Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Visiting Disney - Part II

Magic Kingdom
Statue of Roy (not Walt!) Disney and Mickey

So we got up bright and early... okay, we got up Monday morning and after a wonderful breakfast at Mara, we headed out to Magic Kingdom.  Wow!  Did I say crowded?  I think it was the first (or one of the first) days of Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween event and the place was packed!  But still wonderfully fun.  It was all decorated up for Halloween.  I didn't get too many photos of the decorations, but here's George with one of the Mickey Jack-o-Lantern decorations on the lampposts.

George with Mickey
We had been selected to be part of the FastPass+ test.  At the moment, it's only available in Magic Kingdom and only for certain rides.  They send you cards, which you register and then choose two rides from each of two groups.  Sadly, I wanted three rides in one group, but they're kind of sneaky-smart about such things. You set up your ride schedule before you come, with the understanding that you can change it at any time.  We chose the Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.   Honestly, I didn't think it would work since you're basically setting up your day ahead of time, but it works beautifully!  I hope they expand the idea to all the parks.

Since we got there well before our first ride was scheduled, we wandered around (away from the show in front of the Castle) and found ourselves in Liberty Square.  The Liberty Belle riverboat was just coming into service for the day, so we hopped aboard and went for the first ride of the day.  Everybody else boarding the boat went up, so we went out and got to stand at the extreme bow of the boat, Titanic-style. Such fun!

Okay, now I'm admitting to a weakness. I love the architecture at Disney.  I bring along my sketchbook, but seldom take the time to sit down and sketch, even this trip.  But I photograph buildings and the boat ride has some of the best photo-ops.  I'll share a few.
Becky Thatcher's House (?)

Across the landing where the Liberty Belle docks, you can see a lovely little yellow house.  I think it's Becky Thatcher's house, but I'm not really sure.  Anyway, it's on Tom Sawyer's Island.  We meant to get over there, but never did make it.

Harper's Mill
 Also on Tom Sawyer's Island is the beautiful little watermill.  Next time, for sure we have to go over to the Island!
Yet another pretty thing on the Island!

Indian Village
Okay, Disney is the absolute master of animatronics.  I love them!  This little Indian village, across from the Island is one of the best.  If you look carefully, you'll see the train tracks on the other side of the village.  The steam train runs on the other side, around the perimeter of the park and passes by here.  And yes, we DO ride the train every trip and we rode this time as well.

There were other photos from the trip, but I won't post all of them!

In addition to the steam train, we did the most rides here at Magic Kingdom. Oh!  Another confession.  I adore Disney pins.  I seldom trade them, but I do collect them.  This trip was the trip of ride pins.  I collected as many ride pins after the rides as I could.  So here's the lot from Magic Kingdom!
From the top, clockwise, Pirates of the Caribbean (the wheel is hinged like a door and shows the skeleton at the wheel underneath), the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain

The Jungle Cruise
If you've never done this ride, do it.  It's not scary although there are plenty of animatronic headhunters and critters.  You board an African Queen-inspired boat with a driver who is totally committed to packing in the most puns possible during the ride.  I never did figure out how our guide breathed.  It was one pun after the other.  We laughed the whole way around.  You get to go through a cave with what looks like Asian temple ruins.  There are elephants threatening to spit water at you, snakes all around, it's just such fun! Sadly, there's no pin for this ride, or at least none that I could find.

Pirates of the Caribbean
We hadn't planned to do this ride, but we'd heard it had been revamped after the movies, so in we went.  It's awesome!  Again, not scary but such fun and yep, there's Captain Jack Sparrow at the end, rocking in a chair with a bottle of rum and talking.  It's always a winner.

Splash Mountain
I love Splash!  The backstory is from the movie Song of the South and the story of Brer Rabbit and his antics.  The first time I ever did this ride, I didn't even notice the story because I was dreading the five-story drop.  This time I thoroughly enjoyed the build-up AND the drop!  This one is a good one to put your hands over your head.  Such fun!

Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion from the Liberty Belle
This is a must-do!  Some of the best Disney magic is in here.  You're first shepherded into the gallery to await your train through the mansion.  Be careful in here.  It's dark and people have started bringing in wheeled carry-on bags.  Thus far, the Disney people are allowing those, but they can be dangerous.  I almost tripped over one in the dark.  Anyway, you're shut into the room with no obvious means of egress and then you notice that the portraits are growing... or are you getting smaller???  At last the door opens and you (at your normal size) exit and board your waiting car for the trip through the house.  There are all kinds of animatronics in here, singing statues, graveyard ghouls and all.  But the best thing are the ghosts.  I know how they do them, but they're always effective.  And either I notice different things on different rides, or they change up the ride now and again.  Anyway, at the end of the ride, you can see that you have your very own personal ghost with you!  Wooooo!!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (The Runaway Mine Train)
This is my favorite of all the Magic Kingdom rides and vies with the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster for my favorite ride, period. Enjoy the walk through the line here.  There are lots of things to see, many in unexpected places.  The ride has lots to look at as well (for the split second you can see them as you go careening past!).  The rollie isn't jerky, although it does do some ups and downs and fast turns.  Except for a few times through the "tunnels" it's all outside so you can see where you're going.  Love it, love it love it!

Space Mountain
Ah, Space Mountain.  This was our last FastPass+ ride of the day and I forgot that it shouldn't have been.  Either they've changed the ride, or it is aging, but I don't remember it being as jerky in the past as it was this trip. And sideways jerky, too, which is the worst for me.  I also remember more things to see as you go careening (not all that fast) past.  However, the FastPass curse may have come into play here.  With a FastPass, you go to the head of the line.  In the case of Space Mountain, that means you don't have time to allow your eyes to adjust to the dimness.  Not necessarily a good thing.  Hopefully, we just caught it on a bad day and the next time we ride Space, it'll be awesome again.

Places to Eat
Since we were on Disney's Dining Plan, we used one of our Quick-Service meals for lunch and a snack allotment.  We had lunch at the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in FrontierLand.  George had a cheeseburger, but I had their signature barbecue pork sandwich.  DO get it!  Since you're on the Dining Plan, you get dessert with your meal.  We had carrot cake.  Okay, the icing was a bit sweet, but it was otherwise very good!
Aloha Isle

This is THE place to burn your snack allotment!  Get yourself over to AdventureLand, to the Aloha Isle and have yourself a Dole Whip Float.  I had mine in pineapple softserv in pineapple juice and it was absolutely magnificent!  Next time, I'm going to try the pineapple softserv in orange juice, I think.  Anyway, allow yourself some time.  This is well-known as the must-do snack and I've never seen fewer than 15 people in each line!

Two Sets of Tired Feet
Whew!  We're getting old or something.  We were so tired by about sunset (after realizing that we missed the last boat for Tom Sawyer's Island) that we decided to skip the fireworks and go home.  This is a first for me since I love the fireworks behind the Castle, but I was just SO tired!  However, dinner was back at the Lodge at Jiko, so how upset could I be?

See you next time for the Report From Animal Kingdom!

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