|Posted on May 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM|
Day’s Big Event(s): Lauryn’s first ever haircut, “Daddy, that’s the Castle!”
First Ride: Space Mountain
Most Ridden: Three-way tie: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean (all 2 times)
Ride with longest wait: Peter Pan (70 minutes)
Closed Attractions: Thunder Mountain, Main Street Electrical Parade (due to rain)
Lauryn’s Souvenir: Baby Brer Rabbit (technically Thumper)
Random fact(s): You take the Monorail or a boat ferry to get to Magic Kingdom; Space Mountain was Lauryn’s favorite ride of all
Disney Day 1 at Animal Kingdom ended at a pretty decent time since the park closed at 7. However, I knew that Disney Day 2 at Magic Kingdom was gonna be what I like to call “a little more intense.” This is because the park was open until 10, the park is\s more spread out thus more walking and because there are WAY more rides to get on.
Depending on where you were born, when you hear “Disney” you either think “World” or “Land.” Since I was born in California, I think, “Land.” And the closest thing to Disneyland in Florida is the Magic Kingdom. (Though, let’s be clear: As fun as the Magic Kingdom is, Disneyland turns the Magic Kingdom over on its knee and thoroughly spanks its bottom until it is good and pink then sends it off to bed without supper.)
I have been telling Lauryn about the Magic Kingdom for years. Literally *every* time that we watch a Disney or Pixar movie and it opens with the show of the fireworks over the castle I’ll say, “Lauryn. What’s that?”
And she’ll say, “That’s the castle you want to take me to!”
“Lauryn, what’s that?”
“That’s the castle you’re going to take me to!”
“Lauryn, what’s that?”
“Daddy! That’s the castle! You’re gonna take me to it, right?”
I have been waiting to take Lauryn to the castle for *years*. And today was the day.
This was a momentous day for me, and I couldn’t wait to get it started!
Due to the layout of Disneyworld, you can’t actually park at the Magic Kingdom. You park in some lot and then take either a boat across a lake or the Monorail to the front gates. We opted for the Monorail because it was faster, thinking we’d do the boat to get back home. (Spoiler: We didn’t. You walk 13 hours at my side at Disney and see if you want to opt for “the long way” home at the end of the day. Just sayin’...)
We get to the front gate and took a family picture in front of the iconic Mickey flowers, allowing for a total generational moment for me.
We step inside of the Disney gates and start walking down Main Street USA. Dana has done some great research, and she found that there is a barbershop on Main Street and if you get your FIRST haircut there, they make it a big deal for the kids. Now, Lauryn has actually *never* had a haircut. I say that like Samson, her long and tangled locks are the source of her rage. We walk in and find out that they can take us immediately. At first there is some real, “No! No-no-no-no! I’m not gonna do it!” from Lauryn, but then there is the bribe of an ice cream and she agrees. So, here is a pic of Lauryn getting her first ever haircut:
About 30 seconds, like three snips, and $18 later, it was over. They took off maybe – MAYBE – and inch off the back, and unless you were a forensic investigator, you’d never know Lauryn got a haircut. (Dana and I were so caught up in the moment of her actually getting a haircut, we never actually thought to tell her how we wanted it cut.) But, it was her first, and she got some Mickey ears (inscribed on the back is “First Haircut") and a certificate for her bravery.
Unfortunately the certificate got pretty wet in the rain – oh, spoiler: it totally rained on us later – but I’ve talked to Disney and I think that they’re going to send us a replacement for Lauryn’s scrapbook. They also put a bunch of glitter – umm, Pixie dust – in her hair which she thought was great.
Then we rounded the corner and…
“DADDY! THAT’S THE CASTLE!”
While I have more than my fair share of “What a jerk!” moments, I’m actually pretty sentimental. I have a stack of paper that I’m saving just because Dana owned it when she was a little girl. Not paper that has writing or pictures on it, mind you, but just a stack of paper that she owned. So, seeing that castle and holding Lauryn and finally being here, well, you’d have had to be some kind of heartless Philistine to not feel a rush of emotion. It’s moments like that that make the cost of admission seem insignificant. (They should remind you of those moments when you’re paying $35 for a lunch of two burritos, but I digress...)
After our three rides aboard Everest at Animal Kingdom, I knew that Lauryn loved rides, and Magic Kingdom is the place for rides. Might as well start big, so we headed straight to Space Mountain! The sign above the ride says “Wait Time: 10 Minutes.” AWESOME! I can remember seeing the “You have a 3 hour wait from this point --->” signs at Disney, so this was killer!
Lauryn takes a quick stand by the “You Must Be This Tall…” sign and then we’re ready.
They have radically changed the line at Space Mountain and added a ton of interactive content. Space games and stuff you can play while you’re waiting. Fortunately – or unfortunately – we literally walked up to the front of the line basically as fast as you could walk through all the twists and turns. Space Mountain is a bobsled style car that holds three people in single seats; this meant that Lauryn would be riding alone.
She asked me a couple of questions about the ride – Is it fast? Is it scary? Does it have big drops? – and once I assured her that anyone that could do Everest three times would think this was a piece of cake, she was ready to go.
We get off the ride and she says, “That was totally awesome! And, dad! Dad! Did you hear me yelling? I was yelling, ‘I love you.’”
“You were telling me that you loved me?”
“No. I was saying it to the ride. I was yelling, ‘I love you! I love you, Space Mountain!’"
You know what? That's OK. Because I love Space Mountain too. And there is nothing better than loving it with your 5 year old. Then she says, "Can we do it again?!”
Absolutely! So Lauryn and I got immediately back on the ride and did it again! I’m not sure if they speeded the old girl up, but there seems to be some new zip in the o’le Mountain, and there is just something classic about that in-the-dark coaster.
We get off the second time and we are right by the Autopia cars. “Lauryn, you want to go drive a racecar?”
We get ready to get into the line and Lauryn stands by the sign that says, “You must be at least this tall to ride alone” and I have a TOTAL memory flashback. For years I would chart my own height growth based on whether I was tall enough to ride the Autopia cars by myself. I would stand next to that sign year-after-year, waiting until I was the requisite 56-inches. I had completely forgotten about that until the moment I saw Lauryn standing there; it was like one of those moments in a movie when the amnesia person gets a bunch of memories flooding back in. So we get up to our car, and by chance, we get a blue one, making it a perfect match for this picture:
Lauryn assured me that she could drive the car herself, but I knew from personal experience that she wouldn’t be able to reach the pedal so I did gas while she did steering. Lauryn had this intense look on her face and you could tell that she was totally focused on being the best driver she could be. Take that, Danica Patrick!
Dana was in the lead car and *might* have gotten rammed a few times. After that we headed over to the teacups. Spinning rides are not a favorite of mine, but I Lauryn wanted to do it and I figured I’d put her in charge of the spinning so we did fine. She wanted the pink teacup with the pink trim, but we had to settle for yellow cup with pink trim.
Surprisingly, the kiddie rides in Fantasy Land were the ones that were the most crowded. Well, maybe *not* surprisingly since it was mainly parents with young, pre-school aged kids that were at the park. So we decided to grab a Fast Pass for Winnie the Pooh and when we did the machine spit out a bonus Fast Pass for the Mickey’s PhilharMagic show. (I would have preferred a bonus pass to, say, Splash Mountain, but ya gets what ya gets.) The Fantasy Land of Disney World is a shadowy reflection of Disnleyland and is missing MANY rides; no Mr. Toad, no Alice in Wonderland, no Matterhorn, no Pinocchio, no Storyland Boat Canal… Sigh…
Snow White had a sub-15 minute wait so we jumped in line for that. I’m sure that there is a more official name than “indoor ride,” but these rides in Fantasy Land all have a special smell to them. I’m not sure if it’s the blacklights, or the smoke machines, or the grease on the tracks or what, but there is a very specific smell to these rides that to me is one of the great essences of Disney. You could blindfold me, and put me on an indoor Disney ride and I swear I’d know by the smell. Here’s a picture of our group in “Happy,” which, fortunately, mirrored Lauryn’s mood the entire day.
After braving Everest and Space Mountain and the Dino ride, I thought nothing would faze Lauryn, but this ride actually scared her. The darkness, the witch popping out, all of it was a bit much. She kept her eyes closed through most of it and just wanted it to be over. And right as we are rounding the end to the last part of the ride…it breaks down. All the lights come up, the announcement to “Please remain seated!” comes on and we sit there for like 5 minutes. The ending becomes a lot less magical when you are forced to sit there and stare at it for like 5 minutes. With all the lights on. And no music. So stare at this picture while remaining seated for about 5 minutes and then feel free to continue…
(I actually just read that Snow White is slated for *permanent* closure on May 31, so I’m really glad that I got to ride it one last time. Good bye, Snow, I have fond memories of you even if Lauryn doesn’t...)
After Snow White, we were right by the PhilharMagic thing so we Fast Passed our way in to that. This is a 3D movie where you follow Donald as he chases after Mickey’s conductor baton from Fantasia. Hijinks ensue as Donald travels through a variety of Disney films, trying to get the wand but getting into more and more trouble. Like the Bug’s Life movie at Animal Kingdom, I thought the 3D looked dated and the image was soft and dim, but the sound was *awesome* and Lauryn loved it when Donald and other objects would fly out into 3D space. I think it was definitely the gateway to her now being willing to go and see a 3D commercial movie.
The film let out and I noticed I was now eligible for another Fast Pass. What’s a John to do? Run across the park and sign up for Splash Mountain, that’s what!
So, I ran back and met the group at It’s a Small World – another Disney classic – and it’s line was only about 20 minutes long so we jumped in. I’m not sure Lauryn was too impressed with it – she didn’t proclaim it “Totally awesome!” – and when we finished it was time to use our pass for Winnie the Pooh. The Pooh ride has a bunch of cool little activities for kids to do while they’re waiting in line, but, of course, we just walked past all of that straight to the front of the line. (I love you, Fast Pass!)
This is a cute little ride through a Pooh storybook, and has nothing whatsoever to frighten the younguns and Lauryn liked it way better than Snow White. “Hurray!” indeed.
They are doing a bunch of work in Fantasy Land and plan on adding several new attractions, and this is one of the signs that is on the walled-off, construction area:
What a terrific quote, and actually so applicable to many fields. I feel that so often my customers don’t know what they want, but just trust me to deliver it for them.
Before our Splash Mountain ticket was eligible, I figured we’d stroll over to Adventureland and hit the Jungle Boat Cruise. This is another classic ride that I knew Lauryn would love, but it had a 50 minute wait. Waiting is for chumps. Fast Passing is for Sciaccas. So chunk-chunk-chunk, we get Fast Passes. What doesn’t have any wait? Pirates of the Caribbean. Sweet! We grab a quick lunch at a Mexican restaurant across the way from Pirates and then jump in line.
The last time I was at Magic Kingdom Pirates was closed for a reno while they added Jack Sparrow into the ride. I was hoping they hadn’t totally screwed it up by over Sparrow-izing it. This is another ride that I’d been telling Lauryn lots about; ominously saying in a deep voice, “DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!”
We work our way through the line and here’s Lauryn by a cannon:
Pirates is a classic and Lauryn loved it; couple of nice dips, cool animatronics and I actually like how they incorporated Jack. There was just enough to be a modern update without cramming it down your throat. There’s also a really cool part at the beginning where there is this image of Barbarossa projected onto misty smoke warning you about Sparrow. Pretty cool. Uncool is that this version is like 60% as long as the Disneyland version and a couple of the things I told Lauryn about didn’t exist. Clearly I need to plan a trip to California…
After Pirates I took Lauryn through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I know that this is just a walk-thru attraction, that is MANY years old, but it has a softspot in my heart. Lauryn though the tree was really cool and now wants to see the movie, so, bonus! Here’s a cool view from the top of the treehouse.
After that it was time to go to Splash Mountain. Lauryn was a little nervous – especially when I kept saying it had a HUGE DROPPER – but she decided to soldier on and – of course – loved it.
This photo is actually milliseconds before my B&O cap went flying off my head. “Oh, no! My hat!” (I seriously love that B&O hat; it fits so good. And is one of the few B&O things I can afford to own.) Amazingly, it landed in the lap of the guy chillin’ in the back row and he returned it to me.
Something else I never noticed about Disney? That EVERY ride lets you off into the gift shop. As a male child, this meant nothing to me. I viewed the gift shop as just an annoying obstacle keeping me from getting back onto the ride again. But Lauryn? The gift shop is filled with stuffed magicalness that she needs to see, touch, hold, love, and want. Dana had told Lauryn that she could get a souvenir each day, and for this day she picked a bunny. She thinks it’s Brer Rabbit from the Splash Mountain ride, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually Thumper…
We grab another set of Splash Mountain Fast Passes, and I take a moment to point out Thunder Mountain, which is right next to Splash Mountain, and sadly closed for remodel. I love that little runaway train car, and thought it would be one of Lauryn's favorite rides. Well, next time, Big Thunder. Next time...
To celebrate Lauryn’s bravery, we get some ice cream. While we’re in line for ice cream, we see this child crying and Lauryn says, “This is the happiest place on earth! Why is anyone crying?!” I'm not sure I will ever be too old to love a dark chocolate covering vanilla ice cream Mickey ears bar. Soooo good.
We then head back and do the Jungle Boat cruise – an experience very similar to Disneyland, and every bit as great as I remember – we ride the train around the park – definitely not as good as Land as there is no dinosaur diorama, my favorite part – do Splash Mountain a second time, then head back to Fantasy Land. If you recall from my previous post, the Peter Pan ride (well, techincally the song) was the inspiration for us going to Disney, and I was NOT going to miss riding this with Lauryn. The rides wait had been running 70 minutes all day but was now only 40 – and actually only took about 25 – so we decided to wait it out. So glad that we did as I LOVE this ride and was so happy to share it with Lauryn.
You fly over London and Never Land in this little ship and I’ve always loved it. “Come on, everybody! Here…we…GO!” Great stuff!
After Pan, the weather started getting nasty and rainy so we decided to hit a bunch of the stuff in Fantasy Land that we missed earlier. There is the Monster’s Inc. Scare Floor which is kind of a live comedy show that riffs on the audience. They kept “picking on” this one guy over-and-over and Lauryn thought that was hilarious. The show was quite good, especially since it is being done live and they have to keep it totally family friendly.
After that we went to the Carousel of Progress which is a revolving theater that follows this one family through various periods of time from the early 1900s up through the “future.” I thought this might be boring for Lauryn, but she actually enjoyed it and started singing the, “It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow!” song randomly. The “future” seems a bit dated compared to the actual NOW, but this is an attraction that has been a part of Disney for almost EVER and they continue to revise the scenes over time.
(Plus, the final scene gave me inspiration for my next Sound + Vision column, so that’s a bonus!)
After the Carousel, we went on the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride which was a ton of fun. You spin your car around and shoot Zurg targets scoring points. Here’s a pic of me and Lauryn deep in battle:
And here is Lauryn with a captured Zurg at the end. She doesn't like Zurg because "he's a mean one."
It was starting to get dark and raining pretty good by this point, so we ducked in to give Lauryn a chance to meet Tinker Bell.
And then Tink’s friend, Terence – apparently the keeper of Pixie Dust, a pretty important job – hit me with a Zoolander.
I’ve been *really* looking forward to the Main Street Electrical Parade all day – one of my favorite things as a kid. I will frequently listen to the song on my iPod as it instantly transports me back to a time when I was a kid at Disney.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds. The Main Street Electrical Parade!"
But they announce that the parade is cancelled due to weather. I’m totally bummed. BUMMED! But I try not to let it ruin the rest of the night and decide to cheer myself up by hitting Pirates again. Literally walk to the front of the line and get on. Then I take Lauryn to see the Tiki Room show.
We do a little walking on Main Street – where I discover that one of those Mickey balloons in a balloon is like $15! Sorry, Lauryn; I love you, but I just can’t spend $15 on a BALLOON! -- and then it is time for a new Disney night show called “The Magic, The Memories, and You!” This show uses a relatively new technology called “4D Projection” where they project images onto a building to create a changing landscape. And this…show…was…AWESOME. It was so cool. Here are some pics of the castle “changing”
But to really appreciate it, you should watch this video. This is a MUST see event if you make it to the Magic Kingdom. Incredibly cool.
Immediately following that show, it’s time for the fireworks show, “Wishes.” We had a great spot for it, and Lauryn had an even GREATER spot, closer to the action:
Chalk up the serial killer expression to the fact that I’ve now been walking around Disney for the better part of 12 hours and there is a flash going off inches from my face and that Lauryn is pulling back on my hair like she’s trying to reign in Secretariat during the final legs of the Triple Crown.
I took a video of the fireworks show, but sadly my memory card ran out of space before the show ended. So, here's a vid of the full show if you're interested.
And with that, our day at Magic Kingdom drew to a close. No joke, about 30 seconds after the last firework went off, Lauryn crawled into her stroller and she was OUT. She was a total trooper though; lasting the full day and keeping up with me ride-for-ride. She’s my total ride buddy and we still have one day of Disney Magic to go!