The Magic Kingdom
Second visit to the Kingdom on this trip, and this time we attack it like pros. In through the gates at opening time, hurtle solo to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland to collect Fastpasses while kids are escorted in the opposite direction to Tomorrowland to get on line for the popular Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Tertius overjoyed when, scurrying along Main Street with his mother, his spare hand is grabbed by Chip, who walks with them a short way. Or was that five-foot rodent Dale? Alas, I'm the one with the camera, and by the time I join them, they've gone through Buzz twice and I've had an indifferent, lukewarm cappuccino from the pleasantly deserted Sleepy Hollow cafe in Liberty Square. But with the park still half-empty, there's no waiting for a turn on the classic Mad Hatter's Teacup ride. Two turns, if I forgo my photo-op with the cute blonde dressed as Alice.
And so it goes. From nine o'clock in the morning until three in the afternoon -- Buzz twice, Mad Hatter twice, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, It's a Small World (your brain on drugs), Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Aladdin's Flying Carpets, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Big Thunder Mountain again.
Total time in the park by this point: six hours. Total amount of this time actually spent being entertained on rides: 64 minutes (17.8%), not including the self-guided, cursory ascent of the treehouse. (Does anybody read The Swiss Family Robinson these days?) And this was a day when the lines were short and the planning paid off.
But then we take the motorized raft to the ultimately low-tech Tom Sawyer's Island, which is little more than a high-concept adventure playground. The boys had a blast, seeming to enjoy their own games of hide and seek around the fake fort and fiberglass escape tunnels, caves, and mines as much as any attraction they'd ridden on earlier that required an electrical supply. (And it awakens memories for me of a childhood dream of finding such a playset in our local park, the spark for a whole set of imaginary situations to place myself in during those long hours or seconds between bedtime and sleep.) After an hour or so, the only temptation we could offer them to move on was an immediate return to the hotel for a swim in the pool.
We may not be the right family for Disney.