November 26, 2009: Tofurkey Day in Walt Disney World

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Walt Disney World is not exactly the traditional way to do it but it is most definitely an interesting twist.  We had to be up quite early this morning because we have to get out to the Magic Kingdom for the early, extra magic hours that start at eight!  The plan is to get in one or two rides, and to get fast passes, before we go to our breakfast reservation at the castle at nine.  It is a banking holiday so I have the day completely off.  I have to carry my mobile phone but I don’t have to keep a constant watch on my email which is nice.

We were up at six thirty and out the door by seven thirty.  We made it to the Magic Kingdom a good twenty minutes or more before rope drop and had plenty of time to watch the opening ceremony.  Then it was in to the park and quick rush up through Adventureland to get to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as quickly as possible.  What we discovered, though, was that not only was Adventureland closed but so was Frontierland and Liberty Square!  So all of the rides that we had rushed in to go ride were not included in the extra magic hours.  A serious disappointment.  We would all have preferred to have slept in rather than have rushed into the park like we did.

We did take advantage of the time and got right in to Mickey’s Philharmagic for the first showing of the day.  Everyone really enjoyed that.  It is definitely the best 3D movie in Walt Disney World since they took at Captain EO.  The Muppets 3D is pretty good but not nearly as good as this.  The Honey I Shrunk the Audience show, though, that directly replaced Captain EO in the same theatre is so boring that it is literally not worth even sitting through, IMHO, once you have gone through the arduous task of getting into the theatre.

Then it was off to get all three girls, Madeline, Emily and Liesl, into their princess costumes so that they can go to breakfast at the castle.  That took quite some time.  Once they were ready we headed to the castle for our special breakfast.  This is pretty exciting as none of us have ever actually gone into the castle before other than for shopping at the shop that used to be right there on the main floor.

The first task was getting the family portrait taken.  That took a while.  Then we climbed the twisting staircase up to the second floor where the dining room is.  Eating up above Fantasyland is pretty neat.  We had a nice vantage and a coveted window table from which to look out on Walt’s domain, although I would have preferred a view onto Main Street – now that would be extra neat.

Breakfast was very good.  Most of us went with the traditional egg-based meals.  Dominica’s mother, who does not eat eggs, got the “healthy” choice of a bowl of strawberry yoghurt, granola and fresh fruit.  We were shocked when we saw how massive her meal was.  It was enormous, and very good.  About double the amount that she could eat for breakfast!

The meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table was very good.  We had a very nice time and the girls got to meet all of the princesses again.

After breakfast it was a mad dash into the Magic Kingdom to ride the rides that we had not gotten the chance to ride before.  First it was Peter Pan’s Flight and then Mickey’s Philharmagic and then It’s A Small World.  After those three rides the gang all rode Snow White’s Scary Adventures while I made a mad dash through Fantasyland, Liberty Square and Frontierland to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad where I got fast passes for everyone so that they would not have to wait in line for that ride later.  That was a long run but I was able to get tickets much faster than anyone else would be able to maneuver through the packed park.  I know my way around and am able to move quickly.  So that saved us quite a bit.

We heard from Craig and Emily Lizar that they were in EPCOT today.  They had changed their plans so that they would be able to see us.  I have not seen Craig in several years and Emily I have only seen in Perry about two years ago.  They lived far away from us for a while and then were close to us living in Spencer when we lived in Ithaca but then moved down south about six years ago making it really hard for us to see them.  They have been in Florida for a while now and came up to see us from Tampa.  They are moving again in a few months but will still be in Florida.

So Dominica and I decided to call it a day in the Magic Kingdom and to head on over to EPCOT early so that would actually get to see them while the rest of the family decided to stay in the Magic Kingdom and push on through so that they would be able to see everything that they wanted to see there and not need to come back again another day.  Everyone is ready to be done with the Magic Kingdom, that is for sure.  Because we were abandoning our Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that meant that the people remaining behind who were able to ride it would get to ride it twice in a row even though there were tons of people in the park trying to get on to that ride so that ended up being really nice for them.  A much better use of our Fast Passes than us riding it even though I do enjoy that ride – it really is the only roller coaster that I feel confident riding anymore (because I get such awful vertigo if I am not careful.)

So we hopped on to the monorail and rode on over to EPCOT.  The MK to EPCOT trip is the only one in the entire park that doesn’t take very much time.  It is actually pretty quick.

We got to EPCOT and went straight up to Norway, which is a pretty decent walk, so that we could wait for the Lizars to be able to meet up with us there.  We did a counter service lunch, on the late side after our large breakfast, there at Norway where they have an excellent vegetarian tort meal that is a really excellent value on the Disney Dining plan – one of the best values anywhere from Disney Dining.  So we sat out at the cafe where Dominica and I also sit in Disney – the same one that Eric, Mark and I ate at many times during our ten day stay in WDW back in the late 1990s, to sit and relax.

Emily, Craig and their two children met up with us just as we were finishing eating.  It is really neat that it is them, of all people, to meet up with in Walt Disney World on Thanksgiving because Emily and I have traditionally spent most of Thanksgiving together over the years.  My old holiday tradition, once I was older and my family did not travel to Ohio anymore on Thanksgiving, was to go to Nate’s family’s home early on Thanksgiving morning where we would watch the parades on television to see if we were on TV because we used to march in the Toronto Santa Clause Parade.  Then I would do Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  Then off to Emily’s grandmother’s house in the late afternoon where we all hung out until it was time to drive up to Rochester to meet with the gang at Nick Tahou’s on Lyle Avenue at ten on Thanksgiving night.  That was our tradition for years before Emily moved away and then we all did.  Last year people still made it to Tahou’s.  Obviously we were busy starting our own holiday tradition (having a baby girl!!)  This year I have not heard if anyone was able to go.  The restaurant is not even called Tahou’s anymore.  Very sad.

So it was very cool that it was the Lizars that we were able to meet up with today although being in Walt Disney World does not feel anything like Thanksgiving in New York feels.  But we had better get used to this because we do not have any more holidays left to celebrate in New York.  Thanksgiving in Florida, Christmas in Texas and then that is it.  No more living up north.  For the time being at least.

We didn’t have anything planned so we just all hung out.  Dominica had not yet the Lizars’ youngest and I had only met him when he was a few months old and no one had met Liesl yet.  Liesl got a birthday present from them as well!  She was very excited.

Dominica and I wanted to try out Disney’s new Kim Possible adventures that they have set up all over EPCOT. So we got a pass so that we could do that and then, while waiting the almost two hours that it takes to get your Kimmunicator so that you can begin your secret agent mission the seven of us just walked around the World Showcase a couple of times and got some awesome drinks including a Mango Ginergita from Love of Tea in China which was amazing and a Grey Goose Orange and Grand Marnier Slushy from France, also very good, although I didn’t quite get to finish that drink because Dominica tried a sip and accidentally threw the drink onto the ground.

Once we got our Kimmunicator the Lizars helped us go through a secret mission in Norway which was actually pretty well done.  The whole Kim Possible mission idea is excellent and other than the fact that they have you do it in Disney World where there isn’t enough room to move around as it is and now you have to listen to a video talking to you on a cell phone while every inch of WDW is covered by speakers blaring things at ear piercing levels it is a really novel thing for kids to do to keep them engaged and discovering new areas of the parts of EPCOT where they are least likely to venture otherwise.

One of the neatest bits is the way that the missions allow you to use the mobile phone to interact with the environment.  We created real smoke from a smoke stack, had a topiary talking to us, got an exhibit to make noise, had our picture taken secretly and then had our picture show up on the phone and got to watch a video screen hidden inside a picture frame in a back hallway.  The whole system really opens up whole new ways of looking at Disney World.

We couldn’t hang out for too long, though, as we have Thanksgiving dinner tonight at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.  So after doing our mission we packed up and got back on the monorail and headed on over there to meet up with the family for dinner.

We got over to the Grand Floridian a bit ahead of everyone else.  We had further to go so had to allow some extra time compared to them.  The orchestra playing at the Grand Floridian was really excellent.  One of the main reasons why I want to stay there is because of the amazing and never ending live music.  It is really something special.

Once we were in to 1900 Park Fare we had a really nice buffet dinner.  This is the Cinderella family dinner character dinner with Prince Charming, Cinderella, her step mother and step sisters all in attendance.  They appear one right after another with approximately five minute in between them so, for a group like ours, where there are four kids with at least two attempting to get autographs and pictures to be taken and whatnot it becomes a hectic mess as there is not enough time in between characters to go up and get food from the buffet let alone eat it.

Once the characters were finally done everyone had a chance to eat and the food really was very good.  We had a good time and Dominica surprised the Grices by having a tiny wedding cake delivered out to them.  It was very small but everyone was full so everybody chipped in on trying to eat a little bit.  I think, without a doubt, that it is the best cake that I have ever tasted.  Really something special.

After dinner, the Grices and Toccos went back to the Magic Kingdom to watch Wishes again and to do some late night things before being completely done with the park.  Dominica, Liesl and I were plenty tired after our large dinner and Liesl cannot be around fireworks so we just went back to the All Star Music resort and called it a night.

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