I must admit, the early morning wake-up call on day#2 was slightly harder than day #1. Again, Magic Kingdom was having extra magic hours for guests staying at Disney World resorts (luckily, for us, Shades of Green, is considered a Disney resort for this aspect), so we planned to take advantage of the short lines!
Following our own tip #1 from the other day, we skipped the transportation bus and walked the few minutes down to the Polynesian so we could jump aboard the monorail directly. We were lucky enough to arrive just as Mickey and the gang were pulling up to the gates to perform the welcome show. Fireworks and music can be a tad overwhelming at 6:55am, but they certainly do get you in a festive mood! If you have little ones, this was a fun little show with the music blaring, the characters dancing, and the rope dropping to let everyone into the park.
Like the previous day, we had done our research and had a plan in place for our FastPass+ reservations. We planned for...
- 10:05-11:05am - Journey of the Little Mermaid
- 11:20-12:20pm - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- 12:25-1:25pm - Pirates of the Caribbean
However, we already knew that we would probably alter our day again if we could hammer out some rides early in the morning before the crowds showed up. We detoured towards AdventureLand, but didn't realize that particular section of the park didn't open until 8am. So, we turned right around and headed back to Fantasyland. Georgia was more than happy to pass the time riding some of her favorites from yesterday, including repeat rides on Dumbo, tea cups, and the motor speedway...
|Private early morning ride on Dumbo|
|Mommy & G posing with one of her favorites -Mr. Dumbo|
We were able to quickly pass the hour and then headed back to the entrance of AdventureLand for rope drop. Again, being first to enter a certain area definitely has its advantages - we quickly rode Pirates of the Caribbean, explored the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, rode the Jungle Cruise, rode Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride, and even watched the Enchanted Tiki Room show! Within 60-90 minutes, we had virtually completed all of AdventureLand without a single line to slow us down.
|Cruising through the Jungle...|
|Taking some time to smell the flowers|
One of the few requests that Georgia had made before we departed for Disney was that she wanted to meet Tinker Bell. After some research, I found out that Tink and a visiting fairy greeted guests daily in AdventureLand. So, off we went in search of Pixie Hollow. After waiting in a brief line (our only one of the day, so far!), we got to meet both Rosetta and Tinker Bell. Georgia wasn't so impressed with Rosetta, but she was psyched to see Tink!!
Tip #12 -- Like a lot of other theme parks, Disney has photographers stationed all over the place to capture those "magical" moments for you on film. I assumed that since we were carrying 3 iPhones and 2 digital cameras, we wouldn't be using their PhotoPass services. However, during character meet and greets, it is much easier to have them take your pictures and then just log into your account later in the day to see which photos you want to keep. When we got home after the trip, I ended up just ordering the whole lot of them since they managed to capture quite a few great shots of Georgia with her favorite characters. Definitely investigate the PhotoPass before you leave for Disney!
|Less-than-thrilled Georgia with the rest of the gang!|
|Nick and G checking out Tink's cool shoes!|
|Tinker Bell was quite intrigued by Georgia's t-shirt!|
I happened to spot the Aloha Isle snack shack as we emerged from Tinker Bell's visiting spot and since it was already mid-morning, it was time for a snack. During all my Disney research, I kept reading about the popularity of Dole Whips - pineapple juice mixed with soft serve?!? Yes please! Who doesn't need an ice cream treat at 10am??? While we snacked, we re-evaluated our FastPass+ options. Since we had already ridden Pirates, we quickly switched that out so that Nick and I could instead grab a FastPass+ for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. That left us with Mimi's FastPass+, so we swapped her out for a visit to meet Ariel at her grotto in FantasyLand, which we had heard was always quite a long line.
We left AdventureLand for nearby FronteirLand so that we could jump aboard the railroad for a quick ride over to FantasyLand. Georgia adored the train and could easily have ridden it all day long.
Tip #13 -- If you need to get to a different area of the park ASAP, jump aboard the railroad. There are times of day that the park is ridiculously crowded and trying to get from one side to the other takes quite awhile, especially if people are lined up and they are prepping for the parades. The railroad rides along the outskirts of the park, so you miss all that foot traffic. There are 3 places to board the train - FrontierLand, FantasyLand, and Main Street.
We headed straight over to Ariel's castle for a ride on Journey of the Little Mermaid using our FastPass+. I then stole Mimi's FastPass+ to bring Georgia in to meet Ariel herself. Again, we were never quite sure how she was going to react to characters, but Georgia LOVED meeting Ariel!
|Ariel signing Georgia's autograph book while she waited patiently|
|One of my favorite pics from the week!|
|No idea what she told Ariel, but they both cracked up!|
While Georgia and I were waiting to meet Ariel, the Florida sky opened up for a quick drizzle. When we met up with Nick and Mimi again, we decided to take refuge in Gaston's Tavern. Nick sampled the LeFou's brew, the signature drink of the house. If you're a fan of frozen apple juice, definitely give it a try! It was delish. By the time we finished the drink and checked out some souvenirs, the rain had stopped and it was time to find some lunch!
Tip #14 -- For a less insane lunch option, consider eating BEFORE 11:30am. We found that we were able to walk into most restaurants between 11-11:30 before the chaos and lines really started! Since we were getting up between 5-6am, an early lunch was needed to refuel anyway. When we were walking out of the restaurants 30-45 minutes later, the lines were always much longer.
We walked into the nearby Pinocchio Village Haus, but I almost turned us right around since most the menu consisted of pizzas. Dairy allergy = no pizza for Georgia! But, after talking to the chef, she guaranteed us that she could make Georgia a dairy/nut free safe option. Yea for pizza! We grabbed a seat overlooking the "It's a Small World" ride and Georgia had a blast waving to the people heading into the ride. The staff had a small dance party while our lunch was being made, so Georgia and Mimi joined the party...
We decided to wrap up our morning by using our FastPass+ to ride the thunder mountain railroad while Georgia/Mimi explored the playground, Laughing Place, near Splash Mountain.
Tip #15 -- Disney doesn't really advertise it's playground sections, but we stumbled across quite a few different areas with slides and other fun equipment in the parks. It's a nice break from rides and characters and to just let kids be kids and play for a few minutes in some shade. Georgia had a blast playing with other kids while Mimi supervised and Nick and I rode the roller coaster.
|Front row on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad|
By the time our ride finished, it was time to start heading for the front of the park and to head back to the resort for nap time. We stopped on the way out to buy a few souvenirs and a water for the ride home. It was one of the few times that we actually had to buy water in the parks, since you can carry your own food/drink into the parks, which is a great feature.
Tip#16 -- Pack lots of snacks and treats for yourself and the kids! Nothing seems to quell a bad mood or a brewing temper tantrum faster than a calorie pick-me-up. We packed lots of allergy safe snacks for Georgia and we also packed water bottles for ourselves. You can ask any Disney restaurant for ice cold tap water, which they will gladly give you for free! We would pour it into our water bottles and be set for the day. I also made muffins the night before our departure and we would snack on those in the morning while we waited for the bus, rode the monorail or as we were walking into the park. It saved a ton of time since we never "stopped" for breakfast, although we definitely grabbed Starbucks most mornings for a cup of coffee or a snack. I know that lots of people recommend the character breakfasts, but when the park is opening up super early for extra magic hours, I think it is better to get in/out before the peak crowds and take advantage of all those rides without lines in the AM vs eating a big breakfast and not getting into the park until mid-morning.
We attempted a quick photo with the castle in the background as we exited the park, but Ms. Sleepy wasn't having it...
Off we headed back to Shades of Green. We had a VERY important night ahead of us - we were having dinner with the princesses in Cinderella's castle! Everyone needed some beauty sleep before that engagement.
|Practicing more monorail safety on our way back to the resort!|