We woke up and got everybody dressed, then finished up our packing and got ready to check out of our Lion King room. Leah spent this time playing the iPad in her pajamas (yes, we bring pillow cases for our kids – so what?). I started hauling luggage down to the Red Grand Caravan while Rachel and the girls set out on a mission. Well, two missions, actually.
We got cleaned up after our afternoon stint at the Big Blue Pool and mounted the Red Grand Caravan for the drive north to the Polynesian resort. In the post-9/11 world at Disney resorts, you have to either use your room key to open the checkpoint gate into the parking lot, or show your ID to the guard who will let you through. Since we weren’t staying there, I had my ID ready as we pulled up to the guard, who greeted me and I said “We’re having dinner at ‘Ohana”, which caused him to ask for my ID. I started moving my hand out the window to show him my license, and he waved me through with a “Have a nice dinner” before my hand was even above the door. Comforting security practices, but I suppose we don’t look all that threatening in our embarrassingly Red minivan with two squawking girls in the back seat.
After our late night at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party the night before, we all slept in a bit the next morning, which means that Leah actually slept in a bit so the rest of us could sleep. Aly ate some leftover cinnamon rolls that our server at Cinderella’s Royal Table had given her the morning before, while Leah and Rachel had cereal for breakfast. I didn’t eat anything, mostly because I was still half-zombie as we left the room to board the Red Grand Caravan for the short ride over to EPCOT.
The reason we had a short morning at MK: Sunday night we attended Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), which is a ticketed event that Disney runs from late September through Halloween every year. On party nights, MK closes to guests at 7pm, and only party guests can be in the park, which then stays open until midnight. Party guests can enter the park at 4pm, and are identified by special party wristbands which can be picked up a few places in the park. Which brings us to problem #1 – Aly hates plastic wristbands (just like socks with seams, shirts with tags) and got very upset at the idea of having to wear one. There was much drama, and Aly’s proposed solution was to put on her long-sleeve witch costume, but we discouraged that because it was still quite hot when we arrived at the park just before 6pm.
As a responsible flyer, I had purchased a few sticker books for the flight down in case the kids got cranky, and they worked as intended quite well. Once in Florida, they doubled as “entertain yourselves in our hotel room while mommy and daddy get everyone ready to go out” and “entertain yourselves in the car while we drive around the World.” On this morning, Leah’s self-entertainment in the car was to cover herself with stickers from one of the books, and we actually left them on her until some point in the afternoon. After some time in the sun, they were stuck better than band-aids, so they were fun to peel off, but she actually thought it was hilarious when it stretched her skin as I peeled them. You’ll notice the stickers in many of today’s pictures, on her legs and her neck (she did her hair as well on a different day).
This was a planned afternoon and evening free of theme parks, ostensibly to relax a bit and cut down on the foot usage, but of course it doesn’t always turn out that way. After the girls played at the pool for a few hours, we boarded the Red Grand Caravan and set our course for Downtown Disney. About halfway through the drive, Aly says “I think I need to stop in the woods again” which references an incident which occurred during our August trip to Maine and does not bode well. When I turned to look at her, she was literally bouncing off her seat, so I pulled into the closest Hess to avoid disaster.
Early breakfast reservations
are not always the best idea with small children, but since we have one that rises very early, we stupidly keep making such appointments. With an 8:05 reservation for breakfast, we headed over to Animal Kingdom, which didn’t open until 9, and made our way through a quiet and empty park. We arrived in Africa and hopped in line to check in at Tusker House, a restaurant that we have never visited before – we’ve reserved it a few times, but it has always fallen through for some reason. We waited about ten minutes for them to check us in, and then we were told to wait in the back area and they’d call us when our table was ready. There were a few other parties waiting back there when we arrived, but only a few minutes later it was a complete zoo, as Tusker House was having computer issues and could not figure out how to manually assign tables. Everyone was being checked in and sent to the holding pen, but no one was being seated, despite the restaurant being mostly empty and a line of 12 servers standing there waiting to take people to their tables.
After circling the lagoon on the monorail, we finally arrived at Magic Kingdom, three days after we arrived at DisneyWorld. It was Leah’s first monorail ride of this trip, though she had seen them several times over the last few days and kept asking to ride them. She held onto the pole all by herself and was pleased.
Since we hadn’t seen many characters yet on this trip, we headed to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary resort. We waited in line to get our picture taken with the Mickey statue before being seated, but thankfully they forgot to come around to our table and offer to sell us the picture for $31. We were seated quite quickly and headed up to the buffet to get some food. Aly ate several cinnamon rolls, Leah ate grapes, while Rachel and I ate the typical breakfast fare. They had a pretty tasty chorizo/potato/cheese mixture that you could combine with salsa, cheese sauce, and crumbled sausage (yes, if you’re keeping score, the main part of the dish has sausage and cheese, and both sausage and cheese are considered condiments for that) in a big gooey pile on an English muffin – fantastic. We also took some grapes to feed Leah later and may have snuck a few Rice Krispie treats into our bag as well.
There are five characters at Chef Mickey’s that come to your table, all in chef attire: Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy. The girls got pictures and autographs with all five, but Leah was very excited to see Goofy, and even pointed out a passing monorail to make sure he saw it. Minnie snuck up on her and Leah gave her such a scolding that Minnie went from the “Oh my” hands-by-mouth gesture to the “Well, I’ll be” hands-on-hips gesture. They made up with a high-five and all was forgiven. The squinty look in the picture with Donald is Leah “smiling.”
After we finished up breakfast, we hopped on the monorail headed to Magic Kingdom for the day.
When we last spoke, we had returned to the hotel and Leah was sleeping. She had to be awakened shortly thereafter to head for a dinner engagement, and this is what she looked like shortly before rising: