I’ve enjoyed reading trip reports so much as a way to get excited for upcoming trips and keep the magic going after returning, so now it’s time to pay it back and do one of my own!
What: A family trip to Disney World!
When: February 26 – March 6, 2020
Who: Myself, my husband, and our two sons, B (just turned 6) and W (about to turn 4)
Where: All four parks (we bought a 9 day park ticket, planning to do some half-days and one total rest day), and Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House (rented DVC points from David’s Vacation Club)
Why: Disney magic! We went last year – before that I had been a few times but not since 2001, my husband and kids have never been – and we had so much fun that when we got back I immediately started planning our next trip.
Our first day dawned bright and early – or rather, it failed to dawn, dark and early, because while the alarm was set for 2:45am, I woke up at 2 and gave up and got out of bed at 2:30. There had been a major storm predicted to arrive this day so I’d been obsessively checking the weather – it looked like light snow was going to be start that morning but the real storm wasn’t coming until the afternoon. We were pretty much already packed so we showered, threw the last things in the suitcases, threw the suitcases in the car, and then carried the kids out in their jammies at 3:30am, hoping they’d sleep all the way to the airport. Obviously once they realized the trip was finally here, they were wide awake and excited. My husband likes to follow airport guidelines to the letter so we were at the check-in desk right at 4:30 (three hours before a flight to the US, don’t you know?) to drop off our bags and get our boarding passes. Security went smoothly, and soon we were at the gate, keeping an anxious eye on the weather – snow was starting to fall. Some Starbucks, some iPad time, some “I’m SO BORED when can we get on the plane?!?”, and it was time to board, find our seats, go through de-icing, and take off!
Happily Toronto to Orlando is only about a three hour flight, so before long we were on the ground and on our way to the Magical Express. Checked in just after a family who made the unpleasant discovery that they had put the address labels on their suitcases instead of the yellow tags, and therefore they’d have to backtrack to baggage claim – they weren’t too happy about that. We were the first ones in the AKL queue, never a good sign – we waited about 40 minutes for our bus, and made a stop at Coronado Springs, arriving at the hotel around noon. While on the bus I’d gotten our room ready text, which was pretty exciting, but since they don’t ship Magic Bands to Canadians we still had to stop at the desk to pick those up, and while there I confirmed that we’d gotten the partial Savannah view we’d asked for. Our plans for the day included swimming and some time at Animal Kingdom so we headed up to the room to get changed (we could see giraffes from our balcony! So cool!), and then went back down to the pool, just as it started to rain. Didn’t deter my kids, though, and it was short lived. I then got a call that the stroller we’d rented was being delivered so I ran up to the lobby to pick up that, then I went to the Mara to get some food, and by the time I’d done all that the kids were tired of swimming and ready to eat and hit up Animal Kingdom.
Side note about the stroller (foreshadowing alert!) – we’d rented from Orlando For Families, before Disney changed their “bell services won’t hold strollers” procedures. A few weeks ago, I’d gotten worried about returning it at the end of our trip since we had a really late flight, checked the confirmation email I’d received, and seen that strollers could be picked up until 5:45pm. Great! That would work perfectly with our plans to be at Hollywood Studios all day, returning to the hotel around 5 for a likely 5:30pm Magical Express! Except when I asked the driver for a 5pm pickup he said his latest window was 2-3pm. Didn’t work so perfectly. I conversed by text with somebody at the company who was very adamant that yes, 2-3pm was their latest pickup, the 5:45pm thing in the confirmation email was not applicable, so we settled on a pickup window of 7-7:30am with a note to come to us first, so we could get a bus over to HS and get a boarding group.
We caught a bus to Animal Kingdom (side note: why isn’t there a walking trail? It’s so close!) but before we could go in we had to activate our tickets at Guest Services (downside to the Canadian resident discount). While I was talking to somebody there B ran over to see me, thought he could get under the rope marking the line space, misjudged, and got knocked down – a big welt over his eyebrow and a big scrape on his elbow. The sweet sweet guest services lady offered a bandaid and free Mickey bars for our whole group, which cheered him up pretty quickly, and she was also able to convert our Navi River FPP, which was about to expire, to an anytime one so that we wouldn’t miss it. Thanks, Caroline at Animal Kingdom!
We grabbed our Mickey bars (four Mickey bars was too much, my husband heroically finished his and most of W’s but couldn’t manage the last bites of mine) and headed over to Navi, with a few stops at Wilderness Explorer stations on the way. My opinion about it hasn’t changed – a little boring, could use some…something, but so cool to look at – I love the part with the big lizards on the leaves overhead. It had started to rain just before we got on and when we got out it was POURING, just pelting down water. Three of us had raincoats but my husband hadn’t wanted to go in on my family matchy-matchy raincoat order so he got pretty wet on the mad dash over to the gift shop to acquire a poncho. Once he was suited up we headed over to meet Mickey and Minnie, where we discovered that this year, W was NOT HAVING IT with characters. He was willing to be next to them, as long as I was holding him, but he was not interested in interacting in the slightest. He’s pretty shy with strangers at first, so we hoped that this was just because it was the first one, and he’d warm up (spoiler alert: nope).
By the time we got out of Mickey’s place the rain had tapered off, so we splashed happily through the puddles to the real highlight of our day, Kilimanjaro Safari. The kids, B especially, are huge animal fans, so they were super excited for this one. The overhead speaker system seemed to be broken – we could faintly hear that the guide was talking but couldn’t hear anything that she was saying – but we still had a great trip around the park, and saw a lot of animals. Only one elephant, though, which disappointed me – we have a membership to a great local zoo so most of the animals we see on a regular basis but our elephants got moved to a warmer climate a few years ago. The cheetahs were out and about, though, which thrilled B because they’re his favourites.
After we safari’d around we had to head back to the buses – a quick trip back to the room for dry shoes/pants, a quick debate about whether to walk or shuttle over to Kidani Village (we voted walk – I always prefer to be in control of my own destiny, we were running late, and didn’t know how long the next shuttle would be) and we were headed to Sanaa for dinner! I had read so much about the bread service that we obviously were ordering that, and then shared a butter chicken/lentil combo. The kids, I believe, shared an order of chicken nuggets that they probably barely touched – we ordered and discarded a LOT of chicken nuggets over the course of the trip. Sorry, chickens! I was kind of kicking myself because I’d meant to ask for a table by the window and forgotten, but it got dark soon enough. After dinner we headed back to the room for bed – it had been a long day, and we had 8am Be Our Guest reservations the next morning.