Yak and Yeti is quite new and, as we found out with billing differences to the Disney Meal Plan at the end, not owned by Disney. The food is a mix of Asian cuisine choices: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, maybe Indian (can't recall). Krissi stuck to the ever-popular honey chicken, a variant of which had also been on the Nine Dragons menu, and I had a steak/shrimp combination with what I'd call Japanese flavorings in the steak and accompanying stir-fry. My dessert was mango pie with a shortbread crust.
After lunch came more animal watching, and a nice interlude talking with a cast member (employee) who was assigned to the Year of a Million Dreams promotion to wander the parks and give out prizes. That day she was a greeter, working with a 'prizer' who actually gave out a prize. Once the prize was given the cast member reverted to regular park greeting/assistance for the rest of the day. That day her team gave out one of the top "night in Cinderella's Castle" prizes.
Then we were off to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). This is a special event with a separate entry fee from the park hopper tickets we hold. The park is closed to the public, only these special ticket holders are allowed in, and special performances, food, and merchandise are put on. Though MVMCP officially started at 7, ticket holders could get into the park from 4:00 on. As it happens, we got there just about at 4, so we entered with the MVMCP tickets and were give our wristbands showing we 'belonged' to the special event by cast members already in their special uniforms. Lauri joined us about 4:30 and we headed up Main Street to went to popular rides as the changeover was underway, regular visitors leaving and MVMCP attendees entering. That turned out to be a great strategy. We walked by Mickey's PhilharMagic, Krissi's top choice as it was new since her last visit in 2007, saw there was only a 5 minute wait, and opted for a restroom stop. But rather than double back, we went to the Haunted Mansion and walked right in. Back we went to Mickey's PhilharMagic and walked right in there, too. That was a great show--it's 3D, with the special glasses, and has Donald Duck trying to conduct an orchestra, losing his magic hat, and getting whirled through vignettes from a number of the more popular Disney animated films. Great 3D effects. I had a fun time watching the kids reach out to try to touch Donald's hands as he seemed to stretch out across the audience.
Next up was the Buzz Lightyear shoot-em-up ride , which had enough of a line to take us perhaps 10 minutes to work up to the ride. My first time on this one--you spin your car with one control and shoot with the other. Your score shows in front of you and is up on a board as you leave the ride. Shoot-em-up games not being my gifted area, I think I need practice before getting anything like a respectable score on Buzz Lightyear. Krissi and Lauri headed off to ride Space Mountain (a roller coaster) while I did the sedate Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride (padded seats, could put my feet up), and they had essentially no wait at the hugely popular Space Mountain. TTA never has a wait to speak of, apparently.
Then we cut across to Adventureland to Pirates of the Caribbean, stopping first to have one of the Disney photographers take a picture of the three of us with the lighted castle behind us. This is another of these great profit centers--the photographer will hand you a card after scanning it, and the pictures will be uploaded to an Internet site for you to view and order prints of. You can keep using the same card, so on your second encounter with a photographer you just hand them the old card and they scan the ID to send that picture to the same account. One more detour on the way was for hot chocolate and a sugar cookie (included in the admission to MVMCP). At Pirates, we walked straight in, no one ahead of us, and had a boat to ourselves. By this time the first parade was underway, which pulls lots of the crowd away from the rides. But still, Pirates is extremely popular, so walking in like that was amazing. Especially when I think about how crowded the streets seemed.
The Magic Kingdom was really pretty, especially the castle draped in tiny white lights with the 'whole castle' light colors changing underneath. The aqua and red-violet colors looked especially good with the white lights. The big tree at the entrance to Main Street was pretty lighted up (but seemed pretty bland for decor, especially in contrast with ones like the Animal Kingdom tree).
After our ride on Pirates, we walked from Adventureland to Frontierland to look at the Big Thunder Mountain coaster line, which was longer than K and L wanted to wait for. As an alternative we stopped at a pin-trading store, then went out to find a fireworks viewing area with a great view of the castle--fireworks started at 9:30. That was truly spectacular--this was my first Magic Kingdom fireworks show, and of course it was Christmas themed for this event. Can't help but wonder what the Disney budget for fireworks is...
Next up: a stage show on the forecourt area for the castle (so-so), and then we waited on the parade. The temperature was moderate after a high that day of maybe 81, but the long time standing for fireworks, show, then parade, after lots of walking, got to all of us. The parade was long and good--I really liked the transparent Cinderella's carriage pulled by 6 white ponies.
Despite being so tired, and the time being after 11:15, we went off to ride Peter Pan (short wait--the crowd was thinning rapidly). I agreed to be dragged into It's a Small World (no wait at all), then we ended with the carousel (no wait). By then it was after midnight, and by the time we got to the bus to our resort it was after 12:30. Bus trip back was fine except for the screaming baby the first 5 minutes (wanted Dad, who was hiding on the other side of the bus telling Mom "she'll be fine...." until he gave in) and the fact that we had to stand on our tired feet.