Hello everyone! We just returned from a quick three night trip to Disney World where we enjoyed the new Toy Story Land and MNSSHP! So many amazing memories from this trip. I am so glad we went and will cherish the time I had together with my children. Here is a quick trip report of the highlights:
Who & When: Me, DD12, DS8, and DS7 from Saturday, September 29 - Tuesday, October 2 - This is the first time I have ever taken my kids on vacation without the husband. I will admit to being a bit nervous on this front, especially when it came to bathrooms and managing all three kids in crowds without losing someone. Turns out my kids are more independent and responsible than I give them credit for. All three did a great job sticking close by and not wandering off in the crowds. Night time in the parks was probably the hardest due to reduced lighting, but for the most part I didn’t lose anyone for too terribly long. =)
Where: We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter for the first time and LOVED it! The theming is great, the food court is lovely (I mean, beignets any time you want!?!), the pool was a nice size with a slide, the renovated rooms were very nice with plenty of room under the beds to store your belongings and free up space in your room, a nice arcade area for the kids, and only having one bus stop was great. Each night we were there they had live music in the lobby and there was truly a festive atmosphere throughout the whole resort. I selected this resort because of the compact size, hoping that it would be easier for all of us to navigate and for me to feel more comfortable leaving the kids in the room to run to the front desk or to grab something from the food court, etc. This resort was just perfect for that. My 12 year old even went back to the room on her own a few times while the boys and I went to the pool or grabbed some food in the food court. If we weren’t usually traveling as a family of 5, I would say at French Quarter each trip…I loved it that much!
What did we do: We arrived at MCO via Southwest on Saturday. Our plane was delayed a bit, but nothing too terrible. The wait for Magical Express was minimal; however, once one the bus, our driver got a bit confused and we ended up taking a 15 minute detour loop around the Epcot area hotels before making our first stop at Old Key West. At this point, we were very anxious to make it to Hollywood Studios for our Slinky Dog fast pass, so we decided to exit Magical Express at Old Key West and grab a bus to HS. This worked great! I wouldn’t have thought of doing this in the past, but after reading different posts on Touring Plans I knew this was a possibility. We arrived at HS in plenty of time for Slinky Dog and also hit up Alien Swirling Saucer as well. Both rides were GREAT and Toy Story land was so lovely at night. We took a few photo pass pictures and then headed back to French Quarter after the fireworks concluded. The only downside I could see at HS was the long walk back to the bus stop. By the time we left, we were so tired from traveling all day. The initial burst of adrenaline that comes with arriving at Disney had started to wear off and that walk back to the bus area seemed soooo long.
Day 2 dawned with us rope dropping Magic Kingdom. It was also a party day for us with plans to attend MNSSHP party. We followed our touring plan and it worked to perfection. Following the MK welcome show we were able to ride Astro Orbiter, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, Splash, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, take pictures with Minnie, Daisy, Goofy, and Donald in the circus area, and wrap up before lunch with 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. We then did lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern which was just lovely. We have enjoyed dinner there in the past and lunch was just as wonderful. I still think the Ooey Gooey cake at Liberty Tree is the best dessert on property! Following lunch we took time to see the Country Bear Jamboree and then headed back to French Quarter for a break. At French Quarter we made us of our “down time” to swim, play in the arcade, and watch some tv in the room before getting into costumes and heading back to MK at 5:30pm. All in all we had about 3.5 hours of break which fit our schedule and met our needs for the day. I wish that I could have convinced the kids to nap, but they were having none of it! If I am able to do the Halloween party in the future, I think I would try to make this day a resort morning/early afternoon followed by entry into Magic Kingdom at 4pm. This wasn’t as big of a deal for us since we have AP passes, but I can’t see buying and using a regular park day ticket if we didn’t have APs and also doing the party. Okay, on to the MNSSHP review.
Oh my goodness! I can’t even begin to say how much we LOVED the MNSSHP. For me, it ranked right up there with being in Magic Kingdom on December 30. The atmosphere was so festive with many people in creative costumes and a general sense of excitement in the air. We started our pre-party time in Tomorrowland with a Buzz Light Year fast pass followed by PeopleMover, dinner at Cosmo’s (ugh! Wish I would have done something else for dinner.), a second ride on Buzz, danced the first dance with Mike & Sully at the Monster’s Inc dance party, and finally rode the Tomorrowland Speedway. I had intended to hold off the kids from visiting the treat stations until later in the evening, but there was no stopping them. We started hitting the treat stations immediately and honestly, I’m so glad we did. The happiness on their faces when cast members filled their bags with handfuls of candy was priceless. By the time we left Tomorrowland it was a bit after 7:00pm and we decided to head into Fantasyland where we hit up more treat stations, rode barnstormer, dumbo, met Minnie, and waited in line for the 7 Dwarfs. Looking back, we spent a bit more time in this area than I would have liked. There was no wait for either ride, but the wait for Minnie and the Dwarfs combined was a bit over an hour so by the time we were done in this area it was time to head back to the hub to get a spot for the parade. We were able to snag a spot on the one row back from the curb about 20 minutes before the parade started in Frontierland, meaning that we actually waited about 35-40 minutes before the parade reached us at our viewing location. The pro to doing this was that the kids were able to sit to watch the parade. The con is the amount of dead time waiting. I would much rather have been trick-or-treating or riding rides. If I had it to over again, I would have planned this step better by showing up later on the parade route in the hub or showing up early to the route in Frontierland. However, with that said, we all found the parade to be AMAZING!! Loved the music, loved the costumes, and the performers were excellent. I’m so glad we saw the 9:15pm parade as it allowed us to see it a second time later in the evening. (Spoiler alert…it was just as good the 2nd time.) After the parade finished we headed into Frontierland for more trick-or-treating, listening to the Dapper Dans, walked back to the hub to watch the fireworks, went back into Frontierland and rode Big Thunder and Splash, and…wait for it…did more treat stops. =) At this point, my oldest two just wanted to ride Big Thunder and Splash back-to-back. Since there were no waits, I let them do this while DS7 and I went to the area at the very beginning of the parade and watched it for a second time. Again, I would have done this differently had I thought it through better. The way we did it meant that we didn’t wrap up with parade #1 until closer to 9:45pm which didn’t leave us a lot of time to do things in Frontierland before had to get back to see the fireworks. Then, after fireworks, we didn’t have a ton of time to do things before we had to get a spot so we could see the very beginning of parade #2 in Frontierland. Lesson learned for sure and I already have a plan in my head of how I could do things differently next time. After parade #2 finished, we met up with my oldest two, went to a few more treat stops then headed back to the hub to watch the 12:00am Hocus Pocus show. I tell ya what…that show was amazing! Another regret I have is only seeing that show once. All of us really enjoyed it. By midnight, the kids were definitely lagging in energy so I don’t know that they enjoyed it as much as I did, but it was a wonderful show for sure. After the conclusion, we headed out for French Quarter arriving there a bit after 1:00am. YIKES! The great news is that we slept in the next day and enjoyed a lazy start to our day. I just want to say here again how wonderful MNSSHP was! It was worth every penny we paid to have this special experience!
Finally, on our last day in the parks we ended up heading back to Hollywood Studios since we had a fast pass for Slinky Dog dash. We rode Star Tours, Slinky Dog, Alien Swirling Saucer, and Toy Story Mania while also getting some photopass pics. We were supposed to ride Rockin Rollercoaster but right when we were about to board they evacuated the area. While we were given a fast pass to use elsewhere in Hollywood Studios (other than Toy Story land rides), we had no plans to see anything else so we caught the boat over to Epcot where I was able to snag a Soarin fast pass. We quickly road Soarin’, walked back to Beaches & Cream for our 7pm dinner reservation and then went back into Epcot for a 2nd and final ride on Soarin. Beaches and Cream was GREAT and our waitress made a big deal out of my DS8 birthday, turning on the lights and siren and announcing to everyone in the restaurant that it was his special day. It was a reminder to me that Disney does such a great job with the little touches to make things special.
Overall, it was a GREAT trip for us. We started our trip with Slinky Dog and ended it with one of the best rides ever - Soarin’. We were able to make some wonderful memories together and get some great photopass shots. I cannot wait to go back and experience it again in the future.
Thank you all for listening! I hope you enjoy the report!