Friday, December 28, 2012

You're Going Where? - My First Time (Part 2)

Okay, this question is for my Disney friends, but I would imagine many others might have the same issue - different location.

What do you tell people when they say to you "You are going back to Disneyland (or Disney World) ... AGAIN?" If you are a frequent guest, as I and my family are, I am sure you have heard that question more than once.

To fully understand, let's go back to the beginning. I made my first trips to Disneyland (DL) in 1968 and 1969. That 1969 trip was filled with wonderful things - watching Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon (in Las Vegas), seeing The Mets hit rock bottom and then start their climb to a World's Championship, and my first trip through the Haunted Mansion in DL - still my favorite Disney attraction.

But then it would be December 25, 1971 until I would next step into the Magic Kingdom - but this time it would be more than 2  thousand miles to the east. That was our first visit to (a still unfinished) Walt Disney World (WDW). It had opened in the previous October, and Tomorrowland was not yet opened, but I was back at a Disney theme park. I got to go on many DL favorites including the Haunted Mansion - no Pirates of the Caribbean yet. The designers of this park thought that people wouldn't want to see a pirates attraction so close to where the pirates actually operated back in the day. (What were they thinking?)

If you would have asked me on that day how I liked it, I would have told you that it was "okay" but I liked DL better. (Today I will tell you that I like both of them and they really shouldn't be compared as they serve different demographics.)

But now that there was an East Coast Disney theme park, we would be visiting often. In the beginning it was every year, but for a while - after I got married and first had my children - it was a bit less often. My kids didn't get there until my daughter was 4 and my son was 2 - though my wife and I visited during that time by ourselves.

Then we started to go every year. In the past we may have traveled quite a bit to Toronto for our summer vacations, but now summers were filled with other things and we had our big vacation trips during the school vacations in December or February. WDW was not only our favorite place to go, it (usually) was warmer than it was in NYC then, so we started going there every year.

When my kids were in high school, their marching band performed every Presidents' Week vacation in WDW, and aside from their performance time, the rest of the week was for playing in the parks. As parents we had to see them march, right?

Then came the big incentive. When my son was in his freshman year in college, he applied for and was accepted into the Walt Disney World College Program (WDWCP) and would be spending his first semester of his sophomore year working at WDW! Where was he assigned? His role was an attraction host at the (wait for it ... ) Haunted Mansion! (Way to catch Dad's attention!) So naturally mom and dad had to come see him, right?


Then, in her senior year, my daughter applied for the program, and planned on doing the WDWCP in the semester after she graduated. The big difference between her and her brother's plan was that she was going to stay in Florida when the program was over and continue working at WDW. She has been there over 12 years now, moving from Disney's Animal Kingdom to Caribbean Beach Resort and now in IT. Of course, mom and dad have to come visit their daughter, right? And if WDW happens to be in the neighborhood, it only makes sense to stay at a Disney resort, again right? And once a year isn't enough, we have to visit her at least twice. (That's my story and I am sticking to it!)


So now, when people ask me why I go so often, I can tell them it is all about visiting my daughter ... and now my daughter and son-in-law as they have gotten married (at WDW of course).

I don't have to tell them about how going to any Disney destination is just about escaping into another world for a while. A world which still calls to me as it did when I was a kid. I can let that part of me that is still a child do things at a Disney park which I would never do other places. (You know those silly hats ... would you wear Mickey ears outside of Disney ... well, maybe you would. LOL!)

(this was reprinted from Thoughts From The Dark Side from the days before Reporting From Disney World was born.)