Daughter's 21st Birthday Trip Report

One of the best features of this subscription is this forum and reading all the trip reports. I found this site so very helpful in planning my daughter’s special trip so as I’m sitting here on our last day of this trip, I thought I’d share my trip report. I’m traveling with DH, DD21, and DD17 11/13 - 11/18. This trip was planned around July to celebrate my daughter turning 21 on 11/13. We decided on Saratoga Springs due to the proximity to Disney Springs and we also got a really good deal renting DVC points through David’s. My daughter’s and I flew in via Southwest Airlines from Texas and DH decided to drive and meet us since he’s so paranoid about getting COVID at Disney and not be able to fly back home for work. We had originally planned on arriving on 11/14 but Southwest changed our flights which would’ve had us arriving on our 1st park day late in the afternoon. I couldn’t justify paying for a park ticket for only a couple of hours so we decided to fly in late on Friday 11/13. I booked a room for our first night at the Hilton Buena Vista at Disney Springs since DH was going to be arriving at 4pm and he wanted to be at Disney Springs while waiting for our flight to come in at 10pm. This turned out perfectly. When DH brought us to the hotel, DD21 had a cake from Amorette’s waiting for her along with a charcuterie board and bottle of wine from Wine Bar George. What a great welcome! DH did good.

Day 1 Magic Kingdom. We woke up at 5am, out of the hotel at 6:45am and at the Contemporary by 7:00 am. We placed our mobile order while driving over but it took a while before our food was ready. BTW, I was worried that mobile ordering wasn’t going to be sufficient in getting us through the gate so I did have an ADR for The Wave, which we originally had every intention at eating at until the park hours changed from a 9am opening to an 8am opening. Also, every guard checked for ADR’s at every resort we visited. Anyway, we finished breakfast pretty quickly since none of us liked our food and walked over to the park. It was a quick walk through temp check and taps. We were in the park at 7:55am. I was instantly relieved at how light the crowds were since we got there later than I planned, but I followed the touring plan to a tee that morning and it worked out perfectly. We rode everything we planned for that morning without waiting no more than 10 minutes per ride. We finished the first part of the day with lunch at Skipper’s Canteen where DD21 got to order her first drink before heading back to Saratoga for our check in. I love how I was updated throughout the morning of the status of our room through the MDE app. As soon as we left the park at 2pm, I received a notification that our room was ready. We unpacked and napped until 5pm, then headed back to the park to see the castle at night. The park felt so much more crowded. We had 3 rides left on our touring plan but decided to skip 2 of them, one of which was 7DMT. We’ve ridden it before and decided it wasn’t worth the posted 60 minute wait. We decided instead to just enjoy a walk around the park at night. We had an 8:30pm dinner reservation at Morimoto’s so we headed back to our hotel to walk over to Disney Springs. We checked into the restaurant at 8pm and we were seated immediately. This was hands down the best meal we had during our entire trip. Worth every penny! Afterwards, we walked through a very crowded Disney Springs with lines outside almost every store. We decided to call it a night and headed back to Saratoga.

Day 2 Animal Kingdom. We decided to take the bus over for a 7am opening, hoping we would be ahead of the crowds. The bus arrived at 6:30am, getting us into the park by 6:55am. We were not ahead by any means. We decided to nix the touring plan since it had us getting on A bugs life first, but I was hoping that we would already be off FOP before the 7am opening so that we could follow the plan, but that didn’t work out. Anyway FOP was about a 20 minute wait. After optimizing, it had us getting on Navi, but DH needed to eat. So we had some breakfast at Pongu Pongu. By the time we were done, Navi had a crazy long wait so we skipped it and headed to a bug’s life with no wait, then Dinosaur, then EE, an early lunch at Satuli’s, dole whip with rum at Tamu Tamu, fries at Mr. Kumals then we decided to call it a morning and headed back to the hotel for a nap at 11am. We drove back to AK at 3pm, rode KS, Gorilla Falls, drinks and snacks at Nomads before getting in line for Navi at 5:30pm. Posted wait for Navi was 55 minutes, but touring plans stated 28 minutes. I convinced my family that TP has yet to fail us and that we would be off the ride by 6pm and out of the park for our 6:35 reservation at Sanaa. DH wasn’t falling for it so had me check for a later reservation. After 25 minutes in line for Navi, I began getting nervous so I frantically kept modifying for a later reservation praying for a later time for Sanaa. I was able to change it to 8:45 right before the line began moving faster. We were off the ride by 6pm and in the car by 6:15pm. After giving DH a hard time with all the “I told you so’s”, we headed to dinner at Sanaa. Luckily, I was able to join the 55 minute waitlist and cancel my 8:45 reservation. Dinner was amazing just as we remembered from last time. It was pouring rain by the time we were done around 8:30pm, so we headed back to the hotel.

Day 3, Hollywood Studios. This is only park that the family was more than willing to get up early for. We got up at 6:30am, got BG 2 for ROTR! Thanks for all the tips guys! I used fast.com to check for speed while DH used time.gov for the countdown. We were out the door at 7:30 and at Trattoria al Forno by 7:45. Breakfast was delicious! We began our walk over to HS at 8:20, and in a short line for temp check at 8:35. Temp checks began at 8:45, security and taps at 9:15. We walked on MMRR and MFSR before 10am. We explored Star Wars land before being called to board ROTR at 10:15. My family loved it! I thought it was pretty cool, but I prefer the thrill rides. The family refused to leave Star Wars land and insisted on spending the entire day there, but I wanted to follow the touring plan. So after some discussion, we compromised on RNR, TSMM, break at Baseline Tap before heading back to Star Wars land. I had to give up SDD and TOT in the negotiations. So back to SWGE to explore every square inch, nook and cranny of the land, eat lunch at Docking Bay, get some drinks at the Milk Stand then hit the bar at Oga’s cantina before DD17’s reservation at Savi’s workshop at 6:50pm. While DD21 and DD17 were at Savi’s, DH asked if I would like to go ride SDD. Yes!!! We raced over there but the line was well past Muppets so we skipped it. We headed back to wait for the girls in front of Savi’s, then headed out of the park at 7:30 to head over to DS for dinner at Frontera. DS was much less crowded and Frontera was really good. After dinner we walked through some of the stores before walking back to Saratoga.

Day 4, Epcot. We had planned on eating breakfast at Topolino’s but decided that sleep was more important. I decided to wait to cancel the reservation until we got to the Riviera because I still wanted to ride the skyliner into Epcot. So we headed over at 9am, grabbed coffee and a snack while there, then walked over to the skyliner. They began boarding at 10am, we were in the park at 10:30. We headed to TT then soarin, 10 minute wait for each then began our eating and drinking around the world beginning in Canada. By the time we got to Mexico we were feeling pretty good, so we rode Nemo and Spaceship Earth then headed back toward Mexico then Italy for our dinner reservation at Via Napoli. This is one of DH’s favorite pizza places so I made sure to include it. It was now after 8pm, so we slowly made our way back to the skyliner and back to our hotel.

Departure Day. DH loaded up the car and is getting ready to make his 2 day trek back home. We are now doing some last minute shopping at Disney Springs before heading back to Saratoga for the MDE to take us to the airport. Disney did an awesome job with social distancing and mask compliance. The only downside to this trip were the lack of shows and fast passes. Lines and crowds were greatest mid day. Overall, this was a great trip. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it if my girls were a lot younger. DD21 thoroughly enjoyed being carded throughout the trip. I’m so glad she didn’t choose Vegas!


Thank you for the report! I was just thinking about Morimoto’s this morning! Your report has me adding it to my June plans!


Sounds like a great time was had by all! Happy birthday to your DD!


Loved the report! I just texted my DD19 to ask if she would like to go to Orlando for her 21st! I think she’ll choose Universal over WDW. The idea of getting her first “legal” drinks there w/ me sounds like a blast. (I’m not naive enough to think she hasn’t had a couple on her own at college!)

I also appreciate you letting us know about security checking ADRs at the gate and letting know about the disappointments. (Too often people just want to share the highlights / Instagram moments)

Hope you hang around even though your trip is done!


My DD20 has said she would like to go to WDW for her 21st. Unlikely since she’s planning to be in Ireland next spring for study abroad and her birthday is in February!


Great job! What’s your secret? Did you join from the Home Screen or the My Queues Page?

Morimoto’s is a must-do for us, too!

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I used fast.com to check my internet vs wifi speed. Internet was faster so I used that and DD17 used wifi. We were both logged into the same account on the app. We both hit join from the home screen while DH did the count down using time.gov


@sara5315 - I saw my daughter last night & her reaction to a 21st in Orlando was “OMG! YES!” :grinning: Thanks for the idea. Luckily I’ve got 2 years to plan it out!