Entry #3 - Magic Kingdom - or as my husband calls it, Princess Land (Be Our Guest x 2 - one pre park opening, Columbia Harbor House, Husband has a half day, and Queen of the Single Rider FastPass)
After an amazingly successful first day in the world, I knew I had set the bar too high. When my husband and I sat down to plan the trip, we agreed that he would not spend every full day at the parks. So, we booked afternoon tee times for two afternoons - giving him some time away enjoying what he enjoys most.
I planned Magic Kingdom for our second day, knowing that this would be the perfect park for him to miss an afternoon in. I also knew that this would be the one park that might be genuinely make him loose his mind. So I figured doing it on day two gave me plenty of time to redeem his love of Disney if necessary. All I can say is, I was right . . .
We woke bright and early for our MK day. I had gotten lucky with the reservation finder and snagged an 8:15 ADR for two at Be Our Guest. I had promised my husband no characters and nothing too themed during mealtimes, but he agreed to this once I explained it would mean avoiding the crowds at Rope Drop.
Now, there had been much debate and varying reports on the logistics and how much of a jump on the crowd you get with these ADRs so here is my personal experience on June 17:
We woke up (later since we didn’t have to do breakfast at camp) and hopped on a bus from our campsite to the ferry. It was a foggy morning; so ferries were a bit delayed (stress!). We took the ferry to the Contemporary (that’s what you have to do from Fort Wilderness as the direct ferry does not start running until one hour prior to opening) and then high-tailed it to the park. I would say the walk from the Contemporary to the park is 5-10 minutes depending on how insistently you drag your reluctant party along. We were through the taps at 7:48 (I checked my phone)… so was everyone else.
Now, I know most reports I read and most reports I see say that ADRs get through at 7:45 and then regular day guests are held until 8. Maybe it is only a peak season thing, but that is not what we experienced. All of the taps were definitely open.
Pros we still enjoyed - a relatively empty Main Street (fewer than 5 people between us and the castle in our Main Street photo pass pic). It was so nice to just stroll back to Fantasyland - no rush. We even stopped to take a picture on the bridge to liberty square (not a single soul around the castle at that point. The only thing we didn’t get was the empty mains street experience. I would still completely recommend doing it if you can. I would just plan on a 7:30 arrival rather than 7:45 arrival if you are set on a totally empty Main Street.
Breakfast itself was just fine. We split the meat and cheese plate, knowing that it came with tons of pastries too. I also indulged in a master’s cupcake. The gray stuff is, in fact, delicious; and it was not too rich to eat at breakfast. We had time to look around a bit as well. I think we definitely saved time by doing the pre-order option. We checked in at about 8:05 and were seated with our drinks by 10 after. We were done and out by about 8:40. Also, for those wondering, you can seriously order how much or how little you want. I don’t think you will get dirty looks if you just get a cupcake and coffee.
Now’s where things got a bit interesting. I had a FP for the mine train later that day; so my sights were set on Peter Pan’s Flight. Given our ADR, my TP as did most of the first hand accounts, suggested that we would be able to ride PPF before the park officially opened to everyone. This simply was not the case. Given what a woman shared with me in line later that day, I think the same was true with Mine Train. Over at PPF, we were held back (if you are familiar with the park, we were held just past the carousel before the little stretch that includes PPF and Small World. The CM did not budget until we heard the fireworks from the welcome show. This meant we successfully and easily made it onto one of the first flying pirate ships. However, we did not at all get a jump on the crowd heading to Tomorrowland.
After Peter Pan’s Flight, we got out of Fantasyland (the stroller parking was already crazy - bless you parents with strollers) and headed to Tomorrowland. My goal for my husband was to get him to most of the iconic rides before sending him off to play golf. We made it to Space Mountain, which is a much better ride than I remember, and then headed to Buzz… this is where things got ugly.
Buzz Lightyear may be the absolute worst cue in any Disney park. Something about that cue is particularly overwhelming (even for me as a frequent theme park and amusement park visiter) and it nearly sent my husband over the edge. I don’t know if it is the constant loop of instructions and Buzz Lightyear catch phrases, the fact that the people are packed in pretty tightly, or the fact that there seems to be something more “echo-y” about that space. Anyway, this sparked an idea for me - at some point I want to go wait in line for more than 20 minutes or so for different attractions and rate lines that are particularly bad.
We made it through the line and onto the ride, and luckily the fact that he absolutely demolished me during the ride seemed to perk up his mood a bit. From Buzz, we made the trek back to Fantasyland (mildly calmer) and luckily had a nearly walk on experience at Small World. The happiest cruise (or maybe it was the cooler temp inside) did make him happier, and we moved on to Liberty Square, Frontierland and Adventureland.
Here, because of some hiccups in the morning, we were a bit behind schedule and I had to make some decision. I decided, after seeing wait times at Haunted Mansion and Pirates, to focus on Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain - both of which we had FPs for. I also gave up on taking him to the Tiki Room (a long time favorite of mine and my aunt’s). He absolutely loved both the mountains. I think my favorite was him completely not understanding why Splash Mountain is my favorite ride until we got on it. I finally figured out that he thought it was just going to be up a hill and then down - he didn’t realize there was a whole 18 minute experience to enjoy. It may have been his favorite ride of the entire trip. It was definitely his fave in Magic Kingdom.
After riding both mountains, I let off the gas and we went to Columbia Harbor House to get him some lunch before heading off to play golf. The upstairs lived up to the legends, and even at true lunch time we were able to get a table near a window with relatively few people nearby. At this point he happily headed out to play golf, and I set off to score as many FPs as I possibly could.
Quick golf side note - they will transfer you from any resort if you have a tee time. So he walked back to the Contemporary and let concierge know that he had a tee time. The got him a taxi and gave him a voucher. The golf course did the same for him to get back to our campsite. It was wonderful!
MY SOLO AFTERNOON IN MK
So I know there have been lots of posts about going to Disney on your own. My husband was an absolute trooper, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go totally on my own (part of being married), but I definitely have no hesitations about spending a day in the park without him! Especially not after this experience:
While we sat at lunch, I did a little noting on my map to see what I had missed in the morning. I wanted to be heading out of the park by 3:30 so that I would have plenty of time to get back to the campsite and change for dinner at Citrico’s. Here’s what happened next in a quick rundown form:
Mine Train - with FP booked in advance
What a great ride! I almost skipped it in my planning because of the stories of terrible lines and breakdowns. I’m so glad I didn’t. Definitely get a FP or plan to do first thing, but this is now on my don’t miss list for Magic Kingdom. It was so smooth and I love how they incorporated the animatronics. They look great and work well with the ride! While in line, I successfully booked at Pooh FP.
Pooh was temporarily closed - but yeah anytime FP!
Haunted Mansion - booked FP whiled walking to the ride
I got on HM so quickly I didn’t have time to book a pass in line. Side note, though, what is with the vehicle loading on HM. Has it always been like that? I do not remember it being so chaotic. For those with reluctant travelers, seriously consider that the vehicle loading here is literally a herd of people pushing into a tiny funnel… plan accordingly. I was so sad that my husband did not get to see this ride, but after what I experienced trying to get to my dune buggy, I’m actually glad that the fates did not get us there in time for him to ride it.
Pirates - booked FP while walking to the attraction (I got very good at that)
I actually like the changes, but that’s probably because as a kid all dark rides scared me (I blame Snow White’s Scary Adventures…thank god it’s gone)
Pooh - booked FP while in line for Pirates
Saving my anytime FP for later, I doubled back to Pooh and rode with a new FP. This was another pleasant surprise. I like that I can still sort of see and feel Mr. Toad’s presence in the track, but the Pooh ride is delightful. I particularly enjoyed the floating honey pot. Lots of fun!
I took a break here for a Be Our Guest snack/lunch. I had booked a second ADR because I knew in the morning I wouldn’t necessarily get a good look around. Plus, I wanted to try more cupcakes I had a lovely time eating on my own. I sat in the room with the music box - which is not open at breakfast - and enjoyed the potato leek soup and a strawberry cupcake. The soup was a little salty, but still yummy; and the cupcake was again absolutely delicious - very light and sweet.
Little Mermaid - booked FP while eating
Cute ride, but if you’re an adult on your own, you can definitely skip unless you have a particular affinity for the Little Mermaid (I do).
Mad Tea Party - booked FP while walking to my clam shell at Little Mermaid
Okay, I admit, this is the one ride that may have been a little strange on my own… I was definitely that person taking selfies in a tea cup by herself. I rode it because it is my dad’s fave. So needed to send him a pic for Father’s Day.
PeopleMover - no FP for this ride
Love the people mover, and I got lucky. Space Mountain was shut down; so got to see it with lights on
Tiki Room - no FP
I don’t care what anyone says. I love the Tiki bird. My aunt and I both sing the song. I think they are hilarious - especially now that Zazu and Iago are out of there. Do a girl a favor and make sure to visit the Tiki Room on your trip. Enjoy the cheesy entertainment and keep those guest counts up so they don’t close it.
Jungle Cruise - anytime FP to the rescue
Last ride of the day, and it was enjoyable. I will say my boat was a bit of a dud. You have to have a good skipper, which I had, but the people on the boat were just not having it. I kind of wondered if they knew what they were in for before they go on… I mean laugh at the jokes, people. It’s why you rode the ride.
I will say, that as a solo adult you can cover some serious ground in MK. I did all of those attractions between 12:15 and 3:30… and that’s with a break for a meal at Be Our Guest. If you find yourself in MK either solo or with only two people, FPs are your friend. Most of the time when I was booking, I would have been able to book at least a rolling FP if not just 2 together.
This experience also wet my appetite for the WDW49 challenge… one day, folks - it’s going to happen.
DINNER AND FIREWORKS
After an immensely successful afternoon, I headed back to camp to meet my husband and change for Citrico’s. After freshening up, we took the bus back to the ferries and headed back to the Contemporary to get the monorail to the Grand Floridian. I looooooove the Grand Floridian. Since I was a kid, I’ve thought it was beautiful; and I was so looking forward to our dinner there before heading back to MK for fireworks.
We started our evening just enjoying some of the Grand Floridian ambience and then visited Mizener’s for a cocktail. After cocktails, we walked next door to Citrico’s and had a wonderful signature dining experience. When selecting Citrico’s I debated between it, Narcoosee’s and California Grill. I kicked California Grill off the list because I wanted to eat at the GF, and we would not be watching fireworks with dinner (we would only have one opportunity to see Happily Ever After; so I wanted to see them from the park). I went back and forth between Narcoosee’s and Citrico’s and finally settled on Citrico’s because it seemed to be a slightly more romantic option, and my husband preferred the menu. I also liked the idea of eating in the main building - a little more exciting for me and easier transportation in case we were cutting it close to get back to the park.
Citrico’s is a beautiful restaurant. I think most the pictures I’ve seen make it look a bit sterile and sort of like a fancy hotel cafeteria, but it is not at all like that in person. It warm and elegant, with high ceiling and lovely views to the grounds of the hotel. Our waiter was absolutely wonderful (he reminded me very much of Richard Gilmore form the Gilmore Girls so that was an added bonus). We started with wine for me and an old fashioned for my husband. For the old fashioned, our waiter brought out a special ice ball maker, which was a cool touch. We had the cheese board to share followed by the filet for me and the short ribs for my husband. Then, for desert, we shared the cheesecake. Everything was absolutely delicious. I had no complaints at all other than I had a hard time finishing my meal (but that’s on me :)) Another nice touch - I was sporting a celebration pin for my teaching license. So they brought us complimentary champagne.
After dinner, we lingered to listen to the pianist a bit and then headed back to the monorail. We finished our night by visiting talking Mickey (I had gotten fast passes) and then got a spot just in time for fireworks. We watched Happily Ever After from about halfway down Main Street. We had no problems seeing the projections, but we did miss out on some of the finer details. If you are not super familiar with Disney renaissance (90s) movies and characters, you might want to be a bit closer. As that was my Disney hey-day, I had not problem recognizing the characters, even if I could not see them perfectly.
Happily Ever After proved to be my husband’s favorite night show. So, despite his rough start to the morning, I think Splash Mountain, a round of golf, delicious food and fireworks saved the day.
Universal Studios… okay Harry Potter land
Even I hit the wall