First Trip Report - 4 & 6 year old boys with grandparents

I thought it would be fun to do a short trip report (because who has energy for long ones after chasing two very energetic boys around the park all day!). For similar reasons, a live report seemed out of the question so I’ll post once I get them to sleep each night. Hopefully this will help someone in their planning.

WHO: DH, me, DS6, DS4, and grandparents for the first two and half days.
WHAT: 5 days/4 nights
WHERE: AKL - Jambo
WHY: uh, because Disney (MK) is the most magical place on earth? Also, DH and the boys have never been!

Day 1 (Arrival): Epcot
We left the grandparents house shortly after 7 am. We arrived around 10:45 to the gates at Epcot. We had FPs for Spaceship Earth and Test Track to start off. Then we walked over to Frozen for our only wait of the day (about 35-40 minutes). I had to modify my TP because the boys didn’t want to meet any characters and I had scheduled some time to do that.

We then headed over to Figment to use our last FP (yes, I know this is weird choice but I wanted to see if I could get a FP for Soarin’). Used a FP for Living with the Land right after since there was no time to wait between. During Living I was able to get FPs for us for Soarin’. I couldn’t get a time until 8 pm booking it as a party of 6, but was able to get 3 groups of 2 for 3:10 and 3:15.

We went to WS for a treat and tour around. Kids had icecream while some of the adults had Grey Goose Slushies from France. We headed back toward the front after about an hour touring WS.

We had some time before Soarin’ so we knocked out Seas with Nemo (walk-on) and Turtle Talk. Did Soarin’ with our FP and left shortly after 4 p.m. We accomplished everything we wanted to do, which I thought was good for 5 hours.

Next was Sanaa for dinner. This was a great choice for our group. We have 3 plant-based people, including a child, and one child who is not very adventurous when it comes to food (spoiler he got cheese pizza with green beans and fruit). They didn’t have any plant-based child options for the second child, but the menu said to ask. We were able to select from the adult menu for him (even being on dining plan) and they just gave him a smaller portion (which he finished plus some of mine!). We got the bread service (delicious!).

Headed back to Jambo to see if our room was ready since we didn’t get a text or email. Turns out MDE “dropped our credit card” from our account at some point so they needed us to check-in to give them a new one. Not sure how that happened, but it turned out.

Rooms are great! Love the view of the Savannah (without the Savannah prices!) with our standard room. A bit of a walk from the lobby and buses, but we don’t mind for the views and quiet. I’m writing this report on our balcony listening to the strange animal noises. Very peaceful. Off to bed since we have another early start planned.

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Sounds like a great start to your trip! Have stayed at Jambo twice now and have benefited from the same view at the Standard price- so wonderful! Enjoy your day today.

Sounds wonderful!

Day 2: Magic Kingdom

Met in the lobby around 7:30 to catch the bus. There were some bus issues, but we arrived around 8:30 at Magic Kingdom. We followed the advice I read on here to get into the park quickly. It is amazing how many times we found empty lines by walking a few steps more than the crowd.

Started with Jungle Cruise. Sat out on pirates with our DS6 as he doesn’t like dark rides. Had a little chat about it and convinced him to try Haunted Mansion (which was a walk-on). After that we went to Fantasyland for the Carousel (added to TP at request of DS4), Enchanted Tales (FP) and Under the Sea. We were ahead of schedule, but not enough to try to fit in another ride so we headed to Be Our Guest 10 minutes early. This is a one and done for us. The food was good, but it took over 45 minutes to get seated and about an hour even with a reservation and pre-ordering food. We felt like we had to eat fast so we didn’t miss our Peter Pan FP, which had waits of over an hour so we knew it was FP or not riding it.

We did some more attractions including Peter Pan (FP), Dumbo, Barnstormer, and Philharmagic. I had planned to do Pirate’s Adventure, but the boys wanted It’s A Small World and it was only posted at 20 minutes so we gave it a shot. I should have stuck to the plan. It ended up being 45 minutes+ to get on the ride plus ride time.

No time for Pirate’s Adventure so the kids and DH found a parade spot while I went to Aloha to get some Dole Whip. Mobile Order saved me a huge line, but there was a line to pick up mobile order (although most people were just standing there and had not actually received a message saying it was ready). I made it back to the parade spot just as the parade was coming. Dole Whip was a hit with the whole family. Raspberry, Pineapple, and Swirl floats (we shared because they are so large and we had dinner scheduled a couple hours later).

FP for Seven Dwarfs was after the parade. Both boys claim this was their favourite ride for the day (Test Track still the leader so far). While in line I was able to get a 4th FP for Winnie the Pooh, which was great because the wait was over 35 minutes. We then did Tea Cups with minimal wait. Picked up another FP for Magic Carpets and did that before dinner.

Dinner was at Crystal Palace, which exceeded my expectations. The food was better than expected. Plenty of options for our group (including 3 plant-based and our picky DS4). The character interactions were great too. I thought they might feel rushed, but they were just the right amount of time. It was also very surprising that our DS6 was so into this meal. I thought he might feel too old to enjoy these characters, but he enjoyed meeting them even more than DS4 (who only talked to Eyeore, which matched his mood for most of the day lol).

Went to Buzz after dinner and decided to call it a day around 6:30. It was crowded (ticketed night event maybe the cause or close to fireworks?) and we had had enough for the day.

Today was all about patience. Dealing with the crowds, waits, and grumpy DS4.

Not sure what we will do tomorrow. We have FPs for MK and planned to do 3-4 hours before our ADR, but we will figure it out in the morning after our breakfast ADR. I’d like to spend a couple hours swimming and enjoying the resort since we haven’t done much of that this trip. I went for a walk this evening with DH and looked at the animals with the night vision goggles. Definitely a must-do if you are staying at AKL.

AKL has been great so far. Staff are helpful and friendly. Plenty of cultural experiences around the lobby and other areas. A unique experience.

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Thanks for the trip report! What advice did you follow regarding getting into the park quickly? I haven’t seen anything specific to that, but would love to get additional tips!

Look for short lines. Every day we’ve gone to a park the people are crowded toward one end of security and the tapstiles. We moved to the one farthest from the main entry points and went in with minimal waits. It isn’t that busy this week, but we probably saved 5-10 minutes each time. Same goes for food ordering stations. People always group together at a few and leave some with short or no lines. (Mobile order where possible and save even more time!)

Use clear bags if you are travelling with lots of stuff, kid gear etc. This saved time at security. Sometimes they let us use the no bags line because they could easily see all the items in the bags in the bottom part of the stroller.

If you know you are going to always be with a kid just use your finger. I thought my youngest wouldn’t have issues at his age (4), but we switched it to my finger with his band after the first day. He was too eager and wouldn’t keep his finger in the spot long enough.

Ha we call it “taking the road less traveled” every time we find something like this. People are mostly sheep :wink:

Day 3: Resort morning & Magic Kingdom

As much as it pains me to give up good RD times, we did a late start today to spend a few more hours with the grandparents before they left. We had breakfast at Boma (good, but not as many plant-based options as with the lunch and dinners we’ve had so far). Then we took the boys swimming, or more accurately they went down the waterslide a few dozen times while we watched from the pool.

We went to catch the bus to Magic Kingdom. Had to wait about 30 minutes, which wasn’t unexpected since it was around 11:30. It seemed like they had 3-4 buses for every other park while we waited. Not sure if that is normal or not.

Used a FP for 7DMT, then went to Tom Sawyer Island for an hour. Our youngest has not been very well behaved on this trip so we figured he might need some time to run and be wild. It seemed to help as he was better behaved than previous days. We hit Big Thunder with FP (saw a family jump from standby to FP and the CM just let them get away with it. Surprised DH didn’t say anything. He hates that sort of thing).

Stopped by Casey’s for some slaw dogs and fries since DH was starving. Boys had a bite as well. Went to Barnstormer with FP. It was a coaster day for us. Walked around a bit and had a few photos taken (i.e. zoom shot near the castle) but decided we better head out as we had an early ADR at Artist Point. Stopped to watch the parade again during our exit. This time from near the entrance to the park. Much less crowded and saw people watching from the train station. That would be a unique view.

Arrived a little early for dinner, but they sat us right away. It was a lot faster than I expected (between 70-90 minutes), but it didn’t feel rushed. We all enjoyed the food. DH said best of the trip. DS6 said he preferred Crystal Palace because he got to choose his food. They had a separate plant-based menu so that worked well for the plant-based in our group. Our oldest loved the characters. Our youngest continued to avoid them, except for Grumpy. He jumped out of his seat to see Grumpy. It might be the best photo of him the whole trip. It will make for a great story when he is older :slight_smile: The Evil Queen was great. She tried to include our grumpy one, which made for a funny photo of the two of them.

After dinner we decided to go back to the resort. We took a Minnie Van to try it out. Great time and convenient with the carseats for the kids. We got them washed up and DH took them to the arcade to play for a bit while I figured out where we stood with our dining plan credits and the plan for tomorrow.

It turned out we still had 22 snack credits for one day and breakfast the following day so I purchased a few snacks for the plane and used some to buy breakfast items for tomorrow since we leave early for HS and nothing is open. We also forgot to use 2 adult table service credits so we added a table service meal for tomorrow. Not much in HS, but with the Skyliner we found several options a few minutes away. We still have 6 child quick service and 2 adult credits we have left too. Might be a day of eating tomorrow.

Wish us luck. Tomorrow we try for RotR.

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Day 4: Hollywood Studios

We were up before 6 to get to Hollywood Studios before it opened at 7 am. Took the bus and arrived around 6:40. On MDE right at 7. Got BG 82 at 7:01 am. Crazy.

We did Toy Story Land with SDD FP and were finished by about 8:30. We signed up DS6 for Jedi Training (DS4 failed the initial listening test LOL). We wandered a bit, but there wasn’t really anything else to do as shows didn’t start until at least 10:30/11 and we didn’t get a Jedi time until 1 pm. We decided to head back to the resort for a couple hours to rest and eat. DS6 had a short nap, but DS4 did not.

Back to HS by 12:30 for Jedi. While DS6 prepared for that I took DS4 to Lightning McQueen, which he loved. We walked back to watch his brother. We then did Star Tours. Between 1 and 1:30 our BG was called so we headed over to RotR. Everyone loved it. I know very little about Star Wars, but I appreciate the interaction and technology behind the ride. Very well done. We grabbed some popcorn and milk and explored GE for a bit.

There wasn’t much left to do but shows. The boys selected Muppets (surprising me) so we did that. We had a FP for Indiana Jones at 4:30. We left via Skyliner to Caribbean Beach for a reservation at Sebastian’s. Food was good. Not as good as some of the other meals we had on the trip, but still good.

After dinner I took DS4 back to the resort via bus from CB to AK and AK to AKL. This seemed like the quickest option. DH took DS6 back to Hollywood to build a droid. They rode MFSR after that just before the park closed. They both got to be pilots with no one else on the ride with them! DS6 is pretty excited about his droid.

Leaving this morning for the airport and back to snow. Will post one more time with some final comments and remarks later this evening.

It was a good trip, but I’d definitely do a few things differently.

Resort: Loved AKL, but not a good option for us this trip. It was too far from the action so we spent a lot of time on the bus or waiting for one. It would have been fine for a longer trip or one focused on AK/HS, but this was a short one focused on MK so it was inconvenient.

Dining Plan: I haven’t done the calculations yet to see if we saved. We wouldn’t do it again even if we did save a few dollars. Being plant-based the options are limited and often the least costly ones on the menu. There were very few plant-based kid options at quick service and most weren’t willing to make a smaller version of the larger plant-based options for DS6 so I ended up giving him my credits. We ended up with 5 quick service child credits left (with a 4 day trip), which we used for our breakfast on travel day but they couldn’t eat half of it.

Touring Plans: I would definitely use this website again, but perhaps less focus on the plans and more on the tips I’ve learned reading the forums. It is hard to plan for young children, especially for a first trip, so we went “off-plan” a lot. I adjusted the plan as we went, but it was a bit frustrating knowing how much time I spent planning the park days to minimize waits. For future trips I would plan less or involve the kids more so we don’t have attractions they don’t want and we don’t miss ones they want.

Overall: It was a good trip, but it could have been better. I’d go for a longer period of time with the same number of park days (with hoppers) to give more flexibility and more time for relaxing at the pool or doing the other activities around the resorts. I would do less table service meals on full park days and save them for the other days. I’d stay near the Boardwalk to minimize travel time and give us plenty of food options at Epcot with hopper tickets. I’d still go in January/February as the crowds were manageable and the weather was good. I wouldn’t do magical express on the way home either as we arrived 3 hours before our flight and were at the gate 2.5 hours before. We could have used that time to swim or go to a park.

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