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Thursday Treasures

February 23, 2012

The Magic Kingdom Family of the Day by Ted C.

My wife, son, daughter, and I arrived in Orlando on November 15, 2011 for a six day trip in what would be our fourth trip to Walt Disney World in the past three years. Needless to say, we did and still do enjoy coming to Disney as a way to celebrate time as a family. Up until this most recent trip, we had had several 'magical moments' that made our vacations memorable. During our first trip, my children were exposed to Chef Mickey's for the first time where they discovered that it was perfectly appropriate, even expected, to sing, dance, and act crazily during dinner. During our second trip, having dressed up as the Incredibles for the Halloween party, we helped Mr. Incredible lead the conga line during the Move It, Shake It Parade. We also an entertaining encounter with Belle and Beast in Epcot that left my daughter enchanted with the seven-foot tall chimera. It was on our third trip that the Disney magic actually took place on the airplane, as we had decided to surprise our kids with a trip.

Our trip in November began like all the others. We arrived at our hotel and headed straight for the Magic Kingdom. We watched the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade followed by a wet ride on Splash Mountain and a quick dinner. The next morning, our first full day at the park, we woke up about 7am (correction: our kids woke us up at 7am), anticipating the excitement and energy of a day at the Magic Kingdom. At 7:30, with some breakfast bars and bags of dry cereal, we hopped on the monorail with the hope that we would be near the front of the line at rope drop.

We arrived at the turnstiles at about 7:45. As we snacked on our breakfast, we talked with some very amiable Disney Cast Members who must have thought we were nuts for arriving to the park this early. As we were talking, my wife turned away from the conversation to speak to someone else. A few seconds later, she grabbed my arm and told the kids and I to follow the Cast Member in front of her. We had been selected as the 'Family of the Day.'

It is important for me to say that we did not come to the park with the intention of being selected. In fact, outside of reading a few forum posts about this tradition on a couple of Disney web sites, we had little idea what the Family of the Day actually meant. We were taken to a bench directly outside of the front-west entrance to the park and told to wait. A few minutes later, the kids were given two autograph books as well as a commemorative letter'with our last name on the front'indicating that we had been chosen as the Family of the Day. We were then introduced to Barb, another exceptional Disney Cast Member, who told us that she would be our guide for a private tour up and down Main St. USA.

Barb was well trained for this tour. She told us that giving this forty minute tour up and around the Magic Kingdom hub had been her responsibility for more than two decades. She drove us around in one of the Main St. trolley cars, stopping at various spots to get unobstructed photos in and around the hub. Barb was fantastic! Directing us on where to stand and how to pose, she moved us quickly from one photo op to the next echoing the refrain: 'We got so much to do and not enough time to do it!'

The tour culminated with a walk up the ramp to the Main St. Train Station. By this time, it was nearing 9 o'clock and Barb informed us that we would be helping to open the park. As we entered the Train Station, we were greeted by the Main St. singers who we knew were there to welcome visitors with the same 'Good Morning' dance and song we had seen several times before. But as we made our way into the Station, we noticed that there was someone else there as well'Snow White! While we thought at the time that she (or some other character) was there to greet every Family of the Day, we were told later that she had made a surprise appearance on this morning. What luck! My four-year-old daughter spent about ten minutes alone with her favorite princess. Among other things, Snow White taught my daughter how to talk, act, and pose like a princess and offered to mentor my wife in how to make a gooseberry pie.

As the Main St. singers made their way out to begin the opening ceremony, we were told to wait to walk out until after the steam train ('Casey Jr.') pulled into the station. As the train pulled in and we walked onto the Train Station balcony, it was disarming to be amidst all the Disney characters at one time. Barely tall enough to see over the railing, our kids seemed a bit overwhelmed with the whole experience. After all, having just finished touring an empty Magic Kingdom and now seeing throngs of excited guests outside the park was more than a little unusual! After doing our best to smile and wave, we were led back down the Train Station ramp to the trolley car. Barb drove us and another family down Main St. to the hub. She led us in a refrain of 'I've Been Working on the Railroad' and wished us a great day.

Ten minutes after we left the trolley car, armed with a revised 'touring plan' for the morning, we made our way to the Tea Cups where we converged on Alice and the White Rabbit walking to the ride. Alice asked my two kids if they would join them for a ride! What a morning! And what a wonderful memory to have been picked as the Family of the Day.

Editor's Note: Ted put together an amazing video of their Disney vacation which includes footage of them being the Family of the Day! Watch below:



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