Dreams really do come true.

Magnolia Jackson of Gainesville, Florida may be one of the oldest people on the planet, but she’s still young at heart.

The centenarian, who turned 106 on March 14, decided to mark the milestone occasion in the most magical way possible — by spending the day at the Happiest Place on Earth.

While turning 106 is definitely worthy of celebration, what made this day even more magical is that it was a historic first for the woman who is no stranger to historical events.

Once Upon a Dream

Walt Disney Quote
Walt Disney Quote

Magnolia is part of an elite club. Born in 1918, she’s older than traffic lights, televisions, Mickey Mouse, and cheeseburgers. She’s seen a lot in her 106 trips around the sun, including the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Magnolia witnessed the first man walking on the moon and the end of the Cold War. She’s seen the rise of the internet age and the fall of the Berlin Wall. She’s watched four generations of her family grow up.

But one thing she’d never seen? Walt Disney World.

According to a Walt Disney World press release, Jackson fell in love with “all things Disney” after she attended the Florida Classic college football game in Orlando last fall and watched Drum Major Mickey Mouse steal the show. His performance “fueled her desire to celebrate her birthday at Walt Disney World.”

On Wednesday, March 11, her dream came true.

A Centenarian’s First Visit to Disney World

Mickey Mouse did not disappoint. Along with Minnie Mouse, corporate executives, and a few Disney cast member friends, Mickey made it a celebration to remember.

They pulled out all the stops, including large light-up numbers, happy birthday signs, celebratory music, colorful balloons, and a huge birthday cake adorned with, you guessed it, magnolia flowers.

And with Cinderella’s Castle as the backdrop, Magnolia received a rousing serenade of “Happy Birthday,” surrounded by her loving family and friends.

After trading in her bedazzled baseball cap for a tiara, Magnolia took in the sights of the Magic Kingdom and had a special meet-and-greet with Princess Tiana. She then headed over to Epcot Centre to take in the International Flower and Garden Festival.

It was the perfect place to celebrate not only her special day but two things that are very near and dear to her heart — gardening AND education.

After graduating from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach in 1944 with a Bachelor of Science degree in education, Magnolia spent the next 40 years as an educator.

Now the oldest living graduate of the college, Magnolia is credited with inspiring countless students to follow in her footsteps, particularly those in underserved communities.

Secret to Living a Long Life

While Magnolia didn’t share the secret to her longevity, her niece did give some insight at her 105th birthday party last year, where Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward proclaimed the day, “Magnolia Jackson Day.”

“She is full of laughter and love.”

Jackie Wilson

Research shows that centenarians tend to focus on the positive aspects of life, rather than the negative, expressing gratitude for their blessings and prioritizing their relationships.

Whatever Magnolia is doing, she’s obviously doing it right. And there’s no better place to do it than the place where we all get to recapture our youth, for a moment at least, with a little magic and a sprinkling of pixie dust.