Planning the perfect trip — your help is required

Regular readers will know that I will be back in Orlando in December. But this time I’ll be bringing three friends.

I want to blow their minds.

Regular readers will also know that I’ve just returned from Orlando — from my third trip this year, and my ninth since I started visiting WDW in 2017.

Did you ever eat something as a kid that made you sick and turned you against that thing for the rest of your life? That kinda happened to me in Orlando in June. I got hit by some kind of heat-related sickness and, it turns out, COVID. I spent two of my four WDW days in bed. It kinda turned me against the place.

I want to fall in love with WDW again.

The initial motivation for this upcoming trip was to see Orlando through fresh eyes. To try to recapture the thrill I felt on my first trip by seeing that thrill in my friends.

The outline plan is this.

Sunday: Fly London to Orlando. Anty has never been in a plane before. Stuart has never flown further than Europe. Minds will already be blown. (I upgraded us all to Premium Economy, which is like domestic business class. And made sure Anty has a window seat.) On arrival, transfer to the Hard Rock at UOR. The parks will probably be closed by the time we’re settled in, so I guess we explore the hotel and CityWalk and get to bed at a sensible time.

Monday, Tuesday: UOR with EPs. I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing. Not difficult to blow minds.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Transfer to ASMo. We have four-day park-hoppers. This is where you people come in.

Sunday: Disney Springs (also you people) and then flight home.

At this stage of the planning I’m trying to make a list of absolute must-dos. Premium, Grade A, only-at-Disney experiences that will cause jaws to drop and will stop Anty moaning about how disappointing it all is. And persuade Paul that it’s not just some lame kids theme park.

So this is where you come in. What would be on your list?

I want to be careful with costs, so I’m not looking for up-charge activities. MVMCP and WAT, for example, are out. They have asked for one “posh” dinner. But realistically that means only one.

Here are my initial thoughts.

  1. For the posh dinner I’m thinking CG — with a reservation time that has us arriving in daylight so that we see WDW in the sunshine and at night, via the sunset. The 50th anniversary dinner is good, and affordable (and prix fixe, which makes budgeting clear). You get the view. You get the fireworks. I can’t think of anywhere better. Oh, and you get the Contemporary: not impressive at Christmas, but an OG hotel that the monorail fricken drives right through.

  2. WL, AKL and the GF: they’re all stunning at any time, but at Christmas they’re unbeatable. WL could be a side-trip from the CR before / after dinner. Via boat (see comment at point 4). Oh, or breakfast there. They’ll enjoy the shenanigans. AKL could include breakfast at Boma — one of my favourites.

  3. Trader Sam’s has been requested: @juliamc knows how to get us in.

  4. I’d like to do a character meal. My own favourite is CM, but that’s at CR and I don’t want to go there twice. I personally don’t like the character outfits at TT, or the food, but the venue has awesome views. And is on the Skyliner. (Hitting multiple modes of transportation is important to Anty.) TH isn’t a very exciting venue, and the food may be too adventurous. Inexplicably, GG breakfast is still not back. Nor is 1900PF, one of my favourites.

  5. Oga’s, presumably. And Space 220 (ideally lounge, to control costs).

  6. Harmonious, obviously. Trashchantment, too. (Well, they won’t realise it’s trash. And if Tink deigns to fly, that is kinda jaw-dropping.) I feel like they might find Fantasmic boring. Sorry.

  7. What other spectacular dining options are there? Sci-Fi? (I’ve still never been.) 50s Diner? (They might enjoy the shenanigans there. And I’ve never been.) These also serve the kind of basic food I know they’ll like. BOG? Nah. Too expensive. Not that jaw-dropping.

Obviously I know what I’m doing rides-wise. I’m not sure they’ll be much into shows. (And I don’t think I could sell them the Candlelight Processional.)

Disney Springs? Balloon thing? Boat-car thing? Expensive cookie place that people rave about?

Your ideas? What blows you away?


Oh yeah. I’m kinda obsessed with CSR. So, maybe tour that. Nice views from Dahlia.


I’m not sure what will blow minds or drop jaws, but Drawn to Life would be a unique experience.

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Sorry to hear about the Covid. That’s a bummer. I hope you’re feeling better.

How about Crystal Palace for character breakfast? I thought I read recently that it’s coming back.

I would not classify 50’s or Sci-Fi as spectacular. different, interesting, fun? sure. The PB&J shake at 50’s is sublime. The food is classic american. the green beans are a soggy crappy boiled mess. everything else is pretty good.

If you go to CSR Toledo is a must do. It was soooooo good when we went this past May. Like on the regular rotation from now on good. Hanging out at Dahlia at sunset time before the reservation would be stellar.

The balloon at Disney Springs is a lot of fun. Haven’t done the boatcar thing.

Brilliant idea!


Yeah, but it costs money. I mean, so does the balloon and boat-car. But Anty’s really into modes of transportation.

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I liked that one, too. Not back yet.

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I think he’d like the boatcar more than the balloon. It’s not like the balloon goes anywhere, it’s tethered. It’s not like you’re going on a balloon ride.

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What about Sanaa for appetizers as meals (for cost)/giraffes outside the window? Kinda unique to Disney (and Africa)


I was going to say Sanaa or Boma because great food and great atmosphere plus the animals.

As far as Disney Springs, I’m a big fan of Jaleo - sit on the patio, looking at the water and share a pitcher of Sangria. Similar experience at Boathouse being on the water, just different food.

The DS Disney store is impressive/overwhelming. There’s also the Christmas Shoppe and I like the Marketplace Co-op.

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Crystal palace lunch and dinner with characters has been announced for reopening on Sept 20. No breakfast yet…

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The nice thing about the Candlelight Processional is you can go to it for free - if you want to spend the time arriving early and staying for all of it. The “lite” version is to just wander past while they perform, then watch and listen for a short bit. No cost, takes only a short time. That’s what we do.


In terms of a character meal, if you want to do a breakfast I’d say TT only because you could go out on the balcony afterwards, food is good and you would get to see some classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy). O’hana is reopening for character breakfast but that’s Lilo and Stitch so not really the classic characters. I do like Artist Point - love the food and characters but that’s a dinner.

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ohhhh. That must have been what I was thinking of. Bummer. I hope they bring back breakfast soon. It’s a family favorite.

SciFi is a unique restaurant and you MUST DO IT!

I liked Storybook Dining. Evil Queen was great. I had a shirt with a silhouette of her that said “I’m not Evil, I"m just misunderstood” She loved it. Grumpy gave me grief over it. The best character interactions were at 1900 Park Fare with Stepsisters and Stepmom. They were hilarious. Sadly that’s currently not an option.

The simple act of being there at that time of year is mind-blowing. GF had a huge choir singing carols while we were there. Seeing it snow as we left DHS was amazing. Do the things you can only do during the holidays. Storytellers at Epcot and the cookie stroll.

Don’t forget to see Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club gingerbread displays as well as CR, GF, WL. We got a gingerbread cookie at each resort. All were different.


I’ve done the Rock and Roll Brunch at City Works. Mimosa flights …and who doesn’t love a donut stop belivin’ or a Jon Bun Jovi or even a Chimi Hendrix?

Pandora at night blew my mind.

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It is so unfortunate you got hit so hard WHILE on your vacation. BUT, due to the timing, it is more likely you caught COVID BEFORE you got to Orlando…possibly on the plane…but more likely while you were in London. “Usually” symptoms don’t start for 2-3 days after contracting COVID. I don’t say this to dismiss anything…but to, perhaps, remove some of the ill feelings (pun intended) you have toward the WDW experience.

When last we spoke about his, your flight was coming in at like 3-ish. Is this still the case? Was hoping you were coming in a bit earlier so that I could pick you all up…but if your flight is still landing then, the timing might be too tight. We have tickets for the Christmas party, so plan to have a Steakhouse 71 ADR booked at 5:00.


Fantasmic IS boring, not sorry.

SciFi was fun but very very very dark and the movie clip show is shorter than the length of an average meal so they start to loop.

Do you care what meal you do a character meal for? What about breakfast at Cape May? Apparently characters are back Oct 4.

Homecomin’ for some “traditional American” food?

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I tend to think that Sanaa is a risk, because there’s really no point if you don’t get a window seat.

Also, the food may be too exciting for my friends.

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@JuliaMc thinks I got COVID on the plane, but she thinks she’s right about everything, despite being almost entirely wrong all the time. Point 1: I was in Upper Class with no-one sitting within six feet or more of me. Point 2: I had both air vents directed at my face. Point 3: Despite @juliamc’s flat-earth, contrails nonsense, Virgin planes have industrial sized HEPA filters that scrub the entire cabin air every 2-3 minutes.

I think I either got it at the theatre (I wore a mask during the performance, i.e. when I was seated, but not otherwise) or at the airport (in the infinitely long line for security: I don’t think I wore a mask then).

Nonetheless, I was sick while I was at WDW and so feeling bad and WDW are now associated in my mind. As is feeling bad and being anywhere near @juliamc.

We land at 3.20pm on the 11th. Normally, I whizz through the airport because I have Global Entry, but my friends don’t so we’ll be in the regular line. That being said, we will be some of the first off the plane (because of where we’re sitting) and the last few trips I’ve done the flight has arrived to an empty immigration control hall.

That’s a bit doomed, then.

And that’s your last day?

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