Great start! I’m looking forward to reading more.
Day 2: AK
My overachiever Disney mom started showing this morning. I was estimating 1 hour for us to drive to the parks and enter the gates. In reality, this took 23 minutes. So we arrived at AK at 8:10 (9 am opening) with 9:20 FP for Navi and nothing that we would want to modify it to.
So we spent a bit wandering around Discovery Island. We were at the Tree of Life when the photo pass photographer arrived, so we were first in line. Then we wandered Pandora and had a little snack before we could finally check in 5 minutes early for our Navi FP. (This starts a trend of us checking in early.) Our next attraction was FOLK. We let DS2 play for a bit before getting in line about 20 minutes before 10. We all loved the show and the line for the 2nd show was much larger when we exited at 10:30, so the first show is definitely the right choice!
We wanted to have mac and cheese at Eight Spoon Cafe so we rode Tri Spin since it was still before 11. Then we discovered that ESC wasn’t open today, even though MDE claimed that it would be. So we MO Flame Tree. (The pulled pork cheese fries are so yummy!) Don’t walk away from your food here, the birds will grab it! Happened to the lady at the table next to us while her husband sat there with his mouth open!
We walked through the Maharajah trail pretty quickly and then did our M&M FP. Another longer line than I hoped for. Lesson learned: character FP before 12 for truly short lines. But we got kisses from Minnie, so it all ended well.
We went back to the apartment for a nap and I drove to the character warehouse for a little shopping. Came home with 2 mugs and a Christmas ornament.
We were a little late leaving again, but made it to our Safari FP by 5:30 I think. We had an excellent view of the giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, horned cows, and a few other animals I forget the names of. Got a peek at the hippo and saw the back end of the rhino. It was awesome to see the elephants wandering through. It’s a completely different than a zoo experience! And the lions were great. One of the females was laying on her back yawning at us, just like a little cat!
We stopped for treats at Tamu Tamu, and then walked through Pandora as it got dark. It was cool, but we were hoping for more glow. Maybe it wasn’t dark enough yet. Walked into Rivers of Light 15 minutes before the show. I loved the concepts the show used, but it seemed a bit repetitive by the end. Still a nice way to end the night. We waited for the tree to awaken before leaving. I wish they did those a bit closer together. We waited a while just to see one. Left at 7:30.
Turns out you can see just the very tip of the MK and Epcot fireworks from our apartment, peeking over the top of I4.
Daily step count: 13,248
Characters hugged: 2
Photo pass photos taken: 32 (We found 2 other photographers with no lines and our M&M photographer took 19 precious photos of our meet and greet!!!)
Crowd Level: 6
I’ve never even heard of Eight Spoon Cafe!
Love this idea for some interesting “stats”. Also, I’m loving your report in general! Thanks for sharing with us!
@missoverexcited It’s a little kiosk open seasonally.
@TheProphetPaul Thanks! Day 3 has some pretty impressive hug and step numbers! And I might need to add an attraction count because we killed it yesterday!
I looked it up straight away!
I got choked up reading about you getting choked up! (Taking my DS7 and DS4 for the first time in May and am anticipating a lot of choking)
@Laura_hastings, you’re going to have the best time!!!
Day 3: MK
Oh boy! This day was the best!
The forecast was calling for thunderstorms until 10 am, so I was a little concerned what that would do to our plan. Waiting for rope drop and getting DS2 in and out of his stroller in a downpour didn’t sound like fun, but this was our only other day at MK and I wasn’t going to give it up. We had a 2nd AK day planned though and I decided that worst case scenario, I would give up a 2nd ride on Safari and the Nemo show for MK rides if our morning didn’t work out.
In the morning, there was a steady rain but not too heavy. We had real raincoats and a large stroller cover and I wore sandals and put my sneakers in the backpack. I had planned to spend an hour wandering Main Street USA and taking photo pass castle photos, so we decided to arrive a little later. We were in the parking lot at 8:10. I didn’t write down when we walked into MK, but I would say 8:30ish based on our close parking spot and the low number of people braving the rain.
They didn’t do the morning show. We were a bit sad to miss it, but thankful for very low morning crowds because of the rain.
We actually followed our original morning plan pretty closely, but at the time, I felt like I was completely redoing our plan. (Can I just say a quick thank you to this community? Ya’ll saved me some major ‘our expensive vacation is going to be ruined’ anxiety and gave me confidence to make decisions on the fly!)
We planned to do Under the Sea first, but it wasn’t running yet, so we went to Pooh and then Buzz. I attempted to get an anytime FP because Splash was down for a bit, but it started running too quickly. Then we rode Under the Sea and headed for ETWB. We had 5:40 FP for it, but I wanted to be able to get 4th FP during the afternoon, so we went there around 9:40. I modified this FP to Pooh, because DS2 loved it. When they asked for additional characters, we jumped forward and were given the enchanted salt shaker. All we needed to do was the parade around the room with all the kids, so this is a great option for any tiny ones or shy kiddos who still want a photo with Belle. And since DS2 was feeling a little bashful, Mama got in the photo too. Score!
We went to meet Pluto and Daisy at the Silly Sideshow. The Friday before our trip started the new Mickey & Minnie Celebration items and I was SO EXCITED about this change, because Pluto is DH’s favorite (and apparently DS2’s now too) and there isn’t really another guaranteed spot to meet him. We planned to do Dumbo next, but there was too much of a line before the play area for it to be worth it to us, since we’d already done Triceratops Spin. We jumped in line to meet Pooh and Tigger 7 minutes before they started for the day and waited almost 20 minutes. That was the shortest I saw the line all day. Then we had our FP for Pooh and headed to Be Our Guest for lunch.
I had pre-ordered but somehow we ended up in the regular ordering line and it didn’t come up when I scanned my magic band. DS2 was in hungry meltdown mode, so I was frustrated that we weren’t able to save some time there. As soon as our food came to the table he was happy again, but the cheerios that have been placating him this entire trip were not working at the moment and I forgot to grab one of his fruit squeezers from the stroller on the way in. My potato leek soup was really good. DH got the croque monsieur. Yummy, but too rich for me. (My stomach was feeling a bit off from the changes in our usual routine.) I enjoyed the master’s cupcake frosting better than the cake, but DH liked the cake better than the frosting. Mainly, I just got it to say that I did. (Same reason that I later tried the Beverly in Epcot.)
After lunch, we had FP for Buzz, so we rode that again. DS2 wanted to shoot the targets… I mean, hold the laser gun… this time, so our score was terrible. I hadn’t been that good on round one, but DH had the hang of it now and had a score around 140,000. We made it to the flagpole when the dance party started, so we watched that together before DH and DS2 left for nap time. He was completely wiped out, but still waved at the characters from the stroller.
I walked past Fairytale Hall at 12:50. Standby claimed 10 minutes, so I jumped in line. It ended up being 35, but I couldn’t modify my Splash FP any earlier, so I had to do something in the mean time. I used the wait time to charge my phone (external battery), look over my TP, and sort through my photos. Tiana and I talked about her dress. Rapunzel and I talked about my recent hair cut.
I zoomed through the Splash FP queue at 1:25, grabbed Haunted Mansion (FP #4) and modified it to 2 pm. I was in the 2nd row, so my raincoat came in handy. The couple in front of me were a ton of fun and I enjoyed the ride. DH and I are not coaster people and we agreed afterwards that Splash was on the edge of our comfort zone. We both enjoyed it and would do it again, but the drop was a ‘grip the hand rail’ moment.
I tapped in 5 minutes early at Haunted Mansion and grabbed a FP to meet Ariel. I had already gotten small world for DH for that evening, so after Ariel, I got that for myself too. Spooky isn’t my usual style, but I’d heard many people say this was the best themed ride, so I had to do it. It was excellent. We were stopped for about a minute in the party room, so I got to look around and really notice all those details. I also loved the part at the end when you face the mirrors.
I mobile ordered dole whip for the parade (along with everyone else - give yourself at least 20 minutes for this) and found a spot right at the rope in front of Liberty Tree Tavern. I sat and enjoyed my dole whip. It was nice to eat it slowly this time instead of sharing it with a toddler who isn’t allowed that much sugar yet. The parade was excellent. (Although I found out the next day that Maleficent is back and I missed it by one day!) I really loved the costumes of the under the sea creatures and the ladies around Mickey & Minnie’s float. So imaginative and detailed!
Next was Philharmagic. Really cute show. I loved all the characters it incorporates and the end is really cute. Also a great time for a rest in a comfy chair and some additional phone charging.
Ariel loved my ears and asked me to make her some. No one was in the room when I entered, so it felt like the least rushed interaction. I probably talked to Rapunzel for just as long, but it felt more rushed with other people there. Also, I love that she says ‘splash ya later.’
At this point, I had just a few things left that I wanted to do even though they were nowhere close to each other, so I got a lot more steps in. I rode the People Mover and then got the sweet and spicy chicken waffle sandwich. Delicious and definitely spicy. Then I headed to the park entrance to wait for DH and DS2. I popped into the main photo pass location and then got in another ‘10 minute’ character line to see Tink. I should have just sat down for a bit. I think this one was 30 minutes as well.
After being reunited, we got our castle photo, rode the carousel, and did our 6pm FP for small world (DH was not a fan, but DS2 and I loved it again). I got 6:15 FP for Dumbo and 6:30 Pooh (FP #8 and our 3rd pooh ride today). There seemed to be a lot of evening FPs for Pooh, Buzz, and Dumbo, so we probably could have kept going, but there’s still a little line after the merge, and we could tell that DS2 was done with lines for the day.
Next we rode the People Mover together. I liked it a lot better at night. I almost couldn’t see anything inside Space Mt during the day and that just made for an awkward amount of time in the dark.
I would have liked to watch OUAT again, but I didn’t want to push DS2 too much, so we headed out of the park at 7:30 just before it started.
I felt like a Disney queen at this point. I used 8 FP (DH used 5) and did 22 attractions. The park was much less crowded. I told DH that it had to be a 5 or lower based on the amount of FP still available in the evening. Turns out it was a 2. What a difference from a 9 the first night!
Daily step count: 20266
Characters hugged: 9
Photo pass photos taken: 89
Crowd Level: 2 (we had a lot of success with SD FP, but there were also some inaccurate posted times)
Day 4: Epcot
This morning was a bit of an over-correction on the previous morning’s super early arrivals. It was chilly, so we didn’t want to stand outside too long and arrived at the park gate at 8:50. Liner fail. Tons of people were in front of us. We had photo pass take our photo and DS2 enjoyed listening to the drums before they let us in. I wasn’t worried, because we weren’t starting with the big 3 attractions.
Our first stop was Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at Character Spot. DS2 is very into Minnie Mouse and giving her kisses. We got some adorable photos.
We moved to the Land pavilion to ride Living with the Land. DH does hydroponics at home, so I knew he would enjoy seeing their set up. Now he’s going to want to build a tall spinning lettuce structure. We left our stroller there and walked to Nemo. We tapped in with our FP around 9:45, because standby said 20 minute wait. Turns out that there was no one in line, so we went right out and rode it again through standby. Some of these queues are so long! When it takes you 5 minutes just to walk through, you feel really bad for all the people who will be waiting there in the afternoon to ride.
After the ride, we looked around a bit, let DS2 run in the shark play area, and got to see the divers feeding the rays upstairs. Then we went to Norway for our 10:30 FEA FP. We were in the front row, and the boat was weighted a bit to my side, so me and the dad behind me ended up with wet butts. I really enjoyed the ride. Even if you’re not familiar with the ages of the movies, you can certainly tell which animatronics are newer!
We watched the trains in Germany before heading to Morocco for lunch. We shared the chicken platter (I asked for combo with falafel). It was delicious! I would eat here every day if I could. Since we only ordered one plate, we grabbed the macaron collection at Les Halles. (We are spoiled by a wonderful shop back home, but these were very good and about $1.50 cheaper than back home. Macarons are $$$! One of my goals this year is to learn how to make them!)
We had FP for Spaceship Earth. I was prepared to toss it, if DS2 really needed his nap, but he has adapted so well. He’s going down for his nap about an hour late, sleeping the same amount of time, and then going to bed 1.5 hours late (except our first MK night, which was nearly 3 hours late. What a trooper!)
DH and DS2 left for naptime and I headed back to France to meet Belle and Aurora. Aurora was finishing up when I arrived, so I jumped in the line for Belle (maybe the 10th family?) Belle was coming out in 5 minutes, and t took about 20 minutes total to meet her. That meant Aurora was coming back in 15 minutes, so I went straight to her line and was 2nd to meet her. (So queued from 12:55 to 1:35 to meet two princesses. Not a bad way to do it if you ask me!)
Then I moved inside to Impressions de France and got an ice cream macaron sandwich at Les Artisans. This macaron was much crisper. Maybe a little cold outside to eat ice cream, but I’d been planning this dessert for a while.
From here I wandered through some shops, got a drink at Joy of Tea, and sat down to rest for a bit on the bridge steps in Italy. Not too cold in the sun, but I asked DH to bring my coat and hat when they came back. Epcot is very windy in WS.
I picked up a croissant jambon fromage for dinner. (Only $5!) Found the perfect WDW mug at Port of Entry. I had grabbed a 4:50 FP for Soarin when DH left and a 6:05 FP for him, so I headed to Soarin. Maybe a 20 minute FP wait? DH waited about 35 minutes. We both really enjoyed the ride. Neither of us do coasters, and the feeling of falling terrifies me, but this ride was fine. I was most concerned that the ride would tip us forward, but it barely does at all. I loved the island smell and I lucked out with B2. Towards the end of the row, but everything looked pretty straight to me.
After DH returned, we wandered the Figment exit play area before his FP. Then DS2 and I rode Figment twice. Once with (unneeded) FP. It’s a cute little ride. I knew to hold my breath for the smell. DS2 wasn’t phased by it. I loved the ending scene.
I originally planned to get caramel in Germany and hear part of the Broadway show in America, but the Karamel line was long earlier in the afternoon and I didn’t feel like walking that much anymore. So went popped into Club Cool and went to Mexico for 3 Caballeros. What a weird little ride. The characters seem so disjointed with the footage of Mexico. The small world style decorations were really cute and I loved the fireworks at the end, but it doesn’t seem to fit all together for me. I would love to see a Coco refurb. I don’t think we’ll be back unless they do.
Since we left pretty early in the evening, and MK was open a bit later, I was able to get a FP for Splash and it went down, so we got an anytime FP for the next day. Ironically, it was the day when we least needed it, our 2nd AK day. (But stay tuned, because it turns out to be a big bonus!)
Unpopular opinion alert: DH and I weren’t that into Epcot. We enjoyed Living with the Land and the tanks at Nemo, but other than that, the ‘educational’ aspects don’t really appeal to us. We are at a theme park and we want all things fantasy and imagination! So we really understand the appeal for park hoppers now. If we had them, we definitely would have hopped yesterday and finished the night at MK. Epcot to us is a great place to hop for 2 hours, eat, and maybe do 2-3 things and then head somewhere else. You can only eat so much in one day, so it was hard to fill a single day and I spent a big chunk of the afternoon just resting.
Daily step count: 19.741
Characters hugged: 5
Photo pass photos taken: 67
Crowd Level: 3 (Food lines were also pretty short)
Loving your trip report!!! Sounds like a great time!!!
Day 5: AK
Animal Kingdom had emh today, so it wasn’t originally our planned park but after I changed things around a dozen times, it made the most sense for us to forge ahead and at least plan our FP well.
We weren’t at the front of the 9 am entrance group, but we didn’t care because we were headed to Dinoland. We rode triceratops spin and then looked at the dinosaurs on the cretaceous trail and over by the dinosaur ride.
We had Mickey & Minnie FP for 9:20 and were very careful not to tap in early. We gave them more hugs and told them what a great trip we’ve had. It was cute to see how shy DS2 was for the first character greeting and how he runs right to them now.
We had safari FP for 11:55. That was the earliest I could get it when planning 30 days out, so we were excited to use our anytime at 9:45 instead. We had another great safari. Saw a bunch of hippos and several more elephants, including a baby. We had to skip the gorilla trail and never got back to it.
We were hungry but it was only 10:30, so we grabbed a mickey pretzel, which we gobbled before heading to the Nemo show. We had fp so we had to arrive by 10:45. We got seats down front which was nice, but I doubt the FP was necessary. And some of the characters went behind us onto the landing between the two sections and DS2 couldn’t see them from there.
Here’s where the beauty of that anytime FP comes in. I had read about the FOP drop, but knew that we wouldn’t want to give up our safari FP so we’d come to terms with not being able to ride. But we’d already ridden the safari with anytime FP so now it wasn’t needed!
I had my phone out and brightness turned way down so I could look for FOP same day FP at 11:01. I started modifying and refreshing the time on our safari FP a couple minutes early. Since the title starts with Avatar, it’s the first on the list which was nice, so I only had to scroll a tiny bit each time I refreshed the time. As the show opened, they appeared and I grabbed two for 12:15, modifying them 5 minutes earlier. They were completely gone within 2 or 3 minutes.
We mobile ordered lunch at flame tree (along with everyone else). DH went straight to Pandora after I changed DS2’s diaper, so he asked me to wrap up his sandwich. So I was ‘that lady’ in the mobile order line with a stroller, carrying the tray out with one hand. An older gentleman called me super mom and everybody was really nice about me taking up so much space.
Our order didn’t come with the milk or the applesauce that DS2 was supposed to get. I was able to ask a CM to get it for us since you can’t walk away from your food over there. The birds are too intense. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize we were also missing the applesauce, so we never got that.
DH came back from Pandora just as we were finishing eating. Since he went at the very beginning of the window, we didn’t actually need to us rider swap. He took DS2 to ride triceratops spin again. It was a 20 minute wait at that point, but he picked that over seeing more animals.
We were both a little worried that the FP line at noon would have a wait since we’d found that true on other rides, but we both walked straight through until you’re waiting for the next available link chamber.
Man, fop is incredible! It’s so much better than soarin! There are a few intense moments but it was never too much for me. And it was all so beautiful, that I just kept wanting to look around. I totally see why people want to ride this multiple times. Still wouldn’t wait more than an hour though.
We left the park right after this. DS2 was later than usual for his nap, so we decided to let him sleep as long as he wanted. By 5, he was back up and we were heading to Animal Kingdom Lodge. The lobby got an ooooh from him as we walked in. We went out to the Savannah and then wandered a bit before having dinner at the Mara. I got the falafel dish. It was better at Morocco, but I still enjoyed it. DH got the crispy chicken sandwich, which is big enough for two people to share.
We were back at the apartment by 7:30 and feeling completely wiped out. And even though we’re having a great time, we’re kinda ready to be home and back in our usual routine with DS2. He’s done really well, but the apartment is tiny and he’s constantly trying to dig into suitcases or pull stuff off of tables.
We spent the evening relaxing and getting our stuff together for our final (half) day at Disney World.
Daily step count: 13, 864
Characters hugged: 2
Photo pass photos taken: 26
Crowd Level: 10 (We survived quite well with our FP and mobile ordering, especially since it was our 2nd AK day and we weren’t trying to do everything.)
Rock on “Disney Queen”
Such a great report! Thanks for sharing!
I love your ears!!!
This is such a great report! Thank you so much for all of the details and insight!
Day 6: Our Final Day HS
While I would have liked to end our trip seeing OUAT and HEA in MK, we were heading to my grandparents house mid-day, so that wasn’t an option and HS was definitely going to be a half day park for us and lower on our priority list, so it made sense to leave it for last. When I first starting planning, we were going to do 4 days and I was thinking of skipping HS entirely for a 2nd MK day. I’m glad I didn’t, because DS2 loved TSL.
It was going to rain all day, but we were packing up the apartment the night before, so I forgot to pull out my sandals. DH and I ended up walking around with wet sneakers, but we tried to avoid the puddles when we could. I’m so glad we bought real raincoats instead of ponchos!
We entered the park at 8:30. At 8:45, the CMs started walking us to TSL. We had TSM FP and someone had suggested that we could rope drop AS2 and still get to TSM without too much of a wait, so that was our plan. We rode Aliens 3 times in a row! The first time, they didn’t make the ‘stay seated if you want to ride again’ announcement, so we had to loop back around, but they did the next time. We could have ridden more than 3 times, but I wanted to do TSM too. It’s a really cute little ride!
We exited Aliens and headed to TSM right at 9 (technical park opening). TSM was still a walk on and we had a blast, so we jumped back in line again. DH ran to the restroom first, so that held us up a minute. A few more people were in line this time, so we had maybe a 15 minute wait. At this point they were sending FP people up the stairs after Mr Potato Head (which is what we did the first time) but they sent us into a 2nd room instead with big 3D Andy’s room elements, so that was neat to see. You walk through the door of his closet. Definitely adds to the feeling of being a toy and it gave DS2 plenty to look at. He went through the whole queue calling out the colors he saw.
We walked to Launch Bay, where I left DH and DS2 to ride Star Tours. Since it was raining, we didn’t end up getting a Star Wars family photo (and I never put my ears on), which was a bummer. I only saw one photo pass photographer out and he was tucked under an awning of a building. But I guess we’ll save it for May the 4th. Star Tours is cute, but it’s our least favorite of the simulator rides we did. FOP is insanely good and Soarin is also better than Star Tours, although big SW fans might not agree on that one.
While I did ST, DH and DS2 met Pluto again outside Launch Bay. He said they also saw some of the storm troopers, but I think they canceled all the little outdoor shows while we were there. There was no one else in line behind them for Pluto, so they got to hang out with him for a while. But DS2 still wanted another hug, so I got in line with him when DH headed to ST too. We also whipped through the Launch Bay galleries and then headed to Beauty & the Beast show. I had planned for DH to have some free time here, but he ended up coming to meet us and sliding in right before the show.
DS2 hasn’t seen B&TB yet, although I did try to introduce it to him through a Golden book and some of the music. When we did ETWB earlier this week, he left asking for Beast. Then we ate in his castle and I saw Beast in the parade and took a picture for him. So when I told him we were going to see Belle and the Beast do a show, he was very excited. Initially he thought he would get to hug Beast (kid loves a character greeting, who would have thought!) but I explained that they were going to tell us their story instead.
I enjoyed the show, but I wish it could be done in a theater like Nemo, where they could incorporate more lighting and elements to make the fighting more realistic.
After Beauty and the Beast, we headed back to TSL to use the grace period of our TSM FP for our 3rd ride through. We enjoyed TSM more than Buzz in MK. I found the laser difficult to aim, but the 3D games were tons of fun. I thought the two rides would be too similar, but we enjoyed them both.
At this point, we considered doing Walt Disney Presents and getting food on the road, but I was pretty hungry, so I decided to go ahead with Woody’s Lunchbox as planned. I went to the counter and mobile ordered, because I ran ahead of DH and didn’t have my credit card on me. Our order took forever. DH asked about it, because people who walked up behind us to order were getting their food before us. Turns out customized orders take a ridiculously long time. I asked for no pickle on my brisket melt. I asked if I could un-customize my sandwich (I thought DH might eat some of it if it didn’t have pickle) and that got us our food quickly. So word to the wise and everyone else in the room (as my French prof would say): Don’t customize your order unless you have to or unless you intend to hit the ‘i’m here’ button while riding TSM like someone else must have. There was a big order sitting off to the side the whole time we were waiting. Not sure I’d want my food to be cold though. The chocolate lunch box tart is very good and I really liked the soup. The sandwiches were good, but nothing super exciting.
We walked through Walt Disney Presents. I really liked the displays and wanted to extend the Disney magic as much as possible. I also wanted to warm up a little bit after sitting outside in the cold to eat. I think DH just wanted to get on the road at the point.
Daily step count: 10k (hit as we were exiting)
Characters hugged: 1 (twice)
Photo pass photos taken: 24
Crowd Level: 1 (Although we didn’t wait standby for anything after 9:30 other than B&TB.
That’s it, folks! I’ll have one more installment of final thoughts. The earliest I think we could be back in WDW is winter of 2020. I’m sure I won’t be able to help myself when it comes to pre-planning that trip, but it will all be a fantasy for a while. Hopefully we can convince the grandmas to come with us next time!
Editing all of the above days to add the actual CL experienced.
Some Thoughts On the Crowd Levels:
Estimated crowd levels after the update were mostly 7-9, and when MK was a mad-house (9) the first night we were there, I was definitely worried about how our entire week would be affected. But it really wasn’t bad! Our actual crowd levels were as follows (with estimates):
Tue Jan 22: MK 9(7)
Wed Jan 23: AK 6(6)
Thur Jan 24: MK 2(6) Rain until park opening
Fri Jan 25: EP 3(5)
Sat Jan 26: AK 10(9)
Sun Jan 27: HS 1(7) RAIN!
Our TPs held up quite well, but most days we had a large afternoon break, so we weren’t waiting in lines during the busiest parts of the day. We noticed that our evening FP for things like meeting Mickey in MK, Safaris, and Soarin still had 30 minute waits. When we did our FP earlier in the day, we experienced the shorter waits you’d expect for FP.
I felt like our first evening in MK (9) was more difficult than our morning in AK (10). Maybe because it was our first experience in the parks or because lots of people had anytime FP because of lots of ride breakdowns that afternoon. Our AK (10) day couldn’t have gone better, even though there was quite a mobile order crowd at lunchtime. Standby waits were high, but with 3 FP, the animals trails, and the shows, it’s not hard to fill the day without waiting in a lot of standby lines.
I’ve talked about this a bit in other threads, but our MK (2) day didn’t feel completely accurate to me. I’m a bit torn, because there was a TON of same day FP availability in the evening as I mentioned above. But in the afternoon, I waited in two standby lines with 10 minute posted waits that took 35 minutes. Since TP works off of the posted waits, if those are inaccurate, the resulting crowd level will be too. So I’m not sure it was actually a 2, if the posted waits were wrong on other rides as well (which other Liners have mentioned), but it was definitely not more than a 5, so it was still a great day to experience MK.
Other Final Notes & Lessons Learned:
We saw lots of photo pass photographers with short or no lines throughout our trip and jumped on all those opportunities. The side shot of the castle from the Tomorrowland bridge is a good safety net shot to grab if you’re not sure how crazy the Main St photographers will be. We started with that one when we took our afternoon break and hit another one on Main Street. There are 3-6 all on Main Street depending on the time of day, so it wasn’t too hard to find the one with the shortest line.
We got fantastic parking spots arriving pre-rope drop, even on the days we arrived at 8:40. And when we returned around 5, they were filling the empty spaces in those same sections again, so we got good parking then too. YMMV of course.
We chose to eat dinner out of the park several nights to maximize park time. DS2 would eat dinner while we finished getting the park bag together. We picked up Dominoes pizza one night, which lasted for 3 meals. That was the biggest money saver, because I spent the same amount at Panera and Flame Tree, so off property isn’t necessarily cheaper.
I was surprised at how humid it was on the warmer days. We live in VA, so we’re no strangers to humidity. Maybe because it’s winter, I’m just not accustomed to it? Based on this trip, I can’t imagine going to WDW in the summer.
We didn’t necessarily follow our TP while in the park, but making and tweaking them taught me a LOT. Some days we went in the same general order, but switched a couple of times or moved lunch earlier. (We were so hungry by 11 am!) Other days I used the principles I learned about which rides were busier than others and which would have good SD FP availability to create a new plan on the spot.
We met a lot more characters than I had planned, because DS2 loved it so much. We FPed a few Mickey meets, but I didn’t think we’d do as many as we did. We met Mickey 4 days and Pluto 3 days.
Things that look ‘dumb’ on youtube are magical in real life. I was so excited for the new MousekeDance parade and kinda bummed when it finally started and I saw it on youtube. But I loved that DS2 loved it.
Pack real rain gear if you can. We saw a lot of people in ponchos, but they did not look like they were staying very dry. A poncho on Splash Mt is probably fine. A poncho when it’s raining all day… not so great.
The play area for Dumbo looked great, but there was at least a 15 minute line in order to get a beeper for that, so we skipped it and got a SD FP for it later. That said, in the summer, I’d probably have done it, because almost the entire queue is air conditioned, so we’d still have been waiting inside at least.
Learning the maps ahead of time helped a TON. I navigated MK at night in level 9 crowds with confidence on our first night. The other parks weren’t as easy. I got turned around a bit in AK, HS is just plain laid out weird, and I don’t think the map of Epcot’s Future World is drawn very accurately. The buildings weren’t in the spots that I expected them to be.
I thought it would be harder for us to make RD every day. DS2 gets up at 7 every day, so we usually get up a few minutes before that. After we figured out that it would only take us 30 minutes from exiting our apartment to tapping in at the park, we actually found ourselves with time to chill in the morning before leaving. I didn’t book any PPO breakfasts, because I thought it would be too early for us and it definitely wasn’t.
By day 4, we were feeling the need for some downtime, so next time I would plan our half park day and resort dinner earlier in the trip. And maybe multiple of those.
Try for the SD FOP drop if you don’t get FP for it ahead of time. Even if you’re not that into Avatar. If you like Soarin, you will like FOP more. It’s incredible and the world is gorgeous, so there’s a ton to look at during the ride!
Dole whip is the best. The end. Also, I forgot to mention the zebra domes when I talked about our dinner at the Mara. They’re delicious and worth a trip over there.
Bringing an external battery and charging cord to the park was super helpful on the days I didn’t go back to the apartment. I had plenty of battery for FP modifying, photo taking, and DS2 entertaining.
The glow sticks we brought for DS2 were great pre-night show entertainment, but I wish we’d brought enough to share. The kids around us at MK were well-behaved, but there were a few very restless kids at ROL and one little girl near us that saw DS’s glow sticks and wanted some too. I think we would have enjoyed the wait for the show more if we’d been handing out glow sticks.
I also think it’s worth noting (because I want to brag on myself for a minute) that we came in under budget for this trip! I’m so glad I spent so much time looking at menus and planning out our meals, because it gave me permission to order whatever I wanted without thinking about the price tag.
What about next time? This trip was our first time visiting my grandparents in FL on our own (aka, not around my parents’ timeline). We will be doing this yearly as long as they are able to host us, but I don’t think we’ll have the budget for a full WDW trip each time. (You know, because I’d like to vacation other places too!) I think our next trip will be fall/winter 2020 and we will be taking advantage of a lot of the resort restaurants and activities that we weren’t able to fit in this time. Although, DH has already asked me what we missed and would want to do next time, so who knows!
Total WDW step count: 91,589
Total characters hugged (including repeats): 22
Total photo pass photos taken: 246