If they were there they weren’t taking any photos. I was looking out for them near the entrance because the guide to the photo package said there would be a photographer there to take our first photo and give us a temporary card and when I read it I thought we’ve never seen a photographer at Universal ever, and sure enough there wasn’t one. I was happy with just my ride pics - and we did meet Cat in the Hat and the Things, I forgot about those. But I do love some of your pics.
12 park days with no actual rope drops: a delightful first and possibly only trip
Those donuts are insane.
I love Marvel so much I’d be bugged by off-color costumes too.
Looks like fun.
I wish you’d got them too! Both at the place in USF where we set up the photo package/got the lanyards and in the one in IOA where we got the poster and prints that were included with it the employees had a colouring sheet of an elephant divided into segments and because I’m nosy and we had to wait for awhile I was looking at it. It looked like it was some sales tracking initiative about eating an elephant bit by bit, and based on the amount coloured in it was either not going well or was a recent initiative. If the latter, maybe that explains the increase in photographers in the few weeks between your trip and mine.
The woman at the green screen place (coming in my next day’s installment) mentioned that not many people knew about the place and they were trying to increase awareness. I should have told her that the only reason I knew to go there was because of this forum and that their team could definitely do better at giving you information when you get the photo package set up.
I knew about the green screen place because of here too! But we didn’t go.
Looks like a lot of fun.
Thursday August 22 Day 7
We packed everything up (I put all the damp clothes and the kids’ damp shoes in their own bag), loaded up the car, and checked out after confirming that we could still park, use our room keys as express passes, and use the hotel pools if we were so inclined until the end of the day. The kids were fighting about something while DH was driving the car over to the front entrance to load up all the bags. I can’t remember what they were fighting about just that they were loud and we were annoyed.
They were still squabbling in the queue for the boat but pulled it together enough for us to stop at Voodoo Donuts for breakfast. This time I skipped it. DH got a maple bacon donut, but then DS7 didn’t like his Grape Ape donut and DS11 didn’t like the cream filling on his Pride bar donut so there was a 3-way trade.
After some not particularly flattering pictures in front of the Universal globe we followed Marilyn into the Hollywood area of USF, went to the photo studio that looks like a camera, and had fun with the green screens.
After that I’m pretty sure we rode Transformers again – there’s no ride photo so I’m relying on memory and I do remember riding it a second time at some point with Express Pass. We definitely met Megatron – he tried to recruit us. The kids admired the old cars in front of Mel’s Diner.
Then I finally convinced everyone we needed to ride the Gringott’s ride. Because it was only about 10am, the crowds in Diagon Alley weren’t too bad and DS11 didn’t whine about the noise because he’d made a deal with DH that if he could avoid whining we’d go see Hobbs & Shaw that afternoon.
We all liked the Gringott’s ride, but DH and DS11 didn’t love it so they went to Rip Ride Rockit while DS7 and I rode again. Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees were performing as we were heading in but we decided not to watch. I admired how DS7 coordinated nicely with Diagon Alley despite wearing a Marvel shirt.
DS11 had been resisting the Mummy ride as too scary, and DS7 wasn’t remotely interested, but DH persuaded them to give it a try once we were reunited at the bathrooms by Rip Ride Rockit, negotiating with DS7 he would be paid $10 per scary drop and an extra $20 of souvenir money if he hated it. DH enjoyed it, DS11 endured it, DS7 cried most of the way through and came out $50 richer (eventually DS11 got this matched, I can’t remember how, and then neither of them actually spent it). I was too distracted by DS7’s distress to form much of an opinion of it. I do love the mix of expressions in our ride photo though.
The kids wanted to talk to the talking fountain again and DH’s knees needed a break so we found a table for him to sit at just in from the Islands of Adventure entrance, which had lavender and happy bees beside it. After admiring the bees the kids and I walked through Seuss Landing to the fountain. The fountain remembered them from the day before and had fun interacting with them and two friends from England. My video of that is 8 minutes long so I haven’t bothered putting it on youtube. DS7 got deliberately soaked and the fountain told him he is very strange.
Then we rode Hulk again (DS11 and I hulked out the whole ride to be prepared for the photo) and Spider-Man one last time, and then we were feeling done with both parks for the trip.
We had lunch at the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar – the blackened tuna nachos were delicious (the kids didn’t end up sharing them, which is ok because we wanted it all), I enjoyed my Treehugger sushi and DH liked his Jalapeño Popper Show-Stopper burger, the kids were happy with whatever nugget/mac-n-cheese/grilled cheese thing they opted for and DS11 coordinated nicely with the wall near the restrooms.
We went to the ~3pm showing of Hobbs & Shaw (or Calvin and Hobbes, as DH and I kept calling it, because it amused us and exasperated the kids), as there’d been minimal whining and the kids wanted to see the movie more than they wanted to spend the evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. I released our FastPasses hoping someone would enjoy Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania and Star Tours. The kids posed in the lobby and I suppose if they had to be the main characters DS11 would be Shaw and DS7 would be Hobbes. The movie was fun.
Afterwards we took the boat back to Royal Pacific Resort, got our car, and drove to Caribbean Beach Resport. In theory this is a 25 minute drive but it took closer to an hour in traffic, so I’m glad we didn’t have Fast Passes we were impatient to get to. We were looking for missing state license plates but just saw a weird line of dark clouds that then seemed to take over the sky.
We parked at Old Port Royale, checking in and getting our magic bands and dining plan mugs and declining mousekeeping. The pool was closed due to lightning in the area so one of the lifeguards had a big pin board out but our pins were still packed. He mentioned a few trading options in the gift shop for later if the board wasn’t out. We found a good parking spot in Jamaica, got settled in our room (4452, standard view but you can see the water), I hung up all the still-damp-and-kind-of-musty-smelling stuff in the bathroom, and then we walked over the cay in the middle of CBR’s lake to get back to Old Port Royale, for dinner. I had thought the pool-side bar/restaurant Banana Cabana was quick service for some reason, but it isn’t so we went to the main food court instead and mobile ordered. The kids’ pizza and DH’s fish tacos were meh or worse but their smoothies (an alcoholic one for DH) were good and my kale salad with shrimp was excellent. The bellini we’d ordered (as a second drink for DH because optimizing dining plan and I was happy with water) turned out to come in a sealed bottle so we took it back to the room fridge.
Walking back over the bridge I was happy we’d opted for the upgrade from All-Star Music to Caribbean Beach, even though the Skyliners weren’t running, since it was so pretty. As we were falling asleep we heard the Epcot fireworks but decided not to go out and see them.
(Niagara Falls, CBR: same same, but different)
Universal Studios Florida crowd level according to Touring Plans: 5/10
Islands of Adventure crowd level according to Touring Plans: 4/10
Rides: 8 (highest individual total: 7)
Character interactions: 2
Entered park: basically 9am
Photo pass photos: 23
Photos taken on my phone: 39
Photos taken on DH’s phone: 30
Steps according to my phone: 15,683
Friday August 23 Day 8
Magic Kingdom had the Extra Magic Hour for Disney hotel guests from 8-9am so the goal was to be out of the hotel room by 7:15ish and get into the park as soon as it opened. We left the room right around 7:30 and had a brief car vs. bus debate. DH didn’t want to carry keys and didn’t think driving would give us enough advantage to be worth it. At 7:32 were at the bus stop with a bunch of other CBR guests and a decent-sized frog who, after getting everyone off the bench, hopped onto the wall and was scaling it like Spider-man. Happily, when the bus came it either headed straight for MK or picked up in Aruba and then headed – either way it was good.
We got to Magic Kingdom a few minutes before 8am so they’d already opened the gates and the lines weren’t bad. By 8:05 we were walking down Main Street behind one of the Main Street vehicles – another one had been loading and I’d asked DH if he wanted to ride it to spare his knees but he thought it would be slower than walking. We scanned our Magic bands at the turn-off to Tomorrowland and by 8:10 we were heading for the Space Mountain queue which was about 10-15 minutes at that point.
While we were waiting I got out our flow rings to entertain the kids, though I think there was also some Pokemon Go happening on DH’s phone. I also looked up where the ride camera was and you can see that one of us did better interpreting which side of the turn to look than the rest of us. (I actually said “To the left!” so DH and DS7 might have got it right were it not for me.)
DH and the kids liked the look of Tomorrowland Speedway and I figured if we were going to ride it at all it was better before it got too hot so we waited the 10-15 minutes for that – when we got on they just had one track of cars running but when we got off I think I noticed a second track loading. DH and DS11 were in the car in front of DS7 and me. I ended up needing to press the gas pedal for DS7 so that we could actually floor it. By the time we figured that out they were way ahead of us.
It nearly 9am and the park was opening to everyone by the time we finished – as we walked to Fantasyland in the general direction of Frontierland we saw the future Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue advancing en masse.
Next was my biggest regret of the trip – our first Fast Pass was booked for 9:50 at Splash Mountain and it was starting to warm up, so I was looking for a short queue and an indoor attraction along our way. I picked It’s a Small World. DS11 endured it but DS7 was deeply offended (“there isn’t even a LAP BAR!”) and got more and more disgusted and upset as the ride went on. At the end of the trip he rated this the worst ride ever, even worse than The Mummy and (I’m foreshadowing here) Na’vi River Journey.
I love the design and it was a fun nostalgia ride for me and DH but not worth it – it meant we skipped several slower rides the next day in Epcot that I’d wanted to do. DS11 had been asking to trade Trading Pins and he did trade one at a Guest Services umbrella stand but we agreed on a policy of no dedicated trading time before 11am – in retrospect trading pins would have been better strategically than IASW.
Haunted Mansion was consoling, it had a short (10? minute) wait, it’s dramatic, and at least there’s a lap bar. The kids liked the funny graves and organ in the queue and the ride itself. We’d watched a few youtube videos about special effects at Disney and I heard them saying “Pepper’s Ghost!” as we went past the dining table of ghosts. DH was amused by the seven loving wives tombstone at the exit.
We then cut through the bathroom walkway from Frontierland to Adventureland. The heat and crankiness levels made it clear it was time to use our first snack credits at Aloha Isle. DH and I each got a raspberry float and the kids got pineapple upside down cake, one with swirl and one with pineapple dole whip. We could see Aladdin & Jasmine’s meet and greet from our seats.
After eating and rinsing off stickiness, we walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean which had a 5 minute wait (I think I tried timing this in the Touring Plans app and failed, and gave up on the whole idea for the rest of the trip). During our brief wait I was working on modifying our 1:40pm Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fast passes – I got 2 of us up to 11am but the others were stuck at ~11:40 by the time we boarded. Our boat was paused in the room with the dog for less than 5 minutes so I didn’t end up with too much of an earworm.
By now it was about 10:40 so we walked to Splash Mountain. DS7 was a bit nervous when he saw the size of the drop so he wanted to ride with me instead of DS11. We decided to pay homage to Angry Splash Mountain Lady, with varying degrees of success, and really enjoyed the ride. The ride attendant unloading us had a nametag showing his hometown was Ottawa so we said something like “yay, Ontario!” because we aren’t even a little bit dorky.
We went to Big Thunder Mountain next and told the cast member scanning for Fast Passes that two of us were in the right window but the other two were half an hour out – she said “you’re good!” and made the scanner go from blue to green for the other two. DH had wondered if we couldn’t just sneak in but saw the wisdom of actually talking to people when we hit the second fast pass scan. We all enjoyed the ride – it felt different to me than the Disneyland one but that’s a 20+ year old memory so I’m not even sure how it’s different. I liked that it kept going at one point that had an “almost the end” feel to it. We were off and getting pictures by 11:20, so with arriving slightly late for Extra Magic Hours and the 2 fast passes we’d done 7 rides in nearly 3.5 hours. Not great but not terrible. If we hadn’t done the Speedway I think we would have racked up more rides.
We headed back to Liberty Square (we had lunch reservations at Be Our Guest for 12:15) with DS11 trading a few pins in the shops in Frontierland and Liberty Square and us taking advantage of the free ice water at one of the quick service restaurants. I’d read you could pick up Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards somewhere in Liberty Square instead of going all the way to the fire hall at the front of the park, but I learned at the Liberty Square ticket office they aren’t doing that any more. We briefly entered the atrium of the Hall of Presidents. While the air conditioning was amazing none of us were interested enough to stick around.
Instead we kept walking towards Be Our Guest and Mickey’s PhilharMagic had a 5 minute wait. The Touring Plans app told me we had time so we went and enjoyed the 3D movie and poor Donald’s misadventures greatly. I think it was raining lightly as we got out but it was time to go to lunch anyway. We checked in at the entrance to the castle’s bridge and then headed inside. I’d pre-ordered so we had the easy queue where we just needed to pay for it with the dining plan. There were 2 slow groups in front of us so it took a couple of minutes.
We found a table in the gloomy West Wing, which was totally atmospheric and the only pictures we took were of the grey stuff cupcake, which we shared after our meals (Tuna Nicoise for me, French Dip for DH, Croque Monsieur minus the Bechamel and I can’t remember what else for the kids – they may have shared it). I’m glad I tried the grey stuff, but I would say it’s ok rather than delicious. Sorry Lumiere and dishes! It was cool seeing the Beast’s portrait change and we checked out the rose under glass when getting up to get more drinks from the self-serve area. I’d ordered a beer for DH and a red wine for me but they showed up well after the rest of our food so I was happy I was free to get tea or whatever else from the self-serve area. Mint tea was more what my sinuses needed anyway.
Our last pre-booked FastPass was Peter Pan’s Flight at 12:40 so once we were done eating we headed there. It was raining as we left the Beast’s castle and people were poncho-ing up but it wasn’t too heavy so we just avoided puddles as much as possible. The kids rode Peter Pan’s together and didn’t love it but at least there was no drama. DH and I liked it. If this one’s at Disneyland I don’t really remember it.
When we were done the rain had turned up a notch and it was now pouring. People were sheltering near the exit and a cast member was encouraging us to find somewhere else since the area had to be kept clear. I found fast passes for Buzz Lightyear but not for another half hour or so so we made our way back to Tomorrowland. We stopped in Star Traders where DS7 decided the Rocket Raccoon hat was worth $25 of his souvenir money and DS11 looked at the pin board which might have been some weird hat/shoe/something I can’t remember now.
We had a short wait for the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor show and submitted a couple of jokes by text but those weren’t picked. None of us were picked on during the show but it was still lots of fun. Our Buzz Lightyear fast passes were now active so we went there. I apparently take it very seriously – I didn’t like how you couldn’t tell which red dot was your shot. None of us got very high scores, despite aiming for the red robot, Emperor Zurg’s ship and bottom of the claw.
We took a selfie with the castle as we left Tomorrowland. People were lined up for the parade as we headed down Main Street. We quickly crossed over to get to the Fire Station, got set up with Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom for future visits, and caught the end of the parade from there.
Then we headed for the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge, getting there by 3:45. Our reservation at Boma wasn’t until 5:15 so we had lots of time to hang out in the lobby, check out the animal viewing areas, trade a few pins in the gift store, and watch one of the cast members carve a see-no-evil monkey out of a rectangular block of wood. DH mostly sat and played Pokemon Go and made goofy Snapchat shots with the kids, as his knees needed a break, but he eventually came out to see animals too. Earlier DS7 and I had seen a rabbit, which the nearby cast member said wasn’t one of the official animals, it just showed up for the free food.
We went down to Boma a bit early and were seated by 5:10. Our server Steve (who lived in Hamilton Ontario for a few years for his wife’s work, and commiserated over Ontario winters) explained how the meal plan payment process worked (this was our first of 5 table service credits), recommended cocktails for DH and me that were great but I can’t remember the names or compositions of, and sent us off to the buffet.
The food was so good. I had tiny portions of almost everything savoury because it was all delicious and I wanted to try it all. DS11 had been pickier than usual this trip (he was a very picky eater until about 3 years ago when he became just mildly picky) and mostly ate the mealie dogs (mini corndogs) and some fruit. I got extra watermelon rind salad and both kids tried some of it and then stole most of it from my plate. I had them try a bite of the oxtail stew and then they both asked for some on rice. DS7 indulged his carnivorous tendencies with the roasted chicken and pork and ate a bunch of roasted asparagus too. And they both found many desserts of interest. We all tried a bit of the famous Zebra domes dessert and they’re ok but not really our thing.
On the bus to AKL I’d picked up a fastpass for Soarin at 7pm so after Boma we took the bus to Epcot, but there was a Caribbean Beach Resort bus that had just pulled in at Epcot’s bus area so instead of going into Epcot we hopped on the CBR bus. On one of those buses the boys all crammed into 2 seats though I can’t remember if it was a full bus or just snuggliness. One of the bus drivers (either en route to AKL or on our way back) had been in training and had mentioned the large solar panel hidden Mickey as we drove past it and the kids were amused to look at the satellite view on google maps. I think everyone was asleep by 8pm.
Magic Kingdom crowd level according to Touring Plans: 1/10 (it didn’t feel that much less crowded than Universal to me but the wait times were decent)
Character interactions: 0
Entered park: basically 8am
Photo pass photos: 14 (all but 3 ride photos)
Photos taken on my phone: 53
Photos taken on DH’s phone: 96
Steps according to my phone: 16,323
The next day was our Epcot day which was probably our worst day (still many good things!) so I may take a while to write it up.
The Dark Room looks really fun! But DS15 wouldn’t have stood for it Lookjng forward to reading about your Disney days!
Great day! I love Boma but I agree about the zebra domes, they’re not for me.
Ha! My kids liked the green screen a lot more than they liked posing for roaming street photographers. But they are total hams, plus it was super quick – there were two sides, and on each side you stood in a rectangle on the floor, watched the screen for the cue on how to pose, and cycled through 4 or 5 shots in about a minute, maybe less.
2 months and a bit later, I am finishing, or at least trying to, the trip report.
Saturday August 24 Day 9 (Disney day 2)
I went back and forth several times on our plan for this day, partly because I wasn’t sure how much time we’d want to spend in the World Showcase part of Epcot, and partly because of Fast Pass second-guessing. About a month out Disney had extended the opening hours of Magic Kingdom to 10pm instead of 9pm and I managed to get us Fast Passes on Seven Dwarves Mine Train for 8:50pm, and then added Mickey Mouse meet & greet and Big Thuder Mountain Rail Road FPs too. We had a pre-park opening breakfast booked at Garden Grill which would likely get us onto Soarin’ with little wait, so we decided to do Epcot without Fast Passes. I’m still not sure if that was the right call (according to DH Epcot was the worst) but we still had a good day in/by the end.
When we decided we’d do the evening in MK I also picked up an ADR for the Pooh characters dinner Crystal Palace around 7:15pm, so that we could go outside to watch the fireworks at the end and hopefully find a reasonably decent viewing spot without spending an hour or so waiting, which I knew there was no way DH & the kids would be into. But when it became apparent at Universal that we weren’t really character people, that we weren’t dawn-to-fireworks tourers, and that DS11 was opposed to fireworks I cancelled the reservation. I’d still like to see Happily Ever After in person some time, but it didn’t feel like a loss.
Anyway, we were at the bus stop by 7:35am and had about a 10 minute walk for the bus. It was probably 8:05 by the time we were through security and then there was little hold up at the tapstyles when the kids’ fingerprints weren’t scanning properly and DS7 wasn’t sure which finger he’d used, so they rescanned and had their pictures taken and then we headed to the restaurant. I’d hoped we’d get there at 8am but we got to Garden Grill right at our reservation time of 8:15am and were seated within 5 minutes or so.
We didn’t ask our server to rush things so that we could make Soarin’ rope drop – I thought briefly about it but it didn’t seem like the right move for us. He was good about proactively giving us the allergy menu brochure and explaining the character rotation by letting us know when we could expect Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale and getting us set up with our drinks and skillets. He was a big promoter of the Mickey waffles and chocolate syrup, but we were all more into the fruit, eggs, and some of us the bacon and sausages. The rotating restaurant was fun, as were the characters. All of them except Pluto blew me kisses, which I found both sweet and weird. I realized I’m not totally comfortable with the dichotomy of fur characters, knowing there’s a human in there but interacting with the character. We finished up about 8:55 and headed to Soarin’.
Soarin’s posted wait was 15 or 20 minutes but it didn’t feel very long, since we were doing the trivia quizzes along the wait in the play app and I think it was probably only 10 minutes before we were in the B2 queue. B2 was nice and central and we had a slightly older couple next to us. While we were getting seated and stashing bags I was chatting with them and it came up that we were originally from Vancouver and they’d lived in Bainbridge WA for years, and that this was her very favourite ride. I loved it too and found it totally magical – B2 wasn’t distorted and it didn’t bother me to see the feet above us. The kids were less impressed (I think after Universal they were feeling screen rided out) but said it was ok.
The next thing on the Touring Plan was Living with the Land but when we got to the queue the kids asked the Cast Member there if there were lap belts and what the ride was like and decided it was probably too slow for them. DS11 traded a pin first so at least there was that.
So I marked Living with the Land as done (later I figured out how to just cancel items in the app) and re-optimized and it told us to head across Future World to Test Track. We had maybe a half hour wait, but there were cars to look at and take selfies with. We also reviewed the internet tips on how best to design a car in the 2 or 3 minutes you get before the ride. DH and DS7 designed an SUV-ish one and DS11 and I designed a rugged sports car. The ride itself was fun and suitably fast for my adrenaline junkies, and for ensuring my hair was in my face for the ride photo.
They also loved the area afterwards where you can spend more time designing cars and creating video ads about your car. We emailed a few to ourselves and also saved the newly designed cars to our Magic Bands in case we rode the ride again. Spoiler: we didn’t ride it again but it was still fun.
Next up was Mission Space. DS11 really wanted to try Orange, but an amateur pilot friend with a son around the average of my kids’ ages had told me:
Child would like to inform the entire world to “avoid the Mission;SPACE” ride at Epcot, the side that has the most Gs. I’m used to Gs from the plane, and even I thought, “I, this is intense”
We enjoyed the ride but even doing the green side DH and I were both a bit queasy afterwards. DS11 (the least prone to motion-sickness usually and the most thrill-seeking of the four of us) wanted to go back and ride Orange for the Gs but it had at least a 40 minute wait so instead we headed to World Showcase.
Now, just a bit after noon, is in retrospect when the day started going off the rails. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was World Showcase and its Disneyfied facsimile of other countries, many of which we’ve spent time in. Anyway, it was getting hot and the Mexican pavilion seemed like a cool, dark refuge. I think I sighed as we entered through the doors and hit the wall of cool air. We headed to the Three Amigos ride queue, which I think was 10 minutes. We’d been in the queue for maybe 2 minutes when the kids started getting very upset that it was basically another It’s a Small World boat ride with no lap belt, so no thanks. DH was upset that we were hopping out of the queue and when I proposed that we try the Agent P adventure on the phone it was a hard nope for him and DS11 After watching the intro to the game DS7 and I abandoned it and followed them out of Mexico and headed for Norway.
Norway was a bit better – we all like Norse mythology and really liked the Stave Church gallery.
Then we used up some snack credits on Sven’s apple cheescake and the school bread and some VOSS water and some more foofy drink from Kringla. Sitting in the shade of a tree eating snacks got us all back on the same page. We checked out the troll in the gallery and got some photo pass photos by the waterfall, one of which some guy walked right in front of.
In China DH completely vetoed the idea of watching a movie or grabbing savoury lunch-ish snacks since we’d just had some, and we weren’t able to find the gallery there so it was a quick, cranky walk in and out of the area. We paused longer in the African outpost a bit after 1pm and DH found a shaded spot to sit while the kids played on the instruments for 5 or 10 minutes before checking out the pin available for trade and for sale. As we were finishing there some other tourists were jamming together who sounded professional.
Germany, Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, and Morocco we basically just walked by, though we did stop for another photo pass photographer in Italy, which DS7 was totally unimpressed by.
The highlight of this stretch was stopping for the free water bottle fill-up at a fountain. DH’s knees were really bothering him, the heat and humidity were just stupid, and I knew any of the things I wanted to check out in France, the UK and Canada were going to make at least one of the rest of the family crankier, so we skipped that. After a quick bathroom and free quick-service water stop in Morocco for DS7 and me, we hopped on the Friendship Boat that took us across the lagoon to the edge of Canada and Future World.
Since we were on the edge of Canada, we stopped by the little shack that sells poutine and used some more snack credits for that.
After a photo pass photo with Spaceship Earth behind us and trading a few pins at the pin stand, we went to Club Cool and spent quite some time sampling all the flavours. I was the only one who truly liked the Beverley, though DH thought it would be ok with gin. Both kids really like Inka Kola, but basically despite the crowds and it being kind of noisy, we all liked the free samples and the indoor escape from the humidity and sun. After we walked across to the Baymax/Joy & Sadness meet and greets but they each had a long enough line that we didn’t feel like it was worth the wait and so this is the closest we got to Baymax:
From there we headed to the Seas area. The kids were a firm no on the Nemo ride (which wasn’t on our touring plan anyway), but agreed that the Turtle Talk with Crush would probably be fun. I enjoyed it the most of the four of us, but it so totally rocked. We also checked out the manatees, which three of us deeply enjoyed. The tallest of us, though, started doing math out loud on how long we’d spent in Epcot and how we’d only been on 3 rides and how many rides per hour that was. (Spoiler: the next day had a way worse ride per hour ratio but no one was complaining about it.) So after a stop for photos with the fish sculptures outside, we headed for “the giant spaceball ride.”
The queue at Spaceship Earth was about 15-20 minutes but there were Pokemon Go stops/gyms nearby that helped make the time pass quickly. The kids had expressed skepticism about this ride but didn’t end up getting upset about the lack of lap belts because it was engaging and also because we all agreed it was time to indulge DH’s preferences. DS11 and I rode together and DS7 and DH rode together. We all liked the interactive choose-your-own-future thing on the way down even though the ride photos didn’t work out properly.
By now it was around 4:30pm so with our awesome 4 rides in 8.5 hours stats, we headed for the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We sat in the last car because that was what DS7 had learned was the least crowded from some Disney Food Blog video on youtube.
I think we entered MK right around 5pm because I think the Flag Retreat was going on or about to happen. Instead of checking that out we swung by the Fire Station and picked up more Sorcerors of the Magic Kingdom cards and traded away some doubles. None of us felt like getting photos with Mickey and Minnie so we headed to Adventure Land and I swapped the ~5pm Meet & Greet FPs for that very high demand ride, the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. But at that point in the day, having a <5 minute wait instead of a 15 minute one was a big win. The Cast Member who was managing the FP line overheard us mulling dinner plans and suggested picking a restaurant that had Mobile Ordering.
So afterwards, before our BTMRR FP opened up, we headed to Columbia Harbour House. We created our orders on the way (allergy-friendly grilled salmon, chicken pot pie, and a shrimp & fish combo, plus 3 lemonade slushys as drinks) and hit the “we’re here” button just as we arrived, and found a table upstairs very quickly. The wait for the food to actually be ready felt long and the slushies were the main hit of the meal, thanks to the silicone straws we had along. The food was edible and fine, but nothing special. While we waited we discussed if we were still wanting to stay until 9pm for 7DMT. The consensus was no so while the other 3 played some more Pokemon Go I worked on tweaking our 7DMT FPs to Splash Mountain. I got two to start right at the end of our BTMRR FP window, but the other two were still starting around 8:30pm.
After dinner we rode on BTMRR, which DS11 didn’t feel safe in this time because he was with DH and DS7 was with me so the restraint system wasn’t as tight on him. At Splash Mountain I explained our FP situation to the Cast Member at the tap-in point and he said he’d let us in but that next time we should try to all be in the same window. I did try! But I just thought that and said thank you. DS7 agreed after some heavy lobbying by DS11 to sit with him instead of with a parent, and we all enjoyed the drop though the kids were trying for Angry Splash Mountain Lady faces again.
After the rides we headed to Adventureland and the Tortuga Tavern to try out Sorceror’s of the Magic Kingdom. DH found a place to sit while the kids and I bounced around the Adventureland and Frontierland portals for half an hour as dusk fell. We headed out via Main Street around 8:30pm as the crowds were gathering for Happily Ever After. (I’m amused by the super blurry shot and the one where the castle is blurry)
Epcot crowd level according to Touring Plans: 3/10
Magic Kingdom crowd level according to Touring Plans: 5/10
Fast Passes: 3
Character interactions: 4 (breakfast only)
Villains defeated in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom: Scar
Entered park: just after 8am
Photo pass photos: 33 (I’ve included the super blurry one and the one in Norway with the guy who walked in front of the camera taking up half the shot )
Photos taken on my phone: 98
Photos taken on DH’s phone: 78
Steps according to my phone: 17,116
I’m glad you’ve come back to finish your report! I’m laughing at your kids not wanting to do rides without lap bars - my DS visited at both 7 and 11 and this is very familiar to me This year he was 14 and he was more obliging.
They relented a few times but yes, it was kind of hilarious and reminded me of your earlier trip reports. It was also sometimes frustrating but in general I like that they know what they like. I’m grateful that they’re gracious enough to sometimes to yield to other’s preferences and that your son gives me more hope for that in the future!
Sunday August 25 Day 10 (Day 3 of Disney parks)
DS7 slept in the next morning and we’d agreed the night before that EMH hours at Hollywood Studios weren’t worth it (they weren’t exactly in the plan, but I’d considered them a possible option). We had snacks in the room that substituted for breakfast. But basically our first Fast Pass wasn’t until 5pm at MK and it was a disposable/modifiable one at that (Mickey & Minnie Meet & Greet) at that, so we were in no rush and it was a whatever morning. Our first photo of the day was taken as we approached the gates of Hollywood Studios at 11:30am.
We were pretty hungry so we headed to the Dockside Diner on the shores of Echo Lake, basically because it was there. In planning for the trip and studying maps, I had internalized a lot of the wayfinding at the other parks and most of the time knew where I wanted to go, but Hollywood Studios didn’t match my mental maps of it, which meant I steered us wrong a few times.
Anyway, they had a trading pin board in the shape of a life preserver ring so DS11 was happy. We found a table with an umbrella and it was overlooking the centre stage where the Star Wars show with live characters happens, so while I was ordering and getting the food (and checking that DH wanted an alcoholic milkshake, after the Indiana Jones show enthusiasts in line in front of my ordered them – they told me it was the 20th anniversary or something of the show when I complimented their t-shirts) they watched the show. So not having a plan for lunch worked out very well in that respect, plus DS11 got to trade some pins before lunch. What didn’t work well was that I tried to carry our order (a kahlua and baileys milkshake and a pulled pork sandwich for DH, two foot-long chili dogs and root beers for the kids, and some snack and drink for me I can’t remember other than thinking it was ok) back all by myself and somehow one of the rootbeers tipped into one of the hotdogs. I went back to ask if I could get the root beer topped up but they had to exchange it for a full cup. I should have asked them to re-do the hotdog too as both kids refused to eat the soggy half. But it was really enough food once we split things up and we had snack credits to deploy later.
After lunch we headed to the Star Wars launch bay and met Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and BB-8. We also watched the movie they have on Star Wars fans, which was skippable but allowed the BB-8 wait time to drop.
Chewbacca was awesome and huggable and didn’t give me the cognitive dissonance that the Disney fur characters do, maybe because he vocalizes? Or because he’s always played by an actor? I dunno. I gave them our phone for photos remembering the issues @missoverexcited had with the automatic photo box, and the ones the Cast Member took with our camera were better-timed for the hugs but the photo box ones posed group ones (the last 3 below) were ok too.
DH told Kylo Ren we were the Darth [Last name which rhymes with Vader]s so Kylo suggested we should join forces and that together we could crush the rebels. Some of us were more on board with that than others.
BB-8 asked, via his translators, about the emblems on our shirts and beeped/was translated saying that we must be another squadron he hadn’t heard of. I think Chewie also pointed at/queried our Incredibles emblems.
We explored the gift shop as we left but weren’t really tempted by anything. As we exited the Star Wars characters from the show were walking back and we got to see them a bit more closely. Rey stopped to give a hug to a young girl dressed up as Rey, which was fun to see.
We then attempted to head to Star Tours, which had a reasonable 15 or 20 minute wait posted, but I got us mixed up and we ended up near the Muppets area. There was a whole group of cast members in front of the entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. There was a taped off box on the ground and whenever someone stepped in it, the cast members would cheer. DS7 and DH had fun bouncing in and out of it. When we asked them what was happening one of them told us it was open that afternoon for previews for DVC owners or Club 33 members or something.
I consulted the map again and we successfully found and rode Star Tours. DH and I both felt queasy afterwards, though I’d ride it again if not for that. We waited not too long for the Muppet show, which the kids gave scores of maybe 5%, compared to the 100 that was Candytopia in New York last December. I thought it was better than 5% but not amazing. After some photos, we headed to the Incredibles Celebration area for some snacks, though I think I got us turned around en route again.
The kids enjoyed the num-num cookies and popcorn and whatever ridiculous Incredible-themed slushies we used some snack credits on. There was a bench in partial shade so we sat for the snacks instead of joining in the Incredibles Dance Party that was just winding down, and instead of going up to Fro-Zone et. al. we just enjoyed their presence. Then DS7 spilled his popcorn and we found enough energy to pose for Photo Pass photographers with the Incredibles backdrops before heading to the bus to the Polynesian.
On the way out we paused for more Photo Pass photos and for some selfies with the Crossroads sign (plus one by a kind stranger who took one for us), since DH had volunteered in his 20s with Canadian Crossroads International, the Canadian version of the Peace Corps. We’d only ridden 1 ride in 3.5 hours, but everyone was happy. If it hasn’t become clear already from pictures, DS11 likes cars of all vintages.
It took less than 20 minutes before we were outside the Polynesian. It was 3:20pm and our 'Ohana dinner reservation wasn’t until 4:05, so we spent some time enjoying the comfortable benches and ambiance of the Polynesian lobby. There were a bunch of Pokestops, helpfully. and once we went upstairs to 'Ohana there was only time for me to take a picture of them lounging with excellent posture before our table was ready.
Dinner at 'Ohana was good. We were on the quieter side, away from the windows, but the food was good and quiet was good too. DS11 and DS7 both had some sort of non-alcoholic cocktails and DH and I had leaded tropical drinks. We all enjoyed the meat skewers and accompanying sauces. I liked the salad with Lilikoi dressing and the shrimp skewers best. The kids participated in the coconut broom race, DS11 came from behind to be one of the first finishers, while DS7 was apparently blocked by a few people, but either way it was fun. By the end of dinner we were sated but not stuffed – I think I only tried a bite of the bread pudding, but the kids had extra rice krispie squares.
After dinner I stopped in the rest room and then we were checking out the pin board in the gift shop when I realized I didn’t have my phone. I headed back to the rest room and the cleaner was just picking it up from next to the sink. I showed her it unlocked with my fingerprint. Crisis averted, phew.
We decided to take the boat instead of the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, and the breeze was great on the lagoon. Obligatory we’re on a boat pics:
We docked at MK at 5:37pm. I had modified our Mickey & Minnie meet & greets FP to an 8:50 pm place holder (maybe Splash Mountain? I can’t remember). We picked up more SotMK cards. While I sorted and traded away extras the kids ended up pulled into a few games of What time is it Chicken Little? with Chicken Little and Abby Mallard (where are these characters from?) beside the Firehall, and we paused on Main Street for more photos. I have no idea what was happening with our poses here, I think it started as DS11 trying to get DS7 more into posing.
We then headed over to Jungle Cruise. After tapping in for our Fast Passes, around 6:20, during the brief wait I was working to modify the place holder FPs we had to right-after-Jungle-Cruise Splash Mountain, since DS7 and DH wanted to ride again. I managed to modify DS11’s and DH’s to Splash Mountain for 6:45pm, but I couldn’t get another two.
We all enjoyed Jungle Cruise, backside of water and all. Afterwards, DS11 said he’d rather play SotMK than do Splash Mountain anyway, so he and DS7 swapped Magic Bands and DH and DS7 headed off to Splash while DS11 and I headed to the next portal in Liberty Square. We got there, and the portal wasn’t working. And then I remembered that DS11’s magic band was the one that opens the portals but he was now wearing DS7’s. Whoops.
DS11 was very upset with me and unhappy about this situation, so we walked over to Splash Mountain (on the way we passed someone with a Childless Millenials t-shirt which I complimented them on, and explaining the Childless Millennials rant to DS11 helped him perk up a bit) to see if we could at least see DH & DS7 take the plunge. We saw them go around the bend to head up but waited and waited and then got impatient and headed over to the exit area instead. I’m glad we have the photo of their thinking faces.
Magic Bands swapped back to their rightful owners, we did some SotMK fighting of villains and some pin trading for about half an hour, and then headed to Fantasyland for our 7:50pm 7DMT FP. We got there at 7:45pm. The ride was down. The placement of the nearby guest experience cart now made a lot of sense. Along with some others with FPPs, we popped over to talk to the very helpful Cast Member. I said we weren’t planning on staying out late and would be in Animal Kingdom tomorrow – was it possible to move the 7DMTFP to Tuesday morning when we’d back for PPO breakfast at Be Our Guest? The answer was yes and after a few minutes of working on her tablet we were all set for Tuesday.
We walked back around the side of the castle, enjoying the view. A very nice woman took some photos for us – she said she liked any excuse she could find to take photos of the castle. This is a sentiment I shared.
We paid it forward by taking some photos of another family, and enjoyed the walk back to Main Street as the sky darkened and the lights came on, with a pause for silly poses by the kids. I think we somehow got extra SotMK cards on the way out for defeating a villain. By 8:30 we were waiting at the bus stop and by 9:05 we were heading into our building in Jamaica.
Hollywood Studios crowd level according to Touring Plans: 1/10
Magic Kingdom crowd level according to Touring Plans: 3/10
Rides: 3! And only 2 for me and DS11. But it was still a good day.
Character interactions: 5
Villains defeated in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom: Dr Facilier
Entered park: 11:30am
Photo pass photos: 47! But I think we had a bunch of duplicates from Kylo/Chewie/BB-8
Photos taken on my phone: 70
Photos taken on FH’s phone: 78
Steps according to my phone: 13,829
I just saw this, so I’m starting from the top!
We did that on the way down from DD’s school in NC to Disney. What a beautiful city. Maybe next time!
Haha! I didn’t realize that was a skill. Well, you and I are both excellent at it, then.
That’s the worst. I’m going to remember that neologism.
I just got back from visiting DD25 in Buffalo, so I do!
Oh my, I’m married to one of those, too. Well, at least they can entertain themselves in line.
It’s amazing to me how many times this shows up in trip reports. Sometimes more than once. I wonder what the foolproof means to remembering a phone is? Wrist leash? Superglue?
Thanks for posting all your wonderful pictures, and for the funny write-up. Looking forward to the rest.
Yes! Savannah and Washington D.C. are both on my “not in July/August” future travel list.
I have the Tile app on my phone for locating my keys (which I need on average once a week despite having a hook by the door they mostly hang on) but it would be really good if there was some way my phone could sense when I’ve left it somewhere and start a mellow alarm beep to remind me. Wrist leash isn’t a bad idea either.
Once I actually got them, my Chewie pics were great! But it’s always a good idea to have the CM take pics for you as well.
I’m also finding this so funny! They just knew that meant “slow ride?”
Well you’re not going upside down without restraints! When DS was 7, it was Haunted Mansion that made him snap. We told him it was funny not scary. Well he didn’t find it funny and he certainly didn’t find it scary, he said Disney was full of baby rides and he’d wait for us in the car
Your touring style is so laid back. Similar to @missoverexcited. Your reports read very similarly.