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!

A Few Disney News Bites

Hello everyone!  There are a number of little Junior News stories about Disney from the past week or two, so I’m going to toss them at you and ask: what are you most excited for?

1: The Jingle Cruise!

Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will both be giving a holiday makeover to the classic Adventureland attraction, The Jungle Cruise. The holiday theming will begin “in early November”, so presumably sometime in the next week or two?  From Disney’s description:

In this new seasonal storyline of the attraction, the Skippers have grown homesick for the holidays, so they’ve added holiday cheer to the Jungle Cruise queue and boathouse with decorations that have been mailed to them from home (plus a few they’ve created themselves). The Skippers have also added a slew of new jokes to their tours that are the perfect way to get guests in the holiday spirit. Additionally, Jungle Cruise boats have been renamed with the holidays in mind, and if you listen carefully, you may hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background.

My thoughts: I love the idea of a Jingle Cruise – I’m not sure why, I just do – but I’ve always been struck by how the Skippers on the Jungle Cruise are such smartasses. ;D  Somehow it seems weird to me that they’d be so sentimental as to get “homesick” and decorate for the holidays!  But that’s just me.  I’d still love to see this!  What do you think, are you for or against this makeover?

2: New Lounge at Hollywood Studios’s Brown Derby restaurant!

One of the nicer restaurants at Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby is now opening an outdoor patio lounge area for guests.  The area is shaded with umbrellas and menu offerings include beverages (alcohol included), small bites – that’s “fine dining” for appetizers – and some really luscious desserts:

Small bites are on the menu and include artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, duck confit tacos, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, Derby Cocktail with jumbo lump blue crab, black tiger shrimp, avocado and a horseradish-tomato juice, and two Derby Sliders – a Wagyu beef slider with cognac mustard aïoli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado; and a house-made chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions.

You can also just stop for dessert, with Chocolate Three Ways (praline milk chocolate cream, crunchy ganache and orange-chocolate mousse), a banana-white chocolate toffee tower on a cocoa-almond cookie and bananas Foster, or strawberry Champagne cheesecake.

Reservations are not accepted and the lounge won’t take the Disney Dining Plan – this is important to know.  The Brown Derby is on the DDP for *meals*, but not lounge.  However, if you have Tables In Wonderland, it applies!

My thoughts: I’m boring and I don’t go to lounges. I should! but I don’t.  I’m a park commando most of the time, because I need to fill up on Disney experiences while I’m there. Then I think of all the things I missed once I’m back home. 😉

3: Reimagined Disney Magic!

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise LInes

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Magic has been relaunched (cautiously!) with new sailings out of Miami, Florida.  The ship has not been just refurbished, but reimagined, with new spaces and activities and experiences all over the place.  Among the most exciting are the AquaDunk, a water ride that begins with a VERY sudden drop – the floor opens beneath you! – and the Avengers Experience, a kids’ section of the boat with activities and Marvel Comics characters such as a Captain America meet & greet!

My thoughts: They had me at “Cruise ship”. 🙂

So?  What are you most excited about?  Are there any that inspire a yawn and a pass?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Review: The Imagineering Field Guides to Walt Disney World

Coincidentally, a shot of the two books I own! This came from www.imaginerding.com and not me.

Coincidentally, a shot of the two books I own! This came from http://www.imaginerding.com and not me.

I don’t own a whole lot of Disney books, believe it or not. I only own one copy of “The Unofficial Guide to WDW” for instance (the 2013 edition); prior to that I’d just take them out from the library periodically. For fun, actually. 😀

Anyway, in spite of my tendency to not buy myself Disney books, my husband knows to look for WDW themed items for gifts for me, and sometimes he has to get creative b/c I don’t look for them myself and have no idea what to ask for.  A few years ago he picked out two books I ended up loving: The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot and to Magic Kingdom.

If you take a look inside the two books on the Amazon links above you can get a vague idea of what they’re about, but it’s not really going to show you just why they’re so interesting.  What the books do is they talk about the design of the parks from the Imagineers’ perspective – yes, that’s obvious – and then give you a lot of little insights into the designs.

Like the fact that everything in Future World East is angular and hard-sculpted, and everything in Future World West is free-flowing and rounded.  Or that there is a “geographical and chronological transition” between The Haunted Mansion to Big Thunder Mountain, as the design of the areas flow from the Hudson River Valley in the early 1700s (Haunted Mansion) to a journey west across the United States, stretching up to the late 19th century.

The books are laid out section-by-section of each park with stories, concepts, details, histories… just everything.  There’s a lot that hardcore Disney fans will probably know but there is so much that there may be things even they *don’t* know.  I’m not going to suggest facts that people might not know yet because I think it would vary person-by-person and I don’t want to sound stupid. “Bet you didn’t know that John Hench suggested that Spaceship Earth be made in two pieces with the bottom part hanging from the top!”  “Uh, DUH.”

The interior of the Epcot book, again not my picture; displayed in a post here: http://waltswriters.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-imagineering-field-guide-series-epcot/

The interior of the Epcot book, again not my picture; displayed in a review post (with more detail than mine) here: http://waltswriters.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-imagineering-field-guide-series-epcot/

Another feature of the books that I really like is at the beginning, the same in all titles.  The first few pages of each book comprise a section called “Imagineering 101” and it just covers the history of Imagineering, Imagineering Lingo (very informative), and my favourite, WDI Disciplines.  If you are interested in working as an Imagineer, this basically gives you a list of your job options.  I’m not looking for a career as an Imagineer and yet I STILL love this part. It just gives such an amazing description of all the things that the Imagineers do.  All this stuff you’d never realize.  Like “Character Paint”.  Guess what that is?  “Character Paint creates the reproductions of various materials, finishes, and states of aging whenever we need to make something new look old.”

Also included are plenty of pictures, concept art, designs, blueprints, and quotes and quick facts.  The whole thing is illustrated in a variety of ways, not only by visual images but with brief presentations.  You know, I’m suddenly remembering how long it’s been since I read these…

So honestly – these are a great, great buy. I have no attention span whatsoever so the fact that these can be read bit by bit is a huge plus. Actually I read some of them aloud in the car once on the way to the beach! (I promise I was not driving at the time.)  Of course, with recent park updates, they are not the most up-to-date information available but just for historical info and trivia, these books are top-notch.

Animal Kingdom and MGM/Hollywood Studios are also available. I haven’t read them but I can only imagine they’d be just as good. The cover price on my copies is $9.95 and on Amazon it looks like they’re around a dollar less than that!

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!

A Disney Dream: Because Really-Not-Particularly-Scary-At-All is just too long…

As of May 1, tickets are on sale for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in September and October. If you’ve heard of this but aren’t actually clear on what it is, let me give you a rundown in brief!

This? Is my new favourite photo. <3  (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This? Is my new favourite photo.

In simplest terms, this is Walt Disney World’s Halloween party. It takes place at the Magic Kingdom on select evenings in September and October. It is NOT included with general park admission; it’s a hard-ticket event, which means you have to pay extra to get in, even if you’ve already spent the day in the Magic Kingdom.

Is it worth the extra money? Well, I’ve never done it. But YES! 😀

Actually, it’s up to you to decide. It would be worth it to me, because I love Halloween and I love the Magic Kingdom, and this opportunity is one I’ve wanted to try for years now. But there are factors to take into account: it’s a very popular event so it can be crowded; lines for certain things may be longer than you’d like; and it is late, so you have to remember that if you’ve got kids, you’re paying more than $50 for each of them to possibly stay up later than they really can manage.

Before you make up your mind after I list all the down-sides to you, let me just talk about what the party involves, and why it’s a Disney Dream of mine lo these many years!

Around 6pm or so, on the nights when they’re running the parties, they start closing down the Magic Kingdom and guests are escorted out. There are already pumpkins and other light Halloween/October decorations out lining the park, and at this point, once closed, the park reopens with a total Halloween theme. Characters are available for meet and greets in their Halloween costumes; guests are encouraged to wear costumes – and this is the only time of the year when this is allowed, even among adults!

I have no idea who these are. Some witch and some scarecrow. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I have no idea who these are. Some witch and some scarecrow. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Along with the costumed characters, there are a bunch of other party-only activities and fun things: Trick-or-treating (apparently you can’t walk down the street without falling into candy), dance parties including a Villains Mixer, HalloWishes – the Halloween-themed firework show – and the Boo To You Parade. This parade is led by the Headless Horseman and features floats for villains, for the Haunted Mansion, and more.

I have to say I am less interested in the candy, and more interested in the character meets; less interested in the dance parties and more into the parade. I want to see that Headless Horseman, guys! This is possibly my biggest goal in life. 🙂


The above video is NOT by me, it’s by AllEarsNet, consistently one of the best Disney resources on the web.

So my daughter goes to sleep around 8pm every night. Staying up for this will be hard for her, and even though the party goes from 7pm to 12am, if we go I figure we won’t stay past 10pm. (And she’ll still be dead on her feet by then.) But; it’s such a great experience, I can’t wait to take her. I know she’ll have fun. 😀

This ain't your mother's Cinderella's Castle. Unless you're my daughter in which case, forget what I just said.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This ain’t your mother’s Cinderella’s Castle. Unless you’re my daughter in which case, forget what I just said. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

 

Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary were announced at the start of May. You can save money by buying in advance; the ones closest to Halloween will be most expensive and will also sell out most quickly.

September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, and 27, the advance purchase price is $59 for adults and $54 for kids (ages 3-9); at the door price is $65 for adults and $60 for kids.

September 29 and October 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, and 29, and November 1, the advance price is $62 for adults and $57 for kids; the door price is $67 for adults and $62 for kids.

October 11, 18, and 25, the advance price is the same as the door price, $67 for adults and $62 for kids.

October 31, there is no discount for buying in advance, but do it anyway. It WILL sell out early. The price, if you are intent on going on Halloween, is $73 for adults and $68 for kids.

Have a blast! Send me your photos! 😀

I'm sure this is totally what it's like, and all. Nearly empty park, characters all waiting to play with me.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I’m sure this is totally what it’s like, and all. Nearly empty park, characters all waiting to play with me. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Review: The Magic Kingdom’s Harmony Barbershop

Here’s the five-word review: I love the Harmony Barbershop.

If you feel a need to read more, however, I’ve got plenty. 🙂

This is the place!  The pole means it's legit.

This is the place! The pole means it’s legit.

So the only place I really enjoy getting my hair cut is the Harmony Barbershop.  This is too bad because it’s about 900 miles from my house, give or take 20 miles.  Everywhere else makes me nervous because the people who do the cutting always seem to feel a need to comment on how poorly I take care of my hair or something, as if I don’t know that only getting it cut twice a year leads to lots of split ends, or as if this is going to make me want to come back and be harangued again in two months.  But!  This is not so at Harmony!  Instead we talk about things I like, such as Disney World, for instance.  I have had two very nice haircuts done there, both with a pixie-dusted ending, and last time I forewent my own cut and let my kids have a go.  That was a mixed experience; my daughter loved it (and had an amusing chat with another customer while they were both waiting their turns), but my son, having his first haircut at age 1 1/2, was less enthusiastic.  The CM who cut his hair handled him extremely well and even kept him smiling and happy until about midway through.  For the record – it is STILL, two years later, nearly impossible to get him to submit to a haircut.  I have to do it myself because it takes DAYS to talk him into it and I usually have to let him watch a video of Splash Mountain on YouTube while we do it.  So Harmony Barbership is still the ONLY place he’s had a haircut, other than home.

Now for some specifics!

First of all, if this is all entirely new to you and you’ve never even heard of Harmony Barbershop, it is located on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, near the horse stables.  It’s tucked away to the side, on the left near the trolley tracks.  Last I checked, they do accept walk-ins, but it’s a small shop and if there is more than one person ahead of you waiting, you will wait for a WHILE.  This is actually the case even if you make reservations (which you can do). So don’t expect to be in and out in like, 20 minutes… it can be up to an hour.  Having said that, though, I feel it’s worth the wait so long as you know what you’re getting into.

As with everywhere else in WDW, the CMs have uniforms, which I find charming.  There are oversized novelty scissors, too.  And it’s really surprising to me that the staff is, in fact, really GOOD at cutting hair.  I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise but who thinks they’re going to be getting a great haircut at a theme park?  Well, you know, this is Disney so there it is. 😉

I didn't specifically take any "before" pics of my hair the last time I had it cut there, but this shot includes the back of my head :P

I didn’t specifically take any “before” pics of my hair the last time I had it cut there, but this shot includes the back of my head 😛

And here's an "after" shot - cute, curly, and apparently I am infatuated with Goofy. (This was my birthday dinner.)

And here’s an “after” shot – cute, curly, and apparently I am infatuated with Goofy. (This was my birthday dinner.)

For children, there is an utterly adorable “First Haircut” package that you can get which comes with special mouse ears and a certificate. I took photos and movies throughout my son’s haircut and captured his decline from amusement to frustration to eventual “WHY ARE YOU NOT PICKING ME UP” by the end, but he was positively shaggy the first three days of our trip and looked like a delightful little man at the end.  The CM did this while he was screaming towards the end so I give her immense props, not just for being a good hair stylist but for putting up with a screaming 18-month-old. 😀  Anyway here is just a fraction of the drama as it went down:

The CM had him touch everything before she used it, to warm him up

The CM had him touch everything before she used it, to warm him up

He loved the R2D2 spinner thing.

He loved the R2D2 spinner thing.

He also loved the spray bottle - at first. He laughed pretty loud the first few times she spritzed him.

He also loved the spray bottle – at first. He laughed pretty loud the first few times she spritzed him.

Another thing - the CM encouraged my husband to hang around and distract him instead of acting like he was in the way.

Another thing – the CM encouraged my husband to hang around and distract him instead of acting like he was in the way.

This is pretty far into it and he's still reasonably happy!

This is pretty far into it and he’s still reasonably happy!

Aaand there we go.  But by this point we have achieved Small Man haircut.

Aaand there we go. But by this point we have achieved Small Man haircut.

Not a fan of the mouse ears at first. In fact it was about a month before he wanted them at all.

Not a fan of the mouse ears at first. In fact it was about a month before he wanted them at all.

See how handsome!

See how handsome!

As for my daughter, she has had multiple haircuts professionally and was more than ready to submit to this.  Not that we didn’t take plenty of photos but they’re not as entertaining. 😉  So instead here’s a before, during, and after:

My daughter is the blonde. The shorter one.

My daughter is the blonde. The shorter one.

No spinny thing for her!

No spinny thing for her!

So gorgeous! The next thing she said was "I want to go swimming now!" :P

So gorgeous! The next thing she said was “I want to go swimming now!” 😛

Prices at the Harmony Barbershop are $15-19 for adults, and kids 12 and under are $14.  You can get packages, similar to what they do at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (the basic stuff, that is – no costumes/manicures), with glitter and coloured gel.  They distract with bubbles and spinny shiny things, and even adults can get the pixie dust and Mickey stickers.  And although this has never happened to me, well, they call it “Harmony” for a reason – you can sometimes get serenaded by the Dapper Dans while you’re getting the cuts done.  I keep hoping next time will be my time. 😀