When Jon and I had the idea to live next to Walt Disney World it came like a spark. I can remember the moment so clearly….
We were discussing the possibility of planning a trip there when all of a sudden I said, “Hey, why don’t we just move there instead? Then we can go anytime we want!”
Most husbands would laugh at such a ridiculous suggestion but mine immediately hopped on the computer and started looking for the closest apartments to the Magic Kingdom. We both started laughing like we were kids on Christmas morning as we began to plan and research.
But almost immediately following our decision to embark on this wild adventure we were met with a plethora of heartache, hardships, and trials. (Which is a whole other story.) But throughout the struggles, we never lost sight of what we set out to do.
It wasn’t until 15 months later that we were finally able to be settled in the coziest town of Windermere, FL and buy our Annual Passes to Walt Disney World.
(That’s a picture of my husband and I the day we finally got our Disney annual passes. I will never forget it.)
Living near Disney and having the opportunity to go whenever our little hearts desired turned into not just a cool idea but a tender wish and journey that was guided by God.
The experiences that we had there are some of my life’s most cherished memories and adventures. So as we were wrapping up our two years of living there I wanted to get the PERFECT picture of Maddie, Lyndon, and Lily in front of Cinderella’s castle.
I could see in my mind’s eye what I wanted it to look like and the feelings it would portray. One critical part of the picture would be to not have anyone else in the photo except for the kids and the castle.
Asking For a Miracle
Now…for those of you who know anything about Disney Parks, they’re normally far from empty. Even in their “slow season” there are A LOT of people, especially in the Magic Kingdom. I knew this going in but I still had to try. Our experience felt so private and set apart so the way for me to depict that in a photo was to not have any other people in there.
Does that make sense?
I know, I’m nutty. Basically, I just REALLY REALLY wanted the PERFECT picture. It meant a lot to me.
To make this work I knew the timing was everything. It was essential that we get there very first thing in the morning before all the crowds. So that meant it would have to be on a day that the kids didn’t have school. Our particular passes didn’t include weekends so the only weekday left they had out of school was on Memorial Day.
I also needed the weather to work in my favor…no rain, but overcast. Because of the direction they would be standing in front of the castle, if there was no cloud cover the sun would be directly in their faces. No Bueno.
And last but not least I needed all 3 of my darling kiddos to be in a good, jovial, happy mood…
Basically, I needed a host of heavenly angels to come to my aide.
Now or Never
The morning arrived and you better believe I was praying like crazy… “Please Heavenly Father, please help me to pull this off. I ask that I can stay calm and sane. Please bless us to have an overcast day and that the kids will feel good and be happy. And please, please, please, will you clear the crowds so that I can get my perfect picture?”
I was calling in a miracle that day.
The morning was going exceptionally well. It was OVERCAST and the kids were all helpful and quick getting ready and into the car. On the drive over I explained how much this meant to me and how much I would appreciate it if they would continue to be in good spirits and helpful.
All continued to go well and we parked and waited for the monorail to take us to the Magic Kingdom gates. We got there nice and early so there weren’t too many people in line yet which was a great sign.
I was feeling super positive. I knew everything was going to turn out perfectly.
We stepped off the monorail and as I looked up toward the area where you stop to get your bags checked, my heart sank…
Not Meant to Be?
There was a MASS of people. It was more crowded then I had ever seen it. I was so discouraged. And to top it off just as we joined the throng of people the sun started peeking through the clouds until it was a bright, sunny mess.
I couldn’t believe it.
I started to say a prayer in my heart and immediately felt God whispering…”I’ve still got you. Keep going. Have some faith.”
It made me feel so much better but I have to admit, I was super curious how He was going to pull this off. It didn’t look good.
We finally made it inside the park and just as it was outside the gates, it was equally packed inside. As we walked down Main St. approaching the castle I would stop every so often and have the kids pose for a picture to see if I was able to get anything. They were doing so great. They were incredibly patient and helpful and listening to all of my directions.
However… everything else was terrible. The sun was so bright and the crowds of people were so dense.
I was feeling defeated.
But we continued trying, picture after picture, as we slowly worked our way closer to the castle. Still, nothing was coming together.
By this time, you can imagine how Lily, my 3-year-old bouncing ball of energy was doing…I was totally losing her. She had really had enough. The carousel was calling her name and she couldn’t hear anything else.
We had gotten fairly close to the castle by now and I was running out of ideas.
Which was right when the miracle happened…
Never Give Up
All of a sudden I looked to the castle and there were NO PEOPLE ANYWHERE.
God parted the Red Sea for Moses and that day He parted the Disney crowds for me.
I knew I didn’t have much time until it would start to fill in again so I grabbed the kids and started running. As we ran, the inspired thought came as to how I could position them so that the sun wouldn’t be a problem.
I started shouting out orders…
”Maddie, as soon as we get there I want you to take Lily by her left hand and stand next to her. Lyndon, stand on the other side of Maddie. I want you all to look at me. SMILE. Be happy. And think about all the time you’ve spent here and what it has meant to you.”
It was the most rushed, inspirational speech ever.
But it worked.
I got my perfect picture. The one I had imagined in my mind.
(Check out this post to find out how YOU can get YOUR perfect shot. I learned a thing or two that will hopefully make your quest for the perfect castle shot much easier!)
I cherish what it symbolizes to me…faith, love, and miracles.
I’m still astounded as I look back over our precious time that we spent at Walt Disney World. Why did God allow such an incredible experience happen for us?
The true question is… why not?
God loves us beyond measure. Yes, he allows us to go through trials and tribulation so that we can learn and grow and become refined. But He also allows us to feel the tremendous joy this life has to offer.
“Men are that they might have JOY.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
And oh, what joy we felt at our Walt Disney World.
(Click the link above. This will make YOUR Castle pic journey a sinch!)
Welcome to Being Katie Brave! I’m so happy to have you here. If you’re looking to take better pictures (stress-free!), get the inside scoop on all things Disney World, or be inspired to live YOUR best life (even if especially if it scares you to death) …you’re in the right place. I ’ve written 3 photography books, our family lived at Disney World for 2 years, and wear my heart on my sleeve…all of which would never have come to pass if I didn’t push past my fears and step in the darkness. Join me as I share my adventure of life, one post at a time.