I don't even know if I can be coherent while writing about this. How excited am I, you ask? Disney excited! Every year, we've taken the frog princess to Disney. The first year, she was actually in the hospital for her birthday (thanks, Roseola). Last year we did make it on her birthday and I was probably giddier than she was.
But this year? We did it a little different. I didn't want to do a party (have you done a cost analysis on parties?!). I wanted to do a day at the parks and a night at a resort. The frog princess has been really interested in animals so this was an easy one for me, Animal Kingdom! PS: I'd never been to Animal Kingdom so yeah, enter mami giddiness here.
Enter my own personal planning fairy! Yadira works for the mouse. She's in marketing strategy so of course, she knows all about the park. I knew I wanted to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and after hearing that this was one of her favorite resorts, I was sold.
Friday. Was. A. Dream. I am teary eyed with emotion just thinking about it. Why you ask? My frog princess is well, a princess. And Disney knows all about that. We got the lodge to check in. And she immediate received her button.
I've heard of Disney's plus 1 but it is a thing of beauty to see it in action. We hung out and watched the animals on the observation deck. Seeing the happiness on her face? PRICELESS!
Sasha (aka: Susan) and Lilly made us feel so special when we were checking in. I think they were as excited as we were that it was our little girl's birthday. And it showed. Um, Lilly, can you come on over and figure out how to get these Mickey stickers off of her stroller? The frog princess got a chance to take more stickers than I thought a normal adult would allow. These gals handled my request for a savannah upgrade seamlessly and were super sweet to boot.
And our room? Um, EEEEKKKKKK! We had a view of the savannah! Do you know what that means? Check this out:
To see the look on her face when she saw the first animal was...indescribable. The (ex)man and I had such a good time with her.
On our way out of the lodge we passed a few cast members. Every cast member that noticed her button would greet her with "happy birthday princess". How cool is that?! One of them, Sharon, noticed her button as we were leaving the lodge. She stopped us and took off one of her pins to give to her. I was dumbfounded. How cool is that?! Her very first pin came from a cast member!!!!
Her BIG surprise though came at the Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom park. We were going to have a character lunch. So, a little note here before you see the cool pictures? The food was SOOOOO good. I actually would like some right now. But, I digress.
We got to take pics with Donald outside. And inside? Seeing her patiently waiting at our table while the other characters made their way around made my heart swell with happiness.
At the safari we felt like we were in Africa. I'm still in shock at what Disney has been able to pull off in this park. It is definitely my new favorite and I look forward to exploring it in more detail.
The frog princess is still talking about the zebras, the giraffes and of course, Nemo! We saw the Nemo show and wow. Ah-mazing. I really can't think of additional words. There wasn't enough time to get to everything in one day. We are definitely heading back.
Can I tell you how blessed I feel? That I am here in Orlando and can pick up an annual pass at the beginning of the year and just head on over to the parks whenever I feel like it? Throughout the day, I kept telling the (ex)man how great this was. On his part, I can say he felt the same way and even suggested that we stay over again next year.
On our way out of the park, we ran into a photographer that took a couple of awesome pics of us with the tree of life in the background. Unfortunately, I haven't decided which ones we are going to buy yet so, you can't see them. But, they were taken by Margaret. Who had a fantastic personality and she really just epitomized the entire feeling of the day. And I loved that. Loved that my baby girl was made to feel special. Loved that people connected with her and with us. And THAT'S why Disney is one of my favorite things this year.
On the day of check out, we saw Mia again. She was the one that gave my child her button. We sat outside while we waited for our car and also had a chance to meet Lebo. That feeling of being special had not faded. Of course, Mia couldn't let us leave without more sticker (Mia, you too can come over to peel these off the furniture). That connection that the cast members make with you, is not fake. I remember Lebo bending down and asking my child (who by now referred to the hotel as "home") when she was coming by. Um, why did she say in 3 weeks?!
Honestly, I would love nothing more. Especially with the lodge being decorated for Christmas.
I have no giveaways for you today. I have nothing to give you other than a glimpse of magic. This most special place in the world is not just magical but it's right. Because they've taken the time not just to make the place magical but to put magical people in all the right places to make that experience unforgettable.
I can't wait to go back! To Disney and the Cast Members that contributed to this 3rd birthday celebration: thank you from the bottom of our hearts.