A Full Day of Magic
One of the truly remarkable things about the Walt Disney World® Resort is its timelessness. So many of the attractions I loved from our first vacation are still popular today. These old favorites are right at home alongside newer additions (like the New Fantasyland), complementing each other and allowing all of them to become part of the next generation’s “Disney Experience.”
One of the many ways Disney World has evolved, yet stayed true to its roots, are the character dining opportunities…Today, around the parks and resorts of the “World,” families enjoy magical meals with their favorite Disney stars. Whether your preference is for princesses or Pooh bear, Mary Poppins or Mickey Mouse, there are lots of options.
In 1983 there were only three character dining experiences at Walt Disney World®, all of which were outside the parks. Thanks to my dad’s early planning, we were able to enjoy all of these magical offerings.
Anxiously awaiting our 2nd character meal opportunity, the morning of December 16th, we headed to the Contemporary Resort, where we enjoyed breakfast with Pluto, Goofy, Chip & Dale at the Terrace Café. Now occupied by the Contempo Café and Chef Mickey’s, the meal at the Terrace Café in the Grand Canyon Concourse was served buffet style and DID NOT require reservations. In comparison, today a table at Chef Mickey’s is one of the hottest meal tickets in town, and is best booked at 180 days.
Fortunately, my brother (who had been sidelined early the day before due to illness) was feeling much better, if not a little tired and cranky. By this point, he was very comfortable with the characters and showed no fear. Giving Goofy an earful, my brother felt well enough to reprimand him for acknowledging another kid at our table. The nerve!
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was a chicken, so worried that attractions would scare me that I made it much worse for myself overall. Given the tameness of the Doom Buggy’s ride, I couldn’t come up with an excuse to back out. So on I went, most of the time with eyes closed tight. That evening I would wake in our room at the Polynesian, reminded of the grandfather clock in the Haunted Mansion, thinking that the furniture in our room was moving (ever so slowly) toward me. I know the Mansion isn’t really that scary, only that a 7 year-old’s imagination made it so. It’s funny to me because, as an adult, the Haunted Mansion is my single favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World®. While I remember that little girl’s nightmare so vividly, adult-me is absolutely enchanted with all 999 Grim Ginning Ghosts every time I visit.
Back in 1983, we finished in Liberty Square and headed to Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Here I would chicken out again, standing aside while my 4 year-old bother and father rode the “Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!” (Funny, this is another favorite of mine now.)
Earlier that morning, my father made lunch reservations for us at the Diamond Horseshoe Revue. Reservations could only be made the day of, in person, and at the Diamond Horseshoe. They were regularly fully booked by an hour or so after park opening.
Disney World’s Diamond Horseshoe was styled after the “Golden Horseshoe” (A Disney Family favorite) at Disneyland, and featured a half hour Wild West dance-hall show performed several times daily. This was accompanied by a lunch of sandwiches and chips. Today, the hall still offers similar fare on a seasonal basis; however, the only remaining entertainment (when offered) is a lonely pianola (self-playing piano.)
We finished our afternoon in Adventureland with Tiki Birds, Pirates and a tour along the world’s most exotic rivers, on the Jungle Cruise. Today’s skippers are no longer permitted to shoot at the hippos, having to wave their guns at them and say, “bang” instead. This was back in the day, when Han shot first & the cops in ET had guns instead of walkie-talkies. Anyway, animatronic hippos were shot at, and I was not scarred for life.
By this time, it was getting late in the day, so my mother put me in a skirt and we journeyed to the Golf Resort (now the location of Shades of Green®) for dinner in the Trophy room.
I hadn’t realized it, until I began researching it for this post, but this year (2013) is the 30th anniversary of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The first party was held on December 16th 1983, and my family was on the guest list.
According to my grandmother’s notes, we didn’t stay very late (as you can see above my brother wasn’t going to make it much further.) Having our picture taken in the sleigh with my parents is one of the most vivid things I recall from the vacation.
The toy soldiers in the parade and all of the lights and holiday decorations made for even more magical memories.
Another exciting day behind us, we returned to our room at the Polynesian Resort for the last time.
Up next – Out of the Poly and into a Treehouse, then onward to the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow!