First time trip report

Here is my attempt at a trip report. Visited the world 1/26 - 2/2 with a split stay at Poly and WL. Me, DW and 2 boys 5 and 6. Take my opinions with a grain of salt.

  • My boys had a great time. We pushed them pretty hard. Up early around 6:30-7 almost everyday and several nights to close with an EMH evening returning close to 11pm. No naps. We pushed them around in a stroller, which allowed them to do more. Some might judge me for pushing school age kids around in a stroller but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. So much easier to navigate the parks and keep the kids energy levels up.

  • I don’t know how some families bring babies to WDW. A lot of work. I’m glad I waited until my youngest turned 5 and don’t think I’d bring kids much younger than that. My 5 year old just hit 44inches so was able to do almost all the rides. But I think he lacked the understanding of some of the subtleties Disney offers that older kids can appreciate. I think my 6 year old in the first grade is the perfect age. But I also recognize there is something priceless about watching a young kid interact with characters they think are real.

  • Don’t judge too harshly but I think I’m that guy pushing the stroller everyone complains about. But man I can navigate the parks quickly. I’ll throw my teenage kids in there if I can get away with it. Be gentle. . .

  • With the exception of the 1/27 rainout parks were much more crowded than I anticipated. I found TP estimates to be off both at the time we booked months ago and even after the January update. Loved that rainout day. Everything walk on if you can put up with the rain.

  • I also found the TPs themselves not to be of much help while in the parks because TP underestimated wait times at many rides when I customized and evaluated pre-trip. We ended up adjusting our plans on the fly while in the parks based on TP and WDW posted wait times.

  • FPP modify works great. I’m a big fan of booking FPP as early as possible and picking up more the rest of the day. It amazed me how thousands of people could wonder around aimlessly and wait in line while we picked up fast pass after fast pass. Just bring a battery backup for your cell phone because my battery would be dead after a couple hours.For 8 days in the parks with some CL 7 and 8s we only waited more than 30minutes for 2 rides - Buzz Lightyear and ToT.

  • I know it’s a lot of money but EMM at TSL and Fantasyland are great ways to knock out a bunch of rides and get an early jump on different areas of the parks. Of the two I recommend TSL more because of the difficulty of riding SDD multiple times. You could handle the fantasyland rides more easily with FPP unless you just want to ride 7D only. Next time I may try After Hours as I think our boys could handle the later hours.

  • I liked doing the split stay at Poly and WL. If you don’t mind packing up for an hour in the middle of your trip a great way to break up the vacation and enjoy different themed hotels. Very easy to drop bags off at bell services and have them move them to your next hotel for a modest tip.

  • My boys like Poly better because it had a bigger waterslide. I think they liked swimming better than the parks.

  • We spent three days at MK which was probably one day too many. We visited each park during the day and night except for HS. No night visit at HS which I regret. All the parks at night are great but Pandora and Tree of Life at AK are exceptionally cool.

  • I found HS the most difficult to manage. Probably because crowds were much higher than TP predicted we didn’t accomplish everything we wanted to. Jedi training full by 10am. Character meets very crowded. Walkways packed. Was able to pick up later day FPP but nothing for TSL. Thank goodness for TSL EMM that morning. Speaking of which, if you do EMM there get out of TSL before they let the rope drop crowds out. We made the mistake of getting one last ride in at 8:45. By the time we finished TSL was crowded, as was pretty much everywhere else including jedi sign ups. Plan accordingly.

  • Would love to come back to HS at night.

  • Overall we were slightly disappointed in the food. TS restaurants mainly overpriced for quality you get. You are paying for theming, characters or ambience so I guess you have to consider that. But if you’re a foodie or look for value, you’ll be disappointed I think. Next trip I think we’ll be more selective and eat more QS.

  • Favorite restaurant experiences we would return to: Biergarten, Coral Reef, Akershus, O’hana (dinner and breakfast), Tusker House, Sci-Fi lunch, Flame Tree BBQ, Geyser Point

  • Overrated restaurants we’ll skip next time: Kona Café (way overpriced), Artist Point, CRT, Be Our Guest dinner. Last three I don’t regret for the character experience but stay away if worried about value.

  • Don’t know if I’d do HEA dessert party again. Food wasn’t that great and I think you can find vantage points elsewhere. Viewing area is nice though with great views of castle.

  • Skip Rivers of Light dining package. Easy to pick up FPP later in the night.

  • Glad we got park hoppers. We were able to pick up FPP in the afternoon while in MK and opt to AK later in the evening.

  • Consider taking Lyft or Uber more often. For $10-15 a pop much more efficient getting around than waiting for a bus.

That about does it for now. Thanks for putting up with my report. All thoughts welcome.


Great report!

I don’t see any issue with your boys in a stroller on a Disney trip. Our first family trip, our daughter was 6 and we did not have a stroller. She did amazingly well BUT she hit the wall at 11PM and I had to carry her asleep on my should from Fantasyland to the bus - I sure wish I had one then! :smiley:

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Great report and pix. My teenage boys would be happy for you to push them around in a stroller–be careful what you wish for! :laughing:

Did you not like Artist Point b/c of the price or was the food not very good? Have that booked for upcoming trip but some of us aren’t thrilled with menu choices.


Hey JJT. There were several nights where one or both of our boys fell asleep in the stroller or during transportation home and we had to carry them back.

We actually rented the Disney strollers so couldn’t take them out of the parks. So they did some walking and we did some carrying too.

The Disney strollers aren’t cheap but I really liked the fact I could pick them up and drop them off at each park without worrying about carrying them onto transportation or into the hotels. Something for others to think about with older kids that may not need strollers at all times. And those things are so ugly nobody would steal them (although someone stole our kids play swords we left on the strollers while on rides).

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I was a little torn about including Artist Point. I found the food to be okay - not great. Not much value for the price. In what is often a big negative for Disney, I found the whole experience to be thrown together haphazardly just so Disney could make a quick buck off a new character experience. Theming - which I understand hasn’t changed since the original AP - could be improved.

I don’t regret dining there. Service was excellent. And still one of the only ways to meet evil queen and dwarfs. My kids enjoyed it. I just wouldn’t go back for the reasons noted above. For return trips to restaurants at that price point I need to see some value - and I just didn’t find it AP.

And don’t get me started on beer and wine markups. . .

Nice report. I enjoyed it.

We are doing the EMM at Fantasyland on 3/10 and EMM at TSL on 3/13. For us, the one knocks out Fantasyland and we can be the first to ride HM. For TSL, well, we will ride SDD at least once, but the big thing for us is to see how many times we can ride TSM. It will be lots of fun and I hate to say it but my wife will probably beat me most of the time.

When we did Fantasyland we jumped over to Tomorrowland and knocked out all the rides there including SM and Buzz in a couple hours. You might want to keep that mind. In my recent experience I wouldn’t jump over to HM right after EMM. I found waits at HM still reasonable around 10am and very easy to pick up same day FPP for HM if you keep modifying and looking.

Our family rode HM numerous times and was my 5-year old’s favorite. Liked it best at night but good during the day so you can see the gravestones and theming.


Good points! I’m taking my boys (7 & 4) for the first time in May and found this helpful! I FULLY plan to use a stroller the whole time- NO SHAME! Did you park the stroller and go to multiple rides, then come back for it? Or did you stroller to each ride and park? Wondering which would be more efficient since I dont know where stroller parking is and walking back to find your stroller after multiple rides might be a long walk.

If the rides were bunched up in one area we parked the stroller and left it until we finished those rides. But mostly we moved to each ride and parked. Even with CL at 7-8 fairly easy to do. According to step tracker we walked 8-10 miles a day so were constantly moving back and forth based on wait times and same day FPP we picked up. I think you’ll find using the stroller to be very efficient to pack a lot in with kids that age.

Not sure if these were on your list, but there are a handful of TS restaurants on property with very high quality food. I have had great meals at California Grill and Jiko and very good meals at Grand Floridian Cafe and Narcoossee’s. Prices are very high at those, but the quality is high too. I have not been to Disney Springs, but I suspect there are a few there with very good food.

That said I agree with your point with respect to most of the table service restaurants … overpriced for average food.


I have not tried those restaurants but would consider doing so on a subsequent trip. I thought hard about a fireworks dinner at CG but then decided to be inside MK at that time instead. I really liked O’hana as an upscale dinner and would return.

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Thank you for the advice. We are knocking out Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland along with some in Tomorrowland and on MainStreet. Since the last ride we are doing during the EMM is SW, we will pop over to HM, knock that out and then head to breakfast. After that we are heading to do things over in LIberty Square, and Frontierland, before heading back to Fantasyland for Ariel and then it is to BOG for lunch. The TouringPlan for the 10th, has HM a 5 minute wait when we have it on our schedule. I will play around with it to see if it makes more since the other way. I have used the Unofficial Guide to WDW and TP for I believe 8 trips and I trust their times. With that said, I do like hearing what others suggest that have been there.
Thank you very much.

Not to be a downer, but SW ate up 15-20 minutes of our EMM time between walking over there and riding. That’s almost 20-25% of the EMM time. If I had to do EMM again I would only do PP and 7D. I think SW, LM, and teacups you can do another time with short waits or pick up same day FPP fairly easily. Just a thought if your family wants to ride 7D over and over again.

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Thanks for the info. We actually have 7DMT listed on our TP for 4 times during the EMM. Forget the Teacups, I would be out of it for too long after it. The reason for doing SW right at the end, is that is what my wife wants to do so that is what we are planning on doing. I might be her to change up and we do that later in the day, but for right now, she wants to do that ride at the very end of the EMM.
Again, I am playing around with the TP for that day and seeing how I can fit in everything we both want. Things change and that is always how we look at it.

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Love the pics!
I was there too on 1/27 with the rain that never ended. But we did accomplish a lot that day as not many people braved the rain.

I’m certainly not a foodie, but we loved Artist Point when we dined there last week. Our food was great. And I loved having a character meal that wasn’t a buffet.

That is good to hear. I’m dying to meet the Evil Queen, and the menu looks good to me but some in my party were skeptical. I loved AP before, and I’m excited to show my fam WL too.

I’m so glad we went–we managed to score an ADR the night before we dined there. So lucky! The appetizers and desserts are set and you pick your entree. It may sound basic, but I had the chicken and it was outstanding (and it came with brussel sprouts which I love)

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What a beautiful family! You guys really rocked it! Thanks for taking the time to do such a detailed Trip Report. Lots of really good info. And I love HM, too!

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I think I’ve figured out how to not do SW until much later in the day. Thanks for the information.

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