Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 5 & Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, 2016

We were so excited for our very first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP)  This is a special ticketed event where Magic Kingdom is closed to everyone without a ticket.  The party starts at 7pm and ends at midnight and let me tell you that is not nearly enough time.  We had so much fun at this event.

First things first, just like every other day in the park, you have to prepare.  I knew that I wanted costumes for the party, but I wasn't sure what to put us all in since I also wanted us to be comfortable in the park.  Patrick didn't have any interest in dressing up when I was planning our outfits, so I decided that Littlecjc would be Ariel and I would be Ursula.  Word of warning, Patrick changed his mind the day we were leaving and really wished he had decided to join us.  Costumes are fun and I highly encourage anyone attending the party to wear them.  In fact, if we return to MNSSHP again, I plan on doing even more in the costume department.  Like I said, this year I didn't know what to expect and I was more concerned about everyone being comfortable.  This is how we ended up looking for the party.

Since the party runs from 7-12, we didn't want to go to the park all day long beforehand since we were hoping Littlecjc wouldn't sleep through the party.  So we took our time getting up, and then headed over to Disney Springs for shopping and fun. 

 It amazes me that even though we are at Disney, Littlecjc still gets excited over the little rides here.

They also had fun decorations here!

During this visit, they were testing having a visiting princess at the World of Disney store.  I thought this was great, but I believe they have already stopped doing this.  On our visit, we met Aurora

Disney Springs is a must for us every trip.  Even if you aren't a huge shopper, (I'm not either, but when it comes to Disney, what can I say?) the World of Disney store is worth seeing.  There are many photo opts here, and even though many of them haven't changed in many years, we still take photos at all of them during each trip.  It's become fun to see how everyone changes from year to year.

After a few hours here, we returned to the hotel for a rest and to get ready for our evening at Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately, Littlecjc did not take a nap during this time.  However, we left pretty early for the party and headed to Epcot first.  We regretted not getting a Food and Wine Festival pin while at Epcot, and they were only available there.  So, with some research, we discovered that they were available at a tiny store just outside of the turnstiles at Epcot.  Therefore, we all bussed over to Epcot, and Patrick went through security, but was able to shop for the pins without scanning a ticket to enter the park.  We then took the monorail to the ticket and transportation center where we opted to take the ferry to Magic Kingdom.  And this, of course, is when Littlecjc decided to take a nap.  Even though the party did not start until 7, we were able to enter the park at 4 so I was still happy she decided to nap now instead of during the party.  Knowing that we could enter the park early, we were able to plan some fastpasses.  Fastpasses aren't available during the party, but by getting our first fastpass at 3:20, we were able to still get 3 in before the party actually started.  Since our first pass would expire at 4:20, I picked a visit with Tinkerbell first making sure we would have plenty of time to get through security and into the park.

Once we entered the park, we were given wristbands to show that we were there for the party, after which we quickly headed to use our first fastpass and visit Tinkerbell, character #1.

After visiting with Tink, those entering the park with bracelets on were guided off to the right before walking down Main St, where a normally closed off path was open that led from down by Tony's Town Square Restaurant up to an entrance between the Plaza Restaurant and the Tomorrowland Terrace.  Along this path, we were given our Halloween bags to haul all our candy along with our first sample of the goodies to come during the party.  Photographers were also lined up through here taking photos with some of the statues along the walkway and providing some magic.

I think that since Littlecjc was napping that we took our time entering, possibly even backtracking into a store or two to look at the party specific merchandise.  As much fun as we had this evening, I guess since it was new to us, I was really focused on taking it all in.  I didn't seem to take hardly any pictures this evening for some reason, so hopefully I don't forget too many activities from this evening.

By 5:00, we decided to wake up Littlecjc so we could all ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, attraction #1 before our fastpasses expired.

After our big roller coaster ride, we headed to the Storybook Circus area, by route past the the little mermaid ride where we took the picture above with King Triton.  By 5:25, we were ready to use our final fastpass for the day and ride Barnstormer, attraction #2.

We couldn't leave this area without a flight with Dumbo, attraction 3.

Even though we had already visited with Ariel during this trip and she isn't a special character only available for the party, we decided that it was worth the wait to see her again since we were dressed in that theme. So, Ariel became character #2.

 After visiting with Ariel, we stopped in at Gaston's Tavern for a little snack to go.  We didn't want to take up any of our party time to actually eat dinner, but we didn't want to not eat anything all night either.  This seemed like a good alternative.  With snack in hand, we headed toward Frontierland and Splash Mountain.  After getting a rider's swap pass (which wasn't really necessary during the party,) Littlecjc and I went to hold down a spot at the beginning of the parade route where we could watch the boats fall into the briar patch.

Patrick rode Splash Mountain first, making Splash Mountain, attraction #4, and after our swap I made Splash Mountain, attraction #5.

By this time, the party had officially started and it was interesting watching the wall of castmembers control the crowd, directing those without party wristbands out of the park.  We had heard great reviews of the parade, so this was a priority for us and we decided to hold down our spot until start time, so that we wouldn't miss anything.  We did, however, take turns taking Littlecjc through some of the trick or treat candy lines inside Frontierland.

The parade, event #6! Oh my goodness, the reviews did not do it justice.  This is by far my new favorite parade from Disney.  My pictures do not do justice for how amazing this parade was, but here they are anyway.  Let's start with the headless horseman who opens the parade.

PS. The Moana bag sitting next to us was the candy bag that we were given at the beginning of our evening, and it was full of candy by the end of the night.

These graveyard men were definitely my favorite part.  Sparks were literally fly from their shovels as they drug them across the ground.

And the ghost dancers were beautiful, in that perfectly Halloween way.  I guess I really loved the entire Haunted Mansion unit.

And of course, no Halloween is complete without the villains.

Another advantage of watching the parade from the starting point, is that as soon as the parade ended, we were able to rush off into Adventureland and beat some of the parade crowd.  Since our group had never been to these parties before, we didn't have a great plan for the evening and we ended up just kind of going with the flow of the evening, not wanting to miss any of the big things.  So at this time, we came across the line for Jack Sparrow and decided to wait.  We had bad timing though, since he went on break just as we reached the front of the line.  After already waiting that long and being that close, we stayed put and stayed for the next set.

So as 8:00 rolled around, we were meeting our first "special to the party" character.  Jack Sparrow became character #3, which was actually really fun since Littlecjc was dressed as a mermaid.  She may not have known exactly who he was, but she knew he was a pirate and she liked him.

After meeting Captain Jack Sparrow, we made our way to the Castle.  We walked by the Pumpkin King so that I could see him, but we didn't wait in line to meet him and Sally.  We did make it in time to catch the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, event #7.  We were not at all close to the stage for this, but let's be honest, with the kids this show was not a priority.  I enjoyed it, but I was just as happy watching it from the distance and holding down our favorite spot to watch the fireworks.  After the show, the guys went on a mission to refill our popcorn buckets.  We then had our popcorn snack while waiting for the next castle show.

At 10:00, Celebrate the Magic, event #8 started.  This was the same show that normally plays except that there was an excerpt villain sequence added into it.  At 10:15, Hallowishes, event #9 began.  Although special fireworks are fun, I honestly think I like Wishes better.  I really enjoyed some of the songs included, but overall, nothing seemed too memorable or amazingly perfect between the fireworks and soundtrack.  Not that I wasn't so happy to be there and see it, just trying to provide an honest review.  After the fireworks, we wanted to get our picture taken in front of the castle, since we didn't get one when we first entered the park.

After this pit stop, we made our way to Storybook Circus to meet our predetermined number one meet and greet, the Seven Dwarfs, characters #4-10.

After meeting with our priority characters, and hitting up some trick or treat stations in Storybook circus, we made our way over to the Haunted Mansion.  We opted not to actually ride the attraction, but we did stop at the exit to take a photo.  Unfortunately, this was a waste of our time, because we never saw that picture.  Of course, we didn't know that at the time, and thankfully we hit up many trick or treat stations en route and continuing back to Fantasyland.  We ended our evening by standing in line for about 10-15 minutes to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, attraction #10.

Overall, we had so much fun at our first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and I can't wait to attend another one.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Food

"It all started with a mouse" - Walt Disney

One of our favorite spots at Disney is Beaches and Cream, where the food is so good you need to climb up on the table to get a better spoonful.

Focused on the Magic

Friday, April 21, 2017

Epcot, October 2016

If you've been following along on this trip, you know that we had briefly visited Epcot the evening before.  This in no way lessened how excited we were for this day.  I had preplanned this day to the max.  We had a breakfast reservation before the park opened at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and 4 fastpasses between the three of us.  Since Littlecjc is too short to ride most of the rides here in the top tiers that need fastpasses, we were able to split up our fastpasses and take advantage of a rider swap pass for these attractions.  So, going into the day we all had fastpasses for Character Spot and Turtle Talk with Crush.  At one point, we all also had fastpasses for Frozen Ever After.  However, once we snagged the early breakfast next door at Akershus and Soarin reopened with Soarin Around the World, I dropped my Frozen pass to pick up a Soarin pass just to guarantee that we would get it all in.  Even with all this planning, we really changed this day up due to staying with our friends.

The park did not open until 9:00 this day, but we were outside of Epcot by 8:00 because we had breakfast reservations at 8:15 at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  We love this restaurant.  If you've read my post from our June 2016 trip, you know that we had lunch here during our last trip.  Both meals were great, we've had great service (actually the same waiter both times), and the princesses were always present and fun to meet.   First, Belle, character #1 greeted us as we entered.

Once seated we were shown the buffet to take advantage of while we waited for our homestyle breakfast to be brought to our table.  I didn't get a picture of the buffet, but here is the breakfast that was delivered to our table.  PS. those cheesy potatoes were amazing.

 Within the time it took us to eat, we then were able to meet Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Snow White, characters #2, 3, 4, and 5.

We had hopes of being done with our breakfast by this time, so that we could get a jump start on the mad rush heading to Frozen Ever After when the park opened.  This worked out perfectly.  When we left the restaurant, we saw the rush coming and we joined right in with the front runners and were among the first riders of the day.  By 9:05, we were completing attraction #1, Frozen Ever After.

When we got off the ride, we went right next door to the new meet and greet area of the Arendelle royalty.  Already on character #6 and 7, we met Elsa and Anna.

By this point, we had met up with our friends and we all headed to The Land and straight to Soarin'.  Littlecjc is still too little for this attraction, so after walking to the Soarin' line and getting our rider's swap pass, Soarin' became attraction #2 for most of our party, while Littlecjc and I headed over to the empty Living with the Land, attraction #3.  

Even within the first hour of the park opening, Soarin' had a line, so Littlecjc and I knew that we had time to head upstairs and watch The Circle of Life, attraction #4.  

This video is one that we usually skip, but it was nice to have something to do while we waited for the rest of our party to finish riding Soarin'.  The timing worked out perfectly.  We met back up with our party as soon as the video was over.  We were fortunate enough to have another friend that lives in Gainesville drive down to join us all for the day.  So, we met up with them and took a little time to catch up.  While the guys were all talking, us ladies took the kids into the Character Spot to use our fastpasses and meet some characters.

This hour was all about the characters.  Moving through the character spot, we met Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie, characters #8, 9, and 10.  

After joining back up with the guys, we split up again.   Instead of using my fastpast, which only would have gotten me on Soarin, I took our two latecomers to Soarin', attraction #5, where we used the rider swap to use the fastpass entrance.  The rest of our party waited in line to see Baymax, character #11.

We of course all got together when we were done with our separate activities.  This was the first time for all of us to be in Epcot during the Food and Wine festival, and we were all ready to partake in that fun.  We snacked off and on all afternoon, never having an actual lunch or dinner.  Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures from this afternoon, since we spent a lot of time simply visiting with our friends and exploring the world showcase.

This hour started with our first samplings of food and beverages, and ended with another ride on Frozen Ever After, attraction #6 for those of our party that had this fastpass.

During these 3 hours, we enjoyed food and friends around the showcase, while Littlecjc took a great nap along the way.

By 4:00, we were meeting up again, this time over by Figment.  It was a random occurrence as far as I'm aware, but we noticed that Gaston was meeting off to the side of the building so we headed that way.  I know that character training happens frequently at Epcot (in the American pavilion), but I had never seen anyone here before, and he was all by himself (minus his escort of course.)  So, we finally met Gaston, character #12.

Since everyone started their day at different times, and those of us with kids made the dash to Frozen, we then headed back to the front of the park to get our iconic Epcot pictures.


At this point, we needed to ride Spaceship Earth, attraction #7, since my little one loves it. 

  As a bonus, the younger ones all loved playing the games at the exit.

After a while, we decided to head to the next space attraction.  The great thing about this ride is that there is an indoor play area for those that are too little to ride.  So everyone besides Littlecjc and one of our other friends rode Mission Space, attraction #8.  

After again playing the games at this ride exit, we moved on to Test Track.  Since Littlecjc was too little for this ride, we got a rider swap while a few went ahead and rode Test Track, attraction #9, through the single rider line.  

This is a best place to take advantage of the single rider line.  Because of the design of the cars, two rows of three seats, the single rider line actually moves pretty quickly.  So when the first group returned, three more of us went through the fastpass line using our rider swap making Test Track, attraction #10.  Check out this amazing car design.

By this time, we were ready for another lap around the world and more food.

Of course, no day at Epcot is complete without viewing Illuminations.  As always there is a mass exodus after any of the nighttime spectaculars, so we always take our time and usually take a walk through the shops.  I think all the kids were asleep by the time we made it to the front of the park.  I know Littlecjc was as she didn't make this picture.

Overall, this was a great day! We enjoyed our first Food and Wine festival and look forward to attending again.  We also enjoyed visiting with friends.  In total, we saw 12 characters and got in 10 attractions, 11 if you count Illuminations.