We staggered out of Stitch’s Great Mistake and into Mickey’s Star Traders (or was it Merchant of Venus?) to gather our senses. It was about 2:15, and it was decision time: do we squeeze in one more attraction or grab a spot to see the Festival of Fantasy Parade? The crowds were way above a 6 now…thinking more of high-7 to a low-8, so I knew that the parade route would be crowded. For the middle of the day in central Florida, the temps weren’t too terribly bad (about 82 degrees), but the sun was going to wear us down quickly. I lobbied for another attraction, and we opted for another inside queue that has us off of our feet for a bit: Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.
I still consider this one as sort of a sleeper hit in the Magic Kingdom. While it doesn’t really fit in the Tomorrowland theme, per se, it’s a funny show and makes good use of the space. It’s definitely a people-eater with the long queue line, the pre-show holding area, and the 400-500 seat theater (all air-conditioned). We lucked out and were able to just barely make it into the pre-show area without having to wait another show. I’m sad to say that being “that guy” is still on my bucket list; I’m going to have to research a bit more to see if there’s a particular area of the theater to improve my chances of getting selected.
We exited MILF (yeah, I still laugh at that acronym, too) and became salmon swimming upstream to try crossing the hub through the throngs of people who staked out their parade viewing spots the hour before and were currently locked in battle with people trying to shoehorn into their viewing spots. We eventually got to the Adventureland bridge, and, for the first time the entire day, I went into commando mode and tried to egg everyone on to move just a bit faster. It was about 2:50 now, and I knew that even the Frontierland area was going to be fairly full to watch the parade…or so I thought.
We sneaked through the small breezeway by Aloha Isle and found ourselves near the entrance to the Country Bear Jamboree…with a lot of unclaimed space. Thanks to my wife’s Miller/Bargmann genes, the boys were tall enough that we didn’t have to worry at all about trying to be in the front so they could see (another reason why we didn't stake out our spots earlier). We hung back about three-deep where there was a lot of room and then lucked out when a family pulled up to our left with a stroller; we weren’t going to have any NBA all-stars blocking our view! The time: 2:55. Parade start: 3:00…starting in Frontierland.
This once again confirms the advice I offer to my clients who want to see one of the parades in the Magic Kingdom. Everybody wants to see a parade on Main Street USA; this means that the Frontierland and Liberty Square areas are usually a little less-crowded and that you can often find a spot to view the parade much later than you could on Main Street. The added bonus of Festival of Fantasy is that it normally enters the park from Frontierland, so we will have seen the parade in its entirety before the first float will have likely made it to Town Square.
Sure enough, the parade reached us at around 3:05:
I've always liked Anna more than Elsa...is she doing the robot?
"You were looking for me for a Meet-and-Greet without consulting the Times Guide?"
The movement on this float is outstanding!
Put the frying pan down...we love your restroom area!
"You know, all these other people think I'm waving to them, but I'm really just waving to you!"
"You know...all these other people think I'm waving to...." Wait...already used that line.
Yes...timed it right!
Cue the Jefferson Airplane song...
Another float with a lot of great movement on it.
We normally take an afternoon break, so this was the first time we had a chance to see this parade. The pictures don’t really do the floats justice – they’re awesome to see, with all the energy and movement going on around (and even on) them.
After the parade was finished, we snuck back into Frontierland and decided to sugar ourselves up a little bit. This ended up being the longest wait for an attraction at that point in time: Aloha Isle and the famous Dole Whip!
We were in our return window for Mermaid, so we started to make our way over to Fantasyland via the hub. I knew that our timing was going to be pretty close for the pianist at Casey’s Corner (it was about 3:30 when we left Aloha Isle). The timing was actually perfect! We made a detour over towards the Crystal Palace and walked up to the piano just as Jim Omohundro emerged and sat down.
Seriously, folks, if you have not yet heard Jim tickle the ivories in the Magic Kingdom, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to do so. Jim is a 30+ year cast member, and he’s easily one of the most hidden treasures in the park. This is probably the third or fourth time I’ve seen him perform, and I think he has done at least one different song every time. I wish I could remember the songs that we listened to, but they were simply amazing; I want to say he did a song from Dumbo, a song from Pinocchio, and perhaps Sweet Georgia Brown! One of the best memories of him was back in September of 2012…we were listening to him when Smokey Miller, the Chief of the Main Street Volunteer Fire Department, walked up and sang a funny tale of woe with Jim accompanying him.
We waited until after he completed the third song in his set before we offered our thanks and went on our way. It was great hearing the next song start up as we started crossing Main Street on our way to Fantasyland. Now, I have to fess up here; for some reason, for years, I have struggled with trying to remember the east entrance to Fantasyland. In the past, every time I tried getting into the new Fantasyland area (specifically the Journey of the Little Mermaid), my mind kept telling me to head to Pinocchio Village Haus and turn right, past Be Our Guest and around to the entrance to Mermaid. This time? We went through the hub and headed towards the Mad Tea Party. A quick left turn, an immediate right, and we made it to the shorter route past Dumbo!
I think I like the longer way better.
Okay, hear me out, for a second. It’s an odd transition from the Storybook Circus portion of Fantasyland to the more “Fantasy” area. By entering from the Village Haus side, you have the amazingly-themed castle walls; you have Cinderella Castle nearby and, in the distance as you pass by Be Our Guest and cross the bridge, Beast’s Castle appears; finally, Gaston’s Tavern then appears (another location we have yet to try), followed by some excellent theming as you arrive to the queue line for Mermaid.
Oh well…live and learn.
There was a minor wait to get on Mermaid from the FP return line, but we were out of the sun and in the A/C. The posted wait time was up to 50 minutes, and FP cut that time down to about 9 minutes.
With Mermaid done, we now could get another set of FastPasses. We went through Fantasyland and HOLYCRAPTHEREISATWENTYMINUTEWAITTOGETAFASTPASS!!! Sheri and the boys toured the Tangled bathrooms again while I hopped in line for the FP kiosks. Oh boy…the line was moving at a snail’s pace. I had moved about 5 feet when the rest had come back from the bathrooms. I made an executive decision to head to another kiosk. We made our way over to Tomorrowland, where the line for the kiosk was about 3 minutes (WOOHOO!!!!). I was hoping for Meeting Mickey, but those were already gone for the day. I opted for the Tomorrowland Speedway, and we had them set up.
For those keeping track, that’s FP #6 for the day.
The time was about 4:30 now, and we had taken in 21 attractions (if you count t he Dole Whips, which I am nyaaahhh). The crowds were nearing insanity levels everywhere, so I pulled another fantastic afternoon attraction out of my pocket, and it was nearby: Carousel of Progress!
We just about had the entire section to ourselves, but we had a couple more enter at the last minute. I bugged the boys by singing the song at every scene transition. The family in front of us bugged me by being on their phone the entire attraction. The last scene bugged everyone because it is 30 years dated. Even with that odd last scene, this is an attraction that I think does not get the love it deserves. The concept of moving the people around different stages back in the early 1960s…wow! This attraction has Walt’s hands all over it. The Sherman Brothers’ song…I’m humming it as I’m writing this, and it will probably be stuck in my head for the next three days, too. It epitomizes the idea of a classic attraction, and I try to ride this one every time we are in Magic Kingdom.
After we burnt the turkey and ordered pizza, hunger pangs were setting in, so we made our way to our next attraction…Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray’s Starlite Café. It appeared that we were still ahead of the dinner rush (just after 5:00), because it looked like around 60-70% of the tables were open. We got our food, sat down, and just chilled while we ate and listened to the crooning of Sonny and his Space Angels. All were a bit tired, but we all seemed to be doing pretty well, still. We probably spent about 30 minutes or so in the restaurant talking, eating, laughing…it was some good family time. It was well worth getting away from the crowds for a little while, and it recharged us for the evening touring.
Around 5:40, we headed out and made the long trek to the Indy Speedway (all of about 50 feet). We were surprised that the posted wait time for the Speedway was only 20 minutes; I made sure I reported that one to TouringPlans (that was probably the 15th posted time submitted by me that day…I also actually timed about 7-9 waits for them by this point).
Hey…that’s another FastPass down, right? You know what that means, right? Time for another one!!! #7 for us would be Dumbo with a return window starting at 6:45. We easily had time to go see Talking Mickey for the first time. We headed to the hub, where I snapped this pic of the Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play it! street party, which was just arriving in the hub.
With two teen/tween boys, this one just doesn't have the draw as it would if we had girls; however, with the right crowd, this can become and insanely popular place! They've updated it several times over the past couple of years, with new social media interaction and new characters. We watched for a couple of minutes as it got going and then walked down Main Street to Town Square to hop in line for Mickey. I think the posted wait time was 20 minutes, and we got the red card of timage for this one. We got in line and then proceeded to not move for the next 20 minutes.
Then it dawned on me.
I should have paid more attention when we saw Move it! Shake it! going. Mickey was performing in there, and, with it being a 20 minute show, along with the commute to the hub and back to Town Square, it still probably had a good 15 minutes before it was fully done. Mickey performs in that street party, so he couldn’t meet people in Town Square (yes, folks, they even take that into account). The boys wanted to skip out after about 25 minutes of waiting, but, by then, the line had started moving again, and the wait should only have been a few more minutes. It ended up being around a 35-wait.
I love everyone else's faces in this one. Me? Not so much…I’m looking more like I’m constipated there. I will warn you that, for those who are used to the characters not talking, Talking Mickey definitely takes some getting used to.