Mike’s parents gave the gift of Walt Disney World for Christmas! Except we are here for New Years 2010! ¡Felíz año nuevo!
The first time I EVER came to Disney World was in a modified “woody” buick station wagon that we bought at the square Don Drennen dealership, which will only mean something to you B’ham folks. I think it was 1982. That might have been the 10 year WDW anniversary?
We stayed in the Contemporary, got our picture made at the Old Timey Photography Studio on Main Street…. and here’s the best part, I brought a friend with me! Leah and I slept in the back of the station wagon, this was long before the police actually stopped you because no one was wearing a seatbelt and the kids roamed free in the floorboard, backseat and frontseat of the car. Yes, that was LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGG time ago.
Mom and Dad planned several trips to Disney when I was growing up. I am too tired to remember them all, but I can think of the trip with Leah, the trip with Stacey when she came for the first time and the trip with Kelsey when she came for the first time. We have incredibly cute pictures from the trip with Stacey, she was such a doll, with all her curls and around 3 years old too. Kelsey came when she was 5 too. I loved every minute of that trip, watching here take it all in. Which means those magical ages of 3-5 years old, when you *believe* everything about WDW, are truly priceless. I am noticing on this trip that you totally outgrow that by the age of 10.
I have great memories of highschool band trips to WDW, marching and performing in both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Not to mention the first trip I took with Mike, a couple of years after we got married and Canon’s first trip in 2006. I think we certainly have paid someone’s salary at Disney, throughout the course of these trips.
We started our week yesterday, with the 10 hour (12 hour with stops) drive from the ‘ham to the most magical place on earth. I remember flying a couple of times, once on Eastern Airlines (am I dating myself or what?) and again when we brought Melodi for the first time in 2004. We flew the straight shot flight out of B’ham and stayed at the Port Orleans Resort. 8 full days and Mike documented it very well in iPhoto. She was 4 years old and I was 12 weeks PG with Canon.
But I digress.
I was preparing for our trip over the weekend, 24 hours after Christmas day, washing clothes and packing…making very last minute reservations for our early arrival since our resort reservations don’t happen til Wednesday and we got here Sunday night. I don’t recommend this btw. At least the part about last minute reservations. After traveling 12 hours by car and then having some serious issues upon check-in due to…whatever you want to call it…not good. But nothing really prepared for the emotional toll this would take on my brain.
I’ve mentioned several “firsts” here, my “first” trip, my sisters “first” trips, Melodi’s “first trip.” This is my “first” trip to Disney World with my Dad being gone. And that is a lot to process.
So, here is what I have thought about:
1) Dad and Mom brought me here as a child. And my “last” offiicial family (of origin) trip with them was to WDW in 1994. I remember that week well b/c I had just graduated from college. I got a phone call the week we were here for an official job offer at WBRC. I think the first person I told when I got the call was my Dad. I took the job!
2) They spent a heck of alot of money at the Contemporary, the luau at the Polynesian, the downtown disney resorts, getting us here when Epcot first opened, and many, many other things I totally took forgranted.
3) Pretty much everywhere I go in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot will hold a memory of my Dad. Dang it, that just makes me want to cry.
He loved to bring us here.
Now I’m here with my kids and there are not enough electric outlets in this hotel room to re-charge all the electronic devices we brought on this trip. A major criteria for choosing our hotel was if there was free (in room) internet connection. And the Wal-Mart down the road is the exact equivalent to a 3rd world country (I know this because I lived in Guadalajara). There are millions of people here and most of their currency is worth more than my American dollar.
So, that is, in a nutshell, the difference between then and now. But in my heart there is so much more than that.