Can you imagine? We have only 17 years left in our countdown to THE 50th Anniversary! Today I have the pleasure of sharing my own special connections to Walt Disney World 1994.
Extended family vacations, birthdays surprises, weddings, holidays in the parks- so many of us have been fortunate to experience at least one of these magical Disney milestones. Our family rites of passage each seem to have Disney World as their backdrop. But in my mind, one Disney moment stands apart from any other. The first time you bring your children to the place you love, and see the wonder through their eyes has to be the most precious memory a true Disney fan can have. Today I bring you 1994, but through my 3 year old son’s words and optics.
Walt Disney World 1994
First some mousekeeping! To set the stage, I must include the notable openings and closings of the year:
- Walt Disney World welcomed the one billionth guest to enter a Disney Park.
- Disney-MGM Studios celebrates its 5th anniversary
- The U.S. Government leases the Disney Inn for use by the U.S. Army. It becomes known as Shades of Green.
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opens.
- The Legend of the Lion King opens in the Magic Kingdom.
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens in Disney-MGM Studios.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea closes after 23 years.
- Honey I Shrunk the Audience opens- in 3D.
- Food Rocks show opens at Kitchen Kabaret in The Land pavilion in Epcot
And now, as Mickey used to say, on with the show…
Magic Kingdom 1994
This book might just be my most prized piece of Disney memorabilia. I was lucky enough to find it my local bookstore during the summer of ’94, and presented it to my oldest son as a combination journal, photo album, and autograph book for our September trip; our very first-as-a-family trip to Walt Disney World. My younger son was just 11 months, so Kyle was designated “historian” (I played secretary). And the rest, as they say, is (Disney) history.
Is there anyone who doesn’t remember that first time you walked down Main Street, U.S.A. and gazed upon Cinderella Castle? The only more poignant memory is the first time YOUR CHILD is introduced to that experience. (And when was the last time your saw this street so empty?? And look at all those gorgeous trees! I imagine they grew so much that they finally obstructed that all important line-of-sight.)
Accordingly, a child’s first ride on Dumbo The Flying Elephant is a Disney rite of passage.
And soaring on Peter Pan’s Flight is right up there too.
Incredibly, the entirety of Tomorrowland was closed due to a massive refurbishment in 1994! Luckily, my babies were too small for the likes of Space Mountain anyway. (Can you just imagine what the Guest disappointment levels measured at that time??) Instead, the focus of this land was character meet and greets. Soooooo, we did! AND, my older son did get to drive his first car at the age of three.
Liberty Square 1994
Thank goodness Liberty Square made up for that vacuum. Once I heard that the Haunted Mansion was my son’s favorite attraction, I knew he was indeed my child. PROUD MAMA.
Walt Disney World 1994 Dining
Additionally, that first Character Dining experience (especially when done at Chef Mickey’s!) ranks high on the list of golden memories.
And drumroll for the first bite of Mickey-shaped snacks!! First, one with a clean face…
And then? Another icon Disney must-snack-do. That’s more like it.
I sense a theme! In EPCOT, L’ Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante was always a sentimental family favorite. Perhaps this is why… Unfortunately, this spot in the Italy Pavilion closed in 2007. (You can read what made this destination so autentico HERE.) We always loved watching them make the fresh linguine at the front of the restaurant. Sigh,
Thankfully, my kiddos are good eaters. We sure did mangiato molto that first trip. It’s amazing we had any time left for attractions!
We were late for our reservations at the Coral Reef, but my older son HAD to play with the “dots”! Wonder in the smallest of things!!
The one think my son talks about to this day are the fiber optic lights in the walkways in Future World. To this day, we can’t walk along this area without feeling nostalgic.
Yet another (food!) highlight was the Aladdin & Friends Character Breakfast at Disney-MGM Studios. To this day, this ranks as the ultimate character meal experience. Of course, my boys meet Aladdin and Jasmine. BUT, at the end of the breakfast we were ushered upstairs for some private time with none other than the Genie himself. In addition to photo ops, my sons got to rub that lamp!
Walt Disney World Transportation
From monorails to railroads to ‘race cars’ to water sprites, these three and one-year-olds sure did get around!
And finally, the first trip review from the mouth of a three-year-old:
As you might imagine, these lucky kiddies got their wish. They returned to their most magical destination over and over again in the almost-three decades since. (In fact, my boys are taking a trip together there next month for The World’s Most Magical Celebration!) That sure does make my Disney heart swell.
I hope you can appreciate the history in this family log. In the blink of an eye (which is how these 27 years feel), so much changes, but so much stays the same. But so much more gets better every year. Including, hopefully, the way we cherish each and every memory!!
I’d like to thank, once again every author that has showcased their most personal stories to date! Don’t forget to return each day- we have 25 more entries left in our countdown!
We forge ahead with the countdown tomorrow, and welcome Kristen from Cooking With Mickey. I wonder what she has “cooked up” (sorry Kristen) for 1995?