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2023 - Florida - November - Day 13

We woke up to the worst weather of the trip. The rain started slowly and then turned from a persistent drizzle to being quite heavy. It lasted all morning. We didn’t mind too much as we had planned a quiet morning in before heading out after lunch for the day.

After breakfast we all busied ourselves doing various jobs. To have a break I then started to read another book from the villa’s library – ‘Lesson’s in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus’ which has recently made into a series on Apple TV. I was immediately engrossed and I highly recommend it.

Karen & I sat under the Lanai watching the rain and as it was still very warm it was quite lovely and relaxing. I think Neil was upstairs catching up on his sleep.

Following lunch at 2.30pm we headed out and headed to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. This was our first and only time having to pay for Disney parking trip and so I hardly flinched when handing over the exorbitant $30 fee. We could see from where we parked that the park was not that busy today which is how we like it (Villains - Hook 319)

We caught the waiting tram to the TTC and then walked to the Polynesian Resort for a look round. Every time we visit here, I am reminded why it is my favourite Disney Hotel. There is something about whole look, feel and atmosphere of the place. One day when that very big lottery win comes in, we will stay here even if only for a couple of nights.

The plan had then been to catch the monorail to visit the Grand Floridian Hotel as well. However, there was such a queue for the monorail that we abandoned that plan to go straight to the Magic Kingdom Park for ‘Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party’.

It was very kind of Mickey to invite us especially as we aren’t really that close friends. For quite a significant outlay on our part he had sent us tickets which allowed us admission from 4pm with the party staring properly from 7pm. He had promised us free treats as we went around and access to exclusive events taking place.

Actually, the tickets for these nights sell out months in advance and we have been considering going for a few years. What had finally persuaded us was the promise of very short queues for the rides as capacity is capped at 1/3 of a normal day crowd. As we got off the monorail it didn’t feel like that as most people already queuing to enter the park as soon as possible. What looked horrendous though was very well organised and we were in the park by 4.10pm and getting our red party wristbands that we had to keep showing throughout the evening to show we were party guests.

We were then shepherded to collect our free Christmas ornament that Mickey had personally bought and wrapped for the 30000 attendees of tonight’s party.

Not all attractions remain open for the party so we headed to one of the few that shuts at 6pm when the day visitors must leave the park at 6pm. The Country Bear Jamboree is long overdue a refresh which has now been scheduled and so we would thought we should visit it one last time. It always amuses me.

We then rode the Railroad around the park which was very relaxing. After this Karen & I sat and ate some loaded Chicken Strips which were quite acceptable and reasonable theme park food. Whilst we were eating these Neil secured our position in the virtual queue for the new ride ‘Tron’.

Then we strolled over to Thunder Mountain which said it had a 10-minute queue. In fact, it was a straight walk on. It seemed faster and more frantic in the dark. Karen & Neil walked round and rode it for a second time again with no wait. It was the same for the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride which we walked straight on. I was definitely liking this Christmas Party and its crowd limit. The Pirate ride always amazes me with the sheer size of it. It is hard to explain to a non-Disney person just how extraordinary it is.

I accept that everyone is different but I do struggle with the fact that some people say they would never come to Florida or Disney without trying it. I accept some may be saying it as a defence mechanism as they may not be able to afford it. I recall conversations with people who told me their kids would hate it. What nonsense, let them make their own decision and don’t force your own prejudices on them. I reckon there is not one child in the world who would not love it. It’s just that some of us never grow out of it.

Then we made our way over to Tomorrowland where we rode on the Peoplemover first. This was followed by the Buzz Lightyear where Neil used his knowledge of the ride to narrowly beat me.

It was then time to collect our first free treats – a cookie and a hot chocolate. The cookies were sealed so we saved ours to take back to Ellie. I tried the hot chocolate but it was just far too sweet for my taste. As we walked round the various Lands, we tried to collect them all. Karen liked the one that offered Apple Cider (Apple Juice) rather than the Hot Chocolate.

It was then time to ride Tron for the first time as our virtual queue position was called. I had a few concerns about riding it due to the position you get in to ride it. Karen though was having real colly wobbles about doing it at all. We kept trying to reassure her and both of us tried the test seat to see how it felt. Actually, it was felt surprisingly comfortable and safe. Essentially you are in a crouched position like riding a fast motorbike. You pull back on the handgrips causing a flap to come up onto your back to hold you in.

Our anticipation grew as we put our bags into the free lockers provided. Annoyingly though neither our watches or phones would open the lockers but luckily Neil had brought along his old magic band.

The ride itself was fabulous. It was so smooth and fast and over far too quickly. We all loved it. The only damage I suffered was twisting my knee getting off the ride. Because of that I decided to be sensible and gave the Christmas themed Space Mountain a miss as I always struggle to get out of the carriages at the best of times. Karen & Neil really enjoyed it though.

After getting more cookies we headed to the mine train which supposedly had a 20-minute wait. It was though much less than that. It had been a few trips since I had ridden it and I had forgotten how enjoyable it was. I couldn’t remember the carriages swaying as you went along.

More rides followed before we found a position to watch the fireworks with 10 minutes to go. Neil got himself a Hot Dog from Casey’s Corner whilst we waited. The fireworks were spectacular set to the Christmas Music. At the appropriate section with the 12 Days of Christmas, the 5 Gold rings fired into the sky was one highlight

Then we did more rides until it was time for the Christmas parade that Karen & Neil were keen to watch. I found a seat a little way back and still saw enough of it to appreciate it. It started with Mickey & Minnie on a float and ended with one with Santa on one.

Our final ride of the night and yet another walk on was The Haunted Mansion. Then we left the park at 11.58pm just as it was closing. Just as I was about to get in the car it started to rain again, which had held off all the time we were in the park. Perfect timing.

The tickets for this event were slightly more expensive than a single day ticket. However, as the crowd level was restricted, we probably got more done than we would have in a normal day with all the Christmas festivities thrown in. We all decided we would like to do it again.

At the villa, Karen & I had a very welcome cup of tea before heading to bed at 1am.

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