Saturday, October 3, 2009

Around The Mouse Tales

A Disney Engagement

My wife, Hope, had no idea (that I know of anyway). I had the idea formulating in my head for a few months; I just didn't know exactly how to execute it.

The idea was to propose to her at Walt Disney World.

But how could I do it? Where in The World would it happen? How could I get it documented? If we had the kids with us, how could I keep them out of the loop so it was a surprise to them as well (which is what I wanted)? More than anything though, I just knew I wanted it to surprise her.

Almost a year before, we had our first real date at Epcot - the San Angel Inn - so that was very special to us. Should we revisit the Mexico pavilion for nostalgia sake and do it there? Should I do it somewhere else around the beautiful World Showcase at night with that gorgeous atmosphere all around? Epcot is my favorite park, and she loves it too. It would be appropriate.

Should I pick a romantic spot elsewhere? Perhaps the beach at the Poly. Maybe on the ferry ride going toward the Magic Kingdom at night on the Seven Seas Lagoon? Maybe during Illuminations? I've heard of getting Cast Members involved in restaurants where they can present the ring to her...that was a possibility (but expensive). I didn't have unlimited funds, so that had to be a factor too.

I couldn't really think of a place at Hollywood Studios that I'd want as the scene, so that was crossed off. Same thing with Animal Kingdom.

Should I do it at Magic Kingdom? While the MK didn't hold anything in particular for us as a couple, I knew it was very special to her as she grew up worshiping the castle. She had said many times the castle is actually her favorite attraction in all of WDW. I never considered the castle an "attraction" before, but it really is, if you think about it. It is THE main icon in all of Walt Disney World - not just the Magic Kingdom. It is, in and of itself, THE "attraction".

And even after months of internal deliberation, I couldn't decide where or even exactly when I'd do the deed. Finally, I decided I'd take the ring with me to WDW during one of our weekend trips, and if the opportunity arose, I could do it on the fly.

That particular weekend, we stayed Saturday night at All Star Sports Resort. That evening an opportunity didn't really come about. Nothing happened that would have been "right". If it were to happen, it would be during the day on that Sunday, October 6th, 2007. We decided as a family to go the Magic Kingdom...with a little push from me in that direction (wink, wink). It was an absolutely beautiful and flawless day out. High sky with bright sunshine and relatively comfortable temperatures. I had the ring in its box in my cargo shorts pocket.

It was on the monorail that I decided on a concrete gameplan. Today was the day, perfect weather for pictures to document the event. Main Street, USA would be the place - if they had a Photopass CM near the "sweet spot" of Main Street - in between Casey's and the Ice Cream Parlor. There had to be a Photopass there, though. If there wasn't, the plan was shot.

We were dressed very casually. Shorts, T-shirts, even crocs. The fact that we weren't all dressed up sold the surprise even more so. Upon entering Magic Kingdom early in the A.M., we had breakfast at the Main Street Bakery. From there, I could see exactly where I wanted to make this happen: there was a Photopass CM right there at the sweet spot. After finishing breakfast, the butterflies started. I was nervous, but it wasn't an all-encompassing nervousness. I was actually getting hyped up for it - the adrenaline was flowing. Walking down Main Street toward the castle, and toward the Photopass spot, I suggested to the family, "Hey, let's get a photopass." That didn't go over very well. Hope wasn't down for photopass that morning. "I don't think so, not today," she said.

Oh, I was prepared though. "Yes, let's get one - we have the whole family here, it's a gorgeous day, let's get some photos done."

She protested again. I replied, "PLEASE...let's get some photopasses." After some back and forth, finally she relented. "OK Brian, if you must." She wasn't happy.

We approached the CM. We said Hi and he instructed us to move ahead of him about 10 feet, our backs facing the castle. The 4 of us did just that. But before he snapped any photos, I told Hope and the kids to stay put and I ran to the Photographer. I told him in a hushed tone that I'd like a few shots of the 4 of us taken, then I'd usher the kids over to him because I will be proposing to my wife and I wanted him to snap as many photos of the proposal as possible. His eyes went WIDE. He smiled and said, "You got it."

As I ran back toward the family Hope asked what that was about. I said, "Oh, nothing." By that time, the Photographer was telling us to smile. A few photos later, I told the kids to head over to the Photographer because we wanted a few of just Mommy and I. They headed over and stood beside the CM.

It was the moment of truth.

That's when I turned, looked at her, and bent down on one knee. The look on her face is something I'll never forget. I've never seen anyone smile that big in my entire life. I took out the ring, opened the box, and after I grabbed her hand, I said, "Honey, I've waited for you my whole life. I can't wait any longer. Will you marry me?" My voice was shaky, but it didn't break. We both started to tear up, and she said, "Yes!"

I stood up, we hugged and kissed, and there was applause all around from the other guests on Main Street that morning. One guest yelled, "DID SHE SAY YES?", and I replied with a thumbs-up as we hugged. More applause. All the while, the CM snapped more than 20 photos. They turned out awesome. It is a thing of beauty to have the whole event documented in sequence. The kids ran over to us, and we even got some shots of us all hugging and celebrating together. It was absolutely magical. It couldn't have gone any better.

We celebrated with a Dole Whip and also purchased the Mickey & Minnie engagement pin as a souvenir of the day. Later, we made one of the leather-bound themed photopass picture books to commemorate the engagement. It turned out great - it's a quality book with good picture quality. It was worth the money.

I guess besides the fact that Magic Kingdom is a magical place to get engaged, the moral of the story is: sometimes, you just gotta play it by...ear. ;)

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