I know my most recent post was a summary of our dinner experience but I need to jump back before dinner for a bit. We gave ourselves plenty of time to travel from our resort back to Magic Kingdom for dinner so we ended up arriving early and had time to kill. This was Monday, August 27, which in the past has been known as a "slower" time at Disney World. As such, Disney decided to offer free dining at the same time as our vacation, pushing up park attendance. (Side note: we were not eligible for free dining because we had booked a deal through a travel agent.) We've always visited during what are supposed to be slower times and I honestly cannot imagine being in a Disney park during prime time, such as the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Magic Kingdom was fairly crowded on this day, the last of our vacation. I took screenshots of ride/attraction wait times as we were attempting to fit in some fun prior to checking in for our ADR.
Hey, girls. Let's go ride . . . um, let me see here. The carousel! Yes, the carousel.
After dinner, we popped in to see Tiana and Rapunzel.
While waiting in line, I searched through available FastPasses and found one for the Jungle Cruise. I know it's not the most exciting ride but being able to walk right on with a FP made it much more attractive. Planning tip: Book your FastPasses for earlier in the day. After you've used those FastPasses (or the time has expired), you can book another FP. And, yes, after you've used that one, you can book another.
The girls with Grammy.
After the Jungle Cruise, we rode Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain again. We walked back through the park and stopped at the Tea Cups, which had about a 10-15 minute wait. If you're familiar with Magic Kingdom crowds, you know that this ride typically does not have a wait other than for the current ride cycle to complete. Now we had a decision to make. Do we stick around and watch the fireworks or do we get out while the getting out is good. We opted to leave before the post-fireworks crowd, but we were still able to view the fireworks from the boat dock and on the ride back to the Grand Floridian.
Here's a list of everything we experienced at Magic Kingdom. Not too bad for a short time in the park.
1. Peter Pan's Flight
2. Small World
3. Big Thunder Mountain
4. Splash Mountain
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
6. People Mover
7. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
8. Meet Tiana and Rapunzel
9. Jungle Cruise
10. Splash Mountain
11. Big Thunder Mountain
12. Tea Cups
My fireworks photos are far from perfect. I was holding the camera - no tripod.
Our flight from Orlando to Providence was at 1:10 so we were scheduled to be picked up by Magical Express at 10:00. Breakfast is my favorite meal and because we had planned to eat breakfast in our room every morning, I had booked a special last day breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. We've eaten here for breakfast before and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a good ending to our vacation. I had made this ADR at the 180 day mark. At that time, airfare was not yet available for booking so I had to guess and I made the ADR for 8:30, assuming we would be flying out in the afternoon. After several days at Disney and realizing that these meals usually take an hour and a half, I cancelled that reservation. The timing would have been really tight and I didn't want to pay for something we would have to rush through.
Shortly before 9:30, we called to have Bell Services pick up our luggage. Someone arrived a short time later. All the cast members were super nice and checking in our luggage at the resort was a breeze.
I have to add that while it seems like a hassle to have Magical Express pick you up three hours early (and trust me, I did moan and groan over it), we really didn't have much wasted time at the airport. We walked through a couple of shops, ate lunch, waited in a very long security line, bought snacks for the plane and then it was time to board.
So let's talk about Southwest and their open seating policy again. Checking in for our flight was a quick, easy process via my smartphone. The only problem is that I forgot and Rich and Grammy forgot to remind me to do so. Yes, I know I should have just set an alarm on my phone. We were sitting out at the pool more than two hours past the time to check in when I finally remembered. Needless to say, we ended up in boarding group C. Almost to the front of the boarding group, but it was group C. I couldn't tell for certain but it appeared that the flight was not sold out. It looked to be more crowded than the flight to Orlando though.
The SW employee boarding passengers onto the plane made an announcement stating that Orlando is a bit strict when it comes to boarding with a child age 6 and under. Basically, he didn't want to see Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpop and Uncle Bob all trying to board early with Junior. I wasn't feeling any anxiety at this point as I knew I could just ask the flight attendants to assist us if necessary. I was also exhausted. Just like with Providence, a ton of passengers boarded early with young kids.
The first half of boarding group B boarded the plane so we all walked up and took our spots for the beginning of C since that side of the corral was empty. We had been standing there for about a minute or so when I heard the SW guy say, "Come on down, Minnie." I'm looking around thinking, Who the hell is he talking about? The only Minnie I could see was Allie wearing her Minnie ears. He said it again and I realized he was looking at us.
"Oh, sorry. We're in boarding group C."
He said it was okay and added, "She's 6, right?"
"No. They're not 6 years old." Those would be some huge 6 year olds.
"Well, that baby she's holding is under 6, right?"
Rich and Grammy were standing back behind me and the girls so when I turned to them, a woman sitting near us (I think she was an employee, it didn't look like she was boarding the plane) said to me, "He's trying to help you. Let him help you."
Okay. I'll let him help me.
We boarded the plane and it was packed. There were several rows with just one seat open and a flight attendant was holding two seats together in the middle of plane. She told me we'd have better luck of sticking together if we headed to the back. The second to last row was completely open so I sat there with Anna and Emily. Allie and Grammy sat together a couple of rows ahead of us and Rich took a solo seat diagonal from us. Some dad said that I was sacrificing Rich by giving him the solo seat. Really? Ha ha.
So aside from the not-so-helpful employee checking in bags in Providence, we had a pleasant experience with Southwest. That was very nice of them to let us board earlier than we were supposed to in order for us to sit with the kids.
Friends and family keep asking when we'll return. I have no idea. If the girls had a say in the matter, it would be as soon as possible.