Trip report 6/21-6/25

This might take a few days to get through since we’re just back and I have a million things to do (including packing my entire house up and moving in a few short weeks!), but figured I’d get started since we did some new things this trip in case anyone is interested.

First, our travel party consisted of myself, DS9, nephew 14 and Mom (let’s say 60ish!). We stayed 4 nights at AKL-Jambo on rented DVC points and 1 night MVT rate at the Contemporary. Our room at Jambo was a bit of a hike, but we had a wonderful view of the animals out our balcony even though it was a standard view room (and there were a TON of animals at any point in time - they actually only go in the barns for around 2 hours in a 24 hour period, something we learned on one of our tours!). Mom and I enjoyed morning coffee with the animals. More about our incredible Contemporary experience later.

Mom rented a scooter for the first time. We both have a disability that makes walking and standing difficult and with the heat, she decided it was for the best. We rented from Scooter Bug and they have amazing customer service. More on that as well.

We arrived at the hotel around 1:30 and our room wasn’t ready. So we checked our carryons with Bell Services, grabbed the scooter and made our way to the Magic Kingdom.

The plan was to finish Frontierland, Adventureland and the Haunted Mansion that afternoon/evening and then do the After Fireworks Dessert Party. I promised DS we could eat at Pinocchio’s as he loves the breadsticks. We ordered via Mobile Ordering (love it!) and this is where my nephew tells us he isn’t feeling well…and makes multiple trips to the restroom. He declares he’s ok and we go to our first FPP, Haunted Mansion. We made it through, but it is clear he’s headed downhill and we decide to head back to the resort. However, because we have the Dessert Party booked, we split up. DS and I head to guest services to see what we can do about that and Mom and Nephew head for the buses. And we learn our first lesson…don’t ever leave those relatively unfamiliar with WDW to their own devices.

Guest services took a while (about 25 minutes) but they refunded us that evening and I was able to rebook it for Monday night, which seemed like a good idea since this was our Contemporary stay night, but was actually not the best (except for meeting @profmatt - that was awesome). More on why later.

Anyhow, DS and I splurge on a Minnie Van since we don’t have the scooter to contend with. And on the way back to AKL, I get a text from Mom saying we’ll probably beat them there. I can’t figure out how that is possible…until she says they got on the wrong bus. They saw ‘Animal Kingdom’ and never looked for the ‘Lodge’ part. So after a lengthy detour, they finally arrived (well after us!).

I ordered a pizza for dinner and we went to bed early. Next day was Epcot!

A few observations on our first day:
Scooters are tough. There are so many people. I tried cleaning the path for Mom, but as soon as I went by, people would jump in front of her in the small gap she left so she didn’t run me over. Then I had to stop to see where she was at and re-clear the path. And not everyone knows how to use them. Another family in queue at Mikey’s Philharmagic was behind us and the scooter driver ended up ramming into the back of my mom’s - hard. It helped to reconfirm to me that I would rather do less, walk less and miss out on a few things because I need to leave early from sore, aching and tired legs than use one. It was so nerve wracking and I was anxious most of the time.

I love AKL. I’m a big fan of animals and the food is fantastic. The quick service at The Mara had one of our favorite meals of the trip. And we’ve never paid for a Savannah View but have always gotten a view of the animals. On my room request I just put that I would love even a glimpse of them from our room and I’ve always been granted that request.

And my mom and nephew getting lost happened more than once…don’t trust the newbies on their own.

We visited First Aid before they left Magic Kingdom and they gave us a few packets of Pepto for his stomach. They were awesome as always.

More to come!


Some pictures from our room


I look forward to reading more - I love the Mara too!

Those room views are awesome! That’s a great tip on the room request. We stayed at AKL last time in a standard and I loved it even without the view, but it’s always worth a shot!

Also a fan of The Mara. The food everywhere at AKL is so so good!!

I’m sorry to hear about the troubles, but looking forward to hearing more. :slight_smile:


Enjoyed reading your report. Sorry about the problems on the first day.

I agree that it’s hard to do an ECV in crowds. It takes practice to ride it, and a lot of vigilance to keep from running into oblivious people.

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Enjoying your report so far. Hope your nephew ended up feeling better the next day. That’s a great view from your room.

Day 2 was scheduled to be Epcot. My plan was to take a Minnie Van to Beach Club and enter through the International Gateway for rope drop. I am very crowd averse and my experience is that there is significantly less people at IG. But some in our travel party (Mom) were not as quick moving as I had hoped. And on top of that, we had issues with the scooter. It either went incredibly slow or incredibly fast - there was no in between. I called ScooterBug as we waited for the Minnie Van and explained the issue. They said they would meet us at Epcot where you rent the Disney scooters and replace it with a different model they thought would be better. The Minnie Van arrived that would hold a scooter (a nifty experience!) and we arrived at Epcot at around 9:30.

We made it through bag check and went to the scooter rental and the representative from Scooter Bug was there as promised with a new scooter which worked great. He took the other one back and said it was likely a throttle problem.

The plan was to hit Soarin and then our TT FPP, but the delayed start caused us to head straight to TT where the boys each designed their own cars (and boy, was my nephew’s car hideous - all he wanted was power!).

We hit Spaceship Earth with our next FPP (the boys were a little bored by that one) and they wanted lunch at that point. I had purposefully planned very few ADRs since I was hoping to keep it a little less expensive of a trip, but DS was sad to be at Epcot and not get some Signature Poutine…not to fear, we’ll get back there in September. This time we just did a quick trip to Electric Umbrella. Mom had the salad with chicken which she said was actually pretty good. Nuggets and cheeseburger for the boys, although my nephew still wasn’t eating much.

Our 3rd FPP was Mission Space and we did green (had one queasy experience on orange and haven’t been back since - the only ride to ever make me queasy).

DS was hoping to get my nephew with the Beverly, but I declared that was a bad idea since his stomach still wasn’t great. Instead they each got a Frozen Coke. (mom is stationary in this picture - we weren’t that family riding around with kids on the lap!)

I snagged a FPP for Soarin at 1:15, so we headed on over there. I love the fact that even after being open for several years, the audience still claps at the end of the ride.

I grabbed a FPP for LWTL as soon as we left Soarin, so we headed there. And then got an FPP for Nemo. We puttered around the Seas for a bit and I snagged a FPP for Figment.

By this time, it’s 3:00, hotter than hades and my nephew was complaining his stomach was aching, so we bailed to catch a bus (the correct bus today!).

The boys wanted to swim so we took them to the pool. The boys did one trip down the slide and my nephew wanted to head back to the room. DS and I stayed a bit longer and we picked up dinner at the Mara before we left. I got the Chicken BLT, DS got the flatbread pizza and Mom/Nephew split the roasted chicken dinner. It was delicious. Mom said she could have just eaten an entire bowl of the veggies they were so good.

Another early night with hopes my nephew was finally over this stomach thing.


Day 3 was a Hollywood Studios. We had a mission - 4 rides, Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Brown Derby. We accomplished most of this. Because I had FPPs for 3 of the rides, we decided to get another slow start and arrived around 9:30 again. DS desperately tried to convince my nephew to go on RnRRC, but he’s not quite as adventurous as DS. Something that annoys DS because he’s younger and he feels that of course everyone would ride. But alas, it was just the two of us.

But we did manage to talk him onto TOT. He sat between Mom and me and when we started headed up, he reached out and grabbed both of our arms shaking like a leaf. At the end, he said it wasn’t so bad and he would do it again (I still don’t believe him). I tried distracting him by pointing out Toy Story Land in the distance during the drop.

Next up was our Star Tours FPP. We got a scene DS and I did not have before, so that’s always fun. And then we headed to the Hollywood Brown Derby. No sooner were we seated then the heavens opened up. Lunch was delicious. Mom got the famed Cobb salad. DS had a burger and my nephew and I got the short ribs. All were delicious definitely will be a repeat for us.

I tried the entire lunch to get a TSMM same day FPP to no avail. I asked on chats and it seems they were no longer available. The boys weren’t having the rain and didn’t want to wait in line, so we headed back. On the way, we decided to cancel the dinner at Boma (with my nephew not eating a ton, I didn’t want to waste the money) so we decided to shower and head to Disney Springs.

We shopped a bit and went to T-Rex (boys choice and with my Landry’s Card, even with a massively long line at 6:00, we were seated in 5 minutes). Food was alright, service was awful. I ordered the nachos with a side of fries - never got the fries. And they needed to track down my nachos and an order of chicken tenders as they didn’t arrive when everything else did. But we weren’t in a rush, so we were patient.

My final stop was in Pandora. My grandmother gave me some cash for my birthday last month and I was finally going to get the bracelet I always wanted. They fitted me for the bracelet, I bought an Eyeore charm and planned to get a couple more on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom before I left.

I will say, the worst times I have with buses are at Disney Springs and this was no exceptional. We waited around a half hour. We got back around 9:00 and put the boys right to bed as we had EMM the next morning! Mom was going to hang back at the resort while I tackled Magic Kingdom with the boys.


Sounds like an awesome trip! Just the right combination of rides and relaxation. I hope your nephew’s stomach bug cleared up for the rest of the trip.

Next day was Magic Kingdom and Early Morning Magic. We got to the park around 7:20am and they were just starting folks through bag check. We quickly headed through and obtained our EMM wrist bands. Now my niece and I did EMM last month. We were first in line and stood there waiting to get in at 7:45. But because I am a slow walker, we were quickly passed by just about everyone during the walk down Main Street, so I determined it didn’t matter this time where we ended up…so we snagged the bench by the entrance and relaxed until they opened the park (and the boys played Hole I.o -I learned way too much about this game and Fortnight during this trip!).

They let folks in at 7:43 this time and we got our castle picture.

Then headed to a walk on Peter Pan and then Winnie the Pooh. And finally, Seven Dwarfs! We rode twice with my nephew and the decided to sit out the next three. Lines got smaller and smaller as the time went on and we got to pick our rows.

One more ride on Winnie the Pooh and we headed over towards Tomorrowland where we were going to do Space and Buzz. DS tried to talk my nephew into Space, but he didn’t want to ride, so we did Buzz twice before heading back to Pinocchio’s for breakfast.

After Breakfast was FPP-polooza. We had an issue the night before with our Magic band not opening our door, so after 3 trips to the front desk, a CM came back with our working magic bands and told us they added 3 additional FPPs for the next day. So that left us 6 FPPs for us to use. We headed to Jungle Cruise first.

Then to Pirates, BTMRR and Spalsh.

And as I sit here thinking I can’t for the life of me remember what the last 2 rides were for the FPP, although I know we used them all!

Anyways, we decided to beat the heat and hopped on the train towards the Main Street station. I dragged the boys to the Pandora store where I got a Mickey charm and an Olaf charm (sadly, they were sold out of the special Annual Pass one). Two giant lollipops later and we headed back to the resort. We tried to hit the pool, but the there was lightning in the area, so it was closed. We gave the boys $20 for the arcade which lasted then a good long while. Then it was showers and a trip to Kidani for the Starlight Safari!

I had done Wild Africa Trek last month and loved it. But it was very expensive and I wanted to try out something new, so I picked this one. We checked in at Sanaa. There were 2 other groups (a couple and a family) and we were brought up to the main entrance where we boarded the Safari vehicle with one of the keepers. They handed out night vision goggles to everyone and headed off to the Savannah’s.

It was really neat as we had been watching these animals for several days and we guessed at what they were. We found out where we were right and where we were wrong. The animals were not afraid of the vehicle and we came pretty close to many.

They told us that unlike at Animal Kingdom, the animals at the Lodge only went in the barn for 2 hours a day. They described how we could take pictures using the night vision goggles and our camera phones.

My mom also asked about a particular giraffe who walked by a particular fence every day. We learned her name was Gigi and she patrolled the fence whenever she got a glimpse of her mom and brother (they had to be separated because they were not doing very brother/sisterly things). And we discovered the animals we thought were Warthogs were actually Wild River Hogs.

DS asked lots of questions and the keeper was very patient.

It was only an hour and not anywhere near the experience as Wild Africa Trek but we did thoroughly enjoy it. An hour was a good time limit for the kid’s attention span and my DS said it was his favorites thing we did this trip. And my pin trading DS got a really cool Starlight Safari pin that she told us can only be found on the Safari, so he thought that was awesome.

We headed back to Jambo to pack. The next day we were transferring to the Contemporary for another splurge on this trip!


those photos of the safari at night are wonderful!

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Originally planned as a complete rest day, I debated the hassle of changing resorts versus the luxury of a cabana by the pool on what was sure to be a scorching hot day. I decided to splurge on the cabana. I figured that’s was the only way to get several hours at the pool without complaint from the kiddos. I actually debated Stormalong Bay, but in the end kept the Contemporary and I’m so glad I did.

We called bell services from our room to have them pick up our luggage from the transfer. They were there in minutes and it couldn’t have been any easier. We hopped a Minnie Van and were dropped off at the Contemporary at 10:15. Our room wasn’t ready, but I was ecstatic to find out we were upgraded from Standard View/Garden Wing to Theme Park View Tower. For those of you wondering, we were booked under an MVT special and I put in a room request and we still received an upgrade (the second one I’ve had at this resort - last time was from Garden Wing to the tower for 6 nights).

Anyhow, we then headed straight to the pool. The cabana was a perfect splurge. Comfortable seating under a shaded cabana with ceiling fan, fridge stocked with drinks and cool facecloths, and television.

We spent plenty of time in the pool, Mom and I indulged in an adult beverage, we ordered lunch and relaxed. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the slide and despite the gorgeous (but hot) weather, the pool was not crowded.

By 3:00, I still hadn’t received the room ready text so our cabana attendant checked and they said it was close. By 3:45, we were hot and wanted air conditioning and a showers. I went in to check and our room was ready…and even though they told us about the upgrade, I still was amazed at this view!

And here is where us missing the dessert party today bit us in the end. We could have just had dinner at the Wave and watched the fireworks from our balcony. But since my nephew had never seen HEA, I didn’t want to shortchange him and not have him see the projections. So I had to add an extra day park ticket and we took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

They wanted Buzz once more, so I grabbed an FPP.

And DS still wanted to do Space. So we decided to split up - Mom and nephew to Haunted Mansion, us to Space. And once again, Mom and nephew got lost.

Somehow, they found their way to the dessert party check in, but they never made it to HM. We decided on the After Dessert Party thanks to @profmatt and I was glad. Last time I felt rushed to get to the viewing area for a good spot. Not this time. We arrived around 8:05ish and were escorted over. I had always done up front but based on liners feedback, headed to the very back of the viewing area. Which is where I stood when someone approached to scope out the spot to see how he liked the view from there and he decided to move a few feet over to the other side…but I knew that face from forum! It was none other than @profmatt! I introduced myself and we chatted a bit. I then headed back to my family who decided they were thirsty and thus whiny. Still having a half hour to go, I headed over to Casey’s to snag a drink. Unfortunately, DS was playing on my phone so I couldn’t do the mobile ordering and it took me about 20 minutes. I grabbed the drinks and rushed back with time to spare.

The group was originally all sitting on the ground, but when the fireworks started, they all stood up. There was plenty of space (I was worried about this, but it definitely did not feel crowded. There was hardly anyone at the After dessert party). Our spot at the back afforded us a fantastic view. But even here, there were shoulder kids in the viewing area. I left my good camera home this time so these were just from my camera phone.

As I said, the dessert party was very quiet. We enjoyed our treats and had one last chat with @profmatt.

We had planned to take the monorail back, because my legs were sore and Mom didn’t have a scooter. But the line was awful so we decided to walk it (and a good decision, because something was wrong with the monorail - we ddn’t see one our entire walk - and as I mentioned, we walk SLOW!

We made it back in time to watch the boat parade go by. Mom had a glass of wine on the balcony and the rest of us settled in for bed. One more day left!


One last thing on the Contemporary. Mom was absolutely amazed by this resort and the upgrade…not to mention the complimentary fruit and chocolates tray that was brought to our room shortly after we arrived. She said she felt like she was traveling with royalty! I assured her I was just a well informed Liner!


We were all pretty tired by the last day and again (shocking!) it was hot. Mom considered walking the day, but I convinced her to rent a scooter at the park. We arrived later than planned, so I scrambled to move things around. We headed first to Pandora for Flight of Passage. The check in for FPP was a disaster. I don’t know if it was because of the new Rider Swap changes or folks trying to get in without FPPs but it was several minutes of no one tapping through, folks getting frustrated and trying to jump in front of my family who was stuck with the scooter and to barge their way through. The block finally cleared and I cleared the path for Mom and we were on our way.

And here is my PSA to you all. DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER. While we waited to go into the first chamber, Mom was feeling very lightheaded. She was considering bailing on the ride. She downed an entire bottle of water while we waited and after 5 minutes, the feeling passed and she was able to ride.

We the headed to our Kali FPP. We didn’t get soaked, but at one point the raft hit a wave that knocked us around a bit, causing DS to bang his head and his hat promptly fell into the water. This is the second hat we’ve lost at Disney - the first was left in the cart on BTMRR.

A quick trip to the gift shop, he had a new hat. And they were hot and hungry, so we headed to Rainforest Cafe for my unadventurous eaters.

We had a Dinosaur FPP and the boys each won something at the carnival games.

Hot and tired, we headed back to the Contemporary. I will say, this is the great thing about going rather frequently. We didn’t accomplish a lot, but I didn’t feel like I needed to because we’ve already done it all in the past and we’ll be back for the MVT Labor Day special in a few months.

I had booked us a ride in a Lincoln MKT with Happy Limo on the way to the airport (I like the relaxed way to end the vacation!). And we were surprised with our last upgrade of the trip - a Limo! (When it arrived, DS actually tried climbing into someone’s personal car because I told him I didn’t get a limo before I found out we were upgraded. The guy laughed and told DS that our ride looked much bigger than his car!)

All in all, we had a good time. DH will be coming on our next 3 trips (Sept, Dec and Feb), but I think next June will be just me and DS. He and I have similar tastes and we are low maintenance. We tour the same. But I did my good auntie deed for my nephew and I think he had a good time.

The cabana was my favorite splurge. I would do the Safari again. For dessert party, I would definitely pick the After version and I still LOVE HEA.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed!


I’m doing it again on Saturday :wink:


Great report! Love all the upgrades!! You are a good Aunt. So nice your mom could be there too. Thanks for sharing!

In LOVE with the cabana, the views from the Contemporary and your shots of the fireworks. Awesome photos and it looks like you all had an awesome time!

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Great report and photos!