November 3, 2013: Magic Kingdom

Today is our big Magic Kingdom day.  Yes we were there the night before last but we did none of the real rides, just the Tea Cups and the Carousel.  Nothing that really screams “Magic Kingdom” and the girls did not get to see it in daylight.  So today is really their true introduction to the Magic Kingdom day.

We had to be up super early today because we have very early reservations at the Polynesian for breakfast.  This is the same character breakfast that we did four years ago when we were here with the Toccos.  We were really lucky that we got to the bus stop and because the park was not open yet everyone on the bus was there for an early breakfast at a resort so the bus driver kindly took us directly to the resort saving us twenty minutes or more.  We would have been terribly late had he not done that.  As it was we were scrambling.

I love the Polynesian.  The water features outside and the big fountain in the middle of the lobby, the lake front, the monorail, the forest all around.  It really is beautiful and it is the oldest of the Disney World resorts, just a little older than the Contemporary.  Breakfast this morning was at ‘Ohana.  They do huge breakfasts there.  The food was the same as it was when Liesl was one, but it was good then and now so that was fine.  It’s very carb and meat heavy so not ideal for dieters or vegetarians but still quite good.  Lots of bread.

This was only our second character meal so the girls were still pretty excited but seeing the characters.  I’m over it already.  I find the character meals to be unnecessarily stressful and they ruin otherwise good dining experiences.  You don’t get to enjoy your food, the entire meal is centered around getting teenages in costumes to sign fake autographs.  It is very silly.  The girls are kind of into it, but not super into it.  This will decline as we do it over and over again.

Breakfast was at eight and as soon as we were done we were off to the park.  We bucked tradition and headed straight to Tomorrowland rather than Adventureland.  One of Liesl’s top requests was to drive the car on the Tomorrowland Speedway so that was our first ride of the day.  We got lucky and had basically no line.  Luciana and Dominica sped away in one car and Liesl and I followed behind as quick as our gas mower engine could muster.  Liesl enjoyed it.  This was actually the first time that I had ever been on this ride. Coming to WDW with little children makes you go and do things in the park that you would never have done on your own.

After the speedway we went to the new ride in “New” Fantasyland called “Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.”  As this ride is new none of us have ever been on it before.  It ended up being a very quick dark ride that had potential but ended up being very weak.  Even the girls did not like it.  It was way too much targeted at very little children and had no substance.  The outside of the ride, the big waterfall mountain area was very nicely done, that part was quite good.  But the ride itself left a lot to be desired.  But it is in Fantasyland where things have never really been very impressive from a ride perspective.

From there it was time to go ride Dumbo – The Flying Elephant.  This is one that Liesl has been talking about for a long time and Luciana is big enough to go on.  So I took Liesl and Dominica took Luciana and we prepared to fly with Dumbo.  The new update to this ride includes a small child play area in the waiting line, though, so the girls wanted to take a break and go play in there.  Dominica and I got to sit for a few minutes but there was not enough air movement and I was quite warm, even in the air conditioning.  We did not stay too long and then it was time to fly.  Both girls really liked that but Liesl especially thought that it was a grand time.

We explored the circus area where they have a large “cooling” station in the middle with lots of water things to cool you off.  Liesl played there for a long time and we were happy to sit.  It was right in front of the Barnstormer which was not running today or we probably would have gone on that.  It seemed to have been down for maintenance.

Our next FastPass+ was “Enchanted Tales with Belle.”  This is a new “ride” that they have put in recently and one of the most popular.  We were lucky to have the FastPass because the line was ridiculous.  This “ride” is a combination of some modern animatronics with live action story telling.  It is amazingly well done and it involved audience participation which is really cool.  I got selected right from the beginning to be one of the knights guarding the castle in the story so Dominica was left with the girls.  They took a bunch of people from the audience for a number of different roles.  The big role, though, of course requires a big time roar, as you can imagine, and obviously no one roars better than our Liesl who has been a roaring expert since she was two.  She was naturally selected to don the red cape and play the role of “Beast.”  Holy crap she was so adorable.  We had so much fun and she was so cute.  This is probably the best thing that we did the entire vacation.

It was only now eleven thirty and we heading to Tomorrowland and Auntie Gravities for some ice cream.  While we were eating the ice cream Liesl got to see the robotic trash can that walks around talking to people.  She thought that that was awesome and she followed it around for a while.

Luciana was really tired and needed a cat nap.  So she and I sat out the next ride and she napped in my arm.  Dominica and Liesl went on and did the Buzz Lightyear Space Rangers ride.  Dominica said that Liesl had a lot of fun but that it was not nearly as good as the Toy Story Mania one from yesterday for her because it was more abstract and she was unsure if she was hitting anything.

After Buzz Lightyear we went to Dominica and my perennial favourite, The Carousel of Progress.  Luciana woke up for this.  Liesl had a great time.  The theatre broke down while we were in it and we were stuck watching the opening sequence twice, Liesl didn’t like that – it definitely took away some of the magic – but she thought that the whole presentation was really interesting.  She loves things like that.  Sadly, the final scene in CoP is that weird early 2000s thing that they shoved in there that doesn’t make sense or fit with the original theme.  Originally it was to be a display that showed the march of progress from turn of the century to the 1920s, to the 1940s and ending in the mid-1960s when the Carousel was made.  But they removed the 1960s display and replaced it at some point with this bizarre jump of forty years that doesn’t fit with the style or progression and looks horrifically antiquated and out of touch.  So it fails at being classic while failing at being modern.  And to rub salt in the would, there was a “sequel” ride made to pick up on the 1980s from where CoP left off in the 1960s – Horizons in EPCOT – but they removed that long ago so that is gone too.

We cut across the Magic Kingdom and took the girls to Pirates of the Caribbean.  They were not into this and pretty tired already.  So we had grumpy girls as they waited to get onto the ride.  Liesl claimed that she didn’t really like it when we were done.  Well anyway, it was more for us than for them.  We did notice that they fixed some of the mistakes that they made in this ride post-movie era.  They had cheesed it up more than they should have and, for once, Disney actually backed off and improved a ride rather than ruining it.  So it is better today than it has been for the past five years or so.

We decided that we needed to get to EPCOT because we had dinner reservations there and we didn’t want to just pop in and do dinner and nothing else.  So we headed out down Main Street but stopped in to set Liesl up with her game “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.”  This is a card game, kind of like Magic the Gathering (which I have never played and don’t really understand) that you play around the Magic Kingdom with these secret spots where you stand and use your cards and secret displays come alive and you interact with them.  Very cool for kids who have been to the parks a lot.

Liesl was pretty excited about the game so we went and did the first one of the interactions before leaving, at the Emporium on Main Street, so that she could see it in action before we left for the day.  She is really excited about this.  What a great idea.

We grabbed the monorail and rode that to EPCOT.  This is the second time on the monorail for the girls – we took it from the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom this morning.

At EPCOT we got right in and, of course, went straight on to Spaceship Earth.  This ride Liesl really liked.  She rode it with Dominica and Luciana rode with me.  Ciana did okay but it was pretty boring for her and I don’t think that she could see very much.

Then it was almost dinner time.  So we headed over to The Seas and rode Finding Nemo.  The girls liked that.  Then we were in the aquarium.  In theory they would enjoy it there but there is a shark room for little kids and Liesl was so excited about that that that was all that we could do.  (Three thats, really?)  We got some cute pictures of them in there.  So we didn’t see the aquarium at all.  I took Luciana alone to go see the manatee display but she was not very interested.

Dinner this afternoon was early, about four o’clock, which was good as we were hungry.  We ate at the Coral Reef at The Seas.  Believe it or not, we are pretty sure that none of us have ever eaten here even though it is totally up our alley.  The restaurant has its own view of the aquarium which is really neat and a menu that is perfect for us.  We all really enjoyed our dinners.  This is a “must do” restaurant for us again.

From the Coral Reef it was time to head back.  We were full and very tired.  We took the long bus ride back to the Pop Century to meet up with dad who had just arrived from his flight down from New York.  So we spent the evening hanging out with him for the little while that we were all awake.  The girls were very excited to see grandpa.  But the adults were all very exhausted.  Very early night for us.  We need some sleep.

Tomorrow is The Animal Kingdom.  It will be a first for the girls and for dad too.  He has, surprisingly, never seen the Animal Kingdom!  Hard to believe.

Dad got the hotel room directly behind ours.  So we share a back wall but you have to walk around the corner of the hotel to get to each other’s rooms.  Pretty handy though.


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