Sunday, December 15, 2013

Disney 4: More Magic Kingdom Magic

For our last day at the parks, we KNEW we had to spend another full day at Magic Kingdom. It was Saturday and the first non-Halloween Disney day in weeks. This was a BIG deal because it meant we could pull a late night at the park and see all the traditional "Disney After Dark" events that had been replaced by Halloween happenings during October.  Since it was our last night before heading home the next day, we knew it would work to throw caution to the wind and pull a full day soaking up the last bit of Magic Kingdom's magic before we had to return to our mouse-free reality.

There was only one kink in the plan....rain! Truth is, that soggy Saturday had been staring at us for the whole week and despite all the stars we wished upon, the forecast didn't change. We weren't quite sure if it was the worst idea or best idea we ever had, but we went for it. We streamlined the stuff we were bringing in, hooked up the rain cover on the stroller, grabbed the umbrella we packed and went for it! It rained the whole way there on the shuttle. Lou & I exchanged "um, what are we thinking?!" looks the whole way then, after surveying the girls' mood, we decided that it was memory making time. (Even if that memory would be one that the girls would one day tell our grandchildren about the time we drug them through Magic Kingdom in the pouring rain.)

So, spoiler alert, the rain never really did clear up and, guess what? That rain ended up being the best thing that could've happened to us!

Foreshadowing from two super-smiling sisters on the bus ride in:

After hopping on the big train that weaves through the park, we rode it over to FantasyLand in the midst of a pretty epic downpour. The whole scene was so crazy and so hilarious that we just had to laugh. We hopped off the train and the rain lessened to a drizzle. The kind of drizzle that keeps the faint-hearted away from Magic Kingdom on a dreary day.  The kind of drizzle that pretty much means you have Magic Kingdom all to yourselves!  We rocked that place out!  Here's some evidence.

After waiting a little extra while for the track to dry before it was safe, Bea rode her first big coaster - the Barn Stormer. Josie and I sat behind her and were shocked that little Beba-Do kept her hands up the whole way!

When the rain picked back up, we found indoor things to do. We spent a good chunk of time inside Dumbo's circus that's meant to be a holding tank for the typically long wait for the ride. Instead, we played as long as we wanted, watched the rain and when it lightened up, walked on the ride and picked the Dumbo of our choice!

You guys, this is as big as "the crowd" got that day!

Speaking of short lines and brave girls, Josie decided that if she was at Magic Kingdom, she was going to ride Space Mountain. Honestly, that ride scared the heck out of me when I was about her age, but Josie has a thrill-seeking gene that just can't be denied.  The wait was 10 minutes. No fastpasses necessary. Once we got in there and it was all dark and mysterious, she got really nervous. This nervous:

Storytime: Oh my goodness, the poor thing erupted into tears when she realized the Space Mountain seats were front-to-back instead of side-by-side. I might never forget her pitiful little "Mama, you won't be next to me?" when the bar opened up for us to step on. I told her we could totally bail and do it again next time. Wiping her tears, she said, "I'm doing it. Just promise you won't let go of me!" So, I sat behind her and wrapped my arms around her and she grabbed my hands and we both screamed the whole way.  When it was all said and done, she breathed a big sigh and said she was really really glad she did it but that it was "scary in a fun way."  When I asked if she felt like she was flying in space because of all the stars, she innocently asked, "There were stars? I didn't see them. I had my eyes closed the whole time." 

We got another of those cool ride-swap passes and sent Lou off for his first Space Mountain ride and the girls and I played in the arcade.  Lou kept his eyes open the whole time (we think).

Like I said, the park crowd was really sparse so we had our pick of rides and rode many of them multiple times.

We wove our way in, out and around all the different parts of Magic Kingdom - picking up the rides & attractions we missed and repeating favorites from our first day there. Josie & Lou rode Thunder Mountain together this time, while Bea & I hung out on Tom Sawyer's Island. Then we stumbled upon the little quartet outside the Country Bear Jamboree & had ourselves a little Schneider family dance break!

Then it was PARADE TIME!  While we waited, they invited kids into the street to hula hoop. Josie got a pretty big kick out of a crowd cheering her on. She turned it on and did her world famous "hula hooping chicken dance."

We snacked on yummy treats (and Bea grew "Disney princess eyes).

We discovered the joys of Nutella waffles and have already made them twice since we've been home.

Then the Disney magic rolled by!

And the Beast came, which made Bea retreat to her Papa's arms.

Mary Poppins gave Josie a wink and nod, which she thought was pretty much the coolest thing in the world.

We had little reminders that we were in Florida.

After the parade, we headed to our Dinner Reservations at The Crystal Palace - the home of the Hundred Acre Wood character meal.  It's a lovely spot in a beautiful quiet part of Magic Kingdom and the buffet had a surprising number of vegetarian options. Just like Play & Dine, the characters all came right to the table for an autograph, photo opportunity and a cuddle.

Papa Lou (who may keep a very well-loved childhood Pooh of his tucked away safely in his closet) was just as excited as the girls were to meet this beloved bear.

It wasn't long until the sun began to set on Magic Kingdom. And, wow, really, it just transforms until a truly wondrous place as the lights all turn on and begin to twinkle. The rain showers grew wider and wider apart and the skies were gorgeous.

Josie & I separated from Lou & Bea so we could check out Belle's "ride" (which is really an interactive tour and story-time with Belle herself).

Lou & Bea rode the teacups a few more times and Josie met her only Princess (quite by accident, which is kinda funny.)

Once we reunited, it was time to relive one of my strongest childhood memories from my trip to Disney as a kid! The Electrical Parade.

It was just as magical as I remembered it, and our little girls stood just as captivated and filled with wonder as I'm sure my sister and I did all those years ago.

When Elliot from Pete's Dragon came floating down the street, I got a little teary-eyed. It's true. Our Disney trip was winding down and all of the little magical moments from our time there all came together into one big overwhelming wave of gratitude and joy. Standing there with my family, and remembering standing there with my sister and my parents, and realizing how quickly 30 years goes by, and thinking about the day our girls will one day return as adults. Well, it's really no wonder my heart just about burst.

The wet streets made the electrical parade really cool with the extra reflections. And, everything about the parade was just like I remembered it - right down to the music! I thought I was a little bit crazy, but we later learned from one of the Cast Members that the parade we saw really WAS the parade I saw there as a kid in the 80s! They started running the original parade at Magic Kingdom again in 2010. How's that for some Disney magic?

After the parade, we asked the girls what they wanted to do since it was getting late. It was a unanimous decision. Back to the Small World we went!
Bea LOVED this pink elephant near the end of the ride. She's still talking about it. 

No one remembers just how many times in a row we rode "It's A Small World" that night. But it was a lot. We did have to get off and walk back on each time, which just made it more fun. Each time we stood outside and watched some of the fireworks, then yelled "AGAIN" and all four of us skipped back down to pick a boat.  On what was at least the 4th or 5th time, Bea fell asleep. I mean honestly, can you imagine falling asleep in your mother's arms while floating through the Small World ride? Does it get better than that? (Actually, it does. I can't think of a time I've been any happier than floating through the Small World, with Bea snoozing in my arms and Josie & Lou signing along.)

We put Bea in her stroller, covered her up and told Josie that being six was about to pay off. There's a lot to buy at Disney and we told the girl they could each buy one souvenir before we left. Since Bea was asleep, Josie got to pick them. We encouraged her to pick something that represented her best memory from the week. When we found the Small World singing dolls, it was a no-brainer. Josie choose the doll from Japan and picked the doll from India for Bea and all was right in our small world.

It was about 10pm and being six was about to pay off even more. We told her we could stay as long as she wanted and do whatever she wanted to do while we were there. She wanted to go ride the Astro Orbiter at dark and I stayed down with sleeping Bea while Lou & Josie rode in spaceships high about TomorrowLand.

As we were wandering around, we stumbled upon the Electrical Parade again. We had a great view of it in front of the castle, and the crowd had thinned out even more. It was the perfect way to end the night.

We were on the bus back to the hotel somewhere around 11:30 and carried two sleeping girls through the hotel and into their beds.


The next morning Lou had an expert witness interview and the girls & I hung out around the hotel, played with the new dolls and went to get breakfast.

Before we left, we had to spend one last chunk of time on the beach playground and soak up that last bit of Florida sunshine.

As we drove to the airport, a skywriter summed up the week better than I can.

It was a quick and easy flight home.

It's already been several weeks since our trip to DisneyWorld ended, and it's funny how often it still comes up in conversation.  All four of us have been known to just randomly start sentences with "Hey, remember at Disney when....".   Bea is still talking about meeting Mickey and Minnie. Josie is still telling the tale of facing her fears and tackling the big rides. Their two Small World dolls have their own special place in their bedroom and they carry them around like precious treasures. And ha, they've both learned how to sing "It's A Small World" in three languages.  I don't want to forget any of it. (And I'm hoping that getting it all on the blog here will help with that pursuit.)

Our trip from Disney grew from its origin as a trip we couldn't pass up since we both had business in Orlando into hands-down the best week our family has ever spent together.  I'll admit, we went into it knowing we'd have fun but believing firmly we weren't a "Disney family."  That feels a little ridiculous now.

I've had a few people ask what tips we have for making the most of a Disney trip, and I'll put that together soon, but I'll say this now. A big part of the "magic" for us was just giving fully into it. Embracing the crazy. Surrendering to the experience.  Buying mouse ears. Dancing in the street. Eating dessert with every meal. Hugging beloved childhood characters. Screaming on the roller coasters. Singing along to It's A Small World.  Riding the teacups until your eyes cross. Saying yes. Seeing the world through your child's eyes. Being a kid yourself.

Then promising to do it all again some day.


ICYMI: Here are the other posts from our trip.
Preview: The Dreams Come True Parade
Disney 1: Awesome Eve
Disney 2: Magic Kingdom!
Disney 3: Studios & Sunshine

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