A different kind of magic! Trip report - 9/19 - 9/26

Who - Me, my husband, our three sons (9, 7, 6). Tag alongs - MIL, BIL, and niece (9) for part of the trip.
When - 9/19 - 9/26
Where - Boardwalk Villas studio - 4019 (us) and 4052 (mil/bil/niece) using rented points

AK - 9/20, HS- 9/21, MK - 9/22, Epcot - 9/23, MK - 9/24, HS - 9/25, AK - 9/26

Pre-trip - This was a complete departure from our last trip, which was planned and researched on for over a year. Our trip last year began 3 days after SWGE opened. We had fantastic, low crowds. The entire week was basically rainless, and we were able to get every fastpass and dining reservation we wanted. It was a dream trip in every way. I knew this trip would not be as magical, but to be honest - my family and I were in need of whatever magic we could get :rofl:

I’m not even sure how I got my husband to agree to this trip, as we had already agreed we wouldn’t be returning until 2022. After receiving an email with my very first pincode (35% off), I got it in my head that we should head to Disney over the county’s school break. My kids have been doing virtual learning since March (not counting summer break) - all while I work my normal (work at home) full time job. I needed a break, bad. My husband needed one as well, and we decided to go ahead and do it. My MIL decided she’d like to go as well - I handled her room reservation and tickets. At that point, my husband convinced his brother to also head down with my niece. I started running numbers, and texting my husband with different scenarios. I was looking at Boardwalk villas, Caribbean Beach, and Poly. We’ve rented points through the DVC Rental company previously. I ran a few quotes with them, but this time the savings over booking direct with Disney were minimal - pretty close to the pin code offer. I then hopped on another Disney forum, where I secured some rental points for 2 rooms at the Boardwalk Villas for a steal (compared to renting through a company, or using the pincode offer). I know point rental outside of a legit company isn’t for everyone, but the individuals I used (1 each per room) were seasoned renters, and included contracts. Communication was great, and we had no issues at all. In the future, I won’t hesitate to go this route again. We also used Boardwalk ticketing to purchase our tickets, which came in slightly cheaper than UT tickets. They were great to work with, no issues on their end, either. Hooked up the room reservations and tickets to our MDE accounts, picked out magic bands, made park reservations, and we were good to go - only a week and a half prior to when we’d leave for Florida. Surprisingly, they shipped our magic bands!

I felt mostly good about our trip. I’d read plenty of recent trip reports on the forums, and had a pretty good plan for rope drop and ride order. As a planner, I did miss being able to make real plans like I have in the past. I did not make any actual touring plans this time around, and I think that was the right decision for this trip. From the day we secured our reservation (9/9), I set up reminders on my phone to practice getting a ROTR boarding group. Thanks to tips on here, even when practicing, I was ‘successful’ on the majority of tries. I also let my kiddos know all the ways this trip would be different (no fp, no character meet, mask wearing, etc.) Honestly, it didn’t phase them.

We began packing and planning over the next few days. We would be driving to the resort from just north of Atlanta. I grabbed a couple new shirts for us all, and set up a Publix delivery to the resort for 9/20. Friday night (9/18) was a rush of packing the van and making sure we had everything, but we were all set and ready to leave by 8am Saturday morning.

Next up - travel day, and our experience at a ‘Seaworld’ hotel for one night.


Thank you for writing this. It is so fun to read about an adventure.

This was us in August! We had slightly more prep time, as I booked on July 31 (got confirmation on 8/1) and we left 8/12. I was also freaking out that they were shipping the magic bands. Did not think they would arrive in time. But they did!

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Day 1 - Travel day!

We packed up were all in the car at 8:10am - only 10 mins later than we wanted to be. We allowed the kids to take their iPads this trip - and pulled them out when we needed some quiet. There was a lot of bickering on the ride down. We also packed a bunch of dvds to watch on the ride down, but the kids ended up only watching Hocus Pocus and Return of the Jedi. The ride down was pretty uneventful. We stopped three times for food and bathroom breaks. Bathrooms were mostly ehh. Mask usage was pretty low, despite every gas station/rest area having posted signs stating masks were required.

We arrived about 5:30 to the hotel. That night wasn’t available for both rooms at BWV - so I found a great express deal for a hotel right by Seaworld. As in - almost directly across the street from the entrance. Combined with the $15 dollar off coupon I had just received - we paid $59.97 for a ‘suite’ that included 2 queen beds and a queen pull out couch. The hotel was rated very well, but we found it to be just ok. The pool was super crowded, so we skipped. The pull out couch was… sad. Super thin. The sheets they have us to use on it were dirty. The water was not filtered to the sinks and showers - so it had that Florida smell and taste. However, for the price, it was what we needed for a quick nights stay.

We walked to the Buffalo Wild Wings that was in the same ‘plaza’ as the hotel, and were seated and served immediately. We ate, watched some tv in the room, and went to bed. We would be waking up at 6am, as I wanted to be at BWV and waiting for a bus by 8am!


Day 2 - arrival and Animal Kingdom
steps - 23,179

We were up and out of the hotel by 6:45am. The BWV were a 15 min drive from Springhill Suites. We stopped at DD along the way for some coffee, and we arrived at the hotel right about 7:10. I ran in to get some birthday pins (it was my birthday!), and to make sure that we weren’t going to have to switch rooms on 9/25 - we had waitlisted that night, and it came through - but I was unsure how that would work. We didn’t have to switch, they assured me. The front desk was so helpful and pleasant! We drove down to the parking lot, grabbed our pre-packed park backpack, and walked up to the bus stop. Before we even got to the bus stop, I received a text - our room wasn’t quite ready (7:34am). My MIL, who had not gone to the front desk, did not receive a text.

We got to the bust stop about 7:40. We were one of 3 families waiting for a bus - and the AK bus pulled up right at 7:48am! When we got to the park, I was surprised that cars were already being let in, but we were in the park and in line for FOP by 8:22am. I then noticed that we had gotten our ‘room is ready’ text at 8:05, but I hadn’t seen it. I had requested 4055 for us and 4053 for my MIL, but was super bummed to get 4019 - which had a pretty stinky ‘garden’ view. My MIL didn’t get her text until 1pm - she got 4052 (great view). I wonder if by going to the front desk, they got me in a room faster than they would of if I hadn’t have done that? Either way, I was bummed, but got over it pretty quickly. Last year we got the room over from what we requested - so I feel like those requests are generally looked at and granted if possible.

Anyway - back to park stuff. We didn’t have to wait long for the line to move - and once it did, we pretty much moved through the queue without stopping. We got on the ride right at 8:40 - so we waited about 20 mins total for the ride. It was just as wonderful as we remembered, and the water and scents were definitely turned on. After that, we slowly made our way to Expedition Everest, stopping along the way for some photopass pics. We rode EE at 9:22, and then got right back in line and rode again at 9:33 (ride showed a 5 min wait time). KS was listed as a 30 min wait, so we headed over there. The line moved quickly - until it didn’t. They announced that animals were blocking the road. It was a good 10-15 mins that we didn’t move at all. We eventually started moving again, and were on the ride by 10:10. There were a ton of animals out, and they were often close to the ride

Once we were done, it started to rain pretty steadily. We stopped for the bathroom, and then decided to head over to It’s a Bug’s Life to get out of the rain. We got there just at the right time, and were placed on a circle just outside the auditorium door. We did end up waiting about 10 mins, as we caught a clean cycle, but we were seated at 11:10.

After that, we headed over to Reaturantosaurus for some lunch. I placed a mobile order, but had trouble using our redemption card. That played out over and over throughout the trip - both in store and on the app. We were always being told the system was down. To be honest, it was kind of a pain because we had a good chunk of change in points (we’d earned 945 rewards dollars since September 2019), and the trip budget relied on us using those points. We ended up placing the order on our credit card. The food was pretty good! The kids loved their chicken in a bucket, and we found indoor seating no problem.

Once we were done eating, we decided to do Dinosaur, which showed a 35 min wait. We ended up waiting 20 mins. The ride was darker than I remembered. Like - whole areas were just us riding in the dark. It was weird. My husband even commented on it. Ride pick shows a 12:45 time stamp.

After that, lines were pretty long everywhere. We took our time exiting. On our way out, there was a whole swatch of land where we were legit the only people - to the left after going over the bridge by Dino land. We got to the bus stop and waited maybe 5 mins before a bus showed up. This was another trend - we never really waited long for a bus.

Once at the hotel, the kids played a bit in the rooms and my DH and I relaxed on the bed. It was raining, but we all headed down to the pool. We spent the evening there, grabbing pizza from the pizza window at 6:30, and a cake from the bakery. The pizza was surprisingly good. We all enjoyed it, and it ended up being a staple of the trip. We stayed by the pool until about 8:30, before we headed up to get ready for the next day. We were doing HS, and we were anxious to grab a boarding group.

Thoughts for the day - mask usage seemed really high at AK, even with the rain. There was a family behind us in the Dinosaur line that walked and ate with their masks pulled down… but outside of that, we didn’t see much else. Masks weren’t as big of an issue as I had expected, either. My kids didn’t complain at all. In fact, we made the whole trip without a single complaint from my kids about having to wear a mask. Social distancing was easy to follow, and most people went out of their way to give space. I didn’t feel crowded or uncomfortable at all - and we are a family who has avoided any sort of large gathering/worn masks any time we actually go out since March. I felt good. I felt safe. We were in Disney and all was well.


Thank you for the trip report! I am very much enjoying following along. I love your DS6’s poses :joy:

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That’s his default pose, followed only by the ‘stare down the camera’ pose :joy: we couldn’t talk him out of it! He would run ahead of us, pause, and insist we take his picture. I have a lot of pics like these - he’s a real ham.


Day 3 - Hollywood Studios (Monday, 9/21)

We wanted to make sure we were close to the front of the line, and that we beat the busses and sky liner. So, we left the hotel around 8:15 and began our walk over. We really enjoyed the walk - it went by pretty fast and my kids had fun looking for alligators and snakes in the water (we did not see any). There was also this fish that seemed to follow you as you walked along this one area. It was pretty nutty - he followed us that morning, and then two separate times on our second HS day. It gave us a little smile along the walk. We only saw two other groups making the walk that morning, and passed two runners. Everyone kept their masks on the entire time except the runners, who held it up as they ran. We got to the line around 8:30/8:35. We were about 10 groups back. Each group stood about 6 feet away from the group in front of them, and the line started building pretty fast.

They opened temp check lines at 9:10, and although mostly everyone stayed in a line formation and filed forward, there was one group who rushed ahead and played cut-sies. We weren’t held long, and were through bag and ticket check by 9:15. Some people were jogging down towards rides, but we just held a fast-ish walking pace. Our plan was to RD MMRR, head over to the MF line and wait for the 10am BG drop. We got to the MMRR line at 9:20. We weren’t very far back in the queue at all. We had to wait a few mins before the line stated moving, but once it did, it went fast. We were on the ride at 9:41! I hadn’t watched any videos on what the ride was like, and was pleasantly surprised!

Next, we headed over to MF, and got in line at 9:56. We were actually pretty close to the front of the ride. I’m not sure if it was down, or if they weren’t letting anyone one until 10, but we didn’t move at all once we were in line. 10am was approaching, and my heart was starting to race. I stepped forward out of the line and asked my family to not come with me :rofl: I turned wifi off, and closed/opened the app. I hit ‘join’ a few times before it actually hit 10, because I found that the first time I’d hit ‘join’, it was super slow populating the next page. I watched the time on the phone, and hit it as fast as I could once it turned to 10:00. Success! We got group 42! I walked back to line and shared the news, and within a min the line started moving. We filed directly through the entire inside queue, and without any real wait we were on! It was just as good as last year.

We were off the ride by 10:18. We hit the bathrooms and grabbed some blue milks, which required us to stand to the side to enjoy. To me, it was a pass - but the kids really loved them. We decided to head over to ASS, which had a 40 min posted wait. At the point, everything had long wait times posted on the app. We got to the ride at 10:45, and the line was moving quick. We rode and were off by 11:01 - so just about a 15 min wait for a posted 40. At 11:05 we hit the TSM line, which had a posted 50 min wait. We were on the ride at 11:20, and back out in TSL at 11:26, making that a 15 min wait for a posted 50!

Everyone was hungry, so we put in an order at Backlot Express. We headed over, and there was a group of people waiting for their orders to be ready outside of the entrance. Most groups stayed away from others, but some definitely did not. The cast member who was checking ‘order ready’ statuses and letting those people through to the dining area repeatedly instructed people to distance, etc - but some just didn’t get the message :rofl: Our order was ready at 11:55. My burger was meh, and my kids chicken/ mac and cheese was good (they ate it all), but my husband’s Cuban sandwich was really friggen good. We also split a Wookie Cookie - another win in our book.

After eating, we headed to Star Tours. We got there at 12:25, and the ride had a posted 60 min wait. We were on the ride at 12:39. Just over a 10 min wait for a posted 60!

We walked off the ride and did a bathroom run, when our boarding group was called!

We headed right over. The line moved quickly, and we were off by 1:35. We absolutely loved everything about this ride. My younger kids thought it was real :rofl: We were very thankful we were able to get a boarding pass.

We grabbed some drinks, and sat and people watched. On our way out, we caught a character cavalcade.

We took the skyliner to Epcot, because my kids were dying to try it out, and then walked to BWV from there. We were back in the room and relaxing by 2:55.

Oh! While on the ride, the ‘lady’ kept dinging in and telling fun facts about the parks, etc. At one point, my DH reached behind/to the side and pressed a button, looked at us, and said ‘Look, I muted her’. Just then, a message played instructing us to press the button again if there was an actual emergency. He had pressed the emergency call button! We were dying laughing. I don’t know what he was thinking, and I swear he’s a very intelligent person… When we transferred at the CB station, we were met by 3 or 4 cast members, making sure we were ok and asking what had happened :grimacing: The rest of the trip, my DH was the butt of many a joke - well deserved.

We swam at the pool for a bit, and walked back over to HS about 5. We headed right to SDD, getting there at 5:29 for a posted 60 min wait. We didn’t get on the ride until 6:24 - making this the one and only ride over our entire trip where the wait time was both long and accurate. After that, we hit ASS again, which was a walk on, and took some magic shots on the way to our 6:55 reservation at droid depot. Chewie and Rey were both out right by the DD - fun surprise for my kids.

We checked in to our reservation, and by 7:10 we had picked our parts. We had to wait a bit to build, but we were done by 7:30. My kids really enjoyed this, and took building the droid very seriously.

We took our time walking out, as the park had officially closed, the sun was setting, and everyone was tired. We decided to take the skyliner again, as it had a line but was moving quickly. We got on just before 8 and enjoyed the night ride over. The line did stop a few times, making the ride a lot longer than earlier in the day. On our way back to the hotel, we grabbed some pizzas from the BW pizza window. Overall, a great day.


Sounds like another wonderful day! Could you tell me a little more about stepping out of line at MFSR? Is it even possible to attempt from being in line? Where did you step out? Did you walk back to the entrance or was their a little side spot for you to go? Note: I’ve never been in that queue, so I have no idea if it’s indoors or outdoors, or what.


The queue is inside and outside - although it didn’t seem as if they were holding people in the inside line (through the main building) on that particular day. We rode 3 times, and not once were we held in the initial inside building.

That particular day, we were standing in line just to the side of the MF.

I don’t have any good pics, but you can kind of see the spacers that go along the front of it if you look closely, and they continued down the side.

I just popped out of line (which, again, was not moving!), and stepped forward further in front of the MF. No one was really around me - most everyone else was either in line or off to a side looking at their phone, waiting to get a BP.

That being said - our second HS day, we got to the MF line (after RDing SDD), and there was no held line outside. We moved directly into the building. It was a little bit earlier, and I ended up having to bail while the rest of my family went on the ride. We made it all the way to right before you enter the room with the Holochess table, but at that point it was 9:52 and I knew I wouldn’t be off in time. I asked how I could exit the ride, and was sent down some back staircase. Made it out and was able to score another BG. There didn’t seem to be much consistency with the ride as far as when it started running, and where the line was held.

I would suggest not getting in line if you are within 20 - 30 mins of 10 am, and the line is already completely inside. If it’s outside and moving slow, not moving, or you are super far back (that line can get :no_mouth:), you are probably fine. Just be ready to bail if you need to, and make sure to give yourself time to get out and situated if you have to. Good luck! You already have more info and tips from this forum than most people have. Have a plan. Practice getting a boarding group, and make sure you ‘party’ is all set up :smiley::smiley:


:smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts: This is what it’s all about! Magic!


Thank you so much for the detailed info!! I realized after the fact, that I actually have Rider Seap to my advantage in this! We have DS2 and DS1 so my husband and I can’t ride together. My plan will be to send him in first, so I can hang outside with the kiddos for the BG.


I love that the lines are so much shorter than posted waits (which fits in with Len’s quote in the article I shared in another thread), but it does make planning tough! Some days it seems the wait times really are long. What day of the week was this?


This was a Monday! It seems so completely hit or miss. We went again on a Friday, and the lines for TOT and RNRC stayed pretty long the whole day - we waited 45 mins at 11am for TOT w/a posted 50 min wait - but when we went back later in the day, the line had a posted wait of 30 mins. RNRC was down to 25 mins. SDD was a posted 40.
I feel like a good goal is to split the park - hit one side in the morning, bail in the afternoon, and go back in the evenings when crowds have died down a bit. Overall, we found that regardless of which park we were in, the wait times were lower than what was posted, sometimes significantly. It really was a gamble. Looking at where the line was, and how fast it was moving, was usually our deciding factor.

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Day 4 - Magic Kingdom (Tuesday)

Hoping to catch an early bus like we did Sunday, we arrived at the bus stop about 7:45. There were a few other groups waiting as well, but we were able to grab a bench while I stood in line. The first bus came about 8:05, but was for AK. The second bus came right at 8:11, and we got on that one :tada: We are at the park and through temp check at 8:27. There were a lot of people arriving at that time, but the ticket lines moved fast. We did get caught up when my MIL got pulled for a bag check (for glasses case did her in), AND my hubby was also pulled (metal water bottles - which they did not tell us to remove, and had caused no issue at AK or HS…), but we arrived to line for splash at 8:40am… . Which was just a bunch of people awkwardly standing around. A cast member told everyone that the ride was not currently running, so we waited a few mins before heading to the line for BTMR - around 8:50. We were on the ride at 8:55 - basically walked right on.

After that, Splash was still down, so we headed over to Peter Pan. We arrived at 9:13, and basically walked right on - I forgot to check for a posted wait time.

Next, we walked back down by Splash. MDE was showing it was down, but the kids were insistent on checking - they were dying to ride. It was still down. We decided to hit Tomorrowland Speedway - grabbing this magic shot along the way :heart_eyes: We arrived at 9:33 and the ride was showing a 5 min wait. We were off by 9:39.

Buzz was listed as 5 min wait, and Space Mountain was showing a 10 min wait. Our group split - some going to Buzz, some Space, and some just grabbing a seat. My group arrived at Buzz at 9:44, and we were on the ride at 9:48. After the ride, we sat and had a snack for a bit. My DH and DS were only 7 mins behind us - they said they waited less than 5 for Space (our ride photos are time stamped 9:52 and 9:53). We almost got in line to grab some coffee (coffee was hard to come by, as so many carts and QS locations were closed) - but the line was horrifyingly long, so we bailed.

We saw that Splash was operating again, so we tracked back over. We arrived at 10:27, to a posted 45 min wait. We caught a cleaning cycle, and were still on the ride by 10:51 - so only about a 25 min ride.

After the ride, we ducked into the bathrooms, and checked out the store - which was completely devoid of any and all Splash merchandise :sob:. We decided to hit the ride again, and we were back in line at 11:17, with a 40 min posted wait. We were on the ride at 11:25 - not even a 10 min wait!!! Neither of our ride pics showed up. I put in ‘missing picture’ tickets online. Still waiting…

Once off the ride, we headed over to Main Street. We caught Jack at 11:45 - super fun, and my kids were so excited.

After that, we stopped to take some pics to the side of the castle (by the Sleepy Hallow Refreshments) - the photographer was absolutely amazing. His name was James, and he took his time, interacted, and was a real joy. In fact, we saw him again later in the week - and he remembered our group and went out of his way to say hi as we walked by.

Our group split at this point - with me, my DH and kiddos heading to Starbucks, and my MIL, BIL, and niece heading to the candy store. We stopped and grabbed some pics along the way.

The Starbucks line was BRUTAL. Moved so slow - my kids, who had not complained about waiting up until the point - and really made no complaints after this incident - slowly died inside, and let everyone around them know :grimacing: they were hungry, we hadn’t had lunch, and honestly - I died a little inside while waiting in that line, too. The coffee, cake pops, and cheese danish were worth it, and we were back to our normal selves. I don’t think it helped that while we were inside, still in line, two parades went by, and my kiddos were really able to see them. As we stood outside Starbucks with our food, eating while not mobile :upside_down_face:, another parade went by, and my kids got their smiles back.

We headed into the candy store after the parade, and met up with the rest of our group. Tried to get some more magic shots of the kids - but the kids were NOT having it, and the shots reflect this :rofl:

We headed back to the bus, where we did end up having to wait about 15 mins for one to arrive. However - we were the only ones in line, and the entire bus depot was basically empty except one family. It was weird.

We got back to the hotel, and swam a bit before catching a bus to Disney Springs for a 6:45 reservation at Raglan Road. The DS bus arrived shortly after we got to the bus stop, and we were the only people on the bus. We were through temp check pretty fast, and headed over to the World of Disney (no line to get in, but they were counting people at the door), where I grabbed a tank top, followed by the LEGO Store (were we did have to wait 5 mins before entering). My kids could stay here forever.

It was getting close to 6:45, so we headed over for our reservation. We were seated almost immediately (in a back corner away from the entertainment, but whatever!). Me, my DH, and my BIL ordered flights. We DH and I both got the steak - it was fantastic. My MIL got a raised pie, which she liked, and my BIL got the Shepard’s pie, which he loved. Overall, great food and we felt like they did a good job of distancing, etc. As we left, live entertainment was taking place outside the restaurant, so we watched a bit before heading back. At that point, it seemed like the crowds had grown quite a bit since we’d first arrived. Overall, it was a good day :blush: