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Friday, January 2, 2009

WDW Dec. 2008 Trip Report - Day 5

After a long night at a crowded Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (I didn't leave until midnight), we rose early and took advantage of the early extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom. Once we got into the park, the boys and I went one way, while my wife and daughter went another. We walked onto Space Mountain, while the girls went to the Mad Tea Party (have fun there - that's one ride I do NOT enjoy). From Space Mountain, we hopped over for a quick turn again on Buzz Lightyear and then a ride on the Tomorrowland Speedway. This was my first time on the Speedway, and, afterward, I'm convinced that this is wasted space. I've been on better drive-your-own car rides. If nothing else, give it a Cars overlay. I have to admit, this was a bit of a letdown - the only letdown of the day.

After the speedway, we caught up with the girls in line to enter Pixie Hollow. This, also, was something I wanted to see. The new Tinker Bell meet and greet had just opened up a few months prior. Even with the extra magic hours, the line was about 45 minutes long -- but it was worth every second. The Imagineers did a wonderful job of converting a princess meet and greet into a different world entirely. As you enter the "pre-show" corridor, you are taken by a cast member who acts as a tour guide helping your make the transition to Pixie Hollow. The Imagineers carefully designed the corridor so that the vegetation appears to get larger as you get smaller. Then, once your're pixie sized, you enter another room that is themed top-to-bottom like Pixie Hollow. Inside are three faries, two of which change, but Tink is always there. Oh, and we were the only family in the room -- so we had all three fairies to ourselves.

First we met with Iridessa, who kept giving me a hard time about my "cannon" (meaning Canon, as in camera), though I didn't catch the joke at first. Sometimes the world around me can end while I'm taking pictures. Tink followed, and then Rosetta. The best part about this was all the time each character gave my children. This was no "in-and-out" meet and greet. Each fairy took the time to speak with my entire family. With no one else in the room (aside from the cast member guide), we started to really get into the idea that we really were in Pixie Hollow.

As we left the meet and greet, my daughter turned to my wife and exclaimed, "I want a Tinker Bell party for my birthday!!!"

From there, we split up again (boys and girls). The boys and I grabbed a FastPass for Big Thunder and waited in a fairly short standby line for Splash Mountain. My middle son isn't a huge fan of water rides, but he was a trooper. After Splash Mountain, my wife called me on the cell and asked us to meet her at Pirates of the Caribbean. I knew the girls were planning on riding Pirates, as my daughter had never been on POTC before. When we met up with the girls, they were just coming off Pirates and were heading right back in (it was a walk-on). As you guessed, my daughter loved it!

By the time we got off Pirates, the Fastpass window for Big Thunder had opened, so I took the boys over to Big Thunder. Here's the strange thing about crowds at WDW. The wait in the Fastpass line at Big Thunder was longer than the normal (no FastPass) line at Pirates. Go figure.

Anyway, after Big Thunder, we skipped back over to Adventureland. The girls were just coming off Alladin's Magic Carpets when I saw Mac from the Pirate Tutorial setting up. I called my wife and she hustled over to Pirates just in time for the show to start. The cast member playing Jack was bang-on. He had every mannerism down cold. While I wish one of my kids was selected to join Jack's crew, we enjoyed the show all the same.

After the Pirate Tutorial show, we went for a ride on the Jungle Cruise. While we were waiting, we searched for and found the hidden Mickey located above the hut across the river from the docks. There are a few more hidden Mickeys in the standby queue, but this was one I hadn't found before.

Once we got on our boat, our skipper, Rob, was from Holland. He really put a lot of umph into his spiel. He hit those jokes pretty hard and laughed along with us all. But what made it REALLY funny were the group from Italy who spoke very little English, so they would be looking around at everyone else wondering what was so funny. That got us all laughing as Rob tried to get across his spiel using gestures and slow speech. The whole thing was hilarious.

To top it off, Rob selected my daughter as the junior skipper for the voyage. This was especially great as my eldest son was the junior skipper during our March trip.

A little later, we went over to the Exposition Hall in Town Square for the AAA Story Time. This is a perk for guests who use AAA to book their Disney vacations. It's nice because there is a very small audience (like under 30) and the kids get some exclusive time with the character. In March, Alladin came to read a story, while this day, we got to see Peter Pan, which was really great - the kids hadn't met Peter Pan before. "Peter" did a wonderful job handling questions from the kids. I recall one child asked, "why doesn't Tinker Bell fly all over the park?" Peter replied, "Well, Walt Disney World is a no-fly zone for fairies, except for the Wishes fireworks show, that's why."

After the story time, we toured the Exposition Hall until our ADR time came up for Tony's. We had not been to this restaurant before, and I found the food quite good and the portion size absolutely huge. I'll have a full review in a future post.

After dinner, we wrapped up our day in the Magic Kingdom with a bit more shopping along Main Street. I'll tell you what, this is one place I could really go nuts. I have to exercise a great deal of caution, otherwise, I'll buy everything I see!!

We caught the beginning of Spectromagic as we walked back to the resort monorail and made our way around the Seven Seas Lagoon back to the Grand Floridian.

Ahh, another gorgeous night at Walt Disney World. What else could be better.

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