Monday, March 28, 2016

Wandering Disney - Part I

As I stated in my last entry, my family and I recently went to Disney World.  Now when I say my family and I, I should clarify, there were 17 of us.  My wife's siblings and their families all made the journey and made the trip that much more memorable.

We arrived in Orlando on a Saturday evening and despite being tired, our excitement pushed us to leave the resort and take the short bus ride to the Magic Kingdom.  We wanted to meet up with some of the family that arrived before we had, which was actually everybody.  Not only that, how could you wait with the "Dreams" right down the street.

Right away I was impressed with the security presence and the number of staff who all worked to make our trip enjoyable and safe.  From the bus drivers, security guards, vendors, and janitorial staff, all of them were friendly and very helpful.  As we made our way from the bus to the park gates, as first timers, we got a bit overwhelmed and uncertain as to where to go.  No worries there were lots of people willing to point us in the right direction.

Once through the gates there was almost an instant moment of awe as we stared open mouthed down Main Street Disney to the Magic Palace.  Swarms of people, with cameras all clicking, and broad smiles, joyously and courteously made there way down the street.  We took the mandatory picture and then wondered "Where to first?"

Now for my first tip, if you're going to Disney, get the maps of each of the Parks you plan to visit and familiarize yourself with them.  We had maps and this made navigating the parks, including the Magic Kingdom, so much easier.  Our first stop was going to be Frontier Land where we had fast passes for "Splash Mountain".  So tip number 2:  Use the fast passes if you can.  They drastically limit the time you spend in line waiting for rides.  "Splash Mountain" is a very popular ride but we waited less than 10minutes for our first trip on the watery roller coaster type ride.  I'd love to have a picture to show you but it is impossible to have that much fun with that much water and take pictures at the same time.

Next was "Thunder Mountain" and again we loved it.  Our 6 year old daughter screamed with delight as we made twisting turn after twisting turn in the dark.  I was a little worried it might scare her but my fears were quickly abated when I saw the joyous grin on her face after the first big turn.  This roller coaster ride takes you through the mine of the 7 Dwarfs and on your first time on it you won't be able to anticipate the turns.  For us this was made even more difficult as we took the ride shortly after sun down.
For a crew that had been on the go for 18hours straight we look pretty good as we await the "Electric Light Parade."

Our last planned stop for the night would bring us to the rest of the group we were with and we met along the route of the "electric light parade."  This regular parade event is spectacular and leads up to the light show and fireworks at the Magic Palace.  Floats with LED lighting and lots of Disney characters and music make up this cool parade and the kids (and kids at heart) all watch with tired but excited eyes.  It looked like they were all coming off a chocolate high while eating cotton candy.

The start of the "Electric Light Parade".  You get the idea.

As our family starts to make our way towards the park exit, we quickly realize the herculean task we are undertaking.  A large crowd has gathered in front of the Magic Palace to watch the light show and fireworks which are still an hour off.  As we get close to the Palace the light show starts and we hustle the kids along as we intend to come back another night to take in this spectacle.  We effectively navigate to the exit and find our bus stop which has a bus every 20minutes directly to our resort.

Our first night at Disney and it was a memory for the books for sure.  There is no way that photos or this simple blog can convey the excitement and awe felt by everyone in my family that night.  We were extremely tired but there was no fighting, no tantrums, and no tears (unless they were tears of joy.)  Despite being tired, the kids wanted to take a short swim in the pool at the resort before going to bed.  Needless to say, following the swim and a quick snack, the kids were asleep within 5 minutes of hitting their pillows.  I think Michelle and I were asleep within 10minutes of that.

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