Ultimate Magic Kingdom Tour Part 2 – Winning The Day

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Continued from Part 1

Despite the fact that spending way too much time in the Fairytale Garden possibly jeopardized our entire day we pressed on.  My Ultimate Magic Kingdom Tour buddy, JL Knopp, and I spent a lot of that time planning, re-planning, and re-working our strategy.  It would be very important for us to play the rest of the day like a game of chess – thinking 3 or 4 moves ahead.  At this point, no matter what we did our wait times would be off, and our show times would be inconvenient at best.  If you try an Ultimate Tour you have to be prepared for this sort of worst case scenario, and know the park well enough to ride it out.  We’d already slotted in 2 deviations, and more would have to follow.

Immediately after breaking out from the piped in hamburger smell of the Fairytale Garden, we went to get those FASTPASSes for Space Mountain that we neglected to get earlier.  For the next few attractions we decided to stick with the plan as presented.  Hightailing it to the Haunted Mansion, we were lucky enough to be shuffled through the new queue which was nice for me as I hadn’t seen it before.  Since time was not on our side, we didn’t actually spend any time playing – just a few taps and touches here and there, but we did at least get to see it.  More exciting than the queue was the new look for Gus, Ezra, and Phineas – without spoilers, I like to think of it as hands off interaction.

From there we sat through the Hall of Presidents (go Millard Fillmore!), grabbed FASTPASSes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and then headed over to Tom Sawyer Island.  This is one of the few locations with specific picture requirements: one at a cave entrance, one on the barrel bridge, and one with a rifle in Fort Langhorn.  The idea is to get you to cover a lot of ground on the island.  Now if there’s a part of Magic Kingdom that I’m least familiar with, this is it.  Fortunately, JL knows the island well enough and she got us through it quickly.

Then it was time to head over to the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade for a little target practice.  This is one of a few attractions where you’ll need to spend money.  One round later and we were off to check the time for the Country Bear Jamboree.  We still had about 14 minutes, and rather than wait, we deviated by cutting through to Adventureland to do Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats.  Now the plan actually suggests doing this after, but our minutes were precious and this made tons of sense.  Afterward we headed back to Country Bears, and then grabbed FASTPASSes for the Jungle Cruise (note: we would never use these).

We then had to endure one of the longest and most grueling experiences in the Swiss Family Treehouse that I’ve ever had.  While I love the nostalgia of the attraction, it’s so hands off that anything more than a few minutes sucks the fun right out of the experience even if you’re not on a time critical mission like the UMK Tour.  Needing to re-focus, and again re-plan we rode around the Rivers of America in the Liberty Square Riverboat.  By the time we got off it was 1:48pm.

Since we had a some time before Dream-Along With Mickey, we decided to pick up a few extra points while waiting by watching some of the street performances on Main Street, U.S.A. We got to see both the Dapper Dans and the Casey’s Corner Pianist.  Each of these require only 5 minutes of your time.  After our musical interlude was over, we took a break and then positioned ourselves to watch the show.  This was my first time watching it with the new “talking” Mickey and friends – I still find it disconcerting, though I imagine that will fade with time.

Ideally it would have been nice to slot in Monster’s, Inc. Laugh Floor next, but we’d have to do it before the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade.  Due to the wait time, this didn’t work out, but we used the parade “trick” of walking from the first to the last float, and then headed back over to Monster’s only stopping to get FASTPASSes for Buzz Lightyear as well as bonus FASTPASSes for Carousel of Progress (why do these even exist?). We quickly snapped our picture, got yelled at for it, and watched the show.

Finally we had a  lucky timing break.  We made our way back over to Adventureland to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, and afterward walked right up to Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial.  If you’ve never seen it, this street show is very entertaining.  The humor is geared toward adults, the fun and reward is geared toward children.  The kids never seem to understand what they’re supposed to do, which plays into the characters of Mack and Captain Jack Sparrow.  Enjoyable any day.

For the next 2 and a half hours, we alternated some of our FASTPASS usage with other attractions and shows.  We went from Buzz Lightyear to the Flag Retreat.  The retreat is nice to watch, if not touching – there is very often a family honoring someone they lost.  Then it was over to ride Big Thunder, grabbing FASTPASSes for Splash Mountain, and the watching the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party.  The music is a lot of fun, but I always feel that after about 10 minutes that I’m done – and it’s still got 15 minutes left.  We visited with Belle at the new Town Square Theater meet and greet.  She was super nice, and gracious as always.

Next we took a ride around the park on the Walt Disney World Railroad – I always enjoy getting to see the real fake deer.  Once we’d made our circle, we headed back over to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain.  Afterward, in the Tomorrowland Arcade, I learned that JL’s got game.  Racing game that is.  In what was a close race throughout I managed to pull out a win using a speed boost (sorry JL).  We begrudgingly spent 5 minutes at the Club 626 Dance Party, but were then rewarded by the ever enjoyable Carousel of Progress.  This was followed by me having to rescue JL from Stitch’s Great Escape as the ride tried to eat her.

At this point it was 8:24pm, and we had completed 36 attractions, 3 of which were extras.  With 3 and a half hours left, this put us 12 attractions away from completion.  Not impossible, but failure loomed, and JL even began trying to prepare me mentally for failure – it’s something I don’t do well with.  With this in mind, we spent the next hour riding the Mad Tea Party, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Mickey’s Philharmagic, wiped away my tears, and then did it’s a small world.

Things were shaping up a bit, but we still had to make it through the night time shows.  With FASTPASSes in hand we headed over to Splash Mountain, following that with Wishes.  And then, on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, I looked up from my notes, turned to JL, and announced that we were going to finish.

With the goal in site we marveled again at the coolness of the Magic, Memories, and You – tons of fun to watch, nifty tech.  Projection technology just keeps getting better.  We then ducked over to the TTA PeopleMover, which is a favorite of both of us – this allowed us to get a quick break off our feet.  And we followed this with my absolute favorite Magic Kingdom parade, the Main Street Electrical Parade.  Normally I’d have stood around and danced, but we used the parade “trick” again due to time.

With only two core attractions left, we decided to first do the Tomorrowland Speedway and make our last attraction the Jungle Cruise.  With the right skipper, those last few rides can be the funniest moments you’ll ever experience in the Magic Kingdom. It was completely worth it, the ad libbing was off the charts, and we had a blast.  We headed back over to the hub, which is the stopping point for a UMK Tour, and we were just in time to see the Kiss Goodnight and have an awesome conversation with a castmember photographer.

Finishing felt good.  One of my Disney bucket list items was finally checked off.  I’m not rushing to do it again, but I’d certainly love to – though I’m hoping someone else wants to do the book-keeping next time so I can just enjoy the “ride” through Magic Kingdom rather than manage it.  But don’t think JL and I aren’t planning to tackle another park… I’ve already picked out the day…

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Posted on May 5, 2011

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