Living in a Theme Park Day 1: The Most Magical Day Ever at the Magic Kingdom!

Warning: This post contains tales of the most magical day that has possibly ever existed in real life. If you are prone to bouts of extreme jealousy it’s probably best you stop reading here…

Disney World Day 1! Is there another phrase in the human language that could inspire more excitement than that? However it wasn’t enough excitement to keep us from sleeping in. The long day of travel it’d taken to get us here couldn’t be ignored so we let our bodies dictate what time we got rolling…after all, we needed full energy for the week of wonder we had ahead of us. Getting ready only intensified our enthusiasm; we were pulling out our very first Disneybound outfits! “What is Disneybound?” you ask, eager to learn something new. We explained it on our Nerd Blog (My Fangirl Life…in case you’re interested in checking it out) like this:

“Disneybound is a trend started by blogger Leslie Kay. It’s well known that, while children could dress up as any character they chose, adults are not allowed to enter Disney theme parks in costume. It’s understandable. What if you’re a cosplay master & your costume is so good that visitors mistake you for a Disney Cast Member? And then you do something rude, uncouth, or inappropriate? That would reflect poorly on the park…and Disney is all about their image! Kay found a fun way to follow the rules but still get in the Disney spirit; she created outfits made from everyday clothes but inspired by Disney characters. Instead of making a replica of Cinderella’s dress you just pull something pretty & blue out of your closet and go! It allows you to channel the spirit of your favourite princess/hero/villain/sidekick/etc while still dressed in something that is comfortable, flattering & in your style.”

Makes sense? Good! Tumblr had lead us to believe the everyone is doing it these days…which maybe wasn’t entirely accurate. A Cast Member (which is what Disney calls their park employees) explained to us that it is mainly locals who take part and that we’d see more Disneybounders on the weekend. This was true, but we didn’t regret doing it every day! Our outfits were very well received all week, mostly by Cast Members but also by random guests. Our best reception was on Princess day… which happened to be today! Justine sported her primary-colour best as Snow White. KG was pretty in pink as Rapunzel. And Kris rocked green & gold as Merida. You’d heard whispers of “Look! It’s Snow White in disguise!” or “She looks like a modern day Rapunzel.” as we walked by…which we loved! It’s reminiscent of our Comic Expo trips where we feel famous because our costumes are so awesome 😊

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Once Princess-ified (you can see more details on our outfits here – We’re Disney Bound in Disneybound: Princess Edition) we picked up baked goods & coffee from the hotel cafeteria and headed out to the shuttle buses. We were surprised by both the quality & reasonable prices of our breakfast and the ease & convenience of the shuttles. The front of the hotel is lined with queues labelled with each park name (or various other hotels & sites, like Downtown Disney). You just have to pop into line and within 15 minutes (but usually more like 5) a bus would be there to whisk you off to your destination. For our first day at Disney World we headed off to the Magic Kingdom, the most classic of Disney parks.

Approaching the park our excitement reached an all-time high. We giggled incessantly as we approached the bag check. A pleasant elderly man took a glance through each of our backpacks, deeming us each fit to enter and adorable. Then it was time for us to put our Magic Bands to work! It’s amazing how you can wear your park ticket on your wrist! To protect against lost bands being falsely used you must also scan your finger print… Disney is very tech-savvy!

We walked into the Magic Kingdom with as much marvel in our eyes as if we were 5 years old. We had a plan to bee-line to one of the more popular rides, until I got us completely sidetracked. Off to the right, just after entering the park, was a little garden. And in that garden stood Snow White with a line of only a handful of people. This was an opportunity too good to pass up! We changed course and got into the short queue to meet our very first princess. While waiting we chatted up an employee who had the honour of being the first person to recognize (and compliment) our Disneybounding efforts. He could immediately identify who we were each emulating, which wasn’t a surprise but was a relief all the same. And then we met Snow! She was appropriately enthused about Justine’s outfit, but had one-liners for each of us: telling KG how she liked to braid flowers into Grumpy’s beard, Kris to stop turning people into bears, and Justine to stay away from apples! We were incredibly impressed by her improv skills, coming up with things to say within only a few seconds after seeing our outfits. Perhaps they have a Disneybound/Kid in Costume playbook full of suggested lines?

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This innocent detour had a vast effect on our trip. While planning this vacation the three of us had sat down and discussed what we most wanted to get out of it. We looked at park maps and identified which rides or attractions were must-sees and which were miss-able. We also agreed that meeting characters wasn’t a priority for any of us…we’re grown women, after all. Ha! Did we ever 180 on that decision! My recommendation for any adult who travels to Disneyland/World/etc: meet at least one character (other than Mickey…Mickey is a classic but he can’t talk). We promise they’ll be charming & clever and will definitely coax a smile out of you. Then you can choose if that was enough or if you, like us, wanted to see whether everyone is just as enthusiastic & witty.

True to our new discovery, our next stop was Princess Fairytale Hall. We’d used one of our FastPasses to reserve a time to meet a few princesses. We didn’t yet know how enjoyable it would be when we made the reservation, but KG & Justine do love Princesses and Kris has read that the lines could get insane if you decided to wait rather than book your time in advance. We were a bit early so we took the waiting time as a chance to explore Fantasyland and take pictures of our princesses (the ones we were Disneybounding) in their natural habitats. There was a Tangled-inspired courtyard where KG could frolic beneath Rapunzel’s tower. Kris posed outside of Merida’s Scottish home. And Justine found a castle to smile in front of… provided it’s Cinderella’s castle but we can pretend.

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We concluded our first of many photoshoots in time to hop into the Princess Hall Fastpass line. Before long we were being escorted to a chamber where Cinderella & Rapunzel awaited us. True-to-character, Cinderella was soft and sweet… although surprisingly stern when she lectured KG about stealing flowers from the royal garden for her hair. Rapunzel, on the other hand, was boisterous & loud. She skipped over to pull you out of line then animatedly chatted you up on the many benefits of carrying around a frying pan. Kris tried to make an argument for why a bow & arrow would be much more practical, but you can’t deny the fact that there’s no way to cook with it. A frying pan on the other hand… Rapunzel and KG made a great pastel-ed pair.

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After leaving the princesses we made our way to our first rides. It was still early enough that Fantasyland wasn’t crawling with strollers yet so we hopped on It’s a Small World then Peter Pan’s Flight. We all have vivid memories of thinking It’s a Small World was boring as children, but were surprised by how enjoyable we found it now. Maybe multiculturalism is more recognizable as an adult? It was fun to try to name all of the countries. As for Peter Pan’s Flight, this would be the only opportunity we would have to ride it. For the rest of the trip the wait time would hovered around the 1-2 hour mark.

While waiting in line at the Haunted Mansion we chatted up a man who was actually a Disney performer. He wasn’t allowed to tell us who he plays, only that he can be seen in parades & shows. He was able to, however, supply us with a bunch of tips as to what times to try rides, watch shows, etc to make the most of our days. While in line for Splash Mountain we tried to assess how wet each group was getting. The weather was nice compared to home, but it was still February so we weren’t thrilled by the idea of getting drenched. In the end we concluded that as long as we weren’t in the front of the log we would be fine. Ha Again! Of course when we were directed to our seats KG & Kris were pointed towards the frontmost loading dock. Right in the splash zone. By the time we offloaded the waves in Kris’ hair had been washed right out and KG was having to wring out her dress…but it was super fun! Justine in the row behind stayed quite dry, she was able to duck behind her human-shield friends when the water started coming.

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In an attempt to dry off we found a sunny spot to watch the parade. It was lunch time and this would provide a nice break while we ate & recharged. While chowing down on corn dogs & coffee, a park employee came up to comment on how thoroughly ‘hipster princess’ we were. Folk Princess Rapunzel sipped out of her to-go cup, looking too cool to care. Snow White, in her trendy circle skirt, stared at her phone through her Oakley sunglasses. And Hipster Merida tied her oversize flannel around her waist while attempting to get the perfect angle through her DSLR camera. Too funny.

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The parade provide a multitude more laughs. Rapunzel zeroed right in on KG, waving excitedly from the front of the Tangled float. At the back Flynn Rider played to us (his drooling adoring audience) the whole time he passed: pointing as he approached, posing as he passed and looking back with a winning grin as we slowly disappeared from our lives. Actually, the male attention in this parade was quite flattering. Prince Charming, in a totally un-Prince Charming-like gesture, did a double take as he passed (despite being seated right next to his lady-love). And the dwarves were all over Justine. They flocked to her as soon as they were near enough to see her shining in primary colours.

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😍 Oh Hey There Flynn Rider 😍

The sight of Disney Princes in the flesh had left us in a frenzy.. .not really but we were sure that if meeting Princesses was fun meeting princes would be a dream. Unfortunately Disney seems to keep the princes locked up between parades. They are never out for photos. Boo. #FreethePrinces However you can meet Gaston so we headed back to Fantasyland to attempt to meet the handsome hunter…twice. No, we weren’t crazy people who met him twice; we tried twice and failed both times. It seems all of the other women aged 18 to 35 had a similar idea to us and you needed to line up well in advance to meet the dashing narcissist. Another day perhaps? We took a turn through Gaston’s pub while in the area then crossed over to Frontierland for a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This fast-paced “runaway” train is a team favourite. Plus we had a Fastpass (conveniently registered on our Magic Bands) so the whole experience was even faster.

Continuing on with rides we ventured to Tomorrowland. After a quick stop to pick out an additional Fastpass we toured around some of the less “thrilling” attractions in the land of the future. First: the Buzz Lightyear ride (not the official name). It’s definitely not a ‘thrill ride’ but is super fun, all the same. Your objective is to shoot at targets with little laser guns, gaining the highest score and becoming a Star Command legend. Justine & KG are considering giving the career of Space Ranger a try, but Kris’ score made it evident that she should stick to her present career path.

The Carousel of Progress is located in a rotating theatre and takes you through the decades, looking at the technology used by a similar family in multiple time periods. By far the best part (other than being able to rest your tired feet in a padded chair) was how the “future” was obviously imagined in the 80’s and the designers couldn’t imagine leg warmers ever going out of style. Finally we loaded onto the People Mover. This tram ride through Tomorrowland had the potential to be a neat tour, but fell extremely short. It lacked descriptions of half of the attractions and had subpar explanations when one was provided. Plus the temperature swung from way too hot to function to freezing to death and back again depending on where you were. KG has sworn to NEVER ride the People Mover again as long as she lives. As much as the experience left a lot to be desired it did leave us with a great inside joke, referring to everything as a form of people-mover (e.g. an elevator is a vertical people-mover). In the end we concluded Tomorrowland is weird, cold, & shady (both in terms of lack of sunlight and sketchiness).

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We wandered back to Fantasyland for dinner, because we are not sequential theme park visitors (a fact that would be proven time & time again over the course of this trip). After looking at our trusty Disney World App (A must have if you’re visiting the park! It has everything from a map to character visit schedules to ride wait times) we picked the vaguely German ‘The Pinocchio Village Haus’. The decor was adorable, the food was decently priced (especially considering the quality – Disney ‘fast food’ > normal fast food), and our table had a view overlooking It’s a Small World.

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Fed and watered we set forth to Adventureland, the only area of the park we had yet to explore. First stop was Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride never disappoints. It may not be fast but there are a few drops that send a thrill through you, and the sets are amazing. It’s admittedly odd that it’s now a ride based on a movie based on a ride but there were no complaints from us with the addition of Jack Sparrow. Not only is he hunky, but he provides an upgrade that keeps the attraction from feeling antiquated. The multiple Captain Jacks are so well done that we were unsure if they were actually robots or just some guy in costume, about to say “Just kidding” and hop into your boat.

The other main attraction in Adventureland is the Jungle Cruise. By now night had fallen and we were unsure if this boat tour through the jungle would still be open. How would you see the animals (robot animals yes, but Disney World is all about suspension of disbelief) when it’s dark out? It turns out the ride is open at night and it is AWESOME. Maybe don’t take your small children on this version of the tour, but we really loved the creepy factor introduced by the dark. You can’t see too far into the trees. You never know what’s next. Everything important is spotlighted so you don’t miss out, but that also creates spooky silhouettes against the lush greenery. This was an accidental discovery that we’d be sure to repeat on future visits.

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Back in Fantasyland (for the 87th time today) we loitered outside the Princess Fairytale Hall again. The wait for the newest Disney Princesses had fallen below an hour, which was supposedly unheard of (according to the internet). We’d already met 3 princesses today, did we need to meet more? We’re grown women … so the answer was obviously YES! This turned out to be the best decision ever. We popped into line to wait to meet Frozen’s Anna & Elsa. An hour later we were ushered into the royal reception room with a friendly, “Right this way your majesties”. Elsa was first. She had an air of elegance, with impeccable posture and a demure demeanour. In other words, she was everything Elsa was supposed to be (ignoring her worse-than-some-cosplayers-I’ve-seen wig). She greeted us all lovingly, smiling for photos and encouraging confidence in each princess. Then she sent us off to meet Anna. Anna was Elsa’s complete opposite (again, as she should be). She was hyper and crazy, grabbing you by the hand and animatedly chattering about this and that. She told Justine that she was her second favourite snow princess and KG made her laugh by expressing how the flowers in her hair would likely make Olaf sneeze his nose right off (a line she had stolen from Elsa… as in, Elsa used it on her and she turned around and used it on Anna 2 seconds later). Anna launched into a hilarious tirade based off of Kris’ hair colour, telling her “You look just like my friend Merida! Her and I hang out together at Red Head’s Club! Last time we met Ariel brought chocolate cake; I don’t know who was more excited, me or Peter!?!” Adorable.

Leaving through the gift shop we had to stop and take a breather. You’d think we had just met the biggest celebrities on the planet, our lifelong heroes, or something equivalent. Our hands were shaking, our voices quavering, and our energy at a near explosive level. We can’t even image what that experience would be like for a little girl who really, truly believes those are her favourite princesses!

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To calm down we took a ride on the carousel. It looked so beautiful, lit up in the moonlight, and we all expressed how we’re each suckers for something so classical. As we rounded the carousel we came upon a line of mounts, each steed more perfect than the last. On the inside a horse decorated in black, red, and gold, with a roses & playing card motif. The perfect ride for Justine. The horse next to it had its mane flowing free, peppered with flowers in pink, purple, and yellow. Could it be any more KG? And on the outside rode a horse clad in armour, as if it were heading straight to battle. A stallion after Kris’ heart. Just another perfect setup for a perfect moment on our perfect Disney day. But it got better.

Kris was desperate for a selfie of her, her friends, and their perfect steeds, but Justine would not get into frame. What had her so distracted??? Turns out the original princess Snow White (or at least our version of her) was being a damsel in distress. Justine had dropped her phone and was struggling to pick it up, with her skirt and the carousel horse and not wanting to expose herself. Luckily her very own Prince Charming was on the bench next to her. He hopped down, picked up her phone, and – from his stance on one knee – offered it up to our waiting princess. *sigh* How very romantic! In the picture below you can just catch a glimpse of his beanie-clad head. 😍

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The natural next stop was It’s A Small World. We could walk right on so there was no stopping us! Until the ride stalled a quarter of the way in. The longer we sat staring at the dolls the creepier they became, until Kris created a new game. Pretend that the ride is stopped because they are currently locking us in. Once the doors are secure the “Great Doll Massacre” can begin. Each and every one of these figurines will come to life and try to to kill you. How will you escape? Which dolls would you watch out for most? What could be used as a weapon? At first her companions found this game terrifying and morbid, but once the ride was moving again & they felt they might survive this venture ‘around the world’ they joined in. From this point forward It’s A Small World was always spent planning our attack & scouting which dolls were the greatest threats.

Kris has a vivid memory from her childhood of riding Splash Mountain with her family during the fireworks. They came out for the big drop right as a trio of explosions made a Mickey head in the sky. She remembers it being one of the most magical parts of that trip. So, naturally, she wanted to recreate that magic for her friends. It was too chilly to think about getting wet again so she guided them towards Big Thunder instead. We waited impatiently in line, Kris bouncing up & down on her toes, hoping she’d time things right. Then a distraction came in the form of Prince Charming. No, Disney hadn’t let a Prince out of his cage… we’re talking about Justine’s saviour on the carousel Prince Charming. He and two of his friends were just a handful of people in front of us in line. Kris tried her best to count out the people versus the seats on a train car. We might end up in the same row, just one car after them! We’d briefly be lined up together! And then all hope was dashed when some demanding riders made everyone shift around so they could have the front. Darn! We were left to stare from afar… until Prince Charming’s train took off, he caught sight of us, and yelled “Hold on to those phones ladies!” with a dashing smile. *double sigh* 😍😍

And then all of Kris’ planning came to fruition! We boarded our train car, and heard the first BOOM! We pulled out as we heard the second. And as we broke out into the night air the sky lit up with explosions of colour. It was as magical as she remembered and an amazing experience for Justine & KG. Looking back at the pair Kris could see tears in both of their eyes. Perfect.

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The fireworks continued as we disembarked and set off through the park. The streets were clear, as most people were remaining stationary for viewing. Glancing backwards Kris stopped her group as well. Was it for a better view? No, she just needed to fix her sock… or more accurately “fix her sock”. While she fiddled in her boot the trio she’d spotted caught up: Prince Charming and his friends. KG & Kris prodded Justine to go talk to him but she chickened out. It’s one of her greatest regrets… she even wrote blog post about it: People of the Internet – Please Help Me Reconnect with Prince Charming. *triple sigh* 😍😍😍

We lost Prince Charming around Main Street. He might have left; guess he didn’t have Magic Hours like us. “What are Magic Hours?” you ask. Because we were staying at one of Disney’s official hotels we were able to play in the park for extra hours! Sometimes in the morning with early entry, sometimes at night with extended stays. Just another perk of staying on-site. We used our magic hours to head to Tomorrowland and check out Space Mountain. On the way we happened upon a dance party, an Incredibles Dance Party. In the middle of Tomorrowland was an impromptu stage, complete with lighting, DJ, and dance floor. And on said dance floor guests boogied down with Mr Incredible, Elasti-girl, and Frozone.  Naturally Kris & KG got right into the middle of everything. Head banging and rave flailing with Elasti-girl as Ke$ha pumped through the speakers. It was possibly the funniest moment of the day, but pumped us up for a another hour of fun

Eventually we did make it to Space Mountain and used a Fastpass to hop right to the front of the line. Then, due to the short Magic Hours lines, we went into the regular line and after a short 10 minute wait rode Space Mountain all over again! Next stop was the Astro-Orbiter. We’d purposefully skipped this ride in the afternoon knowing that it would make an excellent night-time attraction. The elevated position paired with lifting arms putting you at an even greater height meant an insane view of the Magic Kingdom lit up like a beacon of magic and hope. Kris marveled at the view on her own while KG & Justine paired up behind her. KG sat in-between Justine’s legs because it was “little pilot in the front and big pilot in the back”.

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By now it was almost 2 hours after the official park closing. This seemed like the prime time to try to ride the Dwarves’ Mine Train. This is the newest attraction at the Magic Kingdom (possibly at Disney World period) which means the wait time is always hours. Although the line was still lengthy, it passed quickly. There were a lot of interactive bits and we played multiple games. One involved sorting jewels and we got so wrapped up in it that we actually held up the line. Oops. The ride itself was really fun, very much like Big Thunder except faster but with less twists, though not necessarily worth a 3 hour wait.

Next it was back to Tomorrowland, because we love doing lengths of the park, for another ride on Space Mountain. The lack of lines during Magic Hours makes it easy to ride things again and again. However, when Justine yawned mid-roller coaster we knew it was probably time to go home. We still have so many days to go! The trip back to the hotel was full of “Remember when”s and “I can’t wait to”s but once back at the room we were all out as soon as our head hit the pillows. Tomorrow we find out where the wild things are!

Love & Luck,
Kris … & Justine … & KG!

(February 13, 2015)

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  1. Pingback: Living in a Theme Park Day 2: From Asia to Africa and Back Again at Animal Kingdom – Yukon Girl in the World

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