Welcome (or welcome back) to our series,5 0 Days to 50 Years! Thank you for joining some of the most talented Disney bloggers as we countdown to Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. There is none more gifted than today’s author. Beth ushers in Walt Disney World 1986.
From the time my parents enrolled me in the Disney Book of the Month at the age of four, I was a Disney fan. You can tell by looking at those books, which I now read to my own children, that they were well used and loved. I was always a kid who believed in fairy tales. Accordingly, I acted out many of my favorite stories with my stuffed animals. Once in a while I could convince my reluctant little brother to join in the fun.
Walt Disney World 1986
So in 1986, as a thirteen-year-old, you can only imagine how excited I was when my parents announced they were taking my brother and I to Walt Disney World. This would be our very first trip. To this day, I remember the excitement I felt as we sat in our living room and my parents made the announcement. We were told this would be a once in a lifetime trip, because we would not be able to afford to go back. This meant we would be experiencing everything Walt Disney World had to offer. Including waking up early and going to bed late!
When they announced our trip to Walt Disney World, my parents had been married for 17 years. Incredibly, they had never taken a vacation . . . in 17 years!! They never said this. Of course, now as an adult I know. They took their very first vacation for the kids. That’s right, they believed that Walt Disney World was just for kids.
It was October 29, 1986 the first time I crossed under the train station onto Main Street, U.S.A. As we made our way toward the castle, there were characters everywhere. I was in such awe of everything around us. I hardly said a word. It was in this moment that I truly fell in love with Disney and all the magic it had to offer. We had hardly entered the park, but I already felt “it.”
With all there was to see and do, it wasn’t until we made it all the way to the tea cups that my dad mentioned we should probably experience one of the attractions. My dad, my brother and I hopped into a tea cup and away we went! Even to this day we always laugh about how we passed so many attractions in the park before it hit us to actually experience one of them!
In 1986, Walt Disney World was celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Each day as you entered through the turnstiles, you had the opportunity to win something. On one particular day, we were in line behind a family who hit the jackpot. The person just two spots ahead of my brother won a car! It was amazing because everyone joined in the excitement. We were lucky enough to be right there to witness it.
Walt Disney World’s 15th Anniversary
Though I have many memories of that trip there is one in particular that makes me smile every time I think of it. It is a magical moment during the 15th-anniversary parade. My dad was a never a fan of parades. He really didn’t even want to sit and watch this particular one. However, he did so “for the kids.” We found a spot along Main Street, just across from the Emporium. As soon as they announced the start of the parade and we could hear the music, I was excited!
At the front was a float with Mickey and Minnie dancing in front of a large sign that said “15 Years.” This was followed by many characters and dancers joining in the anniversary celebration. At one point in the parade, Jiminy Cricket, who must have sensed my dad’s lack of excitement for parades, came straight over to my dad. Ironically, Jiminy shook his hand and made his way back into the parade. Guess what? My dad was hooked! Now every time we are planning our next trip he always reminds us that we just have to make time to see the parades! So, a big thank you to Jiminy Cricket! (There is a great video of the 15th Anniversary parade on YouTube. Please check it out ~ Walt Disney World 15th Anniversary Parade)
Though we have been to Walt Disney World many times, this trip holds some of my most precious Disney memories. Remember I had mentioned my parents only took this vacation for the kids? Well, we returned every other year until my brother and I were in college and then, to our shock, my parents started going every year alone!! Now our trips are full family outings, but my parents are now the grandparents. Our family of four is now a family of 11, though soon to be 12. Each year our trips get better and more magical. This year, though it will be Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, it will be our 35th anniversary of our first trip, and we just can’t wait!
Happy Anniversary to your family! How clever you were to schedule your inaugural trip during Walt Disney World’s 15th year- every one of the Park’s special birthdays will also be shared with you! (And thank goodness Disney moms don’t throw important mementos out!) Thank you, Beth for sharing your very “first” with all of us, and for offering so much support to this project.
Tomorrow Beth and I give a warm welcome to Ami (@DisneyAmiBE), founder of Disney Park Goddess and guest blogger at The Disney Driven Life, who will highlight 1987.