1st Week of January Trip report with preschoolers, DAS, CL 10, frugal

What a great trip!! Thank you Liners for all the tips in our planning - it really helped. We had perfect weather. We spent a few days at MK 11 months ago but hadn’t been to the other parks since we had kids. Our family consists of DH (and me) both 36 and DS 2 & 4. We were in Orlando 6 days and spent 5 days in parks. Two at MK and 1 at each of the others.

We drove from Cincinnati (14 hours split over two days) and that worked out really well and saved us a ton of money over flying. It was our first time driving to FL and we’d do it again if we had enough days off to make it work. Chick-fil-A and McD’s play lands came in very handy. We got a new set us DVDs for the van and the boys did great.

We stayed off site in a 3 bedroom house we found on vrbo. Owner was great to work with. It was a value place but it was really the space we were looking for. Each boy had his own room and we didn’t have to worry about waking them. For 7 nights it was less than $700. My only complaints are that a/c would not cool below 76 and the master bed sagged a bit. The place would easily fit 6 plus and kids in pack and plays or air mattresses. I’ll try to find the vrbo number for any larger family needed a budget place, this would be great.

Our DS4 has many sensory and behavioral issues. We requested DAS at MK GS at RD. There was no line and it was very easy. I stated we wanted DAS for his sensory needs and they set it up with no questions. It so happens that he was still wearing his headphones from the welcome show and running all around, so it probably was obvious that he has some needs. I had our whole family’s magic bands and we set a wait for the first ride. DAS really helped us this week due to high crowd levels but there was some extra running around the park to set up times.


This is a valuable report for many families- thank you!

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Random tip: to cool a room below the set temp. Take a dry washcloth and heat it up with the hair dryer. Place it over the thermostat and trick it into thinking it’s warmer and the a/c will click on.

MK was the park that worked best for our family. DS4 really wanted rides and there was plenty to FP or use DAS. Next I’d rate Epcot followed by a tie between HS and AK.

Crowds all week were higher than predicted likely because many schools had the whole week off. We managed to do rides just fine but staking out places for shows, seating for CS, and lines through security was like nothing we have seen during slow season.

MK: Our last welcome was tear inducing amazing.


MK is our favourite park, right from when our boys were small, till now. We very rarely do parades anymore, we would rather ride than spend time staking out a plot!
Thanks for sharing :slightly_smiling_face:

DS4 loved SDMT. We requested front seat for less intense ride. Downside was that we couldn’t see Snow White dancing at the stop at the end.

The Friendship Faire in front of castle was a good show. Too loud and crowded for DS4; he hid in the stroller canopy down, headphones on.

The new muppets show by HoP was good but very short. It was a nice spot to sit and have a little snack. Packed lunches and snacks worked great. It saved money but more important was available without a line at any time there was a melt down.

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We rented a double city mini from Walker Mobility for $58 for 6 days. We loved having this extra roomy stroller with huge canopy. Yelp has a discount.

Except for a giant meltdown from DS4, we really enjoyed BoG lunch. DH ordered adult pork and I ordered kid pork. Mine was almost the same size and half price. Kids split a macaroni and marinara kids meal. Sauce and cheese came on side. After DS4 became so difficult, we cancelled our TS for rest of week. Too stressful for us and other guests if he had another incident.

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We loved Fruit and Nutella waffle at Sleepy Hollow. Our first time having a dole whip and we say 4 thumbs up :slight_smile: We asked to split them them and CM always gave us extra cups to split between our littles.

We tried Pirates Adventure…we’ll try again in a few years. Still too much for our boys.

DS4’s favorite ride in MK was Dumbo. Even though crowds were high, only one Dumbo running in the morning when we went. They didn’t have the play area open either.

DS2 loved Barnstormer. Posted times were longer than actual wait.

We liked Once Upon a Time projection show. A lot of the show was on the lower center part of the castle so a center view seemed important. We were at an angle and the arches obstructed the view a bit.

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DHs favorite meal was salmon from CHH. Line was very long but moved fast and lots of seating upstairs.

We lined up 20 min ahead of time for FoF parade. Plenty of space in Frontierland on sun side…a little hard to see looking up into sun. Kids loved it.

Tip: whenever there is a major park event, position yourself on the side wherever your next event is. Crossing through the crowd going the opposite way is super hard!


HS day: CL10

I almost had to turn in my liner card. I got totally lost in HS twice and showed up to meet Jake before 9:35. Tip: study the map ahead of time.

Hard day for us…DS4 didn’t handle shows the best. We quickly learned he wanted to sit in very back row or meltdown.

Tip: wear your young kids’ magic band. We nearly lost one on multiple occasions.

DS4 surprisingly liked GMR…said it was his favorite. We didn’t have it in plan but he wasn’t handling shows well so we added it.

We brought a few old lug nuts to trade with the jawas. They were excited and clicked them together. They gave us an R2D2 figure. (Needed 2 things to get top and bottom)

Did FP for F! and got burgers from Rosie’s to eat during wait. They boxed everything up for us to take over. It was nice watching an evening show seated. We are short and have little kids so it was a nice change from other shows. Next time we’ll do SW fireworks. We had 15 min in between shows so couldn’t get a great place to see projections…too many trees, but what we did see was amazing.


Epcot Day: CL 10

DS4 loved test track. (Wore his headphones because so loud) I think designing a car was extra fun for him.

DS4 didn’t like Soarin. (Forgot his headphone for this ride, fireworks were too scary). He liked the old one in DCA.

We did WS at night. I’ll tour during the day next time to enjoy the artitecture more.

Cinnamon pecan ice cream in France was really yummy.

We ate CS in Germany - good food but a long, slow line and not enough tables for the crowd.

The play area after Figment was entertaining to both boys. All the slow rides were a hit with both boys.

We tried to meet Elsa and Anna but the line was too long and not part of DAS, so we skipped it.

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AK day: CL 10

This park was nicer than we remembered. Nice park, but not enough kiddie rides.

Boys loved the Boneyard playground. They could have stayed all day.

Tried to do rider swap in single rider EE, no ticket given. Live and learn.

DSs both got really upset when DH went to ride on Dinosaur without them and tried to join him in line. A cast member gave them some tickets to play a carnival game. That was especially kind.

We did KS at day and dusk. We heard the hippos vocalize at night and rhinos very close up. Both enjoyable but day was better.

Our whole family loved the Nemo show, even more than FotLK. Both boys watched every moment. FoW was skippable for us. It didn’t hold their attention and we can see a similar show at our local zoo.

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AK rope drop exceeded expectations. The macaws circling overhead and kangaroos hopping was truly special to see.

The trip was really great. We were total park heros. Our boys hardly slept. We hit RD every day and usually aren’t morning people…too much excitement and no alarm clock needed!

Same day FP are still working at kiosks. That was useful to schedule FP for evening show.

We’ve decided that after 2 park days we need a break. We only had one break day and could have used another.

If we are able we’ll go during lower crowds next time. It probably will be a couple years for our next trip…maybe sooner :wink:

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How did your 2yr old like everything? I’m taking mine in two weeks

DS2 rolled with everything very well. He is typical developing and an overall easy kid. He took a couple stroller naps but wouldn’t sleep long when we went back to villa. Sometimes hard to do rider switch. He wanted to ride 7DMT so badly but not tall enough. :frowning:

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I asked DS2 if anything was scary and he said F! and HM. We skipped the stretching room.


A couple other tips: see the noon (or first) show of Indiana Jones and line up early. Snacks ok in stadium. We lined up 20 min early and were one of the very last families to get a seat.

We loved having a printed TP. I optimized on app, but paper and pen helped us stay on schedule better.

Take a portable phone charger. With TP and MDE, we went through battery fast.

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Tip: considering sharing meals to save money. At the Mara, we ordered the African stew and a kids meal to share. (Water for adults). The total was less than $25. Not a huge meal, but we had room for ice cream later :slight_smile: