I was more excited for this past Christmas than I had been in years. There weren’t any special presents I thought would be under the tree for me, but I knew that we would be giving my grandfather, Papa, one of the memorable gifts we could ever give him: a trip to Walt Disney World for his 80th birthday.
My mind flashed back to when I was a little five-year old girl, obsessed with princesses, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and books. It was also when I was five that I learned my parents, grandparents, and I were going to Disneyland. I was ecstatic! I didn’t like to walk then; I was constantly trying to find a place to “rest my weary bones.” So after it was announced that we’d be going to Disneyland, Gigi (that’s what we call my grandma) sat me down for a very serious conversation.
“Now, Hannah, at Disneyland we have to do a lot of walking. If we’re going there, we have to make sure that you can walk long distances.” After that Gigi periodically took me practice walking. We lived in a duplex, so it wasn’t uncommon to answer the door and see Gigi there with her walking clothes on, ready to take me for a stroll around the block.
My first memory of Disneyland is walking down Main Street. Unlike the other people around me, I walked slowly, absorbing the wonders that surrounded me. I recall peeping into the colorful shop windows, sweet music flooding into my ears, and seeing all the other families. I felt so safe and happy. That was the moment when I looked right in front of me and saw the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my entire life.
Sleeping Beauty Castle lay majestically at the end of the street. As I looked upon its pinkness (my favorite color at the time) and regal towers I stood agape. Suddenly an uncontrollable force came over me. I began walking, almost running, because no earthly force could keep me from getting to that castle! As soon as we got to the moat I felt like an absolute princess.
I remember so much from that trip. Eating churros, wearing my tall tennis shoes so I could ride the Orange Stinger in Disney’s California Adventure, and being held in on Indiana Jones by a seatbelt and my grandparents are all things I vividly recall from that wonderful trip. However, the best part was being with my amazing family.
I was so happy when I learned that we’d be taking my grandparents to Walt Disney World. It wasn’t just that they’d get to go there. For me, taking them there is the opportunity to give them a tiny fraction of what they gave my 5-year old self. They gave me the wonders of Disneyland. They showed me its minute details and its history (My Gigi grew up in Southern California and has been going to Disneyland since 1955). I know I won’t be able to give them back what they gave me, but it’s a start. I can’t wait to take them by the hand and walk them down Main Street as they did to me. I want to see their faces as they catch their first glimpse of Cinderella Castle (Cinderella’s Royal Table is the only place Gigi requested to eat at in all of Walt Disney World). I am so excited to show them the Disney magic of Florida, just like they showed me the California Disney magic. My only hope is that we remember this trip as magical family time with each other.
Here is the link to the video of us surprising my Papa on Christmas:
Contributed by: Hannah N. (NDT #23). Hannah is our resident teen blogger.