Saturday, October 6, 2007

“The Beginnings: My First Visit”

The last visit I made to Walt Disney World was in April of this year. It was for the occasion of my 50th birthday. It became known among my family and friends as the “Fifty in Disney” Celebration, or 50id for short. My next visit will be in eleven days. As I look forward to this next visit and all that I wish to accomplish with it, I think back to first trip. The memories I have from that trip continue to be relived with every new visit.

My first trip was in the spring of 1972. I was in the 9th grade and Walt Disney World was still less than one year old. My father had borrowed a motor home and packed up the family for a two week journey around Florida. Packed into that motor home were my mom and dad, my younger sister, my grandparents and me. The whole affair was quite an adventure.

Our circular trip around Florida allowed for one day very full day in the Magic Kingdom. We took the monorail over to the park and remember being fascinated with going through a hotel. As I remember it, the park was very crowded and I was hampered by just recently having had a cast removed from my leg. I also remember that my grandfather was so concerned that my grandmother would have her pocketbook stolen in the crowds. His solution was to carry it for her. He had the handles tight over his shoulder and the bag firmly tucked under his arm. No one bothered the purse, but he did get more than a few enquiring looks.

We were in Adventureland on our way to see the Enchanted Tiki Room. We stopped to listen to a group of musicians playing steel drums. My grandfather insisted that the music was being piped through hidden speakers (most likely from behind the tiki statues) as it was impossible for music to come from an oil drum.

Some of my memories have faded over the years, but I have wonderful ones that are still with me. I remember going to the Country Bear Jamboree and the Hall of Presidents (my grandparent’s favorite). We visited the 999 Grim Grinning Ghosts, and went 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Captain Nemo. I still miss that ride. I feel fairly certain that we rode on Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel.

No matter how old I become I will never forget the first time I rode Peter Pan’s Flight. I remember being amazed at hearing Peter say “Off to Never Land” and the rounding the corner to fly over London. All of those tiny lights were simply magic to me and now no day in the Magic Kingdom is complete without taking a ride in a flying galleon through the story of Pan. Each time I am struck by the sight of London and find it impossible to set back during the ride; I am always on the edge of my seat.

My only souvenir from that first trip was a letter opener my parent’s bought for me in the gift shop in Cinderella’s Castle. It is called Fantasy Faire now, but then I believe it was known as The King’s Gallery. I still have it and use it to open my mail. If only I had kept the ticket booklet.

While I am proud to be able to say I was there the year that it opened, I don’t think I fully appreciated what I was experiencing. If memory is any indication then I know I didn’t.

I do know that deep down inside of me a little magic was born that day. It was to lay dormant for quite a few years as I finished school and did those things that “grown ups” do. It was in 1989 when I became a lost boy once again and the magic was given its freedom and it began to grow. But that is another story for another time.

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