Last day of Magic in the Kingdom

Geoffrey Chaucer once said, "all good things must come to an end."
And it seems to be true.
But the end doesn't always necessarily come by choice...we still weren't quite ready for our vacation to be over!

Friday morning we packed the van

just in case you were wondering what packing for Disney for a family of 8 in a Sienna looked like
and made our final walk...or run as it was for the boys...across the football field.

By this point in the game we were all tired...really, really tired.  Even HoHo needed support on the bus ride over to the Magic Kingdom.

Because of course stuffed monkeys love Disney World too!

By the time we had finished packing, gotten our last mugs of hot chocolate at the breakfast pavilion and made our way over it was nearly 10:45.  We anticipated the Magic Kingdom to be packed out with the influx of folks who would be celebrating Christmas week at Disney.

Thankfully grey skies and misty weather worked in our favor.  While it appeared a bit crowded on Main Street when we first arrived, we did get there just in time for the morning parade.  Our Hokie family got a shout out from one of the characters as they went by.

Then as the parade ended and folks headed on into the Kingdom, we realized that it really wasn't that crowded at all.  That gave time to snap a few pictures we had meant to get earlier in the week.
the man, the mouse and us
Tomorrowland was our first stop for the day.  While it wasn't nearly as fun as Toy Story Mania over at Hollywood Studios, we did score some points on the Space Ranger Spin.

Good thing Ian and I got so many points...we needed something to bail our unruly gang out of Space Jail with Zurg.

And just because I can...flashback to the "bail them from jail" shot from our previous trip.
They haven't changed.

One more flashback just to show how things change in not quite four years.
Last time she needed an adult in the car with her.

This time?  
Oh my heart.  
Driving on her own.
Just a preview of the days to come.
And a reminder of how quickly that is going to happen...

Next came the most anticipated fast pass of the entire trip.
Space Mountain.
Anxiety was running high as we got closer and closer to the entrance of the ride.  Would they all decide to give it a try?  After all, we had one bail on Rockin' Rollercoaster at the last second.

Thankfully everyone agreed to give it a try.

Admittedly some were clinging to the safety restraints for dear life, but they tried it.

(Mom and DQ not pictured.  We'll just say their shot wasn't the most becoming...)

And they found they liked it.

So much so that we took advantage of a super short line due to a sudden rain shower and rode again.

As the sun began to emerge from behind the clouds we made a beeline to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to see if the rain had gifted us a super short line.

Further proof that Disney isn't just for kids?

Notice the kids' 71 year old grandma showing she "still has it" when it comes to raising your hands on a roller coaster.

We're so, so glad we got to share our magical memories with her!

With its side to side swaying action, the mine train may be our favorite ride yet (if you can get to the line during minimal wait times).

We continued to explore the New Fantasyland, pausing to check out each of the castles.

Just feel like keeping it real right here.  This photo shows a remarkable recovery following an epic meltdown from a week of blown bedtimes and lots of walking.  I'm sure the photographer was glad to see us move on, but thankfully the fit was left right in front of Ariel's castle...

And then, the moment Natalie had been waiting for all week.  Our fast pass visit with the sisters of Arendelle.

She was so overcome that she could hardly speak, let alone make eye contact with Elsa or Anna.

When we returned to the Magic Kingdom after leaving the kingdom of Arendelle, we realized our park time was coming to an end.  We had decided not to add the additional cost of the Mickey's Very Christmas Party to the trip, so we had just enough time to squeeze in one more ride before we needed to make our way out.

The Astro Orbiter is a favorite of the kids ~ yes, we had ridden Dumbo AND Aladdin's Magic Carpets already ~ but something about being higher up in the air.
Besides, the orbiter at night does provide some good views of the castle...

Just as we were headed toward the castle to work our way back down Main Street, it lit up for Frozen.  Nat's night was made.

We made our way down Main Street as the time overlapped with the Christmas Party goers.  The crowds began to get heavier and we paused to take one last shot of the holiday lights.

And then, cue the Disney magic, as we left it began to snow on Main Street.

What a perfect way to end our time in the parks of Disney World!

And while our park time was over, we still needed dinner and had meals left on our plan.  So we took the monorail over to the Polynesian and ate at Capt. Cook's.  Dinner was quite enjoyable but, for obvious reasons, it was eclipsed by dessert.

After we ate, we delayed our departure as long as possible, exploring the hotel lobby and dreaming of actually staying at the deluxe accommodations one day.

Or, perhaps more accurately, some of us were just clowning around...

Eventually we realized that one little girl in particular had left it all in the park over the course of the week.

And so we bid adieu to Disney.  We had memories to last a lifetime...or at least four years.

By then we'll hopefully be ready for our return!

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