| As recalled from the beautiful day in December 2003........
Disney used to have an "Engagement's Department", but closed it in July 2002, with the last one booked and carried out in Dec 2002. They will still do the weddings, but nothing more with engagements. I was taking a class on Adobe Photoshop at the very start of December 2003 when I met a guy (the instructor) who works at Disney as a character and trains other characters as another job in addition to teaching technical computer applications on the side. When my buddy and I mentioned to him in this class that we were trying to set all this up and running into a lot of walls, he told me we could keep in touch and work some details out to make it all work out.. I was so excited!!
So over the next few weeks we exchanged emails and phone calls to start planning everything out and working out the details so that we could do this while he was working. Kristy and I both love Winnie the Pooh and wanted it to have that theme, so he worked it out with his manager at Disney to get us backstage passes to the Toon Hall of Fame, back where the tents are. So, here's the story...
On Dec 20th, we arrived at night to stay at the Dolphin. She was taken back by the size and beauty of the place and all that it had. The Christmas tree was huge, probably a good 20 ft high in the lobby of this place and our room had everything one could imagine it would have in it.
On Dec 21st, we got up and started our day by taking the bus over from the Dolphin to the Magic Kingdom. As soon as we arrived, it was around lunch time, so we went over to Casey's Hot Dog stand and ate a quick lunch. While we were sitting down eating, my buddy calls and asks me three quick questions.. 1.) Are you in the park?, 2.) Where are you? and 3.) Can you stay there for a few minutes? All she heard on the phone was 1.) Yes, 2.) Caseys Hot Dogs and 3.) Yes. She wondered what on earth I was doing, but just kept eating until about 10-15mins past by and my buddy springs up out of a crowd of people and starts talking to us and introducing himself to Kristy. He explained that we used to work together and that he works at Disney on a seasonal gig and that he wanted to have some pictures taken of him performing for his family around the holidays. He gave me a backstage pass and his schedule of performances, then took off.
She immediately started quizzing me on who this guy was, why he knew where we were and how I knew him.. and most importantly.. WHY on earth was I taking pictures of him during OUR vacation? I told her it was a favor that I owed him from before and that we would do it really quickly and get front seat viewing to the show. She bought into it for a few hours and then started asking more questions. She told me .. you don't even know that guy.. he name isn't Will is it? Just kept on and on during the day and I told her that it was true that I did know him and she just wouldn't buy it at all..
So when it came time for us to move over to that area, she had to use the restroom and I had forgotten to bring the film for the camera, so I dunked into the restroom at the same time, only to come right back out and run over to a kiosk selling stuff nearby to get the film and load it into the camera and shove it back into my bag. She came out and I told her.. well let's go over and watch the show.. She gazed at me in wonder, but went along with all of it. When we arrived, I gave our pass to the manager near the exit and he told us to follow him backstage. He assigned us a cast member to take care of our requests and needs during our visit to the "show." Angelica (Cast member) asked us if there was any character we liked in particular and she knew what was going on the whole time along with all of the other characters that we would come into contact with. I advised her that we loved Winnie the Pooh, but that we would really like to see Tigger too! (My buddy was dressed up as Tigger that day) So we were taken into this back area where there were about 10-15 other vacationers in the room taking pictures of the characters there in the room one on one. There was a professional photographer, the cast member assigned to us and these other people also in to take pictures. When my buddy saw me, I ushered Kristy over and told her to go stand by Tigger so I could get some pictures of her.. I then gave the camera to the cast member (Angelica) and asked her to take pictures of us together. Tigger jumped around like Tiggers do and then Pooh came over and got a little jealous (part of the gig) with Kristy in the arms of Tigger, then when they finished bouncing around and stuff.. Tigger grabbed my hand and pushed me down on my knee as he knelt down too.. I pulled out the ring and started shaking like a tree in a hurricane. I had so many things to say, but in all the nervousness, lost all of it until dinner when I told her exactly what I wanted to say to her at that moment. But overall.. the awe on her face was golden, along with all of the other people standing there saying oh wow.. look!! I explained to her that my buddy Will was in the costume as Tigger and pointed to him, then told her how much I loved her, how much she meant to me and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, then I (shaking so badly) asked her to marry me and placed the ring on her finger as she said "Yes! Oh my gosh, you are shaking so bad.. yes!" I almost dropped the rings as I was trying to get it out of the box and onto her finger. The whole thing was so much fun! We have lots of pictures at the link below and we'll add to this as we get closer to our wedding date which is May 22nd 2004 here in Tampa FL.
After all of the picture taking, my buddy Will ran back and got out of the costume and reintroduced himself and looked at the ring again.. We are both so very very happy and we look forward to all of the planning and most importantly our lives together in the days, months and years to come in our lives!
On our way out that day, I also had the Dolphin hotel send up Champagne and Strawberries, along with a kind card from the hotel for our return. That was a great event as well.. As soon as we opened the door to the room, I could smell them, but she walked by 6 times until I made her sit down and look over at them.. The whole event was a blast..