Part 2 – Everything Starts and Ends at a Luau
So, if you read the last blog post, you’ve journeyed back 30 years (and across the Deep South) on our drive to Walt Disney World Resort®. You’ve chilled with me in the atrium at the Polynesian Village, and enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of the “Broadway at the Top” dinner and show at the Contemporary Resort, all before succumbing to exhaustion. Onward we travel to the Magic Kingdom and our first up-close encounter with Cinderella Castle. But first, breakfast!
For our first morning at Walt Disney World®, my father reserved a table for six at Minnie’s Menehune character breakfast in the South Seas Dining Room. Presently the home of Bou Tiki, the South Seas Dining room only hosted this buffet breakfast for a short time. Due to demand, it was quickly moved to the (much larger) Papeete Bay Verandah (presently ‘Ohana) the next year. Those of you familiar with the challenges of obtaining advanced dining reservations for ‘Ohana know the popularity of the space has only increased through the years. A-lo-ha!
The morning we visited, Minnie (dressed in her very best luau look), Pluto, & Goofy were on hand to greet guests. This was our first experience with live Disney Characters, and you can see the apprehension on my brother’s face. However after a few pictures, he quickly warmed to our new friends.
Nearly 30 years later, my son (who favors my side of the family) would first meet his Disney hero just yards away at ‘Ohana’s Best Friend’s Breakfast. Of course, when your mom is a Disney addict, your first encounter with Mickey has far better odds of success.
After a warm “Mahalo” (thank you) to Minnie and her friends we headed (via the monorail) to the Magic Kingdom…and that castle I’d seen in the distance.
There seems to be agreement that our 1st attraction (after Main Street) was “If You Had Wings,” sponsored by Eastern Airlines. Sadly, my memory cannot confirm if it was first, but I definitely remember that attraction. The speed room (simulating the sensation flight in an omnimover!) and a soundtrack that rivals It’s a Small World for its ability to get stuck in your head are fixed in my memory. While the building now hosts Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, homage is paid to the former resident attraction by way of some (seemingly) out-of-place chickens in the volcano room.
According to my grandmother’s notes, only my dad and brother rode the Star Jets. Much like those seen in If I Had Wings, I was a chicken.
Our family spent the remainder of the brisk morning in Tomorrowland, before traveling the Skyway to Fantasyland for lunch at King Stefan’s Royal Banquet in Cinderella Castle.
When asked recently which show, attraction, etc…I felt was the “quintessential” Disney Parks experience, I explained how I thought the magic of Cinderella Castle held that distinction. Arriving on Main Street and gazing up to see Cinderella Castle just beyond, has always been (and is likely to be) among the most treasured moments of our Walt Disney World Resort® vacations.
While not anything tangible, it’s the essence of Cinderella Castle that allows it to be two things at once; both a physical attraction, and a representation of all the magic a Disney Parks vacation promises. As such, Cinderella Castle is not simply the hub of the Magic Kingdom; it’s also the heart of the Walt Disney World® Resort.
Back in 1983 that magic and excitement coursed through me when I first stepped out onto Main Street USA and saw the dazzling castle in the distance. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn we would be eating lunch IN THE CASTLE!
The ever-popular Cinderella’s Royal Table was once the location of King Stefan’s Banquet Hall, (which I never understood, given that King Stefan is Sleeping Beauty’s father) where guests, drinking from pewter goblets, could feast like Kings and Queens for lunch and dinner.
My most vivid memory of this meal was our squire (server) kissing my 7 year-old hand when greeting us. Outwardly, I was all “ewww, that’s gross” but I was definitely blushing on the inside. Kids grow up so much faster these days…
After lunch, we saw more of Fantasyland and began exploring Liberty Square.
Touring the Rivers of America on one of the Liberty Square Riverboats
Shortly after this picture was taken, my bother started running a fever and fussing (I swear, my little brother spent the 1st six years of his life with perpetual ear infections.) My mother and grandmother rushed him back to the room for some medicine and rest (only 2 monorail stops away fortunately.) Meanwhile, my dad, grandfather and I visited the Hall of Presidents before calling it a day.
Later that evening, my grandparents took over care for my little brother so my parents and I could attend the Polynesian Revue (luau).
Growing up in the mild winters of southern Alabama, I didn’t experience snow until middle school. Despite that, the evening we attended the Polynesian Revue is forever etched in my mind as the first time I was unbearably COLD. My parents quipped about the performers lack of thermal-wear, but it was all I could do to keep my teeth from chattering through their entire performance. Records indicate a low of 51 degrees Fahrenheit, but I distinctly recall a biting breeze from the lagoon, which made it so much more uncomfortable. And in my 7 year-old mind, I was going to die of hypothermia at a luau in Walt Disney World®. (I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.) Obviously that didn’t’t happen, but I also don’t have any clear memories of the evening…the hypothermia must have progressed as far as delirium…or maybe it was just a really long time ago.
Up next – A Breakfast with Character and the very first ever Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!