Monday, March 17, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 2 - Magic Kingdom Morning

Thursday morning dawned bright and early with the child waking at 6 AM (he's better than an alarm clock, I swear). We got up, we made waffles downstairs on the waffle iron, we got all sunscreened up (which Luke did not like at all), and we headed out. One of the things I did not know when I made our reservations for dinner at the Crystal Palace for this night was that not only was Thursday and Extra Magic Hour morning day at the Magic Kingdom (meaning resort guests could get into the park an hour before the rest of the general public), it was also closing early (7 PM) for the Pirate and Princess Party. This meant that the park would be busier than normal, *and* it would close sooner. This did not make me happy, given that dinner was scheduled for 5 PM (and there was no way to reschedule at such a late date; reservations were full), so there would hardly be an hour after eating to do stuff. Given that we probably wouldn't get back there until 4 PM or later due to nap, I felt like we were almost wasting an afternoon, so we needed to cram as much into the morning as possible, despite all the extra people for Extra Magic Hour.

As is our custom, we took the ferry over for our first arrival. The monorail line was *so* long, and I know we got there well before most of the people exiting the tram with us simply by taking the boat. Security was fun, as usual, with three backpacks for the four of us. I did, however, spot one of the coolest topiaries I have seen in a long time. Check this out:

It was *huge*. I intentionally left that little boy in the photo, as well as the post holding up the monorail track, just so you could get a sense of scale. I'd say 8-10 feet. I was pretty impressed! With such inspiration, how could we not head for Pirates of the Caribbean first thing. I knew it was on the left of the park (people naturally go right when they enter a venue like this, so things on the left or in the very back tend to be less busy early on), and I was afraid it would be terribly busy later, so we hit it immediately. I guess there is an advantage to going on this trip 10 days earlier than normal. There were so many fewer people, I was stunned. Most folks weren't out on spring break until at least the next week, more likely the following one. The proof? I cannot tell you the last time we literally walked right on to Pirates. There were no queueing posts in the forecourt, we just kept walking and walking through the internal queue, and we only had to wait for a single boat to launch before we stepped into one. That is unheard of! We might have to go early again next year.

Anyway, I had bought Luke a small "blaster" keychain at the World of Disney on Wednesday, and it helped him make it through the Davy Jones mist this year without panicking. We went down the hill, just to make sure he still loved it (I had big plans for later, if he was still good with that type of thrill), and we got to the first major scene with the fort bombardment. I suddenly realised that someone was talking over the intercom system, but there was so much noise in there with the dialog and the cannon fire that we could not make out what was being said. There has to be something pretty wrong for them to "break" the ambiance of the ride by speaking over the intercom. Then I noticed that there were no boats coming after us. Odd. By the time we got through the scene with the well and into the scene with the, er, auction, they were back on the intercom, telling us to please remain in our seats and that our voyage would continue shortly. Then there was some message, obviously meant for the operators and not the passengers, about having to basically reboot the pumps. As in, the pumps that make the water move that cause the boats to move. The boats don't have motors or ride on tracks. They just float, and the flow of the water causes them to move through the ride. There are some guide rails to keep us on course, but that is about it. It's all about the water flow, and thus, the pumps!

As we went under the bridge and into the scene where the pirates and the ladies are being chased, we saw the boats in front of us stacking up. No one was going anywhere. They do request no flash photography on the ride, because it is distracting and ruins the experience for other guests, and I usually abide by that rule (or is it guideline?). However, after sitting there for 3-4 minutes, with continued requests for us to stay seated and repeated attempts to restart the pumps, I decided (as did several other guests) that things were already ruined, so I started taking pictures! And as we continued to sit, we actually started moving backwards, back into the auction scene, so I took even more pictures (hey, we've already been there, ambiance intact, so photos now won't hurt anything). I had fun tinkering with my camera settings. We were stuck there for 8-10 minutes, I guess, so I had plenty of time to play. As such, you will have to forgive me while I post some gratuitous Pirates of the Caribbean ride photos, which I think are pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

So, with a successful test run on the drop at the beginning of Pirates, we headed on over to my main goal for this trip: Big Thunder Mountain! Last time we were at the doctor's office, Luke was measured at 42", easily clearing the 40" height minimum for this ride. Need proof?

DH wanted to have him re-ride the Barnstormer first (the small coaster he rode last year) to make sure we didn't "scar him for life" if he didn't still like them, but I was confident it wouldn't be an issue, and if it was, I would have only myself to blame. The line was pretty long, about 30 minutes, but I knew it would only get longer, so we entered. For some reason, I seem to be a favorite person to be asked to carry the time tracking card, as was the case this time. (They scan a card and give it to a guest to carry through to the line until you get on the ride, where it is scanned again and the updated wait time is sent to the front information board.) I knew this didn't bode well, though, and I was right. The wait was closer to 45 minutes, which is a long time to wait, especially when you are 3-years-old and it is getting close to lunchtime. He did quite well, though, and as usual, he proved to be our lucky charm by getting us in the front seat without our having to ask. The three of us managed to fit in a single car, and off we went. He absolutely *loved* it, and we even got to wave at DH (who was waiting on the bridge near the exit, coaster-wimp that he is) as we came over the last hill.

It was now well on to lunchtime, so we wandered over to Fantasyland and another of our favorite stops: Pinocchio's Village Haus. We stopped for a group photo on the way. Not the best shot, but the best I could do with no tripod and a bunch of people walking by. It is also the only photo of all four of us that we have taken in the last two trips to Disney. (We must get better about that!) As we neared the restaurant, we could see the carousel in the distance, and Luke pitched a fit! He wanted to go ride it so badly, but he absolutely had to eat, as he was getting unusually unreasonable (even for being 3). We promised a ride after we ate, and that finally got him in the door. And then it happened: Luke ate his first official meal at Disney! Last year, you may recall, he lived on granola bars, marshmallows, and french fries. This year's staple food? Pizza! We ate, cooled off, cleaned up, then hit the carousel. By then, nap time was near, so we headed back to the hotel.

Sorry about all the pictures. We really didn't take all that many this trip! Most remaining posts will not be as photo heavy. Up next, The Crystal Palace and Buzz Lightyear!

Currently feeling: photo-ish

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