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Theme park cast member stories: My Christmas morning at Walt Disney World

By Robert Niles
Published: December 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM
The two kids flew by me, running through the Pirates of the Caribbean turnstiles, moments after seven in the morning.

Dad, with his newly-bought coffee in hand, lingered in the plaza. The morning air felt bitterly cold, after the snow earlier that week.

"Merry Christmas," I told him, the first of many such greetings I'd be offering that day.

"Merry Christmas," he replied, stamping his feet. Few tourists had brought the right clothes for the cold snap. "Wow, it must be tough working Christmas morning."

I laughed.

"Actually," I said, "several of us were just wondering if we'd find anyone out here coming to Disney World first thing on Christmas morning."

To be honest, I think the exact words another Pirates cast member had used moments before the park opened were something like "I cannot believe that anyone in their right mind would come to Disney World instead of spending Christmas morning opening presents." But I didn't tell the Dad that.

He laughed.

"Yeah, you'd think that we'd be opening presents somewhere, right?"

The guy reads minds, I guessed. Another family walked into the plaza, shivering as they pushed through the turnstiles.

"Well, obviously I'm skipping that, too," I said with a grin. Of course, I'd be opening presents with my family before Christmas dinner that afternoon, after my shift, so it wasn't like I wasn't going to be celebrating the day. I wondered if they'd be doing something similar, too, later in the day at whatever hotel where they were staying.

The Dad's focus shifted; he turned his eyes from me toward the passageway his kids had run into.

"The kids said they really wanted to go to Disney World for Christmas," he said. "Their mom and I told them that we couldn't afford that, with other presents, too."

He sipped his coffee.

"So the kids said, 'Fine, let's skip the other presents and all give each other a trip to Disney World, instead,'" he continued.

The Dad brought his eyes back to me, and I could see a misty look in them, one that may well not have had anything to do with the cold.

"So I guess they're opening their presents now, after all."

He stood, silently now, with a silly grin on his face, his eyes drifting back down the passageway.

I let him have the moment, then spoke.

"They'll be exiting through the shops over to your right, sir," I said.

"Oh... yes. Thanks."

"Sir?"

He looked back at me, as he walked across the plaza.

"Merry Christmas," I said.

Read more of Robert's stories about working in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Readers' Opinions

From Jack Curley on December 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM
My parents took us to Disney World for Christmas back in 84, I think? The presents were waiting under the Christmas tree when we got home. I got a Transformer. I think opening the presents back at home makes more sense. Why bring a suitcase filled with wrapped presents to Florida, just to have the kids open them and then pack them back up to bring them home?
From Vickie Boyd on December 21, 2009 at 12:54 PM
You have some of the greatest stories. That one is just so cool.
From Gareth H on December 21, 2009 at 12:55 PM
**Wiping back a tear**
Aww, I remember 5 years ago going to Magic Kingdom for Christmas day, straight after church.
Only one thing I can say.

NEVER AGAIN!!!

It was packed to capacity. Queues were long, the atmosphere was filled with stressed out parents and over excited kids!

If I had an AP I could handle a few hours maybe, but I'd paid for a full day and thats exactly what I was going to do!

From Joshua Counsil on December 21, 2009 at 1:08 PM
Nice.

We've done Disney World as a Christmas gift, but we waited until January or February to visit. No way I'd be caught in Disney on Christmas.

From James Rao on December 21, 2009 at 1:38 PM
Not sure why, but ever since I had my first kid I've been a silly, sentimental sap. This story hit me like a holiday Hallmark commercial with a melancholy uppercut thrown in for good measure! Great story, Robert!
From Bob Miller on December 22, 2009 at 7:41 AM
Ditto James, feel the same way. I can't wait till Zachary and I can bump elbows with the crowd of other people from Dec 21st till Jan 3rd one of these years in the not to distant future. It's been a dream of mine since before Zachary or my daughter were born. And being from the northeast, we'll pack plenty of warm clothes just in case. Merry Christmas to everyone, a few days early.

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