May 29, 2006

Walt Disney World Day Two

Well we finally got to the parks today and decided we would spend the entire day in Magic Kingdom. We arrived at the parks at around 8:30am and quickly realized we really should have made the effort to be there a half hour earlier when the parks opened. The lines were so short during extra magic hours, which we missed half of due to sleeping in. We did not make the same mistake again and made sure we were up and at the parks early each morning.

The older two kids were both begging to go on Space Mountain. Having been on the ride myself and having read several books recently I really discouraged it being our first ride and truthfully tried to convince them that it was not a good choice. I was especially worried about Rhiannon who tends to be a bit timid on rides. We settled on walking towards space mountain and we went on Buzz Lightyear first. We also got a fast pass to ride Buzz again later. Fast Pass to Buzz Lightyear quickly became part of our regular routine as this was Ciaran's favorite ride and one that all members of the family (even Sirah) could enjoy. Then they decided to go on Space Mountain. I waited with Sirah in the gift shop area and prayed for them that they would not be too scared or overwhelmed. For those unaware Space Mountain in a roller coaster completely in the dark, it is fast, with drops and it is very dark, our kids are only 5 and 6 but insistent on going on it and both met the height restrictions. So off they went.

To my surprise it was Ciaran who was very unhappy coming off the ride. Not terribly shaken up but clearly not planning on going on it ever again and a bit hesitant about any ride in the dark (besides Buzz) and anything fast moving. Rhiannon on the other hand loved it and wanted to go on again right away. We said no we needed to find a ride for Sirah. So we headed over to Fantasyland in what became my most traveled path in the park the trek between tommorrowland (for Buzz lightyear) and Fantasyland (for It's a Small World and others) to catch a ride on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I had read in all the books that this was a ride to not miss. I will say it was ok and my kids love the pooh books and videos. I would however not recommend standing on line for more than 20 minutes for it. If I got a fast pass or was on a short line it would be ok but it would be disappointing to stand for an hour and then ride it IMHO. We had a relatively short wait and enjoyed the ride.

We came out of the ride and told them we had another surprise and headed off to our character breakfast with Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace right off Main Street in Magic Kingdom. This breakfast was also a buffet and had decent food. Our server was good about keeping drinks refilled and the make your own omelets were good as well. We had a longer wait to get in here and there was something up with our reservations but it all turned out ok. The characters here were alright - a bit more rushed and seemingly less personal then at Chef Mickey's. The costumes were a bit too obvious and everything just felt a bit more rushed. A bit rushed at the tables and with the characters. If your kids don't love Winnie the Pooh you could skip it. But if you will have to stand on lines to meet Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, and Tigger anyway then the breakfast is worth it.

Some complain that the meals cost too much, but everything (including time) costs money in Disney. The way we figured the true value was that we were doing several things at once, we were eating (which you have to do), we were sitting in air conditioning (which you need to do) and we were meeting the characters (which you stand in long lines to do) so instead of standing in long lines outside in the sun, we sat and ate in air conditioning while we waited for the characters to come to us. Besides the breakfast and lunch buffets are relatively cheap. When you consider we paid 55 for a counter dinner (think fast food style) for our family and 75 for a sit down buffet breakfast with character I think the 20 dollars was worth it plus the food was much better. We also found if we ate one big meal each day we spent less on other food because our stomachs were full and the energy lasted longer. If you can work it out I would recommend a character meal each day.

As we headed out of the Crystal Palace we noticed a crowd around the front of the castle and headed over to discover that Cinderellabration was about to start. This was several little girls we knew favorite thing and we thought it would be high on Rhiannons list so we waited. It was hot and sunny and it was hard to see the stage with people in front of us. We don't mind holding kids on our shoulders the problem is we are two adults to three small children so we can't physically hold all of them as both Rhia and Ciaran are pretty big for their age. So Serona took turns holding Ciaran and Rhia and I held Sirah on my shoulders. Rhia got to be held most of the time as her eyes were big as she watched it.

After this was over we went back to Fantasyland and worked our way through several of the rides and we swallowed the long line for Dumbo. It does not matter what time of day it is there is always a line for Dumbo and there is no fast pass available. So we stood on line for almost 45 minutes. The longest line we stood on for any ride.

The kids were getting a bit grumpy so we decided to head back to the hotel for some naps. On the way out though we realized that we were right in front for the Dreams Come True Parade and decided to wait it out. It might have been better to do it another time as I think the kids would have enjoyed it more in a better mood. It is a great parade but after having just had two close charachter dinners with them hugging the characters seeing them up on a float may not have had the same affect as if we had done the parade first. It was a good parade but the kids were not as excited for it as we might have hoped, they did enjoy the ice cream though. We headed back to the hotel for a nap and recharge.

We returned to the park with more energy and worked our way through It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Mickey's Philharmagic, the Haunted Mansion and then split up during the evening parade time (a GREAT time to ride the rides with short to no lines - thanks for the tip Laura) Serona took Rhiannon over to Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain and I did a greatest hits for Sirah and Ciaran which mostly involved zigzagging between Buzz Lightyear in Tommorrowland and Fantasyland for It's a Small World and Peter Pan for Sirah. We met back together at Cinderella's carousel which we rode together and then went to watch the fireworks in front of the castle.

It amazes me that Disney does fireworks every night and still does them so big and so well. They really were well done. Since we did not "reserve" a spot we did not have the best view of the fireworks but we could see the castle completely and majority of the fireworks and the kids watched with big eyes and we all enjoyed them. Then we were caught in the throngs of the big crowds exiting the park. At these times we found it very helpful to have all three kids in the double stroller which we could do fairly easily as Sirah fit nicely between Rhiannon's legs and on her lap. We were right in the middle of the crowd so there was little we could do but go with the flow at that point. We decided to not be in front of the castle/main street again at the end of the evening and that was better. We made it with the big crowds and waited to return to the hotel for a few buses and some sleeping kids. We headed off to bed after a great and long first day at the park.

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