When part 1 of this article published, it got pretty dusty around here with lots of tears welling up from the beautiful stories you’ve shared on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter. And what’s great about these stories is how they perfectly embody the essence of those kind of magical moments. This wasn’t a case where you read about this thing that you could have happen to you and then went to try and make it happen. These were stories where you were in the right place at the right time and had that kind of amazing moment.
You may not be able to guarantee a magical moment can happen, but there are ways that you can make yourself open to the moment. Here’s just a few suggestions.
Wish you could experience the joy of a magical moment? Try being a pixie duster yourself! Have extra pins lying around? Bring them to give to pin traders just starting out. Planning to see a nighttime show? Brings some glow sticks to help brighten a family’s night. Maybe even pay it forward by offering to buy popcorn for the person in line behind you. (It’s a great way to use up some dining plan snack credits!) Carry stickers to hand out to someone when they’re looking a little glum. And pixie dusting doesn’t have to be limited to other guests–a small handmade thank you note to a cast member can make a magical moment for them, too.
Upon the internet, you’ll see lots of people who try to plan out every possible detail because they feel that will give them the best chance for magic. (A good example, I once received a question asking if there were changing rooms that could be used in Princess Fairytale Hall because the parent wanted her daughter to wear matching dresses for both princesses that she’d be meeting.) Having met my fair share of princesses and other characters, I can assure you that every person is equal in the eyes of Disney royalty. A kid in a Mickey-bar-stained t-shirt will get the same level of royal treatment as one in a custom-made rhinestone-encrusted ballgown. What doesn’t end up being magical is having an overheated child who wants to be anywhere but there in tears and in a shouting match with a parent over a photo that was going to be “PERFECT”. Know your family and listen to their likes and dislikes. Plan for the weather — if it is hot out, maybe skip the full bodysuit Mickey Mouse costume that you had hoped to have your kid wear. It’s hard to feel magical if you’re stressed, tired, overheated, and just plain cranky.
A while back, there was a huge rush of people trying to get reaction videos of their children being surprised with a Disney trip or a Disney cruise. Some of these were beautifully successful capturing the joy and ear-splitting screams as the big reveal happened. Others were kids who looked confused, upset, or just plain didn’t care about all the effort put into setting up that “perfect moment”. Although there’s nothing wrong with trying to do a big reveal, try not to build your expectations about reactions bigger than you kids can ever deliver. If the big reveal is a big bust, laugh it off and move on–you’re going to Disney, after all! (I admit that I did the big reveal once for my daughter who thought I was going to be visiting Port Canaveral to report on the Disney Dream leaving on the DVC Member Cruise and brought her along for my “work day”, only to let her know when she woke up in the parking garage that we were actually going to get on board the ship right then. It’s a great video for our family, although it wouldn’t win any sort of awards. Having done it once, I have no desire to ever do the reveal moment again. If she had no reaction, that would have been fine with us–after all, we were still getting on board the ship!)
Star in your own magic. One of the best ways to make your own magical moment it by coming up with a family tradition. Maybe it’s a certain photo you take every time, or that one thing you do before you leave the parks before you head home. Maybe everyone makes a wish at Snow White’s wishing well. Perhaps it’s splitting a kitchen sink full of ice cream. Whatever it is, doing a special personal or family thing time and time again builds great magical memories.
Your interactions with people can spark magic. I’m not a very social person by nature, but I do love talking to cast members and other guests while I’m at Disney. Even just a smile, a thank you, a “Happy Birthday” to someone who is celebrating, and so on can make a day special for everyone. Look for the janitor who is making a hidden mickey from fallen leaves or “painting” Goofy on the sidewalk with water. Applaud the happy couple who just got engaged in front of the castle. Cheer for the performers in the parade–the more excited you are to see them, the more excited they are to see you! Be aware of all the everyday magic happening around you all the time.
Dreams don’t have to be big, and if there’s a little something that can make your wish come true, there’s nothing wrong about asking. When the Main Street Vehicles are out, I’ve suggested more than once to a family that they might want to ask if they can have a “private parade” down Main Street. Sometimes families look at me like I’m crazy, but when I take them over and ask the vehicle driver if that can happen, more often than not, the answer is yes–and a magical moment happens. (Yes, it’s technically just a one-way trip to the Hub on a Main Street Vehicle, but I guarantee those families were waiving and cheering as if they were the stars of the afternoon parade.) PhotoPass photographers are great resources for making long-lasting magic. Find one that is off the beaten path and see if they can suggest a photo that will be a great memory (and not just “magic” PhotoPass shots–many photographers have ideas for adorable setups just by the way they have you stand, having you make funny faces, or more).
Come with a plan in mind for your day, but then be flexible. People often feel on edge if they don’t have some sort of plan in mind. So go ahead and make your dining reservations, set up your TouringPlans, and have your FastPass+ reservations ready, but if life happens and things don’t work out as planned, be flexible. I guarantee that you’ll laugh more about that time when you missed your FastPass+ reservation for Pirates because there was a parade float broken down in your way than you would have if you had made your FastPass+ window. (Speaking from personal experience, of course.)
True magical moments happen all the time and to all sorts of people. Be open to the experience, and you’ll be amazed at what type of things can happen when you least expect them.
P.S. My pixie dust moment to you — read the first word of each paragraph for a special surprise.