The Taylor Family
Wish Fulfillment Request is a Trip to Disney Orlando, Fl.
On December 8, 2017 our world came to a screeching halt. Don and I sat in the radiology department at the local hospital awaiting scans of his chest and abdomen. The following day we received a definitive diagnosis…cancer. To be more specific, small cell renal carcinoma and it wasn’t confined to the kidney. The days, weeks and now months have been a blur. A complete removal of one kidney and adrenal gland, gamma knife on a brain met, immuno and chemotherapy treatments, physical therapy and countless appointments with doctors, surgeons and drug trial administrators took over our lives. Once we were able to face the fact that this likely means that he will be unable to be here for our daughter’s milestones in the future, we had the hard conversation of what are the “bucket list” items. Number one on the list was to take Faith to Disneyworld. She has been a princess from day 1. As soon as she could walk, playing dress up filled her days and Disney princesses were always a favorite.
I spent a lot time working and reworking the numbers in our budget to figure out when and how we were going to make the trip happen. This was something that Don and I discussed only with each other, we hadn’t mentioned it to family or friends. Much to our surprise, our sister-in-law was thinking the same thing. While sitting in the waiting area at Roswell one afternoon, I received a text from her asking me to call her as soon as possible. I stepped into the hallway and dialed her number. She excitedly began telling me about Dreams to Memories and that she reached out to them on our behalf asking them to send us to Disneyworld. I rejoined Don in the waiting room with tears streaming down my face and barely able to speak enough to tell him why I was crying. It took some time to work out the details, but our SIL is persistent. Not only did she keep on top of the progress from the Dreams to Memories side of things, she approached our extended family to raise spending money for us for the trip. We knew it was meant to be when she called to say they could send us on these dates in July. Neither she, nor Dreams to Memories, was aware that we had already scheduled that time off but hadn’t made plans as to what we were going to be doing during it.
The week before we left, our family met with Jim and Gail at their home and learned about what was in store for us. Jim presented us with a folder with pictures of a few of the things we could expect along the way. Faith sat quietly between us, not fully understanding what was happening. Jim talked to us about flight, hotel arrangements, tickets, meal plan, and a wheel chair. There would even be a limo that would be picking us up from and returning us to our home before and after our trip. As we continued to talk to Jim, Faith timidly reached across the table to take the folder. She flipped through the pages until she came upon the image of the hotel room…The Little Mermaid themed hotel room. This was the first time I think she truly started to see what wonderful things were on the other side of that scary plane ride. All we heard about for days was the Ariel room.
Sunday night the bags were packed and three very excited and eager people found it difficult to go to sleep. Our flight was scheduled for later in the afternoon, so waiting for the limo was like torture for us. Of course, I ran through the list of must-haves in my mind a couple dozen times while Don tried to keep Faith busy to keep time moving. The Lincoln Navigator pulled into the driveway right on time and after a quick goodbye to some family, we climbed in and were on our way. Faith was fascinated by her first limo ride but spent much of the time nervous about her first airplane ride. Our flight was delayed due to some stormy weather in Florida so we roamed about the shops in the airport and grabbed a few snacks for the plane ride. Before we knew it, they were calling our flight to board. Dreams to Memories made sure we were as comfortable as possible with extra leg room seating. The Orlando airport was a fun adventure. It took us a moment to orient ourselves to where we were going but were pleasantly surprised by the comfort of the Disney motor coach that took us the 30 or so minute ride to the Disney World resort. We picked up the wheel chair, checked in and headed to our room. We had no idea that the Art of Animation hotel was as large as it is. Little Mermaid rooms fill three or four buildings at one end of the hotel complex. On our walk there we traveled through Finding Nemo and The Lion King lands. Each has its own unique setting with plants and statues that make you feel as if you’re in those movies. Along the walk was a play area for the children that depicted the bone yard in The Lion King. This became a popular place for Don and Faith to explore on our many trips up and down that walkway. When Faith entered the room, she was so excited. From the shell shaped headboards and chairs to the under the sea tile in the bath tub, the room was a perfect mermaid’s oasis. She couldn’t stop saying “I get to sleep here!” Even though it was late, we decided after settling in to our room that we would explore the food options for a bite to eat before bed. The food area of the hotel seems to always be bustling. It took us a bit to understand the process and how the meal plan worked but quickly discovered that we would not be lacking in options for meals. Faith was one happy girl when we allowed her to choose a Minnie mouse cupcake for dessert.
It was well after midnight by the time we finally laid our heads down to sleep. Through the generosity of our family, we were able to make reservations to have breakfast with the princesses in Cinderella’s castle the first morning. This meant that we had to be up and have our princess dressed to catch the 6:30am bus to Magic Kingdom. The moment we stepping into the castle the magic began. Faith could hardly contain herself when meeting Cinderella. After being seated for breakfast, 4 other princesses entered the room and one by one visited with each guest at each table. We watched our extremely shy little girl hug and laugh with the princesses of her dreams. When Ariel approached our table, the sparkle in Faith’s eyes was amazing. Each time Don had to wipe away tears at the sight of his little one being so thoroughly engrossed in the moment.
Our preplanning allowed for us to space out our fastpass attractions so we had ample time to explore the many shops and stop for some meet and greets with a few favorite characters. One of our firsts was Buzz Lightyear. Don got in on the fun and took a few pictures with Buzz and Faith before we hopped on the ride to help him defeat the evil Zurg. Around lunch time, all the activity and little sleep was taking its toll on Don and Faith. We decided we’d head back to the hotel and let them rest for a while. Once we cooled down in the AC and took a short nap, we hopped on the bus back to the park. We crossed the castle courtyard just in time to see a bit of Mickey, Minnie, Olaf, Elsa and Anna doing a show on the castle steps. Don took the opportunity to dance along with his little girl. We fit in a few more rides/shows before we were met with an early evening shower. As we had filled the day with so much already, we decided to step away from the park crowd and headed over to Disney Springs for a little more exploring. We found a nice little BBQ shop that accepted our dining plan and we had a delicious, very filling meal before heading back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool. It was nice to have one of the least crowded of the three hotel pools close to our room. A few moments of relaxation and cooling off in the pool became our thing to do each night before heading to bed.
Hollywood Studios was on the agenda for the second day. We took the opportunity to lounge in bed a bit longer that morning than the previous which was some welcome quiet time with just the three of us before facing the crowds. We filled our morning with the Little Mermaid show, Beauty and the Beast and meet and greets with Jesse and Woody. Again, we found the need to take a break mid-day at the hotel to let Don sleep for a while. After our rest, we spent some time with the Disney Jr characters with meet and greets and shows. We rounded out the day with a “Fantasmic” fireworks show featuring Mickey. Don and I thought it was awesome, but Faith thought it was a little loud at times and kind of scary in a couple scenes.
Day three for us began at Disney Springs where Faith was treated again by family to a fairy godmother makeover fit for any princess. Don sat back and watched as they transformed his little girl into a sparkling beauty who couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. I’m pretty sure there were more than a few tears being wiped away when no one was looking. After a quick photo shoot, we hopped the bus and made it to Animal Kingdom shortly after opening time. We had some fun sitting in the bubble zone for the Finding Nemo show. After lunch we took the safari ride and got to see some beautiful animals and had to sit and wait for an ostrich who thought she was leading the tour. Another large downpour hit in the late afternoon so we decided it was time for a rest, another BBQ dinner and a final swim.
Our final morning we took the time to have a nice breakfast at the hotel and used up the rest of our snacks on the meal plan for a couple of sweet treats. On our way back to the room we finished exploring the lands of the hotel saying goodbye to a wonderful week. We boarded the motor coach back to the airport and spent our plane ride home with rosy sun kissed cheeks and full hearts. To top it all off we were met by a stretch limousine…our carriage ride home.
Words cannot express the joy and fulfillment that this gift has given us. We have decided to face this illness with positivity and hope. Each day we choose to make the most of the time we have left together. This trip allowed us to forget about cancer...forget about medical procedures and mounting bills. It reminded us that good things and good people still exists in the world. Laughter, fun and love is stronger than any cancer. Dreams to Memories handled all of the details, we just had to embrace the moment and cherish the memories. Thank you to all who have made our dream come true.