We spend the better part of our lives making our bucket list dreams come true. Darren and I think about our wildest dreams and make them a reality. We try to include Athena in the process as well. I consider what would make her the happiest and include her in the bucket list planning process. Resorts like Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia, Atlantis in the Bahamas, and Kinderhotel in Germany were all part of incorporating the best family-friendly destinations on this year’s list. Similarly, activities like visiting Disneyland, Europa Park, and the San Diego Zoo were all Athena focused, although they, unquestionably, brought us great joy as well. There was one item on this year’s list that was entirely, 100% Athena’s idea. I didn’t come up with it and think she’d like it; nope, she decided it would be the greatest thing in the world all on her own. She wanted to hang out with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii made it possible this weekend. She danced, sang, hugged and laughed with the most famous characters in her world at the Disney Character Breakfast. This is what dreams are made of.
Our breakfast was scheduled for 8:15 am but we arrived at 7:50 am. I couldn’t keep her away any longer. Dressed in her Minnie outfit, she was waiting at the door and couldn’t contain her excitement.
We walked toward the restaurant and her eyes were wide with anticipation. Then, she saw him. Mickey Mouse was greeting guests. There was a line and each family was given time to chat with Mickey and have their photo taken. Not that I’m proud of this (well maybe a little), but Athena saw him and forgot about everything else in the world. She made a B-line for Mickey. Like a crazed fan, she was unstoppable. The staff were as shocked as I was, but Mickey just knew what to do. Rather than anyone stopping her, they let it happen.
She ran into his arms and threw hers around him. They embraced for a few seconds before I, embarrassed, apologized to the others in the line and told Athena we’d have a turn shortly.
At 2.5 years old, she looked at me and said, “This is so exciting I’m going to die!”
When it was actually our turn, Mickey was well aware of Athena’s intensity. He hugged her again and played with her like they were best friends for life. The process wasn’t rushed and we had time to take photos and share in her joy. This might have been the best moment of her life.
Inside the restaurant, Goofy and Minnie were spending time with every family. Athena was so excited when Goofy arrived at our table that she grinned from ear to ear and it never stopped the entire experience. This was her happy place.
She stood up and prepared to jump out of the high chair when Minnie arrived. I had to lift her down before she actually did it. She told Minnie how much she loves Minnie’s Bowtique and did her best Minnie impersonation.
The experience included singing and dancing with Minnie and Goofy. All of the children were actively involved and the place was buzzing with energy. Athena didn’t want to just see the characters; she wanted to hang out with them. Shaking maracas with Minnie, doing the conga with Goofy, and belting out tunes with the Club House gang, this was the adventure she imagined.
We stayed for more than an hour and I will replay those moments over and over again for the rest of my life. Some of my greatest accomplishments include watching dreams become reality for my family. This one might have been for Athena but it brought me just as much joy. I think we’ll be checking this item off our list again in the near future.
***Many thanks to Aulani for hosting our stay. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.***