Since Shades of Green benefits from Magic Hours, we decided to take advantage and be at rope drop for the opening of the Magic Kingdom on our first full day in the parks.
Mini-tip --- If Magic Hour is from 8am-9am, get there early because the welcome show begins at 7:40am and they open the gates immediately after Mickey Mouse greets the crowd (about 2-3 minutes later). That is a 15 minute jump on the people who arrive right at 8am. At most parks, they allow you to enter and proceed to a roped off area INSIDE the park until the hour strikes!
Even though we had a FastPass+ reservation to meet Elsa/Anna later in the afternoon, I knew we could use the Magic Hour to our advantage and be one of the first people in line to greet them that morning (and allocate our FP+ to something else). By 7:50am, we were inside Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland after hustling up Main Street with the throngs of early-risers By 7:51am, Georgia was in full Elsa gown and crown ready to meet her gal pals from "Frozen."
|Georgia was SO EXCITED to meet Elsa!|
Georgia was just as happy to run over and give Anna a huge hug too!
8:04am and we had officially crossed off the #1 thing to do on our priority list! Sigh of relief. Since we didn't have to use the FP+, I quickly reassigned them for an Ariel meet/greet later in the morning using the Disney app.
Since luck was on our side, we thought we might try to cross the Seven Dwarf Mine Train off our list, but one look at that line and we decided that we would just use our already planned FP+ for later in the evening.
Mini-tip --- Decide what your priorities are ahead of time! We knew Anna/Elsa was #1, but if the Mine Train was our top choice, we would have hustled to there first. If you waiver in your decision, it's not worth it. Use your Magic Hour bonus time wisely. Pick a big ticket item and head there immediately after rope drop.
Georgia made a request for a Dumbo ride, so we off we went...
|Beautiful morning for a Dumbo ride!|
Dumbo is another big draw attraction. However, early in the morning, we've never had a problem riding it a few times before the park gets crowded!
**We definitely noticed a difference in morning crowd size from our April/spring visit to our current August/summer visit. The park was PACKED immediately in the summer vs a more slow-rising crowd in the spring. Our theory: it's warm/bright/light earlier in the summer, so people are more apt to rise and shine. Also, it's much cooler in the AM during the summer vs peak heat in the afternoon and people want to get things done in the morning before that afternoon heat comes along**
After Dumbo, we went right next door to Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster. Georgia was too short for this coaster a year ago, but she easily cleared the 35 inch height requirement this summer! Mimi must have taken her brave pills because she even went for the ride. Georgia looked terrified at the end, but then promptly declared she wanted to go again, so Nick and her headed right back up to the start and got front row!
Mini-tip --- If you have little ones, know the height restrictions on each of the rides at the parks. They are easily accessed through the Disney website and app. We measured Georgia with and without her sneakers a few days before we departed. She was 39.5 without her sneakers and 40.5 with them on. She had no problems getting on the 40 inch height restricted rides at Magic Kingdom (and later at other parks).
8:15am and some major rides checked off the list! Moving along.
Since Daddy got a solo ride on the coaster and Mimi doesn't do spinning, I was the lucky winner of the tea cups ride! Georgia could ride this attraction all day long. She loves it!
Mini-tip --- If you're going to be in FL in the summer months, say adios to any sort of hairstyle. I went with the wet hair in a bun look daily! Even with that, it's hot and you are sweating within minutes of being outside in the sun. Poor Georgia's pony tale was driving her crazy sticking to her neck, so I even had to braid her pony. Disney is not about style, unless you find some cute ears to wear as a headband.
Out of the way - student driver!
Again, the Florida heat is no joke in the summer! By 9am, we all needed a cool down, so we hit up the People Mover to relax for a few minutes and take advantage of some AC as it weaved in and out of buildings. These rides might be "boring," but they serve a purpose. It was also a great time to chug some water and grab a quick snack.
We managed to do a few more rides in TomorrowLand, including the Buzz Lightyear ride (a favorite of Nick's) and the Astro Orbiter. I checked my watch - 9:30. Whew. We packed a ton of rides into the first 90 minutes in the park, but it's so worth it to be there early and hammer things out before the huge crowds and big time heat of the day arrive. We also managed to grab a drink at Gaston's Tavern (proper hydration is key!), stop for a sunscreen re-application, and take a quick spin on the Carousel.
|Busting some aliens!|
Nick and I took advantage of a built-in Mimi babysitter and used our FP+ reservation to jump on Space Mountain for a quick ride while Georgia and her wandered over to use their new FP+ to meet Ariel in her grotto.
Mini-tip --- Your group does NOT need to have the same FP+ reservations. In fact, every person could (theoretically) do their own thing. We try to use Mimi's dislike of big/fast/spinning rides to our advantage and use her FP+ to take Georgia to character meet/greets and parade VIPS while Nick and I get to ride the fast/scary rides at the same time.
Next, we headed over to Be Our Guest for our 11:05 lunch reservation. This is my #1 lunch recommendation for anyone looking to eat while in the park. We pre-ordered 30 days out, but still had to wait about 20-30 minutes to go thru the cashier process before finding a table (you self-seat) and then waiting for our meals to be delivered to our table. Since Georgia is flagged with a food allergy, a chef promptly found us and made sure everything was safe for her. Chef Stuart came out to let me know that the regular bread has a peanut and walnut cross-contamination warning, so he made a substitute for her! Thanks, chef.
|Georgia DESTROYED this turkey sandwich and fries!|
MOST AMAZING - all of that was done thru our GPS tracking devices in our Magic Bands. WHA?!?!?!? They knew where to deliver the food and the chef knew where we seated ourselves just from the bands we were all wearing. Slightly creepy, but really cool. The food is fabulous and for $50, you get to eat in a beautiful setting with air conditioning! You spend the same amount eating outside the castle for hot dogs, fries and drinks.
Next stop... the big question mark for our trip in terms of rides... Splash Mountain. I made the FP+ reservation for all 4 of us not knowing if Mimi would go on (she never has in the past) or if Georgia would pass the height requirement. We approached and they had Georgia step under a L-shaped bar to see if her head hit. If so, she would pass. Well, Miss G walked right up and knocked herself silly hitting the bar on her forehead. WAHOO! The whole line applauded as she screamed, "I passed! I passed!" Mimi's brave pill was still on full throttle so she joined us too. I may have been more concerned about my mother than my kid...
|Says it all...|
|Love the expressions - Nick and I screaming with smiles, G looks perplexed and my mother is terrified!|
Mimi survived. G loved it... of course. As we got off the ride, an announcement was made about rides being suspended because of an incoming thunderstorm. Perfect timing! We were ready for a nap break anyway, so we hiked to the monorail and caught it for a ride back to the Polynesian. A quick walk back to the resort and it was naptime for all while I recharged in the lobby and made a few new friends attending the Naval Warfare convention at the hotel! It thundered and poured for a few hours as predicted for just about every afternoon in Florida in the summer.
|Stars and Stripes Mickey in the lobby|
The skies cleared just in time for a return to the park for some evening activities. First up... dinner. It's important to eat a healthy and nutritious meal, which is why my mom and I split our Nutella waffle and added fruit to it! ;)
|Our Nutella waffle from Sleepy Hollow|
Don't worry - Nick ate a healthy hamburger macaroni concoction from The Friar's Nook in Fantasyland that he devoured too. That left Georgia, who kept repeating that she was not hungry at all. Seeing as though she ate almost all of her turkey sandwich and French fries from lunch, we weren't surprised. But she did jump at the chance to eat a Mickey pretzel for "dinner!"
|Disney magic = There are no rules for dinner!|
Our main goal of the night - use our last FP+ of the day to ride the new Seven Dwarf's Mine Train. All I can say is that it totally lived up to the hype! It was an amazing ride and just beautiful to be on, especially inside the mines. The technology is incredible - within minutes of leaving the ride, we already had images of us sent to our Disney accounts and a video with us riding the coaster. Hello, GPS monitoring!
Mini-tip --- Either FP+ the mine train ride or get there first thing in the morning. It is the newest ride at Magic Kingdom and the line was crazy all day. Well worth using a FP+!
We managed to sneak in a few more rides before heading down to Liberty Square to stake out a spot for the electrical parade. It was a gorgeous night, so the place was PACKED!
Mini-tip --- If you want great seats (guaranteed) for the parades of fireworks, use a FP+. However, you can still find spots with semi-obstructed views with just a few minutes to spare before each OR you may have to sit/stand directly behind people.
We headed over to Adventureland immediately after the parade (mainly to avoid the chaos on Main Street and in Liberty Square). There was no line for Aladdin's Flying Carpet Ride, so Georgia and I took a spin as we waited for the fireworks to start.
We made an executive decision to get as close to the park exit as we could before turning around to view the fireworks. We got stuck on Main Street for 60+ minutes last year trying to exit after the fireworks and learned our lesson. People are not so kind at that point in the night and there are LOTS of cranky kids (and adults). We had a beautiful view and were on the monorail within minutes of the fireworks ending.
Mini-tip --- Wear your MOST comfortable shoes/sneakers on this trip. Daily Fitbit report - 8.66 miles (and that's including several hours back at the hotel relaxing/napping).