If you remember my previous posts, my mom, the kids, and I were really enjoying our Florida vacation…until the last day when our luck ran out. We had saved the Magic Kingdom for last, hoping it would be a little less crowded on a day not flanking the weekend. That was our first mistake.
In the past, we tried to be at the Disney parks before rope drop. This year, we decided Monkey Boy would do better without the initial crowd, so we had been arriving a little bit after opening. We didn’t think the Magic Kingdom would be any different. Armed with fastpasses for Space Mountain in the morning, I had our itinerary all planned out.
The first hiccup in my plan occurred while in the parking lot. We were planning to take the tram from the parking lot to the ticket and transportation center, which is the hub for transportation to the Magic Kingdom. We got in line behind the pole designating the front of the tram line. Soon after, the parking attendant picked up the pole and moved it further to the back of the line without saying a word. By then, the line was completely backed up, so we decided to walk (big mistake!) because it didn’t appear to be far. When we arrived at the ticket and transportation center twenty minutes later, with Monkey Boy already complaining about his asthma, we realized our error.
Disney also had this brilliant idea to put the Magic Kingdom on an island, so you can only arrive via monorail or boat. We chose the boat thinking that the line looked shorter and more people could pile onto it. By the time we made it through the ticket line and rented a wheelchair, then worked our way through the throngs of people taking selfies on the main thoroughfare and finally arrived in Tomorrowland, the kids were begging to go home! Mind you, this was our eighth day of amusement parks, and everyone was beginning to tire of the crowds and heat.
A cool drink and the promise of Space Mountain revived them. I planned to get a DAS pass to Buzz Lightyear, but when I asked, they said the system was down (because of the heat!!) and were pretty rude about it. Just two days before when the system wasn’t working in Animal Kingdom, they gave us a paper pass, but we weren’t in the mood to argue and never did make it to Buzz Lightyear.
Space Mountain (another ride from which I refrained, but my mom had on her bucket list) put everyone in a better mood. We headed off to use our fastpasses for The Little Mermaid, which according to Monkey Boy was “dumb”, and The Mine Train. When we arrived at the Mine Train, we realized that the fastpasses were for 11 pm not 11 am (and all of the morning passes were gone). Epic fail on my part! We would have gotten a DAS pass, but we had already gotten one for Peter Pan, which had an 80 minute wait and needed to be used first. Since we had time on our hands, we thought maybe we could move our lunch reservation up a bit. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out either.
By then, everyone was hot and cranky, and we no longer cared about backtracking to Peter Pan, so we went to see if we could cancel the DAS pass and get one for Splash Mountain. The system was still down, but this time the attendant was super nice. He told us we needed to do Peter Pan first, since he couldn’t cancel it, but he went ahead and gave us a paper pass for Splash Mountain. So off we went to Peter Pan (Monkey Boy thought that was dumb, too…sometimes he can make me crazy!!). Since the Mine Train fastpasses had been a failure, I exchanged them for the Haunted Mansion. And can you guess? Monkey Boy wasn’t happy with that ride either. In his defense, he was tired, hot and hungry, and he had gotten a taste for the more exciting rides. I can’t say I was in a much better mood either! It was definitely a mistake to have saved the Magic Kingdom for last. We had about 45 minutes before lunch and were still too early for Splash Mountain, so waited in the restaurant while Master Yi-Yi and Little H colored with the four year olds! And did I think to snap a picture…that would be NO!
A DAS pass doesn’t expire; you just need to use it before you get another. So, we made it through Splash Mountain (I actually went on that one) right before the skies opened up. Monkey Boy absolutely loved the ride, by the way, and wanted to go again! We waited out the first wave of heavy rain and then headed to the monorail just as the skies were lit by sheets of lightning. We finally made it onto the monorail just to be told it was no longer working. We spent about an hour waiting to see if it would be fixed and also waiting out the storm. Eventually, we gave up and headed for the boat. The kids did great through all of it. We made it to our car about three hours after we had begun to exit the park!
Luckily, we had planned a day off between the Magic Kingdom and driving home. Which leads me to our other brilliant idea…driving home from Disney World in one stretch. Remember how we decided to drive all the way to Jacksonville on the way down because the idea of unloading and loading for one night sounded unpleasant. With more stuff to take home than we had brought, stopping seemed even more daunting. The trip down went so well, we thought, what’s three and a half extra hours?
I wound up dragging the kids out of bed at 5:30 am to beat traffic. The trip home began well enough, until we hit our first snag in Jacksonville and wound up going the longer way around and losing 15 minutes. In Georgia, we encountered our first huge traffic jam and decided to take back roads. When we finally got back on 95, we were beginning to question our sanity. Our next holdup came in South Carolina, where standstill traffic forced us onto back roads again. Of course, this is when Little H decided she desperately needed a bathroom, as we were travelling through the middle of nowhere. We reminded ourselves that we COULD still stop for the night if we needed to. Monkey Boy had decided he wanted to sleep all the way home and was pretty disgruntled to realize that four hours into the trip, we weren’t anywhere close.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until we crossed the Virginia border. This is when the sky opened up in full force (the same day as the flooding around Fredericksburg). The visibility was nothing, and we were surrounded by a tornado watch. My mom had the pleasure of driving at this point. Once again, we questioned our decision to drive all the way home, but by then we were on the home stretch. As we were approaching Fredericksburg, my mom and I were discussing whether to “bail out” of the interstate, and Monkey Boy, being rather loopy by then, got the idea into his head that we meant abandon them in the car. It was quite comical.
When I got home, what was I greeted with? The daunting task of clearing out two rooms of our house for an addition and renovation and breaking the news to Monkey Boy that he was going to summer school! I’ll tell you more about all that “fun” soon!