The happiest place on Earth.
That's what I kept telling myself last week as we fought the hordes at Magic Kingdom in Disney World. Barbarians everywhere - storming Cinderella Castle...swarming Dumbo...even temporarily leaving the Pirates of the Caribbean shivering and quaking in fear as the masses descended.
Daughter and I in front of the castle....
Now, don't get me wrong. We had a great time. We did. We got to ride every thing that we wanted to - and multiple times, in some cases.
However - I made a crucial strategic error while planning our own assault on the House of the Mouse, and so I am passing this on to you, dear readers, so you can learn from the error of my way.
Are you ready for it? I know - the sheer enormity - and rarity - of the Drama Queen making a mistake probably still has you stunned. In disbelief. But it does happen - albeit very, very rarely.
Here it is. (big trumpet sound here). We went to the Magic Kingdom on a Monday.
Don't go on a Monday. Like we did. Big mistake. According to ALL of the guide books, all of the other barbarians were supposed to be visiting Disney's other theme parks on a Monday - such as Animal Kingdom or Epcot - leaving the Magic Kingdom virtually empty. I repeat - it was supposed to be that way. But the reality, alas - was that the MK was overtaken - to the point where Disney themselves released a statement that they, too, had been caught off-guard by the sheer numbers of visitors last week - resulting in a flurry of changes on their part in trying to accommodate the masses.
But on with our tour...I'll talk about the crowds and wait times as we go through the different areas. And as far as why the barbarians all chose Monday, March 15th to visit the Magic Kingdom? I have no idea. But it sucked. Until we learned how to zig when the rest of the hordes were zagging.
When we first entered the park, this is how I WISHED it had looked:
Ha. Not to be. It was packed. However, later in the week, we had a 9:00 am tour - and so we were let in the park early - and I was able to snap that photo before the masses entered. Cool, huh?
Main Street, U.S.A.
Did you know that the only "real" flag in the park is the one here, in Town Square?
All of the other flags in the park aren't real - so Disney doesn't have to take them all down at night, as required by law. They only have to take this one flag down. If you look closely at all of the other flags in the park, you'll notice they're not real.
On Monday, March 15, the day of the crowds, we stood in line for over 40 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Here's a photo of the crowd I took while standing in line:
As Captain Jack Sparrow would say, "Argh!"
Later in the week, we walked on the ride with no wait. None. Nada. Zippo. Amazing. They've redone this ride, adding "Captain Jack Sparrow" to the story line - and using the music from the movies. I liked it. Of course, I've always liked this ride - it's a favorite. But - try to ride it later in the day - when there's no line. Seriously.
Our other favorite ride in Adventureland is the classic Jungle Cruise.
We won't wait more than 20 minutes for this - but on Monday, during the day - the line was up to 60 minutes at one point. Geesh! So - we walked on. Later that night, after the parade - we walked right on - no wait - and had a boat to ourselves. Chris, our captain, was a hoot. For only 3 passengers, he really put on a show. Later in the week, we had other captains - but none were ever as good as Chris. And yes - the narrative is nothing but puns - corny puns - but we enjoy it.
The last ride that we rode in Adventureland was the Magic Carpets of Aladdin...on Monday, it was more than a 60-minute wait. By Friday, the wait was only 25-minutes, so Daughter and I hopped on. (Because it spins, hubby opted out...but it really doesn't spin fast - its very, very mild.) Would I do this again? Only if it was a walk-on, with no wait.
Daughter here - is looking ornery because she has the controls in the front...
And here's me - with my Mickey ears displayed proudly - in the back seat.
On Monday, the only way we could ride Space Mountain was with a "golden" Fastpass - which went quickly and were gone by 11:00 a.m. I call it "golden" because they were so difficult to get. After that, it was a 120+ minute wait...which we refuse to do. Later in the week - the wait was down to 60-minutes, at the worst.
We rode this several times - and once, I managed to snag the very last seat of the coaster...wow! What a ride! Talk about a true "crack the whip" experience - I was flying everywhere on that ride! I got to giggling so hard during the ride, I was crying when it was over - it was too funny! So - if you want a "wilder" experience on the ride - get the very last seat!
Our other favorite ride in TomorrowLand is Buzz Lightyear. Normally, hubby kicks my ass on the shooting scores, but this time, I kicked his. It could be because he was busy taking our picture while I was shooting like crazy, but I like to think it's because of my extremely improved shooting skills. Yeah, that's it.
The line for this was about 45 minutes - at 9:30 in the morning! It only got worse as the day went on. Here's Daughter, in line - showing extreme patience. This is rare, so I had to take a photo of it.
On to Fantasyland...where on Monday, it was virtually log-jammed with frustrated parents, crying & tired children, and overwhelmed Castmembers. We steered clear of Fantasyland on Monday - visiting it later in the week when it was virtually empty.
Daughter loves the Mad Tea Party...me, not so much. But I'll ride them to give daughter a chance to try and make me puke. She likes to spin the cups as hard and as fast as she can. Hubby won't even get close to them - so he kindly took our picture as we went whizzing by.
On one instance, I went to go get us some Fastpasses for the Winnie the Pooh ride - because it ALWAYS seems to be at a 50-minute wait - no matter when you go. Anyway, the Fastpass machine spit out a "bonus" Fastpass for PhilharMagic - woo hoo! Every now and then this will happen - but not always. A little bit of that Disney magic. Pooh was a fun ride, but certainly not waiting 50 minutes for. Seriously.
PhilharMagic is a GREAT 3D show - we love it. It's better to sit towards the back on this - and don't forget to sniff and smell the air during the show...you'll smell jasmine and apple pie at some points during the show.
Cinderella's Golden Carousel is usually a walk-on ride; no wait - not even on the most crowded days.
And - we couldn't leave Walt Disney World without riding It's A Small World. I know - it's cheesy - but how can you NOT ride it and get that incessant song stuck in your head for the rest of the day??!! Here's Daughter and Hubby in line - which was about a 20-minute wait...and it moves pretty quickly.
In Liberty Square, our choice is Haunted Mansion, of course. This is in my top 3 rides at Magic Kingdom...they've recently redone it, and although the changes are subtle, I think they've added to the story line. Daughter and hubby were in the Doom Buggy in front of me - at one point, the "buggies" are pretty close together - allowing me to reach over and grab daughter - in the dark. Oops. About scared her half to death. She didn't appreciate the humor of the situation, but I thought it was funny. :)
Some trivia - the same actor who does the "voice" that talks to you while in your Doom Buggy is the same guy who does the voice of the Pillsbury DoughBoy. Yup.
Now - onto our favorite area: Frontierland. Because here - we have the other two mountains in the park (besides Space Mountain.)
There's Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Railroad Mountain.
On Monday, the sign outside Big Thunder said it was a 30-minute wait. This was at about 10:00 a.m. Not bad, we thought - so we hopped into line. Well......that 30-minutes stretched into 60 minutes. Argh. If we'd known this, we wouldn't have done it without a Fastpass!!! It's a very claustrophobic queue, as well - making the wait just that much worse.
But it was SO worth it once on!
Splash Mountain always had a huge wait, so we used Fastpasses for this ride, as well. And yes, we got wet. Although - Disney will control the size of the "splash" depending on how hot it is - the hotter the day, the more you get wet. Because it wasn't super hot, we didn't have a super giant splash at the end - and we used our ponchos as "covers" for our heads.
We did take the time one night to watch the 9:00 pm parade - SpectroMagic. It is a beautiful parade...we stationed ourselves over in Frontierland - the parade starts here, and so after it was over - we could quickly run over and hop on Big Thunder with no waiting.
And as far as watching the night time fireworks show, Wishes - we'll save that for a future post...as we did something VERY special for that! And it was a lot of fun!