Is it possible for two people to meet and instantly fall in love? Is there such thing as love at first sight? Love stories like the one shared by Disney cast member Patrick Zusack and his wife Denise may turn many of the not-so-hopeless-romantics out there into believers.
Next month, it will be 25 years since Patrick and Denise first laid eyes on each other outside the former Mannequins nightclub at Downtown Disney. When you are a 5’11” woman who towers above everybody else, seeing a 6’4” man in line is a life saver. So she turned, locked eyes with him and said, “I’m going to need a dance partner once we get inside.”
And danced they did…all night. A simple hug sealed their goodbye at closing time. After all, she lived in Sarasota, Florida but was soon moving to Atlanta. What was the point in taking it any further? Yet the goodbye wouldn’t be for long. A month later they ran into each other once again – at Mannequins. This time she gave him her business card and asked him to “look her up” if he ever visited Sarasota.
But fate would intervene once again: the small piece of paper that held Denise’s contact information was completely ruined, gone with the week’s laundry.
Knowing in his heart that this beautiful, tall, striking woman “was the one,” Patrick got in his car and drove to Siesta Key Beach where Denise had mentioned she played volleyball on weekends. He walked up and down the beach until his feet hurt, but never found her. Heading back to Orlando, in the evening traffic of I-75 near Tampa, he saw a red Volkswagen Cabriolet-the same kind she drove. Could it be? Yes, it was Denise.
“What are you doing here?, she yelled out the window. “I’m coming back from Siesta Key, I was looking for you!”
Less than two years later, surrounded by family and friends, they became dance partners for life.
This last November, for their 22nd wedding anniversary, Patrick gave Denise one of the most romantic gifts anybody could think of: a paving stone from that exact same spot they met 25 years ago. A fellow cast member was able to secure the memento as he worked in the area under construction at Downtown Disney. “Soul mates met here,” says the plaque that holds the paver.
I am a believer. Happy Valentine’s Day!