Day 3 was THE DAY. Mickey day. There is something about Magic Kingdom that can turn pretty much anyone into a child.
We left the apartment early so that we could get into the parking lot early. The thing with Magic Kingdom is that the parking lot is not near Magic Kingdom itself – you have to catch a monorail from the parking lot/ticket place over to Magic Kingdom. So once we picked up our tickets, we had to get in line to catch the monorail (or there’s a ferry you can catch). Half an hour before the monorail even started there were already hundreds of people lined up. And when the gates finally opened, you’d think that people were trying to get to the front row of a General Admission Justin Bieber concert – there were people RUNNING to the monorail. In front of us, a mother yelled “run kids, run!” at her 5 and 7 year olds. What?
If my last visit to Magic Kingdom taught me one thing (other than that people wear some WEIRD THINGS), it was that the Fast Pass system can work for you, if you know how to utilize it. So that’s what we did. The first thing we did was to go to Space Mountain and get a Fast Pass to ride an hour later. Then we headed up through Fantasyland, rode a few rides (those creepy It’s a Small World dolls… eek!) and headed over to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain.
Early on we noticed that the park was getting crowded, but we were still able to get around and see things. We got Fast Passes for a lot of the rides, and didn’t wait in line longer than 15 or 20 minutes for anything – it was believable that the lines were 2+ hours for some rides, but the fact that parents would stand in line with 3 and 4 year olds for 2 hours confuses the heck out of me!
We discovered that you could even get Fast Passes to meet Mickey and the Princesses (something that wasn’t available last time, but since they have closed the part of Fantasyland that used to have Mickey’s house in it, Mickey now meets people in the Town Hall building near the entry, near the Princesses) and then found a spot near the entry for the morning parade.
We went to Disney World knowing that the week between Christmas and New Years is the busiest of the year, but we didn’t really know what that meant, until after the parade was over. We tried to make our way through the crowds to ride Splash Mountain (which we had Fast Passes for) but when we finally got there it was broken down, and the line for nearby Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was nearly 2 hours long. We ended up riding the train that goes around the edge of the park, and then decided to leave the park, which at about 1pm, has reached capacity of 100,000 people (no kidding) and they had stopped letting people in.
By Wednesday I was feeling pretty exhausted from all the driving I had been doing, so a rest was much appreciated on Wednesday afternoon. We napped, changed, and headed back towards Disney, stopping for dinner at IHOP before returning to the Magic Kingdom at about 9pm.
The difference of 8 hours between 1pm and 9pm was amazing. We caught the beginning of the ends of the crowds, as people left the park after the 9pm Electrical Street Parade, and snuck through the backstreets of Tomorrowland (which are usually only staff access roads, but in busy times they open them up to allow the crowds to flow more easily) to come out near Space Mountain.
On my last visit to Disney, there were a few things I didn’t ride. This time, one of the things that I enjoyed the most, that I didn’t get the chance to ride last time, was the Carousel of Progress, which was created for the 1964 World Fair. It’s basically a circular shaped theatre, with 6 sections, which each have a cinema feel to them – the stage is a stationary wedge-shaped space in each room, and the outside sections where the audience sit rotate through the ‘years’ (you can get a better description here).
I just thought it was really well done, and shows how technology has changed over time. The best thing about it is that when it was made in the 60’s it was imagining how technology would be in the future – but for us, that future is now.
We met Mickey & Minnie, and the princesses, and Marry Poppins! I think the best part was watching the little kids meet them – so cute!
As with every park, theme parks at night always feel different, and it was so nice to be able to wander through Magic Kingdom without the huge daytime crowds and long lines. In a much shorter time than we had spent during the day riding only a few rides, we were able to ride Pirates of the Carribean, Jungle Cruise and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (all in Adventureland) one after the other, with no waiting times.
We waited a short time in line to ride The Haunted Mansion, which, as a ride, isn’t that scary (unless you are 7 years old). The introduction to the ride, however, is way too creepy for kids. You are led into what seems to be a room with no door and no windows, which may or may not move like an elevator (when you are in it you feel like the room is stretching – not sure if you actually move, or the roof just moves upwards) and then it goes pitch black… and then you see a corpse hanging from the ceiling. Freaky. I screamed. Multiple times.
We rode nearly everything in Fantasyland, minus the spinning teacups, which just the thought of makes me feeling like throwing up. Fantasyland is currently being renovated, so the area where Mickey and Minnies houses used to be is closed, to make room for new Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Beauty & the Beast and Snow White areas. Snow White’s Scary Adventures is going to be closed down, so we rode that for what will be the last time. We saw the Mickey’s Philharmagic show, which was a lot of fun.
We saw the Fireworks (and ended up in an area behind Cinderella’s Castle, and discovered that the practically flood the whole area while the fireworks are on, as not to burn the park down) and then wandered the park and rode rides as people slowly filtered out! I couldn’t believe the amount of people that were still out with 2 and 3 year olds after midnight. Insanity. (Please remind me of my views on this when I try and do anything like this with small children when I have them).
We finally gave up at about 12:30am (my feet, by this point, were plagued with HUGE blisters, and I could barely walk), and headed home. The amount of people leaving was still large enough that we had to wait in line for a monorail, but were lucky enough to not get caught in a major traffic jam leaving the parking lot.
And that, in a very disjointed way, was my day at Magic Kingdom!