Walt Disney World Salutes 2016 World Series Champs Chicago Cubs on Main Street U.S.A.

by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
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Late last Wednesday night (very early Thursday morning Eastern time), the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 Major League Baseball World Series Championship, defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games. On Saturday, Walt Disney World saluted the World Champions with a parade down Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom featuring the Series Most Valuable Player Ben Zobrist, along with teammates Javier Baez and Addison Russell.


Main Street U.S.A. is lined with Cubs fans wearing Cubs blue and waving signs and flags saluting the historic championship. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

When the Cubs finally won the World Series last week, for me, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me and countless others. Then, Walt Disney World put the icing on my cake by inviting me to cover the Magic Kingdom's parade and celebration of the 2016 Chicago Cubs.


Walt Disney World salutes the World Champion 2016 Chicago Cubs on Main Street U.S.A. Facebook Live video by Alan S. Dalinka, noting the car that includes the players passes around the 8:00 mark of the video when the cellular signal used for streaming had weakened.

What could be more fitting than Main Street U.S.A.'s turn-of-the-20th Century setting for celebrating the Chicago Cubs whose last World Series Championship was 108 years ago? While it is true that, as a neighbor and Passholder, I now often get to say, "I'm going to Disney World," I am beyond thrilled to have been there when the Chicago Cubs finally did!


Cubs colored streamers -- blue, red and white -- rain down upon the car carrying 2016 Chicago Cubs players Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell are saluted as baseball's 2016 champions at Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

If I am dreaming, please don't wake me.


Series MVP Ben Zobrist talks with local reporters in front of Cinderella Castle. Facebook Live video by Alan S. Dalinka.

As regular readers of MousePlanet's weekly Walt Disney World Update may recognize, I am, and since late 2014, have been a Central Florida-based contributing photographer (and occasional writer) for MousePlanet, living within sight of Magic Kingdom's fireworks presentations. What you may not know, is that for the nearly two decades before I moved to this community just blocks outside Walt Disney World property in 2014, I lived similarly close to Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.


Goofy and Mickey Mouse pose with Cubs players (left to right) Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, and Addison Russell on the East Lawn in front of Cinderella Castle. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Like Walt Disney, I was born in Chicago. But Walt Disney was born in 1901, before the Chicago National League ballclub, founded in 1876, officially took on the name "Chicago Cubs" (which happened in 1903). Of course, as fellow Disney fans know, Walt and his family moved away from Chicago in 1906, and he grew up in Marceline and Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1907 and 1908, the Chicago Cubs won back-to-back World Series Championships. But radio broadcasts, and, particularly baseball on the radio, did not come around until the 1920s, and baseball games were not televised at all before 1939.


2016 Chicago Cubs players Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez and Addison Russell assemble on the East Lawn in front of Cinderella Castle for photographs and media interviews. Please note that this is unedited raw Facebook Live video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Before 2016, the Chicago Cubs had last won the National League pennant and played in the World Series in 1945, losing to the Detroit Tigers. But it was not until two years later, in 1947, that the World Series was first televised. The Cubs were the first baseball team to be shown around the globe on the Telstar Communications satelite in 1962, but the next particularly memorable Cubs baseball season did not happen until after Walt Disney's 1966 death.

So, given all of these facts, it is probably safe to assume that Walt Disney did not grow up a Cubs fan. Indeed, I know that I scarcely have seen a reference to Walt Disney's personal interest in baseball (maybe Disney historian Jim Korkis can help educate us).


World Series MVP Ben Zobrist speaks with members of the media on the East Lawn in front of Cinderella Castle. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I am and always have been a Chicago Cubs fan. Disney has always been in my life, too. Unlike Walt Disney, and until I moved to Central Florida in 2014, I lived nearly my entire life in Chicago and its suburbs. Photos of my first birthday show Mickey Mouse standing atop the cake.

Not too many years after I was born, Magic Kingdom opened. I am fairly confident that my parents brought me to Cubs games at Wrigley Field before then, but we do not have photos of that. On the other hand, my parents brought me to Walt Disney World for the first time in October 1972, and I have photos (and a recollection) of that. My earliest television viewing memories include seeing the Cubs on TV or listening on radio pretty much every day all summer, every summer as a kid, and watching the title sequence on TV's "Wonderful World of Disney" to spot the Magic Kingdom rides I had already been on.


Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez went to high school in nearby Jacksonville, FL. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Some of my happiest childhood birthday memories involve seeing Cubs games at Wrigley Field, but I also saw the Cubs play at Wrigley Field on the day Elvis Presley died in 1977, as I heard on the radio in my family's faux wood-covered station wagon (the same one we rode down to Walt Disney World a few more times in the 1970s) on the way home.

My earliest adventures on the CTA (Chicago's public transportation system, including its buses and the L) without adult supervision, were all to attend Cubs games at Wrigley Field. I met Mr. Cub Ernie Banks a number of times as a kid, and collected baseball cards, even those of some of the mediocre Cubs players to the delight of some of my more "sophisticated" baseball card trading friends. I met Bill Buckner when he was with the Cubs (before his imfamous World Series game when he was a Boston Red Sox player) and even Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse. I went to the Cubs home openers many times from the mid-1980s through the early 2000s; I was at Wrigley Field when Sammy Sosa hit his then record-breaking 61st and 62nd home runs in 1998.


Series MVP Ben Zobrist and his family record the iconic "We're going to Disney World" in front of Cinderella Castle. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

Interspersed in those years, I remember vacations at Walt Disney World where we could listen to WGN-Radio broadcasts of games on the dedicated television channel Disney provided in its Resorts, and, thanks to all of those WGN-TV nationally broadcast Cubs games that were very popular in Florida (and elsewhere), all the Cubs fans we always seemed to meet on trips to the Orlando area, including at the Orlando pizzaria (that I discovered is still in business) where a member of the staff actually bought the Cubs hat off my brother's head!

Cleveland Indians (and fans), I salute you too for an amazing season and Series.