Monday, November 27, 2017

Disney 2016, Day 6- it’s a world of crowds tens of thousands strong, it’s a world we stayed in for crazy long

November 9, 2016

Unexpected expansions of crowd sizes are not always a bad thing.

Not everyone was as crazy as us to be willing to take advantage of the Magic Kingdom opening an hour earlier than usual. It wasn’t Extra Magic Hours sparse, but the lines were manageable once we got in shortly after Eight.

The only delay was Grandma’s finger continuing not to work at security.  Morgan’s “little guests need an older guest’s scan” finger had a whole separate set of problems. He was Kim and Dave’s child, Grandma’s roommate, and Anabelle’s glued at the hip and accidentally wearing the same Toy Story shirt this day Disney buddy.  We were never really sure whose finger scan he was, or should be, tied to.

The early emptiness allowed us some unscheduled FastPass free playtime in Tomorrowland.  (A good Where Will We Go Next guy knows when to improvise.)

We started with a double run on Buzz Lightyear.  Age did not improve my space ranger accuracy scores.  The kids were equally focused on their points and their spinning. Most of them continued spinning in the gift shop.

The crowd stayed low enough for the coaster minded group of us to hit Space Mountain. To no one’s surprise but her own, Anabelle found she loved it this time.  Rosa did some shopping (and grabbed a Mickey Ice Cream, making her even with us, since we Mickey Ice Creamed while she went to the second Lion King show) and Grandma took Morgan back on Buzz a couple of times and to the People Mover.

Hooray for being willing to get up earlier than the sane vacationers!

There was a mid-coaster bathroom stop before going to our first FastPass appointment.  Rumor is there was some breakdancing in there, but I’m a little sketchy on the details, which is likely for the best.

Rosa discovered the new and nifty FastPass names at the end of the small world (see, it didn’t only call me) while the rest of us tried out the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train FastPass entrance. 

It’s kind of a strange mix.  The coaster was intense enough to dissuade those who don’t ride them, but not enough for true thrill fans. Grandma’s review, “I’m glad I went, the middle part was pretty, and I’m not going again.”

Side Note- I will always take this picture.
Since it was my family, the next stop on the tour was the Haunted Mansion. They had new PhotoPass interactive ghost pictures   Whooooooooo!

Aurora fared much better on her second try, partially because it was daytime and she wasn’t exhausted, but mostly because the giggly power of the three girls in one Doom Buggy could overwhelm even the most abrupt of poppy uppy things.


Morgan, on the other hand, answered everyone’s, “My favorite part was…”
“My favorite part was…NONE OF IT!”

By this point the crowds were starting to pile up horrifically.  My Where Will We Go Next Guy training had little connection to these levels of humanity. Therefore, having all the FastPasses booked for characters and expecting the ride lines to be manageable was bit of a planning error.  I corrected later on, but this day got a little weird.

We used the next FastPass, skipping a half hour wait to instantly meet Cinderella and Aurora, except it wasn’t Aurora. Given that my sister’s kids are all named after that movie in one form or another, this was an issue.  We later learned Disney was in full, “Pretend it’s Christmas now, so we get enough takes to make our Holiday Specials look perfect,” mode. 
This meant Eleana of Avalor took her place in Princess Hall ahead of schedule, to the delight of no child related to me.  You know there’s an issue with the television animation branch of Disney when a Spanish speaking princess is greeted with complete apathy in my home. (“Stranger Time” song non withstanding.)

We strolled around the Castle corner of Fantasyland to find a restroom and peek at Merida’s line in the brief period between the Princess Hall FastPasses, but she was mobbed.

Veronica was still at the age masses of Disney Store costumes fit, and she changed from her Cinderella dress to her Rapunzel dress before meeting the second set of royalty.

More of that Where Will We Go Next Guy improvisation hit on the way back.  We were eating breakfast with her in a few days, and probably would bump into her on the EPCOT Death March tomorrow.  However, when four kids yelled, “Oooooh! It’s Alice!” and ran over to her short line, the plan kind of evaporated in a wave of cuteness.

Since it was the only place to see either of them, the hidden closet room FastPass line for Tiana and Rapunzel was far longer than the regular line for Alice.  Once they finished fussing over Anabelle’s drawings, Aurora’s name, Veronica’s dress, and Morgan’s Morgan-ness, all memories of the wait vanished.

We left Fantasyland in the completely wrong direction on purpose, as the piles of individuals entering the park began to weigh on us. 
Wearing his shirt, I was sad to find Buzz Lightyear’s line was
A) Crazy long.
B) Leading up to an empty area with no indication when he’d return.

We crossed Main Street to head for lunch.  There were no standard Castle shows running, because they were filming the Holiday Specials. This, coupled with it being the only day the park didn’t close early for Mickey’s Excessively Often Christmas Party, drove up the crowds.  New Jersey week hitting Veterans Day didn’t help.

I was aware they didn’t film the parade on Christmas. What I didn’t know was that the crowd shots for the parade and for the stage performances are as practiced and prepared for as anything else in the Kingdom of the Mouse.

There was a horde of people roped off in front of the castle stage. The selected Cast Members and their families had chosen to spend a full day in the Magic Kingdom in that one spot. Part of it was watching the acts, but far more was spent on training how to cheer, applaud, and look Disneyish. 

Disney DOES NOT mess around when it comes to public perception.

We gathered ourselves at the Crystal Palace for lunch, and a minimal wait on the balcony led into a perfect and plentiful selection on this long and crowded day.  Yes, Anabelle, I know it was your recommendation. Thank you again.  Yay!

The fun started with Pooh himself, who got all bothered when we tried to help set up the books for him, and basically stole them as he tried to start signing.

Tigger came by for his usual bout of hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo silliness. YAY!

We noticed Eeyore’s tail was a slightly different shade than the rest of him. YAY!
He was big and loveable and in no way the “Lurking Horror” he had been when Anabelle was two

In fact she decided Piglet might be scarier than him, due to the connection between him and Jack the Ripper on Star Trek.
(I’d like to apologize to any family sitting near us that overheard that conversation.)

Anabelle’s growth moved beyond Eeyore and Piglet perception as she became the mother hen to the other kids on multiple trips to the most tasty buffet.

Nice and full, we figured on resting up a bit by choosing a place to watch the parade, and letting individuals run little missions to shop and such.  Kim took her kids to get her traditional silhouettes made in Liberty Square, and we stayed behind to learn that the Holiday Show filming moved the parade two hours later, to Five PM. 

Grandma and Rosa took the opportunity to shop.  Rosa also went and took a bunch of pictures of Gaston…which I’m going to have to talk to her about.

Anabelle and I went over to get PhotoPassed in front of the spitting camels by the Magic Carpet ride.  With time to kill, we entered the Enchanted Tiki room.  Anabelle searched the round room for a “good seat.”  Yes, she didn’t remember it all that well.

We had fun, went out to get sprayed by the camels and nearby Tikis again, before meeting everyone at the O-riginal Country Bear Jamboree.


Sorry, I love that show.

But they took out Buff’s fat joke when Trixie sings…
Sometimes, empathy goes too far.

Grandma dozed off a bit when sitting the air conditioned room and informed everyone that we needed to see it again before the end of the trip.

Oh...the burden.

By this point it had really reached parade waiting time. We took up a position near the start in Frontierland, and then broke off into more individual missions. 

Anabelle needed to be walked to the bathroom and refused to believe me when I told her which direction the nearest one was.  Somehow, she still claimed this was not her fault. However, it led to a series of tasty occurrences, so I’ll be like Elsa and "Let it Go."

Grandma had refilled the popcorn again but our sighting of a churro and pretzel stand meant I was moseying back the way we came after returning Anabelle.  I got churros for my wife and child. Sadly, the Mickey pretzels were too far from ready to allow me to make it back to our spot if I waited.

Shortly after returning, a few Mickey pretzel eating people passed that spot of ours.  I wondered if they got one in a store and started poking my head in the shops nearby.

I was not saddened by the lack of Mickey pretzels due to the discovery of a small bakery that had the same giant Mickey chocolate chip cookies they sell on Main Street.  It was like they were calling to me.

The Cast Member insisted I take a box.

I replied, “There’s a good chance this won’t make it out of the store.”
She pressed on, “Well, you might drop it.”

At this point, I had been insulted.
“Ma’am. I am a professional. I do not drop cookies.”

The rest of the wait sped by quickly due to the delight of giant rodent shaped confections, and then it was time for the Festival of Fantasy parade.

The new floats were a massive improvement over the aging, former snow globes they’d used for years, and the Cast Members leaned heavily towards interactivity.

The kids all excitedly got waves from Daisy, Captain Hook and Peter Pan.

In a bit of surrealism, we noticed one of the Lost Boys was the Peter Pan we’d met outside the ride on our last visit.

I was standing next to another in a long line of “Instant Disney Friends” a phenomenon that only happens in these parks, and probably is overdue for explanation.  The love of the place, and the happiness accompanying being there is frequently is the catalyst for discovering common grounds while striking up conversations with total strangers while waiting for rides and shows.

In this case, the woman and I were chatting about previous family trips and parade evolution before it started.  When the parade flagship, The Steampunk Maleficent Dragon, came into view we both executed a synchronized, weird combination of interpretive dance and traffic direction motions to keep the head in focus on our phones.  Just as it breathed fire we bumped into each other and nearly fell over.

A quick check revealed the photos were successful. We high fived and yelled, “GOT IT!”


The crowds were such that we couldn’t take advantage of the brief dip in Splash Mountain wait times from the parade, due to the sea of people between us and it.

Therefore we snuck through a passage to Adventureland right behind us. (The one with bathrooms in it, not that I’m rubbing it in.)

Everyone else wanted to see the Tiki Room now, and who were we to argue? How about that Disney? Removing the terrifying death goddess from the ride made a kid like it more!

There was much singing along, and jazz hands! YAY! 

According to photos we all rode Pirates around this point as well, but since one of those photos is me trying on a Captain Jack hat, we'll ignore that moment.

Rosa wanted to protect her back from further shakes, and see which bands were on the main stage. She walked back to Main Street and we went up to the train station. On the way, we had to explain to Aurora why the cowboy stuff was in the automotively named “Front Tire Land.”

Everyone was too full to eat yet, meaning we didn’t stop at one of our traditional counter places, Pecos Bills.  Although we did look at the menu long enough for me to be stupefied that my little girl was considered an adult in multiple ways by Disney. How the heck did that happen?

We boarded the train at Frontierland Station, and the kids almost had a heart attack when one of them asked if we could all sit together and the conductor yelled, “NO!” before giving us the classic knowing Disney smile.

It was a fun ride, and clearly much longer than it seemed since everyone exited the train starving to death.

We gathered up Rosa in time for a Christmas Tree PhotoPass on Main Street before going to an even more traditional counter service place (in Tomorrowland):  Cosmic Ray’s Café starring Sonny Eclipse!


Uncle Dave scored us a table right in front of the animatronic alien maestro. (Completely by accident, but still, YAY! points for Uncle Dave!)

We met another fun “Instant Disney Friend” on line for the food. A little girl who partially shared my wife’s name, (Rosalie), and completely shared my taste in loud and goofy footwear.

The long day was starting to wear on our youngest member, and Morgan was waffling back and forth with unconsciousness across a couple of stools near our table.

Suitably fed and entertained, it was time for the Carousel of Progress.
Everyone sing along!
“It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow!”

The soothing motion of the rotating, air conditioned theater may have caused Rosa to join in on Morgan’s waffling.

Morgan was well waffled and stayed asleep in the stroller following Walt’s favorite attraction. Rosa walked over to the bridge to stand under Tinkerbelle’s flight, see the fireworks, and have groups of strangers wish her a happy birthday. (Instant Disney Friends!) 

The rest of us took the kids on the People Mover for an interesting perspective on the fireworks show.

Uncle Dave and Grandma were pretty close to needing strollers themselves by that point, and took Morgan back to the hotel.  The wait time on Splash Mountain finally dropped, meaning we wanted to drop as well.

Rosa had dropped on it twice more than she ever intended to in her life, and stayed behind to watch Flo-Rida on the castle stage.  

Would you believe we were able to see her on one of the Christmas shows?

Would you believe, we saw her cell phone?

Would you believe, we saw a smudge that we’re pretty sure is her cell phone?

Hey, TV fame is TV fame!


There was a quick potty emergency mid line for Splash Mountain, requiring some running back and forth and a few panicked moments of people popping in and out of different doors to the same rest room like a Scooby Doo cartoon.  Finally we all were able to ride and make funny faces at the camera.  With five of us, I sat alone, and discovered a hitherto unknown hazard of the ride.

When both sides of the seat are occupied, both riders catch the brunt of the water in the upper body. When riding alone, half that water hits the seat next to the occupant, and flows accordingly.

I was the recipient of “Single Rider Squishy Butt.”

The old shooting gallery was still there, and still fun.  And I still couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

We were done getting splashed and screaming, and Rosa’s show finished.  We met up in Circusland for the obligatory Dumbo ride.  To commemorate the Extra Magic Hour mornings from our youth, which was the only time the lines weren’t prohibitive back in the single Dumbo days, Kim and I rode together.

I think we gave Dumbo a hernia.

They were nowhere near as immobile as Morgan, but the girls were deep into venting time.  They continued to run onto the Barnstormer over and over again while we figured out a plan.

We were standing near the Casey Jr, Splash and Soak station…or based on the sounds coming out of it:
A train full of flatulent elephants.

The cast member working the Barnstormer entrance earned much sympathy when he let us know he was only supposed to be there a couple hours and got stuck all day due in part to the crowd levels.

The Perfect Storm of Jersey Week, Veterans Day, Holiday Filming and Christmas Parties every other night brought sixty-eight thousand guests to the Magic Kingdom.  That’s July levels.

Thanks to correct usage of FastPasses, rides that never have lines, early morning and late night hours, we didn’t spend much time waiting on lines all day.

Yeah, I screw up big sometimes, but I’ve earned this Where Will We Go Next Guy title, dang it.


The kid’s Barnstorming activities had overlapped into the Extra Magic Hours starting at Eleven PM that none of us figured we’d have the energy to take advantage of.

Disney Magic!

It was time for all of us to vent as we cut a counterclockwise arc across the top of the Magic Kingdom.

First it was the Ariel ride, followed by a hop across the way to play on the Pooh line (hee hee) before taking the ride in the honey pots.

The girls didn’t have it on their list, but as further proof that the call of the small world permeates our entire family, the adults steered everyone onto it and we all sang along before continuing on the way to the Haunted Mansion.

Aurora wasn’t ready for another scare just yet.  Kim started taking transforming pictures of herself and her kids in the new, cool Haunted Mansion store. After Veronica’s was done, we took her in the Mansion with us.

We finished the night with a dash to rival any Run Disney event.

Kim waited for the last photos and the rest of us played beat the clock, sprinting through Liberty Square and Frontierland to reach Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland before the One AM end of Extra Magic hit and turned us all into pumpkins.


Kim met us at the exit and we staggered over the bridge to Main Street, deliriously exhausted but happy.

The kids expressed serious concern that we were there past midnight. They figured that would mean we were illegally park hopping by going to EPCOT the next day.  Schools need to be a little less focused on the rigidity of rules, don’t they?

No one had the energy, yet we had to do a quick PhotoPass and a couple of selfies to document the momentous achievement of spending seventeen straight hours in the Magic Kingdom.  YAY!

I e-mailed the shots to a couple very special relatives …the only ones who shared and would understand this special breed of insanity, the previously mentioned Madalena (Cinderella video) and Antonia (short scouting mission) were sent the information instantly.  We let the Florida gang (Supplier of Veronica’s awesome Snow White dress) see shortly thereafter.

YAY Disney Cousins!

I felt like a contented and happy, if broken and tired, old man on the bus as I leaned on my wife to stabilize on the ride home.

Kim and Veronica passed out as soon as the bus doors closed.

Anabelle and Aurora reached a level of hysterical giggles never before seen by civilization that lasted all the way until they were unconscious in their rooms.

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Dina Roberts said...

So far, I think Morgan is my favorite character.

I think this is some of the best Disney World writing I've ever read.

I continue to be impressed with all the character meals you do.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you very much. The feedback makes the effort worth it. (And getting character meals for 9 people makes getting up for a 6am log in 180 days before we get there worth it.)

Morgan was four for this trip, which my Dad always said was the optimal age for a first Disney trip.

Thank you again for the compliments. All of my relatives (and myself) are "characters" in one way or another.

Dina Roberts said...

I just read this post; then saw I commented on it 10 months earlier!

Well...the second time around was even better since I'm more familiar with all the characters.

More stuff to add since last time.

A) I'm guessing the cast member had some fallen cookie trauma in her past. I think it was more about her than you.

B) I love the worrying about doing illegal park hopping by staying past midnight.

Jeff McGinley said...

Wow, a reread! Thank you , that means a bunch.

A) She was very worried about that cookie, I guess they have rules. I have rules about cookies too. NONE SHALL BE WASTED!

B) School does make the kids overly rule conscious sometimes. But I think it the long run, it made it even more exciting for them when we did park hop on the 2019 trip.

thanx again!