Day three continued, but by the skin of our teeth.
There was legitimate concern that the girls, having been put down very late for a nap, would sleep straight through the night. We'd have probably gone ahead and woken them up, but they did it themselves as if on cue, and we were off to the races.
The question was: Epcot or the Magic Kingdom?
We chose the latter for the 3rd day in a row. It was largely to catch up on what we'd missed, but also had a lot to do with our rather boring recollections of Epcot. Still, Epcot will rank high on our next 'to do' list.
So we got to the park and took the steam train around the park, exiting at Mickey's ToonTown Fair at the girls' request.
The ride in the dark was great, with spectacular views of attractions in Frontierland and the like!
The first thing we did there was take a spin on the Barnstormer, a kiddie roller coaster with a potent little bite for its size. I liked it, and so did everyone else - well enough to go on it three times in a row!
From there we toured an open-air Disney shop, where we bought an apple for a snack and a Mickey Mouse toy car as a souvenir for Parker. We also tried on some of the hats for sale - how do you like them?
At LuLu's urgent and repeated requests we then went on a tour of Minnie Mouse's house, a charming little home done up in full cartoon style. There was a microwave in the kitchen that popped 'popcorn' and some amusing 'plant' specimens too, like Tiger Lilies with cat faces!
It was only logical then that we tour Mickey's neighboring house, which didn't seem to have as much character as his girlfriends (it is a bachelor pad, after all), though with several tuxes hanging in his closet he is a dapper Mouse.
A path in the garden led to the Judge's Tent, where Mickey himself holds court. We all enjoyed seeing him again and posed for some pictures.
We closed out ToonTown Fair by spending some time in Toon Park, where the girls enjoyed playing in the toddler area. YaYa spent much of the time conversing with another father in the play area. Sometimes I think we must not spend enough time conversing with the girl!
After that we pushed onwards into more familiar areas of the Magic Kingdom. While searching for our next stop we were surrounded on all sides by the nightly fireworks. It really was swell seeing the sky light up to our right, to our left, and overhead - like sitting (safely) in the middle of a great cannon broadside. Easily, unquestionably, the best fireworks show I've seen.
Afterwards we waited in a tremendously slow line for Peter Pan's Flight - made more so by my girls growing restlessness with waiting in lines.
Thank goodness for cell phones, as Lisa called home and had her Mom talk to the girls.
The ride itself was all right - you're suspended in a gondola(?) as you fly over various scenes from the story of Peter Pan. The visuals are endearing, but was the three minute ride worth the half hour wait? Naw, probably not.
From there we pushed on to Liberty Square, where we did a little shopping. Ten years ago I came across a book of all the Presidential inaguraral addresses. I wanted it, but was running low on cash and gave it a pass. This time around I found the exact same book (updated, natch) and gave it a green light.
I sent Lisa and the girls in to pick it up while she assigned me to secretly go across the road and pick up and Ariel and a Belle Christmas ornament as a surprise gift for the holidays. I also picked up a 2006 WDW ornament too.
When I walked back to the bookstore LuLu came running to me, shopping bag in hand.
"Daddy, you'll be sooooooo happy," she said, handing me the bag. Inside was not only the Inagural Address book, but another thick, $40 history book.
"Lisa did you buy this?" I asked.
"Buy what?" she said.
Yup, that's right - LuLu had successfully pinched the book from the shop. I took her back in the shop to return it and apologize.
From there we all hit the Haunted Mansion, the ride Lisa describes as her favorite of all WDW.
You begin by standing in an oval room that appears to stretch and warp as a ghostly (and somewhat tongue in cheek) voice warns you about the horrors to come.
You're released from the room and the ride becomes more conventional, with folks loading into cars that travel down a track throughout the mansion. Holographic ghosts hitch a ride with you, appear and disappear for a dinner appointment, and just generally try to spook you.
The girls were scared, but nothing over the top. A very fun ride.
The evening parade was beginning to take shape (the park was open to 11, two hours later than earlier in the week) and our options for travel in the park were getting limited.
Even so we pushed on to our next destination: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
This wild but not too wild roller coaster was one of our stops in '96 and YaYa and Lisa both wanted to ride it something fierce. LuLu and I waited at the entrance while they took their turn, watching the parade start to move down a nearby street.
[it's also where I took a good drink of water fountain - 'bubbler' - water and nearly gagged. The whole trip Lisa had been complaining about the water quality but I poo-poohed her. I guess I'd gotten lucky and drank only our Milwaukee stock, 'cause that water SUCKED]
YaYa and Lisa quickly came down, YaYa all breathless in her excitement over the ride. They wanted to go again, and while they did Lu and I ventured down to the street to watch the parade up close.
None of my pics turned out from that glittery, beautiful, illuminated nighttime parade (one of my camera'smajor flaws is the poor picture quality in low light circumstances]
One of my happiest moments at DisneyWorld occurred there, when LuLu ecstatically yelled 'Hi So and So!!' to every character she recognized, even if only a smidgeon ["Hi, Ariel's Dad" she yelled at one point.]
In the end the folks on the ride let YaYa ride three times, twice without even getting back in line. "Go ahead Princess," they told her. She couldn't stop talking about the 'cave' and the 'bats' and the this and the that J
[FYI - everywhere they went at WDW and on the ship it was 'Princess' this and 'Princess' that. Spoiled 'em rotten]
We took Adventureland as an attempted escape route, but YaYa begged and pleaded to go through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House again. I'm sure it was just a stalling technique before we went home and it wasn't really her favorite thing in the whole park. ["Well, maybe not my favorite," she said when Lisa pressed her "But one of my favorites!"]
This time I went alone with the girls, and mister, you try carrying your 35 pound youngest girl up that many stairs.
From there it was out of the park [passing the disturbing scene of parents holding their mentally ill son against the concrete as he had an episode]
Once we returned to the hotel we realized we still hadn't eaten since our makeshift lunch of reheated leftovers. So we headed over to the diner. The girls and I ordered a pizza, Lis had spaghetti, and we spent a good hour there; the girls coloring pictures of the Princesses and watching the Disney Channel, Lis and I admiring the girls and already remembering the great times we'd had at Disney World.
Then it was on to the room where we packed our bags and got ready for our cruise.