I have been thinking long and hard about what my first article would be about for the Man Cave. I have lots of good stories of guys trips and dad stuff (that will come later) but I figures an introduction might be better. If you have read my site you might know this story but it really is where it all started. The fact that I am here on this site writing an article or the fact that I have a web site dedicated to the Polynesian Resort or even the fact that I am a dad who visits Disney all started with one thing…a brick. Maybe some things would have ended up the same but I think a lot of things would be different if I had not made a decision involving a brick. So let’s tell the story before I contemplate how things might have been different.
The year is 1999 and I had been seeing my girlfriend for a while but we had known each other for years. We were both at the point in our lives where we wanted to have a family and a home and responsibilities. I had also had a one page Geocities (make your own) web page with some photos of a trip to the Polynesian Resort but it was not much more than a few words about the trip and about 12 photos.
It was September 1999 and I had talked to my parents and her parents about asking her to marry me but I am not one to do things in a boring way especially when it is something I do once in a lifetime. Little did I know that the decision I was going to make about a purchase would change my whole life. Things like my web pages, trips to Disney parks and even my son would come from the decision to purchase something I saw on the back of an old wrinkled up receipt from a previous stay at the Polynesian Resort.
What was on the back of the receipt? It was an ad for purchasing a “Walk around the world” brick. At this time, they were just starting to put in around the Seven Seas lagoon. You could have the bricks customized to say different things or have your name and home city put on them. I decided that I was going to put the proposal on a brick and have it there for a trip that was not even planned yet. I also started working on getting a custom ring made like one that my girlfriend had seen in a window one day.
Well Holidays and special occasions like her birthday, Christmas and New Years went by and there was no hint that I wanted things to get more serious. She was very disappointed and felt that things were not going to move forward.
Her brother was going to be getting married in Michigan so I told her we should plan a vacation to go along with traveling out to Michigan. I talked her into going to Disney World and she just thought it was another Disneyland. I tried to explain how big it was but she just couldn’t understand. We live near San Francisco and I explained it was as big as the SF city limits.
We decided to do the trip and I was one step closer to my plan. I did not tell anyone else including the rest of her family just so I did not have to worry about her finding out on accident. My parents got me a video camera for the trip so I could capture the whole thing on tape since no one else would be there. The ring was done being made and the trip was booked. So far so good. I also had a plan for how she would find the brick. I told her that a friend purchased this brick when he was there the year before but since they take months to have put in he did not get to see it. The story was that we needed to go find the brick and take a photo of it for him.
Months go by and June is here. We are packing for the trip and I had to put the ring somewhere. I had nightmares of me getting stopped at security with the ring and her seeing it. I put the ring in a balled up pair of socks that went into my checked luggage. One evening I went into my room to find her looking for something and she had the pair of socks in her hand as she was putting it off to the side. I freaked out and thought for sure she felt the lump of the box in the socks. Heart attack number 1!!! Luckily she did not.
So off we go to Michigan. I still never told anyone in Michigan so this whole time I am busting at the seams to get to Disney World. The day after the wedding Tara gets sick and we might have to skip the trip and fly home. Heart attack number 2!!!
After going to the doctor in Michigan and getting antibiotics she is feeling well enough to continue the trip.
We get to Florida and Tara is amazed at the size of Disneyworld and we are not even all the way in yet. We get to the Polynesian resort and we go check in at the front desk. The front desk tells us our room is not ready but we have been upgraded to concierge. We go sit in the lobby and relax and I tell her I was considering trying concierge but that I did not book a concierge room. I booked a standard lagoon view room. I was thinking a family member called and told them about the engagement and Tara was thinking it had to do with my birthday being that week. I did not know anyone at the Polynesian at that time and I never told anyone at the resort about my birthday or the engagement. We later found out that we were both wrong because no one at the resort knew about either thing. It ended up being that lagoon view rooms were overbooked through some online travel (like Expedia or similar) so the people that paid the full rate were upgraded to the next available lagoon view rooms that happened to be in the concierge building.
We waited a while and then we went over to the Hawaii longhouse to check in. We were greeted by two CMs that later would become like family to us. I took Tara to the room and we walked in and I walked her over to the drapes and pulled them back to show her a direct view of the castle. This was her first time setting eyes on Cinderella’s castle. She looked like she would cry and the feeling I had was like the first time I had ever gone to Disney World. I knew the next few days would be exciting as she discovered everything that Disney World had to offer.
The only thing that comes close to the feeling I had of walking her through every park was the feeling I had Christmas 2006 when my son entered his first Disney World park and his face lit up as he watched the Christmas lights and the monorail going by overhead inside Epcot.
The next day, I got up early to go check out the brick since I had not seen it myself. I told Tara I was going to go for a morning walk while she got ready. I walked all the way over to the Transportation and Ticket Center with the map that they give you and I found the brick and headed back fast. Luckily the walk is only about 5 minutes. We were headed to the water park early so I put the ring in my board shorts pocket and we headed out to find my “friends” brick.
I took the video camera and filmed the walk from the room to the TTC. Once we got close Tara was having trouble finding it and went past where it was but I could not let her know I knew where it was. She finally figured out which way to go and I zoomed in on her as she looked in the area it was at. She paused and turned around with this shocked look on her face. I put the camera on the planter box next to her and got down on my knee and pulled out the ring. People were walking by and looking and pointing but a monorail could have fallen off the tracks and I would not hear anything other than Tara’s voice answering my question. Shaking and crying she said yes. The brick said “Tara will you marry me? Steve”.
The feeling I had overshadowed the feeling of being in Disney World but what a place to be and walk around with the feeling of starting a new life. Especially with the feeling of the new Millennium and all the Millennium celebrations going on. The whole Millennium experience was such a big part of it and Illuminations had such a big impact on the trip that two of the songs were in our wedding.
Being in the concierge building allowed more one on one interaction with the CMs. We even got to sit and talk about the engagement and they shared in our excitement. Right off the bat they felt like friends and family. Because of this trip I went home and created a new web page about the Polynesian and Tara even made one with the story of our trip. That web page turned into people asking about the resort that was so magical to us. There were so many questions about the resort and wanting more details that I got to the point where I could not respond fast enough. So I took what was a trip photo album and started to turn it into a web page with details about the resort.
From that web page I have had emails from all over the world and I have made friends who are as close as family. The CMs that started it all are still very special to me and might never realize how much they changed my life.
Some of the friends I have made through contacting me about my pages are so close that we now travel together on vacation (even non-Disney vacations) and many of them I keep in touch with all the time.
From the magical experiences I have had on my trips to Disney I try and pass that magic along with my site and my communications with those that email me. From that interaction I have gained so many new friends that I otherwise would never know.
So what would my life be like if I had not made that decision to purchase that brick? Well I am guessing I would have still gotten married. I would not have a strong reason to go all the way to Disney World to propose or even vacation that summer. In fact at that time I might have preferred going to Hawaii. Not having that great trip to Disney World might mean that I would not have those feelings and memories to try and revisit. You know how it is when you drive into Disney or check into your resort or visit the parks and often you are reliving that great feeling you had from past trips.
I know that I would not have made my web site and without the site I am sure many of our vacations would have been to other places besides Disney. All of those friendships that were made from all those following visits would not have happened and I would not be writing this article for this web site.
That just goes to show you that one small decision can have a huge impact.
Just think it all started with a brick.