Last time on Spring Break, our crew drove left the island town of Key West and made way for the mainland, stopping to see gators and a friend in Sarasota before arriving in Orlando for the main event of our trip (for me, anyway) – a full day at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
WARNING: Long post ahead. Looooooong. You have been warned. We were at Disney World from open to close and I had a lot of feelings throughout the whole day. I was, needless to say, really psyched about it. Long post. Looooooooooong. End of warning.
I was the first person to wake up in our room, spring awake with my cell phone alarm because I. WAS. SO. READY. It took a little while to get everyone else to my energy level at 6 AM but come on, gang, Disney World!!! Specifically, Magic Kingdom, aka the most magical part of Disney World.
Of course, I was super stoked to put on my Ariel Disneybound for the day. The only thing better than having a really great Disneybound was that my whole group dressed for the occasion. It was maybe on of the greatest moments of my life? Having people share a common interest with me and who are willing to display it in public with me shouldn’t be so difficult for me, but it is, so it meant a lot to me that my friends would Disneybound with me.
We got on the shuttle nice and early, with a whole bunch of kids and their parents. We weren’t the only folks dressed as characters, but the only other person our age was wearing one of Hot Topic’s options. Otherwise, it was mostly girls aged 3-9 wearing their Disney princess best.
Most of them stared at me shamelessly on the shuttle ride to the park. In fact, throughout the whole day, I was stared at a lot. I didn’t feel too self-conscious about it most of the day, as I was mostly glad that people were noticing how much work I put into the look, but sometimes I got weirded out and quickly scuttled out of view. (The wide-eyed stares of children are easy to get used to. The slack-jawed gawking of teens and parents… not so much.)
But one of the most fun things about Disneybounding is that it’s become a real community. A few guests stopped me to tell me they loved my Ariel Disneybound, and a lot of cast members (aka Disney employees) said the same as well. I also loved letting other people know that I liked their Disneybounds and seeing how glad they were to get the acknowledgement from a fellow Disnerd. Thanks, Leslie, for helping us achieve that moment.
Anyhow! We had a few scheduled activities for the days: lunch, dinner, fireworks shows and parades we wanted to see, and FastPass slots. FastPass is Disney’s system where you can select time slots and get in an express line for popular rides. It’s a great way for you to plan your day around certain must-see rides while really reducing how much time you spend waiting in line for those rides. (TL;DR If you visit a Disney park, definitely reserve your FastPass slots.)
ALSO I enjoyed using the new(ish) Magic Bands! These got rolled out a few years ago and their primary use for guests is that it’s their guest pass, as in it allows them into the park and onto the rides. (Otherwise, you use a card.) But, these do a lot more than serve as a wearable pass, and you can learn more about that at your own leisure, I won’t bore you here about it. BUT BASICALLY Mickey wristbands meant less fumbling with pockets for me and Annie!
It’s nearly a year later now, and while the memories that were still seared into my brain a few months after the trip have since faded, I do still remember a lot from my Disney trip.
First of all, even just walking in was magical, despite the fact that we missed the first half of the Welcome Show; I was so excited I didn’t even care. Since we arrived close to opening, we made a mad dash for TomorrowLand so as to avoid the lines that were already accumulating at attractions near Cinderella’s Castle, which is at the center of the park. They were doing some renovations near Cinderella’s Castle, which made for a lot of great Walt quotes on the barriers. But I couldn’t help but notice that the statue of Walt and Mickey was covered and this saddened me.
We weren’t here to gawk at Cinderella’s castle though. We were there to squeeze a lot of magic into one day, so off we zoomed to Tomorrowland:
- Space Mountain – The main reason we jogged past the crowds of people taking in the splendor of the Magic Kingdom was so we could beat the inevitable lines that always form here. We were early enough that we rode twice in a row; the only time in-between rides was the time spent running from the entrance through alllllll the space where you would otherwise be waiting .
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Why am I so terrible at this, I don’t understand. Ben’s score walloped mine and he didn’t understand the rules for the first 2 minutes. This is always a lot of fun, so I’m glad we didn’t have to wait to shoot aliens! Also, here is where I first saw some of the new technology since my last visit about a decade ago that allowed for more expressive projected faces.
- Stitch’s Great Escape – Even though I don’t think… I’ve seen… all of Lilo & Stitch in one go (<ducks tomatoes>), this is fun because it’s so interactive for so many senses. Seeing how excited the kids get about that is the best because they are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling things the whole time.
- Transit Authority aka PeopleMover – This emission-free ride takes you on a nice tour above all of Tomorrowland that usually doesn’t have long lines. It’s a great way to relax if you’ve been running around for a few minutes or a few hours, and you get access to parts of Tomorrowland that only folks aboard the People Mover will see, like little peeks at people at other attractions and a bit diorama of EPCOT! This is one of those attractions that is more fun for Disnerds and just a quiet place to rest for most.
- Carousel of Progress – Confession: I cry almost every time I ride the Carousel of Progress thinking about how far technology has progressed and the fact that this is the only attraction at Disney World that Walt Disney himself worked on. (He passed before Disney World opened.) Another known “nap” ride, I absolutely relish the nostalgia of looking back at the decades and looking at what Walt thought the future would look like. And remember, there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow… and tomorrow’s just a dream away! <sobbing> (No joke, if you hear me start to sing this, expect me to immediately also begin crying.)
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – The first time I experienced the Laugh Floor I was totally blown away because each show is customized to the audience that’s sitting in it, via the camera zoom-ins on guests with a funny caption and the jokes that Mike Wazowski tells. I love the improv that goes into this experience, and kids and adults alike really appreciate really being a part of it.
After doing our turn in Tomorrowland, we headed over to Fantasyland to grab some of Annie’s favorite treats at Gaston’s Tavern for a belated breakfast. (One of the few times you will ever see us prioritize food anywhere other than first.) Annie loves the pork shank… that is no longer offered!! (She was totally crushed when she found out that it was replaced with some “crummy beef stew”.)
Of course, it’s in Fantasyland that people start recognizing my outfit more and we were able to get a glimpse of Gaston working his charm on the crowds. (We ultimately did not wait to meet any characters during our time. We did have reservations for character dining, though! See below.) After our hearty morning snack, we decided we would tolerate waiting in a long line for one single ride, and that ride would be the new(ish) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train because a) it was totally brand new to me, b) it had fairly recently experienced a small fire so we were lucky timing-wise, and c) as a new ride, the waiting area was specially engineered to keep you entertained even for a long wait. Also, I was pretty nostalgic because the old Snow White ride was retired, even though it was a storybook ride (aka you sit in the ride and slowly are told the story of the animated feature) that always used to terrify me. What can I say, I love Snow!
Well, a long wait we did, as we were given one of the little tags to help cast members (aka Disney employees) determine how much of a wait there was. During our 2 hours, we were able to see the full gamut of queue entertainment, and while most of that is heavily geared towards a younger crowd, I still appreciated the thought that went into them. (ALSO the many fans. Very appreciated.) Definitely good to ride at least once, but the line is a little prohibitive from repeat visits.
By the time we were out of the mine train, it was about time for lunch! But first, a quick duck into the new (to me) Under the Sea ride for the princess I was honoring that day. God, I love The Little Mermaid so so much. We did a quick browse at Bonjour! Village Gifts and marveled at all the things we a) could not afford and b) could not fit into our backpacks… And before we knew it, it was time for our lunch reservation!
Annie made us lunch reservations at Be Our Guest and I was so incredibly pumped you don’t even understand. This is the ultimate experience for a Beauty and the Beast fan, and even people who aren’t obsessed with BatB (like Ben) can really appreciate the detail and the magic of this restaurant. Snow falls outside the window, the ceiling of the ballroom is as magical as it must have been when Belle first stepped into it, the enchanted rose really does seem alive with the curse. ALSO you get to try the grey stuff so I mean, there is no room for complaint anywhere.
After leaving Be Our Guest, we explored a few rides like Splash Mountain, where I was able to tell Ben about the dark history of the movie that was so racist, Disney doesn’t talk about it and doesn’t distribute anymore, but has the everlasting legacy of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” (an Academy Award winning song) and this classic ride.
Then, we were able to find ourselves spots to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade, which is another new-to-me event that I’ve been seeing a lot of on Instagram. Of particular note in the parade is the Sleeping Beauty portion because a) there is a giant fire-breathing Maleficent dragon float that is pretty amazing and b) Prince Philip is so handsome, he’s always been my favorite. A+ job, Disney casting.
This might be a good place to pause so I can pick up with Disney part 2 next time!