As a longtime admirer of any and all trip reports, and a recent newcomer to the Forum (but longtime user on Lines), figured it was time to contribute my own trip report!
* DH - Someone who tolerates my WDW obsession quite well ; we've been going together since our first trip and first half marathon in March 2010
* Me - My family took my late sister and me to WDW for the first time in July 1994, but we didn't return until I was in college in 2005. From there, our trips were almost annual or twice yearly. I believe this trip marked my 10th visit (where's my commemorative jacket?!)
* DS3 - this was his second trip to WDW (the first was in November 2017)
* My parents - 60-somethings who've gone several times with friends and family. And pro babysitters for DS3.
Monday, Feb. 27
While we were going with my parents, we weren't really going with them. They weren't able to snag a spot at Pop (where we stayed), so they stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms at AoA. They also had a different flight to MCO, which worked out great, as they were able to take us to the airport and then split the cost of parking between us.
We're TSA PreCheck members, which is a great program I recommend for anyone who travels frequently to MCO (or DEN - we frequent both, and both have dismal security lines, so it made sense for us. And, DH's work paid for his, so even better). We breezed through traffic to STL much more quickly than we anticipated (we thought there'd be more morning rush hour traffic), so we had a good amount of time to kill in the terminal. Terminal 2 in STL has seen quite a few improvements over the past five years, but it's still nowhere near as nice as many other airports. SWA is the largest airline at STL, but they haven't always been, so their assignment to Terminal 2 doesn't really fit their size anymore. Still, with a little one, you don't need much to do...just a good space to run around in, which we had.
Flight was great, and we didn't have a long wait for DME at MCO when we landed at 1:25 p.m. I will always find it fascinating, however, the number of confused folks at the DME kiosks...so many folks on the phone trying to figure out things as simple as their flight #, or seeing if a family member is already there...
Once we were on the bus, we did a check-in with DS3, as the flight ran right into his nap time. We kind of knew our plans for the evening (just a handful of attractions at MK), were going to be game time decisions because nap time was skipped, but wanted to see how he was holding up. He seemed tired, and we knew if we didn't get a meal in at Pop, we'd be toast. We also received our room ready text on the bus, which didn't meet our faxed request at all, so we were slightly bummed. However, the location we were given worked out great for us, which I'll explain later. As soon as we got off the DME, onto the Everything Pop food court for lunch!
Tables in Wonderland (which we purchased last trip), works great for our dining habits, which includes Everything Pop. I got a roasted chicken kids meal for myself (side note - I'm finding myself ordering more and more kids meals for myself on these trips...I'm a bit of a foodie, and I like to try a lot of different things at WDW, so this makes more financial and portion sense.) DS3 nibbled on chicken nuggets (not his favorite) and DH ate a pepperoni pizza. Everything Pop is not our favorite place to eat, but we've stayed at Pop enough to figure out what works for our taste buds.
Nourished, we then headed to our room...allllllll the way in the 90s! I've been staying at Pop for over a decade, but have never even ventured over to that side of the resort, At first, we were pretty disappointed (we wanted a top floor, lake view room in the 70s, so we could enjoy fireworks with our "Pop Century balcony"...more on that later), but once we got to our room, we were, indeed, top floor with a lake view...through the Computer Pool courtyard, but a lake view nonetheless. As the week went on, we relished this location. It was quiet, close to transportation (we cut through the parking lot) and we were able to see a ton of DHS fireworks after we put DS3 to bed. These rooms were renovated after we left, so it was kind of fun(?) to stay in the old, badly-need-of-updating rooms one last time.
DS3 snuck in a quick nap, and I unpacked our carry-on bags and Garden Grocer order. Bell Services forgot the yogurt, which they didn't retrieve until the next morning after several phone calls of "Hey, where's my yogurt?" , but everything else was there. Garden Grocer works great for our family, as it gives us cheaper-but-tastier beer for our kiddo-is-asleep-but-we-aren't-ready-to-call-it-a-night balcony time, as well as fresh fruit at prices that don't make you want to strangle Mickey with your banana peel.
Our FP+ return times started at 5 p.m., so DH and I woke DS3 so we could get in a little MK time before the day ended. He was a little out of it, but nothing a little time in the stroller couldn't fix.
DS3 is a bit of a thrill-seeker, and when we knew he would be tall enough to try the Barnstormer this trip, we started the prep at home...on-ride videos, talking about the noise/senses/etc., and he was ready! Despite skipping a nap and already having a big day of travel, our little dude had no hesitation as he took his place with me in Row 1. He kept his thumb in his mouth for the ride, but he loved it and wanted to do it again. Knowing our other FP+ plans for the night (Space Mountain and Buzz), but how we'd be back at MK a few times, I gave up our 7DMT FP+ for later in the week for a Barnstormer pass. DS3 took it in stride, and we did Dumbo, then RS'd Space...where the wheels started to come off the track for the little dude. A little Incredibles Dance Party soothed the tired toddler, but it didn't last long, so we knew we needed to head back to Pop. Of course, we had to get in one ride on the family-favorite PeopleMover, but then back to the hotel for a full night's rest. The parents arrived while we were in MK, but wanted to settle in before our full day tomorrow, so we said we'd see them at DHS for RD.
Once DS3 was asleep, it was time to christen the Pop Century balcony! We brought out the room's desk chairs, popped open a bag of Spicy Doritos and sipped on Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizens. I highly recommend this experience to any parent. You still get the kiddo to bed on time, but you also get a little alone time. Just don't make it that kind of alone time...it is Disney, after all.
More to come!