A brief personal history of Walt Disney World, with pictures

No-one who knows me IRL can fail to have heard about my family’s upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. It’s going to include quite a few members of my extended family, all packing our noisy selves into a villa barely seven miles from the Epcot parking lot.

I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

Now, I could write a whole lot of actually useful stuff about using My Disney Experience (excellent customer service when something weird – not Disney’s fault – went wrong with the tickets), booking FP+, making our Advance Dining Reservations including a date night at Le Cellier… but, you know, the world is already heaving with places to find that information. I’m totally happy to answer questions and share tips, but there are people who devote their entire lives to WDW holiday planning (not least the Disney Parks Moms Panel) – more people than you can shake a stick at, frankly. And instead, I just want to share my excitement through photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I know things have changed. Obviously things have changed. I mean, my Dad labelled one of the photos below as “E.P.C.O.T. Center” (yes, with the unnecessary dots and yes, he can still tell you what it stands for). There are attractions that are never coming back (we don’t have to name The One; come to think of it, maybe we all have a different One). There are attractions that are changed beyond recognition, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. The place that I fell in love with when I was four is not the same place that my daughter, aged four, will now fall in love with. There’s a part of me that’s a little sad about that, but it’s a mistake to ever try to recreate your experience in your child; you are not the same people. It is not the same time. And, as for yourself – well, you can never really go back. I’ve made my peace with that.

But I’m also aware – and, honestly, grateful – that I will carry with me the rose-tinted specs of 1984 and see things through that lens. The new memories I create will be drawn on the top of the ones that are already inked on me, a hundred hidden Mickeys stamped all over, invisible but indelible, each layer smudged, blurred but never wiped out over time.

This week, I found these photos from my first visit. They are the set which went with this one.  They make me very, very happy. I cannot wait to have the uniquely wonderful experience of seeing it all unfold through R’s eyes; I got a hint of it at Disneyland Paris, but this is it – the Mother Ship!

And no, I will not be wearing short shorts.

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The 21st Century Begins…

I’m pretty much always sad that I’m not at Walt Disney World. But today has an extra element of bittersweet longing as it’s the thirtieth anniversary of the best theme park in the world, ever: EPCOT Center (okay, Epcot. And yes, even now,  with Horizons* gone and that ending to Spaceship Earth and no new countries for decades. Today, I have all of the love and I don’t care).

This is where, just two years after opening, I fell in love with Disney.  And it’s why it doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always feel like an excited child at those gates. For some people it’s Cinderella Castle; for me, it’ll always be that monolithic golf ball.

Happy birthday, Epcot. I miss you.

*Okay, guys, I know it can’t come back. I get it. But take that extraordinary immersion – that incredibly long, detailed and rich experience – and bring it back in another form. I’m okay with that. I dare you.

Hey, look! A new header!

I felt the need for a header that spoke more of me, and happily I seem to live with Designerus Domesticus, or the common or garden graphics hipster. He’s great, isn’t he? (He works for these lovely people if you think he could be great for you too. You know, in a more appropriate way.)

I asked him to draw inspiration from the classic EPCOT Center designs of the 80s since that’s my Disney Golden Age (every fan, except maybe the brand new ones, has one) and it seems extra appropriate as we approach my very favourite park in the world’s 30th birthday. Since I can’t be there in person…

I still have my mouse ears, but sadly I have long since lost my rainbow-hued, red-brimmed sun visor with the old logo. This is my way of bringing it back into my life a little.

And now, back to business.