It didn't occur to me until after we split up that I hadn't sent DH with a camera, so I was going to miss Luke's first time ever behind the wheel of a car! Thank goodness for camera phones. And thank goodness my husband knew I would be very upset not to have any photos of the event. He managed to snap these for me.
Mom and I made it through the 20+ minute wait at Space Mountain. I have to say, while I'm nostalgic for a couple of the fun tunnel effects, the rest of the ride is really ready for an overhaul. It was much rougher than I remember, almost like they had tried to speed it up some but the track just wasn't designed for it. The turns are just too sharp. I'm glad we rode, so I would remember, but I hope the refurbishment improves the experience some. We texted DH when we got off, and he told us to meet him at the Speedway. Apparently, the line wasn't very long (it is usually insane!), and he knew I wanted pictures, so he was willing to take Luke again. Of course Luke was all for that! I took up position just after the start of the course, and Mom took the other camera a little farther around the curve. As I was waiting for them to appear, I remembered that the very last curve of the track is visible from over in Fantasyland, near the teacups. I picked up the backpack and all but ran for the other side of the track, where I managed to get a few more good ones.
After that, it was time for one last turn on Buzz before departing Tomorrowland for this year. We actually got in two turns, one with Luke and DH together, and one with Luke and Mom together.
We did hit the Starlight again for lunch. They have enough variety that we didn't have to repeat a meal if we didn't want. We also ate in the room with Cosmic Ray performing this time, which Luke really didn't like. I don't know what that was about. Anyway, we were all pretty tired, so we decided to go on and leave for nap. We had plans for several new things that afternoon, and we wanted to be well rested.
First up was the teacups, something Mom really wanted to do with Luke (who had never done it before). I will say that this is the only ride I can think of at Disney that I am uncomfortable riding due to my size, so I let the three of them ride while I took photos from the side. Mom took some pictures from "inside." Obviously, Luke loved it, and you almost never see DH laugh like that.
And I even got some video:
Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing
Luke wanted to ride again, so we let Luke and Mom have a turn alone.
Then we hit Mickey's Philharmagic, which is one of the best 4D movies (3D glasses plus other effects). DH and I did it 5 years ago when it was pretty much brand new, and really enjoyed it. (I remember it was 5 years ago because we were looking for things that I could do even though I was pregnant!) We had taken Luke to the Muppet 3D show at MGM last year, but I don't think he really "got it," especially because he didn't want to wear the glasses. It wasn't worth the fight, so we just let him be. I really thought he was ready for this one, though, being another year older, plus he is much more familiar with the classic Disney characters now that we have spent much of the last year watching Mickey Mouse Club House (he really has no idea who the Muppets are; how sad). He had a great time! Once I saw him reaching out towards the screen, I knew it was a hit with him.
Then it was time to fulfill a wish. Every time we walked through Fantasyland, Luke begged to ride "the elephants." I don't know that he's ever seen Dumbo (it's not one of my favorites), but he really wanted to do it. The line wasn't too bad, and it is right across from Philharmagic, and Luke had never done it before. May as well. Mom and I stood by to take pictures (hers actually turned out way better than mine) while DH and Luke rode.
For dinner, we did Pinocchio's Village Haus, also right there in Fantasyland. They serve pizza, so we were good to go. Just one little problem. Since Mom got her braces, she can't really do pizza. She can eat the cheese and toppings, but Disney pizzas aren't exactly known for their wealth of topping, something I had not considered when selecting that location for dinner. She mentioned turkey wrap from the Starlight (that I had gotten for lunch during an earlier visit). She could chop up the "innards" and make a salad out of it, but we had just eaten there for lunch, and she didn't want us all to have to eat there. She tried to convince us that she would be fine, but I wasn't having it. DH went to get the wrap while we ordered pizza. I got Luke a kid's pizza, which was a mistake. He ate all of his and over half of mine! (DH's was veggie, which Luke wanted no part of.) We pop into the Village Haus on almost every visit to Disney, even if only for drinks and a snack. The environment is always pleasantly cool, and the interior is well themed:
But the best part is the windows that look out onto it's a small world, right where the boats launch.
We were sitting at the table to the right in the above photo (behind the lady in green). I took pictures to prove that he did eat the apples again! LOL And he had a blast waving to the boats as they launched. Most of the time, at least one person would wave back. Sometimes no one did, but he never got discouraged, and you should have seen the look on his face when he got a whole boat full to wave. It was great fun to watch.
With that, Luke was dying to ride the "train roller coaster," aka Big Thunder Mountain. We had to go through Liberty Square to get there, and I was hoping to ride the paddle wheeler. Every year, I say I am going to ride it, and every year, something comes up. This year, it closed about 30 minutes before we arrived. Mom and I were also hoping to do Tom Sawyer's Island, something I don't think any of us have done in all our visits to Disney over the years, but it was set to close very soon, and I didn't want to have to rush, so we skipped that, too. Mom *really* wanted to try Splash Mountain and take Luke, which was fine with me, except that he only had one pair of shoes that would not dry by the next day, and I did *not* want him walking around in wet shoes, not even for half a day. We put all of that on our "next year" list, and headed for the mountain.
When we arrived, the wait time showed a 50 minute stand-by line. Yikes! The fast passes were being handed out for 40 minutes from then, which seemed really silly, but okay. We picked up FPs, but we needed something to kill time. Not really much that is quick to do in the area, except maybe the Country Bear Jamboree. It was less than 10 minutes to showtime. That was just enough time to catch it and then come back for our fast passes. No pictures, sorry, and I'm not sure Luke quite knew what to make of it. Still, it passed the time without us having to entertain the child, and it was back to the mountain, where we rode 5 straight times! Well, Mom and Luke did. I got jerked pretty hard on the second ride and it made my hip hurt (most of me slid in the seat, but my foot didn't slide with it, so my hip torqued strangely), so I sat out rides 3 and 4.
It was nearing closing, and we had already seen the fireworks, so I wanted us to try and leave as they started, hopefully using our favorite "sneak through Adventureland" trick. I did need to stop at the restroom before we left, though, and it ended up costing us dearly.
The fireworks started before I got out (Mom took those while they waited for me), which wasn't a big deal. Most everyone was at a standstill, and we just kept walking around, intending to land hop from Frontierland straight to Adventureland. Except that there was a cast member standing at the entrance to Adventureland. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but Adventureland is closed. If you wish to exit the park, you will need to go through Liberty Square." I nearly fainted. You want me to do what?! Anyone very familiar with the layout of the Magic Kingdom knows why I was upset by this. For those not so familiar, allow me to explain.
The park is set up in a "hub and spoke" design. There is a center hub, with the various lands set up as satellites around the outside. To get to your destination, you can walk the outer circle that connects land to land (Fantasyland to Liberty Square to Frontierland, what I call "land hopping") or you can go from one land, down a spoke, through the hub, and up a different spoke to a new land. Not every land has a spoke, though. Frontierland does not. The only way out of Frontierland is either through Adventureland which dumps you out practically on Main Street (that's why I like going that way), or through Liberty Square which connects either to Fantasyland or has a spoke to the hub that dumps you out right in front of the castle! You know, as far away from Main Street (aka the exit) as possible, and right in the middle of the fireworks chaos, the absolute LAST place you want to be when the show is over. I was furious. I suppose we could have walked all the way around from Frontierland to Tomorrowland (*all* the way around the perimeter of the park) and cut through the Terrace to try and hit Main Street that way, but I wasn't sure we would make it in time, and even if we did, who was to say that there wouldn't be another cast member somewhere telling us that some other land was also closed.
By the time we got to Liberty Square, I knew we would never make it all the way around, even if we wanted to attempt it. There were people *everywhere,* and the hub was so packed, there was no point in trying to thread our way through. So we just stood on the Liberty Square spoke bridge, watching and waiting. Luke was happy to see the fireworks by the castle, but I was still very much annoyed. The show ended, and the crush started. I had forgotten that Mom doesn't like situations like that very much, otherwise we would have just stood on the bridge for a while and waited for the bulk of the crowd to pass, but I didn't think of it, and by the time I did, we were too much in the thick of things to get out. People stopping their double-decker strollers in the middle of the crowd and just *standing* there certainly didn't help any. It was just insane, and I learned my lesson. If we are ever again caught during the mass exodus, we will stop and wait. It took nearly 70 minutes for us to exit the park, and I don't know how much longer to get on the ferry. I think we waited for 2 boats and made the 3rd one. I was hot (no breeze with that may people), I was tired, and I was very grumpy, all while trying not to get crushed. And oh yeah, we still had to pack! (Note to self: on our next week-long trip, be sure "packing time" is a specific item on the schedule.) Not the best ending for our last night at the park, but overall, still a very good day. Half a day Saturday at the Studios, and then we would head home.
Next up, our last park visit; Disney 2009, Day 8: Studios, Round 2.
Currently feeling: almost there!