Monday, April 6, 2015

Magic Kingdom Day 3 (Part 1)

I recently made two Shutterfly photo books from our Disney pictures, which has caused me to reminisce about our Disney trip last year.  And then several people have been asking for my Disney advice lately, which has led me to do some Disney trip planning research (for them, not us).  All of this reminded me that I never finished my series of Disney posts last fall.

So I'm determined to finish them, no matter how long it may take me!  I left off right before our last day in the Disney parks, which we spent at Magic Kingdom.

This was the 5th park day for us, which was different from our original plan to only do four park days.  It wasn't that much more money to add an extra day.  This whole decision of adding a day started when I tried to get an Anna/Elsa Fastpass.  The only possible time during our whole trip to meet Anna/Elsa was on Sunday (our 5th day).  So I ended up adding another park day and rearranging our whole schedule just so we could meet Anna/Elsa without standing in line.  It was totally worth it!

According to Touring Plans, this day was predicted to be a 1/10 on the crowd level scale.  The lowest possible crowds!  I was very curious to see what Magic Kingdom looked like with such low crowd levels.

This was at about 8:25, waiting outside the gates for rope drop.  It still felt just as crowded at this point in the morning.  I don't think there is ever really a "low" crowd day at Disney.  Just days that have lower crowds than others.

However, once we got to the back of the park in New Fantasyland (and everyone else had sprinted towards Mine Train, Anna/Elsa and the mountains) it was completely empty.  And I could take pictures like this, without a single other person in them.




Our plan was to head straight to Enchanted Tales with Belle, since the girls both liked this the first time and it tends to have a long line as the day progresses.  But when we got there, it wasn't working.  Well, they didn't tell us it wasn't working.  They had some reason about Belle being busy with something, because they never actually tell you when something goes wrong at Disney.  There is always a story in keeping with the characters!

Instead, Daniel and Audrey went to ride The Little Mermaid ride, yet again.  Isla didn't want to go, so we sat out and waited for them.  Then we went back to Enchanted Tales with Belle and it was up and running.  We walked right in.

This is the beginning part of the show in Maurice's cottage.  There is a magic mirror...

That turns into a magical passage into the Beast's castle.

The passage leads into a room with the wardrobe and a cast member.  The cast member opens up the wardrobe to reveal the props for the show, then passes them out to volunteers.
Then everyone goes into the library for the show with Belle, Lumiere and all the kid volunteers.  It's fun!
 Next, the girls wanted to ride It's a Small World once again.  So we did.  They didn't ever get tired of this ride!


It was about 9:50 at this point, and I knew that the Fairy Godmother was supposed to meet at the castle at 10:00 (according to Kenny the Pirate's character app...highly recommend that if you are interested in finding these lesser known characters!!).  Maybe we could catch her!  We had not had the best of luck catching the minor character meet n greets, so I warned Audrey it might not work.  We sent Daniel and Isla off to Starbucks, while Audrey and I went in search of the Fairy Godmother.  We got there and the stepmother and the stepsisters were currently greeting.  The cast member said that the line was full.  Then I asked if the Fairy Godmother would be out next.  She looked surprised that I knew this, and then said yes, the Fairy Godmother is supposed to be next, unless she is too busy helping in the kitchen!  The stepmother/sisters left and so did the line of people.  Audrey and I just stood there for about 2 minutes, and then the Fairy Godmother appeared!  We were first in line, so it worked out perfectly.  That really is the way to catch these characters...get there about 10 minutes AHEAD of their scheduled greeting time, and you just might get lucky.



We met up with Daniel and Isla at the magic teacups ride.  Isla wasn't sure she wanted to ride this one, and I definitely did not want to ride it.  I can't handle spinning rides.  So we sat and watched while Daniel and Audrey rode.  And Intook a picture of Daniel's Starbucks drink.  Which was totally free as a snack credit on the dining plan.



After a quick bathroom break, we took in a show at Mickey's Philharmagic, a $D cartoon featuring lots of classic Disney characters.  The Philharmagic was undergoing renovations most of our trip, but this was it's first day back open.  The place smelled like new carpet, so I'm thinking that must have been what they were renovating.  I think this is a really fun little show, but my sensitive little girls weren't too sure about the 4D effects (mostly the air blowing on them and water being squirted on them).

Then it was time for our Seven Dwarves Mine Train fastpass.  This is the newest and hottest ride at Magic Kingdom, and the lines were at 60 minutes as soon as the park opened.  Isla was too short to ride this one, and Audrey chickened out.  So Daniel and I took turns using our fastpasses and riding solo.  Neither of us had to wait in line at all with the fastpass.  Which is good because the ride is about one minute long.  In my mind, not worth waiting for an hour (or more!).  I'm not much of a roller coaster rider, and this was is fairly tame as far as roller coaster rides go.  Much tamer than Big Thunder Mountain, which I rode with Daniel last December.  I think Audrey could have handled it.  Maybe next time!  I tried to snap a couple of pictures with my cell phone on the ride, but they aren't too great.


After the mine train, we were right next to Winnie the Pooh.  I really wanted the girls to try it again, since they were scared of it the first time.  Isla wouldn't do it, but Audrey agreed.  Daniel and Isla went ahead to play in the Dumbo playland (Isla's favorite) while we rode Pooh.

Here is an example of how you can't really believe the posted Disney wait times.  The sign said it was a 40 minute wait.  But I looked at the line, and it did not look that long at all.  The touring plans app had the wait time at 25 minutes, which seemed more reasonable.  I timed our wait from when we got in line to when we got on the ride, and the total wait time was 12 minutes!  Audrey liked the ride much better the second time, and she was glad that she gave it another chance.  SOrry we are so blurry, but I wanted to document Audrey being brave!

We met up with Daniel and Isla and rode Dumbo, yet again.  It was a definite favorite, and I'm so glad that they have updated that ride to accommodate more people and make the wait more tolerable.  We didn't ever have to wait, but often we chose to wait, just because the girls liked to play in the play waiting area so much!





Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring Break Trip

Now that the girls are in school and have scheduled spring breaks, we've decided to make a tradition to go on a little trip each year during spring break.  Most likely it will just be an overnight trip to somewhere nearby, as our budget doesn't really allow for big trips at this point.  Last year we went to St. Louis and had so much fun!   This year we went to the Bloomington/Normal area.

It only takes a a bit more than an hour to drive there from our house, but to make the trip more fun, we decided to take the Amtrak train.  The train station is in a little downtown area, with a Marriott and a children's museum right across the street along with several fun restaurants.  We took the train, spent the night at the Marriott, visited a couple of restaurants, and then spent Day 2 at the children's museum.  It was a fun little trip!

The only downfall to riding the train is dealing with train delays.  Our departing train was 2.5 hours late!  Fortunately we found this out before we left for the station, so we just spent more time at home. We didn't really have plans for our first day, so it wasn't that big of a deal.  But it was a little annoying, especially since we could have just got in our car and driven there in about an hour's time!

The girls were SO excited about the train though.  It was worth the wait to take them on it.

Isla was my seat partner.  She was adorably excited and talked NONSTOP the entire ride.  It was so much fun to sit by her.  She also got a hold of my camera and took some pictures.  She took this picture of me.

And a lot of selfies!  She is possibly starting to outgrow her camera shy phase.  Though it may start again tomorrow, so I say that very carefully.

We were able to check into the hotel early.  After grabbing a quick lunch, we headed straight to the hotel pool.  The pool was totally empty at 3:00 on a Monday afternoon, so we had it all to ourselves.  This is probably the part of the trip that the girls were most excited about, even more than the train!







We rested in our room for a little bit then headed to dinner.  We went to a restaurant called Medici.  It was a cool looking place, and the food was fairly good.  But it was slow service, and a little too long of a meal for the girls.  While waiting for our food, Isla asked me if I would take a picture of her and the picture she was coloring.  Um...of course!  It is possible this is the first time Isla has EVER asked me to take a picture of her!


Another good one from our newly discovered Little Miss Photogenic.

Ice cream sundae for dessert!

Back at the hotel, we snuggled up and introduced the girls to Full House for the first time. 

Then it was bedtime.  The girls were excited that they got to share a bed.  When I told them, Audrey said, "Yay!  Then we can hug each other before we go to sleep."  Then Isla chimed in with, "And we can hold hands!"  Sometimes they are just so sweet.


The next day it was off to the museum!  The girls were so excited when they first got there.  They wanted to see everything and play with nothing.  We flew through all three floors of the museum, stopped to take a break for lunch, and then came back for a couple more hours.  After lunch, the crowds were lower and the girls attention span was longer.  They spent a lot more time playing at each place, and when it was time to go, they wanted to stay longer.















Then it was time to take the train back home.  Fortunately our returning train was on time!  This was  a fun little trip; I'm glad we decided to do it!