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 www.touringplans.com -- 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 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.
I used an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation)= Sniper program (www.wdwtools.com) 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!
As we exited the park, we got to see the final night of the castle being 'frozen' with Christmas lights. It was beautiful!