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.)


Thursday, December 27, 2012

My First Time

Going to Disneyland that is ... did you think I was going to talk about something else?

Like most kids my age - in the US at least - I grew up knowing that my Sunday nights would mean watching Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan. Naturally I was more interested in Walt than Ed, though I did enjoy Topo Gigio. But of course it was a different mouse that I looked forward to seeing, and that was Mickey. Over the years Walt Disney's presence on Sunday night was legendary. Although the name of the show changed many times, my favorite segments were always those that showed Walt's little park, Disneyland. I loved watching all of the rides and attractions, and the people enjoying them. The only problem was that Disneyland was on the totally opposite side of the country, so while I enjoyed watching the shows about Disneyland, I never seriously thought I would be there. People really weren't in the habit of flying for vacations yet. And this being the fifties and the sixties, there was only one Disney park.

I watched with great excitement as Walt talked about four new projects though. He told us that a lifelike Lincoln who would stand up and speak was being developed. And how about that ride where you would drive a car through history, from the dinosaurs to the caveman to the present and the future? Or that other history ride where you would sit in a theater which moved from scene to scene from the beginning of the twentieth century to the very modern present of 1964!! And finally he told us about a boat ride through the countries of the world - with little children singing a wonderful Sherman brothers' song. (Shhhh ... I heard that!)

What made this so exciting for me was the fact that I would actually be able to experience all of these attractions! They were being prepared for the State of Illinois, Ford Motor Company, General Electric and Pepsi/UNICEF. They were going to be at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, and since I lived in New York City I knew I would see each of them a number of times. And I did.

And then, before school was out for the summer of 1968, my parents (teachers by profession) informed me and my brother and sister that we would spend our summer vacation driving cross country. You know what that meant? We would be in California ... and Disneyland was in California. (Oh yeah, a few other things as well, but ... Disneyland!!!)

The end of June came ... school was out for the summer ... and we were on the road! Yes indeed we saw some great things on the way out there, but Disneyland was the "wienie" as Walt would have put it. And then, on July 26th, 1968 the day came that I finally got to go to Disneyland. (I just realized for the first time that 10 years to the day later, my daughter - a current Walt Disney World Cast Member - would be born.) I remember the excitement as we saw the Disneyland sign from the highway ... the highway which had no signs about the park. How exciting it was to finally be in the parking lot, about to have my parents buy that booklet with the ABCDE tickets in it? The wonderful things I saw on my black and white television (we wouldn't have color TV until late in 1969) now appeared before me (as they would say on TV) in living color ... ready to capture with the same Ansco Cadet camera that I had used at the NY World's Fair!

As we walked into the park and underneath the Disneyland Railroad, Main Street and the castle (The Castle) appeared before us.

I couldn't wait to walk down the street and look into all the stores which I had seen on Walt Disney's Sunday night television shows.

How many times had I seen an animated Tinkerbell (who I still insist is a jealous/murderous sprite ... a strange choice as a corporate spokesfairy) splash the front of the castle in an array of color to start another Sunday night Disney show? To me it looked so large and amazing standing there at the end of Main Street - the famous "wienie" Walt wanted in the center of the park.

But of course, the most exciting things were the attractions. I wanted to ride the Jungle Cruise, which I had seen so much of on TV. I had to experience something that was still unique to Disneyland back then - the steel rollercoaster type ride that was the Matterhorn. I couldn't wait to ride the traditional dark rides which were not super scary as they were back home in Brooklyn (at Coney Island), but much more family friendly with Disney characters. And what about Walt's fleet of submarines - or the skyride ... or the monorail ... and the other rides and attractions that I had seen for so long?  I had to do it all. But I think the attraction that I wanted to see the most, was the newest. I watched it take shape over the years on the Sunday night tv program, and now I would get to see it in person ... The Pirates of the Caribbean! And I wasn't disappointed. (The Haunted Mansion, which became my all time favorite - and still is - wouldn't be open until my 1969 visit. My son would be working in the Walt Disney World version at the moment 1999 became 2000.)

I also had to see the four World's Fair attractions which I had experienced just a few years earlier back at home; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (Illinois), The Grand Canyon Diorama on the train trip around the park (Ford), Carousel of Progress (General Electric) and It's a Small World (Pepsi/UNICEF).

It was exciting finding out which type of ticket each attraction required, then ripping the appropriate one out of the booklet for admission. And as always ... the day ended much too soon. I would be back the next summer, and again a few times since I have been married, but nothing can match the excitement of that first time.

Today, as a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, I get a completely different feeling upon walking in to that first park - whichever it is on that trip - from the excitement of my first time in Disneyland. Today is more of a comfortable "I'm home again" feeling.

But that first time in Disneyland .... ahhh ... that was something special!

Will you share with us your first trip to a Disney Park?

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


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where in WDW? Challenge 34

It's time for the last Where in WDW? for 2012.

Last week you were asked Where in WDW? you would find this ...

As expected, many of you knew that this was the Animation Academy at the end of the Animation Tour at the Disney Hollywood Studios. Many of you do as we do and skip the tour by entering through the gift shop to get directly to the class.

Here is my latest attempt at being a Disney animator ...

Where in WDW? Will return at the end of January - after I return from a cruise on the Disney Wonder followed by a visit to Walt Disney World ... looking for more great Where in WDW? challenges.

In the meanwhile I leave you with this photo from my favorite scene/song from Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney's Animal Kingdom ...

Click on the photo to hear the song

Let me take this time to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year - and see you in 2013!!


Wordless Wednesday - Celebrate

This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Celebrate.
Thanks to Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in.

(From my last 2 Holiday Celebrations)


For more about my Christmas Celebration - click here


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where in WDW? Challenge 33

As we get to the end of 2012 ... how have you done? Did you get this one?

Quite a few knew that this was taken a number of years ago at the exit to Universe of Energy - Ellen's Energy Adventure.

How about this one? Where in WDW? is ...

This is one where if you have been here, it's easy, but if you have not ...

As always, make your guess in the comments section below and then check back next week to see if you are right.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Joy

This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is JOY.
Thanks to Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in.

(grandsons - WDW - 'nuff said)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Dream

This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Dream.
Thanks to Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in?

To sleep, perchance to dream - even a Caribbean Beach Resort castmember needed some sleep back in the day.

Could she have been dreaming of the Tapestry of Dreams parade that was running in EPCOT back then?

Or, perhaps sharing a dream with Mickey?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where in WDW? Challenge 32

Where in WDW? comes early this week as I am heading out for a few days ... and to all who celebrate ... Happy Chanukah!

Only a few more Where in WDW? challenges for 2012 ... how have you done? Did you get this one?

I know that at least one or two of you knew that this is right past the entrance doors and turnstiles at the Muppet Vision 4-D attraction in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Can you tell me Where in WDW? you will find this?

As always, make your guess in the comments section below and then check back next week to see if you are right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Walt Disney

This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Walt Disney.
Thanks to Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in.

Today, December 5, would have been Walt Disney's birthday, so here is a look at Walt and one of his most lasting legacies ...

Here is Walt announcing his Florida Project, the focus of which was to be the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).

Unfortunately, he never lived to see it even started.

So it was up to his brother Roy, whom Walt made promise to see it created. Here is Roy along with Mickey Mouse at the dedication of the revised version of Walt's Florida Project ... a little place we know today as Walt Disney World.

Where in WDW? Challenge 31

It's that time of week again where we tell you where last week's photo was taken ...

... was taken at the New Fantasyland train station.

The station itself is in the Storybook Circus area of New Fantasyland. If you haven't been to the New Fantasyland, you will be in for a treat the next time you are in the Magic Kingdom.

Did you get it? If not, don't worry because we have a new one this week. Where in WDW? will you find this ...

As always, post your guess in the comment section below and come back next week and see if you were correct.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tell Me Tuesdays

Winter is cold here in the northeast and I don’t get out as often as I would like to take photos. However, I am introducing a new weekly feature on my photo blog - Gathered Images - Tell Me Tuesday will feature one of my photos with information on how it came to be. (Yes, many of the shots will have been taken in Disney World.) How and where it was taken, technical information, and if any post-processing was done will all be shared. Sometimes before and after shots will be shown.

Then it becomes your turn to critique the photo (don’t worry, I have a thick skin) which can be anything from “I like/don’t like it” to a discussion of how you might have handled the same shot and/or done something differently. Since this is art, anything you like or don’t like is valid.

And finally, you will be given the opportunity to join in with your own Tell Me Tuesday post. Just add your link at the bottom of each post.

It all starts on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 ... hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Where in WDW? Challenge 30

Time again to ask and answer the question, Where in WDW?

Last week you were offered this chilling challenge ... to find your way out ... to find this ...

As was guessed, it is outside of the Stave Church at Norway in World Showcase, EPCOT.

So now the 30th challenge in the series ... Where in WDW is this?

As always, make your guess in the comments section below and then check back next week to see if you are correct.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where in WDW? Challenge 29

It's time once again to play the game that is taking the country by storm ... Where in WDW?

Last week you were asked to guess Where in WDW? this is ...

As has been guessed, this is in Animal Kingdom, in front of the bathrooms across from Tusker House. You know ... where it is always so crowded you can barely walk?

So now it's time for a new challenge so ... Where in WDW is ...

As always, make your guess below in the Comments section (please do!) and then come back next week to check your answer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Disney Fireworks

One of everyone's favorite things at a Disney park is the fireworks, and I am no exception. On this last trip we watched two sets of fireworks ...

The first group is Hallowishes - from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom.

And the second set is from Illuminations - Reflections of Earth at EPCOT.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Disney Letter G

This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Disney Letter G.
Thanks to Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in.

It has been a while since I have been able to participate due to a trip to Disney World, Hurricane Sandy followed by a nor'easter. But I am home and power and internet are back so let the fun begin!

What comes to my mind immediately is Goofy! (Especially for reasons that will become clear to you very soon!*)

So here is my tribute to Goofy ...

*And finally ... many fathers will tell you that their son-in-law is goofy ... but I have the photos to prove it ...

Here he is with his mom

Here he is playing with the boss!