We “slept in” today, which simply means we did not rush out the door. Plan: park at EPCOT and monorail to Magic Kingdom. I know, I know…worked so well yesterday. But, this time, we also expect to end the day catching EPCOT’s night-time spectacular, Illuminations. By the time we got there, the MK parking lot was quite crowded, which meant we would have to take one (hopefully) final trip on the blasted ferry.
First stop, train to Toon Town! Tim Brixius insider tip®: If you take a folded-up stroller on the train, be sure to use the handicap loading area. I got scolded by a Disney train conductor for opening a gate to get past the turnstiles. Delton and Julia loved exploring Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses and Donald’s leaky boat (the water features of which were mercifully turned off in the still seasonably cold temps).
Back on the train and off to Frontierland to decide if we really want to chance getting wet on Splash Mountain. We had been psyching Delton up for this one, as he typically avoids flume rides. Turns out we needn’t have bothered—it was closed for renovations. In fact, later on, Frontierland’s other headliner, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, broke down as Leish and Delton waited in line. Tough day in the old West.
So, on to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, which is awesome, but seemed much cooler in my youth. It was so crowded we couldn’t linger too long in any one spot and could only move in one direction. Pirates of the Caribbean was great too. Aleisha and I are probably among the few who haven’t seen any of the movies, so I couldn’t really explain who Johnny Depp or Octopus-face were.
By this point, we are starving, and stumble into the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe for some grub. I grabbed what I thought was a nice shaded table, but another diner warned me that the birds roosting in the tree above had been making quite a mess below. We wound up inside. Tim Brixius insider tip®: with sauteed mushrooms and onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, peppers, cheese sauce, dressing and croutons, you can almost make a meal out of the condiments in this place. Be sure to ask for an extra plate to pile it all on.
Since Julia is too small for the Big Thunder Mountain, I decide to take her on the magic carpet ride, which she finds totally thrilling. We then slip back into Frontiertown just in time to catch the afternoon parade, which Julia watched from my shoulders. After getting a call from Leish saying that Delton is about to drag her to the Haunted Mansion for a fourth(!) time, I decide to take Julia to Tom Sawyer’s Island. I’ve got to say, this was one of my favorite places in the park. No lines and plenty of interesting sites—from caves to bridges to an entire fort—for kids to explore. Julia especially liked playing with the rifles in the look-out towers of the fort. That’s what we get for hanging out at the hunting camp every summer! I look forward to taking Delton here next time.
We finally meet up with the rest of the gang at the Jungle Cruise. Dale said that the pilot of one’s boat can make or break this fun little trip into colonialism. Our guy was pretty deadpan and was able to keep the jokes coming while we waited in a traffic jam at the end. Sadly, this is our last ride in the Kingdom. We grab a few souvenirs and then hop aboard the monorail to EPCOT.
We arrive at EPCOT around sundown, just enough time to take in Living With the Land and Journey Into Imagination. The Land ride is probably the most unchanged from the first time I rode it. Imagination is OK, but a bit scatterbrained.
On to Norway for a spin on the Maelstrom, another throwback ride that Delton loved for its trolls. With less than an hour to go before Illuminations, we then settle on some hearty German sausage for dinner. (Tim Brixius insider tip®: do not promise your kids pizza at EPCOT, when there is no pizza to be had. WTF, Italy?) While dining al fresco on the platz beneath the statue of St. George seems like a great place to wind up our vacation, we were at this point freezing our asses off. Aleisha and Delton retreat to one of the shops, while Julia and I huddle for warmth on a bench overlooking the lagoon. Before long, she is fast asleep and remains so until we get through the fireworks and make it back to the car. Aleisha is jealous because it has been a long time since either of us had the privilege of our baby falling asleep while we hold her. Illuminations was great, but a bit loud for Delton’s tastes. Dale and Brenda had gone ahead to the car, which is warmed up and waiting.