OFFICIAL DISNEY DAY 1: THE MAGIC KINGDOM (part 2)
(…So where was I? The Disney experience is so large-scale and fast-paced, it can be wildly disorienting. The same is true of returning to the ‘real world’. I’ll do my best to continue the story.)
Ah, yes. We had just had our photo taken. From the castle, we walked over to Tomorrowland, one of my son’s favorites because it houses the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Buzz Lightyear is definitely one of the park’s most entertaining rides, so each time we visit MK we try to ride it at least a couple of times.
This is easier to do with Fast Passes, which I learned I could both book and access on the My Disney Experience App. Brad in Tomorrowland was helpful in booking our Fast Passes. I’ve had the app on my phone for months, but never knew that or even read it anywhere in my research. So, good to know. I did also find that the app does not work, most of the time. It worked well inside our hotel room, and it was anyone’s guess whether it might work the rest of the time. We got our Fast Passes and continued walking through the park.
One of our goals this year was to meet as many characters as we could. Last year we concentrated on rides and missed out on a ton of special encounters, so this year we wanted to remedy that. In Fantasyland, Emmett met with Cinderella and Elena of Avalor first. (They were in the same room together. One line, two princesses? Good deal!) He was quite nervous to meet Elena (I’ve noticed he has a thing for brunettes) but she was patient and kind with him, asking him birthday questions like what is his favorit ekind of cake, and sharing with him that her favorite is called Tres Leches. (Disney Character Cast Members are remarkable at staying in character, and knowing their characters. I am convinced that they have to study up on themselves, because kids ask questions and they definitely have answers. It adds to the experience.) We took some photos and moved on to Cinderella, with whom Emmett was considerably less impressed. I think this is due in part to the fact that he’s never actually seen her movie. Joseph, the Memory Maker photographer was super nice and funny.
We walked over to the Mad Hatter Tea Party (referred to by the masses as “The Teacups”) and Alice was there! We had to wait for her to go and take a short break, but the advantage here is that everyone else walked off so when she came back, Emmett got to spend LOTS of time chatting with her. He liked Alice a lot! I don’t know if it was her British accent, or just that she took so much interest in him, but he seemed comfortable chatting with her and posing for several photos. As a mom, I cannot compliment these characters enough. I know it’s hot out there (even in November), and it’s tough meeting kids all day and having to be bright and smiley and ooey-gooey nice at all times, but for my Emmett and kids like him, it means the world.
We had Fast Passes for Teacups and it wasn’t time to ride yet so we walked on over to the Big Top tent, where we stood in line to meet Donald and Goofy. (Another two-for-one, YAY!) Minnie and Daisy were also in the tent, and Emmett made the agonizing choice to get in the guys’ line and wait to meet the girls another time. Even waiting in line here was fun. In between photos, Donald and Goofy were joking around and being silly for the kids. Just ahead of us in line was a very tall man wearing a Goofy hat, ears hanging down, grinning from ear to ear. After a few minutes we realized he had special needs, and was visiting the park with his mom. As he stood clutching his autograph book, he could barely contain his excitement at meeting Goofy. Many of us in line watched him as he approached eagerly to greet his hero. Goofy – or the Cast Member – was sensational. He hugged the man and spent a lot of time with him, taking photos, admiring his hat, and inviting the man’s mom over to get in the photos as well. I have to be honest here, I actually cried.
Damnit, Disney. I’m standing inside a giant circus tent crying at the kindness of an imaginary talking dog. And I don’t even mind it.
After, we walked around the store. You’ll notice in Disney that nearly every attraction or ride has a gift shop attached to it, usually at the end or exit, so that you have to walk through or past the merchandise to get out to the main area of the park. Marketing-wise, it’s very smart. As a mom who sees her dollar bills actually growing wings and flying away, it’s very annoying. In the Big Top Gift Shop (probably not its actual name), I found a super cute onesie for our 6-month-old, but he’s wearing 9 month clothes and I couldn’t find that size. I asked Francesca at the register for assistance, and she went above and beyond. I’m sensing a theme here.
The next character we met was in Adventureland. It was Aladdin! Unfortunately Jasmine wasn’t with him, but the line was pretty short and hey, why not meet a Disney PRINCE for a change? Aladdin bears a striking resemblance to my step-brother, who is an actor at his school and who, coincidentally, I think should work at Disney one day in the near future. Emmett and Aladdin got along like gangbusters! As we were in line for the other characters, I found a site online that had “secret” questions to ask the characters, so I found one for Aladdin – ask him if the lamp next to him is real. I didn’t see any of the other kids ask him, so Emmett didn’t know what was going to happen. I love this! It felt like Christmas! I’m highly excitable! (haha I just wrote that to see if you’re paying attention.)
I am NOT going to spoil this, but please parents, ask the secret questions. It’s really cool and we got some awesome photos and Emmett felt like he was in the Disney “in crowd” after that. Aladdin even walked over and shook my hand and James’ hand, I’m not sure why exactly, except he honestly seemed to enjoy Emmett’s company as well. Full disclosure: I was kinda sad to walk away from Aladdin. That experience made my heart feel full.
Alas, much more to see! Much more to do!
(continued in part 3…)
***ETA: I forgot to mention a Cast Member! He was a nice young man who worked in the Big Top Circus tent, and chatted with us at length about Disney Pins. We are not collectors, but these pins are very popular with Disney fanatics, and after seeing some of the ones for sale, I’m seriously considering starting a collection. Juan, or perhaps Jose – I could not see his name tag clearly – from Trujillo, Peru answered all our questions about the pins and even gave us some pointers about which ones were rare and all the different lanyards. It was truly fascinating and once again, Disney’s commitment to giving guests a magical experience shone through one of their employees.***