Editor’s Note: In celebration of Father’s Day, the WDW Radio blog team gathered to reflect on our favorite Disney memories with our dads. For so many, Walt Disney World is a place for families, and our dads have added that extra dose of pixie dust to our vacation. From the WDW Radio blog team, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
Happy Keller: “During my first trip as a child, and during my first walk up Main Street USA, I got to meet Walt Disney. There were many other kids around him and I asked my Dad who that was. He told me, ‘That’s Mickey Mouse’s Dad.’ I had my photo taken with Walt….I do wish I still had it, but it was lost during a move. My Dad loves Donald Duck, and does a really good ‘voice of Donald.'”
Blake Taylor: “My dad likes to joke around. A lot. You may have heard that one of the most-asked questions by guests to Cast Members is, ‘What time does the 3:00 parade start?’ Although poorly phrased, the question is innocent enough, and what the guest actually means is, ‘What time will the parade arrive at this spot?’ Anyway, the question has become notorious over the years, and has even inspired a Goofy shirt emblazoned with the inquiry. Without fail, every Disney trip, my dad will approach a CM and ask them with a straight face, ‘What time does the 3:00 parade start?’ It catches the rest of the family off guard every time, and try as we might to flee the area and pretend we don’t know him, it’s usually too late for that by the time we realize what he’s doing. The responses from CMs are always memorable, and fall into two categories: they either give the nice, smiley Disney answer without batting an eye… or, they see right through my dad as the jokester that he is. The funniest response was from a food vendor at Hollywood Studios: ‘You turn around and ask yourself the same question and you’ll have your answer!'”
Caitlin Corsello: “Throughout the numerous trips to Walt Disney World with my family, my dad was always present, complaining about people who walked slow (even though he was pretty slow himself), repeatedly telling everyone that it’s a small world was his favorite ride, and eating a very generous share of Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars. While I have many fond memories of my dad, my favorite one from our trips to WDW involves a 1996 Christmas trip. We flew down to visit from the day after Christmas to the day after New Year’s and, being used to visiting in the blistering summers, we were fairly bundled. We were just about to head to the airport for our flight home, dressed in several layers as we were flying back to snowy, cold New York. We paused for a moment in front of the slide at our resort, Port Orleans French Quarter to have someone take one last vacation photo. As the shutter went off, someone flew down the slide, sloshing water over the edge and soaking my dad. We all were in hysterics as he had to rummage through his suitcase, pull out dry clothes, and change in the lobby’s restroom so that we could hurry along and catch our flight. I still get such a smile thinking about that moment, and I’m so thankful to have been able to make such great memories with my dad, especially in WDW.”
Makena Wolcott: “My father and I have had amazing Disney memories, but one stands out amongst the others. By a LONGSHOT. On Tom Sawyer Island, the Cast Members used to have fun every morning and hide paintbrushes all across Tom Sawyer Island. Finding one of these paintbrushes was rewarded with a fastpass for either Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain. Once the general public found out, people would rush to the rafts and attempt to be on the first raft crossing to Tom Sawyer Island. My dad and I had this mission in mind on our August 2011 visit to Walt Disney World. Luckily, my dad and I made it in time for the first crossing. Once we arrived on the island, people ran in all different directions. We stayed together and hunted up, down and all around. After about half an hour, my dad finally discovered one of the famous red paintbrushes! I screamed and hugged him when I saw him holding it and we went to the rafts to head back to claim our prize-fastpasses. If this story sounds familiar, it is because I already wrote a blog all about it in more detail. I don’t think I will ever keep a memory involving my father and Disney more close to my heart.”
Peyton Spear: “The few times I have been to Disney World with my dad have been nothing short of amazing. As some of you know from my bio, growing up and taking many vacations to Disney World with my cousins did not include the dads. We always joked they did not come because our moms would spoil us too much, but in all honesty, my dad and uncle had to work.
The small number of times I have been to the parks with my dad, I have really seen where my appreciation for the detail and architecture comes from. My dad has unbelievable artistic ability and although I am no where close to his level, I like to say I got my abilities from him. I have always been so fascinated by the way Disney is able to transform an area of land and turn it into a place where you truly forget what state you are in.
This past January my immediate family made a trip to Disney World (dad included this time). On the second day of our visit, we went to Animal Kingdom making it my dad’s first visit to the park. Now most of us call Animal Kingdom a ‘half day’ park, but we were there from open to close because he wanted to see every square inch of it. He wanted to make sure he did not miss a detail the park had to offer like the way the leaves shaded certain areas on ‘Kilimanjaro Safaris’ to the tattered flags near ‘Expedition Everest.’
This is my best memory because I feel like my dad truly appreciates the real meaning behind Disney–to indulge yourself into the meaning behind everything you can set your eyes on in the park. I like to say nothing goes untouched at Disney and when you can sit back and take time to enjoy it all, it is a remarkable thing to see what the Imagineers have created.”
Alyssa Wiseman: “Again, my trips with my family have not been recent ones, but for some reason my dad always tends to call me while I am at the World to ask me one question: ‘Have you ridden my favorite ride?’ And his favorite ride is, (although I don’t really know if it is his favorite ride or if he is just trying to upset me because he knows I don’t like it) Ellen’s Energy Adventure. He probably hasn’t been to the parks since the 90s, but for some reason he really enjoyed this attraction. It just makes me smile when Brandon and I are walking around the parks or back relaxing at my resort and my phone rings because my dad is calling. He always wants to check on us anyway, but he also wants to make sure that I have gone to experience Ellen telling us all about energy and conservation! To my dad, thank you for making sure that I always ride ‘your’ ride! I love you very much.”
Christy Viszoki: “While I have wonderful childhood memories of my father and Walt Disney World, my current favorite moments are watching my dad with my kids, re-experiencing rides and attractions. He has been excited since the girls were born 10 years ago to take them on rides, share his ‘secrets,’ and have partners in crime in the attractions. More than anything, he loves to take the kids to the Biergarten and dance with them while the German band plays. It brightens my heart to see him and them ALL so happy.
He is the quintessential kid at heart, and he LOVES LOVES LOVES to talk about Disney, dining in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, someday working at Disney…. Just anything Disney. I hope he someday fulfills his dream of standing at the Times Board on Main Street USA, offering directions and sharing ‘tips’ with guests. I don’t think he could be happier!”
Don Myers: “I have so many special WDW memories with my Dad. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, so I’ll cheat a little and share two. The first one occurred during our 1991 trip. I was 9 and my sister was 6. We went to a Character Breakfast on the Empress Lilly. During the meal, Mickey and the gang came around to greet everyone. Donald was in full persona causing a bit of a stir because he thought he was the star of things and not Mickey. A slight ruckus ensued, and Donald quickly found himself outnumbered. Until…my Dad jumped up to help him. The two of them playfully fended off several cast members, even Mickey himself! This kind of Guest participation is unheard of nowadays, so it makes this memory all the more special to me. The second memory occurred in 2011. I went to WDW for the Celebrations Magazine writers dinner, and I took my Dad with me just the two of us. During the meal, everyone stood up, introduced themselves, and said a few words. It came time for me to stand up and talk, and as I stood there and spoke my eyes were fixed on my Dad the whole time. He was beaming with so much pride that night, couldn’t get the smile off his face. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, and a memory I’ll cherish forever. I love you Dad!”
Kendall Foreman: “Over the years, my dad and I became thrill ride partners. Before my husband joined our clan, Dad and I were the only ones in our family who looked forward to taking on the corkscrew of the Rock n’ Roller Coaster, the high-speed evaluation run on Test Track, and the free-fall of the Tower of Terror. While our WDW thrill-seeking has been a blast, there is one particular memory that surpasses every ride we have enjoyed together. In fact, it has nothing to do with any attractions. It has everything to do with the way my dad makes great memories without even knowing he’s doing it. As a teenager, I began collecting Disney Parks-themed snow globes, some of which he had purchased. On one particular trip, I discovered a magnificent snow globe in the Main Street Emporium. It was amazing! How could I ask for such an extravagant keepsake when Dad had already given us such a wonderful vacation? I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I didn’t mention it to him. Before I knew it, the last night of the trip had come. Unfortunately, I still had not chosen a souvenir, and I realized it was too late. Little did I know, Dad had noticed me admiring the snow globe. As darkness fell, our family was waiting to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach of our Disney resort when he asked me if I wanted to go get ‘my’ snow globe. I was so surprised! I recall telling him that there wasn’t time to return to the park before closing time. Dad said, ‘We can make it!’ So, together, he and I hurried to the park, rushed through the sea of exiting park patrons and into the crowded shop. He was right; we made it just in time to buy one of my most cherished keepsakes. Not because of its monetary value; instead, because it was one of those moments when Dad had no idea he was making a memory that was just between the two of us. Each time I gaze into its magical scene, I think of him the way I know he thinks of me…with love.”
Angie Carreiro: “I always think about my dad any time I’m in the parks and see a group of little, fat birds gathered. My father is one to ‘stop and smell the roses’ or, in his case, sit down on a bench with a coffee and a pastry while we ride Tower of Terror! He always joins us with a compilation of photos and videos of his adventures in feeding the birds!”
Rich McNanna: “When I was a kid, one of my sister’s and my favorite movies was “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”; my father, always the kidder, would come into our rooms to tuck us in at night, and tickle us, tell a joke…you know, that kind of thing. One of his favorite gags was to sing the song “The Beautiful Briny Sea”…but with a twist. Instead of singing:
“Bobbing along, bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea. What a chance to get a better peep At the plants and creatures of the deep...”
He’d sing: “Bobbing along, bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea. What a chance to smell your stinky feet. Now I go and pull them till you tweet..”
He’d then proceed to pull our toes and tickle us until we died of laughter. That’s my memory.”
Happy Father’s Day to all the WDW Radio dads!! We wish you a magical, restful day with your family.