The first day of our Disney World Vacation in Florida started on a very warm April, Florida Morning with temperatures in the upper 70’s, it was going to be a warm one.
We start every Disney Vacation the same way. On the first day, we try to get out of the resort early and we head up I-4 East and get off on the Sand Lake Rd exit to get to International Drive in Orlando. We usually eat at the Ponderosa Steak House opposite the Castle Hotel and then visit the tacky gift shop that is attached to the restaurant. After breakfast, we usually head over to one of the many local Walmart’s to pick up some snacks and drinks for the room (The vending machine at Pop Century charges $3.75 for a 20oz Diet Coke). We also go through the Disney souvenir section and my daughters and wife usually buy some Disney Trading Pins there along with a teeshirt or two for them. Then it is off to the Magic Kingdom until the wee hours of the morning or I get too tired, which ever comes first.
This year was different though. When we pulled into the parking lot of the Ponderosa Steak House that we have been going to almost every year since 2005, the signs were off the building and it was closed. I couldn’t believe it, I so looked forward to eating breakfast there every year! The food was good, it was not that expensive and the staff was incredible. They always took care of their jobs and made you feel very comfortable, like you were at home. I was devastated! So we ended up stopping at the McDonald’s on Sand Lake Rd., it was, well, it was McDonald’s. So we headed over the the Walmart on Turkey Lake Rd to stock up on previsions for the room and to get some souvenirs. We were able to get some snacks and drinks for when we got back to the room each night, but when we went over to the souvenir section, Walmart no longer carries Disney Trading Pins!!! My girls and wife looked forward to this part of the first morning so much that they started talking about it about 6 weeks before our trip… I started to think, “Oh no, I hope that this is not the way the whole trip is going to go…”. Well, it is now on to Magic Kingdom.
Entering the Magic Kingdom in Disney World
We arrived at Magic Kingdom just before 11:30am, right on my schedule. Disney has changed the security procedure for getting into Magic Kingdom. Bag check and metal detectors are now right as you get off of the parking lot trams and before you get on the Monorail or Ferry. This setup seemed to be much less congested than when security was right at the Magic Kingdom’s entrance.
Once off of the Monorail, we tapped our Magic-bands and in the park we went. We could not have timed our entrance to the park any better. Just as we entered Town Square, the “Festival of Fantasy” parade started coming down Main St. This was the first time that we have seen the whole parade and it was awesome.
Once the parade was done we headed over to take pictures of the girls in front of their favorite Princesses in the display windows of the Emporium. My wife has done this every year that we have visited Disney World. Ashleigh always gets her picture taken in front of the Cinderella window display and Jessica, in front of the Ariel, The Little Mermaid display.
One Last Ride
After walking down Main St, we went over to Futureland to get on “Stitch’s Great Escape” for one last ride. Stitch’s Great Escape is currently only running on a seasonal schedule and this was the last day that we could ride this attraction. Rumor is that this ride is going to disappear into Magic Kingdom History when Disney does a major refurbishment of the Futureland area within the next couple of years. Which I agree with. Futureland is currently very narrow and difficult to navigate through during even moderately busy days. I think that a refurbishment on the scale of what Disney did in Fantasyland a few years ago is well overdue. Maybe add a new attraction in the large area where they now hold the Disney Dance Party, which, sorry to say, does not seem to be a big hit with anyone over the age of 5.
Time to Eat in Magic Kingdom
At this time, everyone was starting to get hungry, so we headed over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe Quick Service Restaurant. Again, this is another spot that we have gone to every year that we have visited the Magic Kingdom. It is, for us, one of the “Must Do’s” that Stacey is going on and on about on the Disney World Resort TVs in everyone’s room.
The first thing that I noticed was the construction walls… Let’s face it, for the past 7-8 years, you could not go into ANY of the Disney World Parks without facing construction walls, so it wasn’t a big deal.
We go to Cosmic Ray’s because the first time that we went to Magic Kingdom my daughters fell in love with Sonny Eclipse, the animatronic lounge singer that entertains and tells corny jokes while you eat. Once inside the restaurant it was incredibly crowded, to the point that you were getting bumped into or bumping into someone no matter how hard you tried not to. It took us about 10 minutes before we ordered our food… 2 Bacon Cheeseburger platters, 1 Chicken Nugget Platter and 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken platter and 4 large drinks… $82!!! I asked the cashier to double check this, but it was right… (I must have forgotten for a moment that I was on Disney Property.). I felt bad for the Cast Members that were working there, it was almost impossible for them to keep up with the amount of orders that they were trying to push out. Once we got our food and were able to hunt down a table, we finally ate. To be honest, the food was not even close to being good. The meat on the cheeseburgers was chewy and lukewarm at best. There was 1 piece of, I guess it could be called bacon. The chicken nuggets seemed like they had been under a heat lamp for at least an hour. Needless to say, I wasn’t too pleased with this meal.
The Rest of the Night in Magic Kingdom
The rest of our night went by flawlessly. It was very busy, but that is to be expected during April Spring Vacation week at the Magic Kingdom. The girls, including my wife, had a wonderful time and so did I.
Just remember when going to any of the Disney Parks, you will be doing a lot of walking, I mean a LOT of walking. The pedometer on my iPhone said that I had walked 10.2 miles that day… So do yourself a favor, when visiting the Disney Parks, make sure to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes because a blister on the first day, can ruin your entire vacation.
We ended up leaving the Magic Kingdom at about 12:45am (Extra Magic Hours were 12:00 – 2am), went back to Pop Century and tried to get some sleep on what Disney calls mattresses (look for a blog about this coming soon).