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Disney Goals Part 2 – A Park in Transition

It’s been been a weird year so far. One that is deserving of multiple posts. But I’m going to start where my last written post left off… I had set a goal to set foot in a Walt Disney World park, a total of 30 days from June 21st, 2019 to June 21st, 2020. You can read about the first 20 days of this goal by clicking here.

The question is, did I get those last 10 days? I did, and they were a turning point in our world.

I landed in Orlando late on March 4th for a spring break trip. Not enough time to go to a park, but my parents picked me up from the Airport, and we went and found me some Domino’s. It was delicious.

Day 21 – Thursday, March 5th, I spent most of the morning working. Vacation mode hadn’t quite kicked in. I did however make it to 2 parks. Epcot in the afternoon for a quick bite to eat, and then we took a quick trip late in the evening to run into the Clappier’s at Animal Kingdom. I know I must be doing something right when Lucy thought I was someone who worked at Disney. High praise!

Day 22 – March 6th was similar to the 5th. I still had work to do most of the morning, but by the afternoon I found myself at Hollywood Studios. We spent the afternoon running into the Clappiers – Watching Lucy do Jedi Training or John interact with Chewbacca was the highlight of the day. This is also the first time I’m really paying any attention to Covid, as Minnesota gets it’s first case, and my family isn’t yet in Florida. My parents and I also got on the brand new Mickey’s Runaway Railway for the first time. Very cool ride.

Day 23 – This will be a day I won’t forget. 4 Parks, 50 Characters, 40k+ steps, More photos than I can count. Twitter has 1 of each. If I can remember how to posts photos I would… Oh… and This was the first day I rode rise of the resistance… The only ride I got on all day. Interestingly enough, I probably could have gotten 52 characters if I had NOT got on this ride… oh well. Not bad at all though for no bonus hours.

Day 24 – We went out to Hollywood Studios in the morning. I think we had hoped to pick up some stuff for the Clappier’s as their vacation had an interesting hiccup at that point. We didn’t stay long though, as we had some preparations to make for the kids arrival, who arrived later that day.

Day 25 – March 9th – Another day I won’t soon forget. We met up with the Clappier’s in the Magic Kingdom. Lots of shared rides. Lots of fun. An amazing Waldo photo that stressed me out because it didn’t show up until like a month after it was taken in our photos. Meeting friends in Disney is going to be something that I’m going to try to do more and more now, as it adds a lot of fun getting to share in the experiences. They had also started painting the castle at this point. A project that wouldn’t be completed before we left, but was looking pretty cool.

Day 26 – March 10th – The whole family headed up to Hollywood Studios. The first time for most of the family on Rise of the Resistance. However, for me, this will be the day that I remember as the day I finally made it on stage for the Indiana Jones show. We also got to build our droids and light sabers. Very cool items and a very cool experience.

Day 27- March 11 – An early morning breakfast at Epcot’s the Land start off the day. If I remember correctly, We ended up hitting 3 or 4 rides before heading home a little bit earlier. I don’t think we made it to the fireworks show sadly, but sometimes the kids need their rest.

Day 28 – March 12 – We have some of the best friends! Bennet’s family, Eloise’s best friend from preschool, was in Florida, and happened to be on a VIP tour through the parks. They let us join up for the last leg of their tour at the Magic Kingdom, something I had never done. We did more rides in about 2 hours with the park almost full than I think I had ever done. There were lots of conversations about Covid popping up, and the one that we had been dreading came down. Disney World would be closing on March 15th. Luckily for us, the kids were going home March 16th (the last day of spring break for them). I had a flight out early on the 17th (I had planned on staying one more day). Back at home, even though everyone was on spring break, there were rumors that announcements would be hitting the schools as well.

Day 29 – March 13 – We pulled out Eloise’s recently redone light up dress for the first time on this trip as we went to Animal Kingdom… and man did it look good. So many compliments! We even got to sit in the front row for River’s of Light. I was enjoying watching her almost more than the show!

Day 30 – March 14 – GOAL ACHIEVED! Another Trip to Hollywood Studios. Attendance was starting to shirk due to Covid. You could see people actively cleaning the parks. We got to see Equity Ben on stage and in the process I’m pretty sure his counterpart kept telling me to take off my EquityBen t-shirt. However, this will always be the moment that I remember as the mood in the parks completely shifted. It was Equity Ben‘s last show of the day, and as it turns out, I believe last show before the parks would close. More importantly, and we didn’t know this at the time, the announcement that all the Disney College Program employee’s were being sent home due to Covid. I will always remember there was who I assume was a DCP standing at the exit of the ride clearly holding back tears as the show was ending. Ben noticed her, and during the finale made a heart sign to her. You could tell he was holding back tears as well. From this point forward, while everyone was still delivering the magic, you could tell that something horrible had crossed the land.

Afterwards, I would read articles of people who were alive and at Disney Land and at Disney World, and they would describe it to be similar to the day Walt Disney died. Very… Somber.

Day 31 – March 15 – One last day in the Magic Kingdom. The park was more empty than it had been the entire trip… And the people it was full of was no longer tourists. The parks were suddenly full of DCP’s who no longer had a job hugging one another, saying their goodbyes. The sidewalk painters were writing on the sidewalk “See You Real Soon”. The parade’s closing banner said “See You Real Soon”, and had a send off as it left the park for the last time that was just amazing to witness. DCP’s all trailing behind waiving to their friends. Lots of clapping and cheering.

We sadly didn’t stay for the shutdown of the park. We knew it would be crazy, with all the locals coming in to say goodbye, and news of what Disneyland had done to say goodbye. It was interesting though, as we left the park that day, there were still clearly more people coming in to get their one last fix before the parks closed for covid. That night, I watched the all the activities in the park on the facebook group from just a few miles away, wishing I had 1 more day to visit the parks.

I was luckily able to move my flight up, and got to fly home the next morning with the family. That was a blessing, as preparations needed to be made for all the school’s as they headed into Covid. At the time, we didn’t know what was coming, and were all charting new territory.