Disney memories are so easy to hold on to. Because Disney is just about anywhere, making those memories, in the parks or at home, will be easy to always remember because of the familiarity of it all. There will always be something that strikes a Disney memory. With Father’s Day approaching, I have a story about Disney memories to share with you.
Once upon a time, there was a man. This man dreamed of adventures in the great, wide somewhere. So he packed up his little family and pursued a whole new world. The man, his wife and their little girl moved to Florida.
The man was a curious man. He wanted to know what made things tick. He tinkered constantly in his garage. He could build just about anything. This curiosity spilled over into the hottest thing to hit Florida since orange juice – Walt Disney World. Roller coasters, characters, yes – the man would take his family to Walt Disney World. The year – 1976. Walt Disney World was incredibly different than anything they had ever done. They returned yearly, sometimes even twice a year, always having a great time.
But, as time went on, the little girl grew up. The girl decided she was ready for her own adventures in the great, wide somewhere, and this is where she and the man parted ways. They never spoke again. Flash forward 25 years, a letter informed her that the man had died. Immediately, what few, very fuzzy memories she had were vivid again.
She remembers the 1976 trip. It was the Bicentennial. They watched America on Parade, her most favorite memory of all. This parade highlighted the equality of women by having female police officer characters. The man had made a sarcastic comment, strictly in fun, “Women police officers?” The character had heard his remark, and proceeded to “bop” him on the head with her “baton.” The little girl laughed, and always remembered this story.
The man took her to see Star Wars. While this was not Disney back in 1977, it is now. The little girl had no idea what she was in for. After the movie, the man ran up and down the “hills” as they left the mall, pretending to be Luke and Leia, fleeing the evil Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.
She remembered that it was him that pushed her to try new things. To seek out adventure in life. At the age of 12, he just about dragged her on Space Mountain. The girl was scared out of her mind. But that fear was short lived, for she loved the ride. It became “their ride.”
As she became older, the man would point things out to her. He taught her to notice the details. He was always fascinated by the hairy leg and dirty foot of the pirate sitting on the edge of the bridge on Pirates of the Caribbean.
At one point, EPCOT was getting ready to open. Luckily, they were there when a monorail ride was being offered to give a “sneak peek” into the future. They rode that monorail and looked at all of the amazing possibilities that were in store.
There came a time where the little girl was old enough to work, and decided to take the family to Walt Disney World. She had always dreamed of going to this magical wonderland with her family when she was older. This was to be their last trip together.
The year was 1990. They were up and out the door early. They made it inside Magic Kingdom before rope drop. They listened to a man play rag time music on the piano in front of Casey’s. They had shared a brownie for breakfast from the Bakery. The listened to the Star Spangled Banner as the park opened. They were off on an adventure.
They played on Tom Sawyer Island for the very first time. Yes, after visiting Magic Kingdom almost twice a year for close to 15 years, they finally set foot on the island she always wondered about. She watched as the man played with the youngest of her siblings in the caves. She took it all in and thought, yes – this is life. It was a fun day.
It’s funny how memories you have buried for so many years become vivid again. It has been six months since my dad died, and I am still not quite sure what to think. Everything happens for a reason. My childhood was not “picture perfect,” but my Disney memories sure are. No matter what, I still have those. In the past six months, I have realized that most of who I am has stemmed from my father’s influence. For my entire adult life, he has not been there, and I never imagined that I would see that, just from my Disney memories, I was his daughter.
I took being a mom to a whole new level. I never encouraged fear in my children. As soon as they met a height requirement, we were there. I played many, many times on Tom Sawyer Island with my children when they were little (who am I kidding, we still play there). I pointed out Disney details. We took photos and shared many laughs. We watched Main Street Electrical Parade and SpectroMagic many, many times. I always shared my Space Mountain story, and Carousel of Progress is our New Years’ Day “first Disney ride of the year” tradition.
While there really isn’t a moral to my story, I am making my own happy ending. Life gave me lemons many years ago. I made lemonade, a very fantastic lemonade that I refer to as my family. I am proud of my Disney upbringing and the memories I do have. I am thankful for the knowledge and the personality that my dad did share with me while growing up. My only regret is him not knowing how much I looked up to him.
Happy Father’s Day to all you Neurotic Disney Daddies out there. Go make memories with your kids, at Disney or not. Be sure you leave a legacy they will always remember and identify with. You never really know what the future will hold, so make today’s memories count!
Rest in peace, Dad…