It has been almost 30 years since I have been to the Magic Kingdom. I looked forward to this return trip because I will be going with a good friend from Notre Dame (Greg), his wife (Amy) and his two boys (Danny and Liam). This is going to be a fun visit because I can feed off of Danny's wonder and excitement. Also I have Greg and Amy who are veterans navigating the park and determining what is the optimal course in obtaining the FastPass for the major attractions. FastPass allow for groups to reserve an one hour window to use the shorter lines, which cuts you ahead of the conventional queue. Finally, we have Liam (one year old); therefore we are able to take advantage of the SwitchPass.
First stop was Adventureland. While Greg, Danny and I was exploring the Swiss Family Treehouse, Amy went to get a FastPass for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I think the treehouse would have been more fun if it provided more interaction vice walking through the place viewing the various rooms. The next attraction was the Pirates of the Caribbean, which does not allow for FastPass. The line was not long at all (30 minutes); plus there were various static displays to occupy your time while you wait. I enjoyed the fact that Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow character appeared throughout the ride.
I did not realize how many of the movie scenes were inspired by the Disney ride. Before going to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we spent a lot of time on Tom Sawyer Island...Danny's favorite place. After making two laps around the fort's rifle roast shooting rifles/guns at imaginary Indians, Danny was ready to use the escape tunnel. Side-note...the escape tunnel is a slightly snug fit as an adult. After traversing the barrel bridge, we took the ferry back to Frontierland. I found out that the ferry operator was a young man from my hometown, who graduated from my high school. Although 20 years separated us, we still shared some of the same teachers. It is a small world after all.
Using the FastPass and getting a SwitchPass, Danny and I was able to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice. I remembered when I was here as a kid that my mom and brother chickened out and stepped through the car after waiting an hour in line. I am a big roller coaster fan and would not even rate this as a roller coaster but it was still a fun ride. Next, Greg went ahead to get a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, while the rest of the group looked for a place to sit down and eat. Unfortunately, both places that Amy recommended were closed. We finally grabbed a burger in Tomorrowland. Next, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which gave us a preview of the Tomorrowland attractions...from what I can see the Buzz Lightyear ride is going to be fun.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is a laser shooting gallery, where you roll through scenes shooting at the bad guys and accumulating points. I rode with Amy and Liam, while Greg and Danny rode in a separate car. Amy was laughing and having a good time because we let little Liam control the spinning of the car...not the most efficient way to shot bad guys but still a lot of fun. Of course, I had the last laugh when I finished with a higher score than Greg and Danny. Who's Da Man!
Next we went to Space Mountain to see if Danny is tall enough to ride. Unfortunately he was not, but maybe next year. We still grabbed a FastPass for the ride. Since Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides, our FastPass window is several hours away. Next, we headed to Fantasyland. We passed on riding Peter's Pan Flight because the normal line was really long (over hour) plus you can not have two active FastPass tickets. Anyway, I wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion because Tim Burton redesigned the ride. The line was not that long; plus Danny entertained himself climbing the fence along the queue while Greg/Amy watched to make sure he didn't get hurt. I was a little disappointed with the remake. I was more disappointed once I found out the Hall of Presidents was closed for renovation. I am sure they were working on adding President Obama into the animation.
Next we headed back to Adventureland. Somehow Greg was able to get a FastPass for the Jungle Cruise while we still had an active FastPass for Space Mountain. Greg was explaining the intricacies of the FastPass system while I did my best Curious George head scratch...I know that Curious George is a Universal character but it is the most appropriate metaphor. Before the cruise, we spent our time in the Enchanted Tiki Room. I thought the Gilbert Godfrey parrot was hilarious, but I am not going to get that Tiki song out of my head. The Jungle cruise provided a prelude to our trip to the Animal Kingdom, tomorrow. When we headed back to Space Mountain, we found out that the ride was down for repairs and it will take another hour.
Since we have had a jammed pack day and wanted to take advantage of the fact that most people will still be remaining at the park for the parade, we decided to call it a day. I really enjoyed my day with Greg's family and do not think I would have enjoyed the Magic Kingdom as much by myself. I was able to add a new experience for the veteran Disney family, when I started pin collecting and trading. At the beginning of the day, I purchased a starter set of pins of Disney characters in Pirate costumes. Throughout the day, I traded those pins for different Pirate related pins. Amy has a lot of help spotting pins that I might want.
In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki room...