Hello my sweet princess, and Happy belated 56 months! This letter is a bit later than usual, but on the nineteenth of this month we were at the “Happiest Place on Earth” – Disneyworld. Although there was plenty to write about, I wasn’t going to sit at this computer and miss a minute of the fun with you.
Your Daddy and I always knew we’d want to take you to Disneyworld someday. We wanted to wait until you were done with naps and old enough to enjoy the rides and shows, but young enough to still be amazed by it all. We decided 4-and-a-half sounded about right, and we were not disappointed. You were a perfect Mouseketeer.
We took Boo along for this adventure, and our first stop was Downtown Disney and the T-Rex restaurant.
Even for us grown ups, the dining experience was pretty cool, but for you, it was beyond exciting. Everywhere you looked, robotic dinosaurs were moving and roaring, and you loved walking from one to the next, telling us their names like a tiny paleontologist tour guide. Our table was inside a giant ice cave, with t-rex bones frozen in the ice nearby. Periodically, the lights would dim and a meteor shower would zoom by overhead.
When we were done eating, you spent quite a long time in the attached dig zone, where you and other budding paleontologists used brushes to uncover buried dinosaur bones.
The restaurant also had a build-a-bear workshop, except it was build-a-dino. And suckers that we are, we couldn’t resist letting you have the experience of creating your own stuffed dinosuar – a pink apatosaurus named “Pinky.” Here’s a video to document Pinky’s birth, along with more of our fun at T-Rex.
The rest of that first day we spent exploring our resort, The Wilderness Lodge. The pool was fantastic, and after a long winter without swimming, you could hardly be persuaded to get out of the water at the end of that day. But we knew we needed a good night’s sleep, because the Magic Kingdom was next on our agenda.
The next morning we got up early so we could be at the park gates when they opened. We were just a short ferry ride from the park, and on the ride over you got your first exciting glimpse of the very top of Cinderella’s castle from the ferry window.
After a fun “opening ceremony” by Mickey and his crew, we headed down Main Street toward the castle. Your jaw dropped open as we rounded the corner and saw it towering at the end of the street.
After a few moments of gawking, we headed to our first destination: The Dumbo Ride. It did not disappoint. We spent the rest of the morning on ride after ride, with your three favorites being the Dumbo Ride, the Carousel and It’s a Small World.
We went to our room to rest in the middle of the day when it got hot and crowded, but headed back to the park that evening. We rode a few more rides, but our main objective was to see the light parade and the fireworks.
Both were dazzling and beautiful, and even though we were up way past your bedtime, you managed to stay awake for both. But as soon as I picked you up to begin walking through the crowd toward the ferry, you fell fast asleep. It was a long walk – thank goodness there were three adults to carry your sleeping self back to the room.
While Day 1 in the park was all about the rides and the fireworks, Day 2 was all about the princesses. We’d made reservations for breakfast inside Cinderella’s castle and had promised that you could wear a princess dress for the special occasion. Back at home when we were packing for the trip, you chose your Ariel dress to wear. It’s the one you wear most often, and I said, “I thought you’d pick that one, because it’s your favorite.”
“Well,” you said, “Rapunzel is really my favorite, but I don’t have a Rapunzel dress.” But that was the extent of our conversation – you didn’t ask me to buy you one, and I was proud of you for that.
As I took your Ariel dress off the hanger, I noticed that the bottom hem had completely unraveled and dozens of loose strings were hanging like unwanted fringe. Upon closer inspection, the shoulder straps were coming undone too and the whole dress looked very worn. So before we left town, your Daddy secretly picked up a new Rapunzel dress for you and hid it in our suitcase.
On the morning of Day 2, you excitedly pulled your Ariel dress out of your bag. “Camille,” I said, “I’m going to give you a choice of dresses.” At first, you started to cry, afraid I was backing out of my promise to let you wear a princess dress. But when I pulled the Rapunzel dress from our suitcase, the look of surprise and joy on your face was priceless. You couldn’t put it on fast enough, and then you couldn’t wait to wear it into the park. Everyone we met that morning called you a princess, and you lapped it all up.
Our breakfast in Cinderella’s castle was simply wonderful. As we entered the castle, you had an opportunity to meet Cinderella and have your picture made with her. She admired your dress and your hair, and you seemed star struck.
As we ate, four more princesses made their way around the room, stopping at
each table to talk with the guests and pose for pictures. You were excited to meet each of them, and they couldn’t have been nicer. Each one tried to make you feel special, and I’m pretty sure they succeeded.
When our breakfast was finished, we left the castle and got in line to meet your favorite princess of all. I thought the hour-long wait was going to be tough for you, but you immediately spotted another little girl in a Rapunzel dress. The two of you became fast friends, spending the next hour talking, playing and running up and down the sidewalk.
Then, it was finally our turn. A big group of us entered a courtyard where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider joined us to dance and play games before taking time to talk one-on-one with each child. Flynn hung out with Boo for a bit –
– while you spent time with Rapunzel, who acted as though you were the only other person there.
Then Flynn joined you and they all talked about your beautiful hair, which I’d done in little princess twists on each side. Rapunzel told you that’s exactly how she did her hair when she was a little girl. You glowed.
You later said that meeting Rapunzel was your favorite part of the trip. Watching you with her was mine.
We rode a few more rides that day, ending our trip with one more turn on the carousel. Again, while waiting in line, you made another “new best friend,” holding hands with a girl whose name we never knew. How wonderful to be four and to make friends so effortlessly.
It was hard to leave the park that afternoon because I didn’t want to the dream to end. But it was made easier knowing we hope to return one day. And in the meantime, we have so many great pictures and memories of our magical time. I don’t know how much of this trip you’ll remember as you get older, but I’ll never forget how grand it was to watch you experience so many fantastic firsts.
I love you, my Princess Camille. With all my heart.
So magically beautiful! I started crying at the Ariel dress surprise, then laughed at Boo and Flynn (sooo cute!) and then cried again with the hand-holding. Camille just glows with happiness through everything!
Oh Nikki, I love your sweet, sensitive self. I miss you!