The weather was brisk, the hour early and the sky was dark, yet nearly 5,000 Central Floridians turned out before dawn last Saturday to support The Benefit Sale (TBS), which truly lived up to its billing as a great opportunity to shop early, save big and give back.
Rather than dampening spirits, the season’s first cold snap – along with the holiday decorations − seemed to energize guests, who were clearly in the mood to shop.
Even before the stores opened at 5:30 a.m., hundreds of people were queued up in front of the World of Disney, Once Upon A Toy, Disney Days of Christmas, D-Street and other Downtown Disney locations. One group, waiting beneath a canopy of twinkle-lit trees, even began singing Disney songs.
Once shopping began, the excitement really picked up as people dashed from store to store, snapping up great discounts on Disney apparel, toys, collectibles, fragrances and other exclusive items. One couple I spoke with – both weighted down with heavy shopping bags − said they’d finished 75% of their holiday shopping in less than an hour. Not bad, considering the sun hadn’t even come up yet.
In all, this turned out to be a really fun morning. Yes, winter jackets and hot chocolate helped, but it was much more than a chance to shop. While friends, families, spouses and people of all ages and physical abilities were having a terrific time, they were also doing something good to help others.
In all, the sale of admission vouchers raised thousands of dollars for United Way and other agencies that are helping Central Floridians in need this holiday season and beyond.
Many thanks to Walt Disney World for their tremendous generosity in organizing and hosting TBS. We’re also deeply grateful to the many United Way volunteers who got up so early to help make this event possible.
Hope to see you next year!