Today didn't get off to the best of start. In fact the day was only 30 minutes old when the phones started ringing. It was Karen's Mum's alarm going off, and calling her mobile. We had been asleep about 90 minutes by this point and so it took us a moment to work out what was going on. Karen messaged her brother initially who responded that Barry at home had reacted first and was already driving round to find out what had happened to his Nanny. A nervous 30 minute wait followed until we got the message from Barry that she had fallen again but seemed fine once he had lifted her up. This is happening too frequently now and something will need to be sorted when we are back. We are however so proud of our boys who are always prepared to help whatever time (5am BST when Barry got the call) or place.
After what seemed a very short night, our alarm went at 6.40am and we were out heading to the Animal Kingdom parking lot at 7.40am. We were in the queue to get in the park by 8.00am (Dinosaur 33) and let in at 8.10am. We wandered to the Pandora land where we were let in to join the melee for the Flights of Passage ride.
This is the newest Disney ride. It is just awesome and much better if you wear the goggles provided and not your sunglasses as I had done on our previous trip (I got in a muddle in the excitement and it was too late to change once I had realised). You sit upon individual devices like a motorbike and soar as if on the back of a Pandora Banshee.
All too soon the ride finished and by 9.09am we were in the queue for the Pandora river ride. I never made the ride last visit as I 'stormed' out of the queue angered at the queue management. The boys had stayed in the queue and it turned out that we were actually quite near the front of the queue when we left. This was to actually have a positive impact on our visit today, but more on that later. The ride itself was twee and certainly not worth a long wait (we waited about 15 minutes) although the Avatar at the end was impressive.
We then had our longest wait of the day at the Safari ride of about 25 minutes. Nevertheless it was worth it as we saw more animals today than we had ever seen before. I always say that you can see more doing that ride for a fraction of the costs of a 2 week actual Safari in Botswana.
We then rode Everest as single riders and were on within 10 minutes. Always a good fun exhilarating ride.
By now it was break time so we stopped at Starbucks whilst Neil went and bought himself Night Blossom drink (layers of Apple & Pears topped with Boba Balls). It looked to have a high sugar content. It was by now getting very hot.
We then decided to move to the Magic Kingdom and after getting back to the car, driving and hoping on the monorail it was less than a hour later we found ourselves in Main Street (parking in Scar 417).
Now we are fortunate to have with us the Disney Planner extraordinaire Neil. He is able to schedule our days so that we make the most of them after much detailed research and his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Disney. He had booked for us in advance the 3 mountains as Fastpasses (Splash, Thunder and Space).
I had however another trick up my sleeve. After I had 'stormed' out of the River ride at Animal Kingdom previously, I had spent the time waiting for the boys productively to email Disney exactly what they had wrong with the queuing system at that point. They had replied with an apology and the offer of 2 extra fast passes which we could collect on out next visit. So at City Hall on Main Street I took the email in and requested them. To my delight they then added 2 extra fast passes for all 3 of us to be used on any ride at any time that day. Result - Thank you Uncle Walt! Customer Service done the way only Disney can.This meant we knew we would now just walk onto 5 rides.
We thought we would use the first extra one straightway on the other 'mountain', the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. This had a 70 minute Standby wait and we had been unable to get a Fatspass initially for. We joined the Fastpass queue and rode within 5 minutes. Its good, but not my favourite.
From here we went and had lunch at Colombia House and for a theme park was jolly nice too. I can thourougly recommend the Clam Chowder and Lobster Roll.
As we were next door to Hall of Presidents we thought we would watch the updated show starring Donald Trump. The theatre was full to see and hear Donalds speech. We liked the thumbs up from him at the end. When we came out we found that the rain had started. We put our jackets on and went to the Haunted Mansion as the rain was not heavy. The queue for this was mainly in the dry and within 15 minutes we were enjoying the ride.
It was still raining when we finished the ride and so thought we would seek shelter in the Pirates of the Caribbean queue. This was surprisingly short considering the rain and we were off the ride after about 25 minutes.
As we were still in Adventureland we thought we would ride Jungle Cruise. It was a short 10 minute wait. The ride is succeeds or fails by the boat skipper narrative. We had an 'older' gentleman as our skipper. He knew the script but delivered it almost deadpan. He was also very quiet. It was almost as if he was senior management who was just spending a day working on the floor. It was quite disappointing and all so different from our last ride in November when it was 'redone' as Jingle Cruise and a lot of festive fun.
We then walked to Splash Mountain and enjoyed the ride as ever. The rain had by now eased up and we were pleased to get off the ride still dry.
There was still some 30 minutes until our Fast Pass for Thunder Mountain. So we decided to ride the Railroad all round the park. It had been many years since we had done so. This was very relaxing and quite enjoyable and took us past the building work for the new Tron ride which is not due to open for a couple of years.
It was now time for Thunder Mountain and our fastness meant we were on the train in about 5 minutes. This ride is still the favourite of both Karen and myself. I really wanted to ride again but we had decided to use our other extra fastness elsewhere and I was not prepared to queue for 45 minutes.
After this we walked and stopped so that Neil can get one of his favourite treats a Dole Whip on route through to Tomorrowland. We then decided to ride Peoplemover. It may be simple but it is a nice quiet retreat and allows good views over other rides. Then we rode Space Mountain which scares me somewhat as I can never anticipate the twists and turns. I would like one day to see the ride with the lights on.
I decided to be generous to Karen & Neil and didn't insist on making them sit through 'Carousel of Progress' even though I perversely really enjoy it.
So instead we wandered over and used our second extra Fastpass to ride Buzz Lightyear. This is always great fun, although I am genuinely uncertain if I won. I thought I only scored 80k but Neil was convinced it was 800k which was very generous of him. But whatever we all came off with a large smile on our faces.
By then we were hungry go we wandered back to FantasyLand and grabbed some food in Pinocchios Haus.
It was then time to get in position for the fireworks and we grabbed a prime spot not too far from the Walt & Mickey statue. We had the perfect view. The firework and light show 'Happily Ever After' was breath-taking and remarkable. Quite honestly in my opinion it was well worth the admission price alone. It is the best show of that type I have ever seen.
After this we meandered with the crowds out along Main Street and caught the Ferry back to the car park and then home.
We had had another unforgettable day. We had walked 8.3 miles and probably done more 'big' rides than anyone else that day. All done at a relaxed pace and remarkably with very little queuing. We were all tired, but happy and content. Exactly how a day in Disney should end. Apart from the absence of Barry and a small period of rain it could not have been bettered.