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!

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Top 5: Best Attractions for Young Children at the Magic Kingdom

Caveat: this list does not include Fantasyland.  Why?  Because CHALLENGE!  Because if it did everything in the Top 5 would be in Fantasyland!  Because EVERYTHING IN FANTASYLAND IS GREAT FOR CHILDREN YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE.

 

Is that enough caps for you? Probably more than enough, no?  Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of my Top 5 Attractions for Young Kids, so here’s a refresher of the criteria I make my lists by: I’m listing things that aren’t necessarily just made for children, so much as things that families can enjoy.  So I’m not looking at things like play areas, designed with young children in mind, because I can’t participate with my kids there. But I’m also ruling out rides with strict height requirements that would rule out a child of 2, or things that have a high scare factor.  So this is not a “Top 5 Best Rides”, or that, sort of thing, but rather my list of rides I consider really great for kids in, let’s say, a 2- to 6-year age range.  It’s based partly on my own experience with my kids a few years ago, partly on my own judgment, and partly on… uh… well, that covers it, actually. 🙂  As with anything there is room for lots of variation, as all kids are individuals and have their own tastes.  This is just a general guideline!

So here we go!

#5: All of Main Street, USA

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Is this cheating?  Well, I make my own rules, so I say NO! 🙂  Granted, in WDW, there aren’t really any attractions on Main Street (aside from the train station that is!).  But the land itself is the attraction here.  The shops are classic – the Emporium, the Bakery, the Barbershop – but even without that, this area is just such a great introduction to the Magic Kingdom, or Walt Disney World in general.  Take some time with the kids and let them soak in the atmosphere.  You walk in and you’re immersed in a completely different place!  You’re surrounded already by characters, balloons, vintage vehicles, the train, the classic music… take your time here, and don’t just rush through on your way in and out of the park.  Really enjoy all that Main Street has to offer!  Remember, just around the corner is a Fantasyland… and it’s not going anywhere. 🙂

#4: Tie between the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, and the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

Both are classics, both are somewhat “secondary” attractions in their areas, but both have lots of story appeal.  (Note, I don’t equate “secondary” with “overlooked” – nobody could call the Jungle Cruise overlooked!  But in WDW, it IS secondary to Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland!)  The Jungle Cruise is just plain fun, with the corny jokes and the great décor.  Although the animals aren’t live, that certainly has its appeal, because you’re guaranteed to see them doing just what you want them to do!  Since there’s no possibility of disappointment, this is a great option for kids who are just INTENT on seeing some hippos wiggle their ears today.  Carousel of Progress, meanwhile… I refuse to believe that anyone, especially kids, could dislike this attraction.  What does it have in its favour?  Let’s just say everything.  Excellent animatronic design, a room that rotates, a catchy song, and mercy me, Jean Shepard!  Yeah, okay, the kids aren’t going to care about that one. 😉  But between the song, and following the family through the years along with appliances that seem to come alive at times, this one is silly and goofy and sweetly nostalgic, even the ending.  My daughter requested to watch movies of it when we came back from our trip, she enjoyed it that much.

#3: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Adventureland

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it's mine, if you were wondering.)

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it’s mine, if you were wondering.) Actually I don’t know the people in that picture but I love them! That baby with the mouse ears on! I could not have planned this shot better 😀

OK, if you have kids and you’re going to go on a spinning ride, you’re probably going on Dumbo. Right?  Well, don’t overlook Aladdin.  Essentially the same ride, but typically with less of a line (I can’t speak to how it is now with the new dual Dumbo, plus they’ve really improved the queue on that ride now; but PREVIOUSLY in the Magic Kingdom…), this one also has… spitting camels!  DadadaDAAAAHHHH!  No, but seriously, it is equally fun and an equally big hit.  If you find you just can’t make it over to the elephants, go see Aladdin.  He’s got seventy-five golden camels.

#2: Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This was a tough choice, and I realize I’ve heavily loaded this list with Adventureland choices and not as many choices from the other lands.  Well, believe me, a lot of thought really did go into this list and I’ll first defend my Adventureland choices with the fact that they meet more of my height requirement requirements (all the Mountains are out), and my daughter had no interest at all in the Country Bears which she found a little freaky.  She did like the Hall of Presidents but my son would not have sat through it.  And although the Haunted Mansion was a fave of my daughter’s at age 5, and my son was too young to find it scary, AND it’s my absolute treasure of all WDW rides, still, I left it off this list because it is just spooky enough that it might be too much for some kids so I leave it to your discretion as parents.  ‘Pirates’, though – it has a couple of skeletons and dark moments, but once you get through those, most kids are swept away by the pirates pillaging the town and singing their hearts out.  No children can resist that song!  I can’t resist that song! 😉  For the record, my daughter loved it and my son slept through it 2 out of the 3 times we went on.  The time I took him on SO THAT he would go to sleep though, OH no.  Wide awake and wiggling around so he could see EVERYTHING.

#1: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland

Good luck getting a candid photo that's not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

Good luck getting a candid photo that’s not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

 

You might be asking – Why???  Even if you love this ride you might still be asking that.  You might be saying “Hey, I love this ride, but Rebecca – you put this HIGHER than Pirates?”  Yep!  And I have Reasons.  Remember, I’m not saying this is the Best Ride.  I’m not even saying it was my daughter’s favourite, or my son’s, but it has no height restrictions, it’s not scary, it’s fast, it’s fun, and you can enjoy yourself on it even if you’re too young to shoot that gun.  It may not be anyone’s literally #1 favourite (and then again it may be! That’s not my point), but it’s a safe bet that most kids will enjoy it. I tend to go on it twice in a row every time I’m there!

And remember: you really can’t go wrong with Fantasyland, either old or New.  There’s no ranking it!