Chewy, we're home for the holidays

The Cast

  • Me / Mom / Master Disney Planner
  • DH who goes along with the plan
  • DD 18 home for Christmas break (She goes to college in the town next to us, but we haven’t seen much of her during the semester)
  • DS 16 (who is home all the time but we never see because he is locked away in his room)

It’s been 5 years since we’ve been to WDW. (4 years ago we ventured to Disneyland on our return from Aulani; last year we tried UOR for the first time). Wanted to get another family trip to WDW since DD headed to college. Looked at spring break 2019 but decided we didn’t want to deal with the crowds. Hesitant to visit in the summer heat. Decided on holiday trip to see SWGE and I have always wanted to visit during the holidays.

December 26, 2019 – January 1, 2020

DVC Home resort: AKL ; Kilimanjaro Club level 1 bedroom (reserved on day booking opened)

Used UY 2018 points and most of UY 2019. Decided to select Club Level in case we could take advantage of the extra CLFP purchase. First time going during the holidays and worried about navigating big crowds. Our last trip was 5 years ago (Jan 2014 with CL 3).

Had some UY 2017 we had banked so sold those through Davids to help pay towards park tickets and airfare. Of course, other expenses found that money first.

Staying DVC, I wouldn’t normally consider Club Level.

First trip to Disney as a family (2008) , we stayed at Poly Club. It was great to have a place to go when the kids woke up extra early before DH. We packed some cereal to go for snacks and took advantage of food /beverage as we went back to resort throughout the day. Since then, whenever we travel non-Disney, club level is a strong consideration for the extra space and usually pricing works out especially if breakfast is not included in the hotel cost. Since we joined DVC in 2008, we haven’t seen a need for concierge level at Disney since DVC gives us more space and we can do food in our room.

Downside of AKL club DVC is you can’t select if Savannah view or not. We really wanted a Savannah view, but took the chance. There are so many other options to watch the animals around the resort.

AKL DVC SV option is limited – especially if you don’t want a walk in shower. Which we’ve seen bad reviews of HA shower issues.

We used TP room request option and ended up with Room 6202 - Savannah view with walk in shower. We didn’t have too much issue with the water all over the floor – as long as we kept the shower head off center so it was facing towards the back wall more.

Direct RDU - MCO

Southwest fares were much higher than we’ve had before. I wasn’t sure what to expect for Christmas travel – we normally don’t fly during the holidays.

Found Delta direct flight that was better timing for family. Normally don’t mind making the family take first flight in the morning, but decided to let them sleep in a bit. Had points through Chase Sapphire Reserve. Economy was gone. Delta Select (?) was about same price as SW. For the 4 of us, there was $500 difference in available business class and first class. Quickly figuring in the cost of 3 bags and the difference became closer to $400. Figured that was worth a splurge for the family since points would cover most of the cost. … Then Delta moved the flight earlier, but still later than the SW option.

However, regret buying SW tickets so early because they came down about $100-150 each over the next couple of months. Downside of planning early and not seeing any price changes before jumping in.

Touring Plan
Day 1 EP
Eat around Festival of the Holidays booths
FPP for Spaceship Earth, Test Track and Living with the Land.

Day 2 HS - using Club Level FP
Early arrival for RotR boarding group and standby for MFSR
Star Tours 8
RnR 9
ToT 10 (CL)
Oga’s ADR 11
Muppets 12:15 Tap and Run
Sci-Fi ADR 2:20
SDD 3:30 (CL)
TSMM 4:30 (CL)

Day 3 MK using Club Level FP
Buzz 9
Space 10
7DMT 11
Pirates 1
Skipper Canteen ADR 1:20
Jungle Cruise 2:30

Day 4
Alien Saucers 9:55
Frozen Sing-along 12
Star Tours 11
Jiko ADR 7:30

Day 5
Pirates 11
Space 12

Day 6 NYE using Club Level FP
AK in morning
FoP 9:30
Everest 10:30
Safari 11:30

EP for evening
FEA 4:30 (CL)
Biergarten ADR 5:45 to ring in Germany’s New Year
TT 7:30 (CL)
Soarin’ 8:30 (CL)

Day 7
FoP 9:30

Will follow up later with how planning went for us and impressions of visiting during the holidays.


Day 1 we already starting breaking plans.

Arrived at AKL Jambo and was greeted by a Kilimanjaro Club representative who walked us to the concierge checkin.
I asked the concierge CM what time buses started running for HS. He said 45 minutes before park open and mentioned we didn’t need to worry about getting there before park open since they didn’t open RotR BG until park open. Um, ok. I’ll go with my Liner tips since we also want to do MFSR too.

Grabbed a quick refreshment in the club area - it was between food services, but beverages were available. Then, headed to EP to start eating around the world. DH insisted we take a bag for jackets, so we had to do the bag line. Went fairly quickly as we looked for shorter lines and only had a couple of jackets in the bag.

Since our flight was changed to an earlier time after I made FPP,we had some time to enjoy WS before saying hello to the Phoenicians. We turned right entering WS and I knew Pod was working nearby after stalking his schedule. IFoundPod
I said hello but didn’t get a pic with him. My family thought I was crazy enough just saying hello.

Sometime during the afternoon, we decided to skip Living with the Land (although I do enjoy that ride) and I picked up the Pixar Shorts. There was very limited availability of FPP available in general. However, we decided we were done for the day and headed back to enjoy some time at the resort.

Walked around the resort a bit, enjoyed the night vision viewing, and grabbed appetizer and dessert in the lounge. I’m having withdrawals from the butterscotch chocolate brownies I enjoyed every evening.

Received turn down service for our room with our itinerary for the next day and few Ghiradelli chocolates. They did this nightly and we ended up with lots of chocolates to bring home as souvenirs.

DS16 and DD took showers in the walk-in and we succeeded in not getting the entire floor wet. During the trip that changed and we would sometimes find the water trickled into the sink area.

Early turn in after a few busy days before Christmas and an early rise for traveling. … Need to be up and out the door early for HS.


Day 2 HS - using Club Level FP
Early arrival for RotR boarding group and standby for MFSR
Star Tours 8
RnR 9
ToT 10 (CL)
Oga’s ADR 11
Muppets 12:15 Tap and Run
Sci-Fi ADR 2:20
SDD 3:30 (CL)
TSMM 4:30 (CL)

Waited until everyone was ready to walk out door to request Lyft. Nearest ride was 15 min away. Walked out and there was a taxi in front of Jambo House that could take us. Canceled Lyft. Arrive @ 5;05 by taxi (ride cost $15).
Went through no bag line. We had anything we needed in our pockets.
Stood at farthest right ticket booth- we were at the back of the booth so on the side closest to taps.
Lesson learned: prebook Lyft.

DD and I wore the matching ugly Star Wars sweatshirts she picked out. I also got R2D2 earrings in my stocking so I was dressed for the day.

Based on the forum threads tracking BG, I told family that we should expect taps to open about 5:30. @ 5:31 taps open
We moved into HS as far was we could and moved to right of crowd to make the wide left turn to GE.
At 6, DD and I started frantically refreshing MDE. I was on AT & T mobile. DD member was on WiFi and got in after me. Using the My status tip, I snagged Group 26. DD got orange just after me, so it may have been a matter of where we were in refreshing rather than wifi vs mobile getting the first option.
A dad and daughter next to us were still not getting orange to join a BG. I shared with him the tip to use my status and he got right in. I don’t remember what BG he had but I to him to expect to be called 1ish.

Walked briskly with the crowds, staying right , toward MFSR. So glad I didn’t have kids or anyone in a scooter/wheelchair to worry about in the crowd. Told my family to watch out for littles. DH asked if I have a whole new vocabulary from Lines.

Waited 26 mins until we were boarding our ship. DH & DD pilots. DS & I we’re gunners. Got 2 containers.

Headed to Docking Bay for breakfast. Made a quick stop in Droid Depot to purchase gift cards. You cannot charge to magic band. Got one for DS and DD. Figured we would find a way to spend the money somehow during the week.

Had some time before our first FPP of the day so heading to Alien Saucers. I had a FPP for that later in the week, but decided to wait in line since we would be able to do everything else we wanted that day thanks to having the additional club level FPP. Waited 30 min or less to ride.

Used FPP for Star Tours. Neat having Rise of Skywalker scenes added.

BG called at 8:47 so we headed back to GE. Really cool seeing GE by night and day.

Rode RnR and ToT with FPP. My sister is a huge Aerosmith, specifically Joe Perry, fan so we had to say hello for her. Club level FPP definitely worth the money to tackle HS tiers and avoid the holiday crowd!

Made Ogas ADR the day they were announced - thanks Liners! Had a standing spot at the bar so it was fun to watch the bartenders. We tried several drinks. Pricey but good and worth the atmosphere.

As it’s getting closer to 1 and the BG for the people we helped is getting closer, my daughter comments that they will probably be freaked out by my timing prediction.

DH not feeling 100% and DS wanted to go back to resort to escape the crowds a bit. Did a tap and run on Muppets for all before they left. (I love the Muppets so I tried hard to convince DD to go with me.) I was able to grade another RnR FPP for DD and me since we had used the 3 regular FPP by this time. Had no problem asking for earlier seating for SciFi lunch earlier for DD and me.

Coming out of RnR, it was raining. DD and I popped into the Lightning McQueen show. It was cute and super cheesy and a good time waster. Would be a must do for younger Cars fans. Then, we browsed shops while DH and DS are headed back for our last club FPP for SDD and TSMM.

My original plan is we would head back to resort for unwind for the evening, but family wanted to go to EP to eat. We were able to grab a table at Spice Road Table so we walked over.


We intended to do EMH but had a slow start to morning. Arrived 7:45ish.
Went “bagless” . Since we had on our raincoats, I rolled up a small backpack into my coat pocket. Did this on other days as well. After getting through security, I could pull back out of pocket and go on our way.

Headed to Space - which was down. Ugh! Why didn’t I check Liner reported times before walking over there. Got held at rope to Frontierland to ride BTMRR, but still in front of line. Rode BTMRR, Haunted Mansion and teacups (DH skipped because he doesn’t like the spinny rides). Caught Space open. Waited standby about 20 mins. Then, started our FPP for the day.

After riding Space a second time, we stopped for a snack at Lunching Pad. A poor bird flew into the window and laid on the ground. A family kept trying to touch it. Yuck! CM came and stood by it. It did get up and hop a bit.

We were wet - I think I had a few dry spots on they back of my shorts- because it was a rainy day, but we carried on and had a great morning. Good rain gear, warmer temps and a good attitude help make it a magical park day.

We were able to easily move up our Skippers Canteen lunch time. Thanks for the recommendation, Liners. We don’t normally do a TS in MK, but this was very yummy and a great escape from the park. We got an appetizer and 3 meals which was way more food than the 4 of us needed.

The table next to us were trying to make plans. They were having problems finding FPP. The mom of family next to us at lunch asked her family if they could just think about the day and worry about planning the other days later. DH saw the panicked look I gave.

Another successful day of using CLFP! We were done by 3 so did mobile order for Aloha Isle then headed back to resort for a much needed nap.

Grabbed a ADR for Yak & Yeti. Another good meal and nice to see AK decorated for the holidays. After the rainy day, the lights reflecting in puddles provided an extra sparkle.


Threw my 60 day plans out the window for the most part…

Slept in a bit then headed back to HS for FPP - decided to only do Star Tours. Don’t know if they are only do the one scene now , but we got the same ride we had the other day. Spent time walking around SWGE to try to take it all in, do a little shopping and enjoy blue and green milk. We all liked the blue milk better - seemed more berry/melon flavor where the green milk was more citrus. Love all the character interactions they do in GE.

We were going to head back to resort for a bit, but then we split up for a while.
DS headed straight back to resort.
DH, DD and I took the skyliner. EP line was down so we went to CBR then bussed to EP. They were comfortable on 70 degree mostly cloudy day.
At this point, DH is completely bought into Liner wisdom and is sharing RotR tips with others on the bus to EP.

We had plans to go to MK later in the day. DS asked on Day 2 to get his haircut in MK barber shop and I was able to grab a reservation for today. I was surprised by how reasonable the price was. (FYI: They book reservations for 2 out of 3 chairs. The 3rd chair is available for walk ups day of.)

DD asked to do all 4 parks in a day since we were already doing 2. So, once we arrived at EP, DH grabbed bus to resort and DD and I headed to WS for lunch. I grabbed the Little Black Magic drink at La Cava. Walked right in. It was only 1ish, but it’s 5 o clock somewhere! I didn’t look at the menu so I was shocked when she told me how much it was. Oh well, it’s vacation.

The, DD and I headed to AK. Timing didn’t work out for Animation Experience. I really loved doing that previous trips at HS. Decided to catch ITTBAB. Always a cute show and fun listening to crowd reactions.

I grabbed another FPP for Pirates so DH and DS met us there. Then, off for the haircut.

Back to resort for some wine in the lounge, a little animal viewing and some relaxation. ADR for Jiko for the evening. Huge splurge dinner but something we look forward to.

During dinner, family decided to attempt RotR again. I reminded them that our late, relaxing days they made decisions to get up early.

This time, I scheduled a Lyft for pick up the next morning.

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Enjoying your report! Looks like those extra club level FP’s were the way to go!

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The scheduled Lyft arrived at the end of the window.
Arrived @ HS and we were at windows of ticket booths @ 4:57.
At 5:30, the mass of humanity begins moving forward.
At 5:33 we tap and start our net wait.
now we wait again
We were closer to rope this morning.
Noone in our family had decent mobile connection and had difficulty connecting to wifi. We had guest experiences in our eyesight if needed. DH commented he was suprised my secret friends didn’t have the best spots mapped out. A few minutes before 6, we connected to wifi and had strong reception.

DH on cell got in first but could only add me.
Lesson learned: check MDE profiles for everyone in your group to make sure everyone is covered.
DH got BG 53 for me and him. I got in next on WiFi with DD shortly after. I got DD and DS BG 86. Started walking to GE and will worry about BG later.

Rode MFSR - we gave pilot positions to a couple riding for 1st time. As we exited GE, the line was out to the entry gateway with a 3 hour wait posted.

Found a GET who helped us move DD and DS to our BG.

Went to BWI for bakery breakfast and to see decorations. We headed back to HS but decided to continue to to MK for FPP. Walked by Muppets Great Moments in History just as it was starting. Insert Kermit arm flail here.

Got in our BTMRR and POC FPP. Asked GET if they could adjust our Space FPP earlier. She said go do RotR and come back if we miss space FPP - they could adjust. Since we weren’t sure when our BG would be called, we were killing time in MK. DS wanted to ride Splash so we got in line since it wouldn’t be open for EEMH. In line for about 20 minutes and our BG was called.

Lesson learned:
Park hopping with RotR BG is tricky.

Back to HS we go…
Rode RotR again.
DS wanted to spend some more time in SWGE shopping since he had gift card money burning a hole in his pocket.
I left DH, DS, and DD and headed out for some resort touring to check out the decorations. On the way out of HS, I asked HS GET if they could help. He ended up giving me 2 anytime FP for MK which we were planning to go back to later for evening EMH.
Made it to Wilderness Lodge. Love that lodge anyway but extra special with the decorations and gingerbread house was great. Wanted to see Poly, but had all intentions of going to Liner meet later that night. So, I headed back to AKL to meet family for a rest.

As we are heading to MK with EEMH to 2am, DH asked “do we leave there and head straight to HS to be first in line?” Family “No. Just no.”

Earlier in the day, I had grabbed an Under the Sea FPP because DD asked. Why doesn’t Ariel blink during that ride?
Then grabbed an FPP for MILF.
Used an anytime FPP for Splash.
Grabbed a snack at Pecos Bills via mobile order. The app wasn’t working as I was trying to tell them I was there. Walked right up to mobile order. The CM processed for us and then started laughing and saying she couldn’t believe she did that. Apparently there had been a mobile order for churros sitting in the system for 9 hours and she accidentally completed it. She was hoping to see how long it sat there.
Got our food, but DH hamburger was missing. She got his hamburger and gave us the churro order.

DS wanted to ride Splash again. He and DH headed there to use anytime FP. DD & I headed to BTMRR. Had some problem getting through because I also had a Dumbo FPP scheduled - because it was one of few FP available and we could ride for the nostalgia (even thought the ride isn’t the same). BTMRR CM was cool, but Splash CM gave DS and DH a hard time.

DD’s hip was bothering her so she wanted to go back to resort. I was tired and also very late for the Liner meet (plus didn’t want to deal with after fireworks crowds) so I went back with DD. Fireworks had started as we were walking out. We passed the main entrance hub which was wide open - nothing like the crowd scenes on NYE. We were able to watch a lot of the show as we walked to bus and waited for bus.

DS and DH heard the fireworks show. They were in held in the BTMRR queue while the show was on. They stayed for additional rides in a very low crowd park.


Headed to AK to get end of our FOP FP time. This was the only day we waited for the next bus. I tried to make sure a family that was at the bus stop before us got while people who had come late pushed their way one. While we were trying to get on the second bus, a large group barged on saying they were a large group and had to be together. However, when we got to AK, they had no problem leaving a lot of their group on the bus.
(The advantage of traveling at odd times. For most of our trips, there was plenty of room. A few buses with people filling the aisles… When you get on the bus, move to the back people!)

Um, the preshow. I had forgotten about Liners comments about the um preshow. Had to focus (pardon the pun) on how I was looking out of the glasses to have a clear view. Didn’t experience any nausea which I had worried about. Family liked the ride, but don’t think it’s worth a long wait pre RD or during park hours. I’m glad I could use a CLFP and not worry about trying to get FPP.

Headed straight to Everest for FPP. Thought about doing single rider which was posted 20 minutes, but decided to skip. Still like the ride, but DS not as big a fan as he once was.

We were thinking of getting a snack. DD had her eyes on the dumpling kiosk. However, we decided to check the Yak and Yeti wait. They were able to fit us right in. Advantage of going at 11 instead of 11:30. As we walked out there was a crowd waiting for tables.

Completed our Safari then decided to walk through Gorilla trail before heading back to resort. Really felt the crowds there. We let DS go ahead of us and head back to resort.

On the way out, DH and I shared a dole whip with rum at Tamu Tamu. Maybe I shoudl say rum with dole whip. DD had the Simba ice cream cookie sandwich which was huge.

We enjoyed? observing the crowds in EP for NYE. Having always visited in low CL times, it was interesting to see how long people are willing to stand in line for rides.

The entrance to WS through Mexico was shoulder to shoulder people then “thinned” out so there was some space between people. Makes us appreciate our previous trips even more.

Headed to Norway for our FEA FP. Maelstrom needed an update, but don’t think the Frozen characters are worth the long lines since it’s really the same ride.

We arrive to Biergarten to be seated before they rung in German new year.

DS was overwhelmed with crowds so he wanted to head back to resort.
Downside of CLFP… they were paid for and he didn’t use his TT and Soarin passes we had later. I was going to ask GET if they could help us use them somehow, but we were all worn out.

DH, DD and I use our CLP for TT and Soarin. Grabbed FP for Nemo then did as walk on. Debated staying for fireworks and fighting crowd back to resort or heading back to resort before midnight. Since we were getting cold, we headed back.

As we arrived to AKL, they had music and dancing in the lobby. Settled into room to watch MK fireworks streaming and we were able to view some fireworks out of our window. Guessing we had some MK fireworks view based on timing of what we saw and stream we were watching.


I booked this FP as soon as my 60 day window open. I grabbed the earliest FP I could get knowing it would be pushing to to get ride in at get back for our DME. When AK hours changed to earlier time, I checked to new FP, but didn’t spend much time trying to modify.

We ended up not using it. Maybe someone lucked out and got one day of when I canceled.

We had a relaxing morning at the resort then caught the tragic express home.

We had a wonderful time and made great memories. I’m glad we were WDW veterans. I will say planning was not as much fun this trip as previous trips. The unknowns of SWGE and the crowds complicated planning which Disney has made more difficult in general. If this was our first trip, I may have been our only. Thankful we had CLFP to make planning easier. CLFP did take away flexibility for modifying and getting additional FP, but during this week I don’t think FP were generally available. I think the longest line we waited in was close to 30 minutes. (Not counting the hour waits to get into HS.) Glad we missed the long lines for restaurants and restrooms.

Not sure when we’ll be back, but we will be back. See ya real soon.


I agree that all of the unknowns of SWGE put a damper on our trip as well. We were there 12/2-12/11 and having basically NO info about ROTR was stressful. It sounds like you were able to accomplish a lot despite the unknowns though!