So we finally made it to Day Four of our Walt Disney World (WDW) vacation (thanks for sticking with us), with the Magic Kingdom batting cleanup. This was definitely the grand finale, as the girls were not only going to meet their favorite Disney princesses in their respective dresses, but also dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table in her castle (which the girls labelled, “The Princess Dinner,” even though it was technically for lunch). This was set-up as our best day of the trip and it did not disappoint in the least.
After a day of sleeping in, we woke up fairly early on Day Four. This was because the girls had to get dolled up in their princess dresses prior to leaving for the park, which included getting their hair beautiful (and Dad used hair spray on them for the first time!). They initially just wore their gowns, Elena of Avalor for Elaina and Rapunzel for Gabriella, but I had their tiaras and heels on hand for when they finally met their respective princesses; unfortunately, I did not perform a quality assurance / quality control check before leaving and forgot the belt to Elaina’s dress, which we had to go back to the resort to get about an hour after arriving at the park. Either way, the girls looked adorable in their dresses, which were a big hit and conversation piece throughout the day.
Just like before, we arrived a little bit early so that we could knock out a few attractions that have historically long lines. I had already used two of our FastPasses on the Elena of Avalor (and Cinderella) and Rapunzel (and Tiana) character experiences, with our final one for the Jungle Cruise. Which meant that when the park opened, we ran straight to the attraction that historically has the longest wait time, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Which was certainly the right course of action, as just like Slinky Dog Dash, the line swelled to an hour and a half wait within ten minutes.
At first, I was not too impressed by this ride, but the more I think about it, the more I want to go on it again. For starters, the queue line was amazing and the girls absolutely loved it. There were giant gemstones that lit up and played music (see above), with water spraying out from others. It was not as great as the queue for The Haunted Mansion or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but it was still pretty darn good; anything that keeps the girls entertained while waiting in line is good in my book. The ride was like a miniature Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as far as excitement and theming, except that it stopped in the middle of the mine to sing along “Heigh Ho” with the Seven Dwarfs (which was oddly the girls’ favorite part of the ride). The girls enjoyed it, but not half as much as Slinky Dog Dash, which led me to compare the two for the rest of the day. But while they are both fun roller coasters, they both had an entirely different theme and sense of nostalgia to them, which caused my affection for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction to grow over time. Essentially, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is what I grew up with, while Toy Story is what my daughters are growing up with (the release timing is slightly off, as I am not that old, but you get the idea).
After the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we knocked out some of the smaller attractions in Fantasyland, including Mad Tea Party (because you have to) and Dumbo the Flying Elephant (which had absolutely no wait). I was really disappointed in the Barnstormer though. Because of their rule that all kids had to sit next to an adult combined with their being only two seats per row, we were unable to go on it. I could not leave one of the girls alone while riding with the other and they could not ride together. Thanks, WDW, for making a kids ride that kids cannot go on (I mean, they were good for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but not for this). Glad we did not use a FastPass on this attraction. While this got me a little salty, I was not going to let it in any way ruin an otherwise great day at the Magic Kingdom.
Before heading back to get the belt for Elaina’s dress, the girls went to the Ariel character experience and then we walked around the rest of Fantasyland to get our bearings. After returning with her dress now complete, the girls were ready to use their first two FastPasses of the day on two of their most anticipated events of the entire vacation.
The two character experiences that the girls had been anticipating were for Elena of Avalor and for Rapunzel, but they were two-for-one attractions, as they also included Cinderella and Tiana, respectively. While we were in line, I got the girls ready by putting on heels and tiaras of their respective princesses. Needless to say, after this, they had the eyes of all the parents and children in line on them. The girls learned to curtsy and spin in circles with Cinderella, which was their second of three meetings (they saw her on Day One at the same attraction and saw her later in the day at the “Princess Dinner”). I am glad that they enjoyed their time with Cinderella, as she is an “old school” princess, at least compared to Rapunzel or Tiana.
I have only seen Elaina happier a few more times in her life than when she met Elena of Avalor on Day Four at WDW. She was excited as soon as she put her accessories on, but was patient enough to give Cinderella the respect she deserves before moving over to Elena. And thankfully, Gabriella was extremely understanding, giving Elaina some one-on-one time with her before eventually getting in the picture. This was extremely important to me and their mother as well, as Elaina got to meet the first Latina princess in the Disney-verse.
While normally the princess cast members talk about what they were doing beforehand (For Rapunzel, it was playing with Pascal. For Cinderella, it was talking to the mice, etc.), they are good enough to know when to switch gears (which makes WDW so great). Upon seeing my daughter, Elena of Avalor spent their entire conversation talking about Elaina’s dress in lieu of anything about herself. My daughter felt like she was the princess and that Elena of Avalor was more excited by her presence and imitation than the other way around. To state it in a way that would make a Disney publicist proud, it was a truly magical experience for my daughter.
So prior to meeting with Rapunzel, the girls visited Princess Tiana. After commenting on the girls’ dresses, she talked about making her Beignets, which Elaina quickly commented about making cookies and cupcakes with Daddy. Leave it to my girls to steal some of Tiana’s thunder. So throughout their character experiences, the girls had a really hard time focusing on the character at hand, meaning that they just loved to talk about who they had met or who they were going to meet outside of that character. Tiana, along with Cinderella the first time around, was definitely a casualty of this. Nothing worse than being seen as just a waypoint for a another character. Anyways, at least the girls were engaging with her, which is much more than I can say for any character they met on Day One.
So Gabriella had a great experience meeting Rapunzel. She ran up to her and gave her a big hug, talked to her, and posed for some really good pictures. It was perfect… for Gabby. For Rapunzel (kudos to the cast for their ability to keep up with everything), I genuinely felt bad for her, because all Gabriella wanted to do was rapid-fire questions at her. “So where’s Pascal? Where’s Flynn Rider? Why isn’t your hair cut? Why isn’t it brown? Why aren’t you wearing you tiara? Why don’t you have shoes like mine?” Poor Rapunzel. But the girls both had an amazing time meeting their favorite Disney princesses, and thankfully, it lived up to their expectations. So using two FastPasses for these two character experiences was well worth it.
The time between our princess character experiences and our lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table was spent on rides (Jungle Cruise FastPass for the win and more trips to the Haunted Mansion), souvenir popcorn container refills, and some shopping (because Dad needed to get his 2019 Disney Christmas ornaments). Fun, but nothing necessarily noteworthy.
Tip #1: If you have children who enjoy Disney princesses, make a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table; it is worth it. Upon hearing their names called by the royal hostess, flanked by suits of armor and elegant tapestries, the girls proceeded inside Cinderella’s castle (along a red carpet, of course). They then talked and took pictures with Cinderella (again) as she personally invited them to eat in her dining hall. After climbing the spiral staircase surrounded by beautiful stained-glass windows, the girls entered the grand dining hall, where they were escorted to their royal dining table. Again, this was a magical experience for them and made them truly feel like princesses (especially given that our hostess always addressed them as Princess Elaina and Princess Gabriella or “your highness”).
While Elaina only ate half her food and Gabriella only nibbled at her cheese and grape platter (but destroyed her chocolate milk), this was an experience that they are never going to forget. As they started eating lunch (they both got beef tenderloin, rice, and green beans), the princesses slowly were announced and made their way into the dining hall. Since this was the primary reason for attending this dinner (as opposed to the food, which was still really good), I was not too unhappy that the girls did not eat very much.
Snow White was the first princess in the chute, and thankfully (because we watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs before leaving for Florida), the girls knew who she was and were really excited about meeting her. Tip #2: Before going on a trip to WDW, relax the screen time limits a little so that your children can maximize their experience. If they had not previously watched her movie, my girls may not have known who Snow White was, and then the first princess at the event would have been a major letdown. But I let them have an extra hour and 28 minutes that weekend and it paid off. And to my complete surprise, she was their favorite princess who was there, likely because they were excited to meet someone relatively new to them.
Aurora (or Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose) was the next Disney princess to enter the hall. Since this is one of the girls’ favorite Disney movies (they love the classics… so proud), they were extremely happy to see her. And my eldest, ever the observant one, immediately turned to me to tell me that her dress was pink; glad to see that Flora won that round. So it was at this point that Dad had accidentally made a smudge on the lens of his camera phone, so all the initial pictures with Aurora came out just terrible (thankfully, I noticed and fixed the issue before the next one came around). While it went completely against my introvert nature, I told our waitress about what happened and she immediately rushed to fixed the problem. At the end of her rounds in the dining hall, Aurora came back to take more pictures with the girls. And this is the type of customer service that makes me absolutely love Disney. Regardless of how much we paid for this experience, they made sure that they did everything possible to make it memorable for my daughters. Thank you, Disney, for making it magical for them.
Next up was Ariel, who they had met earlier in the day… but underwater and with her having a tail. Which led to a hilarious second encounter. As she approached them, both girls started inquiring about her lack of a tail and where her legs came from. In true cast member fashion, she explained it to them with the grace (and details) you can only expect from a princess. Too bad my girls saw her earlier, when she had a tail, and were quick to point this out. This stumped her a little bit, because she cannot know everything that these girls had done or seen, so Dad had to step in to smooth out the situation (i.e. all that sea witch and losing her voice stuff happened in between seeing her last). Everyone bought it, so no harm done. I have to hand it to Gabby though, picking on a poor, defenseless princess that thinks a fork is a brush.
By now the girls started guessing who would be the last princess. Rapunzel? Belle? Pocahontas? Mulan? Merida even? Nope; it was Jasmine. So while Dad was saying, “Oh, look, a smart, strong-willed, independent Disney princess that is a good role model for living the life you want,” my daughters were just not as impressed as me. They were still happy to see her, but it just was not met with the level of excitement that I was expecting. Guess we have to watch Aladdin a few more times when we get home.
But that was short-lived, as dessert was served, and their attention was quickly diverted. The girls were extremely happy to decorate their own cupcakes while Dad enjoyed his chocolate mousse. Yum. With lunch over, the girls descended the stairs and immediately started asking me about getting their daily ice cream.
Which, of course, they got. Because Tip #3: While you are with your family at WDW, splurge a little. For my family, this meant getting mickey mouse ice cream at every park, getting their faces painted, and getting to choose one small item to buy at each park. It did not set me back too much, they are items that are memorable because of where they got them, and they enhance the experience. You are likely not going to WDW every year, so you better make it the best experience possible for your family until you can make it back again.
The next few hours absolutely flew by. The girls met Winnie the Pooh and Tigger outside of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction. We rode the Haunted Mansion again. And they drove Dad almost to the point of insanity trying to get a “normal” picture in front of Cinderella’s castle (with all that sugar in them though, who can really blame them?).
Pretty sure this was the only time I got really frustrated that day. I just wanted one last family picture of our trip before it got too dark and all the girls wanted to do was joke around. Completely understandable, because again, they are kids. In an admitted moment of weakness, I pleaded with them to give me just one good family picture in front of the castle. Thankfully, they told me that they were sorry and obliged. Perfect family pictures accomplished. Thank you, girls.
Tip #4: Enchanted Tales with Belle. Either FastPass it or go in the evening when there is no line, but your family needs to go to this attraction. I will be honest, that when I looked up what attractions are the most popular for FastPassing, I had never heard of this one. Well, I have now and it is amazing.
So this attraction is part-show / part-character meet-and-greet, but it includes the best of both experiences. While the show portion consisted of a retelling of Belle and the Beast’s story, audience members volunteered to play various parts in the story. My daughters wanted me to volunteer and I was selected to be a suit of armor. Elaina then raised her hand and was selected to play the part of Chip. With poor Gabby being left by herself with the group (I still maintained eye contact with her the entire time), we kept yelling for her to raise her hand too. When she finally did, she was chosen to be Belle’s horse, Philippe. While Gabby’s was really a bit part that came and went, Elaina was at the center of it all for most of the show. And they both loved it. And the way that she describes it to others is priceless: “We didn’t just watch the story of Beauty in the Beast; we were in the story!”
Afterwards, Belle takes pictures with everyone that was either in the show or watched it, so it knocks out the Belle character experience too, without the normally long wait time. I highly recommend this attraction more than any other attraction at the Magic Kingdom, and that is saying something.
So while I do not have any pictures of it that are worth posting, the last event on Day Four was the fireworks show. We saw bits and pieces of it during our previous two days at the Magic Kingdom, but I promised the girls that we would watch it in its entirety on the final day. While it was a nice fireworks show that was beautifully choreographed to music, accompanied by a picture show using the castle as a backdrop, it was more than that for me. Looking at the smiles and awe on my daughters’ faces at the sight and sound of the fireworks, it was the perfect conclusion to a successful family vacation… our first real family vacation since their mother left. I may have shed a tear of joy or two at this conclusion of our trip, but it let me know two things. First, we made it. We survived our first family vacation together and had an amazing time along the way. And secondly… I can do this. Being a single father is hard, but I am doing it to the best of my ability, and will keep doing so.
Thank you again for checking up on us. I will close up with another post on our trip home, but this is the end of our park visits at Walt Disney World. I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventure as much as we enjoyed adventuring.