ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort brings back cherished memories for the Windsor family, the very first family to visit Magic Kingdom on opening day.
What You Need To Know
- Marty Windsor Ritter recalls being the first visitors to Walt Disney World
- She shares what it was like meeting Mickey Mouse, Roy Disney
- 'You would’ve thought we were the biggest celebrities in the world. And we were,' she says
- Get the latest updates with our Live Blog here
For Marty Windsor Ritter, Bill Windsor and their two toddlers, getting that special honor involved a little luck and a lot of planning.
Windsor Ritter says her family drove from their Lakeland home the night before and parked at a gas station near the theme park because the area hotels were all booked.
“We parked behind a gas station that was here all night long,” she said. “And then we had a police officer come by and say, ‘What are you doing?’” And I said, ‘We want to be the first family to get into Walt Disney World.’ He said, ‘Okay, I’ll watch you all night long.’”
Windsor Ritter tells Spectrum News 13 she expected the first people who entered the theme park would get a free ticket. Never did she expect to receive a golden key, which allowed her and anyone she brings to enter Walt Disney World free for life.
She says that first day at Magic Kingdom was magical.
“We got to meet Mickey Mouse out front and he shook our hands,” she explained. “It was just unbelievable. You would never dream of anything being like Walt Disney World. The fun, the excitement.”
Her son Jay Windsor, who was only 3 years old at the time, still remembers bits and pieces.
"Meeting all the characters was the exciting thing back then," he said.
And more surprises were in store for the Windsor’s. Windsor Ritter says Walt Disney World put them up for the week and the family had to drive back home to get more clothes.
“We got back to Lakeland and we had people blowing their horns at us, waving at us. You would’ve thought we were the biggest celebrities in the world. And we were,” she recalled.
During that first week at Walt Disney World, Windsor Ritter says they also got to meet Roy Disney, calling it “spectacular.”
She says the Disney magic still lives on for her and her family, even 50 years later.
“They really treat us good out there,” she said. “Even today, when I come through the park and some of the ladies see me and they’ll say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”