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of a Lifetime: Tinker Bell's Birthday Event for My Mom
by Jennifer Marx, Author of
This page contains a lot of graphic images -- mostly photos related to the event -- and it make take some time to download if you
have a dial-up connection.]
What if you could have someone else
plan, coordinate, and execute a surprise event for a loved one at Walt Disney World?
That's exactly what Gifts of a Lifetime does so well! I received first-hand experience
with one of their magical events for my mother's birthday, and I'd like to share the
adventure with you here. (Note: This article does contain some spoilers for those who may
be treated to an event -- you've been warned!)
How It Started:
My mother and I planned a trip together which happened to coincide with her
birthday. I wanted to turn the trip into a birthday vacation, so I came up with lots of
ideas to celebrate it (see the Celebrating Birthdays at Disney article). For the piece de resistance, I contacted Gifts of a Lifetime to see
if they could plan a birthday celebration for my mother. You can fill out a Pre-Event
Questionnaire form at their Web site (http://www.giftsofalifetime.com) to get things rolling. I received a
response back from Jane (the president of Gifts of a Lifetime) suggesting an event that
would fit my budget.
Based on the information I provided, Jane suggested the following event idea:
Bell's Birthday Event--In the Magic Kingdom you go with your mom to the Snow White Wishing
Well under the pretext of having her throw in a coin and make a wish for her birthday.
Waiting there at the wishing well will be a letter for mom. The letter will explain that
Tink was very annoyed that you did not invite her on your mom's birthday trip and now
Tinker Bell has hidden mom's birthday card. Now you and mom must follow the clues to find
it or it will be hidden in Neverland forever. The first clue will lead her to the second
and so on. After 4 clues she will finally find her card and an apology from Tinker Bell.
This sounded like the
perfect event for my mother! She loves Tinker Bell and has a bond with the Magic Kingdom
from her time spent working there on the College Program. So I sent back a confirmation to
Jane, along with photos of my mother and me.
|The Birthday Card:
As the event called for a birthday card at the end, I also designed a special card
using a favorite photograph of my mother and I together and a birthday castle image with
Tinker Bell. When I scanned the photograph, I realized I was holding a small golden
bell... tinkling bells and Tinker Bell. It worked perfectly! I printed it, added a
personal message, and mailed it to Jane before I left. Here is what the card looked like:
Surreptitiously glancing at my watch every few minutes, I gently guided my mother
over to Cinderella Castle for our 1:00 pm rendezvous. This was a little tricky at times,
as my mom wanted to ride the Liberty Belle Riverboat -- I knew we didn't have time for
this, and I had to fib a bit and tell her we'd do it later if we had time. Using her
casual remark about wanting to photograph the carousel horses at Cinderella's Carrousel, I
maneuvered here over the Castle by a quarter to 1:00. Knowing she'd be a little suspicious
of my suggestion to throw a coin into the well, I instead mentioned that I wanted to take
some research photos of a new "well" that had been built near the castle (it
wasn't really new anymore, but it was new to her). At a few minutes to 1:00, we approached
the wishing well -- right on time!
Once at the wishing well, I noticed a few other guests sitting on nearby benches.
I'd wondered if Jane would be there, but I didn't see her. What I didn't realize was that
a man dressed like a typical Disney guest and carrying a large Disney shopping bag was in
fact one of Jane's pixies! I could see a large, laminated card propped on a bench,
however. Hoping to get my mother to notice it, I asked her to pose for a couple of
pictures, but she was oblivious to it.
||So I asked her to stand by the
bench for a photo. She turned around and headed for the bench, then paused in mid-step. I
heard a shriek of surprise as she read her name, printed in big letters, on the front of
the card. She turned around with a look of pure delight (see photo).
My mother posing by the wishing well before
noticing the card (circled in yellow). The feet on the right (circled in red) belong to
The card was nicely designed and
laminated -- very classy. The front of the card read, "Pixie Dust Express Special
Delivery for Carolyn Tody, Wishing Well, Magic Kingdom, March 10, 2003"
The inside of the card revealed that
her birthday card had been hidden by Tinker Bell, and that "the first place you need
to look is in the bushes outside of Tinker Bells Toy Shop." Aha! A scavenger hunt! My
mom was beside herself with glee -- this was going to be fun!
My Mom knew exactly where Tinker Bell's Toy Shop is (right behind the castle) and
she made a beeline for it. Alas, the first couple of bushes she looked in turned up
Jane, who was hovering on the
sidelines, waved in my direction while my mother had her head in a bush. Jane indicated
the general location of the next clue. My mom hadn't yet found it, so I casually suggested
there may be more bushes to look in. "Oh, that's a good idea!" she admitted. And
off she went to investigate more bushes.
The first clue, nestled in the greenery.
|Within a few minutes she'd found the next clue
-- it was printed on a business-size card and also laminated like the larger card. A guest
sitting on a bench nearby remarked that someone had been ferociously guarding that card!
Gee... must have been a pixie!
Mom searches the bushes for her card.
The card read, "Tink
stopped here just long enough to take a bath in the dew then she was off to Ye Olde
Christmas to add some sparkle to the Christmas Trees. You should look for a clue
there." Well, that was easy! My mother knew exactly where to look -- Ye Olde
Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square was where she used to work (though it was an antiques
shop back then). So over we marched to Liberty Square!
Once at Ye Old Christmas Shoppe, my mom looked for Christmas trees outside the
building. Finding none, she headed in and began browsing one of many decorated trees in
the shop. When Mom was on the third tree, I spotted Jane through an open door -- she was
waving wildly and indicating the correct tree! As it turned out, it was one my mom had
already looked over. Not sure whether I should say something, I simply asked my mom how
she was doing.
are you trying to tell me something?" she queried.
"No," I lied with a smile.
"Your body language speaks for
itself!" she exclaimed.
Mom finds a clue in the branches of this Christmas
||She headed back to the last
tree. A few minutes later she found the clue, nestled in the branches of the lighted tree.
The next clue card read, "Of course she
couldn't stay here long. She knew that Captain Hook would be visiting his cousins at
Pirates of the Caribbean and she wanted to listen in on their meeting. Enjoy the ride and
THEN look for an empty fountain near the entrance."
The Third Clue:
My mom knew that Pirates of the Caribbean was in Adventureland, but not exactly
where. She hinted that she wanted me to lead her there, but I decided that was too easy.
So I suggested she get out her guidemap and look it up. She did, and off we went to
The wait for Pirates wasn't too bad
and we got in line, sighing in relief as we hit the cool cellar through which the line
weaves. After a 20 minute wait, during which we wondered more than once if we were really
supposed to do the ride first, we boarded our boats and enjoyed the attraction.
|After Pirates, my
mother began looking for empty fountains in the shop at the ride exit. After a few
minutes, I quietly reminded her that the clue said to look for near the entrance to the
ride, not the exit. Once there, she spotted several drinking fountains and investigated
each thoroughly. I was pretty confident that the next clue wouldn't be at a drinking
fountain, but I let her look. Eventually she wound up at a drinking fountain that happened
to be right behind a huge empty fountain. Yet she still hadn't noticed the empty fountain!
I kept quiet just a few minutes longer; she found the fountain herself and whipped around
the corner to check it out. Sure enough, a gleaming white clue card rested on the edge of
Mom searches the DRINKING fountain without seeing
the EMPTY fountain behind it.
time, I noticed that a man was sitting near the fountain, alone, just like at the wishing
well. It occurred to me briefly that he could be a pixie, but I was too distracted to give
it much thought. The important thing is that my mom didn't notice him!
The next clue card read, "Tink
was happy to learn that Captain Hook was not up to any new tricks. As they say in
Neverland: all's well that ends... er... well."
|The Fourth and Final
The last clue was the hardest. The previous three had told her directly where to
go, but this one was more cryptic. My mom's first response to the clue was, "So this
is the end?" I just smiled at her. She figured out for herself that this carefully
worded card was another clue. She immediately latched on to the word "well" but
wasn't immediately sure where to go. I asked her if we hadn't visited some wells that day,
and the light bulb went on over her head. The wishing well! And off we went back to the
On the way back, I discovered the
memory card in my camera was malfunctioning. So I rushed into a shop to buy a disposable
camera. I didn't want to miss any shots. This caused a pixie to come up and ask me if
everything was ok -- they really kept on top of things!
||My mom quickly spotted the
treasure near the wishing well. A shrub planter in the corner was harboring a birthday
card, a Tinker Bell-and-castle card holder, and a bag of pixie dust.
A final card left at the scene read, "Once Tink realized it was wrong
to steal your card she raced to fly it back here. She is so sorry; she even left you some
Pixie Dust! Happy Birthday, Carolyn!"
While we were admiring the goodies, Jane and her pixie
stepped over to say hello! (Sorry, no photos of Jane or her pixie -- we wouldn't want to
ruin the surprise for anyone!) We chatted about the event and thanked her profusely for
making it happen.
My mom was all smiles. She said,
"I knew there was no way Jenny could have hid all these clues -- you did such a great
job! This really makes me feel special." (Ok, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but hey, we
were all excited!) Jane told us about several upcoming events, which sounded even more
exciting. It makes me wish someone would plan an event for me one day. (Are you reading
this, Dave? Ha ha!) Jane did mention she might be creating an event that uses a PassPorter
in it, too!
Jane offered to take a photo of the
two of us together, shown below:
Jennifer and her Mom pose with the goodies.
Jane and her pixie pulled off the
event without a hitch and far exceeded my expectations. My mom was ecstatic and I had a
great time. I couldn't have asked for more. Thank you, Jane and Gifts of a Lifetime! You
provided the perfect grand finale to my mom's birthday vacation!
If you'd like to learn more about a
Gifts of a Lifetime event, visit GiftsOfALifetime.com.
You're also welcome to e-mail me at jennifer (at) passporter.com
if you'd like more details about this particular event.
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