But in a good way, not in a “I ate too many mini Snickers and now I have to go off and hibernate for the next three weeks” kind of way. Although I did eat A LOT of mini chocolate bars this weekend, and given the time change, a nap sounds pretty good right about now…
In all weird actuality, we wound up having a very nice Halloween, COVID mandates notwithstanding. Trick-or-treating wasn’t banned in my city outright, just discouraged – that should really be the City of Ottawa’s motto: “It’s Not Banned, Simply Discouraged!” – and so we stayed close to home, stocking up on what seemed like a reasonable amount of candy should any trick-or-treaters actually grace our Jack-o-Lantern-adorned doorstep.
And they did! We had 22 kids and one highly amused delivery driver pop by, much to our delight. We had a nice little socially distanced setup going, with pre-wrapped bags of candy laid out on the front steps, Haunted Mansion music blasting through the open windows, and a gentle, low-lying fog drifting through the garden, courtesy of Mr. Finger Candy’s intense new love of the fog machine (the phrase, “This might be the best thing we’ve ever bought!” was uttered more than once.)
We even threw together a couple of last minute costumes, transforming ourselves into a maid and butler of the Haunted Mansion.
And I went real big with my eye makeup look, simply because when else in 2020 have I had a time or place to wear six different shades of blue, green and purple eyeshadow?
In the days leading up to Halloween (okay, so for the entire month of October) we also put out a lot of Halloween decorations, really got in touch with our inner Clark Griswolds!
So it’s little wonder our house saw a bit of action, given that we were seemingly the only gig in (this) town. I overheard a few kids that had already passed by grumble, “Oh man, I wish we could go to that house again” and I nearly chased them down the street with armfuls of Sour Patch Kids before I remembered that now – and always! – luring children to your house with candy is generally frowned upon. There’s entire fairy tales written about it! 😉
Near-forays into Hansel and Gretel-dom aside, however, we had a really excellent Halloween. And did you know it was our wedding anniversary? Of course you did, I never shut up about it! It was our 16th, and our first as homeowners. It definitely wasn’t the usual kind of anniversary celebration we like to enjoy – that would involve a week-and-a-half-long trip to Disney – but given the circumstances of 2020, we’ll gladly take it. Nothing wrong with throwing together a couple of very last minute costumes and spending the night crouched over a fog machine drinking Swedish Fish-o-ritas (actually, they were orange creamsicle margaritas – Screamsicles – with a chocolate salt rim from the Lone Star in Ottawa, and not only were they very festive, but they were also incredibly delicious. Hmm, they might have been the reason we got that food delivery – tacos! – once the trick-or-treaters cleared out.)
All in all, I’m super pleased with how our first homebound Halloween went, and I’m hearing similar things from friends and family. I think the general circumstances of this year – shitty ones, not to put too fine a point on it – have forced a lot of us to think outside the box on events like holidays, and in a lot of unique respects, we seem to be all the better for it. Friends with kids have reported that they took part in local scavenger hunts, neighbourhood candy drives, costumed movie nights and other cautious, but no less creative, approaches to the Halloween season, and everyone seems to have had an unusually great time. Going forward, I really hope the city takes note of the ways people are trying to responsibly and safely move forward with “living with” COVID, and maybe cuts us all a little slack. Most of us are really trying. Without a doubt, though, THIS is the Halloween these kids will always remember. I know I certainly will. Hope you had a good one, too, friends.
Show of hands if this pandemic has left you, too, feeling wildly imbalanced. I know that over here in Sandraville, I have spent the past six months vacillating between frantic highs (back-busting stretches of gardening, mad cleaning, and a fun new obsession with keeping my lawn watered) and why-effin-bother lows (silly crying jags, disinterest in seemingly everything, and boredom that probably borders on clinical.) Most days I get along just fine, going about my life like most of us are – cautiously, probably a bit timidly, but trying. Sometimes showing up is 90 percent of the battle.
But the temptation to slide into pandemic pity has been, on occasion, overwhelmingly tempting. I want to wallow, even when I know – especially when I know – that wallowing is unproductive, and just plain makes me feel bad.
So with the desire to banish those bad feelings for a little bit, Mr. Finger Candy and I recently sat down and talked about all of the things we were fortunate enough to experience pre-pandemic – our year and a half of indulgent Disney vacations chief among them – and how very, very lucky we were to have been given that time. It was a wonderful lesson in a gratitude, and a timely reminder to count our many blessings.
It’s in that spirit that I now present to you THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE! No, really, with zero disrespect to the many important dates and events in my life (high school and university graduations, first date with my husband, our wedding…) this day – October 31st, 2018 – ranks as the absolute best. 🙂
It starts with an obsession with twenty one pilots, Halloween and Disney vacations, as all good stories do. We were – and still are – mad as Hatters for our favourite band, twenty one pilots. We were also going to be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary – yup, we were married on October 31st – with a trip to Disney World. So when we found ourselves with Halloween tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, an after hours event held at the Magic Kingdom, we decided to dress up like two different video versions of TOP’s enigmatic frontman and maestro, Tyler Joseph.
At the time I proposed attending the party en costume, Mr. Finger Candy lamented that no one was going to know who we were. “Husband of little faith!” I admonished. “Okay, so not everyone is going to know who we are. But the RIGHT people are going to know.” Sure enough, we were in the park maybe 10 minutes before I began hearing delighted cries of, “Hey look, twenty one pilots!” Rock star cosplay – it’s what’s for breakfast.
Actually, what was for breakfast was this obscenely rich – TOO RICH – Poison Apple Cupcake, an $8 item from the Main Street Starbucks (“Home of the Half-Hour Lineup”) that was all Instagram and no taste. It was a real one-and-done, as in take one bite and you’re done. Cute, but way, WAY too much. I generally prefer far less Red Food Dye No. 4 in my baked goods.
We then skipped up Main Street to the hub, where we took the requisite photo in front of Cinderella Castle.
Actually, we snapped photos all over the place. When in Disney!
We got stuck on It’s a Small World – you have no idea how small that world truly is when you’re creeping through it at .3 nautical miles an hour – and nearly missed our lunch reservations at Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant in New Fantasyland. As a reward for our stress, anxiety and patience (what are we going to do, bail out in the middle of Equatorial Africa and wade our way to the exit?) we were blessed with a total sweep of the It’s a Small World goodbye boards. Ciao, Belle-a!
Speaking of, lunch at Be Our Guest – a first for us; we’re normally breakfast people at this amazing themed restaurant – was the very definition of scrum-diddily-yum. My husband continues to rhapsodize about the vegetarian French onion soup two years on, and I think I once had a sexy dream about the beef dip. 😉
This restaurant has special meaning for us. It’s where we like to go for our most romantic and special meals – an anniversary breakfast, now an anniversary lunch, and one very lovely (and very late) Christmas Day dinner. We normally like to grab a table in the West Wing, where thunder and lightning flash throughout the room and the Beast’s shredded portrait morphs from human to monster and back again, but for this meal we snuggled up for the first time in the library, where a gigantic music box of Belle and the Beast twirled gently in the center of the room, tinkling softly.
Between our late lunch and the start of the party, we hit up some rides – nothing that would muss up our costumes too much (sorry, Space, Splash and Big Thunder Mountains.) Instead we kicked back with multiple stately rides on the PeopleMover, a surprisingly zippy, magnet-powered Walt original. Whilst in Tomorrowland, we also tried out our fun new identities as Tyler Two Space Pilots on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, a black-lit, neon-splattered shoot-the-target ride. And we concluded our time in Tomorrowland with a showing of the Carousel of Progress, a moving, animatronic stage show depicting one American family’s relationship to innovation and progress across the last 100 years. Sounds like a total snooze, but I assure you, it’s a delightful hoot. Also, 22 minutes of seated air conditioning.
It was also in the Tomorrowland bathrooms where I bemusedly overheard a little girl and her mom discussing my costume, with the mom furiously trying to shush her daughter as she, in her best approximation of sotto voce, LOUDLY grilled her mother as to whether she, too, had seen the funny, dirty girl with the crud on her neck. Heh.
Once the sun began to set, we picked up our party wristbands, grabbed a couple of sacks and hit up the innumerable trick-or-treat trails. And we CLEANED UP, because we were SUPER INTO IT. You can’t help but throw candy at the costumed adults shouting “Trick-or-Treat!” and excitedly swapping goodies as they hustle off to the next candy stop. By the end of the evening we had amassed two bulging sacks of candy (PB Snickers, Mars, Skittles, M&Ms and enough Starburst to power an 11-year-old’s birthday party) – or about five pounds of miniature sized sweets that I had to declare and explain to an amused TSA agent on our journey back home. No ragrets!
In between ducking down dimly lit treat trails (or very brightly lit treat trails, in the case of the ones set up inside an attraction) we hit up Pirates of the Caribbean, which featured live actors dotted throughout the ride. I didn’t find that they really added a whole lot to the experience (you want scary, try getting stuck on Pirates for 45 minutes!) but Mr. Finger Candy always loves an excuse to “YEE-AAAARRRGGHH!” with impunity. We also ambled back over to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square for the first of the evening’s three rides, which is 10 fewer rides than we took the Halloween previous, when we rode the Mansion 13 times in one day for our 13th wedding anniversary.
Back in Fantasyland, we met Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang, likewise resplendent in their Halloween costumes. I think Tigger was a big TOP fan, because he kept gesturing excitedly to his neck.
In between riding rides, meeting cool characters, amassing a ridiculous amount of candy and fielding a ton of questions about our costumes, we nabbed an amazing spot in Frontierland for the 11 pm parade, and spent our wait time goofing around with one of the Disney PhotoPass photographers.
Mickey’s Boo to You Parade was so much fun! Here, see for yourself in this video I made of the first Not So Scary we attended earlier in the season (though in this case I failed to record the very best part of the parade – literally dropped my phone – which my husband refers to as Jafar making f**k-eyes at his wife. What can I say, the baddies like me.)
We closed out the night with the midnight showing of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, a mildly raunchy stage show featuring the Sanderson Sisters, as well as a whole host of other Disney baddies, including Mr. Oogie Boogie Man, Cruella DeVil, Dr. Facilier, Hades and, once again, Jafar (boy, that guy gets around.) My favourite part of the show were the lights and images that they projected onto Cinderella Castle. Gorgeous.
At that point it was about one o’clock in the morning, so with the tenderest of tootsies, arms laden with bulging sacks of candy, and completely jacked on high fructose corn syrup, we boarded a bus back to our resort…and then began the whole thing all over again five hours later! We are nothing if not committed Disney travelers.
So what made this day the very best? Well, not-so-simply because I was doing something so special, with the most beloved person in my life, on our most important day, dressed like my favourite musician, on my very favourite holiday, in the most magical place on earth. And a Disney villain tried to make me his snake bride. How could that not be the best day of my life? 😉 And one that I have very much enjoyed sharing with you. Thanks for coming along on this gratitude-affirming look back on one of those days that makes life worth living.
This year we listed our condo for sale. And it rained. A lot.
Okay, wait, back to the condo part. “But hey, wait,” you may be saying to yourself. “Didn’t you just renovate your condo? And wasn’t it kind of hell?” And the answer would be yes to all of those queries – we did just finish it, and it was its own very special kind of hell, but it was time to move on. Onwards and upwards and outwards! In fact, here’s the tour video our agency shot; hope you like the place. 🙂
Anyhow, in light of that bit of major adulting (lord, how I HATE that term) we’re having a pretty low key anniversary – regrettably no Disneying this year. 😦 Instead we went to the lumber yard for some last minute “I’m selling my house” items and ate sausages and veggie dogs, standing up in the end-of-October drizzle, in the parking lot. It actually wasn’t terrible – this guy certainly looks pleased with himself!
But because I can’t ever let the opportunity pass to look backwards in fondness at my life, I created this little video for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, about the year we rode the Mansion 13 times in one day. Two years on, it remains pretty well the coolest thing we’ve ever done, and I wish with all my blackened heart and soul we were there today. This fun little video will have to suffice for now. Happy Halloween, friends, and happy 15th to us.
Hey! Lest some of you mistakenly think that a poor resort stay at Pop Century was enough to completely undo our precious Disney vacation goodwill, allow me to reassure you that no, it did not. We are remarkably resilient Disney travelers, and when the overall cruddy vibe at Pop Century began impacting our moods – seriously, who wants to be a grumper puss on holiday? – we got the heck out of there and got on with our trip. No surprise here, but Disney vacations are expensive, time-consuming and require a ridiculous amount of what I call managerial oversight. I realize how awful that sounds to those of you who prefer to vacation in “set it and forget it” mode, but once again, allow me to assure you we like these kind of vacations; if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have gone to Disney World four times in one year. We always have a great time; we’ve just never had to work quite so hard at ensuring that great time. But things got markedly better – and absolutely calmer – once we moved over to our new resort, in part because Coronado Springs is a really wonderful place to stay, and also because we just refused to allow the crummy time we were having at Pop Century to negatively impact our entire trip. Ain’t no one got time for that on holiday!
Besides, by the time we decided to leave our resort, we had already been having a ton of goofy, good times fun, and we weren’t inclined to step off the party bus anytime soon. And some of the most fun we had across our entire 11-day vacation was during an actual party, our second run at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on October 31st, which also happened to be our 14th wedding anniversary!
We attended Mickey’s Not So Scary in late August during our Labour Day trip, and it was an experience. Bowled over by the oppressive heat and bonkers humidity, we didn’t attend in costume, and just sort of stumbled around from meet-and-greet to parade to fireworks to midnight stage show in a sucrose-enabled haze. The whole thing is a blur of too much sugar and too much damp and not enough sleep. We vowed to do better during our Halloween to Christmas trip.
And so to celebrate 5110 days of wedded bliss and our second Mickey’s Not So Scary, we decided to don our first ever couples costumes, and spent the day – and the long party evening – bombing around the Magic Kingdom as two different video versions of Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of twenty one pilots. Why two Tylers and no Josh Dun, the drummer? With all adoration for Josh, neither one of us is confident enough to show that much sideboob – the man loves his low-cut tanks, if he’s wearing a shirt at all (never change, bro.) 😉
Mr. Finger Candy, resplendent in Tyler’s Stressed Out ensemble (complete with meggings and a whole lot of black gunk about his neck and hands) was being a terrifically good sport, but he was also convinced that absolutely no one would know who we were. “Husband of little faith!” I mock-admonished him, in the act of smearing my own hands and neck with black stage makeup for my Lane Boy getup. “Okay, so not everyone’s going to know who we are. But the RIGHT people are going to know!”
Turns out we were both a whole lot right and a whole lot wrong. Virtually every cast member working the evening party knew exactly who we were, prompting much on-the-spot fanboy and fangirling over TOP’s new album, Trench. In a park full of incredibly costume’d guests (wowza, some people turn it out) we had people running up to us to tell us how much they loved our outfits, and you could hear people all over gleefully shouting out, “Omigod, twenty one pilots!” It was completely awesome. I also think Tigger may have been a TOP fan – he kept enthusiastically gesturing to his neck and giving me delighted, double barreled thumbs up.
Of course, there were also the people who had no clue who we were (“Are they video game characters?” was a common refrain, followed by a dismissive, “Oh, they’re that band”) and I still chuckle when I think of the little girl I overheard in the bathroom stage-whispering to her mortified mom, “Mommy, mommy, did you see the dirty girl with the black stuff all over her neck?” Heh.
Anyhow, that’s the story of how much I love twenty one pilots, and how much my husband loves me, and I him – I wouldn’t ask just any man to don meggings and a toque in 90 degree weather for me. 😉 And it’s not every man who would wear them for his wife either (though if we’re being totally honest here, he can go ahead and dress like that every day of the rest of our lives, because he looked hot as hell! Nearly got us bounced out of the park after I tried to drag him behind the little Dutch kids on It’s a Small World to snog. Joke, joke – although that is the number one way of getting kicked out of the parks. Turns out Mickey’s not so down with the guests trying to bang behind the animatronics.) 😉 We had a blast, and it was a great party, Halloween, anniversary and day. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Today’s prompt in the blogging series I’m doing with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid is to discuss how we’d put together our perfect Fall event or vacation. For our dreamer purposes, the real fun in this hypothetical planning process comes from the fact that we are unencumbered by any real world concerns – money (or a lack thereof), professional and personal schedules, ANY of the usual obligations. So please do check out both Jay and Julie’s blogs to see what sort of autumn shenanigans they’d get up to completely off the chain!
As for me, come on, you know it all begins and ends with Disney’s Haunted Mansion! A wedding – hmm, a Halloween vow renewal for two Disney nerds coming up on their 14th? – the actual ceremony of which takes place in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, beneath the changing portrait of Master Gracey. Afterwards, guests (and did I mention I have a team of makeup artists and costumers on hand to garb our guests in the finest of the Mansion’s moldering fashions?) will pass through the Stretching Room before boarding Doom Buggies draped in swags of jet black roses. Upon reaching the diningroom reception, guests will disembark (please don’t ask me how they’re going to climb down, particularly encumbered by dusty, gothic fashions; this is my crazy, impractical dream!) and enjoy a sumptuous feast of, well, this (this being a strip loin steak topped with balsamic shallot butter on a bed of four cheese pancetta and arugula pasta from Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)
And for my husband and our other vegetarian guests, there will be a plant-based option that tastes EXACTLY like a steak. Actually, come to think of it, if that were an option, the entire meal would be veggie. I ultimately kind of hope that if such a thing actually existed, the entire world would be veggie, but I digress. No one will drop even a crumb of food down their fronts, and everyone will remain on the responsible, pleasant side of intoxication. Because there be margaritas a-plenty!
After dessert (my mom’s homemade apple pie, 13 tiers of it and miraculously calorie-free) my new-old husband will waltz me around the dance floor, weaving in and out among the ghosts, to the strains of twenty one pilots, who are there because we’re personal friends and I can just call them up like that. Josh will NOT be wearing a shirt with sleeves.
This actually reminds me of the ever-so-hopeful exploratory phone call Mr. Finger Candy placed to Disney event services when we were planning our wedding nearly 14 years ago. He had asked me at one point shortly after we got engaged what my dream wedding looked like, and I gave him pretty well all of the details I laid out above (minus the twenty one pilots stuff, although then – and now – I’d also accept Green Day. Mike Dirnt’s got nice arms for a bassist.) So one day he rang them up and asked real casual-like how much it would cost to actually rent out the Mansion, or a portion thereof, for a private event.
Later on that evening we both nearly laughed ourselves into asthma attacks as he recounted the very pleasant and also very delusional Disney rep who quoted him a figure just north of 50K, including a whole host of guarantees we had to make regarding room, food and alcohol sales. And that was for a two or three-hour event, at best, held in the dead of night after park close, and without any access to the actual ride itself. I suppose if you had REAL money, you could close the entire ride down just for yourself (hell, close the entire park down just for yourself) but for us regular plebs “just” looking to shut down a small portion of a beloved ride in the most popular theme park in the world (!!) we were looking at a solid $75,000 investment.
So it might have taken 13 years to get there, but I’m feeling really quite positive about our decision last year, on our Halloween anniversary, to ride the Haunted Mansion 13 times in one day. It’s the most fun we’ve ever had on our anniversary, a total bucket list item, and it didn’t cost us 75 grand!
Finally, just to keep it wax-relevant, here’s a bit of the Melting Duck’s Foolish Mortal, a Haunted Mansion-inspired blend I picked up some weeks back. It smells like peppermint-vanilla gum, herbal and a little bit tingly, and the shapes and colours are perfection! Love everything about this ghostly lovely.
When we last left off, I was breaking promises left, right and centre regarding the eventual end to this epic tale of my two-day anniversary blitz trip to Walt Disney World. If you’re at all interested in catching up on the first four installments, in which I blab on endlessly about our resort, food, rides and Gaston’s Tavern, you can find those here, here, here and here.
But last we actually left off, we were discussing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and how a late night run proved that maybe our stomachs just ain’t what they used to be. More on that in a bit.
But earlier on, following our not-so-nauseous afternoon run of Big Thunder, we swang it across to Fantasyland and hit up two sweeties, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a cool 4D musical, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Pooh is an absolutely adorable attraction, a classic Disney dark ride, but holy cats, what an uncomfortable ride! You get into these honey pot carts that bob from side to side when the rain, rain, rain comes down, down, down in rushing, rising rivulets, and also sproing up and down when you go bouncing with Tigger, and I never stop feeling like I’m about to just slide off the seat, straight onto the floor. Pooh could stand a bit of grip tape.
“I don’t know what to do with my hands.” Mr. Finger Candy versus the Tomorrowland Speedway, these gas-guzzling little go-carts on rails. Thankfully, unlike Ricky Bobby, he kept his clothes on and didn’t dash about the track in his underpants screaming that he was on fire. Or at least he didn’t on this particular trip.
The People Mover! Also known as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover, a magnet-powered Walt original. I semi-joke that you know you’ve gotten old(er) when you consider the People Mover a pretty great time. I don’t know, 10 seated minutes of amazing views, great breezes, cool park trivia, bit of air conditioning – that’s 40-year-old pay dirt right there.
An insincere thumbs-up for Astro Orbiter (eh, you go up, you go down, you go fast – it’s fine, but not worth the 25-minute lineup) and yours truly pretending to be that nagging cow Sarah from the Carousel of Progress (an entire rotating stage show filled with animatronic nightmare fuel, and a song that’s somehow more of an ear worm than It’s a Small World. Everybody sing it with me now, “‘Cause it’s a great! big! beautiful tomorrow! Shining at the end of every day!”)
In the midst of all this Tomorrowland fun we took a break to dash back to Liberty Square for another run through the Haunted Mansion, before doubling back to the future for target practice on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Buzz is a hoot, one of those shoot-the-target rides (also an excellent candidate for a FastPass, because its lineup is long, cramped and boring.) A super nice cast member (again, there is really no other variety) snapped this photo of us just outside the ride.
Ah, but inside, actually on the ride, the attraction snapped this photo of us mid-action. I call this one “The Gamer and the Goof.” This is admittedly not the best photo of either one of us, but this is what happens when you put a hardcore gamer on a shoot-the-target ride – intense concentration and laser-like focus. Or at least until your wife suddenly shouts, “This is where they take your picture, SMILE!” and you try to pretend like you’re not SEVERELY committed to ridding the scourge of Evil Emperor Zurg from the galaxy. All the same, he got something like 400,000 points his first run out and I got, oh, 9,600.
After conquering Buzz (or just sitting there making “Pew! Pew!” noises) we thought, “Hey, there’s an hour until the projection light show at Cinderella’s Castle. Let’s hop over to Pirates of the Caribbean for one final boat ride of the day.” Which would have made for some pretty tremendous timing had the ride not broken down, leaving us in semi-darkness for the next 40 minutes.
I say semi, because after 20 or so minutes of the pirates yo-ho, yo-ho-ing in their normal fashion, they turned the sound off, brought the lights up and then began resetting the pumps that push the boats along the tracks. It was very cool to see how much the water line dropped when the pumps were turned off – probably a good three inches. And the water’s only about two and a half feet deep to begin with! At one point I thought we were going to be evac’d off the ride; wondered how that was going to happen when we were all out floating in little boats. And through it all the pirates continued their revelry, albeit now in static silence. Being temporarily stuck on a ride may sound like a nightmare to you, but I loved this unexpected peek behind the Disney magic; it was practically its own attraction!
Following our misadventure in Adventure Land, which did indeed cause us to miss the projection light show, we hightailed it over to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to take advantage of the substantially decreased wait times during late night Extra Magic Hours (another perk that comes with Disney resort life – extra in-park, on-ride hours either before or after regular park open or close. Which is how you sometimes find yourself stumbling out of the Magic Kingdom at one in the morning!)
We snapped this photo in front of the Dwarfs the following morning when we realized we had forgotten to take one the night before. Two somewhat unenthused thumbs up for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, another super zippy roller coaster (this time with individually rocking seats) themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was fun, but nothing I’d wait in line any longer than 20 minutes to enjoy (which we did, while we watched the fireworks that now seem to be launched from about six different spots in the park, making for a very fulsome, awesome experience, no matter where you’re standing.)
After exiting the Mine Train, we jaunted on down to Space Mountain. Why not keep the roller coaster love flowing? Oh, because Space Mountain has never not been an exceedingly rough ride, and one in the pitch dark, no less. I was joking the other day that I don’t always enjoy putting up my Christmas tree every year because we have history, and my dad is the same way with Space Mountain – there’s a dark past there I think neither one wishes to acknowledge! My parents were – and are, even as they approach their 70s – super game for any and all theme park fun…so long as it doesn’t involve a roller coaster. Even then, my dad will still go on the zoomers like Big Thunder (but only after thoroughly checking to ensure that the ride absolutely, positively does not go upside down.) But Space Mountain has always been off the menu; she’s just too rough.
And after suffering through our own rough ride on Space Mountain, I’m not sure she’s on the menu for US any more either. Oof, I felt quite unwell as I exited the ride – barely spared a glance at the fun (and so appropriate) mock ad for SPF 3500 sunscreen bearing my screaming, on-ride likeness on some nearby screens (this is also why we have no photo of this attraction!) Mr. Finger Candy actually fared much worse, getting hit with a double dose of first motion sickness and then panic sickness when he thought he had lost his very expensive prescription sunglasses somewhere in the bowels of the ride. A couple of seconds of frantic casting-about in the bottom of his cart thankfully turned up the missing glasses, much to everyone’s relief, but the anxiety-ridden damage was done.
So what better time to ride one more roller coaster of the evening? And preferably one as far away as possible. So to the very back corner of the park for one last ride on Big Thunder! Which is the ride I spoke of before that just completely did us in. I’m a real arms-up kind of roller coaster enthusiast – I love that feeling of gravity pulling you out of your seat. It’s normally a very fun way to enjoy a roller coaster, but not this evening. Should have just enjoyed the stars and the scenery! We were both listing sideways as we made our way toward the front of the park.
But not listing so much that we didn’t stop by the Haunted Mansion for one last close-er-out ride of the night. Which was also maybe a mistake? You know you’ve overdone it when even a Doom Buggy’s slow, stately funeral march through the Mansion is setting you off. And that, my friends, is what you call theme park overload!
Which is what you might be feeling at this point in the tale, which…DRUMROLL, PLEASE!…is finally at an end. What a fun time! Such a fantastic experience, one I hope to recreate very soon. 🙂 And to everyone who was kind enough to like and comment on these posts with their own fun Disney experiences, thank you for coming by and sharing *your* Disney world with me. May we meet up in the parks someday!
And here we are, finally – “FINALLY!” they all cried – at the end of my Disney World travelogue (Editor’s note: Lies!) a tale that has taken longer to tell than it did to experience all that excitement and wonder in the first place. Ah, but half the joy (or at least a solid one-third of the joy) is in the storytelling after the fact – and there’s still tons of fun fuel in that particular tank. 🙂
So, baby baby, it’s ride time! Let’s get down to this thing. Day two was largely spoken for by our 13 rides through the Haunted Mansion. But on day one we worked it like the rent was due, or at least like we had 14 hours in the world’s most popular theme park – no time for dilly-dallying, we’re here to DISNEY! And here are the attractions we enjoyed, roughly in the order in which we experienced them.
A fairly hard and fast rule among my little flamly growing up was if your weirdo kid didn’t drag you on the Haunted Mansion as the first run of the day, then that inaugural ride had better well be Peter Pan’s Flight. A 1971 original (that has gone through precious few updates over the decades) Peter Pan’s Flight is a sweet, gentle lark; my mom always clapped with joy when we’d burst through the Darlings’ bedroom window and set sail over London. And my favourite part of the ride is technically not even part of the ride – just a little table set for teddy tea tucked in a tiny nook just outside the Darlings’ bedroom. I sighed with contentment when I glimpsed it after a 13 year hiatus.
The easy joke about It’s a Small World, another ’71 original, is that it’s insanity-inducing, although I’ve never found it 1/1000th as annoying as everyone says it is. And neither did Mr. Finger Candy, on his first It’s a Small World voyage – it was closed for refurbishments when we were last down on our honeymoon. He actually said he found it pretty tolerable. See, that’s what happens when you get old and you cherish each and every moment you can spend sitting on your butt in a theme park, even if you have to endure thousands of vaguely demonic-looking animatronic figurines singing the world’s most relentlessly cheerful song at you in 89 different languages in order to do so.
Out of focus? Or did I accidentally drink the It’s a Small World Water? No, definitely out of focus – I wasn’t arrested after tearing off all my clothes and declaring myself the Lizard Queen. 😉
Straight chillin’ in front of my dream home, the Haunted Mansion. And I got as close to actually living there this time as I have any other visit – 13 rides (actually 16 over two days) took a not-insubstantial amount of time. Gave me plenty of opportunity to choose a room, though, should the Mansion break down and, in the most likely of scenarios, I’m forced to live there until the end of time. It’s actually behind the last door on the left as you climb the hallway of M.C. Escher-esque infinity staircases.
I’m a Pirate, wikid! Pirates of the Caribbean is never not a good time, not even when the ride breaks down and you spend 35 minutes watching the pirates yo-ho, yo-ho in static silence. But more on that awesome experience in a bit. Otherwise, the day’s first ride on Pirates went off without a hitch. Unless you count the fact that Mr. Finger Candy did NOT buy that awesome tri-cornered hat, even though I begged him to because he’s wanted one his entire life. Hey, I shouldn’t be the only one fulfilling my childhood dreams here!
I really liked the new-ish Jack Sparrow update to the end of the ride, and I was pleased as punch to see that Disney has not yet removed The Redhead (as in “We wants the redhead!”) Pirates is long overdue for a pretty major tonal shift – the multiple references to physical and sexual violence (the pirates “wants” The Redhead because she’s the hottest piece being sold at auction) cast a perplexing, momentarily unwelcome pall across an otherwise goofily enjoyable ride. Anyhow, I was glad to get one last glimpse of The Redhead in her native, 1973 state before she and her auction-mates are rightfully retrofitted into a girl pirate gang. I can’t wait until they round up all the men and then sit around drunkenly speculating on their price per pound – “Shift yer cargo, dearie, show ’em your larboard side!” Squid pro roe, pirate dudes, it’s your time to be objectified for the next 40 or so years!
Journey of the Little Mermaid was a new ride for both of us, and oh, what fun! I’ve never been the biggest Little Mermaid fan (Prince Eric is a stone cold moron, easily the dumbest guy in the Disney canon) but I love, love, LOVED this attraction, classic Disney dark ride styles. The gigantic Under the Sea set piece was fantastic, and the even gigantic-er Ursula animatronic? Ca c’est encroyable! She’s mended all her ways, you know – repented, sympathized and made a switch. True? Yes.
I loved Journey of the Little Mermaid so much, I even liked the lineup, which winds below Ariel and Eric’s castle in a series of underwater caves at “low tide.” And my husband liked it so much, he…oh my. And it’s not even Hug a Merman Day! Well, I’ll try not to be too jealous, though they do make a pretty fetching couple.
Jungle River Cruise! And I have no cute on-ride photo from this attraction, because we were too busy guffawing like a couple of hyenas at the guide’s round-the-jungle boat trip of sad trombone jokes. I also guarantee you that on any given ride, we will be the only people laughing; nobody gets this ride! I also think it’s one of those ones that’s totally lost in language translation – not sure how much non-English speakers would get out of “Eating zebra would be like white meat, dark meat, white meat, dark meat…” jokes. My favourite bit, though, is when animatronic hippos attack the boat and the guide drives them off by leaning over the side and shouting things like, “I love you! I’m ready for a commitment! Could you possibly dress more like my mother?!” Heh. Also, who’s not laughing at THE BACKSIDE OF WATER? Everybody but us, that’s who.
We hit up Big Thunder Mountain, a zippy coaster, twice our first day, including one incredible end-of-night ride that’s remarkable both for being unbelievably gorgeous (what a sight to see the first stars of the night just begin to pop into existence over the fake buttes of Big Thunder as all of Disney lay glittering beneath us) and also for being the straw that totally broke these camels’ backs – hot on the heels of two other pretty intense coasters (the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain) this is the ride that did. us. in. Not so for the little girl who plowed into us as we exited the ride, bellowing, “Sorry, sorry, but I’m on a mission!” as she entered the lineup for her seventh straight run. I feel nauseous just typing that.
Right, so how much would you all hate me if I said it looks like I may have to split this final ride post into…two posts? Because – everybody sing it with me now! – IT’S THE STORY THAT NEVER ENDS! Really, by the time I finish up this tale, we’ll be due for another trip to Disney (this is an actual possibility; we are looking at another visit, and soon.) But this only encompasses about half of the rides we rode the first day, and there’s so much more to show and tell. So I hope to see you back here for more Disney fun, next time with the added bonus of a conclusion!
“They see me ridin’/my Buggy/Magic Kingdom ’cause I’m just a nerdy girl at Disney/just a nerdy girl at Disney/look at me, I’m a nerd at Disney!” No, not how that song goes? Huh, strange. 😉
Welcome, friends, to the third and penultimate installment of my is-it-ever-going-to-end? series on our recent anniversary trip to Disney World. Today we finally get down to the good stuff, the rides! If you’re at all interested in hearing me blather on about our stupendously gorgeous accommodations and the tasty nibbles we picked up whilst running the theme park gauntlet, you can find those posts here and here.
First, as detailed in this post, we rode the Haunted Mansion 13 times on our 13th wedding anniversary, which falls on Halloween. HUGE, crazy accomplishment, this – a lifetime bucket list item nicely checked off (one that’s been cooling its heels on my list since I was a wee, weird little lass of just two years old.) We actually rode the Mansion 16 times over two days. It’s my favourite spot on the planet; sounds a bit a lot strange, but nestled in the dark in a jittering little Doom Buggy, passing the hall of endless staircases as the Ghost Host intones not-so-dire warnings about the restless spooks who inhabit the Mansion, I am complete. Giant goober alert here, but our last ride, I cried. It all felt very overwhelming. See, Disney nerd!
That was our second day at the Magic Kingdom. Thirteen runs through the Haunted Mansion ate up the majority of the day, but we did find time to squeeze in a couple of non-Mansion rides, in addition to a mid-day repast at Gaston’s Tavern. I wish the big tool himself had made an appearance; Gaston’s just the worst, and I love him for it. But this lady waits for no man, not even the super bulgy, dim bulb variety, and I had places to be, bucket lists to conquer! Next time, Gaston, next time. Maybe we’ll even sit in your chair together.
But our first day at the Magic Kingdom, we hit it HARD – 8 am to 11 pm, TAKE! NO! PRISONERS! You know, except for the 40 minutes or so we were held hostage on a broken-down Pirates of the Caribbean, but more on that (surprisingly fun adventure) in the next, final installment!
Our first day at the Magic Kingdom we banged out 17 rides. We also dropped in on a couple of stage shows, caught the midday parade, watched most of the evening’s fireworks display, shopped up and down Main Street, got stuck on Pirates for the better part of an hour AND made our inaugural visit to Gaston’s. So how did we cram all that fun into one day? Well, here’s a few tips:
1: Be as serious about your footwear AND care as Lieutenant Dan screaming into Forrest’s face about fresh socks. You won’t get anywhere if you’re hobbling around with sweaty, blistered tootsies, so plan ahead and pre-game your feet – comfy shoes (Vans for me, Chucks for the Mr.) and adhesive callous pads applied to known trouble areas kept us up and comfortably pounding the pavement from rope drop to park close.
2: Abandon any notion of sleep or peace or rest. That goes double for you lazy sods all crashed out in the middle of the day on the Hub grass. You’re at Disney – why are you napping?! Just come to terms with the fact that to experience all that Disney has to offer, you’re going to have to temporarily sacrifice the routines and comforts of home. We certainly did – I don’t know what else you call being up and on your feet from park open (8 am!) to close (11 pm the first day) each day. Bonkers? Yeah, that works!
3: Work those FastPasses. Disney hands out a large – but limited – number of jump-the-line passes every day for nearly every attraction in the park. You can book three FastPasses per attraction, per guest, per day; a particularly useful little perk for those rides with stubbornly long wait times (Peter Pan’s Flight, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) that hold fast throughout the day. And not everyone knows this, but after you’ve used your third and final FastPass of the day, you can then begin booking additional FastPasses, one at a time. And once you’ve used up that fourth FastPass, you can then book a fifth, and so on, until they’re shooing you out the front gates with brooms!
4: Most importantly, stay flexible. If you roll up to the Mine Train at 9 am to find it offline, with a two-plus hour lineup already snaking around the entirety of the ride, say, “Oh, bugger this, we’re not starting our first day in a friggin’ two-hour lineup!” (actual quote) and move on. With the exception of one 30-minute wait for the Mansion on Halloween, we never waited any longer than 15 or 20 minutes for any ride, and many of them were virtual walk-ons. But we maximized our ride time precisely because we were willing to move – as in move on to something with a slightly more manageable wait time. And invariably, we’d come back a short while later to find the wait time halved or better. This is also how we wound up walking at least seven miles our first day; we crisscrossed the park more times than I can count!
5: Also, in as much as you can, stay out of the sun, particularly if you are of pasty, Celtic-Canadian descent. I ended our first day at the Magic Kingdom with a chest redder than Sebastian the crab and Merida’s hair combined. Wear sunscreen. Buy some dorky matching hats, if you must (and we really did!)
Okay, so it would seem I didn’t actually get around to really talking about any of the rides this time, but I think I’ve given you a good overview of how we accomplished so very much in such a short amount of time (“Really dragging this out, ain’t you?” some of you may be thinking. And the answer is yes, YES, I AM! I had the very best time on this impromptu little trip, and I’m going to storytell it into the ground, yo.) Next time – the last time, though definitely not the last Disney time – we finally go ridin’!
Continuing my ever so long-winded (detailed!) account of my recent trip to Disney, I thought we’d dedicate this installment to nearly everybody’s favourite subject matter, food! Which we actually ate precious little of; save two special meals, we subsisted on park food and many, many, many bottles of Dasani (Florida water: Don’t drink it!) Pretty sure we both ended the first 14-hour day at a calorie deficit, between the seven-plus miles of walking and the all-Mickey pretzel diet.
The night we arrived we took a boat from our resort, the Port Orleans Riverside, to Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping and entertainment promenade, for late night dinner reservations at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Homecomin’s cuisine is classified as Southern-Floridian. I’d just call it delicious – think light and crispy fried green tomatoes, fried chicken and biscuits, mac and cheese, moonshine. Homecomin’ actually makes their own, and I enjoyed a rather potent cocktail that left me feeling 12 shades of plastered for precisely 23 and a half minutes before all whoopsy effects dissipated completely. It was the most bizarre buzz I’ve ever encountered. Must have been offset by all the fried chicken and mac and cheese I put on top of it.
Yes, we sat on the same side of the table like a couple of boners! It was unseasonably cold the night we arrived, and we had to huddle together for warmth! This restaurant was so lovely and cozy, though, with a big, roughhewn bar looking out over the artificial – though no less lovely for it – springs of Disney Springs, as twinkling lights reflected off the gently moving water. Though I did not try them, Mr. Finger Candy assures me the deviled eggs were delicious. Here he is providing a bit of impromptu dinner theatre for our fellow diners.
Entre-park, we ate quite a few Mickey pretzels. I mentioned before that I had a rough flight experience on our way in; that nauseous feeling stayed with me for about the first 18 hours of our trip, and Mickey pretzels seemed like a nice, plain, safe food to soothe the savage tummy beast. They’re also low in fat, though loaded in salt (flick it off if you must, though I just shoved it back and then chased it with a litre of Dasani.) Also a classic, iconic Disney snack, and a first for both Mr. Finger Candy and I. Looking like a wiener while eating in public is NOT a first for him, as evidenced by the last two photos! Also please note that he is wearing a Beauty and the Beast bandage. His choice.
Another item we went back for multiples of was LeFou’s Brew, an apple juice-based beverage served at Gaston’s Tavern. I quite hilariously attempted to make my own version of LeFou’s Brew last year during the Fall Fun Series, and it was an unmitigated disaster – deeply unpalatable. And what was I thinking; I hadn’t even tried one yet! Having now enjoyed a couple of these delectably refreshing treats – icy apple juice enhanced with toasted marshmallow, topped with a mango-passionfruit foam to mimic the creamy head on a pint of beer – I can tell you that I had it wrong, oh so wrong. Legit LeFou Brews are SUBLIME – they hit that lemonade sweet spot without, you know, actually being lemonade.
And not for nothing, but you can only find LeFou’s Brews at Gaston’s Tavern, which is more than all right with me – behind the Haunted Mansion, it’s my second favourite spot on Disney property. We spent so much time there, it almost started to feel like “our place”!
Part of the joy of Gaston’s Tavern – aside from the many, many, many mounted deer heads and antlers, which the Man of the Tavern really does use in all of his DE-CO-RA-TING – is that it’s dead quiet. Tucked down in a little alcove between Be Our Guest and the Journey of the Little Mermaid, few people seem to know about this charming little spot. We nabbed the same corner table both visits and had plenty of time to goof around in Gaston’s gigantic, pelt-covered chair and worship at the portrait of the big lunkhead himself.
Speaking of Beauty and the Beast, a major highlight of our trip was an early morning breakfast at Be Our Guest to celebrate our Halloween anniversary.
Housed in the rock facade beneath the Beast’s forced perspective castle, Be Our Guest is an interactive restaurant in every sense of the word. And it runs like the talking furniture-staffed, well-oiled machine that it should thanks to the wonder of those ubiquitous MagicBands that seemingly control all aspects of your Disney experience. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve made my peace with Disney’s surveillance state oversight. We’re all going to be owned by a major corporation one day (brought to you by Carl’s Jr.) – why not one dedicated to the pursuit of childlike fun and impeccable service?
Be Our Guest works a little something like this: Book a reservation through the My Disney Experience app for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three if you’re feeling particularly flush and would like to dine in all three different diningrooms.) If your mealtime falls at the very start of the dining day, the staff will come outside and applaud as you enter the restaurant through the gigantic, lion-guarded wooden doors of the Beast’s castle. “I think they’re applauding our breakfast!” I said to my husband, with no small measure of delight.
Inside you’ll be handed a menu and directed to a cashier to place your order. After you’ve paid and tapped your MagicBand (or paid by tapping your MagicBand) you’ll be directed to sit anywhere you’d like, either the main ballroom, modeled after the ballroom where the Beast and Belle have their grand dance, the library, where statues of the main characters greet your arrival, or the West Wing, where we dined, because it’s awesome. Dark, intimate and atmospheric, the West Wing is where the Enchanted Rose lives, in a little alcove framed in tattered tapestries.
When a petal would fall – and they did – thunder would rumble and lightning would streak across the darkened room. So dark, in fact, I couldn’t take any good photos of our breakfast once it arrived, although there was no shortage of other fantastic things to look at while we dined.
And when our breakfast arrived, after 10 minutes of letting our eyes adjust to the darkness of the nearly abandoned West Wing, it appeared as though by magic, born on a glass covered, wheeled cart by a smartly dressed steward. Ooh, and everything looked so fantastic, couldn’t wait to tuck into the little plate of mini breakfast pastries they dropped off and…but hey, wait, how *did* they know where we were sitting anyways? We were tucked away in a dark little room in a restaurant that seats hundreds with no flag or other table identifier. So how did our breakfast magically find us?!
The answer, of course, is another miracle to lay at the feet of those MagicBands, your one-stop tracking tech. Basically, we were low-jacked from the moment we tapped our Bands to enter the restaurant. That gave them our names and our location, so when our food was zipped straight from the kitchen and directly into the West Wing, the server not only knew where our unmarked table was, but also that we were Sandra and Mr. Finger Candy. This actually happened a few times across the park, most notably on It’s a Small World where one of the end-of-ride signs bid adieu specifically to my husband – notable in that we did not scan our Bands on It’s a Small World, so how did they know to say goodbye to my husband on that particular boat? This is where Mr. Finger Candy points out that the newest generation of MagicBand has a range of 40 feet. The technology behind all this is scary impressive (also kind of scary.)
And how was the food itself? Great! Delicious, actually. I had heard that Be Our Guest was a lot like Planet Hollywood – you go there and get a pool-sized, overpriced drink, maybe a gigantic, pool-sized dessert or an appetizer, but the food is not why you’re there; it’s so you can poke around and gawk at all the fun memorabilia that lines the walls and hangs from the ceiling. But our breakfasts were yummy – something bechamel and cheese sauce-covered for my husband (Croque Madam Without the Ham, as we called it, because Mr. Finger Candy is a vegetarian) and a two-egg, hash brown and all-meat platter for yours truly. Maybe it was the sustenance deficit from the day before, or perhaps it was the heat stroke (I got a terrible, terrible burn on my chest the day previous) but our breakfast at Be Our Guest was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. It was just a really special dining experience (made all the cooler by the cute couple beside us who were also there celebrating their (first) anniversary, the male half of whom was Disneybounding as Ruffio from Hook. They sort of treated us like the elder statesmen of Halloween weddings; it was really charming.)
The third and final evening we were there we had pizza delivered to our room, because sometimes when you’ve been on your feet for 32 out of the last 36 hours, those feet just. stop. working. I couldn’t have dragged myself anywhere. Growing up, room service was something my family never, ever did. As such, my adult adventures in room service dining always feel vaguely illicit, like I’m really getting away with something by eating pizza in the middle of my bed while Hocus Pocus plays on an endless loop on the TV. Actually, I guess that really is getting away with something, at least something very fun.
I hope you enjoyed some of these tasty Disney morsels. I know I certainly did! And please join me next time as I finally discuss the the whole point of a theme park vacation, the rides!
Sick of hearing about my recent whirlwind, spur-of-the-moment anniversary trip to Disney World? Too bad, ’cause you’re getting more! A lot more, actually. This was our amazingly fun trip, in a few different installments.
First, we shall never speak of the flights – both those to and from Philadelphia and then on to Orlando and home – ever again, beyond noting that my husband is really too tall for cattle class, and I’m now apparently that woman that sits there in an ice cold sweat, thousand yard stare barely registering over the edge of an at-the-ready vomit bag. Truly one of my life’s great fears, guys, getting physically ill in public, and I was *right* on the verge of it for five-plus hours. Je n’aime pas.
But do you know what I aime‘d very much? Our absolutely gorgeous accommodations, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. I stayed on-property about 20 years ago – one of the value resorts, and it was serviceable, though nothing special – but the Port Orleans experience was something else altogether.
It goes a little something like this: Book yourself into a Disney resort, and from the moment you step off the plane in Orlando and check in with an always-friendly cast member (that’s what they’re called, cast members) Disney takes care of the rest. You’ll be ushered aboard a waiting bus, part of the Magical Express fleet, by a relentlessly – yet somehow still genuinely – upbeat dude, who will congratulate you with high-fives on your 13th wedding anniversary. You’ll think your face might break from grinning so hard. You’ll take goofy (Goofy?) couple selfies that match the ones you took on your honeymoon 13 years earlier.
Your driver will then usher you and a busload of your new! best! friends! (because you’re all goin’ to Disney, yaaaayyyyy!) to your resort, where you will stand gobsmacked beneath a gorgeous raftered cupola while your husband immediately steps off the bus and begins petting a horse, before charging over to you, declaring that you just gotta get over there and see that bucket of manure! What the hell, man?! You’re so weird. 🙂
The resort was stupendously gorgeous, impeccably themed and absolutely spotless. There were something like four different restaurants on property, six pools, an early morning fishing hole, a running path and half-hourly boats to and from Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping and entertainment district. The first night we were there we took a wonderful, albeit freezing, in-the-dark boat ride down the Sassagoula River to Disney Springs for dinner at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming. Snuggled together for warmth, bobbing down the river as jazz music drifted from the speakers and the resort’s sister site, the French Quarter, drifted by, it was the perfect way to kick off our little trip. 🙂
We didn’t spend a ton of time at our resort using its impressive assortment of amenities, but we popped in on the fun from time to time. The night we arrived they were hosting a cool BBQ fest out by the sawmill and down by the docks, and when we returned from our dinner much later that evening, they were just wrapping up a Halloween dance party. And on Halloween night itself, they had candy stations set up along the resort’s considerable network of paths for kids and old kids alike to get their mini Snickers fix. And the candy-hunters probably cleaned up, too; the resort was absolutely massive. Here’s the map the woman at check-in handed us with directions on how to get to our room. Directions. To our room!
I took precious few photos of the interior of our room because we were hardly ever there (we slept just 16 hours in four days) but I assure you it was as beautifully appointed as the exterior. Our corner room featured an inviting little window seat, log frame beds, grain sack curtains, carpet printed to look like roughhewn floorboards, lantern light fixtures, two Queen beds outfitted in ultra soft and luxurious linens and 48 solid hours of Hocus Pocus on one of the innumerable Disney television channels. Our room even came with a raccoon, a chubby little devil that saucily waddled across our porch in welcome. It seemed quite fitting that two Canadians were being greeted in the faux Louisiana bayou by an animal that shows up in my parents’ Ontario backyard nearly every night.
Speaking of entering your room, that is done via MagicBand, Disney’s RFID-based tracker tech. When you book a Disney vacation and stay at one of their resorts, you’ll be sent your MagicBands – which you will use for everything from getting around your resort, to entering the parks, to setting up dinner reservations and FastPasses, to paying for purchases – a few weeks before your trip. If you plan and book your vacation with two days to spare like we did, you’ll be given your Bands at check-in! And if you lose your MagicBand the first afternoon you’re in the park, like my husband did, they’ll give you a temporary card at Guest Services, and then a replacement MagicBand back at the hotel later that evening (the pink was Mr. Finger Candy’s stylish choice.)
Visiting the Magic Kingdom’s Guest Services centre was a Disney first for me, and our minor issue was dealt with with all the efficiency and friendliness you come to expect from Disney. We even snagged these cool celebration buttons – another Disney first! – honouring both our anniversary and our individual lifetime trips (just entered double digits, I did.) When you wear them around the parks, random cast members will just shout out congratulations and other tidings of goodwill as you pass; it’s really cute.
Think we’ll leave things off there for this first installment. For such a little trip – just an intense few days! – there’s so much more to discuss, including the food we ate, a very cool experience at Be Our Guest, and, of course, our two fabulous days at the Magic Kingdom. Thank you for sharing in the fun, and I hope you’ll join me as I continue to dance down Recent Memory Lane in a cloud of post-vacation happiness. 🙂