We were all excited today to be heading out to the Magic Kingdom. Even though we go to Disneyland quite frequently, we never tire of it. Magic Kingdom feels like home - even though it has some differences from Disneyland. It had been awhile since we checked in at home!
We had decided we would try and be there for rope drop so that we could get some stuff done early in the morning before we hit the wall. We were meeting WB and Carlee for our last shared day together, so we were excited about that, too! We woke up early, and realized we would not have time for breakfast in the room. We got dressed, ate some granola bars on the way to the bus stop, and devised a new plan.
At rope drop, I would run for the bakery on Main Street and get what I could for everyone to share. This would tide us over until 11 when the restaurants started to open - and we could have something "real" to eat. I am not a morning sweets person - I have to have something hearty, with protein, or I just can't get going. I hoped they would have a bagel or something. The bakery can get incredibly crowded and you end up wasting all the time you gained in line - so that is why I chose to run.
Now, rope drop means something entirely different at Disneyland (at least it did the last time I went to rope drop... lol). Rope drop in Disneyland allowed you up part of Main Street. You could wend your way through the shops on one side and be right at the cusp of Tomorrowland when the rope was dropped - half the crowd running for Fantasyland, the other half splitting between Indiana Jones/Splash and Tomorrowland.
We were surprised when the rope drop had us standing for 45 minutes in the hot sun underneath the edge of the train station tunnel. Nowhere to go because we had people in line behind us. No place to sit. Not at all like rope drop back home! Not an enjoyable experience, at all! I couldn't even count being the first one in the park because, well, all the breakfasters beat me to it. Sigh.
When the rope finally did drop, I power walked my way out of the crowd and then jogged towards the bakery. I hit a wet patch of pavement and slid a good five feet, nearly going over, but regained my footing. (Then did the same thing when I went in the store! Why wash the streets so close to opening?!).
The line in the bakery was three people long, and it went so quickly, I barely had time to think about what I was ordering. I ordered a ham, egg and cheese croissant, an apple turnover, a cinnamon bun, and a chocolate croissant for the 6 of us. Got a few waters (and a diet coke for me), and a banana and decided I couldn't carry any more. I met the group over by Casey's, where I was immediately greeted with, "Where's my coffee?" Urrrggggh. I just carried breakfast for everyone and you want me to somehow also juggle hot coffee???
And then, "Well, are you going to give me some money for coffee?"
Now, I gave everyone spending money every day - including my husband. Simply so I didn't have to play the "I want" game all day. I must admit, we exchanged some words. This was starting off to be a very grumpy day.
So, he went off to get his coffee and we all sat and ate while we waited and waited and waited for him to return. Remember the master plan to avoid the bakery lines? I was fuming, but, after a few minutes, I decided to just let it go. We were on vacation!
After our semi-satisfying breakfast (the ham and cheese croissant was EXCELLENT), we headed off to Tomorrowland. We were supposed to meet our friends there, but had about 30 minutes to wait. They had gone to the Mickey Christmas Party the night before, so they were a little slow this morning.
The first thing we decided to do was Monster Laugh Floor. This was totally new to all of us. We had no idea what to expect. My daughter and mom got picked to be one of the people who talk about where they are from. When the monster said he knew everything about California - and how we have pandas, kangaroos and the Eiffel Tower, my mom said, "correct!" It was pretty funny. At least we weren't "that guy."
On an aside, my daughter gets picked for *everything.* Seriously. Turtle Talk - every time we go. If there is a "we need a volunteer," it is my daughter. My poor son never gets picked... its very hard. He's such a sweet kid - tries really hard to be happy for his little sister. Makes me conflicted, though.
Afterward, our friends had arrived. We caught up for a few minutes and then decided to go on the Peoplemover. I know it is called something else, but to me, it will always be the Peoplemover. My son was dying to go on it (and has declared it his favorite ride... LOL). We had a great time - the grownups chatting and plotting the rest of the day and the kids yelling, "Wheeeeee."
Next, was Carousel of Progress. The host came up to my daughter and told her she had an important job (yep, picked again!). He wanted her to give the dog attention because no one ever pets him anymore. He said if she waived at him, he would respond by wagging his tail. It was pretty cute - and she, and my son, followed his directions. Wouldn't you know it? Every scene, he wagged his tail for them!
I'm fairly certain we went on Buzz next. I don't have a distinct memory of it, but I think we did. My son and I were on a team and neither of our guns worked very well. We got a very dismal score and my son was bummed out. I only did better than him because I somehow hit a high target once. But, mostly, nothing registered on our guns.
At this point, we were all hungry. So, my brother asked us if we wanted to compete in one of his famous challenges. My brother has been making up trip game shows for us for years now. He even makes videos of the game show and edits them into episodes. It is very fun! WB filmed an earlier episode for his first game show when she and her family were at WDW. Now, they were going to be in a challenge with us!
We paired off - kid and grownup on each team. WB and her daughter, me and my daughter, and my son and husband. Grammy was the judge and my brother filmed us.
The challenge was simple: One teammate went into Casey's, ordered a hot dog, and then went to the toppings bar to pile it on. As creatively as they could, fit as many toppings on the hot dog. Thank God I got my daughter on my team. She is picky and fussy, so I knew she would make a very plain dog.
My brother said "go," and we were off. On the way to Casey's, a squirrel ran right in front of us, and my daughter and I said, in unison, "SQUIRREL!" It reminded us of Doug from Up.
She went in and I helped her in line. She did the ordering. Then went to the toppings bar, but she couldn't reach anything - so I had to put on the toppings she selected. Ketchup, cheese and some pickles. Not bad.
Well, now, I am the SLOWEST eater in town. I just can't eat fast. Even when I try, I am still the last one at the table eating. Most times, people are already on to or done with dessert. LOL. I didn't hold out much hope. Still, for her sake, I tried.
We came in.... last. LOL. In fact, I was still chewing my last bite when the results were announced.
Well, we were all still a little hungry, so we decided to head over to Sleepy Hollow to try the touted new waffle sandwiches. My husband offered to split one with me. My son didn't want anything (odd since he hadn't eaten a hot dog), and my daughter wanted an ice cream sandwich.
I have to make one comment. I HATE this eatery. You order at one window. One window down, you pick up hot food. Two windows down, you pick up drinks and cold food. And if you are one person with little kids?!? Keeping an eye on them, carrying food back and forth... not at all streamlined or efficient!!!
So, I got my daughter's ice cream sandwich and drinks, and sent her over with her dad and the gang.
WB and Carlee each ordered a waffle sandwich. They had gotten their sandwiches already and went to sit down. While I went for the ice cream, one guy had gotten in front of me in the hot food line. So, it was he and I waiting on waffle sandwiches.
The lady behind the window asked what we ordered - he ordered the same thing I did - chicken waffle sandwich. She said, o.k., it would be up in a few minutes.
Now, mind you, we can see everything going on in the kitchen. And here is what I saw: The girl at the window doing triple duty - selling products, handing products out the window, and getting drinks. 4 people, including a manager, standing around chatting. Occasionally, one would leave to turn a waffle or put some batter on. No sense of hurry.
20 minutes later, WB, who had finished her waffle, came up to see what the trouble was. I told her we were waiting to have our waffles made. Oh. Seriously, I can make a waffle in ten minutes at home - - from scratch!
10 minutes later, I was still waiting. At this point, I wanted to just cancel the order, but I was afraid that might take longer than waiting to get my order.
Finally, after I waited 35 minutes, my waffle came out. Without a word from the staff. Not, thanks for your patience, not sorry... nothing. My family, meanwhile, went off to watch the Hall of Presidents, and I sat and ate with WB. Carlee took my daughter around to look at stuff (they were best buds! Seriously, it was nice for her to have a big sis!).
My verdict: Concept, good. Execution, bad. The sauce breaks the waffles down so that they become too mushy to hold the chicken. The chicken piece was way too big to eat in the waffle - would have worked better as strips of chicken with a little sauce and a side of "dipping" sauce. The flavors were yummy together. But NONE of it was worth a 35 minute wait.
It was getting really hot by now (for me), and the heat was not helping my mood. This was my last chance to hang out with WB and Carlee, so I was trying to hold it together, but I really just wanted to get back to the hotel, nap and swim.
There was one thing I needed to do, though. WB loves Country Bears - so I HAD to see that with her. Off to the bears we went next. It was a swinging time! We don't have this in Disneyland anymore, so my daughter enjoyed seeing it. My son and grammy went shopping and skipped it.
After the show, we met outside. Wendy sent her daughter ahead to see about the line for Splash. Apparently, it was 90 minutes long. I think the only time I waited that long was when it first came to DL, before fast pass, on a hot, June day. We'd wait.
We decided to walk over to Pirates. Even if the queue was long, it was a cool waiting area, so the heat wouldn't be getting to me. So, we walked over and were astounded to see the line out to the sidewalk. It appeared to be moving along well, though, so we jumped in. We were just up to the front door of the attraction when a cast member came out, shut the door, and closed the rope off. The ride was being shut down- they didn't know for how long. We waited five more minutes and then decided to leave.
The group decided to go try Haunted Mansion. My mom and I got cut off by the crowd and I suddenly couldn't remember how to get there. I knew it was over near Liberty Square, but in my mind, where it was located is across from the Hall of Presidents, and where that was was near Frontierland. I was right, in a round-about way, but we ended up walking a long way to get there. We missed a turn somewhere.
The kids were playing on the stockade and everyone was sitting waiting for us. We looked at the lines - 60 minutes - and just gave up. I said, let's go to the hotel for awhile and come back later.
Unfortunately, this meant that we couldn't hang out with my friends anymore. They had an early flight in the morning and had to go back and pack. We said our goodbyes, and then walked out of the park. Man, was it hot and crowded.
A word about the business of Disney this week. Now, most of December, they have the holiday party at MK. It is usually 1-2 days per week. On those days, if you want to enjoy a park after, say, 5, you can either pay $60 extra or go to one of the other two parks that are still open. I'm fine with that.
This week, there were no less than 5 holiday parties - meaning, the MK was closed off to anyone who didn't want to pay extra 5 out of 7 nights. For my family, that meant that we would have had to pay an extra $300 (just for me, dh and kids) to enjoy a park we had already spent $4k to visit for the week. It also guaranteed crowds on the days where there weren't parties - because everyone wanted to make sure to get their park time in.
Now, to add a wrinkle to this - Disney also had private parties two of the nights at Hollywood Studios, closing that park down at 7. Which meant that anyone not invited to the party and not able to pay an extra $300 for a holiday party, were either shut out for two nights of their vacation or had to suffer the crowds in Epcot.
That is not, at all, what I call making Magical Memories....
O.k., back to the regularly scheduled trip.
So, after we left, we got on the boat back to WL. I had this nagging feeling in my head. It was that feeling of, "I am grumpy. I am not enjoying this trip right now. I need to do something to change that."
So, I announced, "You know, guys, I don't think I want to come back to MK tonight. You can, but I am just not feeling it."
They tried to talk me into it. My brother surmised that it would be our only night to do anything nighttime in MK (see above about the schedule). The kids said they wanted to do rides - - but I knew a night of slogging through those crowds would make me miserable.
We decided to go back to the hotel and think about it for awhile.
My DH took the kids to the pool. I fell asleep about 3 minutes after they left. Slept until they returned. Ahhh, that felt nice. But, you know what? I still wasn't feeling going back to MK.
I broached the idea of going back to Epcot and really doing up the rides. We hadn't been to the countries, at all, and we could start by eating dinner around the world. The more I talked, the more excited I got - and the more I could see I was getting to them. LOL. It was decided.
We headed out around 4 and caught a bus immediately to Epcot. How's that for luck?
When we got there, we went first, of course, on Spaceship Earth. Then, we all picked a ride we really wanted to do - so that we could try and get at least those things done that night. I wanted to do Ellen. My daughter wanted to do Test Track. My poor son wanted to do Imagination (more later), and my brother and husband wanted to do stuff in the countries.
First, we went over and got fast passes for Test Track. They were for about two hours later, so we decided to go on Ellen first. I love this ride. I think it needs updating, but only because my kids had no idea who Bill Nye was.... LOL. I love the Nye Guy, so I wouldn't recommend taking him out. Still, Trebek still has a mustache....
After Ellen, we headed towards Germany. We were getting hungry and my brother wanted to grab a bratwurst. We got a great deal here. We could combine two items and a dessert for a counterservice credit, so we split two sausages, got a pretzel for my son, and a black forest cake and drinks - and it only cost us 2 counter service credits!
We then decided we would stroll leisurely back through the countries, taking in American Adventure and El Rio del Tiempo. We got to American Adventure and the show was going to start in about 10 minutes. I was so tired, I just wanted to sit down. Then, my son announces he is starving and really wants a hot dog. I told him to just wait until after the show and I would get him one. My fear was that the show would start to fill up and we'd get separated from the rest of the group. Plus, the rest of the group was nowhere to be found right then, so I thought we should stay put since they knew where we were. Well, he started to cry. He's a good kid - and there is only so long he can wait to eat. Boy, I felt bad.
A few minutes later, my brother came and asked what was wrong. I told him. He said oh, and walked off. A few seconds later, he came back and said, "Josh, I really have to show you something," and they went outside. Well, apparently, he ran next door to get him a hot dog on his promise that he could wolf it down... LOL. Crisis averted.
I love American Adventure, but I was a little bummed that they edited the ending film to take out some stuff and add more recent stuff. I liked the recent stuff, but I missed seeing Mary Lou Retton and some other things that were important in MY childhood. I wish they had just lengthened the film...
Candlelight Processional was just finishing up when we came out, so we watched for a moment. The parks really lacked a holiday feel. No special music overhead, hardly any decorations... it was a real bummer.
We kept walking towards El Rio. On the way, we spied someone with this humongous platter of nachos. My mother has scarcely met a nacho she didn't like. We decided we would get nachos while everyone else went on the ride. It took awhile, but we tracked them down at the Cantina. Got nachos (no meat - mom doesn't eat beef), sat down and shared them. We weren't even half-thru when the gang came to join us and helped us finish. The portion was big enough for all of us to share.
Well, it was a little past our Test Track fast pass, but we decided to give it a go. We told the kids if they told us we couldn't go on, that was that. No worries, though - the guy looked at our tickets and waived us in. A short walk and we were in to the briefing room. Five minutes later, we were on the ride. My daughter freaked out because they put her in the "driver's" seat and she thought she was actually expected to drive. Poor kid!!
It was getting near Illuminations' time, and we wanted to be out of the park before Illuminations was over. Beat the crowds.... So, we went over to our last ride - Imagination. Only to find out it was closed. Apparently, not everything in Future World stays open until closing. I am sure it is listed somewhere on the maps or programs, but we had missed it. Josh was beside himself. Poor kid.
He finally gave a second choice - - Spaceship Earth. He decided he wanted to ride with me. That's my boy! We had a good time on the ride and stayed and played some of the games afterward.
When we finally left, with our backs to the park, a huge BOOM nearly took me off my feet. I screamed. My brother laughed his head off because I had gotten scared at the beginning of Illuminations - - miles away from us! It was loud!
Off to the buses and back to the hotel where we caught the tail-end of fireworks.
Tomorrow - I Am Ready for My Close Up!
Food - 1 Tigger. It was all tasty, but what the heck was up with the waffle place?!?
Fun - 3 Tiggers. It was way too crowded in MK for me, and I had to say good-bye to my friends. But, Epcot was great fun!
Dud: The crowds!!!!
Best: The hot dog challenge. That was very fun and I am so glad I got to compete in that with WB and Carlee!