The day began bright and early, and it was so lovely to open the curtain and see that gorgeous lake view. We packed up the little bit that we had brought with us and said goodbye to our adorable Pop room. We dropped off our luggage and tried to have breakfast, but the lines at the Everything Pop food court were incredibly long! We ended up just grabbing a cup of grapes and some bottled juice that we ate on the walk to the bus stop. We met the Magic Kingdom bus just as it was arriving- perfect timing! We arrived at the gates to blue skies and sunshine. My Disney app wasn’t updating properly and wouldn’t refresh the wait times, so we headed straight to Fantasyland in case we could get on the Mine Train. Unfortunately it was not to be so, already up to a 60 minute wait. Instead we went right to it’s a small world, which is really a perfect way to begin a day at Disney. The ride was a walk-on so we finished there fairly quickly and went straight to the Haunted Mansion, another walk-on. The cast members at this ride are hilarious. The one waiting as you exit the ride said the line, “watch your step- the end is near” in such a fantastic deadpan delivery that I laughed out loud, prompting a long, hard, still-in-character stare from him. And then I tripped over the end of the moving walkway. I guess that was the end he was talking about.
It was now time for our first Fast Pass+ reservation, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. As we meandered through Frontierland, it was so sad to walk by Splash Mountain and see the flume empty. Since there was still a bit of chill in the air I suppose January is a good time for a refurb on that one. Big Thunder delivered as usual. Though it feels tame to me now that I’m a bit of a coaster junkie, I still love the theme of it and the nostalgia factor- it was my first rollercoaster ever back when I was a kid. Next we boarded a raft and sailed over to Tom Sawyer Island. My mom and Chris both love this area of the park and I enjoy it too. We went through the caves and over the barrel bridges, stopping for a quiet break in the rocking chairs near Aunt Polly’s. When we checked the time we were startled to find that we had to quickly run over to Space Mountain for our Fast Pass+ and then hustle to our lunch reservation!
Space Mountain is also a pretty tame coaster, but there is something about that deep space darkness and all the glowing stars that makes it seem faster and more thrilling than it actually is. Chris, ever the gentleman, let me have the front seat where the view is phenomenal. I came off the ride feeling hungry, and we were right on time for our 11:30am lunch reservation at Liberty Tree Tavern. I had dined here once when I was a kid, and back then it was a character meal where Mickey and friends wore colonial costumes and dinner was a family style Thanksgiving feast. Today at lunch there are a la carte menu options and no characters- and no people, it would seem, as we were one of the first tables to be seated in the empty dining room. The food was fantastic. I ordered the Pilgrim Feast, which came with mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, gravy, and of course turkey, which I didn’t eat. Chris got the Freedom Pasta, rigatoni with deliciously marinated veggies mixed in. Halfway through we traded plates. He finished off my potatoes, green beans, and turkey while I enjoyed the last of his pasta and vegetables. By the time we were paying our bill and heading back to Tomorrowland, the restaurant was packed and the benches in the foyer were full of people waiting to be seated. I guess a reservation was a good choice after all!
We let our food settle on a nice, breezy, relaxing ride on the PeopleMover, and then waited on a 20 minute line to tackle Zurg on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. As usual, I performed poorly but still had fun. It was time then for our Tomorrowland Indy Speedway Fast Pass+, and I admit I was excited about this ride simply because I hadn’t been on it in so long. Our FP+ let us bypass a 20 minute wait, and we were given a British car. I was happy to see that we both fit into the car quite nicely and didn’t have to squeeze or separate. I much prefer attractions that I don’t have to ride alone. The cars on this ride are not like regular go karts, instead they are on a track and even an experienced driver like Chris had trouble keeping it straight! Honestly though, that is half the fun!
Our day was winding down, which felt incredibly sad, but we had one more land to hit. Adventureland was up next and unfortunately, the line was 30 minutes at Pirates of the Caribbean. It is one of our favorites though, so we waited, and then shared a cone of pineapple soft serve ice cream from Aloha Isle before heading toward the park exit. It just happened to work out that the 3pm parade, Festival of Fantasy, was coming down Main Street, and we ended up with a great vantage point! The parade was lovely. I was really happy to see Pinocchio and Peter Pan had their own floats, as I’m always hoping Disney doesn’t forget about their more classic characters. The fire breathing Maleficent dragon float was awesome as well. And then it was truly time to leave. We took a few last photos and said our goodbyes before hopping on the bus back to Pop Century, collecting our luggage, and boarding the Magical Express bus to the airport.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. January seems like a wonderful time to visit the wonderful world of Disney. It was very chilly in the mornings and at night, but during the day pleasant and not humid. The crowd level at the Magic Kingdom was definitely more manageable than it had been during our last trip in August. And you simply can’t beat $124/night at a Disney hotel with all the Disney perks. The offseason has its cons too, for example refurbishments are more likely to be taking place. I’ll definitely need a few more January visits to properly evaluate.
I’m sure a lot of people thought I was crazy for making a Disney trip out of barely 24 hours. But being that close to it with the whole day free, I just couldn’t help it. I’ll take any little bit of Disney magic I can find! This impromptu and short trip may have given me enough magic to hold myself over until the next time.