Trip Report: April 7 - April 15


#1

This is my first trip report - I hope I do it right!

Some background: My parents took my sister (and brother) and I to WDW twice when we were kids (1982 and 1989). Except for a few hours at Epcot with my Orlando-based aunt and uncle a few years ago, they hadn't been back. My sister and brother-in-law had not been since they were kids, and their two boys had never been. I had been once a few years ago with a girlfriend, just to Magic Kingdom, and we knew nothing about fastpasses or anything like that. We didn't do much except walk around, take in the sights and ride just a few rides. Last year, I went with my brother and his family, which is when I first learned the basics about Disney Vacation Planning. We had a great time, and I was happy to do it again with my sister's family and our parents this year. I pretty much did all the planning, and everyone else was great about going along with it. I used The Book and forum advice a lot, and did Personalized Touring Plans for all of our touring days. It worked out beautifully!

Friday 4.7.17
We landed at MCO at 7:30 pm. We had sent our luggage ahead with my parents a week before, so we had no checked bags to deal with. We found the DME very easily and didn’t have to wait long for the bus at all. This was everyone's first time staying on-property, so it was very thrilling to do our first scan of the wrist band after planning all of this for so many months! The guy who scanned us in to the MDE area (named Roy) said "the magic starts now" and it sure felt like it.

It was dark when we arrived at French Quarter, but we could see enough of the buildings to enjoy the theming. We had requested rooms around 4314, but ended up in 4141 and 4142. It was SO much better! For some reason, they didn’t put us in a standard view room - we had a view of the courtyards. And, even though I was afraid the first floor would be too noisy, it wasn’t at all. Being able to stumble right into our room after long days of touring was perfect.

Saturday 4.8.17
We planned today to be Animal Kingdom because there wasn’t as much that we wanted to do there, and didn’t want an early morning for our first day after a late arrival the night before. We had no trouble at the bus - very short wait - and off we went. We were earlier than we expected, so we took the time to take pictures at the entrance, and headed to Dinosaur. My sister and her husband and boys (7 and 8) rode it while my parents and I sat it out. Then we headed over to Festival of the Lion King. In hindsight, we might have been better off saving Dinosaur for later, since my youngest nephew had a really hard time walking all the way across the park without getting distracted by everything to see along the way. He really didn’t understand The Plan yet.

We had a great breakfast at Tusker House, although like all the buffets, it was more food than we could eat. My parents had both been successful in losing a nice bit of weight before the trip, and were not very anxious to overeat. But it was good, and it was nice to start the week off with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. My dad waved us off when we told him to get up to join our picture with Goofy, so Goofy just shooed my nephew out of his seat and sat down next to Dad for a picture! I think it was Dad’s favorite picture of the entire week.

After Tusker House, we went straight to Kilimanjaro Safari, which everyone loved. The animals were out in full force and a lot of them were super-close to us. Then we meandered over to Expedition Everest, where my parents and I separated from my sister and her family. They road EE and then Primeval Whirl, and hung out at the Boneyard playground while my parents and I watched the Nemo Musical. It was cute and different, but I wouldn’t sit through it again (and we didn’t think my nephews would have liked it). While in line for EE, my sister ran into one of her students in line, from Virginia, which was crazy! After all of that, we were all ready to catch the bus (again, easy) and head back at around 2:00 pm.

We had a 6:15 reservation at Raglan Road, so we took the boat over to Disney Springs around 5:00 to look around a bit beforehand. It was very crowded! It was the first of many times that I remarked how much more crowded this Easter week was than last year. I had expected it to be less, since fewer school systems have their Spring Break this late, but I was very wrong. We all enjoyed our meals at RR - the entertainment was fantastic and kept the kids spellbound. I had a cocktail before dinner and red wine with my shepherd’s pie.

The best part of the evening was meeting a lady sitting nearby, Stella. She’s from Glasgow, but lived in Liverpool for ten years before moving to Canada with her husband. We have Scottish ancestry (and I’m spending a month in Scotland this Summer) and my grandfather was born in Liverpool before coming to the States by way of Canada - so we felt a great connection with her!

After dinner, we roamed around the Lego store before heading back to the French Quarter and turning in in preparation for tomorrow.


#2

Sounds like a great start. Looking forward to more...


#3

Curious - what was it you didn't love about Finding Nemo? We are going to AK in June and with Pandora open and only one day there, I'm just making a mental note of things that would be okay if we had to delete the from the plan after too much time in Pandora.

Also, we had a random encounter with friends from church walking into a pool at a resort when I was there as a kid. Crazy how you can accidentally run into someone on vacation in such a big place when if you tried you would probably never find them!!


#4

Great trip report! My DD and I were at WDW 4/8-4/15. I'll be interested to see how your week compared to ours.


#5

I'm going in June as well and after watching the Nemo play once, realized I'd be okay cutting that out of our plans. It's just way too long for me and isn't really that entertaining.


#6

It was fine, and kind of of cool to see how they combined the puppets and puppeteers on stage, but it was also just a little weird. And it seemed a little long. If your family is really into Nemo, you might really enjoy it. If you're crunched for time, and have to leave something out, though, I don't think it's a must-do. Festival of the Lion King is infinitely better, in my opinion.


#7

Sunday 4.9.17
Sunday was a split day between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, with plans to repeat the same split the following day. We just had granola bars, fruit, yogurt, etc. in the room for breakfast, which we ended up doing most days. We had a larger crowd at the bus stop on this day, but about half of them got on a different bus, so we had no trouble getting seats on the right bus. We got to HS before the 8:00 EMH rope-drop, and it was pretty intense. I was worried that my sister and brother-in-law would be put off by the feeling of being herded like cattle, but they understood the necessity after they saw the wait times an hour later. As soon as we were freed, my sister’s family headed straight to Rock N Roller Coaster and then Tower of Terror, while my parents and I fought the crowds headed to Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. They had very little waits on their two rides (they were done with both by 8:30) and my parents and I have NO WAIT AT ALL for Walt! :slight_smile:

When the other group was finished with their first two rides, we met up at Star Tours. My sister sat this one out because she was nauseous after Tower of Terror, but I was pleasantly surprised that my parents joined in. My dad tends to get a bit of motion sickness, but he did just fine with this one, and we all enjoyed it. My oldest nephew had his face up on the screen as the “unauthorized passenger”, but he didn’t see it. The posted wait time was 10 minutes at 8:30 am, but we walked straight on.

After a brief stop in the exit gift shop, we split up again. I thought my sister’s family was going to watch Jedi Training and then decide if the boys wanted to try to sign up for another time, but they went straight to the sign-up area instead and I think there were only slots available much later in the day. Next, they went to Star Wars Launch Bay, which had a posted wait time of 5 minutes, but it turned out to be more like 15. They got their pictures taken with BB8, which I think the boys liked. Afterwards, they headed back the hotel.

Mom and Dad and I, on the other hand, rode the Great Movie Ride. It had just barely opened, so we had almost no wait at all. We zoomed through the qeueing area, which we would have liked to spend more time in to read about the various costumes, etc., but we moved on through. We were probably only in the big movie screen room for a maximum of 5 minutes before loading up. Our tour guide girl was good, and my parents really liked the ride, but even after only having ridden it once last year, the script seemed uncomfortably fake, and it was hard to understand her. Maybe it’s because we were sitting pretty far back, but she didn’t seem to be enunciating very clearly. It was still enjoyable, though.

After GMR, we still had more than an hour and a half before our 11:15 lunch reservation. Mom wasn’t interested in Star Wars Launch Bay, so we just strolled down Sunset Boulevard, took in the sights, and stopped into a few shops.

My dad had his eye on some Grumpy t-shirts, but couldn’t decide on one. It was coming up on 10:15, so we decided to get in the standby line for the 10:30 showing of the Frozen Sing-a-long (on the way over there, we saw the March of the First Order, which I recorded and immediately sent to all of my Star Wars obsessed, children of the 70s/80s, friends). The line wasn’t long at all, and we easily got good seats. I had this as a tentative part of our plan, because I wasn’t sure if the boys would want to do it or whether my parents would want to go along with them to the Launch Bay instead, but I’m so glad I suggested it because my parents - particularly my dad - LOVED IT. I had seen it last year and liked it, but the historians we had this time were hilarious and since we didn’t have kids with us, I was able to pay more attention to all the kids around us and it was so sweet to see how excited they were. My favorite part is listening to all the dads belting out the songs, freed from their inhibitions in the dark anonymity of the theater.

After the show let out at 11:00, we walked straight over to 50s Prime Time Diner for our 11:15 reservation. We had to wait just a few minutes, but I was glad to have the time to sit in the lounge and look around. It was the first time for all of us. Our waiter/brother, Mark, was awesome! He did all the expected bits about telling us to get our elbows off the table and to say please, but it was just his general, casual demeanor that was so entertaining. He tried to tell us the much-older waitress nearby was his ex-wife, he introduced everyone in the area to each new party as they arrived - remembering every name! - we loved him. Our food was great. I had the fried chicken, which may have been the best I’ve ever had), Dad had the meatloaf, and Mom had the salmon. She and I both had AMAZING chocolate milkshakes, and I had added a shot of rum to mine. The food really was delicious, but very filling for 11:15 in the morning!

After lunch, we hopped on the bus back to French Quarter for our mid-day break, which we all spent napping. :wink:

We headed back out around 3:30/3:45 for our first visit to Epcot. We had Fastpasses for Spaceship Earth, so we did that first. It was our first time bypassing a fairly long line in full view of us, and a few of my family members were doubtful that this was ok. I kept reassuring them that it was okay - this is what Fastpasses are for! I had expected my nephews to be very interested in all of the interactive activities at the end of the ride - I had even devoted some time for it into our plan - but they weren’t, so we went on. Even with a plan, we’re flexible! From there, we went to Journey Into Imagination (with a Fastpass we didn’t really need), which was only okay. The boys spent a bit more time in the play area here. Then we (all except my parents) did Mission:Space. I wasn’t going to do it, but my older nephew complained that I “wasn’t going on ANYTHING”, so I gave in. And I ended up really liking it! Of course, we only did the Green version, but the space did not feel as closed-in as I was afraid it would, and the whole idea of using the controls was really a lot of fun. My brother-in-law immediately declared that he needed to go on Orange some time during our trip.

Around the time that we were checking the wait times for Mission: Space (10 minutes!), we noticed that Frozen Ever After was “temporarily closed”. My parents and I had Fastpasses for that, while my sister’s family had Test Track FPs for the same time. We kept checking back, and eventually we got an email that we were entitled to any Fastpass, at any time, at any park, within the next two days. The possibilities were pretty exciting, but we decided to still use it on Frozen the next morning.

Next, we took a fairly leisurely walk down towards Germany in the World Showcase. We walked through to butterfly garden and took our time. The topiaries during the Flower and Garden Festival are amazing! We checked into Biergarten Restaurant for our 6:30pm reservation, and had about a 10 minute wait, which we used to look around some of the nearby shops. We were called and led to our table, which was off to the right and up a few stairs - not far from the buffet at all. Since we were a party of 7, we didn’t get to share our table with anyone. Our waiter was very good and very adorable. The food was great, some of the adults had beer (my sister and I had the grapefruit beer), and the entertainment was fun and kept the boys’ attention. They aren’t big eaters, though, and we were realizing after this meal that too many Table Service meals were going to be very costly and wasteful for them. So throughout the rest of the week, we cancelled several reservations, and modified others to just my parents and me (like we did for the 50s Primetime lunch).

After dinner, we split up again. My sister’s family went on to use their Fastpasses at Test Track, and my parents and I just walked back towards Future World, enjoying the night air. We enjoyed the walk and the chat so much that we completely missed the bridge to FW, and before we knew it, we were right in front of the Rose and Crown! My dad’s feet were getting tired, but he was a good sport when I told him that we had walked halfway around and needed to backtrack. My sister’s family ended up beating us to the bus stop and got on an earlier bus. We didn’t have to wait long, though, and we were soon back “home” and in bed.


#8

Really enjoying your trip report....thanks for taking us along...
Nice to see how your group is willing to tour together and apart...and willing to be flexible...


#9

Sounds like a wonderful day!! Thank you for sharing your trip!!


#10

Fun day! It's a shame your nephew missed seeing his face on Star Tours. DS11 was so excited we had to buy him an "I was the rebel spy" T shirt that he still wears. It's such a simple thing but such fun!


#11

Thanks - yes, everyone's flexibility was key! We're a pretty low-key family. Our vacation philosophy has always been that everyone gets to do what they want to (within reason, of course!). Whether that means reading by the pool all day, or hiking, or playing games...do whatever makes you happy! So if anyone wanted to sit out a ride or a meal, no one else gets offended. I'm pretty lucky!


#12

Ooh, I did't know about the t-shirt! Is it something you can order, or do you have to get it at the Star Tours ride?


#13

We got it at the shop after the ride, but you might be able to get it on the Shop Disney Parks app (I might have those in the wrong order, we can't get it in the UK). I don't remember seeing it anywhere else but maybe one of the bigger ships like World of Disney or Mouse Gears might have it.


#14

The "Shop Parks" Disney App has the Rebel Spy T for $19.95. So it looks like you can order it remotely...


#15

Do you happen to know or remember the crowd level numbers for the days you were in the parks?


#16

You can check them here.

https://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/crowd-calendar/month/april/2017


#17

Oh ha didn't occur to me to look in the past - have only ever looked in the future


#18

I don't think most people know you can check but it can be handy when planning.


#19

Monday 4.10.17
Today we flipped - Epcot in the morning; Hollywood Studios in the afternoon/evening. I meant to add before that the weather was perfect all week! Not a bit of rain. The temperatures were very pleasant during our morning touring hours - I actually kept a hoodie on most days - and a little warmer, though still nice, later on. Because we did the mid-day breaks most days, we avoided the noon-4 hours, which may have been very hot.

So it was off to Epcot for 9am Rope Drop. We got there on the early side, so we had to wait quite a bit. Still, we weren’t in the front of the pack. When they let us in, we walked quickly to Soarin’ (along with half of everybody there), but refused to get anxious about it. There were plenty of people ahead of us, but it was still only a 10 minute wait once we got there. And it was worth every minute! Soarin’ was being refurbished when I went last year, so this was my first time (as well as the first for my whole family). It really was just stunning and took my breath away. We literally applauded when it was over. It is easily my favorite ride in all of the parks - in any park I’ve ever been in. Truly amazing.

Then, my brother-in-law and nephews and I went back over to Mission: Space (10 minute wait again, but more like 5 tops). This time, my brother-in-law and one nephew were doing Orange, and I was doing Green with my other nephew. Well, at the very last second, my partner took off with his dad, calling over his shoulder that he was doing Orange. So there I was, by myself, heading off to Mars in a tiny compartment with some random strangers. It was still fun, though, and I kept my eyes open the whole time (unlike the first time).

Afterwards, we met up with my sister and parents outside of The Seas pavilion (they had done Living With the Land while we went to Mars). Sadly, they had just gotten the news that a family friend had passed away, not unexpectedly, so we took a little bit of time to sit quietly, cry a bit, and gather ourselves to enjoy the rest of the day.

We had had a reservation for Garden Grill for lunch, but cancelled it the previous night. The adults had been stuffing ourselves, and the boys weren’t eating enough to justify the cost. We split up, with my parents and I heading over to Norway to use our Anytime Fastpass on Frozen Ever After (Dad and I split a Mickey pretzel on the way). The ride hadn’t opened yet and there was a very long line already. There was only one family in front of us in the Fastpass line, however. So when they finally let us in, we zoomed on through. It was a very cute ride - like everything Disney does, the production values were top notch. I would not wait an hour to get on it though - of course, I wouldn’t wait an hour to get on any ride, which is why I’m using this site! :wink:

Afterward, we headed back to the hotel and had lunch. Mom had her diet food in the room, and Dad and I split the Shrimp and Grits at the food court, and each had one beignet. Both were delicious! Then it was napping and resting until Phase II.

We headed back out to Hollywood Studios, just in time for our 4:15 reservation at Sci-Fi Dine In Restaurant. My thought was that we would only get snacks (which is why I made the reservation relatively early), but I was the only one who stuck to the plan. I had the spinach dip and a cocktail, while everyone else had meals. I don’t think anyone was overly impressed with their food, but the novelty was pretty cool. It was darker than I expected, though I’m not sure why I thought it would be lighter, and we were seating in a car that forced us to sit separately, all facing the same way. So it definitely wasn’t conducive to talking, but there were movie clips to watch, so we were all still entertained. I’m glad I got to experience it, but I don’t think I’d go back unless I was with a Sci-Fi virgin who wanted to check it out.

From there, we had Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania. When I rode it last year, even the Fastpass line was backed up a good bit, so we had time to look around all of the giant, classic toys in the qeueing area. But this time the lines were shorter, so we zipped through and didn’t get to enjoy them too much. It’s hard to time it so the line is the perfect length! :wink:

After Toy Story, the plan was to try to see the 5:00pm showing of Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Unfortunately, it was already full, but no one seemed too torn up about it. Either my dad or I suggested we do Frozen Sing-a-long again, since my sister and her family hadn’t seen it the day before with my parents and me. We had raved about it so much, that they were convinced. During this show, we had a different male historian, but I think the woman was the same. Some of the jokes were different, which was nice, and everyone enjoyed the show. Now my dad wants to have a Frozen movie night with the whole family and try to rent a fake snow machine. Being a grandpa must be fun!

After Frozen, my sister’s family and my mom were ready to head back to the hotel, but my dad wanted to do The Great Movie Ride again, so I stayed behind with him. There was a longer wait this time, so we got to spend a bit more time looking at the things in the qeueing area, and watch more of the Robert Osbourne movie clips. Our tour guides this time were two guys, and the second one, especially was very difficult to understand. We were even in the second row this time, so it wasn’t a matter of distance. No matter - it’s the scenes and animatronics that make this ride enjoyable. Now I’m reading that they’re getting rid of it, so I’m definitely glad my parents got to see it.

When we were leaving, there were a lot of people staking out their spots for the Star Wars fireworks, but we headed toward the buses. As much as we would have liked to do everything, we know our limits when it comes to getting tired. While we were on the bus, I got a text from my sister, letting me know she and her husband had left the boys with my mom and were at the hotel bar - the Scat Cat Lounge. So I met up with them and we enjoyed a few drinks and some live music. We had a “free/easy” day scheduled for the next day, so we weren’t concerned with getting to bed early or completely sober. :wink:


#20

Tuesday 4.11.17
Today was scheduled as an Easy Day, allowing time to sleep in and enjoy the pool. I had reserved FPs (months ago) for my sister’s family for Toy Story, Tower of Tower and Star Tours for later in the day, thinking that those would be the rides they’d most likely want to repeat if they wanted to head back to one of the parks on this day. However, they were all happy to just stay and enjoy the resort. It turns out, if they had wanted to go back to repeat anything, it would have been back to Epcot for Mission:Space and Test Track or Soarin’. It’s hard to predict these things!

I had been unable to fit Beauty and the Beast into either of our Hollywood Studios plans for the previous two days, so I definitely wanted to head back to Hollywood Studios to catch that. I had also reserved a Soarin’ FP for my parents and me, in case the line had been too long the day before when we had planned to do it at Rope Drop - my plan had been to just cancel it if we were able to ride it on Monday. Well, we all loved it so much, we were very happy we had that FP to ride it again! So, after sleeping in, taking a walk over into Riverside and back, enjoying breakfast at the resort, and then some time at the pool, my parents and I got on the bus for Epcot, We used our Soarin’ FP at about 2:20, then walked down to the International Gateway to take the boat to Hollywood Studios. The boat stopped at the Epcot resorts first, and I was glad to get a chance to see them. I had hoped to get over to the Boardwalk area sometime during our trip, but it never came to be - next time!

We didn’t make it to Hollywood Studios in time to make the 4:00pm showing of Beauty and the Beast, so we waited until the 5:00pm show. In the meantime, we stopped at the Brown Derby Lounge and got a table easily. We each had a margarita, and Dad and I split two sliders. There was a couple with a little girl seated right next to us, who turned out to be from the county next to ours at home, and we knew some mutual people, so it was a nice little chat with them. It was really neat to be at the park without a full agenda. We just sat and enjoyed the snack and the company. My mom remarked about how great the whole trip was - I think she said “This is the life” - and I was so pleased that she and my dad were enjoying themselves. It makes all the planning worth it!

I think the entire Standby section for Beauty and the Beast was on metal bleachers, because that’s where we ended up. No big deal, but my parents are getting older and it’s hard on their backs. That’s what I notice nowadays: which theaters have good back support! Anyway, the show was good, the costumes and set and performance were all top-notch - just like everything at Disney - but we didn’t feel that Wow factor that we felt at Frozen. Maybe it was the bleachers or the fact that it was HOT, but it was just okay for us. Still, we were on vacation, and had enjoyed a leisurely schedule that day, so no complaints here!

I’m not sure if it was this day, or the first morning that we were at Hollywood Studios, but my mom needed some aspirin or ibuprofin, and we asked in one of the gift shops for directions to an aid station. They just pulled a tub FULL of pharmaceuticals out from under the counter! I guess a lot of people go in search of headache or nausea relief after Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. :slight_smile:

After that, it was back on the Bonjour Bus and back to our French Quarter home. Mom had her diet food in the room, and Dad and I walked over to the Riverside food court for dinner. We split the Roast Beef Melt and Pork BBQ sandwiches - both delicious. Afterward, my mom and I started some laundry going in the laundry room. Back at the room, I went over the next day’s plans with my sister and brother-in-law. It was to be The Day - Extra Magic Hours (7am) at Magic Kingdom! Yes, I had a folder, and yes, I had every day’s plans printed on a separate sheet of paper.

When Mom and I went to switch the laundry, we realized she didn’t have her credit card any more. Long story short, we reported it to the front desk, and just before Mom was going to call the bank to report it lost, a cast member called to let us know someone had found it and turned it in. I only mention it because they were all SO nice. When we went back to pick it up, SHE was apologizing that we had been worried or inconvenienced or whatever, when it was OUR own fault. I just love the people who work at Disney.

Anyway, after the laundry was done, we turned it pretty early since we were getting on the bus the next morning by 6:15.