The Magic of the Disney Kingdom

New Photo w Logos   Having just returned from Orlando and the Empower Conference event, my mind travelled back to a time in the distant past.  All the way back to 1975…

Tonight I started thinking about what I should write. I knew that I needed to write a blog post and sometimes that feeling is overwhelming and forces you to sit down and think about things that coalesce as a story. As I was talking to my video I remembered many of the nuances of my first trip to Disney World in 1975. I was 14 at the time and thought that I had died and gone to heaven. I had wanted to go to Disney World for so long that I was incredibly envious of classmates and even my cousins who regaled me with stories of the various rides and attractions within the confines of that mouse inspired play land.

In 1975, my siblings and I were all getting older. We spent numerous summers on the shores of Schroon Lake in upstate New York. We had learned to swim from the instructors at Schroon Lake but it was time to try a vacation that was completely different. Something that we had never done before as a family was in the works and my father was the driving force behind the new adventure. I can remember my father and mother talking about something in hushed voices that didn’t appear to be going well throughout 1973 and 1974. I knew that my father’s game plan was to have one gigantic vacation of a lifetime before college and life began to pull at the family fabric. I was not sure about all the intricate details, but he was having a hard time making all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. As I remember the story, and I got the story directly from my father himself, there was no disputing the level of frustration he felt because of the incredible backlog of people trying to reserve and confirm reservations at Disney World for the summer of 1975.

My father needed to call in the big guns. As an employee of NBC my father had a leg-up on other people who were trying to make reservations at Disney World. Being the film editor who actually worked on the television program ”The Wonderful World of Disney” he had an even larger leg-up on those trying to get reservations. My father went directly to his boss who placed a call to Disney and that began the series of events that led to our trip. Disney was incredibly responsive, and my father was given the time at the Contemporary Hotel that he was looking for. In mid-August 1975, we all piled into the family car which was a 1973 Chevy Impala four-door that we had inherited from my late grandfather. We made stops along the way and saw all of the signs for Pedro as we headed south on Interstate 95. We stopped in Rocky Mount North Carolina where we stayed next to a tobacco field. I actually pulled a few leaves off just to have them as a reminder. Seeing a tobacco field was amazing because we don’t have those kinds of crops on Long Island. We stopped and stayed overnight in Georgia as well, but at this point in time the town we stayed in escapes me.

Finally we arrived at our destination, Orlando, Florida and the Magic Kingdom. As we drove in we were amazed by the topiary creations of our favorite Disney characters. My dad being the gardener that he was automatically started to think about trimming some of our bushes into the shape of Pinocchio, Bambi, and Dumbo. He never actually did this, but I’m sure in the back of his mind he had it as a plan sometime in the future. We got to our hotel room and it was an amazing sight. We were staying in the contemporary Hotel on the 10th floor. From this vantage point, we could look over the rail and see the monorail coming in through the hotel wall. For a kid of 14, this was an amazing visual to watch. I cannot stress the importance of the Disney World experience. It’s akin to being allowed to run wild in Santa’s workshop without adult supervision.

Now along with helping to get our reservations set up, we were told to visit the Customer Service area at the Contemporary Hotel as soon as we got into the Disney World surroundings. It was at this time that my father was given books and books and books of tickets. These were tickets to the rides within the Magic Kingdom Park. The Disney Corporation had given us enough tickets for all of us to ride rides to our hearts content for the four days that we were there. My father took all the tickets and the Disney adventure began. We went on all the rides. We saw all the sites. One of the things that my father actually was very interested in seeing because of his background in film was the Hall of Presidents. We went through everything, we rode on everything. My father actually had his shirt pocket explode on the Space Mountain ride. He was a smoker, and had a pack of Benson and Hedges 100s and his Zippo lighter in his top pocket. When the ride took a tight turn, everything in his pocket along with his glasses flew off into the car. Needless to say, my father was completely blind without his glasses so most of the ride was a blur. We as a family had so much fun on this trip and thoroughly enjoyed our Disney World experience.

The one point that always irritated my father had to do with the tickets to the park. Disney had given us so many different tickets but they failed to give us a ticket to get into the park for four days. My father paid the entrance fee for a family of five for all four days that we were at the park. He could not understand why they would comp him tickets for the rides but not give the entrance tickets into the park. This was an irritation but did not diminish the fun that my father had with his family as we went through the Disney adventure. Disney was only the first part of our vacation.

The second part of the vacation we drove from Orlando down to Marathon Key to stay at a condo that was owned by family friends. While we were on the long drive down to The Keys I started to look through the tickets that Disney had given us. We had a large amount of tickets left over and we were told that they were good in perpetuity. As I looked through the tickets I found other tickets mixed in. I started to read what was written on the tickets and realized that they were the golden tickets to get into the park for the entire time that we were there. Unfortunately my father had not looked at all the tickets before we started our adventures in the parks. We never spoke about this again, and it was only recently that I relayed the story to my mother who never heard about this.

The moral of the story: Fun and adventure are not predicated on comp tickets!

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Twitter:  @thebookkahuna Website:  http://thebookkahuna.com/

Empower Blog:  http://thebookkahuna.net/

YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJMnrFtQkrX72q8-nhqeAWQ

The Book Kahuna

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