Our (Absolutely Insane) Trip to Disney World
About a month ago, my sister-in-law (Katie) called me with an awesome idea. My brother was going to Orlando for work and she really wanted to take the kids to Disney World. Last time they went, she took the kids (ages 3.5 and 6 months) by herself and it was really difficult for one person to manage. She asked if I would be interested in going with for a few days to help with the kids.
I haven’t been to Disney World in over 15 years, and as luck would have it, I didn’t have any work that week. After talking it over with Zach (of course), I decided to do it. It’s very unlike me to do something that big last minute, but I felt a rush of excitement! What an amazing birthday present! That night, I paid for a 2-day park hopper pass, ordered my FIRST two pairs of Minnie ears (yes…seriously!), and Katie booked the flights. Four days later, we were on a plane headed to the most magical place on earth!
“It’s the Journey…”
I was eager to see what traveling with kids was like, and honestly…it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be! Tegan (my 3.5-year-old niece) was excited we were going to Disney, which is her favorite place in the world. She sang and danced in the airport as we watched the planes take off and land. The best part was when we were walking in and she looked around at all the cars in the parking deck and said, “Man, a LOT of people are going to Disney!” Oh my gosh it was adorable.
Of course, you can’t ever travel by plane without some issues. Our plane had some maintenance issues before takeoff from the previous destination, so it was delayed as soon as we got to the airport. Then, it got delayed several hours due to storms in the area. They have to close down all of the ramps when lightening strikes within 5 miles of the airport. Needless to say, delayed flight made for a tired auntie and mommy.
Our Morning at Magic Kingdom
The next day, we got up bright and early to head to Magic Kingdom, and we got a LOT done that morning! We flew on the Dumbo ride, traveled through ‘It’s a Small World’, and we zapped space aliens on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger ride. I got to try my first Dole whip and oh-my-gosh it was amazing! Ughh…so good. We also got to meet some characters, like Ariel, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy and Donald. I was so excited to come back later that night and see the fireworks show. Tegan and I had watched the “Castle Show” many times together on YouTube, and I was excited to see it in person! Last time I went, they didn’t have anything like that!
This is Where the Fun Begins…
After naptime, we started getting ready to head back out to Epcot. We were just about to leave when Katie noticed a pain in her stomach. I asked if she wanted to stay in for a bit longer to let it subside, but wanting to push on and thinking it would pass, she opted to head out to the park.
We finally got to the park and raced towards the Spaceship Earth. We only had 2 minutes to use our Fast Pass, so we ditched the stroller and made it just in time. Katie was sitting in the back of the car with a sleeping Hudson strapped to her chest, and Tegan sat in front with me.
Halfway through the 15-minute ride, Katie started to cry. I could hear her from the front and I asked her what was wrong. The pain had increased exponentially to a point where she started to panic. She ended up having to hand Hudson to me mid-ride and curled up in the back seat. I could hear her whimpering and I felt incredibly helpless. She needed to get off the ride, but there was absolutely no way that she could. With a baby on my lap, a 3-year-old unaware of what was happening next to me, and my sister-in-law panicking over this mysterious pain, I knew we were in trouble. I didn’t know what to do but to try to keep her calm.
After the Ride
The ride finally ended and Katie managed to stumble out of the car and make it to a nearby bench. After she collapsed there, she was unable to move. I’ve known this woman for over 11 years, and I have never seen her cry…I knew it was serious. I ran to get a park employee to see where first aid was. To my dismay, he replied, “First Aid is really far from here.” I explained what was happening and he called for help. Within 5 minutes, more employees, or “cast members,” showed up to assess what was going on. They were asking me questions and trying to figure out what was happening. Honestly, I don’t know how I kept it together. All I kept thinking was that I couldn’t cry because I didn’t want the kids to see me crying.
We Had to Call EMS
Five minutes later, EMS arrived with a stretcher. They were able to get Katie onto it and the pain continued to get worse. We waited for what seemed like 30 minutes for them to get everything else situated before walking out to the ambulance. With one baby on my hip, and the other holding my hand, we walked outside and were met with rain. I ran to grab the stroller, and then we were led to the “behind the scenes” area for Disney cast members only.
Waiting for a Ride
After waiting another 15 minutes, the ambulance finally arrived and took Katie away. I was told we couldn’t ride in the ambulance, and that we’d have to get take a cab. With the two children and no car seats, I was going to have to use the bus get back to the hotel. I was slightly panicked because trying to get the double stroller and two young children home on the bus was going to be a challenge. However, my anxiety was quickly gone when I realized one of Epcot’s cast members was calling a Minnie Van to come pick us up. She asked them to bring both kids a car seat, and I almost burst into tears I was so thankful. Her name was Patsy, and I wish I had gotten her last name to thank her properly.
And Then There Were 3…
We waited for probably 20 minutes for the Minnie Van to come get us (honestly at this point, I have no idea how much time was going by). I was officially drained and emotionally spent. While we were waiting, several cast members (Patsy, Kathryn, and another sweet girl whose name I didn’t catch!) waited with us and helped keep Tegan distracted. Mostly, this involved singing songs, and it was pretty adorable.
Our van finally came and the girl driving was incredibly sweet (I didn’t catch her name either, but it was van #777 on August 14th at around 6:20 pm – seriously if this somehow got around to her, I would love to tell her thank you!). She brought two car seats and helped me get the kids into the car. She didn’t know too much about the situation, so I explained what had happened during our drive back to the hotel.
When I asked how much the ride was, she said “Oh, it’s on Epcot!” and I nearly burst into tears. I couldn’t believe how unbelievably kind everyone was to us that day. We took a quick picture in front of the Minnie Van (Tegan *loves* Minnie Mouse, so she was ecstatic to ride in “Minnie’s Car” haha), said our goodbyes, and made our way to the hotel room and pretty much just crashed.
A Day of Rest
The next day, we didn’t go to the park. Katie was still at the hospital and had to have surgery to break up a large kidney stone. My brother stayed at the hospital with her all day while I watched the kids back at the hotel. I suddenly went from Auntie with no kids to “mom of two” for a day and it was a bit overwhelming. But everything turned out fine in the end. Katie was cleared to get on the plane the next day as we headed home.
So 15 years since my last visit to Disney and we only got half a day in Magic Kingdom…seriously, I have horrible luck. We laugh about it now, but it was one of the craziest experiences of my life. Honestly, I’m just glad I was there when it happened. It being such a last minute decision (and something I would never typically do), I honestly think God was watching over our family. If it had been just a few weeks earlier, or if I had decided not to come, Katie would’ve been alone with the kids at Disney, and I have no idea what would’ve happened. I couldn’t even imagine having to go through something like that alone. It was really scary, and I was just an observer!
Thank You, Epcot Cast Members!!
Before I wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you to the amazing staff at the Epcot in Disney World. To Patsy, Kathryn, and everyone else who was involved with helping us through this incredibly scary experience – thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You all kept me calm, and helped our family through an incredibly tough situation. You were all so kind and generous and I am so incredibly grateful for such an amazing team of staff members.
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God was definitely watching out for your family by having you be there to help them through a difficult time. Disney is the best when emergencies happen.