I had told my sons that when they turn ten I would take them on a special trip. The trip would be in place of a party and presents. I intended for the trip to just be the two of us but when trying to choose where to take Buddy this year Man got excited and decided Disney World would be the best and that there was no way Buddy was going and Bug was not, so Buddy’s Ten Year Trip became a family affair.
I was telling my friend Tiffany about our idea. Our families were neighbors when we lived in Texas. Buddy and her oldest were besties and our youngest were tight as well; being so near in age. She had mentioned that her family was considering a trip to Disney too because they have a connection for special vouchers.
“I think you could use them as well if we are going together…” she suggested.
So Buddy’s Ten Year Trip became a PARTY!!!
Tiff did not tell her kids that we would be meeting them at Disney World. Buddy had no idea where his trip was going to be and certainly had no clue that it would be more than just the two of us. On his brithday Man and I presented him with a little suitcase with this poem attached:
Ten Year Trip
Happy 10th Birthday, Buddy! (It had his real name here and thus rhymed better…)
We can now start to reveal
The trip I will be taking you on.
Daddy and Bug will come along!
Inside this case there are clues.
One a day you will choose.
Consider it and take a guess.
If you are right we will say “YES!”
We can hardly wait for you to know
Where it is that we will go!
You’ve grown so fast we can’t pretend
We can’t believe that you are TEN!!!
Inside the suitcase were letters that spelled Disney World. Buddy guessed in just 3 days with the letters E, W and O. Next year we are going to the Wheel of Fortune for his birthday.
Tiffany’s family arrived a day before us. We decided to meet at T-Rex Cafe in Downtown Disney for dinner the evening of our arrival. Tiff made reservations for 8. She explained to her sons that because the restaurant was so busy they may seat another family with theirs. We text each other back and forth so that everything was timed right. She would take pictures and I would video. She text that they were at a table close to the entrance, just to the left when you walk in.
I ushered my family to the table. Tiff and Her Man were hiding their faces behind their menus.
“This is our table guys,” I said to the boys.
“Here?” They were confused and hesitant about sitting with another party.
“Yeah, this is it. Take a seat.”
They slowly moved around the table to pick a seat. Just then Tiffany’s oldest noticed Buddy.
“Buddy! Buddy!” he called to him and waved.
The boys all slowly realized that we were sitting at a table with our old Texas friends. Bug calmly walked over to his friends and told them very matter-of-factly that we were going to Disney World. Buddy slapped himself in the face a few times. The more the boys talked they learned that we were staying in the same condo.
“I know Buddy. We are right across the hall from one another.”
“Wait a minute…that means we can have play dates!”
Towards the end of the meal it finally hit these boys that this was no coincidence and that their moms had planned it all. They are so smart. I felt this surprise was completely wasted on boys. Had they been daughters there would’ve been screaming, squealing and possibly tears. Instead they took it like men.
Our time there was so fun! Bug was afraid to ride some of the rides but once we got him on Space Mountain he was pretty much fearless after that. Pretty much… We started out at Animal Kingdom and the second day we went to Magic Kingdom. My boys could not wait to see Cinderella’s castle. Not that they are big Cinderella fans (in fact, they just called it “the castle”) but this was important because that meant they had ARRIVED! The castle is what they see on all the commercials. It was a symbol of where the magic lived.
When we first got to Magic Kingdom we slipped into a line to take pictures with Mickey and Minnie. I highly recommend doing Disney in the off-season and during the week. The lines were rarely over 30 min. Typically they were 20-25. Disney waiting is not like a regular amusement park wait because they have plenty along the way to look at and be entertained by. They also offer Fast-Passes which came with the cost of our tickets. You simply look for the Fast Pass kiosks, insert your ticket and out pops a pass that allows you to move to the front of the line but at only a certain time. Often the Dad’s would go and grab fast passes while Tiff and I took the kids on a ride or headed toward a show. The Dad’s would meet back up with us and by the time we were done seeing a sight or riding a ride it was time to use our fast pass at the other ride. Fast Passes are also for only certain rides and you are only allowed a few/day/ticket. It was always plenty and helped us make great use of our time.
The boys saw the castle and we posed for pictures there and then we headed to Tomorrow Land. Space Mountain was the first ride hit! After that we did a Monster’s Inc comedy show. It was really funny! The audience is asked to text their jokes to the show while waiting in line. I tagged Buddy’s joke with a note that it was his 10th birthday. Once in the auditorium it was like watching a movie. The animated monsters appeared to be on stage and they were interactive. The spot light would land on an audience member. The park guest would appear on the screen and be included in the joke or were the joke. Then they told some of the jokes texted to them. They used Buddy’s joke and he was so thrilled! Then they spotlighted him and made jokes with him. They said, “what a coincidence that we just told a joke by a Buddy who’s celebrating his birthday too!” They knew what they were doing… It was very fun!
Next we went across to try Adventure Land for some rides. We had to pass by the castle to do so. At that time all the Disney Princesses were dancing with their Princes in front of the castle. There was a huge crowd gathered to watch, mostly parents with their daughters who were dressed like Disney Princesses.
“Aw…That’s sort of the sad side of having only boys,” I said to Tiff. “They aren’t interested in the princess stuff.”
At that moment we turned back to make sure everyone was still with us. There were The Dad’s slack jawed and entranced with the Princess Scene at the castle. They stood their with their sons watching the Disney Royalty waltz about while “Some Day My Prince Will Come” played.
We had to laugh!
Still I was a little bummed about the way the girls could go and get dressed up at special boutiques at Disney to be made up like a Princess. In Cinderella’s castle the girls can also dine with all the Princesses! They do offer a pirate shop where boys and girls could dress up piratey. Ours weren’t really interested. Hmph.
A great time was had at Magic Kingdom and as we left the park the castle was being lit up in various colors. Buddy and I kept looking back to watch this symbol of dreams and fairy tales get smaller and smaller as we left. I cried a little.
The next day was Hollywood Studios and it was the opening day of their Star Wars weekends. The boys were wanting to do Jedi Training but we were told you have to get there super early (long before the park opens) in order to get a chance to be in trianing. Tiff had a source who had arrived at the park 30 min. beofre it opened and they did not get in. I got the boys up extra early that morning so we could get to the park an hour prior. The children must be present to sign them up and they have to be between the ages of 4-12.
When I tried to wake the boys Bug said, “Mom, follow this: fear, anger and aggression lead to the Dark Side.” Apparently someone needed a little more sleep…
As we stood in line a man came out to tell us that they had already filled 7 shows so everyone will not be able to sign up. We debated on whether or not we should back out. It would be sad to tell the boys they can’t do it but how much worse to wait in line for hours and THEN tell them they can’t do it. We pressed on.
The man returned again to tell the masses that they had filled 4 more shows. It wasn’t looking good as we spied the line snaking through behind a grove of trees. Everyone in the line was biting their nails and praying to make the cut. We were finally able to see the front of the line. The man came out again and counted off some people. Just as we got to the front he told people that there was no more room. We were in the group counted off and the boys got to sign up for training! We were so happy for our kids but heart broken too for the mother’s next to us who were breaking the news to their sons that they would not be trained by the Jedi Council. There were lots of tears. So sad! Our boys got into the second to the last show of Jedi’s. Disney did all they could to get as many in as possible. Usually they train 15 kids per show but with it being Star Wars weekend they opened it up to 30 kids per show. The boys were so pumped! They would train at 6 that evening so we made plans to ride what we could, go home to rest and for dinner and then return for their big moment with the Jedi.
At 6 we took them to the meeting place for the Younglings. Tiff stayed with the boys and the Dad’s and I staked out various places around the perfroming area to photo and video the moment. Soon the group of Younglings came marching through the streets behind a banner announcing that they were in the Jedi Training Academy. Some children were on stage and others on the ground. The children on stage would be trained and then have to face and fight Darth Vader. The kids on the ground would face a different foe….
All children were dressed in a Jedi’s robe and presented with a light saber. My sons were so serious about the whole thing. I got teary eyed when they were robed and armed.
“This is their Disney Princess moment!” I said to Tiffany.
They were taught a combination of moves and declared Padawans. About that time there was a disturbance felt in the force. Doors slid open. Two storm troopers marched through and stood guard as Darth Vader sinisterly entered the training arena. He is followed by the second foe who would challenge the padawans on the ground. Their challenger was none other than Darth Maul! He paced back and forth like a restless predator while Vader appealed to the Padawans to join him on the Dark Side for he could train them to be stronger than any Jedi. Their trainer promises Jedi that they would never turn to the Dark Side and then Bug was called forward to show Vader why.
He engaged his saber and swung for his shoulder, then his leg, then the other leg. Bug ducked as Vader swung for his head and then he took a swing at Darth’s. The combination they were taught choreographed the altercation perfectly. On the ground another Padawan battles Darth Maul. Our friends battled Vader as well. Buddy’s friend was so strong in the force that Storm Troopers stepped towards him, but his trainer instructed him to hold up his hand toward them. When he did the Storm Troopers fell back. Buddy had his turn. He was serious and quick. His trainer complimented him on his foot work. Finally all of the children had a-go at Vader or Maul. Darth Vader finally accepted his defeat. He made a dramatic exit with his entourage. Then the children hear a familiar voice that seemed to be coming from up in the trees. The voice moved about as if the one speaking was moving on the wind. It’s the voice of Yoda congratulating the Padawan’s for their skill and strength. He encouraged them to never turn to the Dark Side.
The kids faces! They were all looking up for the source of Yoda’s voice. They believed they heard him via The Force! They were then given diplomas as they returned their robes and light sabers. I cried as if they had just graduated from college.
“Man! I would loved to have seen Vader’s face when he realized he was out numbered!” Bug said while practicing the combination he had been taught. “But…you can’t. You know…because he wears a mask.”
Disney does an amazing job at making you feel like you are living in your favorite movie and dream! Bug was so certain he was a real Padawan that when we left the park that night he turned back and said, “Thank you Master! I won’t forget what you’ve taught me and I’ll NEVER turn to the Dark Side!”
The following day our friends left and we spent one last day at Magic Kingdom to hit some rides we missed and ride our favorites again. While waiting to use our Fast Pass for Splash Mountain we spied Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too. You could pose for pictures with them. Their line was short and we decided it would be a perfect way to kill some time. I reminded the boys that their baby nursery was decorated in Winnie the Pooh and that some of their lullabies were from Winnie the Pooh shows. I quietly sang a few to Buddy as we moved through the line. After he took his picture he gave me a big hug and said, “Aahhhh! I feel young again!”
We had such a great time! As we left that day Buddy kept turning back to take misty eyed glances back at the castle. While we stood in line for the monorail to take us back to the exit, A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes played over the speakers.
“Oh! Why do they have to play this song now!” Buddy lamented and the tears started to roll.
They really do know how to burrow into your heart at Disney World. On our first day we went to guest relations to get buttons for the kids that said it was their 1st time visiting. They also gave Buddy his own button that said it was his 10th birthday and had his name on it. The rest of us were given buttons that said we were celebrating. Everywhere we went Disney staff addressed Buddy by name and wished him a Happy Birthday. He absolutely loved it and was sure to wear his Birthday button every day. One staff member at a gift shop had the whole store sing Happy Birthday to him! At night, the trees twinkle with lights as if full of fairies. I cried several times just walking through the park and seeing the amazement on kids faces as parades of their favorite characters and heroes went by them. Dreams were coming true all over the park! They make it worth every dime and moment you are there. Even if you are not into Princesses.