A Magical Birthday in the Magic Kingdom
Our first morning in Orlando dawned bright and sunny, I was the first one up and out of bed and I quickly woke the children as we had a reservation for breakfast at ‘Ohana in the Polynesian hotel. I had already got washed and dressed before any of us remembered it was my birthday, so with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ I quickly opened all of my cards (I had opened my gifts before we left for Florida) and I had a couple of surprise gifts that Mark and the children had picked up in Downtown Disney the night before. I also had a card from Mickey and voicemail wishing me a Happy Birthday from him too!
We left our room and headed up to the bus stop for our first experience of the Disney transportation system. The bus stop was no more than a 2 minute walk from our room and we had just sat down when the Magic Kingdom bus came round the corner, it was still early as our reservation was for 7.30am so we were the only people on the bus! Old Key West looked absolutely beautiful in the morning sunlight and as we drove past the main pool, we all agreed that we would go for a dip later in the day.
It took about 15 minutes to get to the Magic Kingdom and we then walked over to catch the Monorail round to the Polynesian. I was really looking forward to this breakfast as my favourite character, Stitch, was going to be there!
The lobby of the Polynesian never fails to take my breath away – the waterfall is just beautiful. We had a quick look from the balcony as we walked round to ‘Ohana to check in, where we were each given a lei and had our photo taken. The restaurant wasn’t open when we arrived, but just as we went up for our photo the music from Lilo and Stitch started playing (I love that music!) and our buzzer went off, signalling that our table was ready. We headed into the restaurant where we were greeted by several servers who wished me a happy birthday and gave me a birthday badge and a card signed by Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.
We were shown to our seats and were told that the characters would be round soon. Juice and coffee were brought over and soon after our breakfast arrived. The breakfast was a huge sharing platter consisting of bacon, eggs, potatoes and sausages. Mickey waffles were brought round separately. We soon got to meet all of the characters and the children took part in a parade around the restaurant. The photographer came by with our picture and we showed him our PhotoPass+ card so that we didn’t have to pay for it again and he very kindly arranged to have it shipped to our room for us. Suitably stuffed, it was time to leave as I wanted to get to the Magic Kingdom in time to see the opening ceremony. Our server was a little while coming back with the bill and I was starting to get a little fidgety, but when she did reappear she gave me 4 birthday cupcakes for us to take with us and eat later! It was a really lovely surprise.
As we got off the monorail at the Magic Kingdom we could hear that the opening ceremony had started, but fortunately we had only missed a couple of minutes and we got there just as the train pulled in with the characters on board. I had wanted to see this on our last trip but we had never timed it right, so I was delighted to be able to see it on our first day. The fireworks went off and the gates opened – we were in! As it was our first day we had agreed that we would probably just do half a day in the park and then head back to the hotel for an easy afternoon.
It seemed fairly quiet so we headed straight for the new Fantasyland area as I had read that the queues can get quite long.
Enchanted Tales with Belle was showing a 15 minute wait, but it was actually more like a 5 minute wait. The queuing area inside Belle’s cottage was cute and the kids enjoyed measuring themselves against her height chart. Soon we were into the pre-show area and the magic mirror opened up to let us through. I still think that this is one of the most clever things I have ever seen and I’m sure that there’s a really sensible and boring explanation about how the mirror works, but I like to think that it is just a bit of Disney magic that makes the mirror grow!
Next up was Under The Sea - The Journey of The Little Mermaid. There was no queue for this so we walked straight on. We enjoyed the ride but it felt quite similar to the Nemo ride in Epcot. We came back out into the sunshine and walked round to The Barnstormer. This is quite a small coaster but as there was no queue we decided to ride – this was a first for all of us. The ride was ok, but it is definitely aimed at younger children and it’s not one that we would queue for. It was starting to get very hot by now so the kids decided to pay a visit to the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station, where they splashed and got soaked! It was a really fun area but could do with a little more seating for those of us that wish to supervise our children from a safe distance, without getting splashed or soaked ourselves. Eventually they decided that they had cooled down sufficiently and they emerged from the spray looking bedraggled, we found a spot in the sun for them to dry off a bit while we all had a drink and then it was time to meet some characters.
First up was Goofy. I explained to the kids that they shouldn’t get too close to Goofy, as they were still quite wet, and with that he pulled all of us in for a huge group hug! He was really funny and messed around with the kids for a while as there was nobody else waiting to see him. Next was Donald who was just as funny as Goofy. We went back round and joined the short queue to see Minnie and Daisy too. After you’ve seen them the line brings you out into the newest gift shop – Big Top Souvenirs – it was literally like being under the big top of an old-fashioned circus. It’s worth a visit just to see the amazing toffee apples being made in the centre.
Having done everything in Fantasyland we decided to visit Frontierland to see what the queues were like for Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. The queues were quite long so we got a FastPass for Splash Mountain and then headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean as we had a bit of a wait for our FastPass time. I love Pirates, it is one of my favourite rides at Walt Disney World. The queue looked quite long, but it moved quickly and it only took about 10 minutes before we were boarding our boat. Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me!
Once we were outside I used the My Disney Experience App to check the wait times for the Jungle River Cruises, it was showing 20 minutes but as this ride was going to be closing in a few days for a refurb we decided to join the queue. Despite having fans stationed along the queuing area, it was super hot and I was so pleased when it was finally time to board our boat. I love how cheesy the jokes are on this ride and they still make me laugh, despite the fact that they are the same jokes that I heard on my first visit 20 years ago! (Yes I am that old!!)
We safely made it back to dry land and still had about 30 minutes to kill until our FastPass window opened up so we decided to pay the Swiss Family Treehouse a visit. I think I must be getting old because my legs were killing by the time we climbed to the top! The kids didn’t seem overly impressed with this attraction, so we were up, down and out within about 10 minutes. As we had the Disney Dining Plan we made use of our snack credits and each chose an ice cream and had a ride on the Liberty Square Riverboat as we thought the breeze would cool us down a bit. The boat ride was lovely, but it is so slow and gentle that there was no breeze at all and we were hotter than ever when we got off!
It was finally time for our Splash Mountain FastPasses hooray! So we headed over to the Briar Patch. I love, love, love this ride! When we rode it on our last trip, the kids had enjoyed it but were a little freaked out by the drop and this time Harry seemed really nervous (this became a theme throughout the holiday). We did the first drop and they weren’t too bothered but as we came around to climb the slope for the really big drop Harry declared that he ‘would like to get off now!’ I pointed out that this wasn’t going to be possible and tried to distract him by pointing out the Hidden Mickey at the top of the slope just as we plummeted 5 storeys (he wasn’t impressed!)
I had purchased the PhotoPass+ package so we added our ride photo onto our card and headed out into the sun to dry off a bit. We were all starting to get a little tired and agreed that it was time to head back to our resort, but on the way out of the park we would stop in at the Harmony Barber Shop to see if Mark and Harry could get their hair cut. We were in luck as they had some spaces available. Two smart new haircuts later, we caught the bus and were on our way back to Old Key West.
The kids really wanted to go swimming, so we went back to our room and popped our swimwear on under our clothes and then walked up to the main pool, taking our refillable mugs with us. As we were walking I was fairly sure that I had felt a drop of rain, but wasn’t worried as it didn’t matter if it was raining while we were swimming. A few minutes later we were just walking along to the pool when I thought I saw lightning in the distance - this was bad news because if I was right it would mean that the pool would be closed. (Disney always close their pools and water rides if there is lightning in the area.) Sure enough, we got to the pool and the lifeguards said they were sorry but the pool was closed but they didn’t think it would be for very long, so they pointed us toward Conch Flats Community Hall. It was really busy in there with loads of kids killing time while waiting for the pool to reopen, but everyone was lovely and we were made to feel very welcome.
The Cast Members asked the kids if they would like to make a magnet each and they helped them choose a design and gave them some colouring pens to use. They then brought the kids over a travel cup each and helped them to design and laminate their own pictures to go inside, they also gave them a small cuddly toy each too! While we were doing this Mark went and filled up our mugs and brought them in, telling us that there was still lightning in the area and the pool was going to be closed for a while longer. We decided to head back to the room and get changed, before popping over to Downtown Disney to get a bite to eat.
We caught the bus to Downtown Disney and had another Earl of Sandwich before the kids spent some more of their hard-earned pocket-money. At about 9pm we called it a day and caught the bus back to the resort. The kids were in bed and asleep within minutes, Mark and I watched a little bit of T.V. before calling it a night too. It had been a fantastic day and one of the best birthdays I have ever had!