WDW: October 5

We were up extra early on our second-to-last day to pack up our things for our departure from Old Key West.  We had booked a night at the brand new Art of Animation resort in the just-opened Little Mermaid section as a surprise for the girls for our final night!

We made it to the Magic Kingdom at about 7:45 for a breakfast reservation.  It was morning extra magic hours, but there were so few people there I thought I had it wrong!  Maybe the storm the night before threw everyone off?  Even as I got my refund for the MNSSHP fiasco, the CMs couldn’t stop discussing how dead the place was.  Too bad we didn’t intend to be there long, it would have been a great day for it!

After breakfast at the Crystal Palace – during which Nolan famously hated the characters we (ourselves and other disney aficionados) had previously hypothesized that no child could hate, considering they’re just big, fluffy stuffed animals – we headed out for a few last rides.

Our first stop was Fantasyland, where we continued to try and get in on play-testing for the new Belle story time attraction.  With no luck there, we made our way to the very, very first soft open of Pete’s Silly Sideshow character meet and greet!  The theming is very cute, and because nobody knew of it just yet, they all spent a ton of time with the girls.  Donald, as the Astounding Donaldo, played with them for nearly ten minutes!

We took one last ride on the Barnstormer, then took Nolan on his first ride on a flying elephant!

Our last stops were “it’s a small world” and the Jungle Cruise.  I then dragged everyone over to Fantasyland one last time to knock on the magical mystery door for a final attempt at sneaking into New Fantasyland.  I did find someone who really wanted to help us, but there was not play-testing planned at all for that day.  I talked for a few minutes to a wonderful executive who was all set to take our names and resort information to guarantee that we got information on not only Belles’s soft open but a special invitation (just a handful of guests, at that particular time) to a Little Mermaid testing experience that was to start on Monday… but we had to tell him we were leaving town on Sunday.  Boo!

We got one last Dole Whip to combat the disappointment (any excuse, right?) and watched a bit of the Street Party before catching the Avengers-themed monorail (deemed “the yucky one” that the girls had tried to avoid the whole trip) to our car… and then it was onto our Surprise Hotel!

The Art of Animation was a beautiful, colorful, super fun resort!  It definitely felt instantly more chaotic than some other Disney resorts we prefer, but it was very well done.  I think Pop Century (it’s “sister resort”, to some extent) is also a great option for a value stay at WDW – but to take that quality (and years of improvement) and add adored movie characters and theming made it quite impressive!  Our room was ready, but we explored a bit and grabbed some lunch at the Landscape of Flavors food court first.

Elise and Avery thought the room was spectacular, and it was – if a bit (a lot :)) small.  I imagine the family suites there are quite cool, but they make no sense to me financially.

We repacked (our luggage was far from travel-friendly) and then headed for a swim.  This time I took the girls and Kyle brought Nolan to join us a bit later – so it was finally a whole family affair!  After hating the pool as a younger infant, Nolan couldn’t have looked more relaxed here.

Everyone had a great time until it started raining a bit.  The skies were still beautiful, but Kyle took the kids back anyway to change before a fun evening event.  I wanted to check out the gift shop, and that was my downfall. 🙂 The skies opened up worse than the night before (but at least this time there were no howling winds and wicked lightning to accompany it!), and despite running back I was very much a drowned rat by the time I made it all the way (allllllll the way, ridiculously far) back to our room.

The next question was whether or not Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue, our final big activity for the trip, would be canceled.  It wasn’t, and oh my gosh am I glad.  It was hands down one of the most fun things we’ve ever done at Disney World.  Sure, the food was pretty horrible.  But dancing with the girls, a surprise photo op with Mickey and Minnie, and fun music was more than worth it.  Um, and there were unlimited ice cream treats, including Mickey bars.  It was even worth traversing the ridiculously inconvenient campground.  It was so, so much fun and we’ll definitely do it again.  We were quite thankful for a really fun-filled evening after a weird day of ups and downs!