“The Happiest Place on Earth!”
I am a second-generation Walt Disney World (WDW) fanatic. I was born in Florida, and went to WDW many times, and enjoyed the luxurious accommodations, and the exhilarating attractions and sumptuous food. The first time I went to WDW was with my parents and brother on October 9, 1971 at the age of six. I was in awe of the spectacular and vibrant colors of the buildings, and imagination-inspiring shops, rides and characters that I had encountered. Now, at that point, I was the eldest of two kids and my mother was pregnant with the third, my sister. Donald Duck crept up behind my brother (Scott), then four, and tapped him on the shoulder. When Scott tuned around he screamed and ran the other direction from him and my father had to chase him down so Dad could get a picture of him and me with Donald Duck. To this day, we still tease Scott about his first encounter with Donald Duck. We then saw Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and the rest of the gang, but my brother went right up to them with no problem. After our experience with Donald Duck, we wandered around the park and went into the shops on Main Street USA, like the Emporium, the Exposition Hall, the Main Street Cinema, Disney Clothiers, Main Street Athletic Club, Uptown Jewelers, Crystal Arts, The Chapeau, Confectionery, and the Main Street Gallery. We then went on rides that my brother and I were big enough to go on, like The Tea Cups, Dumbo and It’s a Small World, as our height was a factor. My father was able to ride all the rides that day that were available to the public. We also went on the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion, which, by the way, is scary for kids under six years of age. There were some glitches in the first few weeks of the opening of WDW with the food venues not being open and some of the attractions unable to open because of inspections, but overall it was a great experience while we were there. That day we had burgers and fries for lunch and dinner at the Tomorrowland pavilion, and stayed to watch the fireworks at the end of a perfect day. This was the first of many memories of WDW that I have of all my visits to the Magic Kingdom. I started wondering at that point about Walt Disney and how he came to this idea of a talking mouse. Walt Disney’s fascination with cartooning started when he was a young boy in high school. He started graphic design, cartoon drawing, and story boarding in a correspondence school and then moved his studies to the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. He then moved to California in 1923 with his brother Roy Disney in pursuit of a cinematographic career. Following the first talking movie The Jazz Singer, in 1928, Walt and Roy were the first to release an animated cartoon with sound; it was called Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney). Steamboat Willie’s main character was Mickey Mouse, who was an instant sensation with the public because this was the first time people had seen a talking mouse. With this revolution of filmmaking, Walt brought to life the fairytale creatures most of us grew up reading about. His first full length feature films were Snow White released in 1937, Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, and Bambi in 1942. These were embraced by the public at large and were hits as soon as they came to the big screen. Walt continued to produce many other major films and shorts until just before his death in 1966 (Walt Disney). Walt Disney always said, “My only hope is that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse” (History of Walt Disney World). Mickey Mouse came to life in Steamboat Willie and has grown into the icon we love and know today. Who would have thought that in 1923 that a mouse could cause such a stir? Mickey had become so well liked that Walt wanted to expand on the appeal that Mickey had, not only to children, but also to the adults that were young at heart. Walt Disney came up with the idea of a park...
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