Welcome back to 50 Days to 50 Years! Take a long look backward, as we count down to the Most Magical 50th Anniversary. Each day the series will bring you a new (or returning) writer to share their most precious Disney moments. Today, we welcome back Heidi from Heidi’s Head and introduce Walt Disney World 1988.
Walt Disney World 1988
1988 was a pretty big year in my life. Not only did I turn 18 and graduate from high school, but I also headed off to (my one and only year of) college and bought a new car (a 1988 1/2 Ford Escort Pony, that I wish I still had). But, there was another highlight early in 1988 that doesn’t go unnoticed, as it had a huge impression on the rest of my life. It all started in 1987 when my mom handed me a copy of Birnbaum’s Guide to Walt Disney World.
I don’t think she had ANY idea the impact that would have on me! As I took that book, I read it cover to cover, over and over again. And made notes upon notes. So, in the end, we headed off for Walt Disney World in January of 1988 with my purse full of 3×5 cards and a plan. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been planning Disney trips ever since!
At that time, the Walt Disney World Resort contained only 2 theme parks – the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center. I don’t recall how many days we spent down there, or if we went to the parks more than one day each or anything. But, I recall LOVING it! (Apparently we all did because we made plans to go back again 2 years later – and, on that trip, we got to visit the brand new Disney-MGM Studios, now Hollywood Studios; but that’s a story for another post!)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
As I looked through my mom’s photo album for pictures of that trip to scan, I noticed that some of the attractions we enjoyed in 1988 are no longer there. I can distinctly remember the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride – we all thought it was very neat! Thankfully, we got to ride it again 2 years later (the attraction was closed in 1994 – 5 years later, in 1999, I believe my daughter met Ariel in this exact location).
Another ride that no longer exists is the Skyway to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland. You’ll have to excuse that big, out-of-control 80’s hair I had; but I think this picture is neat. I’m turned around, and we’re overlooking 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In all honesty, I’m not too sad that Disney closed this ride in 1999 – I am not a fan of cable-car type rides (at least Disney’s version was closed in – exposed feet at the worst!) **Were those ‘buckets” a precursor to todays’ Disney Skyliner??
I absolutely LOVED EPCOT Center! Talk about a treasure trove of educational opportunities just waiting to be explored! My favorite section was definitely World Showcase (and still is). I could spend days and days strolling around World Showcase, and I still don’t think I’d see it all. Some of our favorite pictures from that trip are of my little brothers with the characters:
I did I little bit of research to find out what else was going on at Walt Disney World in 1988. Here are some of my discoveries:
- Mickey’s Birthdayland opened in the Magic Kingdom (later this would become known as Mickey’s Toontown Fair, which has since closed for the Fantasyland Expansion)
- Groundbreaking began for the Swan and Dolphin Resorts
- The IllumiNations show debuted in the World Showcase at EPCOT
- The Norway Pavilion opened in World Showcase at EPCOT
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Beach Resort and Caribbean Beach Resort both opened
Since that first trip in 1988, I’ve been to visit Walt Disney World many, many more times. I still think at least half the fun of a Disney trip is in the planning. Now, though, I get my kids involved in the planning too!
50 Days to 50 Years
Tomorrow, we look forward to 1989 and greeting our Canadian friends, Bryan and Crystal!