There is a reason they say this place is magic. Day 1 in the parks was nothing short of magic! We started the day off really early at HollyWood studios and ended it with an amazing firework and laser show at Magic Kingdom. Exhausted but WOW!
The day began around 6am (5:45 for me) with the goal of getting into a Minnie Van (Lyft branded as Minnie Vans as they have car seats) at 6:30 to arrive at the park by 7:00, about an hour before it opened. Busses don’t start running until 7:00 am. StarWars land had just opened in September, and a hot new ride, Rise of Resistance opened in December. If you wanted to ride it, you needed to be in the park before it opened. Additionally, I was hoping to also arrive before others so we could be near the front of the line to ride Slinky Dog as our FastPasses were late in the evening and all at different times.
Disney is leveraging a new system called boarding groups to get on the ride. In order to get into a boarding group, you need to be in the park before it opens, with ALL people that would like to ride, and then use the My Disney Experience App to try and get placed into a group. It really is the luck of the draw on if you get into a group and what group you get into. They only guarantee so many groups will get to ride, but have back-up groups if they get through everyone. Most days, the guaranteed and back-up boarding groups were gone in 90 seconds–so it really it a hot commodity.
Back do the day, my plan didn’t go very well. We were running late and there weren’t any Minnie Van’s available. By the time I found one, it was 7:00 and busses were starting to run, so we opted for the bus. We arrived and were in the park by 7:45, 45 min behind schedule and quickly figured out Slinky dog was not very likely–insane crowd line-ups. The line of people went all the way around the big tall building on the right and then down another street that was about as long as seen below–and this was to entry into Toy Story land–there was an equal wall of people on the other side of the park attempting to ride Smuggler’s Run, the other new Star Wars ride.
When the clock struck 8, we along with 10,000 other people scrambled to get in the app and secure a boarding group. We got group 89, which meant we may get called, we may not. (the ride breaks down a lot, so even through you may get a boarding group, it doesn’t mean you’ll get called). Then slowly, the hoards of people started making their way into ToyStory land. The line to ride Slinky Dog was well over 2 hours so we walked right past it to see the rest of the land and eventually popped into Alien Swirling Saucers, which had a 15 min wait. All 5 of us rode, 6 if you include Nonee, Kate’s bunny. Kate didn’t like when we spun out and clung really close to me, but also didn’t screen, so I called it a win. You couldn’t wipe the grins off of Lexi and William.
The crowds in ToyStory land were a bit much, so we headed out, but not before taking a quick family pick, sans Kate because she wanted to stay in the stroller and was crabby. As much as my OCD-self wanted all of these perfect family photos, I also knew Kate wasn’t feeling good and I shouldn’t push it and force her. As Elsa says… I needed to Let it Go.
We stopped quickly at guest services to see if we could move the random Slinky Dog Fastpasses together and also be at 11:25, when one of them was booked. And sure enough they worked some pixie dust for us and moved all of them together and at a earlier time.
After that, we headed over to Meet Olaf. The wait for Olaf was about 30 minutes and was one of the longest waits we had the entire trip. But the kids hadn’t met Olaf yet so they were pretty excited to add his signature to their book.
After that, our first FastPass of the day was available, Toy Story Mania–one of my favorite rides. You ride in your little cart wearing your 3D glasses and play a series of video games, of course trying to get a high score. We rode this in DisneyLand and Daddy went on it 3+ times (several of them by himself) trying to beat his high score.
After that, we headed over to watch the Lightning McQueen show. Daddy also had a FastPass for Rock’n Roller Coaster. Technically, Lexi didn’t have one, but Daddy was able to sneak her by. While waiting in line, Lexi as Bill–Does this go upside down? Does this go in the dark? Bill had never rode so he didn’t know, but sure enough–it did both and went over 60mph. Lexi was pretty scared, but also loved it and got her super excited for more roller coasters. While they were riding, Kate quickly feel asleep in the stroller while William and I grabbed some Lunch.
We then headed back to ToyStory land for our 3rd time of the morning to use our next FastPass for the much anticipated Slinky Dog Dash. This is what William and Lexi were most excited for about Disney. You couldn’t wait to go on this roller coaster. This was also William’s first big roller coaster. We got our rider switch set up (this allowed you guys to ride twice, once with me since Daddy had to stay with Kate, and then again with Daddy while I stayed with Kate). The two of you were bouncing around like a bunch of rabbits while we scooted through the FastPass line. William and I sat in front and Lexi sat behind us and away we went. The ride is over 2+ min long. It started off pretty good, but the moment we went down our first drop, William started panicking and screaming in terror. Then we got to a quick resting point and the moment we started to move again, the fear kicked in and was yelling, Mommy, mommy, I don’t like this, I don’t like this. I even tried to cover your eyes to make it less scary. When we got off to meet daddy, I for sure thought William wouldn’t want to go again, but Daddy convinced him and sure enough again, he was terrified the entire ride. Lexi on the other hand loved it and kept her hands up almost the entire ride.
After that, we used our last pre-booked fastpass of the day and Lexi, William and Daddy rode Alien Swirling Saucers again.
It was just about 1:00 at this point and The Beauty and the Beast Show was about to begin, so we high-tailed it back over the Tower of Terror/Rock’n Roller Coaster area to watch the Beauty and the Beast show. Lots of criss-crossing paths. Daddy stayed with Kate since she was still napping and William, Lexi and I sat down and watched a condensed play of Beauty and the Beast. As all Disney things, it was done extremely well with great costumes, props, singing etc. During the show, I was also able to book another round of FastPasses at Magic Kingdom, the Buzz LightYear ride.
After the show, we headed over to the Little Mermaid show. On the way, we stopped to get a family photo in front of the iconic HollyWood Tower of Terror. Throughout all of the parks, Disney has professional photographers available to take your picture in front of great backdrops or with characters. They take your photo for free, and will also use your own camera/cell phone to take pictures too. They’ll also scan your magic band and all of those photos will be linked to your account. For a fee, you can purchase all of the photos from your trip–which also includes all of the photos from rides. This is one of those things that makes Disney magical. They just make it so easy for you.
After a few pics, we headed over to the Little Mermaid show. I wasn’t too sure what this was, but it was very similar to ‘A Bugs Life’ at Animal Kingdom. We went into a dark theater, sat down like a Movie theater and they re-told the story of The Little Mermaid. Really impressive puppiteering and fun extras like water falling on you to make it feel like you were under the sea, bubbles everywhere. Overall, it was pretty cute.
Lexi and William were begging for a snack, so they each picked out Mickey IceCream on a stick and Mom and dad got frozen Lemonades. It was so nice to have our dinning plan as we just scanned our badges and each got a snack without having to worry about money or how over-price an ice cream bar shaped as Mickey Mouse was. We found a quiet bench in the shade to just relax a bit. Mr. and Mrs. Incredible were walking around and were super fun. The walked around and really interacted with guests verses just standing in a spot and signing autographs and taking pictures.
Kate also woke up around this time after an epic 3 hour nap!
Then around 3:30, we our boarding group for Rise of the Resistance was called!!! We headed over to StarWars land and for someone who has never seen one Star Wars movie, I was just blown away at the detail of this experience. They nailed it. From the fossad and color of the rocks, to the details in the cement, to the way they merchandised food and products, it was really amazing. The girls and I walked around the land while Daddy and Oats rode Rise of the Resistance. Even with the boarding groups, you do still have to wait in a bit of a line and then the ride itself is 20 minutes long, so it was a good hour before they were through.
While waiting in line, William asks, “Dad, where are all the other kids? I don’t think this is a ride for a little kid like me.” Overall, I think he was pretty scared and didn’t enjoy it too much, but still cool that he was able to ride it. After the boys came off, Lexi and I took our turn. Again, the level of detail of everything was remarkable. And the technology that went into building this ride is just crazy. I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as the Star Wars fans did, but was still very impressed with the detail and complexity of the ride. While Lexi and I were on the ride, Daddy and Kate went to the Muppets 3D show and had a few laughs.
By this time it was nearing 5:00. We asked the kids if they wanted a break and to head back to the hotel, but choose to go straight to Magic Kingdom. We got there a little after 5, took a family photo in front of the castle and then went to pick up our mobile order from Peco Bill’s. Another great thing about Disney and the app, is your ability to pre-order food. On the bus ride over, I ordered food for everyone and selected a time I wanted to pick it up. When I arrived, it was there waiting for us so we just had to find a table and dig in.
Eventually, we made our way back over to the opposite side of the park to ride Buzz Lightyear. It was starting to get dark, so we made our way to the front of the castle and found a spot to watch the fireworks.
While waiting, Lexi had been asking for some Minnie Ears for the past two day, so we went on a mission to find her beloved pair with the pink, purple and teal fabric that flowed between them.
The fireworks were great, but the laser show with coordinating music was amazing. They just nailed how the fireworks compliment the music and the laser show in the most remarkable way. So inspiring.
About 20 minutes after the fireworks show, they do a follow up show, Once Upon A Time. I didn’t know what this was, but I loved it. There were way fewer people, most of whom sat down. There was still a laser show and fireworks that accompanied it, but the show was in the form of a bedtime story and it just felt so much more intimate and was a pleasant surprise.
At this point, we were pushing on 13 straight hours of magic and you three kids were exhausted, but remarkably well behaved with very little whining and complaining considering. You all climbed into the strollers and passed out as we made our way back to the bus. With all three of you sleeping, it made it pretty challenging to actually get you into the bus. We had to fold up the strollers, and carry a sleeping kiddo in, which also meant we had to wake Lexi up to walk on her own. Your legs were like limp french fries as we tried to get you out of the stroller and wake up enough to walk. We transferred all three of you right into the bed and crashed ourselves.
Despite Kate not feeling well and refusing to participate in most things, the day was filled with so much magic. I can’t wait for the next few.