Part 1: How we got here. And how we got there
I was only 7-years old (3 weeks shy of 8, if you please) when our family first visited Walt Disney World® Resort in 1983. While many of my memories from that trip are strong and vivid, there are lots of holes and it’s not exactly linear. I’ve been fine with that for 30 years (well, 3 weeks shy of 30 years…if you please.) 🙂
That was until now. While researching old memorabilia for a blog entry about how planning for Walt Disney World Resort vacations has gone digital (See From Paper to Pixels: The Evolution of Walt Disney World Planning) I found a treasure trove of bits-and-pieces from that vacation. My dad saved everything tangible (except his genius itinerary!)
Now, with these documents & receipts, the postcards my grandmother sent home, and my memories, I am finally able to reconstruct a (fairly) comprehensive “trip report” from 1983.
For “like” a “totally” retro recounting of an “awesome” early 80’s Disney World vacation, read on…”totally”
Departing before sunrise on the morning of December 14th, 1983, my mother plied my baby brother (then 4) and me with a mobile breakfast to enjoy during the drive to the airport. There, we abandoned our station wagon in favor of the rental mini-van, in which we would spend the next 10 hours traveling from Mobile, AL to Walt Disney World Resort. Planning to meet us there, my grandparents flew in from Baltimore a few hours earlier.
Most guests who’ve visited Disney’s Polynesian Resort can recall the musty, yet somehow magical, aroma of the waterfall and atrium. They say smells are often the basis of our strongest memories. As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to stay at most of the Walt Disney World Resort properties. But, when I first detect the particular scent of the atrium at the Polynesian, I know I am home. Although home is no longer decorated in turquoise bathroom tiles…this, I feel, is an improvement.
We checked into connecting lagoon view rooms on the ground floor of the Samoa (now Tuvalu) longhouse. Can you imagine, paying only $115 per night for a lagoon view room at the Polynesian? A similar room, for the same time frame this year, averages over $600 per night for a family of 4.
While checking in, my father also purchased our park tickets. A 5-day adult World Passport was $55 and a child’s was $43. Wow…Understanding that there are 2 more parks now then there were in 1983, the same 2 tickets would cost $348 & $329 respectively.
We barely got to to our our rooms before we had to drop our gear and quickly depart for the Contemporary Resort, and the Broadway-style Top of the World dinner and show (the current location of California Grill).
I vividly recall my first outing on the monorail and the surprise of riding it right into the massive grand concourse of the Contemporary Resort. However, a long day on the road and the excitement of vacation had taken its toll.
Photo Credit: disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2013/09/vintage-walt-disney-world-california-grill-through-the-years/
A white tablecloth, a flash of gold sequins, and my father gently waking (then lifting) me after the show, are all I can remember from that night. Even the monorail ride home wasn’t enough to overcome my exhaustion.
Up next – Rise and shine for Minnie’s Menehune Character Breakfast, then onward to put the Magic in the Magic Kingdom!