Everyone feels like they missed out on something as a kid.
Maybe you never got the Sweet 16 party you always wanted or never got to go on the glamorous family vacations your friends were always taking.
Eventually, though, you grow up, you move on, and you tuck those loose ends away.
Chelsea Herline? She missed out on the last day of a magical trip to Disney World when she was 4 years old.
“My parents own a timeshare in Orlando, so we used to go to Disney when we were younger all the time,” the now 26-year-old said, recalling what sounds like the most amazing childhood ever.
But one trip in particular, when Chelsea was just a toddler, stands out above the others.
“It was a four-day pass, and I used to get sick all the time on vacation when I was little. We went for the first three days and I got sick on the last day.”
What. A. Bummer.
“We had lots of memories there, lots of pictures,” she said. But even though she got to go often, it had to hurt young Chelsea to miss out on an entire day of fun and memory-making with her family.
“My sisters and I are older now, so we don’t really go anymore,” she said.
22 years later, Chelsea’s dad found her old ticket in the basement, and he realized that it still had one day left.
She’s not sure why her family kept the ticket this long, but immediately she wondered if it would still get her into the park. On her next visit to Orlando, she headed over to Disney on a whim, just to see what would happen.
To Chelsea’s surprise, the Disney World staff told her the ticket was still valid!
“I just went up to the window. I wasn’t expecting to spend the day there; I didn’t bring anything (or anyone) with me,” she said.
“They were pretty surprised. The girl working there was younger than me and said, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one this old before!’ She called her manager over and they were super nice about it.”
They even gave Chelsea a “dorky pin” to wear around the park: “1st visit in forever!”
Chelsea spent the day riding the rides — by herself — and having a blast.
She even got a redo with Chip and Dale, who she says made her bust into embarrassing tears of joy the first time she met them as a little girl.
When the day was over, Chelsea posted about her experience on LinkedIn, where it’s connected with a lot of people.
Pretty quickly, her post had over 1,000 responses.
“Disney is just really nostalgic for everyone,” she said.
And she’s right. They don’t call Disney World “the most magical place on Earth” for nothing, with everyone from toddlers to Super Bowl MVPs yearning to go somewhere where the sun is shining and life is all about how much fun you can cram into a single afternoon.
Chelsea’s surprise day of fun proves that you’re never too old to act like a kid again.
Discovering one of those “loose ends” from her own childhood was just the nudge she needed to get back in touch with the wide-eyed little girl inside.
Thanks to Chelsea for speaking with me for this story and for all the amazing pictures!