After my life changing experience on the Disneyland Resort's Dream Squad I returned to my role at The Walt Disney Travel Co. My management team asked me to use the connections, skills, and knowledge I had developed to become our Magic Maker. This new role would make extra magic for guest with special circumstances booking with WDTC for a Disneyland or Aulani Vacation.
Happiest Job on Earth
One of the first guest I remember was a 7 year old girl named Mai. Mai's mother suffered from terminal cancer and did not have long to live. The mother had arranged an adoption by a couple in her church that had a 9 year old boy of their own. Mai did not know about the pending adoption, in fact had not meet the new family. The two mothers decided to tell Mai and have her meet the family at the girls favorite place, Disneyland. Mai and her ailing mother were staying at a good neighbor hotel and would spend the first day in the park together alone making memories. That night the entire group was to get together for dinner and get to know one another. The first thing we did at WDTC was upgrade Mai and her mother to the Disneyland Hotel where the new family was staying. Next I called upon my contacts in the Style department and they were excited to give Mai a make over at Bibidi Bobidi Boutique. Then our friends at entertainment arranged a private meet and greet with 4 princesses where our partners at PhotoPass took a ton of pictures to present to mother and daughter. After a fantastic girls day in the park I had arranged for the entire family to have a complimentary dinner at Goofy's Kitchen for the big introduction. Though my friends on-site almost always gave me a report the next day I didn't always hear back from the guests, which is how it should be. But now that Mai would be a young adult I've often wonder how everything turned out.
For most of my time at the resort my desk was called "the crying corner." When one of my fellow Cast Members heard a story from a guest that touched their heart they would bring it to me and we would cry. When I would share the situation with other departments at the resort who were always willing to help, we cried. In some of the most unfortunate cases I would get to know the guest/family and given that so much of what we did involved last wishes it was time to cry again when the family followed up with me.
One of the chances I was given to get to know the family was my little 6 year old buddy Jarrod. He was suffering from stage 4 cancer and did not have enough time to go through Make-A-Wish. I worked very closely with his mother to plan the family trip. I secured VIP viewing of all shows and parades making sure Jarrod had as little stress as possible. I met the family while escorting them on the Lilly Belle, the Presidential car on the Disneyland Railroad. I had sworn them in as Honorary Citizens of Disneyland, which included a frameable certificate. When I was saying good night to the family we found Jarrod digging in the planter and placing the dirt on his certificate. When his mother asked what he was doing he explained he wanted to take Disneyland home with him. I had to leave quickly before my new little friend could see me cry. About 6 weeks later Jarrod's mother phoned to tell me they had lost him 10 days after the trip. She wanted to thank me and my team for giving him the gift of magic. Yet again the tissue at my desk got a work out.
Magic is for the kid in all of us! Including a World War II veteran name George that I had the honor of meeting and honoring. He had worked on steam trains in Europe during the war and was coming to the resort to celebrate his 95th birthday. I had arrange for him to ride in the tinder seat of the Disneyland Railroad, the wonderful Retlaw CMs arranged for him to see the round-house. The great team at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa provided the party with a Birthday cake and party. But the moment that made Lt. George cry was when my friend Earnie (Gunny) and members of the Disneyland Resort Honor Detail invited him to flag retreat. They introduced George to some of the great Annual Passholder veterans, and presented him with the flag that flew over Disneyland that day!
To this day one of my most cherished possessions are the two scrap books of the photos and letters sent by the guests I arranged the magic for. It was a great feeling to work in a place where a large amount of my fellow cast members really cared about guest, service, and the place we call Disneyland!