Monday, September 22, 2014

Walt Disney World 2013: Day 4 - Finally Hit our Favorite Park, Featuring a Special Belle Bookmark


Greater efficiency was the rule of the morning.

Instead of trying to eat a civilized breakfast in the room, we stuffed handfuls of cereal into ourselves, and brought granola and power bars to eat waiting for the bus.  We also dropped one water bottle from our travelling pack.  We started the trip with a bottle each, the same colors as our Magic Bands.  Of course we didn’t match up which color band matched whose bottle, probably confusing anyone who bothered to notice.  What I noticed pretty quickly, though, was spending most of the day carrying around an empty bottle, and drinking it as soon as I filled it when topping off my family’s supply.  The backpack only had pockets for two bottles, cementing my decision to fill all three bottles in the room, but carry my water supply internally.  Then I’d leave my bottle behind and refill myself along with their bottles at various water fountains.


We were fully prepared for our introduction to New Fantasyland in appropriate shirts:  Anabelle- Princesses, Rosa and I – Beast, and Belle saying “I’m with the Beast.” (No points for guessing who wore what.)   Not only were we prepared and efficient, but we made it to the gates in time to see the character hosted, song and dance, park opening celebration!

YAY Bus Stop breakfast!

We started off with the true official Main Street sigh, taking in the smell of the Magic Kingdom.  Actually, there’s no specific smell. Well, there’s a combination of smells, but that’s still not what I mean.  There’s that overwhelming sense of being in the Magic Kingdom. Since scent memories tend to be the strongest and most pervasive, I’m going with that choice.  I’ll stop now, Disney people know what I mean, and everyone else doesn’t care.

On the street was much posing for requisite PhotoPass pictures. Those photographers are really cool, lesser places would probably have laws prohibiting them from taking pictures with guest’s cameras, but they are all more than willing. 

We stood briefly in front to the castle, waiting our turn to get pictures in the fire engine parked there.  It turned out we were actually setting the day’s trend of waiting for no reason. After the fifteenth permutation of where people were sitting, we realized the family was the one chosen to open the Magic Kingdom that morning, which netted them the special treatment.

We passed through Cinderella’s Castle and into Fantasyland.

Bask in the unadulterated wonderfulness of the feeling that sentence embodies, won’t you?


The absolute perfect introduction to the most magical of places was the Peter Pan ride, which we were able to zoom on to in the minimal line of Extra Magic Hours.  The fluorescent lighting added to the magic, preventing the light from illuminated parts from spilling over into the dark parts of the ride that serve to separate scenes.  I couldn’t remember if Tinkerbell had always been in the beginning of the ride and hovering over the ship near the end.  Anabelle thought she was at least in one of them.

Having flown the pirate ship officially into the realm, the next stop was the other Fantasyland dark ride that backs up when the crowds hit: Winnie the Pooh.  Still enjoying the glorious emptiness of off season Extra Magic, there was no reason to linger on the newly enhanced interactive line.  We did anyway, because it was cute and a hoot.

There was a gang of toys and mini-animatronics activated by stepping pads.  The final section was the coolest:  a series of “honey walls” that were touch sensitive, allowing waiting guests to draw transitory images in the digital golden video goo.

It was closed on our last trip, to install the nifty line, and we enjoyed the passage though the high tech version of a classic Fantasyland dark ride.  However, we decided it rated a single trip per vacation, creating the first FastPass Plus we knew needed changing.  The rain effects were awesome, the Heffalump and Woozle scene was a nice throwback to the seemingly drug induced Mr. Toad ride, but overall, we’re not really giant Pooh fans.

Other than giggling stupidly whenever one of us says “Pooh.”

It’s OK, Disney encourages childlike reactions.

Before Anabelle exploded, despite the fact that it had no need of Extra Magic line reduction, “it’s a small world” had to be next.  The mondo extra empty line allowed us the rarest of Disney welcomes, “Pick whichever row you’d like.” We practically had the boat to ourselves.

That classic ride from the 1964 World’s Fair gets a great deal of grief and flack (from me too) but with the theme of really focusing on attraction details, rather than just reliving them on this trip, there was much to be impressed by on the Happiest Cruise in that Ever Sailed ‘Round the World.

First of all, there was the song that everyone complains about.  It’s pretty amazing that the same melody blended seamlessly, not only through multiple languages, but also different musical styles, and instruments of the world. Throughout, there was no interference from one version to another and many of the sounds were localized to the individuals, objects or animals performing.

The attention to detail was pretty amazing as well. The diversity of the over three hundred animated figures along the path was impressive enough. Adding on to that were many subtle touches, such as the variations in temperature from continent to continent.

On the surface it may seem to be a bunch of dolls singing an annoying song.  However, there were an enormous amount of cool little touches and components in there that justify the ride’s existence and popularity all these years.

I thought they added some people sitting on the elephant, because I forgot about them from the last trip.  They’re nice anyway, but still don’t make up for the removal of the terrified clown with the “Help!” sign in the final room.  It was nice to have one on ride personality to sympathize with parents feeling trapped on their fifteenth trip through the thing.

After the cruise, we entered the area right next to it used for stroller parking, and the former launching point of the Skyway to Tomorrowland.  The area had been given a giant face-lift.  Rapunzel’s tower now overlooked from where the Skyway station used to be.  The ground in the stroller parking area contained the beautifully rendered symbol seen in the town center during the Floating Lantern festival.  Signs all around advertised performances by the Gaul Thugs of the Snuggly Duckling Inn.

There were two rooms: one themed after the barracks, complete with wanted posters and frying pans. The interior of Rapunzel’s tower was recreated in the second room.  I can’t provide details on the tower room, because men weren’t allowed in there.

Yes this beautifully constructed reproduction of Disney’s 2010 animated hit was all to provide a restroom.  Hear that Universal?  The Disney toilets were more immersive and impressive than some of your rides.   And people wonder why I only stay in Disney resorts.

My need to visit Rapunzel’s environs was extremely fortunate and unfortunate.

The good news was that I stumbled upon a then unadvertised Peter Pan and Wendy meet and greet next to his ride with an Extra Magicy tiny line.

The bad news was they went on a coffee break as soon as we got on line. We still hadn’t figured out that there is no “right back” for face characters, until the Awesome Happy Peruvian Disney PhotoPass lady explained it to us. I guess we didn’t wait around for nothing, because learning that kept us from waiting around for nothing later on, but we did squander the last bits of Extra Magic time before bailing on the line and crossing into New Fantasyland for our first Magic Kingdom FastPass Plus.

We whipped across all of Fantasyland and the uncircusy part of New Fantasyland too quickly to get anything but a fleeting impression.  It was obvious the Snow White Mine Train is going to be awesome. They’re putting a freakin’ mountain smack in the middle of Fantasyland.

We also saw the added extra wall sections in Fantasyland proper that made it all look like it is within the grounds belonging to Cinderella’s Castle.  The additions also reproduced the appearance of the Castle as shown in the bumper before Disney Movies.  You gotta believe they plan this stuff out way ahead of time.

Snow White gets a mountain, Rapunzel gets a toilet, and Cinderella gets Fantasyland.
Cindy is still number one in Florida by a large margin.

In the beginnings of Magic Kingdom Ordinary time, we needed to begin at Ariel’s Grotto.  The Mermaid form meet and greet was closed for our last visit. As Anabelle’s favorite, we made sure a stop was scheduled every day in that park. 

The FastPass Plus was excessively worth it, as the line built up significantly as soon as the attraction was open.  We snuck in the secret light up Mickey globe guarded back door, and were placed in the front of the queue.
Anabelle was completely amazed and star struck. She probably remembered about half of what she wanted to say. This was not a huge problem as Ariel was excessively herself and talked a mile a minute about meeting Anabelle, various human customs (And for your birthday they give you a cake, and then set it on FIRE!) and about forty seven thousand other things in the couple of minutes we spent with her. 

Peter and Wendy’s “be right back” coffee break was due to be over shortly, giving us time for a more leisurely crossing of Fantasyland to take in the new changes. Again, I need to comment how well Disney funnels people around.  The park looked fuller than it was.  This is a good thing, as even though the lines were almost nonexistent on most attractions, the park never took on the feel of being empty or deserted.

Extra Magic hours were long since over, but their lack of advertising, and the fact that Peter and Wendy were residing in the location of the old (pre-Tangled) bathrooms, meant there wasn’t much of a line right before they arrived.  The meeting, like most, was magical.  Wendy was proper and pleasant, and Peter Pan was more rambunctious and fun.  He also came off as a tad on the creepy side. He always does, I think that has more to do with the nature of the character that brings children away from their homes to live in a land without aging than the individual in the green suit.  Once our photos were done, they bid us a farewell saying they’d see us again,
“In Neverland or the parade, whichever comes first.”

Awesome.

We were getting the hang of realizing we didn’t have to rush to the start time of our FastPass Plus reservations, since the window was an hour long.  First, there was a bit of confusion as to line length. I was making the point that Philharmagic never had a line, due to the giant theater.  Rosa was looking at the “wait time” sign next to the entrance, which said “50 Minutes.” We quickly established that sign showed wait times for the FastPass attractions that had tickets there - the new Ariel and Belle themed ones.  Once we looked through the crowd of FastPassers, we could see the completely empty entrance to Philharmagic.

I absolutely love the presentation of that film.  The fact that it started out as a normal sized screen, and gradually expanded during each scene was done subtly.  Again, it’s Disney using the “dark spaces” of the attraction very well.  By the time the Lion King section kicked in, the screen was almost half way around the room, but reset to standard size in the ending blackout hiding all evidence of its growth. 

Magic.

On the way back to New Fantasyland, we passed the insane line for the Be Our Guest counter service lunch.   That early in the morning and it was already across the bridge and half way to Circusland.  Disney continued to be awesome by giving those in the baking heat oversized golf umbrellas for the duration of their wait. Umbrellas or no, we were very glad for our Prototype FastPass lunch appointment.

Gaston was due out near his tavern, and we had time to join his line.  Anabelle and I entered into a conversation based on her asking, “Isn’t he dead?”   I started out saying that most Disney villains were dead, but the more we talked, the more we realized had survived their films.  The explanations for appearances of the dead ones, “Disney Magic!”

Like most bad guy meetings, Gaston was a hoot.  He was also freakishly tall, entering into competition with Doctor Doom and Goofy.  His entertainment value was explained by his listing in the character guide.  Instead of what would be movie accurate: “Evil and cruel, manipulative, egotistical jerk,” he was described as, “Obnoxious but likeable.”  That’s pretty much the transformation they do to all of the villains.  The traits we love about them remain, but the part where they want to kill/kidnap/torture people is left out of the park versions.

He was asking the boy on line before Anabelle to help him pick the most beautiful princess from a picture; because that was the one he should marry. When he learned the boy’s little sister was afraid of him, he started giving him pointers on convincing her that he was a hero…though he still said, “Your pleasure,” when the boy said good bye.
He told Anabelle to imagine him kissing her forehead to get her to smile, and commented favorably on her and Rosa’s shirts.  He asked why I had such an ugly person on my shirt, and talked about having confidence (to both me and the previous little boy) citing himself as the perfect example.  Then he made fun of my muscles.
“Flex with me.   You can start any time now.”

One interesting point: with the exception of the Cast Member who let us into Storytime with Belle, he was the only one that day who noticed Belle’s name is contained in “Anabelle.”  I guess it’s like professional wrestling.  Due to the need to be good “on the mike” and be able to show a range of emotions and personality types beyond sweetness, and generate strong responses by their actions rather than their appearance, the heels (bad guys) tend to be more intelligent and well-spoken than the faces (good guys).

Looking up from the Beauty and the Beast area, it was clear that the Beast’s Castle, one of the two new ones advertised, employed some of the most extreme forced perspective in Disney history. It works fine approaching the area from a distance, but I’m sure when Monty Python fans get close to it they’ll remark, “It’s only a model.”

 The second castle, Prince Eric’s topped the new Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid dark ride.  (Or as Anabelle called it, with overflowing joy in her voice, THE ARIEL RIDE!) While nowhere near Cinderella sized, this castle visually held up better upon approach. 

The line of the attraction wound around a sea shore looking area before heading into coastal caves.  One of the main outdoor features was a large waterfall.  Since we had FastPass Plus, we took the bypass route that traveled behind the falls.
Yes, even with the Jungle Cruise closed, we got to experience “the Back Side of Water.”  Disney, you never let me down.

The ride was up to the storytelling and technological standards these parks have led us to expect.  A mix of light, darkness and video effects created transitions between different scenes, and between above the water and “Unda da Sea.”  That song was the giant set piece of the ride, and was mesmerizing.
The use of state of the art animatronics for the focal characters (Ariel and Sebastian with his video eyes) let them get away with lower tech other places, which allowed an extremely large number of brightly painted moving sea life in the display.  The larger than life Ursula animatronic with working crystal ball was also excessively, technically impressive, while being viscerally unnerving.

The line was short, and we could have missed out on the back side of water and shifted our FastPass Plus elsewhere.  Instead, we decided to use it and shave off some time, to allow time to jump on the standby queue for a second trip before lunch.  I’m glad we chose to do that as we got to see the Scuttle animatronic identifying various artifacts on the line.

We’ve still yet to grow enough patience to try the stand by queue on Toy Story Mania, and therefore have cruelly snubbed Mr. Potato head on every visit.   Anabelle rode alone on the second trip, and on every subsequent one.

After an Ariel Overdose, it was time to try out the test run of FastPass Food.  We bypassed the horde of waiting umbrella holders, Rosa scanned her band, and we entered the Beast’s Castle. 

Wow, that was cool!  Both how much it looked like the movie, and the whole not standing on line for the rest of our natural lives thing.

After checking out all three rooms, we were duly impressed with the giant music box and paintings in the gallery
and the spooky coolness of the West Wing.
There was however, no doubt in any of our minds that we should eat in the meticulously reconstructed Ballroom.

Anabelle and I got the drinks and silverware.  Rosa had to stay where we chose to sit, which we picked pretty much at random after wandering the restaurant for a while.  The food trolley was brought directly to our table. 

DISNEY MAGIC!!!

Well, that and they used the RF transmitted in Rosa’s Magic Band to find her after she checked in.  Some people may find that concept a little creepy.
Me?  I can’t wait for the Disney brain chip that will embed the Grid directly into my skull and provide updates as needed.

The food was outstanding, but required some family styling. Though Anabelle thought the Mickey shaped meatloaf was cool, she didn’t like the extra stuff in it making it “not like Grandma’s.”  However, Rosa liked it, which made room for her to share her turkey with the two of us. Turkey so good, may I add, that she loved it, and she’s pretty neutral about turkey in general. Aside from it being awesome, I needed some turkey because Anabelle learned she liked the tuna in my Ni├žoise salad.  Basically, there was much sharing of yumminess, and our early lunch filled us adequately to continue our breakneck pace until our early dinner.

For a change, our next FastPass Plus was next door, at Enchanted Tales with Belle.  Because of room size and show length, the line never dropped below twenty minutes. The Cast Member at the back door to Belle’s cottage saw our shirts, and Anabelle’s name, and said “Of course you have a fast pass for this.”

The experience was a fitting tribute to the film.  I can give it no higher praise. 

We were all crowded into Maurice’s workshop told the Magic Mirror could show us the day Belle and the Beast fell in love.  The mirror showed us images used pretty standard Disney Magic, easily explainable by video technology and tricks.  Then the mirror transformed into a door, using an actual magic spell as best as I can figure.

We entered a hallway, where Cast Members assisted Madame Wardrobe (Yay! JoAnn Worley!) in picking out kids to play all the roles in the story of Belle and the Beast meeting.
Happily, Anabelle shivered well enough to get chosen to play Belle’s dad. They gave her a set of dungeon bars to shiver behind.  They no longer pick an adult to play the Beast, like they used to in Story Time with Belle…dang it.

We were all led into a large room with a fireplace.   Lumiere was on the mantel hosting the rest of the encounter.  All the kids practiced their roles for the talking candle (Yay Disney Magic!) until the big moment came. 

Belle arrived, in her yellow gown, not her standard blue book reading dress…poop.  Lumiere reminded her of her own story (OK, then) and she was suitably impressed with all the kids’ performances, and finished by leading them in a “Be Our Guest” procession around the room.

Afterwards, she posed for pictures with all the participating kids, and any others who wanted to meet her. She didn’t sign anything but gave out bookmarks to “mark” the special occasion. 

Rosa pointed to my Beast shirt, and asked the Cast Member if I could get a picture with Belle.  She and Belle both saw the pictures on both of our shirts and said “Of course.”

This attraction, like Jedi Training and some other new ones, had a dedicated PhotoPass person that gave everyone a card for the specific show. Therefore about twenty families now have pictures of me with an incredibly goofy and excited grin as I got my bookmark. A bookmark which now sits in a place of honor on my Fonzie mirror.

Thanx, honey!

The last section of New Fantasyland we hadn’t experienced was the Storybook Circus.  Rosa went to shop while I brought Anabelle to experience the new Double Dumbo, featuring a sealed off playground area instead of a line.

The line wasn’t nearly as long as listed.  However, it was too long to hop right on the ride, but too short to be given a beeper and sent to the play-jail.  We passed by the playground and became very confused, losing a couple places in line.  Finally, we figured it out, and went straight out onto one of the rides.  It’s pretty surreal with them next to each other.  You’re up in the air, flying in Dumbo, look right next to you, and there’s Dumbo!  It was like when driving and seeing the exact same make and model car you’re in and momentarily think, “Hey! It’s us!”

Our Dumbo wouldn’t go down.  We reported it broken and the only not Awesome Happy (but in fact Cranky and Snotty) Disney person we met on the trip grumbled that the lever has to be held down for three to five seconds continuously, and made us leave.  I thought we tried that.  It may have gone down on the next ride; it was hard to tell as they went in a circle which green hatted elephant was ours.

The circus area lines expanded while we were elephanting, leading Anabelle and I to grab our first Double Dip standard FastPasses on the vacation for the Barnstormer.  We joined Rosa in the Big Top, first to hit the Side Show themed character meetings. We‘d seen Goofy and knew we’d see Donald several times, making waiting for them not worth it, even in shiny costumes.  Minnie however, has been evicted from a couple of our favorite meals, and the Magic Kingdom Mickey meet. 

The line went quickly, as almost all did (Yay, early September Disney!)  We got to Fortune Teller Daisy in no time. The highlight was Minnie, though. Anabelle had colored several pictures for various characters, and Minnie went absolutely nuts over it.  She danced, she showed it to the PhotoPass person, she hugged excessively, and she wrote a small novel in Anabelle’s pink fluffy princess autograph book.

We emptied out into the large gift shop in the tent.  Anabelle picked out her ears for the trip. (A Princess set, complete with crown and veil.)  While waiting we chatted a bit with the Cast Member at the counter about the Magic Bands: how they worked, what we thought, etc.  It wasn’t the first, or last time it happened. Most people working there seemed to share our opinion that they were a really cool thing and were genuinely curious as to how well they functioned.

Anabelle whooped and yelled throughout the trip on the Barnstormer.  The trip confirmed my observations on Expedition Everest. It wasn’t the high speed twists and drops I had a problem with; it was squeezing my considerable large mammalness into kid capacity coasters.

Our next FastPass Plus was on Main Street, and since a heavy dose of Tomorrowland was appropriately planned for tomorrow, instead of walking through it, we took the Disney World Railroad from the newly re-themed Fantasyland Station.

Anabelle asked the conductor if the train stopped on Main Street.  Despite my insane Grid making levels of planning experience, she was close enough to being a teen ager to not believe me flat out anymore.  He informed her that he would make it stop there, “For you.”  He also noticed my JLA tattoos and Aquaman sneakers, commenting, “Somebody’s a DC fan…I’m just saying,” as he prepped us for launch, or take off, or whatever the proper version of that for a train is.

We took the railroad a third of the way around the park, exited on Main Street, and entered the Princess’s temporary housing location in Town Hall.  

Disney beauty standards must be cyclical.  I found most of the princesses on this trip had very round faces compared to previous vacations.  Anabelle had a wondrous time meeting Cinderella, Aurora and Rapunzel (in her only park location), who were all excited by being on her shirt.  Once again we cemented the worth of squeezing in a trip while she’s still in the “real” age bracket.   They gave Anabelle some pretty tattoos on the way out, adding to her already considerable high.

Contrary to the end of the film, Rapunzel still had her long blonde locks, because no one gives a rat’s patootie about Rapunzel with short hair. 

Cinderella’s photographer thought our Belle and Beast shirts were awesome, and pointed them out to her. She said Belle was going to be jealous.

There was a guy ahead of us on line, who looked a little older than me.  He was all alone, and approached each princess with an exaggerated bow, and flowery greeting. He then took a picture of them solo, before getting his PhotoPass shot with them, and bid them an equally fancy farewell. 

How ridiculous for a grown man to act that way…

I mean, it’s not like it was Belle.

As long as we were on Main Street, we worked our way up to the Castle to see the imminent Dream Along with Mickey.  On the way, we passed the Dapper Dans, cracking some jokes in between songs.  Gotta love the more violent variation of the Mary Poppins classic:
“My sister was dating a man with a wooden leg, but she broke it off.”

We secured a close up spot for the Castle Show, and deep fried ourselves in the blazing Florida sun yet again. Anabelle borrowed a trick from the Be Our Guest line and stood under our umbrella for a bit.

The show was unchanged, still sweet and fun. It drove home an important point about the Disney Villain hierarchy.  When Captain Hook showed up, everything was still sort of a game, but when Maleficent made her thunder filled appearance, even Hook was terrified.  Of course, not even she could stand up to the full force of Donald’s temper.

Merida from Brave, having booted the usurper Rapunzel from the Fairy Tale Garden, was taking a well deserved break.  This allowed us to head directly to Frontierland for the start of the parade. Due to construction on the Jungle Cruise limiting room for the floats, the parade had to run in reverse.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense, since the floats still had to be where they’d end if the parade went the normal direction when it started in the reverse direction…

Well, now I’ve confused myself.  We were at the parade start, it was fun, and it had a special starting section for Pluto’s birthday. Woo-hoo!

When the parade cleared, we entered Adventureland in hopes of riding what was still my favorite attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean.
However, en route we stumbled upon someone else stumbling, Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial. It was basically a drunken, nautical version of the Jedi Training Academy show. It was also less of a phenomenon, allowing perspective pirates to be pulled from the crowd at show time by Jack’s crewman, Mac.  Why he wasn’t “Gibbs” I have no idea, I guess we just got lucky with the inherent Gibbsness of the performer we saw.  The selected students included the star of the show, a very small, brave, but quiet lad in a Jake wig dubbed, “The Fuzzy One.”

The main difference between learning to fight from Captain Jack and a Jedi Master is that Jack leaned very heavily on the “Distract and Flee” maneuver.  And a very entertaining maneuver it was, especially when The Fuzzy One tried to copy his Captain’s rather specific running style.
The show ended with a rousing sing along of “Yo Ho Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me.”

During our stay, the park seemed to be having technical boat problems. Our first evidence of this was finding that between when we entered the piratey section, and the Captain Jack show completed, the Pirates attraction was shut down for maintenance.

Following a bit of walking back and forth (mostly because I had the map upside down…whoops) we went to the new/old Tiki Room.  The show was a less padded version of the original, still very cute, still very sweet, still very sing alongable (if that is  a word), but not nearly as funny as the Rowan Atkinson, Gilbert Gottfried version.
I suppose that could have been left unsaid in the “ridiculously obvious” pile.

We deemed the new/old show worthy of a single visit per vacation. No more was needed, no less could be tolerated.  Full of Tikiness, it was time to return to Fantasyland for our early dinner.

Against all odds we made it to Cinderella’s Castle well before our reservation.  Anyone who knows us can attest that this event was of “Freakin’ Miraculous” status.  The Cast Member at the desk took my name, but said we couldn’t check in until the actual reservation time, when she would call us.  She then went absolutely bananas about our Belle and the Beast shirts.  Unfortunately, her excitement seemed to make her forget we were there to eat, and I had to go remind her we were standing directly in front of her after our scheduled time had passed.

It didn’t cause any trouble; we were called to dinner while still on line for the Cinderella picture, meaning we had no inside wait time.  Before heading up, Anabelle got her magic wand. All the girls got them, while boys got a short sword.  I’ve never seen a kid ask for the other gender’s item, and wondered if it would make the castle collapse.
I don’t care how many times we’ve done it, there’s still something extra enchanting about walking up that red, carpeted, claustrophobic, spiral staircase, and having it open up into the full immersive Castle interior.  That’s magic all by itself, never mind the parade of princesses passing through.  Combining all that with the excellent food, and it’s no wonder that the place has always been full. It’s well worth the two dining plan meals. 

The princesses were, to appropriately over use the word again, awesome.  It was very obvious that each princess was selected not just for general abilities to interact with guests, but also very specifically for the individual princess’s mannerisms. Snow White was one in a long line to make the joke about Anabelle running out of fingers for birthday’s since she was turning ten.  Apparently the Castle’s integrity was sound enough to handle gender swapped toys, as Snow carried around one of the swords during the wishing ceremony, wielding it quite adeptly as she danced around the room.

Aurora noticed her picture on Anabelle’s shirt, and was properly pleased.  Ariel also noticed herself while calling Anabelle a “Starfish.”
Our daughter continued trying to piece together a mapping between ages and sea life based on Ariel’s nicknames for her.  She also noticed Rosa and my coupled shirts, but we would not get to show them to the Beast’s true love.

Instead of Belle in her blue reading dress, who we’d seen on every trip to the Castle since our first as a married couple, Jasmine was there instead.  Anabelle was excited since this was the first time we’d seen her at any princess meal: Castle or Norway.  Therefore I’m not at all bitter about missing Belle in the outfit that suits her personality best while Rosa and I were wearing shirts referencing her movie. 

When Jasmine finished asking Anabelle about magic carpet destinations, the half-dressed hussy left us to enjoy our desserts and have a small boy ask about her pointy…feet.  I’d like to describe the rest of the meal, but I ate my sorbet way too fast and apparently froze the part of my brain that stored the rest of the delicious food we consumed.

The thunderstorm of inconvenience was in full force when we exited, closing all of the outside rides.  MyDisneyExperience let us know that although Pirates was up and running again, it had a thirty-five minute wait, compared to the Haunted Mansion’s twenty. The mansion was also significantly closer to our position.

The new interactive line looked pretty cool, but since the interactiveness was all uncovered, we stayed under the awning for most of the outside wait and didn’t take advantage of it.
 Anabelle was tired, and found the ride too dark and scary.  Getting stuck in the door corridor, the hands down spookiest part of the ride, didn’t help her mood much.  Even nerve wracked, she did agree that the warning messages played in Spanish sounded significantly less terrifying.  My, how her view of this ride would change in just under a week.

As a reward for putting up with her parents scaring her, we went on another small world tour. To keep it interesting, we focused on trying to figure out what parts had changed, and where dolls were missing for repair.


At the end of our cruise, the sky cleared up and a brilliant rainbow appeared over the Kingdom. 


I’m as much about Disney Magic as the next person (or more likely quite a bit more about Disney Magic than the average “next person”) but people were getting seriously WAY overemotional about the rainbow.  The Mickey shaped cloud next to it was a nice touch though, kudos to the Disney Climatology Imaginer’s for that one.

We returned to Adventureland, to find nearly an hour wait for the fairies in Tinkerbell’s Nook.  The Cast Members outside were not allowed to tell us which of her friends was holding court with Tinkerbell that day. However, when Anabelle told them her favorite was Silvermist, they did advise we might not want to pick that particular time to wait on line. 
‘Cause Awesome Happy Disney People, that’s why.

Luckily, the line for Pirates had died down after it had been open a while. The wet backed seat we piled into gave Anabelle a quick reminder of what was likely to happen.  We all had a Yo-Ho-ing great time on the classic attraction.
 There was a little thrill magnified by atmosphere. The fifty foot flume is as long as the drop on Splash Mountain, but only descends fourteen feet.
Then the wonders of a little spookiness, a criminally catchy song,  and some of the best animatronics on property. What’s not to love?

We couldn’t believe that both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain had only ten minute waits.  It turned out it was because they had just reopened.  It also turned out that we made a small pile of bad decisions about which one to ride. 

Splash Mountain was a significantly longer ride, but one of Anabelle’s absolute favorites.  Instead of quickly jumping on the stand by line, we made the error of letting Anabelle change into her bathing suit and flip flops first. 

While we were navigating the stand by line very quickly an immense herd of guests came stampeding by us on the FastPass line.  We learned later that rides honor any previous FastPasses from during ride shut down times. The thunderstorm coupled with the boat problems meant there were a vast number of unclaimed FastPasses to be honored.  We stood in a dark, air conditioned corridor for about a half hour, before realizing we could potentially miss the Light Parade, and backing out of the queue.  Standing immobile while my daughter was freezing reminded me why I stopped going on thrill rides. I had nothing against the rides; it was the lines I refused to deal with.  If it wasn’t for FastPass, I’d never have relearned how much I enjoy coasters.

Anabelle changed back quickly but left her flip flops on as parade time was drawing close.

I’m normally pretty savvy when it comes to Disney crowds:

I knew Thursday night parade crowds are substantially less than Saturday night crowds.
I knew we could go to the Magic Kingdom the day of the Night of Joy because it wouldn’t impact the normal crowd levels.

I forgot to factor in that with the Night of Joy keeping a majority of guests out of the park on Friday and Saturday night, the spill over would fill the Thursday parade route.

Therefore, the sidewalks were more and more mobbed as we walked toward “our” semi-secret spot in front of the Castle behind the light-up-crap cart.  It was packed in too tight to slide a credit card between people, forcing us back through Liberty Square.  That location had become completely full, contrary to all the very nice viewing spots we passed on the way to Main Street back when I thought I knew what I was doing.  We finally found a spot next to a trash can in Frontierland.  I made a couple runs to the water fountains in the pass through to Adventureland across the way as we settled in to our less than finest moment.

We were tired, worn out and crabby at the end of a very long day.  Tempers flared and voices were raised for reasons that are pretty lame in hindsight.  Anabelle impressively tried to act as a voice of reason, but was equally exhausted.  I ended up holding the video camera, which worked out well, because my general shakiness is at a frequency the steadycam feature can remove, while Rosa’s dancing is not.

The Light Parade brought us all back to Disneyness; it’s amazing how powerful the magic remains at any age.  Anabelle danced along and got many birthday greetings and waves from the performers, including an extended one from Dopey that raised her spirits strongly against the effects of exhaustion.  Rosa got many waves too as she danced as well, including one by a donkey boy from Pleasure Island who complimented her tiny crown. In the mass of changing and hat buying, my wife had ended up wearing Anabelle’s cute little crown barrette, which became even cuter and littler on an adult head.

Sufficiently ReDisnified we walked together on the bridge to Main Street and found a spot to watch Celebrate the Magic.  They’d created some impressive new projection technology since our last visit.  The show of images seamlessly conforming to the Castle exterior, making the iconic building come alive was completely mesmerizing.  The combination of famous scenes and music blended together for an amazing spectacle.

We thought we were in a great spot for the fireworks. As we always left before they were shot off, from outside the park they appeared to cover the entire sky above the park.  This was not quite true.  Once we saw Tinkerbell descend, which was the first time for all of us, and quite wonderful, the fireworks all went off directly behind a nearby tree.

We started to work our way toward the exit, since we couldn’t see “Wishes” anyway. Anabelle was trying to walk backwards through the crowd in flip flops to allow her to see the show.  Gotta give her credit for trying, and for getting us a spot.  An Awesome Happy Disney Person saw her plight, asked if we wanted to see the display, and pulled us into a space that there’s no way we would have found on our own where we finished watching the spectacle.

Upon battling the mass exodus and standing cattle like on the giant bus line, we decided that saying we’ve seen and heard the fireworks show in the park once was enough for all of us.

The entertainment on the trip home started as we were mashed into the waiting bus.  A woman who didn’t get the whole “Disney Experience” thing pressed herself against the back door, where guests are not allowed to stand.  The driver was telling her to move, and I’m not sure if she bumped a safety thing that opened the door, or he opened it to show her why she couldn’t stand there.  Either way it hit her, and she started screaming and swearing at him.  One passenger asked her to watch her language, because (duh, it’s Disney World) there were kids on the bus.  Another, more observant, passenger pointed out that since she had her own child in her arms, she probably didn’t care.   There was more yelling, the door opening and slamming on her as she tried to jump out, and finally her leaving to get on the other bus that had pulled in during the kerfuffle.

Sensing the uneasiness on the bus, the Magic Disney sound system played “The Locomotion” and “YMCA” to put us all in a better mood and remind Anabelle and me of our respective Grandmothers.

Back at the Pop at 11:30, I went for the nightly mug run while Anabelle jumped into the pool after seeing someone get thrown in fully dressed.  I had no guesses for the Pluto trivia on the message board, and couldn’t score any stickers, but did happily find another washcloth animal back in the room. 

They met me there, both soggy, because Rosa misjudged the edge of the pool depth and fell in helping Anabelle out.

I guess the long day weighed on all of us. We slipped into unconsciousness - exhausted but happy, and ready to go back the next day.




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