How has your Disney experience changed... then & now


[B]Hanwill’s great thread about “How you vacation” really got me thinkin’. WOW, Disney is SUCH a different experience now in 2008 than it was in the 1980’s when I went as a kid.

If you traveled to WDW or DL in decades previous to the 90’s how has your experience differed? [/B]

This are the things I came up with:

  • We would make our next WDW trip reservations during check-out of our current trip because the property would sell out SO FAST back then during Spring Break, Summer, & Christmas.

  • We NEVER made dining reservations, with the exception of maybe ONE really special dinner somewhere. We’d eat wherever we walked up to & waited.

  • Lines were a fact of life, especially traveling during school breaks. I remember being a little kid and waiting, what seemed like HOURS, for exciting rides like BTMRR and the Haunted Mansion, etc. No FastPasses, No EMHs meant… you wait!

  • No photographers waiting around to make your beautiful family pictures wonderful. You had to take a photo (35mm), wait until you returned home to develop it, and if it didn’t turn out… it didn’t turn out.

  • (this is Fort Wilderness specific) I remember when there were no such thing as cell phones they would deliver typed “telegrams” on official Fort Wilderness paper and put it under the windshield wiper of your RV. (Yes, I absolutely still have some saved).

  • I TOTALLY remember little chocolates and/or mints being left on our pillows at certain resorts.

  • There were no such things as “Value Resorts,” if you couldn’t afford to stay on Disney Property you were either hitchin’ a resort bus from Kissimmee or somewhere close by. (We did that a few times :tongue:)

  • Ticket & Transportation Center WAS a bustling hub. That’s where everyone seemed to buy their tickets, you caught the bus to Disney’s Marketplace from, there, and it was ALWAYS busy!



OH! I thought of another one!

PAPER TICKETS! If you got it wet on a water ride, or at the water park, you had to let it dry. They used to punch the days off your ticket as you used it.

Hand stamps! Glow in the dark, park re-entry handstamps!! Do they ever still use these in WDW? For the LIFE of me I can’t figure out why they still use them in Disneyland to this day. :huh:


I don’t know about the booking and stuff because DH and I never went as a couple before we had kids (which we are kicking ourselves for now), and all the trips that I took before that had been when I was unmarried and with my parents and brother.

I do remember how the characters were not a big deal like they are to my kids. There were never CM’s out with them. They just sort of roamed the park. I also don’t remember making dinner reservations.


I remember the first time I went was in 1980. I was only 8. Our ticket was this long piece of paper, and my mom and dad bought me a Minnie Mouse pin and pinned to my clothes each day.:laugh:


I remember making reservations for our next trip as we would check out. Back in the day you could “lock in” at the current rate for a future stay!

I also remember paper tickets that you actually had to surrender as you got on a ride. If you ran out, you would go buy more at a ticket booth located inside the park.


Great thread idea Wishy - my brain isn’t working well at 10:30 at night, but I will have something to add tomorrow!
I look forward to hearing about other people’s experiences!

One thing that comes to mind specifically for me is the lines - oh the lines!

  1. My first visit was 1973, I remember Mickey, he actually lifted up my shirt (not all the way :eek:) But enough so he could tickle my tummy! (I have a picture to prove it!) Imagine if he did that these days? He had NO handler either.

  2. I remember it was like a chance sighting if you saw a character and they were just roaming around the park. Then it changed to the “kids line up” and they’d give the last kid a balloon, and that was the cut off point for the character. If you saw a balloon, you knew not to get onto line. (Anyone else remember this?)

  3. The balloons . . . the wonderful classic latex colorful Mickey head balloons. Now they are myler and cost 10 bucks! :eek:

  4. The paper ticket, in little books. I remember my Uncle telling us to pick which ride we wanted, cuz certain rides were certain tickets, etc. Then came the day passes, one price, ride as many rides as you want to, those were the BEST!! :heart:

  5. I remember it being less crowded. And SO NEAT AND TIDY, like now you see people hauling garbage around, etc. It used to be all so hush, hush and behind the scenes.

  6. Less rude and crude people! It always seemed people would walk through the gates and become patient and kind. No cussing, spiting, littering . . . maybe that was just my perception as a child. :blush:


I will think of more later, but I remember buying drinks in those orange shaped drink cups… I always wanted those because it was so hot when we went.

I also remember my dad standing in line for ride tickets, because we wanted to ride the jungle cruise again-that was so scary…

I also remember the randomness of the characters,

and I remember that we had to stop and buy flashbulbs all of the time…

Does that show my age??? HA!


My first trip was in 1980, only the MK then. I had a ticket book full of tickets and the “good” rides took the E tickets. You only had a few of those in the booklet. The thing I like best about WDW is that it is always changing and that my kids get a different experience every time. Even though we go every year, the kids like different things at 5 than they do at 10 than they do at 13. Plus every year there is at least one new thing to do.


The first time I was at WDW the castle looked like a cake does that count?


When I used to go as a child, I remember my parents just taking us to the Amusement Park. No planning involved whatsoever. When we arrived to Disney, we NEVER had ADR’s. Heck, I never even HEARD the term ADR until I found this site a few weeks ago…

By the time I was a teen, it was the same deal. No planning involved whatsoever. Even when I was 16, we would jump in my car on a whim and GO!

Its been about 15 years since Ive been to the Magic Kingdom (been to EPCOT and HS a few times) because Ive been hooked on Universal… But its definitely time to go back.

Last time I went to MK there was Mr. Toads Wild Ride, Alien Encounter and definitely no Alladin Ride. Im very interested in seeing all of the changes!

One major change is all of the planning involved. My GF thinks Im insane because I have ADR’s! Not only that but I was forced to plan what day we are going to what park based on the ADR’s! Thats unheard of… She is still under the impression that you can just book a room and go… Well, so did I until I found this and a couple of other sites which implored me to plan, plan, plan…

So I guess the big thing about DW in 2008 is the fact that spontaneity is a thing of the past… Kinda like Mr Toads Wild Ride


Going as a parent and seeing WDW through the eyes of your children…PRICELESS. As the children grow their experience changes and it’s a totally different trip each year we take them…I LOVE IT!


For me, the experience has changed most in terms of the trip preparation.

It was always such a huge deal to book the on-site rooms (like others have said, they would sell out so far in advance), so much more preparation was required.

No ADRs.

Character interaction used to be much less consistent.

Things weren’t as “corporate” as they are now - each park was very much its own entity and not so alike to the others interms of merchandise sold, food, etc.

I just remember everything being different.

But I love the “new” and “old” Disney equally but differently :happy:


Going as a kid was great. Going with your own kids is even better. My first trip was 1977. Once the book of tickets was done, we left. I went with my wife when we were dating in the early 90’s and it almost felt like work being there. Of course, we didn’t have the internet to learn everything about crowd levels, etc. We just packed up for the weekend and went. Now that I consider myself a vet of Disney, I realized what it should have been like, but, glad that I get to use this knowledge for my kids.


Wow great thread. My daughter was just asking me all kinds of questions about what Disney was like for me as a kid when we were waiting in line for BTMRR. This one woman was soooo in our convo and even started adding to it. :laugh:

I remember

  • no fast passes. If the wait time was 2 hours it was 2 hours.
  • no ADR’s, quick counter service only so we could keep moving.
  • super duty park commandos, once you were in the park you rode every thing until the park closed.
  • always staying offsite or at a nearby relatives house. Back then the only resorts were the CR, GF and Poly. (that I can remember anyway)
  • my Dad always saying “no” to just about anything :laugh:
  • no characters! I don’t remember seeing any characters in the park as a kid.
  • not knowing when we were going to return when we left. Disney was a once in a while treat. So enjoy it while you can cause we won’t be back anytime soon.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Mr. Toads Wild Ride


my parents still have some of those tickets from when were little with days left on them (they never expire). i also remember when you actually needed coupons for the rides


We we would always just wander around and ride whatever was in front of us. Now, there’s a plan…this ride first, then this, then fast pass that…


HAHAHA, DEE!!! That was my very first trip, too! April of 1997. Everyone hated that cake castle, but since it was my very first glimpse of Cinderella Castle, it holds a special place in my heart. :wub:

Wishy, great thread. I never went to WDW as a kid, so I can’t comment on how different it was in the 70s or 80s. It’s so interesting to hear what everyone thinks!

I DO remember hand stamps. With a hopper, I could never understand the need for the stamps. I never showed them to anyone, either. I just put in my ticket at the next park.

I do remember All In One Park Hopper Tickets. They included all three theme parks (AK wasn’t opened yet!), all three water parks (RIP River Country) and Pleasure Island. And they NEVER expired! You didn’t have to pay extra for that option. When DQ opened, you were able to use them there, too! Just not AK…it says right on the ticket that you wouldn’t be able to use it there.

I remember going to DTD and being able to take a bus to a theme park.

I remember going and NEVER having ADRs (or PSs as they were called back then!). We would decide to eat when we got hungry, then try to get a ressie. If we could, great! If not, we’d move on.


I only went as an adult. But since 1996 the desire to go gets stronger every year. Every year we look at things differently. It hasnt boared me yet.


-Lines were something you expected, but they usually never felt that long…

-20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! I loved that one. My mother hated it.

-We almost always went with my Mimi (dad’s mom) cause she was a snowbird and had a condo in Orlando for the winter months. Sounds weird, but on my last visit there, I REALLY felt her absence everytime I saw a wheelchair. It’s also alot different being there without the wheelchair; no more epic rush to hop onto SpaceShip Earth and keep the line moving. :laugh: “You have ten seconds, go go go!”

-My mother teaching us to enjoy the little things in a big place. “Let’s stop by the Mickey flower garden and eat our packed sandwiches, which save us money. …yeah, maybe we’ll splurge and get a Mickey bar.” :laugh:

-Characters were on and off for me, growing up. I thought Figment was the coolest thing since sliced bread, but the Dreamfinder scared the pee out of me and my brother. There’s a video of me running away from Tigger, but when I was 7 or so, I wrote a letter to Mickey telling him “i know you’re not a real mouse but its okay, i won’t tell the other kids.” And I was somehow thrilled when he hugged me haha. Go fig.

-More shopping now than there used to be. Alot. More. Shopping. You can’t turn two feet without seeing something to buy. Really makes me sad.

-I miss the sweet playground they had at Downtown Disney Marketplace, back when it was called Lake Buena Vista Marketplace!! Does anyone remember it at all?! What I remember most is the sand in the sandbox was the SOFTEST SAND I’ve EVER felt in my life. EVER!

-The character novelty hats have changed alot. I’ve still seen the classic Goofy one here and there (half face hat), though it’s gotten a serious upgrade. We had a Goofy hat, a Figment hat, and I had Minnie Mouse and Daisy hats but they were really nice ones, like plastic nose/duckbill and plush fur and big gaudy plastic eyelashes. I still have Minnie and Daisy, someday I’ll get enough courage to wear them again, oh Lord. :laugh: