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Friday, June 8, 2012

Thanksgiving trip to Walt Disney World - November 1997 - Day 4

Day 4 - Saturday, November 29 - Magic Kingdom Early Entry, Wilderness Lodge

6:00, Mickey, you know the drill.

This was to be our big Magic Kingdom day. We had gone to MK the night before and I had visited breifly on Thursday morning, but both of those visits were merely tastes. This was going to be a MK feast. My original plan was to get to MK much earlier on Friday and only do a couple of hours during EE until it got crowded on Saturday, but it didn't work out that way. I knew that we would end up at MK the better part of the day, and being an EE day it would probably be crowded, but when you're working on a tight schedule sometimes you have to compromise.

T-shirt for the day: I felt it was time to proclaim my New York-ness, so I wore my exclusive New York Disney Store T.

Andie and I were both quite taken by how beautiful the MK is when it's decorated for Christmas. Andie mentioned that she could never imagine getting "into the sprit" in the Florida sunshine, but all the decorations (especially at WL and MK) really set the holiday mood.

On Thursday I had used Early Entry to get in some attractions at Tomorrowland, today we were going to use EE take in some Fantasyland attractions.
First on our agenda was Dumbo (one of Nat's favorites from our last Disneyland trip) immediately followed by Snow White's Adventures, Peter Pan Flight and the Carousel. Peter Pan Flight at Disneyland scared Nat, but she loved it this time out. Charlotte needed feeding and changing, so I volunteered for baby duty while Andie took Nat on It's a Small World (who do you think got the better end of that deal?) While I was tending to Charlotte I got to thinking about how I had been reading on the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup that Disney was planning on replacing Mr. Toad's Wild Ride with another attraction. I'm not a huge Toad fan, but I figured this would be my only chance to experience the WDW version of this attraction (I had only been on the DL version in the past). So, when Nat and Andie came out of IASW I suggested we ride the Toad. One interesting aspect of the WDW version of MTWR is the fact that it's actually two rides with, from what I could tell, slightly different beginnings and ends.

By this time the park had opened to the general public so we decided to go to Toontown so Nat could meet some characters.

Nat loved Mickey's Toontown Fair, especially Minnie's house. I think she was ready to move in. Meeting the characters in Toontown is quite well organized. They reduce the wait by grouping the characters into like-themed combinations. One group had "classic" characters, one had Pooh characters and the third had villians. First we took Nat to see the "classic" characters. The line for this group was the longest, but not too bad. Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto were there. Nat had missed Minnie at Epcot and wanted to see her first. She had already seen Donald and Goofy at Epcot so she wanted to see Pluto next. By now Nat's knee was really hurting so she sat on the floor and pulled Pluto down next to her. Nobody was waiting and Pluto seemed eager to oblige.

We then went to see Pooh, Tigger and Eyeore. Tigger was first. After Nat saw Pooh and we were walking away I heard a few people say "oh, look!". I turned around to see that I was being followed by Pooh with his arms outstretched. He wanted to hug Charlotte. Very cute. Nat then went to see Eyeore. I noticed that she was really favoring the one knee and was limping. As she stood next to Eyeore I couldn't decide who looked gloomier.

We tried to see Mickey, but it was getting close to our resevation time at Cinderella's Royal Table and the line looked prohibitive. We left, but Nat didn't seem too upset about missing the Mouse. Then she said "we can see him later" and i felt bad because i knew that wasn't likely.

We got to the castle just as it started to rain. A bunch of people were gathered under the castle for shelter, and who should be there but a bunch of characters including the Mick himself. It seems that they were scheduled to put on a show in front of the castle that was canceled on account of the rain. It was very crowded and somewhat chaotic, but Nat got to meet Mickey after all.

Our reservations for Cinderella's Royal Table were for 11:30. The CM at Cinderella's RT said it was too early to check in but we could feel free to sit in the lobby downstairs from the dining room. The lobby was empty except for one other family and us. Nat needed to use the restroom so Andie took her up. I thought Charlotte might enjoy getting out of her stroller so I layed out a blanket in the corner and let her roll around on it.

Nat and Andie returned a few minutes later, and by now Nat's knee was hurting quite a bit. A few minutes later Cinderella showed up with the Fairy Godmother close behind. Snow White followed soon afterward. I picked up Nat and took her to see Cinderella. By now she didn't want to stand so she sat on the floor.

Cinderella just sat herself down right next to her. I then took her to see Snow White. Nat started crying because her leg hurt. I explained to Snow White that she had hurt her leg and Nat and I went back to the corner where Andie was sitting with Charlotte.

At some time while this was going on Peter Pan and the Mad Hatter also showed up. Snow White had started spreading the word to the other characters that there was a sad little girl, and at the same time the lobby was quickly filling with more guests. All I can say is that between a crying 4 1/2 year old and a (if I do say so myself) very cute 5 month old, the other kids in the room didn't stand a chance. First Cinderella and Snow White came by, sat on the floor and tried to comfort Nat (while "ooo-ing" and "aww-ing" over the baby). The Fairy Godmother went up to the main dining room and made a little bag full of candy and little toys for her. The Mad Hatter chimed in with jokes and general silliness. The best of all for Nat, I think, was when Peter Pan came over, sat with her and told her a story about the time he hurt his leg while flying around the castle. (I have to admit I felt a twinge of guilt. Nat had their nearly undevided attention for at least 15 or 20 minutes while the other kids there might have felt a
bit left out. Oh well...)

The characters all went out of their way to make a sad little girl feel better. They weren't able to completely cheer her up, but certainly not from a lack of trying. And it definitely has given Nat a special memory.

Later, during lunch, I asked our waiter Curtis what the best way was to express our thanks to the characters. He suggested stopping by guest services and filling out a guest comment form, which I did. I only hope they know what a magical moment they provided for one little girl (and her daddy :).

After leaving Cinderella's castle we decided to give Pirates of the Caribbean another try. We told Nat she could stay in her stroller since it was hard for her to walk. Luckily the line for PotC wasn't too bad. Nat really enjoyed the ride. I can safely say that she is now a big fan of the "dark rides". After PotC we went to check out the line at Haunted Mansion but it was prohibitively long, and we wanted to catch the afternoon "Remember the Magic" parade.

We wanted to place ourselves strategically close to the main entrance because our plan was to leave the park as soon as the parade was over. We found excellent spots on benches at the end of the main street exit plaza facing south. Andie and I took turns sitting with the kids while the other took care of essential business like getting candy and fudge from the Main Street candy shop. At one point all the kids in our section were asked to et up and practice a little dance they would do when the Little Mermaid float came by later during the parade. Nat was obviously not up for dancing but wanted to get into the act so I carried her and we practiced the dance together.

The parade started at the other end of the parade route (in Liberty Square, I think) and made its way down to where we were. This was good because it gave us plenty of time to just relax. It was bad because it meant that we had to listen to the "Remember the Magic" theme song over and over. That little ditty is rith up there with the IASM theme song for annoyance level.

The parade made its way to us. The song blared. Nat smiled, laughed and waved at all the characters. She was especially thrilled to see characters she had previously met. When the Little Mermaid float arrived Nat and I danced the Calypso. Charlotte slept.

After the parade it was time to say good-bye to the Magic Kingdom, the last park we would visit on this trip. We still had some more fun scheduled, but it still felt a bit like saying good-bye to WDW, so I felt a little melancholy. Nat turned around and waved at what she had come to call the "candy castle".

We had reservations at the Flying Fish for later that evening, but by the time we got back to our room at about 5:00 everybody was too tired. I was a little disappointed because the food in general on the trip was something of a letdown and I thought that the FF held the chance of getting a good meal. But the thought of a relaxing evening in our hotel was too inviting. We went down to the pool and Jacuzzi and spent some time relaxing and swimming. Any intentions we may have had of keeping out dinner engagement were quashed after that. We retired to our room for an evening of munching on snacks purchased at the "Roaring Fork", TV and packing for the trip home.

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