September 27, 2010

Rediscovering [Walt] Disney: Part 1

The first time I visited Walt Disney World was in 1978. My parents, my mother's parents, myself and a friend made the long drive from Albany, NY to Orlando, Florida in my fathers van. I'm sure the trauma of having to drive that far to Disney has been blocked out as a survival mechanism by my brain! But drive we did. And as with a lot of things that happened prior to say yesterday, I don't remember much about it.

I do have some memories that stick out still, Space Mountain, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Skyway ride. Two out of these three experiences are now gone from WDW. Skyway closed in '91 and 20K closed in '94. I was terrified of Space Mountain, but my friend and I had met a couple of girls and well, I wasn't about to wimp out at that point. But please note I have never ridden another roller coaster since then, and probably never will.

The Skyway was a very low-key, non-scary ride that allowed us to fly over WDW from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. I thought it was great because you could look down on the park and see everything, rides, people, buildings, etc. as you gently glided by overhead.

I LOVED 20,00 Leagues! First of all I thought the movie had been awesome and now here I was getting to ride on the Nautilus in all it's Victorian Sci-fi glory! Yes I knew it was all fake, it certainly didn't look real, but I could suspend belief and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Oh what I wouldn't give to have one of those submarines parked in my driveway right now!

I went two more times after that - 1991 and 2006. Both times without kids, and I did a lot of adult oriented things that I never had done before - and as it turns out - will never get to do again. Anybody remember the great Backstage Tour at Disney-MGM Studios?

Since the last trip in 2006 my wife and I have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. And we decided to go back to Disney with her. To celebrate her, get away from it all, and go back to the place that we found so magical back in 2006. So in 2009 we hopped a flight to Orlando, took a limo to The Wilderness Lodge and proceeded to have the time of our lives! It was like we were seeing the park again for the first time.
We did character meet and greets, went to Toontown, rode boats and trains, bought mouse ears, had character meals, even took our daughter in a swimming pool for the first time! It was sooo magical we took the Disney Vacation Club plunge and began planning our return trip for the next year! It too was a great trip, we invited a friend to join us (she needed a break) and again went on rides none of us had ever done before, ate at restaurants we never would have tried if not for our little girl.

And yes, our next trip is already booked for 2010 and we're looking at dates for 2011 too.

So now my curiosity and my long dormant love of Disney has been rekindled. Lisa bought me a membership in D23, we have bought multiple guide books, Imagineering books and iPad apps. I am reading a dog eared paperback copy of Roy Thomas' biography of Walt Disney, and I am rediscovering so many things about the man, the myth, the films, Disneyland and Walt Disney World that I had forgotten or never knew at all.

I do plan to write more, take more pictures, take more trips (Yes David B., Disneyland is still on the to-do list), read more books, do more research and troll the vast and boundless interweb for blogs and websites. I will include links below to some of our current favorites. So go ahead check out the photos, the videos and the websites and watch for Part 2. Hopefully it won't take me too long to write.

2719 Hyperion
The Disney Food Blog

Widen Your World on YouTube.

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