It’s a world of laughter, a world of…love

I have never met a bigger Walt Disney World fan than my mother, Peggy Kostelnik.
Our entire family celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday on thegrounds in 1999. At the appointed time, I met my sisters and brother at the base of Splash Mountain.
“Where is she?” asked my brother.
I pointed to the ride.
We heard a loud Yahoo! and turned just in time to see Mom and my three children Charlie, Katherine and Vinnie come splashing down the mountain.
It is not enough for my mom to celebrate her birthday at Disney World. She has to be the first person down Splash Mountain every year on her birthday. Molly and I have been fortunate to celebrate some of those milestone birthdays with her.
We set a record in 2009 when Molly, my mom, and my sisterKathy  celebrated Grandma Peggy’s 70th birthday by being the first group down Splash Mountain two mornings in a row.
Should you find yourself in the company of a similarly wired septuagenarian, I give you the following tips:

1) Wear comfortable shoes. The gates to the park will open and you will follow directly on the heels of the Disney guard as he briskly walks you through the park. Here’s the trick: when he guides everyone else straight ahead to the castle, you will quickly duck to the left and sprint through Adventureland straight to Frontierland. You may want to train for this part prior to your trip because Grandma sets the pace and she doesn’t even turn her head to see whose following.
2) Bring a rain coat. We’ve have conquered Splash Mountainin all kinds of weather, most memorably in 2006 when the temperature hovered around freezing, which pleased my mom greatly. No lines. The thing about riding the first log down Splash Mountain is you will be wet the rest of the day if you don’t dress properly.
3) Do not under any circumstances let your mother know that you have never ridden Space Mountain. She will shake her head in disgust and march you right over to Tomorrowland. This happened to me five years ago and, after I obediently rode that terrifying ride all by myself, I emerged to find myself abandoned. They had all jumped into the Disney Parade; Molly actually rode one of the princess floats.
Because we are all heading to Florida in June to celebrate my sister’s wedding, we will not be with my mom tomorrow to celebrate herbirthday. (She tried to talk my sister into getting married at Disney World, but, probably with vision of Mickey Mouse saying her vows, Kathy politely declined.)

We’re going to take this opportunity to say, “Happy Birthday Grandma Peggy and thanks for inviting us into your Magic Kingdom.”

Here is my mom on her 60th birthday. I was able to snap
this picture because I was waiting in front of Splash Mountain
with everyone else as instructed. These four hooligans snuck
in an extra ride prior to meeting up with us.
Chilled but triumphant. This is our 2006 trip and we covered
a whole lot of ground that year because hardly anyone else was
in the park.
In 2009 we earned this photo two mornings in a row.
I’d have cropped it so you could get a better look at
Molly’s scream, but I think it’s pretty hilarious that we’re
the only ones on the ride. There’s a log jam of tourists
back at the castle. Suckers.
I really can’t tell you how thrilled my mom was to have Mickey
and Minnie wish her a Happy Birthday….
…but I can tell you she danced.
Here is Molly on her first trip to Disney World. My mom loved
the yellow T-shirts I made everyone until they inspired the animated
garbage can to follow her all over Tomorrowland shouting “Grandma
Peggy is 60! Grandma Peggy is 60!” Molly’s got a good grip on Vince’s hair.

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