Day 2 - More Character Fun & Firework Fear (MK & Epcot)
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|Fri, 05-10-2013 - 4:32pm|
Chapter 4. No Sleeping-in Today…
Day 2. Friday
At 6:35am I heard a knock on the door. Well, sort of. I thought I was still dreaming at first, since I wasn’t really awake yet. But it was persistent, and what were they saying… something about dining? Room Service wasn’t due for another 25 minutes, but as I stumbled to the peep-hole in the door, that’s definitely who it was. I scrambled to make myself decent enough to answer, thinking I could just grab the cart from him, wheel it inside, and quickly send him on his way before anyone else woke up. Well, I’ve never ordered room service, for some reason that’s how I THOUGHT it would go. Live and learn, I guess.
As soon as I answered, he bellowed out in a thick British accent that he was coming in to set up breakfast for us. Before I even had time to protest, he was in the room, turning on all the lights, giving us a very loud update of the days news… so much for a calm relaxing morning and letting the kids sleep a little longer! It took him almost 15 minutes to get everything set up, and of course the whole time we’re feeling a little awkward that we are not exactly “presentable” to a stranger. To his credit, he didn’t let our clothing-state phase him one bit. But he probably laughed about it later. The food was fine, but for the 2 credits it took from our dining plan, I honestly would have expected a little more. And it wasn’t quite the simple solution I had been looking for, we’d have to try the other alternatives and hope to find something better for sure.
Thanks to our earlier than planned start, we were at the bus stop by 8am. And to our luck, a bus came almost immediately. We made one more stop at Beach Club, but were still to Magic Kingdom almost 40 minutes early! I hadn’t really meant to be THAT early, but the buses can be so unpredictable that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But I was shocked at how busy it was! In the past, even when we’ve only been 15-20 minutes early, it had been almost empty in the holding area inside the turnstiles. It was already shoulder-to-shoulder people! WTH??? So it was a tedious wait. And then we were a little disappointed that the opening show was the really short one, where they mostly just come out and do the countdown, no songs or dancing. We’ve always really enjoyed the full show, and that was the main reason I wanted to be there in time for rope-drop today. Oh well. As crowded as it was apparently going to be, probably good that we were getting an early start at least.
Chapter 5. Fantasyland!
We headed straight towards Fantasyland, always our first destination in Magic Kingdom! I was hoping to ride Pooh first, and after having shown Owen You-tube videos of it before the trip, optimistic that he wouldn’t be as scared as he had been last night. He still got a little nervous going through the mostly-empty queue, but not as bad as before at least. Overall, he did pretty well on the ride, and seemed to really enjoy certain parts of it.
Afterwards, I knew he was eying the carousel, but I also knew we needed to get through a few of the more popular attractions before it got any busier. We made a quick bathroom stop, which turned into a very long bathroom stop, due to some miscommunication about where to meet up afterwards. That was frustrating, now we were several minutes behind where I had hoped to be by now. And with the crowds steadily increasing, those minutes mattered! Fortunately, there was still just a short wait for Peter Pan so we went ahead with it. Owen was feeling a little more confident now, and liked seeing Captain Hook throughout the ride. He mostly knows him from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, though we did watch Pater Pan several weeks ago.
Next was It’s a Small World! This was always one of Lily’s favorites when she was younger. Again, he cried a little getting on, but also again, relaxed and did fine once we got going. WHEN is he going to learn to trust us getting on these rides?? He enjoyed it, but I could tell by now that the constant stress from his fears was wearing him out a little. So it was a good time to go watch Phillharmagic. We assured him that it was only a movie, which seemed to be a great relief. He does LOVE watching movies! He didn’t try to grab at all the 3-D stuff that came flying at us like Lily always does, but he did laugh pretty heartily several times, so I think he really enjoyed it.
Earlier, I had picked up Fastpasses for Ariel, but it wasn’t time to use them yet so we went ahead with the Carousel. This was the one ride all morning that he showed no hesitation at all with, finally something he is familiar with, lol! (They have one at our zoo, which we are members of, so he has ridden it several times). Afterwards, I thought we would have just enough time to visit Pete’s Silly Slideshow, and maybe grab a Fastpass for Barnstomer before our Ariel passes expired. But, the layout of New Fantasyland is still not clear in my head, and we ended up right in front of Ariel instead, with no good way to get to the other parts. As luck would have it, our Fastpasses would be good in just 2 minutes, so it made the most sense to go ahead and do that one now. And just hope that the line for Barnstormer wasn’t too long by the time we found our way over there.
I thought the new ride was very well done, reminded me a lot of the Seas with Nemo ride. But as usual, Owen threw a screaming fit getting on. And of course, ended up doing okay. This pattern was getting old, though. I was starting to notice something, the queues that were darker and more heavily themed scared him a lot more than the ones that were lighter and more open. So maybe he’d be okay with Dumbo, at least. Afterall, he had been talking about the flying elephant ride for many months.
Which actually ended up being our next ride. It was a long walk to connect to that part of Fantasyland, it looks like when it’s all done it will be easier, but for now we have to go around the long way. Not only have they added a second spinner to Dumbo, but there is now an inside play area where you can wait until it’s your turn to ride. Owen LOVED this. He would have been happy to stay and play all day. Nice to be able to take a break inside where it’s cool too, man was it HOT already! Wasn’t April supposed to be cooler than June?? After playing for a while, we convinced Owen that we should move on to the ride. As I suspected, he wasn’t nervous at all getting on this one. I think being able to see the whole ride from the line helps. He does NOT like surprises or uncertainty. Hmmm. No wonder, it must be genetic, lol!
So Dumbo was a huge hit. It would turn out that any Dumbo-like ride was a favorite of his, and there are several variations of it around the parks. We were close to Pete’s Silly Slideshow, and having had a character-greeting breakthough with Owen the night before, I was anxious to try our luck again. We had a choice of Donald and Goofy, or Minnie and Daisy. He has been a huge Goofy fan for many months, so that’s where we went.
It was a really awesome experience! Owen LOVED Goofy, and he was so sweet with both of the kids. He even gave me a new pen (to keep) when our autograph pen was malfunctioning. I got quite a few pics on my camera this time, but was quite distressed later to realize the Photo pass ones never showed up in my account! They were able to locate them for me eventually though. Then we moved on to Donald. He was a lot of fun too, and Owen wasn’t showing any hesitation at all – YAY!!! I had worried for months that the characters would be a no-go on this trip. Instead, it was going to be the rides that were our challenge.
The Meet-n-Greet has you exit right into the large store, of course. I had been hoping the kids would save their money for a few days at least, but Lily was having a fit for a Duffy Bear, and Owen latched on to a remote-control monorail car. So we went ahead and let them make their first gift-card purchases. The CM checking us out even got Duffy all dressed in his new outfit. She carried him out of the store, and hardly put him down for the rest of the week! (you’ll notice she’s holding him in almost every picture from here on) I had initially said that I absolutely wasn’t going to let them buy anything for the first few days, but being able to have her constant companion with her for most of the trip actually ended up being a very good thing, and she was a lot less anxious about wanting to shop constantly as long as he was in her arms. Another lesson learned. Sometimes, you gotta give in. It all works out. Remember that.
It was getting close to lunch time, but we still had time for the Barnstormer. So far, we hadn’t waited more than 5-10 minutes for anything. Which was great, except that I couldn’t figure out HOW??? The place felt packed. People everywhere, to where you almost couldn’t walk without constantly bumping someone. It had never “felt” this crowded on our summer trips. But these people didn’t seem to be adding to the wait times at all, it’s like they were all just standing around taking up space, but not riding anything. Very strange.
Owen actually made the height requirement for Barnstormer, and knowing that he tended to like fast rides more than dark rides, we decided to give it a try. He did totally fine getting on, of course, since it was an open queue, and you could easily watch the whole thing in line. It was a short but fun roller-coaster, and Owen seemed pretty proud of himself afterwards!
Chapter 6. Plans “Derailed”, but it “All Works Out”
Our plan now had been to ride the Disney World Railroad back to Main Street (it would get us there faster, and Owen loves trains anyway), meet Mickey Mouse at Town Hall, then we had lunch reservations at Tony’s Town Square. Would have worked great, except that the Train was closed for the day, some kind of problem with the track. Rats!!
So we would have to make a long and crowded (and HOT) walk back to Main Street. By the time we got there, we didn’t have time to wait in the line for Mickey, and the Fastpasses being offered probably wouldn’t still be good by the time we were done eating, though we took them anyway just in case. But what to do with the extra 20-25 minutes we now had before our reservation? There wasn’t really anything to do nearby, and we didn’t have time to wander off very far. These were the kind of timing dilemmas I had hoped to avoid by making such detailed plans. If only the train hadn’t been broken down!
Well, we went ahead and checked in for lunch early. She warned me that they might not be able to seat us until our reservation time (and were telling people without a reservation it would be a 50-60 minute wait!) But, luck smiled on us and we were called after only about 10 minutes, long before our reservation time. Things moved quickly after that, we placed our order, got our drinks, appetizers, and food all within about 20 minutes! THIS is how meals are supposed to go, not the tediously slow experience from last night. What a relief. And we all felt so recharged afterwards, that’s why I love table-service meals so much. And the food was GOOD! I had read so many bad reviews of the place that I almost canceled it several times, very glad now that I didn’t. I had the eggplant and it was delicious!
Afterwards, thanks to our good luck and quick service, we were easily still within our Mickey Fastpass. Although now the standby wait had inexplicably dropped and it didn’t hardly even matter that we had one. Too bad it wasn’t that short before lunch! Oh well, at least we were meeting him. It was another great character meeting, of course.
He was very happy to see that Lily had Duffy (Duffy is Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear), and he had lots of hugs for both of the kids. We got a family picture done, I don’t know why I didn’t get one with just the kids but we would have another chance later. On the way out, I thought I’d stop by the Photopass center to get my Photopass Plus card that I had pre-orderd. It turned out to be a very long, frustrating, and tedious ordeal, and I was wishing I had saved it for another time. But Brian and Owen had fun dancing outside, and even went over to meet Pluto when he came out, all while I was in line. Lily happened to be inside with me when they found Pluto so she missed him, but I assured her we would see him again. But it wouldn’t be the last time they met Pluto without her…
Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel for a much-needed break. It was getting hotter by the minute, and Brian and Lily were looking forward to some time at Stormalong-the-Bay, after I had convinced them to skip it yesterday. Unlike our good luck with the bus that morning though, it was a VERY long wait to get a bus back to Yacht Club. But they should still have plenty of time to swim, and Owen to nap.
Chapter 7. WHY didn’t I let them swim yesterday???
I hurriedly shooed Brian and Lily out the door once they were in their swimsuits, because I knew Owen would have trouble getting to sleep with commotion in the room. Sure enough, almost as soon as they were gone, he was out. But then they came back after about 10 minutes with bad news.
Stormalong-the-Bay was closed for the rest of the day, some kind of mechanical problem. AARRGG! The universe was punishing me for having gotten so hasty and skipping swimming yesterday. And to make matters worse, while yesterday and today had been unseasonably hot (GREAT swimming weather though), the forecast for the next 3 days was unseasonably cold and rainy (HORRIBLE swimming weather). Very frustrating indeed. Well, they spent some time at the quiet pool which was very close to our room, and had fun, but it was still a bit of a bummer.
We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that the extended forecast called for more hot weather later in the week, so we WOULD get a chance to go to Stormalong-the-Bay, even if it wasn’t until the second half of our trip. I had thought about letting Owen swim a little after nap, but since the fun pool wasn’t open, it didn’t seem worth it. I hoped I wasn’t making the same mistake I had yesterday by rushing back to the park instead. I’ve mentioned before that I learned a lot of lessons on this trip, but the tricky thing about lessons is that they can also be misinterpreted. (On the way here, I had just been finishing up the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, and had a sudden flash to the scene where Tricia says that after making each mistake once, she learned that sometimes you should definitely go back for your bag, and sometimes you should definitely not. The moral being, just because a decision led you wrong once, doesn’t mean it isn’t the right decision in a different situation. Well I hoped this was the right situation to be making the decision in, at least.)
So after Owen woke up, we headed on over to Epcot. Almost immediately it started raining. Not very hard, and I suspected it wouldn’t last long, but we put on our rainjackets anyway. Had a hard time getting Owen to put his on, then later he didn’t want to take it off even though we were inside! He has a special brand of stubbornness.
Chapter 7. An Evening Tour of the World
My main goal for tonight, other than dinner in Mexico, was to see the American Adventure show. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, or at least a teen. Somehow we never seem to have time for it, and I thought Lily was old enough to appreciate it now too. There was a show at 6pm, and we were just a few minutes early. In the lobby of the American Pavilion, the Voices of Liberty were performing! I had heard about the group several times, but never managed to hear them. They sure lived up to their reputation! Even Owen was mesmerized by their singing.
Then it was time to head on into the theater. We rushed directly to the front, but it seems there was little competition. I don’t know why no one ever thinks to sit in the front row- there is nothing worse than having a large head in front of you, especially with small kids! But at almost every show we went to, we had it to ourselves.
The show was just like I remembered it, but somehow seemed different too. It’s interesting to see how your perspective changes as you grow up. Scenes that had always just seemed like a random jumble of entertaining characters and events now seemed so much more significant. It was completely awe-inspiring for sure. Even Owen loved it and barely moved a muscle the whole time. Brian had never seen it (that he remembered) and was quite impressed too.
When we came out, the Village People were doing a concert, so we stuck around and participated in the YMCA song. Lily was a little embarrassed by us, I think. Owen was mostly distracted by some of the Toy Story topiaries nearby, and loved all the Hula-hoop fencing around them. But finally, it was time to start heading on around the circle to Mexico.
On the way, we made brief stops in Africa to play the drums, and in Germany to watch the model trains. Had a bit of a hard time getting Owen to move on from that one! While we were admiring some of the character topiaries in Italy, a Photopass photographer found us and took several unique shots with us around the topiaries and other foliage. It would have been better if Owen was in a less-grumpy mood at that point, but he got some good ones of Lily anyway.
The we cruised on around to Mexico. Lily really wanted to look in Norway for the sword and shield she had seen 3 years ago (and later regretted not buying) but I convinced her to wait until after dinner at least. We rode the boat ride in Mexico, Owen did okay but was still a little nervous getting on, as it was a little darker.
Afterwards, there was a very long line to check-in for dinner. This was the first trip that we experienced that, and it would happen at about half of our meals. Either their check-in system is just too slow, or they are overbooking the restaurants. In the past, we’ve almost always been able to walk right up to the counter with little to no wait at all. But we finally got checked in and seated. I forgot how DARK the place is! It’s a cool atmosphere, but hard to even see the menu, much less each other. Dinner was pretty good though. Mine was a little more bean-heavy than I would have liked, and I was kind of wishing I had taken her up on the (off menu)cheese-enchilada. It still didn’t take nearly as long as last night’s dinner, so hopefully we could easily get Owen out before Illuminations started.
We stopped in Norway so Lily could get her sword and shield, and Owen too. At this point, it was closer to continue on the same way around the World Showcase to get back to the IG, since we were more than half-way around. But Owen, who apparently has a very good sense of direction, kept arguing that this was NOT the way back to our hotel! (Since he knew we had come from the other direction) I think he thought we were trying to trick him into staying for the fireworks.
Brian and Lily decided that they did want to stay, so Owen and I went on ahead without them after they found a good viewing spot. As we came out of the IG, Owen really wanted to take the boat. It’s much faster to walk, but we weren’t in a hurry so we went ahead and rode it. It was probably good, because the fireworks started almost as soon as we got on, but between the commotion and noise of the boat, Owen didn’t even notice. I thought they were all over by the time we were dropped off at Yacht Club, but as we were walking off the pier towards the building, they started up again. And he totally panicked! (By the end of the trip, we had the timing pattern of the whole show memorized, but not this early)
He made a mad dash for the building, screaming like a banshee the whole way. We got more than a couple of strange looks as we ran, him way ahead of me, like he was being chased by a demon. Maybe staying so close to Epcot wasn’t a good idea afterall…
But he was fine once he reached the safety of the building, and Brian and Lily were back before too long so that we could settle in for the night. All in all, it had been a great first (full) day. Looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring!