Back in Orlando - the Rileys, Schillings, and Whites were preparing for one very long day in the Magic Kingdom. We all knew it would be our last day, so none of us wanted to waste a single second.
After quickly concluding that we had not gotten in fast enough to hop on the "Mine Train" (without a 60 minute wait), we took a detour to the "Astro Orbiters". This was a ride Whitley saw all the time during her waits for us at "Space Mountain" or near "Buzz", so she really wanted to ride it. But, it's not a Fast Pass ride, so the lines tend to be very long (as it is very poorly queued). We ended up being the first riders of the day.
Well most of us were. These two opted not to do a ride that twirled you in circles. Yes, they were posing. =)
You had to ride an elevator to get to the platform.
Certainly, this ride offers a gorgeous way to view the park at 8am!
From Tomorrowland, we ventured over to Adventureland. The "Jungle Cruise" ride re-opened on this day, and we wanted to hop on before the rest of the park figured that out.
We ended up with a captain that was from the University of Oregon - so when she saw the "O" on Travis' shirt, it made her day.
Again, Whitley was all about sitting with Traig. =)
Next up, "Aladdin's Flying Carpets". Whitley flipped allegiances and went with Aunt Chele.
Ellie and Travis rode together. She did her best to get him wet from the "Spitting Camel".
And then we were the "Steph Squared" carpet. =)
And then, (due to Fast Pass times) back to "Tomorrowland" - for "Buzz" and "Space Mountain".
This picture has significance. John rode solo on this one. Wouldn't you know it, but the ride stalled for a bit - at exactly the point that John could hit a target that gave you 100,000 points a bulls-eye. He maxed out his gun, but then realized he had another gun to work with and maxed that one out too. Well done, John - well done!
One ride we had not yet done, but I had promised Whitley I'd take her on was the carousel. Given our experience in Salem, I was hopeful to be next to her when she victoriously conquered this ride.
And she did! Way to go Whitley!
This pic was meant to be viewed through the mirror...
We all got a little worn out at this point. By the time the day was through, we'd even hopped on "The Little Mermaid Ride", "Mickey's Philharmagic", and a few others that we normally wouldn't have done if we didn't have all day to be there.
So, we mixed it up and headed over to "Tom Sawyer's Island". John, Mikayla, and I ended up at a nice little sitting area in the shade with a Diet Coke - but, the Schillings adopted Brayden and took him for an adventure.
Whitley, in the meantime, got a little love from Dale. =)
Finally, we ended up congregated on Main Street, waiting to be brought inside to the air conditioned atmosphere of the "Plaza Inn". It was a bit of a tiring wait - and this was by far the hottest day we'd faced (but, still tame compared to what Orlando could be).
Our faces say it all during this wait.
But, then, we got seated - ordered - and ice cream goodness during dessert made everything okay.
During lunch, we had discussed the "Sword in the Stone" attraction. Apparently, a select few people are able to lift it out - we all guessed at how they pick that person and what kind of lever they switch to free the stone from a distance. We were hoping it would be one of us (and kept trying thinking someone watching would pick our "cute family" to be the one!).
This pic - you've got Brayden's muscles working so hard - and then Whitley so intent underneath him...
Michele took Brayden back to Tom Sawyer Island - while John, Mikayla and I cruised Main Street for some souvenirs.
Brayden's thinking, "Why didn't I just go with Mom and Dad?" ;)
We convened again in Frontierland. Definitely our favorite part of Magic Kingdom.
And, surprise - we rode "Splash". Mikayla and I took this selfie and I put up and Instagram of the one we'd taken just like it five years earlier.
Hey there, Traig and John!
The Whites were wearing thin at this point. Travis was literally near the exits to depart when he begged Whitley to give "Dumbo" one more whirl. It was getting to the very sad part.
This was our conversation via FB Messenger at that time:
Me: "These final hours are like a drawn out torture- we are all so tired, our beds would be so much more comfortable, but nobody has the heart to leave the park...just one more ride, one more hour, another memory to make...so bittersweet."
Travis: "Oh I'm with you, we were 100 feet from the exit and I convinced Whitley she needed one more Dumbo ride.smile emoticon"
And then the Whites left the park. And the rest of us knew it was getting real.
Well, except for Ellie and Brayden. They were in a blissed-out state playing with their foam swords we let them purchase while in line at "Pirates of the Carribean". (Yes, they are 12 and 16....)
However, Nati, Michele, Mikayla, and myself were not feeling the same level of enthusiasm. In fact, things had taken a turn for the melancholy. If you go back and look at the "Splash Mountain" pic, you'll notice Nati not looking very happy. At first, we thought it was because Michael squished her out to sit between her and Michele, but in reality, she was the first to succumb to tears - and Michele quickly followed - all while standing in line at "Pirates". Mikayla was the next to lose it and then I lost it.
There was a woman (probably mid 50's), who in clothing and appearance looked to be from India, along with her grown daughter that were positioned next to us in line. I watched her looking on when Michele and Nati started shedding tears - and she looked very concerned. When Mikayla and I started in, she seemed to be even more upset on our behalf. I thought I should relieve her that no one was in trouble, no one was dying - we were just sad to be at the end of our magical vacation. I was laughing through teary eyes as I told her that it means you've had a very blessed and incredible vacation when you are crying because its over - so really, its a good thing. She agreed, but I think she still thought we were a bit crazy!
Us girls bonded with a five-way fist pump - showing off the Magic Bands that served us so well for nine days.
After our cry session, we re-grouped and headed to "Gastons" for some infamous cinnamon rolls.
We made everyone wait to dig in until they'd arrived for all nine of us. Yes, they were delicious.
This side of Magic Kingdom amidst the fairy tale "kingdoms" really is very enchanting.
Our final hour was spent picking out some items to have shipped to us from the Christmas shop (Michele broke a snow globe while in the shop - THAT was embarrassing!). Our family did a final run on "Splash" before deciding to depart. Sadly, we thought we'd beat the parade/fireworks congestion by riding on the train - but, wouldn't you know it, it dumped is out at the furthest point from the exit in Fantasy Land!!! At this point, Mikayla had been crying non-stop since the beginning of "Splash" - she was soooo sad. When we had to get off the train and fight the crowds - she said, "This is TORTURE!!" and refused to look back at the castle. Painful. Truly painful.
Mikayla put this on her SnapChat - but I think the majority of our group agreed with its sentiments. It wouldn't be hard to leave if it hadn't been SOOOO GOOOD!
Just to lighten the mood at the end of this post - after the fact, the Whites showed us these pics of Whitley "helping" out while packing that evening.
That expression says it all about having to pack up to leave!
DAY NINE PRICELESS MEMORIES:
- Riding the carousel with Whitley and knowing how far she'd come in her courageousness!
- The "Five Years Later" selfie pic with Mikayla at the height of "Splash Mountain".
- Ending up in a tear filled, snot running mess with the other girls in the line at "Pirates". So bittersweet, but as we are all laughing at ourselves - you knew it was a priceless moment to treasure, even in the sadness.