“Take me to Disney” is what my sister asked me to do.
I am not sure how to begin, so I will jump right in. In February of 2020 I found out that my older sister was terminal with cancer. God, that word sucks! She has been given 8-15 months to live. How to decide what to do with your time left??
I asked my sister, “What can I do for you? What can I do to help you?” Her answer, “Take me to Disney”, almost sounds like other great people out there, smile. She had never been to Disney and of course, I had been over 40 times when she asked. I immediately agreed and began to set it up.
Plan A1, as I like to call it, made reservations for April 2020 at French Quarter for the 4 of us (our husbands, Kelly and myself). Then COVID hit.
We went to plan B1… June at French Quarter. Still Disney was not able to open. We moved the plans to late September and early October; let us call that plan C1. Then we had to change resorts, so we planned for Art of Animation, I call that plan C2. As many of you know, that date for the resort opening got changed to, so we went to plan C3-same date but now at Pop Century.
During all this time I had been seeing my sister and keeping an eye on her health and her energy level. I wanted this to be a magical time for her. I wanted it to exceed all her expectations!! I wanted her to have it all!! In my heart and in my mind nothing else would be enough. I have one chance and I was determined to make it happen.
Contrary to what she initially said, I set up ECV (motorized scooter) for her. She initially said she did not need or want it, but I knew she would. As we started getting closer and she was going through chemo (otherwise known as hell) she said she thought she would like an ECV. Of course, I told her I had already decided she would have it. I knew for several reasons. One being you do so much walking while at Disney and two, I did not want her tiring out fast. My husband uses an ECV due to a hip injury and I know what happened once when he tried to not use it even for a day, it did not work. I was not going to set this up to fail-failure was not an option!
Funny thing, I think the scooter was one of the best parts of her visit. She was able to go where she wanted and not get exhausted. She could keep up, or pass everyone and save her energy. I am not saying she had long days in the parks, but I am saying she maximized her time. Seeing her a few weeks after our trip, she said she missed her scooter. This made me feel great!
Day 1 was arrival day and we headed to Epcot. She thought she would be fine without the ECV. We took the Skyliner to Epcotd to the front of the park to go to The Land building. We went on Soarin’ (which she loved) and Living with the Land. Then it was over to Nemo and friends clam mobile ride. Finally, off to Spaceship Earth as she was getting tired. My husband had driven the minivan over to Epcot and parked in the front. This turned out to be a good thing as she was ready to go back and rest.
Day 2 was at Hollywood Studios. We were fortunate to get to go on Mickey and Minnie’s Runway train ride to everyone’s enjoyment. It was great to see her reactions as we walked through Galaxy’s Edge and take it all in. I was able to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina! This was great as I totally feel like I am in any Star Wars movie cantina while I am there. The music DJ is of course, spinning the tunes! You will always here the classic Star Wars Cantina song. We rode the Millennium Falcon, but sadly missed The Rise of the Resistance. Toy Story Mania was a hit! I even went on Aerosmith Rock N Roller Coaster with my brother in law (my sister asked to me to ride with him). Note, I have not rode the Aerosmith roller coaster since the one and only time I rode 7 years ago and swore I would never go again. I guess that is what love is all about.
Day 3 was Magic Kingdom for lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Yes, I was able to secure a reservation in the Castle for us. Even though my sister was unable to eat or drink anything, she got to see the inside of the castle. Let me tell you we had the BEST table. Our table was right next to the window in the center of the back of the castle looking out into Fantasyland. My sister loves the carousel, so it was perfect!! I also learned that Cinderella is her favorite Princess and Cinderella did make a short appearance while we were there-MAGIC! She loved it just being there and seeing it all!! This was a HUGE thing in my mind, having her dine in the castle. Yes, I cried. My sister mentioned as we walked into Magic Kingdom that each park had a very different feel to it. I told her they were designed that way. At that time, she said the Magic Kingdom was her favorite. We took the ferry to and from the park as my sister loves boats and being on the water.
Day 4 was back at Magic Kingdom for a “full” day. We had our longest day here. We went on most of the rides and had very low wait times. This is when I found out that my sister REALLY doesn’t like roller coasters, even the smallest of ones. I have the pictures to prove it! Seeing her face on Seven Dwarves Mine Train, also her comment “Colleen, I am going to kill you” shortly after the ride started. Her face on Splash Mountain!! I do not really think of Splash Mountain as a roller coaster, it just has a big drop at the end. She loved the Carousel and Peter Pan. She was surprised how much we were able to ride. She stated, “This is the time to come to Disney”. We enjoyed lunch, except for her, over at Cosmic Rays. My sister enjoyed the theming and look of the restaurant. Over the times we had dined when she was with us, one of us usually tried what she thought looked interesting on the menu. We then had to tell her how it was. One could say she dined vicariously through us at Disney.
Day 5 was over our last day in the parks together. Our last park was Animal Kingdom. I should mention that leading up to the trip she asked several times if we were going to Animal Kingdom. She was very excited about it! We started with the safari and went from there. Surprisingly, she loved Dinosaur. I was a bit surprised as I find it to be very jarring (as did her husband). She thought it was great! We enjoyed both Na’vi River and Flight of Passage in Pandora. She decided that Flight of Passage was her favorite Disney ride. She also said that she was glad she had ridden Soarin’ prior to going on Flight of Passage, so Flight of Passage was so much more fun. We walked both of the walking trails and of course, went on Kali River Rapids. She only got a little wet, she was the only one. At the end of the day she said that Animal Kingdom was her favorite park because of the rides and because of all the green. She likes the greenery. It was a very good day and she was very happy. I hated to see it all come to an end.
I accomplished my goal- Kelly had a great time at Disney and did more than she thought she was going to be able to. It was not stressful or tiring (thanks to the ECV) to any extra level for her. Funny thing, I think she misses the ECV more than anything from Disney but that’s okay with me. I am glad that I was able to do this with and for her while she could. With good planning and Disney magic I was able to give my sister what she asked for. Dreams really can come true, sometimes you just need a little pixie dust.