Sunday, November 3, 2013

Have a magical day...

Okay, we have reached the big time. The Magic Kingdom. To many people, the Magic Kingdom is Disney World. I was hesitant to allow it to be the first theme park of our visit. I was afraid that the other 3 parks would pale in comparision, especially with 2 kids and a husband who acts like a kid most of the time. However, we had reservations for a character breakfast at the Magic Kingdom that day, and it just made sense to stay once we were already there (I had images of pulling them away from the castle, while they yelled "NOOOOO!")

So, off we went. Our breakfast reservations were for 8:15 AM. The guide book recommended leaving 45 minutes early. This seemed silly to me at the time. We were not there when it was crowded, we didn't have to deal with traffic. However, we barely made it. Parking was easy-but you are parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Then you have to get on the monorail and go through the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian-and, much to my surprise, the monorails move pretty slowly first thing in the morning. We were still sitting on it at 5 after 8 and I was trying very hard not to panic.

We disembarked the monorail, headed for the ticket gate for people with breakfast reservations (leaving the people waiting for the park to open at 9 in the dust), and hurried inside. And then the most magical part of our entire vacation happened: a man was standing just inside the park, with a Main Street vehicle, and said, "Where are you headed?" "The Crystal Palace." "Would you like a ride?"

I was thrilled! I have never ridden in a Main Street vehicle before. We rode along Main Street, my husband simply overwhelmed by everything, asking if visiting the stores on Main Street was in the itinerary. My kids excited by the castle! And me, overjoyed that I am in a Main Street vehicle! The driver dropped us off at the Crystal Palace and waved and wished us a Magical Day-it was like being in a Disney commercial.

The Crystal Palace is a beautiful restaurant where every meal comes complete with Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Nick is a huge Eeyore fan, and meeting Eeyore was the highlight of our entire trip. We had fantastic seats, right in the middle of the restaurant. The breakfast is served buffet style, so I stood in line to get the girls food while Nick stayed with them at the table. By the time I got both of them breakfast, they had met Tigger and Piglet. So I stayed put until Eeyore came by, so that I would be sure to take the long awaited picture of Nicholas with his hero. It came off beautifully.

The breakfast was very good, and my girls eat a lot more than you might imagine to look at them. Food at Disney is over priced, no matter where you eat. But for a little under a hundred dollars, we got a good breakfast and a chance for Nick's dreams to come true, so it was money well spent.

We left the restaurant a little after nine, and hurried over to Liberty Square to the Haunted Mansion. There was no line. I kind of still can't get over this. I kept saying, this will not happen again today. And then it did. Over and over. Going to Disney at the beginning of October was the best decision, and my sister deserves all of the credit for insisting upon it. I was extremely worried about pulling the girls out of school for a week, but luckily we have two great teachers who sent home all of their work for the week and we would dutifully work on it every night in the hotel.

So, anyway, we go through the Haunted Mansion, which one of my two favorite rides. (The other is the Pirates of the Carribean.) Felicity was freaked out the entire ride. But she wanted to ride it again, so I'm guessing that it won her over. After that, we were to go to Adventureland, per my itinerary. We ran into Chip and Dale on the way, and so we stopped for a picture and two autographs. (If you are not careful, this can take up a lot of time and ruin your itinerary. We only stood in short lines the entire week-15 minutes or less. I found it fairly easy to keep the girls from noticing the characters if the line was long.)

We headed to Adventureland and rode the Magic Carpets of Agraba (which is basically Dumbo with carpets) and went through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. (We watched the Swiss Family Robinson before going and that helped the girls to understand that attaction better-Betsy, I should add, is in love with the Swiss Family Robinson now.) We visited with Aladdin and Jasmine (again, short line).

By this time, it was about 5 minutes after 10 AM. We had fastpasses for Splash Mountain from 9:30-10:30 AM and for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from 10:30-11:30 AM. So we went and rode Splash Mountain (again, Felicity totally freaked) and then Betsy and I rode Big Thunder Mountain. All before 11 AM.

We chose to go over to Tom Sawyer Island after that. I had remembered this as being a super cool playground. It isn't much of one anymore. There isn't much to do-the bridge was closed, and there was just a small playset. If we went back, I wouldn't worry about visiting again.

We watched the Country Bear Jamboree (always one of my favorite things, and again, no one was there, so we had prime seats). The girls and Nick went to the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade. We went back to Adventureland and stood in a 15 minute line (the longest of the day) to ride The Pirates of the Carribean. We also chose to use one of our snack credits at the Aloha snack stand and got Dole Whips. The girls got vanilla, I got pineapple (so, so recommended), and Nick got a pineapple float.

It was time to make our way over to Tomorrowland for our fastpass for Space Mountain. We ran into the Block Party that they have several times a day and so we stopped to watch and dance. Then over to Tommorowland. Again, just Betsy and I rode-Felicity and Nick (aka 'the wimps') waited on us.

Next was our first chance at using the actual fastpass that most people use. To make a long story short, we were able to be a part of a new test phase of "MagicBands"-which I will likely blog about later-and were able then to choose 3 fastpasses from home before we left. We chose the 3 rollarcoasters. But the original fastpasses are still available for now, meaning that we could, in effect, game the system. We went over to the Buzz Lightyear Space Rangers ride, used our room keys (which we used for nothing else the whole week), and got a fastpass for about a half hour later. We went off to ride Stitch's Great Escape, and to the Monsters' Inc. Laugh Floor show, and then came back and rode the Space Rangers with no line. (I'm telling you, the time that we were making was fabulous.) Of these, the Laugh Floor is really cute and the Space Rangers is fun in that it is a game and a ride. Stitch was weird, but not objectionable. We stood in a 10 minute line for Astro Orbitor (Dumbo high up), and then we went to the Carousel of Progress (one of my very of my very favorite rides).

Then we rode the Tomorrowland Speedway. My mom and dad never let us ride this as kids, and I couldn't understand why. After all, we always rode the old cars at Kings Island. It seemed the same thing. It is not. Felicity wanted to drive, and I thought, oh, it's on a track, why not? No. It is on a track that bounces you back and forth if you don't hold the wheel steady. I finally just insisted that I had to drive. Then Betsy, who was in front of us with Nick, kept slowing down. And then I would lose it and we would start bouncing around again. It was worse than bumper cars. Never again.

We were next to Fantasyland then, so we rode the Tea Cups (why not, I was already sick from the cars). We rode the Carousel. Winnie-the-Pooh was closed for a malfunction. So we rode The Little Mermaid, and took in Mickey's Philharmagic. We ate dinner at Pinnochio's (always where we eat) and we got a table by the window and watched the boats going into It's a Small World. It whetted the girls' appetites for riding it, and we immediately got on after dinner. By this time, it was nearing 7 PM. The Electric Light Parade starts at 8 PM, so we headed for Main Street. It was already pretty crowded, so I managed to find just enough room for Nick and me to sit with the girls on our laps toward the front of Main Street. I sat and saved the seats for the hour while Nick and the girls shopped on Main Street. Around a quarter of 8 they came back and joined me and we got to experience the joy of the Electric Light Parade (which is amazing, but quite short). We decided to leave before the fireworks, and got on a ferry boat for the Grand Floridian. We called Mom and Dad to meet us, and they came down to the ferry dock and we sat and watched the fireworks. It was a beautiful ending to such a beautiful day.

Of course, in reality, it was not the ending. We climbed on the monorail to go back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and managed to get in a crowded car with a group of teenagers who did not speak English but who did scream at the top of their lungs the entire way. We wearily climbed into the car and drove back to our hotel. I can't remember if we got lost, but we likely did, as that happened more often than not. But someday, I won't remember any of that. I'll remember sitting with my family watching fireworks. I'll remember no lines. And mostly, I'll remember that man waving and saying, "Have a magical day!" Indeed.