For the fourth day of the ornament journey, I wanted to share the story behind the very first ornament we purchased at Walt Disney World. There’s a reason – trust me. It’s more than just a symbol of our first trip there. It actually commemorates a very magical experience, one that had several ups and downs, but ultimately opened a door for us that has provided us hope for over a decade.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Twenty-Five Days of Ornament Memories
Day Four – Our First Disney Ornament
It’s Day Four! Wow! I’m on a roll – lol. Not really, but I’m going to stay excited and keep going for as long as my attention span and time will allow. Today for the holiday series, I wanted to take us all on a magical trip to Walt Disney World – figuratively, not literally, of course. While it’ s not uncommon for families to purchase ornaments when they travel to see Mickey, this first one for us carries sooo many stories with it. These are stories we recall every year we pull this particular Disney ornament (yes, there are several) out of the box. So, what beyond it being our very first family trip to Walt Disney World made it worthy of its own ornament post? Well, here’s where I encourage you to grab your favorite Disney mug full of warm cocoa and settle in for a good read!
A Little Background First
Growing up, I never got the chance to visit Walt Disney World. It just wasn’t financially feasible. I believe Hubby has one memory of visiting as a child, but I don’t think it was with his family. It may have been with the Boy Scouts. Needless to say, THIS girl was deadset on visiting at some point in her life and, once we had the boys and knew our family was complete, I was all about making it happen.
It was 2007 and we had just received an invitation to my cousin’s wedding in Georgia. At the time, we were living in Missouri and I thought it was a brilliant idea to combine the trip to Georgia with a trip to Florida. Right? I mean, we were going to be down there. Just sounds logical, don’t you think?
The boys at the time were 7, 4 and 18 months. By this point, our youngest had already been diagnosed with food allergies and experienced two or three episodes of anaphylaxis. Learning about his specific and personal health situation was a daily and challenging task. Since food allergies were not very well understood in 2007, it was a struggle ~ a significant struggle.
Trust me – I’m going somewhere with this…
In any case, I was able to convince Hubby that it was time for a REAL family vacation ~ one that did not coincide with packing up the house and moving to another state. (We were a military family and moving was a regular occurrence, more regular than is typical). So, I put my planning skills to work and designed an entire trip that included three or four days to the most magical place on earth!
Our Magical and Not-So-Magical Experience Wrapped Into One
As noted above, in 2007, food allergies were not a well understood health condition and there was so much doubt, disbelief, judgement and lack of knowledge. In fact, I can’t lie ~ we experienced one or two very big scares during that first trip, experiences that have actually hindered me from visiting those restaurants to this day. (which is completely on me because there is no reason to fear them anymore)
Along with the not-so-magical, however, come the moments that literally can change your perspective with one act of kindness. There were a few Disney chefs who went above and beyond, doing all they could to ensure that our son enjoyed his meals without incident. Not to mention, they made Mom feel pretty good about it, too (I cried several times, not gonna lie). Even then, I was aware that Disney was still learning how to accommodate for the growing population with food allergies. However, these particular chefs were on task! One in particular stood out above the rest (and, believe it or not, still works at Walt Disney World to this day!).
Chef George P. was working at Cape May Cafe that year. I had spoken with him over the phone prior to our adventure, as I did with several of the chefs. This allowed me the peace of mind to know they were (or were not) up to the challenge. Chef George talked me through options over the phone, met us at the table several times during our visit and even prepared a very special package of homemade blueberry muffins that were free of eggs, wheat, peanut, milk, fish, oat, corn and tree nuts.
Yes – at the time, that is what we were managing.
It was THAT experience, THAT moment that focused our eyes on making Walt Disney World our forever vacation home. Who knew that literally ten years later, we would actually make Central Florida our ACTUAL home.
Hmmmm ~ I just realized it as I was typing that….it was ten years and three months from our first visit to when we called it home.
So, as we look at this 2007 Disney ornament every year, we’re reminded of the magical experience Chef George (and so many others) gave us. Actually, I can’t say it wasn’t just magic alone ~ that trip gave us HOPE and a HOME. When you have to manage severe, life-threatening food allergies while traveling, you quickly realize how narrow your choices are sometimes. Not every place, especially in 2007, is or was able to accommodate for such situations. Walt Disney World has stepped up to the plate time and time again, hitting home-run after home-run for our family (and countless others).
This ornament reminds us of the hope and gift Disney gave us that has lasted twelve years so far….and counting.
Do you have any ornaments from Walt Disney World?
Are you like us and purchase an ornament with each trip you take to Walt Disney World? Did you purchase one to commemorate your very first trip to the resort? Share down below what that ornament is and how it’s special to you!
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or just the idea of being with family and friends this time of the year, we all have traditions. We all have those things that bring us back to holidays from times past. My hope is that these posts bring you back to a place in your life where you smiled, felt joy and experienced happiness.
Did you miss the first few days of this Holiday Series? No worries – you can catch them all here:
The Story Behind The Ornaments:
While you’re checking things out, take a peek into this post that shares how our story made Visit Florida: VISIT FLORIDA Shares Our Disney Food Allergy Story
Are you a food allergy family looking for restaurant suggestions at Walt Disney World? Here’s a post I put together that shares some of our magical experiences: Our Food Allergy-Friendly Experiences at Walt Disney World
Amazon Favorites for the Disney-loving ornament collector in you!
BE SURE TO FOLLOW FOOTPRINTS IN PIXIE DUST ON:
- Facebook at Footprints in Pixie Dust by T.M. Brown
- Twitter at @footprintsinpd
- Instagram at @footprintsinpd