Tears of Joy at Walt Disney World

family in front of castle

For the last week my family and I have been in Florida. I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference and then we extended our stay after the conference so we could play at all the Disney parks.

I have a lot to share with you including news about fun things on the horizon from Disney, tips for bloggers and social media professionals, advice about how to make the most of a fabulous Disney family vacation, restaurant and resort reviews and much more.

We got back last night…so bittersweet. There’s no place like home but the magic of Disney is so incredible you just don’t want it all to end.

But we are back to reality today and I have thousands of pictures to sort through and so many notes to organize from our trip plus work to catch up on while I was away. The kids went back to school this morning and there will be missed school work to catch up with for them as well, swim practice to attend and a meet tomorrow morning plus many other end of year activities and events.

Life is going to get crazy busy.

But before I dive in head first…I want to share this with you. The biggest take-away from our trip.

Tears of joy.

Admittedly, I’m an emotional gal. I laugh and cry openly as I experience emotions and events that touch me in my life. I laughed a lot on our trip to Disney. As a family, we shared so many special moments of pure silliness and abandoned the illusion of “cool” (matching family t-shirts rock!) and just soaked in the moments of joy and happiness as they came. Truly living life in the moment is really living the dream and it doesn’t happen a lot for me.

And I cried.

chris and ali

First during the conference when I heard Chris Powell, trainer and transformation specialist on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, speak about making the choice to make your health a priority. He is helping transform so many people’s lives and is so inspirational.

Then I cried again when I met Ali Vincent, winner of the show The Biggest Loser whose mantra “Believe it. Be it.” helped her lose 112 pounds and she is now inspiring people all over the world that they can achieve their weight loss goals as well on the Live Well Network.

To attend the conference at this time of my life when health has become a focus for me and then to have Disney focus so much of the conference on good health was incredibly special and very emotional. My life has changed drastically since last July. Losing almost 60 pounds and making exercise a daily habit has allowed me to change my perspective and live my life in such a different, more positive way.

Much more about these two incredible people and my experiences with RunDisney later. I promise.

But first….

When the conference ended and my family played at Magic Kingdom, I cried again. Twice.

 jack with belle

The first time was when we experienced Enchanted Tales of Belle, the attraction at the new Fantasyland. During this experience kids are selected from the group to act out certain parts of the story with Belle herself. Annie was Maurice and she shivered with “cold” while holding on to a prop that looked like she was in the Beast’s dungeon. Jackson was the Beast himself. With a red cape he growled (a bit reluctantly) at different parts of the show and then at the end he danced with Belle.

Jackson is 11 and while he enjoyed it he is also at that age when he is starting to get self-conscience and a bit shy. But watching my little boy dance with Belle brought back memories of when he was a toddler and would dance around the room with me while we watched Sleeping Beauty. He was my prince then and he is today. I’m so proud of the young man he growing up to be. I cried with happiness at the memory but also the knowledge that I am so blessed to be his mom. I love this boy with all my heart and soul.

And Annie.

annie with cindy collage

My 7-year-old daughter who loves Cinderella more than anything in the world. When we met Cindy at the Magic Kingdom and got her autograph it was so magical.

step sisters

Then she met the evil step-sisters and step-mom as well – which was SO fun (Disney characters REALLY get into character at the parks…they do it so well!) But the Celebrate A Dream Come True parade at 3:00 p.m. when all the characters, dancers and floats go down Main Street was incredible.

Maybe it was because it was the last day of our trip and we left the park right after the parade, but I was overcome with emotion. Annie and Jackson sat on the curb, ice cream from their Mickey bars dribbling down their chins…laughing and joking around while waiting for the parade to start. All the characters were fun to see; Stitch, Mary Poppins, Ariel – we love them all.

cropped cindy parade

But half-way through I saw Annie starting to waving wildly as Cinderella’s float came in to view. The evil step-sisters and mom danced around…interacting with the crowd and then the fairy godmother, perched at the top of the float looked right at Annie and blew her a kiss. Annie “caught” it and sent it right back and then she gasped as Cindy and her Prince floated by. Annie looked up with wide eyes and smiled and then looked back at me. For just a moment, we didn’t say a word among the thousands of other park visitors screaming and jumping and waving. But a conversation was taking place in the silence between us. I could literally hear her thoughts – that she was in total disbelief at all that was taking place…and then she hugged me.

Tears are running down my face right now as I write this….as much as they were when it all happened.

It is the magic of Disney that just cannot be duplicated and really can’t be explained. But I’m so thankful that I have this feeling in my heart I know I will never forget.

walking away

My kids asked me if I was ok as we left the park hand-in-hand after the parade ended for the last time (tears were still streaming down my face and I’m not a pretty crier!) I told them I was more than ok. I was happier than I could imagine or remember being in a long time.

Thank you Belle for dancing with my son.

Thank you Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia; for making us believe we stepped right into your story.

And Thank you Walt Disney, for having a dream and sharing your world with us.

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. I paid a fee to attend which included the opportunity to participate in conference activities, stay at a hotel and experience Disney World; however, my family and I stayed later at our own expense. I was not asked nor expected to write a post about  my experiences. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 





  1. 1

    This brings tears to my eyes. So happy for you and your family and the wonderful experience you all had while at Disney. I hope to one day take my kids there so that they can experience the same magic. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

    • 1.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      April, you absolutely need to go when you can. It’s just really unbelievable! I can’t wait to share my trip with you!

  2. 2

    Dude. You made ME tear up. And I am not a crier.

    • 2.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      🙂 I’d rather make you laugh BUT tears of joy are good, too! 🙂 BTW – I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately, my friend.

  3. 3
    Shannon Haubrich says:

    Oh Jenn, you managed to do it again. I am a mess of tears. This brought me right back to our Disney trip the Christmas before last. Watching my son take everything in did me in. Disney is pure magic and I am not sure any place on earth can compare. I can’t wait to hear about the conference and all the fun y’all had while there. 🙂

    • 3.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      I’m not sure what’s better – experiencing Disney as a kid or watching your kids experience it for the first time. Both are so wonderful!

  4. 4

    Oh, I cried like a baby. Especially when Marc Mero spoke… anyone who says they didn’t tear up is lying!

    The magic of Disney is real, y’all. Nothing compares. You will live with memories of these moments forever 🙂

    • 4.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      Oh Deanna, I completely forgot to mention that presentation. I was crying during that too for sure!

  5. 5
    Jennifer says:

    As they say on imgur, someone’s cutting onions in here. 😉 FABULOUS story, Jennifer; so glad you all had such a wonderful time. NO ONE does it like Disney!

  6. 6

    Gah! You got me too! 😉 Totally crying here. I love your stories!! I’m guilty of tearing up multiple times throughout too…like while watching the Electrical Parade (my childhood favorite from Disneyland and finally getting to share that with my boys). And, when we got my oldest all signed up for Jedi Training Academy! 😉

    • 6.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      Oh – you are so right….the electrical parade was fabulous, too! One night went to MK right as the fireworks started, then rode several rides including many runs on Space Mountain and left right after the electrical parade. It was the best night ever! Hugs!

  7. 7

    It was so wonderful meeting you Jenn, and I’m thrilled that our kids hit it off – I almost started crying when our 7 year old girls started talking about going to college together.
    Great post – so many wonderful memories made!

  8. 8
    Erin Lane says:

    Oh I love this! Happy tears are the best.

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