Thursday, January 17, 2013

Disney World 2010: Day 2

Operation “Jungle Run”

Early rising (one of many) due to a pre park opening breakfast reservation gave us a nearly empty bus, and time to talk to the driver. He suggested bringing the stroller in through the rear handicapped doors and leaving it in the space on the floor in front of them. This was much better than the “haul it through the crowd” method they had been using the day before, and worked out for the rest of the trip.  While bulky and requiring pit stops before each attraction, it was a useful mobile storage platform, and all three kids took turns riding in it.

Anabelle was almost oversized, but exhaustion and the benefit of sharing snacks while moving, overcame any of her, “I’m too big for a stroller” resistance, which worked out since Kim’s girls wanted to spend most of their time walking and holding hands with “Titi”, so it was actually worth it.

Entering Animal Kingdom before opening wasn’t quite as cool as the Magic Kingdom, but was still very nifty with a “dawn in the forest” feel.  Weaving our way to Donald’s Safari Breakfast in Africa, brought us to pretty much the center of the park.  We continued practicing photo maneuvers with the Duck himself at the entry, and all happily greeted Daisy, Pluto, Mickey and Goofy at the table.  Character buffets are a great way to lose weight. Even with the giant spread of food, not wanting to leave the table for fear of missing someone cuts down on the calories.  All the kids, including Anabelle who was terrified of him last time, gave Goofy big greeting hugs, and even got up to dance with him at the obligatory parade through the restaurant. (Just like Chef Mickey’s, but with less kids on fire.)

After breakfast I discovered (with some horror) that I had become the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY. You do not want to be the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY.  There is a great deal of stress in being the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY. There is a great deal of pressure to make the right choices as the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY. At some point everyone will yell at the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY.

As the entrance crowds hadn’t made it in as deep as Africa yet, we were able to walk directly into the ride through Kilimanjaro Safaris, and had a great trip seeing all the animals up and about before the heat of the day set in. Aurora particularly enjoyed it asking if pretty much every line afterwards was going to “the Bumpy Bus”. We didn’t want to have to rush to make the first Lion King show, so we decided to walk the Forest Trail first, and catch the second show.  We had a very nice stroll through the forest, and the kids were thrilled at seeing all the animals and getting their first conservation stampy things.

Of course, when we finished, we had to rush to make the second Lion King show.

OK, did ANYONE not see that coming?

We hurried across the park, stopping only to point out a crocodile bench to Veronica, who was saddened that there were no crocs in either safari, those Disney folks think of everything.  Taking note of which characters would be there when it finished, we made it to the show in time to get fairly good seats and all had a great time dancing (Rosa had the choreography down, man, she really likes that one) clapping, singing, and animal noising along with the gang in this classic show.
It was actually worth it.

Despite the throng leaving the show, the character lines in the area stayed manageable.  We stopped to see characters I’ve never seen in the parks in my eight previous visits (plus two to Disneyland) Thumper (Dad’s favorite character from his favorite Disney film) and his girlfriend/wife/sister (depending on which of us you ask) Miss Bunny.  Considering Animal Kingdom opened after our last family Disney trip, you might think it was surprising that there’s always something to remind us of Dad there, but then again, there’s always something to remind us of him everywhere.

Pocahontas was there as we got to the show, but not when we came out. We were able to have our one meeting with Minnie after a short line (where one of the big pens was dropped and broken) and a first autograph meeting with Donald after no line (where the second of the big pens was dropped and broken).  We stopped to see Chip and Dale (because, duh, it’s Chip and Dale) right before they went on a coffee break, for hugs photos and autographs, and then packed up to march toward lunch. We set up camp in Pizzafari. Our plan was to give Anabelle her food and then leave her with Grandma while Rosa and I crossed Discovery Island to bring back something healthier from Flame Tree Barbeque.

The guy wearing the Stitch hands at the counter…

How cool is it that Disney hires people solely to be, “The guy wearing Stitch hands”?

saw Rosa’s birthday button and insisted on following her to the table with a cupcake and giving her a phone message of Goofy singing Happy Birthday.  This made me feel guilty about our plan, but since I’d almost completely given up New York pizza, I was certainly not going to eat Florida pizza. After shuttling children and changing supplies to Dave in the men’s room, we set off in search of non-cheese covered food.  Luckily, Disney people are, as previously mentioned, awesome, and they let us carry the tray back to the other restaurant, our child, and Rosa’s cupcake.  I had no intention of making the plastic  “cup o mousse” one of my allowed deserts, but after four different people’s “You have to taste this”s it was less fat to just eat my whole delicious one.

By the time we finished lunch, Rosa’s phone told us we had only ten minutes before Pocahontas went on a coffee break again.  Therefore, we threw everything together for a double time forced march in full gear back to Camp Minnie Mickey. (By this point, I took over the very manly teal Ariel backpack from Rosa.)  We reached the line hot and tired but in time, and when we saw our little girls hug the princess, it was actually worth it.

Taking up the mantle of the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY I steered everyone around the Tree of Life into Asia in hopes of passing the Discovery Island “conservation stampy thing” spot.  We didn’t, but we did pass the Asia “conservation stampy thing spot”, thus proving Newton’s Law of the conservation of stampy things. The fountain Anabelle played in for hours last time we came was off, suggesting that we carried the kids’ bathing suits around for two days for no reason.

We had more fun wandering through the Asia safari.  Anabelle decided to be terrified of the giant bats, which were her favorite animal on the last visit, because she didn’t want to make this easy or anything.  We ended up taking the long way around to Dinoland, because while effective, I’m not always the most efficient WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY. On route, we did get a very nice close up view of the new Mt. Everest, so it was actually worth it.

Rosa took pictures and got a spot on a character line, and Dave stayed with the sleeping Veronica while the rest of us went on the Triceratops Spin, which was exactly like the Dumbo ride, except that it’s a triceratops. The lines were always shorter, partially because the cars are bigger, but mostly because of the fact that it is deeply ingrained in the human psyche that it is more fun to ride a flying elephant than a flying dinosaur.  Veronica woke up in time to see Pluto and Goofy where we completed and started a pattern. The completed pattern was that the third big pen died.  The started pattern was after Pluto signed the books, we thought we might insult Goofy by not asking for his autograph.  This led the girls to all get a second one. (Not wanting to offend an anthropomorphic dog of course.) That set the precedent for getting multiple signings, allowing us to do handwriting analysis of various fictional characters.

We brought the kids to play in caves and slides of the dino dig playground: after a stop to celebrate Anabelle’s discovery of a hidden Mickey in cracks in the road.  Even the decay was Disneyfied!

At this point we conclusively proved that we carried the kids’ bathing suits around for two days for no reason when we let them run through the waterfall part without changing them.  Kim and Dave went over to enjoy the Dinosaur ride, and after a while we were going to go find a spot to watch the parade.  Anabelle then became heartbroken because she wanted to go dig up the bones, which amazed me as I thought they had closed that section before we ever brought her to Disney. Turns out Anabelle made a new friend who showed her they moved the entrance so you can only get to it from the platform at the top of the slides.  We brought the three newly soggy girls up to dig in the dirt, figuring they’d be totally grime coated by the parade. Luckily, the mammoth bones were buried in tiny pebbles instead of actual dirt, preventing it from sticking to them. Unluckily it ended up in all of their (and our) shoes, causing several stops on the way to the parade, and even in Veronica’s socks (because she pours them there, Kim explained when they found their way to us) causing a small mountain at the foot of the stroller.  While the McGinley EPCOT Thunderstorm was a no show this time, the McGinley Jammin’ Jungle Parade Heatstroke was in full force. The parade was as fun and awesome as always, so it was actually worth it.

Last time we did the Animal Kingdom to Grand Floridian run, the bus went straight there and we arrived almost insanely early for our reservation. Therefore, in order to not abuse my WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY power and transition into a Schedule Nazi, I didn’t push and rush everyone to get out of the park, leading to several individual shopping forays to find missing pins and squashed pennies, a new Pirates cap to protect my shiny head, and other necessities.  I was quite alarmed then when we not only had the longest wait for a bus so far, but also three stops along the way.  The bus pulled in at our reservation time, yielding a mad dash to the ladies room to transform three soggy, sweaty, pebble covered children into mini Cinderellas.  I went to check in and explain our situation. The attendant told me not to worry in a tone conveying that this was a pretty routine occurrence for them.  She gave me a beeper and calmed me down telling me it wouldn’t go off for a while and to go to the picture line once everyone was assembled.  Then, naturally, the beeper went off as soon as I exited the check in area.  I ran back in, pausing for a mild coronary, to explain what happened, and by the time they radioed to “the voices” to ask what to do, the rest of the gang showed up fully princessed.

We were told we had plenty of time to go to the buffet before the characters came around…then the prince showed up before we even sat down, very excited to be in a room that would have four Cinderellas in it (which would be creepy anywhere else).  Buffet trips were in very furtive small sorties, occasionally running back in mid food grabs as the gang came by.  As always, you come for the princess, but it’s the villains who put on the best show.
The step sisters were constantly yelling at each other, occasionally pulling their mother from her rounds to arbitrate.  The meeting with Cinderella herself was… well it was Cinderella, what more do you need to know? Actually, you need to know one thing, Aurora ran right out of her shoes to go see her, and Cinderella thoughtfully said,

“Oh I know all about that, let me tell you.” 


After the hug/photo/autograph fest (luckily these characters all had normal hands and didn’t need the big pens) I finally got up to grab some food.  I had a couple items on my plate when the Waltz started, where characters pick diners to dance with.  I was headed over to the side dishes when I saw Anabelle dancing with the Prince.  I try to avoid salt on my food, but I think a couple tears on the salmon didn’t hurt. 
Considering we had a repeat of Cinderella magic following Dad references at Animal Kingdom, I’m really glad we didn’t return to Chef Mickey’s, especially on or around Guy Fawkes Day.  Because we were late for our reservation we ended up being there through two Waltzes, and Aurora and Veronica walked over and got to dance with Cinderella on the second one, while Rosa got another birthday cupcake. Despite all the arrival panic and chaos, it was actually worth it.

With several needed monorail rides later in the week, as WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY I suggested this would be a good night to fit in Rosa’s request to take a boat ride to get the bus back to the hotel from the Magic Kingdom.  As we walked toward the Marina, the Magic Kingdom fireworks began.  We started to debate which way would be faster to get us to the bus before the firework crowd let out.  The realization that debating was the surest way to slow us down prompted us to continue to the dock.  There was a boat waiting there, meaning our debate didn’t end up slowing us down, but it was a long enough walk for Kim’s girls to conk out in the stroller. 

The first boat seat had a bunch of night flies on it. After the Small World experience, Rosa and Anabelle were done sitting on Disney bugs, so they sat in the main section. Kim (holding both her comatose children) went in back, while I squashed and cleaned as much as I could, and Grandma and I sat on the bug seat. I’m not sure how Dave got the stroller on to our landing craft, he may have sat on it and water skied behind us.  Not only did we get to see the fireworks from the boat, but also all the night lights of the Magic Kingdom as we passed.  By the time the boat docked, the fireworks crowd was mostly gone, and we got a relatively empty bus ride home, so it was actually worth it.

After my nightly mug and snack run, I returned to find Anabelle writing in her journal about, “The most fun thing at Disney today…”

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