When I thought about what my first “after Disney Social Media Moms Celebration” blog post would be, this was not the one I thought I would write.
As the Mother’s Day Brunch concluded our Disney three-day celebration, it was a hectic time for many of us. I saw fellow Disney Mom families with luggage in the elevator or running to the Magical Express bus as they shouted their good-byes on the way to the airport or the next Disney hotel. It was a similar scene at our room at the Contemporary.
After the brunch concluded, we were in a flurry to get packed, checked out and into our new room for one night before heading out for one last day of fun. It being Mother’s Day, I was in full on Mom duty – packing the kids luggage, my luggage, getting the kids dressed, myself dressed, as I darted around my parents and their luggage. My husband packed himself up and we left the hotel onto our next adventure.
After a fun day at Epcot, we checked into our new hotel at the All Star Music Resort. We were tired and looking forward to a dip in the pool and then dinner. As I opened my kids’ suitcase to get out their bathing suits, I saw that my son’s stuffed monkey was not in there. You know. His favorite stuffed animal in the whole world? His best stuffed friend? Not there. I looked in mine. Not there either. I yelled out asking everyone where Monkey was.
You can only imagine how my heart was pounding. It must be in the outside pocket. Not there. Must be in my husband’s suitcase. Not there. I must have missed it the first time around. I looked again. As I searched to no avail, my heart was sinking and it hit rock bottom when my son, in his little voice, asked me, “Mommy, where is Monkey?”
I immediately got on the phone and got connected to the front desk at the Contemporary. They patched me through to Lost and Found, which, as the voice mail said, was only open Monday through Friday. I hung up and called back. My son was going to be crying tonight and I couldn’t wait until the morning. I got another woman at the Contemporary’s front desk. I think, in my hysteria, she realized I was not in the state of mind to wait until the morning. I asked if there was any way someone could check the room? Walk to Lost and Found for us? Anything. She said she would get in touch with the manager and would call me back. As I hung up, my husband was walking out the door. He was going to get on the series of buses he needed to get back to the Contemporary to find Monkey.
At this point, I had to tell my son that we were looking for Monkey, and we tried to have a fun evening. We went to the pool. We had dinner. We went to the pool again. All the while, my head was pounding, my heart was hurting, and it was turning out to be the worst Mother’s Day ever….
My husband connected with the Front Desk cast member. She knew what we were feeling as her daughter has lost her favorite stuffed animal years before. She looked around the front desk to see if it had been turned in. It wasn’t there. She found the manager, and he checked the Lost and Found area to see if it was there. It wasn’t. He brought my husband to the room so he could look around. Not there. As they searched, the manager shared the protocol on what could have happened and what steps could be taken to locate it. As I was putting the kids to bed, my husband called from the bus. Monkey was nowhere to be found. As I hung up the phone, my son looked at me from the bed and said, “Mommy, can you find Monkey, please?”
While my son went to bed sad, it was I that cried myself to sleep that night.
I felt like the biggest Mom failure. How could four adults lose a stuffed animal? How come I didn’t notice? I should have noticed. I should have been more on top of things. My son trusts me and how could I have let him down? The tears just wouldn’t stop.
The next day, as we were heading to the airport, I told him that Monkey was staying a couple extra days to have fun with his cousins at Animal Kingdom. We told him that Monkey was eating lots of bananas, and swinging on the Tree of Life. We figured it would buy us some time. I could see the sadness in his eyes and my heart broke even more when he just said to us, “I want to go to the Animal Kingdom.”
As we traveled home, my husband checked in several times with the manager at the Contemporary Hotel. The manager had questioned the floor cleaning staff. He had contacted the Textile Department and put them on alert in case they found Monkey in the sheets. I worried that we were pestering the poor guy. We probably were. But he never seemed to be bothered by our emails and calls. As you probably can all imagine, we aren’t the first family to lose a stuffed animal or any other host of items that we found out from our conversations that people lose during their Disney stays, but they treated this as if Monkey was Mickey Mouse himself. On one hand I was optimistic that Monkey would be found with the detail they employ with lost items. But on the other hand, I felt despair with the multitude of items they must get. How could he be found with everything else to sort through?
Our first night home, we kept telling our son that Monkey was on the Safari ride, that Monkey was riding on the raft ride, that he was visiting the elephants. We even went so far to place a fake call. I hide in the bedroom and called the house phone. My son answered and I made Monkey noises while my husband ‘interpreted’ it to mean that he was saying good night and would be home soon. I know, we are crazy. I even started trying to figure out how I could send a post card ……
I went to bed praying for a miracle.
The next day, I was running errands when my husband called. He asked if I was in a place where I could check my email. I pulled out my iPhone and saw the subject line “Mickey, Monkey and Goofy found in a pile of bananas at the Contemporary Hotel.” My husband had written the subject line and had forwarded the picture the manager had sent. I burst into tears. (I think the woman in the checkout line behind me wondered what was wrong with my deli meat order.)
Monkey had been found on the four floor of the Contemporary, but we have no idea how he ended up down there. All we do know is that the staff tirelessly looked for him. Whether they personally related or not, they acted as if our son was their son, and wanted to reunite two best friends together again.
That night at dinner, we told our son that Monkey missed him and wanted to come home. So, he was going to fly back on an airplane the next day (thanks to the generosity of the manager who FedEx’d Monkey). My son was so excited, and I was over the moon. That night, my husband gave me a new purse for my Mother’s Day present since it hadn’t been the right time to give it to me up to that point. I said to him that he could return it. I had already gotten the best Mother’s Day present ever.
As my son woke up the next morning, he asked where Monkey was. I told him that Monkey was on a plane. When he got home from preschool, I told him that Monkey was on the bus from the airport and would be home any minute. When Monkey arrived in the FedEx box, I pulled him out and gave him a quick bath. When my son wasn’t looking, I placed him on the doorstep and rang the doorbell. He looked at me quizzically, and I said, “I think Monkey is here!” He burst into tears. I told him he needed to smile and open the door…and here is the rest of the story.
Turns out that monkey didn’t travel alone. He had some friends with him. Lightening McQueen and Mickey Mouse, of course; two little figures that the Manager had put in the box too.
As I learned at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, Disney has new ways for us to tell our stories through the Disney Storybook App, and that there is a lot of Disney Magic going on behind the scenes. Well, this is our Disney story, and we truly got a behind the scenes look at the Disney Magic; thanks to the amazing Disney cast and one extremely Mouse-tastic manager who wanted to make sure that our Disney memories were happy ones. I feel like they went above and beyond for us. Searching for Monkey, overnighting Monkey, and then packing some extra love. But that is what they do. What other places consider above and beyond, they consider part of the job. They didn’t know I was there for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. They treated my family like any other Disney family, and for that, I am grateful. It wasn’t about Media. It was about being a Mom. It wasn’t about press, it was about pressing through.
So this is my heartfelt thanks to everyone who searched high and low for us, and for the Disney Magic that we truly got to experience. If only they knew how much heart there is behind our thanks. I only hope this post, and video, shows the depth of our joy and our gratitude.
As Walt Disney once said,
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”