The FIGs’ trip to Disney: One and Done, but So Much Fun!


I went to WDW and USF with my mom and two kiddos, Elias age 9 and Sabela age 7. I always had it in my head that we had to go to Disney once- that’s what I did with my family, that’s what I’d do with my kids. Elias has been really into Harry Potter and Star Wars for a few years, so started asking when we’d go a while ago, but I was waiting for Sabela to get a bit older. I couldn’t see her being very patient about waiting in line or having the stamina for long days. Sabela has a form of dwarfism called hypochondroplasia, which affects the growth in her arms and legs, so it was possible that it would be a long, long time before she would be at a height to do all the rides. I waited to find the sweet spot age-wise where she would be emotionally mature enough to handle long lines (this was before I discovered the magic of TPs!) and long days, but not too old that she would want to ride thrill rides that would be off limits due to her height. So, this was the year, and it worked out well- she had no interest in roller coasters or thrill rides so didn’t feel like she was missing what she couldn’t do.

My mom came along to join the fun because my husband is from Spain, so grew up with a very different view of Disney, and was not interested in going, but he recognized how important it was to me, so with his blessing and a wave, we boarded a flight headed to Orlando.

We got into Orlando, and as my mom’s flight had arrived a couple hours earlier, she was there waiting for us. We got into the Magical Express line for Wilderness Lodge and as we were near the front of the line, had a little wait, but nothing too extravagant. I handed the kids their magic bands, which they hadn’t seen yet and were excited to wear. While on the bus waiting for more families to board, I placed my order for Amazon Prime Now to be delivered later that evening. I had done online check-in weeks before, and had sent a room request fax via TP. On the bus I got a text with our room number. I had requested a room on the 5th or 6th floor, hoping for a glimpse of fireworks, but was disappointed to see it was a first floor room. I did notice it was a bunk room and handicap accessible, so thought it might be more spacious, so I didn’t ask for a change.

We got to the lobby right after 3, which is exactly when I had “planned” for us to arrive (our flight got in at 1). We were wowed by the beautiful wood and stone work everywhere and then had to get oriented- I asked a passing CM how to find our room and he directed us to Bell Services who walked us to the right hallway. We were SO delighted with our room. It was spacious, the kids had bunk beds, our patio looked out on a little pool of water with cabins across the way and three friendly ducks inhabitants, and as I later found out, we could see the fireworks from MK every night. It was perfect, and definitely an upgrade from our standard room reservation.

We did a quick tour of the grounds and then had a swim. They loved the slide, but I was surprised that S was not impressed with the splash pad- I thought it’d be her favorite, but I guess she’s outgrown them, as she pronounced that area “boring” and quickly jumped back into the pool. After about an hour, I told them the next activity was to go to Epcot. I had been telling them that we were only doing three parks plus USF, and Elias had been talking all day about he really wanted to get a picture of the ball from the monorail, at least. So, he was thrilled. Sabela needed a little more convincing to get out of the pool, even though I told her she was going to meet Anna and Elsa.

I had hoped to get to Epcot by 5:30-5:45, but we had to wait a bit for the bus, and then it took a detour to Ft. Wilderness before arriving around 6. We got there just in time to take a few pictures with the ball in the background and make our FP for Spaceship Earth, where the kids found out their magic bands glowed in the dark- another fun surprise! It was the perfect start to the night. When we came out, the lights had come on, and my kids kept exclaiming how it looked unreal and beautiful and just amazing. I think we were all just soaking in the fact that we were really there. I had hoped to meet Donald in his poncho and sombrero, but we had a FEA FP to make, so we cruised past him on our way to Arendelle, I mean Norway :wink: By this time it was dark, and we were disconcerted about how dark the park was. There really was very little lighting, and this being the first time, we had to wander a bit and ask someone to find where FEA was tucked away. This was a fun ride, and the animatronics were so impressive- it was quite the contrast to Spaceship Earth in this regard. We then had a 5 minute wait to meet Elsa and Anna (I got tears in my eyes seeing Sabela with them), and then headed over to Mexico for the ride there, with another 5 minute wait. We then all realized at the same time that we hadn’t had a proper lunch and it was well into dinner time by now. My mom and I shared a couple of dishes from Thailand and Australia while the kids got poutine.

The original plan, if we had arrived earlier, had been to walk the World Showcase, but it was about 8:30 and the crowds were getting intense between F & W and people finding spots for Illuminations. I have very little tolerance for crowds, so I proposed we just head over to the Land. There were EMH until 11. Elias really wanted to ride Soarin’. There was no wait, we could have gone right in, but I asked the CM if we could wait for the next round to get B1, and she said yes. So glad we got to do it. We all really loved it. We then headed to the seas for Finding Nemo, again no wait at all, and popped in to talk to Crush. Elias got to ask him a question (“What do you do in your free time?”), so he was very pleased, as he loves turtles. I had really hoped to meet Baymax, so we headed over there and found out he was already charging for the night, but Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy were available, so we ended the night with them.

It was the perfect start to the trip, and we were all really glad we got a bit of Epcot in, even if we had to skip most of WS. I was especially pleased that we didn’t wait in any line longer than 5 minutes. Except for that time about 8-8:30 in WS, the park felt empty. In fact, the last two hours, between the darkness and the emptiness it really felt like we were the only people in the park, and it was a bit eerie. We were in bed by 11:30 and excited for a full day at MK the following day.


Sounds like you had a great first day! Excited to hear about the rest of your trip. :grin:

Sounds like an amazing day!!!

What a great start - can’t wait to read more! Love the pics!

What a great start to your trip! Can’t wait to hear more!

That sounds so wonderful!

I hope the rest of the trip is as amazing as your first day!

Also, how nice to have your mom join with you. I am sure she loved seeing your kiddos having so much fun!

Sounds great! I love that you got so much done at Epcot on your first day!

So much fun! Can’t wait to read more!

DAY TWO: 15 hours at the Magic Kingdom: the first half of the day

Our first full day was spent at the Magic Kingdom. My goal was to get there in time to see the opening show, and if we were there early enough to explore Main St a bit first, great. We got the boat from Wilderness Lodge to MK, and it felt like a magical way to start the day, as we rode past the monorail and the other resorts and watched the Magic Kingdom loom closer as we approached the dock. I snagged a photopass photographer to get our picture with my camera before the madness began (I opted to not get the Photopass service), and my mom and son went right to the hat shop to get fun headgear that they wore the rest of the trip.

We arrived at the castle just as the show was starting and had a great view. It was a festive way to start the day, and the look on my daughter’s face was priceless. Here’s the video where I was able to capture her expression:

My TP said we should do Winnie the Pooh’s ride first for no wait, but I didn’t want to start the day in the wall of people going to Mine Train, so we headed to Adventureland. My son loved all the corny jokes on Jungle Cruise and still repeats them now and laughs hysterically, two weeks later. After Pirates, my son and I were going to do either Splash or Big Thunder, depending on lines, while my daughter and mom did Aladdin’s carpets, but Splash was down so BTMRR was already at a 50 minute wait. We turned around and went back to get the other two, and as we passed Splash again as a group, I noticed it had just started up - there wasn’t even a number on the wait time yet. So, we rushed on without a whole lot of thought. My mother and daughter were not thrilled about it at all, in fact my daughter still says the worst ride of all was “the one with the spikes” [she’s referring to the thorns].

We did the carousel before doing Enchanted Tales with Belle. Elias was Mrs. Potts and Sabela was chosen to be the beast. I had no idea that meant she would get to dance with Belle, which was a wonderful surprise.

We had lunch at Be Our Guest, which was ok. I had pre-ordered the food on two different occasions, first for me and my mom right at 30 days and then I went back and added the kids’ meals a week later. Only the first part of the order went through for some reason, so we had to reorder and pay for the kids’ meals. None of us was impressed with the Grey Stuff, which was disappointing. Overall, it was nice to experience the restaurant, but if I went back, I’d try Skipper Canteen instead.

Lunch provided a little break, and we hit up Peter Pan (FP+) and Small World before heading over to Frontierland to watch the parade. Small World ended up being our longest wait in line the whole day- 19 minutes. It was around 1 pm and I could only get a Mine Train FP+ for 6 pm, in spite all my efforts to modify for months, so I knew that we’d have a longer wait at that time no matter what ride we did, so it was fine. We pulled up next to the parade route and got a front-row spot 10 minutes before the start. Unfortunately, the sun came out right then, too, (it had been pleasantly overcast and cool) and started to fry us to a crisp. I bought the kids Mickey ice cream bars to keep cool, and we soon enjoyed the show.


DAY TWO: 15 hours at the Magic Kingdom: the afternoon/ evening

According to my TP, Country Bear would have no wait after the parade so we sought shade and AC. Unfortunately, it didn’t start until 15 minutes later, but at least we were inside and away from the sun. My precious schedule was about to be derailed further, as we headed back to Adventureland to do the treehouse and Tiki room. Sabela noticed Jasmine and Aladdin doing a meet & greet and wanted to get in line. They weren’t taking any more for that time slot, but when we were headed to Tiki Room (which she had been talking about doing for months), they were forming a new line. She jumped in, and I asked my mom to wait with her. I had no idea it would take an hour. I figured I’d mobile order a Dole whip float and then she’d be done. The mobile ordering did not go according to plan, either. It just kept telling me they were making my order, so while we were waiting for J & A, I went to see where I would pick it up when it the order was done. I found a line at the mobile order window as long as the other line. They wouldn’t make your order until you got to the front. One person was handling that line, while the regular line had a ton of windows open, so it was such a waste of time to do the mobile order.

I finally got my float and shared it with my mom and the kids. The sun was still out, and the line had no shade, so my mom ended up getting burned, even though she had put sunscreen on. My son was bored and convinced me that we should do the magic carpets, so we did and Sabela finally met J & A and we made our way to Liberty Square to watch the Muppets. Looking back, I wonder if we should have gone to the Tiki Room, as we never got a chance to go back and do it. After the Muppets show, I wanted to make sure I got the kids’ silhouettes done, as it was the only souvenir I wanted to get for myself. I knew it only took them a couple of minutes to do the cut-outs, but I hadn’t considered that other people might want one, too! A family with two kids was in the middle of the process when we arrived and another was in front of us- they ended up getting three copies, so we waited for quite a while and by the time we were done, we were late for our dinner reservation at the Crystal Palace.

On the way over, we could see glimpses of the Move it Shake it party and hear the music and my daughter got very upset that I wouldn’t take her over there. They didn’t know that this was going to be a character meal, and I wanted them to be surprised. Her attitude quickly changed when we went inside and saw the Pooh and friends themed décor and then spotted the characters. I think we were all probably hungrier than we realized, too, at this point, so spirits were up again by the end of the meal. I know this is when all of you in the know would have avoided the afternoon frustrations because you would have been back at the hotel taking a nap or swimming in the pool, but even though things got a bit testy we still had lots of memorable experiences that we would have missed. It’s the major downside of doing a quick, one-time trip, and I knew that was a possibility going in. But lunch and Pooh and friends revived us, and we were ready for an evening of fun.

We headed over to Fantasyland for our Mine train FP+ and once scanned in, I scored a FP+ to Barnstormer, then Dumbo, then Buzz Lightyear (all three had been top requests of the kids). I had planned to do Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland at night, and was glad we did, as the ambiance was really cool in both places. I had told my kids multiple times before we even left that we weren’t doing the teacups or the speedway, so I got no requests or complaints about walking by them. We started Tomorrowland with the People movers- which was a top fav for all of us and a great intro to the land. We then did Carousel of Progress, and my mom dozed off a bit. At this point, it was time to head over to the dessert party seating. We got to the grassy area at 8:40 pm and the whole left side was pretty much empty, except for people leaning against the fence and standing way up front. You can see here the contrast:

We sat for a bit, got our pictures taken with the castle and the dessert party sign (again, I gave the photopass photographer my camera, and honestly, I think mine came out better than the Disney ones), and then stood up to watch the show. A dad had a kid on his shoulders up at the front, so we didn’t have an unobstructed view, and I did have to keep my daughter on my hip, but we all agreed the party price was worth it. We didn’t get back to the terrace early enough to get a seat by the railing to see the Once Upon a Time show (we had to make a bathroom stop first), but my kids walked over to the railing and watched parts of the show when it started. I had Tupperware, so I brought a bunch of treats back to the hotel to snack on over the next few nights. The Ooey gooey toffee cake held up pretty well for a couple of days, and was the best offering in my opinion. My daughter loved the smores and make-your-own cupcake tables.

Hopped up on sugar, it was time to enjoy EMH. We got to Buzz Lightyear right after 10, so couldn’t use our FP+, but the line was still brief enough to do it (under 10 minutes). I debated walking back to Adventureland to see if the Tiki Room was open, but I couldn’t find it in the list of EMH rides and it didn’t have a wait time posted, so I decided it must be closed for the night. The kids wanted to walk through the castle again, so we did that and then popped into Philharmagic because there was no wait. I was glad we did, as it was another top fav for us. We then did Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder, both walk-ons. Sabela fell asleep on the way from HM to BTMM, which was fine, because she wasn’t interested in roller coasters. Elias and I wanted to do Space Mountain, so my mom took Sabela to Main St in the stroller and we did Space before meeting up with her. We heard the Kiss Goodnight as we walked down Main St and said our good-byes to the Magic Kingdom. A boat was waiting for us at the dock, and we headed back to WL. Hopped up on adrenaline and sugar, it took me another hour before I finally fell asleep around 1 am, only to have my mom wake me up at 6 am with the sounds of her shower. We had made it through Epoct and Magic Kingdom on pure excitement, but on our Universal Studios day, things started to unravel.


I haven’t been on the TP forum in weeks. I decided to jump on tonight & thought, “I wonder if Vanessa ever did a trip report?” I was thrilled when I saw it!! Seeing pics your kids & you makes me so happy. Somehow I imagined your kids were dark haired! Sounds like you guys had a great time. Didn’t you just love the evening EMH at MK? It was by far my favorite part of our trip. Can’t wait to hear about your experience at Universal. My DH wants to include it on our next trip, whenever that might be!

Thanks for reading! It’s been slow going since we’re at the end of the semester and all my “free” time is either grading or vegging out recovering from teaching/grading. I’m not sure if I should do my universal day here or on the other thread- it was the roughest day by far, but that was mostly due to things that could have been done differently.

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Same here…2 weeks until winter break!