Saturday, April 8, 2017
I think Andrew wanted to kill me when I dragged us all into a taxi at 7:30 in the morning, but I’d made an early breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest, the restaurant in the Beast’s Castle. We got into the park before opening time. Thanks to my research on Disney blogs (there are a million), I knew to order our meals in advance, so we got to go right in without delay. We chose a table in the West Wing, the spookiest area. It was dark, with the sound of thunder, and filled with tattered curtains and a slashed portrait of the prince. Greta was utterly captivated by my retelling of how the prince was so angry at being turned into a beast that he slashed everything in his castle with his claws. She repeated the story many times throughout the day. When she saw a woman wearing (intentionally) ripped jeans, she told me the beast must have slashed them. Anyway, it was fun to eat there, and then we were off.
It was another charmed morning. We barely waited in line to meet Elena of Avalor, and walked right into Ariel’s Grotto to meet Ariel. Then we rode Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, again, twice in a row. Then we rode It’s a Small World. None of this was even a FastPass. It was just…not crowded.
Katherine, Patrick, and Thomas arrived around this time, and we met them at the Enchanted Tiki Room—one of those vintage-y animatronic Disney attractions that has somehow survived for the past few decades. We all rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin after that, with a FastPass. Then we hoofed across the park to meet Goofy and Donald Duck at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, which once again released us into a souvenir shop, where Greta (surprise, surprise) chose her own Marie and Lucia selected a new Minnie with a candy-print skirt.
I’d taken a risk with two of the FastPasses I booked this trip. The first risky one was Pirates of the Caribbean—definitely an atypical experience for us. Greta was alarmed by the shooting cannons but the girls were mostly okay, if uninterested.
Lunch was a highlight: a character meal for the four of us plus Katherine, Patrick, and Thomas at the Crystal Palace, with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore. L&G have never been too interested in the Pooh characters, but there’s something about seeing them in “person” that is just so exciting. Bonus: the food on the buffet was, surprisingly, really delicious, unlike most Disney food.
I’d chosen the Haunted Mansion for our final FastPass—which Lucia was really excited about. It was a little too scary for Greta. Definitely not too thrilling for either girl (though I enjoyed it). The ghost that hitchhiked in our little car at the end of the ride was holding a sign that said “New Jersey Here We Come!”
We had a bit of a Disney death march after that, around 3:00pm, trying to get back to the hotel. There is a moment, each day, despite the magic, that I feel a sudden and violent need to get OUT OF THE PARK. It all just becomes too crowded, too much. I wish there was some way for me to anticipate that moment, maybe get about 20 minutes warning, because it took us forever to get to the exit. We were all happy for a hotel swim break.
This concluded my advance, meticulous planning of the trip. We still had the evening ahead, but I hadn’t booked a dinner or a fireworks buffet or anything like that. We ate a casual dinner at the hotel with Katherine, Patrick, and Thomas. Then we took a shuttle back to the park, getting there later than we wanted. Although we were able to make our FastPass for the Magic Carpets (L&G’s choice for their final ride), our plan to ride the Carousel—which Greta desperately, desperately wanted to do—was foiled because, who knew, the Carousel closes half an hour before the fireworks. It had been a long day. Greta’s little lip started to quiver. “I wanted to do this all day,” she said, close to tears. “This was the one thing I wanted to do.” I felt very very bad. There’d been reasons all day to put it off; we assumed there’d always be another chance, and then there wasn’t. Parenting fail.
We’d promised the girls ice cream to eat while we waited for fireworks. But we’d gotten to a spot too late to find any. Still, the fireworks were magical again, and I’m glad we got to see them again because the Wishes show is ending permanently in a few weeks. But then we were in a mass of people afterwards, still trying to find ice cream for the kids. Greta chose cotton candy instead, and then we found Mickey ice cream for Lucia, and then a big piece of the ice cream fell off the stick—ANOTHER DISASTER—and the line to get on the monorail to get to the transportation hub to get our shuttle was just…impossible. It wasn’t even a line. It was a sea of people.
We couldn’t bear that line, so we squeezed free and took another, less insanely crowded monorail to one of the resorts instead and hailed a taxi. Whew. The kids fell asleep in the car. Another 10:30pm bedtime.
On Sunday, we had a day of rest and swimming at the hotel. We went between the Waldorf pool and the next-door Hilton’s lazy river. All three kids had a blast. We had lunch by the pool, and then Andrew and Patrick got some food from a grocery store for dinner in our suite. It was a perfect relaxing day.
Then it was off to Jacksonville for a few days with Andrew’s family, and two days at the beach. The girls wore themselves out. They were so tired the day we left that we could barely get them into the taxi to the airport. Lucia threw up twice on the plane on the way home, declaring it the “worst day ever.” Sigh.
This trip left with more love for Disney. I’m sure we’ll go back. Our experiences there will change as the girls get older, and I’m glad we’re getting these Magic Kingdom trips in now, when the magic of princesses and Pooh and all the rest is still so potent. Soon enough, they’ll be rolling their eyes when a photographer tells them to cup their hands and look surprised—but, at seven and five, you can almost believe they really see Tinkerbell in their palms.