CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — It was 1986 and the Stellema Family, including their youngest son Justin, headed to their favorite destination: Disney World in Florida.
It was the 15th anniversary for the Mouse of the South.
And then 7-year-old Justin got the golden ticket — a free pass to the park.
“And it says on here, doesn’t expire,” Barbara Stellema said as she pulls the ticket from a scrapbook.
Mom and Dad thought Justin had hit the Disney lottery. But not Justin.
“He was bummed. Totally bummed,” Barbara said. “Because he wanted the hat with the lights on it. So he moped the rest of the day.”
On Monday night, Barbara saw the story on News 8 about a Canadian woman’s trip to Disneyland in California using a free pass she won 34 years ago.
“I thought, we’ve got one of those…” Barbara said.
When you walk in the front door of the Stellema’s home, it’s clear they are the ultimate Disney fans.
“This is our fun wall,” Barbara said, showing off various pieces of Disney-related artwork and memorabilia. “It will probably have to be added to a few times.”
The Stellemas aren’t just one-time Disneygoers.
“We’ve lost track. I think we stopped counting after 30 times or something,” Barbara said.
Even after all those trips, Justin’s ticket has stayed in Barbara’s scrapbook.
“I kind of thought Justin would use it (the ticket) for his honeymoon. But instead, they went to some cool place where young people like to go,” Barbara said.
When they won that free pass in 1986, it cost around $25 to go to Disney World on a day pass. Today, a one-day ticket starts around $109.
For now, the Stellema’s ticket stays safely tucked away in the scrapbook, waiting for perhaps the next generation to use.
“It’s fun,” Barbara said. “It’s just a fun place to go. To kind of forget about the rest of the world.”