Disney Trip Planning: The Search for a Countdown Calendar

Last time we took a big family trip was January/February 2011. My daughter and I plunked down in late December to make up a quick countdown calendar out of construction paper and yarn, which we strung up along her window in her room. It was very simple: she (just shy of 5 at the time) drew circles on the paper by tracing around a glass, and then I cut them out. Then she wrote numbers on them, 1-30, and punched a hole at the top of each, and I wrote a message or activity on the back and strung them onto a piece of yarn.
Every morning, she’d pull down a number – counting down to 1 – and read what was on the back of it. They were simple things like “do a Goofy laugh!” or “in 14 days we’ll be at Epcot!” or things.  I also got a fun surprise out of it – knowing that she would hardly sleep from excitement the night before we left, I made one extra circle. On the day marked “2”, the instruction on the back was “Take down the last number” and that one said “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”

So yes – simple, and fun. This trip, I have two kids who are both older than four, and I’m also dying to be creative (I’ll admit it, I live in jealousy of some of the people who have crafty skills). So, because I lack design and idea skills of my own, I’m turning to Pinterest to show me what to do… as so many of us do in our darkest hours. 🙂

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Ghost Town Studios

I have a mug with the original MGM Studios logo on it. Collector's Item!

I have a mug with the original MGM Studios logo on it. Collector’s Item!

I love Hollywood Studios. I have said this before; it’s not my favourite park, but it is my First Day park and my fave to sit and people-watch. I also really love the atmosphere on Sunset Boulevard, the “sets” at Streets of America, and just various other little details.

I’ve defended Hollywood Studios in the past when people say it’s past its prime, but I am ready to admit at any time that it needs work. My love of the park has a lot more to do with its overall feel than with the attractions that are there… and, so far in 2014 and 2015, the existing attractions have begun to dwindle. With the rushed closure of The Magic of Disney Animation, it’s pretty obvious that the park is undergoing some kind of transformation. But although rumours abound, there’s no official word from Disney, so we’re left with guesses and a sort of sense that the park is dated and kind of collapsing in on itself.

Blink, and it's gone.

Blink, and it’s gone.

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Disney World and the Banned Selfie Sticks

So, after having enacted a ban on selfie sticks just this past Spring, Disney Parks have stepped up the restriction and just flat-out banned these items throughout the parks. As of June 30, guests who bring selfie sticks into the park will have them confiscated and held at Security until they leave, at which time they can pick them back up.

The ban occurred after the original attempt to limit their use ended up being impossible to enforce; the parks’ first effort was to prohibit their use on fast-moving rides. I’m sure they thought they’d never even have to do that; honestly, what kind of sense does it make to take a high-priced, breakable item like a smart phone and stick it outside of a fast-moving roller coaster attached to nothing but a flimsy pole?!  Nobody would do that, right?

This is pretty self-explanatory, I think. But it's also possible that you might think it means "No square balloons" so I can see where it was unclear.

This is pretty self-explanatory, I think. But it’s also possible that you might think it means “No square balloons” so I can see where it was unclear.

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Disney Trip Planning: 180 Days Out (Well, more like 177)

Howdy friends and neighbours!  It’s been a long time – I keep meaning to come back and get into the blog habit again, but things keep getting in the way. 😛 So here I go to try again!

That's the spirit, Ralph!

That’s the spirit, Ralph!

I figure maybe I can make weekly updates on my planning for my family’s upcoming Disney World trip.  This is our first trip as a full family since 2011; my daughter was just about to turn 5, and now she’s 9. (If you’ve followed at home long enough you know that my daughter and I took a trip together in 2013, which was awesome! but now it’s time for my son and husband to get to come too ^_^)

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Review: “3500”, a sweet Disney love story

"3500: An Autistic Boy's Ten-Year Romance With Snow White"

“3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance With Snow White” image (c) Ron Miles and Michael Montoure, used without permission here but I hope since this is a review it will be OK.

At the end of last year I had amassed some $50 in Barnes and Noble gift cards, and I figured I should do something I don’t often do, to wit: buy some books.  Why don’t I normally do this?  Two reasons, and neither one is because I don’t like reading.  The first is because I have so many books, I feel guilty buying more; and the second is, I have no idea where to start. I actually tend to read the books I own over and over. No joke.

 

Anyway, in this case I decided I’d look up some Disney books. I got some recommendations from friends of various kinds of Disney-related reading, and made my order on the website. They came one at a time.  One of the first to arrive was “3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White”, by Ron Miles.

 

I had read about this book when it came out, a few months earlier (now a year or so ago – it was published in 2013), and was very intrigued by it. A simple version of the story is that Ron’s son, Benjamin, fell in love with Walt Disney World, fell DEEPLY in love with Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and rode it over and over…3,500 times, in fact.  This is a very, very simple and actually almost misleading version of the story, as there is so much more to it.  You get an in depth picture of Benjamin, of the challenges of raising a boy with autism but also the huge rewards, and the whole story is glowing with the love that Ron feels for his son, the pride he takes in the accomplishments that Benjamin makes, and the joy he receives from not only Benjamin’s love of Snow White, but also the way the folks at Disney World treat Benjamin.

 

The story is a very easy read, personal but  not the kind of personal telling that shuts readers out (you know… the ones that are SO personal they feel like a journal, written for folks who already know the writer, and those stories leave you feeling like you’ve missed something somewhere).  This also is not an easy, level story being told.  Benjamin and his parents go through a lot on this ten-year journey; Ron, and Benjamin’s mother as well, make lots of changes to their lives, not the least of which is the decision to move to Orlando just to be close to Disney World so that they can pursue it as a therapeutic option for Benjamin’s development.  There are health struggles, personal struggles, and as we know, Snow White’s Scary Adventures meets an untimely end.  Benjamin, however, keeps going and the whole book leaves the reader with a sense of the growth that Benjamin has undergone and a strong affection for him.

 

I really highly recommend this book, as a memoir, as a Disney World love story, and as a story of meeting the challenges life has handed you with love and determination, and how that can pay off.  I hope Benjamin’s continuing story stays on the same path.  (And I have to wonder if he’s been on the Mine Train yet, and what he thinks!)

 

You can buy “3500” here on Amazon; this is a link to the Kindle edition, but I bought it in print, and like having it available in a hard copy. I am old-fashioned that way. 🙂 The Kindle price is $2.99, paperback price is $11.66.  You can also buy it from Barnes And Noble here; prices are about the same, but the eBook is Nook format instead of Kindle.

Saturday Blog Showcase: Disney Kate

OK, Disney blog enjoyers, today’s Blog Showcase is one you’re sure to enjoy! (Actually I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy all of the ones I’ve put up so far, but I continue to be sure you will enjoy today’s as well!)  DisneyKate.com, run by someone whose name is not Kate… no, that’s a lie. I couldn’t resist. 😉  The owner of the site is indeed Kate, and she loves Disney!

The blog is organized in a unique way that makes it almost more like a full fansite than a blog, except that what is on it are blog posts, written essays about various aspects of the Disney universe (shall we say).  It is generally organized into three different sections: The Disney Culture, looking at films and music, plus other aspects of Disney in our culture – books, shopping items, things like that; the Wonderful World that Walt Built, which covers planning and news and general info for the vacation destinations; and Kate’s Disney, a more personal and fun-based look at Kate’s own Disney-styled life. Art, stories, social media and so forth.

Now, as I said, the whole thing is more like a website than a blog and as such it’s got big plans and is still under preparation in a lot of ways. For instance the Disney Culture section will examine and review each of the 53 Animated Features of the Disney company; so far there’s a review for Frozen and The Lion King, plus the upcoming addition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This section also has a page up for “Easter Eggs” in Disney and Pixar movies. On the other hand, Kate’s Disney’s multiple sections are all online and have content, but it’s clear there is much more to come! The Golden Stitchys – a social media award – is up and running and will give you some recommendations for other blogs and Twitterers, along with a super-doggone-cute award design. 🙂 (Disclosure: Yeah, I have one, but that’s really not the reason why I’m showcasing Kate’s blog. LOL.) There is also photography, personal stories, and artwork available. This section is really where you’d want to go to get to know Kate and to interact with her. Which you really should do;  she’s very friendly and lots of fun. 😀

The Wonderful World that Walt Built (aka the Disney Parks section) is the most complete so far with articles both on planning your trip, and on saving stress and aggravation. You really should put some effort into at least one or the other of these on your trip. 😉 Some people hate to plan, and that’s cool, but if you want a spontaneous trip (and that is possible at WDW!) you should at least know what to expect before you get there so that you minimize the stress!  So Kate has some good tips there. Finally, on the “Things to do at Disney” section you can get info on Pin Trading (always popular) as well as eventually some Hidden Mickey fun.

The blog has clearly got a lot more coming and I really enjoy wandering through it.  I suggest getting in there now and enjoying what’s there and what’s to come!  Kate has a great detailed writing style and her art is terrific too.  Stop by and enjoy, is my long-overdue recommendation!

Also, thanks for stopping by here… hope you enjoyed. 😉

My Next Trip to the Magic Kingdom: Dream Edition

You know how you sometimes will go around saying “OH, I am going to do that someday!” when you think about going to Disney World? I know this isn’t just me.  Lately I’ve found myself with more and more “well, NEXT time I go, I’m going to…” statements coming up, probably because my last trip was so short that I had to postpone or abbreviate a lot of things.  So in this post I’m going to make a list of all the things I really WANT to do, but haven’t really had the option yet, at the Magic Kingdom. Maybe in subsequent posts I’ll do other parks and even some of the resorts!

It’s worth noting that a lot of these – nearly all, in fact – involve slowing down and taking something in, some details I haven’t really gotten to enjoy yet.  Here we go, in no particular order!

 

1. Stand outside of Space Mountain for a while in the heat watching people go inside. Listen to any music I can hear from inside.  Then take my time in the standby line.  (I will confess that I’m listening to Space Mountain concourse music as I write this.)

2. Catch all of Festival of Fantasy. (I usually ‘accidentally’ see parades; I don’t often work them into my day. So when I do see them I typically come in midway through or even near the end.)

3. Catch all of Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It… and get my daughter and son to dance in it with me!

4. Linger in New Fantasyland.

As close as I got last time.

As close as I got last time. That guy there is not me.

5. Meet Gaston.

6. Go inside Gaston’s Tavern. (That’s right, you heard me. I have been in New Fantasyland but didn’t go into any of the buildings in Belle’s poor provincial town.) Addendum: eat a pork shank,  you savage! 😀

7. Go through The Little Mermaid standby line.

8. Lunch at Be Our Guest

9. Dinner at Be Our Guest 😛

10. Photos of Storybook Circus area, presumably while my children soak themselves in the Casey Jr. Splash n’ Soak Station

11. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

12. Explore around Cinderella Castle

13. See the inside of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique… not sure I can do that without an appointment, but I can try…

14. Take an entire day JUST to meet characters, and not worry about rides.

15. See the “it’s a small world” clock go off

16. Do a few rounds in a row of Peter Pan’s Flight (unlikely)

17. Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel… because it really is charming. 🙂

18. Eat something at Pinocchio Village Haus and watch the small world boats go by below

19. Eat at Columbia Harbour House. Apparently I’m very hungry today.

20. Liberty Square Riverboat. I have never never never done that in spite of saying repeatedly I would do it on my next trip.  I don’t understand why it’s not called “Liberty Belle Riverboat” although I realize I’m conflating “Liberty Square” with “Lilly Belle”.

21. Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow (probably the sweet and spicy chicken one). Yep, SUPER hungry.

Perfect even on a rainy day.

Perfect even on a rainy day.

22. Haunted Mansion – but only after taking a very slow walk through the queue, with lots of pictures and time spent pushing on things that move or make sounds.

23. Shopping spree at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe.  Well, actually, this is something I like to do every trip and rather than a “spree” I’d just pick up a few new ornaments. Slowly but surely my WDW ornament collection is taking over the tree. 🙂

24. Shop in the Frontier Trading Post

25. Pay more attention in general to the buildings and facades in Frontierland – I tend to blow thru here on my way from Splash to Haunted Mansion or Fantasyland.

26. Stop in at the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade

27. Try to get in on some kinda hoedown action

28. FINALLY see the Country Bears Jamboree! (I’m not kidding, I’ve been trying since 2011)

29. If it’s first thing in the morning, take the standby line instead of FastPassing Splash Mountain. I haven’t done that in a while…

30. Let the kids take some time to play outside of the Splash Mountain area.

31. Listen to some banjo music and watch people coming down Splash.

32. Go all the way around on the Walt Disney World Railroad.

33. Get off at each stop on the Walt Disney World Railroad. 🙂

34. Go on Splash Mountain at night. I’ve done it before but not in a long time.  Ideally do it during the parade or the fireworks.

35. Go on Haunted Mansion at night also. Wooooo…

36. Try out the Pirate Adventure treasure hunt

I'm sure I could probably get chosen to be in the show.

I’m sure I could probably get chosen to be in the show.

37. Take in a show of Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial

38. Go on Pirates like three times in a row. 🙂

39. PeopleMover. I haven’t reached this point in my trip report yet, but my daughter was kind of peeved with me that we didn’t ride on the TTA PeopleMover because I kept promising we would but it didn’t happen. 😛

40. Carousel of Progress. Lifetime Goal: Get my family to sing along, together, aloud, during the show rotation. (I am already predicting several holdouts on this.)

41. See Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray’s. Never managed to do this.

42. Check out any and all kids’ play areas and take some pictures.

43. Actually watch some of the Main Street Trolley Show

44. Ride the Trolley.

45. Or some other Main Street Vehicle.

46. Get a haircut at the Barbershop. I have done this 2 or 3 times, so this time I want to be serenaded while I do. 😛

47. Check out the Enchanted Tiki Room now that it’s under Old Management.

48. Browse the shops of Adventureland and enjoy the background music.

49. Get a Dole Whip Float.

50. Spend an hour or two just on Main Street, USA – shop, eat, get some ice cream, drool over candy, possibly buy and eat said candy, pretend Starbucks is not a Starbucks, just stuff like that. 😀

 

And, not numbered but assumed throughout all of these: Take a billion pictures of EVERYTHING.

You never realize how much you're going to regret a picture with lighting like this until it's one of only 15 pictures you took that day.

You never realize how much you’re going to regret a picture with lighting like this until it’s one of only 15 pictures you took that day.

2013 Trip Report: Day 4, Part 3: The Big Mosey

Has it really been nearly 3 months since I updated my trip report?!  It has. Last update was 1/20/14. That is so sad. 😛  Even sadder, I have nearly no actual pictures taken by myself to add to this particular chapter of the report.  I’m padding it with a few I’ve found elsewhere, as noted…

Well, to recap, we are on day 4 of our trip – 3rd day in a WDW park – and this is our Magic Kingdom day.  We started the morning by being late for breakfast at Crystal Palace and then we took our time heading on to Frontierland so that we could go on Splash Mountain.  Which was wet but wonderful!

On the way out, we checked out our ride photo (we looked like goons, haha), and then poked about the rest of the gift shop. I found a disposable camera – I wasn’t sure if they still made those! – and decided that given my lack of camera options that day, I’d be better off spending the money on the camera and on the fees to have it developed than I would be with having it all going onto PhotoPass and then our having to pay to keep permanent versions of the pics.  What I didn’t anticipate was that I would have a hard time getting the film developed!  It’s now APRIL, and I don’t actually have any idea where to take the dang thing. 😦  Target used to do it and now they don’t.  Don’t worry, I WILL get it developed and when I do I’ll scan whatever looks good and show it off (probably only about half of it will work out but oh well)… I just don’t know when that will be. 😛

Anyway! An interesting side note is that the CM who rang me up was nonverbal.  I don’t know if she had just lost her voice or if she was unable to speak. I didn’t get the impression that her hearing was impaired, but maybe she’s just a very, very adept lip-reader. But in any case she not only didn’t speak to me, when I asked what the price was on the camera she scanned it to find out and then wrote the total down and showed me.  But her customer service was topnotch.  Does anyone by chance know who this was?  She really might have just had laryngitis that day in which case my question is meaningless. 🙂

Once we were done, we headed out; I had planned to go to Fantasyland next and hop on Winnie the Pooh and small world before using our FPs for Princess Fairytale Hall (the window for that was 11-12, and it was not quite 10 now). But we were sidetracked, because when we came out of the Splash area, we saw Woody and Jessie doing a meet and greet!!!

This pic is by Kenny the Pirate, and can be found here: http://kennythepirate.com/2014/02/14/disney-princes-appear-with-their-princesses-for-valentines-day-at-the-magic-kingdom-in-walt-disney-world/ I used without permission and will remove if he requests. Please check out his great blog post with the original pic!

This pic is by Kenny the Pirate, and can be found here: http://kennythepirate.com/2014/02/14/disney-princes-appear-with-their-princesses-for-valentines-day-at-the-magic-kingdom-in-walt-disney-world/ I used without permission and will remove if he requests. Please check out his great blog post with the original pic!

This was a big thing – we met Woody at Hollywood Studios on our last trip, but we had never met Jessie. And I LOVE Jessie. We had passed them 2-3 times on the last trip, basically every time we went between Adventureland and Frontierland, but each time we were in a hurry and I’d say “Oh the line’s too long” and she’d say “Oh-kaaaay”.  Well this time the line was not too long, and since we hadn’t done a whole lot of character meets on this trip, the time was RIGHT!

The line wasn’t too fast-moving, but it wasn’t too slow either… about what you’d expect for a M&G I guess. Most of the kids would go sit off to the side and the mothers would stand in line. I did notice that nearly all the parents were women. XD  The wait wasn’t boring, though, b/c Woody and Jessie were REALLY hilarious.  I love the way that the two of them are kind of basically brother/sister in the movies, even though they meet for the first time in TS2; that completely held up here, and they kept giving each other a hard time.  Particularly Woody to Jessie.

You know how Woody is a prankster?  Like in the outtakes from the TS movies, he’s always pulling jokes on Buzz.  Well, he’s like that in person too. XD He told Jessie that her armpits smelled, stuff like that. And the best part was when I gave him the pen for D’s autograph book; it’s the kind of pen where you twist the top to get the point to go in and out. Well when I gave it to him the point was OUT.  He signed D’s book, then carefully twisted the top so that the point went in, making sure that Jessie was watching him do this, then he handed it to her with a flourish. Jerk. XD

I wish I had any pictures of this M&G. 😦  I got some but all on the disposable camera, plus several from PhotoPass that I did not buy. Siiiiigh.

OH! And I actually heard a couple of people say “Andy’s coming!” while in the line. This is STILL going around, or at least it was in October! Once again, if you got here by searching something like “what happens when you say Andy’s coming”, friends, it DOESN’T DO ANYTHING.  I was right there; they ignored it. As well they should, too!

And TemporaryTourist.com shot holes in this myth, go see: http://temporarytourist.com/myths-of-walt-disney-world-were-testing/

And TemporaryTourist.com shot holes in this myth, go see: http://temporarytourist.com/myths-of-walt-disney-world-were-testing/

So once we finally stepped back out of the Splash Mountain area… there we were next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. With a wait time of 10 minutes.  Now I know I *said* Fantasyland… small world, Pooh… but instead D and I looked at each other and just nodded.  When was the wait time going to be this low again on Big Thunder?

The line was really pretty long but it moved fast. I took some pictures of the decor as we went – I don’t know why, just wanted to remember it I guess. The ride was a blast! D loves fast rides and well, so do I… but it always goes by TOO fast and I never see all the stuff that the ride is loaded with!  I try to watch for Hidden Mickeys and goats and men in bathtubs and all I ever end up seeing are dinosaur bones. So sad. XD

Rib bones to your right.  Pic is from www.themeparkreview.com, used without their permission and I will remove it if they request! Meanwhile please visit their excellent site. :)

Rib bones to your right. Pic is from http://www.themeparkreview.com, used without their permission and I will remove it if they request! Meanwhile please visit their excellent site. 🙂

Now we finally were ready to exit Frontierland and head over to Fantasyland.  We got to mosey – that’s what you do in Frontierland, you totally mosey – and make it to our FP+ to meet the Princesses.

EXCEPT!  On our way we got sidetracked AGAIN because I finally saw Chip and Dale!  It’s been a while so you may not recall that I had been looking for them out the corner of my eye throughout both of our previous days, but no such luck. I missed them at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Well I was NOT going to miss them at Magic Kingdom!

There wasn’t much of a line but BOY it was getting hot.  We were still in Frontierland so they were in cowboy gear and we got hugs, photos, and then I tried to take a photo with a sign I had made for a friend who LOVES Chip and Dale more than anything!!  They took the photo but you can’t read the sign. 😦 They also SIGNED the sign and… I can’t find it at home right now D:  It said “We miss you, Carrie!”

You'll just have to trust me that it really does say that.

You’ll just have to trust me that it really does say that.

Well, after this we finally FINALLY moseyed, in a hurry, to Fantasyland.

 

 

 

2013 Trip Report: Day 4, Part 2: Putting the Splash Back Into Splash Mountain

After enjoying our ride on the monorail, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom at about 8:33 or so. So of course I’m all “let’s go let’s go, no time to look at Main Street right now, we’ll come back and see it later!” which hurts me, you have to understand. I love staring at the windows on Main Street.

We did take a few minutes to soak up the Halloween decorations, like the amazing pumpkin scarecrows at the front, and we passed a Trolley Show.

Because HALLOWEEN.

Because HALLOWEEN.

I captured a slightly awkward facial expression I'm afraid. Also I have no idea what their show was.

I captured a slightly awkward facial expression I’m afraid. Also I have no idea what their show was.

But for the most part, I would not let us browse or meander.  We passed Casey’s and turned, and then we were at Crystal Palace. As always, I felt underdressed. 😉

Well, it was definitely closing in on 8:40 by this point and 15  minutes late is undeniably LATE for your ADR. I didn’t have much hope of having it honoured but I was still hoping we could avoid having to pay for it.  We waited in line, I gave my name and apologized for being late, and then the CM just had me show my credit card and gave me a buzzer and we were told to wait. Whoa. I didn’t actually expect that! 😀

Have I mentioned before that D likes to climb things? Today was the day I really actually realized that if there is anything nearby that she can climb on, she will go for it. She’s like a large, very cute cicada. Anyway, this was the day when I was constantly pulling her off of things, especially lampposts. While we were waiting, she had nothing else to do so she climbed the railings.  I thought I’d take some pictures, but then remembered the camera battery was dying, so I took one and then turned it off:

I'm impressed by the fact that I did a "where is this?" post w/this picture and more than one person knew.

I’m impressed by the fact that I did a “where is this?” post w/this picture and more than one person knew.

I’d love to do one of those “light fixtures of the MK” series or something. You’d think those would be boring but they’re not. The main reason I won’t do it is because PlusTheMagic already did it, and very very well at that. 🙂

So anyway! About 10 minutes, maybe a little less, and we were called like special people up to the podium and then inside! They do that cute little announcement: Pooh and his friends are now ready to meet the Kelly family! or whatever the precise wording is; this is only the second meal I’ve had at Crystal Palace.

My favourite thing about the restaurant is not the characters, or the food… it’s the architecture. Crystal P is just a beautiful, beautiful restaurant!  The name suits it. 🙂

Well, we got seated and ordered our drinks, and we were informed that Tigger would be coming around momentarily so we should stay put.  We did, and talked about the day ahead, our plans etc; I got the camera out, D got the autograph book and pen out, and we watched as the table next to ours got readied.  A little boy was going to be having his birthday breakfast and so it was made ready for him, and then the servers sat a Winnie The Pooh doll in the 4th seat, put two little jars of honey next to it, and went to bring the family in.  So the little boy, who was about 2 or so, comes in, sees the Pooh doll, and has NO idea what to make of it. XD His father had sat down across from the doll and it was clearly assumed that the boy would sit next to Pooh and the mother would sit across from him.  The boy refused that idea and steadfastly sat next to his father, leaving his mother the seat next to Pooh. XD Oh bother…

Next thing, Tigger was here!

Actually the best part of this pic is that guy in the Mickey shirt BEHIND Tigger. He is AWESOME!

Actually the best part of this pic is that guy in the Mickey shirt BEHIND Tigger. He is AWESOME!

Awww. I cannot not melt over how happy she looks. D loves warm hugs.

Awww. I cannot not melt over how happy she looks. D loves warm hugs. Meanwhile, Tigger appears to be making some kind of eye contact with that guy in the striped shirt.

D wore her princess tiara and got plenty of positive attention from it.  After Tigger, Piglet was only a short wait.  Piglet is my favourite to hug… very, very soft!

Softest hug in the parks and no foolin'!

Softest hug in the parks and no foolin’!

We didn’t take a picture of it, but I had to get up and hug him anyway ^_^

So we finally got up to get our breakfast at this point, because Eeyore and Pooh were having a rest. We loaded up on food since I wasn’t planning on getting another meal until dinner – just snacks until then; unfortunately, D’s stomach is the kind that can fill up quick and empty quick so I wasn’t sure if this would work. But we tried! After another 15 minutes or so, we saw Eeyore and Pooh coming around. Thank goodness b/c I was getting antsy to leave so that we could get to our first FP+ selections!

I may love hugging Piglet the most, but I love Eeyore the most just in general. Who doesn’t love Eeyore? Nobody, that’s who.

I'm sorry this is a dreadful pic. Whoops. :(

I’m sorry this is a dreadful pic. Whoops. 😦

And then Pooh arrived.  D told me afterwards that Pooh was the softest of all, and I’m inclined to believe her. 🙂  Oh, for anyone wondering, the little birthday boy next to us appeared to have a lovely time and did like meeting the characters, at least from what I recall; but he never did warm up to that Pooh Bear doll. XD

HAPPIEST KID. Awwww. :D

HAPPIEST KID. Awwww. 😀

Our FastPass+ reservation for Splash Mountain had a window of 9-10 am, and it was now 9:30. This was still plenty of time, but I don’t like to cut things really close, so I was itching for the check.  Once we got it paid and left, I took another look at the schedule I’d drawn up.  I had our FP times on it, and then I’d gone with a loose timetable for everything else; I’m anal enough that I tried to estimate the time each ride would take, maybe guessing a little over what it might actually take so that hopefully we would have time to do MORE, not less.  The itinerary had initially been to arrive at 7:30, get in at 8, go on Pirates, go to breakfast until 9:15, then get to Splash by 9:30.  Since we left the restaurant shortly after 9:30, we were MOSTLY on-target and would just fit Pirates in elsewhere.

But in spite of my time-guessing everything, I want to repeat what I have said previously: I was COMPLETELY open to rearranging the schedule and doing unexpected things at any time. I waited for D to tell me if she saw something she wanted to do, and if we could, we’d just drop whatever was going on and do it.

First thing that happened: we were on our way through Adventureland to get to Frontierland, and we passed Aladdin’s Magic Carpets.  D had gone on that with her father and my friend Amanda last time, while I sat it out and took pictures.

From 2011; the Tiki Room was closed then because of the fire!

From 2011; the Tiki Room was closed then because of the fire!

Also from 2011.

Also from 2011.

D pounced on it, and there was hardly any line, so we ran on. We had a GREAT ride!  A spinner is a spinner, and I know that, but it was fun going around with D trying really hard to get us under the spitting camel. (I say “us”, I mean “me”, I’m the one who would’ve gotten wet.) The ride itself is just what it always is, but there was something really nice about doing it because D said “OH! Let’s do this!”.  So much of the trip is, by necessity, planned that somehow the unplanned moments ended up being the most special ones.

Here is the Magic Carpet ride, not moving at all! Enjoy this thrilling pic.

Here is the Magic Carpet ride, not moving at all! Enjoy this thrilling pic.

We now had just about 15 minutes to get to Splash Mountain, which was plenty of time, so we walked at a nice pace through the rest of Adventureland. We passed the Pirates Adventure spot and D was VERY curious about what it was and if we could do it (I deemed it a no; there’s spontaneous and then there’s complete derailing of the plans for the day, lol).  Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to do the Pirate’s Adventure, but it’s got to be on a trip where we have a little more time, maybe 2 days in the Magic Kingdom instead of one.

Splash Mountain awaited! It was not quite 10am and I couldn’t believe that so much of the morning was gone so soon, but I was READY to go onto Splash. I’d been really wanting to since it had been refurbed somewhat recently. Since it was still fairly early in the day, and we had FastPasses, there was nearly no wait at all to get on.  We were loaded with another four people onto the boat.

I had heard that, with the refurb, you could get even wetter than you had before.  I found out on this ride that it was COMPLETELY the truth. I don’t recall ever getting as soaked on Splash as I did this time. 😀  It was specifically ME, too, out of everyone, that got the worst of it – I’m quite sure. I found it hilarious so no worries. 😉  First, we got off to a rather splashy start with some backlash on the first couple of dips, then there was a lot of it on the larger drops… and of course, the big one. But the best one – well, the funniest one anyway, I couldn’t really call it “best” – was when we got temporarily stopped on one of the outside areas, and I was directly underneath a little waterfall.  It splashed onto me the entire time we sat there (probably about a minute), and the couple in front of us laughed at me going “Oh NO! You’re KIDDING me! GAH!” the whole time. XD

I don’t know if the ride really was improved from the last time I was on it, or not. I *think* the lighting and sound were better, but maybe I imagined that?  All I know is that I loved it. For the first “big” ride of the day it was the best choice.  I loved it more than I have loved it since my trip in the mid-90s – drenched or not!

Trip Report Day 4: Slowly Getting to the Magic Kingdom

First note: this TR chapter won’t have pictures, because I’ve already posted the ones I had at AKL, and there is not much else to show here…

Before I start Day 4, which was October 3 (a Thursday), let me just jump back a few hours. We drove back from Epcot to Animal Kingdom Lodge; I’d say the toughest part about staying there was getting there. This was definitely the longest drive we had between park and resort hotel during our trip.  D fell asleep in the car almost immediately, which didn’t surprise me; we parked right next to the elevator and got inside our room by 10pm.  I pulled out the sofa bed and D got inside and was asleep again almost immediately.  To know how big a thing this is you have to understand that she’s a girl who perpetually doesn’t sleep well. Since she was a baby, she’d sleep a short period and then wake up and be unable to get back to sleep if interrupted. For her to be asleep again so quickly, with the lights on… big deal. 🙂

I set the alarm and got into bed, enjoying the air conditioning, the huge bed all to myself, and the entire experience. I had intended to take a shower before going to bed, but by this time I was so beat I just couldn’t.

The next morning I got up with the alarm and took the shower. The night before when we were at Epcot, D’s legs had started to chafe – she was wearing a short skirt and after all that walking in the heat she got a little rash.  So I figured she’d do well to have a quick soak in the tub before we checked out.  Unfortunately though, when I got out of the shower at 6:45, she was still asleep!  this is REALLY unusual, for me to beat her getting up.  Since D only sleeps in when she’s really tired, I felt awful waking her, but we had a lot to do for the early morning: it was our Magic Kingdom day, AND it was an Early Entry morning, AND we had 8:25 ADRs at Crystal Palace.

So I had to drag her out of bed (she even begged me to let her sleep in!) and get her into the tub while I packed up our things, put out the tip for Mousekeeping, and watched the sun come up from our balcony view. When she was done she said her legs felt a little better, so we headed down to the lobby so that I could check out.

I wanted D to get a chance to sit out on the back porch and look at the animals.  The problem was, I wanted her to get 10-15 minutes but we could only really spare 5. 😦  I sent her outside, and thought checkout would take a little longer but it was actually about 2 minutes because they were so efficient… so I was ready to go get her just a few moments later.

Kidani’s back porch not only has rocking chairs to sit and animal-watch, it’s got viewscopes and even little picture charts of animals you “might” see.  We took a little while trying to find all we could, but it was past 7:30, and it was dawning on me that we had to get to the car, get onto the road, get to the TTC, get to the monorail, get to the MK and get to Crystal Palace in 50 minutes.

Spoiler warning: this didn’t happen. 😀

I kind of knew when I was planning this day that the scheduling wasn’t ideal.  I knew I would want to linger a little bit at Animal Kingdom Lodge, after all the time I’d dreamt of staying there; and I knew an early Crystal Palace ADR was pushing my luck. But I couldn’t find one any later, and plus, I wasn’t sure I wanted one much later – it could eat into our day.  But anyway, I was thinking we could still get there in good enough time and get in.  Initially I had hoped we’d get there by 8am to do early rope-drop (it was an Extra Magic Hours day) and possibly even ride Pirates of the Caribbean first-thing.  By this point I knew that wouldn’t happen.

So remember what I said about getting to and from Animal Kingdom Lodge re: the parks… I had taken a few wrong turns the day before and this time I second-guessed myself and missed the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom.  Instead, I ended up back on I-4.  I miraculously kept myself in a good mood and just repeated “Oh well! Things happen!” and I told D to be ready to beg to get into Crystal Palace when we got there late. I was able to handle the idea that we might not get into the restaurant but I was really worried we’d be charged $10 each for our missed reservations.

We FINALLY got into the MK parking lot, parked, and quickly made our way to the monorail entrance.  Which, of course, was closed off because it was 8:15 and the park doesn’t officially open until 9 am.  But then I realized they had a little spot to the side for Disney resort guests so they could get in for Extra Magic Hours. We showed our Magic Bands and were let in! Yay!!

So, signs were up ALL over the place for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  People had also asked D directly “are you doing the Halloween party?”  I had my tickets in my bag and I had so far managed to keep it completely secret from D that we were going. She had asked me several times and I’d said “we’ll see”, and also told her several times that there would be things we just wouldn’t get to do, but we’d be happy for what we did get to do.  At this point when she asked me again, as we were waiting for the monorail, I said “Well honey, looks like you have to have tickets, and I’m not going to buy tickets today.”

“Oh,” she said, profoundly disappointed; I waited to see if she’d beg but she didn’t.  She probably would have, but I went ahead and caved in.  “I’m not going to buy any tickets today because I ALREADY HAVE SOME!” I said, pulling the tickets out, and at that moment I was the COOLEST MOTHER EVER. 😀

So, a side note: other than this particular day, we pretty much avoided most on-site transportation. I have nothing against on-site Disney transportation and I will use it and I think it’s pretty good, as these things go, but I tend to dislike waiting in lines or missing out on getting a seat, so I prefer to use my car at least in the evenings. In this particular trip’s case, since we were checking in and out of resorts left and right, I just drove everywhere for the most part.

Which is actually part of why I was glad we got to park at the TTC and take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, instead of taking a bus there from Animal Kingdom Lodge or something.  I LOVE THE MONORAIL.  In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find something that is not actually a ride within the parks that I love as much as I love the monorail.  I’m also one of those people whose entire Spanish knowledge consists of “si”, “gracias”, and “por favor mantegase alejado de las puertas”.

In that spirit, have a ton of pointless monorail pictures, just because I love them!

OOOH! Can you stand the excitement??

OOOH! Can you stand the excitement??

Monorail Silver...

Monorail Silver…

Monorail Red...

Monorail Red…

Monorail... Teal? Uh...

Monorail… Teal? Uh…

And teal

And teal

And teal some more! I think D took these.

And teal some more! I think D took these.

Of course, you can also take the ferry!

Of course, you can also take the ferry!

And there it is folks!

And there it is folks!

 

 

OK, side note over. 🙂  So, I think, is this particular chapter of the trip report.  Til next time!