Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lydia's First Magical Day

After 20 years of begging and pleading, I finally got someone to take me to Disney World.  When I was younger my parents always alternated between two excuses, either you have a season’s pass to Six Flags, why would you need to go to Disney World or if we take you now, you won’t remember going in a few years anyway.  Luckily both of these excuses are now invalid and John had no choice but to take me.




As you can imagine after years of waiting, I just wanted to meet Mickey already!




[I have been to Disney properties several times, including Tokyo Disney with my parents. No big deal. What I had never done ever before though, was stay at a Disney hotel. My parents always said it was too expensive when I was a kid. In your frugal face, parents! We stayed at Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter.]


 I knew that princesses, balloons, magical rides, and other surprises awaited me.



           
It was amazing to me that after parking our car in the Aladdin lot, we still couldn’t see the iconic castle or any other signs of the magic that I knew to be close by.  John informed me that this was exactly as Walt had intended.  After ugly chain restaurants and cheap motels were instantly built up around California’s Disneyland, Mr. Disney decided that his next park would be more scenic and therefore secluded.  He purchased many, many acres of land in Florida and began building.  In order to keep intruding companies away from his park, he built it deep inside his acreage. 
            Anyway, after parking, we had to take a tram to the other end of the lot.  There we were met with the choice between a Monorail ride or a ferry ride to the entrance of the park.  We went with the Monorail.




The ride was interesting because the tack cut right through one of the Disney hotels.  It was pretty strange.




            We eventually entered the park, and I was instantly entranced by the castle at the end of Main Street.  That castle is like the definition of magical.  I snuck a peek every chance I got throughout the day.






            Main Street is worth mentioning as well.  It’s the ideal American street complete with an ice cream store, jewelry shop, and all the other typical Main Street stores.  John especially enjoyed the people dressed in newsboy’s uniforms selling balloons.








I really liked all the Mickey Ears found on Main Street and elsewhere in the park.  There’s a pair to fit every purpose.  John and I even tried some on later in the day.






            The Magic Kingdom park is divided into four sections: Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland.  Each area has rides, restaurants, and other attractions to fit the theme.  We started in Tomorrowland where all the rides somehow relate to the future.  Fittingly, our first ride was Buzz Lightyear where we were sent to the future to fight enemies in space.









[Lydia was so excited to be at Disney that she was happy even while waiting in line.]


            Next, we experienced the Carousel of Progress.  Walt Disney originally debuted this experience at the 1964 World’s fair.  We learned about improvements in technology from the turn of the century to modern day.




            Afterwards, we decided to avoid the hour-long wait for Space Mountain by trying out the Disney Fastpass.  It was simple; we scanned our park tickets and out popped a reservation to return to the ride several hours later.
            With our reservation in hand we had a quick chilidog lunch at the Lunching Pad and then headed to our next experience at the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Factory.  The Monster’s Inc experience was cool because it incorporated a lot of audience participation despite the fact that the comedians were animated.
            After a good laugh we headed to Fantasyland.  We started with the ride titled “It’s a Small World.”  This is where the song It’s a Small World After All comes from.  The animated characters reminded me of American Girl Dolls. [I heard it only took 4 repeats of the Small World theme song for captured terrorists to
 give up Bin Laden].












            My favorite ride of the day was the Haunted Mansion.  On this ride we passed by mirrors that depicted little green ghosts sitting on our heads.  I also liked the dinner party scene where a group of phantoms performed a dance. 






            Before leaving Fantasyland we saw the 3D show Mickey’s Philar Magic.  The special effects at all the Disney World shows were very cool.  For example, in this movie one of the characters popped the cork off of a Champagne bottle and we could feel the air hit our faces. 
            Next we wandered over to Adventureland.  We took a tour of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.






And then we took advantage of the unusually short line and rode Pirates of the Caribbean. I thought that the ride was based on the movies, but I soon learned that the movies are in fact based on the ride.










            At this point it was time for us to return to Space Mountain where we had secured reservations earlier in the day.  This ride is pretty awesome; probably my second favorite.  As you ride you get the feeling that you’re launching into space.  The roller coaster twists and turns through the dark.  It’s extra scary because you can’t see what’s coming next.







            Following our journey through space we had dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  Pretty tasty!




            At about this point in the day we learned some additional information about the Disney Fastpass.  When we checked in at our Disney hotel, they presented us with cool armbands. We knew that they could be used as room keys, but we weren’t really clear on their other purposes.  Once at the park, we discovered the bands also work as Fastpasses.  The bands can be linked to the Disney app on your phone.  Once connected, you can schedule reservations for up to three rides.  We took advantage of this feature and reserved times for the rides with the longest lines: Peter Pan, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain.




            We also popped our head into a few shows.  We saw the Bear Jamboree.  It was pretty weird – just a bunch of animatronic bears singing country songs.




And we watched the show at the Hall of Presidents.  Also very weird.  It did make me wonder what it would be like if all the former presidents got together for dinner. 



            At this point, it was getting dark and we lined up along the street for the famous Electric Street Parade.  All of the rides and costumes were covered in thousands of lights.  I especially liked the Cinderella portion of the procession. It began with Cinderella riding in a carriage with her fairy godmother, followed by Prince Charming who was trying to find the owner of the glass slipper, and finally there was a group of people dancing at the ball.  Pretty amazing!










            Next, there was a light show on the castle.  Tinker Bell used her fairy dust to magically turn the castle into scenes from many different Disney movies.






            Finally, it was time for the fireworks.  I really love fireworks, and I knew they’d be extra special at Disney!  Fireworks were coming from every direction.  The kid standing behind us accurately described the scene when he proclaimed, “I only have two eyes!” 
            Due to the holiday, the Magic Kingdom had extended “extra magical” hours and was open until 3am.  However, the park began to clear out around 10pm.  Silly kids and their bed times!  We took advantage of the near-empty park and hit all the rides and attractions we had missed earlier in the day. 
We started with Winnie the Pooh.  The line for this ride was particularly cool because you could draw in virtual honey.  










We also rode on the People Mover in Tomorrowland.

            Next, we experienced Stitch’s Great Escape.  This was definitely the oddest attraction at the park.  Our job as audience members was to catch Stitch who was labeled as a “Level 3” criminal.  However, he escaped his cage, the theater turned pitch black, and Stitch bean tormenting us.  He burped and we got the gross sensation that someone blew chilidog breath in our faces.  And somehow they made it feel like Stitch was rubbing the back of our heads.  It was weird to say the least.
            We then rode the Little Mermaid ride that made us feel like we were actually in the movie.




            We also visited the Princess Fairytale Hall where we had an unusual encounter with Cinderella.  We didn’t realize it upon entering, but the sole purpose of this place is to have your picture taken with the princesses.  Of course, you can’t take the picture with your own camera; you have to pay someone at Disney World to take it for you.  Cinderella insisted upon asking us creepy questions about how we met.




            We also took the time to ride the iconic Dumbo ride since by this point there was no line.  John was impressed that as the rider you have the ability to control whether your Dumbo goes up or down.






            We finished our day in Adventureland.  We discovered a fun game that allowed us the opportunity to use a Pirate’s map to find hidden treasure within the park.  John especially enjoyed this experience.
We also rode the Jingle Cruise and visited the Tiki Room where a bunch of animatronic birds sang to us.




            At 1:30 in the morning, the fun finally got to us!  We were exhausted and our feet needed a rest.  We rode the ferry back to the parking lot.
            Thanks to the Fastpasses and extended “magical” hours, we were able to experience every attraction at the park. It also gave us the opportunity to see plenty of little girls dressed as princesses and eat ice cream sandwiches shaped like Mickey Mouse.  We squeezed every last bit of magic out of our day at Disney World.







            Looking back at my parents’ decision not to take to my siblings and me to Disney World as kids, I think they made the right choice (gasp!)  Most of the kids at the park seemed tired, hot, and crabby.  As a result, most of the parents were also tired, hot, and crabby.  And, as my dad always said, most of those kids aren’t going to remember the trip anyway. 
            Going now as a childfree adult was the perfect way to experience the magic!


[They don't sell alcohol in the Magic Kingdom, but Gaston's Tavern had some sweet cartoony LeFou's Brew that I appreciated. It's sort of Disney's answer to the Harry Potter theme park's butter beer.]


[Lydia was pretending that she didn't think it was awesome that we were one of the last people in the whole park.]

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