May 29, 2006

Walt Disney World Day Five

We began this morning EARLY as the alarm rang at 5:30am once again we did go back to sleep until 6am and then arose to get ready for what would prove to be our longest day of all at the parks. It was also the hottest day and today happened to be the day that we were all wearing heavy costumes despite the heat, my costume included a full length black skirt, long sleeve black turtleneck and a long hooded crushed velvet cloak in high 90's weather! What causes this insanity you ask? Star Wars weekend at MGM Studios. Friday was opening day for the weekend and our whole family went in costume. We arrived at the park at opening to hear and watch the storm troopers patrolling the top of the entrance gate.

Upon entering the gates we headed straight for Star Tours which we rode using child swap since Sirah was too little to ride it. I felt sick on it but made it through the ride but wisely knew it was not worth going on again for me. The kids and Serona immediately proceeded to ride it again with our fastpasses. He said "These aren't the fast passes you are looking for" and was granted admission to the ride of course they all were in authentic jedi costumes and got stopped for pictures and autographs. Sirah and I walked around and looked at the costumed characthers and got fast passes for the Ariel show. We saw wicket, Chewie, Anakin, Mace, Shak-Ti, Luke and Leia. The lines were too long to wait around for autographs so we took a few pictures and just kept walking. We headed over to Ariel but got off the line because we would miss the parade for the show. Instead we stopped at the Narnia show. Which as much as I love the book and enjoyed the movie I did not enjoy this attraction. It was a long line for not much. The coolest part was when the wardrobe doors opened and you walked "into Narnia" and then you stood and saw the white witch say a few lines and then watched an extended trailer of the movie and then are led quickly through a room with several items fro the film. We did a get a picture in front of a set of Tumnus' front door, not worth the wait IMHO. We headed into the special star wars merchandise store to pick up the collector pins and to have our picture taken with an x-wing.

The x-wing line was taking awhile and we knew we would likely miss the parade if we stayed on it. We decided to just stay where we were and have the picture taken and to forgo the parade. Serona was very flexible for the family's sake, missing out on things he would love as a big star wars fan so that everyone could enjoy the day. As Serona picked up the pictures and shopped a bit I took the kids outside and headed over to Ariel. The show was good, a mix of live entertainment and clips from the movie, with some water and wind to make things feel more real. While we were in there Serona went to "Who wants to be a millionaire" Star Wars edition. He never made it into the hot seat but did know the answer to all but one question which he would have used a lifeline for. We got caught up in a street show with their street performers and we got asked to take several pictures with people which we are always happy to do.

We decided then that the kids simply needed to leave. There were other things we wanted to do, like the jedi training, the adult trivia contest (which both Serona and I got bracelets for), the beauty and the beast show, the muppets 3D, honey I shrunk the kids set, and serona wanted to do tower of terror alone, but this was one of those days where we said "Whose vacation is it and what do they need" and the answer was "The kids needed naps to save the rest of the day" - we headed back to the hotel and let go of everything else we wanted to do and it was the absolute best decision we could have made. We took a solid 3-4 hours of napping at the hotel and woke up feeling like it was a new day. It had ominous clouds and a promise of rain.

We boarded the bus and headed back to MGM to pick up our pictures and to do a few of the things we left unfinished. Only when we arrived it was absolutely pouring so we switched gears. I ran with the older two to the Magic Kingdom bus stop and Serona took Sirah to get the pictures and pick up raingear. Ponchos are relatively cheap (nothing is cheap there) and worth the cost. He came back with ponchos for all and we eventually dried off on the way to Magic Kingdom. The good of the rain was it drove a lot of people out of the parks at what is otherwise a very busy time of day. As we arrived at Magic Kingdom the gates were nearly empty and people were streaming out of the parks to escape the rain. By the time we had our stroller and walked to get dinner the rain was down to a drizzle. By the time we finished dinner it was done and the sun was out and the park was cool (a nice by-product of Florida rainstorms) - perfect for touring the park.

We worked our way through the entire park reriding all the kids favorites and trying a few we had missed like the Swiss Family Robinson house. By now we were used to doing rides during the parades and fireworks for short lines but the kids were showing interest in the evening parade so we decided to watch it if we could find a spot. Main street of course is packed and as much as every book and experienced person tells you too I just can not bring myself to sit down for two hours to wait for a prime spot for the parade. We happened to be walking out of the Swiss Family treehouse right around parade time and were heading over to the mountains when we realized the parade route in Fronteirland was completely empty - prime front row curb spots were open and it was just 15 minutes until parade time! Okay I can wait 15 minutes for a front row seat, 2 hours - no, 15 minutes yes. So we found a good spot, bought some ice cream and waited it out.

The parade was really special. Something about the characters being lit up just really made it all so much more special and the kids had that big grin and looks that we had been hoping for at the first afternoon parade. The sparkle in their eyes, the craning of their necks to see what's coming next, the waving until someone waves back, it did have that magical feeling. The kids got personal waves and even kisses blown to them from many of their favorite characters and it provided a way for Ciaran to say goodbye to many of the characters something he was afraid he could not do. They loved it, we had fabulous seats and no wait time. Head back to fronteirland for the evening parade!

We immediately headed for Alladin's carpets again before the lines hit and got their just in time, we boarded second and right behind us the line formed huge. Then we let the kids pick out their little gifts. Rhiannon picked out intricately dressed Jamine and Alladin dolls, Ciaran a Buzz Lightyear Ion Cannon with targets (like the ones they use on the ride)and a buzz light up toy he wanted all week. Sirah picked out a bag of jewels and an alladin and jasmine action figure collection as well as a talking princess telephone. They all spent the same amount of money give or a take a dollar or two. Of course we had also been picking out pins and coins all along as well and saying yes more than we ever do to ice cream, candy and all that sort of treats.

Our kids actually did REALLY well in the no whining/begging for stuff department. I think because they are so used to hearing "No" they took it in stride even in Disney where everything ends in a gift shop and everything screams BUY ME to little kids and their parents. They also were blessed with more "YES!" and more treats then they probably have ever had all at once in their lives which can not have hurt. A few things that we did that I think helped this was to have things for them to "collect", each day they could pick out a pin (5-8 range) and we always said yes if they found one of those penny press machines (we bought a book to collect them in for 6.00 the first day) and they also had their hats to collect signatures and in Epcot they collected passport stamps and little items for their masks. This gave them something to look forward to and helped them feel like they were getting "gifts" all along and helped distract them from some of the schwag they otherwise would have wanted.

Plus they knew the last day they could pick something out so they kept thinking about that and when they asked for an item we would say "If that is still what you want the last day as your present then you can get it then". This strategy worked really well for us. A tip though, check what time you need to make your purchases before for package pickup or resort delivery so you are not carrying them with you the whole time and be sure to buy before then.

By the time we finished gifts and were ready to split up again for the mountains it was after 10pm. The park stayed open until 3am and while not our intention to stay that late we knew we would stay late as it was our last night in the park so we got our extra magic hours bracelet (do this early to avoid lines) and split up for one last ride on the mountains for Rhia and dad and one more trip on Buzz and small world for Sirah and Ciaran. We did not connect up right away and we did a few more rides in Fantasyland separate then I let Ciaran and Sirah out to play in Pooh's playground and in the water area - when I looked at the time I was shocked it was already midnight! The kids were still doing really well but I was starting to fade.

We caught up with Serona and Rhia and Rhiannon really wanted to do some rides with just me since she had spent so much time with Serona so I said yes and we headed off for Philharmagic and Small World. Serona took the others on Winnie the Pooh, then we were going to just ride the carousel all together as our last ride but all three kids wanted Peter Pan as their last ride. Since there was such unity on this of course we wanted to say yes but Peter Pan had long lines all night and they had turned off the fast passes before midnight. We decided we would just do it and stand on line. We realized they turned back on the fast pass machine and got a fast pass whose time stamp said "1:30am to 2:00am" I kid you not! So we bought ice cream shakes and root beer floats and sat at a table eating them until it was time for our ride. We rode Peter Pan and headed for the gates waving goodbye to things as we went along. We exited the park after 2am and all three kids still in good spirits! What a nap we had in the afternoon that even Sirah was still chipper. They all three immediately feel asleep on the bus and getting off with the packages and three sleeping children was a challenge but we made it to the room and along the way we even saw a frog on the lightpost causing Ciaran great joy. He had seen many geckos and lizards but no frogs until that moment.

We piled into bed half asleep at 2:30 in the morning after having gotten up that morning at 6am! What a day, but it was a great day and a great way to end the vacation at the parks.

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