- Randy is a long time "Disney Local" who's now too cold and too far from the WDW Entrance Gates, as he attends Law School in Chicago. His lifelong love for Disney led him to create YourHighwayintheSky.com and the Mouselinked Network. He's a Disney nerd, frequent tweeter, and dole whip junkie. At Walt Disney World, he's often spotted riding the TTA Peoplemover repeatedly or mourning the loss of Horizons.
Welcome to those of you joining me from Mouse on the Mind and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail. Enjoy the ride as we share with you our memories of our very first trips to Disney.
I was lucky enough to grow up just a short drive from Walt Disney World. So my family went quite regularly. I’m sure we went a few times when I was a baby, but the first trip I really remember and the one I consider to be my “first trip” was in the Summer of 1995.
It was a particularly lengthy trip. We stayed for 10 days, 9 nights at the Swan Hotel. And this was 10 days in a Walt Disney World that only had 3 theme parks. Its pretty difficult to do “everything” at Walt Disney World, but I can tell you that we certainly did quite a lot in that time. Rather than go through each detail, I’m going to hit on some items of significance from that year and reminisce a bit. So what happened at Disney World in 1995?
Blizzard Beach (Opened April 1st, 1995)
Say what you will about Blizzard Beach now. Back in 1995, it was my very first water park. Actually, I was probably so young that I didn’t get to experience as much of it as I would have liked (Fun Fact: I’ve never been back), but I did enjoy it! I remember spending a considerable amount of time in the lazy river. Back then, I much preferred River Country and many of my “water park memories” from that age come from either River Country or from the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon.
When I was a kid, Tomorrowland was my favorite land. Even today, something about Tomorrowland brings me back to my childhood more than almost anywhere else in Walt Disney World. A big part of this is the TTA. Its still my second favorite attraction (behind my beloved Haunted Mansion, of course), and one I have fond memories of riding as a child. At the time, I was too short to ride Space Mountain; however, being able to ride through Space Mountain was something special for me. I remember looking at the riders on the track (it was much brighter back then) and thinking “One day I’m going to conquer that mountain.”
Part of my love for Tomorrowland, of course, comes from the fact that my trip was right after the official opening of New Tomorrowland. As a nerdy kid obsessed with space exploration and Star Wars, it was easy for me to get into the theme. And back then (certainly not anymore) Tomorrowland really felt like a unified land. Theme was everywhere in New Tomorrowland. It felt, truly, like I was in the middle of an intergalactic spaceport. With attractions like the Time Keeper and the (far superior) narration for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, it was hard not to be immersed in the world of tomorrow. I hope Disney spends some time in the future retooling Tomorrowland to give it some semblance of a theme again. It’s probably ready for New New Tomorrowland.
But of course…what brought Tomorrowland to life for me the most was one very special attraction:
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (Opened June 20th, 1995)
Next to Horizons, Alien Encounter is the Walt Disney World attraction I miss the most, especially considering how poor its “replacement” is. As a young child, riding Alien Encounter was a fairly terrifying experience; however, its one I remember every single detail of. When you’re that young and you’re at Disney World, you’re old enough to understand that what you’re seeing isn’t real; however, you’re not quite sure how they’re doing it. In my mind, I couldn’t quite figure out how Disney managed to transport an “alien” into a room with me. So at the time, I don’t think there was a more immersive attraction experience than Alien Encounter. I’ve heard people say that Disney removed it because it’s “too scary” for kids, but I think that’s not entirely fair. It was certainly scary, as I said, but thats because it was so damn well done. And isn’t that the whole point of Disney?To bring the unbelievable to life? It’s really a shame that future generations won’t experience it the way I did.
Other Highlights from 1995:
- The Circle of Life begins airing at The Harvest Theatre in the Land in Epcot Center (1/1/95)
- The Penny Arcade and The House of Magic shop close at Magic Kingdom (3/19/95)
- Ohana Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Resort (4/12/95)
- Walt Disney World Welcomes its 500th Millionth Guest (10/12/95)
- The Toy Story Parade appears at MGM Studios (11/22/95)
So that was my first Disney year. Not too much happened at Disney World, but it’ll always be a significant year for me. Its interesting to see how much has changed, but also how much has stayed the same. Did you go to Disney World in 1995? What do you remember from that year?
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Living.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Walt Disney World: Not Just for Kids
2nd Stop ~ Mouse on the Mind
3rd Stop ~ Your Highway in the Sky
4th Stop ~ Disney Living
Final Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts