As a firefighter based in Sonoma, every summer brings a level of stress and uncertainty for Kyle Lely and his family. COVID-19 brought a new slew of challenges for the couple and their three young sons, but thanks to Visit California’s Dreaming On in California contest, a recent Disneyland trip gave the entire crew time to reconnect and discover why the “Magic is Here.”
Between Kyle’s hectic schedule and Kristine’s job as a physical education teacher, the family rarely finds time to go away. To make sure they spend quality time together, the couple has a tradition of taking a vacation when one of the kids turns five. Trent, their middle child, was set to hit that milestone in 2020 and the family was looking forward to taking their first trip as a family following the birth of their youngest, Casey, in December 2019.
Plans changed when the world went into lockdown. “2020 was incredibly hard,” Kristine recalls. “Juggling a new baby, a four-year-old, and a remote-learning kindergartener all while teaching PE was probably one of the most challenging times in my life.”
With the world opening back up this spring, the family knew they only had a few short months before the demands of the 2021 fire season took their toll. When Kristine learned that Visit California was giving away an exclusive Disneyland vacation as part of its Dreaming On in California sweepstakes, a contest to help people celebrate missed moments in 2020, she entered immediately. As luck would have it, the couple was out on their first date since the pandemic hit when they got the news that they’d won.
“It was such an amazing night!” remembers Kristine.
“We didn’t tell the kids until we arrived at the Disney hotel. I think they were in shock most of the first day,” she says. The Lelys checked into Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim where they relaxed for two nights while enjoying their three-day Park Hopper tickets to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. “We loved the Grand Californian,” Kristine says. “There is nothing like jumping in the pool after a long, hot day at Disney.”
As part of their package, the family was also treated to a one-day Disneyland Resort VIP Tour. “Our tour guide made everything so easy! We were able to ride most of the rides in both parks in one day—not an easy task,” Kristine says. The boys also loved Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the all-new Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure Park. “The superhero show was so fun for them to watch,” she says.
With a difficult year in the Lely’s rearview, Kristine says this was the perfect reset button for their family. “It was so special to get the experience of Disneyland with all three boys,” she says. “This Disney trip is made of memories that we will treasure forever!”