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Disney Travel Diary

I am so happy to say Lukas and Katie are part of the ActualFactualMagic Team.  They shot this video over the New Year's holiday this year.  Cannot wait to see what else they contribute in the coming months!

A Christmas Miracle?


Had to share one last bit of pixie dust from our trip.


Last year when my parents' house burned, most of my Christmas tree ornaments were destroyed. Years of collecting from all our trips and special occasions were gone.


While I was at Disney last week I'd planned to try to replace some of them. I asked in the Olde Christmas Shoppe about getting previous year ornaments but they said that they weren't kept - usually clearanced out each year.


When I got back home after our trip, I was unpacking the ornaments that I did buy when I found an extra box with this inside - an ornament with the year of each of our previous trips.


How's that for Disney Magic?


-Rita Howard Brandenburg

Turning Frowns Upside Down


On Friday July 29th, my family visited the Magic Kingdom. I had not been to Disney World since I was a teenage boy. In true teen fashion, my memories of "The Happiest Place on Earth" were of boredom and disappointment. Fast forward about 20 years and I was thrilled at the prospect giving my 3.5-year-old daughter the magical experience that only a child can have.


It is amidst this backdrop that I felt that I truly encounter what can only be considered a "Magical Moment". We were coming up on the close of a gruelingly hot day at the park. We had done almost everything on our list and had just a few items left - namely, a date with Cinderella courtesy of FastPass and the light and Firework shows.


As we were killing time waiting for our Cinderella time slot, my daughter decided that she wanted to go on the Carousel in the plaza. Very quickly we parked the stroller and got in line. Anything to make a tired child keep moving forward right? She had a wonderful time on the Carousel and after we excited I started searching for our stroller - which I could not find. I know there are lots of strollers, but I couldn't have forgotten where I put it right? Or could I? I was pretty confident that I was looking in the right spot.


As I was standing looking bewildered, I saw a cast member moving strollers off of the brick wall and into what can only be described as a "stroller pen". The cast member, Ceara from Scotland, told me I should look in the "stroller pen" because it was probably in there. I obliged, but after a few minutes of looking I went back to her and explained that I could not find it. We briefly talked about what it looked like. Fortunately, there was the same model of stroller just in a different color that I could show her. She told me to give her a few minutes and she would look. After what seemed an eternity, I saw her walking back to use with our stroller! She said that sometimes people will walk off with the wrong one and then just drop it.


I then waved over my wife and daughter who were waiting a short distance away. Once they came over, Ceara started talking with my daughter Emma and got down on her knees so she was at the same level as her. They had quite a conversation! After a few minutes Ceara offered to FastPass us into the Rapunzel and Tiana meet and greet. This was one that we would have otherwise missed so my daughter was very happy. She walked us to the line and even stood in line with us for a few minutes and continued to talk to us.


After leaving Rapunzel and Tiana, we exited and saw Ceara still working with the strollers. My daughter was very excited and wanted to go say hi so we walked over to see Ceara and Emma just started talking up a storm. She took Ceara by the hand and started walking with her towards Cinderella's castle. Ceara looked back at us to make sure it was ok and we nodded "yes". As we followed closely behind, you could hear Ceara and Emma talking back and forth. My daughter had wanted to take a picture with Ceara in front of the castle.


After the picture, my daughter starting talking about going into one of the shops right next to the castle. Ceara then turned to us and asked if we would wait a few minutes for her. I didn't know what was going on, but we waited. After about 5 minutes, Ceara came back and we walked into the store. She then proceeded to ask Emma who here favorite Princess was. My daughter said "Belle" and Ceara grabbed a "Belle" character off the shelf and handed it to Emma. In true toddler fashion, my daughter changed her mind and pointed to an Anna and Elsa doll. So Ceara took the doll down and pulled out what looked like a receipt book. I wasn't you quite sure what was going on, but then they walked to the register and she handed the slip and the doll to the cashier. The cashier removed the tags and handed the doll to my daughter! I couldn't believe what just happened! Did she really somehow purchase the doll for my daughter?


Emma was obviously thrilled, and mom and dad were blown away. We walked out of the shop uttering "thank you so much" about every three feet. Ceara then took us back to the Carousel and FastPassed us one more time because we had about 15 minutes prior to our meeting with Cinderella. This time I stayed with the stroller however! I briefly talked with Ceara for a few minutes and then let her continue on her way.


We ended up running into Ceara one more time while getting ready for the evening light show and fireworks. She gave Emma a big hug and thanks her for visiting.


This series of interactions with Ceara was truly a magical moment and made the trip that much more special for our family. I could not believe the kindness and generosity that was shown to us. I cannot fathom how many families the cast members must see in a week and to not get numb to the experiences that each family is having for maybe the first or only time is truly a gift. Ceara is an exceptional person and I cannot thank her enough for what she did and the experience that she gave my daughter.


-Patrick Olson




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