Friday, September 25, 2009

Disney Day 4: The Magic Kingdom

I was excited from Day 1 of our trip - excited just to get away. But what I was *really* looking forward to was the Magic Kingdom. I mean, really, that is the heart of Disney. That's where Cinderella's castle is, and the majority of the stuff that is really aimed toward very young children like ours. The other parks are all fine and well but this one is the centre of it all. I was really expecting this one to bowl the kids over.

So we got up bright and early on our first Magic Kingdom day and got to the park as early as possible. We had breakfast reservations at the Crystal Palace right when they opened, an hour before the park itself opened. We got through the gate on the basis of the breakfast reservation and Main Street was pretty empty as we headed for the restaurant. As I had hoped, there were ooohs and aaaahs over the view of Cinderella's castle at the end of Main Street. We were off to a good start.The breakfast was another good one. It took all the restraint I could muster not to clear the place out of their puffed french toast. The kids were so excited to meet the Pooh characters here. It seems like forever ago now, but Liam went through a long phase when he watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh over and over and over again. He did question why Tigger wasn't bouncing. (The poor cast member in the Tigger costume - I'll bet he gets that question a lot!)We wrapped up breakfast right as rope drop was happening. We had a plan of attack that we intended to follow, one that would get us through the attractions with the longest lines at optimal times. And we intended to spend most of our time in Fantasyland. (Little did I know that, by the time our trip ended, we would spend nearly all of our time in Fantasyland. We sped through Tomorrowland and Frontierland a couple of times on our way back and forth between Fantasyland and Adventureland. There is so much we never even got around to doing... I guess another trip will be in order someday. :) )

Believe it or not, one of the worst lines in all of Fantasyland is Dumbo. And Mallory loves Dumbo. So that was our first stop. The wait was not bad, maybe 10 minutes. At peak times, it's upward of an hour. All for the sake of spending two minutes spinning around in an elephant.Then we did the Pooh ride, which the kids quite liked, but I don't think Chad has ever really gotten over the fact that this used to be his childhood favourite, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, that was torn down and re-themed several years ago.By that time, we saw the line that had formed at Ariel's Grotto to meet the mermaid. This was the only place you could see her with her fins, and we thought Mallory would really enjoy it. So we got in line. This was the worst - it was a 20 minute wait, just to meet a character. That was when I really appreciated the fact that we were doing so many character meals, where they come around the tables to meet you, rather than you lining up to see them! There was a small splash pad the kids could play on while we waited, but for Chad and me, it was pretty mind-numbing. Oh well - a cute picture in the end made it all worthwhile. And Mallory still remembers that Ariel loved her red hair and told her that her ponytail tickled her.Unfortunately... this is when our trip fell apart. Remember that colouring book from the airplane? Well, by this time it was shortly after 10 a.m. We'd been in the park for an hour since rope drop. And Liam decided that he wanted to go back to the hotel - now - to colour. And when we said we were staying in the park, he threw a fit.

In his defense, I think he had grown bored while waiting for Ariel, and it was pretty stinking hot outside, and the lure of the pool at the hotel was great. Still, this was when I lost my cool with him, very much a la Chevy Chase at the end of Vacation when he takes the Wally World employee hostage at gunpoint. I looked him square in the eye and told him that he was in the happiest place on earth and that there were kids who would kill to be in his very position and that there was NO WAY I was leaving to go back to the hotel to do something he could do 365 days of the year at home.

Or... as Clark W. Griswold would say... "We're all gonna have so much f***ing fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of your assholes!"

It took a while to calm him down, but after promising him that we would go back to the hotel after lunch for a rest and some colouring time and a swim, he pulled it together. So we went on to ride Peter Pan and It's A Small World and the carousel. And the kids had a heap of fun running around the Winnie the Pooh playground. (Unfortunately, it's slated for demolition. More on that later.)After all that running in the heat, they both needed some kind of pick-me-up. This was when Mallory made a complete mess of herself and I was doing a Kate Gosselin impersonation, freaking out over every drip. Then I ran out of wipes, and I had to let the drips fall where they may. A few more rides, including the teacups!... love this one. We could all squish into a cup together. Zero line at this ride, which surprised me, since it's one of the classics...And eventually we made our way to The Plaza for lunch. Good sandwiches and Liam obviously really enjoyed his dessert... a "Mickeylodeon".By this time it was after lunch, the kids were tired, and we had to make good on the promise to let Liam go do some colouring before his head imploded. We stopped at The Chapeau on the way out of the park to check out the make-your-own mouse ears. I had visions of our kids wearing the classic black (for Liam) and pink (for Mal) caps with their names embroidered on the back in that cute script font. Unfortunately, they had other ideas. Liam wanted a gold lame cap with lime green, rhinestone-crusted ears. I kid you not. Thankfully we talked him out of that. Nobody was in a mood to actually get in line and have the ears made on this day, so we put off the ear purchase for another day. At that time both kids went for pre-made ears. Liam chose Lightning McQueen and Mallory wanted pink princess ears. Liam surprised me by wearing them for almost the entire remainder of the trip. Mallory was bribed with a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar to put them on once for some photos. I don't think she has touched them since.Looking up Main St as we exited the park. It was a beautiful day. I was sad to leave. The smell of waffle cones and fudge was wafting through the air, there was a barbershop quartet singing, and my morning in the Magic Kingdom had not played out exactly as I'd hoped. Luckily we had one more day in this park to make up for it. Could this vacation be saved???Both kids were zonked on the bus going back to the resort... no surprise there. (I enjoyed our resort and the buses were fine. But I would *love* to stay at a monorail resort one day!!)That afternoon, we swam and yes, Liam got his colouring fix. Then we came back to the Magic Kingdom that night. We headed into Adventureland for a bit and then went to 1900 Park Fare for the Cinderella character dinner. Cinderella and the prince were fine, but my favourites were the stepsisters. They were really hilarious. Note the change of clothes that Mallory required after her Itzakadoozie incident. (I have no idea what is going on with her shorts leg. She looks half naked here!)It was late by the time we got back to our hotel room but that didn't stop me from heading out to see the shuttle launch a couple of hours later. It turned out to be the last night launch of the shuttle program. I don't know why the end of the program makes me sad, but it does. I am very thankful that the stars aligned and that I got to see one go up before they are gone.

Next up: Day 5 - Epcot...