What makes Disney special to you?
Over the course of my 51 years I have been to Walt Disney World hundreds of times. We average at least 4 trips a year. In 2001 I was so excited to introduce my newborn daughter to my favorite place that we went ten times before she was one! I blame my family for my Disney addiction. It was our family vacation spot since I was a baby and it's no wonder I'm hooked. Back then going to Disney was a bit of a chore, the roads were not as good as they are now. You could never imagine now traveling to Orlando was the adventure it was. We live in south Florida and back then the turnpike was only two lanes. We always left very early, around 4:00 a.m. Since I was the youngest of four, for me it was a magical journey. We left in the dark, half asleep and arrived to see daylight and the Walt Disney World sign. We would arrive around 8:00 am and go directly to Contemporary Resort. We rarely had a reservation. My mom and dad went to the front desk and asked for a room . Most of the time we got one, sometimes we had to go on the waiting list, a fictitious list that I don't think really existed. I think my dad would grease the cast members palm with a twenty and that got us off 'the list'. The person at the front desk took our name and said check back at 10 am. So we would go up stairs to the top of the world, the original restaurant where the California grill is today, and get breakfast. They had an awesome buffet of pancakes, omelets and our favorite, crapes!. We felt very fancy eating French food. After our enormous breakfast we would check back at the front desk and usually by then we got a room but on the rare occasions we had to wait longer, we would go to the park, The Magic Kingdom, which was the only park back then. Well before fast passes and wrist bands we had the pleasure of using tickets. My parents would give us our ticket books and we went wild trying to go on everything we wanted. My parents had total control, we did not dare to disobey them. Being the youngest I would whine a little about what I wanted to do, but it was usually in vain. The ticket books were labeled; a, b, c, d, e....so going on a ride was much more special, you only had so many tickets in the book. Of course you could buy more books, but it was up to my parents and therefore we appreciated every ride not knowing if we would get more. I remember going on Pirates of the Caribbean and when we got off my mom would use a pay phone just outside the ride to see about the room (I'm sure this phone has long since been removed). For some reason we never made a reservation in advance. Most of the time we would get a room at the Contemporary Resort, mostly in the tower and sometimes in the garden wings. They were either north or south of the main hotel, three or four story's tall. The north wing was torn down to make room for the Disney Vacation Club Bay Lake Tower. Back then staying in this luxury was perfectly normal to me, and now looking back I can't believe we stayed there so much. One time we couldn't get a room at the Contemporary and my parents were visibly upset. "How is this possible?"... "What are we going to do?", they said. I'll never forget, they put us over at the Polynesian resort and I was so mad. Please understand I was just a kid and that was all I knew, so don't judge me. I couldn't believe we had to stay in a dump. Looking back now I realize why my family would say "there was something wrong with that kid". I can now see their point. Ironically I haven't stayed at the Polynesian or Contemporary for decades. They are both very expensive and considering how often we go, it would be like a car payment a night. With a wife and two kids, season passes and meals I won't be staying there again anytime soon. No need to feel sorry for me, I have been to Disney more than most people would ever want to, just ask my daughters and wife. They cut me off for an entire year and I was miserable. My parents inadvertently created a fanatic who is in love with the magic and charm of Disney. It is ingrained in me from my earliest memory and a part of my happiness growing up. Many people can't relive their childhood dreams, but I can and do every chance I get.