I originally stayed at POR in December 1996 when it was called Dixie Landings. It was our very first trip to the USA and to Walt Disney World. (The beginning of my Disney Addiction!)
We flew out of South Africa on South African Airways and it was so exciting to be on the way to our first visit to the place that has become the most special place to visit!
We flew into Miami International Airport after about a 16 hours journey and had a 6 hour or so wait before our connecting flight to Orlando. We found a lovely little coffee shop/restaurant that was luckily open at 6am in the morning and they had the freshest donuts, twisted and glazed for only $0.95!! They were delicious!!
We met some lovely people while waiting at the airport for our connecting flight. Maria Veronica served us at the Galaxy Bar when we stopped in there for some refreshments and snacks. She was a lovely lady and so friendly!
I was fascinated by the Stunning Christmas Trees in the Hotel and the Airport. We do not have such stunning trees in South Africa so I was immediately hooked on America at that point already and I had even arrived at Disney World Yet!!
We got to see our first stretch Limo on the way to board our Delta Airline Flight to Orlando. Very exciting! The one memory I have of the Delta flight was that I had asked for Pretzels instead of Peanuts when the food service came around (I had braces at the time and wasn’t allowed peanuts) and the air hostess never brought them. I was not impressed…LOL.
We arrived at Orlando International and on our way to the Mears Shuttle, we saw the HUGE Christmas Tree that the hotel rooms look down onto and we were Amazed that a tree could be that big! We went to our Mears Shuttle for our journey to Dixie Landings, WDW!
We arrived at Dixie Landings (now Port Orleans Riverside ) and we checked in and then were escorted to our room by a Cast Member in a stretch golf cart. We had a room in Magnolia Ben, Room 8719, in the Mansions section of the resort and at that time the resort used to give you an old-fashioned newspaper, The Sassagoula Times, with all the Resort and Park happenings.
The rooms had Rain Poncho’s and Refillable Mugs on the top of the Mini Bar Fridge Unit. You were charged only if you took one of the products to use. (In the days when there was a lot more trust in the world)
We loved walking past Ol Man Island and over the bridge to the Food Court, Colonel’s Cotton Mill, to get our first American breakfast. I can’t remember what we ate but I am pretty sure I had the pancake stack with bacon and I remember being not able to finish the food at all!! It was HUGE but delicious . It was such a peaceful walk especially as we were early birds and made sure to get the first bus out to a Park. Not much has changed these days at POR in the design of the Food Court. The Food offerings are definitely healthier than they used to be and maybe there are less options to choose from now. That part is a little cloudy in my memory!
Here is a Summary of the 3 parks we visited in 1996.
Everything was dressed up for the 25th Anniversary and we headed to Magic Kingdom for our first park and I remember us being disappointed that the Castle was dressed as a Giant Cake!! We hopped on the Railway and stopped first at Mickey’s Toon Town Fair. It was so much fun to go through Mickey and Minnie’s Houses and of course Donald’s Boat. I wasn’t yet brave enough to Ride Goofy’s BarnStormer! I love the Magic Kingdom and I loved all the Special Parades that are on at Christmas Time.
Epcot was our Second Park and we rode Spaceship Earth for our very first ride at Epcot! At this stage, we had no idea what we were doing and just went with the first ride we saw! It was amazing and it will always be one of my favourite rides at Epcot. We were impressed with the Braille Maps around Epcot and the stroller parkings!
We loved all the little Menu’s that the Restaurant handed out to entice customers in. The Days before the Disney Dining Plan and you could still walk up to some restaurants if you were willing to wait a bit.
We visited MGM Studio’s next and We loved this park. We were greeted outside the Entrance by Chip and Dale. We really enjoyed the Vibe of the park and the Streets of America. We met Goofy dressed as Santa. So much fun!!
We, my Mom, Dad and Myself, stayed just past New Year’s Day before making the long journey back to South Africa!! In 1996, the parks were definitely much less crowded than they are now but Magic Kingdom was still packed on Christmas Day!
Epcot is still one of my favourite parks ! I just love the World Showcase and all the Food Choices!
I have since been backed to Disney World with my parents another two times in 1998 and 2004 and once with my Husband, Dieter in 2013. We are currently on a countdown to our next WDW Vacation at Pop Century in Sept 2017.