Thursday, our last day in the parks, at The Magic Kingdom

The sign in front of our hotel, Shades of Green
Riding in a Teacup!
By mutual agreement, Erika and Doug got up early and headed over to the Magic Kingdom in order to get the most out of our last day. Kat and I got up at 8:45 and ate, showered and dressed and headed out to meet Erika and Doug before our 11:30 lunch with the Pooh characters at The Crystal Palace. I had planned to walk to the monorail, but wound up leaving the hotel just as the hotel shuttle was leaving for the MK, so I used that method of transportation. All in all it may have been quicker to walk and take the monorail, but it all worked out. Erika and I got to the Magic Kingdom about 5 minutes after it opened.  That is definitely the time to get to the park, and we did more in the next couple of hours than we had done any other day in any of the parks we had gone to.
 We walked straight to Space Mountain, which Erika had been dying to ride all week.  The line was advertised at 30 minutes and took 20.  I remembered the ride from 19 years ago, and was looking forward to it, but not sure what Erika would think.  I was also concerned since everyone sits alone, I could not sit next to Erika.
All was OK though, and we both had a great time.
After Space Mountain, we walked to Splash Mountain.  When we got there, the line was 10 minutes long.  Since we thought we wanted to ride twice, we went and got Fast Passes, then got in line.  After doing the flume (50 foot drop at one point), we walked up to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, rode that (20 minute wait), and then back to Splash Mountain.  In all, we rode 4 major rides in just over 2 hours and had a great time.
While we waited for Kaz and Kat for lunch, we pursued reported sightings of Alice (The last character Erika wanted to meet) all over the park, but could never get linked up with her.
We arrived at The Crystal Palace and went to check in. There was one person in line ahead of us to talk to the hostess, and quite a few behind us, as well as many people waiting around when the hostess made a general announcement to everyone:

" If you are here with a reservation, only ONE person needs to stand in line to check in. If you are here to MAKE a reservation, the next we have available are (named a date about 2 weeks in the future)" !!!! Wow, talk about popular!

After checking in we stood outside for maybe 15 minutes and then were ushered in to a wonderfully air conditioned room. It must have been just at the beginning of a meal cycle, as most tables were empty and there was no line at the buffet. A few of the characters came over almost immediately, and then we got our food and had the rest of the characters come. Unfortunately by the time we were ready for more food, the line was RIDICULOUS and we instead gathered up our stuff and left. But we all really enjoyed this special character lunch. All in front of Castle
More amazing plants:

Eeyore and Piglet inside The Crystal Palace.

Pooh kisses! Kat's wearing a Pooh bib.
Kat did really well with all the characters, she wasn't afraid of any of them! Alice!!!Alice
We couldn't get Erika to see her, since she had to go before we made it to her in line.  Will make it work next time we go to Disney.
Before lunch Erika and I had gotten Fast Passes at Space Mountain. We got ones for something like 3:30 in the afternoon. So after lunch we went over to see how the lines were for Splash Mountain. It was over 100 minutes, and we couldn't get Fast Passes for another hour or so. I really wanted to go on it, as Doug and Erika had hit it earlier that day and very much enjoyed it, so I agreed to stand in line with Erika. I gave Doug the extra backpack, threw in my phone (I didn't want it to get wet) and pointed out a meeting place. Just as we were about to get in the line, I thought we'd probably better hit the restrooms, and as we took care of that business I talked to Erika and we realized 100+ minutes was a REALLY LONG time, and given the heat and all that, maybe we'd better do something else and come back to it. She agreed, and we started looking for Doug.

Well, without my phone, finding him was just impossible. We wandered around near the ride, checking stores and 'streets' nearby, to no avail.

I finally asked a random woman who was using her cell phone if I could borrow hers and explained the situation. She hesitated but agreed, and asked me the number. She dialed it and her caller ID showed it was a Hawaii number. "Hawaii?!!" she exclaimed. I asked if she had free long distance, and when she said no, I quickly told her to hang up.

I then appealed to some Park employees, and eventually a wonderful waitress at The Liberty Tree, whose nametag said "DD", lent me her phone.

Doug had hopped on the train that circles the park and was currently over on the other side. Eventually we got back together. And by that time we were able to go back to Splash Mountain and get Fast Passes for about 7 that night.

Discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to take the oft offered advice of 'take a break in the middle of the day' and went back to our hotel to cool off, rest up, and wait for the cooler, less crowded nighttime hours in the Park. We also started to pack, as we were leaving the next day. And technically we had to repack, as we discovered on the way down that our 1 medium bag with our

PJ's, toiletries and changes of clothes was much harder to stow away on the train than 1 small bag for each of us would be.

A picture from our first day in the Magic Kingdom.

We remembered to ask for the front monorail car again.

Erika at "Mr Sanderz" house in the pooh playground.
When we returned to the Magic Kingdom that evening, we were able to use the Fast Passes AND Kid Swap on Splash Mountain. If you have a child too small to ride a ride, you can talk to a cast member working the ride to see if Child Swap is available. If it is, one parent and the older child rides the ride and when they're done, the 1st parent takes the small child and the second parent can ride with the older child without having to wait in the whole long line again. It's a nice option.

I had a ton of fun on Splash Mountain! It also made me pine for my Brer Rabbit book that I had as a child - I think it had every story featured in the ride!

We then looked at Big Thunder Mountain, another of Erika's favorites, but it had a long line, it was beginning to rain....


So back across the park we trooped, and once again, the night and also the rain reduced the lines. We were on the boat in less than 30 minutes. I don't think Erika 'got it', but it *was* one of very few rides that didn't make Kat cry (no dark parts) so that was definitely a plus.

Afterwards we picked up some 'charms' for the pair of Disney Crocs that Erika never wears (gggrrr) in an attempt to get her to wear them! We shall see.

After that it was getting late and the light drizzle was getting a little harder. Kat was ok in her covered carrier and body-covering sunsuit, but Erika was cold in her skort, even with a hooded sweatshirt on too. I had not put our raincoats into the backpack (bad mommy!) But I did have Kat's. I wound up putting the hood on Erika's head and then tied the sleeves around her neck- the rest of the jacket barely covered her shoulders but it did provide some rain protection and a bit of extra warmth - you know what they say, you lose most of your body heat through your head!

But despite her discomfort, Erika didn't want to leave just yet. None of us did!

So we stood in line for the Dumbo ride, which Erika wanted to ride without a parent.

Erika on the Dumbo ride with Kat's coat on her head!

When she got off Kat was acting hungry, and we debated sending her and I to the Baby Center to nurse or just going back to the hotel. Doug thought the Baby Center closed at 9 (I later checked, it's open until the park closes); I just wanted to get out of the rain and get her fed.

There was a nearby covered pavilion that was filling up fast as people took refuge from the rain. I managed to grab a table with three chairs, toward the back for some privacy. Doug took Kat into the next door bathroom to change her, and then we all sat down while Kat ate.

We hadn't been sitting/nursing for more than 5 minutes when BOOM!

The fireworks started.

Turns out we were RIGHT UNDER part of the show and had a great seat for the part we could see. The castle was behind us and obscured by close by buildings so we didn't see Tinkerbell's descent, but we had already seen it another night and enjoyed this front row seat.

Of course the other people under the pavilion realized what a great view we had and came crowding over, so all 'privacy' for nursing Kat went out the window, but since most people were looking skyward it wasn't much of an issue. Besides, I once nursed Erika live on ESPN (though the cameraman though Erika was simply sleeping) so I'm not exactly shy about nursing in public

The end of the fireworks seemed to signal an end to our day, so we headed for the exit.

We took one last photo before hopping our boat home.

Our bunnies with Mickey

The monorail and regular lagoon boat lines were very long, so we went over to the small line for the boat launches that go to The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian. Before we got to The Grand Floridian, Erika was asleep.

I had surprising difficulty waking her when we got to The Polynesian dock, but in the end she did wake up and dragged her tired self through the 15 minute walk to our hotel. I was so proud of her for not whining or complaining, which is most of the reason we waited so long before taking her to Disney. But we did sing the refrain from a "Trout Fishing in America" song, Carry me:

Chorus: Pick me up, come on carry me,
I'm too tired to go on
Pick me up, come on carry me,
Your arms are just where I belong.

We made it to our room tired, happy, and wanting to come back again real soon.

The train trip home. Friday