ARRIVAL DAY 1 – HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Up before the crack of dawn for our 8:35 flight, everything goes smoothly. All of the kids are whining but we are on our way! I keep my eye on the prize! I am feeling so much stress from the chaos of the previous week. I need to shake this now. We land just before 11am and we go straight to the Magical Express queue. We are in the bubble now with magic bands on. I’m in my happy place and feeling calm but excited.
We check in at AOA. I have already checked in online but DH and I couldn’t remember what pin we used for our magic bands previously so we want to set that up again. I also wanted to check on my room request. I sent the TP room request fax 4 days before so I was curious to see if it worked. We are going to be on the correct floor and building so I feel positive. I just didn’t want to face the pool so we will see when our room is ready. Fingers crossed. We head to Landscape of Flavors for lunch. I had already anticipated that this would be chaotic and it was. I appreciate the selection of foods but it is overwhelming with 3 kids and DH going in different directions. The kids are absolutely crazy at this point, understandably. I had already decided what I wanted for lunch but they didn’t have it now so I am trying to make a decision, while holding an armful of refillable mugs, kids literally running circles around me, and DH is heading in another direction. This is reality, folks! We get our food and pay finally but I am left with a sad looking piece of pizza when there were so many better looking options. We move on! We had our swim suits with us but the sky was looking iffy so we walk the resort. The grounds at AOA are amazing! I thought it would feel very cheesy and kid-centric but I am truly impressed. The kids love it! And, honestly, I do too. I’m in Radiator Springs, ka-chow! Even the landscaping is perfect. It’s starting to sprinkle rain now and I am growing a little concerned about our evening in HS. We get the text that our room is ready! We get to our room and it’s facing the pool, arghh. It’s at the end of the hall so maybe it won’t be too loud. We get to our room and it’s…ok. It’s smaller than I imagined. Last year, we stayed at AKL and it was amazing. We were spoiled. AOA just doesn’t live up. I didn’t expect it to be grand, by any means, but we are a little disappointed. It looks a little shabby, faded, and dusty? I don’t know if it is just a poor choice of carpet colors, cleaning not up to par, or if it’s because so many small children are in and out but it just looks more worn than I expected. Did it work for us, yes. Would I recommend AOA to friends, maybe. Would we stay here again, probably not. I would rather get a little more for my money. Plus this resort is so so crowded with young families that it’s a little overwhelming. I know we are also a young family but it’s my vacation, too, and I could use less “MOMMY! MOMMY!” coming from every direction.
And…it’s raining. Again, this is reality! The rain slacks off just in time for us to head to the buses and go to HS ahead of schedule. The kids are complaining that we have to leave instead of go swimming. (This will be an on-going theme) This will be our only time at HS so I am really hoping the rain will stay away. Spoiler - it doesn’t. We get to HS at 4:30 and have a little time before our first FPP. An adult drink sounds like a really good idea right now. I head to Dockside Diner with DD4 and DH takes the boys to a stand to get slushy drinks. The paper straws completely fall apart in the slushies. No fear! I have contraband plastic straws to save the day! Hee, hee. The drinks, the music, this is a good moment. Next up, FPP for Star Tours. DH and DD4 were on the fence for this one because DH gets motion sick easily but both decide to do it. I just love this ride. DS7, not so much. He just keeps repeating, “I don’t want to do this anymore!”. Uh oh. I currently have set up TOT, SDD, FOP, BTMRR FPPS and so on for DS7. He rode EE last year and loved it. He was a little dare devil! I’m not sure what happened but he’s terrified now and I know in this moment that he’s not going to ride anything more extreme than Star Tours. I will have to rethink some plans on the fly but I feel confident I can make it work! We eat at Backlot Express. It wasn’t too crowded which was great. I generally do not like eating QS because of the crowds but this was pleasant. We got out first “challenge” cupcake, the celebration Mickey cupcake, and it was terrible. I had read reviews that is was bad so I don’t know what I was thinking. It was like eating a tasteless marshmallow. Bleh. Now was when I had planned for DS7 and I to do TOT. DS7 takes one look and says, “no way”. DS9 is scared to do drops so he’s out. I go to TOT alone (not a bad thing!) and DH takes the kids to the Lighting McQueen show. It’s full-on raining now but we miss the worst of it while we are inside the attractions. Lucky so far! I meet everyone in the Cars area outside the McQueen show. DH says the show and the animatronics were impressive. The area outside, however, seems so boring after touring the Cars area of AOA. The kids are complaining and arguing because they are tired and now wet.
We head back toward Toy Story Land. I had plans to take DD4 to the Frozen Sing-A-Long but she is doesn’t want to go and acts like she is genuinely afraid. I have no idea what this is about but we skip it. Right now I am thinking what is up with my kids?!? Are they playing some kind of opposites joke on me?! DH and the boys do TSM and we all meet up at the exit. It is now 7:30ish and our FPP for SDD is at 8. We decide to hop in the AS2 queue. It’s a 30 min wait but not a terrible queue. This ride is very cute, fun, but short. We save the best for last - SDD. We had a FPP for myself and DS7 with the plan to get a rider swap for DH and DS9. DS7 does not want to ride now. We talk him into riding it because he has wanted to ride SDD for a year now and this is his only chance this trip. I will regret this decision because he ends up hating it. The CM was very nice about the rider swap and says that DS9 can go on now and ride twice. DS9, who was afraid to do any rides with drops, LOVES SDD and now wants to ride ALL the biggest rides. This is not in the plan!?!? Now re-planning in my head - I can just reverse the plan. That will work! It’s Disney! It’s magic! Poor DH comes off of SDD green. It was too much for him. In all fairness, it was more intense than I thought it would be. It’s not a thrill ride by any means but it IS intense if you are not a thrill seeker. We are done with this very long day. Back to AOA to unpack and sleep.