12 Disney World Facts Only ’90s Kids Remember
It's always amazing to see Disney's newest attractions, but it can be just as much fun to take a trip down memory lane.
Get ready to relive your childhood!
Walt Disney World sure has changed since the ’90s. For one thing, the castle doesn’t look like a giant pink birthday cake anymore. Some attractions from that decade have stood the test of time, but others are just memories preserved in photos. When I started going to Disney World in the ’90s as a kid, I had no idea that almost 30 years later I would still be going to the same parks but that they’d be completely transformed. (Looking at you, Hollywood Studios!) So, let’s take a walk down memory lane with Mickey and crew to relive our Disney World trips from way back when. And while you’re at it, take a look at these vintage Mickey Mouse photos that will really take you back.
You could meet a variety of characters at Mickey’s Toontown Fair
Before Storybook Circus took over in 2011, there was Mickey’s Toontown Fair. There, kids of all ages were invited into brightly colored judges’ tents to meet with some of their favorite Disney characters. You never really knew who was going to be behind the doors, but you did get a few clues from the overhead signs saying which genre of character you’d be meeting—from princesses to classic characters. When this attraction opened in 1996, it was the hot spot at Magic Kingdom to snag a pic with a virtual celebrity who seemed to pop right out of your VCR and into the parks. Check out these secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.
Cinderella’s castle turned into a big pink cake
As part of the 25th anniversary of Magic Kingdom, the iconic Cinderella Castle was transformed into a very colorful birthday cake! It had bright pink “icing,” dozens of pieces of candy scattered all over, candle pillars and lights, lifesaver towers, and a massive “25” right at the center, over the arches, that lead through the castle and into Fantasyland. For many kids in the ’90s, this is probably one of the first things they remember seeing when they walked into Magic Kingdom for the first time. Did you know that there’s a hidden hotel suite inside Disney’s Cinderella Castle?
The Tapestry of Nations parade at Epcot
One of Epcot’s only parades, Tapestry of Nations, debuted in October 1999. It was created specifically for the millennium celebration to emphasize these important messages: that we are more alike than we think and that it’s important to be kind to your neighbor. The parade used larger-than-life puppets and stilt walkers who would traipse around World Showcase to a very catchy soundtrack. The parade ended its run in 2001 before getting restructured and debuting again at the park later that year; it ultimately ended for good in 2003. By the way, this is what the letters in Disney’s EPCOT actually stand for.
Kids were invited to be in the parade at Magic Kingdom
Every day at 3 o’clock, Magic Kingdom’s parade sets off from Frontierland. Back in 1996, it was called the Remember the Magic parade, and it was created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Magic Kingdom. The parade would periodically stop along the route from Frontierland to Main Street U.S.A. and allow kids and adults to join in the fun by dancing and singing with the parade performers. After the 25th-anniversary celebrations ended, the parade was tweaked slightly and continued to run daily until 2001, when it was replaced with the Share a Dream Come True parade. Are you a Disney superfan? See if you know these surprising facts about Disney’s most famous characters.
Hollywood Studios’ parades to celebrate new Disney movies
Throughout the ’90s, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the place to be if you wanted to see all of your favorite characters from whatever Disney film had just been released in theaters. These themed parades typically debuted at the park the same day the movies debuted in theaters. One of the most special parades was the Mulan parade, which started its run at the park in 1998, because it was the first feature film to be completely produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation in Florida. Other notable parades during the ’90s were ones based on Aladdin in 1995, Toy Story in 1996, and Hercules in 1997. These are the most amazing theme park attractions you’ll want to see in 2020.
Parents could rock out with the Beets at Doug Live!
Disney World’s Doug Live! show only lasted for a few years from 1999 to 2001, but any ’90s kid will tell you that watching Doug Funny come to life on stage was a major highlight of their trip. The show even allowed moms and dads in the audience to “audition” by playing their best air guitar to be part of the fictional band the Beets. At the end of the show, the Beets came out for a performance all dressed in cartoon-style garb. (Note the man in the white T-shirt and black shorts on stage—that’s my dad!) For a truly amazing trip, make sure you know these insider secrets for the best Walt Disney World vacation.
You could be a guest at Minnie Mouse’s house
As part of the old Toontown Fair section of Magic Kingdom, you could take a tour of Minnie Mouse’s house. Everything was brightly colored and featured Minnie’s classic dots or hearts on just about everything. Her door was always open, and sometimes she was even inside her house, waiting to meet her guests! Minnie’s house closed along with the rest of Mickey’s Toontown Fair in 2011 to make room for the expansion of Fantasyland. Ever wonder why most Disney characters wear gloves? We’ve got the answer!
You could catch a performance of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
From 1996 through 2002, guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios could catch a live stage performance of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure. Iconic characters from the movie—including Esmeralda, Quasimodo, and Phoebus—told the story of the animated feature through rousing song-and-dance routines. The show took place on the Backlot Theater Stage, which is now occupied by Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Speaking of which, on your next visit, you’ll definitely want to check out these attractions for Star Wars fans at Disney.
SpectroMagic was Disney’s best nighttime parade
In 1991, the nighttime parade SpectroMagic debuted at the Magic Kingdom, just in time for the park’s 20th anniversary. The parade featured floats and characters from the Silly Symphony series, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and Fantasia. Adults who watched the parade as kids will likely remember the creepy “clowns” whose faces changed from white to red, depending on how the light hit them. SpectroMagic ended its first run in 1999, then returned to the Magic Kingdom from 2001 to 2010. Just so you know, these are the rides everyone should go on twice at Disney World.
You could explore the Streets of America
When Hollywood Studios (then MGM Studios) opened in 1989, part of the park was designed to look like an actual movie set called the Streets of America. Here, guests could explore two completely different streets in New York City or San Francisco. The streets were home to many things over the years, but none were quite as beloved as the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which were displayed every year until the Christmas 2015 season. Eventually, the Streets of America were closed to make way for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but you can still find remnants of the old land around Hollywood Studios on Grand Avenue and inside PizzeRizzo. While you’re in Hollywood Studios, make sure to check out the first-ever Mickey Mouse attraction for Disney parks.
Tickets in the ’90s were collectible keepsakes
MagicBands didn’t exist in the ’90s, so everyone had a paper ticket and a separate plastic room key. You even got a ticket for parking your car, which cost only $5 in 1993! Tickets for one day at one park cost $34 per adult and $27 per kid, and you could choose from Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney’s MGM Studios. This is why Disney park tickets are so expensive today.
Disney dollars were the best souvenirs
If you ever needed a cheap souvenir to come home with, any guest services or Walt Disney World resort hotel could swap out American dollars for Disney dollars! These paper bills could be used as currency anywhere at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or the Disney Store. They often featured Mickey Mouse on the front and the Sleeping Beauty Castle from Disneyland on the back. Disney dollars came in a variety of denominations, including ones and tens. Before you book your next trip, make sure you know which are the cheapest (and most expensive) times to visit Disney World.