Jane’s Magical Memories ~ 60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland

The 17th July 2015 is Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary and I’m pleased to contribute these, my magical memories of a Disney Theme Park as part of the 60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland series of celebratory articles.


Here in 2015 it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without the magic of any Disney Resort isn’t it? But if Walt Disney hadn’t built upon his vision of creating a happy place where he could enjoy spending precious family time with his own children none of us would have ever benefited from his dream.

Although my memories are of Walt Disney World Resort because that’s where it all began for me; my dearest wish is to one day walk in Walt’s footsteps at Disneyland – after all, that is where the magic began…

60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland ~ My magical memories of 1979

My own love of Disney began way back in 1979 during a family holiday with our American relatives in Wisconsin. Our dear American family had been enjoying visits to Walt Disney World Resort since it’s opening in October 1971 and thought their Cornish cousins would like to meet Mickey Mouse too.

We flew down to Orlando not having ever heard of Mr. Disney or his mouse before which is so hard to believe today as you’d have to be living on the moon not to be acquainted with Disney in some small way!

Vintage Walt Disney World Resort Postcards

We arrived in the beautiful Sunshine State and lodged in one of Disney’s rather swish (or so I thought at the time!) Lake Buena Vista Vacation Villas which were located right around the river bend from The Disney Village or as we now know it – the Downtown Disney Area.

After dusk our view from the villa’s balcony was of the delightful steamboat Empress Lily (so named after Walt’s wife Lillian), she sparkled and twinkled with fairy lights which for me as a young girl from rural Cornwall was a hugely magical vision of loveliness.  A few years later I enjoyed Breakfast a la Disney aboard the Empress Lily which was my first ever character meal, this still impressive floating restaurant can be found today moored at Downtown Disney and houses the delicious seafood inspired Fulton’s Crab House.

Vintage Walt Disney World Resort - Mickey Mouse

Mickey, me & my dear Mum!

For me the memory of entering the Magic Kingdom Park for the very first time in 1979 and walking up Main Street, U.S.A with the enticing aroma of popcorn, the jolly park music and the sight of Cinderella Castle towering high above has remained as fresh in my memory just as if it happened yesterday.

Other memories which remain special from that inaugural trip are a particularly hysterical and wild spin in a tea cup on the Mad Tea Party and a stompingly wonderful evening’s entertainment at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  My dear Dad was chosen to be the fairy in the Hoop-Dee-Doo finale – which I’m sure to this day my aunt pre-arranged for our amusement!

Vintage Walt Disney World Resort - Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

Fast forward to the present day where I’m incredibly blessed to hold my dream position of representing the United Kingdom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

As a panelist I’m often asked for advice from folks who’ve never visited Disney before; I advise each and every Guests to savour the first moments of stepping onto Main Street, U.S.A; “Let Disney enchant you”, I tell them.

Yes I know, I hear you…that’s practically impossible when you’ve got your own little Mouseketeers chomping at the bit, ready to race into Fantasyland to take their first flight with Peter Pan!  To make and memorise your very own magical moment I suggest purchasing young pirates or princesses their very own tub of popcorn; because at Disney the magic is everywhere…at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and especially in a tub of Main Street, U.S.A’s popcorn!

1979 Disney Trivia

~ in October 1979 it is reported that Walt Disney World Resort welcomed it’s 100th million Guest!  

~ on September 15th 1979 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad debuted at Disneyland Resort

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4 thoughts on “Jane’s Magical Memories ~ 60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland

  1. Didi Marie says:

    Oh my, what is it about a Disney Parks “first” that becomes indelibly seared into our minds? For so many of us, those initial steps onto Main Street, U.S.A., whether at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, come with the smell of popcorn, the sound of a trolley, and the sight of a CASTLE. The emotions created in those moments will always stand the test of time. Your advice to “let Disney enchant you” is perfection, Jane! Thank you so much for sharing your family photos (I have one of my dad in a hula skirt from the “Polynesian revue, as it was called in 1975) and your unique and authentic pixie dust with us!!!

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