Today is the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon. My college roommate Kim actually ran the half marathon yesterday with her dad! They raised money for the Scleroderma Foundation, and have really outdone themselves! Their fundraising page is here: Scleroderma-Kim & Tom LaGuardia. To see everything they have done in regards to awareness for something important and personal to their family, it makes me even more excited for this coming year and raising funds for the American Heart Association and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT, and Nunavut. That being said, I figured today would be the perfect day to start explaining the importance of Walt Disney World to my family. So far, I really have only talked about the running aspect, with a mention about Disney. But they really do tie in together, I swear. It may take a few entries for it to start making sense…but without this first trip to WDW in October 1991, I wouldn’t be planning a culminating crazy race weekend down there for January 2014.
Disney World was always someplace I wanted to visit. Might seem hard to believe that a preschool-age child really would want to go someplace, and have their mind set on it, but I did. My cousins Kevin, Jennifer and Kyle had been to WDW a few times when we were little, and since they lived two blocks away and I was always over there as a kid, I clearly remember looking at photo albums with them of their trips. I wanted to go! I remember the photos of the pool of Caribbean Beach Resort…I wanted this trip! I also remember commercials during this time frame for the soon-to-open MGM Studios. My Mom tells me that the decision to take a family trip to WDW was set in stone due to the fact that 1.) Auntie Debbie and Uncle Chuck and the kids went before and loved it and 2.) My dad and her wanted us to go on a family vacation someplace other than road-tripping to Birmingham, Alabama, to Grandpa and Grandma Lammers’ house and going to Perdido Key, Florida.
I can joke with my mom now that she is the cheapskate and that my dad wanted to spend money and do things together, though he never could carry out a vacation plan himself. I can now recognize that it was this trip that forever changed my dad’s vacation attitudes. And it created a monster.
My dad wanted us to go on a trip together, and let my mom plan this one to WDW, but he was still very reluctant. You have to understand that my dad didn’t really understand the whole theme-park excitement. He didn’t understand Disney at all. my dad had an amazing childhood, getting to travel and live in Switzerland for much of his elementary and middle-school years…but he never saw “Wonderful World of Disney” or “Wonderful World of Color”. He didn’t watch the “Mickey Mouse Club”. He really was hesitant because he did not understand how an adult could enjoy WDW. He went along with this trip thinking that it would be a one-time thing, and they were doing this for me.
The best things from this first trip are the things my mom tells me now. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort on the Magic Kingdom Monorail. We had only been there half a day, and were waiting for the monorail that next morning…and my dad straight-forward asked her “when can we come back?” My dad was not a vocal person, but he was having a great time already and wasn’t afraid to admit it. He got the Disney “bug” and I am thankful for that, since he was a driving force in planning the future trips.
This trip had lots of time spent at EPCOT and at the pool at our resort. Funny thing is, I hate swimming now! I still love EPCOT, and this stayed true through all our family trips. But at my age of 7, I still loved swimming. My mom is telling me right now (she’s sitting next to me, as she is visiting me in Canada for a few weeks) my dad and I were pissing her off because we would be at a park for a few hours and then beg to go back to the pool. This partnership of my dad and I teaming up against my mom would continue every WDW trip. While i was ages 7-18, it was dad and I getting our way at WDW…what we wanted to do, see, ride, eat…so it’s funny that he was the one who didn’t want to go in the first place, but loved every second of it.
I could go on and on reminiscing about this trip. But that is not the point, nor is that what I want to do. Hopefully this helps shed the light on why Disney plays an important part in my life, and why even after my dad has passed away the significance keeps growing.
This beautiful father/daughter photo was taken on the beach at the Polynesian Resort. Please enjoy my dad’s striking USMC t-shirt that is so large it covers his signature Speedo. Also, enjoy my ridiculous Afro and matching ridiculous bikini. So gorgeous. Love the 90s!