My childhood memories are constantly brought on by small triggers throughout the day, especially when I'm around my kids. One of my favorite memories that is consistently triggered is when our family went to Walt Disney World in 1983. This happens every time I visit the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. It was the grandest vacation we had ever taken growing up. And, with Epcot celebrating it's 35th anniversary on October 1st, I definitely plan to be there.
I remember bits and pieces of our drive from Texas to Florida. It was my Dad, stepmother, sister, and me riding along in a van we borrowed from a family friend. My parents were rather frugal, but they went all out on this trip. We went to both the Magic Kingdom
. At the time, ticket prices were $17 for each park. And just like today, there's no going on any vacation without the basic costs of hotels, dining, travel expenses, and of course, souvenirs. Believe me, we had it all on this vacation. I'm confident my purple Disney parasol with my name printed on the top is somewhere in my parent's attic.
It's reasonable to say every kid remembers their first trip to Disney. As a child, the characters seemed larger than life. I was 12 at the time of my first visit, but I still get that excited feeling each time I walk through the gates. This happened most recently when I took my daughter to Epcot as a surprise for her 13th birthday. Although she had been there on a school trip a few years ago, this was our first trip together. It was amazing seeing the park through her eyes as we met with Mickey and Goofy, dined in Mexico, and experienced Spaceship Earth together.
Epcot 1983 - State Archives of Florida/McDonald
I have frequented Epcot many times this past year, but I was 12 the last time I rode Spaceship Earth. Epcot hadn't been open a full year when I first went in the summer of 1983, and now they are about to celebrate 35 years. Please avoid doing the math to determine my age. I recall Disney workers still constructing new attractions throughout the park when I went all those years ago. The feelings I felt riding Spaceship Earth as it slowly wound it's way up in the dark, wondering if there was an unexpected surprise of it turning into a thrilling rollercoaster ride. If you've been on it, you know it doesn't, but wouldn't that be fun if it did?
Disney has planned Epcot's 35th birthday to include the, "I Was There"
campaign, with retro-style commemorative items to celebrate your visit (including collector pins and celebration guide maps), and a ceremony on the Fountain View Stage with Voices of Liberty and Mariachi Cobre performing. They plan to top your evening off with a special fireworks display like none other. And whether or not you plan to go, download Epcot's 35th Anniversary wallpaper
to help celebrate!
There have been many changes since its opening in 1982. Epcot was designed to be in a constant state of change given its celebration of human achievement--both in technological innovations and international culture. It is the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow where you can travel around the globe, under the sea, and into outer space. In a press conference on November 15, 1965, Walt Disney said, "I would like to be part of building a model community, a City of Tomorrow…" It became his obsession and instructed his committee to "find out what industry is thinking about the future. What's going on in the research laboratories, in the think tanks? Let's take advantage of their know-how in our own planning." Walt Disney died in 1966, but his dreams of E.P.C.O.T.
came to fruition 16-years later.
I not only have fond memories of going to Epcot as a child, but I am constantly making new ones, starting with October 1st. I hope to see you there!