Day 5, April 2 - Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios
Again, as a reminder, *all three* parks were open at 7:30 am for early entry *every* day. We normally don't do early entry two days in a row, but given the enormous crowds and the fact that we got in bed early, we decided we'd better do so if we wanted to avoid long lines. We still were operating under the assumption that our Early Entry privileges meant something but found out this morning that that wasn't the case. We drove over to the MK, which, although it is the closest park, actually takes the longest to drive to. To legally get there, you have to drive around the parking lot, head back south past the MK parking plaza, make a U-turn, head back through the MK parking gate then into the parking lot. As we arrived at the TTC, we saw a big line waiting at the gates to get to the monorail ramps. I walked up to a CM to ask why folks were waiting and found out it was because they were off-site guests. We showed her our resort IDs and were passed right on through.
The express monorail doesn't begin operation until 7:30 am so resort guests were pointed to the resort monorail for transportation to the MK. We mistakenly climbed the ramp for the Epcot monorail and didn't wake up in time to get back over to the resort monorail before it left. We waited there for about 5 minutes. It was now near 7:30 am, so I thought we'd be better off waiting for the express monorail rather than wait for the resort monorail to stop at the Poly and GF. WRONG! For some reason, the express didn't start running until about 7:45 am and to top it off we had to listen to 4 CMs talking about last nights exploits. A particularly snotty CM named Christine ignored me when I asked if we could sit up front when the monorail did start. A few minutes later a supervisor came by and so I asked him, he asked Christine and she said "Sure!" Now why couldn't she have told me the same thing? GRRRR! It was from the supervisor that I found out Disney had trashed our Early Entry privileges. He assured me that even though the park would be open to all, that we wouldn't even notice it as the *whole* park would be open for EE. Yea, right.
Sorry for the complaining but it still ticks me off. Anyway, our plan was to do the baby swap on Splash, then hit BTMRR. The baby swap on Splash is *lousy*. The non-riding parent and kids have to wait outside near the train station while the riding parent goes through the queue then rides. Then the non-riding parent gets to ride but only after waiting in line for 20 minutes or more. Susan rode, I skipped it. The line for BTMRR was already 40 minutes and it was only 8:30 am. We bypassed it wanting to escape the madness of Frontierland. We were able to do Haunted Mansion with no wait.
*Tip* The Haunted Mansion queue doesn't get really long until later in the morning. You can dash over to Splash and BTMRR and ride them first before riding HM and still avoid waiting in line.
It was now 9 am and Fantasyland was a zoo. We just kept on walking through and headed for Mickey's Toontown. *Tip*
Families with kids head for Fantasyland first then gravitate to Mickey's Toontown Fair afterwards. There were very few people in MTTF until after 10 am.
We were able to ride Goofy's Barnstormer twice with no wait. We then toured and photographed Mickey's and Minnie's houses and Donald's boat. On our last trip, they either did not have it open or we did not see the character greeting area in the Toontown Hall of Fame. We found it this time and got in a very short line to see Mickey's Friends. The characters were Minnie, Goofy and Pluto. We went back around and got in another short line for the Villains. The bad guys were Captain Hook and Gov. Radcliffe. Be forwarned parents of little kiddies, the Villains do act bad. I noticed Radcliffe pulling a little girl's ponytail while she was posing for a picture. Sometimes they refuse to sign autographs too. We swung back around to get in the third line for Princesses. This line opened later than the other two and still wasn't open. We decided to wait 10 minutes for it to open and it was a good thing. In that 10 minutes a looong line formed. The princesses were Mary Poppins, Belle and Snow White. The Mary Poppins was the same one we had seen in the lobby of the GF last March, which surprised me. I assumed face character turnover would make that highly unlikely.
By now it was 10:30 am and we were getting hungry early. We decided to head over to Pinocchios Village Haus for lunch. Susan and I had the cheeseburgers and the kids had the peanut butter & jelly kids meals. Susan and I really liked their cheeseburgers. Best we've had at WDW. There is a fixings bar inside where you can add lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, pickles, etc. Total was $19.59.
*Tip* Get seats at the windows overlooking the Small World area. Our kids really got a kick out of waving to the people in the boats as they passed by. And lots of people waved back and some blew kisses!
Since the park was packed, we went into our "What to Ride When It's Really Crowded" plan and headed to Tomorrowland. We walked right on to TTA which we spiced up a little by holding our arms up on the curves and when the car sped up. We then checked the clock on Timekeeper and saw we had time to do Take Flight first, so we did. The kids get a kick out of my having to close my eyes on TF at the part where the light is shining in your face and turning. It nauseates me if I don't. I know - I'm a wimp. We entered Timekeeper just as the crowd was entering the theater so we had no wait. I let the kids sit on the lean rails even though they tell you not to. How can they see otherwise? We closed out Tomorrowland with the Carousel of Progress. Why doesn't Disney get Fred or whatever his name is a right shoe in that second scene? Does the animatron have two left feet to go with his two left shoes?
The line for Space Mountain was all the way back past the Timekeeper entry. Why would anyone wait 90+ minutes for a ride? We took our "secret" walk located to the left of the Space Mountain building back to Toontown Fair. Katie had seen some Dalmation toys she wanted on Monday but had forgotten to bring her money. After picking those up, we boarded the train to continue our "Crowded" plan. We rode over to the Frontierland station, departed and walked over to the Liberty Belle Riverboat. For those that don't know yet, Disney now has characters on board the boat. For this trip it was John Smith, Pocahontas, Meeko, Chip and Dale. We didn't know about John Smith or Poca until we saw them depart.
*Tip* If you want to know who's going to be on board, get on the side of the boat near the dock and watch. Just before you cast off, the characters will come aboard.
The riverboat is now one of the better places to see characters IMO. Most people didn't seem to know they were even aboard so there weren't long lines to see them or to get autographs. Next, we visited the Hall of Presidents. I've read negative comments in the newsgroup about Maya Angelou's narration but I think she does a fine job. We walked back through Fantasyland to check out the lines but they were all way too long. We continued on through to Toontown Fair again to catch the railroad to Main Street Station. While waiting we got Mickey and Hunchback ice cream bars. I always wondered how they kept them so cold and found out they use dry ice. We arrived at the Main Street station at 2:20 pm right before the Remember the Magic parade arrived. Looking out over the Square I noticed the crowds weren't nearly as big as I had expected and also noticed there was space on the curb on the inside of the circle. We excused ourselves through a couple of rows of people and crossed the street to the center of the circle and got curbside seats! What luck! The parade was nice. The Little Mermaid float stopped in front of us for the audience participation part but we had arrived too late for the kids to be picked to participate. Watch out for the Mermaid float. It squirts water! We departed after the parade and took the ferry boat to the TTC then drove back to Fort Wilderness for a rest.
After resting a few hours we headed out to MGM Studios. We had dinner at the kids favorite restaurant - Pizza Planet. Four cheese pizzas and two large drinks were about $18. We then caught the 7:00 pm HoND show for the second time. If you haven't seen it, do so. It is very, very good entertainment. Get there at least 30 minutes early to get a good seat and to see the preshow. We rode Star Tours again then headed over for the final Indiana Jones show. This was our first time to see it at night and IMO, the effects are better at night. We departed the park at 9 pm to return to Fort Wilderness.
Day 6, April 3 - Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness Campfire
Arrived again at the MK by 7:30 am to try to beat the late risers into the park. Instead of heading to one of the mountains or Dumbo, we made a beeline directly to Astro Orbiter. Although we have been to the MK many times none of us had ever ridden AO and we vowed to do so on this trip. I liked the ride. The view is great and it's kind of like a souped-up Dumbo! Speaking of which, we scurried off AO and headed directly for its long-eared cousin. We rode Dumbo with a 15 minute wait, then did Peter Pan, the Carrousel, Snow White, then Mr. Toad (right side). By this time, Fantasyland was getting really crowded, so we headed over to Toontown Fair for Brian and Katie's favorite ride - yes Goofy's Barnstormer. We rode our standard two rides with no wait the took our secret path to Tomorrowland. Another thing we all really wanted to ride was the Skyway. We arrived at 9:15 am and noted the Skyway didn't open until 9:30. We took the opportunity to bathe ourselves in sunscreen. Just as we were finishing up the Skyway opened up.
*Tip* If you want to ride the Skyway without a long wait, queue up in Tomorrowland 10 to 15 minutes before it opens.
The ride was really nice and it gave us the opportunity to take some neat pictures. The ride is about 5 minutes total. Next we rode Haunted Mansion. As busy as the park was, HM was still a walk on.
*Tip* If you want to be the first to exit the stretch room when the doors open, stand under the picture of the lady with the parasol.
We had such a good time on the Riverboat last time we decided to do it again. The characters this time were the Country Bears and Davy Crockett. After getting all her autographs, Katie walked over to the side of the boat to look at the river bank and accidently dropped her Beauty and the Beast pen in the river. She cried like you wouldn't believe! Even though we assured her we would get her another one just like it she was still very upset. One of the Country Bears noticed her crying and walked over and gave her a lots of hugs to console her. It worked! Thanks CB. We had priority seating at the Liberty Tree Tavern at 11:40 for lunch and still had a hour to kill so we headed over to the Shooting Gallery. We killed the rest of the time by doing Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. The park was so crowded by this time that we had to queue 10 minutes to get into the treehouse!
We arrived at Liberty Tree 10 minutes early and checked in. We were seated after about 5 minutes in the Ben Franklin room. We had never been in Liberty Tree before and we really liked the decor. We were seated by a window looking out on Liberty Square. It was almost unreal watching this mass of hurried and confused people scurry by while we were relaxing in this cool and calm retreat. I had the Old Glory (a *huge* hamburger), Susan had the Capitol Idea (a veggie plate), Brian the Little Patriot (hot dog), and Katie had the Yankee Doodle Noodle (mac. & cheese). We all really liked our food, though it was a bit pricey. Total with tip was $31.69.
As busy as the MK was, we were able to do 12 rides/attractions plus the Shooting Gallery in less than 4 hours. I just goes to show that with a little knowledge and planning you can successfully tour WDW even on the busiest days. We departed the MK and headed back to Fort Wilderness for some more rest and relaxation. We went swimming for over two hours, did some laundry while the kids played with their new-found friends, then walked over for the Campfire Program. Susan and I carried our lawn chairs while the kids took a quilt to lay on the ground. Intead of marshmallows, we took a bag of Oreo cookies and a small cooler of cokes. Worked for us! Before the movie we were treated to songs such as Hokey Pokey and Unicorn. The grand finale was Chip and Dale doing the macarena along with the kids. It was pretty cute. We left after the first movie, which was The Little Mermaid and were in bed by 9:30 pm.
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