Kara and Drew

Where to Propose in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

How We Met

I first met Drew at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World through one of my best friends and roommate, Sami. Sami and I both worked as Disney Cast Members for Walt Disney World, so visiting the parks was a frequent and fun activity. It was a hot and humid mid-July day, and Sami told me she was meeting up with her friend Drew for a park day. I had a meeting at the same park, so we decided I would join after I finished. I didn’t know Drew, but I knew of him since he and Sami both went to the University of Illinois. He was working in Tampa, FL, so he came down from time to time. To this day, Sami gets the credit for connecting me and Drew (Thanks Sami!). After my meeting, we spent the remainder of the day and evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Fun fact, our first photo is actually the ride photo on Rockin’ Rollercoaster. The next day I received a message from Drew saying he really enjoyed meeting me and hoped to see me again soon. We instantly started texting and talking on the phone as much as two people could. At the time, we were living a little over an hour apart, but that never really worried us. I knew very quickly that Drew was “the one” that I was meant to share my life with. He is the most genuine, kind, and thoughtful person I have ever known. He cares deeply about others and always goes the extra mile to ensure the happiness of others. I like to brag that I caught a good midwestern boy! Fast-forward a few months, Drew decided to move to Orlando and started working for Disney as well. He never fully admitted it, but I can say confidently that he decided to move mostly for us to be closer.

We lived in Florida together until fall of 2015, when we started a new adventure and moved to California! Even though we aren’t living ten minutes from Walt Disney World any longer, Disney has always run very deep through out relationship. We met, worked, and celebrated our milestones all at Disney. It will always be a place where we share some of our happiest memories. Drew and I truly believe everything happens for a reason and that couldn’t ring truer in how we met. In our story, Sami had to move to Florida for the Summer, I had to need a roommate, and Sami and Drew had to make plans and invite me. All of the stars aligned for Drew and I to meet, fall and love, and now take on life in the most beautiful way we can.

how they asked

Drew’s Side: It didn’t take long for me to realize that Kara was special. She is smart, witty, generous, kind-hearted, stubborn yet supportive, and proud yet humble. To top it all off, she is also stunningly gorgeous. Each day I spent with her–goofing around with, debating, supporting, and encouraging each other– I fell in love with her more and more. When times were tough, she was the wisdom and support I needed and it was always a privilege to return the same. Proposing to Kara was never a matter of “If,” but “When.” There was never a question in my mind. I knew I had to be her partner forever. Growing up, I was always worried about finding “the one.” Once I met Kara, that decision became easy. As you know, Disney holds a special place in our hearts and our relationship. It was pretty safe to assume that Disney would be a part of my proposal; Kara had not-so-subtly hinted at it and for me, there wasn’t another option that seemed fitting.

My mission however, was to plan a Disney proposal that still “wowed” her and took her by surprise. Each Disney trip we made carried with it the potential of a proposal, so I had to keep Kara guessing. We’ve spent a lot of time at Disney both for work and personal. We’ve seen a lot of proposals at the parks. So how do I come up with something original for us? I came up with the idea of proposing to her on our December trip to Disneyland during the Christmas season, which is one of Kara’s favorite times at the parks. Simply finding a location and proposing didn’t seem spectacular enough. I wanted to create a proposal that fell somewhere mid-spectrum between 1 and Flash-mob. I decided to create a scavenger hunt throughout both Disney parks. This idea had several iterations, but I finally decided on a plan. I wanted her to complete the scavenger hunt without me so that I could surprise her at the final location.

Over the months leading up to the proposal, I created 6 videos of me reminiscing about our life together, our memories, our hopes for the future, etc. Each video had a clue as to the next checkpoint on her scavenger hunt. I contacted some of our close friends in California and asked them to be a part of the day. At each stop, she’d be surprised by another friend(s) who would continue with her along the journey. The journey would end in front of Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Paradise Pier where I would surprise her and propose! Our friends, Jennifer and David, recommended a great photographer and we’d seen their Disneyland engagement photos and loved them! I reached out to Michelle to schedule a surprise engagement photo session for the day after I proposed, since Kara loved Michelle’s work. Michelle loved my proposal plan so much that she graciously offered to also photograph the scavenger hunt and proposal. The weeks leading up to our trip, I likely inundated Jennifer, David, Jared, Caitlin and Michelle with texts and emails about the plan, timeline, etc.

Then the day arrived. On December 3rd, Kara and I finished watching the 1:15pm Christmas Parade on Main Street. I had a little time to kill until all our friends and photographer were at their respective locations. Kara really wanted to head to California Adventure but she begrudgingly followed me around the park as I walked around to “soak up the atmosphere” while actually just killing time. Finally we were ready to go. Around 2p, I left Kara in front of the castle to go “use the restroom.” Once I left, Jennifer and David snuck up and surprised Kara! The scavenger hunt had begun! At this point, the process was out of my hands until she reached the final location. They gave her the link to the first video and she started watching it. Kara was completely surprised, confused, and elated. The first video spoke about how the castle, to me, represented our home base. We met at Walt Disney World, worked there together, and that’s where our relationship really grew. After the castle, she was instructed to head over to Dumbo where she watched her second video. Dumbo represented (in a fun sort of way) that life has its ups and downs, but we always persevere together.

Proposal Ideas Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

The third stop took Kara to the Train Station (or near the train station, since the Candlelight ceremony was set-up and blocked the steps). Jared surprised her at this location. The video here spoke about where we are going in our lives and the exciting future we have together. The fourth stop took the group to a park bench in front of Carthay Circle at California Adventure, where Caitlin was waiting to surprise Kara. The video at this stop spoke about taking the time to sit down and reflect on all we have to be thankful for and to show gratitude for everything in our lives. The fifth stop took the group to Cozy Cone, where everyone was treated to Kara’s favorite lemonade beverage. The video here spoke about the need to not take life too seriously and to enjoy the fun and humor in it. The final stop took Kara to the Fun Wheel. Kara loves Mickey’s Fun Wheel and we both love this picturesque spot. The sun was setting behind the Fun Wheel and the area near the water was clear of guests— a perfect setting. Kara started watching her final video which culminated in a slideshow of photos and videos of our life up to this point.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

At the right time, I walked up behind Kara as she was facing the Fun Wheel and tapped her on the shoulder. The next few minutes are hazy to me. My feet were numb, my ears were ringing, and I was pouring my heart out. I didn’t feel this way because I was nervous or worried, but because I had imagined this moment for a long time and it had finally arrived! After talking to her, I took out the ring and asked Kara the 4 words she’d been longing to hear, the 4 words that took our love and commitment to the next level. I believe her response was, “YES!!!! ….DUH!!!!!”

Kara and Drew's Engagement in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

There are no adequate words to truly sum up my joy on December 3, 2016 as I became engaged to the love of my life. No words to really express my gratitude towards our friends and photographer who were a part of the plan and towards our family and friends who have loved and supported us our whole lives.

Kara's Proposal in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

You all know who you are and from the bottom of my heart- thank you! And to Kara: the words to Landon Austin’s song Best Part of Me truly express my feelings towards you. You know how I feel and how lucky I am. You truly are the best part of me.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Disney's California Adventure Park: Paradise Pier

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Special Thanks

Michelle Lacson
Photographer: Proposal and Engagement Photo Shoot