Yesterday at Epcot I forgot to mention the evening-- One of the best things at Disney Parks is to somehow get your meal schedule "off" from the regular meal schedule. I just don't enjoy waiting in lines to get my food, waiting to find somewhere to sit, and then being crowded while eating. So we do our best to switch things up a bit.
So for example, yesterday we ate breakfast at our hotel early. (Since we left the hotel about 7:45 am) and then on the way to Epcot we picked up Subway sandwiches (and had them leave off the mayo and mustard and just give us the packets to add those later). The sandwiches worked well since Monday was crisp and cool. I wouldn't recommend this on a warm day. Around 10 am I gave the kids several snacks (a granola bar, fruit by the foot) and then around noon I gave them another round of snacks (cheese crackers and gold fish). We stopped and had our sandwiches around 1:30. Then as we went through the world showcase country by country we did buy several of the "local" foods. In France we stopped at the pastry shop and got a fruit topped cream puff (I only bought one and we each just got one nice bite). Then in Germany we bought a caramel apple and had them slice it for us.
Doing it this way keeps it more healthy (who needs to eat a giant cream puff all by himself??) and keeps the cost of enjoying a treat from each country manageable but mostly it keeps us from being super hungry so that we can delay dinner.
And finally around 8:25 we were seated (almost immediately) at the Rose and Crown restaurant in the United Kingdom section of Epcot. I had scoped out all the restaurants around the lake and found that the Rose and Crown had a pretty decent kid's menu and the prices were normal but most importantly you were seated outside right on the lake with perfect viewing for the 9:00 illuminations fireworks show. As it was chilly that night the restaurant kept the tent flaps down until just before the show began and they also had heating lamps. So while everyone else at the park was jostling for positioning to see the show out in the cold, we were sitting toasty warm eating a delicious dinner. When it came time for the show we could either sit at our table and watch or we could walk down to the restaurant's private viewing area.
Now, this morning we were just a little bit tired. We had spent the whole day previous at Epcot (9am - 9pm) and gotten back to our hotel a little before 10. Everyone quickly got showers (thank goodness for 3 bathrooms) (and by the way we stayed at www.regalpalms.com a beautiful resort with 3 and 4 bedroom condos that sleep 8-10 people. We loved the place and would stay there again and the prices were very good!) So it was a little tougher to get everyone up and out the door. Even though Magic Kingdom opens at 9, you need to get to the parking lot by 8:25 so that you have time to take either the ferry or the monorail across the lake to the entrance gates. (all the other parks you just walk to the entrance gate). But we did make it. We ate breakfast in the car and got to the entrance gates about 10 minutes before 9. It is fun to get there early as the characters all ride the train in and do a little countdown show.
Here is the entrance sign to Disney World.
And here is the sign for the Magic Kingdom.
Here is Adam while riding the monorail over.
Here is the morning welcome to the park show.
And here is our first glimpse of the castle.
Our strategy for the day is to 1. plan it ahead of time (with the kids providing input) so that we don't have to have the same discussion after each thing "Where do we go next?" 2. Trent is our runner. He often heads off to get fast passes while I leisurely make my way with the kids to the next attraction. 3. Accumulate fast passes. While we were there (and for the last 10 years or so) fast passes have a return window on them but disney didn't enforce the end time -- meaning that while you could never show up early for a fast pass, you could always show up late -- so we would gather fast passes for all the big rides at each time that we could and then spend the morning going on all the other rides (when there are no lines) and then once the place was crowded and there were lines everywhere then we would start to redeem all the fastpasses. We were told repeatedly that starting March 1, Disney would no longer allow that-- that going forward there would be only a 15 minute grace period or the fast pass would not be good. The company (www.ridemax.com) that we use to help us plan our day (which is AWESOME -- it is only 16 bucks to make as many plans as you want allows you to select either the "late" fast pass option or the option to use your fastpasses at the correct time.
Our first ride of the day was Aladdin's Magic Carpets. We followed Aladdin and Jasmine to the ride and then rode on it while they also rode on it and then we were able to get right in line to see them without a wait.
We also saw the Fairy Godmother as we walked into Fantasyland. (as a rule we don't wait in lines to see any character -- unless we are already just going to be waiting around -- like for a parade) and we have found that we still see quite a few. It helps now that there are fastpasses to see the princesses as well as Mickey and Minnie. They are available on Main street on the right hand side. What we didn't realize is that they are 2 separate fastpasses (one just for Mickey and Minnie and a separate one for the princesses).
Fantasyland was a lot of fun but we were so excited to look at the murals showing the "new" fantasy land that is being built right now. As a result the sidewalks were a little squished (due to construction walls) and the Dumbo ride is closed. It also made one section extremely crowded which meant that we lost Adam for about 2 minutes (sending Trent and I into total panic). Fortunately we found him quickly. He is just a little bit of a wanderer. And in a place as crowded as Fantasyland that can be scary!!!!
We had a great time enjoying the much warmer weather today and also meeting up with some of our friends who had moved from CT to North Carolina. We rode the Buzz lightyear ride with them at noon and then watched the castle show.
One of the fun things about Disney is just how nice every show and parade are. All of them are so carefully choreographed and timed to music. They are really fun to watch.
At 3:00 we watched the parade.
Here are the kids at Winnie the Pooh.
And then our troubles began. Trent took the kids on splash mountain and then he and I switched (using the rider switch pass). While I was boarding, Trent called me and asked if I had his wallet. I did not have his wallet. His wallet was gone. He had no idea when he lost it. I checked at Splash mountain and he headed to City hall (that is where the lost and found is). He was mostly certain he had brought it, but since he was also using a larger wallet to hold our tickets and fastpasses he thought there also was a chance it was at the hotel or the car. While Trent stayed at city hall and began calling our credit card companies and banks to put holds on the cards I took the kids to see the princesses. I showed up with our character fastpass only to be told that ours was only to see Mickey and Minnie. When I told the guy that we would just come back he asked us why we didn't want to see Mickey and Minnie (since we were wearing Mickey t-shirts) and I explained that we did want to see them, it was just that we wanted our WHOLE family to see them and Trent was out on the phone with the banks since his wallet was gone. The employee said, "well if anyone needs a little extra magic I suppose it is you guys." and he gave us princess fastpasses.
Each of our girls has always identified with one of the princesses (mostly due to hair color) and even has a porcelain doll of "their" princess and they thought it was very lucky that the 3 princesses at the character spot were their 3 princesses. Even luckier, was that Trent went back in to city hall to check on his wallet and they had found it! At Buzz lightyear at noon. (It was now 7 pm). Everything was still there. No charges had been made to the cards. We called back all the banks and were back to normal by 7:30.
We all went and saw Mickey and Minnie.
And enjoyed the closing fireworks.
And the pretty castle.
Before the fireworks they do a new show on the castle itself where they project images onto it. It was really cool to see. I was impressed. The park closed at 9 and we were in bed by 10.