Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Magic Kingdom

At long last, the Disney post...maybe.  We'll see how many uninterrupted minutes I get while Andrew watches Phineas and Ferb.  I'm not sure he even realizes I left the living room...YET.

I have to confess, again.  I was dreading the whole Florida trip, so much so that I was a nervous wreck.  The air conditioner issue, the money we were about to spend, the travel time, the unfamiliar places...they all had me in quite a dither several days before we left.  But, as fantastic as the whole trip was, our day in the Magic Kingdom was spectacular.  (In spite of sweating buckets, that is.)  Andrew's excitement and the look on his face for some of the things on his "to-do" list was worth it.  And on top of it all, I think we did it as frugally and systematically as possible under the circumstances, and I was kind of proud of myself for the preparation we put it into it.

We got up early on Wednesday morning and hit the road for the 45-minute trip to Orlando from Melbourne.  I was practically giddy with excitement, and the closer we got, and the more billboards we saw with the mouse on them, the worse (better?)  it got.  Memories of prior trips I had taken there as a kid AND the excitement I was feeling for both of my guys had me in a very rare state of enthusiasm.  Even parking the car in the Pluto lot and riding the little tram to the monorail was exciting!

Once inside, we stopped for the requisite shot of the magic castle.  Everyone and their brother was doing the same thing, so this is the first time we encountered a real crowd. 

My research told me that most people follow the path to the right and go to Tomorrowland we did the opposite and started with Adventureland.  Of course, that involved climbing the Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse, so that's where the sweating began.
On from there to Andrew's first-ever theme park ride, Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride.
On to Frontierland...Yes, we splurged on the Splash Mountain official photo, because it slays me.  I am not sure whose face is most ridiculous.  I'm holding on to Andrew for dear life...he's the brave one with his eyes open...and James says he was just afraid his hat was going to fly off.  (He missed the sign reminding riders to remove them.)  I simply love this picture.  And yeah, we got soaked to the bone.
After that excitement, we waited in line a few minutes to see Jesse, from Toy Story.  Stupidly, I didn't take any pictures of her, because I thought we'd get to meet her.  But, just as we were next in line to meet her and get her autograph (NOTE TO FRUGAL PEOPLE:  Buy a small notebook to take with you for autographs.  You don't want to buy the really cute but waste of money books they sell at the park.), she switched out for Woody.  Andrew looks a little starstruck here, huh?
Donald was also in Frontierland!  He's a cute little bugger!
We skipped some things in Frontierland that I would have liked to have done, like the Country Bears Jamboree and Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I sort of planned to go back to Country Bears, but it didn't happen, and I was worried that Thunder Mountain might be too much for the never-been-on-a-rollercoaster-little-guy.  In retrospect, I think he would have been okay, but we'll ride it next time.

By the time we got to It's a Small World in Fantasyland, Andrew was over his fear of the "robots."  (The animatronic Brer Rabbit scenes in Splash Mountain had him practically climbing out of the car.)
The carousel...a favorite no matter where you are.
Other highlights:  The tea cups...
raiding Minnie Mouse's refrigerator...
FINALLY meeting Mickey...
...and Minnie...
Andrew's first rollercoaster, the Barnstormer.  Exactly 40 seconds of terrifying fun.
Andrew's first words after the ride--"That was AWESOME!" 
Later in the day, in Andrew's equivalent of meeting Rick Springfield...we met Buzz Lightyear!
And defeated the Evil Emperor Zurg in the Astro Spin ride.
Andrew was scared to stand in front of Zurg, even though he didn't move.  I guess he'd
seen enough "robots" by this point to be wary. 
A late afternoon shot of the Magic Castle.  Andrew was disappointed that there wasn't really anything to see inside the castle.  The restaurant inside was out of price league, but Andrew wanted to go upstairs.  I had to console him by telling him that the princesses bedrooms were up there, and they didn't want strangers in their bedrooms.
We doubled back around later in the day to hit Pirates of the Caribbean...both boys left unimpressed with that ride.  I could not convince Andrew that the skeletons weren't real, especially when he saw two playing checkers in a dungeon.  He said, "Look, they died playing checkers!"  and when I tried to tell him they were fake skeletons, he argued by saying, "But the checkers were real!"  Seriously--a twenty-minute conversation about the FAKEness of it.  He's still not convinced.

Other recommendations: 

Visit the Carousel of Progress.  It was boring for Andrew, but air conditioned, and there was no wait whatsoever.  James took a power nap.

SKIP Stitch's Great Escape, or whatever it's called.  Yes, it was air conditioned and we got to sit down, but I can do without the scent of chili dogs being "burped" into my face, and Andrew was scared.  I couldn't reassure him because I didn't know what the hell was going on!

Wait in line for the Princesses.  We didn't, but I wish we had.

Ride the train for a sit-down break.  AVOID starting conversations with strangers, because they will sap all of your little remaining good cheer AND completely disrupt what you had hoped would be peace, quiet, and perhaps a nap.

Stay for the parade.  We didn't.  We left at 8:30, and we were all so tired and sweaty I just didn't think we had it in us.  But now I wish we had.  Although, we got out with no problem, and waiting until park closing would have been a complete cluster.  Nah, I'm glad we left.

Rent a stroller. Andrew insisted he didn't want to ride in a baby stroller, but he was in it and riding comfortabley before 9:30.  When he wasn't in it, the backpack rode comfortably.  We had packed a six-pack of water bottles, so the bag was heavy for a while, until the water was gone.  We kept one bottle to refill from sinks and water fountains. 

We had heard the water in the drinking fountains wasn't great, so I packed some of those individual flavor packets (lemonade).  That turned out to be a money saver.  We did buy a few drinks, but they were gone quickly, and well before the ice.  Several times, I mixed lemonade in a bottle and dumped it into the remaining ice to create another cold drink.  Our only food expenditure was at lunch, and we got hot dog combo meals for about $6.00 each.  They were huge hot dogs with great fries, and probably the cheapest way to eat in the park. 

We managed to avoid souvenirs, for the most part.  Andrew wanted popcorn, which was $4.50 in a souvenir bucket.  It's a great, sturdy bucket with a lid that I could justify for that much money.  We also bought him mouse ears with the magic hat on them. (You have to buy MOUSE EARS, right?)  We spent some money on pictures, but only because James' dad had given us money and expected pictures with Mickey.  We did pick up a nice Disney t-shirt with the characters on it at a souvenir shop on the way out of Florida--for $9.00 instead of $25.00.

All in all, it was a great day.  I wish we had had a little more time there, but at the same time, I do not understand how people who park-hop survive.  At the end of the day, my favorite ride was the monorail back to the parking lots and sweet, sweet ride of the rented Impala with the high-powered air conditioner. 
But we're talking about going again next year...although I think we'll wait until the fall.


You Are Kidding Me! said...

What a great post! I just LOVE the pic of Andrew with Mickey - there is simply nothing like bringing a child to the Magic Kingdom and meeting The Mouse!
I LOVE the idea of the flavor packets for the water fountain water - I'm going to do that!

Steve and Ali said...

Man--I thought I was the only nerd who liked the Carousel of Progress! Seriously, I always recommend it to people. Loved reading about your trip, you really managed to get everything into one day!

alisha said...

Seeing your pictures brought back memories of when I took Avery when he was little. I think I have some of those same exact pictures...but WHAT ABOUT SPACE MOUNTAIN???? That was by far our favorite of the park...did you do that one?