We are counting down the days to the 30th Anniversary of Epcot by celebrating each of its 30 years with guest posts from 30 Disney bloggers! Today, my co-host Beth and I introduce Katrina from Keys to the Magic Travel to spotlight the year 1986.
I was born in Winter Park, Florida – a small town just outside of Orlando – and I feel like I grew up at Disney World. I had lots of family members who worked at the park – including my uncle John who sold popcorn on Main Street.
And that connection to Disney. Well. It gave my family some incredible perks. Like being part of a test run of the Magic Kingdom BEFORE it opened to the public. Or never having to pay for tickets.
Then when I was 7, we moved to Atlanta – and our time at Disney greatly diminished. We might go and visit family in the summer. And we might spend a day at the Magic Kingdom. But it wasn’t the same.
Then, the summer of 1986 arrived. I turned 16. And my family decided to spend a week visiting my grandparents in Winter Parks. And we’d do 2 days at Disney – one at Magic Kingdom – and we’d get to go to EPCOT for the very first time.
I was so excited to go. But I was also a teenager. So I convinced my parents that spending time with them would be much easier if I had a friend. And that is how I got to bring my best friend Andy with us!
In anticipation of our trip, my mother bought all of us matching t-shirts. I remember being so mortified that we were all going to ride down to Florida in these Bloom County shirts – but my friend Andy just thought it was the best thing ever. And somehow, I don’t have a picture of our whole gang in those shirts!
Our first day in Orlando was spent at the Magic Kingdom. We stayed the entire day – and it was well after midnight before we had the last of the fireworks and our drive back to Winter Park.
Our second day was at the brand new (relatively – and certainly new to us!) EPCOT Center.
Our first stop was the “Living Seas.” I vividly remember being “transported” below the sea – but knew we really weren’t going anywhere – just that the floor vibrated and there were tons of bubbles in the water around us. I also remember the divers in the airlock. Unfortunately, I also recall not being impressed.
Next, we headed over to the Kodak “exhibit” to the ride with Figment. There was a huge line (well before fast passes!) and while we waited, my younger brother enjoyed dodging the leaping fountains.
(Are those still there?!). We waited out in that sun for more than an hour – and when we got to walk through the doors into the blessed air conditioning, I think we all had a huge sigh of relief! We all loved the ride. (And really loved that it was so long and we could cool down and rest our feet!).
Next up? Captain EO with Michael Jackson. I thought the movie was great – but I had no idea that Michael Jackson’s voice was that..ummm…squeaky?
We then headed to the pavilions of the World Showcase – beginning with Canada. We saw the 360 degree movie – “O Canada” – and wow – having never seen a movie like that before, we just thought it was amazing. However. After a full day on my feet at Magic Kingdom. And walking and standing in line at Epcot – my 16 year old feet were just done and I so wanted to be able to sit down!
We meandered our way through England, France, and Morocco.
And we finally stopped in America where we ate dinner. I know, crazy? But at the time, we didn’t know any better! But the highlight of this stop was stopping and taking off our shoes and soaking our feet in the fountain. I suppose we looked like we were 61 instead of 16!
After our soak, we pressed on. And then. It began to rain! We bought ponchos in Germany – and then the soles of my shoes split in half by the time we reached China. I loved telling people that my shoes wore out on my long walk from Germany to China!
(A note about the above “trip report” – almost all of the detail was taken from the scrapbook I kept of our trip – not well detailed journaling – but not too shabby for notes of our adventure from my teenage self!)
Even though my feet were dying – we really did have a fabulous time. It was fun to explore Disney with my friend (and my family) – especially since it would be 10 years before I was able to go again. And now that I have my own teenagers – we go quite often – and I love that I have instilled the value of growing up at Disney World! We will be at Epcot’s 30th anniversary on October 1st – and I can’t wait to take part in the next 30 years!
How many Disney fans can say that they were privileged enough to preview Walt Disney World BEFORE it opened in October 1971? Read more about Katrina’s long relationship and unique perspective of Disney Parks at her blog, Keys to the Magic Travel, and be sure to follow her on Facebook and @disneykatrina.
Estelle, of This Happy Place Blog and 1987 will be up tomorrow!