This was the apex. The high point of the holiday: a day at the Magic Kingdom with EldestGirl. We had planned pretty much the whole trip around this one day: choosing a time of year when the park shouldn’t be too busy, picking a day within that time when crowds might be slightly smaller, going onto the Disney website to pre-book our three free FastPass+, which would let us jump the queues for EldestGirl’s most-wanted attractions.
Knowing EldestGirl did not make the most of her Merlin pass last year, refusing to go on anything that was basically faster than walking pace, I booked the FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight, a meet-and-greet with Mickey Mouse and The Many (tedious) Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I then cross-referenced queue data to make sure we got to any other rides she might like to do early in the morning, before queues hit their peak.
My friend Kath, who had been to the Magic Kingdom recently, was surprised when I said I wouldn’t be taking a buggy for EldestGirl. Since she turned 3 (and her baby sister came along) we haven’t used any sort of buggy with her. For longer walks, she takes her scooter, and that’s that. I owe a big debt of thanks to Kath, as after speaking to her, we decided to take the buggy after all, and I’m bloody glad we did. Firstly I walk a lot faster than EldestGirl (and sometimes speed is of the essence if you’re trying to get from the furthest reach of the park through to a parade, for example), and also – this is how far I walked on the day! There is literally no way EldestGirl would have managed this, and we would probably have been home by lunchtime if it weren’t for the buggy. Magic Kingdom helpfully also hire them out – for a hell of a fee.
Queues were bigger than I had hoped, but EldestGirl’s stamina was better than I’d feared. From memory, the list of rides we managed to do were:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (a real win hitting this one early – we walked straight on, and later in the day there was a 60 minute wait)
- Enchanted Tales with Belle (the second time EldestGirl did this, as we took her to this a couple of years ago – and this was the second time she got cast as a pepper pot. I am worried she is being type-cast)
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic (I think I loved this more than EldestGirl)
- Under the Sea – Journey of a Little Mermaid
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Country Bear Jamboree (this was creepy as fuck)
- It’s a Small World
- Mad Tea Party teacups. (Three fucking times. And I forgot to bring the ibuprofen…)
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. (Twice.)
- Swiss Family Treehouse
- The Many (tedious) Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (totally not worth a FastPass+ – yes the queue was long, but really not worth the wait unless you have a mad Winnie the Pooh fan on your hands. The woman sitting in the front of us on the ride was by herself, and in her late forties. I don’t judge.
I do a bit.)
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (This was actually very clever, a sort of live animation – interactive with the cartoon characters, picking on people in the audience etc. Not sure how the technology works, but it was very impressive.)
- Peter Pan’s Flight (I loved this, until it broke down right near the end)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (I basically had to con EldestGirl to go on this, as I knew she would be a bit scared by parts of it, and was also worried she would hate the small log-flume drop. Turns out yes, she was a bit scared by the pirates, but bloody loved the drop. This was the start of her turning into a full-on adrenaline junkie. More of this in a later post.)
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel
- Meet and greet with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck
Plus lots of parades, dancing, and general amusement. We mostly avoided the very longest queues, partly because EldestGirl (at the time) didn’t like big rides, so we didn’t have to worry about Splash Mountain, Space Mountain or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Did you know the plural of “dwarf” is “dwarfs”, not “dwarves”? I didn’t, and spent ages ranting about US English and/or spelling mistakes, but it turns out I am the one who was incorrect. This may be the only time I ever admit to this.
We took loads of photos, but mobile battery runs down fast. I had done my research in advance, and found that Magic Kingdom provides charging points. (Universal Studios is meaner, hiring out a mobile charger for $25 per day.) At the Magic Kingdom, one charging point is not far from Dumbo’s elephants, and the other we found is near Peter Pan, in a seating area. They were a bit hit and miss – the USB points near the elephant ride were mostly broken. Even when we found a working one, I found charging incredibly slow. Not sure if they were old-style non-lightning USB chargers, or if the electrical current in the US, being less powerful than that in the UK, just means charging is slower. It was useful though to take a few pitstops during the day to sit down, have a sandwich and top up the phone a few percent. I needed to keep a certain level of battery, to let TheBloke(TM) know when to pick us up in the evening.
That’s another top tip, actually – parking at Magic Kingdom is $20 a day, which is a massive con, as it’s not like you’re using their carpark to go somewhere more interesting instead. It’s basically an extra $20 on top of your ticket cost, which are hardly cheap in the first place. However, as TheBloke(TM) wasn’t coming to the park, there’s a free drop-off section for taxis and quick-drops where you don’t need to pay to park.
Unbelievably, EldestGirl made it through to the fireworks at the end of the evening, which I’d never seen before. It was really hard to find a good spot to watch them, with people bagging spaces over an hour before the show actually started. It was actually really worth staying. The fireworks weren’t so loud that they scared her and it was a lovely thing to do together. On the way out of the park, we stopped to buy a Marie from Aristocats for YoungestGirl (none of us has ever seen the film, but she adores cats, and shouting “CAT” at anything vaguely furry), and went home exhausted and straight to bed with no bath.