It was the last full day of our Disney trip. Lilly had spent most of the week going to the parks with Jon, with my parents, with her cousins, while I worked during the day.
In the spirit of not taking precious time with my precious girl for granted (and the temptation of being at the happiest place on earth), Lilly and I planned a special morning for just the two of us at Magic Kingdom.
It actually requires little planning on our part. We've done it so many times now with me, Jon and Lilly that we could write our own Lilly's touring guide to Disney World. Put in the day, time of year, time of day, and theme park, and I'll tell you which attractions we do in which order, to experience the maximum fun potential.
But yet it's always so special each time.
If there is a free morning to spend at any of the theme parks, and we've spent time at all 4 already, I will hands down always pick Magic Kingdom. With a few caveats: we get there right before opening, and don't stay past noon or 1.
And so it began. Lilly and I woke up late, of course, and got ready quickly. We were staying off property for most of the trip (although Polynesian concierge for the first night - amazing as always), so we hopped in the car and raced over to Magic Kingdom, about a 15 minute drive door-to-door. We were running late, and the key to the whole experience is arriving at or before it opens.
We pulled into the Magic Kingdom parking lot at 10 minutes til opening (at 9). Which would be good except we still weren't close. From there we had to take a tram to the Ticket and Transportation center, and then either a monorail or boat to Magic Kingdom's front gates. So we hopped out of the car (at the very last spot in the row), ran to the tram and hopped on it. A few minutes later we were at the Ticket and Transportation Center, and in the excitement and craziness of hopping off the tram (with Lilly, our stroller, and our bag) my knee caught on something and started bleeding. A lot. Ouch! (Better me than Lilly though right?) But we kept moving, had to get to park entrance by 9! We ran up to the monorail, got on it, and 2 minutes later were arriving at Magic Kingdom entrance. We caught the opening show right as it was ending. We rushed through security, flashed our annual passes, and were in the gates.
We were a minute late, but not a big deal. And of course, Lilly loves excitement so when we are rushing and it's all crazy, the better for her. :)
It's at this point where we have to make a decision. Our usual touring plan includes Astro Orbiter as the number one priority of the morning. If you don't go on it first, the line gets crazy long. (Even though most people I know don't even know it's a ride, but there is always a huge slow line.) It is debatably one of Lilly's favorite rides - it spins around fast high above the park, with views of the Castle, Space Mountain, the Contemporary, the monorail... If we go first thing in the morning, there will be no line (although 15 minutes later it's a huge line); so either do it now or forget it. (That is the other theory behind our touring plans: lines are just not worth it - if a ride for a kid Lilly's age is 2 minutes long on average, what is the point in waiting a half hour to go on it?)
But, I made an executive decision. We NEVER go on Dumbo. Because we don't wait on lines. We tour smartly so we avoid the lines at all cost. And if you are not one of the first people in the park in the morning, Dumbo has a huge line. But, Lilly had been on Astro Orbiter earlier in the week with Jon, and hadn't been on Dumbo this trip. So, as a sacrifice for my daughter I figured we'd take the risk of waiting in line and go on Dumbo. Which meant this was really a special morning for us.
Lilly was in the stroller and I RAN as fast as I could down Main Street, through the Castle, and on our way to Dumbo. It was 9:07(ish) and there as a 25 minute wait for Dumbo. And this is the shortest the line will be all day, so I looked at my beautiful girl and said "what the heck, let's do it."
The line ended up being a good 20 minutes or so, but Lilly was thrilled. The anticipation of Dumbo is almost as great as the ride itself. She was thrilled to get in her flying elephant finally, and we spun around for 2 minutes until it was over. Happy girl, she was.
I forgot to mention, I realized when we got on the tram a half hour earlier that my camera battery was dead. Ugh. So no pictures, but thankfully due to PhotoPass we do have pictures from the day with characters, etc. But I couldn't capture the day on my own camera.
So, once Dumbo was over we were at a crossroads. It was 9:30. Traditionally we stay in Fantasyland. I don't take Lilly on Snow White (Jon does sometimes, but it's too scary for me!). Peter Pan was on the other side of Fantasyland, and It's a Small World and the Teacups were closed. So, Winnie the Pooh it was. We waited in a 5 minute line. When Lilly saw the Pooh vehicle show up (they are yellow) she put her arm out and said "Taxi!" We jumped in and she loved the ride.
By this time it was 9:40-9:45ish. The next best part of our touring plan is always Toontown. Which opens between 9:45 and 10. It is again one of those places that you want to be right when it opens in order to experience little to no wait. We stood for 5 minutes at the front before the let everyone in - a huge crowd of people ran towards the Princess and Fairy meet and greet. They both usually have an hour or more wait, with the Fairies sometimes having 90 minutes or more. If Lilly cared about the fairies, we'd do them first; but she doesn't and the one time we met them was kind of anticlimactic. (She was actually kind of scared of the male fairy.) So, instead we ran to the Princess line. We were second in line, which made us really excited. We waited 5 or 10 minutes until the princesses themselves came to the front of the line to bring in the first guests of the morning. Exciting! (Note that while this was my first time this trip doing this with Lilly, Jon had taken her earlier this week to meet the princesses here - plus she had seen them at two character meals earlier in the week - so while this is most definitely my favorite day ever, it's just a normal magical princess meeting day to Miss Lilly. But she still loved it.)
First was Sleeping Beauty:
Then Cinderella, which is debatably her favorite.
And then Belle, another favorite. (And all favorites will be blown away later in the afternoon when she sees Snow White.)
The princesses are so amazing with kids. They make such a fuss over Lilly. She truly feels like she is a princess meeting a fellow princess; seeing an old friend again. They know just what to say to her, and she reacts accordingly with huge smiles. She tells them her name, how old she is, and while she is shy to their face, she is so super excited. So, a successful meeting.
Lilly was still grinning ear to ear when we walked across to Goofy's Barnstormer. It was about 10:10, and there was barely a line. (Again, another ride where there will be a huge line a half hour later.) So, we walked up, Lilly got measured, and we got on the ride without a wait. Lilly was thrilled. She loves roller coasters and this one is just the right speed and excitement for my little girl. It's actually faster than it looks, and is quite the thrill. Lilly was only ok with it being over because I promised we'd go on it again. We ran to the front, she got measured again by the same guy who measured her 5 minutes earlier, and we were back on the ride. Again she was thrilled and asked to go on it again. Why not? It's mommy and Lilly's special morning. So we ran to the front, this time the guy remembered us so she didn't have to get measured, and we waited in line. By this time, 10:20, the line was 10 minutes long. We went on the ride again but decided not to go on it a fourth time. Actually, I decided not to go on it a fourth time; Lilly was still trying to convince me a line is not a big deal. :) But instead we walked out of Toontown, stopping at the potty for Lilly on the way out.
Now, mommy had something up her sleeve. Lilly had seen so many princesses already; but she hadn't seen Tiana (on this trip). Tiana is another favorite. (They are all favorites, right?) We had only met Tiana in person on the Disney Cruise last December, and this was mommy and Lilly's special day, she had been on every possible ride earlier on this trip, and so our number one goal was meeting Tiana. We headed over to Liberty Square and asked a cast member when and where Tiana would appear. It turns out we just missed her, but she'd be back at 11:15 (or 11:30 or 11:45? Can't remember now. It was about a half hour away from the current time.). They recommended getting there early because they can only let so many people see her at a time.
So, we had about 20 minutes to kill. We walked towards the Castle as we heard music. It was the Castle show starting - Mickey and Minnie, the princesses, singing, dancing, fireworks - perfect. We never stopped to see this show before because we're always on our way rushing somewhere. But this was the perfect place and time to wait until Tiana. The show was great, Lilly loved it.
Then we ran over to the Tiana line - she was scheduled to appear 10 minutes later and we were about 10th in line. Turns out, if we were much later we wouldn't get to see her - they only let about 10 families in behind us. Finally it was our turn.
This was an even better treat because Tiana was there with Prince Naveen. And boy, does Lilly have a thing for Prince's. Again, I cannot say enough about the characters. They are so amazing. Tiana was so warm and sweet; but Naveen stole Lilly's heart. She was crushing hard. He made her feel comfortable and happy and gave her he biggest hug (twice!). I was originally going to hop in a picture with them but Lilly was so happy that I didn't want to steal her show.
At this point it was noon-ish and we needed to get a quick lunch and get back to the hotel for a nap. So, we took a couple pictures in front of the castle, then went to Cosmic Ray's. This is a huge counter service restaurant, and we got in line to order our food. Lilly saw people hula hooping nearby and asked to get out of her stroller. Sure, I said, as I ordered my veggie burger and her chicken and french fries. The food came up and I grabbed the tray, pushed the stroller with one hand, and tried to get Lilly away from the hula hooping. She was kind of resisting but coming with me and then a man walked by and bumped my tray off balance and my diet coke went flying. Seriously? I literally started to cry. But Disney World is an expert at making things ok. Literally in seconds three cast members were at my side. One took my tray, another started cleaning up, and a third went to get me another diet coke. The first walked Lilly and I to a table, and the third person ran over with my drink. Lilly meanwhile was saying "you ok, mommy?" Yes, Lilly, I really was ok, thanks to everyone helping us! I can't imagine what I would have done if everyone hadn't helped us out so quickly. Lilly and I ate our food quickly and efficiently without further chaos, and made our way out of the park.
What a great morning with my girl. She was back in the room asleep a half hour later, and when she woke up my parents took her to Epcot, where I joined them at 5:30 after work.
The biggest highlight from the night was meeting Snow White. Lilly was dressed in her Snow White dress, and we ran to Germany where we were literally the last people they allowed in line to meet her that night. We waited patiently, and finally it was our turn. Lilly was so happy to meet her (yes, another favorite). And Snow White was (again) so amazing with Lilly. I posted the video of them a few weeks ago. Best part ever was Snow White telling Lilly to never forget that she can accomplish all her dreams no matter what (or something like that) - I started crying, it was so touching. So glad I have it on video, Lilly loves watching it. Here are some pictures.