How many people can say they found true love at the Happiest Place on Earth?
It began 11 years ago…in late August of 1999. I can’t believe how quickly that much time has passed and how much has changed. I thought I was grown at 19. Today, if a 19 year old girl told me she had met the love of her life and knew that this person was the one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, I would tell her to wait. I’d say you’re just a baby. You will change so much in the next five years, so wait ten. I’m certain my friends and family thought the same when I told them I was madly in love at 19.
Who would have thought that two shy kids would fall in love at Walt Disney World?
One of my best friends convinced me to join her when she went to an information session for the Walt Disney World College Program. The recruits raved about how much fun it was, how they met lifelong friends, and what a great academic experience it was. Sign me up.
We both got called and within a few days, we were hobbling up a steep sidewalk in high heels towards the building where the interviews were held. We each received letters inviting us to become part of the Fall ’99 Walt Disney World College Program.
My friend met me there and we decided to check in at different times so we would not be roommates. We wanted to meet new people. I had connected with another college programmer online and we met before check-in in hopes of getting a room together. It worked. She and I and 4 other girls became roommates and fast friends.
Our first night there, the guys from across the hall came over and introduced themselves. I had my eye on the one with dark hair and dark eyes. The second day, we all went to the Magic Kingdom to have fun and get to know each other. I remember the dark haired guy sitting next to me at lunch but the ceiling was leaking on him so he got up and moved. At the time, I didn’t know he was hoping I would follow him. I was disappointed, but shy, so I stayed where I was. Later we rode the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party together and our hands touched for the first time as we spun the wheel in the middle of our teacup. Maybe I just got shocked by the ride, but I remember feeling a spark. I liked him.
The next day was Thursday and on Thursdays, Disney employees, or “cast members” got into Pleasure Island for free. Read: Par-tay. That first Thursday night we all ended up on the bus to PI and I sat next to that dark-haired boy. With the help of a little bit of alcohol, those 2 shy kids became a little less shy.
We were instantaneously inseparable. Looking back, I’m confident that we would have eventually started dating had alcohol and PI not played a role, but that jump start to our relationship allowed us to enjoy that much more time together. We spent all of our free time together that entire semester. I still remember the moment I knew I was in love. Another one of my best friends had come to visit and we were at MGM (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios). He had been with us that morning but decided to leave to run some errands. I was disappointed but having fun with my friend so I tried not to sulk. We rode the Tower of Terror and when we came out of the gift shop, I saw him jogging towards us. He gave me a big hug and kiss and said he was glad he found us because he had changed his mind and whatever he needed to do could wait. Sold. I think I told him I loved him that same day.
After the college program, we had to return to reality. He finished college in the midwest and I went back to the southeast. We were more than 400 miles apart. We took turns visiting one another and saw each other almost every other weekend during those three and a half years we were apart. We put thousands of miles on our vehicles to make our long distance relationship work. It wasn’t always easy but it was worth it. He proposed to me Thanksgiving 2002 and we were married July of 2003.
I was just a 19 year old kid, but I was a damn lucky kid. I knew I loved that boy, without knowing that he would turn into such a good man. We have grown up together and have gotten closer over the years. We enjoyed several married years together before we had a baby. That was important to us since we had spent the early part of our relationship so far apart. I hope Theodore knows one day that he is a product of SO much love.
We can’t wait to take him to Disney World. Not only to re-visit our own experiences and incorporate him into new memories, but to see Disney World through his eyes. For this family, Disney World really is magical.