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!

Advertisements

Magic Bands: the Return of the Revenge of the Plastic Bracelets

For those of you who are regulars, you may recall that about a month or so ago I got Magic Bands for my upcoming trip (two weeks ago) and promised to update on how they worked.  And now the time has come to update!

This is not my picture, it's a Disney-issued one. However this is not that far off what it's like using the bands.

This is not my picture, it’s a Disney-issued one. However this is not that far off what it’s like using the bands.

Here’s the ending first: I actually really liked them. I found them very useful. 🙂

Ordering and customizing them was pretty simple.  I got a notice that I would be participating in the testing phase, with instructions on where to login to order the bands.  I did so, got to customize them (which basically just means picking out colours for everyone, not much else to do) and they arrived two days later.  Right now there is a limited number of colours available, but Disney is already selling accessories like covers and little  knickknacks to stick into the peg holes so there is plenty you can do with them.

Now, this is the testing phase, and I’ve heard from a few people who have run into trouble with the Magic Bands.  I’m here to say that I didn’t.  Pretty much all of it worked out the way it is supposed to, and better than I expected.  I’ll give a reasonably quick run-down of what I liked, and then mention any negatives at the end.  There aren’t many.  Ready?  Here we go!

1) This is my favourite part.  In the past one of the things that got me was all the stuff I ended up carrying around: Key to the World cards, paper FastPasses, dining reservation confirmation numbers, PhotoPass cards, and potentially even more.  With the Magic Bands, all of that is on your wrist.  Since you can get charging privileges to your room, you can even charge your dining and shopping expenses with your Magic Band.  Seriously, I could leave EVERYTHING behind and travel without my wallet if I wanted to.

This is huge for me. Especially because I don’t let my kids carry their tickets/FastPasses by themselves in case they lose them.  So I keep them, hand them over to enter the parks or get FastPasses, and then take them back and store them again and inevitably get them confused with my own.  Now that they are WEARING their park passes (and by extension, their FastPass+ reservations), I don’t have to worry about THAT, either.

On this particular trip, the Magic Band was a blessing for just this reason.  We were resort-hopping and stayed each night on a different reservation – Ft. Wilderness campsite, then Animal Kingdom Lodge, then a different Ft. Wilderness campsite.  I got a new Key to the World card with each check-in.  However, since the Magic Band was activated with our AK Lodge stay, I only had to use the first set of KttW cards and after that I didn’t need any.  Which is a real relief, because here is what I was travelling with:

2 sets of room keys, Halloween party tickets, and a PhotoPass card.  And actually there were two other room cards that I let myself "misplace" in the car somewhere.

2 sets of room keys, Halloween party tickets, and a PhotoPass card. And actually there were two other room cards that I let myself “misplace” in the car somewhere.

Since the first set was still active the entire time and had the tickets on them, I kept them with us.  We did end up using them for extra FastPasses (this will not continue to work once FastPass+ completely takes over).  But I have to tell you, it was a relief not to be pawing through my wallet constantly for everything. (I did not charge to the MagicBands b/c I had everything either cash or on gift cards. But having the option was even more convenient, and next time I come and actually use my credit card, I’ll MagicBand it.)

2) FastPass+.  I have heard the very real complaint that this removes spontaneity from your trip, and this is true.  But it also gives you the option to decide in advance what you absolutely cannot miss, and make SURE you don’t miss it.  Our first day, Magic Bands were not active yet so I couldn’t do FastPass for Hollywood Studios.  We got to the park at 11am and Toy Story Mania FastPasses were already for return times of 6pm.  Over Columbus Day weekend, though, they were gone by 10:30am!  Meanwhile, I was able to get FP+ reservations for most of the rides I wanted – at times of the day I wanted – at Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom.  Yes, there is something about being able to check a line first to see if you NEED a FastPass for it, and making a decision based on that, but… I didn’t really miss that.  Instead I had peace of mind in knowing that I would DEFINITELY be able to get onto the rides I had picked out, and since I knew the time windows in advance, I was able to plan my day around them.

3) The fit was better than I thought it would be.  You may remember from my earlier review that the plastic was harder than I thought it would be, and I was having a hard time getting a fit I liked.  Well, I played around with it and I did end up getting it more comfortable… still not ideal, but OK. Then I got used to it.  Meanwhile, my daughter wore hers the ENTIRE TRIP.

D wore her Magic Band the entire time, from the moment I showed it to her. Even though we wouldn't use it for two days.

D wore her Magic Band the entire time, from the moment I showed it to her. Even though we wouldn’t use it for two days.

Plus it was kind of stylish. 😉  I felt all punk rock, in a kind of weird “slave to the system” kind of way.

A few minor negatives:

1) The small inconvenience of not being able to get FastPass+ for our first day.  Since the Magic Bands were assigned to our Animal Kingdom Lodge stay, they were not activated until then, even though I had all my reservations linked on the My Disney Experience page and my tickets were from a Magic Your Way package starting the day before.  I had 4 days’ worth of tickets I could choose FastPass+ for – but that was starting on 10/2, no earlier, and we officially arrived on 10/1. 😛  That was OK and obviously will not be a problem when ALL resort and park media is Magic Band oriented, but it was a hiccup for me this time. That’s OK though.

2) FastPass+.  I know I said I liked it, but it gets a little mention here anyway, for the reason that it will be tricky for people who don’t research their trips in advance but want to use FP+.  You have a few options to do this: You can do it well in advance on your My Disney Experience, or you can do it via the MDE app either at home or even in the parks, or you can do it from a kiosk in the parks.  Let’s say that you don’t know to go to My Disney Experience before you get there, and you don’t have a smartphone so you can’t use the apps (don’t say “Everyone has a smartphone!” because I don’t.).  But you get there and you see a tip about getting FastPasses and that they’re free and everyone can get them… what do you do?  You have to track down one of the kiosks and do them from there.  If you’re in the park and you want to make changes to your FP+ selections – which you can do right up until the time it becomes active – you’ll have to use the app or the kiosk, too.

I just feel like it was easier and more accessible for everyone to get the paper FPs – sure, some people didn’t bother/didn’t know about them, but at least if you did find out about them it was relatively easy to get them.  FP+, it’s a bit more complicated and if you’re not tech savvy you might end up confused.  I only saw one kiosk and it didn’t seem obviously marked to me, nor did it seem clearly to be staffed with a CM to answer questions (though it might have been – I will admit that since I didn’t need it, I wasn’t looking for any).

You will also want to write down your times for your FastPass+ reservations, because I’ve heard a few people say that the My Disney Experience app can be buggy and slow.  Have that info with you with old-fashioned paper to make sure you don’t miss it, just in case!

3) There IS room for confusion.  I’m not speaking about myself personally since things went smoothly for us, but just like anything where you are relying on technology there are opportunities for mistakes, glitches, and just plain confusion.  Things can be reset, things can still be lost, it’ll happen.  This isn’t a negative so much as a reality.

4) The procedure to use the Magic Bands is very, very precise.

Here’s the thing: there is a Mickey Mouse head on the flat front part of each Band. In order to “check in” with the Bands, you have to hold them to the round Mickey sensors. Once they connect, the sensor lights up and then the light spins in a green circle. (For adults entering the park, you still ahve to do the finger sensor as well, but it’s only a second; kids don’t have to do this.)

Anyway, it’s really easy. EXCEPT that you have to do it just the right way, with the Mickey on the Band flat up against the Mickey on the sensor.  If it’s not flat, the sensor won’t read it. This is not so hard for adults, but it’s tricky for kids. I kept telling my daughter “You have to make the Mickeys kiss”, which made her giggle, but I was trying to make her remember that they had to be flat together.  She held up a few lines getting through – not a problem, not really, but if you don’t know what the problem is, it could go on for a while.  It did take her 2 or 3 tries sometimes, especially checking in on the FPs.

This photo is (c) www.adventurevacationcruiselineblog.com

The box that the bands come in. ELASTIGIRL, you guys!! This photo is (c) http://www.adventurevacationcruiselineblog.com

Now here is the single biggest negative for pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to: You can only get FastPass+ reservations in one single park, per day.  You get up to 3 but they are ONLY eligible in one park.  If you’ve got park-hopper tickets, right now at least, you have to pick which park you’re going to use FP+ in.  This may change – most people hope that it will, because if you’re parkhopping it’s a major drawback!  I will say, we were NOT parkhopping, so it was not an issue for us. But it’s undeniably an issue for anyone who does.

The other part of this is the limited number you can get.  Under the old system it was possible to get more than 3 without bending any rules; it just depended on your timing, what crowds were like, what rides you picked, etc.  Having a solid limit of 3 per day can be a letdown.  Adding the single park rule makes it downright inconvenient at times.  There are probably some ways around it, and we are still in the testing phase (this is optimism, folks!) so expect tweaks and alterations as we go.  I’m crossing my fingers that these two restrictions will lift sometime within the next year, at least.  Does anyone remember how many bumps Magical Express used to have?  It always takes a little while to get a system working perfectly, tests or no tests.

Optimism!

I think that covers everything!  All in all, I give my experience a high rating, and I hope it continues to get smoother for everyone.  If there are things you don’t understand, I’ll be happy to take questions! 🙂

Vlog Post: Somebody Got MagicBands!

Well hi there! First of all, please excuse the lack of updates the past two weeks. My office department has two people out on extended vacations at the same time AND we got a “special project” so it’s been just a big happy jumble of overtime. Honestly I’m not sure I even remember who I am right now! 😀

Anyhow though, in between all of that I’m still going to Disney World… next week, in fact… in four days in fact. (Tiny yay in the background!) And, because I’m doing a single night at Animal Kingdom Lodge, on points donated to me by a friend who is a DVC member, I actually ended up being selected to test the MagicBands that Disney World is planning on rolling out sometime in the next few months. It seems as if nearly everyone staying on site this coming month gets to try these, but hey, for those of you who don’t hang out on Twitter with people who go to Disney World on like a weekly basis, this is a much rarer opportunity!

Anyway. So I haven’t had time to blog about them or anything (although this post at My Disney Addiction does a better job than I could anyway), but I will go over the whole experience when I have time.  I DID, however, have time late the other night to record a vlog of me… well, talking about them a lot and kind of holding the up for you to see, in really bad lighting and bad quality.  Yaaaay!

In all seriousness, it is at least slightly informative. If nothing else you’ll learn that I have trouble fitting them on my wrist and the plastic is more solid than I thought it would be. 🙂

But mostly, you should watch it because the camera just loves me!  Obviously. 😛

I promise that I will post about my experience setting up my FastPass+ reservations, and my experience editing them the next day (and possibly my experience editing them again if I go that route… because yes, you can edit them as needed), and also my experience with how the bands work. But it won’t be for a while, because I have crazy overtime, then crazy packing, then MAH VACATION and nobody’s taking that away from me! 😀