We started our last full day of fun at Walt Disney World at approximately 6:05 AM. I was determined to arrive at Magic Kingdom at rope drop, so I got ready for the day, quickly prepared a breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese (which we purchased the night before at Landscape of Flavors), and left the room at about 7:05 AM for the 8:00 AM rope drop. One family member who was ready to leave at the time accompanied me, and the rest of them finished getting ready and left a while later. My hair was still quite damp and I had cream cheese all over me as I carried my breakfast with me, but I was not going to let myself be late for the opening of Magic Kingdom, especially since it was my last chance to see my beloved Welcome Show.
Well, not everything can go exactly as planned.
Leaving ten minutes before the first bus would arrive at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort was a bit of a risk, and it did not pay off too well, although seeing the sun rise as we walked to the bus stop was wonderful. Once we arrived at the bus stop, we overheard those in line saying that a packed bus had just left. I became nervous as we waited in an already-developed line for the next bus to arrive, as our previous experience of trying to catch a
Magic Kingdom bus in the morning did not go very well. Luckily, another bus arrived a few minutes later at 8:20 AM; it was even an extra-large bus! Soon we were sitting on the bus as it continued to fill up, and then we were on our way to Magic Kingdom. A runDisney event had just occurred, so some guests on the bus were wearing their medals. I definitely admired their ability to run and then walk around a Disney park, as my feet were exhausted after my time just walking through the parks. In addition, everyone on the bus was very kind, and smiles were prevalent, which was nice to see.
The bus arrived at Magic Kingdom right before the Welcome Show began, so we quickly walked over to the entrance. The show actually began while I was waiting to get my purse checked, but I was still able to watch it. The cast member checking bags stood out to me as one who was very nice and welcoming, as he asked everyone how they were and/or where they were from. The person in front of me was actually from an area close to where I live, which was cool.
The Welcome Show had ended by the time we were admitted into the park, but even though I was a bit disappointed, I was glad that I was able to make it in time to see it at all. As per usual, we headed right to Fantasyland (while walking through Cinderella Castle in the process, of course). The line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was already long, and we had just enjoyed the attraction the night before, so we walked over to Peter Pan’s Flight. The wait for it was about ten minutes long, and I enjoyed seeing everyone’s reactions to the beautiful and interactive queue during that time. The attraction itself was wonderful, as I absolutely love the music and atmosphere; I just wish that the wait time for it was not always so long, so then I could enjoy it more often!
By this time, the rest of our family had arrived at the park. Some of them were on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and we met up with the other family member by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Sadly, the attraction was temporarily closed, so we walked over to Dumbo The Flying Elephant. There was no wait for the attraction; thus, we were faced with an incredibly difficult decision: to pick the left or right Dumbo carousel. We picked the left side, and we soon were seated in a purple Dumbo. It turned out that the lever in our Dumbo was not working, so we could not move up or down. A bit of sadness arose, but we still had fun, and all of the Dumbos go up at the end anyway. “We will come back to ride it again later today,” we said. This statement rarely deems true, and did not in this case.
Next, we contacted the rest of our family. Since they were already in Tomorrowland and heading for Space Mountain, we quickly walked over to the attraction, and I joined them right before they entered the queue. Our wait was about fifteen minutes long, but I enjoyed listening to the fantastic and nostalgic music playing in the queue, and we all played the games that are prevalent throughout. I particularly was happy to see the very 80s/90s video of the attraction that plays in the queue once again. When we were in the last switchbacks before the loading area, a cast member asked if there were any parties of three in line; since we were the only group of three in the area, we were escorted right into the ride vehicle. I was in the front of the individual train, but not in the absolute front of the line of trains attached to each other. This particular ride on Space Mountain was great fun, but my head and neck were definitely strained during it. My stomach did handle it better than usual, though, so I did show some improvement in handling the coaster.
Our family met back up again, and we intended on walking over to Haunted Mansion, while seeing if The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was open along the way. The attraction was working, so we went in the twenty-minute-long line (that was the posted wait time, but I think it actually was a bit shorter). A cast member in the queue said he would only let us through if I stated who my favorite princess is. I answered with Belle, and when asked why, I said “Because she likes to read.” I know, it was a basic response,
but that was what came to my mind that does not typically enjoy thinking on the spot. In reply, he stated that he could have guessed that; I suppose my glasses gave that impression. When asked who my second-favorite princess is, I answered with Rapunzel. He accepted that answer, and let us through to the next part of the queue. That questioning of my “favorites” made me think about them more, and I was then debating whether I should have included Princess Tiana in one of my answers (she is another one of my favorite Disney Princesses). After a few more minutes, we boarded our “Hunny Pot.” Of course, I made sure to sit in the front row. As the ride vehicle started moving, I heard my family members freak out a bit, and I looked back to see that one of their hats somehow went off of their heads and onto the ground. Of course, the ride could not be stopped, so we kept moving while the cast member operating the attraction looked at us in disbelief. Anyway, we still enjoyed the adorable dark ride.
The next attraction we went to was Haunted Mansion. The wait was very short; we walked through the interactive queue for a minute, and entered the pre-show as the doors were about to shut. As it often occurs, we were in the Stretching Room with some fans of the attraction who talked along with the narration. We were some of the last foolish mortals in the Stretching Room, and we then boarded our Doom Buggy. It was a great experience on the attraction, especially since we were stopped right at the start of the Ballroom for a couple minutes. We all really appreciated the opportunity to take in the details of this incredible scene. After those precious moments, we finished our tour and were surprised to see that our Hitchhiking Ghost had a sign that said something along the lines of “Headed to (insert state we are from).” My very private family was kind of shocked by this, but I thought it was pretty amazing; I understand their concern, though.
Our next objective was to go on Splash Mountain. Yes, most of us in our group wanted to go on Splash Mountain on this January morning; it was our last chance to go on one of our favorite attractions this trip before the wait became too long. Although the posted wait time was fairly short, the wait itself was much longer (it must have gone up while we were in line). There was an excited family in front of us, though, which was nice to see. After twenty to thirty minutes in the queue, which is actually one that I quite enjoy, we were placed into our rows. For the third Walt Disney
World trip in a row, I was placed in the front row of the log. I do enjoy being in the front row, as I find it to add even more joyful excitement to the attraction. This time, though, our experience in the front row was rough. We got soaked. Even from the first tiny drop, I was covered in water. From then on, every little decline on the ride made me brace and duck, and I still received more and more water. The final drop made us even more soaked, although it is clear in the ride photo that I was completely looking to the side (I had to protect my glasses). Let us just say that we remained damp for the hours to come.
While we were waiting for Splash Mountain, our family member that did not go on the attraction got us coffee, which was much-needed and appreciated. After our aforementioned fun and thrilling experience, we were all ready for lunch and a visit to the famous Tangled toilets. We decided to try out a quick-service restaurant that we possibly had never visited before: Pinocchio Village Haus. Similarly to the day before, my pasta craving took over at this time, and I ordered the Chicken Parmesan, which comes with Pasta and Side Caesar Salad. My expectations were not too high, which I think made me
appreciate this meal a lot. It of course was not extremely high-quality, but it both satisfied my craving for carbohydrates and filled me up (seriously, it was a lot of food). We even were able to get one of the popular “it’s a small world” window-facing tables, which was wonderful! As per usual, I was the last one eating and was rushed out of the quick-service restaurant as soon as I was done. While we were walking out, I had a heartwarming moment with a baby sitting nearby. Before we left, I had smiled at the baby a couple times, to which the baby smiled back at me. As I walked away, the baby had a huge smile and waved goodbye to me; my heart subsequently melted.
It came to our attention that The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History was starting soon (at 12:00 PM), so we walked over to Liberty Square to watch the new show. I adored it, and as a lover of edutainment, I was so happy to see everyone enjoying the hilarious and informative presentation.
Magic Kingdom was definitely becoming busy at this point, and I was afraid that we would not be able to go on Pirates of the Caribbean. The rest of my family had already accepted the probable situation, but I still had some hope. Before we walked over to the attraction, we took some items off of our to-do list in Adventureland after taking a quick tour of Liberty Square (and my beloved Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe). Immediately after we arrived
in Adventureland, we went to the bathroom, and I then expressed my desire to finally walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse. Only one other family member wanted to join me, but we still enjoyed our walk through the recently-refurbished attraction. I love the level of detail in the treehouse, and I honestly would not object to living inside it. I took some pictures of the amazing views from the various levels of the treehouse (the blue sky added to the beauty), and after we completed our tour, we purchased a Citrus Swirl.
Citrus Swirls can be found at Sunshine Tree Terrace, and they are a combination of Orange Slushy and Vanilla Soft-Serve Ice Cream. The tartness of the orange and the creaminess of the soft-serve ice cream go so well together, and although some argue about whether the Dole Whip or the Citrus Swirl is superior, I just simply enjoy both of the wonderful treats.
After a somewhat confusing experience waiting in line to order our Citrus Swirl, we sat down across the way to eat it. Immediately after we finished eating our delicious snack, we walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean. The wait time for the classic attraction was forty minutes long, and my family was not willing to wait that long; thus, I tried to get a taste of the attraction by walking right next to its queue in order to see if I could smell the distinct water scent of it. This idea did not work out very well, but we kept walking anyway.
While eating our Citrus Swirl, we had developed our plan for the rest of our Magic Kingdom visit, and the next step in it was to take the Walt Disney World Railroad to Fantasyland. This trip would both satisfy our desire to enjoy the train ride that we love so much and transport us to the next location we wanted to visit.
The wait for the next train to arrive was a few minutes long, and we were then able to enter a row right in front of where we were let out of the holding area. The train ride was relaxing and beautiful, and I once again was able to see the Liberty Belle Riverboat (which was under refurbishment at the time). After the train came to a full and complete stop, we were some of the first guests out of the train, and we walked over to Big Top Souvenirs.
Big Top Souvenirs is one of my favorite gift shops (yes, I do have favorite gift shops); I love how it has a lot of adorable merchandise and gives guests the ability to watch cast members make treats such as candy apples. A couple Walt Disney World trips before, I purchased a Duffy the Disney Bear at this location. Since I was interested in buying a ShellieMay plush on this vacation, I decided to buy the Disney Bear at the same gift shop. I know, I am essentially five years old. Anyway, we purchased the plush and a cute set of salt and pepper shakers and walked over to Bonjour! Village Gifts. We saw a Belle ornament there a few days before, and finally decided to buy it before we left Magic Kingdom for the last time this trip. Following this stop, I had some pictures taken of me and ShellieMay in the area before we started to make our way out of the park.
I actually wanted to go on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover at this time, as I wanted to continue our trend of going on this favorite attraction of ours during every Magic Kingdom visit, but the rest of my family objected (the crowds must have been getting to them). As a result, we proceeded to walk on the side of Cinderella Castle back to
Main Street U.S.A.. On the way, though, we saw that the Wishing Well area was empty, so we took lots of pictures there of different combinations of us, which included ShellieMay, naturally.
My family could not leave the park without getting more food, of course, so some of us went to purchase a souvenir bucket of popcorn while the rest went to Casey’s Corner. As the rest of them were not done at Casey’s Corner (and they do not like coffee), those of us who purchased the popcorn walked over to the Starbucks on Main Street U.S.A..
In a quite unusual turn of events, this was our singular Disney Parks Starbucks visit of our vacation. I ordered an iced Americano, which was a refreshing and perfectly biting change of pace from my usual hot coffee. It was very crowded in the Starbucks, but the line moved efficiently and our drinks did not take too long for us to receive; I must give props to the cast members there!
In a final attempt to extend our Magic Kingdom visit, I walked through the Emporium before we left. I adored the Magic Kingdom 45th Anniversary merchandise, but we ended up not buying any of it. The conclusion of our time at Magic Kingdom finally ended a few minutes later, and we waved goodbye to the lovely park.
We decided to take the bus back to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, so we walked over to its bus stop, which was actually the one furthest away from the park. We waited in line for about fifteen minutes until one of the huge busses arrived. The bus became full, and we began our trip back to the resort. There was a very naughty child on our bus, which gave us entertainment but also concerned me quite a bit. This child was really acting rebellious, and no one in the area of the bus found the situation to be charming.
Regardless, we still all arrived at the resort safely, and we proceeded to take a self-guided tour through the lobby. While we walked through the Ink and Paint Shop, I got an Art of Animation postcard that I later sent home (I also purchased a BoardWalk one during the duration of our stay at that resort). I saw the Disney Conservation Fund buttons near the register that I had admired the night before, so I decided to get one of them and donate in order to do so. The wonderful and helpful cast member there, John, told us about how amazing the Disney Conservation Fund is, and also let us know about the stamps we needed for the postcard and how to send it. Clearly, our experience at the shop was great!
We then walked past The Big Blue Pool and saw the large crowds there as we walked back to our room. Some relaxing and charging of electronics took place before I wrote out my postcard and headed back with some family members to walk the grounds of the resort. I did not take my camera or phone with me (they were still charging), so I sadly do not have any pictures of our walk. First, we looked at the Little Mermaid section, and then walked over to the Generation Gap Bridge, which led us to Disney’s Pop Century Resort. I know a lot of people in the Disney fan community who love staying there, and I had seen the resort in quite a few “vlogs” by YouTubers, so I was excited to finally see it in person. We walked through their main hall, and we noticed that the layout of the resort is extremely similar to that of the Art of Animation. I was aware that the location of Art of Animation was originally going to be used as an extension of Pop Century, but it still was fascinating to see the similarities in the resorts in present time.
Once we were done with our quick visit, we walked back to the Art of Animation and went over to the Cars section of the resort. On the way, we saw that surrey bikes were available for rental, which was nice. From what I saw on our walk, I would argue that the Cars area is the best of the sections, as the theming is fantastic. We took some pictures, and then walked through the Finding Nemo section before entering our room in the Lion King section. I really enjoyed our tour around the resorts, but it was now time to prepare for our last park visit of our Walt Disney World vacation.
I changed into my EPCOT Center shirt, got all of my items together, and then departed for Epcot. We decided to drive our car to the BoardWalk in order to get to Epcot, which I was nervous about. While some family members got the car, the rest of us went to the lobby so I could mail my postcard (I forgot to put it in the mailbox while we took our self-guided tour earlier). Soon enough, we made our way to Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Much to my surprise, we were actually allowed to park there, which was likely because the parking lot was not very full at the time.
It was quite surreal to walk along the BoardWalk once again. I was not expecting to see the resort again this trip after we checked out, and it was bittersweet to see it again, knowing that I would not be staying there that night. The walk was about fifteen minutes long, and we were admitted into Epcot at about 4:30 PM.
Our first stop was Spaceship Earth, as it was our first FastPass reservation of the night; most of our family went on the attraction, while one ate dinner at Yorkshire County Fish Shop during this time. As we walked up to the queue, we saw that there was a very short Standby line for the attraction, which represented the lack of crowds that we noticed that night overall. A hypothesis was developed in which we wondered if the park was not
crowded due to the Half-Marathon occurring the next day; possibly the runners wanted to rest that night (looking back on this thought now is a bit sad, knowing what was announced later that night). Our ride on Spaceship Earth was as amazing as usual, and I happened to sit on the left side of the front row of the “time machine” this time around. During the video at the end, my picture was not on the screen (both of them were of the family member with me). The row behind us also had the same predicament, which was odd. When I went to email the digital postcards to myself, though, the separate images of us showed up.
The next FastPass reservation times were approaching once we exited Project Tomorrow, which we used almost immediately. Following a short reunion near the Fountain of Nations, we separated quite a bit; some family members ate at Electric Umbrella, while the rest of us went to the bathroom (we actually went to those amazing retro bathrooms that play the Innoventions music loop by the Imagination! pavilion multiple times on our trip) and used our FastPasses at the Epcot Character Stop. As someone who usually does not meet a lot of characters at Walt Disney World, I pushed myself to meet more of them in order to enhance my experience at the resort.
We actually had to wait for a while to get to the characters, but we were finally let into the room. The kids in front of us in line were amazing and clearly so excited to meet the characters, which was incredibly heartwarming. As I stated in previous posts, I am very awkward with non-talking characters, so I was a bit nervous about what to do and what to say to them.
First up was Mickey Mouse, though, which was a good way to start. I hugged him (being me, I went into the hug weirdly, though) and we took many pictures together, as the PhotoPass cast member was so enthusiastic. I then told Mickey that I would see him later, which was a misused opportunity; I clearly should have said that I would see him real soon. Ugh. Anyway, next was Goofy. We hugged, and since there was a monorail on his backdrop, I told him how awesome it was that he had the monorail right by him (I know…so cringe-worthy), and he then pointed at my EPCOT Center shirt. We then took some pictures together before I went over to meet Minnie Mouse. The people in front of me had such an enthusiastic experience with the character, so I sadly realized that I would unconsciously bring the energy down twenty notches. Regardless, I hugged her and took pictures with her. I think I said that I would see her later; either way, she did make a heart for me, which was adorable. As I left, I made sure to say that I love her too!
Overall, my experience was fun, but I did feel self-conscious about my social abilities. To continue this self-embarrassment, we went across the sidewalk to see Baymax next (I was hoping to meet the Joy and Sadness from Inside Out as well, but the line was too long). For some reason, while I was in the extremely short line to meet the character, I blanked on all Big Hero 6-related information. The character attendant was so enthusiastic, though, which made me feel a bit more comfortable. Once it was my turn to meet Baymax, I awkwardly hugged Baymax, had pictures taken of us, and hugged him again. I think I also added that it was nice to meet him. Regardless, I felt so bad that I could not make the interaction interesting, but I learned my lesson to come prepared in future meetings with characters.
After I was done meeting characters, we started to walk over to the France pavilion, which was where the rest of our family was. I must have been preoccupied with looking at the newly-uploaded pictures on the My Disney Experience App, because it took me until our arrival in World Showcase to notice that we had to walk all the way back to MouseGear to get the merchandise I really wanted to purchase before our departure the next day. We were already in a bit of a rush at this time, so we quickly walked back to the gift shop. I decided to get an EPCOT Center shirt, and at the last minute, I remembered the monorail socks that I wanted to buy (I am a big fan of weird socks). Alas, both of these items were purchased. The line was a bit long, but we eventually made it out of the store.
This, my friends, is the start of the insanity that was my last hour (and ten minutes, or so) of my night at Epcot. Please beware.
We then power-walked over to the France pavilion while I apologized to the family member with me (I felt bad for taking up so much time) and scrambled to come up with a way in which we could get most of our previous plan accomplished in such a short amount of time. During our walk, we told our family members on the phone to get into the long line at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie so I could eat my desired Croque Monsieur while walking to our next destination. Once we arrived there, we saw them standing near the line, which made us confused. They then stated that once they got to the front of the line, they were not sure which ham & cheese sandwich to get of the three options available, so they left the line. I was freaking out at this moment, and almost left to instead get Nudel Gratin in the Germany pavilion instead, but I was then told that the line moved very quickly for them. As a result, I waited in line and got my toasted Croque Monsieur from the very kind French cast members.
Our family met back up near the fountain in the France pavilion, and I started to quickly eat my Croque Monsieur. It was very delicious and cheesy, and I adored it. Even though I would have liked to sit there while finishing my meal and then see Impressions de France, our next priority was to use 0ur FastPasses to finally go on Frozen Ever After. Consequently, we very quickly walked counter-clockwise from the France pavilion to get to the Norway pavilion. I am usually a slow eater, but I scarfed down my Croque Monsieur while dodging the crowds of people; clearly, I was determined to use our FastPass before it expired (and early enough so that we could still have time for the last item on my must-do list). It definitely was a bit sad for me to rush by the wonderful World Showcase pavilions, but we did make it in time to enjoy Frozen Ever After. I actually was walking there so quickly that I had to wait a minute for the rest of the family to show up, though. The FastPass line was short, but we still were able to see the gorgeous queue while we waited. After a few minutes of me starting to freak out about potential timing issues, we made it on the attraction. I was in the second row of the boat, and I was amazed by the Audio Animatronics in the attraction and how much different yet familiar the experience felt as compared to Maelstrom. Overall, I was quite pleased with Frozen Ever After, although I will need to ride it a few more times before developing a full opinion.
I usually love looking through the gift shop in the Norway pavilion (what can I say…I love gawking at expensive sweaters), but I rushed out of there. It was time to rush over to what I hoped would be our last attraction of our vacation: Impressions de France. Not only has it become somewhat of a tradition for it to be our last attraction of our Walt Disney World trips, but it is also one of my favorite attractions; these reasons are why I was so fixated on seeing it before the start of IllumiNations.
The fastest I have ever power-walked in my life was likely when I was on the journey from the Norway pavilion to the France pavilion (we completed the circle). We probably started this walk at 8:30 PM, which meant that we had ten minutes to get to the last showing before the start of IllumiNations, as the movie is eighteen minutes long. I dodged people like it was nobody’s business, and I probably looked insane; while most guests at Epcot were enjoying the ambiance and the fantastic pre-IllumiNations music, I was power-walking like crazy. One family member was able to stay somewhat close to me, but by the time I made it to the entrance of Impressions de France, I still had to wait a minute for them to catch up (the rest of the family was completely out of sight at this point, by the way). We then asked the cast member at the entrance if we could enter, and he said that the movie was starting in two minutes. I felt so relieved. Therefore, while we waited in the lobby of the attraction, I tweeted about my amazing power-walking performance.
We were then let into the theater, and by the time the movie began, I was one of three people watching it. Guests at the park obviously did not have their priorities straight. As the movie began, though, more groups of people did walk in.
The film was so worth the rush of getting to the theater. I would argue that it is the perfect last attraction to experience at Walt Disney World on every vacation. Of course, the gorgeous scenery and score are enchanting and emotional, but it also is a great reminder that there is so much to enjoy in this world, even outside of Walt Disney World (I know, it is hard to believe). As someone who is mildly obsessed with Epcot history, it is also nice to end on an attraction that really feels like EPCOT Center to me.
As we quickly made our way out of the entrance of the attraction, which is where they led us out, we heard booms from the fireworks of IllumiNations. I was not too upset about missing the start of my favorite nighttime show, as we had seen it multiple times before this trip; being able to see most of it again that night was sufficient.
After our family reunited, we ended up standing by the bridge that is near the France pavilion to watch the rest of the show. While the rest of my family talked to each other about what they did while we were split apart, I was completely absorbed in the experience that is IllumiNations. The show is always a proper way to end a Walt Disney World vacation to me. Once again, as an Epcot geek, seeing the show and appreciating its message is a wonderful send-off.
I took some pictures during the nighttime spectacular, and following its conclusion, we headed out of Epcot through International Gateway. Leaving the park is always an emotional experience for me, and I always end up looking back at World Showcase countless times while taking mental images before it disappears from sight. Even then, I usually do not cry on the way out; the tears usually come up the next morning as we leave Disney property.
Not this time, though. Emotions hit me (and a family member) like bricks as we walked through the exit. I seriously could not stop crying for the next half hour or so. I suspect that walking by my beloved BoardWalk Resort and thinking about how I would not be staying there that night made the exit from Epcot even more painful. It definitely did not help that instead of being half-asleep while seeing the BoardWalk for the last time (as I am in the morning), I still felt fairly alert. Especially since I did not know the next time we would go on vacation at Walt Disney World, I kept thinking to myself “Who knows when the next time I see Epcot and the BoardWalk will be?” as we walked by. As we approached the resort itself, some family members had to go to the bathroom and asked if those of us crying wanted to walk through it with them. We answered with a sure “NO” and continued to try to hide our tears from the guests around us; it would be too sad to have to say goodbye to the resort again.
I am aware that this explanation of my emotions that are brought up because of Walt Disney World may seem insane to some readers, but the so-called Vacation Kingdom is truly and clearly one of my passions; it really means so much to me.
After we got back together, we walked back to our car and went back to the Art of Animation. We immediately went back to our room, and it started to thunderstorm as we got ready for bed. I then saw on Twitter that the Half-Marathon that was to take place the next day was cancelled. Although I felt bad for the runners, I realized that their safety really was most important (on a side-note: seeing the support for the runners who still ran a half marathon the next day once it was safe made me so happy).
I then procrastinated packing up and getting ready for bed for a while, and finally went to bed around midnight. We would finish packing up the next morning, and then start our journey home.
Thanks for sticking around during this lengthy post; I hope it was still fun to read, as it has definitely been entertaining to write out my experiences at Walt Disney World. Of course, I will still write about our drive home that took place over the next two days, so please stay tuned for my next posts, and have a magical day!