This was it, we had sadly come to the last full day of our trip. We weren’t set to leave until Saturday but all we did was Downtown Disney. There, I spared you having to read another post. In any case, since before leaving for the trip it had been my goal to meet up with my friend James while we were down there. James is a fellow roller coaster fan I met through a mutual friend. We used to live in the same hometown, but five years ago he moved down to Florida and has been driving the Monorail ever since.
After making solid plans the night before, James and I finally were able to meet up at the beginning of the day at Epcot. Being that we’re both thrill ride guys, the first thing we did was Test Track. Unfortunately, because we did the single rider line we got split up sort of defeating the purpose of us hanging out together. Next we made our way over to Norway because I had yet to ride Malestrum; the boat ride there. We actually got to the World Showcase section of the park before it was fully open so we ended up shmy-ing around the gift shop until the ride opened.
It was just as mediocre as usual, but is one of those rides that’s a tradition to go on. After getting off we continued our way through the different countries. Since I had breezed through them before we took our time, stopping in at Japan and Morocco. I wanted to try this German beer my sister had told me about, but we seemed to be there before they had begun serving. It seemed my thirst for grapefruit flavored beer with a strudel or pretzel would go unquenched.
After seeing all this, I realized that I had basically done everything else at Epcot (except Mission Space and The Sum of All Thrills and the American Adventure) so we left. However, we didn’t just leave any old way, we accomplished one of my last minute goals by taking the Monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. The first thing we did upon entering the Kingdom was to ride another staple attraction I had thus far neglected; The Pirates of the Caribbean. The wait was kind of long at 45 minutes, but with all the chatting we were doing, it moved right along.
Next we made our way over to Big Thunder Mountain which I had also failed to ride. This ride will always hold a place in my heart because the first year we went, 20 years ago, I was too short to ride. The next year we went, we brought thick heeled shoes and I was able to cheat my way onto the ride. The line said something like 60 minutes but as James predicted, it was much shorter and ended up being closer to 15 or 20. As the coaster pulled into the station James pointed out a hidden Mickey to me. After that we moved on to The Haunted Mansion where James helped us get on the ride faster by standing in the corner of the room with the secret door that leads to the attraction. While on the ride he pointed out a hidden Donald would have never known was there. I just don’t look for that sort of stuff.
After Haunted we made our way to Space Mountain. However when we got there it was closed so instead we rode the People Mover. While on the ride he pointed out yet another hidden Mickey to me, I was getting the grand tour from this Disney insider. By the time our ride was over, Space Mountain was open again. The sign said that there was a 120 minute wait, but again James was skeptical. Again he was right and we ended up waiting no more than 15 minutes. His prediction was that a guest who had been given one of the cards that is used to generate wait times had been waring it in line while the ride was broken, thus generating a false wait time. This in turn scared riders away giving us the opportunity to capitalize on the mistake.
Next we did something I probably hadn’t done since the first time I went to Disney, ride the train. We took the train on a scenic trip around the entire park. It was nice and relaxing. Since we had done what we wanted to do, we left the Magic Kingdom and took the Monorail back to Epcot. This was cool because we got to do something I’m pretty sure I’d never done before, ride the loop that goes into the park, around Spaceship Earth, and back out of the park. It was lame, but cool. Additionally, while we were exiting the Contemporary Hotel, James pointed out another hidden Mickey sitting on the rooftop of one of the buildings.
The reason we went back to Epcot was two-fold, 1) because James had driven to the park to meet me and thus needed to pick up his car, and 2) because we had a mission. Earlier in the day James had told me about the “Disney Salvation Army” that is only open to Cast Members. The “salvi” is home to out of date merchandise, used hotel furniture, and out of date signs on sale at a significant discount. My thought was that there might be a Captain EO shirt there. To spare you the details and me the writing, after waiting in a long line of traffic and getting to the ghetto Disney Store, there was sadly no t-shirt waiting for me. However, I was able to see some of the behind the scenes or “Back Stage”sections of the Disney facilities, so that was sort of cool.
After showing and telling me more about the lesser known Disney World, James drove me to the Transportation Center where I took the Monorail back to the Magic Kingdom. Upon my arrival, I met back up with the fam at Liberty Square. I had been craving an ice cream so I found a stand and got an ice cream sandwich that I quickly ate. After sitting for a bit, Kyra insisted we get a picture of the four of us in front of the castle. We found a secluded area and a Cast Member and got the picture.
Since we had pretty much done everything else, we were sort of twiddling our thumbs as to how to spend the time until our dinner reservation. As we were walking around, I decided I wanted to do the Tomorrowland Speedway. It’s not a very fun attraction but I had had an urge to go on it earlier in the trip and so I figured I’d do it now. The posted wait time was 35 minutes during which I just caught up on my Instagram feed; I know lame. Soon it was my time to drive but when I got in my car I was in a bit of a pickle. The steering wheel was on the right and the gas pedal was in the middle. This meant that I drove like I was in England and used my left foot to hit the gas. The ride was fairly uncomfortable but I did well, not hitting the center rail and by the time I was done it was basically time for our reservation.
We made our way over to the Beast’s Castle and checked in. We were given a pager and admired the castle for the last time. Soon it was time for us our experience to begin. We handed our pager to the Cast Member who got someone else to come to us and let us in. A man dressed like one of the Beasts servants came out and greeted us by name. It was then on to the double doors that creaked when you opened them.
As you enter the castle, off to the left is the mosaic (above) of Belle and the Beast. In front of you there is an archway that leads to the great hall. This is the main dining area of the restaurant and from the moment you walk in it feels like you’ve been transported into the movie. On the ceiling there is the painting of the clouds and the angels. From the ceiling hangs three very impressive chandeliers. When you look out the windows at the rear of the great hall it even appears to be snowing!
On the table are red napkins folded to look like roses. Our greeter points out the hidden Minnie Mouse in the clouds in the painting on the ceiling. He also points out the West Wing off the the back left of the castle which had additional seating. Off to the back right is a third room that has even more additional seating. Off to the right side is a room were guests can take pictures with the Beast after their meal. He then informs us that we are more than welcome to walk around and explore/take pictures before, during, or after our meal.
After he is done with his part, our waitress came over and brought us our menus. Luckily I was prepared for the prices and thus was not shocked when I saw them. Although I don’t know why I cared, Mom had saved up her Disney points and was planning on using them to pay for this family meal.
Dad and I got french onion soup and we both tried the two most expensive beers on the list. Kyra, in her typical fashion, got a glass of wine, and Mom got a lemonade that had some sort of fruit flavored whipped creme on top. All of a sudden, while we were waiting for our food, music came on and there was an announcement that our host was honoring us with his presence. The Beast then came our of one of the side rooms and walked around waving at everyone. Guests clapped as he entered each room.
The infamous “Grey Stuff.” I was a little surprised by it’s presentation as I thought it would be served like this. However, I’m guessing guests complained that for the money, they wanted something more substantial.
Eventually, the food came out and, naturally was delicious. After that, in spite of everything I’d had, the rolls, the beer, the soup, and my main course, I had to make room for dessert. Our waitress brought over a cart with a glass display case which showcased the dessert options. Three of us chose “The Grey Stuff,” and my Dad, having to be different got a cupcake or something.
“The Grey Stuff” was basically just a mousse, but, to make it more substantial, was served on some sort of cake type thing. It was really quite good but after eating all the aforementioned food, despite not being that big, I wasn’t able to finish it. I took it with me though and continued to munch on it even after we left the restaurant.
Once we were done eating we were escorted into the side room where we got out picture taken with our host, The Beast. After that we took a walk around to the other dining rooms, the West Wing and the other dining room. Though the other rooms were cool, I was glad we were seated in the Great Hall. I’m guessing it might have had something to do with the fact that we had made our reservation back in February!
After taking a look around we finally left the Be Our Guest restaurant. And then, as was the theme of the trip, we parted ways. Dad went back to the hotel to pick up something at the gift shop. Mom and Kyra stayed stayed in Fantasyland to watch the fireworks, and I went to the nearby Philharmagic 3D movie as I had not seen it the entire time we were there.
Though I’ve seen it before, ever since it’s inception it has become one of our favorite attractions. Once the show was over, I met back up with Mom and Kyra and told them that I wanted to go on Space Mountain one last time. They then went to watch the parade as I began my wait in the 40 minute line. While in line, I met this couple. The woman had never been on the ride before and the man hadn’t been for many years. She was nervous so I tried to calm her with all of my knowledge of the ride.
When it eventually came time to board, we got split up and I ended up getting on a train before them. As I departed, they wished me luck. When I got off the ride, I waited at the exit until they were done. “You survived,” I said and they both seemed to enjoy it. After that I made my way to the front of the park to meet up with Kyra and Mom so we could all leave together. I realized later how perfectly bookended the trip was. I ended both the first and the last night of the trip, not only at Magic Kingdom, but riding Space Mountain alone.