Our last full day and it is New Year’s Eve. Our original plan before arriving in Florida was to spend the day at Hollywood Studios. But with so much closed there we decided that we had done all we wanted to do there and wouldn’t visit it again this trip. So we changed plans to and decided to go to Magic Kingdom instead. In hindsight this may have been a mistake. The queues to get into the park were massive and we spent probably over an hour in a traffic jam. As a result we lost our first FastPass reservation as I couldn’t access the app to change anything.
But on arriving and eventually making it into the park (getting the bus as the quickest option by a mile from the Ticket and Transportation hub) we went straight to the Tomorrowland Speedway.
It wasn’t the most comfortable drive for the passenger but Rosemary enjoyed it even if she did crash into the middle rail quite a lot.
We then decided to get some family photos with the Cinderella coach which was done up for New Year. The queue was quite long but wasn’t too bad and we did get a nice photo of us for the New Year.
We decided to take it easy for the day after the terrible start and needing some snacks we headed to Gaston’s Tavern for some cinnamon rolls.
We decided to avoid the TERRIBLE coffee they serve there and actually seem to be quite proud about being so bad. So we tried the Le Fou’s Brew, which we’d not had before.
After chilling and having something to eat Rosemary went to play in Circus, dodging the water sprays.
We also got some candy apples from the Big Top Souvenirs shop, which is never very busy it seems and has a really good selection of stuff, including a whole counter of candy apples, cakes and handmade stuff.
As we still had to fully pack we didn’t want to be out too late so unfortunately had to think about heading back to the hotel. So just a chance for 1 more picture before leaving for the last time (this trip).
We went to dinner that night at Red Lobster and Rosemary had her favourite Lobster, Spinach and Gruyere dip.
And while packing up there were was quite a lot of purchases to find space for in the case…..
Back to Magic Kingdom today, and Christmas Eve already.
The weather today was amazing with bright blue skies and very warm. So different to experience weather like this so close to Christmas when we would normally have grey skies and probably rain in the UK. So we definitely were going to make the most of it. Plan was to stay all day and see the fireworks at the end of the day, so we didn’t rush down to the park. We were a little concerned about how busy it would be but it actually wasn’t too bad at all considering it was Christmas Eve.
Rosemary was wearing her amazing Christmas dress.
On the way in we grabbed some more photos in front of the tree, making the most of that free Photopass.
We had a little browse through the shops on Main Street. And found a giant rice crispie cake to add to our “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” series.
We had Fastpasses sorted during the day but first we went into Country Bear’s Jamboree. An attraction we’d never been to before. Sorry no pictures (they didn’t come out well). But after that we used our first Fastpass for the Jungle Cruise. For Christmas everything is rethemed as the Jingle Cruise and the puns are absolutely as terrible as usual.
Afterwards we were in the Adventureland area and decided to visit the Tiki Room and watch that. Didn’t want to exhaust ourselves as we were planning to stay late, and it was a good chance to sit down in the cool. Think we might have been our first time actually going into the show.
After that we used our second Fastpass to meet some Princesses. Elena and Cinderella this time.
We had lunch reservations but had a bit of time before that and could hear something going on around the castle. We went to investigate and it was a dance party. So we stopped to watch and Rosemary joined in a little bit.
What was good was the different characters in the parade, including those from Zootropolis.
By this time we could go for our lunch reservation at Jungle Cruise Canteen.
This was a new restaurant from our last visit (I think) and although the food was OK it wasn’t that impressive and thought it was a little pricey for what it was. Was nice though and a good experience. Just not sure I’d worry about it again.
When we had finished with lunch we tried to catch the Christmas parade but were a little stuck on the Adventureland side with a lot of people in between. So it was a bit further away than would have been ideal, but we did still get to see Santa before he goes off on his busy night.
Our next Fastpass was for Pirates of the Caribbean, so we headed back into Adventureland. Stopping on the way to visit the Robinson’s Treehouse. Rosemary was a bit unimpressed. No ride features or animatronics.
And then onto Pirates! No photos from the ride as it was so dark. Great ride and that drop at the start still catches me out.
We then had some time to wander around the park and do some browsing in the shops. The rides were pretty busy but honestly we weren’t that worried and it was just a good opportunity to see the park at night. We thought the castle looked amazing all lit up at night.
But when all the lights came on it was even more amazing.
We weren’t feeling that hungry but wanted a snack so headed to Gaston’s, which was really quiet. We got warm cinnamon rolls and coffee. And the coffee is still the worst ever.
The cinnamon rolls aren’t quite as big as your head but are pretty big.
Gaston’s looked really good at night. We’ve not spent that much time at the parks after dark because Rosemary would get tired and we’d head back. So it was really good to see things.
We bumped into one of the Photopass photographers by the Little Mermaid ride and got this great photo.
We checked out the store at Storybook Circus and Rosemary had a short play in the water bit there.
Julia really wanted to see the Hall of President’s (again something we have never done) and it would give us a little break while we sat down. Photography and video isn’t allowed in the hall and so just this picture from the lobby with the Seal of the United States. Interesting show, although some of the animatronics were a bit creepy.
By this time it was nearly the start of the fireworks show so we headed back towards the castle. The position we ended up in wasn’t ideal but we still got a great view. The light show on the castle is great and the fireworks were excellent.
By this time it was getting really late so we headed out of the park (along with pretty much everyone else) to head back to the hotel. We had a busy day the following day so wanted to get as much sleep as we could.
Back at the hotel it was just time to hang up things ready for Santa.
Going to be a long day today with lots of stuff packed in. So we got up early, had breakfast at the hotel and headed to Magic Kingdom. We got there early because the park would be closing early for the special ticketed Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We had decided not to get tickets for this because of the extra cost, the fact that it would likely be very busy as it was the last one and Rosemary would probably be tired and we’d only stay a couple of hours.
The big tree was at the top of Main Street and there were various meet and greets going on there.
The countdown was also getting close to the big day.
While we sorted ourselves out after unpacking everything to come through security I snapped a quick picture of Rosemary with Walt and Mickey.
Main Street was pretty busy but we caught a bit of the Royal Welcome show, which features Princess Elena being welcomed to the park by Cinderella. The Christmas decorations along Main Street were all (of course) Mickey shaped.
And then headed towards Tomorrow World where we had our first FastPass. But as we were still a little early for it we went into the Carousel of Progress. Possibly not the best use of time as it’s not a ride which will ever be busy but we were in the location and didn’t want to walk off somewhere else.
When we came out we got a pressed penny (we had got a few already and Rosemary’s collection is getting pretty large now).
And by this time our first FastPass was active for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I went with Rosemary and Julia went on her own. She was also the only one who realised there was a ride camera along the way and posed for it.
But we beat Zerg at least (partly because the ride paused for a while in one spot and I kept shooting a 5000 point target).
And when we came out we found Buzz meeting his fans just beside the Carousel of Progress so we went and side “hi” and got some fist-bumps.
We started to walk towards our next FastPass and on the way the wait time for It’s a Small World was only 5 minutes so we went basically straight onto the ride. It’s the only ride in any of the parks which we have done every single time we’ve visited with Rosemary, so it will have to be our tradition to always ride it no matter what.
After that we went to use our second FastPass at the Haunted Mansion. I’d booked them early in the day (although it’s often much easier to get on rides at that time) because we knew we were leaving mid-afternoon and being unsure on how busy things would be I wanted some guaranteed rides.
As we came out we were going back towards the Castle and saw that Peter Pan was out beside his ride. We’d never even seen him before in the parks so wanted to join the queue (which wasn’t even that long).
Having a little time before our next booked event and being as it was snack time, we got Rosemary a Premium Mickey Bar (is there a non-Premium one that’s cheaper perhaps?) and had a little breather.
While sitting down I checked the park app and saw that the wait time for the Mad Tea Party was basically zero. So as we were so close we headed over to pick up another ride. It’s such a short ride, which was a little disappointing because there wasn’t really anyone waiting for it and I thought they could probably have let it run a bit longer.
But when we got off it was time to use our third and final FastPass to meet Rapunzel and Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall.
After the app again came in handy for the wait times, which now shows that the Under the Sea ride was down to 10 minutes or so. So straight in again (nice and cool in there as well). The UV lights on the ride really lit up our clothes.
Our last booking at the park today was going to be a treat for Rosemary, which she didn’t know about, and was to go to the Crystal Palace for a slightly late lunch with the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Bit confusing when you first arrive but our waiter told us who was coming round and what would happen. There aren’t any Disney photographers in the restaurant so you take your own pictures. We got to meet Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Pooh. Food was pretty decent we thought and there was a good choice.
Pooh was the last to come round and we’d finished eating by the time he appeared. He was worth the wait though. And his chaperone offered to take a family picture for us.
We really liked it as a restaurant. Nice and airy. Julia recognised the biscuits as being special for the Very Merry Christmas Party (for the Disney Food Blog) and not available all the time.
On the way out we just stopped for some of the PhotoPass photographers to get some family photos.
And that was the end of what turned out to be a really packed day at Magic Kingdom, but not the end of our day. We left the park and instead of getting the monorail back to the Ticket and Transportation Center we got the resort monorail to the Grand Floridian. We wanted to have a look at the hotel decorated for Christmas really.
And there is a huge gingerbread house as well, which they sell hot chocolate and gingerbread from.
While we were looking round a couple asked us if we were waiting for Mickey and Minnie, which we knew nothing about. So we waited and sure enough they made an appearance. So that was a really nice and unexpected bonus.
We then headed back to the car via the monorail and went to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney). Parking was a bit of a headache but we ended up at the very top of one of the multi-story parking blocks. We had a quick look round and visited the Coca Cola store, which had a great glass display.
And the World of Disney as well just to see what they were selling and get an idea of what we might want to get as souvenirs.
And that was as much as we could do for the day. Time to head back to the hotel and bed.
We booked the Hampton Inn because it appeared to be highly rated on a number of different review sites although we were a little worried that due to it’s low price it might be a bit tatty. I’m glad to say that we had a great stay and will definitely highly consider staying there again.
The staff were extremely friendly which made it feel especially welcoming. And a big thank you to Patrick who checked us in and was always extremely welcoming when we returned from a long day at the parks.
-The room was very clean and well maintained, with daily cleaning to a very high standard. -Breakfast could be busy but there was a good selection, although our daughter wanted the Mickey waffles every day anyway. -The pool isn’t huge but was always quiet in the evenings and most times we had it virtually to ourselves. -Location is very close to Downtown Disney and not far from any of the parks (Magic Kingdom is furthest away and is about 20 minutes drive time). -There are restaurants close by (mainly in the Crossroads complex) as well as being relatively close to those on International Drive.
We had a room on the 5th floor at the end of the corridor so was extremely quiet and we didn’t get disturbed once, but I would imagine that the ground floor (especially in the rooms between reception and the lifts) could be noisy.
Highly recommend this Hampton Inn and thank you to all the staff there for making our stay so enjoyable.
So we were really quite sad to leave. Just took a few shots of the hotel on the way out.
We had decided to spend a little time at the Magic Kingdom this morning and after packing everything into the teeny tiny car we had, which was quite a task as we now had an extra suitcase to get in, we headed down to the parks for the last time this trip.
The weather was a bit suspect so we had fingers crossed that it would be OK.
We had FastPasses for Dumbo as our first thing and headed through the park to get there. It was straight through the line and onto the ride, which in some ways was a pity as there is lots of play stuff inside the big top. But we didn’t have lots of time in park today as we’d have to leave for the airport, so it meant we could spend time doing something else.
After the ride (I rode separately and ended up two behind as someone charged in front of me and grabbed the closest elephant). We had a look in the big top area and at the amazing cakes and candy apples.
Julia and Rosemary decided they wanted to ride Goofy’s Barnstormer, so I left them to it and took some pictures from the sidelines.
Our second FastPass was for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. And Rosemary drank lots of blue Powerade.
To be honest I had no idea what we were meant to be doing, but we had lots of fun on the ride and tried to shoot pretty much everything we could. Rosemary ended up in Zerg prison.
We got some lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and as we sat down the rain started. And it came down heavier than probably any other point during our stay. It kept going for quite some time as well and everyone was coming in to shelter. We had a third FastPass for the Enchanted Tales with Belle and were beginning to think we wouldn’t make it there without being soaked, but it did stop and we managed to get to our slot.
Rosemary played Belle’s father and had to pretend to be in prison.
And that was the end of what we could squeeze in for the day and for our stay. Just time to take a few last minute photos of a very wet Magic Kingdom on the way out.
We headed from the park to the airport and dropped off our car and headed into the airport. The security line and customs was all very painless and we flew out on time.
Our second visit having come a few days ago. Planning a relatively low key visit though as energy levels were a bit low and the weather was still not ideal, with quite a bit of rain. We had booked to have an early lunch at Be Our Guest so wanted to just get a couple of things in before that and then spend some time afterwards on some rides.
We went towards Fantasy Land first and went on the Mad Hatters Teacup ride, which Rosemary loves and just wants to spin faster and faster (in the video at the end so no photos of this).
Unfortunately the weather turned on us again after this after visiting a few shops we headed over to Be Our Guest for our 10:55am reservation. We booked this quite late so this was all that was available as would have preferred a little later.
The entrance was really impressive.
Ordering is a little confusing for a first timer. You queue up and choose and then pay at the till. We’re then told to go and find a table and our food will find us. We had read that you get a Rose to put on the table, but no such offer. So bit confused we found a good table in the main ballroom. And pretty quickly our food appears. Found out they find you from your Magic Band. Big Brother Mouse truly is watching!
Rosemary had chicken and Julia had the French Onion Soup, which was excellent. I had the beef sandwich.
And of course we had to have the Grey Stuff cupcake. We’d heard it’s delicious. It was!
The Ballroom is amazing and was Julia’s favourite of the 3 rooms. I preferred Beast’s room where there is a holographic rose.
We all thought it was an amazing place to have lunch and really glad we booked it. The level of detail is just so high, including the picture which changes when there is lightning in Beast’s room.
After lunch we went to Mickey’s Philharmagical show and then used our FastPasses to do another princess visit. This time Cinderella and Rapunzel in the Princess Fairytale Hall.
Both fantastic, as you would expect. Rapunzel saw Rosemary’s dress and declared that she wasn’t needed and sent Rosemary over to her meet-and-greet spot while she stayed back with us.
We then used our second FastPass for the Peter Pan ride. Only ever done this once before because the queue is crazy, but with the FastPass we were only in a few minutes.
We headed back through the park to Tomorrowland as we wanted to do an absolute classic attraction which we have never done, the Carousel of Progress. It’s sort of hidden away in the back and we thought it was about time we saw it. Well, we’ve done it now anyway. Kind of OK, quite dated and the music gets under your skin.
When we came out Buzz Lightyear was doing his meet and greet under a bit of shelter just to the side. He even came out and gestured for everyone to come under the shelter so they didn’t get wet.
After seeing Buzz it was emptying again so we went around on the Carousel of Progress for a second time. Took the opportunity to have a quick nap. But then it was improving again and we went to go on the River Boat as a nice little trip and, again, an opportunity to have a sit down.
As we came back we caught the very end of a parade, so stayed for a few minutes to watch.
And finally on the way out we used our final FastPass to see Tinker Bell. She had moved since our last visit and was now at the Town Hall. I thought the previous location was better and it’s now just Tink (last time you got another Fairy as well, which was Periwinkle when we went).
So, that was the end of the day at Magic Kingdom. Weather has been a bit bad for the last couple of days but we hadn’t let that spoil anything and just moved our plans around to suit.
An early start today as we want to get into the Magic Kingdom for the actual park opening time (or rope drop as it’s known), so we just grabbed a few muffins from the buffet and jumped in the car. Our sat nav decided to take us on a tour of the back roads around the park to a car park entrance that didn’t actually exist but we eventually arrived at the right spot and parked up. As it was early we could walk to the main entrance rather than get the tram and once in the entrance area we got the boat across.
Do wish it was just a little easier to actually make it into the park itself.
We were at the entrance about 15 minutes before 9am and there is a little ceremony with Mickey and some characters to mark the park actually opening.
Our reason for getting there particularly early, apart from we hoped to get dinner not too late and go for a swim, was that we had been unable to secure FastPasses for a visit to see Anna and Elsa which was Rosemary’s top thing she wanted to do. They go instantly 60 days beforehand apparently and as we were staying off site we could only book our FastPasses 30 days ahead. So we headed directly to the Princess Fairytale Hall in the hope of getting ahead of the queues. Our strategy worked and we got in without too much waiting.
We met Anna first who was constantly chatting and quite goofy.
Then onto Princess (or should that be Queen) Elsa who was much more formal.
With our priority out of the way we took a few minutes and had some brunch at Sleepy Hollow. Waffle and Funnelcake with strawberries.
Went down very nicely.
And a quick picture of our MagicBands. We got these yesterday at Disney Springs and they worked really well. Might add a little separate post about them at some point.
We headed off to go on It’s A Small World and found a pressed penny machine, the first of what no doubt would be many.
It’s A Small World (despite being infuriatingly annoying with the incessant song) is the only thing we’ve been on with Rosemary each time we’ve visited the Magic Kingdom so might become the one must do ride in the future to keep that going. And it was just an annoying as always…
The queues were starting to build by this time (it was probably about 10.30) and we thought we’d probably manage a couple more things before it was time to start using up our pre-booked FastPasses. The queue for the Carousel was very small so I took Rosemary straight on for a ride.
That was lots of fun and then we hit up our first FastPass, which was a visit to Ariel in her underwater grotto. She’s in mermaid form there and Rosemary didn’t get to see her on our previous visit. Nice setting but could have been a bit more detailed I thought, just seemed a little sparse.
And as the Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid ride was next door we decided to tick that off as well and used our FastPasses to do this. No really good pictures from the ride this time.
Deciding it was time to seek out some food we walked back through FantasyLand without any great plan beyond that we were heading towards AdventureLand for our third and final FastPass of the day. On the way we went past Rapunzel’s tower and rediscovered the decoration in the toilets (frying pans from the Tangled movie).
We ended up at Peco Bill’s for lunch and managed to find a relatively quiet area upstairs where there were a few tables. Place was packed and is huge.
Unfortunately the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed during our visit for a major upgrade so no chance to go on this time.
And so onto our third FastPass of the day and what we thought would likely be our final thing as well, the Jungle Cruise. The queue for this is always crazy on stand-by and a FastPass is a real must for it. With the MagicBands blipped on the way in we were straight to the front and on the boat within a few minutes. It’s just as nutty as I remember it, with awful jokes and puns from the Captain. Great fun!
The heat and humidity was massive by this time. One tip we had read which was brilliant was to just go upto any kiosk or counter and ask for some ice water and you will get a cup for free. We did this regularly throughout our trip and it a) saved a fortune on soft drinks and b) keeps you hydrated. When the water was gone we’d add the ice to our water bottle to keep that cold. But we did get some Dole Whip (much to Julia’s delight as she had missed out the last few times) and I tried the Citrus Swirl, which was very nice.
So at this point we thought we’d probably be leaving the park (about 2:30 I think) but as we were wandering out via a very indirect route we spotted that the Haunted Mansion had virtually no queue. So “never miss an opportunity” is a good motto at Disney and we went in. Last time we went on this it broke down (on a Friday 13th no less) so fingers crossed we’d have no such trouble this time. Rosemary remembered this though and was a little hesitant to get on it. No such problems this time and we had the Hat Box Ghost in a Doom Buggy at the end.
We were sort of getting a second wind by this point and there was a Princess encounter just about to start in the Heritage House with Tiana. It was lovely and cool inside so we sat down in there and waited the 10 minutes or so for Tiana to arrive. She was very nice and it was another Princess who Rosemary hadn’t previously met (that was 4 today).
But by now it really was time to leave as we had left the hotel before 8am and were still a bit jet lagged. But couldn’t believe how many things we;d got done in a single day.
Just time on the way out for some photos in front of the castle.
We headed back to the car, eventually after going on the monorail and walking back through the parking, and grabbed a quick dinner at Perkin’s close to the hotel.
Long post but a busy day!
If you would like to watch a video of some of the day it can be found on YouTube.
And finally for the day, a quick swim at the hotel:
So back to start the day at the Magic Kingdom. This is the 4th day’s useage of the ticket we bought, so we have 1 more day to use on it before it runs out.
As mentioned in previous posts the Kingdom was really dressed up for the holidays and this included the shop window with Christmas Minnie and Mickey.
As we weren’t going to be staying that long today (but it was our last visit this trip the Magic Kingdom) we made sure to get some shots in front of the Castle.
We went on the Haunted Mansion ride after this but would you believe it broke down. Now look at the date of this visit and I can tell you it was a Friday. So Friday 13th struck and we were in the ride for ages, and eventually they turned all the lights on and walked us out. Bit of a shame but we got a free Fastpass and got to see how it all worked. Mainly wires in case you were wondering.
So we headed to the Princess Fairytale Hall again, this time to meet some other Princesses. They have one advertised as being there but the second one isn’t revealed until you get in. You had the choice of Rapunzel (who we met on our previous visit) or Cinderella. And today was Cinderella’s turn.
And with her today was Sleeping Beauty.
She was so nice and gave the biggest hug.
We then went over to Adventureland to see Tinkerbelle. The queue was pretty bad and we had to wait 45 minutes, which is about the longest wait we’d had at that time. Pixie Hollow is entered through some magic doors which shrink you down to pixie size.
And with Tinkerbelle was Periwinkle.
One thing I hadn’t mentioned previously is that all the characters (or nearly all) were giving out Christmas wishes. These were little cards with a picture and their autograph on them and a little wish. Made a great keepsake.
Next door to the Princess Hall there was Peter Pan and the queue was really small, so we went on that.
And same for It’s a Small World.
We decided to use our Fastpass for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Rosemary really enjoyed this, even the drop to go down to the main bit. Pretty sure this is only a few feet but it felt huge and we both lunged for her to keep her from falling out. Completely unnecessary though…
And at this point we passed out again….
We drove over to Downtown Disney to go to T-Rex Cafe.
Rosemary was still quite sleepy but soon woke up when we were inside.
Here drink had flashing LED lights in it which was fab.
Wont upload too many pictures of the dinosaurs, but I did particularly like the mammoth.