There’s a reason we don’t go to the parks on Christmas Eve (two reasons, actually.) One being that we like to relax and settle in. The other being that we view the parks and Magic Kingdom, in particular, as our Christmas gift. No matter how old we are or how many times we visit, seeing the castle for the first time still evokes the same sensation and excitement as running downstairs to find gifts under the tree. However, seeing the castle would be a bit more difficult today. We woke up to a thick fog. We arrived at the bus stop by 7:15am. It was already very crowded and we worried if we would make the bus. We did. We were left standing, but it was totally worth it as we arrived at the park by 7:30am.
As we arrived, a ferry boat packed with one-day guests arrived. To my surprise, they allowed the guests in. The park was scheduled to open at 8am, with an EMH at 7am. This bothered me a little, but it was Christmas so I shrugged it off.
This was our first time witnessing Disney’s new security measures. The news and many blogs made it sound as though everyone would go through the metal detectors. That was not the case. They actually randomly select guests and have them go through. My dad and I were never selected. My mom was selected at every park. It became a running joke.
When I originally booked our FP+s, I selected Buzz Lightyear, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train and Thunder Mountain. After re-evaluating our plans, I swapped Buzz Lightyear for Jingle Cruise.
Immediately after arriving, my sister and I left my parents behind and made a B-line to Space Mountain. It had a posted wait time of 20 minutes, but I think we were on within 10-15. As we approached the ride, my parents texted to let us know they had gone on the People Mover.
We met up with our parents shortly after riding Space Mountain. It was around 8am and the park was officially open. Before the massive wave of people entered the park, we rushed over to Buzz Lightyear to take advantage of the 10-minute wait. By 8:15am, we had been on two major rides at Magic Kingdom and held FastPass+’s for three more.
After Buzz we walked over to Adventureland. It was hot outside. The air was very dense and humid – it actually felt like it was misting. I joked to my sister that it felt like we were swimming in a jar of mayonnaise. Sometimes I shock myself with how weird my analogies are. We explored Adventureland and stared at the Dole Whip’s former location.
“We can get one later” my mom exclaimed.
“You don’t understand – it’s not the same” I replied.
After about a week of explaining the new Skippers’ Canteen restaurant – how it would be a Table Service and currently in a “soft opening” stage, I was presented with new questions.
“What’s this – this is new!”
“Oh, maybe we can eat here one night!”
“Oh look, Pirates is a short enough wait, let’s go” I replied.
Pirates was around a 15-minute wait. There were no signs of water-logged boats or flooding, but then again, we sat toward the back. I will say – you do get a bit more wet on the small drop. Maybe we had larger guests at the front of the boat, who knows.
After Pirates, we redeemed our FP+ for Jingle Cruise. By then, it was at a 45-minute wait. Jingle Cruise is such an underrated ride from a FP+ standpoint. It really is a cult favorite – not to mention, you slap on a Christmas theme and it’s sure to draw a crowd. It was around 9:30am and we had a 9:50am reservation for Be Our Guest, so we made our way toward the back of the park. It still didn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded, but it did seem worse than past years.
It was around 11:15 when we wrapped up our surprisingly good breakfast at Be Our Guest. The park was starting to feel crowded and the ride waits times were growing exponentially. “Here we go,” I thought. We decided to swing by Haunted Mansion, but the line had already extended well into Liberty Square (near the Riverboat entrance). We decided to scout out a spot for the castle show, as we never really watched it. We found a great spot and at noon, watched the 15 or 20-minute show. After the show, we walked back to Thunder Mountain for our FP+ (11:50am-12:50pm.) We just made it.
It was really hot by 1pm. We decided to cool down a bit by heading to the stores along Main Street. Main Street was filled with people. Unfortunately, I witnessed the negative effects of the heat and crowds, as a woman struck an older man on an ECV for coming too close to her feet. We explored the store and walked out just in time for one of the parades. I think it was the Main Street Party or something like that. We went across to Starbucks and used a snack credit on a frozen frappuccino. Finally, it was time to redeem our FP+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We had never experienced the ride during the daytime, so I was eager to go on. My mom sat it out, as my dad, sister and I boarded. After riding, we exited the park and went back to our hotel room. We relaxed in our air conditioned room before showering and heading to dinner at Artist Point.
After Artist Point we explored the Wilderness Lodge, then hopped on the bus to Magic Kingdom and transferred to the hotel. Once aboard the bus to Magic Kingdom, an older guest told our family that there were reports of gunshots at Disney Springs. Normally I’d be skeptical, but the recent events in Paris made us nervous. There were many conflicting reports, but I eventually found the true story – that a drunk guest either got into a fight or tried to start a fight. It’s amazing how quickly something can get blown out of proportion. Unfortunately, these are the times we live in, I guess.
We ended the night around 10 or 11pm. We watched a Christmas movie and fell asleep. Tomorrow would be a slightly later day, so we’d have a chance to finally sleep a little later.
Some more photos from the day…