Here are links to my first two posts about our trip to Disney World:
When most people think of Disney World they don’t realize just how huge it is. It’s over 40 square miles in size (that’s larger than Manhattan). There are four theme parks, two water parks, a few golf courses, and a whole lot of resort hotels (most run by Disney, but not all). So, yeah it’s really big. It’s highly unlikely, perhaps impossible, to see it all in one visit. However, there is one place that nearly all tourists visit and that is Magic Kingdom. If I’m thinking about Disney the first thing that pops into my head is Cinderella’s Castle.
I was excited to visit Magic Kingdom, mostly to see how the kids would like it, but I ended up enjoying it almost as much as them. It’s a place that is guaranteed to make you smile and bring out the little kid inside of you.
We saved Magic Kingdom for our final full day in Florida. We chose Monday instead of Saturday for a few reasons. First, we figured it would be less crowded (newsflash: it is always crowded). Second, the forecast for Saturday was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, there was only a predicted high of 70 on Monday. And finally, I hurt my back pretty bad after we got back to the resort from Animal Kingdom on Thursday and I figured I’d likely feel better on Monday than Saturday. So, thanks to those three things we chose to go on Monday. All three factors played out in our favor except for one thing. It was even cooler than expected and at times it rained a little bit. It wasn’t bad though.
Ashley’s dad and brother decided to go golfing again, so her dad dropped the rest of us off at the Magic Kingdom shortly after it opened. We stopped in a gift shop at the gate and bought sweatshirts for the kids. Then at Noah’s request, we took the monorail to entrance instead of the bus or ferry. Noah loved the monorail and would later request we ride the monorail back to Florida from Buffalo.
We arrived at the gate within a couple of minutes and then had to wait in some sizable lines to enter the park. Iffy weather certainly didn’t keep the masses out of Disney that day. Once inside, Ashley led us straight down Main Street, U.S.A. to Cinderella’s Castle. It really is an impressive sight. It is nearly 200 feet tall, has 27 turrets, and is surrounded by a moat. I marveled at the castle from afar, but before I knew it we passed right through it and entered into the Fantasyland area of the park.
Before I continue I have to mention the use of Fastpass+. Once you have your admission ticket you can sign up for rides and attractions using Fastpass+. It essentially lets you cut in line. For many attractions there is the Standby line and the Fastpass+ line. You can only get in the latter line if you have already signed up with Fastpass+ for it. The wait times are far shorter than the regular one. You can use your smartphone to access the Disney App. to use the Fastpass+ for different attractions. You can use it for three rides at a time, then once you have finished them all you can sign up for new ones. You can also use the Disney App. for live updates of wait times for most attractions. So, use Fastpass+! If you use it effectively you can really see and do a lot more in the parks t han if you don’t use it.
Ashley had a game plan for us and had already signed us up for a few rides on her phone before we even entered the park. Before we could make it to our first Fastpass+ ride Noah saw “Peter Pan’s Flight”. The sign said there was a 35 minute wait, but he said he really wanted to try it out so we agreed. After all, our time in Disney was supposed to be about the kids having fun. I’m pretty sure it took us nearly the exact amount of time predicted to get on the ride. The wait wasn’t too bad though, because the waiting area winds its way through the rooms of Wendy, Michael, and John’s house. The kids were pretty good through the house and it helped that there were a couple of interactive displays along the way. The ride itself was pretty fun. We sat in a small pirate ship that whisked us away through the dark London sky and into Never Land. The ship took us through several different scenes from the movie. Noah seemed to enjoy himself. The unfulfilling part for me was the fact that we waited in line for 35 minutes and then enjoyed the ride for a mere three minutes. That ended up being the longest we waited for any ride.
Once we got off the ride we saw there was a small line directly across from us at the “It’s a Small World” ride. The wait time was only five minutes, so we hurried over and got in line. Before we knew it we were sitting in a boat and floating through the world hearing that hypnotizing melody play over and over. I vaguely remember this ride from my trip to Disney as a kid. I remembered the song and thought I didn’t like the ride because of it. However, once I was on it with my family this time I didn’t mind it. That’s mostly because Noah enjoyed it and Charlotte loved it. She loved seeing all the little robotic children singing and dancing and jumping around. The ride lasted around ten minutes so I thought it was cool that we were on the ride longer than we waited in line that time.
Noah insisted on going on the “Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” ride next. The only problem was that we didn’t have the Fastpass+ for that one so we had to wait a half hour or so. There were a couple of interactive displays outside for the kids so that helped the time pass. The ride consisted of us sitting in a honey pot that passed through the Hundred Acre Wood, seeing all the Winnie the Pooh characters along our short journey.
Next up was “Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.” This time we had used our Fastpass+ to cut in line. We rode in clamshells and saw scenes from the movie including a few of the more famous musical acts. It was basically like the other rides where we all sat in something and passed by different displays. It was dark, just like the Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh rides, which Noah didn’t especially like. It was also very loud, so Noah plugged his ears at times. The worst part was there were mechanical problems, which stopped the ride twice while we were on it. Despite all that I thought it was pretty enjoyable.
After that, we took a break for lunch at Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square. It is essentially fast food, but was fairly pricey. I had the chicken pot pie, which wasn’t bad.
Noah wanted to try out “The Haunted Mansion” after lunch. Unsurprisingly, we had to leave that one early. I can’t blame him for getting scared though, since when the lights went out a bunch of teenage girls shrieked. That put him over the edge.
Soon after that Charlotte fell asleep on Ashley’s mom. Based on her napping and there still being more that we wanted to see we told Ashley’s dad not to pick us up before going to golf. Instead we said we would take a taxi back to the resort once we were done.
We walked to Adventureland with our sleeping Charlotte. Ashley and Noah rode “The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.” This was more like a typical kid’s ride you’d see in a theme park. The “magic carpets” flew around in a circle. They moved up and down and could get pretty high off the ground. I was a little concerned with how Noah would like being so high up, but he actually loved it. The ride was his favorite thing in all of Disney World.
We explored the “Swiss Family Treehouse” next. That was pretty cool, but there sure were a lot of stairs to climb. Tomorrowland was our final destination within the park. Charlotte was still napping on Ashley’s mom so I rode with them on the “Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover.” That was a nice, smooth, and comfortable ride for us to enjoy for about ten minutes. The slow “train” took us over and through most of the attractions within Tomorrowland. It was pitch black in Space Mountain, so it’s good that Charlotte was asleep for the part of the tour.
Ashley and Noah went on “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin” while we were on the People Mover. Ashley said Noah didn’t really like it because it was real loud. After we finished those rides Charlotte woke up and we were ready to move on from Tomorrowland.
We were about to leave the park when we saw a huge crowd gathered in front of Cinderella’s Castle. We realized a parade was about to begin. Ashley had read about the big parade that was supposed to begin at 3:00 p.m. It was only minutes away so we figured we should try to find a spot to view the parade before leaving. Masses of people lined Main Street and the circle before the castle. We found a spot in the plaza gardens off to the side of the circle. We were able to stand on a short wall that surrounded a fountain, which gave us a better vantage point.
We stood and waited, the kids getting antsy, for the parade to begin. We certainly weren’t the only ones in the enormous crowd waiting anxiously. Then, about ten minutes after 3:00 p.m. music blared from speakers throughout the area. It opened with trumpets accompanied by a narrator announcing the start of the “Festival of Fantasy Parade.” The music morphed into a catchy pop song. Large parade floats highlighting many of Disney’s most famous characters made their way down the street before us. Dancers in period dress and more characters filled in the spaces between the floats. Belle and the Beast danced on the front of the first float. Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Cinderella, and a couple others were on the sides and back of the float. Songs from the movies were spliced in with the Festival of Fantasy theme song, rather seamlessly I might add.
Noah and Charlotte absolutely loved watching the parade! I feel like it really brought out the kid in all of us there. Ashley shed tears of joy watching our children have so much fun. I was pretty close to that, too. They really liked seeing Elsa, and also liked the Little Mermaid float. There was also one with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, which they probably liked more since they were on that ride earlier in the day.
There were also floats for a couple of Disney movies I never saw (Tangled and Brave). I was especially impressed by a huge mechanical dragon that actually breathed fire. A prince “battled” the dragon in the street. Next a large group of Disney characters from Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland pranced down the street before a float with Pinocchio atop a whale. Then came the finale, a small hot air balloon containing Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They waved to the crowd of hundreds (if not thousands) of guests.
I know it was just a parade, but watching it with our kids was really special. It was a magical moment in a magical place. I had some concerns about how it would go, but our time in the Magic Kingdom went really well. It was a lot of fun for all of us, but that’s really because the kids were good and they enjoyed themselves. If they’re happy, we’re happy (especially on vacation). Our kids were pretty young to experience Disney World (at least Charlotte was) but they had fun and that made the expensive trip well worth it. Our kids may not remember this trip after long, but we sure will. We can come back in a few years, then Noah and Charlotte can make memories that they will remember, too.