Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Magical Morning...

I officially need a vacation from our vacation. Case in point -- our wake up call for our first morning at the Magic Kingdom was 5:15am.  Since the park had extra magic hours starting at 7am for Disney resort guests, we had to be on the shuttle at 6:30.  I had read horror stories about lines, lines and lines during spring break weeks, especially the week of Easter, so away we go...

Tip#1 -- For guests staying at Shades of Green, skip the morning shuttle bus and just walk to the Polynesian Resort.  It will save you about 15 minutes.  We learned that lesson for day #2.  The bus brings you to the Transportation Center, which eventually arrives at the Polynesian for pick-up.  Might as well cut out that first step and just go to the Polynesian.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom via the monorail about 2-3 minutes after the gates had opened.  I always love the scene of hundreds, if not thousands, of adults and children running down Main Street aiming for their first destination of the day.  We joined the hoard and only stopped for a few attempts at a family photo.  Georgia still wasn't quite awake.

Georgia was still confused as to what exactly was going on this early in the morning!

Tip #2 -- Know the new Disney FastPass+ system before you walk into the park and have a plan.  I spent weeks before our trip reading numerous blogs, tips, the Disney frequently asked question pages, etc.  I double-checked what rides Georgia could go on with her height, which rides would be open during extra magic hours, etc.  People with a plan were moving fast and adapting as they went.  Those without a plan or those who did not go online prior to their visit to book their three FastPass+ reservations had to stop and figure things out and wasted valuable time.

Our morning plan was to head directly to Fantasyland and get in as many rides as we could before the big lines formed.  For later in the morning, we had our FastPass+ reservations already booked and our iPhones ready to make changes, if needed.  Our FastPass+ plan for the day was:

  • 9:40-10:40am - Peter Pan's Flight
  • 11:00-12:00pm - Splash Mountain for Nick & I
    • 11:45-12:00pm - Parade VIP seating for Georgia & Mimi
  • 7:15-8:15pm - Enchanted Tales with Belle
I would say we were one of the first people to hit Fantasyland, so we headed right to Dumbo and pretty much had the ride to ourselves...

Nick flying solo

The benefit of being at the park when it first opens = private Dumbo rides!  Later in the day, there was a 60+ minute wait.

Taking flight

After Dumbo, we quickly hammered out rides on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Enchanted Tales with Belle (we originally planned to use our FastPass+ after dinner for this little show, but we got in early before a line formed, so we rebooked our FastPass+ for another attraction), It's a Small World, and Prince Charming's Regal Carousel.  

Happy on her horse!

The faster, the better on the tea cups!

We managed to get quite a few things accomplished all before 9am while the park was still quiet.  We didn't run into a single line.  We still had a few minutes before our FastPass+ reservation at Peter Pan, so we even managed a quick run into TomorrowLand for a few rides.  

Time to chase some bubbles???  

We convinced Mimi to take a ride with us on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Enjoying Buzz's ride!

One of the most entertaining parts of getting off most rides these days is checking out the action photo that was taken of you/your party while you were on the ride.  You quickly learn if you are a screamer, a hide-your-face type, etc.  We learned that Nick takes his shooting games very seriously...

On the other hand, I looked utterly disinterested!

Mimi managed to shoot both guns as Georgia wasn't quite tall enough to do it on her own!

Three generations relaxing on the PeopleMover in TomorrowLand

By 9:45am, we walked over to Peter Pan's Flight and used our FastPass+ to skip the 60+ minute line.  Perfect!  By 10am, the park seemed to have exploded with people.  You could barely walk on paths that just an hour before were completely empty.

We spent the rest of the morning exploring FrontierLand before grabbing an early lunch at Peco's Bills.  As soon as I informed the cashier about Georgia's allergies, a chef came right out and walked me through her food options.  He went and made her turkey sandwich and fries personally before walking it out himself and handing it to us directly.  Disney definitely has their food allergy plans in place and ready to go.  Each restaurant has a book with all their ingredients, allergens, etc. and they know their stuff!

Tip #3 -- If you or anyone in your party has a food allergy, send an email to Disney ahead of time.  They will reply with a list of "safe" places to eat, as well as lists of food that are allergen friendly at each of their parks.  I knew ahead of time where I wanted to eat most days and some options for Georgia at each park.  For each of our formal lunch or dinner reservations, our party was already flagged and our ticket had ALLERGY stamped in red across it.  A chef came to talk to us within 2-3 minutes of walking into every restaurant.

After lunch, we split into two groups.  Nick and I went to use our FastPass+ to get right on Splash Mountain and Mimi and Georgia walked to the castle to get into the VIP Parade area.  Since Mimi doesn't ride many fast rides, we used her extra FastPass+ reservations to book parades, character visits, etc.  It worked perfectly!

Tip#4 -- Any child under the age of 3 doesn't require a ticket to get into the park, so they are "free."  They also use your FastPass+ reservations. Since we had 3 adults, we had a total of 9 FastPass+ selections for Magic Kingdom each day (3 per person).  For rides that we all wanted to go on, we had to use all 3 tickets to link to the same ride.  However, if you have an adult (like Mimi)  who wants to skip a thrill ride or two, use that FastPass+ to book characters or VIP parade seating!  My mom pointed out that if Georgia had been more interested in the characters, she could have easily given high-fives to most of the passing characters that were on foot walking the route. 

Our Splash Mountain selfie

We'll never know what type of face Nick made on the Splash Mountain drop because his head got blocked by the hand of the rider in front of us.  We learned that I, not surprisingly, am a screamer!  I love the look of horror on my face.

Check out that back row!

By the time we made it off the ride, we rushed over to the castle area to see if we could spot Georgia and Mimi.  We managed to squeeze into some space directly across from them.  Luckily, they had arrived early and managed to get front row seats to the newest Disney Parade, Festival of Fantasy!

We got to see all our favorites - Cinderella, Ariel, Belle/Beast, and even Anna/Elsa/Olaf!!

Spying on Georgia & Mimi from across the way!

Even more friends - Peter/Wendy, Donald/Daisy, Merida and Georgia's beloved Tinker Bell!!

Checking out the action, but still not 100% sure of all these characters!  One of the little devils from Chip and Dale came over to touch her nose and Georgia thought he was the best!!

The parade wrapped up with a giant dragon (from "Sleeping Beauty") and everyone's favorites, Minnie and Mickey!

By the end of the parade, the sun was shining bright and we all needed a wee bit of sunscreen (too late for me - my chest was fried!).  

Mom and I in front of the castle

We were going to head directly back to the hotel for nap time, but Georgia rallied for a quick ride on the railroad...

Lots of giggles with Daddy

Nap time for Georgia & Nick = happy hour time for Mimi and Mommy back at the hotel!  Cheers...

Enjoying the Shades of Green lobby cocktails and views of their golf courses!

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