Monday, June 23, 2014

Disney- It's All in the Details

By: Beth Skarp

It's All In The Details

In September of 2009, we took my aging Mother-In-Law to Disney World. She had saved for over 50 years to make the trip, but never made it. She had taken her family to Disneyland several times, but never to the World. It was our desire to make this trip happen for her.

Mom could never afford any luxuries for herself or her children when they were growing up. It was all she could do to provide for her family as a single parent. We wanted this trip to be extra special for Mom, so we decided to splurge and treat her to Concierge level at Beach Club. Her jaw dropped when she realized what we had done. She was beyond thrilled to spend time not only at a place she had always dreamed about, but also to be treated as royalty. Minnie was on hand to “welcome” her home in the form or fresh flowers when she entered her room.

From Beach Club, we were a stone's throw away from the International Gateway to World Showcase at Epcot. Off we went to introduce Mom to the World. No need for dinner that night as we sampled our way around World Showcase during the International Food and Wine Festival. We did not stay for Illuminations that night, but meandered our way back to the International Gateway and our room so that Mom could rest.

Since we knew Mom would probably never get the opportunity to visit “our” World again, we wanted to make sure that we crammed everything into this 10 day visit as we possibly could. We dined at several signature dining places.

We did the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, we stayed later at the parks to take in the fireworks and extra magic hours, we visited “places” around World Showcase that were on Mom's bucket list but she would probably never visit.

We took several tours, including the concierge level early morning safari tour that was offered at Animal Kingdom at that time (it has since been replaced by the Wild Africa Trek).

Mom fell in love with the waterfall at the Polynesian Resort as we were on our way to Kona Cafe for breakfast. Mom enjoyed the waterfall so much that she asked us to please get her breakfast “to-go” so she could just sit and listen to the fountain and people watch. The Samoan was never enjoyed more by anyone than Mom, sitting on her personal love seat, facing the waterfall, with her feet propped up. Each and every thing we did, Mom enjoyed.

But there comes a time when enough is enough—your limit has been reached. I think we reached this on our sixth day as we were touring the Parks. Mom's brain was overstimulated, there was too much too see, she was hot and sticky not being used to Florida's weather, and she needed a break, NOW!! She did not want to trek all the way back to our room to rest, but she needed a break and a cool place to cool off. What to do?

We were once again in World Showcase nearing the China pavilion, so we opted to head there. Just crossing into this pavilion seemed to have a calming effect on Mom. As we crossed under the gates, it was like a switch had been thrown. The feelings or peacefulness, tranquility, coolness, and yes, even calmness, seemed to just flow over our bodies.

Mulan and Mushu were doing a meet and greet, so of course Mom wanted to see what that was all about.

The Koi fish pond as well as the water gurgling in the small pond had a calming effect on Mom, as did the light mist that she felt from the pond.

We had always seen the beautiful building that was there, the Temple of Heaven, but had never gone inside before. The doors were opened, and Mom, being the curious type, wanted to know what this was. So, off we went to explore.

The inside of the Temple of Heaven is literally a small piece of Heaven at Disney. It is quiet and somewhat dark inside, pleasantly air-conditioned and cool without being frigid. The interior of the Temple provided a wonderful place to just sit and relax. There was a show that was due to start in about 15 minutes, which we agreed to watch. I am so glad that we did. While I was not able to hear the dulcimer or zither (the sounds are outside of my range of hearing), Mom could. Mom loved the show, so much so in fact that the soothing music, the darker interior and the coolness of the Temple of Heaven caused her to relax fully and fall asleep.

We spent a good 2 hours exploring the China pavilion, just taking in the serenity we found here. Mom loved the ponds, the rosebushes, the trees, and just watching the Koi fish in the pond. She loved the exhibits we found here. We had several Cast Members explain to us about the Temple of Heaven and the pavilion itself.

Did you know that the number of stones in the floor are not random at all? Neither did we, but we did learn that the center stone is surrounded by nine stones since the number nine is considered to be a lucky number in China. The outer room in the Temple of Heaven, where we listened to the beautiful music, has 12 columns supporting it. Not only do the columns represent the various months in a calendar year, the columns also represent the number of years in a full cycle of the Chinese calender. We also learned that if you stand on the round stone located in the center of the floor with the nine stones surrounding you, every word or whisper is amplified. That was so cool, and Mom enjoyed listening to our whispering and actually hearing us from a ways away, even with her back turned to us.

Disney is big on making sure that every small, minute detail is adhered to when a ride, attraction or exhibit is put together. The China pavilion in World Showcase is no exception. Ying & Yang are central to the culture of China. A Cast Member explained that Ying & Yang literally means “A condition or place of quiet or total serenity in the midst of noisiness and confusion.”
That about summed up what we all were feeling just before we entered the China pavilion. We found our personal “Ying & Yang” right where we should have found it—In China!

Thank you Disney for always taking care of the little details for us.


  1. Great story Beth. Thanks for sharing!

  2. If your mom had as much love extended to her on that trip, as I received in one day, she was greatly blessed. What a generous gift. I agree about the serenity of the China pavillion.
    Thank you for sharing this sweet story and glimpse of your mil.

  3. What a lovely way to treat your mom! I love the China pavilion, I have actually laid on the floor in the big round room to take a photo of the ceiling.

  4. Another awesome article, Beth!


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