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).
On to the Magic Kingdom
This was our first day actually parking at Magic Kingdom and monorailing into the park, as we had cheated and parked at Contemporary Resort the day of our Chef Mickey breakfast. We parked at the end of a row and made the lengthy walk up to the TTC, where you catch the monorail. As we approached the monorail station, cast members told us that the monorail was delayed opening and we’d have to take the boat. As we had a pretty awful experience taking the boat last December, we elected to take the resort loop monorail instead, which takes longer, but doesn’t expose us to the elements. Because this was very close to the park opening time, the monorail was moderately crowded, which meant that Aly couldn’t hold on to a pole all by herself. I don’t mean that we don’t let her hold onto the pole and stand up – we do; rather, she wants and entire pole to herself, which is not very considerate when there are other peeps aboard the car. She got rather pouty, which I managed to capture and you can see in the pictures below.
As we entered Magic Kingdom, we spotted Mary Poppins (whom Leah now refers to as “pop!”) with no line, so we went over to say hello and ask if she could clean our house before we arrived home. We had a delightful conversation with the prim Miss Poppins, and headed towards Peter Pan’s Flight, which seems to always have long lines. Not today, my friends, not today. It was perhaps the shortest wait we’ve ever had for this ride, and Leah loved seeing all the characters loosely related to the familiar world of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I’ve never understood why this ride has such a perpetual 40-minute wait. I know that it has a lowish capacity, but it also has it’s a small world, the carousel, and Philharmagic in the immediate vicinity to draw people away.
Speaking of iasw, we crossed the thoroughfare from Peter Pan and walked right onto what my brother refers to as “the most annoying boat ride in the history of ocean-going vessels”, although Leah loves this ride. At six years old, Aly is already starting to sour on it because of the repetitive music, lol. I’m tempted to set this blog post to auto-play the soundtrack so it can become stuck in all of your heads as well, but I’m too lazy, so you escape for now.
Our favorite attraction in all of WDW
We walked to the nearby Mickey’s Philharmagic, which Rachel and I both frequently list as our favorite attraction in the entire Walt Disney World resort. Aly didn’t want to do it, saying “I didn’t like it last time” which is quite the opposite of how her parents recalled the situation, so we ignored her complaints and dragged her into the theater with absolutely perfect timing, no waiting at all. Philharmagic is a “4-D” immersive movie experience that incorporates scenes from many Disney classics, including Aladdin, The Lion King (which Aly is currently obsessed with), Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and more. The physical theater itself is an active participant in the show, as is your seat, and Aly was jumping, shouting and grabbing at all the 3-D effects throughout the film, which made it highly entertaining for us. Leah was a bit spooked by the dark and surround sound, but made it to almost the end before asking to leave. Aly reported that Philharmagic was now also her favorite attraction – score one for the parents! We snagged some fastpasses outside Philharmagic for the new Little Mermaid ride that was now open as part of the Fantasyland dress rehearsal.
Fantasyland expansion dress rehearsal, just don’t bring your stroller
Today once again had the new improved Fantasyland open for a “dress rehearsal” which is pretty cool, because annual passholders don’t get their sneak preview until November. They weren’t allowing any strollers in, which is kind of a PITA, but they were a bit space-limited by some existing construction walls. We visited Gaston’s Tavern (menu looks good for counter service) and then wandered down past the new Little Mermaid ride, where we spotted the relocated Ariel’s Grotto, where Ariel (mermaid form) is available for meet n greets. There was almost no line to meet the little mermaid, which delighted Aly. Leah seemed very interested in the mermaid tail, as you will note in the pictures below.
We also popped in to the brand new Be Our Guest restaurant, where the main dining room looks exactly like the ballroom from Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast. It was very well done and we will certainly visit on a future trip (I think it opens in December). Beast’s castle is also visible above the restaurant, in Disney scaled fashion.
We headed for a 10:10 reservation at the castle (yes, we’d gotten a lot done by 10am on this particular day, by our standards) and spotted the Fairy Godmother, so the three girls went to visit her while I checked us in to Cinderella’s Royal Table for our breakfast.
At this character breakfast, you wait in line to meet Cinderella before heading upstairs to the dining room in Cinderella Castle. This is the point in the trip where we realized it was worth all the money and effort, because this is where Leah learned to be a hugger. She hugged Cindy and didn’t want to let go, but eventually did, and we headed upstairs to get some food. The food has changed since we last ate there, going from family style to ordering off a limited menu – we don’t think this is a positive change. The table gets a platter of baked goods to start with, and Aly consumed two more cinnamon rolls, which was her favorite breakfast food nearly every morning on this trip. Rachel and I both ordered the cream cheese-stuffed french toast, because a different version of the same item was the best thing on the old family style platter. If you liked the old one, don’t order this one – it’s about 22 pounds of bread and feels like lead in your stomach. Aly got a more traditional breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon.
As the princesses came around, Leah chirped with excitement and readily smiled (a real smile, not her squinty “smile”) each time I asked her to say cheese. Leah demanded hugs from each of the princesses, and demanded a second hug from Jasmine. Check out the boy’s eyes in the background of the Jasmine pictures. Leah’s other thing is to make the characters do whatever they do for her (high-five, hug, etc) to the rest of our party, which leads to hilarity. After her second Jasmine hug, she looked at Jasmine, pointed at Rachel, and gave an authoritative “mama”, instructing Jasmine to hug Rachel, which she did. She then gave the same look, pointed at Aly and said “Ah”, commanding Jasmine to hug Aly, which she did. She did the same for me, but Jasmine either didn’t hear her or didn’t want to hug me. As you will see, the princesses touring the tables included Ariel, this time with legs – an impressive switch from our meeting just a few minutes earlier.
As Leah and I waited for the girls outside the castle (this is how every meal at WDW ended, with Leah and I waiting outside while Rachel took Aly to the bathroom), a cast member was blowing bubbles (the soapy kind, not the gum kind), which delighted Lele to no end. On our way back over to the new Fantasyland, Aly stopped to take her crack at pulling the Sword from the Stone, eventually climbing up (oops! where are that girl’s parents?!) so high that Leah climbed up behind her and appeared between Aly’s legs. Despite Leah’s help and strenuous facial expressionism (and the crazy look from that boy in the background), Aly could not remove the saber from its stone sheath.
We headed through the queue of the new Little Mermaid ride, which took us under waterfalls to a line where we boarded clamshells similar to the Doom Buggies in Haunted Mansion. This classic Disney dark ride takes you though scenes from the film with animatronic characters (the witch Ursula was fantastic) and the music from the movie. It was cute, but will not be high on my must-do list anytime soon.
By now, it was close to lunchtime and we needed to get back to the hotel for Leah’s nap, because of the big night planned for this evening. We exited the park and went up the ramp to the monorail station, where Leah started literally hopping with delight at the thought of seeing the “choo choo” again, which entertained one of the monorail workers at the station. Even once on board, she was thrilled to be riding again.
As we drove back to our hotel, Aly asked the first time a question which would drive all of our conversations in the car over the next few days: “Tell me more about villains that I don’t know about” – driven by the fact that she has always liked bad guys (in movies/games/stories/shows) and the MK parking lot is now split into “Heroes” and “Villains” instead of the old Mickey/Minnie/Pluto/Chip/Dale/etc names.