Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 4 -WOW!

Emily’s Wish Day 4 It’s hard to believe that our day was filled with even more magic. Our slumber was uninterrupted last night and Drew was miraculously feeling much better (although he knew Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter might be put on the back burner in favor of going to the Doctor) but we decided to have breakfast in the village prior to deciding.

This was the first “meal” we ate at the village that wasn’t delivered due to our schedule and illnesses and we couldn’t have been more impressed. Not only was it a high quality meal served cafeteria style with hot and cold buffets and servers at each station, but volunteers throughout to assist who even carried our trays to the tables for us. An interesting note, GKTW does have some employees, but so many activities and services are provided by volunteers. I spoke with a server in the hot food line, who was here with her husband and daughter and told me that when they come down from Wisconsin to visit her father, they always spend a day here to volunteer! She also told me that many of the young volunteers that were here today are from church youth group that drove down from Georgia!

After breakfast, we went to the Safari Theatre to meet Mickey and Minnie who come to the village twice every week to give guests the chance to interact with them. We were able to take lots of pictures and share some moments in our special outfits that we were going to wear to meet those special mice on Tuesday had we not been interrupted by Emily’s sudden illness. (Yes, Aimee was washing and ironing late into the night.) Brenna and Minnie compared dresses and everyone enjoyed the special attention.

The big surprise was when we returned to the vestibule, Belle was waiting and RECOGNIZED us from yesterday. This time she wasn’t wearing her Christmas dress, but her more familiar blue and white and gave all our gang the attention they wanted. First Brenna asked for a kiss. After Belle obliged, Carter said, ”I want a kiss too!” Belle granted our handsome blue eyed prince his wish only to see Drew sidestep closely toward Belle with a sheepish grin. I’ll let the photos tells the rest of the story!

When we stepped outside, Goofy and Pluto were also available for some autographs and photos.

At this point since Drew was feeling ok and we expected the crowds at Universal would be crazier or New Years Eve, we decided to make an attempt at getting a wand at Olivanders and a Chocolate Frog at Honeydukes for Drew. COSTUME CHANGE! We were “allowed” to wear Philadelphia Eagles gear for our trip to Universal!

As it turns out, we’ll likely not find out if the crowds are crazier tomorrow, but the roads were crazy and the sign as we entered made both Aimee’s and my heart sink: “Islands of Adventure is at Capacity.” This is, of course, where The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located. We persevered, figuring at some point someone would leave, and they’d reopen. We parked, entered and had to go into the stand by line for a few minutes until an alert attendant saw Emily’s GKTW button and welcomed us to the entry gate right away! We entered and started to weave our way around the park to find Ollivander’s wand shop, noting the crowds were getting thicker the further we ventured. Emily briefly spit up and had to change her shirt (Aarrrgh! my one oufit choice!), but I forgive her, Seussland is indeed a little too much to handle on a sensitive tummy!

As we reached Hogsmeade, the potential for fulfilling Drew’s dream was starting to fade, as the lines were long and wide. It didn’t seem realistic that our trio of three-year-olds would be able to relax in line for over an hour, or for Aimee to navigate the double stroller and Emily’s Kid Cart through the park if I remained with Drew. I asked the line attendant about the length of the wait, because I couldn’t even see the end of the line. He said we’d have to leave the double stroller up front while waiting in line, because it couldn’t make the turns, and used the word, queue, which was entertaining, because even though I knew the word, and knew this guy was from the UK, for a brief moment I was completely lost. Ask Aimee, it was pretty funny… The happy ending is that while we discussed Emily’s Kid Cart, he noticed her GKTW button, and said we didn’t need to wait in the “queue” at all; we should stand to the side and we could participate in the next show. We waited a grand total of two minutes until we were escorted in towards the right while everyone else filed in towards the right. I’ll let the video tell the rest of the tale…

Please do me a favor and even if you don’t normally comment, please leave a comment about how cool that experience was for Drew and how lucky he is. Aunt Mary sent me a text message after I told her and he was tickled by her reaction. Thanks in advance… : )

After Ollivander’s, we were off to search for chocolate frogs that come with wizard and witch cards, just like in the book. The coolest part of the Harry Potter experience is that I read the first Harry Potter book before the craze took off, and even read it with my students in the Challenge Program in Galloway all those years ago. Then, this July I relived the magic one chapter at a time reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud with Drew at bedtime. We even watched the first movie after we finished. We agreed to wait until next summer for the next installment, but I think that may happen sooner. We found his Frog (His card was Rowena Ravenclaw) and he was thrilled. Aimee and I were equally thrilled when we got in the butterbeer line and finally were able to enjoy the coolest treat available to Muggles…

We landed back in Seussland and went on the Caro-Seuss-el where Emily’s cart was able to be rolled on and latched down, and we all rode together. They told us we could all stay on and ride a second time, but Emily slept through it and, besides, we had more plans for today.

Aimee found “Thing 1”, “Thing 2”, and “Thing 3” t-shirts for our trio and we were on our way back home in no time.

When we arrived back at the villa we rested a bit and COSTUME CHANGE! Thursday night is Christmas every week at GKTW. We dressed in festive colors and went to dinner, where Elaine sat with our kids while Aimee and I stood in line for turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

After we finished dinner, we went back to the Safari Theatre, which was newly decorated in a Christmas theme and Santa himself was there for photos. Afterward, each of the children were allowed to select a gift, which was exciting for all. We then watched a choir sing some carols. They invited Brenna (and Carter and Drew) to join in the bell ringing and got a fan for life. She stayed with them for most of the performance…
Then we enjoyed ice cream cones and waited for the parade. Then it was time to join the parade at the end in singing, dancing and a with a “snow” machine.

Everyone says that Disney is magical and I know I’ve spoken about how wonderful Give Kids the World Village and Universal Studios have been, and even wrote about the “pixie dust” from the Dis-Boutiquers. The one constant here is the kindness of others. The Make a Wish Foundation, GKTW, and other charitable organizations that send people here do it with donations from companies and individuals, and the volunteer hours from so many people. In addition, we had some friends and family bless us with gift cards and gifts to help us really enjoy ourselves on this trip. I want to thank you all for letting me “let go” and allow the kids to pick a souvenir when they wanted it and not scoff at the price. To not have to plan out a picnic lunch because park prices are ridiculous, or get upset that we bought diapers (insert shudder here) without a coupon. For one week, we were able to say “yes” to all our kids and allow them the freedom to feel like any dream could come true and that nothing was out of reach. And Aimee had a week without me complaining about the cost of gas or the need to wait for things to be on sale. This trip has been so incredible and honestly, I had no idea it would be as emotional and invigorating as it has been. I’ll end this post with, Merry Christmas, because it’s Thursday, and at Give Kids the World, that means it is indeed, Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Your are making me cry like a baby....stop it!

Anonymous said...

Geeoff, Beautifully written! I'm tearing up and my heart is full of joy for all the good and unforgettable times that you are all having!
Love, Mom M., MeMe xoxo

Aunt Sue said...

You aren't supposed to make me tear-up AFTER I put my mascara on! The week is going fast, but you are filling it with so much joy - and you still have two more days of costume changes to enjoy. I will watch Drew's special video tonight when I have more time. Love, Aunt Sue

Anonymous said...

I'm from the DisBoard and want to let you know what a great trip report you are doing! Every day seems to top the last.

I did tear up reading the last part of your post and am so glad that your family is enjoying Emily's Wish Trip so much! That's a real blessing!

How neat was that video you got of Drew! That is something that he will remember for a long time.

May there be many more "yeses" on the remainder of your trip and happy memories for you all to cherish!

Liz said...

I am from DisBoard too. Sounds like you are having an awesome time. Your trip report is very moving.

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC! The trip sounds so wonderful! I have to admit - I cried too - but I can see from the other comments that I'm not the only one... No one deserves all of this more than your family! The wand-selection video was incredible! Drew, I expect to see some of your magical powers when you come home. I'm afraid you're all going to be covered with kisses if you keep running into those princesses each day! Keep having a great time and we want to hear more about it when you come home. Happy New Year from Aunt Beki and Uncle Mark!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! To a world of "yeses" for you, Emily and the entire family. We love you! XOXOXO, Nicole, Joe & Sierra

Aunt Sue said...

For Drew: Wow is right! I just watched you having a lesson on picking a wand and doing magic. So cool! The lightening and thunder scared me, Drew, did it scare you? Probably not since you made that magic happen. I cannot wait to hear all about it next time I see you. Oh yeah, and I think Uncle Mark will be jealous that you got a kiss from Belle. If I remember, he really likes her. Have lots more fun! Love, Aunt Sue

Aunt Mary said...

OH MY GOD!!! I'm sorry I'm just getting to watch the video today. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOO jealous!!! (No, really I am JEALOUS!) That was the coolest thing EVER, Drew!!! I can't wait to hear ALL about it!! VERY exciting! Love, Aunt Mary :)

Callie said...

Well there would be some tears! I am so glad you guys are having a good trip despite the ickies. I am glad that you can say yes to your kiddos all this week as well you totally deserve it!
I am so glad Drew got to do HP after all. Reading I was really starting to worry that he would not. How cool is that experience! I see why there was such a long wait. Give Drew a thank you from Texas for opening my eyes to the coolness of Universal I think I may have to actually take my kiddos there the next time we make a Disney journey!