Thursday was our first morning at Magic Kingdom. We got there in time for rope drop at 8am and headed straight to Enchanted Tales with Belle. We were all impressed with Belle's new show, and New Fantasyland redeemed itself. The theming of Maurice's cottage was really impressive. The kids really liked comparing themselves to Belle's growth chart. And the animatronics were very well done. The show itself was cute, but the kids weren't interested in participating. Oh well. They did get up for a meet and greet at the end (super nice of the CMs to let all the kids meet Belle, regardless of whether they had a part). Doug took Niall up and Belle asked him to take her arm, and there was some confusion as Doug wasn't quite sure of the protocol. It was funny, and Belle joked that she had to teach Beast, too.
Speaking of Beast, he was doing a meet and greet outside of Be Our Guest when we finished with Enchanted Tales. I hadn't heard of him doing that, so we were fairly impressed - unfortunately, it was incredibly sunny and he was facing right into the sun, so we skipped it (having previously tried to get a Photopass picture in front of Maurice's cottage looking into the sun - it was impossible). We got fastpasses for Little Mermaid, but the line ended up being short so we rode it standby. The kids all loved the new ride, it was very cute. The queue was interesting and had interactive elements, which I'm sure are appreciated when the waits get long.
After riding, we went to go meet Ariel. Her new meet and greet area is nicely done, too, and her fins are impressive. The kids talked to her a little, but overall I thought the interaction was kind of lacking. We thought about using our fastpasses to do the Little Mermaid ride, but we decided we were out of time and needed to get to 1900 Park Fare for our reservation. It was fun walking out of the park and seeing the hoards coming in, knowing we had already done Belle's and Ariel's part of New Fantasyland. On the way out, Doug had to stop and get the Photopass pictures from Enchanted Tales added to our card, so the kids and I walked ahead to the monorail. As Doug was exiting a little while later, the CM we had passed a few minutes before spotted him and said, 'The rest of your party went that-a-way!" - we were all wearing our tie-dye shirts and I guess it was pretty obvious that Doug belonged with us.
1900 Park Fare was okay - not spectacular, but not bad. Some of the characters were kind of 'blah' - specifically Alice, Mary Poppins, and Pooh. Tigger was energetic and fun, and of course the Mad Hatter was, as well. Fiona was intimidated by his loudness, though. Whenever he came to a table where someone was up getting food, he would start hollering for the missing person - so there were lots of screams of "Dad!" or "Grandma!" in the Mad Hatter's funny voice. When he got to our table, though, we were all present, so that was a relief for Fiona. Niall especially seemed to connect with the Mad Hatter, though he was a little skeptical at first. He eventually started cracking up right along with him, and the Mad Hatter said Niall was his type of kid. We also asked him if he'd ever figured out how a writing desk is like a raven, and he said he had, but he forgot. Like I said, overall the meal was alright - the kids were thrilled because they love buffets, and I really liked the picture we got before the meal (love having all those pictures included with Photopass Plus). Our waitress was personable, too - the norm for Disney World, though there are some exceptions.
After lunch, we headed to Epcot. There was still plenty of Fastpass availability for Soarin', so Doug grabbed those while I took the kids into Club Cool. Lachlann made a great face (on video) when he tried Beverly, but the rest of the kids, and eventually Doug, were disappointingly non-reactive. Once we had our fill of foreign sodas - which happened pretty quickly - we headed to the Seas pavilion to ride Nemo. We got lucky and the dolphins passed by really close a few times. When we got out, we explored the rest of the exhibits and caught Turtle Talk with Crush. Turtle Talk was a lot of fun and something I'd wanted to do for a while, so I was glad to finally get to see it.
Even though we all think Journey into Imagination is 'eh,' we did that next. For some reason, Fiona decided that Figment was going to murder her, so she screamed pretty much nonstop on the ride. The kids were dying to do Three Caballeros, so we crossed over to that next. I can't really figure out why we love that ride, but we do. It also holds some sentimental memories since we'd last rode it a few times with Doug's grandmother, who has since passed away. After Three Caballeros, we tried out Maelstrom. Fiona was not a big fan of the ride, but everyone else liked it. By then our fastpass window for Soarin' had opened, so we headed over there. Doug and I took turns riding Livin' with the Land with the littles while Colwyn and Lachlann got to ride Soarin' twice, once each with Doug and I. Love that Baby Swap. Soarin' was better than I had expected, but still not worth the huge standby waits that you see a lot of the time. Livin' with the Land was enjoyable, especially since we're all interested in gardening and sustainability.
Dinner was quick service at Yorkshire fish, which we had all really been looking forward to. Again, we had eaten there last with Doug's grandmother, so there was some bittersweetness to it. Their fish and chips are great, though, and Doug and I treated ourselves to a beer each. Between the good food and drink, and our great dining spot right on the water (we found a lower terrace tucked out of the way), it was a lovely meal. We were only a little tipsy heading out of the park, and most of it had worn off by the time we got to Spaceship Earth. The boys were dying to ride it and since it was a walk-on, we went for it. It was another big hit, probably mostly because of the interactive 'build your own future' thing as you descend at the end of the ride. Colwyn at least paid attention to some of the animatronic scenes, though - when we got home and were doing a history lesson about Gutenberg, he pointed at a picture of two monks hand copying a book and said, "Hey, that's like Spaceship Earth, except that guy should be asleep!"