This is a pre covid trip report! I meant to write it as soon as we returned home, but it’s been a busy year. I love reading others’ trip reports and thought some might like to read a report from pre covid times. I’ll try my best to remember the details!
Who: DH31, DD11, DD7 and myself
Where: Pop Century
This was the first trip to Disney for all of us! I started planning a little over 13 months before our trip and I got a little obsessed with the planning! We planned to spend as much time as possible in the parks so staying in a pricey hotel was not our top priority. I chose Pop Century for the price and skyliner access and we were very happy with our choice. It was perfect for our needs. We planned this trip with the idea that we would only do Disney once so we wanted to do as much as we could. The goal was to ride everything, eat all the things and see all the things. We stayed 9 days, did a park everyday. Woke up crazy early, went to bed crazy late and did 2 after hours events. It was an exhausting trip but we did a ton during that time and we knew this would not be a relaxing trip and went with that mindset. We live in Ohio and frequently go to Kings Island so my kids have been trained on the amusement park rules (if one person goes to the restroom, EVERYONE goes, if we’re in a line and you have to go to the restroom, hold it, because there’s 0% chance I’m getting out of line to take you, only drink water unless at a sit down meal, no means no when it comes to buying things, and so on). We had a lot packed into each day but I believed my girls could handle it and they did amazing!
We decided to do the Deluxe Dining Plan as we wanted to do several character meals and a few signature meals. The Deluxe Plan worked very well for us due to the restaurants we chose to eat at and because we eat a lot of pricey steak and seafood. The kids and I were very excited about Disney. My husband hates going out and doesn’t generally like…well…people. His happy place is at home with me and the kids. But he loves good food and I knew some amazing meals throughout the trip would help him ‘tolerate’ it. Either my plan worked or he just really super loves me because there was exactly zero complaints from him the whole time!
As I said, I planned this trip for over a year and here was my spreadsheet for keeping us on track during the trip:
I put the high and low temps on the spreadsheet for each day to know how to dress. Since it was January temps were not too terrible. We planned a January trip because none of us do well in heat. When we are hot we are all cranky and mean and a summer in Florida would be torture for us. The kids do great in school so we played hooky! The “R” was added for if there was rain expected but I quickly realized everyday seemed to be 50% chance of some rain no matter what the weather said. We dressed in layers and had two backpacks that rolled up very small. We would wear our jackets during cold mornings, take one of the rolled up backpacks out of the other backpack and put all our jackets in it. At night it got chilly again so we’d put layers back on and roll up the then empty backpack and put it back in the other backpack. It worked out great for us. Here’s the link in case anyone is interested in the backpacks, and you can see how small they fold up!
Day 1 - 1/22/20
We woke up at 3am to drive to the airport. We flew with Delta and the flight from Cincinnati to Orlando was about 2 hours. This was my daughter’s first time on an airplane and they thought they were so cool! The oldest is such a worrier so she was excited but also extremely terrified. The little one has NO fear and would have tried to fly the plane if the pilot let her. We landed at 9ish. We did not use Magical Express as I read some horror stories about waiting a long time. So we picked up our luggage, got an UberXL and arrived at Pop Century.
We dropped our luggage off and stopped by the food court for our first “taste of Disney” with some yummy cupcakes.
We then caught a bus to Disney Springs. DD7 was very happy our first Disney bus had Moana on it.
First stop was Boathouse and my seafood lover was in heaven!
DD7 was very happy with her chocolate cake.
We walked around Disney Springs and big sis kept the little one from climbing into the fountain. DD11 is like her second mom which is very helpful!
The price kept us from buying them, but we enjoyed staring at all the pretty things!
We enjoyed the unique shopping and all there was to see at Disney Springs.
When we got back to Pop Century our room still wasn’t ready so we decided to kill a little time by riding the Skyliner. We were very excited about riding it although DD11 and I were somewhat nervous (we both worry) it ended up being one of our favorite things at Disney. It was a long ‘ride’ with zero wait time and was relaxing and thrilling at the same time. It also was extremely convenient. You get quiet and private time with family which is nearly impossible anywhere else on property. Can’t say enough wonderful things about the Skyliner!
Our room was ready, we ended up very close to the Skyliner which was great. We unpacked and got ready for dinner. Also, FYI, if you’re at a resort where space is tight, definitely get the shoe organizer! I got this one:
Unfortunately, at Pop Century there’s not a great place to put it but we figured out that they can hang on the bathtub glass doors. It was one of the best things I could have bought! It was clear so I could easily see everything and it kept the bathroom counter clear of junk.
At this point we had been up since 3am and were tired. I planned a 3 hour nap before dinner but with our room not being ready on time we only napped for about an hour. I was pretty annoyed about that since we had Animal Kingdom After Hours tickets this night and I wanted to stay as long as our tickets allowed which was midnight. With only an hour nap I didn’t know if the family was going to be able to make it that late. I do not recommend After Hours tickets on arrival day! I knew it was a risk but thought it would be okay. I now wish we would have arrived one day earlier so we would have been well rested for After Hours. I considered cancelling our dinner reservations but they were hard to get and was one I was most excited for so I woke everyone up and we all got ready for dinner.
We took an Uber (which we did 70% of the time at Disney) to California Grill. Our driver got lost and we were 15 minutes late to our reservation. They took us anyway and I’m so glad they did because it was just so special. It is the perfect place for a special occasion. The big windows, the atmosphere, all the lights at MK. The food was delicious as well.
The fireworks were starting at the end of dinner and I debated on staying to watch them because the view was amazing but at this point we were already going to be an hour later arriving to Animal Kingdom for our After Hours event so we left and took an Uber to AK instead.
Another big mistake I made with these Day 1 After Hours tickets is going to Animal Kingdom in the dark with absolutely no idea where I was. AK is not the easiest to navigate, and as it was our first time there it was pretty difficult for us to figure out where the heck we were. Since these tickets are very costly and time is limited, I didn’t want to waste ANY time being lost. My suggestion is only go to an After Hours event if you’ve already been in that park in the daytime before so you at least have a basic understanding of where you are and don’t waste time wandering. Our MK AH event later in the week went 100 times better because we had been to MK before the event.
Even with us being tired from travel day, lack of sleep and being lost we got SO much done during AH. I highly recommend it. Our two AH events were our absolute favorite hours at Disney! There was no wait on anything.
Our first Disney ride was EE. DD7 was looking forward to this one the most and she said it was her favorite ride. She is my little thrill seeker!
Here’s my daredevil with hands up and with big sis being all motherly again, leaning over, trying to make sure DD7 doesn’t slip out of her seat.
I think we started the AH event riding EE about 4 or 5 times, again no wait.
Next up was Dinosaur. I don’t know what I was expecting with this ride, but it wasn’t…that. DD7 loved it. DD11 hated it. She said she was terrified, evidenced by this photo where her ears are covered and there’s nothing but fear in those eyes!
After Dinosaur we met Mickey and Minnie. I was really happy this was part of the AH event. It allowed us to see characters on our first day, and the most important characters! We didn’t have to wait in line just to see a character which sounds like hell to me. We didn’t feel rushed. And we got to have pics with Mickey and Minnie together which I don’t think is offered anywhere else. By doing this on our first day we got to skip all the other Mickey M&G’s at the other parks.
Time to head to Pandora!
FOP was a walk on and we could have ridden it so many times if we didn’t have to leave and walk all the way around the queue each time. I think we rode it 3 times total.
Here’s a pic where we’re the only ones!
It was so magical and one of my favorite rides at Disney!
I stopped taking pics at this point but we ended up doing Navi two times. We also did tough to be a bug and OMG we all agreed that was the worst thing at Disney. There was only about 10 of us in that room and that ‘show’ was just awful. I heard it was scary for kids with the bugs, but my kids weren’t scared at all. We just found it extremely boring and the technology involved felt like it was from 1980. We also did Triceratops Spin a couple of times, it was a cute little ride.
During the event free drinks, popcorn and ice creams are offered so we stocked up on water bottles and ate too many ice cream bars. By 11:30 everyone was tired so we headed out. I really wanted to make it until midnight but we did a ton during those few hours and we had an early day the next day so we took the bus back to Pop Century. And all three of my loves passed out during the bus ride.
Day 2 - 1/23/20
Since we did so much during the AH event I didn’t feel the need to RD AK on day 2. We started our day with Breakfast at Boma. We loved this breakfast. A buffet can be really great for kids. They get to try new things they might not ever order. They can have 6 helpings of what they do like. You don’t have to wait for the food to be prepared, you can just get up and eat. The food here was especially good and we enjoyed trying new exotic foods.
After breakfast we headed to AK to see what it looks like in the light!
We started with a stop at the Wilderness Explorers. DD7 got her booklet and was on a mission the rest of the day!
We started with the KS fast pass. DD7 stared at her Wilderness Explorers booklet more than the safari so I took it from her so she would enjoy the safari. That backfired when she just turned into a big grump during the rest of the ride. Afterward we talked and she realized she was being a little grump. I realized I should have just let her stare at the booklet and that was the only real ‘spat’ we had during the trip. I think DH laid down some heavy guilt when he told her I’d waited over a year to ride KS and we won’t have a chance to ride it again. We all got over it quickly and decided to move on. We watched the Lion King show and really enjoyed it. There’s really not a bad seat there which is great because we were one of the last ones to make it into the show so I thought we’d have a poor seat but we didn’t.
After the show, we got Starbucks and then it started raining. Before the trip I had bought rain suits for all of us. The weather did not predict rain this day so I didn’t bring them, unfortunately. I did have the cheap ponchos so we put those on. I also bought the silicone shoe covers and this was another item that was so useful for us! It ended up raining for a few hours and the four of us had nice dry socks and tennis shoes. Watching and hearing everyone around us sloshing around in wet tennis shoes made me so happy I brought these in our backpacks. There’s no way we could have tolerated staying in the park with soaking wet shoes for the rest of the day. DH made fun of me when he saw I bought the shoe covers and I had to MAKE him put them on when the rain started but after an hour of it still raining and him seeing everyone’s wet shoes he was singing a different tune!
We made it to our EE fast pass for one last ride on DD7’s favorite. It wasn’t as fun with the rain hitting your face but we still enjoyed it. The rain didn’t look like it was stopping anytime soon so we waited in line for the indoor Nemo show. We waited about 25 minutes which is one of our longest waits the whole trip but it was worth it to be able to be indoors and take the wet ponchos off for a while.
DD7 just stuck her whole head inside the poncho while in line so she could play on DH’s phone.
The rain finally let up after the show and we stopped for a photo in front of the tree. You can also see our day saving shoe covers here!
I was able to move up my late FOP fast pass so we headed there for our last flight. We also walked around Pandora checking it out during the daylight hours which was really cool.
On this day we also saw a few characters, rode Triceratops, and got a few snacks (can’t remember from where).
The last thing for the day was our dinner at Tiffins. The food was good, I can’t remember what we got, but it was yummy and the atmosphere here was nice. The desserts were very pretty, too.