Feb 28, 2014

Disney 2014: Day 2 (Magic Kingdom)

* I think this goes without saying, but none of these Disney or Universal posts are sponsored. Unless you count my parents as "sponsors." In that case, these posts are sponsored by my parents, who graciously and generously funded our trip to Disney World. (THANK YOU, MOM AND DAD!) But I have been compensated in no way by the Parks. *

Our first day in the parks, we got up and headed straight to Magic Kingdom. We knew it would be the park with the most activities and rides for all of our ages to enjoy, so we wanted to start our trip there.

And because we wanted to try to catch Amelia's first glimpse of a character on film, we stopped right inside the gate at the Town Square Theater to meet Mickey Mouse in person. That's a new thing ... Mickey actually talks to you! We had to wait in line about 30 minutes, but when we turned the corner and she saw him for the first time, the look on Amelia's face was priceless.

She craned her neck trying to get a better look at him.

The neat thing about this meet-and-greet experience is two-fold: first, each family gets a personal, multi-minute visit with Mickey, and second, Mickey TALKS to you.

When you meet the characters at the character spots around the parks, they're more like mimes ... they don't speak. This Mickey speaks!

A friend of ours had given Jake and Amelia each a Disney autograph book for the trip, and they were obsessed with getting the characters' autographs.

You know how sometimes I'm prone to hyperbole? Occasionally, I mean. Rarely, but it happens. Not today. When I say obsessed, I mean OBSESSED. Please see how Jake greeted Mickey Mouse the first time he was aware of meeting him in real life: he slapped him in the face with his open autograph book. BLESS.

Mickey was all like, "Let me finish giving hugs first, Jake, and then I'll sign autographs!" And Jake was like, "BUT, MY OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK!"

So Jake moved to the side and allowed hugs to continue, patiently waiting -- with his autograph book still open -- and a look of unabashed adoration on his face.


And then, the JOY as Mickey actually signed the book with a flourish. I mean, you could've lit a candle with the light in Jake's eyes.

Mickey graciously allowed Jake the chance to inspect the autograph. Jake is all about a little QA.

Not only did Mickey talk to each member of the family, but he also taught the group how to "fly."

It was really cute. By the way, I hope you're really enjoying how we took a jacket two sizes too small for Amelia, and how it wouldn't stay on her shoulders. Because you're going to be seeing that for the next six posts or so.  {taking a bow}

We HIGHLY recommend this "Meet Mickey Mouse" event at the Town Square Theater for little ones. If we'd just had Nick and Nathaniel with us, it wouldn't have been as appropriate. But Jake and Amelia were absolutely enthralled.

As I mentioned, we stopped there before we even made it past the Town Square, so we had yet to make it to the center of Main Street to catch a glimpse of Cinderella's Castle. When we came out of the theater and turned onto Main Street, we were so excited to see Amelia's face when she recognized the castle! And I intended to take a picture of her at that moment, but instead I was riveted by (and Tweeted) Cinderella's ... Crane?

On this gloriously beautiful day, there was a huge, nasty, black CRANE backed up to Cinderella's Castle. FOR. THE. LOVE.

Maybe it wouldn't be in EVERY shot we took. OR ...

Well. We tried.

If you crop enough of the castle out, the crane goes away. So, there's that. You know what doesn't go away, though? The sun. The glorious sun. So Nathaniel's face. NATHANIEL'S FACE. It made me laugh out loud when I saw this picture.

And this picture? This one defines our trip. I told my dad when he took it that it's the one I should frame. Grayson and I are trying to look normal and happy. Mickey and Minnie topiaries are perfectly positioned as extra members of our family. Nathaniel is trying to cooperate but can't look at the camera because sun. Nick is looking down and to the left like he's part of the JFK conspiracy theory. Jake is covering his face with his OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK. Amelia is looking completely the opposite direction at the very happy couple who came to Disney World sans children.

The boys were itching to get to a ride, so we turned right and headed toward the Mad Tea Party (teacups) in Fantasyland.

Amelia was too little for this one, but Dad, Grayson and the boys hopped right on.

Somehow Dad managed to video the entire ride on his iPhone while spinning around. Gag.

Next up was lunch at the Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland -- we'd eaten there on our last trip and remembered that it had a good selection. Burgers, salads, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, rotisserie chicken ... for a counter-service meal, it's pretty good.

After lunch, we had a FastPass for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, which was to be Amelia's First Ride. None of us knew how it would go. Would there be abject terror? Mild enjoyment? A total meltdown? Delighted giggles? Only time would tell.


My sister jumped in an elephant in front of the rest of us so she could take pictures, and she got some great ones. Amelia rode with me, Nathaniel sat with Grayson, my mom and Nick rode together, and Dad and Jake shared a seat.

There's no bar that comes down over your lap on this ride, just a fabric seatbelt. I don't think Amelia felt too secure in there. I tried to hold her close and speak encouraging words to her the whole time.

I think Dad video'd this ride, too -- from the looks of the pictures.

Jake seemed to love it, and the big boys were good sports about it.

By the end of the ride, Amelia had relaxed a little bit, enough to look over the side. Two things about this picture: 1) That is not a nerdy headset. That is a stubborn curl. 2) Amelia put that Mickey sticker on my shirt and refused to allow me to remove it. Even though it was curled up and bothered me to no end.

After the teacups and Dumbo, Nick and Nathaniel really wanted to ride the Barnstormer rollercoaster in Fantasyland, but there was a 40-minute wait. Since Grayson had ridden the teacups, he said I could ride the Barnstormer, and luckily the Walt Disney World Railroad was right next to it -- so Grayson, my parents and sister were able to hop on with Amelia and Jake and take a ride around the entire park while I waited in line with the big boys.

The 40 minutes went by exactly as quickly as you'd think. Or perhaps twice as slowly.


When we finally got into the cars, the boys were thrilled!

... Aaaaaand, I was able to take exactly four pictures with my phone before the rollercoaster pulled back into the station. If I had to guess, I'd say the entire ride lasted 45 seconds. If that.

I'm so glad you guys couldn't hear the boys squawking as they got off the ride. "WHAT?! IS THAT IT? IT'S OVER ALREADY? WHAT THE HECK?! HOW LONG WAS THAT, FIVE SECONDS?"

On our way back to the rest of the group, we had to have a quick discussion about thankfulness. I don't think it took, but a mom's gotta try.

Next, we walked over to Space Mountain, one of Nathaniel's favorites from our last visit.

Nick thought he was going to ride it, but at the last second he opted out, so he and Grayson walked back out and around to the front. That left just the three of us. It's a crying shame how they disappeared into the crowd in those shirts.

That picture of my two fireflies was unedited, by the way. No flash, straight out of my phone.

Jake was silent for the entire ride, and since it was pitch black, I couldn't see him. At one quieter point, I did call out and ask him if he was okay, and he yelled back, "YES, I'M GWATE!"

When we emerged back into the never-been-brighter sunlight, Nick and Amelia had gotten their faces painted. And my sister had also let Amelia pick out a hat of her very own. A PRINCESS HAT.

Honestly, I couldn't believe that Amelia let anyone touch her face, but she loves pink, and she loves glitter, so I guess she's totally mastered the concept of Opportunity Costs at the ripe old age of 2.

I'll tell you who can rock a face full of paint, and that's Nick. And he loves it so much, he refuses to wash it off. He prefers to let it WEAR off. Good times.

Of course, it's "NO FAY-UH!" for SOME PEOPLE to have their faces painted if EVERYONE can't get their faces painted, so Jake jumped up in a chair, too.

If anyone can figure out what he's supposed to be, please let me know.

At any rate, 15 minutes later, everyone was happy again, and we were ready to move on.

We didn't have a moment to spare! We'd realized that right across from us, Buzz Lightyear was meeting and greeting. And signing autographs. AUTOGRAPHS, Internet. But we only had 40 minutes until we needed to depart for EPCOT to make our supper reservations, and the line to meet Buzz was (supposedly) 30 minutes long.

Guess what. They're freakishly good at wait-time estimates at Disney World.

We got to meet Buzz, he stamped both of our OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOKS with his signature stamp (Buzz's Space Ranger gloves don't allow him to hold a pen, so he has a special stamp), and we still had two minutes to spare.

We drove over to EPCOT from Magic Kingdom, but my parents walked over from the resort. They'd gone back to rest midday, and since the Beach Club is an EPCOT resort, walking is actually the quickest way to get to EPCOT.

To put that in perspective, they called us from their condo as they were about to walk out the door to tell us they were heading out for the restaurant. When they called, we were pulling into a parking space at EPCOT. As in, we were already in the parking lot, unbuckling our seatbelts.

We caught the tram to the front gate, flashed our MagicBands at the gate and walked back to the restaurant. As I was checking in with the hostess, my parents sauntered in through the door. So ... that was the last time we drove to EPCOT!

Throughout these posts, I'm going to make a conscious effort to share pictures with you of things that I looked for before our trip but couldn't find. Of course, there will be PLENTY of stuff that you've seen a billion times before, but hopefully some of it will be helpful, especially if you're planning a trip and/or have never been. This is one of those times. Have you ever eaten at EPCOT's Coral Reef restaurant? It's so neat.

We didn't have a table next to the large aquarium windows on the floor level, but we could still see them from our seats. Plus, we got up after we'd placed our orders and walked down to see the fish up close.

There were lots of colorful tropical fish, but also many rays and several sharks.

We really enjoyed our entrees ... I think Grayson and I both got steak. The kids ordered cupcakes for dessert, and they were adorable.

My dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet, was one of the best I ate all week. Delicious!

Finishing our night at EPCOT was a wonderful way to end our first full day at Disney!

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