Hi all. The cast of characters for this trip were me - Jeff (38), a NASA aerospace engineer, my wife Susan (36), also an aerospace engineer with NASA, our son Brian, (10) and our daughter Katie (8). We are all annual passholders and drove down to WDW from our home in Madison, Alabama, an 11 hour trip for us. We are frequent visitors to the "World" and always stay in our popup camper at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The weather for the entire week was simply wonderful. The high temperatures were in the 80's, with lows in the low 60's and *no* rain the entire week.
Day 1, March 28th - Travel, Magic Kingdom
The drive down was uneventful. We left at 12:15 am Central and arrived 11 hours later at 12:15 pm Eastern time. Check-in at Fort Wilderness was fast and we were happily surprised to be given campsite 1304, our favorite camping loop and *exactly* where we wanted to be. This makes two visits in a row where we've been given a site on the 1300 loop right across from the comfort station. I hope our luck continues for our trip beginning on May 6th. After setting up camp, we rode our bikes to Trails End Buffet for our traditional "Welcome Home" lunch. We noticed that the Petting Farm was undergoing a rehab. According to a cast member working there, they were in the process of installing a duck pond, adding a new shelter for Minnie Moo, rebuilding the shelters for the goats and sheep and putting down new sandy material on the grounds. The work was supposed to be completed in two weeks. Upon entering Trails End, we noticed some changes here as well. The tables had been recovered and new chairs had been added. We also noticed that Fort Wilderness had added a refillable mug that included soft drinks for $7.95. The mug could be refilled at either Trails End or at the Meadow Trading Post. A big disappointment for me on the buffet was the fact that they only had cobbler for dessert. Come on...I want my chocolate cake!! Sheesh. ;-)
We rode our bikes back to the camper, planning to go for a swim. In getting ready, we noticed that the lights in the camper wouldn't work. I stayed behind to work on the lights while Susan took the kids for a swim. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get the lights to work...arghhh! Engineers *really* hate it when they can't figure something out. After our showers, we let the kids decide where they'd like to go first...they picked the Magic Kingdom (MK). I wasn't so sure the MK on a Saturday night was too bright an idea, but Susan and I had decided to let the kids pretty much dictate where we went on this trip, so off we went. After a short boat ride over, we stopped at Guest Services to exchange our annual pass (AP) vouchers for APs, then stepped into the magic...ahhhhhh. :-) We rode the Pirates of the Caribbean first with a 15 minute wait via the *right hand queue*.
***Tip***GO LEFT in the PotC queue!!!! The "Go Left" rule holds true here more than any other queue I've been in. The left hand queue was a walk-on while there were always waits, sometimes substantial, for the right-hand queue.
We then rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR). The posted wait time was 20 minutes but we were on the train in only 6. Katie was a bit apprehensive about riding Big Thunder for some reason so I used a bit of parental child psychology on her. I told her that I was going to give her my "Secrets to Riding BTMRR Without Being Afraid" but she would have to promise *not* to tell anybody. She promised, and I passed on my secrets. Secret #1: Push your feet firmly against the front of the car while pulling back on the lap bar (minimized sliding back and forth). Secret #2: Lean into the curves. It worked like a charm for her and she especially got a kick out of having a secret that her brother didn't know. ;-)
We rode the Walt Disney Railroad around to Mickey's Toontown Fair so we could ride Goofy's Barnstormer, one of the kids' favorites. After that, we split up...Susan and Katie went to tour Minnie's house...Brian and I went in search of ice cream. We looked all over Tomorrowland and Fantasyland but all the carts had closed up for the night...sigh. We met back up with the girls and decided to eat dinner at Cosmic Rays, since it was close by. Afterwards, we watched the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, took one last ride on Mr. Toad's Wild ride (right side), then caught the boat back to Fort Wilderness. Not having lights turned out not to be a major problem. We had brought our electric Coleman lantern and simply hung it from the ceiling where it provided ample lighting.
Day 2, March 29th, Magic Kingdom
HONK!!! HONK!!! HONK!!! What the heck?!?!? Looking up at my watch, I saw it was only 6:30 am...too early. Someone's car alarm has been tripped and they couldn't seem to get it to cut off. *Finally* after about 5 minutes, it stopped...I really hate car alarms. We got up for good at 7:15 am with plans to be at the MK before rope drop at 9. After our usual cereal breakfast, we rode our bikes to the FW marina where we caught the boat to the MK. We rode Dumbo first, noticing they were *finally* covering the queue area...good news for parents the world over! We then headed to Peter Pan, only to be turned away by a cast member and the smell of something burning. Gee, I hope the Indian Chief didn't burn anyone at the stake!
The kids picked Snow White next, then Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (left side). The left side is the side with that cutie Rapunzel in it, in case you didn't know. Next, we rode Teacups. Susan and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to ride together in our own cup while the kids tried to twirl themselves into nausea. We *slowly* turned our cup first one way, then the other...ahhhh. :-)
Moving into Tomorrowland, we decided to split up...Susan going for Space Mountain, which had a 15 minute wait, the kids and I to Astro Orbitor, which had a 10 minute wait. Brian rode by himself while I rode shotgun with Katie...yikes! I think I'm going to let her mother teach her how to drive. Afterwards, we joined back up and rode Tomorrowland Transit Authority. This was a bit of a disappointment as the soundtrack wasn't working...we enjoy being told to "keep your forward-facing tentacles inside the vehicle". The Take Flight portion of the TTA tour was blacked out as it is currently undergoing renovation and will reopen as a Buzz Lightyear attraction. We again split up as the kids wanted to do Carousel of Progress while Susan, a certified band junkie, wanted to stay and listen to the band playing on the Tomorrowland stage. We finished up Tomorrowland with a visit to Timekeeper.
***Tip***Find a bench along the wall inside Timekeeper and *rest*. There really is no need to stand up in the queue. Sit down and relax your feet.
By this time we were starting to get hungry, so we walked across the park, stopping to snap a picture of the nearly restored Cinderella's castle on the way. I liked the castle cake but I'm glad it's gone and the castle is back. We had lunch at El Pirata y el Perico (the taco place) in Adventureland. Susan and I like their tacos...the kids like them too if I remember to tell them to leave off the tomatoes and lettuce...I forgot about the lettuce! Brian wouldn't eat lettuce if it were the last scrap of food on the planet, so I had to go back and get him a hot dog. After sufficiently stuffing our faces, we decided to ride the nearby PotC, walking on using the *left queue* while watching those in the right queue wait and wait and wait... The park was beginning to get pretty crowded, so after one last ride on the Haunted Mansion, we headed back to Fort Wilderness for a relaxing swim and showers.
Rejuvenated after our swim and showers, we caught the boat back to the MK to ride a few rides prior to having dinner at California Grill. We rode It's A Small World (IASW) first and then walked into the Lion King show with no wait.
We just had time after Lion King to ride Cinderella's Carousel before catching the resort monorail to the Contemporary Resort.
We arrived 10 minutes early for our 7:45 pm priority seating time but were seated immediately. We asked for a table by the window to see the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks later but CM Sebastian said we'd be able to see the fireworks fine from our table away from the window. As it turns out, most folks got up and looked out the window anyway, so the table position wasn't terribly important. Sebastian mentioned to Brian that he would be happy to give he and his sister a tour of the kitchen and Brian jumped right on that offer.
Before we knew what was going on, both Brian and Katie were parked over at the sushi bar eating sushi! My kids, especially Brian, are such picky eaters that I would have bet a small fortune that I'd never hear the phrase "I like sushi" ever come from their lips. You never know what kids will do. While we ate some delicious cuts of meat, the kids had macaroni and cheese (Katie) and peanut butter & jelly sandwich (Brian). At 8:30 pm, the lights were lowered and the music for the fireworks was piped in. Katie and Brian disappeared with Sebastian while Susan and I found a place at the window and watched the fireworks. Come to find out, Sebastian had taken the kids outside for an even better view of the fireworks. What a guy! We finished off a wonderful evening with desserts. Susan had a low-fat lemon souffle...I had the chocolate souffle...yummy! We thanked Sebastian for being so wonderful with the kids and walked out to the Contemporary marina to catch the boat to Fort Wilderness. Our timing was perfect as the boat arrived just as we walked up. Brian and Katie wanted to go back to eat at the Contemporary every night! Ha!
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