Monday, October 23, 2017

Disney 2016, Day 1- Off Kilter to Neverland

November 4, 2016

With a full nine of us travelling and the airline’s continued conspiracy to extend our time in Disney, awakening well before Stupid O’clock was beyond a necessity this time.  

In fact, word has it that the two youngest members of our little band (Morgan and Veronica) were up at Three AM doing the Trademarked McGinley "We’re Going to Disney Dance” in their living room.  

We all met at Grandma’s house on the dark and chilly November morning.  At that point I shattered all family records for having a mental breakdown and panic attack on a Disney trip by losing my mind before the giant bus the limo company chose for us arrived.

At the last minute, I grabbed an extra charging plug when we left home; therefore when I did my at the door, pocket, German leg slapping dance check, I thought it was the little round container of emergency pills I always carry.  While I flipped out over facing a week of dehydrated death marches and inverting thrill rides without back up meds, every female member of my family simultaneously talked me down and commented on how badly I needed a vacation.

Rosa had extra ibuprofen and antihistamines, Kim travelled with aspirin, and Grandma had extra nose clip holders that I used as pill containers, returning me to semi-sanity in time to load all of us and the gear into the vehicle currently barely fitting on Grandma’s street.

The airport line startled us by being horrifyingly long.  At least until we realized they were using normal New York area efficiency to funnel everyone through one main security area, and we buzzed through without issue reaching the gate by 6:30 AM.  I anticipated our usual decision to carry only two water bottles for the three of us by efficiently losing one somewhere between the bus and the gate.  As the Where Will We Go Next Guy, I always try to plan ahead.

We all ceremoniously donned our Magic Bands, and boarded the aircraft in anticipation of the flight getting underway early.  YAY!

Then the plane took off at the scheduled time, because there was missing paperwork or something equally important.

The three girls sat together, watched their individual screens a bit, but mostly bubbled excitedly to each other.  Morgan did the same sitting with his folks.  Rosa won the “who will nap on a ride first” pool.

We exited the aircraft, turned our cell phones back on…and my work smartphone EXPLODED with invitations, texts and e-mails.  While I was airborne, a giant Town Hall meeting across divisions explained the new senior staff teams at all the remediation sites. Some sap named Jeff McKinley was assigned to one “Tiger Team.”

That poor guy. 

Yes, they did mean me, and I had to call in to a phone conference with my boss and his boss to figure out how I was suddenly the R&D senior staff member when
A) I was multiple career path steps below that level, with no promise of being lifted.
B) There was no R&D department in the division in question.

Eight relatives stood surrounded by a maze of carry on luggage and stared angrily at me while I began the ground work of being allowed to do the job I was supposed to do in the first place when I returned.

Morgan conked out in the stroller on the way to the Magic Express, missing my second freak out before the vacation began in earnest.  Luckily, I misread the sign, my memory was accurate and we needed our Magic Express Confirmation Letter OR (as opposed to AND which I thought I read) our Magic Bands to get on the bus.

Our happy little Magic Express ride ended with a happy little stroll down the red carpet, by the memorabilia exhibits and over to the “already checked in online” desk of the POP Century.  We’d gotten some confusing text messages about room availability.  The confusion was explained when they noticed the notifications were trying to fit two out of three groups into one room.

Being Awesome Happy Disney people, this was resolved near instantly and we were on our way to grab our mugs.  More confusion ran rampant as we learned they introduced new, non-handled mug varieties, and the colors were segmented in the handle versus non handle groups. Amazingly all three of us remembered the codes we’d selected months ago that we needed to key in when using the Magic Bands!  Yay for boring consistency in personal identity protection.

We also encountered what may be Disney’s most insidious method of getting extra cash from guests: not premium dining packages, not ticketed events, and not prime fireworks viewing parties. 
No it was the overwhelming presence of Star Wars toys in the hotel store we would need to walk through twice a day to get transportation.

Our rooms were behind the Giant Mickey Phone in the Seventies section, and for the first time were lake view.  During the constant running in and out of rooms for initial set up, we noticed we could see the top of the Tower of Terror if we leaned and squinted.  YAY!

We did our usual room check, including the bedding above and below the mattress.  No, Anabelle, we were not checking for alligators.

We marshalled out to the Disney bus stop and waited a loooooooooooooooooooong time for our first bus.  The kids over exuberance continued, while Kim and Dave nodded off during the ride.  Rosa and I started looking at meal times to see if we could get ones that better aligned with the rest of our schedule. We were thrilled to see scads of new times opened up.  Our thrill abated a bit when we realized the App always shows every possible time, then only lists the available ones after a selection is made.  Nothing changed.

We got through security, where Grandma’s almost daily fingerprint issues manifested for the first of many times.

That didn’t dull Grandma’s happy feet on our way to emit the collective sigh of contented, “We’re here” as we strolled up Main Street.


We could see the outstandingly awesome Festival of Fantasy Parade start before we entered the Plaza for lunch, and peek at the rest through the oversized windows, while constantly reassuring the kids we’d see the whole thing later in the week.  In fact, being an Awesome Happy Disney person, the server insisted they run over to the windows as soon as their orders were placed.

Instead of waiting for my resolve to eat healthy to crack sometime mid vacation, I started off with a tasty lunch and left on the dressing and bacon to celebrate the start of a desperately needed break.

The super yummy apple juice, formerly identified at the Garden Grill, had spread to Magic Kingdom venues as well.  YAY!

With tips not included in the Disney Dining Plan, automatic additions for parties above a certain size, and Grandma insisting she was paying for everything (THANX MOM!) Tip Confusion reigned when the check arrived. 

It would continue to reign each and every time a check arrived thereafter.  
We’re consistent!

Our first of many FastPasses led to our first of many retracing our steps.  We went back down Main Street to the Town Square Theater to meet Mickey!  Due to Queen Elsa’s coup, the princess franchise destroyed any popularity the Disney Fairies had in the past, giving us plenty of time to stop in and see Tinkerbelle before the FastPass.

In another "first of many"s, our daughter’s growing up was shoved in our faces as she towered over the formerly long lined pixie.

Then it was time to meet the magic trick performing and talking Mickey Mouse.  Morgan, being “Dad’s perfect Disney age” of four, and already a giant Mickey fan nearly combusted even before we reached him.

It was a fantastic official welcome to “The World” for all of us, and there was much celebrating by the purchasing of variously themed ear hats and headbands after the greeting.

The call of it’s a small world beckoned strongly to all of the children. (And to be honest, me…and all of us really.)  The Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade/party/crowd isolation device going on in the courtyard looked fun, but for our purposes, was in the way.

We worked around the right side of the castle, thanking the Wishing Well, and crossed classic Fantasyland to reach the happiest cruise on earth.
Watching my daughter get to experience the ride through the eyes of her four year old cousin, who was completely floored on his first ride, was like a double parental bonus.  My other bonus, was that Anabelle finally heard the “Just one moon and one golden sun…” verse on the ride, meaning she stopped complaining its never on there when the song played in the car. (Which is, unsurprisingly, fairly often.)

We had some time for a no-liner before the next FastPass. Donning my Where Will We Go Next Guy hat, I marched us in to Mickey’s Philharmargic where there was much squealing in excitement, and a possible nap by the Where Will We Go Next Guy.

I got to ride Peter Pan with my wife for a change, Yay!  Anabelle took the FastPass trip to Neverland with Grandma.  That’s the ride that is the true welcome to Disney for me, which is why I made sure it had the first FastPass that a delayed lunch wouldn’t have obliterated.

Then it was across to new Fantasyland to allow Anabelle to introduce the rest of the family to the Ariel ride!  Aurora and Veronica did their first Disney ride alone, while Anabelle continued her shift to the next Disney age tier by comforting Morgan, her new Disney buddy, in the scary parts.  It was Kim’s turn to be blown away at the next generation of animatronics, and I got to ride with my wife again!  YAY!

Yes, I’m going to say “YAY!” a lot…its Disney!  

We crossed the Fantasylands again to introduce the gang to another new themed feature, the Rapunzel Potty!

Then it was time for a cascade of horrendous puns that I was still suffering withdrawal after missing it on our previous Disney Adventure.  In fact it was five minutes early for one, but this was when we learned the plus minus tolerance on the pre scheduled rides.  In one of very few abuses of Where Will We Go Next Guy powers, I demanded using a FastPass on Day One for the Jungle Cruise.

Bad news- it was switched to the Jingle Cruise for the Holiday Season.

Good News- it was just as filled with blessedly sweet, stupid jokes as ever.

Better News- She was the best skipper I’d ever seen in a lifetime of far too much love for this attraction.

Best News- There was a boat back up and we waited for such a long time to get to the dock, she used up ALL of her awesome material.


On this first day we learned what the kids really needed at the end of the night was simple fun rides to unwind on.  For the first time ever in a McGinley family Disney trip, people rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride.  While the kids were twirling away stress, we formed a splitting strategy.  Its genesis was deciding having Morgan’s first Haunted Mansion journey be when he was nearly unconscious could scar him for life.

Dave took Morgan home, as he was asleep on his feet. 
(That could apply to both Dave and Morgan)
Grandma went home to collapse as well.

Poor Aurora was misunderstood when we were planning the split.  She wanted to stay in the park, but did not want to go in the Mansion. 
She was the most shaken, although the last Poppy Uppy Potato guy got all three of the girls.  We checked out the new, excessively awesome, and needed to be visited repeatedly Haunted Mansion Store.   Yay!

On our way back to New Fantasyland, we accidentally discovered the unquestionable best place in the park to see the fireworks.  I’d only seen them from busses, the monorail, and in front of the castle before. (And from the Contemporary in my youth, well before it became the overly priced business hotel…not that I’m bitter.)  From those positions, the fireworks look localized behind the Castle.  However, in Fantasyland the viewer is completely surrounded by the fireworks, and the music travels all around as well.


We got to Ariel’s grotto, and the Cast Member at the entrance was truly impressed when the girls stated they liked Ariel better than fireworks.

The three of them continued decompressing by taking multiple trips on the Barnstormer, while I hunted down my first Disney Dining Plan Snack approved PowerAde to prevent myself from becoming a withered husk early on the trip.

There was a bit of running and giggling through the splash and soak station by all remaining female members of our gang.

The teacup’s line is usually short even at peak times, so late at night had no wait at all.  Rosa and I had some more quality time snuggling on each other, watching our daughter learn she liked another thrill ride and spinning like crazy with her Aunt and cousins.

It started to rain when they were done whirling, and we herded the staggering group over to lineless Pooh.

(Pooh!  Hee hee, sorry it was late.)

The kids ran for the ride, but had to wait for Rosa and Kim to finish playing with all the stuff on the line.  They’re so cute at that age in Disney.  Anabelle chose to ride with her Aunt a giant Pooh fan.  (hee hee)

When we finished Poohing (again, hee hee) we made our way through a light drizzle toward the exit, peeking back at the Castle projection show.

The POP transportation line was extended, but the massively huge double bus took us all in.  Some Awesome Happy Disney guests gave the kid’s their seats, Anabelle and Aurora rested a bit, but Veronica was overly brimming with “first time old enough to really get it” energy and was still juiced.

All three were running through the giant props on the way back to the room. 

I may have been a bit tired myself since I told them to keep it down because of
“Sleeple peeping.”

Yes, the resultant laughter did nothing to quiet them down.

Still completely dehydrated, I went on the first mug run of the vacation, absorbing as much moisture from the rain as I could.

Rosa unpacked in the meantime. When I returned, Anabelle was stunned that is was only Eleven PM since she felt like we’d been there for three days.

I told her, “Bonus, Kiddo, We still have the WHOLE vacation ahead of us!”

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Dina Roberts said...

Very sweet. The cousins together..... I can imagine the joy as a parent but also thinking back to my own childhood and how fun it would have been to go to Disney with cousins.

I think the first time I read your blog, I thought Morgan was a girl. Now I have to reimagine everything! Well...not everything. Just Morgan. And not that I actually did any imagining in the first place, since I'm horrible at visualizing people.

So stressful and awful about you having work stresses in the beginning. I hope that didn't carry onto the rest of the trip. But you did seem to have a good first day despite all that.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you.

There are pluses to having a smaller group (speed, easier choices) but watching the kids bond over stuff my sister and I did at their age is really amazing.

I guess I should be better at describing the cast of people in the "really happened" stories.

With Disney, the stresses always fade into the background, and the good times dominate the memories. That was just timing, and I have to admit, sometimes I'll make things like that seem more significant for comedic purposes.

thanx again for reading and sharing.