A family from Illinois whose dream Christmas trip to Disney World almost turned into a nightmare finally made it to the Most Magical Place on Earth, and we couldn’t be happier for them, especially after the unsettling ordeal they had to work through so they could finally experience the magic of Disney’s Florida parks for themselves.
Plans Get Postponed by the Pandemic
Illinois mom (and daughter) Andie Coston, along with 15 members of her family, planned a dream vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2020, but as the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the United States, Walt Disney Company execs realized they had to make a difficult call and cease operations at Disney’s domestic theme parks. Disney’s parks in France, China, and Japan had already closed their gates in response to the pandemic.
Because of the closures, Coston’s family had to cancel their trip and reschedule it for a later date. That later date arrived in December 2023.
“We finally planned it for this Christmas,” she explained in a TikTok video. “All 16 of my family members were going. To save some money, my parents bought 10k of Disney gift cards to purchase our tickets and restaurant reservations.”
A Generous & Well-Meaning Gesture Goes Wrong
Coston was referring to her parents’ purchase of $10,000 in Disney gift cards that could be used for family members to purchase tickets for their trip. Or so she thought.
But when she arrived at her parents’ home just days before they were scheduled to leave for their trip, she says her parents were having problems when they tried to upload their gift cards so they could purchase tickets. Coston was shocked when she discovered what the problem was.
“I went home . . . and they were having problems loading the gift cards correctly and purchasing the tickets,” she said as she showed a stack of dozens of Disney gift cards.
Coston quickly realized the gift cards were for Disney+, not for Walt Disney World, and what followed was a near-nightmare of stress and quick acting in an effort to save the family from missing their dream Disney vacation–again.
Near-Panic Sets In
Coston took to social media to share her story, and she discovered that she and her family weren’t the only ones who had faced this dilemma. While the realization more than likely made her feel slightly better, Coston knew she only had days until they were to leave for their trip, so she had to act fast to see if there was any recourse for them.
Her TikTok videos went viral overnight–quite literally–and within 24 hours, representatives with Disney reached out to her, offering to exchange the massive amount of Disney+ gift cards–enough to pay for 70 years of monthly subscriptions to the Disney streaming service–for gift cards that could be used toward the family’s Disney trip.
“I am so glad we were able to get it resolved, especially for my parent’s sake,” Coston said in an interview with PEOPLE. “It was also good to hear that my parents are not the only ones who have experienced this. I received many messages and comments from people telling me that they or someone they know have had similar experiences. I hope that this story makes more people aware of the card difference so no one else experiences this.”
At Long Last, the Family Arrives at Disney World!
This week, Coston and her family finally arrived at Disney World, and she has been posting photos from their time together in the parks since Tuesday to her social media accounts.
Her first at-Disney post was made on Tuesday and included photos of the family enjoying Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She also shared videos of the family aboard the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, standing in front of the iconic Tree of Life, and sharing a meal together at Rainforest Cafe.
Another post from Coston includes two photos of her with her family. The family is wearing matching Disney T-shirts. Sadly, her post also recounts Coston’s struggles to navigate “online trolling, criticism, hate, and sheer disregard for the value of human worth.”
In yet another post, however, Coston seems to embrace her inner child as she shares her hope of reuniting with a Disney World cast member who played the role of Disney’s Snow White when Coston was a little girl. Coston says she’s heard that the same cast member is still at Disney World, though she now plays the role of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.
@aofthecoast All this Tiktok fame and all I wanted was to meet the woman who made my dreamscome true as a kid. She was Snow White, now she is The Fairy Godmother. I got this close! @Disney Parks #snowwhite #fairygodmother #disney #waltdisneyworld ♬ Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – From “Cinderella” Soundtrack – Verna Felton
Coston and her family continue to enjoy their time at Disney World, and we wish them the best as they share their Disney World adventure together!