Do you remember your first iPod…CD player…record player? No matter which generation you fall into, there was a mode of listening to music, and in 1979, it became a personal experience with the release of the first Sony Walkman. Just over a decade later, I may have been a little kid, but I thought I was pretty big stuff with my Playskool Hipster cassette tape player.
My family was ready to embark on the great 1000+ mile road trip to Walt Disney World, and my sister and I were allowed to bring our very own tape players along with our small assortment of cassettes. One of those was a brand new addition to our collection, Muppet Beach Party.
As children in the early 1990s, we had not only been introduced to the Muppets. We loved them. The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, Muppet Family Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppets Take Manhattan. So, when we found an obscure cassette tape about the Muppets taking a trip to the beach, we could not pass it up. Classic summer songs from the 1960s, 70s and 80s played amidst dialogue from Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rizzo and more as they enjoyed their day at the beach.
While we had Muppet Beach Party all to ourselves on the way down to Walt Disney World, it quickly became a family favorite. With songs like Kokomo, Papa Oom Mow Mow, Walkin’ on Sunshine, Wooly Bully, Under The Boardwalk and others, my parents never minded when this album made its way into the car’s cassette player, and on subsequent vacations, listening to Muppet Beach Party became one of our vacation rituals.
The tradition continued until, one day, we realized that Muppet Beach Party was missing. We never found it. For years, my sister and I continued to reminisce about our favorite song on the album: Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini with Miss Piggy and Kermit singing about her unfortunate choice of swimwear. When eBay grew in popularity, we tried to find a copy of the tape and discovered that a CD version had been released, but by that time, copies of either option were selling for a ridiculous amount of money.
Fast forward to the late 2000s. My brand new husband and I were packing up our car for that same 1000+ mile journey to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. We each chose a few CDs to load into the disk changer in the trunk of our Volkswagen Jetta. I noticed that we had one less CD than the number of slots in the changer. I mentioned it, but my husband said he already had a special surprise CD loaded. As we headed off and pulled onto the highway, I turned on the CD player and was greeted by the cheers of the Muppets as they pulled up to the beach and broke into Surfin’ USA.
I could not have asked for a better gift. The tradition was reborn. Even when we decided to fly to central Florida the next year, we made sure to fit in at least one listen on our way to the airport. They say that certain albums define moments or experiences in your life. For me, Muppet Beach Party is the music of my Walt Disney World vacations, and they would not be the same without it.
Do you have a certain album or song that you listen to on your road trip or flight to Walt Disney World? Share it with us in the comments section or on Facebook!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection. Cover artwork copyright Henson.)
To learn more about Kendall and read her recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.