I had dinner with an old friend tonight, and she got me thinking about days gone by. Where I come from. How I've become the person I am. Any sort of in-depth examination of that kind of thing for me will inevitably turn up the origins of my Disney obsession. Please forgive the following ramble. I don't know where it's gonna go.
In the Summer of 1993 my Dad, step-mom, and I went to Florida. I'd never been before, and we went for a good long time. We went to Jacksonville to visit Dee Anne's brother. I still remember that vacation as the best vacation I've ever taken. The centerpiece of the vacation was a 4 day excursion to Walt Disney World right smack in the middle. I remember getting off of I-4 for the first time by the Magic Kingdom, and seeing that sign...
I just remember being so excited. I don't really even know why. It's not like I was a huge Disney fan before then. I remember the EPCOT Center commercials where Mickey stood on top of Spaceship Earth, waving. I remember hearing stories from Dee Anne about how much fun it was. I'd always heard of Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean and Hall of Presidents, but really I was pretty much a noob. (Looking back, it's hard to even imagine not knowing anything about the place past those little snippets.)
I just remember being excited.
We stayed at Dixie Landings, which has since been absorbed into what is now Port Orleans: Riverside. It's this sort of Anti-Bellum style hotel on Disney property. It was the coolest place I'd ever stayed. I'd never been to a themed hotel. I'd barely stayed anywhere but a Holiday Inn. The place was just so detailed and so... theatrical. I think that's really where Disney got me. Not just with the hotel, but with everything. There was this perfect "Theatricality" to everything about the place.
I remember that we went to Magic Kingdom first. Robert (Dee Anne's brother), my Dad, and I all raced to Space Mountain. I admit that I was absolutely terrified, as I hate roller coasters, but I still went on. Same with Big Thunder later in the day. I remember waiting in line for Pirates the first time. And riding It's a Small World with Dee Anne (and being more terrified on that thing than any roller coaster. I still am, actually. Good lord.).
The thing about Disney World is that it's timeless. Updates are made all the time... There's been something new each time I've ever gone. But there's still the People Mover, which has been there since the beginning and makes me do nothing but smile and think of Dee Anne. There's still Rio del Tiempo.
I could go on and on about that first trip, but it's really just the start of the story. That trip started an obsession that has grown with every year and every return. In 1994 Dee Anne and I started our tradition of going to Alfredo's (sadly, that tradition is just a memory. Alfredo's closed this year and was replaced with a new Italian Restaurant.)
1998 brought Downtown Disney and The Rainforest Cafe (and the China Island Chicken Salad)
2000 brought Disney Christmases and the beginning of my greatest obsession, the pins.
Ever since then it's been like a snowball down a hill. I've been several times since then, and I've seen new things like Philharmagic and Everest and Festival of the Lion King and Soarin'. I've learned more about Walt Disney himself. I've developed a sense of the details that still astounds me to this day.
Basically... And I know I could go on forever.... Disney World has housed my favorite memories. I know it has more in store. The following are a few pictures from my recent visits. Things that make me smile and that make Disney so magical for me... Please enjoy.
The Muchacho with Mickey
They made Mulan right here.