Wednesday, September 28, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 4

Day 4 – 5/24 – Magic Kingdom & Wishes

The morning started with more homework before we left for the parks.

There’s some debate about whether its faster to drive to the Magic Kingdom, park at the Ticket & Transportation Center, then take a monorail or ferry to the turnstiles, or simply take a bus from your resort directly to the MK, bypassing the T&TC altogether. Whenever we’ve had a rental car, we’ve driven. It’s usually 25 minutes or so from the time we get into our car in the AKL parking lot until we get to the turnstiles.

I say, “usually,” because for some reason, we were held on the monorail tracks just outside the MK station, for about 5 or 10 minutes. This made our trip about 30 minutes door-to-door. 

We were afraid we’d miss the welcome show, and we could see the Walt Disney World Railroad waiting on the tracks, full of the Disney characters. But we made it just in time and caught the show.

The plan for today was to hit the Tomorrowland rides at rope drop. We’d be coming back to MK later in the week with Gramma (driving in from Tampa), so we decided to save the Dumbo Dash for then. Our Tomorrowland morning is pretty quick, since DD hates Space Mountain, and neither DW or I enjoy it enough to devote the time it takes just walking into and out of it.

We start with what have to be the slowest cars in any amusement park – the Tomorrowland Speedway. I guess technically zero mph is a speed. DD loves it though. Hopefully she learns to keep her eyes on the road and hands at ten-and-two by the time she has her learners permit.

 Next is Astro Orbiter. Another favorite of DD’s. I don’t mind it, although I think it’s one of the scarier rides at WDW. You don’t realize until you’re all the way up just how high up you are. DW always sits this one out, and takes pictures from the flight deck.

Once we’ve knocked out those two, it’s over to Buzz. Even though it’s a generation behind rides like Toy Story Mania, we really have a lot of fun with it. And at this time of day, we can usually walk back around and ride it 3-4 times with no wait whatsoever.

DD will trade off which parent she rides with. And since she gets to control the spinning, it usually means Mommy or Daddy’s score will suffer.

I had to take a picture of my score – even riding with DD I managed to get a personal best. I think I must have hit a 100,000 point thing twice, because it shot up really fast.

 The requisite picture of kid with Zurg. I think they moved this – I seem to remember that it was on the right side of the exit doors, which meant you held up everyone who was trying to exit the ride. Now it’s on the left side of the doors which means people can get by a lot more easily.

 After several futile attempts at besting my score we headed over to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain, BTMRR a couple of times, and grab FastPasses for Splash that we were planning on using when we came back in the evening for Wishes.

We had worked up quite an appetite, and with the weather being a good 5-10 degrees hotter than normal, we were in need of some refreshment. While DW and DD waited in the Castle Hub for the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Dance Party to begin, I got a Dole Whip Float for DW and me, and a Mickey Bar for the kid.

That was my first Dole Whip and it was really good. Not exactly refreshing – it was a little too syrupy and sweet for that. But with the tasty treats in our bellies it was time to move, shake and celebrate.

It’s a neat little Dance Party. Kind of similar to what they used to have at Hollywood Studios. There seemed to be a lot more encouragement of getting kids and adults to join in on the dancing than I remember at DHS’s Block Party Bash.

After the dancing we needed to cool off (again) so we went to Mickey’s Philharmagic. Between the really well done effects, the memorable songs and the overall length (not too long, not too short) it’s one of our family favorites. And there’s almost never a line!

 We hopped on It’s a Small World with a five minute wait…

 …and then grabbed lunch at Columbia Harbor House. There was a new cashier who managed to screw up the order so badly that it took a manager to come over and spend about 15 minutes typing into her register to fix the meal plan credits that got accidentally deleted. But the food there is really good, and it’s one of our favorites. We like to sit in the “bridge” part upstairs, looking out the window at the people down below walking to and from Fantasyland.

After lunch, it was about 1:00, so we grabbed some FastPasses for the Princesses and Mickey and headed back to the hotel for a nap and some swimming.

We returned to the MK about 6:00pm. The plan was to ride some rides, eat dinner at Crystal Palace and watch Wishes. We had some FastPasses to burn, so we started off with the princess meet and greet. I really like how they do this now. The FastPass system is so much better than the old ToonTown rope drop experience. Today’s princesses were Aurora, Belle…

…and Cinderella.

It’s so funny to us – DD sticks her hand out in the official Princess pose. I don’t know if she’s even aware that she does that.

From there we took the railroad from the Main Street station up to Adventureland.

 We had planned on using our Splash Mountain FastPasses, but we were running short on time, so we just used the BTMRR ones. We always try to get DD to do “big arms,” and she’s usually good until we’re about halfway up the first hill, and then she holds on the rest of the time. Here we are halfway up the first hill, and what do you know? Holding on already. DW was pretty brave though.

 After that we walked through Adventureland and over to Crystal Palace. We had a short wait and then were seated. The food there is pretty good. There’s always a huge selection. And the chef was fantastic when we explained that DD has a bad reaction to artificial food coloring – he came right out and explained that just about everything was all natural. In fact, all of the chefs bent over backwards to accommodate us all week.

DD is brave when it comes to trying new things. As we walked through the buffet line, she saw the clams and mussels and she said she wanted to try a clam. I told her I didn’t think she would like it, but she insisted. This is a picture of her chewing (and chewing and chewing) the clam, but she says she liked it! She wanted more, but she had already had a lot to eat, and we didn’t want to push it.

 The yellow fruit tart pastry cream was something we thought would have artificial food coloring, but it was safe, so DD was very excited. She’s also a huge fruit fiend – see the bowl of pineapple? She eats and eats but is still a scrawny little thing.

 Piglet insisted that DW join them for this picture, since they were both wearing pink.

After dinner we headed over to the Rose Garden path, which is our preferred viewing area. It’s pretty close, it’s right under the area where Tinkerbell flies overhead, and because you can stand up against the fence, no one can step in front of you.

We stock up on cheap-o light bracelets from the dollar bin at Target before each trip. I think there are 15 in a little tube. We encourage DD to hand some out to other kids nearby if they want one. It’s such a small thing but the kids (and DD) enjoy it. It also keeps them away from the expensive light up toys that are for sale.

 This was the first time we had seen the Wishes Preshow, “Magic, Memories and You.” I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the effects were amazing. You can’t really appreciate it through pictures or video. They manage to transform the castle and make it look like it’s moving, or sketched with colored pencils…

 Shortly after that, Wishes begins. It’s our favorite of the nighttime spectaculars. DW managed to get some pretty good pictures. I should point out that all of the photos (other than the PhotoPass ones, of course) were taken with an iPhone 4, sometimes with filters added using Camera+.

It was a great day and evening. We headed back to the hotel for bed, with sleeping in and a return to Magic Kingdom on tomorrow’s agenda.

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