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Archive for the ‘DISNEY’ Category

January 28th, 2017 by

All at Once Everything Looks Different

It happened on Monday, January 23rd, Abby and Emma’s 23rd birthday, our 3rd and final day of the long weekend party. The setting is Magic Kingdom. The story began around 3:30 pm.

Abby, Emma, and I were celebrating with Jordan, Layne, and Angie. 

23 at Disney

I had seen a picture on the internet of a wooden leg named Smith. (Mary Poppins fans know what that means.) I hunted it on our last Disney trip (for my 50th birthday). I didn’t find it, but I guess my heart wasn’t in the search. This time, my BFF Jordan was with me. She is the most curious person I know and can’t ever leave well enough alone.

We knew the leg was on a Lost and Found shelf in Frontierland. The Disney cast members we asked thought we were crazy. Jordan decided it had to be at the train station, which was closed for repairs. Knowing it never hurts to ask, Jordan grabbed a cast member in Frontierland garb who was sweeping up trash. His name was Kent. She said, “We’re looking for a wooden leg named Smith. We think it’s up there. Can we go look?” Kent hesitated only a moment, then said, “Yes, but let me go first.”

Smith 1

He escorted us through the roped-off entrance. We giggled like we were skipping school. We easily found the Lost and Found shelf over the front windows. We compared it to the picture I had on my phone. Definitely the same shelf. Other items on the shelf were the same. The discolored places on the wall were identical. The leg wasn’t there.  Perplexed but happy that our search could continue through another trip, Kent took our picture. We thanked him profusely and grimaced when saw him cornered by someone who looked like a supervisor. We crossed our fingers that he was getting praised and not scolded, then scooted to our next ride.

Smith 2

Angie knew Jordan and I were on a quest. She walked up the hill to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to wait for everyone to gather back together. She saw a man wearing a Vietnam veteran’s cap. Never one to leave a stranger unspoken to, she said, “Thank you for your service.”

“Thank you for noticing,” he replied.

She smiled.

He asked, “Would you like to ride the roller coaster with me?”


“No sir. I’m waiting for the rest of my group.”

“They can ride, too. How many are there?”

She told him there were six of us. We wandered up, not surprised to see that Angie had made a new friend. She said, “He gave us Fast Passes!”

He commanded, “Come with me.” 

So we did. He led us to the disability access entrance, the back door. The cast members waved us to the rear of the coaster, because he likes the back seat.

We had no idea what had just happened, but we lifted our arms and squealed as Big Thunder slung us around.  

When we got off, we finally got some info.


Our new friend’s name is Kenny. He is retired Navy from Missouri. He and his wife live in Orlando in the winter. They like to go to Magic Kingdom. She dines with friends and shops. He hangs out at Big Thunder Mountain and meets folks and takes them for rides. All the cast members know him.

As we were about to say goodbye, we realized that we hadn’t used our six Fast Passes on the ride. We asked Kenny for one more. Our friend Ben had joined us. He works at Epcot but was off for the day, so there were seven of us, instead of six. Kenny said, “Sure. Here. Let me give you another set.”

We LOLed at our luck as he counted out seven more Fast Passes from the stack in his pocket. He hopped on his scooter and rode off to find his bride.

We used our first set of Fast Passes at Haunted Mansion.

The Fast Passes Kenny gave us were paper. Printed on each was the expiration date (January 31) and exceptions: “Not accepted at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan.”

((Remember that it never hurts to ask.))

Jordan decided we were going to ask if we could use them at the Mine Train, a ride with a 90-minute standby wait, a ride that’s impossible to get a Fast Pass. She said to the attendant, “We have Fast Passes. I know they’re not good here, but we are celebrating these girls’ 23rd birthday, and it’s the 23rd and we wondered if you would honor them.”  

The attendant said, “I can’t, but you can ask a supervisor.” (She didn’t say yes but she didn’t say no.)

We had Fast Passes on our arm bands to Space Mountain. I gave mine to Ben and waited and watched for someone who looked supervisory, while they dodged shooting stars in the dark. I pounced on a young man wearing a headset:

“Are you a supervisor?”


“I thought so. You look official with your earpiece and walkie talkie.” (See what I did there?) “We have Fast Passes. I know they’re not good here, but we are celebrating my twin daughters’ 23rd birthday, and it’s the 23rd and I wondered if you would honor them.”

He said, “I’m not a supervisor for this ride, but I know who is.” (He didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no.) He said, “I’ll tell MacKenna.”

My family and friends returned from Space Mountain. MacKenna appeared and whisked us back. She did not take our Fast Passes.

We lined up for the ride. Somehow, another couple got between some of our group, and we weren’t all seated together. When we whirled to a stop and stepped off the ride, MacKenna reappeared and said, “I wanted y’all to ride together, so you could have a cute picture!” And she put us back on the ride.

Our third Fast Pass-less ride in under three hours.

We exited the Mine Trail howling with guffaws and gasping for breath. (The more Angie and I laugh, the more we cough. Asthma in stereo!)

We had 6:45 dinner reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table at the top of the castle. We said goodbye to our buddy Ben and sent him off with another good Disney story to tell.

We passed our seven Fast Passes to a family of five. We told them to look for Kenny. I texted Kenny’s wife and told her to tell him to look for them.

During dinner, we were pampered by our waiter and posed with the princesses. We watched the Wishes fireworks explode out the windows by our table.


Gradually, the restaurant emptied. The children at other tables fell asleep and were toted off by their tired daddies. The six women savored each remaining second.

Eventually, the restaurant manager wandered over; we assumed to shoo us off. He said, “I heard about you. I wanted to say hello and see if you need anything.” We told him of our glorious afternoon. He told us of his 20 years working at Walt Disney World. We asked about his blue name tag. He told us he received it two days earlier and that his wife and daughters and some friends were at the surprise meeting. (It’s a recognition awarded by peers.) He said, “I’d like for you to have my card. It has my cell number on it. Please call me if I can do anything for you on future Disney trips.”

I pinkie promise the card says:

Keith [Last Name]


Magic Kingdom

KEnt helped us in Frontierland.

KEnny gave us Fast Passes at Big Thunder.

MacKEnna let us ride the Mine Train TWICE.

KEith gave us his cell number.

M – i – c – KE – y.

There is clearly only one explanation for our day: Mickey Mouse followed us around and manipulated our magical moments. Surely the Sorcerer’s Apprentice can shift appearances at the happiest place on earth.   

The park closed after the 8:00 fireworks show. We didn’t leave the restaurant until after 9:00. The Magic Kingdom was empty. We floated out of the park like Rapunzel in the boat with Flynn Rider: “And at last I see the light, and it’s like the fog has lifted . . . . ”


Angie and I reminisced how Daddy was always the last to leave church, how he frequently leaned over the wall by the organ to flip off the light switch. We proclaimed that it took TWO Kings to shut down Magic Kingdom.

A practically perfect end to a practically perfect day.

As we flopped into our hotel room, ecstatic and exhausted, Emma frantically checked all of her pockets and whispered, mainly to herself:

“Has anybody seen my cell phone?!?!”


She left it on the tram to the parking lot.

We found it the next morning at Lost and Found, where the whole story began.

Thanks, Mickey.

You know I love full circle.