the Backpack ~ Strange and Unexpected
when I post something from the archives, it involves bringing
back an essay or article or such that had appeared on the In My
Backpack web site and was removed during one of the updates or
computer issues over the years.
entry is a bit different though… in addition to appearing on the
site, it was part of the Travel
Trilogy project… or, more specifically, Strange
and Unexpected: Backpack on the Road – Volume One: Florida.
that means a couple of versions exist… somewhat specific, almost
definitive versions if you will… the work that was on the site,
and the chapter that was edited and potentially revised from that
piece and used for the book.
material was originally posted on April 2, 2007. It was later
published in April 2013. Some minor proofreading edits and adjustments
may have been made while bringing the material back to the site
in this posting.
~ ~ ~
were a total of thirteen people in our travel group to Disney.
So… just a quick little introduction on the names you may see…
and Ellen – My lovely bride, Terry, and our good friend Ellen
and Kei – My sisters
Tamsin, and Ky – The grandchildren (not my grandchildren… Kei’s
– Kei’s husband
and Dad – My parents… potentially referred to as Grampa and
and Margaret – The other grandparents… Nick’s folks… occasionally
referred to as The Brits
original is still the best. This park remains the top park in
Disney World… and… it’s not even close really.
the years it has been developed so much that some of what I consider
to be the original charm is now a memory. In 1979, when I first
visited, my parents did half of the park with us on day one… Tomorrowland
and Fantasyland. Then, our second day in the park included Frontierland
simply can’t do justice to that experience. Seeing all of Tomorrowland
and Fantasyland and then being told that we had only seen half
of it! Plus, in 1979, the Magic Kingdom was the only theme park
in Disney World.
days there’s a children’s section in the park. And many of the
early rides have been replaced. It’s not to say it isn’t fun…
it’s actually a blast. But the magical first visit seems far in
yet I’d still try to divide it up a bit. We really didn’t. People
suggested stuff and the backtracking began.
that I know Tigg and I went on, because I was there…
A Small World – What can you say? This ride is still
great fun, and for us the memories were just astounding. Even
the grandchildren picked up on the fact that this ride meant a
lot to the people they were with… especially the grandmothers.
Pan – Ky was hysterical while we waited in line for this
ride… he was at the front of our group, and when the line started
moving he hit the behind of the man in front of him (who was not
with us) while shouting “Go… Go… Go…”
Grotto – Ok… not a ride… but autographs are part of the
deal with young kids along.
the Pooh – Kris stayed outside with a napping Ky.
– New ride, replaced the Alien Encounter in Tomorrowland. It’s
still based on an escaping alien… but now Stitch is involved to
make it a bit more entertaining and fun instead of scary.
Mountain – The classic Disney coaster and it has withstood
the test of time.
Mansion – I got to ride this one twice… jumping on with
Mom the second time because we had split our group up earlier,
met for dinner, and Mom heard me saying the ride would be closing
after our first day in the park and wouldn’t be open again while
we were there. Dad and John went with us the second time. I saw
the hidden Mickey in the cemetery.
note, we spent parts of three different days in the Magic Kingdom.
Ellen was with us for the following rides.)
Room, under new management – Stinks. An absolute waste
of what was a great and memorable show from my childhood. If I
could have done it without disrupting the show I might have walked
out. Can we vote on bringing back the original?
Cruise – Classic, but showing a bit of its age and it
doesn’t really have the memorable pull of It’s a Small World.
Bears, Christmas Show – I had never seen the holiday
show before, so this was a special treat. I enjoyed it.
Thunder Mountain – Dad, Margaret and Ky sat this one
out. I recall being a kid and visiting once while this one was
being built, knowing how special our vacation was at the time,
and wondering if I would ever get back to ride it. For some reason
I always think about that when I get to the park… and also thought
about it in California when I got to ride that park’s version
Philharmagic – A great show involving a stage, 3-D effects,
and other assorted elements.
Mountain – Dad, Margaret and Ky sat this one out too.
of the Caribbean – I’ve heard that some elements of this
ride have been changed since this visit to fall into place with
characters from the movies. When we rode it, the ride was still
the classic version.
others supposedly went on according to my notes, and I want to
preserve them here, but I wasn’t on them…
– The Brits, Tigg and grandkids went on this ride.
Carpets of Aladdin – It was the grandkids, Kei and grandparents
on this ride. It’s a lot like the Dumbo ride.
we ate at, or food we enjoyed…
Cream Pretzels – Loved them so much that I wasn’t nearly
as distraught in the end about the disappearance of the cinnamon-sugar
pretzels I’ve enjoyed so often before as I was when I first learned
those favorites were no longer available.
Harbour House – When people tell you Disney thinks of
everything, believe them. The kid’s meal is served in a three-part
tray. Of course, the three parts are circular, and arranged to
look like Mickey.
Village Haus – I seem to recall getting an Italian grinder
here. It was ok, but nothing so amazing as to make it a necessary
Terrace Noodle Station – Don’t be upset if you never
knew this place existed… they hide it. I needed a quick bite,
and Tigg and I split some fried dumplings. They were actually
really need to know…
– The evening fireworks display and it just seems to keep getting
bigger and better. Including Tinker Bell sliding along a wire,
the view along Main Street of fireworks over the castle is just
breathtaking. I have seen it from different vantage points, and
have been told by many that they enjoy going to other parts of
the park to watch it. The soundtrack is played throughout the
park and is a great accompaniment to the show. But I still maintain
that seeing it from Main Street is the best.
a Dream Come True parade – The standard mid-day Disney
parade. I’ve seen parades and events in every park, and it seems
to me that the Magic Kingdom one is routinely the best of the
– Imported from Japan, it shows a special event for Princess Cinderella.
With all the princesses represented, the girls went nuts. They
– The current electrical light parade. Always a dazzling and fun
event to see.
unexpected fun we had…
can’t place this moment in a best or worst column, but it’s something
I want to share, and it happened on the first full day as we were
getting ready to head out to the Magic Kingdom.
stayed at a gorgeous resort (Orange Lakes). We bought some stuff
for the kitchen. Included in all of the stuff was a big box of
Cookie Crisp cereal. Kei announced to everyone that there was
no Cookie Crisp cereal to eat… just in case the kids asked. Protecting
the kids from too much sugar? Not really. At the time, she was
talking with her mouth full. She was eating a bowl of Cookie Crisp.
She was guarding the inventory.
our second day at the Magic Kingdom, we stopped in the photo store
to check out some pictures from that day. The woman at the counter
was laughing at us… she recognized our shirts from a visit earlier
that week. Can’t explain how incredible it was to be recognized
in different places.
may sound strange, and hard to explain, but I think running around
this park like crazy takes away from the experience.
seen tour guide books that recommend running back and forth… Splash
Mountain to Space Mountain to Big Thunder Mountain… with essays
explaining how waiting in certain lines are better for drying
off, or how to use the fast pass to your best advantage, or even
how to get through a checklist of must-do-attractions as quickly
as possible… and the thing is, they’re wrong. (Well, maybe wrong
isn’t the right word.)
simple thing about this park is that it was originally designed
to flow from one area to the next with incredible subtlety, and
yet in a way that distinctly allowed you to move along and finish
things off as sections. For a family, when this was the only park,
it was almost like a bookmark for finishing on one day and continuing
really believe there is something to the idea that it’s meant
to be savored and enjoyed. And the faster you move around, the
more you miss. Those guide books help you get to everything. However,
they don’t let you experience everything. So unless you
know of something that will only be available on one day (like
the Haunted Mansion during our trip), my recommendation is to
move slowly and enjoy it all.
put a ribbon on it…
is the best park. There’s just a complete package here that the
others don’t approach.