Driving through these gates for the first time was so exciting!! We rolled under with Disney’s Spectromagic music blaring through the radio speakers.
And then we were even more excited to roll under these gates!!!
By the way, if you stay outside the park you’ll pay $15 a day in parking fees (as of Nov. 2013). I kept an envelope with $75 cash (enough for five days) in the center console of our vehicle so we were ready to go each morning. This made things quick and easy!
Magic Kingdom is so large with over 60 attractions we set aside two days, Monday and Wednesday, to explore. I was super nervous the first day. I was hoping and praying that all my planning would pay off and everything would go perfectly! We were in the vehicle and ready to roll about 10 minutes before 8 a.m. every morning. Magic Kingdom is all the way in the back and we drove through the parking gates at 8:11 a.m. and parked within walking distance to the ticket gate. We loaded up the stroller and I grabbed my park folder ready to tackle the day. Here is what our schedule looked like. It is color coded according to the land the attraction is in.
We pre-purchased our tickets through undercovertourist.com and I had NO idea that we would need to convert our paper tickets to Disney’s plastic credit card type tickets. This took up an unexpected 20 minutes or so. Once we got our tickets converted, we rode the monorail to the park entrance. Here, we got in line behind everybody else. FIRST, you must go through a security check and have all your bags searched. Then you’ll line up to go through the entry gates. At about 10-15 minutes before 9 a.m. (which is when the park opens) the mayor of Main Street along with some citizens of the kingodm come out and welcome everyone with song and dance then Mickey, Minnie and many of the other characters arrive on the steam train. There’s more singing, dancing and a big countdown to open the park. This was one of my favorite things. It’s just so fun and exciting!!
This was where we stood on day 1. We got a MUCH better spot on day 2. I’ll post a pic showing that and a video of the welcome show in a bit.
Once the park opens everyone begins the race down main street to get to their attraction destination.
We paused to have our very first picture taken by a photopass photographer on.
Once done there (and after a restroom break), we walked straight through Cinderella’s castle and on to Fantasyland to Enchanted Tales with Belle (Peter Pan’s Flight was closed while we were there or we would’ve gotten FPs first). Enchanted Tales with Belle is a VERY popular attraction and if you are interested in it this needs to be your first stop. We were in line by about 9:15-9:20 and there was already a 20 minute wait. We saw the times get up to 90 minutes throughout the day.
Here we are having a little fun while in the line.
This is what it looks like inside Belle’s cottage.
The line goes through here and into the door you see on the right side of the pic. This was so fun. I can definitely see why it’s such a big deal. Every child in each group participates in reenacting that special night when Belle falls in love with the beast. The animatronics are amazing. The talking wardrobe assists in giving each child a part in the story from the beast all the way down to silverware and dishes. Oh! And 2 adult men are used as guards!!
Just before Belle has to leave for dinner with the Beast she greets each child and has a picture taken. She doesn’t sign any books here, only pictures. Our Belle was super sweet and gentle with the children. You could tell she enjoyed her job and was very much a princess.
After Belle we snuck over to Gaston’s tavern and met the brute himself.
He totally lived up to his rugged and proud reputation. He was the first to sign our books.
Then we swam down Under the Sea for the Journey of the Little Mermaid. You ride in a clam shell through the movie scenes. Then we went to meet Ariel in her Grotto. I believe this is the only place you can meet Ariel with her tail.
After Ariel we ventured to the Hundred Acre Wood to visit our friends Tigger and Pooh. The ride was temporarily closed so we paused for snack and decided to get in line to meet the characters. This is Lilly’s first look (caught by a Disney photographer). Sheer amazement.
As we were exiting here the ride reopened and we hopped in line.
I had It’s A Small World on the schedule next but I got the sense that the older two were tiring of the kiddie rides so we made our way to Frontierland and got fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain.
On the way to Big Thunder we saw the Fairy Godmother signing autographs behind Cinderella’s castle. Some of us were in such a “go mode” that we bypassed her and kept tracking toward Frontierland. This was a mistake!! Her line was short and it wouldn’t have taken us but a few minutes. But the schedule was king…and the Fairy Godmother’s autograph is one missing from our books.
After getting our FPs we deviated from the schedule and rode Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride is slow and dark but it does have a small drop that was a little too much for Lilly. Our group split up and the older 2 sat in front of us adults and Lilly was in my lap….crying for most of it. 😉
Scenes like this one creeped out my older two. They weren’t really familiar with the movies so they were a little freaked out. But overall, we enjoyed the ride. It’s was the perfect amount of adventure for me.
After our visit with the elusive Jack Sparrow we headed for Adventureland.
And we caught a ride on the Magic Carpet. This ride is the same deal as Dumbo, you go up, down and around.
It was super fun!! Watch out for the camel!! He spits.
After the carpets we got FPs for the Jungle Cruise, which had been transformed into the Jingle Jungle Cruise, then explored the Swiss Family Robinson’s Tree house. Ruthie had finished reading the book recently and Tobin was in the middle of it so it was fun to see it in real life.
After the tree house, Lilly and I shopped around and pressed some pennies while these three went and conquered Big Thunder Mountain. I wasn’t sure how Tobin, especially, would do on these bigger rides but he conquered it in style and felt he could take on anything afterwards…..and he did!!
After Big Thunder we took a long overdue lunch break. One mistake we made on our first day was pushing ourselves too hard. The weather was pretty warm and really needed to refuel more than we did. We never made this mistake again.
Our lunch break over, we took a ride through the jungle. This was nice and relaxing. Our tour guide was very funny and honestly, I enjoyed seeing these fake animals more than seeing the real ones on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom….just sayin’.
Once we had our feet back on shore we were ready for a break back at the condo!! It was about 2:15 and I knew a parade would have Main Street shut down at 3:00 so we headed for the exit.
Lilly had been wanting a balloon all afternoon and I’d told her that we’d get one maybe on the way out. Dealing with a balloon tied to a stroller while trying to maneuver through a crowd did NOT sound like fun to me. Luckily, we ran into a balloon salesman right as we were leaving. I walked up and asked the price completely expecting to hear $3-$5. I couldn’t have been more wrong!!!! The princess ones were $10 and the Mickey balloon inside a balloon was $12!!!! Lilly chose the princess and Tobin a Mickey. Tobin released his as we were heading home at the end of the week. We still have Lilly’s and are considering having it framed!! In all actuality, it’ll end up in her special trip memory box but for $10, it ought to be framed!
We went back to our condo, relaxed and regrouped for a few hours. In my original plans, once we left the park on Monday we wouldn’t have returned until Wednesday. However, as it got closer to our vacation date I saw on Disney’s website Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas parade scheduled for that evening followed by a holiday castle projection show and fireworks. When I picked up a times guide at the gate that morning I noticed that NONE of this was on there. So I called Disney and asked about the parade times for that day and it WAS scheduled. We loaded everyone one up around 5:30 that afternoon and headed back to the kingdom. I still had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right with my plans though.
We didn’t park as close this go around (we also saved our parking receipt from earlier so we didn’t have to pay again) but we took the tram (or tramp as Lilly called it) to the gates. This time we bypassed the monorail and took the ferry to the park entrance.
This was PERFECT!! It was relaxing, cool and the view was gorgeous. Everything was all lit up for the holidays and the castle was breathtaking.
Remember that feeling that something wasn’t right that was gnawing at me?? As we entered the park we were told we had an hour until it closed then Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party began. This party was a special ticketed event and was $60 a ticket. NOTHING on Disney’s website indicated this. If I have one complaint about Disney, it’s that there aren’t enough signs and it isn’t always easy to find/get information.
But we made the best of our time even though we’d miss the parade and fireworks that night. We enjoyed seeing the castle, shopping and the “snow” on Main Street. We didn’t really rush and left a little after 7. This enabled us to get into bed at a decent hour so we could be rested and ready for exploring the seas, the world, and dining with royalty the next day at Epcot.
All in all, our first day was a success. Our schedule helped us to make the most of our time so that we didn’t spend it all waiting in lines. After we recovered from a touch of culture shock, we felt better prepared for our second day at the kingdom.
Magic Kingdom tips:
1. Get there at least 45 minutes before the park opens, earlier if you are converting tickets.
2. Pack a lunch and snacks and hydrate often.
3. Be smart and make a plan but be wise and flexible enough to enjoy the unexpected fun that may pop up.
4. Take the ferry rather than the monorail. It is maybe a minute or two longer but way more enjoyable. Maybe alternate back and forth between the two. Riding through the middle of the Contemporary resort on the monorail is pretty cool too.
5. Get extra maps and times guides when you walk in and study them while waiting in line for your first attraction. This helps nail down your plans. In fact, I printed out maps before our trip and familiarized myself with the lay of the lands and mapped out our route.
6. If you have little ones, especially girls, walk through Cinderella’s castle rather than around it on that first day. It’s every girls’ dream.
7. Have colored clickable sharpies for autograph books.
8. Have all your bags accessible and ready to be searched upon entrance.
9. Have a magical day!!