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It Happened at Disneyland

It happened at Disneyland.

Code Adam.  Words you never hope to hear.  With my second daughter and middle child, Emmalynn, it has always been the inevitable.

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For years, my family and I participated in the taping of Disney’s Christmas Parade at the Magic Kingdom.  Although our one-day park tickets would be free, the cost would be more than we were willing to pay.

Since my husband attended graduate school on Saturdays, my parents joined me and the girls this year.  It had been decades since my parents visited the park and could now relive the magic through their grandchildren’s eyes.  We arrived early and had a wonderful day taking in all the sights of Magic Kingdom.

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Several of our friends were there for the taping as well and it felt like one huge family reunion.

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As to not make for a long day with young children, my parents and I decided to leave the park around 6:00 p.m.   For cutting our day short, we promised my oldest daughter a toy from the Emporium on Main Street when we left the park.  To avoid any Houdini moments from my clever little two year old escape artist, Emmalynn wore her monkey harness most of the day or sat buckled in her stroller, however, once inside the Emporium, I unbuckled Emmalynn from her stroller so she could choose a toy in the shop.

My mom, Allana, Emmalynn and I made our way to the check-out while my dad stayed with the stroller. I bought Allana’s toys and my mom waited behind me to purchase Emmalynn’s toys. Then, in a blink of an eye, Emmalynn ran off.  My mom tried to chase her, but she was too slow and Emmalynn vanished.

I was finishing my purchase when my mom returned without Emmalynn. With clothing racks positioned throughout the store like walls of a labyrinth and an exit door leading to a mob of people strolling down Main Street, we didn’t even know where to begin looking.

I grabbed a cast member and explained what had happened. I described Emmalynn’s clothes, her features and displayed her image on my digital camera. (This was years before I owned a cell phone with a decent camera.)  My heart sunk. I thought I was going to be sick.

How would I ever find my child in a sea of a million people?  How would I explain this to my husband?

The Disney Security Team reported to the scene. I was advised to stay in one place while the team located Emmalynn. And then, he said the words no parent should ever have to hear, “We have a Code Adam.”

I called my husband, who was waiting for us at the hotel, to explain why we hadn’t arrived yet. I tried to utter the words, but he couldn’t understand me. Other guests saw my uncontrollable sobbing and tried to locate her in the store, but there was still no sign of her.

Forty five minutes later although it felt like a lifetime, two guests found Emmalynn following strangers down Main Street still holding two small stuffed toys.

Years later, she still holds those stuffed Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse toys which prompt her to ask me to retell the tale of the time we lost her at Disney.

“Were you sad, Mommy?”

“I couldn’t stop crying.  Even Allana cried for you,” I reply with a lump in my throat as relive the horror.

Since that first Code Adam moment, we’ve lost her countless times and by the grace of God, she’s always been found within a few minutes.  Rest assured, if you ever hear a Code Adam, it’s because I’ve lost one of my children again.

Yes, I am that mom and my path to neglectful parenting happened at Disneyland.

*This “It happened at Disneyland” post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.*

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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Disney Marathon Weekend: My “Unofficial” Goofy Challenge

I know many of you are anxiously awaiting my recap of Disney Marathon Weekend (My Unofficial Goofy Challenge) and may be wondering how I did.  Well, after running 39.3 miles, the good news is I can still walk and climb the stairs in my home without falling!


Of course, my legs were sore, but I was not in agonizing pain simply because I took each race at a moderate pace.  At the beginning of each race, it was difficult to find a pace faster than 12 minute miles due to the sheer volume of runners and speed walkers but I was grateful for the forced slow pace to reserve my energy for the long haul.


Thrilled to be part of an amazing experience, I learned several things:


1.  True athletes are the most supportive and encouraging people you will ever meet.  Before the race weekend, I arranged to meet Lindsay of Chasing the Kenyans.  She is a dedicated runner who thought I was full of energy!  It was such a pleasure to meet her!


lindsay Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


Another runner blogger, Becelisa, also offered her encouraging words via text messages.  Although we missed each other this race, I am sure I will see her at Gasparilla.  Both Lindsay and Becelisa finished with excellent times.  (Be sure to visit their blogs to read about their Disney experience.)


I also met a pair of father and son marathoners.  The son attempted his first marathon.  Dad faced marathon #9 and strived for a time around 4:40.  Yet, both gentlemen wished Tiffany and I success on our first marathon.  


Then, I met the most supportive athlete out of the pack.  This runner overheard me telling Lori that I needed to remove my sweatshirt after our first couple of miles in the half marathon.  Hoping for another type of entertainment outside of the usual Disney productions, he encouraged me to run topless, if necessary.  I happened across him in the Tomorrowland restrooms during our marathon on Sunday and on our second encounter, he happily posed for a picture hoping once again for a free peek at my pups.


goofy guy Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


2.  It really is a small world after all!  While walking to the start line of the marathon, another runner commented on Tiffany’s hideous hieroglyphic mocha explosion colored blanket that she wrapped around herself to combat the cold.  After chatting a bit, I realized that I had stumbled across Chloe from Running with a Bottle of Wine!  Although we started the race together, she took off and finished in record speed.  Chloe was as adorable as I expected and I am so happy for our chance encounter!        


3.  Runners are highly driven, goal-oriented people.  During this race weekend, there were blind runners, competitors in wheelchairs and runners with prosthetics.  I met one woman who decided to run after surviving a stroke and another woman who ran after surviving a brain aneurysm.  I also spotted two pregnant mommas running in the marathon.  I am in awe in what drives these athletes.


blind runner Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


4.  Sport gels pack an amazing amount of energy boost!  Although I like to believe the magic of Disney carried me through to the finish line, it was more likely the Clif Shots.  I highly recommend Vanilla.


 Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


5.  Clif Shots make you gassy and may even cause you to shit yourself diarrhea.  Thankfully, I did not experience the latter, but I would like to publicly apologize to anyone who may have been standing in line near me at any number of rides at Magic Kingdom or Epcot.  No, Walt Disney World does not smell like that.


6.  Black pepper makes you gassy.  A new bit of knowledge shared in passing by this gentleman. 


pepper man Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


Let me clarify.  He did not pass gas nor did I run through an unpleasant cloud produced by his bowels, rather I overheard a conversation he shared with his friend.  Thanks for the tip!


7.  And most importantly, I CAN RUN A MARATHON!  Correction, I can run a HALF marathon and a FULL marathon the next day!  That’s 39.3 miles, BABY!  Like Lori said to me throughout the race, “It’s not about the time, but the experience.  Worry about your time at Gasparilla.  There are way too many distractions at Disney.”  And when you see my video slideshow of the weekend, you will see why I was easily distracted!


I mostly ran each race, with some walking at the water stations/snack stops and occasionally posing for pictures.  I also danced when the mood hit me.  I finished each race strong and sprinted across the finish line like a Kenyan!  Crossing the finish at the end of the marathon, I cranked my arm in the air and encouraged the crowd “To make some noise!” all while still smiling.     


When a volunteer placed my Mickey medal around my neck, I cried. 


Like I said before, there were a lot of Disney distractions during the race, which is reflected in my time.  But when you do ever get the opportunity to pose with Mickey Mouse during a race?  For kicks and grins and a good laugh, here are my stats for both races:


Half Marathon

Clock Time 3:09:42
Chip Time 2:45:42
Overall Place 7621 / 12434
Gender Place 3746 / 7181
Division Place 756 / 1326
Age Grade 40.6%
5K Split 38:20
10K Split 1:26:23
15K Split 2:03:0 



Distance MAR
Clock Time 6:07:24
Chip Time 5:59:30
Overall Place 11729 / 14940
Gender Place 5118 / 7139
Division Place 980 / 1317
Age Grade 38.6%
5 Mile 1:09:20
10 Mile 2:06:37
Half Split 2:58:29
20 Mile 4:39:30


I captured both races in pictures and I have complied a video of the whole experience.  Expect a slideshow of the weekend very soon!


After the marathon, my family and Lori’s family met me at Epcot to celebrate.  Allan and I celebrated my accomplishment with some beer, of course!


victory beer Disney Marathon Weekend: My Unofficial Goofy Challenge


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