On day 5 we headed out to the Magic Kingdom, the park of parks within the Disney franchise.
We had breakfast at Coronado and were at the bus stop by 9:30 to go to the park. When we arrived I got the feeling that this park would provide enough space to reduce the claustrophobic feeling we’ve had at the others. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
On arrival we easily got checked in, took some pictures out front, and then made our way to Main Street. The crowds weren’t intolerable and we noted several shops to stop back in later in the day as our restaurant, Tony’s Townsquare Restaurant, for dinner was near the entrance.
We went to Tomorrowland first. My older daughter wanted to go on Space Mountain, so we did a quick pass for it, then we all went to the Space Orbiter ride and waited in line.
After that we considered the speedway, but the wait was too long and as lunch was nearing, we opted for a meal at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. The Cafe had quick service and plenty of air conditioned seating. It felt good to cool down as it was clear blue skies with heat, humidity, and more heat outside.
The cafe had it down and I noticed more workers at Magic Kingdom than the other parks. Despite having the service meal, we didn’t have the frantic pace as we did at other locations and tables were cleaned and ready, indoors, when we were seated.
We had to wait until 2:30-3:30 for our pass at Space Mountain, so in walking through Fantasy Land the kids thought it would be fun to go on the Dumbo ride. The wait time was posted as 40 minutes.
We got in line. After 40 minutes we made it to what was essentially a holding cell inside the Dumbo tent. There we were handed a restaurant styled beeper and were told we could wait there until it was time for us to ‘fly’.
The holding cell was styled after a big top, there were Chuck e’ Cheese variety climbing areas for the small kids, with a Dumbo spinning up on high and lots of depressed looking parents all around. I saw no less than a dozen people exit the “emergency exit” door, and we decided why bother, we invested this much time, why not follow through.
When we were finally called, we handed our pager back and got in another line. After an hour and fifteen minutes, we got in the Dumbo ride and made the most of our less than two minute flight.
This was not a high point, but unfortunately, was not the low point either.
We traveled through most of the rest of the park, got in vintage rides like It’s a Small World, and then walked back down Main Street to eat dinner.
In Tony’s, the noise was nearly unbearable. At a neighboring table one kid was using his silverware as drumsticks and beating on his table. His parents looked on, not saying a word for him to stop. There were some dropped dishes and other commotion as we ate. I was bummed to learn that Magic Kingdom, unlike all the other Disney parks, was dry, so no wine to go with our Italian meal.
In truth, the food was alright, but not worth the $20+ for either spaghetti and meatballs or the lasagna. In fairness, we have pretty good Italian food where we live and my wife and her mother make pasta from scratch, so we are a bit spoiled.
After dinner we headed back out into the park. The crowds appeared to subside a bit and we went on Pirates of the Caribbean and a few others we hadn’t wanted to wait in line for earlier.
My younger daughter wanted to go on the speedway cars, so we made that our closing ride. The cars are on a metal guide so you can steer, but you can’t really crash. I used a rather simple technique of reaching down and mashing her foot into the floor while telling her to steer. This worked well and before you knew it we were all over the bumper of the car ahead of us. Amazingly, it was an adult who couldn’t figure out how to drive her car. I got some good photos of my daughter driving and she never hit the car infront of us, so good ride all around.
With night approaching we tried to make our way back to the exit/entrance area and that is when we ran into complete and utter frustration. Magic Kingdom is laid out so that the circle infront of the Castle is a choke point. The only way in or out is through the circle to Main Street and then the exit.
At night they have a parade, employees (cast members) mark off where people can stand and what remains is designated a walk way. No one pays any attention to these distinctions.
We got to the circle, were near a cast member, who to his credit was trying to tell people they couldn’t stand where they were standing, but no one paid him any attention. I imagined the scene was the equivalent of no reserved seating at a Justin Beiber concert. Parents, with kids, strollers and cameras were crammed in a tight bunch taking pictures and lifting children to gain glimpses of electrified cars with oversized characters inside.
At one point an employee was able to part the crowd to allow two people in wheelchairs to pass through. As soon as they passed us, we attempted to scoot through their slipstream. This avenue closed within feet and I finally simply pushed my way through the illegally parked strollers.
When the parade was over, instead of improving things, it actually got worse as people surged up the street to fill in where the parade had been. Again we cut against the grain and ultimately dodged into a store and did some last minute shopping.
We started with six people, and I was frankly surprised that four of us stayed together. We eventually found my parents near the restaurant and escaped before the fireworks ended. We did watch some from the bus window, but the thought of waiting for everyone to charge us once again when they ended wasn’t high on our to do list so we left.
It was a long day, close to twelve hours, in high heat. In hindsight, I’m guessing it was probably more crowded than usual because of the rain earlier in the week. Despite the crowds, we had a good day, got to do just about everything we wanted, and got a good night’s sleep!