I can still remember when Disney World first opened. Back then the man himself, Walt Disney described just how magical his kingdom would be. Like so many other children of all ages I wanted to go to Disney.There was just one problem and that was that there was no way my parents could afford to take us to Disney. Barring a fairy godmother with a magic wand the dream of an enchanted vacation to Disney was just that, a dream.
When I was nineteen years old a friend of mine was planning to go to Disney World and they would share the costs. When I asked if I could go too I was assured that I could. I immediately set out to put aside every dime I could and tried to lose enough weight to look good in my bathing suit.I was packed and ready to go when I learned that I would NOT be going because I didn’t have a driver’s license so I couldn’t drive. I offered to pay more of the gas to make up for that but the other person vetoed this too. I remember how hurt I was and I put aside the fantasy of enchanted lands and timeless fun.
When my kids got older I remember looking at them and wishing that I could take them to a whimsical world filed with music and laughter but I could no more afford a Disney trip at that time than my parents could have afforded to take me. I was divorced and trying to work my way through college in order to make a better life for the boys and I.By this time in my life I had become very successful with radio contests. I won lots of tee-shirts, albums, concert tickets, etc but I hadn’t heard of any station offering a trip to Disney World until….
The concept of the contest was simple enough. If the station called your house and you answered with the phrase that pays, you WIN! This is easy to do but the chances of them calling me while I lived in the back water town I had moved to was essential slim to none. Still I had hope and when I was home I made sure I answered the phone with the phrase that pays because it was better to be safe than sorry. The prize was amazing and it included airfare, hotel, car rental and tickets to Disney World.About this time I had also begun doing snail-mail sweepstakes and drop box sweepstakes. A local department store was giving away a trip to Orlando. This prize also included airfare, hotel, car rental and some spending money. In my spare time I filled out 3x5 cards as if everything depended on it. In a way everything did depend on it because the “Phrase that Pays” contest was almost over and no one had called our house.
When I received the call that I had won the drop box seep at the department store I felt like I was living a happily ever after moment. The caller explained how the trip would work and wanted me to give her a date I would like to arrange to take our trip. My oldest son was in school so I didn’t want to interfere with that. I was also going to school and my college had a strict policy about missing more than three classes in a semester. So I decided that the trip would be taken in the summer and I chose the date around my birthday. I had planned to call back to let the people in charge of our trip know our plans the next day.The next morning the phone rang and I thought that the caller might just be the woman from the department store. “Hello,” I said in a very excited tone of voice.
“Hello,” a male voice said to me.“Can I help you?” I asked.
“Do you have anything you want to tell me?” he said.
“Who is this? I think you have the wrong number.” I said.“No I have the right number but you have something to tell me don’t you?” he said.
I didn’t recognize his voice. I wasn’t dating anyone. I hadn’t given my number out to some guy. I wondered what this guy’s problem was.“Look I said, I really don’t have time to deal with this so why don’t you tell me who is calling.” I said.
The voice at the other end said nothing. I said nothing and then after the awkward pause he identified himself as the morning DJ of the station looking for the “Phrase that pays.” OH MY GOD! I had really screwed up.Here I’d gone from no way, no how, could I ever take my kids to Disney to wow we’re going to Disney and oh by the way I almost won another trip to Disney within a day of the first one. Sure I felt a bit disappointed but one can only feel but so disappointed when you already have plans to visit the happiest place on earth.
Fortunately for me the spending money from the trip I did win was enough for me to buy tickets to Disney World. We were able to save money by eating breakfast at our hotel and carrying around lots snacks in the park. When it was time to eat dinner we chose to eat at one special restaurant every night. Our favorite was the Coral Reef at Epcot Center. The restaurant allows you to dine with the fishes. Among those you might see include: Brown Shark, Stingray, Grouper, Tarpon, and the Green Sea Turtle.
We made magical Disney memories of Disney Characters, attractions, and shows. Nothing will ever come as close to igniting the childish sparks of delight we had on our first trip to Disney World.
Disclaimer: In keeping with the FTC rules I would like to inform you that I received no financial compensation for this post. I will receive an entry in a sweepstakes to WIN a trip for 4 to Disney World (hotel and airfare included)!