I have a confession to make. I didn’t grow up a Disney fan. Don’t get me wrong; we watched the movies, and Michael Eisner was on our TV, introducing the Sunday night movie each week, but we didn’t go to a Disney park every year. We only went to Disney World once, as a side trip to my grandparent’s winter home in Tampa in the mid ’80s. We took a day trip to Magic Kingdom and a day trip to EPCOT Center. I was 10 at the time. It would be 30+ years before I got back. I have only vague recollections of those 2 days.
I grew up thinking Disney World is too expensive. I remember the news stories each time the park tickets went up. Can you believe it? It costs $35 a day to go to Disney World!
There are a number of rides and attractions that I never got to experience. I know about them only from reading forums online with lifelong fans pining for the good old days when rides like Delta Dreamflight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or the Skyway were entertaining guests at Magic Kingdom, and Horizons and CommuniCore “edu-tained” at EPCOT. This is long before MGM or Animal Kingdom were ever a thing.
On my one trip, we did ride 20,000 Leagues and the original version of Journey Into Imagination and ImageWorks, so I at least got to experience those before they went the way of World of Motion.
When I went on my first real trip to WDW in 2012, it was on my honeymoon. I was reluctant to go. My whole life, I was under the understanding that it was too expensive. My wife was a Disney Vacation Club member, and me not knowing exactly what it was, when I found out how much she was paying for it, I thought that one of the first things I was going to do when we got married was to end that nonsense. When we arrived at Saratoga Springs, we either didn’t pay good enough attention to the directions to our room, or we got bad directions (or perhaps a little of both). We wandered around for what seemed like forever until we found our room. It was more than a little frustrating. Once we did, we dropped our stuff and headed to the bus stop. We had a dining reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom that night. As we walked up to the stop, we saw the Magic Kingdom bus pulling away. We waited for what seemed like an hour as we watched buses for each of the other parks, the water parks and Downtown Disney come and go, some multiple times, before the next Magic Kingdom bus came. This added to my frustration. I was ready to be done with Disney World.
That all changed the instant we stepped onto Main Street, U.S.A. We didn’t even see the castle yet, just out from under the train station. That is all that it took. We had a great time that week. When I got home, I started looking for anything I could find to read about the parks. Turns out, I wasn’t the only fan of this place. I had a lot of catching up to do. Now I am bringing my daughter along for the ride; our upcoming trip will be her 4th trip, and she will be 6.
As I continue down the road that many of you have been on your whole life, I can’t help but feel late to the party. Fortunately, most of the people at the party are glad to have me along for the ride. Even if I do have some differing perspectives than some of the lifers: I don’t mind Jack Sparrow in Pirates (I don’t remember it without him), Lights Motor Action wasn’t that bad (but I had only seen it 2 or 3 times before it closed), and the Sorcerer’s Hat wasn’t that bad.
And now that I know more about what DVC is, my wife has to keep me from buying another 100 or so more points!