Random Acts of Disney: 10 Magical Stories

Millions of people visit Disney Parks every year.

I’m not that great at math, but that means at least eleventy mabillion families, couples and friends making memories at the parks every single day.

And sometimes, those people could use a little extra magic.

Especially when they least expect it.

The first time we took both our kids to Walt Disney World, they were itty bitty. Our flight had been delayed by about eight hours, and what should have been a good-for-kids-who-nap afternoon arrival, turned into a way-past-bedtime nightmare. We were dragging, the kids were beyond exhausted, and no one was feeling very happy.

As we pulled up to Port Orleans French Quarter in the middle of the night, a smiling cast member awaited us, ready to take us to our room right away. What’s more, as he put Mardi Gras around our necks, tickled the baby’s toes, and gave our toddler coins to throw in the fountain, he let us know that we had been chosen as “Family of the Week.”

Each day, a surprise awaited us – Mickey and Minnie plushes, a personalized, autographed photo of the Fabulous Five, some VIP perks – and we were incredibly touched. Though I’m sure we would have had a great time anyway (it is Disney after all), that someone went out of their way to show us such kindness was truly amazing.

Then, someone tweeted me this story about the 3:00 parade and how the cast members involved made some serious magic for two little girls from Sandy Hook, and it inspired me to crowd source more random acts of Disney.

The 10 that made me smile, cry and otherwise want to sprinkle pixie dust everywhere:

  • 10 Random Acts of Disney 1 of 11
    10 Random Acts of Disney as seen on Babble's Disney Voices

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

    Photo edits: All me.

  • Helping Hands 2 of 11
    01-

    "When we were at Hollywood studios, the boys and hubby wanted to see Indiana Jones. My 3 year old is autistic and couldn't tolerate the noise. He started having a meltdown so I took him to a quiet area near the American Idol area. I held him as he kicked and screamed and hugged him as he hit me trying to express his frustration.

     

    An elderly couple came over to me after watching a few minutes of this and put their hand on his back and mine and told me I was the most patient mom they had seen. I broke down in tears saying he was autistic and non-verbal and I didn't know what else to do but hug him. Their kindness came over me like a wave and Brady felt it too as he stopped his fit just as quick as it started and he gave the man a high five. I'll never forget them or that moment of peace they gave me during such a trying time." - Emily Vanek, Colorado Moms

     

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

  • Rush Hour 3 of 11
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    "Everyone knows the rush between the two monorail systems. As we made the transition with everyone else, an elderly woman in a wheelchair was attempting to as well. People didn't pay much attention and often walked in front of her. As our daughters were about to do the same, we stopped them and explained nicely that it wasn't polite to cut in front of her. She stopped, turned to us and commended us for our parenting. She said she had been at WDW an entire week and we were the first parents to make such an acknowledgement. She could have been bitter about how others were treating her but instead decided to take the time to make sure she noticed the positive that WE had done." - Nicole Robertson Brady, SAHM Reviews

     

    Photo credit: Pilar Clark, One Mom Media

  • Lost and Found 4 of 11
    03-

    While on our last Disney Cruise, I was chatting with a cast member in the gift shop. My husband was helping our two children choose some Vinylmations, when my son looked over at smiled at us. Having had lost a good amount of teeth, the cast member commented that we must have been making the Tooth Fairy work overtime.

     

    He then went on to tell me that when he was working at Magic Kingdom a few years ago, a little girl of about five lost her first tooth. She was so excited and couldn't wait to put it under pillow. Her dad took the tooth from her and went to rinse it in the drinking fountain and dropped it down the drain. Though two maintenance workers came and disassembled the pipes in hopes of finding the tooth, it was gone.

     

    The father didn't know what to do, and the little girl was obviously very upset. So, the cast member sat down to talk to her and told her that her tooth had probably just floated off to another area of the park and that he'd go look for it. Quickly, he visited the Disney Imagineers and within a few hours they were able to create a faux tooth for the little girl. She was over the moon that her tooth had been "found," and one can imagine that poor dad was so relieved.

     

    Photo credit: Pilar Clark, One Mom Media

  • Sweet Gesture 5 of 11
    04-

    "When my daughter was 3 years old we bought her an ice cream right after the parade at the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor. As soon as we stepped outside the shop, somebody bumped into her (by accident) and she dropped her cone. A cast member saw that she was ready to burst into tears and came, told her not to worry and that the Fairy Godmother had sent her a ticket to get a new ice cream. The gesture touched us all and it made our day." - Jeannette Kaplun, Hispana Global

     

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

  • Class Act 6 of 11
    06-

    "I took my family to 'Turtle Talk with Crush.' My son (on the spectrum) was a bit overwhelmed and started freaking out/kicking me/biting me. The cast member at the attraction came up to me and asked if there was a medical condition she should know about. I told her he was autistic and she sprung into action - she grabbed the rest of my family and took us into a quiet room to wait for the performance. She proceeded to explain all the ways that Disney could make things easier for me, and how I needed to let cast members at each attraction know what accommodations I might need and let them help us.

     

    'Let us help you' was here theme - not 'you're a problem' but 'we're here for you.' It was very powerful and just what we needed at the time." - Ellen Reavis Gerstein, Confessions of an IT Girl

     

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

  • Kiss the Cook 7 of 11
    07-

    "During our last trip to Disney, our 2 year old was on a dairy-, gluten- and soy-free diet. While everywhere we ate was super accommodating, it was still heartbreaking to have to tell her no when her sisters were eating certain desserts that she couldn't have.

     

    Toward the end of our trip, we ate at 1900 Park Fare, and the chef there created the most amazing dessert just for her. Her eyes lit up, and we let her eat the whole thing without having to share with her sisters. It made me tear up that he took the time to prepare something special for her!" - Mandi Ehman, Life Your Way

     

    Photo credit: Sean and Mandi Ehman

  • Royal Welcome 8 of 11
    ARIEL

    Quite a few people with special needs children shared stories about characters at the parks, and how they went above and beyond to make them feel acknowledged, engaged and loved. I kick off with two of my stories, and continue with two others.

     

    My son had a stroke in utero and is on the spectrum. When he was much, much younger and non-verbal (he's 7 years old and very chatty now), we worried that he wouldn't be able to interact with the characters, especially the first time we visited Walt Disney World. We couldn't have been more wrong. Pinocchio actually sat down on the ground with him and the two proceeded to play with my son's cars and trains for about five minutes. Even though there was a line. And, though our son couldn't talk, he was delighted to find that his favorite characters - the aforementioned Pinocchio, Goofy and Pluto couldn't either. He was able to sign to them, and they signed back. I never forgot that.

     

    Though less so now, my daughter was painfully shy from about 1-3 years old. She would hide behind our legs when people visited the house, or talked to her, or even looked at her. We were wary of taking her to see the Princesses, not because we thought they wouldn't do their best to engage her, but because we were pretty sure she'd be terrified and cause a scene. Again, we were wrong. The minute she saw Cinderella, Belle, Aurora and Ariel gathered together, her face lit up and she let go of daddy's hand to inch forward and get a better look. When it was her turn to get hugs, instead of shrinking back, she boldly walked up to each one and timidly but happily accepted their attention. We were so proud of her, and of course, glad that she felt comfortable enough to let her guard down.

     

    "We had a similar experience with Leo at Disney's Hollywood Studios. J was terrified of all costumed characters, but Leo was determined to be the one to break him of this fear. He was so kind and gentle and really took the time to work his way into his heart. It worked! I have great pictures of J being so proud to finally hug a character..." - Ellen Reavis Gerstein, Confessions of an IT Girl

     

    "Pluto did that for Brady too. He bent down and was nose to nose with him and then copied everything Brady did for a few minutes before going to the line for pictures. It was amazing." - Emily Vanek, Colorado Moms

     

    Photo credit: Pilar Clark, One Mom Media

  • Bottoms Up 9 of 11
    10-

    While strolling through the American Pavilion one very hot afternoon, we realized my daughter's sippy cup had been left in our hotel room and she wanted "her cuppy" now. Right now. She was overtired and crabby, and things quickly turned into a full-fledged, flailing meltdown. My husband and I were so embarrassed since we had obviously pushed her to her limit, and knew that she would calm down and fall asleep as soon as she had her cup for comfort.

     

    A cast member saw that we were unsuccessfully trying to calm our wailing daughter, and instead of making us feel like bad parents, she quickly sent another cast member to the nearest Baby Center to bring us a sippy cup. The cast member literally ran to get it, and as soon as she returned, we filled it up and gave it to our exhausted daughter, who drank it down and immediately fell asleep. We were so grateful, and though we offered to pay for the sippy cup, the first cast member patted me on the arm and told me not to worry. "My kids were that age once," she said. "You two did good."

     

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

  • FastPass it Forward 10 of 11
    fastpass

    We were attending an event & had fast passes for Goofy's Sky School. This was soon after the ride opened and the wait times were quite long. But, my oldest was still too short to ride. So, we gave the fast passes to a random family near the ride. They were SO excited! - Sara Wellensiek, Mom Endeavors, Disney Mentor

     

    Photo credit: Disney Parks & Resorts

  • Princess Dash 11 of 11
    IMG_8357

    "My husband and I went on a couples vacation together and it was freezing. We had a boat ride back from our dinner at Artist's Point to Magic Kingdom to ourselves, and as if by magic saw the fireworks start from afar.

     

    We raced to the gates to get in, and the cast member said to me, 'Here you go, Princess,' and as my husband got his card, 'Catch up to your Princess, Prince Charming!'

     

    She didn't know, but we were there to celebrate our anniversary. It was our 11th. We never had a honeymoon, and on our 10th my Dad had to go into the hospital for emergency heart surgery, so it was really a big deal for us - a huge celebration of our lives together, and it meant so much that people throughout our trip took the time to do little extras for us. He really is my Prince Charming, and our time together in Disney was truly magical." - Kelly Gehrmann Whalen, The Centsible Life

     

    Photo credit: Pilar Clark, One Mom Media

Photo credits: There are a lot. Please see each individual slide for attribution.

Read Pilar’s writing from around the blogosphere here, social creatures. And if you’re in the mood for more magic, join her on Twitter, Facebook (here and here) and Instagram.

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