Disney Information Station Logo

Go Back   The DIS Discussion Forums - DISboards.com > Disney Trip Planning Forums > Disney Trip Reports > Completed Trip Reports
Find Hotel Specials & DIScounts
 
facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS UpdatesDIS email updates
Register Chat FAQ Tickers Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read





 
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old 01-31-2011, 01:57 PM   #1
BrennerM
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 14

Lifetime Trip Report - The Challenger Disaster and much more

My first post! Thought I would do an introduction to myself by way of telling you a bit about my history of WDW visits, including a particularly memorable trip 25 years ago during the Challenger disaster. Sorry I don't have many pictures to make it a bit more exciting, but my parents were not big picture-takers back in the day. BTW I am male, just so you don't get the wrong picture in your head as I tell my story!

I was born in 1971, the same year that WDW opened. Being a young science and technology aficianado (aka geek) growing up in Southern Ontario (Canada), I actually had quite a few opportunities to visit Disney (thanks Mom and Dad!). When I was about 9 years old, we had some family friends move to Sarasota, Florida, and this led to several road trips down south for the next few years. Some of those trips included a stop at Walt Disney World. In 1983 when I was 12 (and my brother 10) my parents pulled us out of school in October and we did a fall road trip exclusively to visit Disney World. This was the first real full trip specifically to Disney but I must admit I don't have many memories of that visit given the many visits I've had since. But I do remember that Epcot was new for us and, being a science and dinosaur nut, I loved it. As I recall, one of my family's favourite things on this trip was the Kitchen Kabaret show at the Land pavilion...strange but true!

A couple years later when I was 14 (January 1986) I was part of an advanced program in my first year of high school. As part of the program our teacher-advisors planned a group trip to Disney World where we would spend half-days attending a "future symposium" with speakers talking about topics relating to the future of science and technology (sadly, I remember none of the content of these talks). Our other half-days were spent at Epcot (EPCOT Center as it was called then) since it was the park focused on science, technology, and the future. You can imagine a group of 14-year-olds set loose in Epcot for 5 days. I must have done each attraction about 15 times. I remember this trip very fondly. Being 14 and free to explore the park for days was truly something special. My favourite attraction (by far) on this trip was Journey into Imagination. I probably went through it 20+ times.

To be continued with: The "happiest place on Earth" is not always so happy
BrennerM is offline  
Old 01-31-2011, 02:09 PM   #2
GiGi30
DIS Veteran
 
GiGi30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Greenville, SC
Posts: 534

Sounds awesome! I'm following!
__________________
GiGi30 is offline  
|
The DIS
Register to remove

Join Date: 1997
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,000,000
Old 01-31-2011, 02:52 PM   #3
BrennerM
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 14

On Tuesday, January 28 we gathered in the mid-morning in the hotel parking lot (we were staying in Kissimmee) to watch the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. For those who have seen a launch from Florida with the naked eye, you know that it is not much more than a smoke trail going into the sky, with a bit of fire on the front. We saw the trail and a bit bigger ball of smoke but since we'd never seen a launch before we didn't know that the Challenger had exploded. It just looked like it had gone up through some clouds and disappeared from view. I do recall some locals in the parking lot were suspicious because it didn't look normal to them.

Of course it wasn't long before we found out the truth. As we headed back into the hotel, people were glued to a TV in the lobby/bar area showing the footage of the explosion. It was certainly a shock for everyone.

After watching the TV for a while, we moved onto our daily schedule. That was a very interesting day at Epcot. As I recall the CMs had been told to turn off any TVs/radios that might mention the disaster, and they were not supposed to discuss the disaster with guests. After all, this was supposed to be the "happiest place on earth"! But some did talk a bit if prompted by a guest, and the general mood was fairly sombre.

Those who were alive back in '86 will remember that it was one of those "big events" that affected people deeply, especially in Florida where the space program was a big part of their identity. Those were a few really tough days for the CMs.

To be continued with: A return to Disney and more space shuttle coincidences
BrennerM is offline  
Old 02-01-2011, 08:28 AM   #4
BrennerM
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 14

So after the grade 9 high school trip it was quite a while before I got back to WDW for a real trip. I definitely got to MGM Studios at some point around 1990 but I think that was just a one-day visit as we were passing through on the way to Sarasota to visit our friends. I graduated high school in 1990 and went to university and this basically absorbed all of my finances for 5+ years. Once I started my full-time job in 1995 I still had loans to pay off.

Finally, in 1998, my girlfriend and I planned a trip to Disney World. We went in early April, just before the Animal Kingdom park opened. Poor planning I suppose, but it gave us something new for the next visit! We stayed offsite in Kissimmee and had a great time visiting the parks. We did basically every attraction other than the kiddie rides and loved every minute of it. For me, visiting Epcot was like coming home because I had spent so much time there on that trip when I was 14. I knew the park so well. We also did the Pleasure Island evening, including having an Improv song done about us at the Comedy Warehouse, which was very fun. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was probably our favourite ride this trip, neither of us were big roller coaster people but this one suited us both because it doesn't have any huge drops, and the theming is top-notch. By the end of our week we were exhausted and saying to each other "well we don't have to come back here for another 10 years!". But once we were back home for a couple of days we were already thinking about going back because it was such a great time!

But marriage and new house expenses got in the way for a few years and it wasn't until early 2003 that we got back there again. On February 1st we went to an afternoon hockey game before heading out to the airport. At the game we heard people talking about the space shuttle exploding and I just figured it was something to do with the Challenger anniversary because that had happened around the same time of the year. We didn't find out until we got to Florida and turned on the TV in our room that it was Columbia that had exploded on re-entry. Perhaps NASA would prefer that I stay away from Florida as I seemed to be bad luck when travelling to Florida, but since WDW is in Florida I really have no choice!

This time (for the first time) we stayed on property, at the All-Star Music resort. We got to experience Animal Kingdom for the first time and really enjoyed it. Our only complaint about staying at Disney (and it was a minor one) was waiting for buses. It seemed like we did a lot of that on this trip. Overall it was another fantastic trip. I think our favourite thing this time was dinner at Teppan Edo where we were seated with a couple of off-duty CMs who had lots of great stories to tell. For instance, did you know that the "crash wall" at Test Track is actually made of styrofoam so that if something goes wrong and the wall doesn't open properly, the car will just crash through it with minimal damage to the car and occupants? Of course it is carefully painted to look like a very solid wall.

To be continued with: Can I break the shuttle jinx?
BrennerM is offline  
Old 02-01-2011, 08:48 AM   #5
Grumpy's Wife
Dollar Tree gal here
sissy fluffed, sissy fluffed!
Someone needs to pretend we've got a clue
Chocolate is a girls heaven
 
Grumpy's Wife's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Mandeville, La
Posts: 26,103

I'm joining in. Didn't know about the wall in Test Track. I might just have to use that piece of trivia one day.
__________________



Grumpy's Wife is offline  
Old 02-03-2011, 10:39 AM   #6
BrennerM
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 14

In late 2004 my wife went to Florida for a work conference at the Swan/Dolphin. I flew down to join her near the end. We only spent one day at Disney but we really loved Mickey's PhilharMagic which had opened since our previous visit. We also did Sea World and a few other non-Disney things in Orlando.

In 2006 my (now ex-)wife and I separated and eventually divorced. In February 2009 I celebrated my second marriage to my new bride who is a high school teacher. We decided to go to Walt Disney World on our honeymoon (big shock, I know). My wife had not been to WDWsince she was young (when only the Magic Kingdom was open) so I was excited to be able to share the World with her.

We went during her spring break in mid-March 2009. We got a great deal on a flight/hotel/car rental and stayed off-property at a hotel on Palm Parkway. In an interesting twist, NASA had been trying to launch a space shuttle for quite a while but kept running into delays. Naturally the launch ended up happening on our second day in Florida. NASA was really pushing their luck. We had planned to drive to the coast to see it but with so many failed attempts it just didn't seem worth taking a whole day out of our schedule, especially if the launch ended up being scrubbed. So we watched the launch from our hotel balcony. Although I am not generally superstitious I must admit I was a bit worried given my past history of shuttle failures. Fortunately this one went off without a hitch and I even got a few good photos. I wish we could have seen it up-close but staying in Orlando meant we got an extra day at Disney which of course was awesome.

Over the course of 7 whirlwind days we conquered all 4 Disney parks, both Universal parks, and the Kennedy Space Center. We were masters of the Fast Pass and managed to do every ride that interested us (which is most of them) except for Toy Story Mania at HS. We went for the Aerosmith coaster instead and TSM was just insanely busy. It was a very crowded week in March but we were proud to say that we never stood in line for more than 20 minutes, thanks to our judicious use of Fast Passes. We also had a big bit of luck getting on Space Mountain which was really busy. We were planning to make a special trip to the Magic Kingdom near the end in order to get on Space Mountain but one evening in the middle of the trip we happened to be taking a break by riding the TTA Peoplemover and the Peoplemover stopped. Dead. For about 20 minutes we waited and they finally came around and collected everyone on foot. I said quietly to my wife "sometimes they give out fastpasses when this happens" and sure enough, they were handing out a fastpass to everyone who was stuck. We immediately walked over to Space Mountain, laughing all the way at our good luck, and had a great time on the ride. It was especially meaningful for my wife who had been terrified riding Space Mountain as a child and wanted a chance to conquer her fears.

To be continued: The Yeti attacks, a magical moment, and what's next?
BrennerM is offline  
Old 02-04-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
BrennerM
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 14

My wife's favourite park was Animal Kingdom, followed closely by Epcot. We spent a lot of time exploring the World Showcase, something which I had never really done in detail before. The reproductions of the countries are truly amazing and there are so many small details to be found everywhere! Overall our favourite ride on this trip was Expedition Everest. Especially the moment when the coaster stops with the broken track ahead and my wife said (and she was serious): "Oh no, the track is broken!" just before we went backwards into the mountain again. Wish I had a video of that moment.

Our favourite "magical moment" of the week came at MK late in the day. The night parade was running and we decided to skip it and do BTMRR again. There was not much of a lineup for a change and riding it at night was awesome. But the best part was that the CMs in the loading area turned it into a big party and everyone got into the spirit. People (both CMs and guests) were clapping and singing ("We Will Rock You", etc) as they loaded onto the train. We ended up going back through the line 2 more times because it was so much fun and such an electric atmosphere in that loading area. Truly magical. We just made it to the bridge near Splash Mountain to watch the Wishes fireworks which were pretty cool from there, even though the castle was a bit too far off to see everything. The colour from the fireworks reflected off of the water around Tom Sawyer's Island (which was just in front of us), with a side view of the castle behind it. It was a great ending to a great trip!


So that was 2009. This year (2011) my wife's stepdad is footing the bill to take the whole family (6 adults, our niece age 4 and nephew age 7) to WDW in August (19-25). Woohoo! We are staying at the All-Star Movies resort. Planning has begun in earnest in order to get our dining reservations made as soon as the window opens up.
BrennerM is offline  
Old 02-04-2011, 11:59 AM   #8
Montana_Disney_Fan
WDW Ninja Warrior
 
Montana_Disney_Fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 98

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennerM View Post
On Tuesday, January 28 we gathered in the mid-morning in the hotel parking lot (we were staying in Kissimmee) to watch the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. For those who have seen a launch from Florida with the naked eye, you know that it is not much more than a smoke trail going into the sky, with a bit of fire on the front. We saw the trail and a bit bigger ball of smoke but since we'd never seen a launch before we didn't know that the Challenger had exploded. It just looked like it had gone up through some clouds and disappeared from view. I do recall some locals in the parking lot were suspicious because it didn't look normal to them.

Of course it wasn't long before we found out the truth. As we headed back into the hotel, people were glued to a TV in the lobby/bar area showing the footage of the explosion. It was certainly a shock for everyone.

After watching the TV for a while, we moved onto our daily schedule. That was a very interesting day at Epcot. As I recall the CMs had been told to turn off any TVs/radios that might mention the disaster, and they were not supposed to discuss the disaster with guests. After all, this was supposed to be the "happiest place on earth"! But some did talk a bit if prompted by a guest, and the general mood was fairly sombre.

Those who were alive back in '86 will remember that it was one of those "big events" that affected people deeply, especially in Florida where the space program was a big part of their identity. Those were a few really tough days for the CMs.

To be continued with: A return to Disney and more space shuttle coincidences
I was in Basic Training at Ft Sill, OK when it happened. 19 year old. Very Very Sad day.

Montana_Disney_Fan is offline  
Old 02-04-2011, 12:02 PM   #9
Montana_Disney_Fan
WDW Ninja Warrior
 
Montana_Disney_Fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 98

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennerM View Post
My wife's favourite park was Animal Kingdom, followed closely by Epcot.
ditto!

Montana_Disney_Fan is offline  
Old 03-03-2011, 12:11 PM   #10
GoofyJr
Meeting the Mouse
 
GoofyJr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: AZ
Posts: 26

Thumbs up Kitchen Kabaret

I also remember the Kitchen Kabaret show at the Land pavilion!!!
We used to go and see it again and again.
__________________
GoofyJr is offline  
Old 03-04-2011, 04:24 PM   #11
KaiYves
Mouseketeer
 
KaiYves's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 226

Very interesting story! I'd always wondered what had gone on at WDW that day.
__________________
A proud Tomorrow's Child, charting a brand new way!
KaiYves is offline  
Old 03-04-2011, 07:01 PM   #12
koleta@mickey
All Things Disney
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Perry Florida
Posts: 86

Challenger - I was at Disney too

Weird to hear someone else on the boards was at Disney the same time...I will never forget that day...I was in the eighth grade, my parents took us to Disney for a business trip, the National Cotton Council was having meetings. We stayed in the Contemporary and I remember I was outside watching the launch and I had never seen one either so I did not know anything was wrong either. I remember going into the snack bar/game area in the Contemporary and there was a TV on talking about the disaster...it was horrible and very memorable for me too...
koleta@mickey is offline  
 



Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates
GET OUR DIS UPDATES DELIVERED BY EMAIL



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:34 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 1997-2014, Werner Technologies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.