Inspirational Adventure

I don’t consider myself a big American history buff. Sure, it’s kind of neat to think about people throwing tea into Boston harbor or having Old West duels at high noon during the Gold Rush or whatever, but it was hardly my favorite subject in school. Which is probably much of the reason that, when I would wander around the World Showcase at EPCOT, I generally skipped the show at the America pavilion. On a recent visit, though, my wife and I did opt to check out the American Adventure. I honestly only vaguely remembered it, and she had never seen it.

Neither one of us really knew what to expect, and we certainly didn’t anticipate how much we’d both enjoy the show.

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The entrance to the American Adventure show is right in the middle of the pavilion, between a quick-service burger restaurant and a gift shop. Which, if you stop to think about it, just sounds really American. 

I think that many people just walk on by this particular attraction, seeking out flashier and more “interesting” experiences. I’ve definitely been one of those people. Heck, with the new Guardians of the Galaxy live show right across the way (don’t get me started on all of the reasons I don’t think that belongs in World Showcase), I could see the loud music and exciting pyro drawing folks away from the entrance to the American Adventure. That’d be a shame, though, because the attraction really does have a lot to offer.

Before you even set foot in the theatre, there’s lots to experience in the lobby (the pleasant, air conditioned lobby). As you walk around, you’ll see beautiful artwork representing different points in American history painted by Disney Imagineers, including Disney Legend Herb Ryman. There are also different flags from throughout American history hanging in the lobby. So even before you’re settling in to watch the show, there’s lots of cool stuff to see.

American Adventure

This new exhibit, featuring Native American art from around the country, wasn’t open yet when I was there recently (but it should be soon, and may be by the time you read this). I absolutely want to check it out the next time I’m there. This type of exhibit is really important, in my opinion, to the World Showcase as it offers a look at cultures and histories of the world.

While you’re waiting to go upstairs to get into the theatre, you may get a special preshow in the lobby as well–the Voices of Liberty. This amazing a cappella group sings various folk songs from American history, dressed in period costumes, and can be found throughout the day performing their fifteen minute set before guests enter the main theatre. Even if you have little interest in the American Adventure itself, stopping into the lobby to hear them sing can be a nice bit of relaxation with a cool live performance. The Voices of Liberty are worth seeing even without going into the theatre, and taking a few minutes to sit on a bench and get a respite from the weather while listening to beautiful singing is hardly the worst thing ever.

Once you get into the massive theatre (seriously, it’s huge) it’s time for the American Adventure!

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Around the theatre are statues representing the different spirits of America: adventure, compassion, freedom, innovation, etc. The show highlights these aspects, going beyond just individual points in history to showcase the drive that led to them. 

The American Adventure opens with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, chatting together and setting up the story of America. From there, the show unfolds in a combination of animatronics, video, and music. Each scene tells a part of the country’s history, from the Revolutionary War to more modern times. In addition to Franklin and Twain (who act as sort of narrators) there are animatronics of other noteworthy figures like Susan B. Anthony and Will Rogers.

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Many different parts of America’s history are portrayed through animatronic characters, including women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony.

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The show doesn’t shy away from some of the darker periods in our past, including a particularly moving segment during the Civil War about two brothers on opposite sides.

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Rosie the Riveter makes a brief appearance during the narrative. 

One of the things that struck us when we watched the show was just how incredible the sets are. Some really massive pieces rise up from the stage, only to slowly lower back down after a scene and get replaced by an equally gigantic set. The technology involved in this is very impressive, with a large specially-created device called the “War Wagon” moving the pieces around underneath the stage. Even if you’re not wrapped up in the narrative of the show, you should at least be able to appreciate the Imagineering that went into making it all happen.

By the way, you can get a look at the inner workings of the show on the Backstage Magic tour in EPCOT. We haven’t done that one yet ourselves, but seeing behind the curtain of the American Adventure is high on our list of reasons to do so.

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This set is just one of many large pieces that rise up to take the stage during the show. This scene deals with the Great Depression, with animatronic figures and even some rainfall.

Above and beyond the impressive technical aspects, though, the fact is that the show is good. It boils down major moments in history into digestible chunks, using a combination of music and video as well as the animatronic characters to tell stories from throughout history. Whether it’s Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir sitting atop a mountain talking about the importance of protecting natural resources, or a group of workers discussing the Great Depression, the script keeps moving and doesn’t allow one part to drag on too long and lose the audience. As someone who (as I mentioned before) doesn’t really get into American history that much, I don’t find the show boring at all. If anything, making a show about historical figures that doesn’t drag is an even more impressive feat of engineering than any of the set pieces!

The story may be about America, but it also has adventure right there in the title, a point that is worked well into the narrative. The entire experience is uplifting and inspirational, with a strong focus on the great things that we’ve accomplished and the spirit of those who have helped shape the country. Even when dealing with more depressing subject matter like war and poverty, there’s a sense of an unstoppable spirit. It tells a story not necessarily just of what has happened over the last couple hundred years, but one of innovation and determination. Whether it’s doing so with animatronic representations of historical figures, video, music, or all of the above, the attraction showcases an American beyond what can be seen in the daily news or the situations of any one particular era. For citizens, it goes beyond all of that to tap into a patriotic pride, and for those visitors from other countries it offers a glimpse into what that pride really means.

I think, especially in this age of political turmoil, a show that takes a step back to highlight the bigger picture–the “story” of America–is more important than ever. Perhaps that’s why I appreciate it now more than I ever have.

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The show uses video as well as the set pieces and animatronics to tell the story. I want to point out this particular scene, too: while the animatronics may not be as fluid as some newer figures in other attractions, Ben Franklin climbs stairs here! That’s an impressive feat, and supposedly one that took Imagineers a lot of work to create.

It seems like people tend to skip this one, or at least it rarely comes up when talking about attractions at EPCOT, and that’s a shame. I get that the concept of watching a half-hour-long show about American history while on a Disney World vacation may be an odd choice, and that (especially when traveling with kids in tow) folks may gravitate towards different experiences. In fact, with new shows like “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History” over at Magic Kingdom, there are even ways to scratch that history buff itch in ways that involve comedic puppet characters rather than animatronics of real people, which many folks (myself included) may prefer. Enjoying the American Adventure means possibly taking a step out of the “theme park” comfort zone.

To walk on by this one, though, is to miss out on a few different things: it’s simply a really good show, it uses impressive technology that melds animatronics and multimedia in a way that only Disney can, and it’s also a pretty unique EPCOT experience. The original intent for the park was to inspire, educate, and entertain, and the American Adventure hits all three points. With attractions based on popular movies working their way into different World Showcase pavilions (regardless of whether they fit at all within the theme of the country. Again, don’t get me started), it’s very nice to see something really evoking that EPCOT spirit within the park.

The show runs roughly thirty minutes, which may seem like a long time for a theme park attraction, but the time is needed to do justice to the subject of American history. It doesn’t feel like it’s a half hour, either, due to the quick pacing of the show. It never spends too long on one scene before moving on to another era with another big backdrop. Sure, there are moments in which my attention would waver, but then one big set piece is gone and has been replaced with another and there’s a whole new huge scene happening on stage. I may not have really “gotten it” as a kid, but as an adult I can appreciate both the narrative and the Imagineering that went into creating the show.

It’s not a thrill ride in a speeding car, and it doesn’t have characters from a popular space movie singing classic rock hits, but the American Adventure is a great show that deserves a half hour of everyone’s time. Even if you’re not a huge history buff, the show is worth checking out at least once just to see how all of the moving parts tell the story. If you are into history, and/or you’re particularly patriotic, seeing these different moments come to life can be very inspirational and it’s cool to learn a bit about the events that shaped the country. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (it certainly wasn’t mine for quite a long time), and it may not be something that you go out of your way to see every time you’re at EPCOT, but it’s an adventure that everyone should experience.

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If nothing else, the American Adventure show is a place to be entertained while sitting inside a nice air-conditioned theatre. It’s a half hour escape from the oppressive heat or the pouring rain (and since it’s Florida, both of those could be happening at the same time).

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Adventures of a Cast Member

As I’ve mentioned probably a thousand times before, I used to be a cast member at the (then) Disney/MGM Studios park. It wasn’t for a very long time, but it was still a pretty cool to do. You can read all about how I became a cast member, what the experience was like, and how it ended with these links to parts one, two, and three.

Over the course of my stint as a cast member, I naturally encountered a variety of interesting situations, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of those tales. Most of them were just random little moments that I thought were neat, and there are a couple in here that (I hope) can act as lessons as how not to act when you’re a guest at a Disney park.

So hang on to your hats and glasses, because this… well, you know the rest!


Animated Conversation

One of the attractions that I worked most frequently was the Magic of Disney Animation. At the time, this offered guests a tour through an animation studio: they’d start by watching a short film (starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite) about how animation was created, and then they’d go into the studio where they could see people drawing and creating new Disney animated features. It was a pretty cool experience, in my opinion.

The animators worked on a different schedule than the park, though, and they often left at around five in the afternoon. After that, we’d just be showing guests a bunch of empty desks where the animators usually worked. It was less interesting. Since we still wanted to show something, though, the lights in the studio were kept on so guests could see the desks and equipment. We (the attractions hosts) would head down after closing to turn everything off.

One night, while myself and a couple others were making the final rounds of the night, we came across a lone animator hunched over her desk. She was far enough back that we hadn’t even noticed her all evening. We were going to just pass by and let her work in peace, but she took off her headphones and invited us to stay and chat for a moment. As she had been working solo for a few hours by this point, she admitted that she was starved for a bit of conversation. She showed us what she was working on, which happened to be a scene from Mulan. She flipped back and forth between some of her drawings to show the movement, and described a bit about what was happening. The entire interaction was only a few minutes–enough for her to sit up from her work and take a quick breather before jumping back into it–but it was a very cool moment that has stuck with me ever since.

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One thing I regret not doing: Animation tour guides had a standing invitation to come in early and watch the “dailies” with animators (a showing of the latest work done on an animated feature). I never wanted to get up that early, but in hindsight it would have been an amazing experience.

This Means War

This isn’t one that actually happened to me personally, but rather a tale that was passed down to me by some of the veteran cast members at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction. Whether it happened exactly as they said, or it was embellished, or it was complete fiction, this was one of those “legends” that the old-timers loved to share with us eager young rookies.

The story takes place during shortly before the release of Beauty and the Beast. The animators had been hard at work on the film, and things seemed to be plugging along as expected. Then, unexpectedly, word came down from above that a song was being cut. This meant that the scenes going into and out of that song now had to be “fixed” to ensure that everything flowed smoothly. The animators had to work some crazy hours to try and get this all accomplished in the short time they had left. People were working late, coming in early, and keeping their noses to the grindstones (or, in this case, pencils to paper) to get the film done on time.

Have you ever been so exhausted, so stressed, and so overworked that things got… a little weird? According to those that shared this story with me, that’s exactly what happened. You see, the animators had the usual office supplies at their desks–including rubber bands and paper clips. Someone shot a rubber band at someone else. They returned fire. Soon, things escalated into a full-scale battle in the studio. Animators were ducking behind their desks and firing off paper clips at coworkers, rubber bands were flying through the air, and no actual animating was getting done. So, when the tour guides brought guests into the viewing area, rather than getting to see artists hard at work on the next great Disney movie they were instead watching people run around the studio like children.

One woman in particular (so said the old-timers) was very upset that she couldn’t watch the animators work and didn’t want to just see them playing around. The cast member running the tour apologized and explained that they had been working for days at a breakneck pace trying to get Beauty and the Beast done after some last-minute edits, and that sometimes even professionals need to blow off a little steam. Whether or not that calmed the woman down, I can’t say, but supposedly the animators did calm down and go back to work.

Having met some of the animators myself, I could totally believe that they’d use a rubber band battle to relieve stress, and having dealt with guests I could very easily see one getting upset about seeing that instead of people drawing. Is it true, though? Who knows. Is it a fun story? Absolutely.

Moving Right Along

I guess this is less of a “here’s a cool thing that I did while working at Walt Disney World” anecdote, and more of a “guests can be rude but also funny” story. I leave it to you to decide who was right and/or wrong here.

One part of working at the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show was standing in the theater as guests filed in, asking them to keep moving all the way down a row to make room for everyone. Some people listened, others didn’t, but it was our job to keep saying it into the microphone until people either did it or pushed past each other so the seats got filled either way.

One day, a family got about halfway down an aisle and sat down. Despite my polite requests that they continue to move, they just looked at me and ignored my instructions. When someone came up and wanted to get by them to take a seat further down the aisle, they would just pull their legs in a bit and expect the other people to sidle past. Part of the issue, though, was that these people were large. I’m not saying that to shame them for their body type in any way, I’m just saying that it made it harder for people to squeeze by in the narrow theater rows.

Another family was coming down the row, with the equally large mom in the lead. There was simply no way that she was going to be able to get around the ones that were sitting. I tried again, asking if all guests could please move all the way down to make room for everyone, and again I was ignored. The woman sitting down simply pulled her legs in a bit to allow a few extra inches of passage. The woman who wanted to get by, though, wasn’t having it. She very firmly, and very loudly, told the woman that “the man told you to move down, bitch!” The seated woman stood up almost immediately, and moved all the way down the row.

Now, I’m not advocating the idea of people getting upset with one another at the Most Magical Place on Earth. I’m definitely not advising people to loudly swear in front of kids (especially someone else’s). That being said, it’s possible that the woman was actually the physical embodiment of what I wanted to say at that very moment. It took a considerable amount of effort on my part not to start laughing into the microphone.

Mermaid front sign

Strangely, every “difficult” guest that I encountered was at Voyage of the Little Mermaid. I didn’t have that many issues overall, but it just wasn’t a thing that I experienced at Magic of Disney Animation.

Gag Reel

At the Magic of Disney Animation, effort was made by the animators and staff to make sure that the attractions cast members (like myself) were given the tools that we needed to really be good at our jobs as tour guides. This meant that we were occasionally given behind-the-scenes access to the studio so that we could learn more about the process of animation.

On one occasion, some of us were given a tour of the areas that guests didn’t see: offices, editing, and more, in a building separate from the attraction itself. We got to ask questions and get an idea of what else was happening at the Disney/MGM Studios beyond just being a theme park.

I honestly don’t recall very much from the tour itself, it’s been a long time since then, but there’s one part that stands out just fine–getting to see an outtakes reel from the Back to Neverland movie that we showed at the start of the attraction’s tour. Given that the short film starred Robin Williams, you can imagine what things were like when he started going off the rails and improvising. I don’t remember everything about it, other than Robin Williams being his usual brand of insane and Walter Cronkite just being the straight man and trying not to laugh, but I do remember it being hilarious.

Interestingly, I’ve never seen any mention of the reel since then. Even with the vast power of the internet, I’ve never come across a copy of it nor anybody else who has even seen it (this was long before social media, so I never kept up with my fellow cast members). Every now and again I check to see if it’s made it onto YouTube or something, I’d love to see it again and maybe share it with the world, but so far I’ve had no luck. It remains locked away in some animation vault somewhere, forgotten by all but those of us who were lucky enough to see it.

Close Encounter

Shortly before the Alien Encounter attraction opened, cast members were invited to a special sneak preview. So a couple friends and I signed up, and met up in the park that day to check it out.

They had us all line up down in the Utilidors beneath Tomorrowland, so that guests wouldn’t see a crowd in front of the attraction and assume that it was open. Then they filed us all in and we got to experience the Extra TERRORestrial before the general public.

My friends and I were… thrown for a loop by the attraction. None of us expecting how intense and truly scary it would actually be. We left there a bit stunned, talking excitedly about some of the things that impressed us and wondering about bits that didn’t. I’m sure that this advanced “screening” was in part to gauge an audience’s reactions to it, and for the most part we walked away impressed–if more than a little surprised that it existed within the family-friendly Magic Kingdom.

Funny fact: I think that’s actually the only time I actually saw the Alien Encounter attraction. It opened shortly after, but I don’t recall ever going back to it. When I left Walt Disney World it was a while before I had the opportunity to return, and when I did I had my young daughter with me so we avoided the more thrilling experiences. It closed not long after.

I’m glad I got the opportunity to see the attraction, as it’s definitely one of those random things that sometimes comes up when talking about Disney history, but I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for being a cast member when I was!


This is just a small selection of memorable anecdotes, though there were lots more–both good and bad–from my time as a cast member. Getting to see Pocahontas early, hopping over to Magic Kingdom to ride Pirates of the Caribbean with fellow workers after our shift, and one night when I walked part of the Great Movie Ride after hours with the lights on all stand out as fun little moments. There were also angry guests (including one who called me some unkind things because I wouldn’t let him cut in line), long hours in the Florida summer heat, and a lot of stress.

More often than not it was business as usual, though (by which I mean making magic in Walt Disney World for guests from all around the world). There were good days and bad, fun and frustration, and experiences that I’ll never forget from my time as a cast member at the Most Magical Place on Earth.

 

 

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A Legacy Of Magic

When I was very young, my grandparents moved to Florida. They lived not too far from Walt Disney World, so when we went down to visit them we’d generally go to the parks as well. As I grew up, my family ended up making the trip multiple times a year, driving from Massachusetts to Florida during school vacations, and we’d all go to Walt Disney World together. It was a pretty big part of my childhood, and (given that I write this blog) it’s safe to say that it has affected my adult life as well. I ended up going to college in Orlando, became a cast member for a bit at the Disney/MGM Studios park, and much more recently had a magical Walt Disney World honeymoon.

In 2008, my grandfather passed away, and early last year my grandmother did as well. This led to a trip down to Florida in order to collect their things, which resulted in me “adopting” a treasure trove of Disney merchandise that they had collected over many years.

So in this post, I’m going to share photos of some of that Disney stuff. It’s personal, but it’s also a collection of history and a showcase of their love for the parks.

Enjoy.


Cards

On the top left is a plastic card that identifies my grandfather as an annual passholder. On the back is written his name, as well as the fact that he was a passholder since 1982. It’s not an official pass, so I’m not too sure what its function was (other than Disney bragging rights). Next to that is a VIP pass to some of the Animal Kingdom shows, which may have been some sort of passholder special thing. On the bottom is a card they got after riding in the front of a monorail. I didn’t even know that they gave out cards for that (of course, riding in the front of the Walt Disney World monorail is no longer a thing anyway).

My grandfather was one of those types who made silly little jokes (as much to amuse himself as anyone around him) and he was prone to making the same ones over and over again. One of his favorites involved the speakers that were “hidden” in the plants and flowers to play ambient music in the parks. When we’d pass a spot with some foliage, from which music was softly playing, he’d always say something about wanting to grow musical plants at home and wondering what sort of seeds he’d need to do that. It was a fairly constant thing for years, to the point that I’ve caught myself doing it when I’m in the parks.

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A shirt from Animal Kingdom’s opening. I’m not sure if they were actually there on day one, but if not I’d assume that they went to the park soon after to check it out. They were into seeing the new things the parks had to offer, particularly stage shows or outdoor live entertainment.

Picture, AK opening

Another piece from the opening of Animal Kingdom. It was likely given out to guests (or maybe just annual passholders) around then, but I honestly don’t know much about it other than it’s a really neat piece. They had it framed, and it was hanging in their home for many years.

Back when my brother and I were really young, one of us had a hard time pronouncing the “s” in Disney. So when we said it, it came out like “Di-ney”. As a result, this was the way my grandparents said it for years (long after we could quite easily pronounce the word properly). We’d be at their house for a visit, and when we were planning to go out to the parks they’d say that we were “going to Di-ney”. Every now and again, as an adult, I still have to stop myself from doing the same, just because they did it so much and it became a “thing” among the family.

Disney dollars

Disney Dollars have been discontinued, but years ago we used them fairly regularly. My brother and I would sometimes get them as gifts before a trip, and there was a time when you’d rent a wheelchair (my grandfather needed one at the parks after he broke his hip) and get the deposit back as Disney Dollars when returning it. While most of what we got ended up getting spent, it turns out that they did kept a few for posterity.

One day, my girlfriend and I took my grandmother to EPCOT. By this point, she needed a wheelchair for this sort of outing, so we rented one and wandered around the park. We got to Test Track, which was in its first iteration and still sort of new, and we hadn’t ever ridden it before. I wanted to check it out, but didn’t want to leave my grandmother (she couldn’t handle a ride like that), so assumed that I’d have to wait for another chance. She insisted that we go on it, though. We found a nearby seating area shaded by an umbrella, parked her in her wheelchair, and went on the ride. As we exited, we saw the seating area… but no grandmother. We looked around frantically (she didn’t have the upper body strength to really move herself around) and I was panicking. Well, as it turns out, the exit to Test Track was around the side of the building, a bit out of sight from the entrance, and there was an identical-looking seating area by each. We were looking in the wrong spot, but didn’t realize it for a bit. We circled around, eventually came to the entrance and the seating area that we did leave her at, and sure enough she was right where we had left her. Which is good, as I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain to my mom that we had somehow managed to lose her mom. We obviously felt a little silly after that, though my grandmother (and my mom) thought it was hilarious.

Lanyards

My grandparents were annual passholders for many years, and had lots of exclusive merchandise to prove it. They liked to wear their pins at the parks, and got into trading as well. They also apparently did a Disney Cruise at some point (which I think I knew, but had forgotten about until I came across this lanyard).

Pins, passholder

Some of the passholder exclusive pins that they collected over the years. The Chip & Dale one and the Disney/MGM Studios one both have shiny star confetti in them.

Pins, characters

My grandparents loved Disney characters. I actually recall when my grandmother got that Tinkerbell pin–we were in Tomorrowland and she was wearing her lanyard, and a cast member stopped to chat and check out her collection. She ended up swapping a Boo (from Monsters Inc) for this one.

Pins, lions

My grandfather’s last name was Lowenkopf (which means lion head) and his first name was Leonard. He was also, as it happens, a Leo. Obviously, then, lions were a big thing with my grandparents. So they had a few such pins in their collection.

Pins, lands

I did some cursory online research, and discovered that these pins are from the early/mid 80s. So they predate pin trading by quite a bit. They might have been given out as some sort of promotion, as my grandparents had two of most of them (indicating that they each received one, as it’s less likely that they would have purchased two of the same pin). Out of all the pins in the collection, I think these are my favorite–and they’re definitely the most “vintage”.

Pins, events

More passholder exclusive pins, commemorating specific events throughout Walt Disney World history.

Pins, dated

Some miscellaneous pins from their collection. Check out the one in the middle, which is an official trading pin about Kellogg’s cereal. From what I’ve gathered through some research, it was a special offer through Kellogg’s in 2002: you had to collect three certificates from cereal boxes and then either mail them in or take them to Downtown Disney to redeem them for the pin (I’m guessing the latter is what my grandparents did to get this one).

Over the last few years, when my wife and I would go to the parks we’d set aside some time to meet with my grandmother (as well as the friends of the family that she lived with). Generally, if we were staying on property they would come out on some afternoon or evening during our trip, meet us at Disney Springs, and we’d eat together at Wolfgang Puck Express or Earl of Sandwich and then wander around for a bit. The thing is, the dinner (wherever we ate) was just the appetizer for my grandmother’s favorite part of the meal: ice cream. Going to Ghirardelli and getting a sundae was pretty much a required part of the outing.

Pictures, MSEP

My grandparents loved the shows and parades at the parks, and the Main Street Electrical Parade was a particular family fave. It’s come and gone a couple times over the years, as evidenced by the two different farewell posters they acquired.

Picture, MK anniversary

This poster celebrates Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary (making it about twenty years old, since it just recently celebrated its 45th). According to my research, these posters were given out to guests that registered as “guests of honor” during the anniversary. Those guests were also given adhesive badges with the year of their first visit on them, but if my grandparents had those as well they’re sadly lost to time.

My grandparents enjoyed the rides and the characters, but they were particularly fond of the live shows. When we weren’t around and doing a family trip thing (which would generally involve rides and characters) they would often head out to the parks to catch something at the America Gardens Theatre in EPCOT or the Marketplace stage at Disney Springs. They also just liked the ambience of the parks, and one of my grandfather’s favorite things was to sit on a bench and watch people go by. If some of our party wanted to go on a thrill ride, or spend some time in a store, he was perfectly content to relax and observe the crowds. He also (because he was kind of a dirty old man at times) was occasionally heard to remark that when it rained it was like “watching a wet T-shirt contest”.

Pictures, cels

These cels were both purchased from stores on property. My mom actually has the exact same ones in her house, though nobody can quite recall when or where they were bought. They don’t commemorate any special event like some of the others, but they’re still neat pieces. I’m not sure if they’re sold anymore through official Disney channels. The Sorcerer Mickey one is dated 1988 down in the bottom corner.

I’m a Disney stockholder because of my grandparents. Many years ago, they bought both my brother and myself one share of Disney stock each. I don’t know if my brother still has his or of he’s since sold them, but I now have something like twelve shares that I actually keep a casual eye on. Not that I’d ever get rid of them, but it’s neat to watch the ebb and flow of the numbers (I know next to nothing about stocks). Mostly I just think it’s neat that I’ve got shares in Disney. I know that when they first bought us the shares they also got colorful stock certificates with our names on them, which were framed and hung on their wall for a long time, but sadly I haven’t come across them and have no idea where they ended up. They don’t give out those certificates anymore (though I think you can buy them) and it’s the one thing that I was actively searching for when going through the collection. I’m kind of hoping that it turns up eventually.

Watch and pen

Beyond the rare pins and commemorative posters and such, even many random household items had some Disney flair. Watches, pens, clothing, and more helped to infuse their lives with a bit of extra pixie dust.


These items are not only a showcase of Disney history, but a collection gathered over many years by two people who loved the parks. Whether it was going on rides or watching shows, eating at the restaurants or just soaking up the ambience, they enjoyed Walt Disney World.

I miss them, but I have many fond memories of our time together. Many of those include Walt Disney World, and this collection of items represents not only their fondness for the parks but a physical representation of that time together. When I look at the pins, or the pictures, I’ll remember two people who believed in a bit of Disney magic, and from whom I inherited a love of pixie dust.

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