|11-20-2010, 09:31 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2008
A better-late-than-never Trip Report (New Year's 2008)
aka: "How to swim against the crowd tide and have a blast during the busiest week of the year at Disney World."
That's us, me, the mister, and DD (then age 7, now age 9)
This trip report, recording our 20th anniversary trip to Disney World over New Year's 2008/2009, is only, oh, TWO YEARS late. I’m finally getting around to putting it up in anticipation of going back to the Polynesian in January 2011, as a way of refreshing my memory about what we did, where we ate, and all the other little details that have fallen out of my brain in the interim.
We went to Disney to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, which was on New Year's Eve 2008. I spent a ridiculous amount of time planning the trip, with the goals of maximizing our ability to enjoy the parks without being in the huge crowds, and minimizing our wait times and distances that we needed to walk. Even with all that planning, our feet were tired, but we did every single thing I'd hoped we could, and a whole lot more besides. Planning to that degree definitely paid off!
We arrived on Tues. Dec. 30, 2008, at about 9 AM (our wonderful friends Joanne & Greg hosted us over the weekend, and Greg gallantly drove us down to Disney that morning). We checked our luggage with bell services at the Polynesian Resort, checked in at the front desk (no line! at all! on one of the busiest days of the year!), got our 1st Visit (DD, then age 7) and Happy Anniversary (me and the mister) buttons and were on the monorail to Magic Kingdom by 9:45, a whole hour ahead of schedule.
What schedule, you ask? That would be Excel file I made for each day, with lists of park hours, parade and show times, advanced dining reservations, fireworks, and all the attractions we'd like to see during the course of the day. Exhaustive, color-coded, printed in a wee font so I could stick the whole thing in my bag. It worked beautifully.
We got to MK, walked down Main Street, caught the tail end of the Dreams Come True show and noted the time of the next one, went to Tom Sawyer Island, got Fast Passes for the Jungle Cruise for after lunch, went to the Enchanted Tiki Room (still soooooo cheesy and still DD's favorite out of all the rides and shows), then got lunch at Pecos Bill's, using our Disney Dining Plan for the first time. That, too, went off without a hitch throughout our stay, at snack carts, resort dining rooms, counter service places, and three different parks. I give the DDP a huge thumbs-up. The kid's meals weren't quite enough to fill DD up (my girl can eat some food), so we often supplemented her lunch with our lunch -- easy to do given the portion sizes. In fact, sometimes, the mister and I split a counter-service lunch and used our other CS meal for a snack later in the day.
After an early lunch (about 11:30), we lined up for the noon parade -- Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime. OMG, y'all. It's like the regular parade, only dressed up in Christmas finery! Like, the princesses wear their winter dresses and gingerbread men dance! We had staked our claim on a slab of curb, so we had a great view, and all the princesses smiled and waved at DD, and a guy leaned all the way over the rope, WHILE DANCING, to say, "Happy anniversary!" to me. *boggles* I might have gotten a litte teary when I saw Cinderella in her glass coach.
After the parade, we went back to the Castle forecourt and staked another slab of cement for the Dreams Come True show. Princesses! Mickey & Minnie! Donald Duck! Fireworks in the middle of the day! The great thing was that the whole forecourt was families with little kids, and by some sort of telepathy, we all decided to just stay sitting down, instead of standing up and making it harder for everyone to see. So we all sat there and watched, which was great.
After that, we were hungry again (I tell you, all this curb sitting and princess admiring will work up an appetite), so the mister and DD went to find some popcorn, while I stood in line at the Main Street Bakery and used one DDP snack credit for an ice cream cookie the size of my head. Seriously, it was like a Chipwich on steroids. Two massive Toll House chocolate chip cookies with about a pint of ice cream mashed between them. The three of us couldn't finish it. That was one big cookie. [2010 Note: That snack no longer seems to be on the approved list for snack credits. Not surprised, but… bummer!]
We took the monorail back to the Poly and unpacked, then went one quick monorail stop to the Grand Floridian, which I had never been inside. It's everything an Embassy Suites wants to be. Again, the holiday decorations were amazing, including a two-story gingerbread house. We were there for Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner, where Cindy and her Prince Charming dance and visit with the kids. I might have cried again when she came and stopped at our table and crouched down and talked to DD like she had all the time in the world, and nothing she'd rather do than chat with my little girl. And then Prince Charming came over and asked DD to dance and whisked her out on the dance floor for a twirl, and kissed her on the cheek. If you've never seen a 7-year-old swoon, it's a pretty funny, fantastic experience. She glowed.
Then we rode the monorail all the way back around so we could see the castle lit up with about a kajillion icicle lights (breath-taking and yes, there might have been a tear or two).
We went out onto the beach at the Polynesian, stretched out on lounge chairs and watched the Holiday Wishes fireworks show over the lagoon. *happy sigh*
And then we crashed. We turned on whatever bowl game was happening, and were asleep by 9:30 PM.
But wait! Because it was New Year's Eve Eve, Magic Kingdom put on its Fantasy In The Sky fireworks at midnight -- we woke to the *BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM* and were amazed. They lit the whole sky! I'd never seen anything like that in person. *even happier sigh*
And then we really crashed.
Next up: Day 2, New Year's Eve, our 20th wedding anniversary, otherwise known as the day DD discovered the Neverland Club.
Last edited by janiebegood; 11-20-2010 at 01:39 PM.
|11-20-2010, 12:57 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Day 2 (New Year’s Eve, Wednesday, December 31, 2008):
New Year's Eve! Our 20th wedding anniversary! The second-busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World (after Christmas Day). Having spent the entire month of July haunting the DISboards, I knew to swerve away from Magic Kingdom that day, and sure enough, they closed the park at 11 o'clock in the morning to new visitors because it had already reached capacity. *boggles*
Instead, we got up at o'dark thirty and were the only passengers on the 7:30 AM bus from the TTC to Disney's Hollywood Studios. We followed the crowd at the "rope drop" to Toy Story Mania. We waited in line for about 15 minutes to get Fast Passes for later in the day, and a lovely cast member took us aside and explained that if we looked at the bottom of the Fast Pass, we would see the time at which we could get another Fast Pass. We didn't have to wait to use one to get another, in other words, something many, many people did not seem to understand. She also told us that though our Fast Passes noted a particular hour in which we could return to ride the ride with little or no wait, in reality, we could return any time after the beginning time on the Fast Pass, something that was true in all the parks, though not published anywhere. We used Fast Passes that were hours beyond their stated expiration time with no fuss at all.
Having acquired our TSM Fast Passes (which were gone for the entire day by 10:30 AM), we walked around the corner to where we would eventually see the High School Musical 3 Pep Rally -- a street parade followed by a live performance. We were the first people there, so we walked down the street and squeezed in a viewing of Muppetvision 3-D and still got back to the HSM spot in time to get DD a slab of curb. She had taken the lei we were given at the Polynesian on check-in the day before and made a cornet of it for her hair. Consequently, I think she stood out from the crowd with her dark hair and those beautiful yellow flowers. One of the male performers came over and chose her from the crowd to go dance with him on "stage" in front of everybody!
First Prince Charming, then Disney's generic Troy Bolton. My girl was in heaven. We called that lei "the magic lei" since such nice things happened while she was wearing it! The show was peppy and fun, and obviously a real highlight for a lot of 6 - 12 year-old girls.
After the show, we used a special Fast Pass we had been given on entry to go see the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show, but it was too loud and intense for DD, not to mention the 5,000 or so people in the crowd would all be leaving at once and trying to get other places, so we left about ten minutes in and ended up walking in to the next showing of Voyage of the Little Mermaid -- a live performance with all kinds of cool special effects.
After that, we veered off my schedule because we saw a sign saying that the characters from Bolt were appearing, signing autographs! Whee! DD and I waited a whole hour in line for that, since Bolt, Mittens, and my dear darling Rhino were all in attendance, and taking a lot of time with each kid to sign autographs and have pictures taken. I think there were only about 20 or 30 people ahead of us in line, so you can tell how much attention each group got! A lot! So I got to hug Rhino and DD got to hug Mittens, and they all signed her little autograph book. Pixie dust!
By the time we got through the autograph line, I was hungry enough to skewer Rhino on a shishkabob and grill him medium-rare, so we went to the ABC Commissary for lunch. I have to take a minute here to talk about the food at Disney. We were on the Disney Dining Plan, where I'd pre-paid $37.99 each per day for the mister and me and $9.99 per day for DD for a table-service meal, a counter-service meal and a snack. [2010 Note: Prices have gone up since then, but still... a darn good deal.] We thought it was fabulous. We loved being able to just order whatever we wanted, without worrying about whether the Asian salad cost more than the Cubano sandwich. Each meal came with an entree, a drink and a dessert. Kids meals came with juice, milk or water, and a side of grapes, apple slices, or apple sauce, plus a small cookie or pudding for dessert. Disney has obviously made a conscious decision to offer healthier choices on its menus, which I appreciate. Yes, they still offer chicken fingers and fries, but the mister had a delicious Cuban sandwich, and the Asian salad was fresh and filled with edamame. We chose one each of the two dessert options -- a strawberry parfait and a chocolate mousse -- and both were delicious. We used two snack credits later in the afternoon on a full-sized soft pretzel and a mammoth fruitsicle, and shared both.
After lunch, we finally went back and used our Fast Passes and rode Toy Story Mania. It was, hands-down, the mister's favorite ride. It's a shooting gallery, basically, where you ride in a car, stop at a screen and shoot the bejeezus out of whatever shows up in front of you. I scored 89,000 points! The mister scored 114,000 and DD scored 42,000. High score for the day? 252,000, undoubtedly by someone who has ridden Toy Story Mania more than once.
The mister took DD to the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movieset", which is basically a playground made to seem like kids are tiny -- blades of grass are 20' tall, a hose squirts like a geyser, a film canister is large enough to crawl through, that kind of thing. One of the few places anywhere in the parks where kids can just RUN FREE without worry. She loved it.
We left the Studios as big crowds started pouring in, about 3 PM. Since the park was staying open until 3 AM, people seemed to be starting to come and settle in for the duration, so we took the bus (again, an almost deserted bus) back to the Polynesian to rest for a couple of hours.
When we got back to our room, the "Mousekeeper" had arranged A's stuffed animals to make it look like one was drawing in her sketchbook while the others watched. He had also left on her bed a clown made out of washcloths and towels, tied together with pipe cleaners, decorated with stickers and silk flower hair. Massive pixie dust!
Around 6 PM, we took DD over to the Neverland Club, a supervised child care center on the grounds at the Polynesian resort. She was one of six kids there on New Year's Eve, and one of four kids on New Year's Day (when the ratio was 1 cast member to 1 child). For $11.25 an hour, she got to watch movies, play Wii, have dinner brought to her, and play with other kids while the mister and I went out for a grown-up dinner at 'Ohana, the Poly's flagship restaurant. PRICELESS. I'd already made a reservation for her to go back the next night, on the advice of folks right here on the boards, and it's good I did -- as soon as we picked her up on New Year's Eve she asked if she could go back the next day. "Of course!" I said.
When we checked in at 'Ohana, I asked if we could see the fireworks from the restaurant. She said we could, tapped her computer screen, and clicked on "fireworks view." *boggles again* She said it might mean a few minutes' extra wait, which didn't bother us a bit, but about five minutes before our stated reservation time, we were seated at a table with a perfect view of the castle over the water. Dinner was good, but the really fun part was the entertainment. I danced the hula! Well, a modified hula. Those of us brave enough to get up in front of total strangers and dance were given special four-color leis -- the only people who were given those particular leis. We were invited to bring our loved ones up, and each of us were given two of those special leis to share with others.
Disney is all about having things no one else has. We wore WALL-E t-shirts we'd been given as promo items for attending the opening weekend of the movie, and three different people tried to buy them off our backs. The multi-color leis aren't something you can buy, or arrange ahead of time -- it's PIXIE DUST at work.
They pipe in the fireworks music to the restaurant, so we got to sit at our dinner table, listen to the music, and watch the Holiday Wishes show appear right in front of our eyes.
We picked DD up from the Neverland Club about 9 PM, and we were all fast asleep by 9:30 PM. BUT WAIT! There's more! I woke up at 11:55 to the sound of the MC across the lagoon, and got the mister up. He wrapped DD in a blanket and we all stepped out on our balcony and watched the Fantasy In the Sky fireworks and rang in the new year in our pajamas. My favorite moment of the whole vacation, I think! Hundreds of people had gathered on the lawn and beach in front of our building, and the lagoon was filled with boats. We'd heard nothing, that's how soundly we had been sleeping! The fireworks were breathtaking; I could feel the percussion in my chest, and the whole sky was lit up with them. When they were over, we watched the hordes of people file back toward their cars or wherever, and we stumbled back to bed.
Reading this over, it feels like an incredibly busy day, but it all just... flowed. Now New Year's Day, that was busy.
|11-20-2010, 01:47 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Day 3 (New Year’s Day, Thursday, January 1, 2009):
New Year's Day! The day after the night before for many, many people, apparently, given how deserted the monorail station was at 7:15 AM. The draw for us? An "Extra Magic Hour" at Magic Kingdom from 8 AM - 9 AM, when only guests staying at Disney resorts can enter a given park. BIG PERK of staying on-site. I'd heard that of the holiday days, New Year's Day tended to be the least crowded, especially in the morning when so many people were sleeping it off, and that turned out to be true. [2010 Note: I know the advice is often to steer away from parks with EMH, in our case, it worked just fine -- low to no crowds.]
We were at the front of the line for the rope drop at Main Street and at the entrance to FantasyLand (accessed via Cinderella's Castle). We managed to ride Peter Pan's Flight, the Many Adventures of Pooh, Cinderella's Carousel, and It's A Small World, and see Mickey's Philharmagic (one of our favorite shows) by 9:15.
The mister can't take FantasyLand, so he went and got us Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear for later in the morning, then parked himself at a table in view of the castle, got a couple of blueberry muffins with snack credits and waited while DD and I went back for another viewing of the "Dreams Come True" show at the Castle Forecourt. Because you can never see too many princesses! On our way around the Castle, who did we see? The Fairy Godmother! With no one around her at all! So we hopped on over and got her autograph, and she was very sweet.
After the show and a little break for the snack, we headed over to Buzz Lightyear, remarking on how much busier it had gotten in the intervening hour. Like, unpleasantly busy. So we walked back to Main Street and headed for EPCOT, where we had a 12:20 ADR (advanced dining reservation) at Coral Reef.
In my original schedule, that ADR was just for the mister and me, and it was for 7:40 at night -- the only time available, even though I called at the 180-day mark back in July. New Year's Day is a busy day for restaurants, apparently! But I thought that was too late, especially with DD being at the Neverland Club, so I kept calling back and finally got a cancellation at lunchtime and snapped it up. DD came with us, and we had a lovely lunch there by the massive aquarium, but going straight from park to park was exhausting -- I definitely wouldn't do that again. It was the only day my feet hurt! It can take an hour or more to move from park to park -- it adds many hundreds of steps to a day.
I think DD ate all of her lunch, half of mine, some of the mister's, and then an entire build-your-own ice cream sundae. I think it might have been the first time she felt full since arriving!
Once we'd fueled ourselves up, we headed just around the corner to my absolute favorite attraction of the whole week -- Turtle Talk with Crush. You remember Crush from Finding Nemo, don't you? The "totally awesome dude" turtle who surfs the EAC? Well, somehow, I know not how, they've managed to bring him to life, and he interacts from his videoscreen with the actual audience. Like, he'll pick people out of the crowd to talk to, ask them questions, then riff on what they say. Kids sit in the front, parents behind them on benches. We went three separate times to see it over two days and every day, it was totally different! Totally! I thought DD's magic lei might lead to her getting picked for a question, but she never even raised her hand. Odd, I thought, until the lights came up and I realized she had slept through the entire thing. Whoops! She apparently conked out as soon as the lights went down, and she missed it all!
Refreshed from her power nap, she wanted to go to the China pavilion in the World Showcase, approximately a nine-mile walk from where we were. Worth it, though, since who did we see? Mushu! From Mulan, DD's all-time favorite movie. Each Disney character in costume has a cast member assigned as a handler. The guy handling Mushu cracked us up -- apparently, Mulan was supposed to be there, too, which would have been the biggest thrill EVER, but he implied heavily that she'd tied one on the night before and was AWOL. And he was pissed. Mushu patted DD's magic lei, and her bright little Mickey Mouse head bracelet, and the handler said, "Mushu loves your accessories." Well, you should have seen her face light up.
We watched the 14-minute 360-degree movie about China, which made all of us dizzy, the mister went and got us Fast Passes for Test Track later in the day, then we headed back to the Polynesian at about 3:30 PM, just dog tired. Our room hadn't been cleaned, which was surprising, so I called Mousekeeping just to be sure we hadn't been missed accidentally. It's a holiday, so maybe they had different people working different shifts than usual. She said she'd put us down for turn-down service, then we'd at least get fresh towels and the beds made, which suited me fine. Hey, if I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars on a hotel room, I kind of want a new towel every day.
We put on the bowl game (I have no idea which one) and all crashed for two solid hours. We woke up rarin' to go. We dropped DD off at the Neverland Club and headed right back to EPCOT, where we walked right on Test Track with our Fast Passes (passing the 110-minute stand-by line). I love speed if I feel safe, so that ride was a big hit -- you go 68 miles an hour in an open-top vehicle, wind in your hair, throb of the engine underneath. It's awesome! From there, we went and had dinner at Sunshine Seasons, the counter-service restaurant in The Land (across from The Seas, where Turtle Talk and Coral Reef are situated). Sunshine offers a huge variety of food -- we had Asian, but they also offer soup and salad and other stuff. The counter-service meals on the Disney Dining Plan come with dessert, so I went over to the bakery case. The man behind the counter handed me two HUGE chocolate chip cookies and said, "Happy Anniversary!" I smiled and thanked him and started to walk away, and he said, "What would you like for dessert?" I asked him if that was a trick question and held up the cookies. "That's just because it's your anniversary; you still get to choose dessert," he said.
*BOGGLES* I love any place that gives away cookies! *hugs Disney World*
So I had chocolate mousse cake and the mister had Butterfinger cheesecake, and we brought the cookies home to enjoy later.
After that, we walked next door to The Seas and walked right on the Nemo ride, then straight from there into Crush again. Believe it or not, we got back to the Polynesian (we were the only people walking from the ticket center all the way to the Neverland Club), picked up DD, and were back in our room in time to watch the 9 PM fireworks from our balcony. *happy sigh*
Oh! And when we got back, the room had been cleaned, the beds turned down (with chocolate on the pillows!) and the Mousekeeper had left TWO towel presents in the bathroom -- a bouquet of flowers and a bird. Also, the television was on, and DD's cat Gracie had on her sunglasses and was in charge of the remote:
And we had lots of fresh towels.
Coming up: Day 4, aka "You can never meet too many princesses."
|11-20-2010, 01:54 PM||#4|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Day 4 (Friday, January 2, 2009):
I deliberately planned our big Princess Storybook Breakfast at the Akershus (Norway Pavilion at EPCOT) for our last full day in the parks, because I was pretty sure nothing we did would top it, and I was SO RIGHT. OMG, the PRINCESSES.
We got up at our usual buttcrack of dawn and ended up being the very first people to enter EPCOT. We also got to ride in the front of the monorail with the pilot, who gave DD a "Monorail Co-Pilot" card for her souvenir box.
We were also the first people to check in for the breakfast at the Norway Pavilion, home to the most beautiful people on the planet. Seriously, Stine? Call me. They seemed very pleased to hear that the mister is one-quarter Norwegian, but perhaps Norwegians are just always that happy. I don't know, I don't care; they were lovely in every way. Our string of firsts continued as we got called in to the restaurant and were there to see Belle come out and take her spot in her special photo room, where she signed A's autograph book and posed for pictures. Then the hostess took us to our table, which was located right next to the door where the princesses come out, so we ended up being either first or second for each princess that followed, depending on which side of the room she started on.
The literature about the breakfast said they guaranteed three princesses in attendance, from a possible roster of Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, Mary Poppins, and Mulan. Choosing the EPCOT breakfast over the one at Cinderella's Castle was a no-brainer for me. Only Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella appear there, and it "costs" two Table Service credits on the Disney Dining Plan. For some unknown reason, the one at EPCOT only required one Table Service credit, and it included a 6x8 photo of A with Snow White (and they included FOUR 4x6 prints for no additional cost, which we didn't realize until we got back to the room and opened the envelope. [2010 Note: The breakfast may no longer include a photo.] But the big draw, of course, was what I like to call the "ethnic" princesses, Jasmine and Mulan, both long DD's favorites. I kept reminding her that we didn't know who would be there, but I was sure she'd have a good time.
But first let me tell you about the food. It was easily the best meal we ate all week: first, we went up to a cold buffet with fruit, muffins, pastries, and a few Norwegian delicacies. Then a waitress brought us a family-style meal of eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes au gratin. Without our even asking, when she saw that we'd finished the sausage and potatoes, she brought another plate out. *boggles*
We sent the mister off to Soarin' to get Fast Passes for us and the family seated next to us. Soarin' FPs are regularly gone for the day by 10:30 AM, and we only planned to stay at EPCOT for the morning, so I was quite insistent that the mister get his tail in gear and get the dagblamed Fast Passes, thank you very much). Thanks to his sprightly walk, we got 9:50 Fast Passes. SCORE!
Meanwhile, back at the Akershus, having stuffed her hollow leg with an enormous breakfast, DD sat with her eyes glued to the door, awaiting the arrival of the princesses. First out? Her favorite of the "standard" princesses, Sleeping Beauty, who nudged DD over and sat down in her chair beside her and started to chat.
To keep this from getting to truly marathon length, I'll report that after Sleeping Beauty came Snow White, who talked exactly the way she does in the movie. So that was our three princesses. I could tell DD was a little disappointed, but she put on a very brave face, and then, to our delight, out came Jasmine. An extra princess! Weren't we lucky! After that, A decided she wanted a little more breakfast. She was mid-bite when the door opened again... and out came Mulan!
Five princesses! Our two favorites! PIXIE DUST!!!!
DD was wearing her Mulan costume, and I have no doubt at all that Mulan knew just how much it meant to my little girl to meet her. She spent minutes with her, talking to her, stroking her cheek, holding her hands. She crouched down beside her after I took her picture and kept talking to her, and finally gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
It was -- and I can say this without any irony at all -- a dream come true. The look on DD's face when Mulan hugged her is something I will always treasure, and I'll always be grateful for the training Disney gives its cast members, especially those who interact with hundreds of children every day. They all made her feel so special, but especially Mulan.
Hard to top that, but those Soarin' Fast Passes were also quite a coup. We hung around long enough to get Test Track Fast Passes as well, wandered the jumping fountains at the Imagination Station and then went to Soarin'.
What is Soarin'? Well, it's one of the most popular rides in the park system, right up there with Space Mountain. You sit in a seat and go up about 40' in the air, and then it feels like you are hang-gliding. You watch a screen in front of you, and it's so lifelike that when you go over trees, you instinctively lift your feet. I loved it. But I would not have waited 120 minutes in line for it, which is what the wait was when we used our Fast Passes at about 11 AM.
Soarin' opens right up onto the court with Sunshine Seasons, so we fed DD's noodle fetish and got MORE special anniversary chocolate chip cookies. I tell you, I have an inordinate fondness for any place that coughs up free cookies.
I needed one last Crush!Fix, so we went there after lunch. I told DD she needed to stay awake this time, but in the end, it was the mister who got called on, after he raised his hand when Crush asked who in the crowd liked to swim. He asked the mister if he thought he could beat Crush in a race. "Absolutely," the mister deadpanned. "You're a turtle." That made everybody laugh, and Crush hid his face in his flipper and said, "Duuuuuude." *giggles*
We then took DD on Test Track. To say she did not enjoy it would be an understatement. She recovered quickly though, especially since I told her we were going back to the hotel, and that the Jasmine doll we had bought after breakfast would be waiting for us at Package Claim. It wasn't there when we got there, so they sent someone off and DD spent about fifteen minutes sorting pins in a display case. One of the managers came over and hovered for a minute, worried, perhaps, that she was going to pocket one, I think. I explained that she just wanted them all to be in their proper places, and he went and found about twenty that needed restocking and handed them to her to put away. So cute!
We made it back to the Poly by about 3:00, I think, and once again, crashed until after 5:00. Those little afternoon naps made all the difference! Then DD and I put on our matching tie-dye -- I have a shirt, thanks to a friend, and DD has a dress -- and went back to Magic Kingdom for one last hurrah. My goals? See the Castle lighting, watch the Spectromagic Parade, and get out of the crowd before the fireworks. Oh, and use up our last Counter-Service meals.
As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, a castle lit with nine zillion icicle lights is a wonder to behold. Cue tears! Tinkerbell lights it, of course, and the "Ooooooooooh" and spontaneous applause from the crowd that had gathered tickled me. We had staked out a slab of curb just where Main Street meets the circle for the event, but when it was over, the mister said, "Let's eat." I explained about the SpectroMagic Parade, but he said that was an hour and a half away, and nobody would sit on a curb for 90 minutes. Silly man. We went to Casey's and used our last two CS credits, plus bought another adult meal to make sure we had enough food.
Our grand total outlay of cash for four days' worth of food (beyond the DDP, of course, which I'd already paid for): $9.23
Of course our curb was gone when we went back. But we found a fence to lean against, with a big sturdy fence post that DD sat on to watch the parade with an unencumbered view.
The parade was cool -- lighted floats -- and I might have enjoyed it more if I'd been closer and had a better view (next time, I'll put my foot down!), but I actually really enjoyed being part of this crowd.
Everybody was in great spirits, nobody pushed or shoved, and it felt festive rather than claustrophobic.
We swam with the crowd toward the exit, stopping off at the Emporium to pick up some souvenirs. I got a little photo album, and gifties for our cat sitters. I looked down at my watch and saw that it was only ten minutes until the fireworks started. No way did I want to be in the post-fireworks exodus from the parks. I said as much to the mister, but he said to just relax and finish shopping. He felt certain it would all work out. Darn if he wasn't right. We checked out, walked down to the ferry launch to catch the boat back to the Poly, and just as the boat pulled away from the dock, the fireworks started. A cast member who was a passenger with us said she piloted lagoon cruises, and we were getting a $300 show for free! Whee! It was great being closer -- almost underneath. They were much louder and bigger, and the finale occurred just as we pulled into the dock at the Polynesian.
PIXIE DUST! I couldn't have planned it. I could have tried, but like the mister said, it just worked out that way, regardless of my Excel spreadsheet, and I love that!
We wandered back to our room along the torch-lit paths, and DD barely got her pajamas on before she crashed:
The next morning, we used our last five Snack credits on two giant blueberry muffins, a croissant the size of the mister's hand, a pint of orange juice, and a big container of apple slices with caramel for dipping. I actually canceled a reservation at Kona Cafe for breakfast because it seemed silly to waste snack credits when I knew we could get breakfast items with them.
We checked our luggage at the Airline Check-In desk at the front of the Polynesian and didn't have to worry about it again until we picked it up at baggage claim in Cincinnati. Then we climbed on the Disney Magical Express for our complimentary airport transfer, and came back to the cold, gray, rainy North.
So that was our trip. Thanks for sharing it with me! I'm ready to go back again...maybe not tomorrow, but SOON.
[2010 Note: Soon turned out to be almost two years exactly, and massive pixie dust rained down to make it possible: $67 each way airline tix, and a 40% off pin code for the Poly. Looking forward to writing another trip report! Hopefully sooner than two years after we return home!]
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