Excited to write (and complete) my trip report this time! Last trip we did five days and I successfully reported four days, but my stamina petered out and, alas, I didn’t make it to the end. This time, with only two days, I don’t think we’ll have any problems.
General Trip Info
6 adults (My Dad = DD, My Mom = DM, My Sister = DS, My Brother-in-Law = BIL, My Husband = DH)
1 two and a half year old kid (My Niece = DN)
2 parks, MK and AK, over two days (Jan 19 & 20)
So the idea for this trip all began last fall when I double checked how long my sweet DN would be free at Disney. I realized we had about an 8 month window, so started gently suggesting that we take a short family trip. To accommodate work schedules, we decided we would go on a holiday weekend and risk the high crowd levels. We also decided we would only do MK and AK as those parks would interest DN the most.
As the family planner, I meticulously outlined all the details, budgeted everything and planned everything. It did not all go according to plan, but it all went perfectly. I think that is perhaps the most important lesson learned from this first big family trip.
Important things to note before launching into what we did and how we did it: BIL was (and I do mean was) a pretty reluctant participant. After looking at the pros and cons, the group decided to stay off property (which actually worked out beautifully). In general, all choices were made based on what DN would enjoy most.
Everyone except my DH and I arrived around lunchtime to MCO. They picked up the rental van, and at my suggestion headed over to the Grand Floridian for the Princess Promenade. DN had not been overly exposed to Disney characters and movies, but Cinderella was instantly a favorite for her. Though I did not experience it first hand, the pictures and the rave reviews from my family tell me that this is an experience not to be missed for any little Cindy fans. All of the little princesses gather to take a picture with Cindy and the Prince on the second floor of the GF. Then they walk down the grand staircase together while the band plays. Dads wait downstairs to greet the princesses and dance with them while Cinderella and the Prince dance.
Apparently it was absolutely beautiful (pics are adorable), and my DS and DM cried through most of the event. In the meantime, I was getting text messages while finishing up my workday.
To finish up their first afternoon, my DM texted me that they had decided to eat dinner at the GF. Apparently, they guard at parking had required them to get a reservation to enter (conference was going on so GF was busy. My anti-Disney BIL had gotten a reservation at 1900 Park Fare and suggested to everyone they keep the reservation instead of dropping it as originally planned… I texted back hesitantly that it was a character dinner, to which my DM replied “Oh he knows” with laughing emojis. Safe to say he was sucked in!
Dinner with Cinderella and company was a hit. They had an absolute blast and sent me pictures throughout. The step-family lived up to the hype and apparently Cinderella and the Prince were sufficiently lovey-dovey. I was surprised to to hear reports of the food being delicious. My parents are (like my DH and I) foodies with high standards, and I worried about them be critical of the buffet. They said all was delicious and they would certainly go back. (Good thing, because we were booked for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast on Monday).
DH and I arrived at MCO around midnight and successfully made it to the AirBNB without waking anyone up. I had briefed everyone on our early start and the need to place BOG breakfast orders in advance. People were reluctantly complying. As the planner int he family, they trusted me enough to know I knew best, but there was certainly a little backlash at first.
Our Day in Magic Kingdom
A note on Crowd Levels: We were originally predicted a CL6 (if memory serves) when we booked the trip. During what I am now calling Crowd Level Scandal 2019, it was raised to a CL8. According to TP data, we experienced a CL10 - and passed with flying colors! This day is proof that the CL does not matter. It is all about doing your researching, knowing your tools, and having a plan.
We arrived at the TTC at about 7:20 - a little later than I wanted. We had to wait for the resort monorail to circle us around to Magic Kingdom and arrived at the taps just after 8. If you are taking a little one to Magic Kingdom for the first time, I cannot stress this enough. Have a camera in front of the kid to capture that face the first time they see the castle. She could not have been more excited, and it was just the best reminder to all involved of why we were there (cue DM, DS, and me too this time… crying).
After that little moment, I gently reminded everyone that we really did need to be moving a little quicker to get back to our PPO BOG reservation. We had three separate reservations - one at 8:15 and two at 8:25. They let us all in together at 8:15. If we had been there earlier (as I originally wanted), they would have let us all in earlier too.
As we got in line to enter beast’s castle, my family noticed the line of people to the right who had not ordered in advance. They asked me what that was, and I explained. That little moment built a little more trust in me as their fearless and knowledgeable leader for the weekend.
We easily found a table in the ballroom, and then took DN to see the rose (not a fan of the thunder or the darkness in the West Wing). When we came back, I was surprised that we hadn’t gotten any food yet. I was antsy but waited patiently. Most of our food arrived about 8:30, but at 8:40 we were still waiting for another order. I tracked down someone to ask, and they finally sorted it out, delivering the food at 8:45.
Now - here’s where the TP Forum training kicks in. Have a problem? Something wrong? Just as a CM and give them the opportunity to pixie dust it away.
I explained to the CM that the 30 minute wait for food had significantly eaten up our time. We would likely not make out of the restaurant in time to beat the 9AM crowd from the castle. She was very understanding and comped everyone a fastpass to be used on everything except (this part is important) 7DMT. I pressed to get that included (as that’s what we were heading to ride) but stopped as my brain caught up. DH and I were the only ones still eating, we could probably still make it in time, and then we could use the new FPs on meeting Mickey.
I smiled nicely, thanked the CM, and put the plan in motion.
Once the CM left, I clued in my family as to why I stopped pressing for the 7DMT pass. We finished up our breakfast and zipped out of the restaurant. Those of us riding, including DN, hurried ahead. My BIL was a little reluctant to rush. My DM and DH totally understood. DD and DS were not riding. Just as we stepped into the very short line for the ride, by BIL turned around and said “Holy Cow”. Right behind was the massive RD crowd. I just laughed and said, “get it now?” We looked over to see DD and DS noticing the same thing.
DN loved the ride. She had ridden roller coasters before and enjoyed this one too. The only thing she wasn’t a fan of was how loud it was through the indoor parts of the ride. This would prove to be a running theme throughout the day. She has a dog that is scared of loud noises so we think that is why she has decided to take on that particular fear just recently. Overall though, it was a very positive first experience, and she said that it was fun!
After 7DMT, we went over to ETWB. I had never done this one before, but was so looking forward to doing it with DN. I loved the set up for the attraction. When it came time to cast roles, we successfully volunteered DH and DD to be the suits of armor. DN happily had a non-speaking role as a salt shaker. It was such a cute experience that everyone enjoyed.
Side note: Thanks to the liner who gave me the photo tip. Instead of loading the photos from ETWB ourselves, I waited until we were at the Town Square Theater to have a photopass CM scan the card and only load the photos of our family members.
A successful RD morning led us back to Dumbo and some characters. DN had loved meeting Cinderella, and this would be her first time with the one of the “fur” characters. She absolutely loved meeting Pluto and Daisy (Minnie was at Town Square because of the 90th Birthday Celebrations) and then wanted to meet Goofy and Donald. We did these too as well in place of doing the Barnstormer.
After our time in the little circus area, we made our way back toward the castle for a ride on the carousel, some pixie dust (the kind that only fairies can see - since she is under 3) at Castle Couture, a peek at the mosaics in the castle, and a rid on IASW. Though we had not planned to stop for lunch at this point (we originally planned a late lunch/early dinner only), people were a little peckish.
Knowing my family, I had done lots of food research so that I would have a general idea of what snacks and restaurants were nearby at any given time. DM and I are pescetarian, so I suggested CHH. I impressed the group again with the mobile order feature, and we settled into a very busy lunch (we were accidentally eating at peak lunch time).
Liberty Square, Frontierland and Adventureland always seem a bit busier to me because of they are just more compact areas. So when we got to this space, this was the first time we started to feel the CL10. Luckily we had FPPs for Splash (our last prebooked one). So DH, DM, BIL and I zipped right past the 185 minute wait and enjoyed what I think is the best ride in WDW.
DD and DS had planned to ride Magic Carpets with DN, but it was having some maintenance issues and DN was napping in the stroller, so they just found a shady spot to wait for us.
We visited the Tiki Room next. I mobile ordered some Dole Whips to enjoy while watching, and then visited BIL’s one request - the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.
Finally, it was time to watch the parade. With everyone gathered for the parade, I finally got to see what a CL10 looked like. We did not have ideal viewing, but we were able to pick a spot on the Tomorrowland side of the hub about 20 minutes prior. I had never seen the parade before and really enjoyed it (sad the dragon isn’t back yet). Then directed everyone to go toward main street.
We stopped in the little side street to get a silhouette cut, and then headed to meet Mickey.
Here’s where what the CM at BOG told us about our anytime FP gets important: We saw the hour long wait for Mickey and Minnie and happily walked to swipe our FP only to watch the tap not turn green! This CM told us that 7DMT and Mickey were not included with the FP. While waiting for the parade, I used the refresh and modify trick to get everyone Pooh FPPs for after dinner (ya’ll those tricks are the best!), and those were the only ones showing.
I pushed a little bit but could tell that this CM was not budging. My family looked dejected, DD even suggested just waiting the hour, but I told everyone to sit tight while I walked across the square to guest relations. The line was a little long, but all desks had CMs available so it went quickly. I explained (calmly and with a positive attitude) that we had not been told that our FP would not work at Mickey. So my whole day I had booked FPs accordingly, never searching for a Mickey FP because we planned on using the one that was comped at BOG. It literally did not take any pressing at all. In less that 10 minutes the wrong was righted and we were back at the taps for Mickey and Minnie. This time the the taps turned green, and pixie dust ruled the day again. It was finally, at this point, that BIL looked at me and said “I still think you’re crazy, but I get now.”
After a successful meet and greet with the mouse, we headed for our little break from the park. My parents have always wanted to stay at Wilderness Lodge, so I had planned for us to eat at Geyser Point. It worked out very well. The food was absolutely delicious, and it was a wonderful way to take a break from the park without going all the way back to our off property AirBNB.
While eating, I used to the modify and refresh trick to adjust our Pooh FPs. Then, once everyone was full and fairly rested, we headed back to park, into what clearly was an obvious CL10.
Despite the crowds, we decided not to spend our time staking out a spot for HEA. We instead made our way back to Pooh and rode the honey pots. We did have a bit of trouble finding a spot for HEA but were able to get a spot standing right near the archway to Tomorrowland - not ideal, but we could see the castle just fine (albeit from the side) and Tinkerbell flew right over us (which is DM’s favorite moment in all of Disney).
While waiting for the show to start, I booked FPs for the Mad Tea Party.
We waited a bit after fireworks for the crowds to start moving and then headed to the tea cups. The four riding adults and DN all shoved into one cup… I’m not sure it would have spun even if we tried. I think we weighed it down so much it was simply moving a bit slower than the other cups!
We made our way to TL after the teacups and finally used that FP from BOG to ride Buzz. I am still terrible at this ride and came solidly in last place, but we all giggled at the pictures.
We ended the night with six adults shoved into the People Mover. DN laid across our laps and fell asleep as we zipped around Tomorrowland. She only woke up at the AirBNB to ask for pajamas.
Luckily, only DM and I would have an early start the next day