Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mommy, We're The Only Ones Here!

"IT'S PRINCESS DAY!!!!  I'M HAVING BREAKFAST WITH THE PRINCESSES!!"  My daughter's voice pierced the silence of our hotel 6:00am, on the dot.

"Ugh," my son sighed, and rolled back over.  "I hate princesses," he groaned.

I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't seen this coming.  I had planned two days at Magic Kingdom: one focused on princesses and fantasy, and the other centered around pirates and adventure; the night before, I'd shared this plan with the kids.  Naturally, I had assumed that Sadie would be fonder of the first day and that the second day would appeal more to Jack, but I was confident that there would be lots for each of them to appreciate on both days.  I also knew, however, that Jack's personality would prevent him from from having a positive attitude about anything that didn't initially appeal to him.  Sure enough, when the envelope from Cinderella arrived the evening before, inviting the kids to attend a royal breakfast the next morning at her castle (that's right--you can actually eat in the castle!), Jack's chagrin set in.

Ready to meet the princesses!
Tip Time: Add a little pixie dust to your trip by making your own invitations to character meals or special events that you'll be attending while at Disney World.  When the kids aren't paying attention, put the envelope by the door and then pretend that it was just delivered!

Consequently, as I helped Sadie put on her princess dress and crown that morning, we were treated to the enchanting background noise of Jack's moaning.  I had to remind myself of the resolution I'd made two nights before at the Wilderness Lodge; regardless of how much time and energy I'd invested in making this the most magical trip ever darn it, the kids were still kids, and I needed to accept the fact that they were not going to be happy every single minute.  So, I ignored the whining, and off we went to Magic Kingdom!!

The Contemporary Resort is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom, so we decided to take the walkway to the park.  Once again, I was absolutely astounded by the friendliness of the Cast Members that we encountered.  Everyone from the concierge desk to the grounds crew on the walkway greeted Sadie with a "good morning, princess" and told Jack to "have a magical day".  By 7:30am, we'd passed through Magic Kingdom security and were on our way to the front gates**.  We took a moment to gaze at the Main Street Train Station of the Walt Disney World Railroad, our excitement building as I read the words aloud: "Let The Memories Begin!"  

The Main Street Train Station
To make the most of our day, I'd booked the earliest possible breakfast reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table.  This allowed us to enter the park before it even officially opened for the day!  So, after taking everything in on the outside, we strolled down a completely empty Main Street toward Cinderella Castle, the kids skipping ahead of us in the morning sunlight.

Tip Time: All four parks offer character breakfasts that begin about an hour before regular park opening.  Not only is this a truly magical way to start your day, but you get to be one of the few people to enter the park before it opens to the general public.  Nothing quite compares to walking down a virtually empty Main Street at Magic Kingdom or strolling through Epcot's World Showcase by yourselves.  Moreover, if you finish eating in time, you get to be the first in line for the #1 attraction on your list!

Sadie, with the castle all to herself
When we finally reached the castle, Sadie stopped skipping in her tracks.  Slowly, she walked toward the Castle Forecourt and froze, just staring at the castle.  We were all quiet for a moment.  Suddenly, Jack's excited voice broke the silence.  "Mommy, we're the only ones here!!!" he exclaimed.  "I'm gonna run around!!!"

For the next five minutes, Jack and Sadie did something that would be impossible during the other 13 hours and 50 minutes that the park was open that day.  They skipped around the Forecourt, throwing their heads back in pure joy, completely free.  It was, without a doubt, one of my favorite moments of the whole trip. 

I'm gonna run around!
After the kids tired of gallivanting, we headed over to the castle entrance for breakfast.  Once inside, we were greeted by Cinderella herself.  Then we were led upstairs to our table, right next to a stained glass window that overlooked Fantasyland.  As we ate our breakfast and watched the sun continue to rise over the Kingdom, we were visited by four more princesses: Belle, Ariel, Snow White, and Aurora.  Predictably, Sadie was completely enchanted with each new arrival.  And I was totally impressed with the way that the princesses engaged Jack.  Ariel, for example, referred to him as her "little guppy" and invited him to "slap fins" instead of  giving her a "high-five".  Aurora asked him how many dragons he'd slayed that morning.  And Snow White wanted to make sure that he hadn't eaten any apples before he came.  He laughed and smiled throughout the entire meal, in spite of himself.  Let's just say that, by the time breakfast was over, Jack was quite taken with the ladies after all.
Jack, "slapping fins" with Ariel
As we finished our last few bites of french toast and scrambled eggs, and prepared to head out to Fantasyland, Jack smiled and said, "I really liked Ariel.  Let's go!!"  My husband and I exchanged satisfied glances as we got up from the table.  The breakfast had filled us up (in more ways than one), and the stage was set for a memorable, magical day!  And what a magical day it was!!

Next Up: Staying Ahead of the Crowds in Fantasyland

Sadie and her favorite princess
**Remember, the best way to ensure that you get to experience all of the attractions on your "wish list" is to arrive at the parks early on as many days as possible.  Try to arrive 30 minutes before rope drop (40-60 minutes during busier times of the year), giving yourself plenty of time to get through security and line up at the turnstiles.  Park buses usually begin running 1-2 hours before opening.  Don't worry, however, if you have sleepy heads that you just can't rouse for an early park arrival; you still can have a memorable, stress-free vacation as long as you have realistic expectations for what you will be able to accomplish and, most importantly, you follow a touring plan.

The Magic Minus the Mayhem

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