My love affair with Walt Disney World started with a bang.
Well, more like a snap.
It was 1994, I was 12 years old and it had been about six years since my family’s last visit to the Happiest Place on Earth.
I remembered little about that previous trip, besides burying my face in my mom’s shoulder in terror as we crept through the Haunted Mansion in our doombuggy. Not my proudest moment.
So, my return to central Florida was about more than family fun and togetherness. It was about redemption.
We had been at the Magic Kingdom nary 30 minutes when we decided to head to Adventureland with the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse squarely in our sights.
Evidently, my road to redemption wound its way up a fake tree where myself and other half-interested tourists skimmed the fake belongings of a fake family and admired the craftsmanship and ingenuity of their fake tree dwelling.
We went through the turnstile and began our ascent to Casa de Robinson upon wooden stairs that were still wet with morning dew.
My little sister, Kelly, then a tall 4-year-old who moved with the grace of a newborn giraffe, took one step, slipped on the aforementioned stairs and bit the dust.
An X-ray at a nearby hospital later that day would confirm what my father knew the minute Kelly fell victim to one of the Robinson family’s infamous staircase booby traps — she had broken her arm.
One hot pink cast and a generous lump sum from Mickey later, our family decided to return the following spring to face down the enterprising hippies who maimed my sister and try to enjoy a fracture-free vacation.
We’ve been to Disney World at least once a year every year since. As a cynical 20-something journalist, I should loathe Disney World and the tacky consumerism many believe it to represent.
But I don’t.
I love being in those parks, and feel an inexplicable sense of ease wash over me when I veer off Interstate 4 and through the resort’s gates.
For close to two decades, Disney World has provided a venue for myself and my family to grow closer and spawned countless inside jokes — such as the time we were on a Jungle Cruise boat packed with Brazilian tourists and a cast member at the helm could do little but shout “Brasil!” every 15 seconds.
More than that, Disney World is a testament to one man’s vision and a tribute to those who dare to dream.
To celebrate my return there this week, here are eight songs I was really into when my family first started going to Disney World that still hold up.
In hindsight, I should thank my sister for taking one for the team. One broken arm for 18 years of invaluable family memories seems a fair trade.
• Everclear, "So Much for the Afterglow” — Before I knew what Everclear was, I knew that Art Alexakis and Co. rocked. Hard.
• 311, "Don't Stay Home" — An impossible song to not like.
• Reel Big Fish, "Sell Out" — My introduction to the weird, wild and wonderful world of ska.
• Cornershop, "Brimful of Asha" — I still have no idea what this song is about, and I guess it doesn’t matter. Love it.
• Barenaked Ladies, "Brian Wilson" — My fascination with Barenaked Ladies in middle school spawned more than a few unfortunate AOL screenames. Adore this song and many others.
• Our Lady Peace, "Superman's Dead" —Raine Maida has one of the most unusual voices in pop music. Sometimes refreshing, sometimes grating.
• The Wallflowers, “6th Avenue Heartache” — A criminally underrated song from a criminally underrated band.
• Dave Matthews Band, “#41” — What suburban kid didn’t have a Dave Matthews Band phase? Mine lasted longer than most.
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