OK, one more post for tonight just because this one will keep me from sleeping! I got to get it out!
The first time I ever went to Disney World was in the summer of 1981. I was 10, about to be 11 and Am was 4. I also swore after it was over with I would never go on another family vacation again (and I didn't until 2004, which was also to WDW, and boy, what a story that is!).
This is us - gotta love my Mother's hair! And aren't we such a happy bunch! One of the rare photos of me...I take them, I'm not in them.
Notice how my Mother has extra legs? That's because I'm standing behind her. That's my usual photo taking position.
In 1981, Disney World consisted of only the Magic Kingdom. Epcot was only a model in Tomorrowland, it wasn't to open until October 1, 1982. Staying on property was a luxury we couldn't afford, so we stayed off property. We also went to Sea World, Circus World, and Cape Canaveral (I have ALWAYS wanted to go back to Canaveral, I was WAY to young to appreciate it then and I swore if I ever got close enough with a vehicle, I'd go...hint hint Am!).
But, the trip was horrible because I was cutting my molars and felt awful and my Step-dad is a very military kind of guy (or used to be). Wake up 6 am, breakfast 6:30, catch bus 7:00, be at park 8:00. If he got off schedule, we were all doomed! It was mid summer, hot, humid, extremely crowded, and overall miserable!! He wanted his moneys worth, so we stayed in the parks until closing as well and had to take the long trip back to the hotel and get a couple hours sleep and do it all again. He's also the type of person that thinks there is only one restaurant in the world -McDonald's; breakfast, lunch, and dinner (which plays in the 2004 saga as well).
I blame that 1981 trip for my current Disney spending habits. We were only allowed one souvenir. There was this plush Mickey and Minnie I wanted more than life itself, but Mother said I could only have one. I can remember throwing a massive hissy fit in the store (my Asperger's I now know) because I couldn't split them up...they were, after all, boyfriend and girlfriend! In the end, I got both of them (spoiled, I know...) and had them up until a few years ago (they were kept in my parents attic in a garbage bag and mice peed all over them). Now, I buy tons of stuff because I don't like to be denied. It stems from that trauma of that particular hissy fit (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).
But from then on, Mother, Am, and my Step-Dad went on vacation without me. My Aunt stayed home with me for a couple of years, then I stayed home by myself. I did go on vacations with my Aunt though, so I wasn't completely vacation deprived. When I got older, I would drive a lot (especially at night when no one else was out) and would go pretty far, sometimes all the way down to Biloxi, get out, walk on the beach, get back in the car and drive home, 7 hrs each way! I felt safe as long as I stayed in the car, so I just continued to drive! I haven't done that in years though.
Back on topic...when I was married, my then husband and I were supposed to go to WDW, but we ended up getting divorced and, even though the trip was half paid for, the travel agency felt sorry for me and gave me all my money back. The next year, Mother and I used most of that money plus some more and went on our own. That was November 1999...the height of my panic attacks. It wasn't the worst trip, that was yet to come.
Me and Donald 1999 (yes, I look totally drunk because I am, it took massive amounts of Margaritas before I'd get close to him! I was terrified!! (and "him" turned out to be a "her", totally freaked me out when "she" tickled me! Donald is a boy!):
In 2004, we decided that since we're all grown up now, Am is married, I'm divorced, why not go back to Disney as a family. We're all adults now, how bad could it be? My Step-Dad put me in charge of planning since my OCD was in full swing by that point and I was super obsessive and so off we went! We can laugh about it now, but at the time, I spent at least the first part of the trip crying! Good thing we got separate rooms! Am and Matt in one, Mother and my Step-Dad in one and I had my own room (how wonderful that was!). I fought for the longest for us to stay together, afterall, it was supposed to be a family trip, but in the end, once we split up, it got SO much better! Am, Matt and I had the best time ever and it started our yearly jaunts from then on! "Yo Ho, Yo Ho a pirates life for me, I use a knife to stir my tea!"
What made 2004 so horrible? Numerous things, but the main reason was just two little words...No McDonald's...we couldn't eat McDonald's 24/7. Yes, there are fry stands that sell McDonald fries and chicken nuggets (or there were in 2004, not now), but one of the best parts of WDW is the food! Why on earth would we eat at a McDonalds?!?! Every place we ate at he hated until he eventually just stopped going to the reservations with us. On the last day I gave up and we ate at one of the very few full service Mc'D's there were and you know what my Step-Dad got to eat? Prepare yourself for something shocking....strawberry shortcake! Yes, that's right folks! A week long rant begging for a McDonald's burger and now that one's in his grasp, he's gets a strawberry shortcake! I believe Am's exact words out loud were "what the FUCK?".
So 2004 was my last family vacation. Ever. No third chances. Ever. There won't even be a family trip to Wal-Mart in my future!!
But here it is, 2012, Disney World is now massive, no longer just one park, it's now four full theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, a boardwalk district, a full sports complex that's the official spring training ground for the Atlanta Braves and training grounds for Chelsea (boo...Man U all the way!), a speedway, a full service wedding pavillion, well over 30 resorts on property, four championship golf courses (used to be five but the fifth is being turned into luxury housing for the mega rich who want to live on Disney property - another Lottery wish), two miniature golf courses, a full service pet spa/boarding facility, numerous lakes and nature preserves, a future west end shopping district, their own fire and emergency services, their own power grid and water supply, they have their own transportation system with buses, boats, trains, and monorails, and god knows what else! They are also the largest single site employer in the entire United States (and probably the lowest paying)! It truly is a world in itself!! It even has it's own zip code...Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32830! They have very little hurricane damage when one blows through because of its construction (usually only downed trees), and it's been said that Disney is the safest place to be during a storm!
I always say, "if you have a bad time at Disney, it's your fault, not theirs" and, in our case, that's always been true! Sure, there are the occasional CM (Cast Member - their employees), who are total prats, but I like to smother them with kindness and they usually pretty quickly change their tune (except for one particularly nasty hat embroidery guy Downtown in the Christmas store...we've complained about him twice I think) and one really nasty older man in 1999 who made me cry because I didn't have my hand stamped and he kept yelling at me until a really cute CM yelled back at him and let me through the gates (yes, he caused me to have a panic attack too), oh, and one nasty CM in Spaceship Earth at Epcot who motioned me forward, but then yelled at me for stepping onto the moving platform...I told on her too- careful CM's, we tattle!).
After every trip I always write a letter to WDW and name the good CM's as well so that they can be recognized (another page in my little book I make is notable CM's, I note their name, their station, the date and time and what they did, so I can pass on the info to customer relations). Disney does give employees their props, so if you're a Disney visitor, please do the same, good or bad, but make sure you get their name, their location, and the date and time or they won't know who you're talking about...largest employer in the US, remember?
OK, bedtime now, I've gone on long enough about Disney, and unfortunately for you guys, it's probably gonna get worse before it gets better!