Thursday, January 4, 2018

Epic 2017 Walt Disney World Christmas Visit - Part Two

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Today was our Magic Kingdom day. We had tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the evening giving us a bit of time to take in some Christmas around the resorts. Originally we were going to drive to the Magic Kingdom area and park at a resort (which can be tricky if you are not staying at that hotel) or the main parking area. We knew we would not be back at our hotel until around 1am and tried to determine which offered less hassle. We chose the bus system.

Another day in a row we missed rope-drop. That meant we were behind the crowds and standing in long security lines. Before entering the park we rented a locker to store blankets we appropriated from the airline (for ground cover on the parade route) and to hold purchased items for the day. Our first planned event was to watch the holiday Trolley Show on Main Street.

The 4-minute show was well themed. We grabbed breakfast from Starbucks and ate al fresco at the Casey's patio. After hitting a few shops on Main Street we exited the park so we could tour the decorations at the Monorail resorts.

A note on the weather. It sucked. At nights temperatures dipped into the 20's or 30's. These temperatures in Florida feel way colder than they do back in Illinois. We were layered up all day Saturday in Epcot. On Sunday we had pleasant temperatures (50's) in the afternoon but frigid at night during the party. The few hours after leaving the park were the only chances we had to show off our matching shirts.

Both the Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts were low-key in terms of decorations. There was a cute Cinderalla's Castle gingerbread sculpture in the Grand Canyon Concourse and the Poly's lobby had tropical themed garlands and trees. The Grand Floridian is the must-do on this route with its huge tree and large-scale gingerbread house/shop. Everything covering the small building is edible.

We wanted to take the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom so we could get a boat to the Wilderness Lodge but there was a snag. The line at the Grand Floridian was backed up because they were down to one security gate. The monorails also seemed a bit delayed which allowed more people to build on the outbound platform. After a few minutes we came up with the bright idea of getting an Uber. A few minutes later we were picked up and delivered to the Wilderness Lodge. Cost $7 plus tip. Worth it. The Wilderness Lodge had an awesome tree with appropriate-themed ornaments. We lunched at the newish Geyser Point on burgers while enjoying some dark beers and cocktails. These were the only drinks of the day given we were going to be in MK the rest of the day.

Once we re-entered the park we were checked-in for the party and given our wristbands. We were directed into the Main Street bypass (area behind the hat shop they sometimes open for crowd control) for photo opportunities with props and our first cookie break. The party has several designated locations to get free pre-paid snacks and treats like cookies, candy canes, pretzels, and hot chocolate. Costs for the party vary by evening - our price was around $90 each for access to Magic Kingdom and the party from 4:00 - midnight (party starts at 7:00).

We were able to spend some time taking pictures, buying merchandise set out early, and ride a few rides. The Castle Lighting Show featuring friends from Frozen started at 6:15. Disney has updated the lighting on the castle since we last saw it a few years ago. The show was fun and the projections that aided the castle lighting were a nice touch.


After the lighting we split up. Holly wanted her photo with the Pooh characters, but did not want to miss out on a place to sit for the parade. Dave grabbed the airline blankets and nabbed an area near a trash can (after trying several) midway down Main Street. By the time Holly met him there was still plenty of curbside seating. When the party started there was an announcement welcoming folks and then the snow started on Main Street. People were losing their minds as soap bubbles were blasted from the rooftops!


The parade would not reach us until around 8:50. Sitting that long on the cold concrete at such and odd angle did a number on our muscles. Dinner came from Casey's: hot dogs and fries. Really haven't had a day of eating such generic food at Disney since we were kids. Dave almost had a meltdown when the pre-parade entertainment came out. There was a spotlight coming from a second floor window across the street: ruining the lighting for photos. Thankfully it was turned off for the parade.
This was our first time ever seeing the Christmas Parade and we were not disappointed. We actually think it is our favorite parade. It was filled with floats and characters that only come out for this parade like the wooden soldiers, gingerbread men, and reindeers.

After the parade we made our way up to the castle for Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration. This castle-stage style show features many characters, dancers, and two human hosts/performers (don't know how to put it - Peter Pan and Buzz are humans, but also characters. The hosts were singers in shiny outfits) singing songs, performing little skits, etc. Mickey and Minnie come out in Santa outfits at the end. The show was actually one of the better castle-shows. Once the show ended we made our way back to the Main Street bridge for the Holiday Wishes Fireworks. This show was ok, not really the best fireworks we have seen in Magic Kingdom. Maybe being frozen and wrapped in airline blankets didn't help.


Once the fireworks were over we beelined it to Tomorrowland where Cosmic Ray's was turned into Club Tinsel: a DJ dance party with polar bears and elves. They were serving cookies and hot chocolate (along with food you could buy). We watched the dance party fun while warming up. Dave felt great after 3 hot chocolates and was sad when we had to leave in the middle of the Quad City DJ's C'mon N Ride It (he claims it is his jam). But we had to leave in order to make it over to the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show. Luckily it was next to Joffrey's and he could get a coffee while we watched. The show featured a lead singer/host whom interacted with an onscreen Stitch. He was trying to kidnap Santa or some such nonsense. Various Tomorrowland characters had musical numbers including Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and finally Santa Stitch. It was a bit goofy, but the performers were very good.


For our final hour in the party we hit up a few other snack stands, caught the backhalf of the second showing of the parade in Frontierland, hit some Photopass spots, and just enjoyed being in the environment. We took our second ride of the day on The Jingle Cruise, a Christmas version of the attraction. We thought it looked better in the day time.


Dave would like it to be noted his other winter hat is causing his coat to bulge out so much.

This was our favorite party experience in The Magic Kingdom. It would be fun to repeat it within the next few years. All the show performers seemed to be better than usual and the environment is festive.

Our wait for a bus back was less than ten minutes and thankfully we departed without waiting for the bus to be full. We did not forget to take everything out of of locker. We arrived in the hotel room after 1AM and were planning a Studios rope-drop the next morning.

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