You might think, after reading about my first visit, that I would never want to return to the most Magical Place on earth, because the account is less than magical on so many levels. But you’d be entirely wrong.
October 1996. The Magic Kingdom was celebrating its 25th Anniversary and Cinderella Castle was decked out as a giant (nauseating) blow-up, candy covered, birthday cake concoction. But I had never seen the real thing so what did I know? There were banners lining Main Street with Lumiere on them so I may have been distracted from the awkward castle. Lumiere graced many of the 25th Anniversary collectibles I added to my stash that weekend. Collectibles? Yes. The entire reason for my visit to Orlando.
I went to spend the weekend with friends I’d met online. We were all Beauty and the Beast collectors and had been chatting and trading for a while, so we decided to meet-up to… shop! Our intention was never to actually go to the parks, it was to hit Downtown Disney and the surrounding gift shops and malls on the hunt for treasures that eluded our collections. Who needs a Disney Park when you are finding a smorgasbord of new items to take home!?! Ahem.
We had a wonderful weekend getting to know one another, shopping and talking about our favorite subject. But alas, all good things must come to an end. And this is where my love of Disney Parks begins.
My boyfriend (now hubby, Michael) was with me for this crazy trip. He couldn’t care less about my collection or Disney, but a get-away is a get-away. Sooo, he tagged along, even with the beginnings of a cold/flu/thing. He hung in there for the weekend and was super thoughtful to make sure I could experience a little of the crud too which I kept pretty well at bay until our departure day. We had a really late flight home so we decided to drive around and find something fun for lunch.
Somehow we ended up at Universal Studios. And I made the incredulous suggestions that if we were going to pay to get into a park for lunch we should go to Disney instead… Wait. What? Pay to go in to a park, just to eat lunch??? Um, yeah, I’ve learned a few things since then. But a one day park entry was *only* $38.50 in 1996. So off to Disney we went.
We arrived at the Magic Kingdom and I was so excited to go in! But, you see, we weren’t *at* the Magic Kingdom. We were in the parking lot of the Ticketing and Transportation Center because there is no parking lot at the park. (I told you, I’ve learned a lot since my first visit.) We needed to purchase our tickets to get into the Magic Kingdom so we waited in our first line! Wahoo! Which lasted FOR-E-V-E-R, as I recall. You know what it’s like once you start anticipating your “vacation” and are in the car… Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet??? All the while the ick that had manifested was become more aggressive.
Three hours later (that time may be inaccurate, it’s been over 20 years after all, and I didn’t feel well) and we were on the Monorail headed to the Most Magical Place on Earth! Annnnd once you get to the park you have to go through the ticketing turnstiles. Which, as I recall, took another decade, or hour – whatever. THEN we were IN THE PARK. Remember we came to get lunch and by this time we were hangry, getting sicker by the minute and clueless. Where should we eat? I dunno, what’s here? What are you in the mood for? I dunno, etc., etc., etc.!!!
A little walk down Main Street had me all flabbergasted. I was *in* the Magic Kingdom! I was taking pictures of Lumiere on the street poles and the Castle from every step down Main Street all while the head cold surged on. Then we saw Casey’s. Hot dogs sounded ok. So we got our dogs (most expensive hot dog ever – ball parks got nothing on this dog) and sat to take it all in for a minute. As we were eating it started to rain. Since we came totally unprepared for a day at the park we bought the ridiculously overpriced ponchos (which I still use to this day, so I guess I’ve really gotten my money’s worth!) so we could explore the park as comfortably as possible. Alas after a stroll around the Hub with no clue where to go or what to do, we were both feeling so terrible we decided to just go to the airport an rest before our flight.
Yes, you read that correctly. My first trip to the Magic Kingdom consisted of taking a few photos and eating a hot dog. We didn’t ride a single ride, not one character interaction, no parade – nada!
It DID, however, put that little spark of magic in my heart. I could feel something special and knew I needed to go back to experience all that Disney has to offer. So I began reading and researching everything I could about the parks and started making my plans to return!
I became a Cast Member at my local Disney Store soon after and began traveling to the parks once, twice (or more if I could) a year. Over the years my love for Disney only continued to grow. After many trips under my belt and continual questions from family and friends about what they should do for their own trips serendipity stepped in and offered the opportunity for me to help folks plan their vacations – for real! In 2012 I became a Magical Vacation Planner.
I love being able to “do Disney” on a daily basis. Even when I am not there, I get to live vicariously through the families I help plan with. So, THANK YOU, to all the families that have allowed me to join you on your magical vacations and do what I love. I promise, your first visit will be much more magical than mine! ºoº