In 1972 I went to visit my uncle who lived in Tampa. It was my first trip to Florida. While there, my uncle arranged to take my cousin and me to Walt Disney World in Orlando. The park had opened only a few months before, in October, 1971.
I was in my teenaged “cool and unimpressed with everything” phase, but even I was immediately captured by the magic of the place. I had been to other amusement parks but Walt Disney World was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The grounds were so perfect and beautiful that I could not believe the flowers and plantings were real. I remember just looking around in a state of dazed amazement. Then there were the rides and other attractions. My cousin and I couldn’t decide what to do first. Each ride we tried was more spectacular than the last.
The attraction that made the single biggest impression on me, however, was the Hall of Presidents. I was blown away by the robots, they were so lifelike. At that time such things were almost unheard of; the technology was still complicated and expensive. Computers, computer generated images and computer-controlled animatronics were still in the distant future.
The show was not just patriotic retelling of our country’s history, but a display of American technology and ingenuity. The feeling of pride I had when I first saw those robots will always stay with me. Almost forty years later I am still amazed and still feel that same pride when I take my own grandchildren to watch the show, which is now complete with seven additional robots.