Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort.
Walt Disney World opened its doors to the public on October 1, 1971 in Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney was searching for another plot of land to complement Disneyland in 1959. In late 1963, Disney flew over a potential plot of land in Orlando. In late 1966, Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer so his brother, Roy O. Disney, oversaw the remainder of the project. Construction began in 1967. It’s been 50 magical years since the resort opened. I wanted to celebrate this milestone by reflecting on the memories I’ve made there since I was a child.
Reflecting on My Time at Walt Disney World
I’ve been a Disney fanatic since I was a baby. You’re probably thinking, “How is that possible? You were a baby?” Well, when I would cry for what felt like forever for my parents at least, my mom found that Circle of Life from The Lion King would soothe me. I’ve grown up watching Disney movies and listening to songs from the soundtracks on repeat.
It’s truly hard for me to believe that Walt Disney World is turning 50 years old today. I started visiting Disney World when I was a toddler. Disney World is nostalgic for me because it reminds of me of my childhood. The happiest place on Earth was able to distract me from reality and be a safe space.
The theme parks provide me with unique experiences each time I visit. If you asked me what my favorite theme park is when I was a kid, I would’ve answered Magic Kingdom. I still love Magic Kingdom, trust me I do. I just remember dragging my mom to ride It’s A Small World every time we’d visit the park. That song will be engrained in our brains forever. I would sing that song the rest of day after riding that ride. I don’t think it was just the song that I loved but the ride itself. Experiencing a variety of cultures and different areas of the world at such a young age was pretty amazing.
I loved going to Cinderella’s Royal Table to meet the princesses. I wasn’t too fond of the princes for some reason. My favorite princess then and even now is Belle. My favorite Disney movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast. I love the story and the soundtrack. It’s my ultimate comfort movie. This leads me into my next favorite attraction when I was a kid. The Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage! at Hollywood Studios made me feel like I was in the movie. I’ve probably seen the live show almost as many times as the movie.
I loved Hollywood Studios when I was a kid. I miss Animation Courtyard. Animation Courtyard was where you could go and learn how to draw a random Disney character, meet Pixar characters, digitally color in Disney coloring pages, and take fun quizzes. As an art enthusiast, I was so bummed to see all this go. Something else that was located in Animation Courtyard that takes me back to my childhood is Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage! I was a huge Bear in the Big Blue House fan and this show made me dance my butt off. I loved it.
When I was younger, I loved Animal Kingdom because of all the animals. It was cool to see all these animals that I didn’t see that often. I still love it. I’m a huge animal enthusiast so seeing all these animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Another thing I absolutely loved at the theme parks was meeting the characters. The Character Bus at Epcot was everything to me. I loved the interaction. My favorite characters are Chip and Dale. They’re so fun.
Child vs Adult
As a child, I was scared of everything. I was scared of Goofy and Pluto because of their snouts. I got over it eventually. I was terrified of The Haunted Mansion. It’s my favorite ride at Magic Kingdom now. I think it was because of the movie. The scene where the skeletons come to life freaked me out when I was little. It still does. Soarin’ at Epcot scared me. I think it was because of the liftoff because it feels like I’m flying on a plane and I hate flying. I love Soarin’ now. The smells and the scenery. Although you know that it’s a screen, it doesn’t feel like it once you’re lifted up to it. It’s such a crazy feeling.
If you asked me what my favorite theme park is now, I would answer Epcot. I love Epcot. I love World Showcase and being able to experience all these countries without having to physically go to them. The Flower and Garden Show is so amazing. Each country has a topiary of Disney characters from their respective countries or characters in general.
Turtle Talk with Crush was my show. It was so fun and interactive. I loved seeing Crush’s reactions to the questions that kids would ask him.
I love the Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom. It really stands the test of time. Another song I sing for the rest of the day after watching the show. I was a big show person then a ride person. I guess I still am. For me, the shows always fill me with joy and happiness. The rides do too but only a specific few.
Reflecting back on everything I loved as a child to everything I love at Disney World now is so wild. It’s amazing how much Disney World has changed since I was younger. It has brought me so much joy over the past two decades of my life and I’m so grateful.
Happy 50th anniversary Walt Disney World. Here’s to another 50 years!