We saved the best (or, at least, the most iconic) of the parks for last, figuring that the Magic Kingdom would be most crowded over the weekend. Dale and Brenda treated us to breakfast in Cinderella’s castle in honor of Delton’s birthday. Although this was primarily billed as a chance to hob-knob with princesses, we tried to emphasize the awesomeness of dining inside a castle over the glaring femininity of Disney’s heroines. Delton took it all in stride. The plastic sword and delicious food helped distract him, but there was little escaping all the photo opps.
The park was crowded, but we managed to squeeze in the Pooh ride, the Haunted Mansion (twice!), Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo and It’s a Small Word without much fuss. We had a scary moment when Delton dropped off all of our radar screens in the middle of a jampacked Fantasyland. We split up to look for him, and Leish found him a few minutes later. He proudly said, “I stayed where I was, just like you told me.” Both kids were wearing big Disney buttons (Delton’s read Happy Birthday; Julia’s was for My First Visit), and we wrote my cell number on the back. We talked about getting lost and how they could show the number to an adult to get in touch with us.
Exhausted from an early morning and planning to stay late for the fireworks and parade, we decided to make this a break day after grabbing some Fast Passes for the Buzz Lightyear ride. That was our first stop on returning in the late afternoon. Delton immediately wanted to ride again, even though the wait was now about 30 minutes. I took Julia to get Buzz Lightyear’s autograph. With time to kill afterward, we took a seat in the Carousel of Progress. One of the park’s oldest attractions, this show features progressing historical scenes of animatronic characters talking about the gadgets and fads in their lives. Robots and history are a winning combination for me, making this and EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth among my favorite moments of the trip. Julia liked the robot dog.
I really, really wanted to go to the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor next, but Delton insisted on yet another trip on the doom buggies. Brenda, Julia and I rambled over to Liberty Square and grabbed the kids a quick bite to eat. When we reunited, the fireworks show was about to begin. Not wanting to trudge through more crowds, I ignored Dale’s advice to move back over to Tomorrowland for the best viewing of the show. Our view of the castle looked fine to me, but trees obscured most of the firework action.
Finally, at 9 p.m. we took up position for the Spectromagic parade in front of the barbershop in Main Street, U.S.A. This is adjacent to the large doors from which the parade commences (another Dale Ferrebee insider tip®)! An acquaintance of ours (Hi, Lyric!) who grew up in Pine Grove and is working at Animal Kingdom joined us for the show, which doesn’t seem to have changed much since my last trip in high school. This particular parade seems rather dated; I feel like I probably saw it 15 years ago.
Although the Kingdom was inexplicably open until midnight, we decide to wrap up the day. Earlier, Dale suggested that to avoid the mad rush around the Magic Kingdom parking lot we should park at EPCOT and take the monorail. As we were exiting, however, we’re told that the monorails to the Magic Kingdom parking lot are closed for “routine maintenance” and every blessed, non-resort bus-going visitor is directed to the ferry docks—all one thousand of us. Even with the boats packed like the Exodus, it took us a while to cross the lagoon.
What awaited us on the other side was not a short walk to the car, however, but another 15 minute monorail ride to EPCOT. And, once we arrived there, we find that we missed the last tram by 20 minutes or so. Thus, the final leg of our harrowing journey was a very long walk to the furthest corner of EPCOT’s parking lot.
Did I mention how cold it was? Or the fact that Delton insisted on being carried? In trying to prevent a very over-tired Delton from having a meltdown, I gave in to his demands. When I could bear him no further, I resorted to humor to keep him motivated and turned a parking cone into a makeshift bullhorn to shout at mommy a hundred yards in front of us. Thankfully, Julia slept through it all in the stroller.
We will sleep well tonight.