April 7, 2011 by Jaime Hensel
When Brent first asked me to contribute an article
for Thursday Treasures, I conjured up about 101 ideas. Dole Whips.
Anti-oxidant cocktails. The Karamell Kuche in Germany. Tonga Toast
at the Polynesian. Popcorn on Main Street. Dole Whips. Mickey
Waffles. Sugar crepes and Grand Marnier slushies in France. More
Dole Whips. Sensing a theme here? But when I sat down and really
started to think about it, two things stood out as
real Disney treasures to me. And this is
one of them....
A tiny Future World Pin.
I know know why, but EPCOT has always been my
favorite park. Perhaps it's because it's the first park I can truly
remember visiting. Perhaps it's because I adore the Food & Wine
Festival. Perhaps it's because it's where I met Dreamfinder and then
Figment ate my hair. Perhaps it's because it's where my all-time
favorite ride, Horizons, was. Do NOT get me started on what the loss
of Horizons has done to me. Perhaps it's because I got to be an
honorary member of the World Showcase Players at United Kingdom.
Perhaps it's because Italy almost always has really attractive men
working in its restaurants and shops. Regardless of the reason,
EPCOT is my favorite and as such I tend to collect EPCOT memorabilia
- namely, memorabilia from what I consider the golden age of EPCOT,
more commonly known as the 80's.
My story begins in 1987. For those of you who are
not old enough to remember the parks in the 80's, well first of all,
you make me feel old, but secondly, you really missed out on
something special. 1987 was momentous in that it was my first voyage
to the World and ergo, my indoctrination to the Disney way of life.
It was back before Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom existed. It
was when if you wanted to have some water park fun, you didn't go to
Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, but you headed to River Country.
It was when Downtown Disney was known as Village Marketplace. It was
before the days of Magical Express, Photopass or Fastpass so you had
rental cars, 35mm cameras, and waiting in lines. It was when you
could find Mickey and the gang wandering around EPCOT wearing some
really groovy silver and rainbow spacesuits.
The World was celebrating its 15th anniversary in
1987, and decided to reward the guests with prizes every 15 seconds
ranging from free sodas to hats to cars. Upon entering through the
turnstiles of EPCOT, my family awaited our surprises. I remember
being super excited to have won a pin! I was 7 - what was I going to
do if I won a car?! But a pin? - Whoa! It would look super cool on
my jean jacket and that was pretty radical to me.
Not only does that little pin embody a whole lot of
feelings of nostalgia for me, but it also started me on my modest
collection of EPCOT memorabilia. I've always been a fan of souvenirs
and a bit of a packrat, so I already had quite a bit of tings that I
kept from vacations past. I have two Figment stuffed animals, from
when Journey Into Imagination was a truly great ride and Imageworks
was full of fun things to experience like blue screen technology!
Whoa! Hey, in 1988 - that was a technological marvel! I have a
Donald plush from Mexico, complete with poncho and sombrero and a
Minnie plush from Japan in a lovely kimono. I even had a Fuzzball
plush from Captain EO, but sadly I have misplaced him over the
years. I have a ticket from that first trip. I have a keychain from
World Showcase with Mickey in Australia. Hmm... But there is no
Australian pavilion in World Showcase. Interesting, no? I have a
vintage EPCOT keychain on my car keys (along with about 4 other
Disney keychains). Thanks to the wonder of eBay, I currently have a
vintage EPCOT CENTER decal on the back window of my car (best $5
I have no clue as to the value of my little pin (I
saw one on eBay for $50), but to me it is truly priceless. I never
wear it, both for fear someone would want to buy and/or trade it and
because if I ever lost it, I would be pretty heartbroken. It
embodies the feeling of wonder I experience as I saw Spaceship Earth
for the first time (I still miss the Walter Cronkite version). It
reminds me of all the memories that I have from that unforgettable
So sometimes it's not the biggest or even the most
expensive souvenirs that can mean the most to someone. Not all
treasures can be measured in money. Some are truly priceless.
And as for my other Disney treasure, well, that's
just a story for another time...