I remember my first time.
I was in the 6th grade and I think it was spring.
I remember boarding the US Air DC-9 at the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton International Airport with my mother and my then sister-in-law, Sue.
From there it was non-stop to the home of the mouse – Disney World.
My first ride on a plane and my first visit to Disney occurred at the same time and I can still remember checking in to the Contemporary Resort, riding the monorail and seeing construction workers building a giant dome that would later become Epcot.
Like any young child, I enjoyed watching the nighttime parade down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, screamed as I rode the park’s only roller coaster at the time, Space Mountain, and sang along to “it’s a small world.”
I saved money to buy a Mickey Mouse watch, which I still have stashed somewhere. And I’m sure that a pair or two of mouse ears were added to the bill somewhere along the line.
This past weekend I wanted to feel like a kid again, so along with my two friends Joe and Bev, I drove two hours north to Orlando to visit the place where dreams are made and wallets are emptied.
My last visit was ten years ago, but trying to squeeze a half-dozen parks into three days just results in a blur. This time I wanted one thing – to see classic Disney – the Magic Kingdom. I wanted to stroll down Main Street USA once again to see if the watch shop was still there, marvel at how the Imagineers created a town that looks big, but is actually very small, and ride the rides that I once rode during my first visit.
I wasn’t interested in high speed car races, run-away elevators or an American Idol experience. I was there to ride a carousel, spin on the tea cups, fly with Peter Pan, get scared in the Haunted Mansion and cruise down an Amazon river.
There’s nothing too high-tech on these rides. Motors, solenoids, bright paint and black lights are enough. There’s the occasional use of holograms and special effects to bring the older rides up to today’s standards, but I can accept that.
These are the rides that Walt first introduced us to 40 years ago. Since then millions from all across the globe have had the opportunity to smile, laugh, giggle and gasp without having to count the number of loops the roller coaster has, or how many G’s the ride spins you at.
I accomplished my mission to enjoy the classics once again. And like the thousands of other kids there, I enjoyed every second of it. Even if the Coke was three-dollars a bottle and a turkey leg costs more than the whole bird.
It’s a small price to pay to bring back some great memories and make new ones.
I just won’t wait another decade to do it again.