“On December 7th, 2012 my husband surprised me and the kiddos at the Art of Animation resort upon his return from his year long deployment to Afghanistan. I knew he was coming – the kids did not – but I had no idea Disney was going to come together like this and completely surprise us like they did. Over 300 cast members and staff got together to learn and do this dance. It was truly magical, and will be something we talk about and remember for the rest of our lives.
My kids thought we were flying to Ft. Benning, Georgia to go to Daddy’s welcome home ceremony. We flew out of Boston and took a direct flight to Orlando instead. Well, once we were through security, ‘Daddy called’ to say his flight had been cancelled, and he didn’t know if he was going to be able to make it to Georgia. We were sitting at our gate (which amazingly… the next flight was actually going to Georgia) when the kids got the news. They were so upset. So, I went over to the gate booth and told the lovely workers what was going on, to let them in on the surprise. They were on board for helping me out… and one lady asked the kids if they would like to go to Orlando instead, and she was able to “change our tickets” for us. Jackpot!
I told the kids I would find a hotel to stay at for a few days… maybe we could stay on Disney property while we waited for word on Daddy’s flight. Once we landed and took the magical express bus, we arrived at the Art of Animation resort. Carl, the amazing guy who put this entire thing together, was there waiting for us. He got us checked in right away and told the kids our room wasn’t ready yet, and asked them if we’d like to watch a dance they’d been practicing while we waited for the room to be readied.
Of course, the kids were super excited to see a Disney dance. They had no idea they would be seeing their Daddy. I knew of this plan… but I was told Art of Animation could probably get about ten people to do the dance. When the hundreds of people started filling in the lobby, I was so shocked and overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had no idea they would be surprising us with my husband at the end of the dance (They even picked him up from the airport)!
The dance was so cute and entertaining and it sucked the kids right in. They had no idea their daddy was hiding behind a picture of Ariel. (I had seen his boots shuffling along the floor and almost lost it. He was that close. Then… TA DA! They pulled the picture away and every single one of the kids were stunned. We all just sat there… too shocked to even get up. I wanted to jump up and just hug him and never let him go, but our son (who hadn’t seen his dad since he was one) was a little unsure about the whole thing, so I stayed where I was. I let Daddy come to us.
The response and the hugs, and the tears… it was all worth it. It was truly magical, and such a blur, and overwhelmingly amazing.”