We started the day bright and early with a Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour starting at 8:15am. On our last trip, we did the Keys to the Kingdom tour, a five-hour walk around the Magic Kingdom with lunch provided. This one was 3 hours (a three hour tour, a three hour tour) instead of 5, but it was also less than half the price of the Keys to the Kingdom tour ($35 per person vs. $79 per person). And when all was said and done, Tom and I both actually agreed we liked it better! (although we highly recommend both, don't get me wrong)
The tour started out much like the other one we took, with a walk down Main Street talking about Walt's life. I don't want to give away too many factoids shared during the tour, since I encourage everyone to go on it during their trips. We walked across the bridge to Liberty Square, and over to the Haunted Mansion area. Yes. The Haunted Mansion. My favorite ride of all time. After making sure it was allowed, I took a few pictures of the outside of the Mansion, because how rare is it to have no one in pictures of the Haunted Mansion? (The park wasn't open yet)
We walked through the queue of the ride, and she stopped to tell us the story of the busts. I'm a new aficionado of the ride, so I actually didn't know the story behind the busts (who killed who, and in what order, and how it relates to the ride) so this was fascinating. She also told the story of some of the Imagineers whose names are represented on the tombstones.
When we took the Keys to the Kingdom tour, we rode the Haunted Mansion, but not with narration by our guide. This time, we kept our speakers on and earphone in, and she talked through the ride, sharing more fascinating facts about the creation of it, the way it was planned and paced, and so on. After all 20 of us (the tours are limited to 20) got off the ride, we walked over to the Rapunzel's restroom area, and she took us backstage for the biggest selling point of the entire tour (I found out about it ahead of time and was instantly sold).
We got to take a behind the scenes look at the Pepper's Ghost illusion in the Haunted Mansion.
If you don't know already, the big dramatic ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion with the ghosts dancing, twirling, celebrating a birthday, etc. is all done with a very old-fashioned magician effect called Pepper's Ghost, where a big piece of glass has a light shone on it, and figures you might not see hidden on one side appear to float on the other side of the glass. We went through a utility room, had the lights all turned out, and then walked down a dark path under the Doombuggies (you could hear the track creaking by above our heads) until we got to the room where the figures are. A few at a time, we got to go right to the edge of the tape line where we wouldn't be seen by anyone riding the ride, and look at the figures. It was ridiculously fascinating and extremely awesome, and I was giddy with glee.
Side note: to me, the creepiest thing among the figures was the cylinder of skulls that rotate out of the pipe organ in the scene. In the actual scene, you can barely see them, but among the actual figures, the rotating circle of skulls just struck me as especially creepy.
After a bathroom break at the Rapunzel restrooms, we then went on It's a Small World, which Anna the tour guide said was her favorite ride. In descriptions of this tour online, the tour usually goes on the Winnie the Pooh ride, but I much preferred riding It's a Small World. Anna knew so many fascinating little factoids...did you know that Mary Blair has a doll of herself in the ride? Or that the clowns in the balloon originally had a sign that said "help me"? Or that the Polynesian room is instrumental because the WDW ride is longer than the DL ride, and there wasn't a part of the recorded song for it? Those were just a few of my favorite little factoids.
We walked from Fantasyland over to Tomorrowland, and hopped on the Carousel of Progress, a ride I actually really kind of love. Once again, we had our own theater, and Anna peppered the ride with interesting tidbits and facts.
After the Carousel of Progress, the tour was over. The three hours had passed in a highly enjoyable flash! This is one tour that I actually think I would do again, though maybe not until we've done all the other ones available at Disney World.
After our tour, we went right over to meet Merida, since I wanted to show her the outfit. All the Cast Members who had commented on the ensemble asked if we'd gone to see her yet, and I kept saying "no, but we will!"
Sometimes things just don't go like you hope they will. I was so proud of this outfit as I planned out my ensembles ahead of time. I love Mum-Bear and I was so happy with all I'd made: how the ears came out, the 100% original art on the necklace design, the humorous t-shirt I bleached freehand as well.
But Merida just didn't seem that into it. She remarked on the ears, though she seemed confused since "you have me mum's ears but you have me hair!" (I hadn't anticipated anyone would be confused by the theme of the outfit because of my hair color)...didn't say a word about the necklace or shirt or let me get a word in to point them out, and steered me for a quick picture. :( It was disappointing, and all the more so because the rest of the day I kept having more Cast Members compliment the outfit and ask if we saw Merida, to which I had to honestly reply "yeah, but...she wasn't too into it."
We agreed that later we'd check on Merida to see if maybe she was having a better time of it, but when we came back around later in the afternoon, Merida still seemed the same from what we saw of her, so we skipped waiting to see her again.
Oh well...not everything can go perfectly all the time at Disney World, right?
We decided I'd drown my sorrows (I'm being melodramatic, I wasn't that upset) in a Mickey's Pants/ Kitchen Sink ice cream. After all, as my friend Jeff of Mousesteps commented on our picture, "Ice cream is never better than when enjoyed from Mickey's pants!" We sat down at our favorite table near the parlour with a view of the castle, and just enjoyed our sweet treat. I still need to figure out how best to use the two Mickey Pant sinks we now have. I've seen people use them for flowers, and maybe that's how we'll use them in our kitchen too.
Then we took a few more pictures in front of the castle.
Our first Fast Pass of the day was to meet Rapunzel and Cinderella at the Princess Fairytale Hall. We met Cinderella first, and I had a button for her that said "Have courage and be kind" on it, which she immediately recognized as being from her story. Cinderella was having an especially lovely day, and she was full of life and character...more so than any other time I met her.
Rapunzel was also super fun. I had two buttons for her...one with a lovely painting of her and the lanterns, and the other an image of Flynn with "You broke my smolder" written on it. She loved them both.
When we exited Princess Fairytale Hall, I gave Tom a look...you know the look, the one that says "I want something but you aren't going to like it." The wait for Anna and Elsa was about 30 minutes long, but I had somehow neglected to make a Fast Pass for them this trip, so I knew we'd have to just wait in the line if I wanted to meet them at all. And I had buttons for them! So we had to.
Elsa loved her button,which said "Let it Go, I am one with the wind and sky." She pointed out (I didn't even think of this) that we were both queens! (Queen Elinor/Mum-Bear and of course herself)
Anna was fun. I brought her a button that had Anna and Elsa looking at each other excitedly and the word "CHOCOLATE!" She was amused.
I asked her to take a "Fetchingly draped against the wall picture with me...."
....and I don't think she quite knew what I was talking about. Hmm. That was a bit odd. Last trip, she knew just what to do.
Oh well! They were both still charming and fun.
After this, we were well past our normal lunchtime, but Tiana was about to have a meet and greet, and I had buttons for her too. We walked over to what was the meet and greet location for her last time we were there in October, but she wasn't meeting there anymore. However, thank goodness we went there, because by doing so, we discovered a magnificent secret gem, at least for right now: an air conditioned empty room filled with tables where almost no one ever went, despite how busy a park day it was. Oh yes. In case you're wondering, the spot I'm talking about is around the corner from Sleepy Hollow refreshments, right near the white rocking chairs next to the Hall of Presidents. It used to be a shop called Heritage House, and then Tiana and Naveen briefly used it for meet and greets, but now it's just tables, and delicious blasting air conditioning.
Don't tell too many people about it...it's a hidden gem at present. When we went in there at around 3 to actually eat our packed lunch, there were only two other families in that large room full of tables. We went back there again at 6:30 so that I could rest for a half hour and so Tom could get our place in the line for our Southwest seats at 7 (you have to check in 24 hours in advance to get a place in the queue to enter the plane), and for that whole half hour or so we were the only people in there. Ahh, nice.
So the next thing we did was actually go meet Tiana, who was meeting at the gazebo where she has met in the past. I had brought a button for Tiana, and another for Naveen in case he was meeting with her too (he meets in the late afternoons with her). Hers was a pretty picture of Tiana, but his was a hilarious picture I found online of Tiana and Naveen as frogs from the scene when they tie their tongues together. The words say "When we tell our kids the story of how we met, let's leave out this part."
Tiana was absolutely adorable. For one kid ahead of us, she exclaimed "wow, Tiana, so great to meet you," addressing the little girl. "Can I get your autograph? You are Tiana right? Well, I know how to sign Tiana's name pretty well, so I guess I'll just sign this instead of you." (The kid was totally confused, but I was highly amused.) Then for another kid, she explained that her favorite color was green, and asked what the little girl's favorite color was. When she said pink, she said "I guess you should be kissing a flamingo then, not a frog. Do you know what happens when you kiss a flamingo?" (pause) "Nothin"
Tiana flipped the flip out over the second button we gave her. She cracked up laughing and showed her attendant who absolutely loved it too. She had a big happy grin in our pictures, and that in turn made me happy!
Our second Fast Pass was for the special seating area for the Festival of Fantasy parade. I'm not gonna lie, I much preferred watching it from the train station on Thursday, but it was also nice to be up close to the action. Merida gave me a great reaction from her parade float, pointing to my ears and then back to her brothers (her mom isn't on the float, so that was the best way to indicate she knew they were bear ears). And Mickey waved at me from his balloon and balled up his fist into ears on the sides of his head to recognize my ears as well. Aww, that made me happy. Tom got a high-five from one of the Lost Boys too.
Next it was time to ride the Mine Train again. I told you we did a Fast Pass for this every day we were in the Magic Kingdom. It's just way too fun, but no ride is worth waiting in line an hour or more (in the standby line) for.
We still hadn't gone to Enchanted Tales with Belle yet by this point, and I always have to do that. The enchanted mirror illusion in her father's workroom remains one of the most magical things in all of Disney to me, no matter how many times I see it.
Unless you're chosen to play the wardrobe (the only adult female task in the performance), you have to get a little bold in order to meet and get a picture with Belle at Enchanted Tales. They are totally fine with it, they just don't make it easy for you. I had to go up while the kids were meeting her, and ask the Cast Member if I could meet her too. Belle loved my ears and pointed out that I was a bit of a beast too then.
|I think we were talking here about whether or not Gaston would ever read the story of Brave|
If you've been keeping track of Fast Passes, you'll know that we already used our three. I so love the new system, however, where you can continue adding Fast Passes all day long after your first three are gone, just one at a time. For the rest of the afternoon and evening, we used Fast Pass after Pass, scanning our bands on a ride and then literally going right onto the app to schedule our next one as we were walking up the walkway to the ride or attraction. Because of this we were able to...
...ride the teacups for the first time ever. Not my favorite thing with my vertigo, but it had to be done.
...go on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and get as close to Galactic Hero status as we have so far. Someday!!
...ride the Haunted Mansion
...ride the Haunted Mansion
...ride the Haunted Mansion
(sensing a theme?)
Oh! I actually haven't mentioned yet...The Haunted Mansion very recently (like a month ago) started incorporating the Magic Band RFID tech into the ending. You know the part where the Hitchhiking Ghosts hop onto your Doombuggy at the end and do silly things like swap your heads or squeeze between you? Well, we'd heard that they did something different now, but we intentionally didn't look up what it was ahead of time. When we rode the first time, the ghost grabbed a big frame that said "We'll see you in Ohio!" The second and third and many more time, the ghost had a frame where he snapped a picture of us and then switched our heads or made us look aged. Some people have complained that it's too goofy for the Mansion. I'm sorry, but how is it any goofier than what the ghosts used to do? I thought it was a nice and fun personal touch and got a big kick out of it. Our tour guide that morning mentioned that the photos they take at the end were supposed to end up on the Memory Maker. I would LOVE that if it was the case, but so far it doesn't seem to have happened yet. She might have either gotten slightly wrong info, or is a bit ahead of the curve on what is happening or planned. Time will tell.
After we rode the Haunted Mansion for ... I think I lost count how many times... we were starting to feel peckish for some supper. This was the only night of our trip that I hadn't made dinner reservations, (we were trying until the last minute to get into Cinderella's Royal Table, but that didn't happen...maybe next time!) but after we looked over the menu for several locations, we ended up eating at Columbia Harbour House for dinner. Our table had a gorgeous view of the Rapunzel rest area we love so much
and the food was decently good (fish n chips, clam chowder, pop)
The sun was setting, and we walked over to Frontierland for a Fast Pass ride of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (we have only ever ridden this coaster after sunset, and we think it's such a fun ride in the dark!) After that, we made our way over to Space Mountain. On our first trip in 2013, we tried this ride and I was in the front of the coaster and freaked out...I felt like everything was about to hit me in the face in the dark. This time I made sure I was NOT in the front, but I still didn't enjoy it that much. We'll see if I prefer the Disneyland ride when we go! I've heard it's better.
We walked back over to ....Haunted Mansion, and rode one more time.
At 10:05, we walked out of the mansion and Wishes had just started, so we sat down on the benches (you saw them above) right outside the Haunted Mansion, and watched the fireworks from there. It was a wonderful atmosphere for me to watch them, and a magical moment, having the mansion right there behind me as I sat on the bench and listened to the Wishes music with the fireworks above. Perfect timing, perfect place.
After Wishes was over, I looked at the ride wait times on the app, and saw that the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train wait was only about 30 minutes long. I looked at Tom. We've always wanted to try riding it after dark, but doing so would mean either saving a Fast Pass till way late in the day, or riding it without a Fast Pass at all (the line which, as I've said, is usually an hour and a half long). We knew this opportunity with such a short wait time would never come again, so we jumped on it. We've ridden this ride at least a dozen times, and this was the first time we saw the interactive queue, since we've always Fast Passed it! The queue was fun, but doing it once with a short wait was just fine with me...I'll take our Fast Passes from now on, thanks. The ride after dark was really enjoyable. The scene in the mine with the dwarfs really popped brightly in the dark.
Every time we ride this ride, when we get to the mine scene, I start clapping to the music and singing along (and we wave to the wee deer at the very beginning of the mine). I do this every time, no matter who we ride with and if they join in or not. This time riding it, we had the most people join in of any time this trip. Hooray!
After the Mine Train, we walked down Main Street, enjoying the lights on the buildings and the castle. I realized we've never had pictures taken on Main Street after dark, so we did that. We got our pictures *just* in time, too. The lights were dimming for the second Electric Light Parade right as she snapped the last shot of us, and we had just enough time to dart across Main Street and exit the park before the parade started.
That night at the resort, we had the sad task of packing our bags. One more night in our comfy bed resort room. One more (or really 3/4) day in the parks before heading home.
Tune in next time for our final day of our Disney World May 2015 trip!