Today we began the Disney portion of our vacation. The next four days will be spent touring the four Disney parks unless, of course, we get distracted by something shiny. We figured we would start out slow and do the Magic Kingdom first. This is Orlando's version of Disneyland, so the kids felt very much at home. There were a few rides that aren't in California (Stitch's Great Escape, Mickey's Philharmagic, Peoplemover, and the Country Bear Jamboree) but in general the kids rode rides to look for the differences between the east and west coasts.
We got to the Magic Kingdom a little late and had to park on the outskirts, so we took the shuttle to the transportation center. When you arrive on your shuttle from the parking lot, you have to decide how you would like to get to the Magic Kingdom, by ferry or by monorail. We took the ferry because I had read somewhere that it was much better to arrive on the ferry, far more magical if you will. I really wish I could remember where I read that because I'd love to go back and tell them just how wrong they are. The ferry isn't more fun or "magical", it's just slower.
We started off riding Stitch's Great Escape (My daughter described it as "A ride based on a character everybody loves, designed to scare little children.) and just as it ended, the ride attendant told us that if we went out right away and looked over Space Mountain that we should be able to see the Space Shuttle launching. We left and ran over to Space Mountain, only Space Mountain wasn't there. What did they do with Space Mountain? Apparently in Florida, Space Mountain is where Finding Nemo is in Disneyland. We got there in time, but still didn't manage to see the shuttle go up. It was just too cloudy a day, and I'm actually quite surprised that they even got the launch in.
Later in the day we went to ride the Haunted Mansion and as we got in line we noticed something odd. There were two lines, one which said it took a direct route and was shorter, and another line which said it took the scenic route and was longer. We laughed as we couldn't imagine why anybody would take the longer line for an attraction. After all, Disney had spent millions developing Fast Pass so that you wouldn't have to spend as much time in line. So we took the shorter route and we were on the ride in a couple of minutes. As we came out of the ride we noticed everybody was stopped and there was a large backup of people in the exit queue. We wound our way to the front of the backup and discovered the problem. There was a HUGE downpour going on. I mean serious "flood the Earth" kind of rain. We paused for a second, but we could hear the Haunted Mansion workers telling people that they couldn't stand there, so we decided to make a run for the nearest ride. Of course, there are no rides near the Haunted Mansion (Well, It's a Small World was pretty close, but I think we were all willing to drown before that.) so we dashed across the path and got back in line for the Haunted Mansion. Now we could see a use for the scenic route line, and I'm pleased to report that while I would have never tried that line on my own, there are actually quite a few neat and interactive things to do in the graveyard that the line winds through. I might even choose it next time.
Finally, we had another "my kids are getting too old" moment this evening. We were back in our hotel, when we made the wonderful discovery that we can see the fireworks that the Magic Kingdom sets off each night, from our room. I notified everyone of the display, and the response was somewhat underwhelming. The girls came out on the balcony for about 20 seconds, then decided that whatever the Disney Channel was airing this evening was more important. The boy didn't even make it outside the sliding glass door before going back to his computer. I wonder how our kids became so enraptured with electronics? On the bright side, I got some great time with Lori out on the balcony where we could watch the fireworks and update our Facebook.