Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Disney day 6: Magic Kingdom Redux

The Magic Kingdom is simply that. With so much to do there, it is definitely the most "kid friendly" park, with "kid" being anyone between the ages of zero and two-hundred years. Our first time in the park, we battled heat and Tate's illness. Now 6 days into our trip, the heat was still there, but Tate finally started showing the signs of someone who was fixin' to start to think about getting better. We realized at this point that his affliction was likely viral, and that the antibiotics, although difficult to swallow because of their horrendous "cherry-like" flavor, thereby building character in having to swallow it, were doing no good. The virus had to run its course.

And while IT did, we ran our own course, traipsing around the Magic Kingdom with the air that we had "done this before." We were now experience veterans that could navigate the immense channels and alcoves of fun and entertainment much more efficiently. Besides, we had Shealynn's laminated cards, which told us exactly where we needed to be at every given minute . . . and waterproof to boot!

The first thing we planned on doing was NOT a ride, but to make a B-line to "C," "D" talk of the s-"E," . . . Ariel!!!! The (not so) Little Mermaid. This was something J wanted to do the first time around, but the line was so long to see the amazing red head that we decided to pass. Believe it or not, we were the first patrons of the day to visit her dedicated cove in Fantasy land. We dutifully winded our way through the switchbacks of stanchions, finally reaching the grotto where an apparent 20-year-old "Ariel" was perched. She was delighted that J was carrying her favorite, newly-purchased Ariel "baby" doll, and took her up readily. Because there was no one behind us, she interacted quite a bit with my reluctant, star-struck daughter, and patiently listened to the extravagant tales my son told her. I gave her my phone number and thanked her for enjoying my children.

Tate, J, & Ariel

As we left, we high-fived each other with our "flippers" and high-finned it to the Peter Pan ride. With no one in line, we boarded quickly: kids in the front flying (screaming) boat, Shealynn and I in the back (photographing) boat. That ride didn't last as long as I was hoping, but we surely made up for it on the next ride, the ride we had successfully avoided on the first go-'round. A ride a had bad memories of: "It's A Small World!"

On "It's A Small World (and one long, creepy)" ride

The ride ended up being not to bad, and shorter than I remember. I saw a Hawaiian animatronic dude surfing a wave, and I thought about tangent lines to a curve from calculus. Too bad I didn't get a picture in time. Needless to say, I was glad to say "good bye" in all the different languages as we finished the ride. So what can follow such a long, monotonic, creepy, indoor ride? DUMBO, of course. We hit the ride again, a favorite among my kids, and then we did that darned Caroussel once more . . . make that twice more . . . make that a third time. It's a good thing most of the early-goers were there to do something other than character lines and kiddie rides.
On the famous caroussel
After getting dizzy on the caroussel, we hit a streak of great rides in a row, taking advantage of the dearth of denizens: Goofy's Barnstormer, Minnie and Mickey's house, and a small play area for built for infants, with shallow slides, low climbing areas, and diaper changing stations. At this point, I felt we needed to move along down Shealynn's laminated card. The next on the list was "Tom Sawyer's Island," which was on the other side of the park. We got on the Disney train and sat near the back. Tate and Jenna sat in a small chair near the "caboose-man," and were lucky enough to inaugurate the trans-park ride with an "All Abooooo-ard" into the speaker system.

"All Aboard!"

At Tom Sawyer's Island, we had to wait for a large raft, crafted like a gargantuan version of the one Huck and Tom took down the Mississip' in the book. While waiting, a giant steam stern-wheeler came by us, not unlike the ones Samuel Clemens navigated down the river in his day. It wasn't long until we were on the island, exploring caves and grist mills in the spirit of Tom and Huck. We crossed barrel bridges, shot BB guns from a make-shift outpost, and fled the fort through an underground "esKape tuNel" that led to a drink stand, imagine that. It was great fun. I imagined having so many cool nooks and crannies in my own backyard.

In a dark cave on Tom Sawyer's Island--very cool!

The island wore us out, and it was now close to lunchtime. We found a nice restaurant with a Western theme. The cast of Toy Story II was dancing out front, and J enjoyed watching "Jesse" dance with "Woody." I was just ready to sit down in the cool shade. With my neck bothering me at an all-time high, wearing a new Mickey Mouse shirt with an irritating tag at the back, AND with the hot, humid moisture causing my shirt to stick to me, I didn't really care about Jesse or Woody, or food. I found a large table in the dimly-lit dining area of Frontier land. Shealynn ordered for all of us, as she was akin to do, and found Tate, J, and me by recognizing the top of our heads as we "hung" in their with every ounce of energy we had left.

We ate our food, then relaxed a while longer in the sanctuary of the dining hall before heading back out into the cauldron of the Disney entertainment area. As we left, we stepped through the building in which we ate to discover that we had immediately left the wild west for Arabia, the land of Aladdin. We boarded the Magic Carpet ride (see "Dumbo" and "Flying Triceratops" rides) and took in the vista from up high. Upon exiting, we easily flowed into the "Enchanted Tiki Room" show. We weren't sure exactly what it was. It wasn't on our itinerary, but the sky was beginning to turn stormy, and the the line to get in was short. We'd press our luck with this one. It turned out to be a remarkable show about parrots and other tropical birds, all done with animatronics. As it stormed outside, we listened to the synthetic lightning and thunder created by the amazing Disney Imagineers.

Hanging out at the Enchanted Tiki Room

I didn't need an excuse to leave the park and get back to our room, but the ominous weather and biting tag from my new Mickey shirt certainly made fleeing the park seem like a no-brainer. After making our way to the front of the park by weaving through connected catacombs of gift shops, we decided to take the shuttle bus to a different resort that Shealynn and I had stayed at several years ago: the Wilderness Lodge. Having actually stayed at the original lodge in Montana after which the Disney Lodge was modeled, I can not only say that Disney's take on "roughing it" has many more amenities and incorporates so much more synthetic timber that will never rot. Leave it to Disney to improve upon Mother Nature.

The kids enjoyed touring the complex, and we were able to find the elusive Lime Green "Disney 2008" shirts in adult larges that we had been looking for in the parks (we really wanted to be matching on the last day . . . and forever more.) After the nostalgia wore off, we hopped back on the shuttle and headed to our resort at Coronado Springs, where we changed clothes and rested up for our afternoon return trip to the park.

As we got back to the park around 4 pm, we wandered around a bit and enjoyed the flower beds around Cinderella's castle. The rain had stopped and the sun was out again. All that flower sniffing made us hungry, so we found some grub and the Noodle cafe, a Chinese food counter-service restaurant with a covered outdoor eating area overlooking the castle. We took turns eating sesame chicken and beef and broccoli out of boxes with chopsticks. It was the most relaxing dinner I think I had had up to that point.

A Peaceful, Relaxing, Chinese feast

With our new energy, we hustled to catch the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory show, an amazing animated interactive stand-up comedy routine. Much like "Turtle Talk with Crush" from finding Nemo, a cartoon creature moves and talks in real time with the audience, using information suggested by the audience to come up with some pretty quick, witty responses. Although I thought MY joke were funnier than some of the monsters on the stage, they were some pretty good ones used, not unlike the ones I used on my "Algebra 2!" show last year.

Making faces in line at the Laugh Factory

After the comic routine, the sun began to slowly set. We knew we were running out of daylight, but we still had so much to do. With a quick hike up and back down the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, we knew we had time for one more ride at best, so we fell into the famous "Jungle Cruise" line. The ride itself was impressive, as the boat weaved in an out of what appeared to be an authentic Amazon jungle, complete with animatronics of hippos, elephants, and angry headhunters, but that wasn't the best part about the ride. Our boat guide was so witty, part of the script no doubt, that I had a difficult time catching all of her puns and one liners. It was if I myself were giving the tour.

After the cruise, we decided to let Tate finally try his hand at the coin-operated remote controlled boats. At two dollars for a couple of minutes, and visibility increasingly poor because of nightfall, we let Jenna just THINK she was controlling her own boat on the steering wheel next to Tate's. From the joyful expression on her face, you'd never suspect she wasn't controlling a thing.

Driving a boat (singular)

Anyway, we were back at the Magic Kingdom to watch the nighttime parade and fireworks display. We purchased some blinking headbands for the kids and some outrageously delicious pineapple ice cream and found ourselves a tiny spot along the crowded main street. Visibility was poor for Tate, who wasn't on my shoulders, and who had tall inconsiderate people in front of him who came late and blocked his view. Both kids were also starting to complain and grow tired. The thrill of the parade no longer exceeded the pain of our efforts to keep the kids happy, in clear view of the parade, and awake. Without staying to watch the fireworks at the castle, much to Shealynn's disappointment, we fled back to the room with sleeping Jenna on my shoulders and a barely-conscience Tate in tow. Tomorrow would be our last day, and we'd need every bit of rest we could get.

The best soft-serve ice cream ever: Pineapple flavored


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

After meeting ALL of the princesses, Kevin's favorite was Mulan and Jasmine and Pocohantas and Aurora and Ariel and Belle...
Tate's favorite was his sister. He's so sweet.