What a rollercoaster of a day! Ken and I got up at 3am in order to make it to Florida in time to have dinner with our friends in Clearwater. Unfortunately, due to a rock slide in Tennessee and NASCAR race traffic in Atlanta, our drive took 4 hours longer than it should have. Since we were going to be arriving so late, we opted to go straight to Orlando, rather than try to move our dinner plans. Given that we ended up getting to Orlando around 10pm and Clearwater would have been another 2 hours, I think that was probably the right choice.
While I was driving, Ken was looking at hotel rooms in Orlando (since we originally were going to stay with our friends in Clearwater). He told me he found a hotel and booked it, but wouldn’t tell me where. I joked with him that he was surprising me with a night at the Polynesian Village Resort for my birthday. As we pulled up to the registration desk at a resort, he finally told me that my mom had booked us a night using her timeshare points and suggested I call to tell her thank you while he went to the check in desk. I should have known something was up because I am the one that generally goes to check in. Anyway, I briefly spoke to mom and we headed back to our room. It took us a few minutes to find a spot, but we eventually found one and grabbed a change of clothes to take in. In the elevator, Ken said something to me about the guy at the front desk, but I didn’t quite catch it. He wouldn’t roast it and quickly changed the subject. I was too tired to care.
Our room was a bit difficult to find (A and B suites of the same room), so I was pretty focused on the door when I went to unlock it. As the door opened, I looked up to find my Mom, Dad, and Gramma standing there, wishing me happy birthday! Apparently, they’d been planning to surprise me tomorrow at Epcot, but changed things around when we didn’t have a room for the night! I stood there in shock for a moment. My family hasn’t been to Disney since I was a Cast Member in 2006! My mom had commented before about just showing up and joining us on vacation before, but it was always just a joke… Or so I thought!
As the news sank in, I went around the room hugging everyone. Between the initial shock, the excitement, and our exhaustion, I almost cried! I began realizing all the different ways they had tricked me to mage this surprise happen. I even remember telling my mom Ken must secretly like all my planning spreadsheets because he was asking to see them. Evidently, it was so he could send them to my mom (a fellow spreadsheet aficionado). The stars truly aligned for this surprise. Ken and I typically use the standard Disney dining plan but, we had decided not to this trip for a variety of reasons. Had we been on the plan, we would have had a lot of 2 person dining reservations to rearrange or cancel. For this trip, I only made a few special dining reservations. As we were discussing our plans, I remembered Ken and I had scheduled a late dinner at ‘Ohana for the first park night. I had been searching for weeks to try to move our 9:40pm reservation to an earlier time. I logged on and immediately found a reservation for 5, right as the Magic Kingdom fireworks were scheduled to start at 8pm. Talk about Disney magic!
I went to bed thinking how thrilled I was to be able to celebrate my 30th birthday with my family (minus my brother, who works weekends) at my favorite place on Earth!