By Kristen Miller
DASSEL ,MN - The Clark family of Dassel were so excited to take a trip to Disneyland over Thanksgiving break never did they think when they got there, they would be treated like royalty.
Jason and Christina Clark had planned to take their two sons, Gregory, 5, and Nathan, 3, on a family get-a-way which included three days in Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, and then down to San Diego for Sea World and the zoo.
With this being Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams, the family thought just maybe some unexpected surprises would come their way while at the park.
Because the family had a multi-day pass, they were given early admission to the park, before it even opened Sunday morning (their last day at the park).
Nathan picked the first ride, the Astroblasters, which happened to be in the “Tommorowland” area of the amusement park.
Next, the family went on the Autotopia ride, in which the kids were able to drive little race cars on a controlled course.
Christina road in the car with Gregory, while Jason road with Nathan.
The car in front of Christina and Gregory stalled, so they waited unknown to them at that point it would turn out to be perfect timing.
After the car got going again, they came over a bridge, where they saw Disneyland employees waving at them.
Christina and Gregory waved back, not thinking much of it, but thought they might have won something since it was the Year of a Million Dreams.
Later, Christina said she thought maybe they won a Fast Pass, which would get them in front of every line for every ride at the park.
Following the ride, the employees, or Dream Squad as they are called, began asking them questions. At this point, Christina was thinking this was something more than just a Fast Pass.
They were then asked to follow them to see what they had won, and were shown a video.
“Our eyes welled up with tears,” Christina said.
Gregory Clark had won a one-night stay for him and his family in the park’s famous Dream Suite which Walt Disney created himself for presidents and royalty.
This year, for the Year of a Million Dreams, only about 300 families from around the world have stayed in the suite, according to Christina. This would also be the only year in which average families like the Clarks, will have the opportunity to stay there, according to Christina.
Starting in 2009, average visitors like Gregory and the Clark family won’t be able to win this night in the Dream Suite, only corporations, Christina said.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” she said.
Included in this one-night stay in the Dream Suite was VIP service with a concierge, Gregory chosen as the honorary grand marshal of the parade, access to the park after it closed, being followed by paparazzi taking pictures, and breakfast with Minnie and friends the next morning.
“They thought of everything, all the way down to the crystal,” Christina said.
Upon entering the suite, the family received a crystal bowl with the family’s name and the date they stayed in the suite, along with other Disney treats and gifts.
The suite was above the Pirates of the Caribbean, and the family had supper at the Blue Bayou restaurant, where they were served ice cream in pirate boats for dessert.
Staying in the suite was Gregory’s favorite part. Inside each room was a button called “The Good Night Kiss,” and when pushed, the room would come to life.
In Gregory’s room, called “Frontierland,” a train would come to life and light up the different objects along its way around his room.
Getting to meet all the Disney characters the next morning, Gregory found Cinderella to be his favorite. Gregory even suggested his parents name their unborn child “Cinderella,” if it happens to be a girl.
Being an avid Disney fan and visitor, Christina knows Walt Disney’s goal was to grant wishes.
“That was his big thing,” she said.
“Saying ‘it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience’ is an understatement,” Christina said. “After this family vacation, what can top this?”
The Clark family arrived home Dec. 7 to find a postcard from the Dream Squad thanking them, which read: “On behalf of all of us associated with the Dream Squad, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your Dream!”
“Out of a million visitors this year to Disneyland, to be picked was an experience our family will never forget,” Christina said.