|Day 2, Monday December 31, 2001
This was a day spent entirely at the Magic Kingdom.
We didnít get up real early, we slept in until about 9:30, and didnít get to the park until about 10:30. But, Nick and I didnít get home until 1:23 a.m. Debbie left the park right after midnight.
I will admit that we have never been to the parks over the holidays before. But, I was amazed at how many people can actually fit into the Magic Kingdom. We have been here in the summer, butt it was nothing like New Yearís Eve. We learned later that they closed the gates for a while, because they had reached a capacity crowd. So, this may have been a slow year, but they certainly didnít seem to be having trouble on New Yearís Eve.
This size crowd effects everything you do. The line rides were amazingly long. Most signs posted 90 to 120 minutes standby wait. As usual, the actual waits seemed a bit shorter, but you definitely spent a lot of time in lines. Even Fast Pass only gave small relief, as youíd be getting a Fast Pass several hours in advance. Naturally, we were holding a couple at a time, picking up a new one as soon as held the old one for two hours.
So, even though we were there a long time, we didnít get in the rides we wanted to. But, you had to take the big crowd as a celebration, as a sign that there were a bunch of people glad to be here, all of whom believed in what this place has to say about the future. If you looked at it as a great big party, with everyone sharing the excitement, then the crowd kind of got to be part of the experience.
We may have actually wasted some time too, by walking from one side of the park to another, trying to hit our favorites. We may have wasted less time if we had planned to hit things close together. Regardless, this was a great way to bring in the new year.
I do think we would have been in a lot of trouble for dinner if we didnít have PSís. I guess thatís obvious, but I did see people trying to walk up to the Liberty Tree while we were waiting for our table, and they were going away frustrated.
We rode the new Aladdin magic carpet ride several times. Actually, I think I rode it three times, and Debbie twice, but Nick rode it a lot more. Right before midnight, I think people may have started gathering for the fireworks, and the crowd in Adventureland got pretty light, so Nick had a chance to get in some quick repeats, about 3 I think. This is a very clever ride. You hear that it is like Dumbo. It is similar, but so much better in many ways. There is plenty of room by comparison--the three of us easily rode together, as there is a front and back seat, both fairly roomy. Two of us canít ride on Dumbo together any longer, that is a fairly small ride. Also, you have control of both your tip and your up and down motion. Dumbo doesnít have tip control, and the up and down motion control does not seem as responsive. Also, this first night the spitting camel was working.
|That adds a kick to it. If you fly too low when near the camel,
it will spit on you. Later in the week, it was turned off for the
cold. The music from the movie and Aladdin doing the safety intro
are also very nice touches. This is a nice addition to Adventureland,
which needed a little extra something to bring it new life. They
have also changed the nearby shops to more of an Agrabah Bazaar, which
is a nice thematic touch.
Right after getting into the park in the morning, we enjoyed the quaint and charming Christmas decorations on Main Street and the enormous Christmas Tree at the head of the street. We kind of didnít remember the statue of Roy Disney and Minnie at the front of the street. It does seem appropriate, since Roy saw to it that the place got finished. It was kind of neat the way he was sitting under the tree.
When we got to the other end of Main Street, we stopped at the Plaza Pavilion (didn't it used to be Tomorrowland Terrace?) for chicken strips and pizza. We thought that both the strips and the pizza were quite good. We did see people in little turn-ins on Main Street enjoying goods from the bakery, and they looked wonderful. But the bakery was packed, and the lines at the terrace werentí nearly as bad. We enjoyed what we had.
We started our ride day at Tomorrowland. The very first ride we did was Carousel of Progress. It really does seem to be fresh and clean, and the skims looked much better than before. Even Debbie commented on enjoying COP this time, as she is usually pretty tired by the time we ride it. It is a wonderfully fresh bit of original Walt Disney magic, and Iím glad we saw it for Waltís 100th birthday. It gives you an insight into his optimism and world view.
COP was packed, by the way. There was a CM insisting that people slide down the rows.
We did the peoplemover (I know, I know, TTA) right after COP. For some reason, Debbie and Nick always like this ride, and I do like trying to snap some photos from it. It works well if you are fast enough. At this point, which was before noon, the Fast Pass for Space Mountain was showing a return time of 5:15, which collided with our dinner time. The standby line was actually out to 120 minutes. So, we killed time by riding Autopia, and came back for an even later Fast Pass (7:45), to avoid our dinner time.
While standing in the Autopia line, Nick noticed the talking trash can chasing some kid around, and went to join the parade. I donít know what happened, as I was holding our place in line (Debbie was in the grandstands). But, Iím sure it was an amusing interaction, and Nick experienced a little unexpected magic. ,
The line at Autopia was quite long, but moved very quickly. There were four lanes opened at the pit, and Iíve seen it down to just one. We were through the whole thing, wait and ride, in about an hour.
|After getting our Fast Pass, we went on to the Wild Tea Party.
We had a great fast ride, managing to get quite a spin going. Then,
we decided to walk down to the Haunted Mansion, the best ride on property.
We had some popcorn o the way. Somehow, we got separated during a
bathroom break. The cell phones saved us, letting us hook up again
by the HM. I donít know what we would have done without them.
Yes, I tried to film using my camcorder during the HM. But, it is not as bad as it sounds. I used the viewfinder, not the pop out screen. And, more importantly, I used no video lighting. I would never do something so horrible to my fellow guests. The Sony has an infrared mode, so you can shoot in total darkness. The color is false, of course, but it still may be fun to see what we caught in the Mansion.
The film came out pretty darned good, and I had fun putting it on our DVD. There is a Quicktime version of it on our videos page, but the resolution doesn't do it justice.
I wonít do it again, though. It kept me from getting the full enjoyment from the ride.
The ride itself was near perfect. No breakdowns, and no trouble with other guests.
Next, we took a swing at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But, it didnít work out, because the standby sign was ninety minutes, and we were already too close to supper for that. And we couldnít Fast Pass, because we were barely within the two hour window of holding on our Space Mountain Fast Pass. So, we went down and had a nice ride on the Liberty Bell, and came back to collect a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Fast Pass afterwards.
When I went back for the Fast Pass, the return time was 9:20, and this was at 3:30 in the afternoon.
At this point, we decided to go ahead and go into the Liberty Tree, though we were slightly early for our PS.
We had a very good meal at the Liberty Tree Tavern. We sat in the George and Martha Washington room, and had the same waiter as our last visit! He didnít remember us, but we remembered him from the Benjamin Franklin room.
For some reason, Goofy was missing. This may have been a consequence of the crowd, maybe they had two of the other characters. Itís hard to say. We missed him, but had a lot of fun with Chip and Dale, Minnie, and Pluto. They each came by twice, and were very amusing, especially Pluto. They seem to always find a very animated fellow to play Pluto.
It was a very good meal, with outstanding characters. Iím very glad we did it, because we didnít do much other character interaction this trip. We took some video, and quite a few pictures.
They did change the butter around, combining the honey spread and the apple butter into one spread. This was a mistake. The result is tasty, but the apple butter was better by itself. Thatís about my only objection to the whole meal, though.
|If you donít know, you start here at dinner with a great salad, then
they server up several meats--honey ham, turkey, and roast beef--family
style, together with old fashioned mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
Itís all you can eat. Although desert is not included, I never pass
on their deserts, and had some great berry custard here. The service
is great, the decorations charming, and the characters never fail to please.
The Liberty Tree was extremely busy tonight, not surprisingly.
We headed over to Adventureland after we finished at the Liberty Tree. We fooled around for a little while in that ďsurf shopĒ in Adverntureland, and I found a shirt nice enough for casual Fridays ;^).
Nick found out about this time that they were giving away free horns and hats in Adventureland, near the Aladdin ride. Nick and I both took hats and horns, but Debbie declined. Somehow, I donít think she enjoyed our horns all that much ;^). ,
While in Adventureland, we rode Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Jungle Cruise, having a very nice ride on all three of these.
|I did like our Jungle Cruise Ride, but the guide was kind of lukewarm.
JC is one of those attractions that entirely depends on the CM you get,
sometimes itís great, other times itís just OK.
We also enjoyed the little remote control boats right outside of Jungle Cruise. This is an interesting diversion, and a nice ride tie in. We spent 6 dollars there, though, which is entirely too much. We all took a try at it. Itís actually pretty difficult to get them to go over the various little triggers.
After this, we headed back to Space Mountain for our Fast Pass. You know, the Fast Pass still kind of works, even with this crazy crowds. We managed to ride both Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without spending three hours in lines for these two rides together. Instead, we spent this time doing other things, although our FPs were a long time after we got them.
I had a pretty good ride on Space Mountain. I may have gotten more air than usual, since between the camera case, the horns and hats (holding for both myself and Nick), there was no way to hold on ;^).
Right after our Fast Pass on Space Mountain, we got in a great quick ride on Buzz Lightyear. Naturally, there was quite a line, but it was worthwhile. Debbie was with Nick, I was by myself, and we all turned in pretty mediocre scores, but it was fun.
We did another turn on TTA while in Tomorrowland as well.
|We also listened, especially standing in the queues, to the great DJ
they had. The stage and costuming had a great, silvery, Tomorrowland
feel to them. There was also a pretty good DJ, BTW, over in Adventureland,
in the Caribbean Plaza (with a different theme, of course).
After Buzz and the TTA, we walked over to Mickeyís Toontown fair, and took a ride on Goofyís Barnstormer while there. Now, here was a lot of time invested in a line for a short ride, but it was fun, and in keeping with the spirit of the day. We tried blowing our horns a bit on the Barnstormer, a trick someone in Space Mountain had done.
It was our plan to ride the train back to Fronteirland for our Fast Pass on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We could have walked much faster, because of the wait we had getting on the train. But, the train was another ride we wanted to do today, and was relaxing when we were finally on board.
Ah, but walking to the front of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad line with our Fast Pass was wonderful. We had one great ride, blowing our horns at the points where everyone else was shouting. It was fun, but I wouldnít recommend it any night but New Yearís Eve. Anyway, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was a blast.
After Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Debbie was definitely ready for a rest, so we sat down for some burgers and hot dogs at Pecos Billís. Before we were quite finished, Spectra Magic was starting outside the window. Nick begged to go see it, and we gave him instructions on where to stand.
We joined him shortly, catching probably ninety percent of the parade. We had not seen Spectra Magic before, and it is a wonderful parade (although the Main Street Electrical Parade is probably better overall). The Fantasia sequence here is terrific, especially Chernabogís appearance. The use of snow white lights switching back and forth to color at the end is also very cool. It is a great parade overall.
We all went for a ride on Aladdin after this. I got a little bit of film, which turned out so-so, and this was the point at which the camcorder battery gave up the ghost. So, I didnít get any of the very late night happenings, but had a pretty good set of film from the day anyway. After this ride was when the crowd had thinned a bit, and Nick got in his 3 extra solo rides here, while Debbie and I took it easy.
Some things were closed and some open in Adventureland at this point. We missed the Tiki Room by waiting a bit too late, and it would have to be seen another day.
But, after this came what was really the highlight of the day. We headed towards the hub for the fireworks display. We stood on the sidewalk between the Adventureland bridge and the hub, and had a marginal view of the castle because of the trees. But, when the fireworks began, they were set off not only over the castle, but over the front gate. So, we had a good view of two shows, all coordinated to that great music. Then came midnight.
|Well, it is hard to describe. The stroke of midnight fireworks
were launched from all directions, from about 10 stations in a circle.
Everything came together overhead at the hub. It was a spectacular
finale, coordinated to the music. Everyone was cheering, a lot of
people were blowing horns, and the view overhead was breathtaking.
It was a stunning way to begin the year. It made you feel like you
were really celebrating something, and maybe was an expression of hope
for this New Year.
After the fireworks, the park emptied out completely. Nick and I had the place nearly to ourselves. We rode on Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Haunted Mansion, all as walk ons. The Haunted Mansion ride was utterly perfect, I always enjoy it a little bit more when it is less crowded. Nick enjoyed yet another ice cream bar, as the cold weather which would come later in the week hadnít taken full hold of the place yet.
What a terrific place to spend New Yearís Eve this was! What a wonderful way to bring in the new year! I would still rather have been in Epcot, but letting Nick have his way turned out very well after all.
If we can keep this enthusiasm and optimism into the year ahead, that would truly be a blessing.
Nick and I didnít make it back to the room until 1:23 a.m., making for a very long day. It would cut into us a little bit tomorrow, but it was worth it for the New Yearís Eve we had.
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