Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Disney: Day 6

Let the sadness flow. This was it. We were up before the crack of dawn to finish packing and get ready to check out, then head to the Polynesian for our breakfast reservation...which did brighten the mood somewhat.

Evidence: this was taken while we schlubbed our bags to guest services.

We got our luggage checked (another plug for resort-staying - all of this airline/transportation stuff was handled so smoothly and so easily. As a traveler, I was relieved; as an organizing aficionado, I was massively impressed) and got on the bus to the Magic Kingdom, where we'd finally get to ride the monorail!!

While waiting, we talked to a very nice CM who was born in Georgia and had served at Warner Robins, where I was born, which was a funny little happenstance. Then: MONORAIL. Guys. I was SO excited. I mean, it's just a train. But it's an ELECTRONIC train and it's at DISNEY WORLD. (Exploring this obsession for just a second - because I'm like this everywhere - I think my childhood ruined me for car culture. Mass transit is just so much more fun.)

Since we got on at MK, we got to ride through The Contemporary, and see the Mary Blair mural. More things that were very important to me and thus further prove my nerdness. This one's directly connected to my love for Donald and The Three Caballeros, so it's easily explained, at any rate. Next stop: The Poly (makes me feel like a true Disney insider to address it with such familiarity)!

We got off and strolled straight in - only a few minutes after our reservation at Kona Cafe was scheduled, but the hostess still made us wait (not gonna lie: felt like she was being a tad vindictive). Anyway, it gave us a minute to enjoy the atrium and to peer down into the jungle fountain below us. We were seated at a corner booth and got to enjoy the whole of the restaurant, including the staff coming and going with all those beautiful pots of coffee. Which we of course ordered and it was wonderful. WONDERFUL.

Skipping over the food review (because I've decided I am in fact doing those separately, since I can't bear to stop talking about this trip yet), we boarded back up and talked to an otherwise delightful family who was carrying seven - SEVEN - changes of princess gear for their three year old in the stroller. Bless it. And bless that grandpa, for indulging all that insanity and carrying the bags. Bless.

Bonus picture of The Grand Floridian, because it's just so darn pretty.

We got back to MK just as they were finishing up the Welcome Show - such a delight! Just for fun, here's a listing of all the characters along that line: the Fairy Godmother, Peter and Wendy, White Rabbit and Alice, Minnie, Pluto, Mickey (duh), Chip and Dale, the Tremaine family (dork points: Lady T, Anastasia and Drizella) Stitch, and Mary Poppins, plus all the Main Street citizens. It's quite impressive.

I know, it's badly off center, but just look at all those people thronged and waiting!

We powered through the masses on Main Street and headed straight to Adventureland (setting aside ride considerations, I think I've decided Adventureland is my favorite place to hang out. I know you were dying to know).

Views like this, PLUS Dole Whip and Citrus Swirl? Really, there's not much contest.

First up was the Jungle Cruise - another Disney classic marked off my mental list! We walked right on, not even using our FP, and, oh, the groaners. It's just seven minutes of dad-jokes with animatronics. Which is not my way of saying it wasn't delightful, and a great way to start our last day, because it totally was. Especially when this laughing elephant sprayed Kate right in the back:

Yup, they're still laughing at your little squeal, girlie - too, too funny. :)

On our way to power walk through Frontierland, we happened to notice the Pirates of the Caribbean ride - wheee! So we zoomed through that, too - everything's so wonderful when there are no lines! Of all the (flashless - I'm not an animal) shots I tried to take from our boat, there was only one that turned out even remotely shareable:

And of course it was this creepy Captain Johnny Depp. Mayor of Uncanny Valley.

My trusty 1st visit pin caught the attention of two bright and shiny CMs in the gift shop who wanted to talk and give advice and share - so sweet, and would have been so appreciated on day one, but I was like, look, ladies, I've been here four and a half days now. I might as well have your job. Let me get to Splash Mountain, please.

Did you guys know there was a PhotoPass at Splash Mountain? NEITHER DID WE!

My happiest place at the happiest place on Earth! (Or my laughingest place? Does that joke read? Doesn't matter - it works for me.) We knew that we had to do it just one more time...and thankfully (again), no line, AND we had the log to ourselves, so we felt free to be loud and enthusiastic and take pictures of scenery (now that we knew the precise rhythm of the splashes, no reason to fear for the camera) and to take a truly delightful picture for our mantles and yours:

Don't let her fool ya - she loves it as much as I do.

After shaking off as best we could, we went back through Liberty Square toward the new Fantasyland expansion (and snapped some daylight pictures of the things we had only seen in the dark of the Halloween party) and toward Storybook Circus. (Brace yourself for more childhood reflections.)

I know I've gone on and on about my love for the general short cartoons (and Donald), but my attachment to the animated classics in the big white clamshell cases is just as deep. I can't really pick a favorite - I love all of them in their own way (well, except for the weird modern ones, like Home on the Range...seriously, that was an odd movie), but tied to the tracks with an oncoming train, I guess if I were forced to name the one I love the most, it would be Dumbo. I love the art - those beautifully simple watercolor cells; I love the brevity of it (take it as a lesson, three hour movies - sometimes you just need to tell the story and be done); I love the music; and, above all, I love Timothy Q. Mouse. (My affection chooses to ignore the period-reflective issues in the back half of the movie - I'm fully aware the crows are a horrible comment on the time...and humanity in general.)

But look at that sweet face... (and ignore my squinting - I was trying hard not to, but no glasses.)

Even better than the Dumbo ride itself (which, let's face it, is no thrill seeker's haven) was the Casey Jr. splash pad - I was completely taken with the train models. And the camels! And the monkeys! And the GIRAFFES! And then there was the completely delighting character greet in the tent - we had an outstanding Goofy, who came up to meet us and escorted us to the gorgeous backdrop and was as charming as Goofy could ever hope to be. And then one more Donald! Who was not happy about his fabulous snake charmer outfit. I don't know what he was complaining about - it was gorgeous.

Then we emptied out in the gift shop to end all gift shops - it was like an attraction all its own. Just lovely...sigh. Pining to go back and see all of this again...<clears throat> Anyway:

We had come across a Peter Pan meet and greet on our way to Storybook Circus, and because, c'mon, it was PETER PAN, we circled back to the closed-for-repairs Peter Pan's Flight and got in the rapidly forming line to wait for him to come back from his break (but third in said line - SCORE!). This was where the tables finally turned, friends - all week long, Kate had been sweetly indulgent toward my three-year-old-ish behavior, perhaps even amused by it early on. But this time I got to be the adult holding the bags and the camera, and I LOVED it. Bless her, she was shaking like a leaf when it was finally our turn - and he was fantastic, friends. Completely, 100% Peter Pan. She showed him a picture from the Halloween party, and he remembered liking her hat in the parade - it was magical. I would put all my pictures up from this meeting, but Kate would straight up murder me, so I'll just put this great one from the PhotoPass photographer:

Please note the unabashed glee on those faces. (He asked her to fly over with him. It was ADORABLE.)

We walked though the castle and happened upon one of the many parades, then cut left to hit the People Mover before we absolutely had to leave - it was a great final ride, taking us past and through so much of Tomorrowland - and some great views of the castle, too. We had wanted to ride the Carousel of Progress, as well, but after a stall on the People Mover (unfortunately, no elephants to watch in the dark tunnel where we got stopped), we were just out of time. We headed up Main Street, dashed in one of the stores for some last-chance souvenir opportunities (well, we still had the place at the airport - SO SMART, Disney), and once I had my fill of that, I stepped out for some final pictures of Main Street...only to find the Dapper Dans! Nerd heart rejoicing! We hadn't seen them out at all any time prior, and I was so overwhelmed by everything else I hadn't even noticed their absence - but they were literally the last thing we did at Disney World, and I couldn't be happier. (Also, didn't hurt that one of the tenors was super cute...) I bought some popcorn for the road (first time having that particular iconic snack, as well - and in a special Halloween bucket) and we got back on the bus to our resort.

Goodbye, Magic Kingdom. I love you so much...

We had a hiccup on the bus (because I'm a dummy and packed the paperwork in my checked bag - DUMMY), but the guys at the guest services desk outside helped us out (including a brother who was originally from Fairhope - trivia, he was baptized by Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. Which he shared because his name tag claimed West Monroe, LA, which necessitated the, hey, do you know those guys question.) We got to watch lots of (highly edited) shorts on the bus to the airport (I had that channel number memorized by the third day - but why edit them so much, Disney? Some survived better than others, but Mickey's Trailer was nigh-unto nonsense, as was Lonesome Ghosts. Obviously, since I can make that comment, I know the story well enough to fill in the gaps, but giving the current state of the Disney Channel, I imagine there is a whole generation of kids who have never seen them, and would absolutely love them.)

We did our really-this-is-your-last-chance shopping at the airport, and then Kate indulged me one final time and we went to the Lush store - and since this isn't Disney related, I'll leave it there, but share this picture to show you what a wonderful tag it was to the trip:

Needed a little of that after five and a half days of pavement pounding. And in preparation for facing that RIDICULOUS security line - insanity. Also: Lush is amazing. 

Quiet flight back (Kate showed me some game called Heads Up, with which we pestered the poor man by the window for nearly the entire flight - and noticed the the two across from us were playing it, too) and then my brother picked us up, only to hear us chatter about how much fun we'd had and then drift off into silence as we realized it was actually over. Sigh.

It was an amazing, world-making trip; so much more than I was able to prepare for or imagine. I am still daydreaming about it (and sometimes actually dreaming) and expect I'll continue to obsess for the foreseeable future. We do this every year, Kate and I, and while we had a hard and fast rule about no repeats to any one area...I think that's going to go by the wayside. So look out, winter slump season of 2015 - we'll be coming at you!!