Like the previous day, we woke up at 6:30am, and ate breakfast at Pop Century before heading to the bus stops. When we got to the Magic Kingdom, we went over to the Guest Services window. I redeemed my Give a Day, Get a Disney Day certificate for the golden fastpass option. For those who don’t yet know, this entitles everyone in your group to six instant-use fastpasses. You choose three from each of two groups. The first group had Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Peter Pan’s Flight. The second group had Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and Stitch’s Great Escape. We got little plastic cards that we’d use to put in the FP machines to obtain each FP. They also gave me a purple “Honorary VoluntEAR” button with Kermit & Piggy on it. Very nice. 🙂
Through the turnstiles and into the pre-show area we went. We were there so early that I was able to get a picture of Amanda in front of the Mickey floral without any other guests around. Very cool. We sat on one of the cement planters and waited for the Welcome show to begin. Similar to “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, Amanda had heard the Welcome Medley several times over the past couple years, so she was excited to see the Welcome show. As was I, as I seriously can’t think of a better way to start a day.
As we entered the MK proper, and started walking down Main St, I tried to point out some of the windows, and Amanda was smiling at all the Cast Members in their white Mickey gloves waving to us. I also noted that several of the buildings on the left side of Main St had the construction screens up. The ones that are painted to look like what the facades should actually look like when completed. Interesting.
We started off following the Unofficial Guide’s touring plans, and of course first up was Space Mountain. The queue was deceptively long. Deceptive because of the new games they have in the standby queue area – the games cause bunches of people to move at once, so the wait was much shorter than the queue would make you think. This was also my first time playing the games in the queue area, by the way. I think it was a good idea, as the games are fun, easy to learn quickly, and serve to keep you entertained while waiting. On the ride itself, I was laughing and screaming the whole time, to the point where Amanda actually had to ask me if I was okay. Hehehe. It was very fun. And I still love how much darker it is now than it used to be.
Next over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I whallopped Amanda, of course. But as this was her first time playing/riding, and I’ve been on it probably 20-30 times before, that’s not really a fair competition. 😛
Next up was Winnie the Pooh, so we went into Fantasyland. Wow. As reported, the entire right hand side (coming from Tomorrowland) is completely demolished and has construction walls up. But the construction walls aren’t high enough to prevent us from seeing the bulldozers on the mounds of dirt behind the walls. The tree that used to be in Pooh’s Playful Spot has now been moved next to the Winnie the Pooh attraction itself, but it has construction walls all around it too. Something new they’ve started doing with these walls, however, is putting quotes from Walt Disney on them, every 10 feet or so. Each quote is at least pseudo-relevant to improving or expanding something. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”, for example.
Since the tree and construction walls were blocking the FastPass distribution area for Winnie the Pooh, the FPs for this attraction were actually being distributed at Philharmagic, which is kinda bizarre. But we weren’t using FP anyway, so we just got in the regular line. A cute, fun little dark ride. When it was done, we continued with Fantasyland by going over to Snow White’s Scary adventures. We both laughed at the fact that the Queen is shown falling off a cliff at the end, as that seems to be a Disney cliché that we noticed in our marathon of Disney movies leading up to this trip.
Before we kept going on to Peter Pan, we stopped at the Castle Couture shop. When we watched Sleeping Beauty, Amanda’s favorite part was how Flora and Merriweather kept fighting over the color of the dress. So I took her into the shop and showed her Aurora’s dress. We stayed long enough to see and hear one of the fairy’s change the dress’s color once, but not for the whole routine as we didn’t know how long that would take.
After leaving the shop, we then went over to Peter Pan’s flight. This is the queue that is my least favorite in all of WDW, as it just – keeps – going! Every time you turn a corner, you think you’re on your way back to the load area, but nope! There’s another 20 feet of queue ahead of you! Ugh! Ahem. Anyway, Amanda was able to spot the Hidden Mickey near the end of the queue (with a little prompting from me. And she even remembered Nana’s name as we started flying over London (I think Peter Pan was the last Disney movie she watched before the trip).
Next we crossed the street over to It’s a Small World. Based on the clock that chimes every 15 minutes, it took us almost exactly 15 minutes from entering the queue to finishing the attraction. Not bad at all. We also both kept singing along to both the English and Spanish lyrics on the ride. I’m sure our fellow guests in the boat loved us for that…
We departed Fantasyland and got into the queue for Haunted Mansion. We were going to be just about the last people into the mansion in this batch, but I let a few people go ahead of us. Both because I wanted Amanda to take the time to look at the tombstones in the queue, and because I wanted to make sure she saw the full transition sequence of the portrait in the lobby. I wish we’d gone on HM more than once, as there is just far too much detail to point out on a single ride through. But she enjoyed it very much, so it’s all good.
It was getting close to our reservation for Fort Wilderness, so we first went over to Frontierland and grabbed FastPasses for Splash Mountain. Then we exited the park, and took the boat over to the campgrounds. I’ve only been here once before, on my & Ange’s aborted Segway tour in January 2009. So I wasn’t entirely familiar with where we were going. But the signage was good, so we were able to find our way over to Trail’s End. Both Amanda and I remarked about how odd it is that this is just another Disney hotel, when you consider how absurdly different it is from where we’re staying, at Pop Century.
There were only about 2 or 3 other sets of guests inside Trail’s End, which I think means that this is a *great* place to go for lunch, because I can’t imagine that it’s ever particularly busy. It’s a very small buffet, only maybe 5 or 6 things on the menu – fried chicken, pulled pork, some salads, bread, one pasta dish, and some veggies. But what is there is *very* good. And the theming was just outstanding. Metal (tin?) plates, mason jars for glasses, etc. This is definitely on my “restaurants to do again” list.
Back to the dock and back on the boat to the Magic Kingdom we go. We took the Disney World Railroad from Main Street into Frontierland. We go a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain, and then used the FastPasses for Splash that we had previously obtained. The entire outdoor queue for Splash was full. The wait was varying between like 80 and 120 minutes all afternoon. But we waited maybe 5-10 minutes with our FastPass. Nice. One odd little thing I noticed on our first ride through – the bunny sweeping leaves near the beginning no longer speaks. She doesn’t see the shadow of Br’er Rabbit leaving with Br’er Fox & Bear chasing. She just pauses, looks to the side, and then keeps sweeping again. Kinda bizarre. But anyway, the ride was great, as always, and Amanda was suitably impressed (her only experience with a flume ride is at Six Flags New England. There is no comparison.)
We went into Adventureland next and saw that the wait for Pirates of the Caribbean was about 40 minutes, so we skipped it for now and went over to Jungle Cruise instead. We used our Volunteer FastPasses for the first time. We stuck in the little cards they’d given us in the morning, and it spit back FastPasses for immediate use. Very cool. Basically no wait at all. We had a good skipper on the boat. When he asked how to tell that these were African elephants, and I shouted out “We’re in Africa!”, he remarked to me “Thank you sir, you’ve clearly been here before! …. why on earth would you come back?”. Heheheeh.
Next up was the Enchanted Tiki Room. When we sat to watch the pre-show, Amanda got confused and said “Was that it?” Hehe. Apparently she thought that was the show itself. Not quite. 🙂 She enjoyed the show, and we both laughed again at the fact that Iago got injured, as that seemed to be his sole purpose in all three Aladdin movies as well. Seriously, watch them sometime – count the number of times Iago gets punched, chocked, flies into a wall, muzzled, shoved into a lamp, etc. He’s a living punching bag.
And here we run into a problem. My notes for the day have ended. Apparently I got too tired to continue making notes on my iPhone. So I’m going to have to do the rest of this from memory. I don’t remember the order of anything else that happened, but I at least remember most of what did happen.
I know that we did the Pirates of the Caribbean eventually. Unfortunately, Amanda has never seen any of the movies, so she failed to appreciate the coolness of the added Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones effects. Though I did painstakingly explain to her that it was the attraction that came first, and that the movies were based on it.
We did Splash Mountain a twice more before the day was over (three times total). Once we used our volunteer fastpasses. And once we used a pair of fastpass-like passes that a guest had given us at Epcot on our first day. Apparently he was at MK earlier in the day, and something broke down, so they gave him and his family a set of instant-use FastPasses to be used at the MK on any attraction they chose, but they were leaving Disney that day and couldn’t make use of them. So when we were waiting for our Disney character photo, he randomly gave them to us. Very cool.
At some point we also did the Hall of Presidents (no, I did not follow Iago’s advice and take a nap). I was expecting this to be a nice uncrowded place to relax for a bit. Holy smokes was I wrong. The *entire* gallery was full to the brim. Wall-to-wall guests. Apparently we weren’t the only ones seeking air conditioning at that point.
We used our volunteer fastpasses on Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain (for our second ride on each of them), as well as Philharmagic and Buzz Lightyear. At Philharmagic, they weren’t actually giving out FastPasses because, as previously noted, the Philharmagic FP machines were actually giving Winnie the Pooh FPs. So instead we just showed our little card and the Cast Member let us in the FP entrance. There actually was a sizable queue, so this probably got us in one show earlier than if we hadn’t.
Somewhere around riding Big Thunder again, we noticed everyone lining up for the Celebrate You parade. To my confusion, it seems this parade now starts on Main St, just like the nighttime parades do. Is it my imagination, or didn’t it used to start in Frontierland? In any event, Amanda wasn’t overly excited about sitting in the hot sun to watch a parade, but I insisted we at least stay for the Muppets pre-parade, as I wanted to see Piggy and Kermit. I know how absurd it sounds, but it’s almost hard to forget that these characters aren’t “real”. They’ve been so well and so consistently portrayed as interacting with human beings for the past 40 years, that they completely seem real to me. So it was great seeing them ride down in the parade.
Over at Buzz, earlier in the day a Brazilian Tour Group had flooded the FP line. And it simply never recovered. At all. I don’t know what was happening up front, if there was a breakdown in communications, or what. But the FP queue was outside, wrapped back and forth about 5 times, so that the *width* of the queue extended about half-way to the Lunching Pad. It was insane. I felt truly sorry for the Cast Member who had to deal with it outside, as she had truly irate guests screaming at her when it was obviously not her fault. We checked up on Buzz a few times throughout the evening to see if it made sense to use our Volunteer FP yet, and it really didn’t until maybe an hour before the park closed.
We also did the TTA and Monster’s Inc. At Monsters, I was chosen to play Mike Wazowski when Mac & Cheese performed the Monsters Inc movie in 20 seconds. The light shined on me when they said “Mike Wazowski”. At first I laughed, but then I realized what they were going to have me do – so when they said, “Uh, sir, that’s *Wazowski*, with –“, I immediately put my hand over one of my eyes. They were suitably pleased. This was more amusing to me, because the last time I was here, I was actually chosen to play Sully. And given my lack of hair on top of my head, that really didn’t make much sense.
(oh, for the truly detail-oriented: The TTA soundtrack has been modified just slightly. There is now once again a “Mr. Tom Morrow” joke, when you go through the Space Mountain area.)
I don’t remember when, but at some point we wandered into Toon Town and toured Mickey’s House. But when we got to the back yard, we saw that the line to meet Mickey in the Judge’s tent was probably a good hour long. So we decided against it, and that we’d meet Mickey at one of the other parks another day.
Dinner was at Cosmic Rays. We stayed long enough to hear Sonny Eclipse go through basically a whole set. When he started repeating himself, it was time to go.
We did Carousel of Progress once more, if I recall correctly. Amanda may be addicted to that attraction, as we’d also do it again on our last day.
We ended the night trying to do another showing of Philharmagic. I say “trying” because it didn’t work. We were standing next to the automagic doors for a good 20-25 minutes. Long past when Goofy or Minnie tells us the doors are going to open. I don’t know what was happening in the actual theater, and the Cast Members didn’t tell us what was going on. They just kept saying “in a few minutes”. Eventually we got tired of standing there and just left. It was an unfortunately sour way to end the day.
I think that’s about it. We started heading out of the MK. When we were on Main St, we got some PhotoPasses in front of the Castle and Partner’s statue, and I pointed out Walt’s Window above the ice cream shop. By now the MSEP was ending, so we joined the throngs of fellow guests all leaving the park. We made our way back to the buses, had very little wait for a bus yet again, and got back to Pop Century to collapse and get ready for the next day. Have to set our alarms earlier than normal, as Mears will be picking us up at 7:10 for Universal….
The Good: Great food and atmosphere at Trail’s End
The Bad: Buzz Lightyear FP queue problems, Philharmagic non-functional
The Magical: using the Volunteer FastPass to go on all our favorite attractions multiple times with barely any wait.
Thanks for reading. Days 4-9 coming soon.