Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day One: Magic Kingdom

It was the morning of Marathon Sunday when we decided to try to get to the parks extra early to enjoy Winnie the Pooh & Friends' breakfast at the Crystal Palace.  Normally it would have gone great-- everyone (all 17 of us) were out the door an hour and a half ahead of time.  We knew the traffic would be a little hairy, but no one predicted the craziness that ensued when we hit the Walt Disney World Complex.
Our minivan followed our Waze app, and it took us through the 'back roads' to a super-secret entrance where we got to park for free (the first day only, because of the marathon).  Everyone else's GPS systems took them to the front entrance, where they got stuck in the backed up traffic.  The fun part was rolling down our car windows and encouraging the runners!
Justin REALLY enjoyed the monorail ride from the parking lot to the main gates of Magic Kingdom.  He was astounded to be going THROUGH a hotel on the way there!
Finally, we made it (here are some of our party above -- we were only about 20 minutes late for our 8:05am reservation-- not too bad, considering).  The original idea was to eat a huge breakfast (done) and enter the park a little before rope drop to get the inside advantage and ride a few popular rides before the lines got too long.  I am a convert to -- I did a side-by-side comparison between it and RideMax (my former recommendation), and I have to admit that being able to add in shows, FP+ reservations and dining reservations was really nice.  We did EVERYTHING we wanted to do, with no longer than a 15 minute wait!
 We met our fuzzy friends-- got autographs and took photos with everyone but Pooh (we'd just missed his rotation, and decided that we didn't want to waste valuable park time waiting for him to come back around).

 Did you notice everyone's matching shirts?  Sierra Trading Post (for the t-shirts) and my Cricut Explore pulled it off!  Everyone had a specific character on their back, because I really don't like having my kid's names displayed when we are out in public.
 Family photo with Tigger.  Justin was concerned he'd bounce all over the pancakes, but he was very well-behaved.
 Then it was off to ride some rides!  We started with Peter Pan, because the lines build up during the day.  Both kids loved it! (We may have 'crammed' by watching the movie a few days ago).
 Winnie the Pooh was soon afterwards.  Even though we didn't have to wait very long in line, they still enjoyed the interactive play area.

 We rode Dumbo separately, and Justin and Daddy even went on a second time!
 I went online exactly 30 days before our visit to procure FastPass+ reservations for a few rides.  Our whole group met to do the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Alex decided at the last minute to hold back and maybe try again tomorrow).  Dave and I were a bit nervous that we'd 'ruin' Justin and he'd refuse to do any more rides after experiencing his first rollercoaster.  Nope!  He had a blast and exclaimed "That was GREAT!!" upon exiting!  Unfortunately, the line was already up to 45 minutes by 10:10am, so we didn't re-ride.

We also met up with the entire group to 'take over' a Jungle Cruise boat.  Those boats seat a LOT of people, because we were only one side!  We had fun, though, and our skipper enjoyed having a responsive audience.

After a few more rides and shows (The Tiki Room being Justin and Alex's favorite), it was time for the kids to head back 'home' with Grams and Gramps.  Actually, I had planned for Alex to stay with us-- She had originally planned on spending her hard-earned money on a spa treatment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique-- but the Sweet Escape was calling her name instead.  We cancelled our appointment and she picked out a new dress at the Castle Couture store instead.  With the saved money from the salon ($$$) she was able to buy a few more 'essential items' instead-- like the Frozen Mickey ears she's sporting.

Dave and I hung out on our own for a while, having a 'date day'.  We had the best view in town for the Festival of Fantasy parade (it was AWESOME) from the top of the Main Street train station. 
 After the parade we made it to the parking lot again-- to pick up someone else!  Cathleen had flown in that afternoon, and jumped in a taxi from the airport, declaring "I'm going to Disney World!"  She came along to be our personal nanny for the week (sweet deal, huh?), and it was so nice to have an extra pair of adult hands around with four kiddos and adults who wanted to 'play' too!
 I used an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation)= Sniper program ( to secure a reservation at the hard-to-get Be Our Guest restaurant, located INSIDE the Beast's castle.  The sun was setting as we headed over, making for a dramatic photo op!
The details and theming of the restaurant were amazing--  from the enchanted rose in the dark and stormy West Wing to the giant music box in the Rose Room.  We dined in the ballroom, which was an exact replica of the movie-- complete with snow falling in the windows!
 Trying "The Grey Stuff"....verdict?  Delicious.

As we exited the park, we got to see the final night of the castle being 'frozen' with Christmas lights.  It was beautiful!
 What a long, exhausting and totally rewarding day.  I'm ready for tomorrow!

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