Family of the Day in Epcot!
by James Goodman
Our family suffered a huge loss from the Flood in the Midwest in the middle of September. One of the items we lost were the two boxes of all of our Disney Souvenirs and memories from my son's first trip in January 2007.
He is now almost 3 and we just visited the Disney parks again as in late October.
We checked into the Pop Century Resort - very emotional because we were going to relive my son's first trip all over again this week. The cast member at checkin was very understanding and gave exemplorary service as we received a room early and nearby the main entrance. We checked in and our luggage arrived about an hour later.
Soon, a knock came to our door. One of the managers of the Pop Century was at the door and he had drove up on a Segway. He had 3 packages in his hand for our family. One package was with several balloons and a large plush Mickey for my son, Andrew.
Along with the balloons and Mickey was a package of books, crayons, markers, Playhouse Disney items, and some toys all from someone special - a signed picture of Mickey Mouse with our name on it was presented to him as well! He was fast asleep - so this was a huge surprise for him when he woke up.
One more package was for our family from the Pop Century Resort - it was a bucket on a Frisbee filled with toys and candy from the decades that Pop Century represents! Why did we receive this? We don't know - but we think the Cast Member who checked us in said something.
That wasn't all however, we got back to our room late one evening after having a great dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe - we had 3 messages on our phone from the Management of the Pop Century. They were sort of urgent, giving me very small bits of information - something about Epcot on Thursday and being there by 8:45am and something "special" for our family - but we needed to get in touch with them right away!
So - my wife said - run to the front desk now! Find out what is going on. I came back with a sign with our name on it and some very specific instructions...we were to be at the front gate of Epcot by 8:45am wearing my yellow hat with our sign that had our family name on it.
Thursday, 10/20 - 8:45am at Epcot - people were being let into the park, and out popped Mario, a Manager at Epcot - he told us to come this way and we needed to hurry. We rushed into Epcot - followed him to the front of the rope where everyone stops until the park opens.
He then told us to come underneath the rope. We did and as we walked under the rope - an announcement was made that our family was the Epcot Family of the Day and we would be opening the park.
I couldn't even understand what was going on because at the same time - a Photo Pass photographer was taking our photos, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto were walking towards my son, and a Test Track car was waiting for us to get inside and speed us away!
My son was grabbing a hold of Mickey's leg, my wife and I were just in tears, he was so excited (almost 3 years old) and we were given a stack of yellow sheets that were essentially fast passes for any ride that day in Epcot we wanted to go on, told we had to get into the Test Track car, and all the Disney executives were introducing themselves at the same time the crowd of guests were cheering! We took a few family photos with the characters - jumped in the Test Track car and sped off as fireworks shot out into the sky.
We drove past Innoventions as Cast Members wearing Mickey hands waved us on and cheered...we arrived at Test Track! I got to ride all by myself and was the first one of the day! My wife and son were whisked away up to the control room to watch me on the track.
After that - we met a lady named Cecilia. She is one of the Dream Team Cast Members and said she was assigned to our family until around 12noon. Anything we wanted - she would take care of. We were thrilled - the only thing I could think of was - WOW - what did we do to deserve all of this? My son was just in amazement and still in shock that he had his own personal time with the fab five earlier that morning! It was amazing!!!!
We then went over to Mission Space and I rode alone again - but afterwards we were brought into the lounge for Cast Members and other Executives that overlooks the queue area and other locations in Mission Space. We even got to access the Mission Control room where my son had 3 huge panels to play with - imagine a 3 year old getting to press all the buttons and switches he wants!!! They even presented us with a certificate as the Family of the Day!
BUT - it wasn't over - we then were whisked over to Soarin', Nemo & Friends, and then Turtle Talk with Crush! We were wiped out by 12noon and Cecilia had to leave us - but we had the BEST TIME! However, it still wasn't over - we were then told we had a reservation for a VIP viewing location in Italy that night for Illuminations and that I could bring anyone I wanted. So - I invited my cousin and his family who were also staying at Disney that week to join us!
We had the best day and were presented the "Honorary Citizen of WDW pins" - we wore them proudly that day and this is something that we will always remember! Thank you to Disney and all the Cast Members who made this happen for us!!!!