Just 9 years (or days) left! Welcome back to the countdown within the countdown: 40 Days to 40 Years is nearing an end, but the “reward” is the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. Today, Stelle from This Happy Place Blog recalls 2002.
By 2002, my family and I had been visiting Walt Disney World for seven consecutive summers. It was more than a vacation; it was a tradition.
In the parks, the celebration of Walt’s 100th birthday was going strong. It had started in October of 2001 and continued all through 2002 with new parades (Share a Dream Come True at Magic Kingdom and Disney Stars & Motorcars at MGM Studios) and a new icon (the Sorcerer’s Hat!) at MGM. Thanks to the big 1-0-0, my mom had a new reason to cry at the parks- visiting the One Man’s Dream exhibition and watching the movie at the end (then narrated by Michael Eisner).
The year also brought the opening of the Beach Club Villas (gorgeous) and the reopening of Journey into Imagination with Figment. Ya know, the one WITH Figment and the return of the catchy Sherman Brothers tune, One Little Spark? I, for one, was glad to see that purple little guy back (even if the attraction was mediocre).
To my delight, Stitch fever had also hit the parks! Lilo & Stitch was the newest animated feature to arrive in theaters that summer. One of the three animated films to be produced at the animation studio in MGM, there was much love for that little blue alien all over. I remember being so excited about their marketing technique and trying to find him everywhere.
Personally, that year featured a few of our own milestones. It was the first time I ever visited the parks twice in one year (April and August). That April trip was the first time we boarded a flight to Florida, instead of road tripping from New Jersey, and was also the first time I was able to bring a friend with us on vacation. (My dad had to work. Sorry Dad!)
It felt nice to be a tour guide for a newbie. (I had been that person only a few years earlier.) We ate at Cinderella’s Castle, pool hopped (Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Boardwalk, and Old Key West), and spent a lot of time sipping virgin daiquiris with my mom and sister. Here are a few highlights:
Estelle writes weekly, daily, 24/7 (and in her sleep) for This Happy Place Blog, along with her sassy partner-in-crime, Michelle (who she met at that unknown college in 2003). She loves a cold safari ale, anything related to the Muppets, and planning her next Disney-fied vacation with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @thatsostelle
Tomorrow, the founder of “Mentoring Mondays”, Disney Donna Kay will join the series and thrill us with tales from 2003!