Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Magic Kingdom {Disney World}

On our first full day in Florida we decided to start with the most classic of all the parks – the Magic Kingdom!  We had so much fun at the Magic Kingdom that day that we decided to spend our last day in Florida there too, so the photos in this post are a blend from Monday and Saturday. 

Magic Kingdom by MomsGonnaSnap
We got up at 5am so that we would be ready to walk down to catch the bus just before 6am so that we would be at the park to get our tickets and be at the opening show at 6:50am.  Yes, we are those crazy people that got up super early while on vacation.  Trust me, it was worth it!!  As you can see, it was still dark as we walked by the castle (it was only 7am!) but that didn’t stop us! 

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The opening show is cute – Mickey and friends ride in on the train and welcome everyone to the park. It’s the perfect way to get all the little ones excited about spending a day in the magical world of the Magic Kingdom.

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Disney World offers Magic Hours for each of the parks on different days.  Because we were there during spring break, an extremely busy time, the Magic Kingdom had Magic hours every morning from 7-8am.  They had evening Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom too, but they were super late (something like 12-3am!) so we didn’t take advantage of those hours. The parks are only open to Disney resort guests during Magic Hours and for as busy as it was later in the day, we found it was totally worth it to have a “quiet” first hour at the park. 

As we entered the park we were really not sure what rides Anthony would be comfortable with.  He’s right at the age where many kids transition from the “little kid" rides to the “bigger kid” rides and he seems to like to dabble a bit in both, which makes it a bit challenging to know what to try.

Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides at the Magic Kingdom, but we weren’t sure he was ready for it, so to start our day, we headed to Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan’s Flight on standby with no wait (later in the day there was an 80+ minute wait for this ride!).  This was the perfect warm-up ride – not scary at all and it helped to build up even more excitement (if that’s even possible!).  Since we were right there, we also went on It’s a Small World, which both of the boys really disliked.  Anthony quickly declared it was a “girls ride” and wanted to know when it was going to end.  I think it’s neat to hear the song in so many languages and the décor is cute, but it was not a favorite ride for any of us.  We rode the Mad Hatter Tea Cups on the way to Tomorrow Land, and if you know me, you know that I was not a fan of the spinning.  In fact, I may have been holding my legs tightly up under the “spinner” to keep us from spinning as fast as the boys were trying to make us go…  Ha!  In Tomorrowland we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin on stand-by and thought about riding Space Mountain.  Anthony wasn’t quite sure about that so we rode a couple more rides in Tomorrowland before heading over to Frontierland. 

During the Magic Hours they opened Fantasyland and Tomorrowland from 7-8am, but Frontierland and Adventureland did not open until 8.  We timed our last ride perfectly so that we were waiting on the bridge when they opened the rope to let us head through Liberty Square to Frontierland.  Unfortunately for Anthony, Splash Mountain was closed and they were not giving out FASTPASSes because they were not sure when it would be open.  Luckily for hubby and I, we headed straight to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and rode it twice on stand-by with no wait (we love roller coasters)!  The best part, Anthony LOVED it!  We rode it approx 4 times that day!  They also opened Splash Mountain during this time, so we picked up a FASTPASS for later – it was too cold for a water ride that first morning!

We were confused at first, but became very quick fans of the FASTPASS.  What a great idea!  Most of the rides (at least the popular ones) have the option to insert your ticket for a FASTPASS – a ticket that gives you a specific time to come back later and use the fast line to ride the ride.  We had heard that Disney only enforces the start times of the FASTPASS and not the end time, but that was not our experience – it worked the first time, but that was it.  When we used a FASTPASS, I don’t think we ever waited more than 5 minutes in line for a ride.  You can get a new FASTPASS every hour.

Somewhere around this point I lost track of the order we did things, because we had already done 75% of the “Must Do’s” on my list and it was not evening 9:00 yet! We walked around and rode lots of other rides – the Haunted Mansion, Astro Orbiter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tomorrowland Speedway and then rode many of these again.  We also went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic show, walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse, went to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (fun!), and the Carousel of Progress (we did not enjoy this one at all).

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When we made the decision to go to Disney World, we knew the trip was going to cost a lot more than we had initially planned on spending on a vacation.  In an effort to save some money, we not only drove to Florida, but we also packed a cooler and brought food for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  This meant that we only had to purchase 1 meal per day – major savings at any theme park!  Our best guess is that this saved us around $300 for the week, as well as a ton of time not wasted waiting in lines for food and tables.  This did mean that we had a backpack with us everyday, but we decided that it was worth it!  We had meat and cheese sandwiches or PB&J every day. Yes, every day.  It was fine though!  We had apples, bananas, grapes, carrots, chips, etc. to go with our lunches, and I had purchased a Thirty-one thermal lunch tote, which worked perfectly to keep our lunch cool with a small bag of ice from the hotel.  It was especially great that my hubby made our lunches every day!  We also had water bottles with filters – the water from the fountains is awful and we all drink lots of water regularly, so these worked great!

For dinner we decided it would be best if we tried to eat a little early to beat the lines.  Around 4:30 we were close to the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café and just walked in.  While we may have been beating the big rush, we still ended up waiting at least 20 minutes to get through the line and get our food.  I ordered a grilled chicken wrap, hubby ordered a taco salad, and Anthony ordered a cheeseburger with fries.  When our food came up, there was no cheeseburger and 2 taco salads.  They quickly fixed this by adding the cheeseburger and leaving us with all of the rest of the food.  Extra free food is always a good thing when you are hungry and cheap at a theme park!

We attempted to go on the Jungle Cruise before the evening festivities but after waiting in line for about 40 minutes and hearing that there were people in line who had waited over 2 hours, we climbed back out through the line.  Yes, we were those people, and I’m glad we did it.  On Saturday morning we did ride the Jungle Cruise and it was terrible.  Definitely wish that we hadn’t waited in line for it early in the week, and thankful that we didn’t spend our entire evening waiting in that line.

After leaving the Jungle Cruise line, we stopped in Adventureland for a Dole Whip (YUMMY!) and then headed out by the castle to find some seats.  Once we found a good spot, I went in search of snacks.  Anthony really wanted cotton candy, but I couldn’t find it – they were sold out!  I found a super lollipop instead and it kept him busy for hours!

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Once the sun went down, it was COLD!  Luckily we at least had light-weight coats with us (that backpack paid off again).  We enjoyed the Main Street Electrical Parade, even though we were all pretty cold by that time.  As soon as the parade was done, Anthony declared that he needed to use the bathroom.  There were so many people there that we didn’t dare separate or we would never have found each other.  We watched part of Celebrate the Magic on the walk to the bathroom and then just stood and watched from farther away.  The images they project onto the castle are pretty incredible.  We stayed for most of the Wishes nighttime spectacular (fireworks), but ended up leaving just before the end.  More about all 3 of these below.

When we went back to the park the second time (Saturday) we were only there from 7:00-11:00 and we still had time for Peter Pan’s Flight, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Tomorrowland Speedway, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (twice!), Splash Mountain (three times!), Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise (do NOT waste your time on this ride! Disney can, and should, do better than this!!!) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  We thought this was pretty good considering these rides are spread throughout the park and we were walking around with a 6-year-old!

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We tried to come up with our family’s top 5 favorites at the Magic Kingdom but we couldn’t stick with just 5, so here’s our list of the Top Ten Things to do/see at the Magic Kingdom:

1. Splash Mountain – This is an extremely popular ride, so having a FASTPASS is a must!  This ride is also super long – somewhere around 15 minutes!  It’s a typical log flume ride that blends a log flume with a ride like It’s a Small World.  There are moments of rush and moments of peace.  It’s fun, but be prepared, you will get wet!

2013-03-30 (145)e                            The boys gave Splash Mountain a thumbs up – over, and over and over!

2. Peter Pan’s Flight – What a sweet, calm, and cute ride!  Peter Pan is a very smooth and slow ride, perfect for little kids.  You fly along in a magical ship and see the world of Peter Pan.  The details are spectacular!  My favorite was the little cars you could see driving along the roads.

3. Meeting Mickey Mouse  - What a fun moment!  Throughout the week Anthony was not very interested in meeting the characters.  He would see them, smile, look at the long line, and go “eh” and continue on.  On our last day we each picked the one thing we really wanted to do, and meeting Mickey Mouse was mine.  We timed it perfectly, and only had to wait about 5 minutes to meet Mickey at the Town Square Theater.  Anthony was pulled right into the magic when it was his turn to meet Mickey – it was awesome!  He was able to get Mickey’s autograph and have pictures taken with Mickey.  We joined in on the fun too!

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4. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This was fun!  The perfect little boy (and girl!) ride – you get to shoot lasers at Zurg (and various targets throughout the ride) to earn points and compete with whoever is riding with you.  Three can ride together on this, which we did multiple times.  On the last day we decided to ride separately so we could all have a laser gun – Anthony loved riding alone in a car so he could control both laser guns and the spinner!

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Heading into Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – The idea of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is that you are on a runaway train.  It’s the perfect roller coaster for kids that are ready for some excitement – you only have to be 40” tall to ride!  It does go quick though, so I’m sure there are many children who are tall enough, but just not quite ready for a ride like this.  We loved it!

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6. Meeting Woody and Jessie – When we came off of Splash Mountain on Monday we walked right by the area where Woody and Jessie were signing autographs.  The line was not ridiculously long (maybe 20 minutes?) so we decided meeting Woody and Jessie would be fun for our first character meeting.  It was so fun!  Anthony gave them both super big hugs and got autographs from both of them.  Woody played some tricks on Anthony too – he held the autograph card just up out of reach so that Anthony had to jump around to try and get it.  There were LOTS of giggles!  Later in the week we heard that if you yell “Andy’s Coming!” the characters will fall to the ground for a photo with you.  We went back to try this, but decided it wasn’t worth waiting in line for it.  We did see a picture of it though – funny stuff!

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7. Mickey’s Philharmagic – While I love a good show, I also LOVE theme park rides, so taking time out to watch a show was not something I would have initially suggested.  I had heard great things about this show though, and knew that it was short, so we gave it a try.  It’s a 3D movie and super cute!  I would definitely go see it again!

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8. Haunted Mansion – Anthony was super excited when we started heading to the Haunted Mansion, but as we got closer, he started getting pretty nervous.  When we walked into the haunted mansion and the doors closed, he was instantly scared.  I’m pretty sure hubby and I were both having flashbacks from our trip to Wisconsin Dells last summer, when Anthony cried and whimpered throughout a haunted house, and it wasn’t even the super scary one that he had wanted to go to!  Once the actual Haunted House ride started, it was much better.  Disney did a great job with the simulations on this ride!  Very cool!

9. Main Street Electrical Parade/Celebrate the Magic/ Wishes nighttime spectacular – Since you will spend your evening in front of the castle for these, and we had so many other favorites, these all count together as one.  All I can say is, WOW!  It’s a super LONG day, but definitely worth staying for all of the evening festivities.  I had heard to go find a seat (on the curb near around the castle) around 8:00 to get ready for the Main Street Electrical Parade that starts at 9:00.  Because it was so busy, we headed over around 7:30ish with plans to relax and have some treats.  We were not the only ones with this idea – the sidewalks were already filling up with people getting ready for the parade.  The parade was exactly what it sounds like – an electrical parade!  The floats were all FULL of lights, as were many of the costumes.  There was a little girl next to us that screamed out the name of every princess that came through – she was so excited and her excitement was contagious!  Even hubby appreciated her squeals of delight!  We missed part of Celebrate the Magic because Anthony needed to go to the bathroom (poor planning on our part for not enforcing a trip at 8:30 right before the parade started) and ended up watching most of Celebrate the Magic from a distance, closer to the bathrooms.  We stayed for most of the fireworks, but ended up leaving before the grand finale.  Insert my disappointment here. I LOVE fireworks, especially grand finales, and seeing the fireworks behind the castle was amazing.  The evening was super cold – yes, it’s Florida, but the weather was not great when we were there.  The boys both wore shorts, which were perfect during the day, but by the evening it was around 50 degrees – cold for sitting/standing around in the dark waiting for a parade, light show and fireworks.  We had also been at the park for over 15 hours, so it really was time to go, even if the fireworks show was not over yet.  Maybe this should be my excuse to go back sooner than later?!?

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10. Pin Trading – This was a new one for me, but lots of fun!  Some friends of ours had told us about it, so we gave it a try.  The kids (and some adults too!) wear lanyards with Disney pins on them and whenever they see a Disney employee wearing a lanyard with pins, they can ask to trade a pin.  Buying pins at the park gets expensive quick – they are around $8+ per pin, unless you buy the starter pack.  You know that we were trying to make this a cheap vacation, so we watched eBay and purchased some Disney pins that way.  I’m sure we overpaid due to our timing (spring break), but we bought 25 pins for about $20 – less than $1 per pin!  Some of them were ugly, which was just fine because they were for Anthony to trade for pins he liked better at any of the parks.  It was fun!  I was cheap on the lanyard too – $3 for a small spool of ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics and I had a homemade lanyard (in blue ribbon) with lots of ribbon leftover.  Plus, when I made the lanyard, we weren’t sure if he would even be excited about trading pins.  He traded all of the ones he wanted and then put them away by the end of the week.  Also, something to note – the pin backs do fall off.  He did lose a few pins in the park, but luckily it wasn’t too big of a deal.

Other things to try at the Magic Kingdom?

Characters! Anthony was not overly interested in waiting in the long lines to meet the characters, which was fine, but when he did meet characters, he LOVED it and it quickly became one of his favorite parts of the day!

Pirates of the Caribbean – Obviously a pirate themed ride, but super calm and perfect for little ones.  Anthony really liked this one too!  He even bought a couple swords from the shop to bring home too – thanks to all the souvenir money he had from family and friends.

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Space Mountain!  I rode this when I was in high school and thought it was pretty fun.  We almost rode it on the first day, but our FASTPASSes had expired and they wouldn’t let us through.  We tried.  Twice.  I tried to encourage hubby to grab a FASTPASS and ride without us, but he wouldn’t have it.  This was a FAMILY vacation and he didn’t want to go off and do things on his own.

Tom Sawyer Island – I was curious about this and heard it was neat, but we just didn’t get to it. On Monday the lines were extremely long and on Saturday we had a list of favorites to re-visit again and again.  Maybe next time?

The Magic Kingdom really is pretty impressive.  I think hubby said that about 5 times during our trip – love it!  As a 17-year-old, I didn’t find the Magic Kingdom very exciting, but as a mom, with my 6-year-old, the magic was definitely there, and it was amazing!

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More posts about Disney World:
     Downtown Disney
     Countdown to Disney
     Animal Kingdom

More posts yet to come:
     Hollywood Studios
     Universal Studios
     Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Click HERE to see my first ever digital scrapbooking page - all about Disney's Magic Kingdom!

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!!!! Wonderful post about your day!!!! I love all the pictures and awesome details. A good reference for us sometime in the future :) Your first picture great! Did you use photo shop to add the letter? Miss you guys!