Day 5 – Animal Kingdom and the Trip Home

Set the alarm for a bit earlier because we have to finish packing and ideally would like to get to the park after it opens with the early magic hours but before it opens to the general public.   I figure if we’re there by 8:30 we should be good.

Animal Kingdom

  • wake up at 6:30 and get cleaned up and ready to go, head down for a western omelette at breakfast, check the luggage for the day and on the bus by shortly after 8 am
  • get to Animal Kingdom by about 8:20 and the security lines and lines to get in are short which is nice – I was worried that the US Thanksgiving crowds getting bigger because of the way Hollywood Studios was yesterday but this morning is a pleasant surprise – down to more manageable levels – at least this time of day.  Take a few snaps of yet another giant Christmas tree and head on in.
  • First up is Kilimanjaro Safaris – it’s at the back of the park so we walk through Discovery Island and over to Africa.  Get some great snaps of Everest from the bridge to Africa.  No line but the maze of what could be a line impresses upon us again how it is good to arrive early.  We see all your typical zoo animals: lions, zebras, elephants, giraffe, etc.  Catch a baby giraffe feeding from it’s mother and you here all the ladies going “Awwww – sooo cute”.
  • A quick peek at Pangani Forest Exploration trail and we see a gorilla (my obligatory dad statement – “Hey Ethan, how did you get down there” – my dad always said that anytime he saw a picture of a monkey, orangutan or gorilla).
  • Over to Asia and get a good snap of Ethan doing his thumbs up with the Tree of Life in the background.   The Kali River Rapids are next.  It’s much warmer than yesterday but still a bit on the cool side – so I ask how wet you can get and they say “Anywhere from a few drops to like jumping into a pool”.  Hmm, ok, we’ll pack the sweaters and they’ll stay dry and we can put them on after if we need to.  Disney thinks of everything and have electronically controlled (and free) lockers near the attraction so you can put your phone and anything else you want to ensure stays dry in it while you ride the ride.  We hop right on and get a bit wet – more than a few drops – but not quite like jumping into a pool.
  • Next up is the Maharajah Jungle Trek which is a walking tour of Asian animals.  We see tigers, a komodo dragon, bats and lots of different kinds of birds.  Someone says to me “Watch out sir” as I almost step on a little bird.  That would have been a good sight for the kiddies – big man crushing cute little birdie.
  • We have a snack at one of the restaurants in Asia and our visited by many of the feathered friends from the Jungle Trek.  At one point it looked like it was going to be a scene from a Hitchcock movie.
  • We are still early for our Expedition Everest FastPass by almost 30 minutes so we decide to give the standby line a shot even though it has a posted wait time of 30 minutes.  It’s a decently long line but seems to move fairly quickly.  Didn’t seem like 30 minutes, I’m guessing it was more like 20.  Nice that they have stuff for you to look at for a good part of the line – which is why the wait probably doesn’t seem that bad.  Bells to ring and even a fountain in the queue are nice touches.  Ethan is a bit nervous as I had heard the ride goes backwards so I say to him: “It might go backwards, but I’m not sure” – but again he is apprehensive but since things are moving, he doesn’t have much time to get too nervous about it, since before you know it, we are headed up the big hill on the ride.  He loves it and the moment we get off he’s like “Let’s go again!” – and we can since our FastPasses are now active and we walk right on for a second run.  The second run was not as thrilling as the first but still fun.
  • Time for an early lunch so I stop at Trilo-Bites in DinoLand USA to have a bit of a strange pulled BBQ chicken on a waffle sandwich.  Still not sure if it was good or not – at least it was different than what I have been typically having.   Apple slices instead of fries too – better.
  • The “Finding Nemo – The Musical” show is scheduled for 12 so we head over there at about 11:30 and queue up.  The theater fills pretty much completely and it’s a cute show.  When I first see the dudes doing the puppets I’m like “Uh, I can totally see that you are controlling the puppet”, but there isn’t much they do to try to hide the real performers.  Ethan gets a little annoyed a kids kicking the seat behind us,  but I use it as an opportunity to tell him why he shouldn’t do that (as he was doing it the previous night at the Fanstamic show a bit).  It amazes me how they can fill, empty, clean up and run a complete show in 40 minutes or so.  Disney is good at herding large groups of people it seems.
  • Over to the carnival area of DinoLand USA to ride the Primeval Whirl.  We FastPass this ride too and avoid a 30 minute line.  Would probably have skipped this ride if we didn’t have a FastPass but it was OK given we didn’t have to wait for it.  We waited for at least 30 minutes for a similar one (“The Fly”) at Wonderland.
  • We have some time before our DINOSAUR FastPass so I let Ethan burn off some calories in The Boneyard.  He is at the maximum age for this which tells me again that this was probably a perfect age to take him here.  Lots of places for parents to sit and I take a look around and see each and every one of them buried with their noses in their smartphones (myself included at times – good time to connect back with home or check other attraction wait times).   Of course now I have to find him which takes a bit of time and we head for DINOSAUR.
  • We use our last FastPasses of the trip but wait a bit for some down time for the ride.  Only about 5 minutes and then we were back on the ride.  One of the teens in our buggy is teasing his little brother about “this is the scary part coming up”.   Ethan wasn’t scared though – he liked the video at the end where it showed a dinosaur in the loading area of the buggies.
  • Checking the lines, it looks like It’s Tough to be a Bug has a 10 minute or less wait time and we’re close so we head over there.  We move quickly through the line but stand outside the auditorium doors for what seems like a good 10 minutes and it’s a little claustrophobic.  They finally pump some air in as it was getting hot with them squishing everyone into the pre-seating area and then shortly after they let everyone in.  Someone must have miscounted as they had to usher some people back out as there was no place for them to sit.  Good “4D” show with smells and physical sensations.
  • We come out at the bottom of the Discovery Island tree and then check out some shops as I wanted to pick something up for Carrie and Ethan wanted to get some more souvenirs for himself.  I get Carrie a Christmas Minnie Mouse ornament but Ethan can’t find anything he likes in the store we were at.  We head back to DinoLand for a more kid friendly store and Ethan picks himself up a Disney World novelty pencil and a Christmas light necklace for the Jingle Jungle parade.  I grab a lollipop for Elliot – the same one I saw the first day at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Last event here at Disney – the Jingle Jungle Parade is next.  We get great seats next to an ice cream stand and I have an ice cream and Ethan has a snack before the parade.  I’m feeling a bit of anxiety as I’m not sure when the parade will get to our location and if  we are stuck in a post parade crowd to get back to the buses, and the buses back to the resort are busy, we do have a bit of a chance of being late for our bus back to the airport.    Probably OK, but we’ll have to leave straight after the parade.
  • Ethan sits at street level while I stay back in the seat we had snagged and end up standing on it for some good snaps.  One of the characters stops and talks to Ethan as he has all his Disney bling on: his mouse ears, his first visit pin, his Disney hoodie and his Christmas lights.  Yep, Ethan got the full Disney experience.  The parade is good with a holiday spin and Christmas music, but at the end we beeline it for the bus back to the resort.
  • We just catch the bus as it’s leaving for the resort, which is a good thing as they run every 20 minutes or so and that would have probably made us late.

Trip Home

  • We get back to the resort around 4:45 and pick up our luggage.  The luggage handler tells us that the bus that is just leaving is our bus and I’m like “What, I was told I should be at the bus stop no later than 5:10?”  He corrected himself and realized he had the wrong time.  We do a quick change into pants – it’s cold back in Ottawa and it will be super late so don’t really want to change then.
  • Ethan plays a quick game of Space Invaders which is free in the Pop Century foyer.   I make small talk with a family from Chicago.
  • The Disney Magic Express bus is late by about 15 minutes but we still have plenty of time before our 9 pm flight.  Disney thinks of everything and has a wrap-up video playing on the bus ride to pass the 30 minute ride back to the airport.  Another nice little touch.  A little bit of traffic but we are at the airport in good time.  As we wait for our baggage to be unloaded at the aiport from the bus, Ethan is climbing a sign post and I tell him to get down.  He doesn’t listen, so I say “Ethan, if you don’t come down, we are going home right now” and he was like “Uh, isn’t that what we are doing?”.  Hmmm, I guess “You are going to stay right here” doesn’t work in Disney World either cause that would be a good outcome for him too.  Rats, I got nothing.  Others chuckle at our interchange.
  • I look for a sit-down restaurant and find an Italian place where I have my first sit-down table service dinner of the trip.  I order a glass of white wine and some pasta and enjoy a slower meal than I’ve had in the past 4 days.  Ethan draws a picture of his mom who he misses and is really well behaved waiting in the restaurant.  We chat about how good of a time we have had.
  • We go through security – looked like we were going to have to do the full body scan, but since I was with Ethan, we got to bypass that.  Hit a coffee shop near the gate but the coffee was terrible and had a hugely overpriced chocolate bundt cake which wasn’t very good.   At least at Disney when you paid the big bucks for the food it was edible.  Of course I still at the chocolate, but it tasted more like a $5 donut.
  • We connect with home while waiting at the gate and Ethan passes time playing Little Alchemy on the iPod.  It’s clammy and uncomfortable in the Orlando airport – I’m kinda looking forward to the cool weather back home.
  • We board the plane and Ethan’s seat’s window is not exactly beside him which upsets him a bit.  He’s going to be asleep soon anyway and he can kind of see out of the window, he just has to lean forward a  bit.  The plane takes off early and is planning an early arrival by about half an hour – sweet.  We take off and fly right over the Magic Kingdom right at the time of the Wishes fireworks which the flight attendant says we can see, but neither Ethan or I see it.
  • I watch Wolverine – Carrie would like this, there are some scenes with Hugh Jackman with his shirt off and he looks like he buffed up for the role.  The movie is mediocre – I much preferred The Heat on the way down.
  • At one point the flight attendant announces – “Is there a doctor or nurse on the plane – we have a bit of a medical situation that needs attention”.  The guy beside me stands up and disappears for like an hour.  I kept thinking about the Airplane movies where Leslie Nielsen is the doctor and says “We need to get these people to a hospital.” and the flight attendant says “A hospital?  What is it?” to which Leslie says “A place where they keep sick people, but that isn’t important right now.”  I am a little nervous that we will need to make an emergency landing though as the nurse runs up and down the aisle a few times with bottles of water.  Later after the doctor and nurse were done, I go to the washroom and while in the washroom I hear the flight attendant announce: “If there is a police officer or paramedic on board, please identify yourself”.  Holy crap, what now?  No idea what that was for or what the medical emergency ultimately was but never had that happen on a flight before.
  • We land and go through Canada Customs fairly easily.  They ask again about the letter from the mother for Ethan – good to know if we’re ever travelling separately again.  But no searching or more questioning which was good.  Ethan had slept on the plane and woke up panicking trying to get his belt off.  He was in a bit of a sour mood as he was tired which is understandable.  Our bags took a while but once we got them, we headed back to the car, paid for parking and headed home.
  • Got home about 1 am – Ethan fell asleep again in the car on the way home and I felt like it.  Got in and woke up Winter and eventually Carrie who were both glad to see us.  I started unpacking a few things Ethan and I needed for bed (toothbrush, etc.) and ended up unpacking everything (yeah, that’s crazy).  Got to bed around 2 am – what a trip!

Day 4 – Hollywood Studios

Getting up again at 7 am is a bit tougher today as it was a late night.  I let Ethan sleep in a bit while I get things ready and wake him up around 7:30.  After breakfast he tests the weather and it’s still fairly warm though quite a bit cooler from yesterday so we figure we can still do short sleeves and shorts.  I make the FastPass reservations as I was too tired the night before and re-jig the plan to take into account getting to the park a bit later and the new FastPass reservations.

  • Ham and Cheese Omelette today at the Pop Century Food Court – still good but still pricey.  Ethan continues to make his accordian fans and now airplanes out of the receipts.
  • Grab the bus for Hollywood Studios at about 8:40 – looks like we might not be there right at the open
  • We get there about 8:55 and the security line is huge and the entrance line after security about just as big.  No fanfare on park opening like Magic Kingdom and Epcot unless we missed it.  Looks like this park is going to be busy today.
  • Line moves and we get to the fingerprinting / MagicBand station and Ethan’s fingerprint isn’t read again – but quickly fixed and we head for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster off of Sunset Ave.
  • The park is busy but it’s early yet and we wait for only a couple of minutes.  I ask people what the ride does as I have no idea but the person in front of me has never been on it either.  We hop on for a super fun ride and Ethan does his first looping roller coaster in the dark.  He loves it though – even though he was scared of doing looping coasters at Wonderland.  This is not the kid from 5 years ago that had to wear earphones at the 67’s game because of the sound being too loud either – this is a sensory assault (in a good way).
  • Temperature seems to be going down and the wind picking up as Ethan starts complaining about it being cold.  We really feel it as we walk down Sunset Blvd and over to Star Tours for our next ride.  We catch a bit of Jedi training outside on our way in.  However, Ethan is my padawan in the field of minimizing line waits so we head into the attraction after a short watch.  After getting out Ethan notices soy milk dripping from our knapsack – rats – big mess with it all spilled in the bag but I clean it up with some napkins I had stashed from this morning.
  • Head over to the Great Movie Ride but get a little lost trying to find it.  I resist the urge to fit the male stereotype of not asking for directions, so I ask a cast member who directs us in the exact opposite direction we were heading.   Ethan asks if some of what is happening is for real and I explain that it’s all pretend just like in the movies.
  • The park is getting really busy now as the posted wait time for Toy Story Mania is around 120 minutes.  Good thing I booked this as a FastPass – but even with it, we wait a good 10 minutes.  My competitive nature got the best of me back at the Magic Kingdom on Buzz Lightyear’s ride so I let it slide a bit on this one and Ethan won 68,000 to 60,300.  He’s happy and announcing how he beat me and one other kid says “How did you beat an adult?” and Ethan says “I’m really good at this game”.  Good – confidence restored.  I kept it real by being ahead of him at a few points in the game.
  • Going to cut it a little tight for Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular so we hustle back to Echo Lake there and luck out on a couple of really good seats even though we arrived only about 5 minutes before the show was scheduled to start.  Lots of explosions and action – Ethan loves it.
  • Lunch time so we grab some food at Backlot Express.  Busy restaurant but Disney manages it well and you still get your food pretty quickly (they have a guy at the head of the queue telling you which person to order your food from and that person just takes the order and a huge team of people is prepping the food and matching it with the people who ordered it – amazingly efficient).  We eat outside, but sheltered from the wind so it’s not so bad – but this isn’t anywhere near as nice of a day as the others have been.
  • Head down the Streets of America to the Studio Backlot Tour.  Another fairly short wait of 5 minutes or so.  More explosions and special effects – we get a little wet when the water comes down the mountain as we are in the back seat of the touring vehicle.  I read you might be able to see the old submarine from the original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction which I remember from my first visit to the Magic Kingdom, but I didn’t see it.  Walk out into the American File Institute Showcase and check out some of the exhibits there – Ethan is most interested in the Superman and Batman costumes.
  • A few free minutes before our Tower of Terror FastPasses become active so we take our time going over there and I ask at a sit down restaurant if I need to make a reservation.  I look at the menu and it seems like the same food as the rest of the places.   Am I just unlucky or do they all serve the same stuff?  I skip the dinner reservation and we head over to the Tower of Terror.  We take a snack break on Sunset Blvd. and a pleasant cast member comes over and we participate in a survey.  He asks for my email address and I joke “Is there anything free if I give it.” – and he says “No”.  So I say “All survey’s come with something free – are you sure?”, and he reiterates his previous response so I pass on giving my email address.   Then again, Disney already has it when I signed up for the My Disney Experience app, so I’ll get the spam anyway.
  • The Tower of Terror line is huge – 140 min wait is posted.  Good thing we have FastPasses but again, even with the FastPasses, we wait probably 5-10 minutes as it’s a low capacity ride.  Ethan is pretty nervous – I had been joking with him all day that it’s really the “Tower of Happiness” – “Tower of Terror” is a bad name – it’ll be fun.  Still he’s a trooper and has now put his faith in me that what look like scary rides are going to be fun and they’ve all been fun before so why would this one be any different?  He’s amazed at the huge line we bypassed.  Ethan loved it but it was my first time on that sort of ride so I probably screamed louder than he did – but who knows since everyone is screaming.
  • We have some time before the next Lights, Camera, Action show and Ethan had wanted one of the “First Visit” buttons so we pop in a few stores as every store is supposed to have one – but the first 2 didn’t.  Disney vacations tears off a giant strip of Disney stickers for Ethan and he loves it – he counts them later and he got 27 stickers.  We go to Guest Services and get the last “First Visit” button they had.
  • Still with some time we head in the direction of the show and see the Muppet Vision 3D attraction has a short wait so we pop in there.   I love the real Statler and Waldorf muppets cracking jokes even though we didn’t have a great angle to see them.
  • We get out of there and go line up for the Lights, Camera, Action show.  We saw a piece of it on the Studio Backlot Tour and heard lots of car screeches and revving engines so figured it would be right up Ethan’s alley.  It was indeed as it was filled with screeching, racing cars, explosions and lots of action.  It had become quite cold and we were fairly high up in the stadium so Ethan was trying to put his whole body in his shirt.
  • If were going to stay here until the nighttime Fanstamsic show, we’re going to need a jacket.  I dread seeing what the Disney premium is going to be on clothing, but Ethan is getting a bit irritable from the cold, and it’s probably not going to get any warmer.  We don’t really have time to go back to the hotel and back to the park again in time to get good seats for Fantasmic so we hit a few stores looking for something warm.  Of course, a lot of other people are doing the same and a bunch of stuff is sold out.  We find something Ethan likes, although it’s an adult small – but that’s OK, he can grow into it.  I find one for me and $100 later, we are both warm.
  • We stop for a snack at what I think is a place that has waffle cones – I just want some ice cream, I’m not really hungry yet.  The “cones” are Chicken, Bacon and Avocado bread cones and Cajun Shrimp Salad bread cone – not what I was looking for.  Oh well, I can wait – hopefully I won’t end up starving like the night before.
  • We still have a FastPass left and some time so I book a FastPass for the Star Tours ride again.  I heard from people the last time that each time it is different so hopefully we’ll see something different.  We arrive a bit early for the FastPass and have to let a few people in line ahead of us, but find out that it lets your arrive a few minutes early.  The experience is different and a bit more fun than the first time around.  Maybe it was because this time the crowd got into it a bit.
  • Closing in on 5:30 at this time so we should head for Fantasmic so we get a good seat.  I still haven’t snacked but I luck out and get a concession stand that is selling roasted nuts.  The last Senators game with Ethan, I walked all over the place looking for roasted nuts and couldn’t find them and I get them here without even looking.   A light beer and the roasted nuts sets me back close to $12 though.  Same price as at a hockey game I guess.
  • Ethan is excitedly waiting to see his mouse ears sync up with the show.  Some young guys sit next to us all with the mouse ears on and drinking beer – kind of a funny sight.  We sync up with home and then they put on a warm up pre-show.  It was downright cold by this time so a “warm up” was needed.  The show was awesome.  With the wind we got a little wet from the overspray of the water – we would have been freezing if we hadn’t had the jackets.   (Well, “freezing” by Florida standards when you are in shorts and a T-shirt, it was still probably double digit temperatures.)
  • Probably 5,000 people file out of the stadium and back into the park at once.  We want to check out the Osborne lights before calling it a night – but we are not alone as the stream of traffic seems to be flowing that way.  It’s pretty packed but we squeeze our way in and check out the most Christmas lights in one place we’ve ever seen.  We wait for the show and Ethan’s mouse ears sync up with God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman by Mannheim Steamroller.  I get some great snaps of Ethan – he is having such a good time.
  • We head for the buses which aren’t crazy busy as it’s not park closing time yet.  We get back around 8 and since it’s early yet and we aren’t super exhausted, we walk over to Art of Animation for a bit better dinner (at least not having to use plastic knives and forks).  I have some pasta and Ethan gets more creative with the receipt accordian folding and makes a dress (likely inspired by all the princess dresses he had seen a couple of days earlier at the Magic Kingdom).  Elliot’s favourite Lightning McQueen is here so I get him a hoodie of the Cars characters as well and take a snap of a sketch of Lightning McQueen on the walls.  Judging by today’s crowd levels, I’m not sure Elliot would have enjoyed that at all.  Waiting for shows wouldn’t have been good either, even though they weren’t super long waits.  I’ve been sizing up how we would do this trip with Elliot as today would not have been a good day for him.  He would probably like the water parks and maybe some of Magic Kingdom.  At Friday’s crowd levels it might be manageable, but Saturday and Sunday’s – forget it – a recipe for disaster I think.
  • Back to the room by about 9 to get packed and organized for the day tomorrow.  I book the seats for the flight, Ethan should get a window seat again.  I plan the Animal Kingdom FastPasses, get all the clothes packed up and the knapsack mostly ready to go in the morning.  Animal Kingdom has early Extra Magic Hours tomorrow – but I don’t think we are going to get there at park opening.  This is supposed to be a vacation after all – getting up at 6 am I can do everyday.
  • In bed by 10 and watch a bit of TV but asleep before 11 – good, cause tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Day 3 – Epcot, Blizzard Beach and back to the Magic Kingdom

Had set the alarm for 7 am – we both woke up a bit tired – but Ethan knew that Test Track at Epcot was the first ride we were going to hit so once out of bed he was raring to go.

Epcot

  • Pack food and get lots of sunscreen on.  Ethan checks the temperature outside and by 7:30 am it’s already quite warm.  Looks like we’ll go ahead with the Blizzard Beach plan then – forecast is for high 20’s with feeling like low to mid 30’s with the humidity – so standing in lines when the result is not a splash down into a pool might not be a good thing today.
  • Grab breakfast at the resort restaurant – a waffle with the Pop Century logo – I skip the orange juice today thinking I’d grab a cheaper drink at the park but breakfast still sets me back close to $15 for the waffle and coffee.  I get Ethan a banana and he occupies himself during breakfast by making accordian fans out of the receipt.
  • Head for the bus at about 8:20 again – we get a seat on the bus this time which makes Ethan happy – he’s starting to get anxious when we ride the bus as to whether or not he’s going to get a seat.  Arrive at Epcot at about 8:45 – about the same time we arrived at Magic Kingdom the day before.  Get the bags checked and get in a fairly short line.
  • Some fanfare for opening Epcot but not the show that Magic Kingdom puts on – a shot of some paper streamers in Epcot colours.  Ethan liked it and wanted to grab some streamers but lost interest once he picked them up and found they were just trampled, somewhat soggy pieces of tissue paper.
  • First up is Test Track as this one seems to get the longest lines later in the day.  We walk right in and create a different car than we created last night.  I suggested we’d go high on “effeciency” since they post the winners of each of the 4 categories you race in.  We won that category and overall we had a slightly better car than the night before, but the night before we didn’t come first in any category.  Another fun ride, but for sure the second time on rides is not as exhilarating as the first.
  • Next is a quick walk over to Mission: SPACE.  We do the “Green” ride which is less intense as Ethan has been prone to motion sickness and as I recall I was sick from the Mad Tea Party when I was a kid at Disney and I didn’t like that.   Short 5 minute wait again – coming early in the day is a good thing.
  • Catch the tail end of a drum band playing in Future World and then head over to “The Land” to catch Soarin’ with our FastPass’s.  Ethan keeps commenting on how long the line could be as we walk through the maze that would make up a line.   It amazes me that they must know beforehand that the attraction is going to be popular and know to build in the space for the long queue.   Another good use of the FastPass.  Ethan likes the sights and smells in Soarin’ but points out that we weren’t actually flying as he sees the ride complete and all the seats go back to the loading position.
  • Living with the Land which is right beside Soarin’ has no line and we have a bunch of free time so we hop on it.     The natural part of the attraction where they grow food that they actually use at the Epcot restaurants was cool.
  • It’s still fairly early in the morning – about 10:30 so we head over to “The Seas” to see what’s there.   We’ve only used 1 of our 3 FastPass’s for the day and we are getting ready to wrap up and go to Blizzard Beach so I book an immediate FastPass for The Seas with Nemo and Friends.  This one doesn’t save us a huge amount of time, but does save us some walking through a meandering queue line.
  • Right beside is Turtle Talk with Crush and it looks like we can walk right into that one too.   I thought this was going to be for super little kids and very corny but it was actually really good.  Crush talks to a few kids who ask questions and cracks jokes for the kiddies and the parents.  Really well done – both Ethan and I liked it more than we thought we were going to.
  • We check out the small aquariums downstairs where there are some cool tropical fish and eels and then head upstairs to get a view of the big aquariums.  Ethan spots a dolphin and a shark and the rays swim majestically by.
  • Closing in on 11:30 am so we head for the bus to go back to the hotel to get ready to go to Blizzard Beach.  It’s a beautiful sunny day and hot, hopefully it won’t be too busy.

Blizzard Beach

  • We take a mostly empty bus back to the hotel where we eat lunch and get changed to go to Blizzard Beach.   I grab some cash as I’m told they rent lockers there but don’t take the MagicBand for it.  It’s the first cash I’ve needed.  I leave my phone behind anyway, just in case I lose it or can’t get a locker – but it makes me a bit nervous as if I lose Ethan, he won’t be able to get a hold of me.  But I guess the MagicBand’s serve another purpose there helping connect lost children with their parents.   I make a plan with Ethan anyway to meet at 4 pm if we get separated.
  • The bus to Blizzard Beach / Animal Kingdom is pretty empty and we are the only ones going to Blizzard Beach.  This is a good sign –  maybe 28C isn’t hot enough for people from the south?  We get there and Ethan’s MagicBand and fingerprint aren’t working.  This must be a fairly common occurrence as there is someone right there to reset the fingerprint data and we get in after that.
  • Ethan loves floating in a tube around those lazy river’s – and this one has a big one that goes all the way around the park.  The sun is shining on a beautiful day and I get to kick back and relax as we float around the park.  Have to keep half an eye open for Ethan though – for some reason he doesn’t want me around him.
  • Next we head over to the Purple Slopes slide area – the posted wait times for all say less than 15 minutes so we line up for the Downhill Double Dipper.  The wait ended up being closer to 20-25 minutes and was probably our longest wait of the entire trip.  It moved slow as the ride took only 2 tubes at once and you had to wait for the tubes to come up the hill.  Maybe it seemed longer as they had this warning message playing in English and Spanish over and over again “Hey Double Dippers, remember you have to be at least 48 inches to ride and to always sit in the tube and hold on to the handles when you ride”.   Got on Ethan’s and I think every other double dipper’s nerves – signs would have been sufficient.  Ethan and I didn’t even get to sync up and race each other as we were off by 1 person and he didn’t want to wait.
  • Not worth the wait – an OK ride but not worth a 20+ minute wait.  We head back up for Toboggan Racers and the wait is considerably shorter and the ride much more fun.  I get a good push off on the face first race and seemed to pick up quickly on how to maximize my speed (lifting the toboggan up slightly) and I finish the race way out in front of everybody on the slide.
  • One more slide on the Purple Slopes is another face first mat slide called Snow Stormers.  I go fast using the same technique I did on the last one.  These were much more fun than the Double Dipper.
  • Ethan wants to head over to Melt-Away Bay now – a big wave pool.  He finds a tube quickly and heads to the biggest waves.  I try sharing his tube but he’ll have none of it.  I bounce for a while keeping an eye on him until he spots a tube for me.  We ride the waves some more – I think Ethan could have spent the rest of the day here but after 15-20 minutes of it I was getting a little bored and suggested we move on and try another slide.
  • We head over to the Red Slope and climb a lot of steps with our double tube in hand.   Ethan goes in front and we ride down the long slide.
  • We take a quick peek at the Green Slopes – we’ll have to skip those.  I kinda wanted to do the Summit Plummet but it was a pretty long line and Ethan had no interest in doing it.
  • Getting later in the day now and starting to cool off a bit so we take a short ride in Cross Country Creek (the lazy river) and then dry off and collect our stuff.  Ethan wanted to stay longer and complained a bit about having to go – but I explained that we want to catch the bus before the park closes and we have to stand on the bus.   He’s a little sour but I  figure it’s because he was hungry too as it was later than he normally eats.  He eats on the bus back to the hotel and his mood is back to normal.

Epcot

  • We plan to catch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom tonight and see the park lit up at night, but we had one FastPass left for Epcot and the bus from our hotel to Epcot seemed faster and less busy than the bus to Magic Kingdom so I book another FastPass for Mission: SPACE – with the plan to do the Orange (more intense) experience.
  • We get to Epcot around 5:30 and head for Mission: SPACE.  This time it is quite a bit more intense as we feel g-forces during the simulation.  I was worried Ethan might get sick but it was me who felt a bit queezy after.
  • Starting to get dark – but the Electric Light Parade at Disney doesn’t start til 9 pm and if we’re there by 8 pm we should get a decent seat for the parade.  I’m getting hungry and a little tired of burgers and fries and I want to see the World Showcase – even though it looks like a long walk around – and they will hopefully have some more international food selections.
  • Ethan starts complaining about the walk less than a quarter of the way through.  I thought of turning back as I don’t want him whining the whole way but explained to him that I just want to see this and that this is the only thing that I’m doing that is just for me.  We catch part of the Reflections of China show and he seems at least temporarily appeased.
  • About midway through he is really unhappy so I pop into the Morocco exhibit looking for food so we can sit down and take a break.  They only have like one thing on the menu and it didn’t appeal to me at the time – and Ethan was sour so I just wanted to get out of the World Showcase.
  • We keep walking to get back to Future World and over to the monorail and Ethan and I are bickering.  In retrospect, it was a bad decision to walk around it given we were both kinda tired from the day.  I tell him that he is behaving like a “spoiled” child and he asks what that means and I tell him that he has to think sometimes of what other people want and that he should be appreciative that he got the trip to come down here and not complain that he is “bored” just because he has to do a walk around something that has little interest for a kid.  He later apologizes for being spoiled and I could tell he meant it – but he broke my heart when he said “It’s not true that they say this is the place where dreams come true – my dream isn’t for daddy to be getting mad at me”.   We talk about it later and we both apologize (me for getting mad and him for his behaviour) and decide to put it behind us.  This was almost like 2 adults travelling together – you can’t always expect to get along – if you get along most of the time you are doing well and this was the only blip we had.
  • We get to the monorail and take it to the transfer station to the Magic Kingdom at about 7 pm.  The monorail to the Magic Kingdom is out of service so we are redirected to the ferry.  I start to get a bit anxious that we won’t get a spot for the parade as the crowd lining up for the ferry is huge and I don’t know how long it takes to load/unload the ferry and get it across the lake.  It goes pretty quick though and I get some great night snaps of the Magic Kingdom from the ferry.   Happy accident – the ferry ride was an nice unexpected pleasant experience.

Magic Kingdom

  • Decent wait to get back into the Magic Kingdom as it’s Saturday night and the park is open to 1 am.  The parade and fireworks are on tonight so lots of people heading in for that.
  • Main Street looks amazing all lit up for Christmas – the castle is lit up for Christmas too (I assume it’s different than usual lighting – looks Christmas-y).
  • I get Ethan  more light up bling in the form of “Glow With the Show” mouse ears.  He saw these the first day and wanted them but they didn’t sell them at Epcot.  We learn that they sync to some shows and fireworks – Ethan is very intrigued with this.
  • I’m starving by now and start looking for a place that isn’t crazy busy for food.  I realize at this point that most of the big fast food places serve basically exactly the same things – OK – another burger and fries it is.  We eat in TomorrowLand at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and get to listen to the tunes of Sunny Eclipse.
  • We start looking for a place to catch the Main Street Electrical Parade.  It’s still before 8 pm and the parade is at 9.  I’m confused why people are sitting in what looks like some taped off areas.
  • I realize the taped off areas are for crowd control and I see what looks like good real estate on the circle in front of the castle.  I grab an ice cream bar and we figure we have great seats, but then I overhear someone say that the parade doesn’t go around that part of the circle.  Rats – it’s after 8 pm now and a lot of the good real estate is gone.
  • I spot another spot on the other side of the circle but it’s outside the tape section, but some other people are already sitting there and it looks like there is a lot of room for people to still move around behind us, so we decide to park ourselves there.  Not a great spot until some people decide to move and then we are right behind a group of people all sitting, just on the other side of the tape.
  • The crowd fills in behind us to the point that security had to come over and clear some people out because they needed to ensure they had an emergency pathway cleared.  They  ask everyone behind the tape to stand and get “real skinny”.  Some people behind us complain and the security guy said, it’s either this or you have to find another spot.  I was worried we were going to get booted at that point which would have sucked.
  • Crowd stayed under control but this was the busiest, most crowded I have seen of any of the parks to this point.  Ethan decides to sit down again as he has room to – but I have to stand and my feet are killing me at this point.
  • Finally 9 pm rolls up and the parade starts – amazingly the train pulling the big drum with the Electric Light Parade name on it is basically exactly the same as it was 37 years ago.  I came home and compared our old Super 8 footage with the video I took and the train is identical and the drum only has the “Disney” brand on it vs. being called the “Main Street” Electrical Parade.  But everything else exactly the same – how awesome – felt like I was stepping back into my childhood.
  • Ethan is wowed by the parade and when it ends we ask a cast member why everyone is leaving – aren’t the fireworks up next?  We asked if where we were was a good vantage point for the fireworks and she said it was great – and she didn’t know why some people leave right after the parade when the fireworks follow shortly after. So we basically stay put but move out on to the circle where there is a bit more room.  The flow of people stops and the empty spaces start to fill in.
  • Shortly after the Celebrate the Magic light show on the castle starts.  Way cool – Ethan really likes the Wreck it Ralph part where it looks like they are smashing down the castle.  Disney has so many brands it can draw on, but most of the ones for this show are the classic ones.   Ethan notices his hat syncing to the colours on the castle and thinks that’s super cool.
  • The “Wishes” fireworks are next and they don’t disappoint.   Disney Parks must go through a ton of fireworks – they even have them during the day at a few shows.  Ethan loves the fireworks and the fact that his mouse ears are synced to the colours of the fireworks.  That was pretty neat – and we had a great vantage point for the fireworks.
  • After the fireworks – most people head out and we take an alternate exit to the busses (well us and thousands of other people – but it did bypass a good chunk of Main Street) – we get to the bus and miss getting on the first one as it was too full and pack onto the second one in standing room only.   Disney has it worked out though knowing that this is the behaviour pattern of people and they have tons of busses running.  It looks like it takes a bit of a short cut on the way back or an alternate route to avoid traffic as it didn’t seem the same as when we came the first day.
  • We get back to the hotel around 11:30 pm exhausted again.  I’m too tired to set up the FastPass’s for Hollywood Studios the next day, so I put it off to the morning.  2 minutes of TV and we are both out cold.

Day 2 – Magic Kingdom and a taste of Epcot

We woke up pretty excited – I was probably just as excited as Ethan as this was my first time back to the Magic Kingdom in 37 years.  I have some great memories from that trip that I’m hoping to relive a bit and share and create new ones for Ethan.   So some attractions were a trip down memory lane and some were new experiences.

Magic Kingdom

  • 7 am – Wake up, pack food and electronics for the day and get breakfast at the resort – french toast, orange juice and a coffee for $18 or so.  I have to double check my receipt as this is a fast food restaurant, where you collect the food, get it on paper plates with plastic knives and forks and you bus your own table.  Ok, so at this point I just have to accept that food is not going to be cheap.  I guess this is where having Ethan being such an incredibly picky eater saves me some money at least – however, I did have to haul down 5 days worth of nutri-grain bars, goldfish crackers, soy milk and cheerios – with the chance that some uptight border control guy would consider the nutri-grain bars “seeds” or “fruit’ and confiscate them.  Again, albeit pricey, the breakfast was good and the coffee surprisingly good too.
  • 8:20 am – finish breakfast and head for the Disney Transport to Magic Kingdom.  Bus is pretty full so we end up having to stand and we get our first good glimpse of Walt Disney World.  This place is huge and there are people being moved around everywhere.   I make some small talk with a couple from the mid-west (who think Ottawa is in Illinois until I correct them).  I ask them if the park opens right at 9 and they explain to me, like I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t know it, that there is a little pre-opening show.
  • 8:45 am – We arrive and get our bags checked and get past the security just as the train with Mickey and gang is arriving at Main Street station.  They do the show, complete with fireworks and fanfare – nice way to start the day.  Ethan is wowed.
  • 9 am – gates open, we grab a park map and head down Main Street.  I take a few of the obligatory Main Street snaps – it looks nice as it’s all decked out for Christmas and it’s supposed to be a light crowd day so the streets aren’t loaded with too many people yet.  Walk down Main Street toward Tomorrowland.
  • First stop is Space Mountain – 37 years ago, I was too small to ride this ride and remember being very upset about it – so it was the first ride we were going to hit.  We walk in and basically right on to it.   Rats – I did miss out 37 years ago, this ride was super fun.  Of course I probably would have been terrified as a 7 year old as I let out a few yelps as a 44 year old.  Ethan loved it – and I tell him it was the scariest ride in the whole park so he’s ready for everything.
  • Next stop is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger spin – this wasn’t here last time so it was new to me and Ethan.  Again, pretty much walked right on to the ride.  I beat Ethan not realizing I probably shouldn’t have.   That probably affected his ho-hum response to this ride.  I liked it though but a little hard to see whose hitting what.
  • We walk past the Tomorrowland Speedway – I recall riding that when I was a kid and not being overly excited by it so figured neither Ethan or I would like it so we head to Fantasyland.
  • Lots of princesses and things for younger kids here but I have to go see “it’s a small world” – since it’s one of my most vivid memories from when I was there as a kid.  We walk on, given one of these red tag things that they measure the line waiting times with.  Another ride we walked directly on.  The first part of the ride was like stepping into a time machine.  It was exactly like I remembered it – only last time I think I was sitting in my mom’s lap.  Amazing that they have kept parts of this attraction the same over all this time.  Later on in the attraction, it did look a bit updated.  I started being an adult and engineer and wondered how they clean and maintain these attractions.  They are open pretty much all the time to late hours some nights, but there wasn’t any dust on the little puppets or any motors that looked worn out or even light bulbs that needed replacing.  There was the odd bit of paint that looked like it was maybe a couple of months old, but man – they must have a ton of people just maintaining this one attraction and work over night replacing motors, lights and dusting and freshening up paint.   Ok, it was a long ride and my mind was wandering – there’s only so many times you can hear “It’s a small world after all”.  But great kitsch factor – a trip down memory lane for sure.  Ethan was busy taking snaps and videos on his iPod just like Dad was.  He thought it was cool – this was part of the reason I wanted to take him before he got too old.  A couple of more years and he’d be like “that was lame”.
  • Next was The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square – this was another favourite of mine when I was a kid.  I remember having the ghost sitting on top of me as I was between my dad and one of my brothers.  The ghost stuck to me again this time – but it looks like this ride has had a lot of updates as not much was ringing a bell in my memories other than the shape of the carts you sit in.  We walked right into the first part of this attraction but had to wait a bit for the ride as it was stopped.  They pulled the old computer engineer trick of shutting it down and restarting it and see if the problem went away.  It did – it was probably a software bug – it came back mid ride but they didn’t have to reboot the ride that time.  Ok – so some attractions showing some signs of wear and tear maybe.  Still very cool to see – I love how the “cast members” all look kinda morbid and behave like funeral home attendants – no smiles or laughter.  Nice touch.
  • Walk past the Liberty Sqaure Riverboat – my brother painted a picture from this vantage point – I remember playing with a balloon in our basement while he was painting it and the balloon stuck to the paint and messed it up a bit.  Ooops – don’t know if I ever told him that.  Take a few snaps – picture perfect day.   Pretty sure we road that when I was a kid as I have video my dad took with the Super 8 camera of Tom Sawyer’s island.    We pass on that today.
  • Go hit the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – decent coaster – Ethan is really liking roller coasters now.  I don’t think this ride was here back in ’77 either.  Another walk right on ride – seems like going in the morning combined with off-season, combined with the Very Merry Christmas Party that night kept the crowds at nice low levels.
  • About 10:30 am now and it’s warm enough to hit Splash Mountain.  Ethan is worried about the “5 storey” drop at the end into water – partly about getting wet but also about the drop.  Cool animatronics leading up to the big splash and when we hit the big splash – we did get a bit wet but it was welcome as the day was starting to get good and warm.  Ethan was like – “That was fun” and starting to realize that thrills are a good thing and not something to worry about.
  • Leaving Frontierland we catch an old time western trio for a bit and head to Adventureland for Pirates of the Carribean.  Walk past Country Bear Jamboree which I loved as a kid, but decided to skip this time around – read some reviews back in Ottawa that said the show had changed a lot and not for the better.  Pirates was another classic for me as a kid.    The outside of the attraction looks totally different than what I recall and there was only one part during it that looked familiar.  I tell Ethan that the ride inspired the movie – but it seems the movie has had an influence of the ride as there are some very life-like looking Jack Sparrow’s in a couple parts.
  • Next up is the Jungle Cruise – labelled the Jingle Cruise for the holidays.   Mostly entertaining for the jokes from the tour guide – must be comedians in training.  Lots of Christmas jokes and free “Jingle Cruise” posters on the way out.  How am I going to get these back to Ottawa in one piece?    Lines are starting to get longer and this one has a posted wait of 25 minutes – but luckily we have our first FastPass+ scheduled and walk right on.  I ask the guy “Is this where you get on the boat?” (as I wasn’t sure as we had used FastPass and ended up right at the front) – and he said “No”.  I was like “What?” – and he said “I’m not getting on the boat – but this is where *you* get on the boat”.  Like I said, comedians in training.
  • Lunch time and we’ve already packed a ton of the Magic Kingdom into the morning.  We swing by the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse as this was another attraction I remember from my first visit.  I remember it being busier than it was this time around and it seemed like a lot more stairs back then.  Then, we walk through Liberty Square past the Hall of Presidents (we went there as a kid – but I don’t think Ethan would like that) – even though I was kinda interested to see it.   We eat at Casey’s Corner for lunch – I get an $8 hot dog and fries.  This is where I start to realize that Mickey has this whole deal pretty well thought out.    I’m starting to figure that with all the maintenance, security, cleaning, entertainment and attractions, that the park admission probably just covers their operating costs (if that) and that they really make money on food and merchandise (the latter at the park and every other day of the year if they get your kids hooked on a few Disney characters).      That’s OK – the rest of the world works this way too – give away the content and sell everything else around it at good margin.
  • We get the first bit of rain while having our lunch.  Worked out well for us as everyone came running in from the rain but the seats had umbrellas so we just sat down where it was dry.  Some loud dude was ignoring the signage and feeding the birds – but that was pretty much the only doofus I saw on the trip.  Everyone else, very polite, nice, courteous – staff and guests.
  • Rain was only a quick shower  and were back to Fantasyland to check out Peter Pan’s Flight.  Another new ride – more animatronics but an updated concept.  Another busy attraction and crowds are getting quite large by this point.  Posted wait is 40 minutes but we FastPass it in and wait for only a couple.   Ethan is liking the FastPass concept and so am I.
  • Next up is Mickey’s PhilharMagic which was supposed to have long wait times but the posted wait was only 10 minutes so we walk right in and wait for the next show.  I realize we have another available FastPass to schedule so I tee up another ride on Space Mountain to round out the day with an exciting ride toward the end.  I book it and we go in to see the PhilharMagic.  An impressive  3D show that I liked more than I thought I would and Ethan got a few laughs out of too.
  • The end of our planned attractions but it’s early yet – we pop into Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ethan gets picked to play the teapot (I guess they are being politically correct and gender neutral as the teapot’s name is “Mrs. Potts”).  Cute play with the kiddies and Ethan gets to meet Belle and I get a good snap with him and her.  We waited in line for this one a bit – maybe 10 or 15 minutes even though it had a posted wait of 25 or 30.
  • We still had some time before our Space Mountain FastPass became active so we hopped on the PeopleMover in Tomorrowland to get a good look at the park.  This was the ride I went on with my mom while my brothers, my dad and my sister went on Space Mountain.  You get to see inside Space Mountain from the PeopleMover so at least I got a taste when I was a kid.  Ethan liked this ride too.
  • Off the PeopleMover and our FastPass just becomes active so we head over to Space Mountain and go right in.  We get in and there is some problem with the attraction so we wait for about 10 minutes while they fix it.   We get the second track for this ride – which I’m guessing is basically the same but who knows as it’s all dark and twisty.  Nothing is quite as thrilling as the first ride – but still fun.
  • Head back to Main Street – catching part of a show at the castle on the way and check out a few shops – see some lollipops that I know Elliot would love, but figure I can get them another day so hold off.  We see the train pulling in at the station and figure it’s snack time anyway, so we’ll take a train ride around the park and Ethan will have his snack.  Nice train ride – it’s pretty hot by this time of day (around 3pm) and we are starting to get a bit tired.  Nice break on the train – we get back and the “Dream Come True” parade is circling around Main Street so we catch the end of it (probably most of it).
  • Ethan wants to take the monorail over to Epcot so we say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom for now and head over to Epcot.  We would have to buy an extra Christmas ticket and since we had park hopper option we figured we’d do Epcot on Friday night and see Magic Kingdom at night on Saturday.  Catch the monorail and transfer to the Epcot monorail and arrive at Epcot at about 3:45 pm.

Epcot 1

  • Ethan liked the monorail ride and we arrive at Epcot and go through security and the entrance and get in about 3:45-4pm.  We take some snaps and see that “Spaceship: Earth” has no line so we walk right on to that.  Ethan liked it – he likes science stuff so I figured he’d like Epcot.   Time for some more food for Ethan so we take a break in front of the big fountain in Future World.  Nice fountain show – always something to see – even when you are taking a break.  Phone almost out of power which is not good – backup battery charger comes in handy and backup camera for while it’s charging.
  • Then it was off to Innoventions East and West.  The Sum of All Thrills was on the plan for early Saturday but there was a super short line so we hop onto that.  Ethan really liked that as we designed our own coaster and we did a loop and a barrel roll so he got to experience what it would be like to be on a looping roller coaster.    Good – because there’s more to come buddy.  Disney thinks of everything and has lockers to store stuff in so you don’t lose it – nice touch.
  • Play around a bit in the Limits Lab and then head out of Epcot.  We’re pretty tired and hot so figure we go back to the hotel for a swim.

Hotel

  • Change and connect with home briefly – ensure all electronics recharged.  Re-pick FastPass+ selections for Epcot and re-optimize the touring plan in Lines to make best use of the time tomorrow.
  • Go for a dip in the pool til about 6 pm – it was still warm and lighter a bit later too – refreshing after a long day of walking
  • Head over to Art of Animation for a dinner on real plates with real knives and forks.  Same prices but this is not a “value” resort so they get real knives and forks and a bit better food selection.
  • Catch the bus back to Epcot – we get to sit this time.

Epcot 2

  • Go through security again and check out Epcot lit up at night.  Ethan wants some light up bling so we head into one of the shops and buy a spinning Mickey light up wizard.
  • Check out the Epcot Christmas tree which was spectacular and head to the World Showcase to get a good spot for Illuminations
  • Wait for the Illuminations show and have a snack – I gave in and bought some cotton candy earlier so I polish it off.  Ethan tries a tiny morsel of cotton candy and says he likes it but doesn’t want more.
  • Watch the Illuminations show – which was pretty good.  You can never have enough fireworks.
  • Extra Magic Hours for Epcot tonight – and Ethan is claiming he’s not tired so right after the show we head for Test Track.  By this time it’s 10 pm and the ride has a posted wait of 30 minutes.  We give it a shot anyway and wait probably 20-25 by the time we got on the ride, but worth the wait for Ethan.  Fun ride – nice way to end the first day.
  • Exhausted, we head back to the buses and to our resort – had to stand again on the bus.
  • In bed shortly after 11 – watch TV for like 5 minutes and fall sleep – what a day!

Day 1 – Getting There

The first day was all about travelling but that was the start of the excitement as it was Ethan’s first time flying.

  • 12:30 pm – Pick Ethan up at school, come home and have lunch
  • 1:30 pm – Pack everything up and drive to airport
  • 2:00 pm – Arrive at airport and park, drop off luggage, Ethan has a snack and finishes his soy milk since we can’t carry any of it on the plane due to crazy rules (I spent some time looking for smaller containers but he just drank it instead)
  • 3:00 pm – Go through security and I missed some “liquids” (it was a new container of a creme) which they confiscated – oh well, at least we got everything else checked in and security scanned OK.  Go through US border security and they ask me about a letter of consent from Ethan’s mother.  Uh-oh – didn’t think of that – good thing it wasn’t a hard rule – or the trip could have been over before it started.
  • Wait “patiently” for plane
  • 4:30 pm – Board the plane
  • 5:00 pm – Take-off – bound for Florida – Ethan loves looking out the window and the feeling of flying.  He gets a kick out of tracking the plane’s altitude and progress on the in-flight entertainment system.  He watches Turbo and I watch “The Heat” – that was hilarious
  • 8:00 pm – arrive in Florida to considerably warmer weather than what we left behind – look all over for the Disney Magical Express bus only to realize it was in a different terminal, so we trek on over there and hop on the bus to our resort.
  • 8:30 pm – how well Disney plans for everything and how well organized they are starts to show already.  They have a “DME TV” – Disney Magical Express TV to keep kiddies (and adults) occupied while doing the half hour bus ride to Walt Disney World.   I start getting a feel for how much this is not the same place I was 37 years ago.
  • 9:00 pm – arrive at Pop Century Resort and check in – get instructions for the “My Disney Experience” and “Magic Band+” and “FastPass+” – and, I’m a technical guy, but I’m a little overwhelmed at this point of how everything is linked.  My credit card, my room key, my attraction reservations all linked to the personalized band on my arm – this I gotta see.
  • 9:15 pm – check out our 50’s inspired room – the room is pretty much your standard hotel room with a little bit of theme – which is OK since we are just going to be using it for sleeping.  The resort is nice with 2 pools and the “Pop Century” theme is carried around with things like a giant Rubik’s cube in the 80’s wing and names like “Hippity Dippity Pool” in the 60’s area.   The room seems to be in a pretty quiet section of the resort and not too far from the main building.  Call home and tell them we made it and Ethan tells mom how cool the flight was.
  • 9:30 pm – start farting around with the “My Disney Experience” app on my phone as this is how you need to use the “FastPass+” system.  The “old” way was you’d get a park ticket and have to go to the FastPass distribution kiosks near the attractions and get one of those – but with these Magic Bands, you just make the reservations for things using their app and then it’s linked to the band for when you arrive at your scheduled time.  This sounds great, but I need some “reservation number” which I have no clue what it is.  Momentary panic as I had already made plans assuming I had access to FastPass – but that’s not the case when you have FastPass+.  Too hungry to figure it out right now though.
  • 10:00 pm – go grab dinner and get introduced to the Disney premium on food.  At least it tastes good but it’s pricey for what you get.
  • 10:30 pm – back to concierge to get my reservation number and they hook me up and I’m all set to go for reserving FastPass+’s
  • 10:45 pm – back to room and re-jig plan for Magic Kingdom for tomorrow using new FastPass+ planning system and the Lines app
  • 11:00 pm – lights out – flip on the TV to find the first 10 channels Disney branded channels and a good chunk of the rest of the channels (maybe even all) Disney Media channels (ABC, A&E etc.) – no John Stewart – how will I be able to track what Rob Ford is up to?  Set the alarm for 7 am – it’s going to be an early start.