Nine day WDW Trip Report with MNSSHP!

I love love reading trip reports and I knew I was going to do one myself!

My husband and I met each other late in life, but we found a common love for Disney! So, we eloped to LA and honeymooned at Disneyland. :slight_smile: Right then I decided we’d go to a different Disney park every 5th anniversary! Thus, this trip to WDW marks our 5 year wedding anniversary. We’re planning on Disneyland Tokyo for our 10th.

I prepared for two years for this trip! It started with the Ultimate Guide, then I found Touring Plans, then the Chat and this Forum. Other sites helped as well, of course. With the information I learned, I was able to:

  1. Secure Free Dining, staying on site (originally planned to be Port Orleans Riverside, but my budget drove me towards Pop, but I got confused on the site so I booked ASSports with the intent to change it when I figured out how, but then got afraid to change it, lol).

  2. Make my ADRs after reading all reviews and descriptions, and using the ADR finder for a couple of tough reservations to get exactly what I wanted.

  3. Booked my tickets with Southwest, then re-booking them when the prices went down so I could get a credit (we are now using to pay for a trip to Colorado in February), thanks to heads up I got on Chat and the FB group!

  4. Carefully plan how much time and which days to travel to each park to maximize fun and minimize waits and crowds.

  5. Figure out the best Fast Pass Plus strategy for each day and to prioritize the booking when the day came.

I can honestly say, I can’t imagine having taking this trip so successfully without TP. It helped with more than just pre-planning, as you will see when you read my report.

Now, let’s start the Odyssey of Larissa and Preston, and a 9 day trip to WDW!

Day One: Travel Day and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

I knew I wanted to maximize our time in the park, so I booked our flight early and bought a party ticket. I did forget however, that we are middle aged. Don’t we forget that when we are just as excited as any child, so why on earth couldn’t we keep up with them?

So, up we were at 4am to finalize packing and head to the airport for our 7:30 am flight. I tried to get some sleep on the plane, but had a very chatty, friendly person traveling solo next to me I couldn’t bring myself to tell shut up. No problem, I’ll take a nap in the room when we get there! Husband delighted himself with the awesome window seat he scored because of the Early Bird check in I bought (I got A 25 & 26). He was like a 10 year old boy, it was cute.

Got a text that our room was not ready, but when we arrived at noon, they said our room was ready. We didn’t get the exact room we requested, but we did get the room type we requested (King, 3rd floor, near food court and buses) and it was awesome. Touchdown has cute theming, and we enjoyed watching the children romp around the football field. Our plan: unpack, eat lunch at the food court, then nap before MNSSHP! The first two items went without a hitch, the third , not so much. Although Amazon said our box fan (for DH) and mattress topper (for me) had been delivered the day before, it wasn’t in our room. So, between those items we need for good rest and the adrenaline from being at Disney running through our veins, we couldn’t sleep. So, at 3pm we dressed in our “costumes” and headed for the party, stopping by the concierge to inquire about our undelivered items.

That’s when we first heard the bad news. The concierge said that they have been swamped with packages from South America, and ours were still in the hub (warehouse) and they can’t promise we’ll get them tonight. I said we have health issues, and absolutely cannot sleep without these items. He promised to find them and deliver them to our room. Off to the party!

The first few hours we used our FPPs, but unfortunately my choices (Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) meant we had to cross the park and do a lot of walking in the heat of the day. By 8pm, all of our adrenaline at worn off and our 4am wake up time was catching up with us, but the party was just getting started! My husband was suggesting we go back to the room since we will be coming back to the Magic Kingdom another day, but I was aghast! I explained to him there were experiences at the party we wouldn’t get on a normal day. He groaned, but agreed to get a frozen cappuccino and carry on. I was upset to find no gypsy woman sitting on a quite empty bench outside of HM, I couldn’t find the Cadaver Dans and the Headless Horseman had been cancelled due to a brief shower that evening (so brief we didn’t bother with ponchos).

We sat down on the porch outside of Chrystal Palace, contemplating middle age and exhaustion when Hallowishes suddenly started and we accidentally had gotten a fairly good place to watch them. This boosted our spirits and I managed to convince hubby to stay long enough to see the second Boo to You parade. I had to give up my longing to see the Hocus Pocus show, although I had glimpsed snatches of it while we were running around earlier. We got curb side seats in the Town Square so it was easy to leave toward the buses. I vowed then and there to never try to squeeze a park day in on arrival day again. Honestly, the party was just a blur. We would have been so much better swimming and going to bed early that night for the next day.

Thank heavens our fan and mattress topper were in the room when we got back. Unfortunately, the 2 additional packages I ordered and tracking showed delivered this day were not. Oh well, I would check in the morning again.


You two are so cute!! [quote=“SecretAgentMinnie, post:1, topic:28288”]
I did forget however, that we are middle aged

Ha! I sometimes forget this too! :smile:
Can’t wait to read more!

Day Two: Epcot Center, Canada side

We were dragging. My TP started at 10am because I knew my husband would balk at waking earlier, but we were having a tough time even making this deadline. Plus, I had to stand in line and inquire at the Concierge for my other packages. All they could do was take note of our tracking numbers and they would try to find them. They said that they got 800 packages in one week, half of them don’t even have the guest name on them. Mine were properly addressed, I couldn’t figure out why they just didn’t quickly deliver the ones they could deliver and then go back to solving the other puzzles…sigh

So, when I created my TPs, I balanced things that were mega headlines with not so amazing stuff that was never the less an experience I wanted to have since as far as I knew, this may be my only trip to WDW in my lifetime. TP does an excellent job of putting things in order to minimize walking and waiting. Not so much to please antsy husbands. The thing is…my husband was not impressed with the first three steps: Nemo and the Seas tanks, Turtle Talk with Crush, The Circle of Life. After we finished Nemo he was like…what about Soarin’?? I was like, well, first we … the look on his face when I told him the plan. We jumped steps and went to Soarin’. I learned to optimize on the go fairly quickly. :stuck_out_tongue:

Off to the World Showcase, and I was in heaven. I was awed at the amazing architecture and themeing. Food & wine booths were all around, but we have a day specifically dedicated to that another day, so we focused on the pavilions. We had fish and chips and great beer in an English pub, crepes in France for a snack, and Moroccan food at Restaurant Marrakesh. All were excellent, all were delicious! We finished the half of the WS we were doing that day early, so we took a Friendship Boat back to FW and did a couple of the attractions we skipped that morning. I convinced my husband with promises of leisurely rides in air conditioning. Unfortunately, the boats stop at dusk and that meant walking all the way to Morocco and back for our ADR, but the meal was worth it! Belly dancing and awesome food!

Alice was charming, and upset that the Mad Hatter hadn’t completed making my hat (visor). We tried looking for the charming Charlie Pearson, who, with her sister Gaby, have become the mascots of the Facebook Liners group. But just as we were wearily leaving at the end of the night, we spied her! And took a quick selfie.

When we got back, no packages. Despite being nearly half dead, I went to the front desk to inquire. She was apathetic and shrugged. She’d check, but they have so many packages, they are prioritizing by day of check out. WHAT? I went to bed, determined to try get my packages in the morning.


Day Three: Mexican side of Epcot

Alternate title: the attempted raising of the dead (us).

We didn’t want to get up. Can we just hit snooze for I don’t know…20 or 30…hours?

But DH, we have FPPs we have to get too! I got our coffee from the food court, we ate quickly the breakfast bars, fruit and yogurt we had packed and headed for the buses thinking we might just make the first FPP within the grace period…In my delirium, I tried to re-optimize our TP to account for the late start, and confused our 10 am (Mission: Space) and 11am (Spaceship Earth) FPPs. So, I got on the 2nd one early instead of the first one late. Oye! However, they waved us in anyway since the Standby Line wasn’t very long. Then, I had the try to explain WHY we had to stand 30 minutes in line for Test Track instead of another FPP (he knew we could get three). He couldn’t quite grasp the tier system or why I prioritized Frozen Ever After over TT (I mean, in his mind, the priority was obvious, lol).But after my third round of trying to explain, he gave up trying to understand and decided to just trust me on this one. By then, the waiting was over and we enjoyed building our car! It won 2 of the three tests. I pledged I would try to get a FPP for the ride again that night (I did, as soon as we swiped at FEA I used the app and scored one at 8:10pm).

We decided to take the Friendship Boats to Morocco, have lunch in Japan and work our way around the showcase starting in America. We managed to catch the tail end of the Voices of Liberty to my delight (and my DH’s relief, as he didn’t really want to watch the whole concert). When we got in the AA theater, DH was like, “Where are the presidents?” “That’s in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, dear.” “Oh.”

Once again, the pavilions were a treat. The day before we had voted Morocco as the best one, today Germany took that honor. We rode FEA, but although it was cute, it was “one and done” for me. Glad for that FPP, though, because the stand by line was at 70 minutes. NO WAY the ride was worth that wait!

I knew at Biergarten we would be sitting with other people, and I was kind of looking forward to the social aspect of that, but the three other couples resisted my attempt at engaging them in conversation (they were all younger than us) so, that was that. A bit awkward. The smorgasbord was fantastic, and we shared a beer flight. And I discovered GRAPEFRUIT BEER and that was a revelation. Delicious!

I had planned Illuminations for that night, but we were going to be back one more day for Food & Wine and we decided to leave after dinner and get much needed sleep. Of course, there was still my missing packages…

Once again, we got really no help from the desk. They said someone was delivering, they’d have her look for our tracking numbers and deliver them that night. We stayed up another hour waiting. Suddenly, I saw a flashing light on the room phone showing we had a message. But the phone never rang! Anyway, on the message they said they couldn’t find one package and the other tracking number was invalid.

All dreams of getting to bed earlier dashed, I once again went down to the front desk. Of course the woman I spoke to earlier was gone for the night, and the check in people said they really can’t do anything, to check back in the morning. They updated the bad tracking number, as the other person had evidently typed it in wrong. These packages had very important, embarrassing items I forgot to pack. I was getting very upset, I needed my packages. Off to bed…


Day Four: Animal Kingdom and our Anniversary!

This day was planned to be so special, September 23, 2011 is the day we said “I do” and you know, you pressure yourself to have the perfect romantic day. So, when I went to the concierge desk for the 99th time that morning, I was already feeling emotional. Add that to the heat, the exhaustion, and the shear indifference to my predicament I once again experienced from the cast member manning the desk, I broke down. I was in tears. I need my packages. This wasn’t just some whim or fun item that I could live without. A manager came up with tissues. I told him every website for Disney planning recommended you ship some things rather than pack them (he looked alarmed at that). He said it wasn’t like the good old days when a few packages came in, they’d tuck them in the back room at bell services, then deliver them. They are now getting dedicated trucks arriving daily from Amazon alone. They had to dedicate a warehouse at each resort just to sort them. They can’t keep up with the volume increase this past year (more than 5 times the volume of the previous year). I tell you now, DO NOT ship things to your room unless you just can’t possibly pack them. Even then, you are better off with Garden Grocer or the like. Even Prime Now goes to the warehouse, NOT bell services. I was shaking and sobbing. I said I need these items for health reasons. I said I’m spending so much time searching for them coming back to the desk, losing sleep and time in the parks. Can he please sprinkle a little pixie dust and help? I was hoping maybe a couple of FPPs or something. Instead he said “Sure! Go to the park, let us look for the package.” That was it. I let my husband (who came down looking for me) hug me and bring me back upstairs. I took a shower and pulled myself together. It was my wedding anniversary!

We wore our obligatory matching shirts and our anniversary buttons and off we went! Animal Kingdom is a feast for the eyes. And we were hoping all that shade would mean a cooler time. We were wrong. All the vegetation blocks any chance of the slightest breeze. All that tall foliage held in a bubble of humid heat, like a greenhouse. My husband was having a very hard time of it. We were both melting. I had to shave off 1/3rd of our plans on our TP because we just could not walk around much in the exhibits. We missed the Lion King show entry by 1 minute (and they are STRICT). The highlights were Expedition Everest, the Safari and our lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, which was populate by many birds looking for scraps. One landed feet first on a plate of a poor man up getting flatware and napkins, I shooed the bird away as he came running thanking me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the food he was enjoying immensely had bird feet in it earlier. My husband was terrible feeding the birds, despite all the signs telling you not to feed the wildlife.

We also enjoyed the Flights of Wonder show very much, and my husband was tickled they included chickens in the show (for comic relief) as we are fond of our small flock of suburban hens we have in our backyard.

I was very glad I had already timed a 4 hour break between leaving AK and our ADR for Garden Grill that night. We were able to get back to our room and sleep, then shower, and be completely refreshed. No packages yet, though. I was too worn out about the issue to go see the front desk again. I figured I’d be lucky I’d get them before check out.

Meanwhile, I got pretty, DH got handsome, and we went for some fancy vittles and Hallowishes! We called an Uber. Waited, waited, watched the little car drive past us on the app. Finally, a call. The driver was asking for directions. What? I said I’m a tourist, how would I know? He said sorry, it was his first day. I had no confidence he could find the Contemporary, either. So, through the app I cancelled the trip and used Lyft instead (Uber wouldn’t let me choose a different driver). About 5 minutes into the drive with the Lyft driver, I got a text from the Uber driver “I’m here, where are you?” I was incredulous. I told him I cancelled the trip through the app and I’m already halfway to my destination. I then got a message from Uber that the driver charged me a cancellation fee. Oh no he didn’t!! I requested a refund the next day. I understand being new, but knowing how complicated WDW can be, he should have spent several days driving around and familiarizing himself with all the resorts and parks, and their pick up/drop off locations. And asking the tourist for directions was down right unprofessional.

When we got to California Grill, it certainly was impressive. We were told there was no chance for a window seat, but that was ok. Our table was nice, our waiter was friendly and enthusiastic. The menu was a bit intimidating because we really don’t eat at high end restaurants at all. When the food came out, the plating was elegant, but the portions were small and neither my DH or I felt the flavors were outstanding or anything. We’d never pay for the food out of pocket for sure. I was hoping for some complementary champagne for our anniversary, but instead we got a rather dry and said cupcake. When Hallowishes started, we discovered one of the observation decks was closed for refurbishment and the only one open was packed nearly shoulder to shoulder with people. We couldn’t get to the railing so the bottom half of the view was cute off for me by a sea of heads. :disappointed: We asked to have dessert packed up to go, and that was great because I picked the apple fritter thingys, and they were divine for breakfast the next morning with our tea and coffee.

Preston slipping me the Mickey: :sweat_smile:

And FINALLY, when we got back (Lyft again) our packages were in our room, along with this:

I hate pink, but I appreciated the gesture. Things were getting better. The night ended well. :kissing_heart:


I love trip reports! Great pics!

Day Five: Magic Kingdom, focusing on Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square

We had a late night, so once again, I am dragging. Oddly, my husband is bright-eyed and bushy tailed and wakes me up with my hot tea. I don’t wanna wake up, mommy. Oh wait, yes…FPPs must be met…

Since we showered last night, it was quicker to get out, but of course we were still late. The night before, I had really thought long and hard about how I scheduled the TPs. And I discovered we each tour like we shop: I like to make thorough lists, and go methodically up and down each aisle not to miss anything. He, on the other hand, gets in, gets what he wants, gets OUT. That’s how he wanted to do the parks, too. So, I re-did our entire TP for today, pulling out some things that appeal to me, but not him. I also had a talk with him about compromising for some things I like, like I paid for the ding dang Memory Maker and he groaned at about every picture I wanted to take! Seriously, there are many pictures I’m still upset we didn’t get, because I had to pick my battles for my giant 3 year old sometimes. And I’m sure he’d have a few words about the boring stuff and lines I made him stand in. (Honestly, 30 minutes was the longest line we had the whole trip but he’d still complain that a FPP line was taking 8 minutes.) But I digress…

Now, I knew that this would be the highest crowd level day for us. One of the parks had to be on a Saturday, and this just happened to be the one that fit into the plan. But wowza, CL 7 was quite a shock. Preston looked at me like I was crazy for picking this day but I explained all the parks will be naturally higher crowds on the weekend. Our TP saw us through, though, and he was impressed with that!

We didn’t take many pictures at all that day, which is sad.

So, we both agreed with these crowds, the heat, and the laundry we need to do, that it would be nice to cut our early and go swimming while doing laundry (laundry center is right next to pool). One snag: I had a Be Our Guest ADR for 8:15 because at the time the park hours were listed to close at 9pm and I was trying to maximize touring time. However, the hours were now extended to 11 pm (which is another reason for the crowds, none party night being the biggest reason). We couldn’t really “cut our early” with such a late ADR. I tried, but there was no way to get an earlier one that late. I contemplated cancelling (that’s what DH wanted to do) but I knew this was our one and only chance to eat at BOG and it had been so hyped in the Disney discussions.

I asked in the Lines chat how early did they think they’d let me check in? They weren’t hopeful, maybe 15-20 minutes? I showed up at 7:45 and was told they were running 25 minutes behind, there was no way we could check in any earlier than 8:10 for our 8:15 ADR. Bummed, we wandered through some gift shops while we waited. However, once checked in we were seated almost immediately so apparently they were catching up or maybe it was easy since it was only the two of us. Still hoping to get back to the room maybe slightly earlier, I asked for the check right away and to pre-pack our desserts to go. The waiter and I joked about him living up to the generous tip he was getting before the service. He did indeed live up to it, and even gave us a free “Grey Stuff” dessert to go in our bag. The food portions were generous, and it was tasty. But it wasn’t so spectacular that it was better than swimming and going to bed. :unamused: We got up, and met the Beast in his study.

As we were leaving the restaurant, we looked up and saw that the last of Wishes was going on. That should have been a warning for me, but I was clueless about what was about to happen.

The fireworks ended, and we made the mistake of heading for the hub. As we started on the bridge, we were suddenly in a crowd should to shoulder that wasn’t moving. At all. A single line of people on once side of the bridge were shouting and trying to go against the flow, telling us “what part of stay to the right don’t you guys understand” and “can’t you at least give us two feet to get through”. We had no idea what was going on, and neither did anyone around us. Two men almost came to blows over something. We couldn’t go forward. We couldn’t go backward. I started panicking, asked a woman coming from the hub determined using her stroller to push her way through “What’s happening?” she said the whole hub was like this, no one can move.

After literally about 10 minutes, we slowly started moving. There were cast members trying to split the bridge in half, “Keep to the right! Keep to the right!” to get things moving. The hub and main street were packed with people trying to leave. I looked in vain for the back ways I were told were sometimes opened up when this happens, but didn’t see any. Complicating matters, people were sitting and standing all along the curbs waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade to start. My husband turned into my Knight and Shining Armor, took my hand and lead me firmly to the exit. It took another 10 minutes to make it. Of course there was a huge crowd at the buses, too. We didn’t make it on the first bus already there, and not on the second one that quickly came after. The bus driver said “Don’t worry folks, they know you’re here, another bus is on the way.” We were the first in line for the third bus, one of those long ones with the bendy middle. It said “Animal Kingdom” when he drove up but changed the name to ASSports when he pulled up. He said “Ok folks, your free to board the bus to…um, wait, where am I going?” and we all laughed as he checked the sign. “Oh right, Sports!” with a big smile. We sat down and were relieved to be going back but there was no time left for swimming or laundry.


@SecretAgentMinnie, I am really enjoying this! I liked your shopping analogy for how you and DH like to visit the parks. Glad you enjoyed your anniversary trip and look forward to reading more!

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@SecretAgentMinnie you two are such a cute Minnie & Mickey! Enjoying your report. You’ve got me thinking I need to streamline my TP as they may be doomed to fail as is. I shop the way you do and DH is like more like your DH so I probably have too much in mine.

I am really enjoying your report! My DH and I went to WDW on our honeymoon, went again to celebrate our 1st anniversary and we are going in December to celebrate our 5th anniversary a little early! Can’t wait to read along some more, I am loving your pictures.

Day Six: Magic Kingdom focusing on Fantasyland, Tomorrowland & Main Street

The night before, I had sat down the adjust our TP and realized because Main Street doesn’t have rides, and many rides in the other lands are so small child oriented, and we have no parades, shows or fireworks, that we actually only have about 4-6 hours of activity planned. Plus, the crowds should be really low due to this being a party night. Our first FPP was after lunch too boot.

So, we slept in. Ate the “Grey Stuff” with our coffee (turns out it’s a yummy chocolate brownie with whipped cream type frosting). Went swimming, did our laundry and ate lunch at the resort. When we left for the park, we were fully refreshed. We enjoyed low-key day.

When I walked into the park wearing my Disney Villain t-shirt, a security guard asked me why I was wearing pictures of all his ex’s? :laughing:

When the party guests started arriving and the day was done, we hopped on the Monorail to have dinner at the Coral Reef in Epcot. My husband had been looking forward to the Monorail ride. I, however, had been pre-warned by Liners was worried. I was pleasantly surprised that it was well air conditioned and clean. Dinner was fun, the food was really good (he had the Mahi Mahi and I had the Salmon) but the cast member’s costumes were ghastly. I mean, just ugly. The did nothing to flatter the servers, and smiles were scarce, too. We took the time to look at the aquarium we skipped the other day. I still couldn’t convince my husband to go to Turtle Talk or re-ride Nemo. Oh well.

Back to the resort, and to bed at a decent time for once. I can’t believe I said that.


Dh and I are usually reminded the hard way that we too, are middle aged.

Love your costumes!

And thank you so much for taking the time to share your trip report. Our next trip (fingers crossed) will be for my 50th birthday and your experiences will help shape our planning so much!

Thank you for posting your trip report. I was debating between amazon & garden grocer and I will definitely go with Garden Grocer. It is easy to forget that we don’t have the energy we used to. Looking forward to reading more.

I am really enjoying your report! I do not think I have even seen the inside of Coral Reef!

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I just thought that same thing!

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Loved all of the pictures!

This was great! Thanks so much. My husband and I are headed to WDW for our 30th anniversary in 2 weeks. OY - we have to be up by 4 am and we have MNSSHP tickets the first night OH NO. And we are only there 5 nights. And my husband is already giving me a hard time about TPs. This should be interesting! I guess we will just go with the flow!!!

Great report. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more!

It’s great to see how your trip went after months of planning!