Before coming to Disney World for the first time last year, one of the things I stressed over most was how to structure the days. Do you go to the pool first or the park first? Do you go back to the park at night? What is the plan??
This year, we’ve done it different every day. Some days we go to the pool straight away. Some days we get up and go to the park but at a leisurely pace. Today, we had the alarm set for 6:45 a.m. and we were on a mission.
Our plan was to be at the gates of the Magic Kingdom by 8 a.m. They have “Extra Magic Hours” where one of the parks is either open early or late, and you can only take advantage of it if you’re staying at a Disney property (or maybe it’s if you have a Magic Your Way package, I’m not sure).
We wanted to get there at the crack of dawn to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train one more time. We rode it once using the fast pass Barrak reserved months ago. But this week, it’s been sold out so we couldn’t reserve any more fast passes. And the stand-by waits have been around 75 minutes.
We also had fast passes for Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain — two encore rides the kids requested — and Peter Pan.
Anyway, it was fun being at the Magic Kingdom when the gates opened. All the characters rolled up on the Disney train to wave at the horde gathered outside the gate. We made a B-line straight for the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster and still waited about 35 minutes.
It’s kind of hard to see but all the Disney characters go past on a train to welcome everyone when the gates open.
It was gloriously empty first thing in the morning.
Greta on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, an encore ride today.
This year, it’s all about Elsa and Anna from Frozen. So we only had to wait about 15 minutes to see Cinderella. This was just an impromptu thing we popped into.
Rapunzel was also in the Meet & Greet hall with Cinderella. You get to meet them both.
At Greta’s request, we rode It’s a Small World for the 4th time.
We bumped into Alice and White Rabbit doing a Meet & Greet under a shady tree. The characters (especially the ones stationed outside) take little breaks every 40 or so minutes. If you’re at the front of the line when they decide to take a break, you have to stand around and wait for them to come back.
Peter Pan is one of those cute, leisurely rides that always has an inexplicably long wait time – like as long as the popular roller coasters – so we had a fast pass for it. Mag was looking forward to this one since he fell asleep in line last year and was down for the count.
The Tomorrowland Speedway was kind of a fun surprise. There was hardly a wait and we were looking for some things to do in between our fast pass “appointments” (with fast passes, you get a range of say 11:40 – 12:40 and you have to show up during that time; there’s a fast pass entrance and a stand-by entrance, and you have to scan your Magic Band and get the ‘green light’ to be admitted. You can arrive five minutes early but no more than that; they will turn you away).
The Speedway race cars straddle a track so the kids can drive and not veer far off. The parent can work the accelerator. That’s Mag’s little blonde head in the driver’s seat in the red car above (the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, European style).
They do shows in front of Cinderella’s castle throughout the day and we stood and watched one to kill time before our fast pass window for Splash Mountain. Standing in the hot midday sun among a crowd of cranky people, with absolutely no breeze — for me, this was #1 on our Top 10 hottest moments of the vacation. We were dripping sweat and pouring bottled water on ourselves. Sounds fun, right?
Other Top 10 hottest moments included the Speedway (see above). Holy god was it hot on that track. For Barrak, #1 was sitting in the breezeless, packed bleachers watching stunt cars and explosions at Lights! Motors! Action! at Hollywood Studios.