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Thursday Treasures

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 ever spent!).


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 first trip.

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...


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