So, going to bed at 8:30 means getting up way too early. It wasn't the most restful sleep. Despite the extreme comfort of the bed, I woke up often. I tend to do that for my first night sleeping somewhere different. We got up just before 6:30. We had breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace. Although this is a character breakfast, that was totally not the reason for booking it. Nope, I simply wanted to be in the park early to get some photos of a less populated park. Before heading to the bus stop, Tamara grabbed a coffee from the lounge. We arrived at the bus stop with perfect timing, a Magic Kingdom bus pulled up right away. The bus ride took maybe 20 minutes. I have to have a side rant here:
- One of the "disadvantages" of Animal Kingdom Lodge that I continually read about were the longer bus rides to the parks. Sure it's longer than the other resorts, but still under 20 minutes. My regular bus to work routine includes a 13 minute ride for a 4km trip to the mall, plus waiting time, followed by another 20-25 minutes for the trip from the mall to work OR it includes an express bus which can be anywhere from 30-60+ minutes. A lot of people clearly have never relied on any sort of public transportation if they think a 10-20 minute ride is bad! Side rant over.
The fellow in this photo advised that photographer could only shoot odd numbers, so he had to join the picture. Don't you love how Tamara and I are leaning the exact same way?
We arrived for the opening of Crystal Palace, and were seated early. Our waiter seemed a bit kooky, but that's alright! The buffet had pretty standard breakfast selections- lots of pastries, fruit, a few vegetables, egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, french toast, and the ever present American favorite (WHY?) biscuits and gravy. Seriously, the last thing I want for breakfast is gravy. The buffet is also a bit more expensive since it is a character meal. We had our picture taken with Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore (we didn't feel like waiting around for Tigger). You definitely get more interaction in that environment, so I guess if you're a die-hard fan, it's worth it.
Here's a picture of Tamara's first plate of food. We only took a photo of it as a joke. We've seen several food reviews from buffets and often they consist of 2 colours, yellow and white.
Here are our pictures with Winnie the Pooh
We left the restaurant at 8:55, ready for rope drop (the main reason we weren't going to bother sticking around for Tigger). We stopped at the bridge to take a few more shots. I'm sure we made a few passerbys laugh with this one.
We headed to Frontierland, led by a cast member herd. There's no running or pushing allowed, but really fast walking is acceptable. We were among the first to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The first train was set off on the left, but we were in the first car on the right track. Woot!
After the first ride, we quickly went back around and rode again. After that we headed to the Haunted Mansion. I hadn't been on it since the refurbishment. It was darker than I recalled, but the stair area is pretty awesome. I had a difficult time taking pictures in Haunted Mansion, even with the 50mm, so you'll just have to imagine it.
We decided to head to Tomorrowland and check out Space Mountain. First we picked up Fast Passes (here on mentioned as FP) for Buzz Lightyear then went back to Space. While Tamara grabbed FPs, I took a few pictures of these Aliens- Oooooooh the claw!
A 30-minute wait was posted, but we decided to take our chances. It took all of 5 minutes, so we decided to go through a 2nd time. This time there was 20 minutes posted, it still took 5 minutes. We checked out the store after Space Mountain, they have a lot of Stitch merchandise. So this was one of the shots that I took for Vallencia, a whole wall of Stitch!
We headed on over to use our Buzz FPs. I got my all time worst score-3400. I'm kind of embarrassed to post it! I felt like my laser wasn't working. Tamara got 227,000. She hit two 100,000 targets close to the beginning. Oh well!
It was time to head back to the other side of the castle and hit up Adventureland, which somehow, we both had kind of forgotten about. First we picked up FPs for Jungle Cruise, then went to Pirates of the Caribbean. A "10-minute" wait was posted, which meant walk-on, row to ourselves on the boat. Here's a little bit of music for you.
After that, since we were near the Tiki Room and saw that it was loading, we went on that. It's apparently not okay for middle-aged men to dance exuberantly to the drums while in the line outdoors. But it is okay for their wives to dance in the dark during the attraction. This guy was dancing and the lady (I'm assuming it was his wife) gave him the meanest, iciest glare I've seen, and then she goes and starts dancing inside! I took a few shots of the Tiki Room. Here's one of the Tiki God (or Goddess?) amidst the purple-blue fog.
Next up, our FP return was up for Jungle Cruise, so we headed on over. For the first time ever, I was seated at the front right, right next to the skipper. I enjoyed the skipper's dead-pan delivery, especially the crack about getting 20+ shots from her 6 shooter.
Here are some Shrunken Neds we saw along the way. Now, just to give you a time reference. It was only 11:39 when I took the picture below. So yeah, we're pretty efficient at getting around the parks! We headed to Splash Mountain to pick up a FP, heard some lady talking to her family about finding the restaurant "Pickle Bill" (it's Pecos Bill, so good luck with that), then headed to Columbia Harbour House for lunch. I had a BLT Salad, Tamara had Tuna Sandwich.
After lunch, it was time to go to Splash Mountain. I got wetter than I thought I would. Enough that I ended up putting my hair up. We headed to Main Street to wander through the shops a bit. Then I decided to go "put our feet up" on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority/ AKA the Peoplemover. It started well enough, we were probably a little more than halfway through, then stall... We definitely got to put our feet up, for 20 or more minutes. If only they had stopped the announcements playing ever 2 minutes and hadn't turned on that pesky emergency lighting, then I could've taken a nap!
We ended up getting walked off. It's probably the most uninteresting ride at Magic Kingdom you could get walked off of. There are no fun behind the scenes glimpses, just walking along side the track until you get to some stairs. But hey, we got a free Fast Pass to use on any FP accepting attraction at Magic Kingdom, good until Oct. 31!
Since we were still in that part of the park, we checked out Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (which has the worst acronym, really, it had to be a floor?). The show was really cute, although there is the most ridiculous seating. It's designed as a monster's comedy club, so the seats are HUGE and far from the ground.
Next, we decided to brave Fantasyland (typically one of the busiest "lands" due to the high demand from little ones). We picked up FPs for Peter Pan. Peter Pan is one of the slower loading rides, and it's super short, so I refuse to wait that long for it. We checked out Philharmagic in the meantime, which would've been better if my eyes and glasses weren't fighting with the 3-d elements. It became very difficult to watch.
The stores were quite busy, we walked in, then right out of the Princess one, it was kind of scary. The load time for Peter Pan, even with the FP took 10 minutes. We stopped while over my favorite part, looking down on London. Unfortunately, it's SO dark, that I couldn't focus on anything, so my pictures didn't turn out. I was a bit disappointed. This is what it looks like.
Are you exhausted yet? I realize this isn't the MOST exciting thing to read at this point, but the day is almost done! We also didn't see that many odd or hilarious things that day. Despite not having any real plan, we got a lot done!
We went over to ride the Winnie the Pooh attraction. Once again, in typical Disney fashion, the posted time was 25 minutes, but it only took 15. This small, yet effective expectation management technique, we would later in the week fully appreciate. I got this interesting shot from the ride. I guess it's rain, from the April Showers, that or blue oozing honey. Before getting on, I was surprised to see a group of 3 tween/teen boys getting off the ride. You just never know!
We still had time to "waste" before our dinner reservation at California Grill, so we walked over to Mickey's House. Oddly enough, the lady in front of me set off the alarm while barely leaning into one of the exhibits. Then, while I'm taking this next shot, this small child comes out of nowhere and launches himself into Mickey's gameroom, and nothing. No alarms. He was snatched out of the exhibit by his almost equally quick mother.
We hadn't even expected this part of the park to be open due to the Fantasyland expansion that is underway. We were pretty happy that we could get the "last aid" picture.
I bought a hat, then we made our way out of the park to catch a monorail to Contemporary Resort. We waited about 15 minutes for a monorail. There were quite a few more heading to the Epcot area versus the resorts. While waiting, there was the nastiest lady. She was so snippy with her mother, you'd think she was a 14 year old sassing, and not a 40 year old.
In typical Trupp sister fashion, we were still there too early, so we browsed the shops at the hotel, then checked into the restaurant and zoned out at the lounge. We seriously sat there in complete silence. It had been quite a full day, so there wasn't really anything to say at that point.
Dinner was excellent. Tamara had a Pina Colada, a Spicy Kazan roll (Crab, Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Tuna, and Fireball Sauce), Pan-seared Grouper with Wild Forest Mushrooms, and Corn Salsa and
Valrhona Chocolate Cake-Warm Chocolate Cake with Molten Center, Marshmallow, and Peanut Butter Gelato for dessert.I had Crispy Asian Rock Shrimp Salad with Asian Pears, Red Onions, Soy Reduction, and Wasabi Cream
House-made Potato and Cheese Ravioli with Florida Corn Purée, Summer Squash, Vidalias, and Black Truffle and Mascarpone and Meyer Lemon Cheesecake:Whipped Cheesecake, Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta, and Yuzu Ice with Huckleberry Compote.
Just before dessert, this one chef comes out, stating he has an announcement to make. He opens the tinted shades and declares "California Grill proudly presents, the Sunset." It was a lovely sunset too!
After dinner, we checked out the observation lounge. This is up on the 16th floor of the building. It has a wonderful view of the park. Being on a narrow walkway, essentially on the roof of a building, even with ample railings is a bit of an eerie feeling though.
We took the monorail back to the park, then caught our bus to the lodge. We managed to interrupt turn down service (which we had totally forgotten about since you don't get it on your first night's stay). So we headed to the lounge, looked at the dessert offerings, got some tea and headed back to the room. It was 10:20 by the time we called it a night. Saturday would take us to Epcot!