Day 9 - Breaking the Last Day Curse & Some Parting Thoughts
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|Wed, 05-29-2013 - 6:33pm|
Chapter 22. Breaking the “Last Day Curse”
Day 9. Friday
Having done most of our packing the day before, we only had a little left to do this morning. We went for one last breakfast at Captain’s Grille first though, no need to pack on an empty stomach! I guess I haven’t mentioned it yet, but throughout the week, the “nap fairy” had been leaving small things for the kids. Owen got a new Stitch figurine every day, and Lily by now was the proud owner of a good collection of MousekeEars.
I had been dreading today, not only were we going home, but on our 2 previous trips, the last day had turned into a disaster, for different reasons each time. I had ended up thinking after our last trip, that maybe it was better just to take an early flight home and be done with it. Perhaps trying to have more fun on the same day you leave just isn’t going to work out. Initially, that’s what we were going to do. But… then I had a chance to change it to a later flight, and I took it. So once again, we were facing the “Last Day Curse”. And were planning to spend a few more hours at Magic Kingdom. Hopefully history wouldn’t repeat itself, and turn them into the worst of the trip.
Breakfast and packing went a lot quicker than I had expected. We left our carry-on bags with bell services, checked in for our flight (and dropped our checked luggage) at the Resort Airline Check-in. We were at the bus stop by about 8:40am. Except that as soon we got to the bus stop, I realized I had left our DME paperwork sitting on the desk in the room. I thought, no big deal, we had unfortunately JUST missed a Magic Kingdom bus when we walked up, so I should have plenty of time. Imagine my surprise when, walking out of the hotel, I saw another Magic Kingdom bus sitting there, and Brian standing outside it looking a little worried! I took off running, and luckily the driver took pity and waited on me. Several times throughout the week I had seen them drive off in similar situations.
So we almost made rope drop – the countdown was just ending as we got off the bus. Definitely earlier than I had feared we might be today. Brian and Lily were headed for Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Owen and I were headed for… Fantasyland. And whatever he wanted to do there. I was hoping to talk him into riding Pooh again, he seemed like he might be interested, but wanted to do It’s a Small World and the Carousel first. Great, the two things that wouldn’t likely get a line anytime soon, and that’s how he wanted to spend our rope-drop advantage. Oh well.
Going into It’s a Small World, there was another family just a little ways in front of us, otherwise it was totally empty. I quickly realized that if we caught up to them, we would end up sitting right behind them in a boat. But if we stayed far enough back, their boat would already be gone and we would get the front of the next one. The CMs seem to get a little grumpy when you ask if you can wait for the next one, so I thought it better to just make it work out that way myself. So we walked very slowly. The family was a little girl (about Owen’s age) and her mom and grandma. The grandma almost foiled our plan, she held up the boat for quite a while as she was trying to get a picture of the girl before she would get in the boat, and the girl wasn’t cooperating. The CMs finally had to yell and threaten to send the boat without her. So we walked even slower. And the boat pulled away right as we got to the front of the queue. So not only did we get the front, but we had the boat all to ourselves!
He had enjoyed the ride the first time, but he was much more interested now, having a week of ride experience under his belt and being much more relaxed. And since we had the boat to ourself, we could chat about all the things we saw without having to worry about being quiet. It really was a Magical experience. One of those moments where it’s like the whole world suddenly makes sense, even if only for a few minutes. This may not have been the smartest thing to do first, but perhaps it was the best. Afterall, there were a lot of things I couldn’t control, or even predict. Like the whims of a 2 year old. Or what the next few months were going to hold for us back at home. But every moment of every day can stand alone, regardless of what is going on around it. And Magic can be found when you least expect it.
Afterwards, he was really wanting to meet Stitch. According to the My Disney Experience app, he should be out in Tomorrowland right now. So we started making the long treck that way. We passed the Pooh ride, but Owen had changed his mind and didn’t want to do it again. Though he did play inside his house at the queue entrance for a few minutes.
When we got to Tomorrowland, there was no sign of Stitch anywhere. I asked a couple of different CMs, but they all seemed pretty clueless. We wandered around some more, but finally gave up. I wish they wouldn’t say that a character is going to be out if they’re not! Or that they would make them easier to find if they are there. So Owen was a little disappointed, but by now was just wanting to go back and ride the Carousel instead anyway. So we went BACK to Fantasyland.
We had tentatively agreed to meet up at the Riverboat at 10am, and it was almost that now so we started walking toward Liberty Square. But then got a call from Brian, they had done Haunted Mansion and Thunder Mountain (twice actaully) but now Lily had decided she wanted to do Splash Mountain. (She had never been a fan of it in the past) They were okay with missing the Riverboat, so Owen and I went ahead.
It actually doesn’t open until 10am, so it was just getting ready to make it’s first voyage of the day! I don’t believe I have ever done this before, maybe as a young kid but if so I don’t remember it. And Owen LOVES boats, so he was very excited to get on “that BIG HUGE boat.” He spent most of the cruise running from one part of the boat to another, peering out each section for a minute or so, then running off to find something new to see. I thought it was really cool getting to see Frontierland from a different perspective. And there were quite a few scenes set up along the river bank that you can ONLY see from the boat. Pretty cool for sure, and I was glad we had time to finally do it this trip.
We made a quick stop to pick up a bottled water, and then Brian called, ready to meet up. We found them by the entrance to Tom Sawyers Island. Another thing that, for whatever reason, we’ve never done. It was getting HOT – fortunately it looked like most of the island was in the shade. We had a LOT of fun over there exploring! The kids really liked the big fort, and the barrel bridge. Oh and of course Owen would have been content to stay on the small playground all day. Lily liked exploring the cave. Both kids had a few moments of being a little grumpy about one thing or another, but so far they had managed to work themselves out of their bad moods pretty quickly, thank goodness.
Oh, and Brian and Lily had a great time on the thrill rides earlier. They did Thunder Mountain twice, and the second time sat in the very back. Which almost made the ride wild enough for Lily to consider it fun, lol! Five years ago, her first ride on it had traumatized her, now she didn’t even think it was deserving of being called a roller coaster. She even liked Splash Mountain this time, probably because she was the only one in the whole boat that didn’t get wet, other than a few sprinkles.
When we got back from the island, we headed for our next “new” adventure – the Hall of Presidents. I had said before the trip that I really wanted to do this one for the first time, but had worried as the trip went on that we would never make it over here. Finally! As usual, we got the front row all to ourselves, and we all really enjoyed the show. Owen seems to be entertained by anything that moves and talks, and Lily is becoming quite a history buff already.
It was almost time for lunch, but not quite. We thought about checking in at Liberty Tree Tavern early, but it looked pretty busy in there so we thought it might be better to just wait and come back closer to our ADR time. So we went on one last “new” adventure – the Country Bear Jamboree. HOW could we possibly have been to WDW so many times and never have done this classic? Well, it may not be something I feel like I have to do EVERY time, but I’m glad I’ve now done it once. It was pretty cute.And Owen still talks about the singing, dancing bear show every few days.
Now we would be almost perfect for our lunch reservation. That was probably all the rides we would have time for, but it had been a good morning. We checked in, and before the kids even had time to sit down at the coloring table, they were calling us already. Our waiter appeared a few minutes later and took our order. I whisked Owen off to make a quick diaper change, and by the time we came back, our drinks, appetizers, and entrees were already there! We ate quickly, all enjoying our food, ordered dessert (and the check), and ended up being out of there at 1:05. Our ADR was at 12:30pm. That had to be the fastest meal all week, and what a good time for speed. We would get to do one last ride afterall! It seemed all of our favorite meals were at places we had never been to before, this one no exception. A good lesson for the future, I suppose.
Brian realized that we hadn’t done Pirates of the Caribbean yet – somehow we ran out of time the night we did Adventureland. We asked Owen about it, but he seemed nervous. No need to make our last memory a bad one, so I took him back to the Magic Carpets instead. THAT he liked. We waited for them in the Pirates building when we were done, and it was fun just to sit there and listen to the Pirates music playing. I was actually a little sad that Brian and Lily appeared after only a few minutes. A great ending to our day though.
The we took the train one last time afterwards, it would get us back to the front faster, and Owen liked riding anyway. Although we had now ridden it several times, we had never actually done the segment between Frontierland and Fantasyland, so it was neat to see the rest of the route.
And then it was time to go. But what an awesome morning we had! No meltdowns, no disasters, no lost autograph books...just a lot of fun and great memories. It ended up being one of our very best days. I loved getting to try out so many new things, instead of feeling stuck in our usual rut. As we left the park, there was a Photopass photographer in the usual place, in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance. I thought for a second that maybe we should get one last picture, but then thought surely everyone else would argue, as many as we had posed for already. As if reading my mind, Brian suddenly said, “Hey, we should get one last picture!”.
While it was a little sad to be leaving, it also felt triumphant in a way. For so many months I had worried that something was going to go wrong. Someone would get sick, our trip would get interrupted, there would surely be some kind of major disaster that ruined everything, but it didn’t. We had achieved it. A solid week of fun and good memories. And maybe best of all, we FINALLY broke The Last Day Curse!
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Back at Yacht Club, a CM gave Owen a “First Visit” button while we waited for the ME bus. We had plenty of time at the airport so we had an early dinner at Chilis before our flight. Finally back in Colorado, we picked up our car from the hotel (where we stayed before we left) and made the drive home. Despite not getting home until almost midnight, everyone woke up shortly after 5am the next morning. Still on Eastern Time, I guess!
Chapter 23. Thoughts
It was definitely a very different vacation from our previous two. But so far, they have all been very different from one another, so I guess that should come as no surprise. I know I often fall into the trap of trying to re-create something that was special in the past. And maybe I am finally starting to learn that it just can’t be done. There will be more special things, more Magic even, but it’s not going to happen the same way it did before. I think that’s why I ended up enjoying so much of the new stuff that we did this time, and things that I hadn’t done since I was a kid.
The things that had seemed so Magical on the last two trips, seemed kind of “blah” this time. It was the new and unexpected delights that we found Magic in. So I have to constantly be on the lookout for new adventures, or at least a way to shake things up a little. And not be afraid to try new things. Stepping out of my comfort zone is scary, but its usually where the Magic happens. (I think I saw some kind of Venn Diagram showing that concept on Facebook one time. I didn’t believe it then. Now, maybe I do.)
It was an eye-opening week for sure, in many ways. Learning to be more flexible, learning to enjoy each moment for what it is, and learning what really makes us happy. I think I am now much more equipped to handle the uncertainty that the next few months may bring. One day, one moment, at a time. Because none of them, good or bad, will last forever.
As for what we liked and what we didn’t.. well let’s see where to start.
Other than the Flower & Garden Festival, which we LOVED, I didn’t see any advantage to going in April over June. It was at least as crowded, if not more so. And much hotter than I was expecting, other than the 3 days that were cold and rainy. No happy medium, it seemed. But, since any future trips will probably have to be in June, I suppose it’s good to not feel like we will be missing much.
And I can’t say that I was a huge fan of the Yacht Club. The pool was fun, but not THAT much better than the others we’ve stayed at. When we first came home, I was determined that our next trip would be at the Poly again... but I've already started wavering a little. My short list right now inlcudes (in addition to Poly): WL, POR, ASMu, AoA, or maybe one of the DVC resorts. But there is plenty of time to decide, lol!
I liked doing so many of the character meet-and-greets in the parks. In the past, I’ve always been a huge fan of character meals, but we found them not working out as well for us this time, and actually cancelled two near the end of the trip. The greetings in the parks seemed to have better interaction, and definitely better backdrops for pictures (and usually a Photopass photographer, a definite plus!). And were just generally less stressful.
I also liked a lot of the new restaurants we tried this time, especially Tony’s, Liberty Tree Tavern, Biergarten, Kouzzina, and Captain’s Grille. Some of our old favorites I was NOT as wow-ed with, such as Tusker House, San Angel, Le Chefs, and CRT. So it will be interesting next time… do we do our “new” favorites again and make them our “old” favorites, or continue trying new things, since that seems to be what makes it enjoyable…
Time for Individual Favorites!
Soarin’ (as always, lol!)
Watching Owen meet his favorite characters
The American Adventure & Voices of Liberty
Finally riding Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster with Lily
Dinner at Be our Guest & meeting Beast
“Walking lunch” in Epcot (@ the F&G snack kiosks)
Sitting in the front row at Fantasmic!
Rockin’ Roller Coaster & Tower of Terror
Seeing Owen meet the characters
Beauty & the Beast Show
Tower of Terror & Rockin’ Roller Coaster
Bringing Duffy along every day
Eating a Baghrir in Morocco
(In all fairness, Lily had a very hard time narrowing it down to 5. She says her list could go on, and on, and on…)
It’s a Small World
Dumbo (and all of it’s clones)
Little Tiny Lightning McQueen
As for what we will do differently next time… I guess the biggest thing will be willingness to think outside the box a little more. Seek out new places to eat, and be willing to change our schedule up a little each day, and focus on the rides and attractions that we have NOT done every single time already. I'm actually thinking that I want to do a split stay with Universal Studios, spend 3-4 nights over there, then come to Disney. Now THAT would be shaking things up a bit, lol! But that trip is probably several years away still.
Hopefully we'll at least get to squeeze in a mini-trip or two in the meantime. We will probably go down to FL to visit my parents during Lily's spring break next year, and we are tentatively planning to fly into MCO and add on a quick trip to Cocoa Beach and the Space Center first. But we'll need to fly back out of MCO, since we'll have rented the car there. So maybe we can go back to Orlando a day early.... Lily has been begging to stay in one of the new Lion King suites, and Owen never did get to meet Stitch, so maybe we could consider one night at AoA, and a breakfast at Ohana. Something to think about anyway :)