I did a short ‘highlights/lowlights’ trip report already at February Trip Report - Ride Closures and Making the Best of it, but I think I was too negative on the report, and should not have been writing while stressed! Now that I have pictures and more to share, I wanted to re-do this with proper perspective and the advantage of hindsight. Hopefully my experiences will assist someone!
This trip was for myself and DW to finally take our youngest two children to WDW (DD11 and DS9). These are the youngest two of seven children. Previously, a family member worked at WDW until her sudden passing a few years ago. DW and I had not been to the park since 2010, all other members of our family had already been there. We aren’t well equipped to take children younger than about 6 to Disney, as my wife is in a wheelchair permanently with Muscular Dystrophy and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Feb 5th - Travel Day (Mississauga, ON to Orlando)
We booked Frontier airlines for the flight, as kids fly free. The four of us could easily use one suitcase, so our total four person round-trip price for a flight from BUF->MCO was around $225. Frontier was fantastic - it felt like a decent commercial flight. The plane was clean, the people were nice, and we had no issues with the airline. Driving from Ontario to Buffalo airport was simple, and used a place called ‘The Parking Spot’ across the street from the airport which worked very well and was reasonably priced.
We arrived to MCO around 5PM, and were able to get to DME relatively quickly, which had us at Pop before 6PM for a nice ADA room. This was a last-minute change from AoA in order to get a nicer wheelchair accessible room. We were on the 2nd floor of building 10. The room was very nice, with great consideration for wheelchair needs, the only downside is how crowded the outside of the resort and the food court was throughout the trip. We would probably not stay there again, despite LOVING the skyliner.
We expected to be getting a grocery delivery to the resort, but unfortunately DW had misunderstood Walmart’s delivery policies, so we were not able to get the food delivered until the following day. We rented an ECV from Gold Mobility, and they delivered slightly later than expected, but had great customer service. The kids just wanted to swim, but unfortunately we discovered that all the pools closed at 8PM, so after arranging groceries and the ECV delivery, we missed our window. Luggage from the DME had not yet arrived and it was getting late, so we got dinner at the VERY crowded food court and then took a walk around the resort checking out the theming. Bought a resort cup, as I knew I would use it for coffee every day, and kids like filling for beverages from the machines whenever possible. To note, the coffee machines don’t actually check the resort cup chips - I could have brought any coffee mug and filled it at the resort for free. Here’s some pics from the DME and the view from the room:
Feb 6th - Animal Kingdom
We woke up to a very hot and windy day (high of 88), which made a slightly difficult transition for our Canadian-tuned systems. We ate some breakfast bars in the room, packed up some of the snacks we brought from home (since groceries would not arrive until ~5PM) and headed out to Animal Kingdom. We made it to the park right around park open, but we needed to stop at the ticket booth to activate our Canadian Resident tickets (DW and I just needed to show our licenses), then we stopped by Guest Services to get the DAS card for the family, due to some known complications with DW and DD’s Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. We ended up needing to move rather slowly into and through the park due to the heat. We saw that the Wilderness Explorers booth was open, so the kids got their guidebooks and stopped at a couple of stations on our way back to Pandora for our 9:45 AM NRJ fastpass. Before using the FPP, we stopped at FOP to get a DAS return time for later that afternoon. We used the NRJ fastpass, and I think that DW enjoyed it the most of all of us. I was very impressed with the Navi Dreamspeaker at the end (who wouldn’t be?!) but the rest of it seemed to just meander - the scenery was nice, but I would have liked to see some semblance of a story or some context around the areas we were drifting through. Afterwards we spent some time watching the robot guys in Pandora, doing the drums, getting pics taken, and walked through some of the Wilderness Explorer and jungle trek trails on our way over to Expedition Everest for a 10:45 FPP. Kids declined ‘It’s tough to be a bug’ after reading horror stories about it in other kid-oriented guides. When we got to EE, our DD declined to ride, but everyone else enjoyed it. She was able to wait with the ECV.
Around this point, the park started getting VERY crowded. We walked back towards Pandora for the FOP return time slowly, going through Dino-Land and making sure to pick up mickey bars for a snack and spend some time for DD9 at the playground. DD11 was able to cool down a bit and ended up seeking out pin trading employees up around the playground, which made her VERY happy. We had some pins from previous trips, and ordered a few more via discount packages when Disney makes them available.
When they finished playing, we went to FOP, which was the highlight of the day for everyone. All of us could not stop gushing over the vehicles, the screen, and the whole experience. Kids wanted to ride again almost immediately, but we knew that our day was already fairly full, so we offered the option to come back again on our last park day (we had an FPP booked for it on Feb 11).
It was then time for our last FPP at KS at 12:15. Wind was picking up, but that was making it slightly cooler, which was great both for seeing animals and managing DW and DD. I booked an FotLK FPP while in line to get on the Safari vehicles. After KS, we walked the Gorilla Falls Trail, but that was probably a mistake in hindsight, as we really should have eaten first. We thought the trail was much shorter than it turned out to be, especially with Wilderness Explorer stops. We immediately went to Harambe Village Market and put in a mobile order while we waited for a table to open up. It was very hot, very crowded, and with a hangry crowd this was almost too much on the day. Next time we eat earlier!
Afterwards we went to see FotLK, despite protesting from the children. DW and I thought it was a fantastic show, but DD and DS weren’t very interested. Ah, well. At that point, it was time for DW to go back to the hotel and get the grocery delivery, not to mention that DD had enough for that day, and still really wanted to swim. DS wanted a father/son dinner at Pizzafari before we ever went, so we stayed around, with the thought that DW and DD would come back to the park later for Rivers of Light and a couple more rides at night. We had FPPs booked for the family for RoL.
DS and I went around the Discovery Island trails and then to Dinosaur. A 25 min posted wait turned into a 50 min wait due to ride downtimes, so afterwards we were rushing back over to Pizzafari for our reservation. DS9 liked Dinosaur a lot - he’s probably the target age and interest for the ride at this point. At Pizzafari we had a great family-style meal, but we received the notification that RoL would be cancelled for the night. Winds were really picking up, you could smell a storm in the air, and DW and DD went swimming, got the groceries, got dinner at the Pop food court, and didn’t want to leave the hotel. DS and I went back to the hotel, but since it was early the kids wanted to go back out somewhere in Disney.
We decided on going to Disney Springs after guessing that it would be a short bus ride and short walk around. This was (in hindsight) one of the biggest mistakes of the trip. It took a long time getting to DS, it was a lot more walking than we expected to get to the kid-oriented stores, and it was even longer waiting for a bus back to our hotel. The entire time it was very loud, surrounded by numerous Argentinian tour groups chanting and singing to each other.
We were in bed VERY late for the kids (close to midnight), utterly exhausted, very sore, and cranky. Whoops. Live and learn I’ll post the next couple of days tomorrow.