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Florida 2012 Journal – Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience
February 23rd, 2012 by Jessica

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience

Castle and Crane

Castle and Crane

We woke up early on our first full day at Walt Disney World and took the water taxi to the Contemporary Resort.  From there we hopped on the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom, where we were allowed to enter the park early and make our way to the castle.  We checked into Cinderella’s Royal Table for the 8:00am character breakfast on the second floor inside the castle.  We had the chance to meet Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Ariel and Belle.  The food pretty good.  We had all-you-can-eat scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes & sausage, fresh fruit and pastries.  The total for the Royal Table, which was included in our package, would have been $91.  Gratuities were included for this meal, which was a rare exception on the Platinum Plan.

Inside the Castle

Inside the Castle

We finished up breakfast just as the park opened at 9:00am.  We rode Snow White, then Space Mountain, and indulged in a little pin trading.  We rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the People Mover, Space Mountain a second time and then sat through Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor which was absolutely hilarious.  Andrew was chosen to be featured on the big screen during the intro humor when Mike shouted, “Hey everyone, there’s a guy in a tortilla hat and he’s going to buy us all Churros!”  I’m not sure that Andrew appreciated being the source of the humor, but it was all in good fun.

We had lunch at The Plaza on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.  I got a chicken, ham and swiss sandwich and an ice cream shake for dessert.  Andrew chose the tuna salad sandwich and a sundae with mint chocolate chip ice cream and nuts.  Lunch would have been $43, plus the $8 tip.  We then walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse and took some shots of the castle with the crane behind it.  Then it was off to see the Enchanted Tiki Room, ride the Pirates of the Caribbean and make our way out of the Magic Kingdom.

The monorail took us to the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC) where we switched to the shuttle bus to the Walt Disney World Speedway.  I supposedly had an appointment at 1:00pm to ride shotgun in a Nascar vehicle as part of their Ride Along Experience.  When we arrived, however, we were told by a disgruntled employee that they were not affiliated with Walt Disney World at all.  They were Richard Petty, and “those people at Disney don’t know what they are doing.”  They took my word for it that I had a reservation, let me suit up and sent me out for the ride along.  Unfortunately, I arrived right when the driving class was finishing, so I had to wait a really long time until it was my turn.  They allowed several of the drivers to run laps, one at a time, and once in a while they would send car #88 out on the track with a passenger.

Jessica Riding Shotgun - Notice Andrew's Photobomb!

Jessica Riding Shotgun - Notice Andrew's Photobomb!

Eventually it was my turn to ride.  I was escorted out on the track and told, with no further instruction, to hop in through the passenger window.  Luckily I had seen a bunch of people do this on YouTube in my research about the experience, so I already had some clue about how to do it.  You put your left leg in first, then your right leg, and then you use your left arm hold onto the handle inside and squirm your body down inside through the window.  It was easier to get in than I thought it would be, but I immediately began to wonder if I’d be able to get out at the end of the ride.

My driver was Derek and he was very friendly.  They belted me in securely while Derek asked me where I was from and made a little small talk.  He told me this was his first time on the track (ha ha ha) and asked if I was ready.  Ready?  Sure, let’s go!  He took off like a bat out of hell and never looked back.  He made it up to about 145 miles per hour on the straightaways and slowed down to about 100 for the turns.  Three full laps around the Walt Disney World Speedway took us a whopping 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  I thanked Derek for the ride and quite easily crawled back out the same window without much trouble.  It was a lot of fun, and since I was clapping most of the time I think Derek went a little faster with my constant encouragement.  I ended up purchasing the video and the photo for an extra $60, and we were on our way back to Disney in the shuttle.

The shuttle took us back to the TTC lost and found building.  We took the Monorail back to the Magic Kingdom.  Once inside, we tried to ship our Speedway items back to our room but Disney doesn’t allow you to ship anything that was not purchased at Disney.  We tried to explain we bought them at the Walt Disney World Speedway but clearly, just as the staff there had told us, the Speedway is not affiliated with Disney in any way.

Blurry Shot of the Castle during Wishes

Blurry Shot of the Castle during Wishes

We shopped around a bit for souvenirs such as Christmas ornaments and keepsake magnets and frames ($90) and decided to head back to our room to drop off the items.  The Dreams Come True parade decided to start at that very moment, so we were stuck for a while at the start of Main Street waiting for the parade to go by.  We took the water taxi back to the Wilderness Lodge to drop off the bags and relax for a little bit.  The concierge had dropped of an autographed picture of Mickey and Minnie to our room, wishing us a Happy Anniversary.

Unlike the concierge staff at Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort, the concierge staff at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge actually helped me ship the gifts I had bought for Sarah’s birthday.  When I brought the items out, one of the staff members commented, “OH.  You went to that OTHER castle.”  I laughed at the absurdity of them having to ship my Universal purchases, but they took them without issue and shipped them out for me without another word.

The concierge also helped me get a cosmetology appointment for Thursday morning.  Since we were having professional portraits done for our 10th anniversary, I thought hiring someone else to do my makeup was probably a good idea.  I traded pins with the concierge, and we took off for dinner.

My First of Three Pooh Hugs

My First of Three Pooh Hugs

The Crystal Palace on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom played host to our character dinner that evening.  We got to meet Tigger, Piglet, Pooh and Eeyore while enjoying a simple buffet meal.  I had some turkey, mashed potatoes and corn while Andrew enjoyed turkey, cornbread and some Mediterranean chicken.  The desserts were pretty good featuring strawberry cheesecake, chocolate cannoli and raspberry cake.  The total for dinner would have been $79 and the tip was $14.

After dinner, we made our way over to the Christmas store and ordered a personalized ornament and stand to be sent home in the mail.  We also sat through the Hall of Presidents featuring our current US President, Barack Obama.  The Wishes Fireworks display started while we were standing outside the Sleepy Hallow and the view was terrible.  We couldn’t even see anything behind the trees, although Andrew enjoyed the digital projections on the castle prior to the display’s beginning.

We rode Haunted Mansion and were impressed at how much better it was than the one at Disneyland.  I had forgotten how much longer and more detailed the ride is at Disney World.  We rode It’s a Small World, saw Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3D and then saw the outdated Carousel of Progress with HDTV and “car phones.”  We rode Space Mountain again for the third time, then hopped on a water taxi back to the Wilderness Lodge.  I was bleary eyed, cold and queasy from our adventures and needed a nice warm bed to settle down in.

Jessica’s Favorite Thing of the Day: Riding shotgun at 145 mph with Derek in #88

Andrew’s Favorite Thing of the Day: Riding Haunted Mansion classic style, nice and long unlike the Disneyland version

Did you know? There’s a lot more to this story!

Flight to Florida & Universal’s Royal Pacific Hotel
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios & Arriving at Walt Disney World
Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience
Water Sports & The California Grille
Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania
Epcot & Around the World Segway Tour at the World Showcase
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
Animal Kingdom, Mini Golf & The Yachtsman Steakhouse
Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise
The Missing Towncar & Our Flight to Phoenix

Flickr Photo Collection of Our 10th Anniversary Trip to Florida
See the Wilderness Lodge Yellowstone Suite Video Walk Through
See my Richard Petty Ride Along Experience Video

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green