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Walt Disney World During a Pandemic? Let’s Boo This! Day 2, Part 1

Day 2 began with an early (for me) wake up at 6 am for a day at Magic Kingdom. Because the parks’ hours are reduced right now, it seems like everyone is trying to arrive at opening. This means transportation first thing in the morning is chaotic, to say the least. I’m a researchaholic when it comes to trip planning, so I already knew this. My original plan was to be at the bus stop at 7:30 for the 9 am opening, but we didn’t quite make it. We arrived around 7:50, and the scene was already overwhelming.

The entire bus stop area was filled with Guests heading to Magic Kingdom just like us.

Cast Members had the line well under control, however, and we quickly were directed to the end of the line. At 8 am on the dot, busses started rolling in one right after the other, and we were on a bus by 8:35. As you can tell, 7:30 would have been the much better plan.

There were busses lined up as far as the eye could see ready to clear out the crowds.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom just before 9 and got our temperatures checked before leaving the bus stop. We then made our way through the much-improved security area where they scan you and your bags instead of searching everything manually. The whole process was super fast and efficient.

Health and safety protocols helped put us at ease so we could have a fun few days.

Upon stepping onto Main Street, USA we were greeted by characters in their Halloween costumes from the train station platform. Since there are no one-on-one character greets during the pandemic, Disney is doing the best they can to weave these impromptu character sightings in wherever they can, and they are adorable!

Super cute distanced character greeting in Magic Kingdom

We made our way toward Cinderella Castle for our first view of her all dressed up in her 50th anniversary finery. She’s a beaut in her bright blue and rose gold.

We decided to start in Liberty Square. Madame Leota sippers were back in stock at Sleepy Hollow after selling out quickly when they were debuted for Halloween, and my sister and mom wanted one. There was no line so we stopped there first.

We then headed over to Haunted Mansion where there was no wait at all. We found they were bypassing both the first holding area and the stretching room as part of the health and safety modifications.

We made our way over to Frontierland next to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of my absolute faves. That line stretched all the way to Pecos Bill’s but only ended up being about 30 minutes long. All of the lines looked super intimidating because keeping parties spaced out 6 feet apart takes up more real estate than one might think.

Only one party per train car is being loaded on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is a big reason for the long lines, but I’m completely ok with this in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We really wanted to ride Splash Mountain since it’s soon going to be fitted with a new overlay. Truth be told, that’s one of the main motivators for my decision to take this trip. I wanted one last ride on the original. Unfortunately, it was down all morning. I kept monitoring the app to see when it would be open, but so far, there was no luck.

So we headed to Adventureland instead. Pirates of the Caribbean was next on the list, and this, too, had a very winding line. The entire time we were in line, winding back and forth, I smelled some amazing deliciousness coming from Pecos Bill’s. I was getting really hungry so after Pirates, that was our next stop for lunch.

Mobile ordering through the app was required, and like our resort restaurant, we weren’t allowed into the dining room until our order was ready. They also kept telling everyone to refrain from taking a table until you had your food. This system worked great. We had no trouble finding a table. Only about half the tables were available to be used, allowing for easy distancing. Signs clearly marked those that were out of service. Cast Members were doing a great job of cleaning and disinfecting tables as soon as people left. The food was delicious, some of the best nachos I’ve ever had in my life! The only thing they needed was a frozen margarita to wash them down. But alas, those are nowhere to be found in Magic Kingdom since it’s a dry park other than the full service “sit down” restaurants.

Delicious nachos at Pecos Bill’s. Prior to the pandemic, all the toppings would be self-serve on a toppings bar, which is currently unavailable. Instead, toppings are served with the entrées in individual containers.

After lunch, we stepped out to find a surprise character cavalcade coming by. Parades aren’t a thing right now, but in order to sprinkle in a little magic, unscheduled, short cavalcades can be found throughout the day. So fun!

Cute princess cavalcade

By then, Splash was open so we headed that way. That line was long, y’all, both in distance and in time.

One final visit with Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox

As we were in line, we noticed clouds and wind increasing and knew something was about to blow up. After about 90 minutes in line, we were almost to the front when a Cast Member announced that a storm was in the area and riders might get wet from rain. They also said it might be necessary to close again, but they would keep it running as long as they could. We unfortunately didn’t have time to put our ponchos on before it was our turn to load. Well, the bottom fell out just as we were meandering around one of the outdoor bends on the ride. We. Got. Soaked! Thankfully, it had cleared by the time the ride was over, and we were optimistic that we would dry out soon.

We headed to get a Dole Whip next at Aloha Isle. It started raining again as I placed our order, but we were able to find a seating area under cover. Score!

On the left is the Kakamora Float, which is coconut soft serve, pineapple juice and blue curacao syrup with a chocolate cake pop. Pineapple and raspberry swirl is on the right.

Up next was Jungle Cruise to pay homage to the backside of water and, you guessed it, more rain.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the back side of water!

Then Peter Pan’s Flight and more rain. We had plans at Disney Springs later, and the rain was wearing us out so we decided to wrap up our day at Magic Kingdom. After meandering through the Emporium on our way out, we took a boat ride over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, our favorite resort, to catch a bus to Disney Springs.

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How to Survive 24 Hours in the Magic Kingdom

Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event at Magic Kingdom

Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event at Magic Kingdom

On May 23, Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort was open for 24 hours, from 6 am to 6 am on May 24, for the Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event.  A little more than a month before, I decided I wanted to go.  So some of my Princess Posse girls and I got to planning.

Me, Heather, Aimee, Katie, and Heather's daughter Hailey

Me, Heather, Aimee, Katie, and Heather’s daughter Hailey

I’ll be honest, when I first started talking about it, I had no intention of staying for the entire 24 hours.  I thought I’d be there for rope drop (the Disney term for park opening), head back to the hotel for a nap and maybe the pool in the middle of the afternoon, then head back in the evening to shut it down.  It didn’t take long for my Posse peeps to convince me otherwise.  I realized pretty quickly that I needed a strategy.  So, I came up with a plan, and it worked beautifully!

  1. Pack a bag.  Spending 24 hours in the Magic Kingdom is like a sleepover, only with no sleep.  You need stuff.  How much stuff is a personal preference.  I took a backpack full of 2 changes of clothing complete with undies and socks, flip-flops, my glasses, contact solution and case, deodorant, wipes, tooth paste and tooth-brush, hair brush, hair spray, and head band.  I used every single thing in there.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Aimee only took a robe and sleep mask (Tinkerbell ready for bed) and deodorant spray.  Katie was somewhere in the middle.
  2. Take resort Transportation.  Sure, you could drive your own car if you have one there but there is really nothing more convenient than resort transportation.  They were well-prepared for the crowds and even though the bus line was super long at our resort, it moved quickly, and there were plenty of buses to move us all. 

    The bus line--ack!

    The bus line–ack!

    We headed down to the bus stop a little before 5 and made it right on time for the 5:45 opening show.

  3. Divide and Conquer.  This is especially important if there are multiple things your group wants to accomplish at the same time.  We wanted some of the special merchandise and since you never know how well stocked it is, it’s always best to go right away.  We also knew that there might not be enough lockers to go around so that was a priority, too.  Katie and I went to get the lockers (we ended up getting 2 and sharing) and Heather, Aimee, and Hailey went to get the merchandise.
  4. Pace yourself.  24 hours in the Magic Kingdom is not easy.  You cannot go full speed ahead and expect to make it through.  Well, maybe YOU can, but I knew I couldn’t.  Be realistic about what you will be able to do and prioritize.  Do you want to ride everything? Do you want to get fun character pics?

    Fairy Godmother loves us!

    Fairy Godmother loves us!

    Glad we had fast passes for this one!

    Glad we had fast passes for this one!

    Pinocchio

    Pinocchio

    You may have to choose because as long as 24 hours seems, there is not enough time to do it all.  We tried to find a good balance.  We got some great character pics and rode some of our faves.

    Will I ever get 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin?  Not this trip!

    Will I ever get 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin? Not this trip!

    We even rode the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Train before it was officially open to the public!  We also were able to do many of the special experiences just for that day.

  5. Use social media.  It was a special day so bloggers and media were out in full force, both official and unofficial.  While Disney released a lot of the deets during the weeks leading up to the event, they didn’t spill everything.  If it weren’t for social media, we would have never known about the Mine Train being open.  Ok, to be fair, we probably would have figured it out, but not until much later in the day when thewait was insanely long.

    Nope!  We didn't wait 3 hours!

    Nope! We didn’t wait 3 hours!

    There were also food and beverages we wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for social media.

    Special drink mug I found out about through social media.  Also, I thought I was smiling!  I was tired!

    Special drink mug I found out about through social media. Also, I thought I was smiling! I was tired!

    There was even a live webcam on Main Street, and some of our friends who couldn’t make it were able to see us.  How did we coordinate this?  You guessed it!  Social media!  Oh, and if you are going to use social media, this also means you will need to bring your charger and take advantage of the many charging outlets throughout the park.

  6. Hydrate. Y’all it was hot!  The heat index was over 100 during the hottest part of the day.  Dehydration is not magical!  I drank about 6 of the 20 ounce sized bottles of water throughout the day and Diet Coke, too.

    I drank 6 of these throughout the day.

    I drank 6 of these throughout the day.

  7. Don’t forget to eat.  You need fuel to make it through 24 hours of non-stop fun.  And yes, it is possible to have so much fun you forget to eat.  We only had one dining reservation, and that wasn’t until 10:45 that night.  We also had planned a 2 pm Dole Whip meet up so we could easily meet up with everyone we knew who were there.

    Hailey tried to get my tiara at the Dole Whip meet up.

    Hailey tried to get my tiara at the Dole Whip meet up.

    We found Maryanne at the Dole Whip meet up.

    We found Maryanne and Kelsey at the Dole Whip meet up.

    Other than that, we had to remind ourselves to eat.

  8. Get into the spirit.  Walt Disney himself once said he doesn’t make movies for kids.  He makes movies for the kid in everyone.  The same is true of his theme parks.  This was the first time in history that the Magic Kingdom allowed adults to dress in costume during regular operating hours.  They do allow kids to dress in costume all the time, and they allow costumes during the fall special ticketed Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and other special events.  However, adults in costume during the day is unprecedented, and some people went all out!  I had 2 outfits for the event and pajamas for over night.  Aimee wore a full-blown Tinkerbell costume and got lots of attention.

    Tinkerbell Aimee

    Tinkerbell Aimee

    Also, characters love it when adults want pics with them.  We even got pixie-dusted in Bibbity Bobbity Boutique!

    Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted

  9. Keep your eyes open.  Even if you’ve been to Magic Kingdom dozens of times, when it’s a special day, special things sometimes happen.  Cast members were handing out buttons to promote the new Maleficent movie.  Also, around 1 am, we were approached by a cast member who handed us special passes for an exclusive meet and greet with Maleficent from the movie.

    We got special tickets to an exclusive Maleficent meet!

    We got special tickets to an exclusive Maleficent meet!

    I met Maleficent!

    I met Maleficent!

    Aimee and Katie were able to get their pic with Pain and Panic from Hercules because they were paying attention.  No joke, that line had been 4 hours long earlier in the evening, but around 5 am, they saw the line was nonexistent.  They were able to get several other great photos, too.  About this time, I was sitting on a bench resting, not sleeping, resting!

  10. Stop and smell the roses.  Not literally, unless you really want to.  24 hours in the Magic Kingdom has only happened 2 other times so there aren’t a lot of people who can say they’ve done it.  We watched the sun rise in MK 2 days in a row and never left.  That’s pretty epic!  The energy of the day was electric!  From the opening shot of fireworks to the characters waving goodbye to us in their pajamas, it was truly an amazing day!

It was certainly a day I’ll never forget and to be able to spend it with some really amazing ladies made it even more special.  Were you there?  Share some of your thoughts!  I’ll leave you with a few more of my favorite photos from the day.

We found Betsy on Main Street!

We found Betsy on Main Street!

I, Aimee, and Katie made it for the entire 24 hours!

I, Aimee, and Katie made it for the entire 24 hours!

Heather and Katie staked out great seats for Festival of Fantasy.

Heather and Katie staked out great seats for Festival of Fantasy.

We found Maryanne and Jennifer after wishes!

We found Maryanne and Jennifer after wishes!

Middle of the night silliness

Middle of the night silliness

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