My Feet Are On Fire (A Post-Christmas Trip Report)

We just got back from a 7-day trip (5 full days, two half days) from 12/26 - 1/1, drove from NC and stayed in the Dolphin. Figured I’d throw a quick trip report here for posterity. We’ve got myself, DW, and two boys DS9 and DS8. I went to Disney World as a kid back in the late 80’s, and DW went with a high school group back in the mid 90’s, so you could say this was basically a first timers trip.

We had plans for a 5-day trip in March 2020, which I had meticulously planned out with FastPasses and everything thanks to info on this site. That trip was obviously doomed, and we figured Christmas 2022 was the time to try it again. Our reasoning was that between crowds and heat, we’d rather deal with the crowds (especially with a good plan). Our entire family caught our first cases of Covid the week after Thanksgiving – it was thankfully pretty mild (thanks to boosters!), and also kinda seemed like a stroke of decent luck to not have to worry about it in FL.

Day 1 (arrival day plus Epcot)

We left Durham, NC at about 5:15am. Our boys are pretty seasoned road trippers – we’ve driven out to Montana and back twice (taking only two days, so 15+ hour days) and this last summer drove down to south TX and back. So 10 hours or so to Orlando is no sweat. The drive was pretty straightforward, not a lot of traffic until we got to Orlando (it was the day after Christmas, so that was kind of expected).


I had an alarm set for a few minutes before 7am so I could try to get a BG for GotG in Epcot. We were somewhere in South Carolina and the reception was pretty spotty, so I kept getting errors in BG1. I switched over to the Disney app, but but the time I got everything pulled up they were already all gone. Wanted to try again at 1pm, but you need to be already in the park, so that wasn’t happening either. But we got extended evening hours by staying in the Dolphin, so I set an alarm for around 6pm to try again.

We stopped at the Buc-ee’s in Florence, SC. Not quite sure what all the fuss is about – the restrooms are nice and clean and there’s lots of gas pumps. The food was somewhat decent, but everything seemed pretty overpriced to me. We usually time our stops for about two hours so we can switch drivers, hit the restrooms, and sometimes fill up the car, and the Buc-ee’s in Daytona fit that bill, so we hit that one as well, which was a huge mistake. CRAZY amounts of people, hard to get in to, hard to leave. Just a bad vibe all around (but it got us in the spirit of CL10 Disney crowds, I suppose).


We got to the Dolphin around 4:30pm – I did online check-in and got a mobile key, so we just went straight to the hotel room. We chilled out there until around 6pm, when I snagged a BG for Guardians (worked great with a reliable internet connection).

We took the boats from the Dolphin, as there was one about to leave. Since we were arriving later and didn’t want to spend the extra money on G+, I figured we’d knock out Figment and Nemo first, which were both walk-ons. The boys love aquariums, so we hung out there longer than we maybe needed to. Then we went over to Spaceship Earth, but the wait was around 30 minutes, so we went back over to ride Living with the Land, then watched the movie in the pavilion. Soarin’ was only a 20 minute standby wait, so we did that. The wait seemed super long to the boys, but it was good practice, as things would definitely be worse over the week. The ride itself was more intense than I expected; I have a bit of a fear of heights and got a little nervous at parts, but it was lots of fun. DS9 went into turtle mode and just balled up in his seat clinging onto me while DS8 just laughed to himself, “oh no, oh no, oh no.” :slight_smile:


While in line, our BG was called for GotG, right around 9:00pm or so. I kinda wanted that one to be a surprise, so I didn’t do any real research on the ride, which was a little too much for the boys and myself – we left the ride pretty pale in the face. My wife loved it, but the spinning around in the dark was a bit too much for the rest of us. We figured that was a good time to call it a night (it was also getting pretty late for the boys), so we ended up punting on the rest of the evening hours and “walked” back to the hotel.


Love it so far! Can’t wait to see what else you guys do during the week. That was a pretty awesome start to the trip!


Day 2 (Hollywood Studios)

We purchased G+ and managed to snag SDD for 8:30am. We walked over from the Dolphin and arrived about 30 minutes before early entry. We ended up having issues at the taps with fingerprints (little kids and squirmy fingers) and just watched helplessly as throngs of people made their way towards Galaxy’s Edge. We finally got through and made it over to the RotR queue, which was already pretty full. It took us a little over 30 minutes to get to the ride, but it was totally worth it. Amazing ride, everyone loved it.



We were already outside of the early entry window, so we went to use our LL for SDD, then booked MMRR. Toy Story Mania was a 20 minute wait, so we did that one in standby. We then watched MuppetVision and the Indiana Jones show before our Fantasmic lunch package at SciFi. (DS9 hates zombies/mummies, so he was a pill the entire time…)


After lunch, it was time for our MMRR window, so we tapped into that one and the ride immediately went down. We were shuffled out a side door and tapped again for our golden tickets! We rode Millenium Falcon right away, then had reservations for DS9&8 to build droids while DW built herself a lightsaber. We then took a boat back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and rest up a bit.

We took another boat back around 5:00pm and did Star Tours before our 6:00pm Oga’s reservation. Had some fun drinks, then decided to use up the golden ticket on MMRR, which was very cute. Fantasmic was at 8pm, so we hustled out there – had a seat in one of the front rows, which got very misty. We had another TSM LL booked (since we initially rode it on SB) but the boys were tired and we decided to walk home (the post-Fantasmic boat situation was pretty insane).



We learned pretty quickly the boys were not going to enjoy ToT or RnR, but we could have rode them with minimal waits thanks to the anytime ticket. But we got to do everything we wanted, along with a mid-day break, lunch at SciFi, droids, Oga’s, and Fantasmic. It was all pretty incredible (with a CL10 to boot)!


Love all the smiles! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Is this a thing? I could spend all day at an aquarium!

1 Like

Day 3 (Magic Kingdom)
Woke up, purchased G+, and booked Jungle Cruise for 9am. We decided to take the Dolphin’s bus out to the Magic Kingdom. Little did we know that the busses don’t start running out to the park until an hour before park open, and they drop you off at the TTC, so you still have to grab a monorail (as opposed to Disney accommodations, which take you right to the gates). So that set us back a bit in our plans, but we were planning on saving Seven Dwarfs for a future day and wanted to hit Peter Pan first.

Had issues again at the taps, so had to wait while the masses continued on in front of us. Ended up at a not super ideal spot at the Fantasyland bridge…

We waited for about 20 minutes in the PP queue, then figured we could knock out Winnie the Pooh before our JC window closed. The standby wait times jumped from 20 minutes to 85 minutes when we got in line, but the overall wait time was probably closer to 30, but we had to book it over to JC.



Pirates had a quick standby wait, so we went ahead and did that one, then got in line for Splash Mt, which had a SB wait of 40 minutes posted. We wore our ponchos to avoid most of the water, then ate some packed sandwiches by the bridge so we could watch people screaming on their logs.



We then used our LL for BTMRR, which the boys absolutely loved (it’s still my favorite from way back, too). We grabbed some Dole Whips and found a place in the shade to eat them. The cooler temperatures were starting to subside and it started feeling like Florida. We rode the train :star_struck: back to Fantasyland, then made our way to Tomorrowland, where we rode the Peoplemover, then used a G+ for Buzz Lightyear. I don’t remember the scores exactly, but the kids only got something like 2,000 points each while the parents were well into the hundreds of thousands. So we got to gloat about that while walking over to do Philharmagic and It’s a Small World via SB (the lines were pretty reasonable, 20 minutes posted but we were on the ride in a little over 10).


We used another LL for Tomorrowland Speedway, which the boys enjoyed much more than the parents. Then we used another G+ for Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory, where DS9 was picked by the monsters to answer submitted jokes (he basically got to say his name, then say “I don’t know” after every joke, but he was still pretty thrilled).


We had a 5:50pm reservation for Skipper’s Canteen, but the kids were looking pretty spent (and DS9 is vegetarian, so finding stuff he’ll eat can be an ordeal), so we decided to cancel that and let someone else enjoy it, and instead call it an early evening and order some pizza delivery from Dominos. :wink:

We had a couple of tired boys on the monorail, then on the bus back to the Dolphin, but we made it back without any problems. Watched Netflix until the pizza showed up, then they showered and basically passed out by 8:00pm.



DW and I did the same and were asleep by 8:45pm. Lots of crowds, but managed to knock out just about everything we wanted to do (we still had another day in MK planned to revisit our favorite rides)!


If they love aquariums, then however long you stayed was the perfect amount of time! Way to go!!


Oh we weren’t rushing them out or anything, but this was our first day at Disney – there’s so much to do!


That is amazing! What a win!


I gotta hand it to our boys, for all the crowds and running around, they really kept it together pretty well. A few moments in lines where they can’t keep their hands to themselves and just wanna smack each other, but for the most part they kept their cool through the 20,000+ step days.


Seriously, I tried to keep my expectations pretty low due to the high crowds, but getting there early and knocking out a couple of big rides, then slowing down the pace and being opportunistic the rest of the day really seemed to work well.


Nothing better than that.

I will have to come back to this TR to read in more detail, but I’m loving it so far!

I’ve only read your first post, but it’s a great trip report so far! I love all the chaos in the back seat of your vehicle; you’d never know there was a second kid back there!


Oh yeah, kids, blankets, stuffed animals, water bottles, a tub of cheeseballs… :slight_smile:


Great trip report! Especially fun for me to read as we just came back from a trip (also staying at Dolphin, with a 6 and a an 8-year-old) the week before your stay. Nodding along with so many observations, and laughed at the photo of your “walk” home. Ours passed out twice on the boat ride back to the Dolphin and had to be carried to rooms. I posted a trip report in La Cava section if you’d like to read (not sure how to link here).


Day 4 (Epcot)
Started walking over to the International Gateway around 7:15am or so and ended up waiting somewhat closer to the taps. We actually made it through without any issues, then briskly walked over to Remy’s, whose line went pretty quickly. Another one of our favorite rides, very cute and well done.


We then kept up the pace and made it all the way over to Frozen, which was more of a wait, but nothing terrible. We got some school bread and other pastries in Norway and started moseying over towards Spaceship Earth, which was the only ride we really had left to do.

Took a detour in Mexico to ride the Three Caballeros (as you can judge by my profile photo, this was a MUST-RIDE), and noticed the lines for SE were around 60 minutes. We were planning on taking a mid-day break and returning at night, so we punted on that one.

We had Space 220 Lounge reservations for 12:55pm, but all the other rides were already super busy, so we decided to just take a spin around the monorail instead.



When we got back (and made it through the entrance wait again), we decided to just do drinks in Space and grabbed a couple orders of poutine from one of the kiosks. We ordered some space drinks, along with the chicken & waffle, deviled eggs, and some fries for the boys. Pretty fun restaurant, and the lounge is definitely the way to go.


For the mid-day break, we ended up taking the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios, then caught the boat to the Dolphin. A very enjoyable “ride!”


It was sunny and in the 70’s, so we gave the Dolphin pool a go. It was absolutely freezing in there, but the kids slowly made their way in. It was getting close to sunset, so we yanked them out of the pool, warmed up in the shower, and decided to just call it a day. Epcot will hopefully still be there next time we go. :slight_smile:



This was our final Epcot day, and between our initial evening and this morning, we ended up riding basically everything we wanted to do (along with GotG which the kids will never let us forget). We figured they weren’t going to be that into Test Track, outside of designing a car, and we sadly didn’t make it to Spaceship Earth, but that’ll just have to wait for the next trip. Again, staying on-site and knocking some stuff out in the morning makes a huge difference and lets you really take it easy the rest of the day.


They might love Test Track on your next visit, since they enjoyed Tomorrowland Speedway this time and will be older next time.


Day 5 (Magic Kingdom)
We decided to drive to the MK instead of taking the bus, as we’d still end up at the TTC regardless. So we woke up early, jumped in the car, walked a strangely far distance (you’d think first people there would be closer to the front, right?) and took a monorail in. Everyone’s taps went green, but I got stopped at the bag check on the way in (evidently large phone chargers will do that, but only sometimes).

We were in a much better situation this time, fairly close to the front of the Fantasyland madness. We hustled over to Seven Dwarfs, then ran over to Frontierland so we could do BTMRR. They were still holding people, so we must have knocked out 7DMT pretty quickly.

After BTMRR, we rode the train back to Fantasyland and walked over to the castle, where we had late breakfast reservations. The boys had cereal (seriously?), DW had the quiche, and I had the shrimp and grits, which were fantastic.

We made our way back to Adventureland and watched the bears, then took the boat over to Tom Sawyer Island, which was fantastic. The caves were amazing, but there were two unsupervised children running around and hiding, then screaming as you came around a corner. Our boys hated this, my wife told them to just smack them with their CRT swords if they do that again. We found their parents and explained the situation, they made a modest attempt to feign surprise, but I don’t think they really cared. :unamused:



At this point, we figured we’d basically done it all. It was getting hot, the crowds were getting heavier, the wait times were constantly rising, so we decided to hit up the shops (got the monorail train set!) and head over to check out Disney Springs.

Disney Springs was absolutely insanely packed. We walked over to Gideons and they said it was a 4.5 hour wait. :upside_down_face: With that out of the question, we went to Everglazed donuts and got donut grilled cheese sandwiches for the boys and a donut fried chicken sandwich for me. Both were awesome. We walked over to the Lego store but saw there was a long line outside to just go in, so we scratched that and just went back to the hotel.


Nobody wanted to go back into the freezing cold pool, so we just watched Mitchells vs. the Machines, finished up our cold pizza (no microwaves in the hotel room!), and called it a night.

So that was a wrap on the Magic Kingdom, where again we got to basically ride everything we wanted between the two days. The kids scratched Space Mountain and DS9 scratched Haunted Mansion (this kid hates skeletons, ghosts, etc). So we got to do things a little slower but still have a couple of early returns. We wanted to run through the Swiss Family Treehouse, but it was temporarily closed when we walked past; I guess that’s another one for next time.


Yeah, we’re definitely planning on doing it all again in 2-3 years, which would make them DS10 and DS11 or older – perfect for Test Track (and hopefully give GotG another shot)!

DW was initially not super into a Disney World trip – large crowds in FL is not her cup of tea – but she definitely changed her tune. Being a Star Wars nerd probably helps, but also having some good touring strategies (that I picked up on these forums and blog posts) and realizing that you don’t need to do absolutely everything makes a huge difference. I can see an alternative timeline with just a few things going differently and things just spiral out of control…


Wait. How have I gone this long not knowing these existed?!