Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christmas at Disney: Magic Kingdom

Those who know me and my love for Disney are always shocked that I had never been to Disneyland until my college years (I don't count the time I went at 4 months old and can't remember any of it!)  Once college hit and we were a simple day drive from southern California, I began to frequent Disneyland as much as possible.  So many wonderful memories with dear friends were made there.  After Dallas and I were married, my sweetheart hubby indulged me with yearly multi-day trips with family and friends.  It was so fun to go with nieces and nephews and then later with little Daxton.  

When we decided to move to Florida, I remember telling several of my friends that I would love Disneyland more than Disney World's Magic Kingdom, simply because that's where most of my precious memories have been made.  But after spending only a few hours within the Magic Kingdom park I had to admit that simply wouldn't be true...

Maybe one day I will write a post solely devoted to the pros and cons of both Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but for now I will simply document our amazing couple days spent bringing in our first Christmas season living in south Florida.

In my previous post, I wrote of our fun adventures at Downtown Disney and Daxton's new found talent for "twerking."  So I was very surprised when he was up bright and early for our first day at Magic Kingdom.  I love the efficient planning and organization that go into everything Disney does.  Although Dallas will disagree, I love the organized parking and attendants guiding you to exactly where you should park.  I love the effortless tram system taking you from the parking lots to the parks and how quickly and often they have pick-ups.  Since we are season pass holders, we didn't have to wait in any ticket lines.  Magic Kingdom is built right in front of a very large lake with several surrounding Disney hotels.  To accomodate for the needed parking, the designated parking is on the other side of the lake from the park.  Once you buy your tickets you take a free monorail around the lake or a free ferry across the lake.  We decided to take the ferry and loved the incredible views along the way.  

Looking across the lake towards the Grand Floridian Hotel and an approaching ferry.  One of my dreams is to stay there...someday!

About to dock the ferry and already madly in love with Cinderella's Castle.

The ferry was great and allowed wonderful views from every angle.  We ended up sitting on the upper deck so Daxton could watch all the flying birds, several of which flew very close to where we were.  It was so fun to here him squeal with excitement every time they flew closer.

As we were trying to get a cute mommy/son picture, a bird flew up and sat right on the railing in front next to us...he wouldn't stop squealing with delight for a picture.
I love my crazy boy!

When the ferry docked, we made our way through the security check point and ticket entrance.  As we were trying to take a family picture at the entrance we noticed a film crew.  It took us a few minutes to remember who the actor was, but his name is Hank Azaria.  We remembered him from the movie "Run, Fat Boy, Run." (You can IMDB his name to find out more.)

Trying desperately to take a family picture in front of the beautiful Christmas decorations with a crazy toddler... 

Disney World's Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, 16 years after Disneyland.  It was fun to see that it has a very similar layout.  The entrance leads you directly onto Main street with the focal point at the end being Cinderella's castle.  The Main Street Theater, near the entrance, is where you can wait in line to see Mickey Mouse.  Daxton had been having so much fun meeting all the characters that we couldn't pass up the chance, but I'll post those pictures in the next blog post.  

Gotta love all the detailed Christmas decorations!

Once again trying to take family pictures with a crazy toddler...
One of the things I loved most about Magic Kingdom as opposed to Disneyland is the endless landscaping.  Disneyland is very limited with their size and has little pockets of trees and other vegetation sprinkled throughout the park.  The smaller sized park allows you to quickly get from one side to the other to ride more rides, but it is no where as beautiful as Magic Kingdom.  The grounds were gorgeous, with several ponds and gardens.
How could you not fall in love with this castle!?

I did miss the Indiana Jones ride from Disneyland, since it is not at Disney World, but I loved the additional Aladdin rides and Agrabah shopping area.  They also had an area where you could meet both Jasmine and Aladdin.  Daxton had a lot of fun riding the flying carpets with Dallas.  You can barely see his head peaking above the carpet.

The Swiss Family Robinson Tree house was a HUGE hit with Daxton.  It was three times the size of Disneyland's Tarzan tree house and located in the middle of a small lake.  It was great because there weren't many people so Daxton could go at his own pace.  He loved climbing all the stairs and playing on the rope bridges.

He loved running back and forth along the bridges...

I was super excited when I walked around the corner and saw Rapunzel's tower in the distance.  It turned out to be simply part of the skyline with no ride or shopping attached, but it was still pretty cool.  There was an area decorated as the town square with several of the floating lanterns from the show, but when we went over to investigate we found that they were restrooms.  Dallas thought it was pretty funny that I was so excited to check out the Rapunzel themed restrooms!

Such a pretty entrance to public restrooms!

When Daxton finally passed out for his afternoon nap in the stroller, Dallas and I found a nice place to relax behind Cinderella's Castle.  I have to admit I had quite the sentimental moment thinking about how lucky I am.  I am married to the most patient and loving man, who makes me laugh every day and knows me better than I know myself at times.  There is nothing more I can ask for, than being married to my best friend!

Cinderella's Castle is much bigger than Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland.  Because it is so much larger, they were able to build several things within the castle.  On the walk through bottom level, there is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where girls and boys can be made over as prince and princesses.  There is also an incredible restaurant located on the first and second levels, the Royal Table, where Cinderella greets everyone at the entrance.  Guests then climb the spiral staircase to the second level where you dine with several different Disney princesses.  But even more amazing is the Cinderella Castle Suit, which is literally the most exclusive hotel room in the world.  It is solely used by Disney for promotional and charity events so no one can book it for reservations.  It sleeps up to six people and is furnished with 17th and 18th century antiques.  The walls are also lined with stained glass windows and gold plated mosaics.  Some of the pictures on line are amazing...
Staying there would be my absolute dream!

Looking up into the Royal Table restaurant on the back of the castle.

View standing directly in front of the castle looking upwards.

Gorgeous 24 karat gold mosaics line the walkway tunnel through Cinderella's Castle.  They retell Cinderella's journey throughout the 5 panels.

And finally...
You can't leave without seeing the castle lit up in thousands of LED twinkling lights!

(Below picture was taken from the internet)

We ended our evening by eating at the fabulous Be Our Guest restaurant located at the Beast's castle in Fantasyland.  It was so amazing I will be blogging about that separately!
We stayed until we were kicked out for the Mickey's Christmas Party (from 8pm-midnight.)  Tickets to the Christmas party were another $65 per person and we weren't about to spend that much money on something Daxton was never going to remember.  Maybe in a few years?  I tried staying as long as possible and was finally guided down Main Street nearly kicking and screaming with a security guard hot on my trails.  We didn't get back to the hotel til close to 10pm, so I'd say it was a pretty good, long day regardless.

Daxton and I riding the tram back to our car.

Our second day at Magic Kingdom was just as much fun as the first!  We were welcomed by a Celebration parade and dance party through the square in front of Cinderella's castle and then headed towards Tomorrowland, since we weren't able to explore it the day before.

Daxton LOVED the Buzz Lightyear ride, especially since he had control over the spinning levers and laser gun.  While we were walking to another ride we noticed a garbage can that was moving on it's own.  Daxton thought it was hilarious and followed it around forever.  The garbage can would move, talk to those coming near it, and even played music while dancing.  It was great to watch Daxton's reactions.

Several more rides later and several Disney Characters met, our little man passed out yet again in his stroller for his afternoon nap.  When we looked down to check on him we were both a bit shocked to see how long he has gotten.  He used to look so small in his stroller!

We loved his arms stretched above his head!

Right as we were heading towards the exit, so we could make our way to Hollywood Studios, Daxton woke.  We were able to FINALLY get a family picture in front of the castle with a crazy toddler.

Sure do love my little family!
We had so much fun visiting Magic Kingdom for a couple days.  We can't wait to return and have many more fun adventures together there!

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