The Kingdom Awaits!

Well here we were, last day – it had been a very long two weeks and yet had gone by incredibly fast. As I had said earlier on in our little journey, it was going to be a Magic Kingdom day and Papa John was going with us! The girls were very excited to have him along for the fun 😀

I was determined to actually make the big rope drop for this one and we planned accordingly. Roxy was taking Nana to do some last minute shopping and then go back to the resort to organize all of the stuff we had picked up for shipping out that evening. So they were going to skip the morning and meet us for lunch in the park. So she dropped the girls and I off at the Transportation and Ticket Center and we joined up with my parents and headed for the express monorail.

We were there in plenty of time to make rope drop, but there was one thing that we hadn’t managed after all or days here. What was it? To ride up front in the monorail of course! Well there were two families ahead of us but I talked to the girls and they were okay with missing the drop if they could be “pilots”.

We finally got our turn and jumped on board. Bean wanted to do some video work, so I handed her the camcorder

…while Pumpkin Girl had a seat next to me

As you can see it was an overcast morning, but no rain so far. We rolled out towards the contemporary resort

And I caught a quick shot of Space Mountain in the distance

We zoomed through the resort and there was the castle

Bean kept busy on the camcorder

I snapped a quick shot of the Grand Floridian

And before you knew it we were passing the entrance to MK. And lo and behold, we were just in time to see and hear the festivities of rope drop – yay!

We got off and almost forgot to get our “licenses” from the monorail driver – lucky save by lil ole me in remembering since the driver didn’t offer them 😀 We headed down and met up with my parents and picked up a double stroller since both girls still had a bad case of the “I’m tired’s.”

When we came through the tunnel there were several of the characters we had seen on our first Magic Kingdom day, but the girls quickly spied someone unexpected!

That’s right – it was the one, the only, Cruella DeVil 😀 ( •̀ᴗ•́ )و 😀

She is one that doesn’t stand still for anyone, but the girls had learned their lesson from Baloo at Animal Kingdom and tracked her down ;-]

I looked around and saw that Jiminy Cricket was also there and we got the girls through the line to him

That was it for characters in that area so I had the four of them gather for the obligatory Main Street Castle shot :-]

We were early enough that I went against my better judgment and followed the crowds around to the right and into Tomorrowland. The main reason being that the girls hadn’t been on Buzz Lightyear yet and they wanted to ride Space Mountain again …or as I now referred to it, the whiplash express!

I hit the fastpass booth for Buzz and we went on in to ride it on Standby since it only had a 10 minute wait. Hi Buzz!

We had a “blast” on the ride, it was lots of fun. For that first ride I had a car to myself but still used both guns …Hehehe. You can tell I’m left handed because that side made “Galactic Hero” LOL

Then came Gillian and Grandma Dollface, with mom kicking some alien butt!

But you can see from the look of concentration on Kyra’s face that she was serious about racking up some points and beat Papa John.

Afterwards my parents took a breather while I took the girls on Space Mountain

The loading bay

Bean waiting in line

It was just as bouncy and jerky as before and I was happy to get off of it (let’s hear it for old man syndrome). We met back up with Grandma Dollface and Papa John and off we went back to Buzz to use our FastPasses. More of the same, except this time it was Bean who wanted to ride with Papa John, and took him to task with those alien fiends!

After we sprung the girls from the space penitentiary

On To Toontown!

We missed the opening but that was okay. The girls really wanted to explore Mickey and Minnie’s houses.

We hit Minnie’s house first where the girls found a comfy seat…

…and then Kyra broke out her camera. I took a picture of her taking a picture of some pictures – lol

And then here’s the picture she took of those pictures 😀

…she liked the pictures

…and painting

Papa John and Grandma Dollface made the rounds

Bean and Grandma Dollface really appreciated Minnie’s artistic talent :-]

On to the kitchen!


We left Minnie’s and walked across to Donald’s Boat. Now personally I think this had SO MUCH potential for interactive gadgets, especially when you walk up to it. But then you enter it and there’s just nothing to it. The girls still checked to see if Donald was home ;-]

Back across the street to Mickey’s house. What a neat and tidy bedroom he keeps.

…well okay, maybe not quite so neat and tidy

Mail call!

A bachelor’s living room

And a game room to be envious of

We headed out the back door and scoped out Pluto’s crib

The master gardener’s work

And one of the coolest features in my estimation, the cactus garden

Judge Mickey was in the pavilion but the girls already had pictures with two other Mickey incarnations and decided to not brave the line for another. We instead wandered back towards Fantasyland and took in a showing of Mickey’s Philharmagic. Still a favorite of mine and Papa John
was even impressed by it. After that we split off and the girls and I went down to Liberty Square where I caught another shot of the steamboat.

Why had the girls dragged me down here? The girls of course wanted another ride through the Haunted Mansion! The line was a little longer than last time, but still moved along pretty fast. The ghost horse waited patiently

…and the mansion looked appropriately gloomy

I took some shots of the parade of headstones

Madame Leota was her usual charming self

I caught the “old man” but the crowd blocked me from getting his skeletal likeness

On to the stretching room – I made sure we were right in the middle so I could keep pivoting around and watch the portraits grow 😀

…and then we were joined by the master of the house

I got a quick shot of one of the gargoyles and then we moved on to the show.

I wanted to really enjoy this one so I didn’t take many pics and none of them really came out. I did try for the ghost in the car shot and this was the best I came up with

The girls and I wandered back up to Fantasyland and met back up with mom and pop. We checked out the shops near the castle and I really liked the “Jack and the Beanstalk” theme 😀

Both girls had their turn with the Sword in the Stone

Roxy and Nana had arrived at the front entrance by then and were working their way through the crowds. Grandma Dollface stayed with the girls while Papa John and I wandered through the castle to the front to wait for them. While we waited I took a shot looking towards Liberty Square

…and another of Papa John keeping a sharp eye out for them

Roxy and Nana showed up just as a light drizzle was starting. Luckily we were already at our destination so we told the girls they had a special invitation to lunch 😀

The invitation included a beautiful picture of the castle

We checked in and about 15 minutes later we were lead inside. I thought the castle theming was great

The ladies had their royal visit

Bean and Cinderella from my camera

…and from theirs

Pumpkin Girl with the Princess from my side

…and from Disney’s

Personally I think they went a little heavy on the flash – lol 😀

Papa John and I were each given swords and all of the ladies were given wands. This was a very cool treat as I thought only Bean and maybe Pumpkin Girl would get anything. We rode the elevator up with the moms and were seated at a long table in a raised area near the kitchen entrance. I forgot our waiter’s name but he was very attentive.

Our food was wonderful, I had been a wee bit worried about it from hearing some reviews on the boards. But everyone very much enjoyed their meals. Also, Bean got a wishing star but Kyra hadn’t been given one because of her age. We talked to our waiter and he took care of us and got one for my Pumpkin Girl. We tipped him well for all of his thoughtfulness and attention.

As we ate the princesses started making the rounds. Our first was Jasmine, one of Kyra’s favorites

And then came Snow White

She was followed by Sleeping Beauty or Aurora, whichever you prefer.

When she went to sign Kyra’s autograph book, Kyra told her that she had already signed it at Epcot. Aurora smiled and said “I may have signed it, but do you have a kiss to go with it?” and put a nice lipstick smooch next to the signature :-]

Next came Belle in her peasant outfit, which was cool since Kyra had pics with her dressed up at Epcot

After the princesses had finished their rounds I caught a couple of shots of the interior. It was pretty full but wasn’t as loud as some of the other places we’d eaten at.

We finished our lunch and the girls got their special desserts. Bean REALLY liked her chocolate crown

And Pumpkin Girl showed off hers and initially didn’t want to eat it because it looked so cool

After dessert Roxy took the camera as Bean came around to Papa John and talked to him

…and then gave him a BIG HUGS!

And Kyra used her wand to bestow a magical wish upon me 😀

I forget what Bean was talking about, but she sure had our attention 😀

Her and Papa John were really enjoying their time together

The moms where having a wonderful conversation while they sipped drinks and let that good meal settle

Finally our time in the castle was over and we made our way out. The moms took the elevator while the rest of us hit the stairs. I took one more shot from up top I liked the arches and the little details like the crown in the top of the chandelier 😀

On the way down I caught a shot of one of the stained glass windows in the tower

We went outside and came across a very special granter of wishes :-]

We went into Tink’s Treasures and shopped for almost an hour. The place certainly lives up to its name as the ladies found all kinds of treasures that they wanted – lol. Now here’s where things get
interesting. I saw a spark of color outside the window where the fairy godmother had been standing.

I grabbed the girls and we went out to find the Lady Tremaine the Wicked Stepmother and the Stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella! Now I have to say right now that these naughty girls were the BEST character interaction of the trip.

There wasn’t a line at this point so they really took their time.

I love the look the stepmother gave me in this one

They noticed the girl’s “first timer” buttons and went into their own first timer song.

They laughed, they screamed, they generally made a spectacle of themselves and took the girls along for the ride 😀

They were making so much noise Roxy could hear them from the other end of the store and the store started emptying to see what was going on.

And the posed shot was just fantastic

By now it was getting close to time for our last special treat of the trip. We had arranged for the moms and the girls to go parasailing at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre at the Contemporary!

We were leaving at a good time since most of the crowds were still circulating around the park. We strolled out and followed the pathway under the monorail

As you can see it was a little gloomy but we didn’t mind, it was still about 20 degrees warmer than it would have been at this time in Oregon – lolol.
We strolled and/or rolled along the path and headed towards the Contemporary

And made our way around back to the marina area. The girls played while we checked in and signed all the “if I fall off the boat/out of the sky, I will not sue Sammy or Disney” forms. We then strolled down the dock and I took a quick shot of the girls, who were of course hamming it up 😀

And then I turned to scope out our boat

We all got on the boat and met up with the guys who were taking us out and they were very nice and helpful throughout our experience.

First up was Bean getting strapped in…

…and then Nana

Before you knew it we were underway and they called Bean up to get connected with Nana on her heels

One of the guys gave some last minute tips

And then they were officially at LIFT OFF!

They gained altitude pretty quickly

They got up to 600 feet in the air and were truly flying around the place. They had a beautiful view of the resorts and the Magic Kingdom and beyond :-]

While they were flying the guys started getting Pumpkin Girl and Grandma Dollface suited up

As you can see Kyra was beaming and my mom was making conversation with one of the guys

All too soon Nana and Bean’s 12 minutes were up and they started reeling them in. I love that they had a pirate flag flying from their antenna 😀

Down they come

Do they look happy or what?

Nana and Bean touch down safe and sound

And off to sit and reflect on their wonderful experience

Meanwhile Pumpkin Girl had already gotten strapped in and Grandma Dollface came up to join her :-]

Before you knew it they were taking to the air!

And were smiliing down at us

We circled around, giving them views of everything around us

On the turns they would dip down a bit and fly far behind us

…and then shoot skyward again

The lake was pretty empty due to the cloudy/windy weather, but there were a few other pleasure seekers out there with us

Bean and Nana were still aglow and reflecting on their time in the sky

The ladies continued their RL “Soarin’” 😀

…while one of the guys got an earful of what Bean thought of the experience …Hehehe

I took a quick shot of the new resort being built next to the Contemporary. Rumor had it that it was going to be another Disney Vacation Club destination

Finally it was time for our second flight to come back down

A quick catch…

…and another perfect touchdown

With touchdown complete the ladies get unbuckled. Here comes
our Pumpkin Girl

…and then Grandma Dollface

Soooo, do YOU think they had a good time? 😀 😀 😀

Interview time!

I think this is one of my favorite shots of the parasailing experience – just pure joy on both of their faces :-]

We came back to the dock and I gave the guys a BIG tip for such a wonderful time and another dream come true for my fam.

The girls were full of energy and chased each other around a bit while we got ourselves together

Kyra came across this little number and was ecstatic to hear that you could legally drive it at the age of 12 …only 7 short months away – lol

Bean of course had to have her turn in it

We headed back towards the Contemporary and stopped for some Mickey Ears shots. As you can see Kyra has made off with Papa John’s hat 😀

And I believe that out of the 1,800 shots (yes, you’ve waded through about 1,800 pictures if you’ve gone through the whole thing – lolol).  This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip :-]

I popped a quick “playing with mirrors” shot in the elevator to show that I was there and to capture the three smiles of my Pumpkin Girl 😀

We rode up the back elevator and stopped to do a last minute coin press in the area where you switch from the back elevators to the front ones to ride up to the monorail station. When we got up top I snapped a few shots of our surroundings while we waited for the last train out of town.

And then it came, our last monorail

Once we boarded Bean managed to get Papa John’s hat, so he proudly wore her ears 😀

The ride was all too quick and we were soon out of the Transportation and Ticket Center and on our way to the parking lot. I hung back a bit to watch our weary but happy travelers make their way down the path. As you can see Papa John’s hat had continued to make the rounds and Roxy was now wearing it!

We headed down and up and I stopped one more time to take the very last picture. It is a simple one but in my eyes says so much.

We loaded up and drove back to the resort. Most of the fam stayed there to pack while Roxy and I loaded up 2 SUITCASES full of memorabilia that we had collected over the past 12 days. We were in search of the nearest UPS store and our darned GPS lead us to a UPS drop box instead.

After getting directions a couple of times and taking several wrong turns we finally found it with 30 minutes left before closing time. I can tell you it took all 30 minutes to get everything checked and wrapped and set for boxing. The clerks were very understanding despite our load of goodies coming in at the 11th hour. I’m sure they get it a lot. We thanked them profusely and carried our now empty suitcases out to the van and picked up Subway, which was thankfully located right next door.

Back at the resort we ate and packed and reflected on our wonderful adventures. My mom was especially thankful, giving lots of hugs and saying that she couldn’t believe how many dreams had come true for her during this trip. Hearing that really made all of the planning and weirdness associated with making this come together worthwhile :-]

We had an 8am flight the next day so it was late to bed and early to rise. As fate would have it, it was foggy the next morning. We said our goodbyes to Grandma Dollface and Papa John and headed out.

It took FOREVER for our GPS to acquire a signal and then the exit it had planned for us to take towards the car rental place was under construction! We took the next exit and wound our way to the rental place. When we got there a shuttle was waiting and about to depart for the airport. So we got to scramble and get the bags from the van to the shuttle and rush through the “walk around” with the rental return guy.

The shuttle trip was uneventful and I was happy to dig in and see that I had enough cash left to do the curbside check-in of our bags. We made our way to our gate, which was in an area that was under construction. I remember lots of black plastic and exposed ceilings. We all slept as much as humanly possible on the way back and after a long flight from MCO to SFO and a short and very cramped one from SFO to home we packed up and drove the last 35 miles to our house.

It was only 3pm but felt MUCH later. We brought the suitcases in and collapsed, happy that it was only Saturday afternoon and that we had through Sunday night to try and recover from the jetlag.

Oh, and the next morning we awoke to fresh snow – good ole Oregon apparently wanted to welcome us back to winter – lolol

So as our trip began, it ended. But now we had lots of wonderful memories to keep us warm :-]

It took us a while to get back into the groove of work and school, but we got there.  And a few days later our goodies arrived!  There were some issues with the snow globes freezing in transit, but all survived except one small Sea World one (we’re still trying to get it fixed or replaced). 

Here’s a shot of all of our treasures.  Some have been sent off to family and friends and the rest are proudly displayed around our house :-]

It was an amazing adventure and I’m already getting a lot of “when are we going back?” questions from the girls 😀  I hope that those who were able to go got to relive some great memories and that those who weren’t were at least able to share some of the magic we experienced.  Either way I’m glad you stopped by.

Much Love,

Mike and Fam