My fiancé Michael and I met after I returned from an eight-month internship with Walt Disney World Resorts, and I was constantly trying to express to him how much my experience had meant. We took our first trip to Orlando together when I got back from studying abroad in Japan a year and a half later. We had been the only couple to survive the long distance relationship, so what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the happiest place on Earth? We went four more times over the next three years: once for the Disney Marathon, once for the Goofy Challenge and finally for a 5K race with an obstacle course in the Expedition Everest Challenge!
We had always focused on fundraising or race registration in the past, but for the Everest Challenge, we finally took the plunge and stayed in our dream hotel, The Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a dream come true with a safari view of all of the African animals that lived at the resort. On the first day, we visited all of the countries in EPCOT for the food and wine festival; Michael even stopped by the Italy stand to find a gift for his mom. The next day, we ran our 5K, did the obstacle race and completed a scavenger hunt at the Animal Kingdom before coming back to the hotel to relax in the hot tub.
After soothing our muscles and grabbing a drink at the bar, we sat on our balcony and watched the giraffes and zebras walk by. While chatting comfortably, Michael got down on one knee and presented me with a ring and asked if we could share times like this for the rest of our lives. I peered in the ring box eagerly, knowing his mother had bequeathed the ring from her first marriage to us, only to find a gaudy spiral monstrosity made of glass. Michael had forgotten the ring when we left for the airport so he bought a replacement in Italy at EPCOT! We laughed long and hard. I wore the ring proudly and still said yes, knowing my real ring was waiting for me at home.