14 hours at the Magic Kingdom. Just take a minute to think about how loopy we were at the end of those 14 hours. Yeah, I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend doing the Magic Kingdom this way, but we only had one day and we wanted to cram as much in as possible because we are overachievers. It just so happened that the electrical parade and fireworks show were scheduled really late that evening at 9 and 10pm so we basically opened and closed the park. We arrived that morning 30 minutes before the gate opened and we were ushered into a huge sea of people waiting to get in. About 10 minutes before opening, Mickey arrived by train and a cast of dancers and lip synchers did a little Broadway number to get the crowd all revved up. Mark and I glanced at each other like, whoa what are we in for, and even Mia looked at me amused like, what in the hell is this? When the gate was about to open and I saw the ever growing crowd loom behind me I thought, “are we going to get trampled? How are we all going to funnel down to a few lines at the gate?” But Disney has this fairy dust effect on all things and everyone was surprisingly orderly and very civil. It was only after you got in that you saw people rushing off to their first choice rides like they were contestants on the Amazing Race, and just because you didn’t want to get out raced it was hard not to get caught up in the urgent frenzy of getting to your destination (yes, the whole thing is as weird as it sounds).
So I have to say that the girls were at a perfect age to go to Disney. What was interesting was seeing them experience it differently at their respective ages. Mia hung out with her second cousin, who is the same age and has yearly passes because he lives an hour away, and the 2 of them were as thick as thieves riding on roller coasters and chatting about 9 year old stuff. Claudine wasn’t interested in meeting princesses or taking photos with characters either, but you could tell from her face and expression that she was having a slightly different experience than Mia – not that Mia didn’t buy into the fantasy of everything, but Claudine always had this look of wonderment on her face. She was completely enchanted by the magic and it was so fun watching her as we rode on all the rides. She wanted to do all the kid activities at the Animal Kingdom and Epcot and collect stamps at various stations, and she was SO proud to get her book of stamps completed. I imagine that if your girl was into the whole princess thing, your experience at the Magic Kingdom might be geared towards that. There were a lot of little toddlers and girls running around in full princess regalia. Because neither of the girls were into any of that, we focused on going on the rides.
One good tip that I got from my friend Jen, who just came back from Disney not long before our trip and did a Disney post of her own, was to give the girls a gift card each for spending money. There are a lot of shopping opportunities at all the parks (not surprisingly), but luckily the girls were too distracted by everything else to really want to shop. We loaded the cards with birthday money that my parents gave them and that was what they had to spend, enough for stuffed animals and glittery mouse ears. It made them think about what they wanted to buy and choose carefully instead of impulsively shouting that they wanted this huge sombrero hat! Or that they absolutely needed that stuffed white giant Mickey hand! They also got to do the transactions with the cashiers so they knew the balance of what they had left after each purchase. In Claudine’s case, she bought a pair of glittery mouse ears all by herself, signing the receipt and everything, unbeknownst to me (I thought she was with Mark and Mark thought she was with me, d’oh. The cashier must have been wondering where her parents were).
So would we do Disney again? Yes, I think so, but not anytime soon. It’s weird to think that Claudine might not remember anything about this trip when she’s an adult. It would be interesting to go with the girls when they are teenagers as it would totally be a different kind of trip. Our schedule and flight restrictions from exchanging our tickets this time around limited our days at Orlando to 4 and a half which is why we felt compelled to cram everything at all 4 parks in 4 days. A more sane way of doing this would be 6 days where you have one day of rest in the middle to hang out at the hotel, swim and do nothing and 2 days at the Magic Kingdom. The weather was too cold to swim the first 2 days we were there, but we managed to sneak in some swimming pool time at the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort where we stayed on our Epcot day since we were so close to that park.
A lot of people have expressed some surprise that we enjoyed it as much as the kids. The crowds can be daunting for sure if you have a hard time stomaching that sort of thing and the cheese factor is high, but we loved the fantasy and the simulation of all the rides and we didn’t have to interact with adults dressed up in princess ballgowns so hey, that was a big plus. It’s just that being there made you feel like a kid again in a way that not many places do.
Tomorrow’s last post on our trip: Disney at night.
ps. I don’t post many pics of myself but I noticed that I’m wearing the same shirt on the last 3 photos of me on the blog. I haven’t even worn this shirt in 5 months before our trip. I swear I don’t wear the same thing everyday, I promise!