BACKSTORY: The Magic Kingdom Club started in 1957 as an early Annual Passport program to the park that offered memberships free of charge both for companies and their employees, encouraging families to visit the parks by giving them discounts. By 1971, the opening of Walt Disney World allowed the MKC to expand its membership and the amount of benefits offered. According to the 1976 Membership Guide, year-round membership included admission to both Disneyland and WDW and could be used by any family member. At this time, tickets were needed for almost every attraction, and Magic Kingdom Club members had access to specially priced ticket books. However, parking was not included in the special price! Travel packages included special pricing for trips to the Caribbean and Hawaii, as well as 10% discounts at 400 Howard Johnson Motor Lodges. Cypress Gardens in Florida and American International Rent-A-Car joined in the program by offering discounts to MKC members. At WDW, MKC members received discounts at the Lake Buena Vista Hotel Plaza as well as the three golf courses. Not to be outdone, The Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim also gave special nightly discounts. The Disney News was the official magazine for MKC families at an additional cost of $2 for three years (12 issues). At one point, the MKC had approximately 6 million members, culled from 30,000+ companies. In the 1980’s, the MKC Gold Card was added, providing membership for a fee to those who didn’t work for a participating company, and the Magic Years Club for seniors. MKC was eliminated in 2000, replaced by the short-lived fee-based Disney Club. The Devlin Family was kind enough to allow me to scan their family collection of Magic Kingdom Club photos.
Starting with the drive up from San Diego we all remember being on the lookout for the first glimpse of the Matterhorn from the freeway. Our parents biggest chore was keeping six excited children together long enough to have the MKC photo taken.
The coolest part about the MKC visits was we got a name tag and wrist band that gave us unlimited use of all the rides. None of that trying to figure out how to get more E-tickets. And that was well before the whole park went to passports.
How did we work the day at Disneyland? We would immediately ditch the parents and usually split up in pairs. We were on our own until noon when we met back at the Hub for our mandatory tailgate lunch in the parking lot. Lunch consisted of various types of sandwiches, potato chips and lemonade served from a five gallon Igloo cooler. We weren’t able to stuff the food down our gullets fast enough in order to get back to “business”.
The rest of the day was much like the first half. We all had modest allowances and sometimes supplemental paper route money, so there was always the dilemma of what souvenirs to buy at the end of the day. The most popular choices seemed to be split between the maps, guidebooks or flip books and magic tricks (possibly purchased from Steve Martin?).
At the end of the day, our parents would want to get on the road, which meant we rarely got to see the fireworks. And, of course, being good Catholics, there was saying the rosary on the way home in the dark. We knew we were supposed to be concentrating on our “Hail Marys”, but most of us six kids were replaying our magic day’s events over and over again in our minds. This in addition to rubbing aching feet which had endured miles of hot asphalt and hours of standing in queues.
Good times, those.
Tom’s sister Judy chimes in…
We met at the hub and then marched out to the car and ate out of a cooler packed lunch. Don’t you remember the aluminum spigoted jug with lemonade in it, perched on the tailgate. Great rosary comment. To this day when someone turns off the radio in a car, I get ready for my hail marys!