Operation “Magical Meetings”
Not wanting to take park time from the kids, we decided to get up insanely early before they were awake and make the first mass Sunday morning, leaving Dave to watch them. Of course we complained the whole taxi ride to the Shrine (Our Lady of Excessive Commercialism) and back about how much easier it was back when they held mass at the Polynesian.
I know, very Christian of us.
Dave was with his girls in Grandma’s room, while Anabelle stayed in our adjoining room. I was very impressed with my big girl when she texted us from Rosa’s phone, and not just because I was lucky if I could answer that technological monstrosity. She got up, had her breakfast, vitamins and drinks from the fridge, and then knocked on the door so she could watch TV with her cousins. It must have been very sweet and peaceful before we returned and threw everyone back into travelling clothes to catch yet another bus to an action packed and fun day in the Magic Kingdom.
When we got there, we found the Kingdom fully decorated for Christmas, requiring us to retake the Main Street Photo Pass pictures again.
It’s not only a vacation; it’s a quest for a Christmas card.
Initial park recombobulations allowed time for some display window viewing and Grandma getting Veronica a lineless meeting with Daisy when she first appeared. I had to invoke WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY powers to get everyone to the Dream Along with Mickey show in front of the Castle on time, but there were a couple of pauses:
Kim paused to look to complete her family silhouette collection but there wasn’t time.
I paused only to buy a GIANT Mickey cookie with chocolate covered ears -as I had my eye on this desert for several months after seeing it announced on the Disney blog- I walked in and asked about the peanut butter one I read about, and she informed me that that was limited and they didn’t have them anymore. Then she saw how sad I looked and said, “All we have are the chocolate chip ones”. SOLD!
Rosa and Anabelle grabbed some snacks too.
We also paused so a passing bus driver could sing Happy Birthday to Rosa. (They take this celebration thing pretty seriously there.)
We made it to the Castle, and claimed a spot for the kids up close, guaranteeing a Wendy wave to the waiting waifs as well as many other bunches of return waves and blown kisses. The show was still great; much like a distilled version of everything that makes Disney World wonderful in fifteen minutes:
Mickey and the rest of the big five
A vulture even started flying over the castle when Maleficent appeared, those Disney people are good.
Then it was time for our first trip into Tomorrowland, starting off with Grandpa’s favorite (and quickly becoming the girls’ as well) Buzz Lightyear. Normally, we grab Fast Passes just before we ride, letting us get right back on, riding twice in a row. We didn’t this time, mostly because I wasn’t paying enough attention to the time/the location/my wife. (Dancing closely to increasing the JII.)
Amidst a chorus of screaming “again again”s we got Fast Passes after riding, and went into the Carrousel of Progress in the meantime. As always, everyone liked, and sang along with, Walt’s favorite attraction and we went back for another round of laser shooting fun slightly rested and happy, so it was actually worth it.
During the pre-lunch potty patrol, Anabelle took advantage of a short line and the rest of the family’s anti Stitch bias and spent some quality time with the little alien pulling her pigtails. I tried to wait on the Buzz Lightyear greeting line in my new shirt, but there wasn’t time before our lunch reservation, and back to Main Street we went.
Lunch in the Plaza was excellent (as usual), the visit from Miss DePointe enhancing the experience and celebrations. We all wondered if they check the schedule to make sure the 100th guest is someone not on the dining plan in order for the free dessert to actually have meaning. Another “as usual” for the Plaza was that it took forever to get out of there. Almost every review of the place I’ve read talks about how fast the service is, and we saw a larger party than our eight get served and leave while we were still eating. Maybe they like having us around.
As we finished up my WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY side took over. Kim had gone back before we ate to check the silhouettes, but the guy was on break. There was another one in Liberty Square however, which is also where Tiana was, who Anabelle really wanted to meet. Since I knew the parade started there, and ended on Main Street, I figured we could head over, do those things, and be there for the beginning of the parade. Then we could get back to rides while it was still going.
The problem with this plan was that the parade GOES THE OTHER WAY.
However, if we did go to the start of the parade, we probably would have missed the Liberty Square stuff due to the post parade crowds. Once again, my stupidity paid off, and it was actually worth it.
While everyone was still packing up, I decided to go back to see Buzz, since I had on my new uniform shirt, and meet the gang in Liberty Square.
I needed to see him in this park. In MGM Buzz knows he’s Andy’s toy, but in the Magic Kingdom, he’s really a Space Ranger.
If this logic doesn’t make sense to you, you will never understand Disney World.
The line wasn’t too long, and Buzz was very excited with my outfit as even my sneakers matched his shoe colors. (Characters are really happy if you have costumes/shirts/temporary tattoos/birthmarks with their image. It really enhances the fun.) After being a kid yet again, I raced back to Liberty Square in time to be on line for Tiana and Naveen. Kim’s silhouettes were finished too, and they joined us as one of the last guests before the royal couple left to be in the parade.
Most of the princesses are fairly similar personality wise, with the exception of conversation topic:
Therefore it’s surprising when you meet one of the newer characters and see how movie accurate they are. Tiana and Naveen were dancing around with the kids, and asking about their favorite foods. Anabelle told them “hot dogs” so that’s what they all said when the picture was snapped instead of “cheese”.
Except maybe Veronica, She said, “cheese” semi continuously even when people weren’t taking pictures.
We eventually met up with Dave who held the spot the cast members made him move to slightly away from the spot Kim left him with the stroller, and Grandma who was shopping, to watch the Dream Come True parade.
The kids had a blast. Parades had become far more interactive than they used to be, with an increased number of characters appearing and coming over to expressively greet and dance with the spectators. Anastasia commented on Anabelle being cocooned in Rosa’s coat, “What a lovely wrap!” Even the ones on the float had much more individual recognition and communication. Tiana and Naveen looked down from the top of the final float and yelled “Hot Dogs!” to the girls, guaranteeing an extended happy dance.
Since we were near them, we took pictures of our children in the stockades, recreating the embarrassing photos Kim and I were forced to take as kids. Thus the cycle continued. We figured since everyone was in such a good mood, it would be a great time to do the Haunted Mansion again.
Not so much.
Anabelle, being much more tired than the last time we went, wanted to go back to the hotel immediately after finishing, especially when she got the same ghost sitting on her as last time.
To no one’s surprise, the short chubby ghost followed Grandma home again.
Aurora was OK, but not thrilled either. Veronica however thought it was great, and her favorite part was the terrifying to the other two “Poppy uppy people”, earning her a Haunted Mansion shirt from Grandma, to balance out the Tower of Terror shirts the other girls got.
We started our way back to Tomorrowland, but as we entered Fantasyland, Anabelle and Aurora each grabbed a hand and asked, “Can we PLEAAAAAASE go on the Small World again.”
Never let it be said that the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY has no heart.
We resumed our journey after I enjoyed sitting between the two newly re-smiling girls on our third “Happiest Cruise that Ever Sailed”. En route back to yesterday’s view of the future, Rosa spotted the usurper, Rapunzel, having her last meet and play of the day in Belle’s Fairytale Garden. It was already closed, but the girls could look in and see her, while I grumbled in the background (not that I was bitter or anything).
By this point, Anabelle had changed her mind and wanted to go on Space Mountain, meaning, of course, that it was broken. Instead we went to the then most recent home of blessedly stupid humor at Disney World, the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. The kids (and adults) laughed at the ridiculous comedy, and Rosa was chosen for the Mind Reading trick. She enhanced the show by not understanding the instructions, “Now I’ll close my eyes so I can’t hear you, tell the audience what number you thought of.” Instead she held up four fingers, so when Buddy Boil didn’t hear anything, but the crowd said they knew the number: Befuddled Funny!
Kim’s girls were too small for the Mission to Alien Mars Encounter with Stitch or whatever its new name was. Instead, Grandma took them on Buzz again. Kim and Dave’s anti Stitch bias continued, but we had a great time. Anabelle’s initial nervousness dissipated immediately as the spitting and burping jokes began.
That’s my girl!
Space Mountain was up again, but the wait was prohibitive and it was getting past feeding time (plus Anabelle seemed a little unsure). It was off to Cosmic Ray’s Café for chicken and fun. While on line, Anabelle was playing in the hula hoop area next to the counters, she did very well. I asked the one frantic looking cast member,
“Are you the hula hoop wrangler?”
“Apparently, but I can’t do it alone”
and ran off for backup.
We scored a table down front and the girls divided their time between eating and getting up to dance to the tunes of Sonny Eclipse.
Rosa pointed out that this was probably our only shot at seeing the Electric Water Pageant, shifting me into WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY overdrive.
We needed to get to one last ride and make it out before the fireworks crowd. If we were delayed by them it meant catching the Water Pageant at the Wilderness Lodge (off the monorail track) more than an hour later than the planned Polynesian viewing. In my haste to clear the tables and get everyone moving my attention to details became unfocused. We scurried over to the newly (or actually oldly) re-renamed People Mover, (See, old names do come back, can MGM be far behind?) and as Dave parked the stroller I horrifyingly realized I forgot the manly Ariel backpack in the restaurant.
I sprinted back to Cosmic Ray’s at top speed, forgetting how poorly designed Chuck Taylor’s are for extended sprints. My right calf muscle pulled like a tire blowing on a NASCAR straightaway (JII=3) cutting a large amount off my top speed. However, about a half dozen people who saw me racing through Tomorrowland in my Space Ranger uniform T-shirt yelled “Go Buzz Go!” So it was actually worth it (except for the whole shooting pain thing). I did recover the bag, and met up with everyone back at the People Mover.
I hadn’t been on that ride at night in a long time. The view was really beautiful with everything lit up, especially the Christmas lights and the Electric Light Parade going up Main Street.
Of course the one night it DIDN’T rain, we weren’t parade side, nicely planned WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY.
We finished the ride, packed up and were ready to move out as the Main Street lights came back up. The Space Mountain line had dwindled, but we figured having Anabelle’s first big roller coaster ride be right after dinner was probably not a prudent parental decision. As we left we found the Castle fully lit up and decorated for Christmas, requiring us to retake the Main Street Photo Pass pictures yet again. We even got Grandma to take one, as every time she tried to take a picture of the Castle at night it was pink, but this time it turned the deep blue of the dress she wore to our wedding (with the Christmas sparkles filling in for the sequins.)
After the normal amounts of park leaving confusion, we formed up and boarded the monorail.
Good News: It was the orange striped one, the only one Kim didn’t see in Disneyland.
Bad news: for some reason, the cabin was kinda stinky.
However, the stroller could stay unfolded with the kids in it. Also in the good column, we saw the fireworks from the Monorail window, and they finally looked right.
Disney “rightness” is all about childhood memories.
In general, even stinky, monorails are just more fun than buses and it was actually worth it.
At the Polynesian we realized a couple of things that worked well together.
(1) We were very early.
(2) It was very cold.
(3) We had no idea where we needed to go.
Therefore we used the time we had to figure out where we needed to be, and stay inside to be warm as long as possible. We also bundled up the kids.
Kim bought a plush towel to tuck in her girls who were asleep in the stroller, and we put Anabelle in a foldable windbreaker and my hat over her coat and hood - making her look somewhat puffy and plastic, but protected. Anabelle was clearly exhausted, uncomfortable and cold waiting on the pier, but as soon as the music kicked in the happy dance returned for the duration of the Pageant.
Kim’s kids, having long ago passed asleep into the realm of totally unconscious, missed the show despite more great parenting (and uncle-ing) in the form of poking and prodding them while saying “Look!”
As we took the monorail around the rest of the loop we got to see the Pageant display again near another hotel. The barges were keeping pace with us. This was brought home when we got off at the Magic Kingdom stop to catch the bus back to the hotel. The pageant only runs by the Kingdom entrance on nights that the park is open late. However, as we came down the monorail ramp, the whole thing lit up. There was no sound but it silently glided alongside of us all the way from the monorail station to the bus stop, then it turned off. Since this is one of the few unchanged attractions from our earliest family visits, it felt like Dad was walking us home.
Back at the POP, Kim presented me with a replacement (if smaller) Bad Boys shirt for being the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY
Preludes and Plans
Day 1: Operation Magical Beginnings
Day 2: Operation Jungle Run
Day 3: Operation Early Kingdom
Day 4: Operation Showtime Doubletime
Day 5: Operation International Alchoholics
Day 6: Operation Magical Meetings
Day 7: Operation Excessive Travel
Day 8: Operation Giant Nostalgia