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I’m an 80’s kid and I grew up on the classic Disney cartoons and animated films.  When the time came where I would actually get to go see where the magic really happened, I was speechless.  I was 9 years old on my first trip.  My family and I went the last week of April-first week of May.  That happened to be my parent’s wedding anniversary time and my 10th birthday.  WOW! A birthday I’ll never forget.  I got to turn double digits in the most magical place on earth.

My first memories of Walt Disney World aren’t actually from the parks themselves.  Prior to our trip, I had my mom and dad buy me the Birnbaum’s Guide, the Unofficial Guidebook to WDW and anything else I could get my hands on.  Granted the internet was still growing, I searched all I could to find out about what I was about to experience.  I read the books front to back, made notes in the margins, and used my cool new typewriter (I always loved them) to make an itinerary and essentially re-write the descriptions of every store, ride and attraction that I had on my must-do list.  A couple months prior to our trip, you had to fight to get the books out of my hands.  Any free time at home or at school was spent learning about Walt Disney World.

When booking the trip, my parents booked us at Dixie Landings, specifically the Alligator Bayou section.  Why do I remember this? As a family of 5, it was always hard to find places to vacation that would allow 5 guests in a room without needing to rent two rooms.  Since my younger brother was 8 and my older brother was 12, my parents didn’t want to get two rooms.  The Alligator Bayou section of Dixie Landings allowed 5 guests to a room since they had trundle beds.

We flew on ATA (man do I miss that airline, they had so many freebies they’d give us) and took Mears to get to the resort.  I remember getting off the bus and just looking at the entrance.  We had been transplanted to a southern plantation.  My brothers and I got to sit on the couch, watch Disney cartoons, and relax while mom and dad got us checked into the resort.  The lobby was so cool!  I remember seeing names of all the ports from the south.  Once checked in, we then got on a golf cart and taken to our room.  I was in shock! This place was incredible!  Everything about the resort was warm and cozy.  You were made to feel at home, and Disney did an excellent job at that.  One of the coolest things about the resort that I remember was the food court.  Not only was it huge, but it had a real working water wheel!  I could sit and watch that for hours (ya, I’m boring and nerdy like that).  We also loved the main pool area, but loved the smaller private pools found throughout the resort.

As far as the parks, I have a hard time remembering everything on that trip.  I remember not wanting to go on Tower of Terror because I was too scared.  Thankfully that didn’t last long as it’s one of my favorite rides now!  I did, however, really enjoy Extraterrorestial Alien Encounter at Magic Kingdom.  I remember going on the Tomorrowland Skyway going between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.  I remember being above everyone and looking at what was once 20K Leagues Under the Sea. I remember stopping and taking pictures with the family in front of the castle, all of us rocking our fanny packs!  One of the most memorable things that happened was a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s.  It was towards the end of our stay, if not the last day, and we were celebrating my parent’s anniversary and my birthday.  The characters were very interactive with us the whole time.  I remember Chip and Dale stealing my older brother’s napkin and running around chasing each other for it.

All in all, I don’t have a lot of memories from that trip, but enough to last a lifetime.  We didn’t get to go back for two more years, and that trip was even more incredible.  More on that later!  After having visited the parks over 1,000 times now, I can honestly say that there is no better place in the world.

Until next time…