Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trip Report 2013 - #12 - Rope Drop Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hour, ALL 4 Parks!!! and Downtown Disney

So what does a Disney crazy family do on the 12th day of vacation after 6 rope drops, a 3 night cruise, 3 different resorts, and a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party?  They create a challenge to do something they have never done before, ALL FOUR PARKS IN ONE DAY!

In true McKnight style we had to make a few rules so it was a little harder then just walking in and out. First rule, must meet Mickey in each park.  Second rule, get a family picture with the park icon.  Third go on at least one ride or character meet. Fourth rule, use only Disney transportation.  

Can we do it and meet all our requirements?  Follow along to find out.

The view from our balcony at the Boardwalk Inn
The day started earlier then I would like to admit.  We had a late night last night closing down Hollywood Studios.  I was up first but Doug and the kids were woken up by the guy replacing light bulbs on the Boardwalk entrance at 5:45am.  The blue scissor lift beeped like it was backing up the entire time it was up.  This was a magical way to start the day.  

on the bus at 6:45am

First step in our plan is morning extra magic hour at Animal Kingdom.  I normally do not recommend going to a park with extra magic hours because the average Disney guest sees them and thinks that is where Disney is telling them to go.  But you can use them to your advantage if you get out of bed and hop away.  Most people show up to the park with morning extra magic hours after the extra hour is over.  So, if you are early you can get in and out and watch the masses arrive as you hop to another park for the day.  On the bus at 6:45 am.  After stops at the Swan and Dolphin we were on our way.  We were the only ones on the bus.  The bus had already stopped at the Yacht and Beach Club.

A picture with the animal themed tree.

Proof of where we were.

Our favorite sight.  A rope and direct access to our own Mickey Readers.  We were not the first ones there but we were early enough to start our own line.  

A little later on right before the rope came down.  We take the kids electronics to play on as we wait.  We also pack breakfast to eat at the rope.  Mini muffins was todays choice.  By 7:30 the crowd was building to fill the area between the rope and the ticket booths.  It was going to be a busy day in all the parks.  Seeing the size of the crowd made us question what we were getting our selves into today.

We made FastPass+ for later in the day at the Magic Kingdom.  Other then that we had nothing else scheduled.  Just need to make it to the Jungle Cruise by 3:50pm.
You will notice that we did not cheat and make a Mickey FastPass+.

We were the first ones to the Safari and they made us the "Family of The Day"  We got a Safari vehicle all to our selves and two guides.  The guides asked the kids lots of questions and they seemed disappointed that they constantly knew the answer and never got to explain anything.  Know it alls.  We they said that they had the second largest herd of Okapi in captivity Alden replied with a "yea, we have the biggest at home"  Doug was unimpressed that neither of the guides knew anything about the Omaha Zoo.  How ever Disney is always saying Animal Kingdom is "Notazoo"

Lots of Crocs laying around.

Some Rhinoceros.

These guys have nice big horns.

We have been waiting for these Ostrich eggs to hatch since 1998.

Got stopped by an Ostrich on the road in front of the Lion.  One of the few times we have actually seen them out.  We sat here for about 5 min.

Warning: you look weird when you record the ride.

After our trip around Africa we headed over to Asia and EVEREST!!!  The bigs and I went on Everest and Clair and Doug collected a rider swap pass.  We had no intention of using the rider swap but we could then give it away on our way out to help someone else have a more magical day.  Most people don't even know rider swap is a thing.  

As they tackled the Mountain Doug and Clair did Triceratops spin.  

After the Mountain we went to Primeval whirl.  Doug and Clair went on Triceratops 5 times.  We basically walked on to both coasters.  

Traveling back in time.

Now we all join the Dinos for a ride.  It was about 9:00am and we had done the two big attractions.  The safari alone was 27min of ride time.  

Now it was time to meet Mickey.  We waited about 5 min for the big cheese.  Most people coming in right now are standing in line for the Safari and Everest.  It takes a few hours for lines to grow in Dino Land so if you are among the first few to the safari you are in great shape to get around the park with little to no wait in Dinoland.  

Last but not least our picture with the Icon, the Tree of Life.  

We headed out of the park and felt like salmon swimming up stream.  We let Samantha give away our rider swap passes to a family she thought would use them.  The first 3 people she (and Doug) tried to give them to said no like they were trying to get time to buy a time share, but finally someone took them and was supper excited because they did not have a FastPass+ for Everest.

9:20 and we are on a bus with one park down and 3 to go.  Each park has a bus that goes from park to park.  

We were at Hollywood Studios and went straight for Mickey.  We waited a good 20 minutes which is about as long as we ever wait for anything.  Rope drop really spoils you.  We were not use to showing up with the masses 50minutes after rope drop.  We felt like we needed some sort of sticker to show that we had already done one park.  

Sophia has such a large line it is hard to tell where it even starts.  If you don't meet her right when she comes out you can look at 40 minute waits.  Needless to say we head across the park to hit star tours.  Doug still had his motion sickness patch on so he did it one time then took the patch off.  We went a couple times.  In the mid morning even with a busy day Star Tours has short waits.

A picture with the (then) park icon The Sorcerer Mickey Hat.

And a goofy picture.  

By 10:25 we were on a boat heading to Epcot! The boat is not the fastest way to get from Hollywood Studios to Epcot, walking or driving would have been faster.  There is also a bus. But, the boat is the most fun.  This way we also enter through the International Gateway.  We got off at the Swan and Dolphin stop and walked over to Epcot from there.  If you choose to stay on the boat you stop at the Beach Club and Boardwalk first.  The big chunk of distance is from Hollywood Studios to Crescent lake so once you are at any of the resorts it is not to far to walk into Epcot.  

We could see our resort as we walked past the Beach Club towards Epcot.  I would not let us stop and get off track.   On the way into Epcot they did not want to let Alden in because his magic band was saying he didn't have a park ticket.  Doug was fairly blunt in saying this is our 3rd park of the day.  They wanted to see our original key to the world card from when we checked into Port Orleans.  Luckily Doug had been toting them around with us.  By this point in the vacation we had 4 sets of Key to The World cards.  The transition to Magic Bands was not always Magical.  Eventual they let Alden in.  I think we considered just leaving him with the Guest Services guy that was being less then magical.  

After about 15 minutes of convincing them Alden had a valid park ticket we were headed to the Character spot.  By 11:35 we were in and meeting Mickey.  3 Mickey's down and just one to go.  

Goofy with Goofy.

The Girls.

We then headed into the Electric Umbrella for lunch.  We typically try to avoid eating lunch in Future world but we were hungry and it was close.  It is an ok place to eat.  One of 2 options for you typical hamburger and fries, and chicken strips in Epcot.  You do fill your own drinks there which is nice because then you can get a refill unlike most Disney quick service eateries. 

Now into Norway for the brand new Frozen meet and greet.  This just opened while we were on the cruise.  The move would come out later in the month.  We had heard about 20 to 30 minute waits.  The line was out in the sun with absolutely no protection from the elements.  It was hot.  

Elsa helped cool it off once we were inside.  Looking back it was an awkward moment because all we knew of them was from the trailer.  A few weeks later and the average wait would be closer to 70 minutes.  We only waited 15.  

Now it was time to head to Magic Kingdom but not with out our icon Picture first.

Still smiling with 3 parks down.  It was 1:25 and we were heading to the Monorail.

Doug's parents had taken the Magical Express to the airport had just texted that they were boarding the plane and we texted back 3 pictures of Mickey.

Clair on the monorail.

At the TTC our Fairy has arrived.

On at 1:48pm and sailing across the Seven Seas Lagoon.

By 2:05 we are in the Magic Kingdom.  We have officially entered all four parks in one day.  Alden had no problem getting in here.  

We went straight to meet Mickey.  By 2:48 we were with the big cheese.  The park was packed.

After checking the box of meeting mickey we got the Park Icon picture.  The Parade was just about to start so we felt like we had an audience watching us walk down the street.

A pit stop at the bathroom between Casey's and the Crystal Palace.  This is also the location for First aid and Baby Care center.  The last time we were in the Magic Kingdom on a day there was a Christmas party we ended our night using both of these places.   Let's hope we don't need them again.

By 3:03 we were boarding the Jungle Cruise.  Remember back at the begging of the day we had to make it here by 3:50.  We made it with plenty of time to spare.  Tonight the park closes early for a Christmas Party so we were worried we would be cutting it close but we made it in plenty of time.  We were officially done with our self made challenge! 4 parks, 4 mice, 4 icons, 4 attractions/meets!

We were done with our challenge and planed on spending the rest of the day at the Magic Kingdom until Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party starts.  We took a spin on some magic carpets.

Clair going with "no hands" before the ride moves.  She would never do that once the barnstormer starts.  

A ride on an elephant.

There was a PhotoPass photographer at the Dumbo photo op.  They put this in to get people to load and unload the ride faster.  So many people try to take pictures of their little ones on Dumbo and would hold up the process.  Remember you can get your pictures after the ride.

Using a FastPass+ to meet Aerial.

We then went on her ride to cool off.  It is nice and cold in her ride.  

We then trekked over to Big Thunder Mt. Railroad.  Doug joined us because he had a patch on today to ready for the flight home.  

We then wanted to get one last spin on Buzz Lightyear.  

Last ride of the trip is on the TTA People Mover.  Alden being brave and going no hands.  This is a nice way to end a trip you get lots of views of the park and a chance to talk as a family about all the great times we had.

After the People mover we had about 15 minutes until the castle lights came on so we staked out a spot by the Photopass.  We let people pass us in line until the lights were on.  Everyone we let pass us was concerned as to why we would let them so we told each one of them that we were waiting for the lights to be on.  They didn't understand thinking the Castle was already lit up.  Once the Christmas lights came on as they were walking away I'm sure they understood why we waited for that picture with the castle.  The lines for PhotoPass with the castle explode once the lights are on. 

Now it was time for the party to start so we had to head to the exit.  But this did not end our day.

We walked over to the contemporary Resort and got a cab to Downtown Disney.  There is no bus that runs from the parks to Downtown Disney so you must first go to a resort then to Downtown.  As we were walking up the the bus stops we saw the Downtown Disney bus pull out so we knew it would be at least 20min.  We were hungry and tired so for $15 we took a cab.  It was fast and easy.  Sometimes that is money very well spent.  

Our first stop was guest services to upgrade our 10day hopper to an Annual Pass.  We wanted to do this earlier in the trip but we never got a good answer about how it would effect our FastPass+ reservations.  We were advised to wait until the end.  We lost out on a couple food discounts by waiting but losing our FastPass+ would have been way worse.  

Finally time to eat.  Our go to quick service location in Downtown Disney is Wolfgang Puck express.  They have a wide selection.  We love the pizzas.  We also got to use our AP discount right off the bat!

This is Doug's BBQ chicken pizza.

Not wanting the trip to end we did some shopping.  This was the entire Frozen selection at The World of Disney.  No problems with keeping Elsa in stock the month before the movie came out.  Down the road this wall would have been empty.

Back to the resort and time to pack.  Doug loaded all our carry-ons into the van and we kept the checked bags in the room so we could check them first thing in the morning.  Its good to see all those lightbulbs working since that's what woke us up this morning.  This picture was taken just about Midnight and we have an 10 am flight tomorrow.  Wish us luck getting up and at em.  

So 4 parks one day.  We used 3 buses, 2 boats, one monorail, and one cab.  Left the room before 6 am and returned at about 10pm.  We accompislhed all our "goals" by 3:03pm. We went on plenty more attractions then our goals would have required.  We also managed to sit down and eat lunch and dinner.  It was fun to do and accomplish.  I don't recommend it for the faint of heart, but what a way to end a trip!