We had planned on Epcot for our last day. It was a shorter day as we had to be back at the hotel at about 2pm to meet all the Jay’s Juniors people for final interviews and get ready for bus loading. But we really had to be back closer to 1pm because of Colten’s needs. After looking at Epcot’s attractions and asking Colten what he wanted to do on his last day (“ride more rides!”), we decided I would take Colten and Sophia back to Magic Kingdom and Richard would take Parker and Maxson to Epcot. We packed everything up from our rooms and checked it at the bell stand, then off we went! It was a rainy, overcast day but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our last few hours.
Sophia was excited to see the castle again, and we went on some rides we never made it to at Magic Kingdom (we really could have done 2-3 days at Magic Kingdom alone!) – Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, the Carousel, and It’s a Small World (a repeat for Sophia) – a song Sophia has continued to sing every single day since she went on the ride. Every. Single. Day.
(This part is narrated by Richard, as Kate was with Colten & Sophia) Parker, Max, and I headed to Epcot. On the bus ride over Parker quietly admitted that he (like his siblings) wanted a stuffed Mickey and the one he wished he had bought at Hollywood Studios was the Indiana Jones Mickey. We did a quick app search and found that the only other location selling that specific Mickey was at Epcot, which would become our first priority once we got to the park (more on this Mickey later). The boys loved Mission: Space and were excited to go into Spaceship Earth.
We ventured over to the United Kingdom to hopefully meet Mary Poppins at 11, but the staff said that Mary was busy with the Banks’ children and wouldn’t be visiting until 1pm. Unfortunately we will have to save our stories for Mary of the boys being Jolly Holiday penguins (in Dakota’s production) for another time, as we couldn’t stay late enough to see her. We rounded out our time at Epcot with shopping for pins, gifts, and Parker’s Indiana Jones Mikey.
(Back to Kate narrating…) When I got back to the hotel, I had to collect our medical suitcase from the bell hop. We had requested a late checkout to accommodate Colten’s bathroom procedure (it takes about an hour), but they told us to use the bathroom in the fitness/spa area. There was one bathroom. After some panic and stress about water temperatures that I couldn’t control (then realized I could using the shower water), barricading Sophia into the bathroom with us for an hour, and having to tell people that came to use the bathroom that we would be occupying it for about an hour, we just settled in and did our thing.
(Richard narrating) Parker, Max, and I returned from Epcot and swung through the resort gift shop on the way to meet the group . Parker started playing a Marimba (something he’ll get to make later in the year for Cub Scouts) and casually set his stuffed Mickey on a shelf. Later, as the group was getting packed up and loaded on the buses, Parker noticed that his Mickey was missing. I frantically talked with store staff, searched the lost and found, then tracked down someone that had been near us in the store earlier (wearing an Avatar Banshee on his shoulder) and still came up empty handed. On a whim, I looked on the store shelf and there tucked next to all of the “Safari” Mickeys was Parker’s Indiana Jones one. The staff said “oh yeah, we don’t sell that one, of course it’s yours”. Phew, crisis averted!
(Back to Kate now…) Then we were done – on the bus, with the two littles falling fast asleep, back to the airport.
Once near our gate, they had a special area setup with Frozen playing, snacks all over, Christmas decorations, and another gift bag for the Jay’s Juniors kids. Do I even need to say it? Tears.
We had a packed flight home, and all three boys wanted to sit together so Richard and I were across the aisle from them with Sophia. Colten again did NOT care for take off, and I was in panic mode as the pilot repeatedly said, “We expect some severe turbulence as we make our ascent.” Thankfully, we had a delay that caused us to miss the storm and the flight was mostly okay. We worked it out with my parents to meet us near baggage claim and grab our car key. Then they went to get our car so we could avoid lugging everything and everyone to the shuttle and we were able to get into a warm car and get our family home. (Huge thank you to them for that.)
I realized two things:
1: Disney doesn’t take away medical complications or procedures. You still have to deal with cruddy stuff even at Disney.
2: If we have to deal with cruddy stuff, doing it at Disney is better than anywhere else.
We can’t ever truly escape or ignore the reality of things that need to get done every few hours, or medicine that needs to be taken, or other procedures that carve out time in our day. But if we have to do those things, doing them at Disney definitely takes a little of the edge off. That’s what this trip is about. Some of those kids on the trip were in the hospital the day before we left. Some were going into surgeries days after we got back. None of us truly escaped the realities of caring for medically complex kids. None of the kids really escaped the daily routines they are subjected to. But to have giraffes and zebras, castles and characters, rides and treats, to have all that surrounding you definitely makes you focus more on the fun than on the grind. And that’s what it’s about. The radio station and sponsors know that. They know they cannot cure our children, or take away their pain, or stop medical interventions. But they realize they can give us a break from home, a break from focusing on the medical and a chance to enjoy every single minute of every single day while sneaking in the necessary medical stuff.
Thank you Jay, Allyson, and Chelsea!
Thank you Cody for pulling all the pieces together!
Thank you 100.3 WNIC and iHeartRadio!