Aloha! Some people hold special events at Walt Disney World® celebrating life, love, family, or friendship. They choose to celebrate there because to them, Walt Disney World® is home. They get a sense of belonging as they walk down Main Street, U.S.A.®. Felicia and Sean recently shared a story about how they collect buttons for the things that they celebrate while at Walt Disney World®, including getting engaged. Celebrations at Walt Disney World® create wonderful memories that are cherished for a lifetime. I wanted to share a special event that I recently celebrated.
About ten days before I was to leave for my most recent trip to Walt Disney World®, I received the news that my request for reenlistment in the United States Marine Corps had been approved. I have been a Marine for a little over seven years, and this would be my third reenlistment. I needed to provide a date, time, location, and the name of an Officer to perform the ceremony. In most cases, Marines have their reenlistment ceremonies either where they work or somewhere on base with the Marines they work with. Since I was only a few short days away from going on vacation, I began to think about more unorthodox options.
In a military reenlistment ceremony, the service member is first honorably discharged from the armed forces. They are then given the opportunity to speak freely as a civilian. If they are married, their spouse receives a certificate of appreciation for the many sacrifices that they make. After the certificate is read, the service member then takes the oath of enlistment, just as they have done each time they are accepted back into the armed forces. Once the oath is spoken, the ceremony is complete. The member has pledged a few more years of their life to serving their country. It is a short ceremony, often taking less than half an hour. It also does not require much space or a large number of people, so I began thinking of places around the resort where I could reenlist.
I’ve read about people getting engaged, getting married, celebrating birthdays, and other special events at Walt Disney World®. I thought it would be a very memorable experience to hold my reenlistment there. Then I realized that I didn’t really know any Marine Officers in the central Florida area. Fortunately, I asked my boss about it, and he sent an email to a friend of his stationed in Tampa. His friend then forwarded that email out to some of the Officers he knows, and the next day, I had an email from a Colonel with an offer to perform the ceremony. Between the two of us, we tried to do some research into what we would be allowed to do within the park and where we could hold the ceremony. I had a certain vision for the event, but I also didn’t want to impede on other guests during their vacations. I also wasn’t sure what Walt Disney World® would say about a couple uniformed United States Marines coming into the Magic Kingdom® Park and taking over the flagpole.
On Mother’s Day, I got up early and put on my Dress Blue “D” uniform. I grabbed the necessary paperwork, and my family and I got on the bus to Magic Kingdom® Park. We got there before the Colonel, and found a bench just past the bag check area to sit on while we waited. There were a few people that came up to us and thanked me for my service and my family for their sacrifice. Then we spotted a Marine walking through the crowd. Once we were all through the entrance, we stopped for a picture in front of the train station.
After we had our picture taken, we went to Main Street, U.S.A.® to decide where the best spot for the ceremony would be. We found that the back side of the flagpole was open; right in front of Blaine Gibson’s “Sharing the Magic”. We got there just as Pluto went to take a break, so we asked his PhotoPass™ photographer if he would be able to snap a few photos during the short ceremony. He said that Pluto would be back in just a few minutes, but he would see if another photographer was available. After waiting about five minutes, two PhotoPass™ photographers came up to us and off we went.
I thought it was great that we were able to walk up and have the ceremony right where I wanted. I am thankful for the PhotoPass™ photographers that took the time out of their day to capture the experience. Going through our photos after the trip, I noticed that there were several guests in the background who stopped to watch. I’m sure that some of them have had some connection to the military, either having served themselves, or a family member who served. Having my reenlistment ceremony at Magic Kingdom® Park was an incredible experience that I never thought was possible. It made for wonderful memories, and was a great way to show my #Disney Side.
See ya real soon,
(Images from the author’s personal collection.)
Joshua Shusterman is United States Marine and has been stationed in both North Carolina and Hawaii. He is an avid Disney fan, and has taken several trips to Walt Disney World® as well as Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. He has extensively researched military discount programs and offers from The Walt Disney Company, and loves to spread the word to his fellow service members. He can be reached on Twitter @JLShusterman or email at JLShusterman@Gmail.com.