[...or, Tilda Swinton in "We Need To Talk About Duffy"]
For our Day One coverage, check out this post!
First, I want to point out that the fetal Mickeys still exist. My pals and I saw this whole line in Disney World about five years ago and were mystified by how weird they were. Now, only a handful of Mickey and Minnies remain in a Hollywood Studios souvenir shop:
I want to draw your attention to the stuffed animals to the left, behind fetal Mickey. ”Why, is that a generic teddy bear?” you ask. “Why would I buy a regular ol’ teddy bear at Disney World when I could have a fetal Mickey?”
Let me tell you something. That is no regular teddy bear. That is DUFFY. Duffy the Disney Bear.
There were not a few times during our Disney trip where we overheard people asking, “Who the heck is Duffy?” You’d be foolish to ask that question, because Disney assumes you know that Duffy is just part of the corral of Disney characters. I mean, he has kids clamoring for his bedtime story (available at a Disney Parks retail location near you!) and everything.
But Duffy remains a mystery to us. Why are people spending $30 (plus hundreds more on outfits and accessories) on a stuffed bear when they could be buying Mickey stuff? Why does Duffy have his own dedicated store in Epcot? Why is there a big Duffy walking around greeting people? WHO IS DUFFY?
The first time I heard about Duffy was when I was researching Tokyo DisneySea and stumbled upon this trip report. Apparently, Duffy was originally created for Walt Disney World a few years ago as a unique, exclusive character/piece of merchandise for the parks (i.e., you couldn’t find him in your neighborhood Disney Store). During his first Disney introduction, though, he sort of flopped (for no apparent reason, right?). So what’s Disney going to do with all these extra, unsold Duffys? Why, create an elaborate backstory for him and pawn him off on the Japanese!
Not only has Duffy been a huge hit in Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea (teddy bears are big in Japan–go figure!), he even has his own stageshow at Tokyo DisneySea. You know what we’re doing when we visit, Lance!!
So, fight it or not, Duffy is now here to stay. VIVA DUFFY!
Now, on to Day 2:
Did I make 7:05am reservations (meaning we had to wake up at 5:30am in order to get ready) in another hotel in order to have all-you-can-eat-for-$30 Mickey-shaped waffles and, more importantly, take photos with the classic Disney characters? You betcha! Welcome to Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet! My first character meal since my first visit to Disney, 20 years ago (oof, old!).
I do have to give a shout-out to the Boardwalk Inn’s front desk staff for making sure that we got to the Contemporary hotel on time. We relied on Disney transportation for the entire trip, but the buses/boats/monorails don’t run earlier than 7:00am. With the Contemporary a ways away from our hotel, we’d never be able to get there in the literal five-minute window we had. Thankfully, the Boardwalk’s staff arranged for a cab to take us to Chef Mickey’s…on the house! DISNEY MAGIC! Tip of the hat to you, my friends!
Unfortunately, it was also around the time of this meal that I accidentally screwed up the settings on our camera, so it starting taking photos in the lowest possible resolution (which went unnoticed for the rest of the trip). DRAT!!! These are basically like daguerreotypes. I’m still kicking myself over this.
Bwhaha! I finally convince Lance to take a photo with a character…and he LOVES IT!
Check out those cinnamon rolls! We’ve had some pretty good buffets (Aunt Granny’s in Dollywood a notable example), and this didn’t disappoint. Oh, did I mention that this meal began our Day of a Thousand Buffets? (or, really, two days of three buffets, but, you know…)
Making the Mickey waffles!
I had a huge smile on my face the entire time we were at Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet. All of the buffets we went to had some sort of interactive element; Chef Mickey’s had you twirl your dirty napkin in the air, flinging pieces of sausage and scrambled eggs everywhere, to the beat of a dance-remixed version of “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
We were very pleased with the service (and DISNEY MAGIC!) at Chef Mickey’s, especially when we got to meet the Big Cheese himself!
Now, to the Magic Kingdom!
The opening celebration for the Magic Kingdom. This is a really well done mini-event, as the Mayor of Main Street U.S.A. comes out and greets you and builds up your anticipation to enter the Happiest Place on Earth. Then there’s lots of lip-synching by college interns hoping to get noticed, and then all these characters welcome you into the park. Hooray!
Is there a more iconic stretch of pavement anywhere else?
We ran into Stitch in Tomorrowland, and didn’t even have to wait to see him! He actually grabbed my hand and walked me around a bit!
Aww, Stitch, you’ve grown on me a lot. I wasn’t a fan of you when Disney was trying to “make Stitch happen” a la Gretchen in Mean Girls six or seven years ago, but you’ve earned your place over the years. On the other hand, if we’re talking about Duffy…
Sorry these two photos came out so bad, but between the low-resolution and the distance, it’s the best I have available. These are the two new (mini?) castles Disney is putting up in the massive Fantasyland expansion, which should hopefully be fully open in the next 6-9 months. Prince Eric’s Castle above, and the Beast’s below, where they will actually have a restaurant inside a recreation of the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
While I waited in line for probably 30 minutes to see Woody and Jessie outside of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (only to have the cast member take my photo out-of-focus! Way to force me to pay $14.95 for a print from the official Disney photographer!), I tasked Lance to get a Fastpass for something else, and…
Not only a Fastpass for Peter Pan’s Flight (which, let’s be honest, has the most perplexing popularity, with wait times usually over an hour. I mean, I have a lot of fun memories with the ride, but it’s not that great…), but a SURPRISE Fastpass for Mickey’s Philharmagic, one of my favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom. DISNEY MAGIC!!
We had to stop at Aloha Isle in Adventureland for a Dole Whip. The great pineapple flavor made Lance all misty-eyed for Hawaii. Good grief.
Since, again, we’d only gotten about 5 hours of sleep, once we rode all of the major rides at the Magic Kingdom, Lance went back to the hotel to lounge by the pool and take a nap. I, on the other hand, was determined, darn it!, to ride Toy Story Midway Mania. Jeff: Return to Hollywood Studios!
And AGAIN, the line for Toy Story was 70 minutes! In my old age, I thought I’d developed a greater sense of patience, but I think I’ve also gained an intolerance for waiting over an hour for a five minute experience. So instead, I waited in line to see two 19-year-olds dressed up like cartoon characters.
…and again. Am I slightly ashamed of this photo? …It’s probably better not to ask.
I knew Lance was taking a nap, and there was basically no line for “Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” an attraction I’ve avoided in every visit I’ve made to Disney World (I was anti-princess on my first visit. How times have changed!). Well, I must’ve had some crazy intuition about this one, because it’s both kind of amazing and also really terrible. It’s basically a revue of The Little Mermaid‘s greatest hits. The puppetry during “Under the Sea” is pretty good, if a little spartan, and the half-animatronic, half-costume Ursula is way scarier than the Broadway musical version (of which the less said, the better).
I left the theatre, though, kind of dumbfounded at the whole attraction, though. It doesn’t really present you with a story, and it’s not terribly engaging. How’s it lasted for so long?
Glad to see Bolt show up at Disney World. Definitely an underrated film.
Before we headed back to the Magic Kingdom, which had Extra Magic Hours going until 2:00am, we visited the Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Buffet #2, Whispering Canyon Cafe. We were both impressed by the lobby, but not as impressed as we were with…
…all-you-care-to-eat barbecue chicken, ribs, pulled pork, corn-on-the-cob, mashed potatoes and baked beans, all in a big skillet. What the what!
Lance’s new fave drink, the Magical Star. The glowing plastic ice cube included (or the three others Lance collected during our stay) had no influence on his enjoyment of the drink. None at all.
Lance ordered a third helping of pulled pork. This is what he got:
Now on the verge of puking, we’re off to ride Big Thunder Mountain again! (Obviously, we’re awfully logical.)
Main Street is so purdy at night!
We caught the 11:00pm show of the Electric Light parade, which is really, really old-school (“analog,” if you will), but also really beautiful. We were lucky because the crowds had died down so much given that the park was closed to everybody but resort guests, that we got to enjoy it without the mobs of people.
I didn’t remember it being so patriotic, though…
Of course, I had to try out the refurb’ed Dumbo ride, complete with second carousel. It was really, really pretty at night. I’m not sure the low-quality photo really captures how beautiful the lighting is on this ride. If you only experience Dumbo once, do it at night!
I took this shot of Cinderella’s Castle around 1:45 in the morning. The park was so quiet!
…and now, more requisite goofy-hat photos:
So ends Day Two of our Disney World trip. Visit tomorrow when we talk about the Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, decadent cupcakes, and what may be the best meal we’ve ever eaten–anywhere!
(And yes, it was a buffet.)