Do people really win trips to WDW?

There are all kinds of contests that give people an opportunity to win a trip to Walt Disney World.

Usually we find out we’re not the winner because the phone doesn’t ring with someone delivering that amazing news on the other end. The contest comes and goes, and we (well, me. Maybe you.) spend more time envisioning a dream Disney vacation. It might cross our minds that someone else won whatever contest we last entered, but more often than not the wishes fade away until the next opportunity arises.

This is the story of one person who did get that call.

John and Melanie Swoap are former Walt Disney World cast members, and they run Blue Sky Journeys – personal travel planners specializing in Disney vacations. (Full disclosure: I work with BSJ now, which is how I got to hear about this story.)

“Back in October, we had a booth at our local Pumpkin Festival,” John said. “We had a drawing  for a three night/four day Walt Disney World vacation as a way to generate some name recognition in our community.”

About 1,500 people signed up to win, and a name was chosen.

“When we called Ms. Anderson to tell her she had won, she sounded skeptical that she had actually won something and figured there was a catch. We assured her that there were no strings – three nights/four days at any Disney resort she chose with four days of park tickets for up to four people. She said thank you and we sent her the prize package.”

Pretty exciting, no?

“We never heard back from her!” John said.

The Swoaps followed up with a phone call just last week and left a message that they’d really like to speak with her about her prize and to please call back. The window for booking the vacation was closing (she had to travel before November and they wanted to make sure she got the resort she really wanted.)

“She finally called me back today saying that the whole trip was stressing her out,” John said. “Her 14-year-old daughter has been asking about the Disney trip that was pinned to the refrigerator, and Mom had been putting her off because she knew we were going to require that she purchase her airline tickets and she just couldn’t afford to do it.”

Ms. Anderson called to decline the prize.

“I explained to her that she could drive, as that is what we do when we go and to let her know again that she absolutely had to pay for nothing except getting there and whatever food she might want to eat and trinkets to bring home.

“She couldn’t believe it. She started crying and then went on to tell me that she has been a single mom for 12 years, a school teacher and had always dreamed of being able to take her kids to Walt Disney World but never had been able to save the money to do so. He two sons have grown up but her daughter was still wanting the experience. When she asked where she should stay, I told her our favorite was Animal Kingdom Lodge and I went on to describe it.

“She started crying again and told me her ex-husband was from South Africa and had always promised the kids he would take them one day, but never did. She said that maybe this could be a way to honor the promise he didn’t keep.”

This winner, who is very real and very excited, will be traveling in October to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House.


  1. Stacey

    I won a trip on Twitter through Orbitz last March and we took our DREAM vacation in October. A week at WDW, park hoppers plus water parks, Polynesian Resort accomodations, roundtrip air fare, tickets to Cirque du Soleil, a $250 gift card, and massages for four at Saratoga Springs. It really does happen and it really is amazing when it does. The not so amazing part? Paying taxes on it the next year… :S Wooooo! Haha!

  2. Sabrina

    A friend of mine knows a family who won one of the prize trips for the Tangled wishing contest not too long ago.

    It does happen!

    It just wasn’t me, I had to pay my half of the recent trip. Boo!

  3. Linda

    One of my best friends won a trip for 4. They stayed at Boardwalk. When they called the first time to tell her she had won, she said, ‘Ya, right!’ and hung up the phone. They had to send her a certified letter!

  4. Jenna

    I’m sitting on a DME bus right now and reading this story for the first time. I think that excessive Florida A/C must have blown some dust into my eyes. That’s got to explain my watery eyes, right? ;-)

  5. Dee Newton

    Wow that is a fab story, and all the others as well there are real winners then :-) whilst I have never won a holiday (yet I will keep trying) I have won several Disney related prizes, I won a Tigger PC game, I won a Holes T-shirt & Poster and I also got free cinema Tickets to see Lilo & Stitch in a special preview show. I hope the family enjoy their stay and would love to see a follow up if possible to see how they enjoyed it.

  6. Melanie

    I still love this story <3

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