Early memories of Disney World

What’s a memory you have from one of your first visits to WDW? Maybe a good one, maybe a bad one, maybe a funny one.

I have a lot of fairly vague memories of Disney World from my childhood. I was born in 1978 and I think our first family trip was around 1982. I remember going on Jungle Cruise and absolutely believing the animals were real. I have a slight recollection of the Tiki Room. But the one that stands out most was Dumbo. Not the ride, the line. This was before Dumbo moved to its current location. If I recall correctly, there was no roof, just rows of red metal fencing out in the sun. Fencing that did not conform to present- day safety standards, because it was the 80s. Anyway, my parent’s version of the story had them standing in line with me and my sister waiting to ride. They were watching the elephants fly and not paying too much attention to me because it was a crowded line and I couldn’t really get away from them. Then they heard a child screaming, and like any good parents, they thought “who’s kid is making all that fuss?” Then they looked down. And found me. With my head stuck between the bars of the fence. I was shorter than the top of the fence and had stuck my head through for a better view. But when I tried to pull it out, my ears got stuck. (Yes,I see the irony of my ears sticking out and causing trouble at Dumbo, go ahead and laugh). All it took was pushing my ears against my head and I was free! Then I rode Dumbo. Probably some other rides too. Crisis averted!

So anyway, that’s my story. Who’s got another?


I was at WDW in 1982, or maybe it was early 1983…I just know it was shortly after Epcot opened, and that I was about 9 because it was the same year I was diagnosed with Diabetes.

Anyhow, I may look like a tough guy now (ahem), but back in the day I was a wimpy kid who was afraid of anything unknown when it came to rides. So, while we were there, my parents decided to drag us (that is, me, and two of my brothers) onto Space Mountain. One brother wasn’t scared at all. He was five years older. But my other brother, who was 3 years older, was scared as well. Both of us were protesting, and I was crying and asking my mother why she hated me, etc. In those days (the 80s), the parks didn’t interfere to parenting (as it should be!), and so didn’t care that I was in tears. So, we got on and I was terrified.

A couple minutes later, I was hopping off, running down the exit yelling, “Let’s do it again!”

Years later, my mom admitted that she was absolutely TERRIFIED to ride it as well…but she knew that if we didn’t ride it, we’d never hear the end of it from our older brother.


My first trip was in July 1992 when I was 17. Early in the trip we had walked past the construction walls around Splash Mountain which was due to open in the autumn, and were disappointed that we would never get to ride (this was a once in a lifetime trip). Later in the trip we got to ride twice on soft openings - we felt like we’d won the lottery! It was so exciting. Even though the second time we waited 3 hours!!


I have one.

I was a little kid, probably around 6 or so. We had been in Disney a few days and had ridden quite a few rides, but we hadn’t gotten on the Snow White ride yet. I remember looking up out of the window on 20,000 leagues under the sea and seeing the water level and saying to a few people around us “They’re trying to trick us! We aren’t very deep at all!”

But then we went on Snow White. I had seen the warnings of the witch, but I wasn’t scared. After all, this was Snow White and that was for girls. I was a boy and I was brave. Then, we got on. My sister and I (she is 3.5 years older than I am) were in front and my parents were in the back. The first time I saw the witch, I started to close my eyes just waiting for it to be over. I wasn’t so brave anymore. My sister tells me to open my eyes, then the whole rest of the ride, my dad is telling me to open my eyes or we are gonna go back on it until I do. Still didn’t open my eyes. Of course, we didn’t go back on it, but I’m telling you that witch was trying to get me. It might be the only time I’ve ever been scared on any amusement park ride, and it’s certainly the only time I ever remember being scared.

Speaking of being scared, I just thought of another. On E.T. The Extra TERRORestrial, we went in. I was with my now wife - then finacee. We got in and saw the room. My wife gets motion sickness, so we thought with the circular room and the seatbelts, we were going to centrifuge. I go and ask the cast member and he tells me we don’t move, but they put in the seatbelts so noone gets up during the show. I come back and tell her its a show and we don’t move. Crisis averted. Then, the show starts. Now, we were in our early 20’s, so we weren’t scared. We thought it was awesome actually. But there was a girl sitting next to me that is probably still traumatized to this day. That was 17 years ago, so she is in her younger 20s now.When the animatronic was on top of the cage saying “If you just be quite, he might not… eat us” She was yelling “You be quiet! You be quiet!” Crying her eyes out. I felt really bad for her and thought to myself “How could any parent bring their kid on a ride that’s going to scare them to death?”

Fast forward to this last Thanksgiving when I took my Soarin loving child that’s on the spectrum to Flight of Passage. She was giving that same reaction. After it was over, and everyone was getting off their seats, she yells out “Thanks a lot DADDY!” I was so embarrassed.


When I was 10 my mom took us to WDW for the first time. One very clear memory I have is that while waiting for MSEP my sister, 3 years younger, was getting sleepy and kind of laying over. A lady nearby offered to put her newspaper down for my sister to lay on. My mom remarked that “the street is so clean here I don’t mind if she lays right on the pavement!”

I also remember taking my grandmother onPeoplemover and as we entered the tunnel where you can hear SM we told her to hold on because we were heading for the roller coaster! She. Started shouting “I don’t want to ride any roller coaster!!!” :joy::joy: that was kind of mean of us I guess she was still young then so maybe it wasn’t that mean. She couldn’t have been more than 50?


Am I allowed DLR, where I went first?


Summer of 1986. I was about 5. Clearly remember loving Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and then being terrified stepping into the front seat in Space Mountain (but ended up loving it).

Then on the same trip in Epcot, I spent most of the day anticipating going inside “the giant ball”. We didn’t go on it until night, and I fell asleep through the whole ride and didn’t remember a thing. I was so mad. My parents should have used a touring plan.


I posted before seeing this. Looks like we had the same experience with Space Mountain, although you described your level of angst much more clearly.

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Certainly! I know the rules of my threads are normally pretty strict and everyone follows them :grin:


Our first trip, Dec 1982, a week before Christmas. DH, my brother and I drove straight thru (26 hrs from IA) to WDW. We planned to spend a few days there then spend time with in-laws in St. Pete. We were in our 20’s. We had one of those (now ancient) RCA two-piece VCRs and a videocamera. We lugged the camera and the tape half unit everywhere, filmed many things, including complete ride-through videos. We did a couple of staged things. One of them, I was on a walkway that leads up to the castle, hands on the railing, and said, “Mine! All mine!” That’s my favorite. Another segment had me leading DH to IASW, and my brother, behind the camera, saying, “No! Stop her! Don’t go in there!” as DH grabbed my shoulders and turned me away. I owe the guys a huge debt of gratitude for lugging those heavy things around. That whole trip was fantastic: first trip, super low crowds (a cold snap plus timing), Epcot had recently opened up, and everything was decorated for Christmas. Plus we were young and energetic, rope drop to close, able to ride everything. We even ate in the castle!


For me I think it was Christmas around 83/84. We drove down to FL in a Honda Civic Hatchback and the day we arrived in FL. I remember getting out of the car at the Kennedy Space Center and changing. That was the only warm day. It was cold the rest of the trip. However, we got to stay at the Polynesian. It was between that or the Contemporary for on-site resorts (I think). I remember falling in love with the Monorail, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, 20,000 Leagues Submarine ride, Spaceship Earth, and the AT&T technology showcase in the Communicore. There was so much more, but those are my initial things that I fell in love with. On the other hand, the Haunted Mansion stretching room scared the crap out of me and I remember crying because I wanted to leave.


Loved all the interactive stuff when I was a kid!


My earliest memory I think is being on BTMR with my Dad. Distinctly remember the part where you feel like your about to hit the mountain then drop. Probably was 6 at the time.


The thing that sticks out most in my mind is how amazing the waterfall in the Poly was. I loved the way it looked, the way it sounded, and the way it smelled. Experiencing that meant that we had finally arrived in Disney.

Then, overnight, it turned into a sad little fountain with a tiki man.

I also remember how frightening Captain EO was as a kid. And how Epcot was so magical with things like the Dreamfinder and Figment in a neon-lit hallway, when characters like this just walked around freely without mobs of people snapping selfies.

I wonder if my kids will feel so nostalgic for the Disney they know today when they have kids of their own.


Yess Epcot was just so amazing as a kid.


I was so excited to see Captain EO! I loved it. I saw it again when they brought it back after he died and it was awful :joy:


My one family trip as a kid was in 1993. I was 8. I have several flash bulb like memories - very vivid, but very brief. I remember waiting FOREVER in line for Splash mountain and my 80-something grandparents riding it with us. My mom still regrets not splurging for that on-ride photo. I remember staying at the Poly and one of the restaurants there having a Jungle Book themed coloring sheet. I remember waking up super early one morning to eat a character breakfast with the Fab 5. I remember playing in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids! playground. I remember eating at Tony’s and rushing out to watch the nighttime parade. Not many memories for how every many days we were there but they are all so precious to me!!

Also, I saved up my allowance for months so I could afford to buy myself a souvenir while we were there. I bought my mom a 101 Dalmatian Roly Cookie Jar for $50. She still has it. :heart:


Did you go to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids show too?

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I was the opposite! My parents had to bribe me with toys and stuffed animals because that witch lady was so creepy! And yes I imagine if I saw it again today, I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing at how bad the special effects were :joy:


I remember one Easter, maybe 1975? There was just the MK at the time. We left Miami around 3am and drove up (maybe the turnpike was just new then). We got into a long line up for parking and parked as far back as I’ve ever been. We spent an awful lot of time in lines, including probably an hour to get on the skyway from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, just so we could sit down (I laugh now, because I know how short that walk is). Some of the shows were circle 360 and you were told not to lean on the bars, but they were so tempting. We stayed until the end of the day and the thing I remember most is that there was never a spot to sit. If there was an edge of a planter or anything, it was taken. It was so crowded. Even though I was maybe 10, I went to bed at 1am and woke up with feet that were still sore. That had never happened before. It was great, and I’m glad we went, but being Easter and only one park, it was too crowded.