Magical Memories: Sitting in a (Christmas) Tree

Magical Memories series hosted by Mouse on the MindHappy Holidays!

 This year, I’ve teamed up with some of my very favorite bloggers (and friends!) to share stories of our favorite Disney-related holidays. Some of them are heartwarming, some of them are hilarious. All of them will put you in the spirit of the season. 

Last week, we heard from Katherine about a very special family vacation. And we’re rounding out this week with Alex from Practically Imperfect. She’s got such a fun, fresh and original take on Disney … a very different take on a big, family-style WDW vacation over the holidays.

Three years ago, I became a Disney Vacation Club member. With a bonus helping of developers points on my hands and a free cruise on the Disney Dream, I brought up the idea of a big family trip to Walt Disney World for the week of Thanksgiving 2011. Being fanatics like I am, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

The late summer and early fall of 2010 were spent planning our holiday jaunt to WDW. Where would we stay? How would we get there? How would we work the cruise in? Who was going? By November we had things in order. Eleven of us would travel down, all in different groups. Vinnie (my then-boyfriend) and I would go down first and cruise just the two of us. At the end of a three-day Disney Cruise, the rest of our families would join us and we’d take advantage of all of the amazing seasonal décor, shows, and activities. We couldn’t wait!

Over the next year, through all the planning, the idea had popped into my mind a time or two (or twenty) as to whether or not we might have more than the holidays to celebrate on this trip. Since the initial trip planning had started, Vinnie and I had moved in together. We’d been together since 2007, and had talked about marriage many times, and knowing what a great place WDW would be to celebrate an  engagement – especially with our whole family there, during the holidays – I started to speculate if he’d pop the question on our trip.

I wanted the trip to be perfect. With a meticulously-detailed spreadsheet (please tell me I’m not the only crazy one who resorts to spreadsheets), chockfull of confirmation numbers, ADRs, transportation plans, Touring Plans’ Crowd Calendar predictions, etc., it couldn’t have been more organized.

When November 16, finally arrived, I was thrilled. I’d been waiting for this day for over a year! Vinnie and I were the only ones leaving this day, and we’d have one day in WDW before our cruise. This was Vinnie’s second trip to WDW with me, and it was all still pretty new to him. He was quiet, but I chalked it up to excitement. Little did I know what was coming.

Epcot Holidays (Disney Parks Blog)I’m a big fan of taking the first flight out of the day, so before dawn, we were Orlando-bound. Our wait for Magical Express was nonexistent, and before we knew it, we were checking into Old Key West for the first time. The decorations at the resort alone already had me in the Christmas spirit. We quickly dropped our bags at the room and headed to Epcot.

This was the one day of our trip that I hadn’t thoroughly planned; we needed at least one carefree day, right? Vinnie kept asking me what we were doing, what my thoughts were, and I really didn’t have any. Our first stop in Epcot was in the UK pavilion for chips and drinks. We were sitting in the little patio area to the left of Rose and Crown, the only people around. I don’t think I had ever seen Epcot so empty. We had 12 amazing days of vacation ahead of us and I was blissfully happy. I looked at Vinnie and he was smiling from ear to ear. I figured he was on the same wavelength as me – completely enjoying the moment and ready for a great vacation – but then he got down on one knee! He asked me to marry him right there, and I was shocked. I will never forget it.

We spent the next week and a half taking in the Osborne lights, the holiday storytellers around Epcot, the resort decorations and Thanksgiving holiday at the happiest place on earth with our family. Everyone was in awe – especially Vinnie and his parents who had never seen Disney like this – with the detail that Disney puts into every nook and cranny to celebrate the holidays. We took our first Disney cruise together and fell in love with cruising. We saw the Dream in her holiday best and decided that we’d cruise again – maybe even for our honeymoon.

And that’s just what we did! We got married one year and one day after our Epcot Engagement at home in upstate New York. A few days after Thanksgiving, we set sail on the Disney Fantasy for seven glorious nights in the eastern Caribbean. This time we even saw Castaway Cay all dolled up for Christmas.

The holiday season at WDW will always be a special time for me, not just because of the holidays themselves, but because of these incredible memories I have of that time in our lives. Every time I see photos, blog posts, and tweets with anything WDW and holiday related, I think about these two trips and how special they were. I have a permanent reminder every year going forward.

How sweet is that?! Do you have a romantic WDW story? Share it with us in the comments!