June 24, 2011

Disney, Roy Disney

Letters of Note:

"In the following days, Roy Disney announced the postponement of his retirement and spent the next five years overseeing the completion of his brother's latest project: Walt Disney World. He opened the park in October of 1971 and immediately retired. Two months later, Roy Disney passed away."

My family spent a vacation in Orlando in 1975, just four years after Roy Disney opened Walt Disney World. We visited Sea World, and Busch Gardens over in Tampa, and Kennedy Space Center on the coast. Most of our time in Florida, though, was spent at Walt Disney World. I had no idea the park had only opened four years earlier.

I remember the rides: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, It's a Small World. And Frontierland. And the Hall of Presidents. And of course, geek nirvana at WDW, Space Mountain.

My wife and I returned to WDW years later, during a business trip. We only spent a day, ending with the parade along Main Street, USA, but it brought back all the memories of my visit years before. It's a great place to spend a few days, even without kids.

I had no idea that the visit of my youth was to a nearly-new park. I've visited other amusement parks over the years, but none have brought as much enjoyment as WDW. It wasn't until I read Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom years later that I realized what a hold WDW had on the imagination of others.