Thursday, Day 6
Paul & I woke at around 5am to watch the boat dock back at Port Canaveral and have some coffee. To our surprise, we were already back at port, and we realized it was all over. We woke the kids because we had a 645a seating assignment for breakfast, where we were able to see our awesome wait staff one last time! We ate and prepared for disembarkation. It was hard to leave for all of us, but the hardest on Gabriella. She took the end of the cruise VERY hard... she was definitely not ready for it to be over. She had some moments of quiet, some of crying. That cruise was WAY too short and time went by SO fast. The kids enjoyed every moment on that boat and at our ports of call. We spend good, quality time on this cruise together as the 4 of us, and met some great people as well. It is something we will save for and peruse again in later years as the kids get older, most definitely. The experience was phenomenal and probably the most fun we have ever had, individually or together! We feel so blessed to have a strong, vibrant 6 year old daughter in her 2nd chance at life and healthy, hilarious 4 year old boy, that we could enjoy that with. We live for today, never banking on tomorrow, and we made the most of that on this cruise!!! THANK YOU MAKE A WISH!
Once we got back to land, we took the Magical Express to the Disney World Resort. We asked Make a Wish to fly us home a few days later than they originally planned, and with a combination of saving and some pixie dust from some kindhearted friends, we made plans for 2 days at Walt Disney World at our expense! One of our amazing friends helped us to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge on property, and this place was PLUSH! The decor was amazing, and our room was an outlook room over the savanna, where the zebras and giraffes and other animals roamed around. It was breathtaking how gorgeous this resort was. Once our room was ready, we all settled in for a much needed nap. On the cruise, there is such a great schedule that they leave out room to sleep, so we were all beyond exhausted!
After waking from our nap, we headed down to the busses and rode into Downtown Disney to have dinner. I had made reservations at an Irish place down there and boy was I glad I did! The food was amazing and they had a live band! We roamed around Downtown Disney, which is probably 15 times the size of ours in California! There was so much going on and the shopping.... oh the shopping. I was wishing I would instantly win the lottery so we could have gone crazy down there!
We got back to our resort that night and to bed at a decent time. We were all ready for part 2 of the fun!!!
Our "off" day photos! (remember the captions!) https://picasaweb.google.com/vegaangel82/MakeAWishDay6DisembarkationDisneyWorld?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCKG30ber6r7T6QE&feat=directlink
Friday, Day 7
Another touch of pixie dust from a friend covered half of our 2 day tickets to the parks, so on Friday we made our way to Magic Kingdom! We also were given the gift of preferred seating for shows, tickets to the Not So Scary Halloween party and parade seating from someone who didn't even know us but works for Disney and wanted to help out!!! So much magic around us before we even got into the park! Pulling up to Magic Kingdom was breathtaking. Our passion for Disneyland is something you would only understand if you too felt it, so seeing the place created off of Disneyland's image but "improved" was like a dream for us (although I was a bit worried I would be critical, lol)! Everything was bigger and brighter! In front of the park is a huge lake, and the ticket stations were so spacious. The train station was HUGE! We even got there in time to see the opening ceremony where the animatronic Mickey opened the park! As we walked down Main Street, everything was so similar but so different, but nothing was more unique than looking at the massive structure that is Cinderellas Castle. That thing is breathtaking! We got some pictures and walked with our jaws open until we found the bakery. The bakery is a universal must for us... Land or World, we must stop at the bakery! We ate some breakfast and started to explore!
Because we wore our Make a Wish buttons, we were taken to see the characters without waiting in line, which was a HUGE blessing! The kids got to see SO many characters and we got to ride almost EVERY single ride in the park. Gabriella even became an honorary pirate with Captain Jack in his show!! The park closed at 7pm for the Halloween party, so we switched the kids into their souvenirs they got on the cruise and they were all decked out for Halloween. More rides, more characters, an awesome parade and FANTASTIC fireworks! As we were exiting the park, we stopped by a location that was housing some very important characters. Only at Halloweentime can you find princesses with their princes, so we got to meet Rapunzel, Cinderella and Snow White, all with their princes! We also got to meet Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween garb. Gabriella was in pure bliss meeting Minnie in this costume, and you can see the excitement in her eyes!!! Flynn Rider showed the kids the crown in his satchel and Cinderella gave Gabriella the sweetest squeeze ever. It was a wonderful way to end the night!!!
14 hours later, my kids were troopers! They walked all day without a complaint, without strollers and with minimal breaks. Being able to experience Disney World with them was just another thing we never thought we would be able to provide them with!
Magic Kingdom pictures! https://picasaweb.google.com/vegaangel82/MakeAWishDay7MagicKingdomHalloweenParty?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCOeA5MOhy6yAjAE&feat=directlink
Saturday, day 8
Our last day of magic, and exhaustion was evident. We headed to Animal Kingdom for our last day, which worked better because they closed at 5pm, and it gave us time to go back and pack. Animal Kingdom is nothing like I thought it would be! Divided into different countries, it was a LOT bigger than I anticipated! It is like a zoo gone Disney... well, I guess that's exactly what it is! We went right to the Nemo Show since we had VIP seating for the first showing. It was SO cute and it totally made me realize how much I am like Marlin with Nemo, me and Gabriella! After such a traumatic experience in life, I feel a need to completely control her safety and well being, just like Marlin with Nemo. After Nemo, we decided to go into Asia and ride Expedition Everest. Paul and Gabriella went on the ride since PJ was too small, and none of us were anticipating what this ride actually did!!! Gabriella came off of it shaking, but she LOVED it. Just not enough to ride it one more time with mommy. I rode it alone, next to a 12 year old boy who was trying to be so cool.... it was hilarious. This ride is no joke, my friends. That is all I will say.
It seemed a million degrees warmer this day, and I started to feel really sick. Turns out I was beginning to get dehydrated and the heat was making it worse. (That 24 hour drink station on the boat caused me to drink too much soda!!). I took a rest while Paul took the kids on a Jungle Trek. We did some rides, lunch and headed to the Lion King Show. I think the tickets into the park were worth that show alone.... it was AMAZING! We were given the opportunity to meet some of the cast afterwards, which was such a neat experience!! We saw the parade and then made our way to the Safaris before the park closed. The Safaris are rediculous.... so cool. We rode in a jeep out into the savanna and these animals were just feet from us! We even had to stop for a biit while 3 giraffes crossed the road! It was our favorite ride in the park for sure! The kids could hardly believe all of the animals so close to us!!
That night, we ordered pizza and took the time to pack and just sit. We got to see the truck come and fill the giraffe feeder which was RIGHT outside our room, and we watched the giraffes eat their dinner. Bedtime came quick for us all, as the excitement was wearing down and the kids had their fill of short nights of sleep.
Pictures from Animal Kingdom! https://picasaweb.google.com/vegaangel82/MakeAWishDay8AnimalKingdom?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMXfq-C55NimOg&feat=directlink
Sunday, day 9
Another early morning! We took the Magical Express to the airport, got all checked in and started our 5 hour journey home. The kids did really well given the length of the flight and how early it was. When we arrived back in Phoenix, our Wish granters were waiting for us and got us into our ride home.
Going home photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/vegaangel82/MakeAWishDay9Home?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNuXrcLb4datsgE&feat=directlink
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NoTHING lasts forever, but the memories will. We had the time of our lives! Gabriella's wishes came true and she was given an experience that she so deserved after fighting so hard! PJ had an amazing time, and deserved everything just as much for being patient and a great brother to Gabriella and all she has been through. And Paul and I... well, just having Make a Wish bless our family so much satisfied our desire to give our kids the world for those 9 days. Many times, we kept saying that even though it was an experience we will never forget and cherish so closely in our hearts, we would trade every second of it in exchange for our daughter to have not had to go through all she has nor face all she will have to. But that is not an option, so we embraced and will take pride in the fact that we are a Make a Wish family with a medically fragile child who God gave us this opportunity to experience with.
Thanks for reading!!!!!!