The Secret To Enjoying Disney World and All of Life


I didn’t feel comfortable in the navy blue shorts with white polka dots and white halter top I paid way too much for 14 months ago for my 20th high school class reunion. So I took it all off and put on the dress my parents bought me for my 39th birthday.

I was already “DONE” with our three-year-old daughter when we left our room at the Disney resort. She’d already been on time out twice and the day had barely begun.

Her girls got on the shuttle first. They were gorgeous. Stunning little girls. Fair skin and dark hair. Off white dresses and sandals from somewhere much more fancy than Target. Modern day Snow Whites. I imagined photographing them, sun highlighting their hair, their blue eyes piercing straight through the screen. Then came mama. No wonder they were so gorgeous. Her hair was dark, skin fair. She was holding her baby boy. I smiled and invited her to sit in the one open seat next to me. Conversation was easy. A cinch. We talked for 20, maybe 30 minutes all the way to Magic Kingdom. She was rare best friend material, which reminded me of the article I’d read first thing this morning about how difficult it is to make true friends in your 30s and 40s, which reminded me how I’ve been feeling a significant pull to do something more to foster friendship and community. Through conversation and recognition of accents, we realized we lived about 40 minutes from one another. She attended high school at a private school with which I was incredibly familiar. This was their first TRIP to Disney World, the first DAY of their vacation, and their first VISIT to Magic Kingdom. Everyone was incredibly excited. The girls loved my sparkly, silver Mickey Ears. It was a joy and a delight to meet that mama.  

It wasn’t about me. It was about her…and us.


I was blessed to get a front row view of autumn morning dancers in front of Cinderella’s castle.

I was relieved when we only had to wait 25 minutes to get into The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride. I was relieved when I remembered that they had lots of activities to keep our three year old occupied during the wait so I didn’t have to hear her whine and complain.

I was SUPER annoyed when our family split up to use two sets of Fast Passes, and then the three year old didn’t want to go on the Dumbo ride. You don’t want to go on the Dumbo ride? What?! You don’t want to go up and down? I was annoyed beyond belief. I took a lot of photos of her crabbiness to remind myself I wasn’t going crazy or making memories up, that she was actually overtired, over-hungry and overstimulated 1/4 of this vacation.

I looked at beautiful Mickey caramel apples, marshmallow Olafs, and Mickey Sprinkled brownies to distract myself and appease my senses.


I changed our Fast Pass, took a deep breath, and enjoyed a ride on It’s a Small World (instead of Dumbo).

I made today’s lunch reservation for  12:45 p.m. way back in August, but failed to realize it was pretty much the same time as our three-year-old’s usual nap time. She was super crabs. Nearly losing it. She had her third bathroom meltdown for the week. And my husband discovered that the “Be Our Guest” lunch wasn’t a sit-down meal like we thought. It was quick service, which meant our day’s meal plan schedule was going to be messed up. This statue resonated with my insides.


I got behind the slowest people in the lunch line. They took forever to order. Then their order didn’t go through the way it was supposed to. They had to call special help, management maybe, to start over with the order from square one. Oh, let me tell you. There were five STUPENDOUS crabby girl photos taken during our wait to get into lunch. We’ll save one of those for the “Tips for Doing Disney with a Preschooler” post.

I was going to get the ham and gruyere cheese sandwich. I decided to get what I really wanted, slow-roasted pork with green beans and mashed potatoes. I decided to get what I really wanted, a chocolate cupcake with chocolate mousse and chocolate frosting.

I wanted to sit in the main “Be Our Guest” ballroom. That’s what I’d envisioned for this meal. My husband chose the dark rose room that had a lot more character and ambiance. He felt bad when he realized I liked the ballroom. I told him it was no big deal, that it was totally fine and good in the dark rose room. I knew we’d be back again another time.

I was incredibly glad I ordered the pork and chocolate cake. It was amazing.

I was blessed to have a husband who offered to take our three year old back to the resort for nap time so I could stay and play with our two older children. He’d go back early for nap time. I’d go back early for bedtime.

I called Disney dining reservations. We needed to make a new reservation for dinner. The Disney cast member was incredibly helpful, but there weren’t any sit-down reservations left for Magic Kingdom this evening. No such luck. In the meantime, I wasn’t fully present for the castle show and missed half of it because I was on the phone trying to make reservations so we could make use of our last sit-down meal for the week.

I finally gave up and decided we’d use our sit-down meal for quick service food. It didn’t really matter anyway. And I didn’t want to miss anymore of my afternoon with the big kids.

Maleficent came to steal and destroy our joy, our dreams, our lives.

Mickey asked us to repeat after him…”Dreams Come True. Dreams Come True. Dreams Come True.” BAM! Kapow! Wowza! Maleficent was gone. The good guys won.


I thought we’d turned a corner into a fun, positive, light-hearted and enjoyable afternoon. I wanted that castle show to be our day’s reset button.

I was caught off guard when one of the big kids had a momentary meltdown as the afternoon parade passed by. I made a pointed threat. “I will not tolerate this behavior. We are at Disney World and there is a very special parade going past us and we are going to stand here and watch it.”


I was pleased when they decided and admitted out loud that they were going to be well behaved and have a good time from here on out.

I started to feel the day shift a bit.

I checked the Disney app for another try at dinner reservations, but still couldn’t find dinner options for FIVE at Magic Kingdom. On a whim, I tried again for THREE and found an opening at “Be Our Guest.” I found a separate reservation for TWO at “Be Our Guest,” but the app wouldn’t allow me to book it. So I headed for the “Be Our Guest” check-in desk and was served by a sweet Disney cast member named Christlove. She made a couple calls and verified, if we come back later for our reservation, tell them we need to ADD TWO to our party, we should get our whole family in without a hitch!

I enjoyed the Carousel of Progress. “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow.”

I enjoyed the People Mover. The big kids were beginning to enjoy simple, old things. This, I liked.


I realized I’d forgotten something big, something important. I’d forgotten to keep working on a project for my Compassion sponsored child, Meranyelis.

When I visited Meranyelis in the Dominican Republic nine months ago, she made and gave me a bracelet. I brought the bracelet on this vacation and have worn it every day. I’ve photographed the bracelet at all four Disney Parks, kind of like a Flat Stanley, and plan to send her the photos for a virtual visit to Disney World. Magic Kingdom was the last photo I needed to complete the collection. I needed that photo. So I took a few myself and promptly found myself a Disney photographer to do the job right. No need to mess up the main attraction for my Meranyelis. Cinderella’s castle had to be right.




I felt the afternoon take a significant turn after those photos in front of Cinderella’s castle.

The day wasn’t about me. Our Disney World vacation isn’t about me. Heck, life isn’t about me. It’s about serving and loving OTHERS as much as I serve and love myself.

The big kids and I window shopped at a few stores on Main Street.

My husband came back with our three year old who was MUCH HAPPIER after a two-hour nap.

We used our Fast Passes to see Elsa and Anna.

We used our Fast Passes to go on the new Ariel ride in Fantasyland.

We enjoyed a beautiful sit-down dinner for FIVE at the “Be Our Guest” restaurant. We ate chicken and pork, steak and green beans, mashed cauliflower and warm baguettes. I saw Christlove across the dining room. A couple swooned over one another at the table next to us. An older woman celebrated her birthday at another nearby table. The Beast greeted guests in the library next door. It was more than I imagined. Better than I imagined. Totally NOT about me. Totally all about OTHERS. Totally all about US.





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at You can also find me on Instagram at, and I might even do a few scopes live from Disney World, so follow me on Periscope at @AmyBPederson to see if I get brave!

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.

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