29 hours in the World with 3 kids!

Thanks to Spirit Airlines super cheap flights & a crazy idea of mine, we are going to WDW on Friday! It’s a surprise trip.

The cast: Me, DH, DD5, DD2, DD7months

The setting: Ft. Wilderness/MNSSHP

Let the countdown begin!


Sounds fun! Enjoy your trip.

You are officially crazy and I LOVE IT! Have a great trip! Please keep us posted on how it goes.

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Here comes the trip report!!!

My alarm went off at 3am on Friday, September 13th. I showered & got ready, packed our last few things, and loaded up our “personal items” (according to Spirit) into the van, then carried the kids from bed to the car while DH got ready. We left at 4:10 and arrived at the airport around 5:30am. My darling children stayed awake the entire ride there.We decided to park in the close garage for an extra $10 so we didn’t have to deal with riding the shuttle with all the kids. I changed the kids clothes/diapers in the back of the van so I didn’t have to take the dirty clothes with us on the plane. We went to the Spirit counter to get our boarding passes since they require DOB confirmation for lap children. We were treated very kindly! Got seats 5A-5D & the other two seats in our row were empty.

We went straight through to security since our flight was at 7:00am. I will say that TSA treats families with babies very kindly. They shuffled us over to the side lane & did not rush us at all. I had packed all our food in a gallon ziplock bag (thanks for that tip Liners!) and had our liquids (we had some larger bottles of medicine, baby food, etc) plus food & tablet in a single backpack so I only needed to open one bag. It also made it very easy to repack once we were finished. Also as an FYI they are now requiring all powders to be removed from bags as well as any wipes. After security we headed to the gate & after a short wait were allowed to pre-board since we had an infant.

One recurring theme throughout this short trip was DH not getting enough to eat. I always laugh when I see people talk about how much food is wasted on the dining plan because that just doesn’t apply to us thanks to DH. He is still chewing his breakfast when he asks what’s for lunch. I certainly enjoy food, but am perfectly fine snacking instead of a meal.

Anyway, DH was a little grumpy because he did not have time to get his coffee and breakfast before we boarded the plan. Perhaps he should have gotten up at 3 with me instead of 3:50 :wink: Our tablet did not want to play the downloaded movies, so the kids had to take turns on a drawing app instead. It got a little squirrely, but overall they did really well. The baby was a dream & spent half her time sleeping, the other half was spent smiling at all the strangers seated around us. I held the baby in the row with 2 empty seats & DH sat in the aisle seats with our 2 big kids. This worked out really well for us. Our 2yo is teeny (25 pounds & turns 3 in a few weeks), but she literally ate nonstop the entire 2 hour flight & on ME. Since we were so far forward on the plane, we deplaned very quickly at MCO.

Once our flight landed, I took all the kids to the bathroom while DH waited for our gate checked stroller. We headed down to ME and just missed a bus to Ft. Wilderness/Grand Flo/Poly. We had kept the trip a secret & finally told them our destination while we were waiting for ME. The next one came in about 15 minutes. We only waited ~10 minutes before leaving & Ft Wilderness was the first stop! Our driver was really charismatic & great. About 10 minutes in to the drive he told us that there was an accident ahead & the road was going to be closed which might make our trip much longer. Thankfully he was about to exit and take an alternate route that only added 10 minutes. We arrived at Ft. Wilderness uneventfully & were hit by that Florida heat/humidity as soon as we stepped off the bus.

Now I did not really understand much about Ft. Wilderness before going on this trip apparently. I had checked in online & our room was ready, so I grabbed a map and tried to get my bearings so we could walk to our cabin (2754). I walked past the golf cart stand (we did not rent one) and asked if he could point us in the right direction. He told me that I couldn’t walk to our cabin from there, oops! He very nicely got a van to deliver us & our bags to the cabin in just a few minutes. We arrived ~11:15 to the cabin which we loved. Our kids were obsessed with the bunkbeds which we had predicted. We dropped our stuff & headed out to grab breakfast at Trail’s End because DH was “starving.”

Again, I did not really understand the internal bus thing in advance. It did not help that the first bus we saw drove by without stopping. Anyway, a nice drive came by a few minutes later and told us a bus to the Settlement would be there soon. We boarded & arrived to a very empty Trail’s End. We were seated immediately. The food was very delicious and fresh despite their last seating being 12:00 (we arrived at 11:45). The pulled pork eggs benedict was my favorite with the bread pudding a close second. The kids enjoyed their Mickey waffles, yogurt with chocolate chips, eggs, and fruit. We finished lunch & went back to the room for naps before MNSSHP. The kids took longer to wind down than I wanted, but everyone except me did eventually sleep. I woke everyone up at 3:00, we got ready & headed to the boat dock (ie rode another bus first). We only waited a few minutes before a boat arrived & we entered MK about 4:30. Not too bad, but we ran ~30 minutes late the whole trip it seemed. The big girls were dressed as Moana.

It was hot. We got our trick or treat bags. I had hoped to meet Mickey & Minnie but the wait was 40 minutes. So the kids decided to do their favorite ride first- Peoplemover which was a walkon. We then went to Buzz (5 minute wait). DD5 was disappointed that Astro Orbiter was closed. I had originally planned to go get in line for Moana at this point, but DD5 kept saying she didn’t want to meet her (despite going on about her constantly). So we headed to Under the Sea which has an obnoxiously long queue. Of course we got 3/4 of the way through it when suddenly DD5 needed to go potty. So back out we went. We went to the bathroom, then back to UtS which they all loved. We decided to get some ice cream & I really wanted a fruit and nutella waffle. The girls enjoyed Mickey bars while I got my waffle. DH had wanted a turkey leg, but then couldn’t find one. I love him to death but his constant “waffling” about what to eat drove me crazy.

After our snack we went to get DH a Dole whip. I took the big girls on Magic Carpets (5 minute wait) while DH got his food. We checked the wait for Moana which was 45 minutes. The CM said before that it had only been 15, so we should have checked before riding. Oh well, we decided to check back later. DH took the big kids to the Treehouse which is another favorite. I found a quiet spot to feed baby. We all regrouped & decided to try Haunted Mansion. DD5 is kind of a chicken (she refused to try SDMT even though I had found a FP for it!) so I told her that there were ghosts but that they were silly & pretend. They did fine.

Peter Pan was posting a 25 minute wait so we headed there. Our actual wait was only 15 minutes & there was a surprise trick or treat spot in the queue. DH said, “This isn’t Peter Pan, I’ve never seen this before.” I explained that we’ve always done FP so no he had never seen this line, haha. After PP, we rode the Teacups which ended up being DD2’s favorite. She giggled & squealed & spun us the whole time.

To be continued… (baby is crying)


So fun!! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

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Can’t wait to hear more too!

We have had such mixed experiences with wipes! One agent was extremely rude that we dared even pack wipes and in many other trips nobody has said a word. It seems to be typical TSA, an issue only if someone deems it an issue.


Loving this report! Thanks for taking the time to write it. :slight_smile:


Our local TSA tends to be much more relaxed than MCO. I forgot about our small packs of flushable wipes & those didn’t get flagged, but the big packs of baby wipes did.

Overall our TSA experience was really positive though considering I had multiple liquids that needed tested, bags of food, etc. What a bummer than someone was so grouchy to you!


At this point is was about 8:00, and I decided the kids needed something “real” to eat besides ice cream and candy! My plan was to mobile order & take it with us to eat while we staked out a spot for the parade. The girls really wanted to play in the little house outside of Pooh, so I sent DH with them to do that while I mobile ordered from Cosmic Ray’s. He did not understand what I meant & took them in to ride the Pooh ride instead which took 20+ minutes. Meanwhile I was waiting for him while our food got cold. This food was a good reminder of why we do mostly TS. It was not very good at all & expensive for what we got.

DH & the girls finally showed up & we ended up just eating outside CR. DD5 ended up eating my food but I wasn’t that hungry anyway. We hustled over to Main St. to find parade spots. We ended up across from Casey’s and up toward the hub just a ways (but before the gardens). I’ll try to upload a photo later. The ropes were already up when we arrived, but there was enough room for our stroller & for us to sit. The folks on either side of us were super friendly (we were not in their space at all) & were just as determined as us not to let last minute stragglers squish us. We arrived around 8:45 which was later than I had planned but honestly was just fine.

The headless horseman rode by at 9:10ish which was so cool to see! About that time a lady & her son (maybe age 8-10) pushed their way into our area. She shoved our stroller forward into the back of the people in front of us & said “Sorry.” I just stared at her & pushed the stroller back. She tried to push her son up to sit in front of our kids. I said, “There’s not room for him to sit here.” She pulled him back. He kept whining about his legs being tired. At this point she crowded the people next so us & I just tried to ignore her. I just can’t believe the nerve of some people. I was not very nice, but we gave up our party time to find good seats. No you can’t come up at the last minute and block our view. Not sorry.

Anyway, the parade finally started & was wonderful! We all really enjoyed it & that was amplified by getting to sit for the duration of the parade. It was 100% worth it for us to spend time staking out good seats. The music was super catchy & it’s still stuck in my head.

We held our spots for the fireworks & had a pretty good view. I found it really odd, but they let people sit in Main Street to watch the fireworks. Seems like an accident waiting to happen. Anyway we really enjoyed the fireworks. I’ve never been to MNSSHP to compare to the previous one. It wasn’t as awesome as HEA but still really fun! It started to rain in the last 1-2 minutes of the show & people started pouring out of the park. We stood next to a lovely couple from MA who own DVC & come every year to the MNSSHP. They thought the party was much more crowded than normal. Again I have nothing to compare it to, but do agree it “felt” crowded from 7-10pm despite wait times being pretty reasonable.

At this point I was determine we WOULD meet Moana for me if nothing else. We hoofed it over to Adventureland. It felt like a ton of people were heading that way & I had a few minutes of real concern that they all wanted to meet Moana too. I think they all actually ended up going to Splash/Thunder honestly. We zipped right over to Tiki Room & had only a 3 minute wait! There were only 2 other families in front of us, but lots were pouring in steadily after us. Of course DD2 decided she needed to potty as soon as she saw the waterfall at Tiki Room. I convinced her to wait just a minute (bad mom award!) and she made it without an accident to meet Moana! We loved the M&G, but my kids were pooped and our picture is sweaty, messy hair, etc. Oh well!

We took a bathroom break at this point. DD2 was saying, “I am so sleepy,” and sucking her thumb which is a dead giveaway that she is ready for bed. I asked her if she wanted to sleep in the stroller or go on more rides & she said “RIDE MORE RIDES.” So off we went. We barely made it out of Frontierland before the second parade started. We hit a few Trick or treat spots along the way.

We headed back to Fantasyland & rode the teacups again (walkon). Then went to Dumbo (also a walkon with a candy station in the queue). We loved both. I really enjoyed Dumbo at night & seeing the park lit up!

We headed to Tomorrowland & did Peoplemover again (walkon)- again super fun to do at night. Then we grabbed a bunch of applesauce pouches outside CoP then rode Buzz (walkon). It was 11:55 so we headed to MILF to grab more candy. By the time we were finished it was midnight & everything was closed. We got the stroller & headed to the front of the park. DH decided he needed bottled water but all the kiosks were closed. So he went to a gift shop to purchase while the kids and I waited by the train station.

We all headed out to the boat back to FtW. We had just missed one, but another came fairly quickly, maybe a 10 minute wait? The big kids were still awake which I couldn’t believe. We got the Ft. Wilderness after stopping at WL. A bus was waiting at the Settlement stop so we hopped on. Only after we got on did we realize it was the wrong bus. We went to get off & the drive shooed us back on and said he’d make an extra stop for us. This was incredibly kind & I sent a compliment to GS about this extra magic. We made it back to the room around 1:00, got the kids into pajamas, brushed teeth & they went to bed. The baby had a hard time for a bit, so I think I crashed around 1:40am (remember, I got up at 3am? :smiley: )

It was such a fun night!


I woke up around 8:00am and just stayed in bed so I didn’t wake anyone else up. The kids roused around 9:00 and I turned on cartoons while they ate Poptarts. I had DH give them a bath while I repacked our bags. My goal was to eat, swim, and make it back to the Outpost for ME at 2:00 for our 2:35 pickup. It did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.

I called bell services to pick up our bags we didn’t need for the day. I waited on hold for 20 minutes before someone picked up. They said they would send someone over. 20 minutes later someone came but then said “Oh you could have just left them here for me if you didn’t need a ride.” It just felt like a waste of our precious few hours left. I had called the day before to try to get late checkout but they said they don’t do that. Bummer. We headed out the door to walk to the internal bus because DH was “starving” and wanted Trail’s End brunch.

t this point we met our neighbors. When we had come back the night before there was a truck parked all wonky in our driveway. We were tired enough we just ignored it. Well the neighbors saw us come out of the cabin & started apologizing about their parking and said they thought the cabin was empty. I have a feeling that alcohol was involved. They offered us beer or a golf cart ride to apologize. We gladly accepted their golf cart ride to Trail’s End. They were super nice folks from FL who camp at FtW 5-6x per year. Their campsite got cancelled during Dorian so they rescheduled at the cabins instead. Anyway this little ride saved us a lot of time & we met some nice folks!

We checked in at Trail’s End & had a few minutes wait so DH took the kids to the playground. We ate brunch. Well I should say mostly the adults did & the kids whined. They were very obviously still exhausted. The food was not as good as the day before IMO. I did enjoy the fried chicken, but the pulled pork eggs were not as good as well as multiple other things just being not quite as good too. The peel & eat shrimp were overcooked and gross.

At this point it was 12:30. We needed to be at the Outpost for ME at 2:35. I had to break the news to the kids that there just wasn’t time to swim. We would have had to ride an internal bus to the Meadows, change, swim, change, ride another bus to the Outpost. It just didn’t make sense. So DH took the baby on a walk in the carrier while I played on the playground with the kids. They had a blast. We grabbed Mickey ice cream sandwiches, cleaned up & used the potty, then headed to meet our ME bus. The kids watched cartoons in the lobby while I got our ME confirmation (there wasn’t one on the door but I had asked about the time the day before when I called). We got our bags from bell services & got on ME (it was ~ 10 minutes late).

DD2 was extra special on the bus ride & really the whole trip home. She normally naps, so the night before + no nap the next day was a lot for her to handle. We went straight to Spirit to get our boarding passes again (lap child thing again), then went straight through security. They sent us through the wheelchair line since we had a stroller. We made it to our gate & grabbed food to take on the plane for dinner (flight was 5:35-8:00pm). We were seated together in row 30 this time. There was a nice couple seated next to me who talked to me the entire trip. They even asked to hold the baby. It was really nice to have someone who enjoyed kids vs someone who was annoyed by us. Our kids really were super great though all things considered. DD2 ate the entire flight home again haha. Again the big kids stayed awake the whole time. They even wheeled our bags off the plan when we arrived. It was hysterical watching them zoom through the empty airport wheeling our suitcases. They were “SO HUNGRY” so we ordered them McDonald’s at the airport and they ate it in the car on the way home. We arrived home at 9:45pm and put the sleeping kids to bed. Our magical day at Disney was over!


Ours too!!! MCO always feels insanely crowded as well as insanely restrictive.

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Staying in the cabins is interesting to me. Where do you normally stay and what did you think about it? Curious. I like idea of the camping feel but did you feel too remote or inconvenienced at all?


We stayed in the cabins for a couple of nights last year. While there were campers around us, being in the cabin did not feel like camping. There’s a full kitchen. And a TV.

As far as feeling remote, we had our own car, so that may have skewed us. That being said, getting to and from MK was so easy, just take the boat (our cabin was also the closest one to the dock, so again, skewed!). If you are using Disney transportation, and don’t rent a golf cart, getting to the other parks will probably mean taking 2 buses - one internal, then one to the park. I recommend the golf cart. It really is the best way to get around the campgrounds. It’s also nice just to ride around and relax. I really liked the campgrounds. But, I would not do it without the golf cart, and that is an extra $70 or so per night.

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My family would live the golf cart part… where do you drive it? Just around the camp grounds? Or do you go to the lodge on it too?

We would not have a car.

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You can drive all over the campgrounds…to the pools, restaurants, outdoor movie, dock, front of resort for buses to parks, stables, etc. I don’t believe you can leave the resort though.

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Our first visit we stayed at AKL. Second visit (adults only) was Pop/Poly. Third visit was Pop. Next visit is Pop/BCR.

Ft Wilderness is a beautiful resort. The cabins were very nice. I don’t see us staying there again though until the kids are bigger or we get a camper. It was just too spread out. Even with a golf cart we would have still needed to transport our stroller. It just was not super convenient. I would also consider it for more of a laid back/resort stay. The full kitchen would be really nice for that.

A few thoughts:
-A spontaneous trip was super fun!
-I would highly recommend 2 nights instead of 1. Flight prices were 4x higher if we flew home Sunday, so we took the Saturday flight instead to save money. I wish we had Saturday to relax, swim, enjoy the resort, and get a good night’s sleep before flying home
-See above for thoughts on Ft. Wilderness
-Going to MNSSHP was a great way for us to get a Disney fix without regular park tickets. It also felt “different” enough to not outshine our big trip in December.
-Dang it’s hot in September!
-Spirit is not so bad! I do think I’ll fork over the $ to reserve seats in advance next time though!
-Trail’s End breakfast > brunch

Overall it was such a fabulous trip! I definitely hope to be back next fall for MNSSHP again, maybe with my oldest or my two oldest kids for a long weekend.

As a hyper-planner (can you relate?) it’s hard to go with the flow sometimes, but my kids absolutely loved choosing their rides on a whim & getting to do and eat whatever they want. It’s a good reminder that they’ll remember the fun we had, not the things that we missed out on.

Thanks for reading! :slight_smile:


Here is a screenshot of where we sat for the parade & fireworks.

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I don’t share photos of my kids online, but here are a few without them.

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I am guessing you flew out of IND? I feel like our airport and TSA in particular are some of the friendliest I have encountered.