Our tour start time was 8:30, so we had time to take some pre-opening low-crowd photos around Main Street and the castle.
For the next five hours, my camera was tucked in our backpack, and my cell phone was firmly ensconced in my back pocket. There were no photos on our tour, but on the lunch break at Columbia Harbor House in a roped-off room upstairs, I took one picture of our gorgeous view of my favorite attraction:
And our name cards at our lunch included these wonderful exclusive Keys to the Kingdom pins.
We walked further back and got to see the storage buildings where they keep all of the parade floats. It was so fun to see them all packed in there (seeming to be random, but apparently in meticulous positions) Easter with Christmas with Electric Light with Festival of Fantasy. We got to see how the floats were driven, and hear a few music tests. We also got to see the vacuum building, with disguised "trash cans" throughout the parks where waste management can toss garbage and have it sucked directly to the building.
This all doesn't sound too exciting, but it really was. It was riveting. Not once in the entire five hour tour did I feel like I wanted to pull out my phone or distract myself. We did lunch and then she took us to the Haunted Mansion, mentioning a few hidden Mickeys I didn't know about. We got to go through an employee only passthrough area with "servant bells" on the walls for all the different rooms. Then we all rode (separately...no room in a Doombuggy for 20 people) the Haunted Mansion and met up afterward. She took us through Liberty Square, pointing out period details I'd never noticed (Imagineers are METICULOUS for detail), including the story of the Liberty Tree, and then we walked back to a backstage area near Casey's Hot Dogs. She pointed out to us that the entire Main Street USA area was just one building spanning from one US flag (missing a star or a stripe so they don't have to come down in bad weather or dark) to another US flag. The area she pointed out was so small, it's amazing to think that the perspective effects on Main Street fool you so thoroughly. Anyway, from this point it's time to go down into the ultilidors. It was fascinating to see the inner workings of the Magic Kingdom. We walked for seemingly hours down corridor after corridor, and then she showed us on the map that we had actually only done the tiniest loop of the utilidor system.
After the utilidors, the tour was done, and we all gave our tour guide Emily a standing ovation. It was so excellent.
I had scheduled our fast passes that day for after when I thought we'd finish with the Keys to the Kingdom tour. Our first fast pass was again for the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train.
Then we went over to the Storybook Circus area to meet Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and Minnie.
We had a special meet and greet planned for Goofy. At the circus, he's the Great Goofini, a daredevil. We had an idea for our meet and greet conversation, and thought when he was dressed as the daredevil Goofini was the perfect choice.
When we walked up, I said "Goofini! Greatest daredevil!" and Tom said "I dunno, what happened here?" and gestured to his wrecked cycle. Goofy gave him a gentle teasing shove.
"Ok, Goofy," I said. "We had an idea. See, my husband and I have heard about your Goofy Yell, and we've both been practicing..."
"I thought we could have a Goofy Yell contest, and you could tell us who you think the winner is." To this, Goofy nodded enthusiastically. "And maybe the winner can get one of your trophies!" I said, pointing to the one by his wrecked bike. He shook his head no, but indicated I should go first.
We really have been practicing, and apparently my Goofy yell was so impressive, I knocked him over into the cage behind him. We laughed pretty darn hard, as did the Cast Members and half the line waiting for him.
He grabbed my hand and raised it in triumph, all the while Tom was saying "wait, Goofy, I get to try too!"
Tom gave his best Goofy yell, but I can hit the high note at the start better, so Goofy again raised my hand in triumph. I won the Goofy Yell Contest! Sadly, no trophy, but a great memory.
Next we met the Astounding Donaldo, Snake Charmer. (Donaldo had to check on something, so we had to wait a moment. While we were waiting, Goofy came back from behind a curtain...or tried to. A few minutes of slapstick curtain-fumbling ensued, also laugh-worthy.)
Unfortunately the photo pass photographer must have been having technical difficulties, so the character attendant had to take the only pictures we got with our camera and we wound up with two blurry pictures. Oh well. It was a fun meet and greet. We told him we'd met Chip and Dale the day before, and they refused to give him any relief from the hassle.
It was just a little bit earlier that I had commented to Tom sadly that we had yet to have been given the honorable red card in line for anything. The red card is a way Disney tracks wait times, by giving it to a random person at the start of the line who then hands it to the CM at the end of the line. Among Disney Dorks, it's a badge of pride to be given a red card. Well, I got a red card for the other side of the Circus tent meet and greets! So like any Disney Dork, I took a picture with it.
We met Fortune Teller Daisy, and asked her to look in her crystal ball to see when Mickey would propose to Minnie (you can tell that's a joke we went with a lot for the characters)
She looked in the ball and didn't have much luck, but pointed out that we were love inspirations to them (she's drawing a heart with her hands here)
Of course we had to tell Minnie about our seeking news on a ring for her finger.
After this, we walked back over to Frontierland to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade from an actual good spot. On our way, we saw Pooh and Tigger walking to their meet and greet area.
Festival of Fantasy was so beautiful. There was a group of teen girls next to me that several characters responded to. I did get at least one direct acknowledgement: Prince Naveen waved and wished me a happy anniversary. Aww, thanks!
In 2013, there was one face character I wanted to meet during my trip who just was entirely elusive. Every time we were in the Magic Kingdom, it seemed like he had just left, or wasn't there yet. Part of the reason was because his ride was down for refurbishment, but it was so frustrating!!
So this trip, I resolved...I WOULD meet Peter Pan.
He signed my hat....
....And I gave him two buttons he really liked.
Awww. He was a sweet Peter Pan.
And did a flying picture.
Side note: Tuesday night during MNSSHP, we discovered that we really adore the Rapunzel bathroom area's little sitting spot charging area. This is a new area since the last time we visited, and it seems like not many people know about this little nook where hidden chargers in the barrels can recharge your devices as you sit on the benches and recharge yourself. The music played in that area is beautiful instrumental baroque sounding music, you can hear tiny strains of music and sounds from the Haunted Mansion next door. It's so peaceful.
But on Friday afternoon when we were sitting there resting, you'd occasionally hear a rooster crow. This is because Peter Pan's meet and greet area is near there too, and people ask him to crow.
Next on our meet list at the Magic Kingdom was Tiana. I didn't realize that if you meet her in the morning, she meets alone, but in the afternoon, she meets with Naveen. So we got a bonus Naveen, and he was *handsome*!
They both signed my hat, and it was so cute...Tiana signed first, and put "Tiana <3s" and then Naveen signed below.
Stupid me forgot to make a button or necklace for Tiana, but I had made one of my Mousekeeping tip envelopes with a picture of Tiana, exhausted from a day of work, and even a bonus Naveen in frog form.
I showed them a picture of the envelope on my phone. Here, Naveen is saying that I got his eyebrows right. (Naveen was FLAWLESS. So was Tiana, but I've never seen him so flawless. The accent, the look...everything)
Tiana pointed out that she still absolutely has nights like that when she comes home that exhausted from her restaurant.
Tom and I went to the Winnie the Pooh ride, which was cute, but not worth the long lines. What was awesome though was that we got another red card! Huzzah!
It was at about this point when we were in line for Pooh's ride that I realized my sore throat was undeniably turning into a cold. But I refused to let a little cold stop me.
Next, I wanted to try meeting Tinker Bell again. Last trip we met her, but she acted kind of strange about meeting us. I wanted to try it again. This time, she was so crazy fast and talkative (like Aladdin and Jasmine) I felt like I didn't even have a chance to blink.
I had two buttons for her too, but they stayed in my pocket, meeting her was such a whirlwind fast thing I forgot :/
Tinker Bell actually quite reminded me a bit of my friend Stacy Stolman who used to work at Disney.
Thursday was another Halloween party night, which meant regular guests had to be out of the Magic Kingdom at 7. It was a beautiful night...too beautiful to just go back to the resort even with a cold. So Tom snapped one more lovely picture of the castle on our way out, and we went over to Epcot.
We walked around World Showcase, picked up a tiny little plate in China that my mom asked for (she broke hers after her 2013 trip), and I stopped by Club Cool and did about five shots of Beverly. Mmmmmm
On our way out of the park, we stopped by Guest Relations to put in a good word for the Snow White character attendant on our Epcot day. She was especially sweet.
In Character Relations, Tom asked if he could keep their Mickey phone. Jokingly of course. But he would really like one of these someday.
Leaving from Epcot, we went back to the hotel and sadly started packing. We knew tomorrow would be our last day in the parks, and we planned to be there as long as we could.