Disney had a campaign a while ago called “When did it start for you?”. The campaign had asked people when they first fell in love with the magic and became a Disney fan for life. I started thinking, going back through my fondest memories to pinpoint the time that I fell in love with it. I discovered that there were too many memories that I couldn’t narrow it down! This is just one of them.
When I was young, there was at attraction at Walt Disney World called “If You Had Wings” that was sponsored by Eastern Airlines. The attraction was a slow moving vehicle that took you through a variety of ‘scenes’ showing you all of the things you could ‘see’ with them. There was a man holding a fish that would grow as his wife took the picture, sunny beaches at the ocean, people diving from cliffs, and my favorite – the policeman directing the traffic of pelicans! Looking back I guess you could say it was a little cheesy – the rolls of film being shown on screens as you passed by. So why on earth was this a great memory for me? It was an attraction I experienced so many times with my Dad.
Each time we would go to the Magic Kingdom, my Dad and I would ride this together. We’d giggle at the silly scenes and point them out to each other like it was our first time riding it. The specifics of our conversations? I can’t remember… what I can remember is that feeling of joy to get those few minutes alone with my Dad on our favorite attraction. The last scene of the attraction you would enter a huge tunnel of sorts and it would simulate an airplane taking off complete with the view of the runway and the seat moving along in time with the airplane.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin now sits where If You Had Wings once did. They have repurposed the track and it is a new favorite for my family – being competitive to see who can get the highest score.
My Dad is gone now, and I miss him every day. When I’m in the Magic Kingdom as an adult, I think about our times there and wonder what he would think of the park if he could see it now. Sometimes I feel like he’s there with me. When we get to that final scene in Buzz when you enter that very same big ‘tunnel’ – I can remember the plane taking off with my Dad’s arm around me, and I experience that feeling of happiness all over again.