Disney & Me!

My Dad with the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in the background.

My Dad with the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in the background.

In looking through the historical events that happened on this day, I came across a particularly interesting tidbit. Today in 1971, Disney World officially opened in Orlando, Florida.

Millions of people have enjoyed the rides and adventures of this famed theme park, but I have a much different connection to the attraction.

You see, my dad helped build it.

If you’ve ever gone to the Swiss Family Tree House or if you visited the previous attraction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you’ve seen his work. He supervised a team of lathers who were responsible for much of that construction. He created many of the rocky features still in existence today.  He helped bring the magic to life.

The ocean before water was added for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The ocean before water was added for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Of course, he wasn’t the only one. There were thousands of construction workers who helped to complete that project in an amazingly short deadline.

But I’m particularly proud of my dad’s contribution. I can remember hearing him talk about the timelines for some of the projects there. On one occasion, he was running a team that worked about 16 hours a day for weeks straight. There was another team that decided to try to finish their project faster by working around the clock. Dad’s team finished ahead of schedule and quicker than the competing team. He looked at me and said, “Everybody has to rest sometime. You can’t work nonstop without burning yourself out.”

It was one of the many little gems of advice my dad taught me.

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion

And Dad did take some time off. One January day in particular when my mom called his supervisor and said it was time to go to the hospital. I was about to be born.

I don’t remember the opening of Disney World. I was only 8 months old at the time. But I visited the park several times before we finally moved back to Georgia two years later.

My brother and sister, who are both older, have a much stronger recollection of our time in Florida. My memories are stories told by them and my mom.

By all accounts, I was an adventurous kid. There was the time I locked my mom out of the house and she had to crawl back in through the second story window. The time I hit my brother on the head with a hammer. The time I scared my sister and all her friends who were convinced there was a ghost in the house.

Good times!

I hope I’ve lived up to that adventurous reputation ever since.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

And while today may not mean anything to anyone else, to me it will always remind me of my dad, my family, and our special connection to Disney magic.

Now, I think it’s time for me to find a new adventure!

Happy Reading!

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