Robinlg1's super-late but hopefully still helpful and relevant to some Thanksgiving 2019 trip report

I started this trip report while I was still at Disney three months (!) ago. I’ve debated whether or not to finish it, much less post it. Part of that is due to how late it’s gotten, part of that is due to not wanting the trip to end, and if the report’s not finished … And part of it is because there were plenty of less than magical moments on the trip that I wasn’t sure I wanted to share with the world. I decided to write the report and post it anyway to relive the happy parts, acknowledge all good things must come to an end, share my experience of Disney at Thanksgiving, and share some of the reality of family travel. Let me say this – People here in the forums were so very helpful in my planning. I read a lot a lot a lot of threads, learned great tips and tricks, got feedback on my customized touring plans, and I am convinced that this really added to the quality of our trip. So thanks, neighbors!

Travel group was DH42, DS4, turning 5 on the trip, DS15, spending a portion of the trip with his HS marching band (4.5 days) and a portion with us (3.5 days), and me. This is a 3rd WDW trip for both DH and me; we each went (separately) as teens in the late 80s, and DH and I took DS15 back when he was DS7, in June 2012. This was DS4-5’s first trip. We traveled Friday, Nov. 22 – Friday, Nov. 29 and stayed at CBR in a standard room. We did not do the dining plan but we did buy mugs, first two, then a third, then a fourth, and we more than got our money’s worth. I purchased room only from Disney website, eight day park hoppers from Undercover Tourist, and in using the calculators and reviewing menus, I thought the dining plan would be too much food and not worth the money, and after the fact, I was right about that.

Friday, November 22
DS15 slept over at his friend’s house and they went to airport together to meet the marching band, so the day began for DH, DS4 and me around 3:30 a.m., to allow a one hour drive to the airport and departure on a 7 a.m. flight. Lowlights included staying up packing until midnight, realizing halfway to the airport I’d left the DME luggage tags at home, and getting through security and making it to the gate, to realize I’d left my phone in our car. Highlights included DS4’s excitement about the airport and plane trip. Also, CAK is a small airport and our flight was delayed, so I made it to the car and back in plenty of time. And the delay was short in that we were able to make up time on the way to CLT and arrive in Orlando at noon, as scheduled. The flights themselves were uneventful, DS enjoyed it and slept some on the second leg.

At MCO we collected our luggage and made our way to DME. We waited maybe 5-10 minutes before boarding and were among the last boarded. CBR was the first stop, so all in all it was a quick trip. I was so very excited when we got moving and the video started, only to look down and realize DS was asleep again.

Upon arrival we were headed to Bell Services to check the bags when we were intercepted by a cast member. He helped us get the bags stashed and then ushered us to check-in. I had already checked in online the day before, but we went anyway. We were the first in line and waited about 10 minutes to talk with a cast member. Room not ready, so we went to get something to eat. Can I just interject here that I felt a weird pressure to decline Mousekeeping. The person checking me in must have asked me three times. When I am on vacation, I want the room cleaned, and preferably not by me. With all we’d spent on the trip thus far, the extra cash didn’t seem worth it. But the pressure pitch felt strange.

We got DS4 a brownie from the market while we worked on mobile order for Centertown. We probably didn’t need it at that meal, but I’m glad we figured it out early in the trip because many times, at the resort and in the parks, we mobile ordered and avoided some very long lines.
The selection at Centertown Market is a little limited, but it is themed to the Caribbean, and it was nice to have more than chicken fingers, burgers and fries. We had Cuban sandwiches, the first of several that trip, fries and fruit, and shared some sort of yummy rum drinky-drink and sat outside near the water to relax and enjoy our meal. Shortly after we’d finished lunch, we took a quick walk around Old Port Royale and got the room ready text, Jamaica 4346. Second floor, corner room. It was not the building I requested via TP email at 30 days out, but it was a great building and room. I really wanted second floor and just lucked into the corner with extra window. View was courtyard and other buildings, which was nice. And we were very near the Skyliner, which worked well for us.

The room itself was fine. The furnishings were in good condition given the heavy use. The brown carpet is worn and needs to go; it makes the room feel less clean. I could tell our side table wasn’t completely clean (streaks, fingerprints) and the tub/shower/toilet and surrounding floor could have been cleaner, esp. the floor. It hardly seemed worth calling Mousekeeping about. I wiped a few things down, we unpacked some, and called bell services. They delivered the luggage within 10 minutes of the call. So at that, we were on our way.

The beach is my happy place and to that end, I loved CBR. The grounds felt lush and tropical, so peaceful and relaxing. Yes, it is spread out, but last trip we stayed at CSR, and that resort is also lovely and spread out, too. We played a little on one of the beaches near our room, laid in all the hammocks, and visited the playground on Caribbean Cay, which was great for DS. Probably about 4 p.m. we got moving for our 5:40 ADR at Chef Mickey’s.

DS is a big fan of all things transportation, so we took the bus to MK, DS fell asleep again, and then the monorail to the Contemporary, which he seemed to enjoy. That is sort of the last thing he truly enjoyed that evening until we were back at the resort. I think everyone was tired, esp. DS, and it showed in his behavior, and mine. For example, his reaction when I gave him an autograph book at an early birthday present was not at all characteristic of my sweet boy or what I had expected, and I ended up in tears. Not the way I had hoped to start dinner.

I hadn’t expected much from CM’s but I left pleasantly surprised. The food was actually pretty good, esp. the beef dishes, and there was plenty of choice for picky eaters. My husband and I each had a cocktail; watermelon margarita for me and something with bourbon for him. Both were good. DS would not sit on the outside where the characters could easily reach him, though after the first visit, Mickey, he did sit on the outside of the bench. I kept thinking he or one of the characters would get thwapped by the door, which he may have deserved, but they did not. I was surprised that we had to tell him more than once to be kind of gentle with the characters, but we did. As you know, the Fab 5 rotated through, we got a couple good pictures and a lot of bad to mediocre ones.

After dinner we got back on the monorail and it was so fun to see the castle all lit up at night, which made all of us very excited. When we exited and were headed back to the bus, DS saw all of the people headed into MVMCP and wanted to go in, too. We had an eight-day parker hopper (overkill for an eight day vacation with small children, IMHO) but obviously not party tickets. I had considered it and really wanted to go, but I got advice here to call it an early night so we could be ready to go in the morning, and that was spot-on for us, as the MVPCP near-meltdown proved. We headed back to the room, DS fell asleep on the bus, again, and we were all in bed, lights out before 8 p.m.


Thanks for posting this. Its always fun to read trip reports. Had planned on doing one after Anniversary trip in Sept and never did.

Saturday, November 23: Animal Kingdom
Park hours: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.; EMH: 8-9 a.m.
RoL: 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m.
Plan: 7:45 a.m. – 8 p.m. with a four-hour break in the middle; Actual: 8:15 a.m. – 1 p.m. at AK
Predicted CL: 6; Actual CL: 5
Scheduled FPPs: KS 10:45 a.m.; Dinosaur 5:45 p.m., NRJ 6:45 p.m.; Scheduled FPPs used: 0; Additional FPPs obtained: 0
Scheduled meals: TS 11:50 a.m. RoL at Tusker House, AK; QS dinner, possibly Flame Tree BBQ, AK; Actual meals: TS 11:50 a.m. RoL at Tusker House, AK; QS dinner 6:30 p.m. at Spyglass Grill, CBR

I picked AK for day 1 because the DS15’s HS marching band scheduled their day at AK. In retrospect, I probably should have picked MK, at least for rope drop. MK is what DS had in mind for Disney World. And it really is a magical way to start your vacation.

As I am writing this, I laugh at the fact that I actually thought that I would have my family AT the tapstiles at 7:45 a.m. DH is NOT an early riser. DS4 gets up like clockwork at 7 a.m. every day. I got up first, probably at 6:15 and showered and blew my hair dry, then DH got up and I trotted over to Centertown for coffee for us; this became our morning routine. I had scheduled a wake-up call for DS; it was Olaf (!); he was unimpressed and uninterested in getting up at 7. It all seemed like a good idea, but I probably should have planned to let him sleep. We got dressed in our coordinating AK garb, headed over the Centertown to grab pastries, and went to the main bus stop. The bus stop wait was only like 10 minutes and we were on our way.

When we arrived at AK, DS was already disappointed. He kept saying he wanted to go to Disney World, and I know he meant MK. The tapstile area was starting to get some crowds, but the true EMH rope drop crowds were already through. We did bag check, which was quick, and headed straight to Pandora. I had this nagging feeling that even with the FPP for NRJ, we should try to knock it out early and ended up being right about that. We were in line at 8:25 and off in about 20-25 min. We all enjoyed NRJ; DH and I thought it was really beautiful and relaxing. I know a lot of people say it’s one and done. I wouldn’t wait much longer than we did to ride it, but I would certainly ride it again and probably see something new doing it.

We headed toward KS next to get there before the 9 a.m. opening, also a good choice. I do wish we’d lingered in Pandora a little more because we didn’t get to see much of it. I figured we would come back in the evening, but as you can see above, we left the park around 1 and didn’t end up coming back that day.

That line, too, was relatively short, less than 10 minutes. We got into line just before 9 and were off by 9:40. We had some animals stop in the road ahead of us several times, so that slowed it down a little. We got to sit in the first row of our ride vehicle, which was pretty neat. We saw all kinds of animals including DS’s and my favorite, the giraffes. The hippos were great, so were the elephants. It was sunny and pleasant that morning and contributed to an enjoyable experience.

Next on the plan was taking the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and visiting the Affection Section. I figured that DS would love it since he loves our home zoo and the little train there. We got to Affection section and he refused to go see the animals, so I went without him. I petted the goats and brushed them and was having so much fun. When I was ready to leave the area, you guessed it, he was ready to come pet and brush the goats. We were probably at that area 20-25 minutes total, and then went into the Conservation Station. They were just wrapping up an animal procedure on a warthog and the crowd was large enough that we adults could get a glimpse of the action. DS basically ran through CS and was ready to leave, so we decided to take the train back to Harambe.

When we got back, we were supposed to do the Gorilla Falls trail, but DS rejected that, as well as every photo opp along the way. I realized that we could probably make the 11 a.m. showing of FotLK, so I guided us that way. AK felt so stinking crowded; it felt like there were people everywhere. I thought for sure this was a crowd level 10, but as you can see, not even close.

On the way to FotLK, DS saw a frozen treat cart and insisted he was starving, so we stopped. I suggested a Mickey bar, which I knew he would like; he picked a strawberry lemonade popsicle- type thing. I assumed we would not be able to take them in to the theater with us, which may or may not have been a correct assumption. In the interest of avoiding further crabbiness, we wandered over to find a seat somewhere in Harambe. Readers will be pleased to know that at 11 a.m. Tamu was selling Dole Whips with rum, so I bought one to calm my nerves share with DH. Delicious. We watched/listened to the Tam Tam Drummers for a bit and DS decided he hated his popsicle; I tasted it and he was not wrong. It was pretty gross. He then started badgering for a Dole Whip. I decided to walk over to Tusker House to see if we could check in early (30 minutes) for our RoL lunch reservation. No dice. The CM said we could not check in until 15 minutes before. So, I went back to the fam and there was still Dole Whip whining and (gulp) I gave in. He probably took three bites while we caught a bit of Kora Tinga Tinga. I tried to get DS to sit, I tried to get him to play in the drumming area. Nope. Everyone was getting cranky so we made our way back over to TH. The line to check in was now huge. Once checked in, we sat (at least we could sit!) in the sun and waited. On the upside, at least it was the Nov. sun, not the Aug. sun. We were seated 25 minutes after our reservation time. I know the reservations are not a guarantee, but I admit I was just tee’d off. During that 25 minutes, DS harangued me for a Mickey Bar. I held my ground.

Once seated, it took about 10 minutes for a server to come over, but once she did, the service was good; a little slow, but it was busy and she was pleasant. We went through the buffet and were impressed with the selection. There were plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and rolls for super-picky DS. The characters made their way around. The visits were short, shorter than they had been at Chef Mickey’s. They seemed to spend more time at the tables that had multiple kids with them, which I guess makes sense. Once DS was done eating, he was done, and so we left TH without seeking Mickey, about 1:30. DS actually ASKED (begged) for a nap, so we left the park, which was our plan anyway. We were on the bus by 1:40 and back at the resort by 2.

Everyone went to sleep right away except me. I was all worked up. DS didn’t seem to be enjoying any of the magic. I was crabby. Poor DH was trying to keep everyone happy. I just laid down and cried. In retrospect, it was a bit of an overreaction on my part. Logically, I know the plan is a rough guide and any time you travel, and in life in general, a little flexibility goes a long way. I think the rest did us good, at least DH and me.

We had planned to return to AK for DinoLand USA, RoL and Pandora at night, but DS was adamant he did not want to go back to AK. We couldn’t see making everyone miserable, so we decided to walk over to the Martinique Beach for s’mores, 5-6 p.m. The two young ladies running the show over there were so kind and friendly. There weren’t very many other guests around either. DS had never made and cooked a s’more before, so he had a ball, and DH and I enjoyed ourselves, too. He (DS, not DH!) ran around and played in the sand, sat in the lounge chairs; we chatted with the cast members. This ended up being the best part of our day, and I am so glad that we scrapped the plan and to finally relax and enjoy ourselves as a family.

We took an internal bus (DS’s request) over to Trinidad for dinner at the Spyglass Grill. I had fish tacos, DH had another Cuban, and DS had fruit and fries. Another family with two little boys was there, and DS interacted with them some. After our meal DS and I made a short stop to watch a little of Moana on the screen at Caribbean Cay. He cuddled in my lap while we watched (Tamatoa, lol), so another highlight of the evening. When I suggested we go back to the room to rest, even before the movie was over, DS was ready. Another evening with everyone in bed, lights out, before 8:30.


Sunday, November 24: EPCOT
Park hours: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
EPCOT Forever: 9 p.m.
Plan: 7:45 a.m. – 9:30-10 p.m. with a four-hour break in the middle
Actual: 7:45 a.m. – 9:30-10 p.m. at EP
Predicted CL: 6
Actual CL: 7
Scheduled FPPs: TT 9:10 a.m.; SE 10:25 a.m., MS-G 11:25 a.m.
Scheduled FPPs used: SE, MG-G; TT converted to anytime due to ride being down; anytime used for TT later in than scheduled
Additional SDFPPs obtained and used: Figment
Scheduled/planned meals: PPO Garden Grill Breakfast 8:15; plans for lunch QS at resort; plans for dinner light QS in World Showcase; FEA dessert party
Actual meals: PPO Garden Grill Breakfast at 8:15, lunch QS at resort, no dinner, FEA dessert party

This was our only planned EP day for our trip and we came here because the HS band kids would be here this day. I enjoyed my morning routine of getting up before everyone else, getting ready, walking to Centertown for coffee, then getting kiddo(s) up. We walked over to the Skyliner around 7:30 and were at EPCOT IG within 15 minutes. That was our first Skyliner ride of our trip, and it was a lot more awesome than I had anticipated. I am not great with heights but as long as I looked straight ahead I was fine. It was so fun to get a birds eye view of that part of WDW, even the less than beautiful backstatge areas. The whole family loved Skyliner and now I cannot imagine staying anywhere at WDW where it doesn’t run.

We were held at the International Gateway for about five minutes and then let into the park. I’d never used IG before and I really like coming in and leaving the park that way. While I missed seeing SE right away, it was just so easy and it was fun to walk through an empty park. We had an 8:15 PPO ADR at Garden Grill, as recommended by many in this forum, with the plan to ride Soarin’ after breakfast. GG did not disappoint. The food was really good and plentiful, served family style, the server was pleasant, and the character interactions were good, esp. Chip and Mickey. If I had to complain about anything it is that you might not get seated right away, which can leave you feeling rushed, esp. if you plan to ride Soarin’ before park opening, After photos and hugs and deliciousness and coffee, we rode Soarin’, first run of thye day. As others have stated, the ride wasn’t full, everyone was in the center section. My family was in the second row. As we exited, there was a mass of humanity headed down the standby line, so there was no second ride. We popped over to LWTL and took the boat ride, which didn’t disappoint. We noticed the lights and I hoped we’d make it back at night to ride (spoiler: we did).

![20191124_082018|243x500](upload://mI5NY9Gfvdy6BQ2E4W6JMrkeLSj.jpeg) ![20191124_084136|243x500](upload://j0blSIb7Nl6H6V3BodDkpFrLdVQ.jpeg) ![IMG_0215|375x500](upload://tRq0f3rSZyhGcSB7SCERIz3rtNW.jpeg) ![IMG_0219|375x500](upload://aDUFmX5rr28NGFreLWNxiGbJlez.jpeg) 

At this point I got notification that TT was down and our 9:10 FPPs had converted to anytime, so we headed to the Seas and rode Nemo standby, about a 15 minute wait, it was cute but nothing to wait longer for. Next was Turtle Talk. There was a wait for the next show and while it felt like forever it was probably 15-20 minutes. DS did not want to sit up front with the other kids, but I think he liked the show, which has appeal for kids and parents alike. DS was not interested in the tanks at the Seas, he only wanted to ride the escalator, so we left. On our way out, we stopped for a snack break, drumstick for DS, Mickey Bar for me, Coke for DH and relaxed for a few.

We made our way over to SE. where the standby line had gotten pretty long, definitely 60+ minutes, maybe even 90. We breezed by it, tapped for our FPPs, and more or less walked onto the ride. DS really liked this one, too, at least in part because he was in “the golf ball.” We stuck around after and played some of the games. The area felt a little crowded and the games aren’t my thing, but since DS was happy and in a considerably better mood than the two days prior, we played for maybe 20 minutes before getting over to MS-G to use our FPP.

MS-G was a complete hit with DS! We all took the button pressing and joysticks very seriously, and I really think he believed we were flying. We did it again, standby. Both times we took time to play in the space at ride’s exit. We kind of had to drag DS out of there, promising him there was more fun to be had.

Next we used our anytime FPP for Test Track. DH, who is kind of a car guy, took the car designing very seriously, and DS was basically just hitting buttons, making DS a little crazy. We loved our lap around the test track and our car, despite it’s design limitations, came in 2nd overall. DS wanted to do it again but SB was 90+ minutes, so we grabbed a Mickey pretzel and started heading back toward IG for our mid-day rest. On the way, I snagged a FPP for Figment, so we decided to stop. Adorable Figment and his stinky smell and his catchy tunes were another huge hit, as was the play area off the ride, even with a lot of it not working. Following Figment, we walked to IG and took the Skyliner to CBR, arriving around 2:30. A quick mobile order from Centertown (more Cubans) and then a little rest for everyone.

We got moving again around 5:30 and crabby DS had made his return. He wanted to stay at the resort, but with tickets to the FEA dessert party I insisted we go. Skyliner to IG (again, awesome!). The IG and WS area was MUCH busier than when we had left just a few hours earlier. During our rest, DS15 had been texting to tell us he’d blown all of his spending money and didn’t have food money for the next 2 days. I’d have let him figure it out; his trip included two food vouchers per day and we had given him plenty, but DH is a soft-touch, so we went over to meet him. We saw the dessert party getting set up and stopped to chat with the cast members about check in, and then walked to Mexico. While DS15 wasn’t particularly happy to see us, he was happy to see our money. We made it a quick visit and went off to ride GFT. It was fine, much as I remember it, and this may be blasphemy, but I wouldn’t be sad at all to see this ride get a Coco overlay. Sure, Three Caballeros is classic, but it also felt like a dated caricature. Post-ride it dawned on me that we were NOT going to see the whole WS or even half of it prior to the dessert party. We decided we would keep moving, see what we could, and not worry about what we’d miss. Though I think I may have DH convinced we should make an adults-only trip to do WS.

DS is a Frozen-lover; it is the first Disney animated film he saw, and we must have watched it 200 times the week he first saw it, but he said pass on meeting Anna and Elsa. So we went over to China and stayed for the last acrobat show of the evening, which DH and I enjoyed. We had to decide what to do with our last bit of time before checking in to the dessert party. DS got to pick, and he picked Anna and Elsa. We got in line and waited. During our wait we made friends with the woman and little girl in front of us, and shared our glow necklaces, which helped pass the time. The wait was about 25-30 minutes and probably our longest line of the day, and maybe our longest line of the trip. By the time we made it to Anna and Elsa, two things 1. DS no longer wanted to meet them, not even with me holding him. 2. They were wearing the “wrong” costumes. I learned after the fact that these were the Frozen 2 costumes, as Frozen 2 had opened just two days before our visit. Since we were there and had waited, I went ahead and met Anna and Elsa. Anna was a delight and explained to me that DS was concealing, not feeling. Photo snapped. Elsa was … weird. Photo snapped. Quickest meet and greet I’ve ever done. After we left, DS told me, “Mom, that wasn’t Elsa. That was someone in a costume.”

We walked back over to the dessert party, checked in, got wrist bands and were seated at a (tiny) table that had five chairs and was right along a railing on the lake. I fully expected a party of two to join us, but that never happened. I was pretty excited about the menu here, esp. a warm s’mores dessert and a salted caramel dessert. The s’mores thing was fantastic; the salted caramel, not so much. The sleeper for me was the no-sugar lemon curd dessert. We tried the boozy concoctions, which were tasty enough. I will note that since we were there in November, the menu has been updated with new Frozen 2 dessert names, and the offerings of savory items has been expanded. I really enjoyed being able to sit in an assigned and dedicated chair with a back and relax before enjoying the evening show. DH seemed to enjoy it as well. DS was cold (it was chilly) and tired and ready to call it a night. We stayed and I’m glad we did. We liked Epcot Forever, especially the kites, but the music, too. Following the show, we were led, as a group, over to Norway, and rode FEA. DH and I really enjoyed this more than either of us had expected. Sleepy, grumpy DS did not.

When we got off FEA, WS had emptied out so we strolled around the back toward IG and the Skyliner. It occurred to me that we had no idea what time the Skyliner would stop running, so we picked up our pace. We hadn’t needed to, because when we got there, there was a pretty long line for it, and we wouldn’t have missed anything by slowing down to enjoy an empty WS. We waited about 20 minutes for Skyliner but the line moved continuously and before we knew it, we were back at CBR and off to sleep, by 10:30. I know I’ve said it like three times already, but the Skyliner was great. Everyone had a seat, which does not always happen on the buses, it was quick, and we could enjoy the views as we glided back to our resort for the night.


Love the trip report. You did a great job of remembering all the details. I did mine every night when we were there in January but mostly so I would remember everything because it went by so quickly. The skyliner was one of the best things about the trip and mid day breaks. We stayed at POP with DD6, DD4, and DD3 so the skyliner was perfect for us

Thanks. I took notes each day when we rested, so that helps. I think your way is the ideal way. Pop seems like a great choice, too, and I was sorry not to have gotten over there to check it out because if we would like to go any more often than we do, we probably need to think about staying Value. But that Skyliner spoils you! I’ll have to look for your TR, who knows, I may have already read it :slight_smile:

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Monday, November 25: Magic Kingdom
Park hours: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Festival of Fantasy Parade: 2 p.m.
A Frozen Holiday Wish: 6:30 p.m.; 8:15 p.m.
Happily Ever After: 10 p.m.
Plan: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Actual: 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at MK
Predicted CL: 10
Actual CL: 10
Scheduled FPPs: Splash 9:05 a.m.; HM 10:05 a.m.; Magic Carpets 11:05 a.m.
Scheduled FPPs used: All three, but almost missed Splash, did it in the grace period.
Additional FPPs obtained: Picked up PoTC for after dinner but did not use it
Scheduled/planned meals: Early lunch at Pecos Bill or CHH; Early dinner (3:45 p.m.) at Crystal Palace
Actual meals: Breakfast at Sleepy Hollow; Snacks from Starbucks at lunchtime; dinner at Landscape of Flavors at AoA

Today was MK day because this was the day the Pride of Mayfield would march down Main Street prior to the FoF parade! This morning we were on a bus by 8 a.m., got to MK and went through security. DS was surly this morning, and so upon stopping for photos at the beautiful giant Christmas tree inside the entrance to MK, he covered his face or looked away every time. I think this is largely indicative of the day we had, as a whole. We started up Main Street and stopped in front of the Emporium to watch one of the morning shows that featured classic cars and dancing. It was so charming and DS was not having it. We kept up Main Street and stopped for PhotoPass in front of the castle. DS not only refused to have his photo taken, but he tried to prevent DH and I from doing so. Oh, this is bad.

We got to the hub and headed left to position ourselves for rope drop. It wasn’t terribly crowded, so we hung back so that we could see the show in front of the castle. DS saw someone go by with a giant donut, which DS decided he wanted. When I asked where it was from, I learned it was the Starbucks on Main Street. I didn’t want to back track and I feared a really long line, so we stayed put. We watched the show and when the ropes dropped we headed toward Frontierland. We didn’t make it any further than Sleepy Hollow before deciding to stop to order something to eat on the way. What I didn’t realize was how darn slow the line would be. I was so frustrated but we waited and only DH and I ordered. I got the sweet and spicy chicken waffle sandwich, which to my surprised came topped with coleslaw. I’m not sure what DH got. But once we had food in hand, DS decided he was hungry. So DH got back in line while I ate. As I ate, I got myself calmed down and resigned myself to the idea that this day was not going to go as I had planned, so I might as well try to relax. DS got his waffle and that seemed to help his disposition a little, at least temporarily.

We headed back to our “rope drop” ride, BTMRR, standby. The line was probably 20 minutes give or take and moved pretty steadily. We were off by 10. Next, we rode Splash with FPP and everyone liked this one a lot, too. It’s one of my favorites, for sure. So at this point, I think, #winning. From there we moved over to HM to use our next FPP. DS likes “scary” things but I was concerned about the stretch room. I can’t remember which of us held him, but I am glad we did. He liked HM, but I also think he liked being held. Overall, HM was another winner. By the time we got off HM though, it was starting to get crowded. We decided it was time for an ice cream break, so we went over to Sunshine Tree Terrace for a couple of citrus swirls. I’d never had one and was pleasantly surprised how tart it was. DS liked his, too. We had stopped to sit down and eat, which was a good choice, but/and Adventureland had only gotten more crowded.

Our next FPP was for Magic Carpets, so we went and did that. The SB line was like 50 minutes, so I was happy to have had FPP. We didn’t wait very long to ride, and after that, we were ready for our appointment at the Pirate’s League. DS has had his face painted before and I had asked him before booking this if he was interested and he said he was. When I told him where we were headed next, he flat out refused. We got up to the podium to check in and I explained what was happening to the CMs and they were so nice. They offered to let us take a look inside and take as long as we needed, but he would. Not. Go. The CMs said they would allow us to cancel without penalty and if we changed out minds, we could stop by later and they’d let us in. I felt a lot of relief in not having to lose my $40 but then needed to figure out what to do next. In the mean time, the park just kept getting more and more crowded. We did the Treehouse, but not only was DS bored by it, so was I. For some reason, I thought you could “play” but it was a just a long, slow moving line of people walking through. From there, we decided to try to catch the Tiki Birds. It wasn’t five minutes before we sat down that DS was in DH’s lap, asleep. When the show was over, we had to find somewhere to go, but I wasn’t sure where. We tried HoP, but the CM told me no show for 18 minutes. I couldn’t envision us standing there holding him for that long, so we walked over by the castle. My next thought was Philharmagic. Instead, we found a shady spot on the back side of the castle and just sat down there and let him rest for awhile. When he woke up, we decided to go over to Main Street and find a spot to watch the Parade. I popped over and got us iced coffees and a donut for DS to atone for my morning sins. And then we waited. We sat right on the edge of the curb and held our space. People pressed and pushed through and stepped on other people; that part was pretty disappointing; I should not have been surprised.

Shortly before 2 the pre-parade show took place with the Pride of Mayfield marching down Main Street. We lucked out and our son was on the side of the street where we were sitting. It was so darn fun to see them and I felt so very proud of them. It took awhile then for the FoF parade itself to actually reach us, and both DS and I were getting itchy. I’m glad we held out because the parade was AWESOME, and in fact, I had forgotten how fantastic Disney parades are. Even DS couldn’t help but smile several times and I think he enjoyed waving at the characters.

While this was originally planned as an early end to the day, we decided to call it quits after the parade and see if rest might not improve everyone’s experience, and possibly go back to MK in the evening to watch Elsa light up the castle and maybe catch HEA. I canceled our CP early dinner reservation and we made our way to the buses, leaving the park around 2:45. Even with his nap, DS was still super cranky afterward. We changed our evening plans and decided to take the Skyliner (seemingly a hit, again) over to AoA and to eat at Landscape of Flavors. It was not terribly busy while we were there and we were really pleased with the menu choices. DH and I had an Indian-style dish and DS got pasta without sauce and fruit. It was filling and relaxing. After dinner we decided to see a bit of the AoA resort and enjoyed walking around. We were especially impressed by everything going on in the Cars section. The Cozy Cone pool, all the life size cars … our older son was a huge Cars fan when he was little. Our little guy hasn’t been very interested in Cars, at all. We wandered over to the Lion King area, which I thought was cute but not as good as the Cars section. DS started to act out again and so we hightailed it back to the Skyliner and CBR. DH and DS chilled in the room and watched TV, I went for a short walk, got and ate a fancy cupcake, and then it was bedtime again.

It was at this point that I made the decision to cancel our ADRs for the remainder of the trip, except for two special events, and DH was in agreement. By this point, DS had put up some sort of resistance to just about every thing we had planned in advance of the trip, even things he had previously said he wanted to do. I couldn’t see putting anyone through one more moment of ‘will he or won’t he.’ So I canceled HBD at HS on Wednesday, BoG PPO breakfast on Thur. and Sanaa lunch on Friday. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to lose the threat of financial penalty, at least as much as we could. Tuesday was queued up to be our resort day. We would need to pick up DS15 from Disney Springs in the afternoon, prior to the band’s departure for CLE. And we had date night at the Yacht Club at 5 p.m., with DS4 to go on the Captain Hook’s Pirate Adventure out of BC at the same time. DS15 was actually stoked to join us but get the room to himself. I went to sleep hoping that some rest and less structure would do us all some good.


I’m enjoying this. Please share more. :grinning:

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Enjoying your trip report!

Sorry that your DS was not enjoying what was planned (we went through this and I know it can be frustrating!).

We learned over the years of travelling with kids that down time is the most enjoyable of every trip, even if it means we miss out on something. With time we tend to forget all the low moments, but remember the highs.

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I really debated whether to share some of the challenges we encountered in such a public forum. I guess my point in doing so is that, even in knowing our kids better than anyone else, it can be really challenging to predict their behavior. And that means being willing and able to deviate from the plan, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. I know I learned a lot from people on this forum and from reading others’ trip reports. Someone wrote a “realistic expectations” trip report and I was glad I read it before our trip.

You’re so right about remembering the highs. :relaxed:


Tuesday, November 26: Rest Day

Even on rest day I was up at the crack of dawn. I mean, it’s Disney World. Who can sleep? We had few plans for the day. We had to get DS15 from Disney Springs in the afternoon, since the band was headed back to CLE and we were staying a few more days. We had DS4 scheduled to go to Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew from the BC at 5, so DH and I could enjoy a date night dinner at the Yachtsman. And DS15 was going to get pizza and chill at the resort. I thought he might be bummed to spend an evening alone, but teenagers.

It was a relaxing start to the morning. I am sure we ate breakfast at the resort, but I didn’t make any notes. It was still early when DS surprised me by asking if we could go back to the place with the golf ball and the rocket ship (EPCOT, lol). We hadn’t planned on a park day, but we had the tickets, so EPCOT it was. DH texted DS15 to arrange a 3-ish p.m. meeting at Disney Springs. We got ready and took the Skyliner to IG.

I didn’t have a TP for the day and largely let DS direct our activities. I also didn’t take notes on the day, or many pictures either, so I am working on my memory after three months. Throughout the few hours we were there, we rode Figment, LWTL, and MS-G, with multiple trips on Figment and MS-G. I recall we had a leisurely lunch at Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion. It was this day that DH and I started thinking about what we might give to DS to open on his birthday in two days (aside from an 8-day trip to WDW). For a change we didn’t rush through the gift shops but watched to see what got his attention. He played with a lot of toys and basically “wanted” everything he saw.

I know I picked up a couple of FPPs throughout the day, and I got a Soarin’ for like 7-8 p.m. I tried to modify it multiple times, but it wasn’t working, so I decided to hang on to it, just in case.

Several times throughout the day, we raised the Pirate’s Crew with DS, just to mentally prep him, and each time we did, he was emphatic that he did not want to do it. I was starting to worry that we were going to take him there and he’s completely flip, and we were having such a nice day. Since DS15 would be joining us shortly, I suggested to DH that he pitch babysitting for money. We rarely ask him to watch his brother, and the few times we have, it’s not been for money; it’s been because you are part of a family and that’s what families do. But this felt different in that he was actually looking forward to alone time at the resort, and we were actually looking forward to a date. So, we agreed to pay him what we would pay a babysitter at home. If he said no, we’d cancel Yachtsman.

After a final ride or two on Figment, we headed back to CBR via Skyliner after 1:30 so DS and I could nap. DH got an Uber to Disney Springs to go collect DS15.This was the first day that DS4 did not nap. We laid there in the dark and quiet for about an hour. I finally relented and let him turn on the TV. We don’t have cable at home, and we didn’t have Disney + at the time, so he was pretty stoked to watch some of the Disney Jr. shows. DH texted me to let me know DS15 said he’d babysit. Date night ON!

When they arrived in the room, DS15 was pretty impressed with the resort and our room. The band had stayed at ASMu in an unrenovated room. Apparently it was not in very good shape, there were some issues with the carpet and bedding not appearing clean, the toilet being clogged, and more. Plus he was sharing space with three other teenage boys who are as stinky and dirty as he is. So our situation at CBR was an upgrade.

At about 4:30, DH and I told the kids, “See you in a week!” – they didn’t even blink – and took the Skyliner over to the IG for our evening out at the Yacht Club. In booking, I had initially considered Flying Fish but DH is a steak-lover and so Yachtsman it was, and we were not disappointed in our meal. We started our meal with bread and soup; lobster bisque for him and French onion for me. They were both delicious! For our entrees, he had the 16 oz. Ribeye and I had the 12 oz filet. Both were perfectly cooked and seasoned. We shared a bottle of red wine, and I know we had a green vegetable as a side, out of a sense of obligation, and since I can’t remember it, I assume it was fine. I can’t remember if we had dessert either. I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. I just remember the steak.

After dinner we took a stroll around the YC and enjoyed the nautical themed Christmas tree and train set up there, and we went over to the BC and saw their incredible gingerbread carousel, which was really something. We went outside and checked out Stormalong Bay. While hanging on the fence, a CM noticed us and invited us to come in and have a walk around! So we did, and that pool is really impressive. We had considered walking over to the boardwalk but in discussing DS’s birthday, we decided to go over to EPCOT and pick up a few things for him to open.

I thought for sure, DS would want to walk the WS while we were there; enjoying WS was the only thing DH said that he really wanted this trip. Instead, tickled to enjoy a park sans kiddos, we started by using that Soarin’ FP I had picked up. Soarin’ might be my favorite WDW ride, but this ride was underwhelming. There was a large group of teenage girls on it, and they were screaming and yelling on the ride and generally annoying us on date night. Next, we went over to LWTL and took the boat at night and enjoyed the holiday light displays. I think there is still a lot of potential there, if WDW is so inclined. We walked over to MS and picked up a toy rocket ship (which has since earned a place of honor on DS’s dresser at home) and a Buzz Light Year wrist communicator (which got played with for about a week and is now MIA), and a lanyard and a few pins. I had tried like crazy to get a TT FPP for DH but unsurprisingly I couldn’t find one. I offered that he could wait standby and I would finish the birthday shopping alone (EP had EMH that evening), but he declined.

We didn’t want to leave the kids for too, too long and we both were getting tired, so we went over to Figment to find a Figment pin or plush. At that gift shop we learned there indeed was a pin featuring Figment but they were out, and CM wasn’t sure if was available anywhere in WDW. She had suggested we go to Disney Springs or Emporium. Or maybe stop by the gift shop on the way out of the International Gateway. So that is what we did, and at the register they had a small number of them. SCORE! Birthday shopping complete, and we sky-cruised back to CBR.

When we got back to the room, probably around 10, both kids were OUT. So we headed to bed, too, in preparation for an early morning at Hollywood Studios.


Wednesday, November 27: Hollywood Studios
Park hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
EMH: 7-8 a.m.
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam: 9 p.m.
Fantasmic: Offered but I have no idea what time(s)
Plan: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Actual: 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at MK
Predicted CL: 10
Actual CL: 9
Scheduled FPPs: ST, Muppets, like 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.; SDD 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Scheduled FPPs used: All three
Additional FPPs obtained: None. I didn’t even try.
Scheduled/planned meals: I had canceled lunch at HBD, so nothing was scheduled.
Actual meals: Breakfast: to go from the resort; Lunch: Docking Bay 7; Dinner: Woody’s Lunchbox

So for those at home following along, the day’s plan was to RD HS, though I was completely (and rightly) skeptical of all those in my party. I explained WHY we were rope dropping and promised if they would just cooperate with me, we would see and do a lot and have a great time doing it. Internally, I told myself I would be happy if I could get them there before opening at 8 a.m. and get in a ride or two. That was much more realistic and in fact, what actually happened.

I got everyone out of the room some time after 7. We took the Skyliner to HS, DS15’s first Skyliner ride, and were tapped in, though bag check, and in line for TSM, I think around 7:30. DS15 and DH rode together so that it would actually be competitive. I’m not esp. good with video games, so pairing me with DS4 was not a bad match. At the end of the ride, he asked, “Mom, did I win?” and I replied, “Yes, of course you did.” He beamed. From there we took a ride on AS2, which was nothing particularly special in and of itself, but fun with the fam. That took us right up to 8 a.m. and as we were leaving TSL, hordes where headed there.

We went over to Launchbay, which is a neat little set up, but oddly placed in the park. It really feels like it should be near GE and ST, even if not “inside Batuu.” None of us are huge Star Wars fans; DS15 and DH had seen all of the movies that had been released to that point. I had seen the originals (in the theater as a kid) as well as several times since, as well as Episodes 1, II, and III. I think DS4 had seen A New Hope, but that may have been it. I know that in November-December we were prepping for the final movie’s release, but I don’t recall the timing of what all we saw and when. But DS4 knew enough to know who Darth Vader was. He agreed we could meet him, which surprised me a bit. The line was short, maybe 5 minutes. DV tried to recruit DS4 to the dark side; he wasn’t having it. DS15, on the other hand, was more than willing to go.

We met BB-8 next, and even though DS4 and I hadn’t seen the movies, he seemed to know who BB-8 is, maybe from school? This was another short line, 10 minutes or so, and BB-8 beeped and booped and fussed over the little one. I think he is much more interested in being on BB-8’s team. We were doing fine on time so we stayed to meet Chewie. That line was longer, maybe 20-25 minutes. DS4 was starting to lose interest in waiting but we looked at all the light sabers in line and finally got there. Oddly, when I saw Chewbacca, my eyes welled up with tears and I felt ridiculous to be a grown woman crying over meeting Chewie. We chatted with Chewie and got our hugs and snapped our photos and were on our way. Everyone really enjoyed meeting the Star Wars characters; it was great to have everyone in our immediate family there doing it together and it felt really special.

I’m not sure if I have yet mentioned that we’ve been without a stroller so far this entire trip. DS4 was insistent he is not a baby and didn’t want a stroller, and at the same time, for a good chunk of time every day, my husband carried our almost 40 lb. son on his shoulders. He finally said he just couldn’t do it another day, and so he and DS15 went to rent a stroller. DS4 continued to insist he wasn’t going to ride in it. I saw Vampirina meeting near us, so I took him over there. As we got closer, he started to say he didn’t want to meet her. I almost feel bad nudging him into it, but after the fact he seemed happy enough that he did. After that, we found a shady spot and I let him play on the ground with some toy cars we’d brought to the park with us. When DH and DS returned with the stroller, he refused to get in it. I drew in a deep breath and told him to get in the stroller or we’d leave. And I meant it. And with how he’d been all week, I knew I was taking a risk that he and I would be spending the day back at the resort. But he got in. And guess what? He rode in it all day, and he liked it. At that point, we both kicked ourselves by not doing that sooner. I know everyone says to get a stroller but he had been so darn insistent that strollers are for babies and he’s not a baby and … we should have gotten a stroller sooner. Lesson learned.

We made our way over to ST and used our FPP. DS4 was chosen as the rebel spy! He loved the ride, as did everyone else in our party, but he was convinced afterward that Darth Vader was wandering the park looking for him. We went over to Muppets, where we had to wait maybe 20 minutes for the next show, and we did that. I grew up watching the Muppets on Saturdays nights (and Sesame Street every afternoon); DH also grew up watching the Muppets and Fraggle Rock, and so we have great affection for the Muppets. DS15 doesn’t seem to get the appeal. We waited and saw the show, which I think everyone enjoyed. I hope that attraction got the TLC it so needs and deserves when it was refurbished this winter.

Next I believe we went to GE, to Docking Bay 7, in search of lunch. The land looked cool but everyone was really hungry so we were moving fast and it was very crowded. We made our way to Docking Bay 7 and submitted a mobile order, bypassed a lengthy line and picked up our meals within 5-10 minutes. We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed our meal. DH got the Batuuan pot roast, which was delicious. I got the smoked Kaduu ribs, which were also very good. I’m not sure what DS15 ate, and DS4 got the hummus and veggie dippers. I thought the black bean hummus was tasty; everyone else thought it was gross. The food is pricey but the quality is very good for QS, and the portions aren’t small. Overall, we were quite happy and would eat there again. We weren’t in Batuu long but we did not see any characters walking around. Since we were approaching our mid-day break time, so we left as people continued to seemingly pour in.

Following lunch, we went to the Frozen singalong. While we were at AoA a few evenings prior, we had met a woman who gave us five hard fast passes, good for the whole week for any HS show. She and her family were leaving and wouldn’t use them and so we were pixie-dusted by another guess. We didn’t need the fast passes to get into the show, and it didn’t get us any better seating than if we’d waited standby. We were seated about in the center of the theater. The show itself was cute enough. Both of my boys love Frozen. The elder saw it in the theater when it came out and has watched it many times since, and Frozen was the first Disney film that my younger saw. So both enjoyed the show. The theater itself is impressively decorated, but the show isn’t much more than a retelling of Frozen, and the Frozen characters themselves are only on stage for part of it. There was snow at the end and that was cool. After the show, it was time for our break, so we all went back to CBR for a nap/rest.

We must have rested a good four hours, but it was still light when we went back to HS. DS4 started to say he didn’t want to go, but I reminded him we had tickets to ride Slinky without a long wait. He had seen SDD that morning when we were in TSL and he had wanted to ride then. The line at that time was about two hours and I told him at the time we’d come back that evening with FPPs. Well, clearly he remembered, because he grudgingly put on his glow necklaces and we went back to HS.

When we got there, it was still pretty crowded. We made our way over to meet Olaf. The wait was probably about 20 minutes. Olaf gave everyone warm hugs and we snapped our photos. Upon exiting, we ended up in front of a stage with a Star Wars live show. I think most of us would have happily stayed and watched it, but DS wanted to keep moving, so we went over to see the Indiana Jones show. We were among the last folks let in and we were standing in back, DS4 on my husband’s shoulders. A cast member approached us and invited us to follow him, and we were escorted right down to the front row, quite near the center. We thanked him and he disappeared. More pixie dust for us! The show was fun; we saw it when we were there in 2011. DS4 was a little scared, a little impressed by the fire. It was hot and you could feel it where we were sitting.

Upon exiting the show, I went to get our stroller and I got caught in this crazy cluster of humanity, others leaving the show but also something preventing us from moving. I couldn’t see or find my husband. People were ramming their strollers into each other; it was just chaotic and awful! I thought I had disentangled myself from the mess only to find myself separated from my family by something going on, and I still don’t know what it was. It wasn’t a parade, but it was something.

Once I was able to rejoin my group, we walked over to TSL. I really liked seeing it during the day, but wow, is it special all lit up at night! We saw Buzz and convinced the boys to wait to meet him. The line took a pretty long time, maybe 20-30 minutes. We met another family in line and their two kids played with my little one, bubbles and swords, which was a great distraction. Just the kids did pics with Buzz. It was a nice interaction. Following Buzz, we used our FPP for Slinky Dog. Oh my, what a fun a little coaster that was! Everyone loved Slinky Dog and poor DS wanted to go again, but there was just no doing it with the stand-by line so long.

Next, we got in line to meet Woody and Bo Peep, and that one was long, too. Woody and Bo took a short break in the middle. We probably waited a half hour, again making friends, and again playing with bubbles and swords to pass the time. As we got close, I put in a mobile order for dinner from Woody’s Lunch Box. Woody and Bo were great with the kids, and I admit, it was so fun to see DS15 especially with Woody.

We had a hard time finding a seat at Woody’s; my son and I both circled. I was getting hangry, my little guy, too. I admit I am stymied as to why the land was built with only Woody’s as a dining option (I know that’s changing soon) and with so little seating – and no shade! It just doesn’t make sense. DH and I shared Brisket and Totchos, and again, I have no idea what my older son ate but whatever it was, I am sure it was a lot of food. The little guy had plain tater tots and a million dollar mandarin. Just kidding, it was like $2, but I can usually get 3 lbs. for that much at home. But it’s Disney and I knew to expect it. As we finished and were preparing to leave, DS4 decided he wanted a grilled cheese, so we mobile ordered again and DH picked that up, plus a trio of spiked hot cocoas. I am pretty sure DS15 ate the grilled cheese and I had to work hard not to suck down all the yummy cocoas. The flavors were Bailey’s, vanilla vodka, and cherry bourbon, the latter of which was favorite of both DH and me.

As it was approaching 9 p.m., we made our way toward the front of the park and parked ourselves in front of the Chinese Theater for Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam. While we were waiting for the show, DS4 fell asleep, and I could feel myself getting tired, too. The JBJB show was cute but/and it was also really loud, maybe because of where we were placed. And it snowed at the end, which was a really fun touch.

We decided that DH and DS15 would go get in line for MFSR and maybe hop in line for SDD prior to park close, and I would return the stroller and take DS4 back to the hotel. The snow coming down looked so pretty and I wish I could have, would have stopped to enjoy it. I just wanted to get out of there and so I dropped off the stroller and carried DS to the Skyliner. I still pick my son up, but I don’t carry him very long or far, and in those moments, I really felt for my husband, who had basically carried that kid around all week. We had a wait as other families were leaving, too, and I didn’t have to put him down until we got to the top of the platform. We zipped back to CBR and then I carried him from the Skyliner station almost all the way back to the room. He was awake and walked up the stairs for me, and he went right to bed. DH texted to say they had ridden MFSR but had just narrowly missed getting in line for SDD, so they were headed back.

To bed straight-away for everyone because we had another early morning planned at MK.


I love your Epcot shirts and the stitch tie dye ones. .

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Thank you. I bought them on Etsy. The Epcot ones came from a shop called Wylie River and the Stich ones came from Twisty Mamas Tie Dyes.

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Such a great trip report! It’s SO helpful to be reminded that kids’ moods can get in the way of plans and to be prepared for it. I completely sympathize with the adult mini-breakdown after plans go awry, too :joy:. Thanks for posting!


Thank you for posting your report! I think knowing that we are not the only ones with irritable children can take the pressure off of having a “perfect trip”.

I over planned our first trip last year. I was trying really hard not to overdo it and DD5 was always up at the crack of dawn at home, so I thought - EMM at HS would be easy peasy. She was exhausted and crabby and we ended up getting out of there and swimming for most of the day. I felt like it was a lost day, but it was she needed, and I’m not to planning too many early mornings this trip.

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I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned. I know how incredibly disappointing it can be when all your planning doesn’t pan out in reality. You did a wonderful job of adjusting as needed and it seems like you still had a great trip, despite the hiccups. We went through our own hiccups during our Christmas trip and even though I was incredibly upset while going through it, time did help and I can now recall that trip with fondness instead of cringing. :sweat_smile:

I share the challenges so that others reading know that they aren’t alone with the bumps in the road. I think it’s fair to say we had a wonderful trip :heart: I got to spend time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people.

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I was the one who wrote the “Realistic Expectations” report. And a lot of your report so far has reminded me of our experiences for sure. (For example, our first day in the parks and DGS4 refuses to get out of the stroller :frowning:. Will never forget my disappointment.) As you implied, families in the trip planning phrase really need to understand that their kids may be too tired or disoriented to appreciate their surroundings.

I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip and will hope your DS ends up finding a better “rhythm”! I never finished my trip report, but on the last day of our trip, my DGS4 announced he never wanted to leave Disney World. It’s been 5 months and he still talks about it all the time.

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