Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Author Sunday - Lynne Hartke "Lessons Learned From Toy Story 3"

The Disney Gals welcome Lynne Hartke to our 
guest blogger Ohana

Toy Story 3 and a 1972 Trip to Disneyland

In the movie, Toy Story 3, Andy tries to decide which of his old toys he will give away and which ones he will keep as he gets ready to go away to college. The toys, led by Woody and Buzz, go on many adventures, including a run-in with Lotso Bear, before the final plot twist and unpredicted happy ending.

I cry buckets of tears every time I see it.

Before my husband and I moved to Arizona, I had a Toy Story 3 moment in my childhood bedroom in Minnesota as I sorted through girlhood belongings. I knew it was my best chance to pack things into a U-Haul without having to pay for shipping.

Soon my childhood bedroom was strewn with old school papers, report cards, and Barbies. I didn’t have a beloved Woody doll, but my childhood teddy bear that had long ago had all his fur loved off and was blind, with no eyes, went into the Keep Box. From a stack of papers I pulled out a childhood journal I hadn’t read in years – a black spiral notebook, stuffed with postcards, ticket stubs, and writing.

Summer vacations for our family when I was a child consisted of two things: visiting my grandparents in South Dakota and Wisconsin and going to Mount Carmel Bible Camp for one week in June. We did this every year. It was as predictable as a Saturday run for chocolate-dipped cones at Dairy Queen, picking green beans in the garden, and reading library books on the tire swing under the shade of the Elm tree in the backyard.

Until the year I turned 11. Back in 1972.

That year we packed up the station wagon and hooked on the Bethany pop-up camper and the six of us – my parents and me and my siblings, ages 13, 9 and 7, took a three week cross-country trip, stopping at KOA campgrounds and every major national park, until we got to our destination –


To say the trip was A Big Deal, would be a gross understatement.

Mom loaded the camper with groceries, clothes and camping gear. With my dad’s teaching salary funding the adventure, we didn’t eat one meal at a restaurant. My mom still had a list of what we spent for the entire trip:

25 Day 5768 Mile Expense Summary

Gas                         $168.77  (average 36 cents a gallon)
Oil change                   10.91
Groceries                     89.65
Phone                            3.25
Ice                                 3.56
Camp Fees                   53.29 (10 nights were with friends and relatives)
Amusement                   84.37 (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Marineland, San Diego Zoo)
Laundry/Misc                13.85
Neil                               35.00 (for the chores on the farm while we were gone)
TOTAL:                   $462.65 (about $25 a day)

The journal I held in my hands was from that trip, a detailed account, page after page of our three-week adventure across the United States. Most entries included a one paragraph description of the day. Disneyland took four pages. It was interesting for me as an adult to see Disneyland again through my eleven-year-old eyes.

Unlike today where a ticket gets you into the park and onto all the rides, the Guidebook I saved from 1972 listed the individual prices for the attractions at Disneyland. “A” attractions (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Main street Horse Cars) were 10 cents. “B” coupons at 25 cents included the Swiss Family Treehouse or the Motor Boat Cruise in Fantasyland. “C” tickets, 40 cents, gave you a spin in the Mad Hatter Teacups, Dumbo, or Peter Pan. “D” tickets, 70 cents, included an adventure to outer space on the Rocket Jets in Tomorrowland or to Tom Sawyer’s Island. “E” tickets, the most prized at 85 cents, took you to Small World, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion or the Submarine Voyage.

My siblings and I poured over the Guidebook, trying to decide how we would spend our limited cash.

From my journal (remember, I was 11):

Today, we went to Disneyland!!!! The first thing we went to was the Matterhorn Bobsleds. It went through a mountain. We curved and went real fast.

In Frontierland we went to Mark Train Steamboat. It went down a river. We saw Indians, burning cabins, deer and other wildlife. In New Orleans Square we saw the Pirates of the Caribbean. We rode on a boat through a cave. We saw pirates in a town. They were robbing people and dunking them in a well. They took all the ladies and sold them to other pirates. It sure was fun.

We four kids went in the Haunted Mansion. In the first room the walls stretched and stretched. We got on our doom buggies. They took you through the mansion. It turned so you looked straight at the ghosts. You could see ghosts jumping out of tombstones. It sure was neat.

The journal continued with a play by play description of the day, with phrases of literary brilliance – “It sure was hot.” “It sure was neat.” “It sure was great.” (You get the idea.)

One of the themes of Toy Story 3 is discovering what we treasure from our childhood as we grow into adults. For me, forty years later, I hold onto the memories of a childhood journal, a guidebook and a handful of postcards from a trip I will never forget.

For me, it was a trip of a lifetime.

What treasures do you have from your childhood? Do you have a “Trip of a lifetime” experience from Disneyland?


Lynne Hartke, a mom, wife, writer and breast cancer survivor, blogs at  Lynne likes hiking in Arizona, reading Winnie the Pooh books to her new grandson and eating ice cream for dinner. She is currently working on her first novel.

 – with my sisters in 1972 by Small World. Mom dressed us alike so she could remember what we were wearing if one of us got lost. I have on the orange hat.

 – with my journal, souvenir books and postcards from the trip.


  1. What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with the world.

  2. Thank you Janice. I have such fond memories of that trip. The matching jumpsuits make me smile!

  3. This is a great piece of writing - thank you for sharing! I love that you have the prices of everything along with the journal and photos! It reminded me of all the road trips my family took to Walt Disney World on a very small budget and all the fun we had!

  4. Thank you Jen. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my parents is that fun does not need to cost a lot of money.

  5. Janice, Great story, it brings back memories my our family trip from Chicago to California in a VW Bus, what a trip that was. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Huge smiles while reading! !!
    It sure was fun :-D