This day was one of my favorites. The rain didn't disrupt us, we rode a lot of rides, accomplished a lot of bucket list items... and truly felt the magic of Disney seeping into our bones. It was a full and long day, but so very good.
And we started it at the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom is the heart of Disney. It houses the most characters, rides, shows and attractions... and of course... that famous castle.
Our bus got us there before park gates opened, and we lucked out by making it through the security and bag check lines just in time to see the welcoming show. I had been told by a friend that it was worth getting to the park early just to see this cute little show, but when we were planning our trip, the show wasn't scheduled to take place during our dates. So it was by complete surprise and lucky chance that the show got started right after my bag made it through security and we were on our way in.
Mickey and all his friends rode into the Magic Kingdom station by train, greeted us by song, set off a few fireworks, and we were there to watch them officially open the park gates for the day.
There he is - our very first glimpse of Mickey during our trip!
I love, love, love this place. And having been here so many times during different seasons - including Christmas, it was neat to experience it in the Fall for the first time and get to see how Mickey decorates for my favorite time of year.
Magic Kingdom was adorned in all its Halloween and harvest trimmings. Main Street USA was lined with jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows and autumn garland. And I pinched myself a few times that I got to experience my favorite place on earth during my favorite time of the year.
And there she is!
My own kids in front of that castle. Answered prayers!
My parents have taken a lot of pictures in front of that castle over the years, but my guess is that this will be their favorite. :)
...and inside the castle, too!
Our first morning at Magic Kingdom was our "Fast Pass" morning. I was fortunate to score fast pass times for three of the rides that always have the longest wait times, and we planned the rest of the morning around those reservations. I strategically planned our fast passes to start about an hour after the park opened so that we could use the first hour to go immediately to the back of the park where some of the other popular rides are that we weren't going to have fast passes for. Since most people start at the front of the park, there were NO lines at the rides we visited at the back of the park.
Our first Magic Kingdom ride was Pirates of the Caribbean - a classic and one of my mom's most favorite Disney attractions. It's a boat ride through the land of Pirates with some dark moments at the beginning and a surprise little hill in the dark to start you off. Brandon, my dad and I scored the very first row of the boat with my mom, Cody and Jaden behind us, and my dad and I realized we probably had never ridden in the front before because we got wet and weren't expecting it! The hill and the dark at the beginning frightened the boys a bit, but they soon settled in and enjoyed this one and all its sights, sounds and even smells.
We then headed straight for the Haunted Mansion - another Disney classic and one that both boys were very eager for heading into the trip. (As you will be able to tell from most of our pictures on this morning - it was quite bright and sunny! Better than rain!) As soon as we entered the mansion, Brandon got very frightened (we learned on this trip just how deep his fear of the dark is), and we practically had to drag him onto the moving car that would be touring us through the house of ghostly haunts. But when we got to the end of the ride, he was ready to do it again. :)
After a fast pass on Peter Pan's flight and an excursion through the dreaded It's a Small World ride (you can't introduce newbies to Disney World without making them ride through that experience), we took a break with the Move It, Shake It street party. We really didn't schedule ourselves to see any shows or parades except for the evening fireworks, but there is ALWAYS something going on so you never have to worry about missing out. When you really get to know Disney and how they strategically plan everything out, you can start to see how genius they are. There's a reason people keep paying to go back over and over again.
Bucket List item: Chip and Dale! One of my favorites!
We scored fast passes for this ride as well, and were able to wait in line for 10 minutes instead of the normal 60-90 minutes most riders usually wait! The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train takes you through the coal mines of the Snow White classic on a family style roller coaster that's just perfect for pretty much every age. My dad liked it because it was entertaining and thrilling enough without hurting his back, my mom liked it because she could ride it without closing her eyes, and the boys liked it because it wasn't nearly as scary as Expedition Everest was the day before. ;) However, Everest had put the fear of all future roller coaster rides into Jaden, and our poor eight year old was reduced to tears as our wait came to an end and he sat down next to his daddy in the car directly in front of Brandon and me. He was so, so nervous and fearful of any big hills, but I just knew that if we got him on it and through it, he would end up loving it. Sure enough, as the ride came to an end, he looked back at all of us and said, "I want to ride it again!!!!" Another memory made and one of our favorite newer Disney rides.
And then it came time for our fast pass reservation to Space Mountain. You can't do Disney without launching into space while there.
Even though all six of us had reservations for this one, Jaden backed out and stayed back with my mom to find some air conditioning and water (I don't think my mom was too upset), and Brandon made it all the way to the front of our very short line before he got so scared that my dad offered to take him out so that Cody and I could ride. My dad loves this ride, but that's the second time he's had to take a scared child back outside after reaching the front of the line. (I did that to him myself when I was little, and though I felt slightly bad that he didn't get to ride, I also felt a little sentimental watching him walk away with a scared Brandon as he did with me all those years ago). It also was fun to get to enjoy one of my favorites with Cody for the first time, and we did have fun while also avoiding what could have been a major disaster. While riding this fast roller coaster in the pitch darkness, Cody's Magic Band flew off his wrist, and he managed to catch it with his other hand - in the dark at high speeds! Major crisis averted!
By now it was approaching mid-afternoon, and we had late lunch/early evening reservations in another park so we made our way back to the Magic Kingdom entrance where my dad spotted a Starbucks right there on Main Street. With a little time to kill, we ducked in for some air conditioning and enjoyed our favorite coffee treats on one of our favorite streets of all. Again - someone pinch me! :)
And we stepped back outside to see yet ANOTHER show happening in front of us. The cast of Frozen right up there on the castle stage.
And Brandon would no let us walk out of the park without getting a picture with Pluto. :)
Just as we were approaching the gates, my dad in his UNI hat, this Disney cast member shouted out, "Ali Farokhmanesh!" It's been six years since that miracle shot against Kansas, and people still remember one of our favorite UNI legends. :)
We hopped aboard another Disney bus and headed straight for Hollywood Studios.
This park is going through a major overhaul right now and is one of the reasons we want to go back in a couple of years. They are adding a whole Toy Story and Star Wars land, and construction is already underway.
We definitely got our Star Wars fix while here. We walked through the Launch Bay and got to see many of the actual props and costumes worn in the films, and we had to remind Brandon several times that we did not have several thousands of dollars to spend on Darth Vader's helmet. :)
Once again, I was lucky to score the final dining reservation slot available at this Sci-Fine theater restaurant, and it was one of our favorite places that we ate while there.
We ate our food in old vintage cars while very old sci-fi films and cartoons played in front of us under a starry sky. You feel like you're in a drive-in move theater, and it might be the closest our boys get to experiencing the real thing for themselves!
We enjoyed attractions like Toy Story Mania, the Great Movie Ride, and an absolute must-do and Disney favorite - Star Tours.
This ride has been upgraded over the past couple of years and now includes a 3-D component, and there is not another ride like it. The line was only five minutes long, which resulted in us riding it more than once, and both my dad and Cody wished they could find a way to have a ride like this in our basement. :)
And then there was the Star Wars stage show that took place almost every hour. I have never seen a Star Wars movie, but this day finally got me interested. :)
The best part of the show was the rope line the actors walked through after the show was over. The kids were able to get up and close and personal with the dark side, and those actors never broke character. It was quite cool to have storm troopers and Darth Maul only inches away!
But my favorite part of days at Disney are always Disney nights. The parks come to life in new ways with all its the lights and ambiance, and no one does fireworks like Disney.
And we were lucky to be there during the Star Wars fireworks show, a limited time Hollywood Studios event that did not disappoint. Scenes and characters from the movies were projected on to the Hollywood Boulevard theater, the voices and music of Star Wars were sounded throughout the speakers all over the park, and the fireworks danced in rhythm with it all. Goosebumps!
What a day!!