We are a family of six: me, DW, DS13, DS13, DD12, and DS5. Our last trip to WDW was eight years ago. Our teens are fairly typical and were mostly interested in thrill rides. DS5 is 42" tall and is mostly into stereotypical “boy” stuff: pirates, Star Wars, etc. We don’t watch much Disney Channel, but he knows who Mickey is.
Saturday, October 5: Travel & Arrival Day
Up at 3am ET for a 6am flight and 8am arrival into MCO. Flight was on time; we made our way to Magical Express and were on our way to Beach Club before 9am. We got off at the first stop (Caribbean Beach Resorts), took the “resort bus” to the Skyliner station, and took the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios without incident (though there was a brief stop mid-ride). Got through security and into HS by about 10am, which exceeded my expectations by about an hour. Grabbed a few snacks and oriented ourselves a bit.
After orienting ourselves in the park, we decided to stop in and see if we could sign up DS5 for Jedi Training. He got cold feet before we got to the signup booth so we continued to Star Tours. Jedi Training show was currently underway, and DS5 thought we were tricking him and we almost had to drag him into the ST building because he was afraid of Darth. The line for ST was less than ten minutes, but the ride itself unfortunately terrified him – quite a surprise because my twins loved the ride when they were his age and he really does like Star Wars.
I had a “throw away” FPP for Disney Junior Dance Party booked (we didn’t expect to be in the park by 10:30) so we decided to check it out. If your kids watch Disney Junior I have no doubt they would love it, but most of the kids in our proximity if not the entire room were younger (in diapers/pull-ups) so DS5 concluded it was “for babies” and we decided to leave after five minutes. I’m sure my teens helped nudge him in that direction.
My first “real” FPP was for 11:30 ST, but that was a non-starter so I rescheduled it for Muppets later in the day. We headed to Toy Story Land and just reached the standby line for SDD expecting a 60 minute wait when we were told it was down and people were leaving the line. We made a brisk walk to AS2 and rode standby with about a 30 minute wait. By the time we were done, SDD was running again so we rode that on standby with about a 65 minute wait.
Everyone was hungry now so we headed to Center Stage and grabbed another round of snacks while watching the Star Wars stage show, which DS5 loved. The teens were starting to mutiny and wanted to go off plan, but I was able to convince them that they should trust me (and Touring Plans) a little and we would in fact get to RRC. So, we headed to MFSR (via TSL) and got through the queue in about an hour. DS5 asked the cast member manning the line if Kylo-Ren was inside (she said she had seen him earlier, but no he wasn’t inside). Unfortunately DS5 did not like MFSR either and was crying before it was over.
We had FPP for TSM which everyone loved (though DS5 didn’t quite figure out how to fire but wouldn’t accept my help and only scored about 10,000 points – he enjoyed it anyway). From there we headed to the 3:15 showing of IJSS (standby seating) – which DS5 loved, loved, loved (more than I remember the kids enjoying when they were his age). During the show I pushed our Muppets FPP to later in the day (to overlap with what I expected to be the last 30 minutes of our 75-minute dinner)
Dinner at Mama Melrose at 4pm, followed by Muppets – which everyone enjoyed, again more than I remember from our prior trip. While waiting for the show to begin I got a FPP for RnR for 8:30pm, but after the show I was able to modify the FPP and switch it to ToT with an earlier start time. While walking, I was able to modify the FPP to an earlier start and got it to essentially be a walk-on by the time we got there (we had to wait about three minutes before being allowed to enter the line). DS5 had ridden similar (but smaller, not dark) rides and had watched videos of ToT and wanted to ride – while he didn’t cry, he did give the ride “two thumbs down”.
Three of us rode RRC standby (with rider swap) with about a 30 minute wait, while DW, DS5, and DS14 checked out LMRA (which DS5 enjoyed). The second group rode RRC with the RS-FPP before we headed over to F! with reserved seating from our dining package (which oddly is done via card, not electronically). Everyone enjoyed F!, and while waiting for the show to begin I scored another FP for ToT. Those that wanted to rode it again before we left the park around 9:30pm.
Upon leaving, the line for the boat to the Epcot resorts was quite long (looked like three boats worth to me) so we decided to see if we could take Skyliner to Epcot IG; of course Skyliner was down due to the accident earlier in the day, so we decided to walk to Beach Club - which was fine except that I had to carry DS5 because he was sleeping.
Sunday, October 6: Magic Kingdom + Epcot
Our plan (read: my plan) was to get up early and be in line to RD SDMR. We discussed it the night prior and decided not to set an alarm since it was a long day, and we slept in until about 7:15. The 8:15 BC bus to MK was full, so caught the next one about 15 minutes later. It was after 9am by the time we were actually in the park, and we decided to start by using the 8:30 FPP to HM that I had secured. DS5 was terrified when they turned off the lights and someone in the room screamed (in good fun). No tears, but he gave the ride two thumbs down. In fairness, I hadn’t been able to convince my kids to ride at all when they were his age.
From there we headed to PoC (FPP) which DS5 loved (at least, after the fear of being in the dark)… He’s been talking about Jack Sparrow every day since then, so I’m pretty sure he liked it. We then rode MCA (no wait, and simple fun) before heading over to BTMR with a short standby wait (about 20 minutes). We were supposed to ride Splash Mountain next but it was down, so we skipped it and made our way back to WDETR (fun) before using our FPP for JC (also fun) – though at this point we were starting to lose the teens. Ate at Pecos Bills (which we did not enjoy at all, mostly because everyone’s order was botched and we had to wait while they “fixed” them, but even the second try was not correct so we gave up).
We got RS for Space Mountain, which DW and the teens rode while DS5 and I rode AO (he enjoyed) and BS (an unfortunate but not altogether inaccurate abbreviation for Barnstormer, to which DS5 replied, “That’s it?” after our 30 minute wait). We held onto our RS-FPP for SM for later.
We queued up for the Festival of Fantasy parade at 1:45 as our plan indicated we should, choosing to wait near the path back to Tomorrowland. We waited at least half an hour for anything to happen which annoyed everyone including DW, but DS5 did enjoy seeing the floats and characters even if everyone else was too grumpy to admit it. I was mad at myself for not getting a ride in before, because our view was fine by not worth guarding.
Got in the standby line for BLSRS, which broke down while we were waiting. Waited about 15 minutes for it to come back online, but then got on in about 10-15 minutes. I continued kicking myself for not getting this in before the parade.
We let the teens use the RS-FPP for Space Mountain while DS5 and I caught Laugh Floor (I can’t get myself to abbreviate it here!) and DW bought DS5 a pirate sword he had not stopped asking for since the morning.
I believe Splash Mountain was still down at this point, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a swim. We decided to take the bus back to the hotel rather than monorail to Epcot and walking because we thought it would be faster and easier.It was about 4pm at this point, and the exit was a mess - crowds were apparently arriving for MNSSHP and no one was yet directing foot traffic. It took ten minutes just to navigate past the entrance to the bus depot.
This is where I will comment on one of the biggest differences between this trip and our prior trip (eights years ago). Previously, we thought the Disney bus system was great - generally we never waited long for a bus, we were never unable to board a bus due to crowds (though I do remember having to stand once because the bus was full) - and I don’t remember there being nearly so many people using scooters. We waited 20 minutes for the bus to BC (and debated jumping on the Boardwalk bus which arrived sooner). Our bus arrived before the Boardwalk bus left, but it took another 20 minutes to load two scooters before we left with a jam-packed bus, leaving a large group of people behind (including more scooters). We stopped at YC and needed to unload the scooters, so we decided to walk from the YC stop to BC - we beat the bus, and with a 5yo are not fast walkers at all. All-in-all, it took us an hour to get from MK to BC, which seemed to be about par for every one of our bus experiences this trip.
We managed to swim for about an hour before heading to Epcot for a 6:45 dinner at Hacienda, which we generally enjoyed. The waitress gave me a margarita to-go using DS14’s DDP entitlement (she offered; I didn’t ask). After dinner we explored “Mexico” for a short while and rode GFT - which we really only did because I assumed we were going to call it a night. The line for Soarin’ was only 20 minutes so we decided to walk over, and had what was probably my favorite experience of the trip - none of us who had ridden before remembered many of the details, and it was pure joy for all of us. We had good views of Epcot Forever on our walk out. We also had fun asking each other if we should ride Skyliner, and having passersby inform us it was closed.
Before going to bed, we agreed everyone wanted to ride FoP badly enough that we were willing to get up at 5am…
Monday, October 7: Animal Kingdom
We got up early and caught the 6:15 bus from BC to AK. Queued up and were on the bridge to Discovery Island a few minutes before 7am. Followed the mostly cordial crowd and queued up for FoP. As I mentioned in another thread, our TP suggested riding NR first and then queuing for FoP, but (a) I wasn’t sure if we had a “rope drop advantage” that I hadn’t actually gamed in the plan, and (b) I couldn’t imagine how the line was going to get any shorter. We stayed in the FoP line, and when we got to the part of the line where the CM’s were manning the FP line, asked for RS. DS5 an I left the line and rode NR with no wait at all. No idea why (he’s never seen the movie) but he loved it.
We got a quick breakfast and explored the store outside FoP before meeting up with the rest of the family. We rode NR together with a short wait (ten minutes tops) and then decided we had time to use our RS-FPP for FoP now. The teens drew straws to see who would ride (DD lost). It was awesome, and I’m a fan of the movie, but as a parent I much preferred being able to experience Soarin’ together. To me FoP was more solitary – really enjoyable, but not really a family experience, even when riding with others.
We grabbed snacks and headed to Africa for KS. We arrived shortly before 9am, about 20 minutes “late” relative to our TP. The posted time was 45 minutes but I was expecting a 20-30 mute wait (estimated by TP). The actual wait was much longer - I believe about 80 minutes. No one was happy with the wait, but especially the teens were disgruntled. But the actual ride was fantastic - we had a great guide, and were very fortunate to have several moments with some of the animals.
After KS, we rushed to Dinoland and were a few minutes late for our 9:50-10:50 FPP for Dinosaur, but we were able to enter the FPP line without question. This was our first time riding – eight years prior, the twins and I waited in line to ride, but they got cold feet at the last minute and we walked through without riding. DS5 had no major concerns even though there was a young girl was crying as she exited the car we were boarding. The ride is quite rough and not especially enjoyable. DS5 kept his eyes closed the entire time – didn’t get upset but gave the ride two thumbs down. I think the rest of us were indifferent.
By this time our 11:00 FPP for EE was ready, so we navigated that way and got in the line - the area was quite congested and it took a few minutes to get to the CM manning the entrance. We were told RS happens across the way (by the entrance to Rivers of Light). The CM gave the teens RS-FPP and let me keep mine, so they got to ride twice (once each with DW and me). DS5 had a snack and relaxed on the RoL seating while everyone else rode, which only took 15 minutes combined.
We grabbed lunch at Y&Y QS - the line was quite long but it moved quickly, and was pretty good for a QS meal. We finished eating, and had a hard time finding KRR (it’s right next to Y&Y but we weren’t using a map). Everyone loved KRR and we decided we’d ride again later, since it was starting to rain at this point (I believe a bit before 1p).
Having done all the major rides but still having dinner reservations for 6p, we agreed to stay and experience the other attractions & shows rather than leave and come back for dinner. I booked a FPP for EE for 6:45p. We explored MJT (the only trail we did last time, as I recall). We got frozen snacks and caught the 2:30 FN show on standby. We enjoyed the show, but DD12 followed the “if you like bubbles sit here” instructions from the CM, which put us in the front row and off to the side. The bubbles included about 30 seconds of bubbles after the show as you leave - if given the choice, take the better seat in the main area. That said, we enjoyed the show.
It was really raining when we left the theater, so we quickly made our way to ITTBB. We waited a short while for the next show, and generally enjoyed it — though DS5 was frightened at the end (yes, two thumbs down).
It was still raining but starting to slow down, so we explored DI trails and made our way into Africa. There was a group of street performers (not sure if they were the HVA) but we stayed and watched (and danced) for most of the show, which we really enjoyed.
DD wanted a henna “tattoo” so the boys and I decided to explore GFT while DW and she did that. The rain started picking back up, and a CM informed us that GFT was closed due to weather, so we got in line for FLK. We made our way to the pavilion before realizing we were in the FPP line (it was pouring rain now) — and realized there was no queue for standby at all. I left the boys to retrieve DW and DD so they didn’t make the same mistake (also: you can’t do henna when wet so that was a no-go).
DS5 fell asleep in my lap before the show started, but everyone loved FLK. We had watched it our previous trip (was it in a different location?) but I didn’t remember liking it as much as we did this time. It really is great.
We made our way to Rainforest Cafe for dinner — which turned out to be pretty decent and again our waiter gamed the DDP to our advantage which was nice of him.
Unfortunately, EE was down and we received a notification with two options that is really one option - basically the FPP was converted to any any-time FPP for any ride other than the two Pandora rides. DS5 really wanted to ride NR again (I told you he loved it) so we checked out TLA and rode NR as a family before catching the Pandora Drummers (DS5 loved). EE was down so we decided to head back to our hotel, probably around 8:30p at this point.
The bus back was full but not bad.
Tuesday, October 8: Hollywood Studios
We agreed we didn’t need to get up super early for our second visit to HS but wanted to aim for 7am-ish. Best intentions aside, we were about an hour behind schedule and didn’t get into the park until about 8am.
Even with the late start, we were able to ride SDD standby with a 30 minute wait, followed by TSM with virtually no wait (less than five minutes waiting in front of Mr. Potato Head).
We decided to split up: DW rode AS2 with DS5; DS14 and DD rode RRC (twice), and DS14 and I rode ToT once. We met up on Sunset Boulevard and decided to RS ToT. The CM really wanted us to do RS inside for some reason, and after asking several times if we could do it “the normal” way — yes, I know it will take longer but DS5 doesn’t want to go inside — she relented and gave us the RS-FPP (which we didn’t end up using).
DS5 decided he still wasn’t ready for Jedi Training but wanted to give ST another try. We rode standby around 10am with about a 10 minute wait - two thumbs up this time! The kids grabbed a quick lunch next door before riding ST again with a 10:30 FPP (still two thumbs up). On a roll, we made our way through SWGE and explored a little — a storm trooper made DS5’s day by saying, “I know you,” on our way to MFSR, which we rode with about a 30 minute wait. DS5 didn’t love it the second time - I think the seating (relatively isolated) gave him some anxiety.
We watched IJSS a second time while DS14 and DD rode RRC (they were able to join us while the show was in progress, but had to sit separately). DS5 loved it the second time. I believe it was the 1:15 showing. Everyone wanted to leave for a swim, so I rescheduled a 1pm TSM FPP for 8:30p, since we knew we’d be back in the evening.
Left HS - the queue for the boat was surprisingly long and we had to wait for a second one to arrive and swam for a few hours. Got a reservation at ESPN Club — which had been surprisingly hard to get for the time we wanted (5:30ish) — surprising because we were the only people there. The meal was fine (Applebees-like) but I was expecting more from the atmosphere. We were all disappointed.
Took the boat from Boardwalk back to HS. Star Wars Launch Bay showed no waits so we got pictures with BB8, Chewie, and Darth with basically no wait. Got a picture with Olaf for no wait as well. Rode ST standby again (no line at all) and explored SWGE at night, which again was very cool (and not crowded at all). Made our way to Oga’s for an 8pm reservation - waited a few minutes to be admitted, and were placed at the bar. The rules were explained - 45 minutes, two drink limit per person. We ordered a few fun drinks (too sweet for me but fine). I was mildly annoyed that we, a party of six, were taking no more than the space for two at the bar, and were asked to make room for another party. It was a neat experience but definitely not relaxing. We left after 20 minutes. Explored SWGE some more and bought some merch. We were tempted by the MFSR SB of 30 minutes (posted) but the twins (13yo) were exhausted and wanted to go back to the hotel. DD and DS5 wanted to stay for TSM FPP so we split up.
The three of us rode AS2 with no wait at all, then TSM FPP with essentially no wait. Was surprised that lines for character meets in TSL were still quite long. Made it back to the hotel around 10p.
My original plan was for a relaxing day at Epcot starting at 9am, but the teens (and DW!) wanted to RD FoP again…
Wednesday, October 9: AK + Epcot
We caught the 6:15 bus to AK and were toward the front of the line for bag check which must have just begun moving when we arrived (it must have started earlier this day than it had earlier in the week). We were about 20 people back from the turnstiles to enter the park, but they were not yet open. Waited only a few minutes and made our way into the park, further ahead than last time. Crowd seemed a bit less cordial - there was some running by other parties involved when they opened the park — but we took our time and ended up at about the same place in the FoP queue as the prior trip (judged by where we were when the line actually formed).
Same as before: RS FoP, riding twice while DS5 enjoyed NR with a parent with no wait.
After FoP, we saw there was a 5 minute queue for EE, so the teens and I quickly made our way there while DW and DS5 rode NR one last time. Met back by ToL and left the park for Epcot.
Choices choices. It was now 8:40ish. We decided to take the bus to an Epcot resort rather than Epcot proper — I was nervous about a long queue at the main entrance. We waited 10 minutes for a bus and decided to take the Boardwalk (and Swan & Dolphin) bus because it was first to arrive. No one else was on the bus, but they changed drivers so we ended up waiting ten minutes before leaving. Stopped at Swan and then Dolphin (or vice versa), picking up new riders (and scooters) in the process. Standing room only at this point. Finally made it to Boardwalk around 10am. I was disappointed. The boat for Epcot was arriving as we were walking so we decided to take that rather than the walk, which was fine but probably slower than walking.
Had a 10-11 FPP for TT, but had time for quick pictures with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy just outside IG. Rode TT then the kids enjoyed donuts and Icees before heading to M:S. The teens wanted to save their FPP for Orange, so the CM let us ride Green as a family without them using their FPP, which was awesome. Rode Green, then two of the teens and I rode Orange using their FPP’s while the others checked out the “Advanced Training Lab” (which DS5 loved - had a hard time getting him to leave).
Rode Soarin’ with a 20 minute standby wait - still awesome, though we were on the side and noticed much more distortion in the picture from these seats.
On our prior trip the kids loved JIF, and we rode with a short five minute wait. Not a huge surprise, but it flopped this time. YMMV.
My plan was to explore F&W for lunch, but it was starting to rain so we settled on Electric Umbrella because it was nearby and easier than trying to find something that would make everyone happy.
It was still raining after lunch. We headed over to Nemo & Friends and rode that (FPP) then explored the aquarium and experienced Turtle Talk — DD and DS5 sat up front, and DD was picked by Crush for some questions, which then pulled me into the mix. It was fun. DS5 kept his hand raised the entire show to ask a question which was also amusing.
While waiting for Turtle Talk, I got a SE FPP which we then walked on to. While finishing up SE, I landed a Soarin’ FPP. We rode The Land standby with no wait while waiting for our Soarin’ FPP time to arrive, then rode Soarin’ one last time — FPP maybe saved 10 minutes compared to standby 20.
While waiting to load Soarin, I booked a Pixar Short Films FPP, but we arrived just after the loaded the last show and were told it would be 20 minutes before they seated the next group. We decided not to wait and walked through WS on our way to dinner - had a 5:00 reservation at Spice Road that we pushed to 6:30. We didn’t really do the F&W food (DW got a drink somewhere along the way).
Food at SR was good (though my kids didn’t enjoy it) but the service was pretty bad. We selected SR thinking we could share small plates, but that is not allowed on DDP. We ordered one appetizer (paid cash), three entrees, and one kid’s meal which was enough food - and allowed us to sample each of the three desserts offered.
Which reminds me: we had six park days but five nights, meaning we only had entitlements for five TS meals — but booked six. One of my DS14 and DD are pretty picky eaters, so when they ordered a kids meal at dinner I paid cash and saved the entitlement, so that I saved enough entitlements for our last TS meal (which was a buffet). This worked reasonably well, as long as I told the server my intention before we ordered.
After dinner DD got her henna tattoo while the boys and I explored the Moroccan market (which was quite cool).
We walked back to the hotel, arriving a bit after 8p. The big kids swam until the pool closed at 10p.
We agreed we’d try to RD SDMR in the morning…
Thursday, October 10: MK + Home
Up at 5am again, finished packing, dropped off our bags for Magical Express, and queued for the bus around 6:15. The line for MK was quite long, and when it arrived half full we knew we weren’t going to be able to board. Decided to Uber XL instead for $14. Our driver dropped us off in the taxi line at 6:45, but then I realized we had to take a ferry to MK – we were not where the busses drop us off. It was 7:45 before we got into MK.
We made our way toward SDMR (standby 30) but decided to ride PPF (standby 15) first. We then circled back and rode SDMR (still 30) and then road MTP with no wait at all. The teens then rode Space Mountain while DS5 and I rode Speedway (DW waited with us but didn’t ride). Not that I had high expectations but Speedway didn’t impress DS5.
Rode SDMR for a second time, this time making sure DS5 was on the inside seat so he would have a better view of the cottage at the end of the ride.
We made our way back to PoC with a standby of ten minutes, then road Splash Mountain with a standby of 25 minutes. We made it back to Space Mountain by 10:40 and used our FPP with rider swap (CM did not offer to let four of us ride, but we had a FPP for DS5 that we used on the second pass).
Rode HM on standby (25 minutes) - I had forgotten how fun the queue is. DS5 had a better time this time through (I held him in the foyer when the lights went out) before lunch at Crystal Palace. None of us are Pooh fans, but DD and DS5 especially enjoyed it. Food was reasonable and at least the kids were able to find something they liked.
We rode BTMR standby (about 20 minutes) and in hindsight probably enjoyed it more than SDMR. We had a 2p FPP for Splash Mountain, which we used before visiting TSI — which all the kids enjoyed and DS5 loved. Unfortunately the second island was being closed right as we entered - not sure why.
We visited the Shootin’ Arcade — spent a few minutes trying to get quarters before realizing the arcade is free now. Played that for a little while, then got Dole Whip (first time ever!) before heading back to the hotel for a swim.
Bus back to the hotel was packed again, and it took about an hour from entering the queue to getting to our hotel. Picked up our bag from bag check, and the kids swam for about an hour before getting dinner at Hurricane Hanna’s — which turned out to be pretty good for QS. We had one QS meal left over, so I used that for a second drink.
Caught a 7:20p ME bus to MCO for a 10:20 return flight.
All in all, we had a great trip! There were a few unexpected bumps in the road along the way, but I felt like TP and everything I learned reading these forums really helped us adjust on the fly. Thank you TP and all!
P.S. - we walked about 9 miles per day, and didn’t have a stroller. DS5 was fine, but we did have to carry him quite a bit, especially while in slow-moving lines and at the end of the day. The teens were tired at the end of the day (nothing wrong with that) and we were fortunate that DW and I were the only ones that got blisters (and we walk about two miles most days).
Hope this helps others!