Took care of that business in 1977.
The first Disney Park we hit was Animal kingdom. It was hot and humid and crowded. Waited in line for tickets mostly because of my ignorance for purchasing them before we went… Then I signed up for TPI and now I am informed….(Like how I got a plug in for TPI)
I remember driving into the entrance to the property, I remember waiting for tickets, I remember riding the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon. I remember being overwhelmed by everything. I remember not wanting to go to EPCOT that night because I thought it wasn't part of Disney World. I remember going to EPCOT the next day and LOVING it! Well, except all the countries. I remember going to Walt Disney World Village, where they had a huge Christmas tree up. I remember buying lots of souvenirs, and not having any room for them in our baggage. We put them all in a big plastic bag, and forgot to retrieve them from the X-ray scanner in the airport.
We don't have many pictures left from the trip, but I also remember the tiny shorts I wore back then with the giant socks with three stripes on them.
The next time I went back was in 2000, for my niece's first trip to Disney. The whole family went, and we had a blast. AGAIN.
My next trip to any Disney park again wasn't until 1988 when I went to Epcot. During the 90s I went to Disney 6 different years either hitting MGM Studios or Epcot until the final trip in 1999 when I hit both MGM & Epcot. I didn't go back to the Magic Kingdom again until August 2007 almost 34 years later.
We stopped at the main entrance and got directions to our hotel. We were staying at the Contemporary, and as it came into sight, I could barely contain my excitement. Could there be a more modern looking structure?
Then, as if on cue, a monorail emerged from the resort. "Look, its the monorail!" I exclaimed. "It's ok" my mom replied, "There will be another one". She thought I was worried that we missed the ride to the park. She didn't get it. How could anyone not get excited when suddenly confronted with the transportation of the future come to life?
Thus began my first visit to WDW. The place is bigger now, there is much more to do and I have been back many, many times, but I will never forget the excitement and wonder of being a 13 year old kid visiting for the very first time.
It was August 1977. I was nine. It was my first airplane ride. We spent our first full day at Magic Kingdom, and returned to the hotel late that night. My mom went into the bathroom, and my sister and I turned on the tv. The news was reporting that Elvis Presley died. My mom was a HUGE fan of Elvis, so I ran over to the bathroom door and broke the news to her. I heard her crying behind the closed door. I remember almost nothing about the park. This is the memory that permeates when I think of my first Disney trip.
So just a few weeks after I'd graduated high school, I flew to Orlando with a bunch of classmates. It was an AMAZING experience...I will never forget how in awe I was of everything. Magical is the only word to describe Walt Disney World. Playing a concert there was even more incredible. We dressed up in colonial-era costumes and had to stay in character...no waving or smiling to our classmates and family members in the audience!
I've been back to Disney World twice since my first trip there almost 10 years ago, but none have quite compared to that first experience.
Needless to say, we were tightly wound as we made our way down International Drive to Disney's Animal Kingdom. The first thing I remember is that the person in the parking booth said, "Have a magical day." Even as a cynical teenager, that made me laugh. The greatest memory, however, was our first attraction - Kilimanjaro Safaris - not because it was excellent, but because the attendant at the front of the line let my dad, my brothers, and I into the line, then stopped my mom from entering.
"Sorry, ma'am. Only 4 at a time."
That was it. That was the last straw. After all the agony of delayed flights, lost luggage, and lost tickets, the last thing we needed was another delay. My mom turned red, ready to explode on this guy, until he said:
"Just messing with ya! You looked like you needed a laugh!"
Man, did we ever, and we laughed hard. From that moment, we were hooked.
Disney, in many ways, has been surpassed in terms of R & D, but what got us hooked in the first place and keeps us coming back is the service.
Over the years I've visited Orlando several times and I always make sure I drop by MK, even if it was only for several hours or so. I think it's because when you go to Disneyworld, you're literally leaving the real world behind, not just behind the borders that the railroad sets. I hope that Disney (and Orlando for that matter) always keeps that 'real' world out of that area. It's too magical to be bothered by 'real world' so to speak.