Late last night, I was unable to breathe through my nose – a sudden onset of the dreaded Disney Cold. It was truly sudden. Remember, I had been at CVS at 10pm getting birthday supplies, and was fine at that time, so hadn’t needed to buy cold medicine. 20 minutes later, back at the hotel, bam. Anyway, enough of my whining.
As you know by this point, Leah turned six on this day, and she really wanted to have a scavenger hunt in the hotel room to start off her day, because we had told her about doing that for Aly way back on her third birthday (pictured below – that occurred pre-blog):
Rachel did a great job wrapping, hiding, and setting up clues while the girls (and stuffy Daddy) slept. Leah was very excited to find and read each clue to continue on.
We got ready and drove up to Magic Kingdom parking, took the tram to the TTC, and then discovered that the monorail was temporarily closed, so they forced onto the paddleboat instead. In better news, the weather was much nicer than the last time this happened. As we stood along the rail near the front of the boat, two Starbucks-toting women near us freaked out each time the companion seagulls swooped near the boat, causing me to laugh each time. Good times.
Nevertheless, we made it into the park and stopped for the mandatory family picture along Main Street U.S.A. with the castle in the background.
Dang – look at all the dust/water spots on that PhotoPass photographer’s lens or sensor!
Warning: rant ahead
A brief photographer’s rant about PhotoPass
Generally, I’m pretty happy with the quality of the PhotoPass pictures taken by Disney cast members, with few situations like the one above. But there’s one exception that drives me crazy: all their cameras seem to have the wrong date and/or time set on them, which makes integrating their photos into my own kind of a pain in the ass.
These blog posts follow a sort of timeline-through-the-day narrative, which the perceptive among you may have detected. At the end of the day, I’m pulling pics from my camera(s), our phones and the PhotoPass pictures into a collection in Lightroom, and sorting by capture time to see the photos in the order they were taken, regardless of device.
The PhotoPass pictures, invariably, appear at the end of the day’s collections, because they’re generally set one or two days into the future. I can remedy this in Lightroom, but I shouldn’t have to – setting the proper date/time in the camera should be one of the pre-shift checks before a PhotoPass photog heads on-stage.
Back to the timeline-through-the-day narrative
Seeing we had enjoyed a lazy morning at the hotel, it was time to go right to lunch at the Crystal Palace, which is a must-do on every trip for us. The short was wait, and we were seated fairly quickly.
Crystal Palace is a tasty buffet restaurant with Pooh and friends, who come to your table. The food was good, but we had to wait a long time after we had finished eating for all the characters to visit, at least compared to prior visits. No matter though, because Leah loved it, which is the whole point. And the food, of course. They brought Leah a cupcake for her birthday, which was great since she loves cupcakes.
She also had a blast following Tigger (with whom she bounced when he came to our table) in the parade around the restaurant:
All four of us then enjoyed a spin on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority/People Mover, which is usually a nice chance to get a few minutes of seat time out of the sun. This time, however, the section that goes through Space Mountain was a bit more interesting then usual. Apparently that ride was down, and all the interior lights were on, and we could see people stuck on the first climb. We’ve seen other Disney rides with all the lights on before, but never Space, so that was cool.
We stopped at the large, well, what should we call this thing? Big wet marble ball? It probably has a name, and I’m surprised I don’t know it. Anyway, it’s one of those things that you can roll/spin with a bit of effort, and we played with it for a minute on our way over to use our FP+ on the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway ride. It was actually a good use of FP+, because, as usual, the queue was very hot and noisy, so minimizing our stay there was nice.
Aly was finally tall enough to drive her own car, so Rachel went first, Aly in the middle, and then Leah steered the last night, while I operated the pedal. Despite all the signs instructing us not to, Leah and I rammed Aly as often as possible, though she claims to never have felt any of them. #siblingrivalry
We then took a quick trip to the Dumbo indoor playground, and a ride on Dumbo, before heading over to the splash area near the train station, as it was getting pretty hot.
Leah saw Goofy’s Barnstormer and wanted to ride the coaster, but Aly had no desire to ride it whatsoever, based on whatever memories she has from riding it many years ago. So we got slushies and then took pictures of Leah & Rachel on the ride, which worked out great because they ended up in the front.
In case you can’t tell how much fun Leah is having, let’s zoom in on that a bit:
Note what’s happening in the second row behind them as well. You’ll be seeing one of our children in a similar enjoyment level towards the end of this post. #foreshadowing
The kids enjoyed the queue and the ride at Winnie the Pooh, and we also watched Philharmagic again (Leah was as much fun as the last time), and used a FP+ to ride Peter Pan, which is always a good idea, because that slow-loading ride always has a long wait.
We headed over to Haunted Mansion, where I forced Aly to pose with “her other siblings”, as we’ve done on prior visits. The other queue entertainments were also a big hit.
Aly loves Haunted Mansion, and rode with Rachel. Leah rode with me and was fairly bored, and would decline future opportunities to ride HM the rest of the trip.
We headed back towards Under the Sea and used a FP+ to ride the clamshells through Ariel’s world.
We were hungry at this point, and we went to the nearby Pinnochio’s Village Haus for dinner, mostly flatbreads and breadsticks. During dinner, we had an extended family discussion about whether to stay in the park, or go back to the hotel and swim. Leah really wanted to swim on her birthday, but also really wanted to stay in the park and ride the Mine Train again. After much deliberation, Leah decided we could stay in the park and enjoy some Extra Magic Hours fun on the rides.
We had FP+ to see two characters shortly after dinner, and Leah had really been looking forward to meeting one of them who is currently all over Disney Jr. on TV: Elena. After a very short wait, we met Elena first:
followed by Cinderella:
Predictably, I kicked the rest of the family out after a group shot, and Cinderella said “Dear Prince, can I please take your arm?” as Leah fumed in the background, saying “Daddy kicked out his family AGAIN!” which she loves telling people.
We made our way back to Tomorrowland, where Leah could finally ride the Astro Orbiter after having to always do something else while Aly rode in previous trips – it’s one of Aly’s favorite rides.
After a fairly short wait, we rode up the elevator to the loading area, where we climbed into our rockets.
We all enjoyed the ride, and then rode back to ground level to jump on Buzz Lightyear. You can see the level of competitive seriousness on our faces in the PhotoPass pictures, lol.
At this point, it was very near park closing, and the beginning of EMH. The Astro Orbiter line was rather short, and Aly wanted to ride it again. I didn’t (too many spinning rides leave me punch-drunk and dizzy), so Rachel & Aly rode that while Leah and I took another trip on the TTA.
At that time, the fireworks were about to begin, so we headed back to the Mine Train hoping for a shorter line. And short it was, probably only a ten-minute wait while we made our way through the queue. Everyone was excited to ride it again, as shown in these pictures I took right before we boarded the train:
As you can see, Aly rode with Rachel this time around, which Aly believes might be part of the problem, because, in her words, there “isn’t as much Mommy to hide behind” while on the ride. Anyway, the fireworks had begun right before we boarded, so fireworks were going off right above us as we rode – which was awesome!
For three of us, anyway. Remember that picture from earlier with the kid behind Leah on the Barnstormer? I present to you now – sheer terror:
Leah enjoyed it though, and wanted to ride again right away, which is when we realized that Aly had broken during the ride.
Not only did this ruin her for riding this ride again, but it would have further impact on other rides as well. Being the responsible parents we are, we talked her into going through the queue with us again (there was almost no wait), had her use the exit right before boarding, and then wait for us at the ride exit. Don’t judge – it was Leah’s birthday, after all, and she wanted to ride again, and it was just as fun the second time.
From there, we walked across the park to Pirates, and rode that to help calm Aly back down a bit, then headed back to the resort.
Throughout the day, it was once again proven that Disney World is a fun place to have a birthday, as Leah had lots of small special experiences throughout the day, wearing her birthday badge. On the monorail back to parking, there was a lady next to us wearing a birthday badge, and Leah had a nice conversation with her about birthdays at Disney.
She had a great sixth birthday! Days Five and Six should be posted shortly.