Disney water parks in Orlando to celebrate.  

Disney :: Adults Only

Nell and Steve Epcot Ball

Walt Disney World Sign

Nell at Epcot

coronado springs lobby

Alice in Wonderland

coronado springs fountain

Nell and Steve Epcot Ball Up Close

Butterfly at Epcot

What does getting old look like? It looks like two adults spending their last Disney ticket at Epcot; not to ride the rides but to eat and see shows. Yep, the hubs and I each had a Disney ticket left to use (the kids used theirs already) and we chose Epcot specifically to “eat around the world”. And that’s exactly what we did. We chose one thing, whether food or drink, from each country. We know we are getting old because it was the best theme park experience we’ve had in a long time. We had drinks from the United Kingdom, sushi from Japan, chicken and couscous from Morocco and ghost peppered tilapia from America; delish.

A Disney Celebration

D at Cinderellas CastleD in the West Wing Creepy Trey Walking up from the Lighthouse at Hotel Trey Patiently Waiting in Line Teacups Steve waiting in line Photo Bomb at Beasts Castel Parents Waiting at the Teacups Nells Crazy Face Epcot Purple D with Belle D on Stairs at Hotel Disney Cinderella Castle Balloon View

My daughter’s favorite place in the world is Disney. So, naturally wanted to go there to celebrate her 17th birthday. It worked out perfectly because I already had a conference scheduled at a Disney resort. I have to admit that the previous trips were just mediocre. Honestly, we try to pack way too much into one day, which leads to complete exhaustion and frustration. This time was different. I feel like for the fist time we had an actual “Disney experience” and I truly believe it had almost everything to do with the hotel. We stayed at the Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. The hotel was beautiful and the fact that it was within walking distance to Epcot helped, but the biggest selling point was the pool. The pool went on for days and had a sand bottom. There was also a massive water slide. Not just any slide. It was a water slide that you’d only see in water parks.

We did Magic Kingdom on the first day. It was crazy and crowded like always but with the new magic bands (brilliant idea) and fast pass, it made for a great time. My daughter wanted to eat at the Be Our Guest restaurant which is always booked but they now offer a fast pass option to eat there. Another brilliant idea, Disney! That experience was phenomenal.

We did Epcot the second day. I haven’t been to Epcot in at least 15 years and had very low expectations for this trip based on what I remember from years ago. I have to admit, I was completely wrong. We had a blast. I absolutely loved seeing all the countries and the food that each had to offer. What a pleasant surprise. Epcot didn’t have a ton of rides but the experience was amazing. Loving the experience over the rides these days; does that mean I’m getting old? Maybe.

Happy birthday Dee. I love you to pieces!

The Magic Begins

The birthday celebration begins for my daughter’s 17th birthday. So far the Disney resort experience was magical. The will call/ ticket pick up was not. More to come as the celebration continues.