Thursday, December 12, 2013

Magic Moments: Christmas at The Grand Floridian

You can take the kids out of the youth room...
As we continue to get into the spirit of Christmas and some great memories of years gone by, today's youth ministry Magic Moment comes from my years in Kissimmee.  There are few parings in life that seem less likely than a youth group full of wacky teenagers and the ultimate Walt Disney World luxury resort, The Grand Floridian. Yet through a series of wonderfully strange circumstances, we wound up having a wonderful youth group Christmas party in one of ballrooms at the GF in 1997. This is the story of that evening. Enjoy this Throwback Thursday memory!

It was our habit in those days (1994-2000) at FUMC-Kissimmee to have very formal Christmas parties. Everyone dressed up and we would have the event catered. For a number of years the party had been held at one of the lakefront homes of some of our wealthier members, in houses so large that the over 100 youth in attendance were barely noticeable. In 1997, none of our very generous hosts were available on the dates we wanted, and I began to search for other options. Our church was loaded with folks who had WDW connections, so I began to explore those channels as well. A church member who was also in management with Disney (I believe his name was Jeff) suggested that if we could find an unbooked conference room or other meeting space at one of the resort hotels that we might could get a decent price- and so he began to look for such a location. The only thing available was one of the grand ballrooms at The Mouse's most exclusive resort. I assumed it would be cost prohibitive. but Jeff got us a great deal, and we decided to go for it. As you can tell from the picture, this is not a quaint little hideaway; this was the big time!  Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and almost every celebrity you could name had stayed there; and now the youth ministry of First Methodist Kissimmee would party there!  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction... maybe the karaoke wasn't PERFECT...
Youth Ministry is always full of surprises and adventures that you cannot predict and never expected, but there were very few events in my career as surreal to me as having our church vans valet parked at the GF!!! And that was only the beginning. Disney does everything with excellence, even if it is for a local youth group paying bargain prices. It was a great night; the catering, the service, the karaoke and the elegance were perfect. The students, many of whom had grown up in the shadow of The Mouse and were thus a bit immune to the normal Disney magic, were totally WOWED by the treatment we received and the beauty of the location. It was a truly magical night and a once in a lifetime opportunity.'s the people!
I have written before that it's not the location, the food, the gifts or the service that make a youth group Christmas party great- it's being with people you love and care about and celebrating life together. And that is so very true. But for this one night and this one very special memory, maybe it was a little bit about all that other stuff too! :) I don't know how many student ministries have ever been blessed to have their Christmas parties at WDW, especially at the GF. But I am so glad to have my name on that short list. Be blessed, my friends!

Jesus- the only hope for me is you...and YOU alone!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!