When someone thinks “Florida,” they will simultaneously also think about beaches and Disney.
Well, this year we decided to get annual passes for the Disney theme parks again. Our boys are nearly two years older than when we had passes previously, which meant they could ride more rides…especially M ‘Skiy.
This particular birthday held extra significance for Mama though: she had received a pacemaker just two months ago.
Suddenly birthdays — even as an adult — seemed more important to celebrate.
Papa decided to surprise Mama with a weekend stay at the Disney All-Star Resort hotel, which we’ve been to before with family, and it worked out because Mama’s birthday fell on a Friday (March 10). This was also the most-affordable of the Disney hotels. We’re not fans of hotels at all, and we usually stay at the Fort Wilderness campground, but Disney’s hotels have been nicer and better than typical hotels.
So after Papa finished working for the day, we decided to head to Orlando. We were able to select some FastPasses at Magic Kingdom, though, so instead of heading straight to the hotel we decided to go to the park first.
On the way to Magic Kingdom, Mama did online checkin for the hotel, seeing how we would arrive late.
At the park, we started hitting the rides we had passes for. On the way to the third and final ride — Space Mountain — the fireworks show at the castle was about to begin, so we grabbed some food and decided to watch the show before heading to Tommorowland.
Halfway through the show, Papa’s cell phone rang. One look at the number on the caller ID and we knew it was the reservations center for Disney. We were worried we’d somehow messed up the online checkin, the reservation itself, or something else that was sure to put a damper on the weekend.
When Papa finally got off the phone, he didn’t look at all upset. Mama had tried to listen to his side of the conversation, but with the fireworks and music going on in the background all she ever heard was, “What’s the catch?”
She inquired about the call, but he said he’d explain after the show and not to worry.
The show ended and we started weaving our way through the crowd towards Space Mountain. Mama asked again about the phone call. Papa said it was Disney and they were calling because they “had extra magic to share” and wanted to upgrade our hotel reservation.
No, not to a bigger room or suite at the All-Star Resort.
Disney upgraded us to a Savannah-view room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge!!
Mama’s knees buckled as she let out a scream and her eyes filled with happy tears!
We’ve always wanted to go to that resort! But it’s one of the — if not, the — most-expensive resorts Disney has, ranging from $400-$600 per night! So we knew we’d never stay there…unless, by some chance, we managed to win the lottery.
Just like that! Out of the blue, Disney upgraded us!! And at no additional charge whatsoever! This wasn’t an effort for us to attend a talk about their vacation club or some timeshare. It was a simple upgrade, with no strings attached!
Was it because it was Mama’s birthday? Did they somehow find out her family had nearly lost her just two months prior and wanted to put a smile on their faces?! Was it entirely random and we did, in some way, just win a lottery?!
We’ll never know.
However, that was the most-incredible resort or hotel experience we’d ever had. Our room had a view of the Savannah, where we saw storks, zebras, and giraffes from our balcony. The boys even got to see their favorite animal from only feet away: the okapi. There are two amazing swimming pools and a great playground for the kids. And an added bonus was the kid’s club, where Mama and Papa were able to take the boys for a couple of hours while they went on their first date in more than 2 years, all while the boys played with other kids and had a pizza dinner under the watch and care of Disney staff.
The weekend was perfect. We were all together, enjoying amazing weather, at a hotel we’d only dreamed of going to, and for the entire weekend it cost us less than it would have otherwise for only a single night.
Thank you, Disney, for sharing the magic and making our dreams come true!