Day 1: Arrival and Epcot
DH, DMIL, DD10 (newly minted as a Disney adult, ouch ), DS7, and I landed at MCO around 9:30am. After what seemed like a million other stops at nearby Disney hotels, we finally arrived at the Yacht Club at 11am. We explored the nautically themed lobby and gift shop while waiting for Ale & Compass to start lunch service at 11:30am. We’ve made it a tradition to launch our Disney vacations with lunch at a table service restaurant in our resort, rather than battling prime lunch crowds at the theme parks.
As I’ve mentioned in my last Trip Report, we love Ale & Compass as it’s quiet and relatively easy to get a walk-in lunch reservation. Even more importantly, it has reasonable prices (for Disney), interesting and tasty food options, and good service. We had the:
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
Parker House Rolls and Spreads (Bacon Jam, Pub Cheese, Citrus Butter)
Applewood-smoked Bacon Flatbread (with Caramelized Onions, Gruyère, and Arugula)
Blackened Fish Tacos (I believe it was Mahi Mahi that day)
Steak Frites (with Caramelized Onion, Fennel, Watercress, and Rebel Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette)
and our repeat favorites for drinks:
Seaworthy Breeze (Yacht Club Vodka with Grapefruit and Cranberry Juices) and
Maple Old-Fashioned (Jim Beam Black Extra-aged Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Orange Juice, and Angostura Bitters).
After lunch, we were pleasantly surprised by a text informing us that our room was ready, even though it was not quite 1pm. We were happy to discover that we got what we requested- a room on an upper floor and close to the lobby. After a quick check on our room, we walked over to Epcot. Throughout most of our trip, we were pretty lucky with the weather- even though it was, of course, warm, the humidity wasn’t horrible most days. Therefore, our walks to and from Epcot were usually pretty pleasant.
One side note- we ordered a few groceries (i.e. fruits for breakfast, milk boxes for the kids, and a case of water) from Garden Grocer. Disney now tacks on a $6 grocery receiving fee. This is on top of the $15 I already paid Garden Grocer for delivery as we order less than $200 worth of food. Do you guys have any other recommendations for grocery delivery (i.e. Amazon Pantry) that won’t charge a high delivery fee? I once tried diapers.com when we were staying at the Contemporary but they wound up delivering it to the convention center and Disney charged me a whopping $20 service fee for delivery there. Ok, enough boring talk- back to our regular programming of Trip Report.
We rode Figment with a FP and then blanched at the long line for Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope (located at the end of the Figment ride) before deciding to come back another day instead for the Meet and Greet. DH and both kids went to try Mission Space for the first time (I chickened out as I was nervous about even the Green mission making me nauseous). The kids had a fabulous time despite DH jokingly flipping random switches to jeopardize their mission. DH told me it was quite cute how seriously they took their roles and duties on MS.
We then rode TT with FP, explored the car showcase and accompanying photo kiosks, and did SE with a FP. After SE, the kids spent about a half hour playing the various games in Project Tomorrow while I ran over to MouseGear to shop. We then headed over to the Japan pavilion to have a pre-dinner treat of Kaki-Gori (Japanese shaved ice) while awaiting our dining reservation at Teppan Edo.
We thought the kids would get a kick out of the hibachi experience and they absolutely did. It was a pretty tasty and filling meal. I had half expected to still be hungry afterwards but the portions were quite large. DH had a sake flight while I had the Nigori Mimosa (Unfiltered Nigori Sake, Orange Juice, Grenadine, and Sparkling Water).
We were each given a basic green salad with a yummy dressing (no iceberg lettuce here!), a very generous portion of udon noodles mixed with vegetables (a little bland unfortunately), rice, and a decent amount of whichever meats we selected. We had the Filet Mignon (very tender), NY Cut Steak, and Asakusa (combination of shrimp and steak).
After dinner, my kids elected to have Funnel Cake from the adjoining US pavilion before we called it a night. It was a great start to our vacation!
Day 2: Typhoon Lagoon and Disney Springs
We started the day with a character breakfast at Cape May in the Beach Club. Very fitting as Daisy, Donald, Minnie, and Goofy were all in beachwear and we were all headed to TL! The food options were pretty standard for breakfast (i.e. pancakes, bacon, tator tots, etc.). I sort of missed the more exotic breakfast buffet at Boma but I had wanted to try something new. Plus, the characters were fun.
After breakfast, we decided to cab it to TL as the next bus would’ve reportedly been much later. Although the bus times listed within the MDE app was helpful at times, it sometimes didn’t display bus times even when the bus was actually pulling right in. We almost missed an AK bus later on in our trip because of this. I was about to call yet another cab that morning when my family saw an AK bus pull into the bus stop even though the app did not list it at all. I also found it continually frustrating that there weren’t extra buses on EMH days for the associated park. We would routinely see 2-3 buses for non-EMH parks before our EMH bus would arrive. That was so maddening for rope-drop crazy me.
We arrived at TL a few minutes after opening and rode MAFx2 before doing all 3 Storm Slides and Keelhaul Falls. We then tried Mayday Falls for the first time ever when my kids saw the sign and asked to go on. I hadn’t updated our TP for TL since beginning it 5 years ago! I keep forgetting that my kids are getting older and ready for more adventurous rides. By the same token, this was our first year of bypassing Ketchakiddee Creek entirely as our youngest was finally over 48” tall. On the upside of their getting older though, they can now carry their own tube up the stairs! Score! We then bobbed along in Castaway Creek for a bit before having a Mickey Ice Cream Bar, Orange Creamsicle, and Mini Donuts break. Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel for a quick shower and change before bussing it to DS for a late lunch at one of our favorite restaurants: Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’! We had:
The Jasper Board (Smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, shaved country ham, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans, and buttermilk crackers) to start.
A Moonshine flight (Watermelon, Buffalo Trace, Tim Smith’s Climax) and
White Peach Sangria (Peach moonshine, La Perlina Moscato and fresh peach puree muddled with orange and mango garnished with a moonshine-soaked peach wedge)
Braised Short Ribs
Fried Chicken Sandwich
Summer Farmhouse Salad (House-smoked turkey, grilled peaches, avocado, candied pecans, blueberries, red onion, and feta cheese tossed in green goddess dressing)
DH also ordered the Blue Hooch (Blue Flame moonshine, lemon-infused moonshine, blue curaçao, house-made simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and a splash of Sprite) but we both found it way too sweet. We were more than happy though with the Sweet Tea Shine (Sweet Tea, fresh-squeezed lemon and moonshine) we got to-go in a squeeze bottle! I think soda refills are free and refills of one of their signature moonshine mixes is $13 (a pretty good deal as the bottle is huge)!
For dessert, we tried the famous Hummingbird Cake!
After that huge and delicious lunch, we waddled over to World of Disney and the Marketplace Co-op for some shopping. The D-Tech store is dangerous as you can go nuts designing your own MBs, phone cases, etc. DD10 selected a blue Villains emoji MB while I got a Disney Snacks MB with a red background. I know, you’re shocked I picked a food one, right?
My family then went to hang out in the Lego Store while I went to refill the Homecomin’ squeeze bottle with more of that tasty Sweet Tea Shine to keep in the hotel fridge. I also bought a Buttermilk Chess Pie to go from Polite Pig. Super yummy!
Day 3: HS
We started the day with breakfast at the counter service restaurant of our resort- the Market. It’s pretty tiny with only a few tables and chairs and the menu is pretty small. However, I was satisfied with the options for both breakfast and lunch/dinner as they usually had a few unusual but tasty options in addition to the more conventional items. We had the Egg White Breakfast Wrap (Egg Whites, Spinach and Oven-roasted Tomatoes served on a Whole-Wheat Wrap), a Ham and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich, a Sticky Bun (covered with walnuts), and of course, Mickey Waffles.
We headed off to HS even though it wasn’t EMH as we would have limited time on Sunday to fully explore HS before running to a brunch reservation at the Contemporary. Man, what a difference in crowds when rope dropping at normal park opening time vs EMH. While the waits for the headliner rides are crazy at both kinds of rope drop, the waits for the rest of the rides was noticeably lighter during EMH.
I had been unable to secure a morning FP for SDD so DD10 and I hurried onto the standby line as soon as rope drop hit. I would hazard a guess that we were in the front 1/3 of rope drop crowds and were able to ride SDD with a 15-20 min wait. So not bad at all. We then waited about 20 min for ASS (hahaha) while the rest of our family did TSMM twice on standby. We were then all supposed to do TSMM together with our first FP of the day but DS7 had had enough of TSMM. Strange boy, I know. DMIL took him to explore Star Wars Launch Bay while the rest of us did TSMM twice by switching around our MBs.
After TSMM, we headed over to the Neighborhood Bakery in Municiberg to try a few of the Incredibles-themed treats. We had:
The Num-Num Cookie. It was basically a giant thick chocolate chip cookie. It was good, especially since it was warmed up, but still pretty standard for a cookie.
Key Lime Pie (on a stick!) and a Frozone Slush (albeit they were missing the marshmallow topping that day). The Key Lime Pie was covered in, I believe, white chocolate. It was super tasty but we all barely got a taste as DD10 scarfed most of it down. The Frozone Slush was a pretty standard slushy.
I was also able to finally get an Alien Popcorn Bucket!!! I’ve coveted this bucket ever since it launched and I happily had him touring with us most days.
We then regrouped with DMIL and DS7 and checked in on the lines for Monsters Inc. pals and Edna Mode. They were way too long even at 10:30am so we planned to go back on our second HS day. Sadly, we never returned to HS on this trip so I missed Edna!!!
Next, we rode ST with FP and saw Muppets 3D on standby. For lunch, we were finally able to try Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge! On previous trips, the lounge was closed due to rainy weather. I was super psyched to try it out AND the humidity was relatively low for the day so sitting outside for lunch wasn’t torture. As an added bonus, we were seated in such a way that my kids could even watch some Star Wars-related clips and parts of a stage show on Center Stage. We greatly enjoyed:
The “Famous Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad”
Andouille-Crusted Shrimp (with Cotswold Cheddar Grits, Micro Salad with Lime, and Piment d’Espelette Oil)
Derby Sliders (Wagyu Beef with Cognac-Mustard Aïoli, Smoked Gouda Cheese, Bacon, and Avocado and Duck Confit, Taleggio Cheese, Chipotle-Vegetable Slaw, Sweet Onion-Orange Conserve, and crispy Leeks)
Pan-Seared New England Scallops (with Sweet-and-Spicy Zellwood Creamed Corn, Salted Cod Fish Fritter)
And Espresso Cheesecake (Espresso-Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Cream, Caramel-Banana Sauce, Espresso Macaron, Hazelnut Powder, Milk Chocolate Twig). I don’t usually like cheesecake but this was delicious!
We also had 2 flights that were tasty and strong:
Margarita Flight (Classic, Blood Orange, and Pomegranate Margarita). My favorite was the Blood Orange.
Martini Flight (Classic Gin, Citrus Vodka, and Pomegranate)
After lunch, we headed over to RnR with our last FP of the day. It would be a first for both DS7 and I. I’m happy to have tried it as I like Aerosmith but this was a one and done for me as it gave me a slight headache. DS7, DD10, and DH loved it and would’ve ridden it again and again if the waits had been shorter. More power to them.
After RnR, the kids had some vanilla ice cream and frozen lemonade. We had planned for HS in the morning and then returning to the hotel to enjoy Stormalong Bay for several hours before our ‘Ohana reservation that night. However, we failed to account for the Orlando tendency to storm in the afternoons. We were hoping it would just be a brief passing shower (like most of the days of our vacation) but that afternoon turned out to be our wettest day. We took the boat back to our hotel in the hopes that the rain would stop. As the weather continued to not cooperate with my carefully laid out TPs, I salvaged a last minute FP for Soarin’. In the late afternoon, we began our meandering walk through Epcot to ride Soarin’ before catching various monorails to ultimately wind up at the Polynesian. In retrospect, we should’ve skipped Soarin’ and ridden a bus to MK before using the monorail instead, in order to save DH a lot of walking. By this time in our trip, his feet were already hurting (he has flat feet) and this long walk put him out of commission for most of the following day.
We arrived at the Polynesian with some time to spare before our reservation so we explored the shops and enjoyed the atmosphere in the lobby. At ‘Ohana, we started off with Pineapple-Coconut Bread and Salad with Lilikoi Dressing along with Pork Dumpling in Garlic-Ginger Sauce, Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings, Teriyaki Noodles, and Mixed Vegetables.
We also had several skewers of Spicy Grilled Peel-N-Eat Shrimp (easily the BEST of the 3 meats offered), Szechuan Sirloin Steak, and Sweet N Sour Chicken. I forgot to take pictures of these meats because I was too busy stuffing my face.
We also had the following drinks:
Island Sunset (I think). If so, it had Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Coruba Coconut Rum, and Peach combined with Guava-Passion Fruit Juice. It was very light, almost watery. Definitely not very memorable.
DH enjoyed his Hawaiian Mule (Pau Maui Handmade Vodka, Lychee-Citrus Reduction, and Fever-Tree Ginger Beer)
For dessert, we had the famous ‘Ohana Bread Pudding a la Mode and Rice Krispy Treats for the kids.
We had an ADR for 6:40pm this time around and again, never felt rushed to leave and our server attentively offered us more skewer meats without our having to search for her. I’ve read that some other people have had bad experiences at ‘Ohana with being rushed or not getting enough food. However, that has never been the case for us, thankfully, both times we’ve gone. We love ‘Ohana!
Day 4: MK
To make it to rope drop for EMH at MK, we used the Minnie Van service cuz yet again, there were no MK buses scheduled to arrive any time soon (at least according to the bus times in MDE). We arrived about 30 min before rope drop and did the Pooh ride, PPF, and IaSW within EMH. We were ready at the ropes for Liberty Square when 9am hit. DS7 surprisingly expressed an interest in HM (he had previously been too scared to try) as we walked by so we quickly got in line for it. I think we were in the first group to go down the stretching room. This was also the first time we got to walk through the queue (on our last trip, some friends took us on HM with a VIP tour that skips the queue). So it was fun for the kids to read the various funny tombstones while waiting on line. Sadly, only the pic for DS7’s and my doom buggy went through to Photopass. For some odd reason, the pics for DD10, DH, and DMIL didn’t go through, which was disappointing as the shots for this attraction is one of the most interesting. Some friends of ours also on a Disney trip had even more problems with attraction photos not showing up in their account.
After HM, DD10 and DH were scheduled to use their first FP for Splash Mountain while the rest of us rode JC but the ride was down for half the day. While we were waiting (in vain) for the ride to come back up that morning, we all rode Pirates. This was our first ride on Pirates since our 2014 trip as the prison bars had traumatized my then DD5. She’s made of sterner stuff now so it was fun for everyone. At that point, DS7, DMIL, and I used our FP for JC while DH and DD10 browsed the shops. We then had a Dole Whip break before walking over to Fantasyland to do Barnstomer on Standby and play in the Dumbo waiting area (ah, air conditioning and seated comfort).
We had originally planned to eat lunch at our favorite MK counter service, Columbia Harbour House. But DH’s feet were killing him at that point. To avoid making him crisscross the park again (as we were planning on Tomorrowland rides after lunch), we headed over to Cosmic Ray’s instead. They grabbed a few conventional options (chicken nuggets and a burger) along with a Strawberry Lemonade Slush. Meanwhile, I was on a mission to finally try some interesting options at Sleepy Hollow. So while my family was happily ensconced in front of Sonny Eclipse, I ran over to Liberty Square to get the following yummies:
A Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich
A (giant) Mickey Waffle for my waffle-crazed son
And a Vanilla Ice Cream Churro Sandwich
Yes, I must’ve looked pretty insane walking with this tray of food from Liberty Square all the way to Tomorrowland while scarfing down bites of the rapidly melting ice cream sandwich but I was HAPPY, dammit. Nom nom nom!
After this fortifying lunch, we used our FP for BLSRS. The Peoplemover had an insane line but we did it anyway (15-20 min). I’m guessing it built up a long wait because multiple Tomorrowland attractions were down (Stitch’s Escape is closed, Astro Orbiter was closed for refurbishment, and Laugh Floor was strangely down all day, which really sucked as it’s one of my kids’ favorite MK attractions). However, I finally convinced my family to see Carousel of Progress as there was no wait! Even DH had to admit it was interesting. It still didn’t keep him and DMIL from dozing off for the latter part though. By this time, Splash Mountain was finally open but even DD10 was feeling too tired to walk all the way back to Frontierland. So we converted DD10’s and DH’s FP from Splash into FPs for the Speedway. It was the first time ever that both kids could ride an attraction by themselves. Yet another first for my rapidly growing kids!
After Carousel, Cool Ship was finally open so we could get the Super Lemonade (it bubbles around due to dry ice in a bottom compartment). We then headed back to Fantasyland for our last FP of the day- 7DMT. This year, I had a ridiculously hard time getting FPs for the headliners despite crowd levels being about the same or supposedly lower than our previous trips. The earliest I could get the 7DMT FP was for 2:40pm. Is anyone else having a harder than usual time securing FPs?
After 7DMT, we got the Lost Princess Cone (Lemon Soft-serve with Edible Flowers) and a Coke Float from Storybook Treats:
DD10 said the flowers tasted like “really soft spinach”. I’m glad she’s an adventurous eater.
While DMIL then took the kids to explore some of the shops on Main Street, DH and I took a mini break from the kids to get an All-American Sundae (Old-fashioned Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Peanut Butter Drizzle, Whipped Cream and a Cherry) from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. So good and worth the almost 30 minute wait.
We rode the bus back to the Yacht Club to relax a bit before our 6pm ADR for the seafood buffet at Cape May in the adjoining Beach Club. It is a must stop for seafood lovers!!!
After dinner, I went alone to Epcot as I was the only one interested in seeing Illuminations. I was excited as I had never seen it before and the show is ending in about a month. While waiting around for Illuminations to start, I also finally got to see Impressions de France (yet another show I had never been able to convince my family to see) while partaking in a curiously strong Orange Slush (Grand Marnier, Rum and Grey Goose Orange and Orange Juice).
I’ve had it on previous trips but this was the strongest one yet. Getting tipsy while watching Impressions a bit too close to the curved widescreen made for an interesting experience.
I then walked over to China to check out the Shanghai Disney display in the House of Whispering Willows. Afterwards, I found a good spot by the railing in Germany and waited about half an hour for Illuminations to start. It was pretty but my favorite night show is still Happily Ever After by a mile. After Illuminations ended, I took my time walking back to the International Gateway. That was the loveliest walk around World Showcase yet. And infinitely more relaxing than the post-Happily Ever After exodus out of MK. I took my time walking back to Yacht Club and even relaxed on a recliner on the beach in front of Beach Club. It was super chill and I would have dozed off in contentment if not for the sign in front of me warning about alligators and snakes.
Yep, I got up then and went back to my room.
Day 5: BB and AK
Back to Ale & Compass we go for breakfast! DMIL and DH picked an entrée each to go along with the buffet options. They both had the American Breakfast (standard breakfast fare) while I had my beloved Dark Chocolate Waffles (with Dried Cherry Compote, Espresso-Mascarpone Cream, Chocolate Shavings, and a choice of Bacon or Sausage).
DD10 and DS7 split Mickey Waffles along with the Breakfast Flatbread (with a Sunny–side Egg, Applewood-smoked Bacon, Ham, Provolone, and Arugula). Well, they ate everything up besides the arugula. Infidels. Arugula is awesome.
We then took the bus to BB right at opening. First up was the Chair Lift to ride Teamboat Springs. After that, the kids elected to eschew all other attractions in order to go straight to Ski Patrol Camp. It was perfect as there are plenty of cool water activities for the kids to go on independently (i.e. zip line, mini tube course, slides, trek across floating icebergs while hanging onto an overhead net). While the kids went nuts in that area, DMIL and DH were able to rest their feet while sitting on a bench while I happily went in search of more treats.
DH and I split a Black Cherry Lemonade (Grey Goose Cherry Noir Vodka, Odwalla® Lemonade, Lime Juice and Grenadine topped with Sprite), which was super refreshing.
I also got a Strawberry Lemonade Slushy and Strawberry Passionfruit Slushy from Joffrey’s for the rest of my family.
An hour or so later, I also got the quintessential Disney treat- the Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich
We hung around BB’s Ski Patrol Camp for about 2-3 hours and then took a bus to AKL before transferring to AK. I had played around with the idea of us eating at the Mara while we were at AKL for the bus transition. I had heard really good things about the Mara and we were right there! However, DD10 would have been devastated to skip her beloved ribs from Flame Tree BBQ so off to AK we went.
On the bus to AK, I started a Mobile Order for Flame Tree BBQ. It definitely saved us some time from waiting on the long line to order but it was still quite a wait for the food to be prepared. Plus, I learned the hard way that MDE was a bit wonky with Mobile Order. It often said “Oops, something went wrong” when I clicked the final submit button. I would therefore think the order didn’t go through so ordered again. A few minutes later, both orders would show up. So that was always fun to cancel the second order. Sigh. At Flame Tree BBQ, we had:
The St. Louis Rib Dinner
Pulled Pork Cheese Fries
We also ordered a Chicken Drumstick from the kids’ menu for DS7, cornbread, onion rings, and a Mandarin Orange Lemonade. Everything was, as always, super delicious.
After lunch, we walked to Dinoland for Dinosaur (DS7’s all-time Disney favorite). After Dinosaur, DH and DD10 went (along with our MBs) to ride EEx2 with FP while DS7 got to explore the Boneyard for the very first time. We never tried it on previous trips as it was just too hot and humid to be outside that long. But for this trip and at that time of day (4pm), it was comfortable and DS7 had a blast running around the playground area. And to his serendipitous surprise, he even found the digging site on his own and was in happy digging heaven. Seriously, that boy loves digging around in the dirt so that area was made for him. While DMIL watched him, I went to nearby Restaurantosaurus in search of something interesting and refreshing to drink. I wound up ordering a Margarita. BLECH! That was the most sickly sweet margarita I’ve ever had and I didn’t detect any alcohol cuz of the syrupiness. I even went back to double check that I wasn’t given lemonade by accident. All I tasted was sickly sweet. Gross. I would definitely warn others away from getting a Margarita there.
We then all met up in Pandora to ride FOP with a FP. We browsed the shops some more and then exhaustedly headed back to our resort. We ate dinner at our resort in the Market. The kids had a Foot-Long hot dog and a Ham and Cheddar Sandwich while the adults split yet another Sticky Bun, a Grilled Chicken Panini (with Basil Pesto, Fresh Mozzarella, and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes on an Olive Oil Ciabatta), and a Cold Vegetable Sandwich from the fridge (filled with an assortment of veggies like zucchini, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower, and I think hummus). DMIL had picked the latter and I had been afraid it would be too watery/bland but it turned out to be my favorite of the above!