The next morning was our last at Walt Disney World. This trip felt especially short, and for good reason: it was! We arrived later on our first night than we normally do, and we stayed for one less day than we normally do. Going forward, we’ll probably have to do this, due to our work schedules. While I work long days throughout the year and occasionally go to work on weekends and Sarah is constantly ‘on call’ for work to compensate for our long-weekend trips, it’s still difficult for me to be out of the office for several days in a row. Work piles up if I’m not there to do it, and that’s no good.
That said, progress is on-going as I try to create a version of the robot-butler from Horizons that can show up to work in my stead. In my initial tests of this robot, he painted one of my co-workers and ate several of the books in my office. Suffice to say, more fine-tuning is necessary.
Anyway, leaving is always difficult, but like all of our trips, we made sure to leave as late as possible that day. So that meant after we cleaned the room and I finished documenting it (I photograph and record video walk-throughs of all of our rooms for TouringPlans.com and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and it’s always too dark to do this properly on the nights we arrive, which means I have to restore the room to perfectly clean and well-made on the morning we leave), we headed down to the Bakery to grab some Coke and then to Bell Services, who we gave our bags so we could head to the Magic Kingdom.
We had made a few nighttime trips to the Magic Kingdom after the other parks had closed, but this would be our first daytime visit to the Magic Kingdom during this trip. While the Magic Kingdom still holds some of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World, and is probably my favorite park at Walt Disney World, frequent visits to Disneyland have taken some of the luster away from Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. That, plus the great ambiance of Epcot (and our proximity to Epcot on this trip), have made Epcot the park we now visit the most at Walt Disney World.
This is not to say we don’t still love the Magic Kingdom. Like I said above, it’s probably still my favorite Walt Disney World park. Disneyland lacks three of my absolute favorite attractions found in the Magic Kingdom: Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, but overall, it’s the much better of the two US Magic Kingdom parks. Once the Fanasyland expansion is complete and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (since Disney itself rarely refers to Disneyland as “Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom” or the “original Magic Kingdom” I probably could just refer to Disneyland (park) as Disneyland and the park in Florida as the “Magic Kingdom”) can better-absorb crowds, this might change.
No matter how much we love Disneyland, the experience of walking down Main Street in Disneyland simply cannot compare to walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Sleeping Beauty Castle has certainly grown on my as a charming, quaint, and historical castle, but it doesn’t have the awe and splendor of Cinderella Castle. That first reveal of Cinderella Castle gets me everytime, and always puts a smile on my face.
We didn’t spend much time drinking it in, as we had gotten there early to hit as many attractions as possible, and that’s exactly what we were going to do! We headed towards Frontierland, making a couple of quick stops for photos along the way.
Our first stop was to be Splash Mountain. On our way there, however, we encountered something we had heard about, but had never seen: the Frontierland Hoedown “flash mob.” A lot of our favorite characters, including ones we hadn’t seen in years, were there, so this made the perfect opportunity to get some photos.
Sarah was too embarassed to go dance with the characters, so I headed in to make a fool of myself. I don’t know why Sarah didn’t want to do it, as there were other adults (okay, maybe like 2 besides Cast Members) and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Not only that, but the way I dance is embarassing to us both (but mostly her–I think I’m an EXCELLENT dancer!), so sending me to participate was likely the most embarassing course of action possible.
Although we only have one photo to show for it, I was actually dancing for quite a while with them! It was fun, although I’m certain I looked like a bit of a fool (confession: I’m actually not quite as great at dancing as I might have professed earlier). But we were in Walt Disney World, so who cares? If looking like a fool is my biggest concern in life, things aren’t going too badly.
As the Hoedown broke up, Brer Bear approached Sarah, and we got a good photo. Then Brer Rabbit approached her for an interaction. You can see that he’s trying to take her hand from the photo, presumably to skip off with her. I don’t think she saw this, as she just posed with him. Poor little rabbit, being rejected is never a good way to start out a morning!
I had read a lot about Splash Mountain in the weeks leading up to this trip. There was a bit of uproar because the entire finale scene was not working a couple of weeks prior. Kevin Yee had reported on this, as he had reported nearly a year earlier that Splash Mountain was in poor shape. I have the utmost respect for Kevin, and I really wish he would be more aggressive with his reporting. He’s the closest thing Florida has to a ‘watchdog’ reporter and there are some areas of Walt Disney World that definitely need to be critically examined, much like Al Lutz did at Disneyland in the early 2000s. There are a lot of great things happening at Walt Disney World, too, but maintenance has slipped in some spots.
That said, on this particular day, Splash Mountain was firing on most cylinders. The attraction was reasonably clean and the finale room was in perfect working order. The “Laughing Place” scene looked awful, as it has for the past year or so, with most effects and jumping water off, though. Hopefully Splash Mountain gets the TLC it needs and deserves soon. It seems like its time for a big refurb has passed, though, as it usually goes down during the winter months. Perhaps once the Fantasyland expansion opens and Magic Kingdom gains the capacity of The Little Mermaid, Splash Mountain will receive a long (6-month or so) overhaul to address these recurrent issues.
The line for Splash Mountain was non-existent when we got off (it was still somewhat cool but quickly warming), so we decided to do it again.
After this, we wandered for a bit, planning on eating at Cosmic Ray’s as soon as it opened at 11 am. This bit of extra time gave me the chance to head back over by Crystal Palace where some gorgeous trees were in bloom that complimented the color palette of the restaurant well.
I made this photo-time quick, as 11 am was approaching, and we wanted to maximize our last day in Walt Disney World. I, as usual, ordered the Mushroom Salad w/ a side of burger, and Sarah ordered some sort of BBQ pork sandwich. Hers was okay and mine was also good. You will never hear me say a negative thing about Cosmic Ray’s excellent burger and toppings bar, but it’s something we don’t hit nearly as much.
I still love watching Sonny Eclipse perform, and the mushrooms on the toppings bar are great, but I have come to enjoy trying other things. We still eat there once per trip, but it is no longer one of my favorite “attractions” in the Magic Kingdom. It’s fun, but it’s usually really crowded (regardless of season or time), and the theming is relatively non-existent (besides Sonny). Again, I’m hopeful that once capacity from the Fantasyland expansion is added, Cosmic Ray’s will receive a refresh, or at least will be less-busy.
I’ve started this installment of the trip report out with a few things that probably make me sound a bit jaded towards the Magic Kingdom. While I think there are some things that need addressing, I don’t think I’m jaded. I rarely walk around the parks without a smile on my face, and I love the vast majority of the Magic Kingdom as-is. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with constructive criticism about the things you love.
In fact, I think it’s important to view things with a critical eye rather than blind faith and love, and I obviously enjoy taking sarcastic jabs at just about anything, including myself. While I’m not the king of sarcasm, a crown that probably goes to the hilarious Josh at easyWDW.com, I do like to keep things critical and humorous (mission failed on the latter, you might say) while presenting light and fun accounts of our experiences in the parks. Still, I don’t want to come across as a negative curmudgeon. So this is probably the extent of my “constructive criticism” for this particular day.
Part of that is because the rest of the day was amazing. As you can see from the photos, it was an absolutely beautiful day! The sky was a deep shade of blue with some thick and puffy clouds (yes, “thick and puffy” is their scientific cloud-name) and the weather was finally warming up!
We headed for a spin on the TTA and then a showing of Carousel of Progress after lunch. It’s no secret that these are two of my favorite Walt Disney World attractions. If I were a Florida local, I really would take my laptop to the park with me on a quiet afternoon and do the TTA over and over again while I “worked.” I can’t think of anything more relaxing in the world. Some people like spas, I like the TTA. Luckily, Sarah does too, and sending her on a ride aboard the TTA is much cheaper than a trip to the spa! I probably wouldn’t do the same “use my laptop” thing on Carousel of Progress, but only because that might be a little odd!
We spent some more time in Tomorrowland, hitting Space Mountain and TTA a couple more times before heading to Adventureland to get some snacks. Sarah is *GASP* not a huge fan of the Dole Whip (I’ve told you all that she’s a communist!), so I headed to Aloha Isle for my Dole Whip while she headed to Sunshine Tree Terrace for something else. Doesn’t it go without saying that the Dole Whip was excellent? Well, I’ll say it anyway: THE DOLE WHIP WAS EXCELLENT.
My only mistake was getting the “whip” version instead of the Dole Float. Rookie mistake–I should’ve known better. Although most people profess their love for Dole Whips, I’m pretty sure most people actually get the Dole Floats. I think this was the first time I’ve ever purchased the Whip instead of the Float, and I think I only did it because I was ordering by the name engraved in my head, rather than looking at the menu. From now on I need to remember that I’m a Dole Float fan (although I love both). Don’t want to make that ordering faux pas again.
Of course, this assumes that I’ll be ordering a Dole Whip or Dole Float again in the near future. With the return of the Citrus Swirl, I’m really excited to try something completely new. The Citrus Swirl has received high marks from almost all fans since its return, and it had a huge cult following even before it left. I have never tried it, but it’s probably one of the things I’m anticipating most about our next trip!
While eating our snacks, we had the pleasure of chatting with a couple who read the website who were on their honeymoon (hi guys!). After that, we headed to Swiss Family Treehouse to explore and look out at the rest of the park. This has gone from being an attraction that we never used to do to one that we now do all the time. The views are great, the music is fun, and there’s a lot of detail. I thoroughly enjoy it.
We had yet to try Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom at this point, so we decided to go play. You can read my full review of it here, but in a nutshell, I thought it was okay. Sarah played separately, and she came to the same independent conclusion.
We will probably give it another chance in May, though, just to see if some of our concerns have been addressed. If different difficulty settings are enabled, we most likely will play the game regularly so long as Disney institutes some means of throttling the number of guests that can play the game at a single time (I have no interest in waiting in a line of 4 or more people for every portal). The other issues I have with the game aren’t with the game itself, but with other guests, and I’m willing to overlook those if the game is a more challenging and rewarding experience.
Even if the varying difficulty settings, which appear to be built into the game based upon an examination of the cards, are not enabled, I predict this game will be a hit for a lot of guests. This is especially true for younger guests, as I feel they will enjoy the gameplay as-is, and guests who enjoy collecting, as some fans have already made efforts to collect all 70-some cards (presumably Disney will sell add-on decks and other accessories in the future to offset the costs of the cards, making it even more of a collectible experience). I realize not every attraction at Walt Disney World will appeal to me, and since the attraction doesn’t impact my park experience in a negative way, it’s difficult for me to find much fault with it. That said, I see the potential in the game, and with just a few tweaks and changes to how the gameplay occurs and is managed, I could see this game become a huge success for guests of all ages and interests.
Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom ate up a lot of our time, but we still had about an hour to hit attractions. We hit PhilharMagic and TTA in this time, before heading to Main Street to grab a snack.
Sarah went to the Main Street Bakery to grab us some food while I took the chance to run around Main Street and photograph the beautiful sky and clouds. We ended up getting another Valentine’s Day cupcake to split, and then we headed for the exit. Another trip, drawing to a close.
But the excitement wasn’t quite over! We thought it was, since there was a bus headed to BoardWalk waiting for us, but we were wrong. It turned out that there was a problem with that bus, and a new bus was going to be dispatched. We didn’t like the sound of this, because it seemed like it might take a while. After ten minutes in that line, we noticed a bus for Beach Club pull up to a different stop. We decided to hedge our bets and catch that bus.
When we arrived at Beach Club, we had to walk pretty briskly from there (of course stopping to take a few photos along the way–I wish I had more time to actually stop and compose a shot rather than quickly stopping and firing, then moving on) in order to make it to BoardWalk in time for our Disney’s Magical Express reservations. We actually arrived with 10 minutes to spare, but the bus was already waiting for us.
All in all, it was another great trip. We experienced a lot of new things, and really enjoyed staying at the BoardWalk again. We love the location of the BoardWalk, and staying there reminded us of our honeymoon. For our next visit, we’re using our Disney Vacation Club points to stay in the Beach Club Villas (and Old Key West) during a weekend that Flower & Garden Festival and Star Wars Weekends overlap. The trip is still two months away, but we couldn’t be more excited (really, it’s the most excited we’ve been for a trip in a long time).
While the Polynesian is my dream Walt Disney World resort, Beach Club is a close second. I can’t wait to hang out at Stormalong Bay, to eat at Beaches and Cream, to see the beautiful flowers at Flower & Garden Festival and to partake in the Star Wars Weekends events. I get so excited just thinking about it all! We go somewhat frequently to the parks now, but I have that level of excitement for this trip that I used to get for our once-a-year trips. Suffice to say, I’m already counting down the days!
If this is the first installment you’ve read/viewed, make sure to check out the rest of the report by heading to the trip report index. Lots of fun photos and commentary!
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