Trip Report POR 7 Nights. Fantastic 1st Trip!

The bottom line:

I want to start with the bottom line so that those who aren’t interested in all the details I’m about to write, can pick up the essentials here. If you want to read my day to day reports, read the entries that will follow.

All the planning pays off! We had an AMAZING first trip to Walt Disney World. I planned and planned and planned last fall, but then was flexible once on property. When I say flexible, I mean that we didn’t always follow our TPs, we slept in when we were tired rather than making RD, and we didn’t obsess if we missed some show or ride since we recognized that we can’t do everything.

Our family has two kids, boy aged 12 and girl aged 9. Our two grandmas also joined us for part of our stay. Truly, though expensive, the money was very well spent ($4200 for 7 nights, dining, and 5 days of tickets). My positive attitude was met with fantastic customer service at every turn. We had a 7-night stay at POR in the royal rooms. I highly recommend them as they exceeded our expectations. While I don’t regret the meal plan as it gave us the feeling of an all-inclusive stay, next time I’ll put that money on gift cards and have greater flexibility to eat what I want when I want. The buses were fine at POR as was the food court and restaurant. The gift shop, as others have said, honestly has one of the best selections anywhere. The room fax worked out very well as our party of three rooms were right next to each other in the building and floor we requested.

Biggest surprises: Mama Melrose’s food was fantastic (I had expected mediocre); The Wave for dinner was terrific. Chefs de France, awesome (get the St. Germane cocktail…lovely…and the crème brulee was the creamiest ever). Also, the royal rooms are as pretty as the pictures. All the talk about moderates being motels is overdone. I move around the world and travel often and I found these rooms great value for the money.

Once and done: Be Our Guest for Dinner. Though beautiful, it does feel like a cafeteria space and therefore is a better choice to do at lunchtime. Plus, the cupcakes are not good. They’re beautiful, but not yummy. Get the raspberry lemon cream puff as it’s better. Also, I felt Columbia Harbor House was fine but unremarkable. Do BOG for lunch instead.

What I do differently next time: Gift cards instead of meal plan; More rest days; Less nights of TS dining; if possible, I’d stay 9 nights.

What I won’t do differently: I will not hesitate to stay on property!

And now, for reports for each day:


Arrival Day Feb 25

We arrived and effortlessly took the Magic Express to POR. While on the bus, I received a text, saying our room was ready! Delightful. We went straight to our room and then hopped on the boat to Disney Springs. We enjoyed an early dinner at Raglan Road. Excellent food. However, be forewarned that if you’re on the dining plan, dinner table service restaurants will not allow you to substitute your drink for a side. Substitutions work effectively at QS places. Raglan Road’s entertainment was super. Disney Springs looks fantastic despite further construction. You hardly notice it so don’t let the idea that it’s under construction deter you from going. Transportation via boat is lovely. And, the bread pudding at Raglan Road is probably the BEST DESSERT we had all week. I’m a huge dessert fan, but not a bread pudding fan but this dessert converted me. Unbelievable!

In the early evening, Grandma #1 arrived. She ate at Boatwright’s for dinner and loved her meal of the catfish. She got a corner room which made her day.

The resort is nice and quiet and though huge, the walking was not as involved as I had anticipated. I’m glad I went into this trip assuming tons of walking at the resort and assuming huge crowds because then I was pleasantly surprised that it was not difficult in these ways. We were in Oak Manor, a great location as it’s just over the bridge to the lobby. Grandmothers endorsed the rooms and resort as well.


Day 2 Magic Kingdom
TP Predicted a 6, actual was an 8.

We got up early to do RD at Magic Kingdom. Buses were on time and we arrived with a lot of time to spare. Unfortunately, there was no Welcome Show. Oh well, just go with the flow. Nothing was going to disappoint me on the trip.

Though I had a TP for the morning until lunch, it kind of just went out the window as we decided to go from one big-ticket ride to another and work our way around during the EMHs. We hit 9 big rides by noon: Space Mountain, Buzz, Barnstormer, Dumbo, 7DMT (FP+), Haunted Mansion, BTMR, Pirates, and Splash!

We ate at Columbia Harbor House for lunch. It was fine, but not impressive. It’s good to remember, if you are a 1st timers, that though lots of people rave about QS places, they are still fast food. This was probably the most forgettable meal we had in the week. I had the lobster roll (filling good, bread not so much). My husband had the salmon (pretty darn good), and the kids had mac n cheese and the fish/chicken combo (also pretty good). The desserts are pre-packaged cake/cobbler that reminds you of cafeteria food. The location is great and upstairs seating is nice.

In the afternoon, we took it easy in the park. We looked at shops on Main Street and caught some of the Fantasy parade. The dragon malfunctioned and stopped in the street so, after 10 minutes of waiting, we decided to leave. Grandma #1 had joined us at this point and we rode Small World before heading over for an early dinner at BOG. We requested and were seated in the West Wing. My daughter loved this room. We were next to the portrait of the prince that, when lightning strikes, turns into the beast. BOG is a lovely decorated restaurant, but I did feel like I was in a big cafeteria hall. It doesn’t feel like an intimate sit down restaurant. The main dishes and the onion soup were delicious. The steak, the shrimp/scallops in lobster sauce and the fresh fish were very very good. My pork chop was fine but I wouldn’t order it again. The desserts, though beautiful were disappointing. The cupcakes were actually kind of gross (heavy, overly dense and sweet). And, I’m someone who LOVES desserts and nothing is too sweet for me.

In the evening, we watched the Electrical Parade (FP+). It’s a wonderful parade and there is nothing like it. I highly recommend it. Dad and daughter went back to POR after that, while I stayed with Grandma and son for the Celebrate the Magic Show and the Wishes Fireworks. The Celebrate the Magic Show was one of my most favorite shows during our whole stay. It’s beautiful and incredible and moving. Don’t miss it!

It did feel busy today, but not terribly terribly so. Before this trip, I was quite concerned about crowds. I just don’t like crowds. But, knowing this was actually an 8 day tells me that I don’t have to be so worried about crowds. Using those morning hours makes a big difference. I can handle 8 level crowds and still have a great time.


Day 3 Animal Kingdom
TP predicted a 6, but actual crowds were a 9.

This day did not seem like what I would have envisioned a 9 to be! Yay!

Though the park opened at 7am for EMH, we knew that we wouldn’t rise that early and so aimed to get to the park by 8am. We were there by 7:40am and did follow our TP through lunch time, with modifications. My kids loved Primeval Whirl and we road it twice in a row (CM didn’t even make us exit as there was no line). Then, we headed over to Expedition Everest. INCREDIBLE coaster. And, what’s more, I am so in love with how Disney World makes experiences out of the lines. The line was basically a museum. It was unfortunate that we didn’t need to wait in line as there was so much to read and experience in this line. We have been to Disneyland before but I think, overall, DW has better lines! My kids loved this coaster so much that my son road it 3 times in a row and my daughter twice. By the end of our day at AK, they had road it 7 and 6 times, respectively.

I have no idea how people can say that AK is a half-day park. It could only be considered half day if one is ONLY interested in rides. But, there is so much to see and do at this park. We were there all day and didn’t even have a chance to do any of the walks where you see the animals.

My favorite park of this park is the Tree of Life—a masterpiece of art. If you’ve never been, note that the only way to get close to the tree is to actually get in the line to the bug’s life film. That film is stupendous. The special 4D effects/experiences are super fun and unexpected.

We also enjoyed the Nemo Show and the Lion King show. Nemo was my husband’s favorite show during the whole stay. Lion King was my daughter’s favorite show during her whole stay. Wow Wow Wow AK: so much on offer in this park. I’m glad we didn’t have to choose between those shows.

I’d like to mention that my family has lived in Africa for many years and done safaris there. While this is a park and not the wild, I would say that Disney has done the best job it can possibly do to recreate a wildlife experience. It doesn’t compare to the real thing in Africa, but it stands on its own as a fantastic, holistic, theatrical experience.

In the evening we headed over to Sanaa for dinner with both Grandmas. Sanna had excellent service and it was fun for us to talk with some of the international African employees. The bread service was the bomb (again, why gift card rather than dining plan would be preferred since one has to pay OOP for bread service here, yet it’s the one thing everyone should get). Everyone enjoyed their meals, but I would say the butter chicken and seafood curry were far too similar in taste (we’ve had better Indian food). The banana cheesecake was awesome. Glad we went here, but it’s a once and done for us since we’ve lived in Africa and don’t need to try to repeat our experience there. If you have never been, definitely go here.

Now for a note on Uber: We used uber after dinner to get back to POR. We used uber several other times and I highly recommend it. It’s incredibly cheap (sometimes $5 for a ride and at the most for us was $13). Use it for convenience. It’s awesome. I’d never rent a car here.


Day 4 Rest Day

We slept in on this day and then went over to Disney Springs for a bit of shopping and lunch. In the evening we went to 1900 Park Fare for the Cinderella dinner.

I had a groupon for Characters in Flight (Hot Air Balloon, tethered) and we lucked out and were able to use it. Note that Characters in Flight can only fly when the wind conditions both on the ground and in the sky are below a certain speed. The balloon only operates half the time. So, if you’re hoping to fly, you need flexibility in your schedule. It was a beautiful view from up there. This was a surprise that I didn’t tell my family about, and they all enjoyed it.

One of the best moments on our trip was when I went into the new chocolate shop, The Ganachery, to buy a friend a box of chocolates. I decided to splurge and bought our group a box too. My daughter helped me pick out the 9 chocolates. She asked if she could have hers. At first, I thought to myself, “Oh, let’s save them for later…for a special moment.” And, then I realized, “This is the special moment.” Outside the shop, our group all sampled the chocolates and finished them off in 5 minutes. It was a splendid moment where we all ooohed and ahhhhed over each flavor. Now, this is memory making! It’s so important, though planning is important, to just “let it go” and soak up the atmosphere and experiences as they come. This epitomized to me what is special about this Disney vacation. That spontaneity and the way it unfolded won’t ever happen again and that’s why it was such a perfect moment for my family.

We had lunch at Earl of Sandwich. That was our best QS lunch. I highly recommend the turkey and stuffing sandwich.

Another note: While I was expecting lines for buses and rides during our stay, I wasn’t prepared for all the lines for food. If you’re a 1st timer, be prepared to wait in long lines for food, everywhere!

So, for dinner, we headed over to 1900 Park Fare for the only character meal in our plans. My kids are not big on meeting characters. They really prefer rides and shows. This dinner was mainly for me, I suppose, and my kids were wonderful sports about it. They really played along for me, I think. The step sisters and stepmother (Lady Tremaine) were an absolute hoot! One of the step sisters planted a big kiss on my son’s cheek, leaving a perfectly pink set of lip. It was hilarious. The grandmas totally enjoyed this meal. Our server was excellent and didn’t rush us in the least. I was shocked at how good the buffet was. I would never be interested in a buffet, ordinarily, because I find them usually to be mass-produced, mediocre foods. However, the loin was fabulous, the butternut ravioli was excellent, the faro salad and the tomato salad were delicious. This is more like what you might get at a fancy country club or at a wedding’s buffet. Delish!


Day 5 Epcot
TP predicted a 2 level but actual level was 3
This park felt empty today!

My husband, grandma, and I loved Epcot. My kids were not huge fans, though my son enjoyed the Mission Space Red ride and my daughter also enjoyed living with the land. My kids are more interested in thrill rides. And, since we’ve lived around the world, I’m guessing that WS is a little less impressive than it would be for other people. But, the adults in our party really loved it and we had our best dining experience here. It—like the others—is an incredible park. Again, I have no idea how some people say this is a half-day park. We saw but a fraction of what is on offer. Some of the highlights were the Living with the Land tour, school bread in Norway, a cronut, the Impressions de France movie, and the Kawaii museum in Japan (it showcases the “cute” culture of Japan). I don’t think a touring plan is necessary for this park.

While we enjoyed our lunch at Sunshine Seasons—yes it is true that there is a good selection at reasonable prices—knowing what I know now, I would have skipped it and gone straight to WS for lunch there (maybe at the French bakery or Norway, or anywhere). It’s simply that WS has so many more choices and beautiful places for atmosphere rather than the basement, outdated look, and cafeteria style seating of Sunshine Seasons.

We enjoyed an incredible dining experience at Chefs de France. My mother just about started crying there, being so overwhelmed at the experience. We had the premier corner table at the window—magnificent. Then, the chef came out to meet us (disclaimer: it turned out that someone on my husband’s team at work is the son of the executive chef. So, he called his dad and told him we were coming. But, we had no idea this would happen). He brought out a selection of hors d’oeuvres: escargot, flatbread with crème fraiche/bacon/onion, flatbread with tomato and goat cheese, and a plate of cheeses and meats! Also, he brought us out the specialty cocktail, the St-Germain. Oh my goodness. I do not drink. Yet, I drank this whole drink. It was so lovely. It looked elegant and tasted divine. Give it a try. The meal continued with our main courses which were all excellent. The food is simple food cooked to perfection, not overly souped up. I had the duck and my son and husband had the steak and my mother had fish. My daughter had the burger and ate it all up though she rarely finishes a whole burger. For a spectacular end, I had the creamiest crème brulee ever and my daughter had the passion fruit sorbet which we all agreed was divine. My son had the profiteroles. My husband had a specialty coffee. My mom loved her fresh strawberry and cream cake which she thought was the best dessert.

My mom has traveled all over the world and claims this is the best meal she’s ever had. Granted, it’s also the spirit of the occasion and the special treatment we were given, but even so, this is a great place to enjoy a dinner for overall ambience and food quality (and it’s only 1 dining credit versus the signature places in Epcot).

We all enjoyed Illuminations and then headed home to sleep.

My mom, who wanted to join us on this trip to be able to see her grandkids, ended up booking an additional night at POR because she was having a spectacular time. She’s had a rough year, emotionally and physically, and yet she felt awesome on this trip. My mother has four children and she’s joined trips with her kids before to various places, but ALWAYS wants to get back home, usually a day early. This was unheard of that she wanted to extend her trip. What a blessing to all of us and what a testament to how well Disney conducts business!


Day 6 Hollywood Studios
TP predicted a 5, but actual crowds were a 3. We lucked out!

By this time in our stay, I think my whole family was just in awe over how much fun we were all having. We all felt grateful to Disney and to each other because everyone in our family had a flexible attitude, ensuring the others in the family were getting what they desired. My son and daughter had bought each other gifts, even, to surprise each other. I don’t want to sound as though we are some perfect family as we are not. I’m just saying that we somehow brought out the best in each other on this trip and, in that way, it was a dream.

So, that morning when we arrived for RD at HS, I decided to go over to the guest relations window and share our positive feedback, specifically the story of how my mother had decided to stay an additional day with us. To my surprise, CM Rebecca bounced that positivity right back to us, giving my mom a VIP seat to Fantasmic that evening, giving us a coupon to enjoy an ice cream in the park, and giving us an anytime FP! I was incredibly touched.

We had a great time in this park as well. Even though I read so much about closures and liners’ disappointment as well as people describing this as a half day park, that was not my experience at all. I think when people talk about half day parks, they are speaking ONLY of thrill rides. So, if you’re only interest is in the rides, then I suppose that could be true. There is so much more in all of these parks and that’s why research (which leads to a greater appreciation of what is on offer) is so important.

We totally enjoyed Tower of Terror (again, the line was fantastic and better than Disneyland), Rockin Rollercoaster (single rider is the way to go), The Great Movie Ride (munchkenland is so cute at the end), The Indiana Stunt Show (I got to participate), Starring rolls (the cupcakes are Wonderful, unlike at BOG), and Mama Melrose (food was excellent and I highly recommend the Fantasmic! VIP package as you get a lot of bang for your dining buck).

There was so much we didn’t get to see in HS. The streets are incredibly detailed and it would be nice to have more time to walk around and browse and enjoy some of the street shows.

My mom joined us in the afternoon (while my daughter and husband went back to the hotel for a rest) and she was starving. I took her over to Prime Time. They graciously fit us in, quickly, without a reservation. CM Chris understood we were in a hurry to get to a show and served us quickly.

In the evening we all enjoyed Fantasmic! Again, this was better than Disneyland because it takes place in an amphitheater and therefore, everyone can see. In Disneyland, one must stand on the streets and look over other peoples’ heads. Loved this show.


Final full day MK
TP predicted a 5 and actual crowds were a 4. Yes, it felt less crowded than our first day there, but it didn’t feel empty by any means. For 1st timers, I would say that my impression is that you feel the crowds more so in MK and maybe in HS than in AK or in Epcot.

If you’ve managed to read this novel, you can see we’ve had a pretty packed trip. So, my reasonable daughter recommended we ditch the BOG breakfast reservation (the way for us to get in the park before opening) and instead sleep in. We did that. Good choice.

Before leaving for the park, I wanted to give feedback about the CMs in Hollywood Studios who were so good to us. So, I handwrote a letter on a piece of paper and asked my hotel CM to send it over to HS. I thanked all the great people who made our day wonderful, especially Rebecca in guest services. When I got home after this trip, the head of guest services had emailed me a super nice letter, thanking me for taking the time to write to them and told me that she was sending my thank you letter up to the Executive level. She said that the cast members would be specifically thanked! How cool is that?

So, back to our last day: We slept in and got over to the park maybe around 10:30am and did a FP for Splash. More Disney magic—I lost my recently purchased safari hat while on Splash but guest services kindly gave me a coupon to get a replacement! We then did our FP for Peter Pan. Then, one more ride before heading to BOG for a lunch reservation. Lunch is the way to go at this restaurant because you can experience the pretty artistry and the food without the cost/tipping of the dinner experience (unless meeting the Beast is your highest priority).

After lunch, we went to the Hall of Presidents (HIGHLY recommend) before heading back to the room, wanting to rest before dinnertime. At this point, we had been stuffing ourselves excessively with all the food/dining.

We went to the Contemporary for dinner. Again, excellent food! The swordfish was to die for. The way it was prepared was exquisite. My kids shared the gnocchi which was fabulous too. Then, the desserts. Oh, the desserts! Given we had three meals, we got to try three desserts and we opted for their trios of dessert which meant we got to try 9 different desserts. What gluttony! The best were the chocolate crème brulee and the coconut panna cotta with passion fruit topping. Divine. I decided not to get on the scales when I returned☺

After dinner, we took the monorail back to the park for our 7DMT FP+. Very fun to ride it again and at night. Then, we watched the castle show which, as I said, was probably my favorite. Then, there were EMHs so we took advantage of lower lines. Unfortunately, the people mover closes during EMHs so we didn’t get to do that one. It was on our list of must dos. So, we’ll do it next time. We road BTMR twice in a row at the end of our night since the line was short.

Whew! I can’t believe you read through all of this.

What a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to go again. Hopefully, we can have more time next time. I’m happy to answer any questions. This group helped me tremendously and I’m happy to pass on the help!

Wishing you all great travels.

Oh, one last thing: We managed to do only carry on for this weeklong trip. Packing cubes were awesome for efficiency.



Wonderful trip report @KatySugar! I love how your family’s attitude made everything even better. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Great report! That St Germain cocktail is the best! I’m on my third bottle of St Germain since we first had the cocktail. So delicious and refreshing.

I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip. Good write up on everything.

Great report! Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me wish I was going back sometime soon!

Loved reading your trip report and thank you for taking us on this journey with you!

Fabulous report! It’s so fun to read through other peoples’ experiences. And yes I made it to the end! 2 things stick with me :

For real that’s what Disney is all about!
And also

I mean- seriously. Magic! I love how the entire family found their groove, joined and rested as needed and had an amazing time making memories.

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Really enjoyed your trip report. Your attitude is great. Love the way your family brought out best in each other. Hope you enjoy many more trips like this one.

Thank you! Yes, it was magic.

Thanks, everyone, for your responses. Yes, it was such a blessing that the positive attitude was infectious and manifested in so many magical moments. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever participated in a website or chat (I don’t even do FB) and there was something about the way people talk to each other at this site that made me want to adopt a similar outlook/approach to my own Disney trip.


: o )

Loved reading through your trip report! (yep I read the whole thing!) and loved it! It sounds like you and your family had a truly magical trip!

This statement right here really resonates with how I want everything to go during my trip,
“I think my whole family was just in awe over how much fun we were all having. We all felt grateful to Disney and to each other because everyone in our family had a flexible attitude, ensuring the others in the family were getting what they desired.”
Wow! That is how you have a magical trip!

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Great trip report. Thanks for all the great suggestion on dinning. Sounds like your family had a magical time!