Date: Sunday, November 10, 2013
Touring Plans Crowd Calendar Level: 7
Weather: Sunny and warm with highs in the low 80′s, low 60′s at night
So maybe it wasn’t the best idea to voluntarily hit the Kingdom on a 7/10 crowd calendar day, but Christmas decorations went up this week, and I was dying to see it all. I actually started at the Grand Floridian to get some pictures of its gingerbread house. The two-story Victorian cookie mansion is a holiday favorite of mine, and even though it doesn’t officially open for business until the 16th, it’s already finished. Here’s a picture of under construction earlier this week, as well as the finished product.
Stats will be available later in the season as to how much sugar, flour, fondant, and other baking materials were used, and the numbers are always impressive. The tree is not in the lobby yet, so there’s at least one more holiday marker to look forward to. In the meantime, the characters adorning the candy windows this year are gorgeous. Here’s candy Tink.
A short monorail ride later and I was in the Magic Kingdom. Because there were so many people, it was impossible to get a good shot of the courtyard, so here’s one from just a few days ago. I wouldn’t want to leave you hanging. The Mickey Christmas ornament-shaped flower arrangement is pretty awesome.
Inside the gates (and back in real time), it was a stunner of a day. Love that sky.
I arrived just in time for the last Main Street Trolley Show. The shows run just three times between nine and noon. If you haven’t seen one, make sure that you do. The holiday version, the Holly Jolly Trolley, is my favorite, but they’re all really wonderful.
After the Trolley Show, I headed down Main Street to New Fantasyland for a Be Our Guest lunch using FastPass+. If you have an active resort reservation, you can use FP+ to skip the line at Be Our Guest. (EDIT: If you can’t get in for your desired reservation time, keep trying! It appears that BOG FP+ opens in waves as the weeks go by.) Go to this link: https://beourguestlunch.disney.go.com/ and enter all the requested information. Although when this service launched you had to order at the time that you made your FP+ reservation, there’s now an option for simply skipping the line without pre-ordering, which I did. Given that the line at around 12:45 was nearly back to Gaston’s, it was a lifesaver. I waited about ten minutes to order and had a fantastic meal of potato leek soup and the croque monsieur. That soup is, hands down, the best soup on property. The sandwich is delicious too. If you can’t get dinner reservations for Be Our Guest, I really do recommend lunch (see the Be Our Guest Lunch Menu). It’s less expensive and just as good. I was excited to see the Christmas decorations that had been added to BOG, and while they could have been more extensive, they were nonetheless beautiful.
After lunch I had another FP+ reservation for the Jungle Cruise. In case you haven’t heard, it’s received a holiday overlay and is now the Jingle Cruise. Having heard mixed reviews, I was really excited to give it a try. The sign has been changed with a really fun candy cane North Pole “i,” which set the right tone with me big time.
The queue has been decorated (not too many photo spoilers!), and the Cast Members have special khaki Santa hats!
While there’s not much decoration during the actual cruise, skippers have fun holiday jokes they can choose to add to their spiels, and there are a couple of fun surprises. I recommend this one big time, even if you have to go standby.
Once out of Jingle Cruise, I headed to Pirates of the Caribbean. I’ve heard lately that a lot of things are missing from the ride, and I was able to confirm. Not sure if’ it’s a maintenance/refurbishment issue, or if permanent changes are coming, but the mist curtain Davy Jones was not operating, only one mermaid pool was functioning, and animatronic favorites like the man with the pile of hats were missing completely. Even a friend who isn’t at Disney all the time noticed that things were awry. We exited Pirates to the level 7 crowds that Touring Plans had told us would be present. While I’m never averse to skipping rides altogether, I can imagine it was a bit of a frustrating experience for many families who weren’t expecting those kinds of crowd levels in the beginning of November. It was apparent as I navigated toward Main Street Bakery for some coffee that afternoon frustration was creeping in.
As I waited in the bakery for my drink, I noticed a neat thing outside. Among the most magical things about the Kingdom, in my opinion, are the vignettes that pop up as people go about their day. I took this shot of two of the Dapper Dans speaking to some guests as they waited for their showtime, and the contrast of their stripes and hats with the modern convenience of my coffee stop made me smile.
After my refuel, I moseyed to the Cinderella Castle forecourt to see the lighting of the dream lights, which also began this week. There’s a nightly ceremony at 6:15 (Cinderella’s Holiday Wish) with Mickey and Friends, The Fairy Godmother, and Cinderella and Charming that you really don’t want to miss. It’s only about a 10 minute show but it’s so worth it. And, when it’s over, you get this: