Our first trip to Disney World was in May 1993. Just a few months later, Princess Diana brought her boys over for a visit with Mickey too!
Throwback Thursday: August 24-27, 1993
Walt Disney World rolled out the beige carpet Tuesday for Princess Diana with a welcome that explains why they call it the ”royal treatment.”
By bedtime, the Princess of Wales and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, had checked into a flower-filled suite at the Grand Floridian Beach Resort, been escorted past crowds of summer tourists onto Splash Mountain and garnered a personal audience with Mickey Mouse.
As for the beige carpet, workers got down on their knees shortly before her highness’s regal arrival, feverishly tearing out the old carpet in her rooms and replacing it with fresh flooring in a subdued shade of tan.
Diana, wearing a beige suit that matched her new carpet, arrived at Orlando International Airport aboard British Airways Flight 239 just before 3 p.m. to begin a three-day summer holiday.
She and her entourage of friends and security officers were whisked away in a motorcade, including a gold Mercedes, two white vans, and a silver Ford sedan.
“Her request was to be here for a low-key vacation with her children,” said Capt. R. Roger Clark of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. ”A holiday – that’s what they call it over there.”
Disney officials would neither confirm nor deny the royal visit, but sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Carlos Padilla said deputies will escort the princess to the Grand Floridian, one of Disney’s plushest resorts.
”Our role is going to be only to take her and her party from international airport to Disney property,” Clark said.
Disney security guards sneaked the princess and her sons in by a side door and through the kitchen, to the applause of the staff there.
Diana reportedly went straight to the fifth floor of the hotel, which was rented out exclusively to the royal entourage.
A surprise awaited them in the big-eared form of real Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who hugged the excited children and greeted the princess.
Inside her room, Diana found lush arrangements of freesia, calla lilies and orchids, all in white.
She and her sons will have a lovely time at the Grand Floridian – where the best room features French doors, marble floors and lots of mirrors; where both bedrooms boast more-than-king-sized beds; where plush robes, fresh flowers and magnificent views are included for $1,450 a night; and where tea is served from 3 to 5 p.m. daily.
Although just off an international flight, Diana and the boys didn’t relax in their room for long. By 5 p.m., they were at the Magic Kingdom, where a personal tour guide squired them to the top attractions.
In short order, the Wales reportedly took in the Country Bear Jamboree, the Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain several times.
William, 11, and Harry, 8, were spotted screaming as they plunged down the Splash Mountain log flume. Diana ducked. They rode it around 5x in a row!
Diana is unlikely to find quiet time at a Disney theme park during the crowded summer season, but she can expect special treatment to make the August heat a little more bearable.
While avowing that ”anyone who comes to Disney World is a VIP,” Disney spokesman Greg Albrecht admitted that some VIPs are more VIP than others.
”There are certain people who, no matter what you do, you can’t disguise them. They’re very recognizable,” he said.
When their celebrity or prominence creates a safety risk for these people or park visitors, Disney accommodates them by providing a tour guide and letting them cut to the front of the lines or use backstage entrances to come and go.
Diana and the little princes – who are in line for the throne behind Charles – are the highest-ranking British royals to ever visit a Disney park.
Even though she was ”back-doored” to the front of the line Tuesday, Diana still had to mingle a bit with the commoners during a few of the shows.
Afterwards, Diana wrote to Jayne Kear, chief protocol officer at Walt Disney World, in full: Thank you so much for giving us all the treat of our lives while we were under you care at Disney World! The three days were magic in every sense of the word & the children were ecstactic [sic] by the programme you organised including the six rides on ‘Space Mountain’! We all send our heartfelt thanks, Jayne, to you & your team for making our visit such a happy one. London, August 31, 1993.
Two Girls and a Mouse Tale
by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins
Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???
We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.
We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney.
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Book link on Amazon.com: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale