Monday, June 11, 2012

Disney, Part II, or Magic Kingdom, Part I

Our first full day in Orlando was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Despite the promise of larger-than-usual crowds from the holiday weekend, we all decided that our first park of the trip should be the Magic Kingdom. To me, it represents THE Disney World, and it's the one park that is most geared toward the age of the kids in our entourage. Which, for the record, included one 5-year-old, two almost 4-year-olds, two 3-year olds, and a newly minted 2-year-old.

With the park scheduled to open at 9 am, our plan was to breakfast on the go and head out by around 8:00. Apparently the early birds get the worm, so to speak, where the "worm" is "a brief period of short ride lines and Fast Passes for the picking." It is highly recommended by just about every Disney-planning website and guidebook that exists that every effort should be made to get to the parks BEFORE they open. Anyway, despite perfecting the art of getting four people up, pottied, groomed, and presentable-ish in a 1-hour time span each morning before work, our foursome was somehow the last group ready to head out. It was a common occurence during the vacation. I blame it on my inadvertent "vacation mentality." Needless to say, we left a bit later than planned. After driving to the Transportation and Ticketing Center, parking, and taking the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, it was a few minutes after 9 when we arrived. We joined the throngs in line for bag-checking and ticket proffering, and then we were off to the races!

We headed of toward Frontierland first, to queue up for Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, two rides I was SURE Finn would like. Unfortunately, Splash Mountain was temporarily closed due to a technical difficulty, and Thunder Mountain wasn't operating on a full schedule yet (apparently the park was on a "soft open" schedule, since the summer tourism season hadn't begun). M. was assured that by the end of the week (when we planned to return to Magic Kingdom), Thunder Mountain would be in full swing. So rather than wait around to see if Splash Mountain would start up or not, we headed off to Adventureland. On our way we met our first character of the trip - Donald Duck, in "frontier" garb. The kids both got autographs, hugs, and a photo with the big duck:

Our first ride of the day was Pirates of the Caribbean, which thrilled Finn, despite the fact that he's never seen a since Captain Jack Sparrow movie. Lucy was somewhat frightened. Finn was immediately infatuated with every single item in the gift store at the end of the ride:

We met up with my parents, and I felt the need to snap a picture of all the coordinating orange we had going on:

My dad recently had back surgery, hence the scooter.

On our way over to Fantasyland, we checked out the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. The kids were interested in it, but I was more than a little nervous carrying Lucy so high up off the ground (I had to carry her, because she was holding up traffic with her slow independent ascent), and it's probably not the best activity for a man recovery from back surgery, what with all the many STAIRS and all. Still, we survived :-).

We skipped over the Aladdin Magic Carpet ride (after getting doused by the spitting camel nearby), and headed over toward Fantasyland to meet up with Stacey, Jeremy, and Cameron. On our way, we visited the Haunted Mansion, an attraction in Liberty Square, and one of my favorites from childhood. I forgot how scary it can be, though - at the beginning of the ride, you get locked into a small round room with several other riders, and hear some scary scenario-setting courtesy of either Vincent Price, or a Vincent Price sound-alike. Meaning, CREEPY voice. Then the lights go out, and a very loud, realistic scream echoes throughout the room. Cue loud, evil laughter. Lucy was, needless to say, glued to me. I very likely traumatized her forever. But she handled the ride part OK (if "OK" means "buried her head in my shoulder"). She never actually cried, so I take that as a win.

We met up with Stacey and Jeremy outside It's A Small World, and went on in. No pictures of that - *somehow* none of the photos turned out (not pointing any fingers, ahem, but *I* was not the photographer). It's probably all for the best, because it's not like we need lots of reminders to get that song going in our heads. The kids liked it, though, and it's kind of a "must-see," if only for the many family jokes and memories it brings us. On our way out, we grabbed Fast Passes for the Peter Pan ride, and headed toward Main Street for our lunch reservations.

Along the way, we ran into Cinderella's Stepmother and Stepsisters, just outside the castle. Lucy, having just seen the animated movie for the first time the day before, refused to meet them. But Finn and Cameron queued up, and I must say, the stepsisters were FABULOUS. They pouted and fawned over the kids, and played their characters perfectly - a little despicable, but also funny and relatable. The red-headed stepsister (Anastasia, I believe) could not get enough of Finn. She went on and on about how adorable he is, she kept playing word games off of his name (Finn, do you like to Fish? Are you a Fisher? etc - completely overemphasizing all the "F's" and anything that might relate to the name Finn), and made lots of threats to keep him forever. She even planted a wet one on his cheek (see below), which he tolerated with embarrassment. Apparently he told M. later that he liked the OTHER stepsister better (Druzilla), because she was "wearing boy colors," but I think he liked all the attention he got from Anastasia.

Lucy and Finn popped in to the "Castle Couture" shop with their Grammy and got sprinkled with pixie dust. I snapped a couple of photos of Cinderella's castle:

We ate lunch at Tony's on the Square, the Italian restaurant featured in Lady and the Tramp. The food was just so-so (M. expected far better of their spaghetti and meatballs), but at least the kids got light-up souvenier straws, and the company was nice:

Mom and Dad left to find MommyEsq's family, and the rest of us headed back to Peter Pan to use our Fast Passes. Once we were through Peter Pan, the boys and girls split up - M., Jeremy, and Finn headed back toward Splash Mountain to see if it was up and running yet (it was, but the line was super long and the Fast Passes were gone), while Stacey, Cameron, Lucy, and I got Fast Passes to the Winnie the Pooh ride. While we waited for the Fast Pass time, we took the girls to Mickey's Philharmonic, which was GREAT! A shortish (about 10 minutes) 3-D film, starring many of the traditional Disney characters. It was in a nice cool auditorium, and Lucy surprised me by keeping her 3-D glasses on for the entire movie (her first experience with 3-D). It was a super-cute attraction. Then we headed over to the Carousel, which both girls loved:

Note that Cameron looks photogenic, as always, while Lucy looks dazed.


And dazed.


Dazed, AND actively gathering germs.

After the carousel, we wandered around a bit in the (now extreme) heat, and eventually met up with the menfolk at the far end of Fantasyland. There were longish wait times on everything nearby, so we decided to beat the heat by riding the train that encircles the Magic Kingdom. It was a nice way to see everything, including a view of some of the construction/expansion that is ongoing/unopened.

By this time, around 3 pm, it was starting to rain, and Stacey and Jeremy were flagging. My mom and dad had already left the park in favor of the Grand Floridian for a drink, and the MommyEsq family had petered out, too. Stacey and Jeremy left, and passed to us their extra Winnie the Pooh Fast Passes. We decided to stick it out. We saw the residents of the Hundred Acre Woods, and trekked all the way back to Adventureland to buy Finn a souvenier from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (skullcap and sword, courtesy of Grammy):

By this time, the afternoon parade was beginning, so we stuck around, and it was GREAT! It was raining a little, so I didn't get any pictures. But we saw many, many characters, and a lot of them came right up to the ropes and interacted with the kids. Lucy was ecstatic because "Belle waived right at me!," and Finn got to shake hands with Captain Hook. It was a thrill, and I was a ridiculous, practically-crying idiot. THIS was why we had come to Disney, to help bring all those stories and characters our kids love come to life. I was so glad we had stayed, and made the most of our day at the park.

We headed for the monorail and home, barely making it in time for a quick bath, and dinner with all the cousins. Then it was time to celebrate JoJo's second birthday (it was her actual birthday). The kids had a blast, and even managed to eat a little, too:

Watching TV before dinner

The birthday girl

Blowing out the candles, with help

Cameron, highlighting her blue eyes with an applique of frosting

Lucy rubbed enough blue frosting on herself to qualify for an audition to join the Blue Man Group

We fed ourselves, piled the kids into bed, and stayed up a bit longer to play some cards (my family is definitely in the "card playing camp"). Then we all hit the sack to prepare for Day 2: Breakfast at Chef Mickey's and Epcot. Stay tuned!


  1. Now I'm totally jealous we didn't stay longer at the park!

  2. Looks like you guys had a great time! I love the magic kingdom, you have to start there!