December 31, 2019
I was recently decorating our Disney tree for Christmas. And as I pulled out the oldest decoration we have (a Mickey ornament with the year 1980 on it) I thought…
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a Disney fan.
And that got me reminiscing about Disney memories in my past. As the days dwindle until our eventual move to be closer to the parks (we’re under 900 days now!), I thought it’d be fun to write down some of them. Think of it as my Disney bona fides — proof that this move isn’t some spur of the moment whim, but something I’ve been building towards for a very long time.
- One of my first and longest held stuffed animals was a Mickey Mouse. As my parents tell the story, they secretly bought me the two foot tall toy I had wanted, stood it outside our front door, rang the bell, then had me answer. Apparently my response was to exclaim “Mimi” (my name for the character I couldn’t yet pronounce) then bring him in as if there was nothing odd about a stuffed animal at the front door!
- The first Disney animated film I can remember seeing in theatres was The Fox and the Hound.
- My family made our only trip to Disney World during my childhood in the summer of 1982. I don’t really remember any of it, but the couple of memories I do have left an impact. I held on to several of the souvenirs from that trip for years — including a much loved 10th Anniversary poster I still have. (Be sure to read until the end of this piece for a cool recreation of this first trip I was able to make years later!)
- We didn’t get cable until I was in my teens, but I remember long coveting The Disney Channel — including my favorite show at the time, DTV!
- My first job was a five-year stint at Toys R Us where, before anyone else, I would get the chance to see the embargoed Disney video tapes that were sitting in storage awaiting their release date. (Yes, I was a big enough Disney nerd that I thought it would be cool to save the warnings labels on the boxes… and apparently still a big enough geek that I still have them! The labels below were for the first VHS releases of Beauty and the Beast in 1991, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1992, and The Lion King in 1995.)
- As part of that job I once was forced to watch The Return of Jafar for eight hours straight while building a display case!
- One of the managers there was an animation fan as well and we would discuss all the latest rumors we could get our hands on. This was during the pre-World Wide Web days so information like this was few-and-far-between. Thanks Julie!
- If I ever apply to be a costumed character at Disney, I’ll be able to claim some experience on my resumé. Whenever he was needed, I was Geoffrey the Giraffe for the five years I worked there.
- I was still watching the Disney Afternoon in college.
- When I first saw Beauty and the Beast (still to this day my favorite animated movie) in theatres I knew it was something special. I went eight times during its original run. I’m not a ticket collector, but I still have every one of those stubs sitting in a drawer next to me right now.
- My only Christmas present in 1991 was the $100 Fantasia Deluxe LaserDisc boxset — and I didn’t even own a LaserDisc player! (Looking a little worse for wear after almost 30 years!)
- The first Disney animated film to come out after I started dating my then-girlfriend/now-wife was The Lion King. She couldn’t go on the day it was released as I always did and so asked me to wait for her. I’ve never let her live down making me miss that opening day!
- Despite seeing the walls of my bedroom covered with posters for Disney films and a shelf full of Disney toys the first time she visited my house, she still agreed to marry me!
- When planning the wedding, my family just assumed we would be getting a Mickey and Minnie cake topper. I thought that might be going too far!
- Yes, I was one of those grown-ups who travelled all over town visiting every Burger King in the mid-1990s buying kid’s meals trying to get all the toys or complete my set of souvenir glasses.
- The longest held internet account I still have is from ESPN. I signed up with them in 1998, and until last year had never changed the password. (Terrible security, I know!) When Disney allowed all their websites to use any other of their services accounts, that ESPN login became my overall Disney account as well — used for the Disney Parks, runDisney, Disney Movie Rewards, and even Disney+.
- The house we moved into before the birth of our second child just happened to have a room with a Disney-themed carpet installed in it. This was of course a complete coincidence, because choosing a house based on something like that would be irresponsible…
- My son is named after a Disney animator.
- When they were old enough I made sure that the first film each of my kids saw in theatres was a Disney cartoon: Lilo and Stitch for my daughter, Cars for my son.
- In 2003, I co-founded an animation news site. We eventually expanded it to include reviews and interviews. On our launch weekend I posted links to several stories about Brother Bear and teased our very first exclusive — the web’s first look at images from Home on the Range. Animated Views celebrated its 16th anniversary this year.
- I got to attend Roy Disney’s SaveDisney rally in Philadelphia and then the infamous Disney shareholders meeting in 2004.
- We made our first family trip to Disney World (with me as an adult) in 2005. It’s still the biggest trip we’ve ever done, going for about a week and staying in a savannah room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of the best and worst parts was since it was our first time, we got the full dining plan. Not worrying about paying for food was wonderful, but I don’t think I have ever eaten so much in my life!
- In 2008, we jumped on a train headed for San Diego to meet up with my website partners at Comic-con. Among the highlights was attending the Disney Story Process panel, getting to hold an Annie Award, meeting legendary Disney director John Musker, and camping out in Hall H for the main Disney/Pixar panel (with now-current-Pixar-Chief-Creative-Officer Pete Docter giving a sneak peek of Up almost a year before it was released).
- And of course we couldn’t make our first trip ever to California without a visit to Disneyland!
- I was a charter member of D23 (the official Disney Fan club).
- While I collected Disney movies on every medium they’ve been released on since VHS, I usually sold them off when a new format appeared. Earlier this year I started regretting that decision and decided to begin collecting Disney on videotape again. I’m up to over 100 VHS tapes already so far!
There are probably many more I’m forgetting. And as I mentioned in the very first post on this site, our first trip to Disney World was life-changing. So most of our more recent Disney experiences over the last decade revolve around the parks. We’ve had such a wonderful time on each visit that there is no way I could list them all here. We’ve gone back many times over the years to recapture the magic: 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
We’re headed back once again next week! So here’s hoping 2020 is filled with even more great Disney memories!
Me in 1982, and my daughter on the same horse in 2006.