Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trip Report: [Day 1] Magic Kingdom - Mad rush to the Mine Train and visit to First Aid

When securing FastPass+ reservations 30 days out, I was a little shocked that I was unable to secure a FP+ for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  I tried for it at midnight for everyday of our trip and was unable to get the FP+.  What I found especially odd is that I made a FP+ reservation for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for July 3rd at a little less than 30 days out with no problem (though it was a very late and undesirable FP+ return time).  But for this obscure week in August, I was unable to get the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for any time on any day.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was at the top of Max's list of attractions in Magic Kingdom, so I knew that the only way to ride it without waiting for over an hour was to rush there first thing in the morning.

I suppose we arrived early enough that they weren't running the monorail.  Instead, they had ferry and bus transportation from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the park.

There is still construction on the over-water bungalows at the Polynesian which are part of the latest addition the Disney Vacation Club.  They block the view of the Grand Floridian from the Transportation and Ticket Center, and I don't like it!  You can view more photos of the over-water bungalows and read more about my dislike of the obstructive DVC addition in my Independence Day Trip Report.

Polynesian DVC Construction

We arrived to Magic Kingdom right in time for the park opening show... but not soon enough to go ahead into the park before the show.



Magic Kingdom Rope Drop

Main Street Train Station

The family in trouble was having trouble scanning their tickets and wouldn't get out of the way. The wife's ticket scanned, but her husband's wouldn't... finally she moved up just enough so that I could squeeze in and scan my magic band. We got into the park and were headed about to go through the train station when Natalie told us that she didn't even scan her ticket. While sneaking into Magic Kingdom is surely a brag-worthy feat, I realized that her FP+ reservations wouldn't work if she didn't scan her ticket into the park.

Cinderella's Castle

It was a mad-dash to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and we were towards the back of the pack. By the time we got to the Mine Train, the queue was already filled past the entrance and wrapped around the outside. We were HOT, and I was already perspiring. My hair felt stringy, and I realized that I hadn't thought to pack a hair brush. So after we were situated in the line, I headed to the nearest gift shop in search of a brush. I had seen them in the shops before.

Note: You can purchase princess-themed folding hair brushes at Castle Couture. You can purchase deodorant from any of the gift shops. It is behind the counter, stored with medicine and other toiletry essentials, so you'll have to ask for it.

Cinderella's Castle

I got back just in time for us to enter the long and winding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

We were behind the most obnoxious extended family. They held up the entire line because they had let their kids run off and do other things while they waited, and then they weren't there when it was time to enter the actual queue. So rather than moving to the side and letting the parties who were together pass, they stopped us and proceeded to yell for their children who were scattered throughout the rest of Fantasyland. But really, were behind the most obnoxious dad. He was the type of guy who really loved attention. He would yell things that he thought were funny and try to rile up the kids. At one point, he hid picked up a young teen girl and yelled, "I can't wait to go on this ride! I'm so excited!" getting everyone's attention. Don't be that person.

The queue does have several interactive elements throughout. This is a touch-screen game in which you match the jewels.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

You can spin these buckets to make the dwarfs project onto the ceiling. Max said he saw somewhere that if you spin all of the buckets at once, a cool special effect happens. But unfortunately, we couldn't get all seven buckets spinning to try it out.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

We waited in line for about 45 minutes which is much longer than I have ever waited for an attraction at park opening.  However, I am glad that we stuck with it and went ahead and got the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train out of the way first thing because throughout the rest of the day, the wait was never shorter than an hour.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

I had my camera set to photograph the dwarfs in low lighting, so my camera wasn't prepared for this great view.  Next time I ride during the day, I'll be sure to change my settings fast enough so that I don't overexpose this shot -

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

We needed some breakfast after our long wait for the Mine Train, so we headed to New Fantasyland.  I noticed that Be Our Guest was open for viewing, so I suggested that we go inside and take a peek (since I wasn't lucky enough to get us a last-minute reservation) -

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest

The library was all set up for counter service -

Be Our Guest


Be Our Guest

I'm glad that we decided to check out Be Our Guest when walking by because they closed the doors to start preparing for lunch while we were in there.  There were also already people lined up for lunch, when Be Our Guest didn't open for lunch until an hour later.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

A view of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train from New Fantasyland -

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Max and I had suggested that we go to Gaston's Tavern for the yummy cinnamon rolls.

Gaston's Tavern

Gaston's Tavern

Gaston's Tavern

Gaston's Tavern

Rachel tested LeFou's Brew in a princess goblet.

LeFou's Brew

Max and I split a large cinnamon roll... so good!

Cinnamon Roll - Gaston's Tavern

Gaston's Tavern

When we were sitting at the table, Max suddenly shouted that something had stung him.  "What?  What's wrong?"  "Something stung me... it was that caterpillar!"  What looks like a fuzzy little caterpillar is actually a not-so-friendly Io Moth Caterpillar.

Toxic Caterpillar

It had stung the back of his ankle, and when Max reached with his hand to swat it off, it also stung his finger.  It turns out that its bright green spines release venom at the slightest touch.

Max had an almost immediate reaction, and his finger turned red and little white bubbles formed under his skin.  I wish that I had thought to a photo of his ankle because the swelling there was much more concentrated.

Toxic Caterpillar Reaction

We realized that we needed to get Max to First Aid because he was very uncomfortable, and out in the heat, I was afraid that the reaction would get worse.  I knew exactly where First Aid was, so I lead us all the way from New Fantasyland back towards the front of the park, right beside Crystal Palace (at least twice, Max asked me how far we were going and suggested that it wasn't actually necessary).  We arrived and there was a sign out front... First Aid had been temporarily relocated to Tomorrowland.  WHAT!?!  We made a huge circle around the castle and found the temporary First Aid adjacent to Space Mountain.

The nurses there were kind and took Max immediately.  They actually had a book of caterpillars so that they could identify it and see what treatment was necessary.  Since I waited at the front, I'm not sure exactly what they did, but Max was quickly on his way with an ice pack and extra anti-itch wipes.

We headed almost right back to where we were... The Little Mermaid.  The wait was posted at 20 minutes, but we walked right on.

Ariel's Castle

Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid

It was time for our first FastPass+ reservation for Big Thunder Mountain.  It's especially exciting riding with Max because he can't pull the bar down too far because of his legs... which means that I have a lot more room to move around in the seat.  At one point, I actually got air!

Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain

We then headed to Cinderella's Castle for our dinner reservation.  I normally don't take the "please arrive 20 minutes early" warning very seriously.  Since I paid in advance, I wanted to make sure that we made it.  In fact, I had a terrible dream a few weeks before our trip that we had accidentally gone to Islands of Adventure on the day that we were supposed to be at Magic Kingdom, so we missed our Cinderella's Royal Table reservation completely!  I woke up in complete panic, and it took me a second to realize that it was just a dream.

Please visit my complete review of Cinderella's Royal Table to read all about our dining experience!

Cinderella's Castle

Lord and Ladies

Lord and Ladies


Snow White

After lunch it was time for our Space Mountain FastPass+.  We avoided the first rain of the day while we were dining at Cinderella's Royal Table, and I thought we could make it to Space Mountain before it rained again.  However, we were in the FP+ line which had extended past the entrance as people were either too early/late or slow to scan their Magic Bands when the bottom fell out of the sky.  Never before have I been so impatient with people who either didn't understand that they had not FP+ for this attraction or were too slow to scan their cards or Magic Bands.

It was still raining after Space Mountain, but I had packed my poncho!  Max, Rachel, and Natalie bought ponchos in the Space Mountain gift store so that we could keep going.  Of course, there was lightning, so outdoor attractions were closed, which meant that the lines for indoor attractions were growing rapidly.  We attempted Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, but it was up to 40 minutes.  I joked about the Carousel of Progress, and Natalie piped up that she liked that ride.  It's definitely a place to escape the rain... why not?

The cast member working the Carousel of Progress had an attitude problem.  She griped, "If you're wearing a poncho, you have to remove it now!"  Later on, she interrupted the audio to fuss at someone who was taking a photo.  Her interruption was far more annoying to me than the person taking the photo was.  This is an obnoxious procedure that will continue throughout my report...

We headed to Frontierland for our third FastPass+ of the day, Splash Mountain.  We had contemplated switching it, but since we already had ponchos, decided that we might as well ride.  I suggested that we get Dole Whip and watch the Festival of Fantasy parade before going on Splash Mountain.

The cast member who swirled my Pineapple Dole Whip did a terrible job... it was completely lopsided and falling off the side of the cup, so I had to eat it at a rapid pace to keep it from getting all over me.  However, I was happy to get a Dole Whip of its normal soft-serve consistency, since the last two times I've had one, it has been more of a sorbet texture.

Pineapple Dole Whip

Max got the Orange Dole Whip, and this time his was sorbet-like.  You can tell in the darkness of the color.  Natalie had ordered a Orange/Pineapple Swirl, and they gave it to her in a larger cup... it turned out that the cast member had messed up her order and had made her a small cup of just orange.  Rather than redoing it, he just put it in a larger cup and added the swirl on top.  I suppose that's a better deal, but there are a few sanitation concerns raised there.

Orange Dole Whip

We waited for the Festival of Fantasy Parade... and then they made an announcement that due to the weather, it would be delayed.  I'm not sure if they ever had the parade or not because we went on to Splash Mountain (though I didn't see any signs that the parade had taken place when we got off).

Besides the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, our longest line of the day was Pirates of the Caribbean, which the crowds tend to flock to in bad weather since it has a large indoor queue.

After Pirates, we decided to take a break from Magic Kingdom for dinner.  But before doing that, Max wanted to make sure that he got a churro...

Churro

I decided for the first time to try to get another FastPass+ reservation.  After using your first three FastPass+ selections, you may make additional selections at kiosks in select locations throughout the park.  There happens to be a kiosk right across from the churro stand (by the bathrooms that create a shortcut between Adventureland and Frontierland).  Max was quite doubtful that we would get anything, but after a short wait in line (behind a family that cut in front of us), we were able to get FastPass+ reservations for Haunted Mansion later that evening.  We could have made them in an hour, but I asked for a later time since we would be leaving the park for dinner.

Success!  If you ask Max, he will be quick to tell you that it was entirely his idea.

What was completely Max's idea was eating at ESPN Club.  I had suggested that we save ESPN Club for a day when we were in the Epcot/Hollywood Studios area and that we instead go to Downtown Disney for dinner.  However, I didn't realize that there isn't a bus running directly from Magic Kingdom to Downtown Disney.  Rather than going to greater lengths and walking to the Contemporary to take a bus to Downtown Disney, we decided that it was fate... we should take the bus to the Boardwalk Inn and eat at ESPN Club.

ESPN Club

It was a great time to visit the ESPN Club because there was absolutely no wait!  We walked right in, and Max and I actually had the same server that we had when we ate there in March returning from our cruise on the Carnival Breeze.  You know you visit Walt Disney World frequently when you start to recognize cast members... but I think we would be in trouble if they started to recognize us!

Max is a fan of souvenir glasses and opted to get his Blue Moon in the souvenir beer mug.  However, when he asked for another beer, he was told that the mug couldn't be refilled because there wasn't a refill price (which I thought was very odd).

ESPN Beer Mug

Max ordered the PB&J Burger which he fell in love with when we ate at ESPN Club in March.  It sounds completely strange, but I promise it's delicious!  So delicious that Max puts peanut butter and jelly on burgers he grills at home.

PB&J Burger

Max was very disappointed that I didn't get the PB&J Burger, too, because "it's our thing!"  However, I enjoyed my Turkey and Brie Sandwich and Cucumber Salad.  Max tasted it and didn't care for the Cranberry Mayonnaise on the sandwich.

Turkey and Brie Sandwich

And another birthday cupcake for Rachel!

ESPN Club Birthday Cupcake

Boardwalk

Yacht Club Resort

I've always been intrigued by the margarita stand on the Boardwalk and decided to finally check it out...

Boardwalk Joe's

I got the Frozen Grand Margarita.  And I hate to tattle on the cast members, but this is a bit deal for me.... I may finally look old enough to not be carded.... or maybe I just seem knowledgeable and confident enough to order an alcoholic beverage without being asked to show ID.... or perhaps I just ran into a new employee who was struggling a bit with the machine and whose first language was definitely not English.  Whatever the reason, I felt slightly more sophisticated.

Boardwalk Joe's

Boardwalk Joe's

Boardwalk

The bus ride back to Magic Kingdom felt incredibly long.  The bus was packed, and on the return to the park, we had to stop and pick up guests from the Beach Club and Yacht Club.  Also, I was sitting next to a man with a young child in his lap who was playing some sort of "guess what I'm thinking of" game.  Well, he learned that this little girl would scream and squeal whenever he said the word 'creature', so he made sure to say 'creature' as frequently as possible.... for the entire 20 minute ride to Magic Kingdom.  You think he would grow tired of this game!

Cinderella's Castle

Once back in Magic Kingdom, we went to Haunted Mansion for our fourth FastPass+ reservation of the day.  I'm very glad that worked out for us!

Afterwards, we decided to find a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade near the Castle Hub so that we would could then watch the fireworks and leave the park.  We had Extra Magic Hours with the Hilton Downtown Disney but decided not to use them since we had another early day ahead of us.

Main Street Electrical Parade

Pete's Dragon

Main Street Electrical Parade

It never fails that I see a family watch the Celebrate the Magic projection show and then leave before the fireworks start five minutes later!  I feel like they have to understand that they're missing the big show because no one else is leaving... but is the projection show alone really worth the wait and the crowds?

Celebrate the Magic

Wishes

Wishes

We followed the crowds down Main Street and stopped in the Emporium for a bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel.

Monorail Gold

NEXT: [Day 2] A Visit to the Dark Side... aka Universal's Islands of Adventure