On Monday we started at the Magic Kingdom. Amy and I were awash in memories of our previous visits to Disneyland/Disneyworld when we entered the park. To get things off to a good start (and to reassure Daniel that we really do listen to his voice above the din of his three other siblings—he is a train fanatic) we decided to immediately survey the park by riding the Disney Railroad starting at Main Street. The kids eyes were wide as saucers as they began to comprehend the scale of the Disney Empire here in Florida.
I’m taking lots of video, and surely will be editing with iMovie for a week solid when we get back. I've uploaded other pictures too, you can see them starting with this photo album page.
We ran into Goofy on the way over to Liberty Square, got his autograph and a snapshot of Abby and Josiah with him. Somehow we got turned around and decided to go back towards Fantasyland to ride the Teacups. We were trying to pick things that all of us could do—not an easy feat, and soon our options were somewhat exhausted. We worked our way over into Tomorrowland, Elizabeth fell asleep for her afternoon nap, then we came back to Fantasyland for a ride on Dumbo. We spied Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, and at this point we had a taste of the amazing things that sometimes happen to kids at the Magic Kingdom. “The Tweedles” (as their handler called them) were quite taken with Abby, just about falling over themselves in mock competition for her attention. We got some great video and photos of the whole incident. At the close of our impromptu visit, the handler (a cast member named Susie from Yorba Linda, California) started asking us some specific questions about which of the other characters we had met. At this time we had really only run into Goofy and the Tweedles. We offhandledly mentioned that we had planned on seeing Ariel, the Princesses, and maybe Mickey and Minnie, but we weren’t sure what the best time was for us to do that. “Well…let’s go right now!” she said. We kind of stared at her, not really understanding what she was telling us, and then off she whisked us on a whirlwind meet-and-greet tour. She took us in every back door, shuttled Abby to the head of every line, very discreetly I might add, Disney has many of the queue areas setup so it is easy for the cast members to bring in “VIPs” without trouble.
The best part of the tour of course was Abby’s visit to Ariel’s Grotto. Susie gave her a few minutes to put on the Ariel costume that one of my co-workers (David Bitter) had given to her as a gift, and we were ushered into the Grotto. Ariel was very kind and gracious hostess, asking Abby lots of questions and engaging her in conversation for a good 10 minutes or so, and then we were off again—all told we saw Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy (again), Cinderella, Snow White (who had a voice just like the movie—it was creepy), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger (whom Daniel was so excited to see he was almost vibrating), and Belle. All of them were just great—everything you would hope for your kids in an opportunity to meet their “movie stars.”
And then, as suddenly as she appeared, our cast member Susie took her leave and vanished. We didn’t even really get to thank her properly.
The rest of our day was filled with rides and shows. Amy and I did the kid swap most of the afternoon so the older kids could ride the faster rides. It culminated in a storybook (well...mostly) ending with the SpectroMagic parade. I say “mostly” only because Elizabeth was at her limit in terms of exhaustion, but the parade did hold her attention for the most part.
We arrived home at Give Kids the World at about 10:30 PM. All things considered the kids did great. They were asleep almost before their heads hit the pillows.
Tuesday was our first day at Animal Kingdom, and we started with the Lion King show. We had been warned not to miss it, and it was indeed a fantastic show.
We got really lucky and the kids got to sit in the front row in the theater. About three quarters of the way in, some actors approached Abby, Josiah, and some other kids in the front row and brought them into the performance with noisemakers, taught them a little dance, and led them through a processional as part of the story. We were so proud of them, Abby didn't show a moment of shyness, and she considered it the highlight of her day.
We didn’t try to do all of AK, we were obviously very tired from our previous day at MK, so we wrapped up about 5:00 PM and headed back to GKTW.
I will write more about our experiences at GKTW as well--they almost deserve a separate post--but it will have to wait until next time.