Day 1 was Magic Kingdom. It was a marathon of a day, but we had a lot of fun!
A little background: I did some research in advance to find out which rides would be appropriate for M (height restrictions, not too scary, characters she would recognize). I also read a few blogs and asked for advice from friends. We downloaded a couple of apps:
"Disney Parks" was free and has maps of all the parks along with lists of attractions, characters, dining options, and more. You can customize the park map by adding favorites and choosing to see only your favorite rides/attractions on the map. I used this at Magic Kingdom to help navigate and try not to miss anything.
"Kenny the Pirate's Character Locator" has a free mobile site, but I opted to pay $2.19 for the full app. This was a lifesaver to find when and where the characters would be. I also loved that it had "tips" for each character that suggested things to say or ask. M asked the White Rabbit if he was late, and told Alice it was her un-birthday.
I also read the rules for taking food and drinks into the park. There are surprisingly few restrictions - no glass, no alcohol, and no large coolers or coolers on wheels. They do check your bag on the way in, but they are mainly looking for weapons, glass and alcohol. We packed a small lunchbox-sized cooler with snacks (juice boxes, fruit snacks, veggie straws, trail mix, animal crackers, etc.) and a water bottle for each person.
- Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid (FASTPASS available)
- Visit Ariel at Ariel's Grotto
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Barnstormer (35", small drops)
- Mad Tea Party (teacups)
- Visit Alice and the White Rabbit
- Visit Tigger and Winnie the Pooh
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (FASTPASS available)
- Play in Pooh's house
- Lunch Break - Pinocchio Village Haus
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel
- It's a Small World
- Mickey's PhilharMagic (FASTPASS available)
- Visit with Daisy, Minnie, Donald and Goofy
- Peter Pan's Flight (FASTPASS available)
- (Somehow we missed Enchanted Tales with Belle - we'll save that for next time!)
- Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor
- (We skipped Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and other Tomorrowland rides that didn't really appeal to M right now. We have to save something for next time, right?)
Adventureland and Frontierland:
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Dole Whip from Aloha Isle
- Grab Fast Pass for Jungle Cruise
- Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise (FASTPASS available)
- (We skipped Swiss Family Treehouse - too wet - and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin - too much like Dumbo.)
Main Street, USA
- Visit with Mickey and the Princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel)
Our Day - Details
We started bright and early with a 6:30am wake up. This gave us enough time for showers, breakfast, and packing, and we were out the door by 7:45. We got a great parking spot toward the front of the lot and walked right into the park. We were there in time for the 8:47 Welcome Show, which was really neat (the characters ride in on a train before the gates open). When the gates opened at 9, we stopped for a quick picture in front of the castle, then headed directly to Fantasyland.
Our first stop was Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid. We beat the crowd and had no wait. M loved this ride (Little Mermaid is one of her favorite movies). After the ride we went to Ariel's Grotto to meet Ariel. There was a very short wait, and we were escorted into a neat little room to talk and take pictures with Ariel. M was a little shy (she hasn't had much experience with people in costumes), and I ended up sitting with her the whole time, but it was not for a lack of trying on the part of the Little Mermaid! I have to say, I was so impressed with how much attention all the characters gave to her. They did not rush you at all, and the characters that talked (like the princesses) would try to have conversations. Ariel told M that her favorite food was seaweed cheesecake, and asked M if she knew how to make it. So cute!
Next we walked to Dumbo (again, no line).
The Barnstormer has a 35" height minimum, and M was just barely tall enough. It is a small roller coaster, but I'm not sure I would really call it a "kid ride." M was a little shell-shocked when she got off, but she seemed to enjoy it (and even asked to ride it again!).
Alice and the White Rabbit make appearances right next to the Mad Tea Party teacups ride. They were both there when we arrived, but Alice had to leave for a "Tea Party" while we were in line (the White Rabbit stayed), so we got out of line to ride the teacups first. This is where the Character Locator app came in handy - we were able to check times to make sure we could ride the teacups and get back in time to see both characters. Pay close attention to the times listed - they arrive and leave right on time and will cut off the line when it's time to go!
After the ride we got back in line to meet the characters. The White Rabbit was still there, so we saw him first. He had to leave, and Alice came back shortly after. (If you pay closer attention to the Character Locator than we did, you could see both at the same time.)
Next was Winnie the Pooh. First a ride on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (which was very well done!), a visit with Tigger and Pooh, and then a few minutes playing in Pooh's House. I was amazed at how easy it was to find the characters (it used to be so much crazier - they would show up anywhere at any time), and how short most of the lines were. We didn't feel rushed at all - M had the opportunity to talk with each of the characters, give hugs, and have her picture taken. They also have Disney photographers at every character location who are taking pictures and will give you a PhotoPass card. If you give your PhotoPass card to each photographer, you can view and purchase their photos online when you get home. We took plenty of pictures on our own, but I imagine this would be extremely helpful for single parents or people who don't have a nice camera (or want to be in the pictures themselves). The photographers were mostly non-intrusive, and gave you space to take your own pictures and encouraged M to look at our camera.
We took an early lunch break at Pinocchio Village Haus to beat the crowd. We got there right at 11 when they opened. It was surprisingly good - I had the Caprese Flatbread pizza and it was very tasty. As a vegetarian I was nervous that I would have trouble finding something decent to eat, but I have been impressed by the updated dining options. Most meals were in the $8-10 range, which is inexpensive for Disney standards. The kid's meal (cheese pizza) came with a bag of grapes, yogurt and milk.
After lunch we took a quick ride on Prince Charming's Regal Carousel. M was ready for a nap at this point, so I popped her into the ring sling (this is an Oscha Nouveau Willow - Sleeping Baby Productions is a good place to purchase something similar). I opted for carriers for Magic Kingdom (I packed a ring sling and a backpack-style soft structured carrier) so we wouldn't have to deal with a stroller. I knew we would be riding a lot of rides at Magic Kingdom, and that we would spend at least half the day in a relatively small area (most of what we wanted to see was in Fantasyland). We didn't have to worry about finding stroller parking, and as a bonus, I was able to wear M while we waited in line for It's a Small World so she could take a short nap!
Mickey's PhilharMagic 3-D show was excellent. Donald loses Mickey's Sorcerer's hat and follows it through a series of classic Disney movies, including
- "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast
- "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid
- "I Just Can't Wait to be King" from The Lion King
- "You Can Fly" from Peter Pan
- "A Whole New World" from Aladdin
At this point we realized we had missed the Storybook Circus, so we headed that way to see Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy. Because of the timing, we had to choose between meeting the characters and seeing "Pete's Silly Sideshow," and we chose to see the characters. We waited close to 30 minutes to see Minnie and Daisy, and around 15 minutes to see Donald and Goofy. I don't know if there are times when the lines are shorter, but these were some of M's favorites, so it was worth the wait for us. If you plan to go to different parks, you may want to find these popular characters in a less crowded park.
Our last stop in Fantasyland was Peter Pan's Flight. We ducked into this ride just as the rain started, and it was pouring by the time we got out. Luckily we had planned for rain, and we each had a raincoat as well as some umbrellas. Magic Kingdom in the rain isn't the best case scenario, but once we got over the initial annoyance, we were able to continue with our day.
We suited up and made our way over to Tomorrowland for the Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor show. I didn't know what to expect with this show, but it was cute. They use the cameras to spotlight people in the audience throughout the show, which makes it more interactive. It was not my favorite of the day, but M seemed to enjoy it.
M was getting tired and cranky again, so I put her back in the ring sling as we decided what to do next. Everyone was trying to stay out of the rain, so all of the restaurants and shops were ridiculously crowded. We longingly stared into the windows of The Crystal Palace where all the comfortable, dry families were dining with their favorite characters, but there was no way to get a table at that time of day. We skimmed the park map to find something that would be inside with a short wait, and opted for Country Bear Jamboree. It was a cute show, and M enjoyed it. By the end of the show she was definitely ready for another nap.
My mom wanted some Dole Whip, so we headed over to Adventureland. M was asleep by the time we got there, so she missed out (another thing to add to our to-do list for our next visit). The rain was starting to let up, so we grabbed a FastPass for Jungle Cruise and walked back to Frontierland for The Haunted Mansion. We were actually happy to finally have a line for a ride (who ever thought you would say that?!), so M had another 30-35 minutes to sleep while we waited. I thought she would sleep right through the ride, but forgot about the part at the beginning when they cram a large group of people together into an elevator before you get the the actual ride. Of course several people screamed and woke her up - she was startled, but must have thought she was dreaming because she mumbled something about loud noises and then went back to sleep. She woke up at the very end of the ride in a much better mood - success!
Our last two rides were Pirates of the Caribbean (one of my personal favorites) and Jungle Cruise. We were all tired at this point (it was around 6pm), but we to planned to see Mickey and the Princesses on our way out.
We stopped for a few photo ops on our way back to the front of the park. Thankfully it had stopped raining at this point, but M had definitely had her fill for the day.
If I made one mistake, it was waiting to see Mickey at the very end of the day. They do offer FastPass for Mickey and the Princesses, and if I was smart I would have sent someone for passes around lunchtime and taken a break after all the rides in Fantasyland to go see Mickey. M has been talking about seeing Mickey for months, so I was sorry that we were meeting him when she was so tired. Still, she lit up when she walked into the room and saw him! She wasn't as excited around the princesses (for some reason she seemed to like the characters in full costume better than the "human" characters - maybe it was overwhelming to have them talk to her).
Of course it was raining when we ready to leave, so we stopped into one of the gift shops to try on hats and browse all of the Disney merchandise. We finally gave up and made our way back to the monorail and to our car. It was a very long day, but we were all still smiling by the time we got back to our hotel. Even in the rain it's still the Happiest Place on Earth!