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Up All Night: The Start of a Monstrous Summer at Walt Disney World

Who does not dream of walking down Main Street U.S.A. at 6 a.m. in the morning and meeting Mickey and Minnie in their pajamas? And while I am still dreaming of a night inside Cinderella’s Castle, for now rocking out in front of it in the middle of the night was not bad either.

Meeting-Mickey-and-Minnie-in-PJsGuests started arriving at the Magic Kingdom parking lot as early as 4:30 a.m. in the morning on Friday, May 24th for a chance to be among the first to enter the park. For a full 24-hours, the Magic Kingdom was opened to guests starting the Monstrous Summer announced back in April via a broadcast on Spaceship Earth by Monsters Inc. superstar Mike Wazowski himself.

Mike and Sulley welcomed guests from atop the platform of the railway station, and with typical Disney magic a.k.a fireworks the gates to the happiest place on earth opened.

Guests-with-Sulley-Hat

Once dispersed throughout the park, the crowd level was moderate for most of the day and late at night with the exception of the time just before the 9 p.m. Main Street Electrical Parade and the end of Wishes, when poor crowd management created a monstrous bottleneck for guests arriving into the park and those wishing to leave. With Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios closing, guests with park hopper options moved to the Magic Kingdom, filling up the parking lot and creating long lines at the monorail stations. Yours truly got stuck in a sea of strollers just over the bridge from Frontierland, never making it to my dinner reservation at the Crystal Palace.

I started the day with my favorite rides, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, which I repeated for extra creepiness around midnight.  At Fantasyland, I managed to go on every ride new and old but stopped short from making it into the Beast’s Castle for lunch as the lines were just way too long.  I headed to Liberty Tree Tavern instead, where the traditional roasted turkey Patriot’s Platter was delicious but on the salty side.  Refueled and armed with a mini Mike caramel apple, I claimed a viewing spot for the afternoon Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade, which featured Mike and Sulley as Grand Marshals.

Mike-and-Sulley-Grand-Marshal-of-ParadeWith just a little under 15 hours to go, I decided to take a break and went for a refreshing swim at the pool of my hotel.  Staying at the Wilderness Lodge was perfect as the commute was negligible.

Wilderness-LodgeEnergized and with electronics fully charged again, I returned to the park as it was time to visit with characters.  Having done most rides on my list in the morning, I did not mind standing in line for an hour to finally meet the two famous monsters of the upcoming Disney-Pixar film “Monsters University.”  With the movie coming to a theater near you June 21st, Disney did not miss the opportunity to promote it, and there was no lack of “Monsters University” merchandise in the park.

Meeting-Mike-and-Sulley

For dinner, I kept true to the theme and went for a pork shank at Gaston’s Tavern, which comes in a monstrous size. After a Sulley cupcake and some badly needed coffee, I was ready to be on the go again. The Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes and a round of the new Pirates Adventure game kept me busy.

Rocking-in-front-of-CastleIn Tomorrowland on a giant soft pad, the movie “Monsters, Inc.” was showing, but having nodded off on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, I decided to join the crowd dancing the night away with Goofy, Donald and Stitch in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

By 4 a.m. I was running out of steam and I decided to give The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel a try. Feeling a little froggy, I met up with none other than the Frog Family for a late night visit to Ariel’s Grotto.

TIme-to-say-goodbyeSoon it was time to gather at Town Square for a farewell from Mickey, Minnie and the gang.  It was 6 a.m., and it was a great, big, beautiful tomorrow.

More Monstrous Fun Coming This Summer

All summer long, Mike and Sulley will continue to scare up fun for visitors. Even one of the iconic monorail trains has been redesigned and monster-ized with visuals from the newest film. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor will continue to measure frights and laughter, and guests staying at a Disney Resort can ask for a Monstrous Wake-Up Call. So if you want to wake up to the voice of “Monsters University” scare student Mike Wazowski, all you have to do is ask!

Celebrate the Magic, the popular nighttime spectacular, has an all-new segment dedicated to summer fun, with seasonal updates throughout the reminder of the year. Mike and Sulley can be found posing for pictures at the Monsters University Student Union set up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Backlot.

Last but not least, Disney announced Monstrous Summer Savings, where guests can save up to 30% on accommodations at select Disney Resort hotels this summer. The offer is valid for stays most nights June 13 through Aug. 14. Book through June 14, 2013.

Wait there is more: As part of the Limited Time Magic promotion, the Summer Trolley Show starts June 2 and runs throughout the summer on Main Street U.S.A., and the 4th of July will be seven days long this year. From July 1st onwards everything will be red, white and blue, including the nighttime show at Cinderella’s Castle, and Mickey Mouse will be dressed in his patriotic finest.

Where to stay: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a deluxe resort inspired by national-park lodges of the early 20th century. Service at the Wilderness Lodge & Villas is excellent. There are two full-service restaurants, with several more a boat ride away, and a fabulous pool. The resort is connected to the Magic Kingdom by boat and to other Disney parks by bus. Prices for a standard room start at $319 per night.

Related: June Planning for Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal

Related: Disney World Special Events for 2013

Liliane Opsomer is the co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids,” a guidebook that provides detailed planning and touring tips for a family vacation. She is passionate about travel, Disney, and hobbits. Liliane also started recently her own blog.


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