My (Disney) World is Rocked by a Family Secret!
I had planned to write an article about my earliest memories of going to Walt Disney World. My first trip pictured above was in 1977. I’m the cute one in the middle. The one thing I was waiting on was the opportunity to raid my mom’s photo albums for pictures from the trip.
Today, that opportunity arose. I was flipping through pages of various photo albums when suddenly my mouth dropped. I had passed 1977 in this particular album. To the best of my knowledge, this was the only time I had been to the Magic Kingdom as a child. And yet, this picture was clearly in the early 1980’s…
Being a die-hard Disney geek, I immediately recognized the Haunted Mansion. Was the picture out of place? It did look like we were a little taller in this picture than we were in the 77 pictures. And we were wearing different clothes!
I took the picture from the album and looked at the back. My mom labels all her pictures. It read,
April – 1981
Once I was done bristling over the fact my mom referred to the Haunted Mansion as “Haunted House”, the realization hit me. I had been living a lie! All my adult life, I believed I had been to Walt Disney World only twice as a kid. Once to the Magic Kingdom in 1977 and once to Epcot in 1988. And yet, here was pictorial evidence to the contrary staring me in the face!
I flipped another couple of pages. What was this!
Another set of clothes. (I am rocking the Pac-Man T-shirt!) Another sibling! (They weren’t done. I am the oldest of six kids.) This was neither 1977 nor 1981. I flipped the picture. 1982!!
It was like discovering a deep, dark family secret. Like a missing sibling. (Although I sure didn’t need another one of those.) There were gaps in my memory. I had been to Disney World 4 times but my memories had blended the first three trips into one!
Suddenly, a lot of things started to make sense. A lot of my memories of the Magic Kingdom consisted of my dad complaining about long lines. But every time he talked about our first trip in 1977, he talked about how empty the place was. Why did I remember him complaining so much?
If you look at that castle picture from 1977, you’ll see that Main Street is more or less a ghost town. I have been to the park before opening for breakfast and seen more people than that. And check this out:
Notice anything weird about that picture? The elephant behind us is empty! That never happens. Never!
So clearly, my memories of dad complaining about lines came from those trips I had forgotten about in the early 80s. But I did remember at least one specific event from 1977:
My brother and I were selected to receive the “Sons of Liberty” medal in a ceremony in Liberty Square. I think we were the only two kids in the park at the time. I cherished that thing like I had won the purple heart.
Here’s a couple of pictures from the days when characters roamed the parks:
Pluto’s one of those characters we see every trip at character meals. I couldn’t get over how different he looked in 1977.
Tigger and Pooh could never just stroll around like that today.
Check out the expression on my little sister’s face!
Perhaps most striking of all, in all the pictures of all three trips – no Mickey. I guess that’s one advantage of the current meet and greet system. We were 0 for 3 when it came to meeting the mouse.
This next one is from 1982:
This picture illustrates another weird thing that happened when characters just walked around. The little girl to the left is my sister. The other kids? I have no idea. People just ran up to the characters and started clicking! It was chaos!
It’s been a day of revelations, let me tell you!