We got a fairly good night of rest and had a quick breakfast in our hotel room before going to catch the 8:45 shuttle from the Shades of Green resort. The kids were so excited to be able to ride the monorail, or, as Arden pronounced it, the "modorail." The forecast called for cloudy skies, and we came prepared with ponchos for us and jackets for the kids. By arriving at the park just a little while after opening, we avoided quite a bit of the crowds. We rented a double stroller, which was well worth the money we spent. It was easy to handle and could actually accommodate all 3 kids when they all wanted/needed to ride.
Ted and I had made a plan based on a tip we had read from mousesavers.com. Ted rented the stroller and walked through the park to Mickey's Toontown Fair, on the opposite side of the main gate. The kids and I boarded the steam train (that's the picture at the left) and rode it to the Toontown station. We had read that many characters can be found here, and by hitting this place early in the morning, we thought we could get the kids some pictures and autographs before the rush. Well. What the tip neglected to tell us was that the Toontown area didn't even open until 10:00! Ted was stuck on one side, while we were roped off in another area! Thankfully, the side we were on had a play area that the kids were able to run around and enjoy, and we just decided to meet up with Ted in the tent where we were told the characters would be.
Our plans changed once we realized that we were in a very short line to see The Mouse Himself! As a cast member opened the walkway (the kids were beside themselves to see Mickey and some other characters appear), she ushered us behind Mickey into the "Judge's Tent," where we were about 8-10 families away from seeing Mickey! I quickly called Ted to update him, and he met us just in time. The kids had their autograph books ready, and we got our first pictures and autographs. As Mickey was signing the books, Tobin provided us with the first great Tobin quote from our Disney trip: "Awww, he's just a puppet!" That didn't stop him from being excited, though. :-)
Then we scurried over to the big tent and found that there was NO line for seeing Donald Duck, Chicken Little, and Chip and Dale, so we got their autographs and took pictures of them with the kids. After exiting that area, we realized that there was a long line to see the princesses and decided that we'd try to catch them later.
So, we headed out to the rides! The kids and I rode on the tea cups while Ted got a fast pass for the Winnie the Pooh ride. We were hoping Ted would be able to join us, but he wasn't able to get through in time. Our next stops were:
Mickey's Philharmagic, an awesome 3D movie experience that we ALL loved
The carousel--we saw Mary Poppins riding a few horses ahead of us (Ted and Tobin, above, get ready to ride!)
The Winnie the Pooh ride--the Fast Pass option is GREAT
Then we saw Pooh himself signing autographs, so we got in line to eat our lunch while Ted made a dash to get Fast Passes for Peter Pan's Flight. He returned in time for us to get our pictures with Pooh, and then the kids spent some time playing in the 100 Acre Woods play area. I decided to get in line so the kids could meet Tigger, since he was right by the play area as well, but unfortunately, it began raining when we were about 5 people away, and Tigger was escorted to a dry area.
The rain began coming down in earnest, so we dashed to Tomorrowland and stood under the overhangs around the Buzz Lightyear ride. The wait was incredibly long for that, so we thought we'd try getting another fast pass...only to discover (AFTER waiting in line for it) that we weren't eligible to get another fast pass because we still had the one for Peter Pan's ride.
So...we dashed over to the Carousel of Progress, which got us out of the rain for maybe a 20-minute show. This was a fun show, at least for Ted and me, as it started out with an animatronic man sitting in a kitchen from 1900. We saw the various "wonders" of that day and age, and then our seating area spun around to the next stop, 1920, and viewed another vignette from that era. Then we journeyed to 1940, and finally to present day. It was interesting to see the changes throughout time, and I only wish they could have continued with the every-20-years thing, though I'm sure space and time were major factors in why they didn't.
Outside, we discovered our stroller was completely soaked, not surprisingly, so we made another potty stop and brought out paper towels to dry off the seats. The kids wanted to do the race cars, so we made our way there and found that at least the line was much more reasonable than it had been earlier. So we got in line for that, hoping that perhaps the rain would let up by the time we had to get in our cars and "drive." It didn't. Ted drove with Charis and Tobin, and I drove with Arden. This ride is NOT very fun in the rain, but as we were rounding a last curve before coming back in, I looked over at Arden and asked him, "Are we having fun?"
He turned and looked at me, all wet in his little red jacket with the hood over his head and partially covering his face. I saw rain splashing on his nose, and he gave me the sweetest smile and said, "Yes!" as his whole face lit up. I decided that my wet jeans and cold arms were no match for the joy that was evident in my little 3-year-old boy, and my heart warmed to know that the rain couldn't dampen the magic that blooms in the wonder of youth.
Since our window of time for using the Peter Pan fast pass was approaching, we walked over that way, thinking to maybe try the Dumbo ride first since the sign said it was a 20-minute wait and we still had some time to burn before we could use our passes. However, the 20-minute wait time was grossly underestimated. After 12 minutes we were still on the outside loop, which meant we were getting rained on. Charis and Tobin were having line placement issues, so we decided to ditch Dumbo and go straight to Peter Pan. Once again, we zipped through the Fast Pass line, grateful to be avoiding the long standby line, and decided that Peter Pan's Flight would have been a major disappointment if we hadn't had the Fast Passes! The kids enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn't worth an hour-long wait.
By this time it was about 2:30, and we were fairly certain that the afternoon parade was going to be cancelled. The rain was still coming down in buckets. We had planned to return to the hotel anyway for some rest time, and this was definitely the time. We slogged our way back to the front of the park, out the gates, and to the monorail.
I have to say, Ted and I were so proud of the kids. After enduring over 2 hours of chilling rain and a few disappointments of not meeting characters or getting to ride certain rides, we heard not a single complaint from any of them about the dismal weather or circumstances. They were real troopers. I think the excitement of finally being at the Magic Kingdom, after months of anticipating our trip, did help off set the negative aspects, but frankly, I was just amazed at their good attitudes...particularly since we had other moments on other days that were definitely NOT examples of good attitudes!
Back at the hotel, the kids all got hot baths and snacks, and then we lay down to rest before dinner at the hotel buffet. By the time dinner was finished, the rain had subsided, and we made the trek back to the park to see what we could do in the evening.
We checked the Buzz Lightyear ride first, since we had had to bypass that earlier, and ended up getting Fast Passes for that since the standby line was way too long. Then we walked to the other side of the park to do what Tobin had been waiting to do all day: experience the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! Though our kids are much too young to see the Disney movies based on this ride, Tobin has been interested in pirates for a long time, and he was beside himself to think that he could go on a ride that featured these interesting characters! The sign indicated the wait time would be 40 minutes, but the lines moved quickly, and there were interesting things to see (like cannons and barrels and other pirate-y things) along the way, and as it turned out, we didn't have to wait but maybe 25 minutes or so. The kids all loved the ride and seeing the animatronic figures doing their thing.
Then we walked back to Buzz (Ted got spit on by a "camel" near the Flying Carpets of Aladdin and was a bit disgruntled at having to spend the evening wet after finally drying out) and did battle with Zurg--a great ride that all the kids enjoyed.
We walked back to the entrance to find a spot for the Spectromagic parade, which was to begin at 9:00. Ted and Arden then left to search out some ice cream and returned just as the parade was beginning. Unfortunately, the ice cream store was quite a ways away, and apparently Disney ice cream sellers haven't figured out how to help customers transport multiple ice cream cones over a distance, so Ted was very stressed and sticky by the time he met up with us. The kids, oblivious to the effort made by their dad to allow them to enjoy their treats, sat in awe of the lit-up characters and floats, licking their ice cream cones much too slowly for our liking. We gave up trying to get them to hurry and figured, hey, we'll be finished here soon and can clean up later. The magic on the kids' faces was too precious to be spoiled by worrying about ice cream dripping down their jackets!
After the parade we did clean up the best we could, and then we joined the throngs heading back to the various hotels and transportation center. On the monorail, Tobin asked what Pooh and Tigger were doing, and we said (of course) that they were probably getting ready for bed, brushing their teeth, going potty, and getting their jammies on. Thus prompted Tobin's next memorable Disney quote (said with a huge grin and an expression that indicates, "You're pulling my leg, aren't you?!"):
"Nah, they don't have privates like we do!"
Of course this was announced at a decibel level only achievable by our Tobin, so people in the next monorail car were sure to hear our son's analysis of Disney characters' anatomy!!
Whew! What a day! The kids promptly fell asleep as soon as we got them tucked in bed. (Actually, Arden fell asleep even before we got to our hotel!) Ted washed off their sticky ice-cream-covered jackets, and we hit the sack ourselves.