It wasn’t a dream.
I awoke on Mother’s Day morning, Sunday, May 10, 2015 inside of the Cinderella Suite at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
I’m not sure how to explain the emotional roller coaster of how it all happened and getting from point A to point B. I had spent the week before, and the week before that, in a hospital bed. Hurting and tortured and away from my family…to waking up in the lap of luxury, inside of Cinderella’s castle, after a whirlwind few days of giggling and entertainment and education and friendship and family. It has taken me days to process what has happened, and to truly realize it wasn’t a dream before I could type these words to you.
Cinderella’s Castle, in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, was my home for the final night of the Social Media Mom’s Celebration at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Have you ever looked closely at Cinderella’s Castle? If you do, you would notice tiny stained glassed windows on the side with very regal looking crowns.
You would also notice, on that same side, stained glass windows showing the castle itself, mice, and of course a glass slipper.
Beyond those windows is the most amazing suite one could imagine. Filled with everything you would expect of a Royal residence…sprinkled with some pixie dust.
Our ladies in waiting picked us up at our resort around 7pm and took us through a back entrance into the Magic Kingdom. As soon as the SUV pulled in, we knew this was no ordinary treatment.
Upon arrival we were asked if we’d like to go enjoy a few rides while the “birds and mice” readied our sleeping quarters. Still stunned from having won the night, my kids and mother and I all just stared at each other…someone said ‘Mine Train?’ (the kids had waited for me to ride this one the previous day, knowing I hadn’t been on it yet and wanting to experience it with me) and Megan, our lovely lady-in-waiting, said “Off to the Mine Train!”
Megan was the VIP tour guide also provided to us for the evening. Apparently this is part of the castle suite package. She was extremely knowledgable about everything in the park, the castle, and was our ticket to the front of every line. Yes, the front of every line.
So we hopped on the mine train and hi-ho hi-ho’d our way on the super fun, yet not entirely scary roller coaster entering the front of the que like Royalty. Once we emerged, adrenaline pumping, we were told the mice and birds needed just a few more minutes so my son yelled out ‘Splash Mountain!’ and not having a care in the world or a thought in my head I agreed whole-heartedly.
Silly, silly Erin.
You see once we arrive at the very front of that line we were given the choice of the front two cars or the back two cars. The kids yelled ‘FRONT!’ and again, not thinking and on cloud nine, I went right along with their plan.
We emerged from Splash Mountain laughing harder than I think is allowed in even the Laughing Place inside Splash Mountain because before we even took the big plunge into the briar patch we were DRENCHED.
I’m not talking damp, or even wet here and there…we.were.soaked. Ring us OUT soaked.
And of course it was then we were told our suite was ready and it was time to enter one of the most exclusive rooms on earth. Sopping wet.
Giggling because really, that’s all we could do, we made our way over to Cinderella’s castle and walked straight into that tunnel many of you have walked through a million times. I’m guessing though you may not have noticed that one of those wooden doors is real. When opened, there is a very nice desk, tapestry, and things befitting what looks like a medieval office, along with a golden elevator door. But wait…before we get on that elevator there is one more, very important piece inside that small room…a grandfather clock.
You will note the time.
“…because here the magic never ends…”
Up we went and we were told we either had to stay inside during the fireworks or be out of the room by 9:15-:930pm in order to take our seats in the royal viewing area on the lawn. We were also told that while there are some “goodies” inside of the suite, if we wanted a meal we’d have to be escorted into the park to eat and then return. No room service or carry out…no turkey legs on Cinderella’s bed (darn it, that was one photo op I was really looking forward to) everything must be consumed outside the suite with our escort.
Once the fireworks were over we could come and go all night however Megan would remain with us and the entire family would have to leave and enter together.
Having been drenched we knew we at least wanted to change, we also knew we wanted as much time in our suite as possible and it was already 8:40pm. We were conflicted on what to do…change and watch the fireworks outside and eat while we watched? Stay inside, get cozy, hope to catch a glimpse of the fireworks out one of the stained glass windows and then after the fireworks grab a quick bite and hurry back in? We’d decided once we were inside and unpacked.
So here we were. The moment of truth. The golden doors of the elevator sliding open and yet another room appeared. This one with several doors, a mosaic tile floor, and a glass case holding THE slipper.
After gawking at just our little entranceway, we were presented, each, with our room keys for the night…authentic Disney Keys to the World. Each with our names on them.
It was then the door was finally opened and gasps came from all around. Honestly one of those moments you just will never forget for as long as you live and will tell your grandchildren about.
Two beautiful beds before us, with canopies emblazoned with “C” and “C” for Cinderella and Charming with a desk in the corner. The beds faced a fireplace and above the fireplace a magic mirror playing Cinderella, or any movie or channel you would like.
The first hallway to the left took you to the most amazing bathroom created, complete with the bathtub that shall go down as the best bath tub I have ever taken a bath in, and I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a tub snob. A ‘throne’ room, a lovely shower, and of course double sinks and a sitting area so you can prepare for the ball.
Past the fireplace and through the drawn curtains to the left was the sitting room, where above the drawers and mirrors was yet another magic mirror that turns into a tv, and all of our belongings were neatly tucked away in the closet doors along the same wall.
You could also find a mini fridge that held drinks to last us the night. Along with a beautiful fruit basket and at the edge of one of the beds a horse and carriage made entirely of chocolate and filled with chocolate dipped strawberries.
Needless to say we opted to stay inside to watch whatever fireworks may come our way. We managed to get a pretty good view:(click the dark looking photo below, it’s a video of the fireworks we could see and commentary by my family)
The bed the Prince and Princess watched out the windows from did fold out and later in the evening it became their royal bedchamber. We even drew the curtains.
There were so many little details throughout the room, I tried to snap pics of everything. Books. Phones. Knickknacks. The windows, the doors, the door handles, even the “castle suite” stickers on the toilet paper.
Once we got out of our wet clothes and watched the best indoor firework show a royal family could ask for, my daughter took a dip in the jacuzzi tub and we went off into the park to grab a late dinner and a few souvenirs. While I shopped (quickly, I might add…we all wanted to go back into the castle) the kids rode a few more rides and then we hurried back up.
We noted the tv in the sitting room was stocked with the latest Disney movie releases and I noted that even the night stand between the two big beds had a Bible in the drawer.
The desk and display case on the other side of the bed was also filled with meaningful knickknacks and pictures befitting a Disney castle.
Then I went off, somewhere around midnight, to soak in the tub that had been beckoning me since we entered.
Let me tell you, from it filling with the cascading waterfall faucet to the multicolored lights you could change to fit your mood to the many different jet arrangements and pressures to take care of your neck or your back or your feet, to the STARS on the ceiling to sooth you as you soaked…I could have slept there.
But instead of drown and cause a scene, I opted to dry off with the monogramed towels and wrap myself in the monogramed robe (the fuzziest and best spa robe I’ve ever put on) and slipped on the white slippers left for me by a mouse or a bird and finally fell into the fluffiest of beds.
Not wanting the night to end I stared at the top of the canopy for quite some time.
Wondering how I went from hospital bed to Cinderella’s bed. Wondering how my body had even made it through the flight without incident, the first day at the park where my scooter broke down and my poor Mom had to push me a ways before the scooter company came and took care of the broken battery, to the day full of conference sessions where I hugged friends and made new ones, listened to inspirational speakers and felt my body float above itself when my name was read from the stage as the winner of a night in the castle.
I wondered, with some fear, if my body would break down from all the excitement or simply from having been so active and excited. However when having just taken the most elegant and soothing bath, as a queen should, and having just rested my head on the most comfortable of pillows, and having just checked on my sleeping and contented children in their royal bedchamber…I concluded this was all meant to be. A turning point. And I insisted there was no need for worry in this place…of all places, this place was free of all that nonsense. Instead I set my alarm for 6am to awaken the Prince for his turn in the jacuzzi tub and our departure that was set for 7:30am sharp.
Yes, if you stay in the castle suite you are escorted out at 7:30am. The night goes by quickly, yet you tend to savor so many moments it’s almost as if that clock never moved and never quite hit midnight. In fact, I’m fairly sure my clock still says 11:59pm.
After what was the most wonderful sleep of my life, in which we didn’t hear a sound around us and we knew there was an escort should we only dial “0″ who would handle whatever we needed and bring us into the park if necessary, I woke up to see the sunrise. I had too out of those luscious stained glass. It was also a confirmation of sorts that it all wasn’t just my overactive imagination.
I slept here.
The entire experience was somewhat overwhelming, because in all honestly we all simply just enjoyed that we were inside a castle and not just any castle, the castle where dreams come true. The castle that inspires inventors and imagination and more love than any one castle I can think of on earth. The castle where millions of families and friends gather to take photos, propose marriage, watch their own children experience the wonder that comes to life each day out the windows below. The windows I was peering out of, just like one of the Queens in a movie, looking down below at all the lives and life and dreams excitedly pulling one another to the next ride or experience or moment they will remember and lock away for safe keeping, only to bring out when their heart full.
The castle that made me believe that maybe, just maybe, my family’s rough patch is over and things are now going to take a turn for the better. There will be more fluffy beds with canopies instead of sterile hospital beds and there will be more joy, more fun, and much, much, more magic.
And should I ever forget that feeling, we were given a souvenir, a crystal glass slipper, engraved with “Castle Suite” and the date of our stay as a forever reminder we were there. It did happen. Magic can happen.
My heartfelt thanks to the team at Disney for making the dreams that I wished…come true.*
*I attended the conference paying for my and my family’s own travel, accommodations, and tickets which were discounted for conference attendees.