The author with her Dad and little sister
I know that my family took me to Walt Disney World in 1976, but I have so few memories of that trip, because I was so young. The first trip I can really remember is the one we took in 1980.
The author and her sister in the Contemporary Resort, 1980
We stayed off property at a hotel on International Drive, but we made sure we visited the on-site resorts. At the Contemporary, we visited the game room, and had our caricatures drawn. I saw a mural of Donald and his friends playing drums, and I asked that the artist draw me playing the drums as well.
My sister, Mom and me in the lobby of the Polynesian, 1980
We also visited the Polynesian, and my parents loved the atmosphere so much that they decided we should stay here in the future. It would take nine years, but eventually we would do just that. Decades later, I would take my own family to stay at the Poly, and eventually, my parents would buy into the Disney Vacation Club here!
Can you tell how much I liked it?
The only theme park was the Magic Kingdom, and we had a wonderful time revisiting all the attractions that we loved on our first visit. This time, though, we got to experience the brand spanking new Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
We always enjoyed visiting Adventureland. I loved the Enchanted Tiki Room, and remember drinking ice cold orange juice out of a plastic orange. The Jungle Cruise skipper was still telling the same joke about New York. (“See that green thing with leaves on it? That’s a tree.”)
Meeting Goofy, Pooh and the Big Bad Wolf!
My sister and I still enjoyed meeting the characters, and I was surprised when I looked through these photos to find one of us with the Big Bad Wolf! I can’t remember another time when I’ve seen him in a park!
King Stefan’s Banquet Hall with Mary
Back then, the highlight of our time in Fantasyland was eating at King Stefan’s Banquet Hall, in the space that is now known as Cinderella’s Royal Table. Our waitress, Mary, was so lovely and kind that we asked for her on every return visit. We sat in her section until she retired.
Ah, Mr. Toad, how we miss you!
Remember Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? We had a great time riding that one. (If you’re nostalgic for this ride, know that Mr. Toad still rides wildly every day at Disneyland. Come over to the West Coast to get wild again!)
Exploring the Kennedy Space Center
We spent two days at Walt Disney World, and after that, took the drive to Cape Canaveral to visit the Kennedy Space Center. This was long before the space shuttle Atlantis took up residency here. But our whole family enjoyed it!
This was the second of many Walt Disney World trips my parents took us on. I would love to go in a time machine and tell my 10 year old self that one day I would take my own little girl to this magical place.
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