Magical Travel with Heather Collea
|Posted on March 31, 2015 at 6:05 PM|
Why, yes, yes I am! Thanks for asking! But why? Why do I go every year? Isn't it just the same thing, over and over again? No, it is definitely not the same thing over and over again, it is soooo much more than that!
Let me explain. Disney has been pure magic for my family since the first time we went. And I feel the magic most when it is my husband, Bob, my son, Braden, and myself on vacation. I go multiple times a year, sometimes by myself and sometimes with Braden, sometimes with other family memebers. But the magic never feels quite as strong as when we, as a family, travel to Disney on vacation together. If I had to sum it up as to why, I would say that there are two main reasons as to why I feel this way.
Reason #1 - Braden. For those of you who don't know us well, Braden was diagnosed with autism at an early age, just before his 2nd birthday. You would never know to look at him or speak with him. And there are times that you could say, yes, I can see it. Every day brings its own challenges and sometimes life is hard. But there are many days that I think to myself what a blessing he is and what wonderful things he has taught me. And then there is Disney...the magic of Disney. The minute his foot steps on Disney soil, you can see the magic enter his eyes. We weren't sure what to expect the first time. Would the crowds be too much? Would it be too over stimulating for him? Would he be able to stand in lines? But Disney knows how to take care of their visitors, both young and old, and especially for its special needs children. Braden has always been a sensory seeker, meaning he craves movement and pressure. The rides at Disney provide all of that movement he craves and the pressure he seeks. But oh my! Disney has done so much more for him! The first year was all about the rides. Sure, that makes sense, right? So the next year we were ready to prepare our days around rides. But Braden had different plans for us. On his second trip, Braden decided all on his own, that he wanted to meet all the characters and get their autographs. Say what??? He wants to meet characters, make connections, make conversation, allow himself to be touched and to give touch himself? Say what? Oh my, that was when the Disney magic hit me full steam in the feelings! Bob and I couldn't stop looking at each other in amazement! We were on cloud nine! You want to know who else was on cloud nine? Braden! He had those princesses and characters wrapped around his little finger! He would bow to the princesses and ask permission to get their autograph and their picture taken with him. He knew exactly how to be the little charmer he can be if he wants. But do you want to know what put him over the top? Queen Elsa. He has been in love with Elsa ever since he watched the movie Frozen. So of course, we had to meet her! And he was his charming little self again. So much so, that all the cast members, Elsa, and Anna, were just crooning over him! And then!!!! Because she was just so amazed by him, Elsa kissed Braden on the cheek. Yes, my son who doesn't like to be kissed, wipes off every single kiss you give him, stood in utter shock and true love and felt that kiss as no one on Earth has ever experienced a kiss. He carried those wide eyes and dreamy look for the rest of our vacation and REFUSED to wipe that kiss off! This picture we caught just explains it all...no further words needed. You can see for yourself the Disney magic in his eyes.
So now, Bob and I were prepared for our third trip. Make sure to make time for rides AND characters. And SURPRISE!!! Braden decided this year that he was going to focus on animals! We booked our trip and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and reserved a birthday night safari with night vision binoculars for him. Talk about over the moon! And again, we experienced that Disney magic through him! Except this time it manifested into something different. The best example of this manifestation was over his new magic band not allowing him to unlock our room's door. So, after being frustrated yet again, he decided to take matters into his own hands and go speak with someone at the front desk. So imagine my surprise as I opened my mouth to start my long explanation of our problem, when Braden's voice stopped me. HE was the one who said excuse me, I need some help. HE was the one who then proceeded to explain what the issue was and was there anything they could do to help him. Yes, my mouth was dangling open and I had to use my hand to close my mouth. He was so polite and so well articulated. You would have thought it was an adult speaking with the cast members! And here he was again, my little Prince Charming, charming all the cast members. They were so impressed by how well he was speaking and how polite he was, and oh my! it was his birthday! So as one cast member set about fixing his magic band, I look up to see 2 other cast members handing him this little safari hat as a gift that they had found in the back. Yes, my mouth dropped open in amazement! Tears sprang into my eyes...this is Disney magic at its best! And I am so thankful that we are able to experience that through Braden. And for you all, here is a picture of us at the Animal Kingdom Theme Park with Braden proudly wearing his safari hat.
Reason #2 - Bob. Disney is truly a vacation for us. I don't know if it's Disney magic or just the fact that we are getting away from the every day hustle and bustle of life. But Bob and I connect, re-energize, remember why we love each other. Maybe I should call it Disney love instead of Disney magic. We can re-connect as a couple while we are here. There are no disagreements, no rolling of the eyes, no heavy sighs. We can just relax and enjoy our time together. We often find ourselves holding hands without realizing it. We smile at each other more, feel more pride in things we see Braden accomplish. We can just be ourselves and enjoy the time we have together. That is no small feat, let me tell you! It's hard to get away from life, the demands and urgency we feel to accomplish everything on our to do list, to cram everything in to meet the daily grind of life and work. But none of that seems to matter when we are at Disney, as a family. Except for Braden, maybe...he was SO embarrassed by this picture!
Disney is magic, and love, and family and THAT is why we return year after year.
And ya, okay, it is a little for me too! I still feel like a kid at heart! In no way do I feel that I am actually the number that my driver's license says I am! And there is no better place to feel like a kid than when you are at Disney!