Trip Report - We aren't in Kansas Anymore

March 18, 2018 - And so it Begins

Booked our trip:
Staying at Art of Animation - Cars Suite
7 Day Parkhopper Tickets - 21-Sep to 27-Sep
DW, DH (me), DS9, DD11.75

My wife and I had been to Disney once before in 2004 pre-kids. At the time her cousin (DWC for this report if not too confusing) lived and breathed Disney and moved to Orlando to follow his dream. We filled out a questionnaire from him and he handled all planning and tour guiding. We stayed at his house in downtown Orlando. He was as good as a flannel vest IMO.

This would be our once in a lifetime trip with the kids. DWC still lives in Orlando and now works for Disney (Dream-WIN!), but I wanted to immerse myself in the planning fun based in part on articles much like this one about increasing the joy of the trip. I became the Trip General. Constant family talk about rides, food, resorts, shows, # of days, etc. Know the enemy.

That planning advice turned out to be so true, getting to study DFB videos, TimTracker, subscribe to this website, Undercover Tourist, etc. was pure joy and continuing to read these threads with no plans for any type of DW/DL trip on any horizons lets me continue it vicariously. Joy-WIN!

March 24th to 29th - ADRs

With hopes and dreams, but no promise of free dining (an army marches on its stomach) ended up with everything I wanted (many cancels and shifts along the way, but this is the end result). Good Eats-WIN!

  • Tusker House (character dinner)
  • Coral Reef (aquarium dinner)
  • Biergarten (entertainment dinner)
  • Be Our Guest (lunch)
  • Ohana (dinner)
  • Trattoria Alforno (character breakfast)

April 24th - Free Dining

Woke up around 2:30 am and started hitting refresh with all the other hopefuls that would descend like locusts when the rumored offer hit. My plan of attack was to look at the lowest tier of deluxe first since AoA suites are expensive and DW would want to upgrade to TS meals anyway (that probably covered the cost difference between AoA suite and Deluxe)….and I would love to be a warrior walking to HS/EP pre-rope drop. At 4:20 am was able to book BoardWalk Inn Garden View with the free dining plan. Savings-WIN!

I was ok with it but knew the pool at BC/YC was the real weenie….not the clown face I showed pictures of to my kids. It’s fine, it’s fine, everything is fine. Great time had by all.

April 24th to May 29th - Switching Resorts

It had to have been daily checks of room availability to attempt switching. The matter was settled with the family, but it didn’t hurt to try. 4:00 pm on the 29th I hit on a garden view at the Beach Club. Weenie-WIN!

End of July - Let’s throw a wrench in for fun

Yada yada yada….You know DW our room sleeps 5. If DMIL wanted to join us she would only have to pay for airfare and park tickets. Room and board are covered already. DMIL and I are two peas in a pod. Both pretty chill and with a strong desire to make others happy and go along to get along. DMIL is ecstatic and thinks we “undercharged” her. Elite strike team finalized.

Pre-Disney walking regiment is in full force. New shoes are purchased and broken in. We refused to lose the battle by being unprepared physically.

Worked with DWC on our Fastpasses and he got similar ones as he was able to by viewing our shared TP. ADRs were covered well enough as we booked all of them for 6 people. I didn’t know which days DWC would join and included him incase DWC’s partner wished to join for a meal or two. Now more likely included DMIL and DWC, but no adjustments needed there.

Next “Storming the Beaches”


Friday, September 21st, 2018 - Day 1 “Storming the Beaches”

4:00 am bugle call for our 8:10 am Flight from Kansas City to MCO arriving at 11:50 am. Taking Magical Express to Beach Club Resort.

Travel went off without any hitches and we got a room ready text when I checked in on the bus. Just what we asked for…but far from lobby. Our own fault, as I requested a room away from Stormalong Bay (noise), full balcony (happy wife happy life), and any extra square footage for our 5th guest that we could wrangle.

Troops went to the mess (BC-QS) while I sorted out supply lines (Amazon Prime Pantry) for snacks, disposable water bottles, and breakfast items.

We waited around the lobby/outside area of BC/YC to take the boat with DWC (our spy on the inside) over to HS. I would have walked, but I also knew keeping my troops “fresh” in the initial stages of the encounter was job number one.

*Side note DWC boss said, “You have family in town, you need to leave work early to meet them…have an awesome time.” Disney Employer-WIN!

Arrived at HS at 3:00. Touring Plan had us starting at 3:00. Prediction-WIN! 3:05 FP for TSMM then on to shows. Beauty and Beast, Indiana Jones, Voyage of Little Mermaid as that is what optimize between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning TP suggested.

All of us loved TSMM. It and TSL were a great introduction to the world for our kids. After that great experience, I was very nervous that DS would pitch a fit about watching shows instead of thrills. He likely secretly enjoyed B&B, definitely LOVED IJ, and we all tolerated VoLM. Frozen Lemonades were a great use of the snack credit for the kids as it took a while to eat during IJ.

We hit RnR at the end of its FP+ window (5:10 pm), and TT (6:20 pm) at the beginning of its FP+ window. Just as the plan was drawn up. Planning-WIN! Sun Tzu would have been proud. Everyone loved RnR and wanted to do it again later in the week, but nobody wanted to ride TT again (smh).

We finished the evening grabbing food near Anaheim Produce with everyone getting in a line that looked good. This was definitely more chaotic than anticipated and lines were longer/slower. Everyone was grabbing something before Fantasmic at 8:00 pm.

DWC was first to grab some food and went into Fantasmic grabbing us seats on the bottom third of the right side looking at the water.

Fantasmic is my second favorite night time firework show of the week. Lots of characters, action-packed and real live seats. After that, we took a prompt and short bus ride back to BC.

Day 1 was a huge success, with only the dinner ordering an annoyance and the lack of enthusiasm for TT a surprise.

I warned all the troops to be prepared for our earliest morning of the entire trip Saturday. We had plans to wrangle a banshee later in the trip, but this was an opportunity for a sneak attack.


Great trip report! I like that you started pre-trip. Especially since the pre-trip portion is just as important and enjoyable (for the planner anyway) for the reasons you and the article you linked mention. Can’t wait to read what’s next!

Thanks for sharing!
Nice to have an ‘insider’ with DWC, love the pics!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 - Day 2 “Sneak Attack”

Bugle called at 6:00 am or maybe even earlier (definitely felt an hour earlier due to timezones) with plans to rope drop FOP during the 8:00 am EMH. Guessing that DW was up even earlier, not sure what women do to get ready for so long, but I slept fine. DS and DD slept in their clothes for the next day for the most part so they could roll on out. We are a group of early risers with everyone up on weekends before 8:00 am…except me, and I could control me.

DS wasn’t having the graham crackers (not a big breakfast eater) because they were a different name-brand than he was used to at home, and DD liked the Almond Butter Biscuits just fine. Can you tell which child is the easy one right now? :slight_smile: Older troops grabbed something quick from BC-QS. Overall this Trip General was wholly unimpressed with QS at Beach Club, but none of the troops complained.

We arrived at AK and were waiting for the bag check to open. I got this picture of a sleepy DS at 7:00 am. Notice we are at the front of the turnstiles. Early Bird-WIN!

The 50-60ish female cast member kept my kids “in line” literally and figuratively. She joked around with them until the tapstiles opened. Even gave them a “Don’t forget to hydrate” playing card-size that was cute.

Troops thought I was joking when I said, “I need you to all hold another person’s backpack or arm when we are walking.” We fell back a few rows of folks at each stopping point as DW is short-legged and midwestern nice (should have trained her elbows pre-trip), but the troops all caught on and I led the march forward as they held on for dear life in the sea of humanity.

We were still part of the first show. On and off FOP by 8:10 am heading to NRJ when everyone thanked me for getting them up early as the FOP line snaked toward Africa and they deemed it the best ride ever. As expected NRJ was a short wait of 10 minutes or so…underwhelming, but calming after FOP with the highlight of the gorgeous life-like shaman. Banshee-WIN!

Safari was next and lovely with no wait, with my only complaint being the inflection of the driver’s voice. Something about the lilt at the end of every sentence got to me. I’ve been told I have early onset grumpiness, what can you do.

Moved on to our first FP+ Expedition Everest which was a blast. Being as it was September, and Pre-SW:GE :pensive:, DS and DD went through the single rider line 3 times while DMIL, DW and I rested by the exit.

We met up with DWC around 9:30 am or 10:00 am on the way into Dinoland. Rode Dinosaur with a FP+ as well as Primeval Whirl. Neither of the kids made a big fuss about carnival games, or showed interest in TriceraTop Spin, so we skipped that and went to spend some time in the Boneyard. DD enjoyed it even at almost 12 years old. Was a good chance to rest the feet some more for DW, DMIL and myself.

By then it was time for an early lunch and the thing that DFB vlog got me the most hyped for. BBQ Cheese Fries from Flame Tree BBQ. They did not disappoint. After a messy BBQ lunch we decided to wash up in the Kali River Rapids with a 5-10 minute wait. We actually stayed very dry, but I planned this right before our mid-day break in case of a needed wardrobe or boot change.

As planned we headed back to BC for a well-deserved mid-day break around 11:30. Kids laid low in the darkened room, but nobody napped. DW also liked to freshen up some of her clothes midday every day. Muggy, humid, TMI. Just a good air-conditioned respite, even on the bus. Leaving to get on the bus back to AK by around 2:30 pm.

We had plans to hit the 4:00 pm FOTLK which we really had to make on time due to our mid-day break and ADR. DMIL had just gifted everyone a ticket to the Lion King Broadway show for Christmas, but this was just as good as I remembered it was in 2004 and stands up to Broadway just fine.

After that was Tusker House which was the first time to see characters. The kids actually declined using our FP+ to meet Mickey and Minnie at mid-day. In planning I asked extensively how important seeing characters were, or which ones do you want to make sure you see, and both DD and DS said “Eh….we are fine.” Well DS loved the non-talking characters and DWC tipped us off to mess with Donald by holding up two fingers (Mickey is #1, Donald is #2). Interaction-WIN! Donald and Goofy played some hide and seek, Daisy was a delight and the food was good too. DS spilled his soda on me, but my pants were quick-dry and all was fine.

DD was laughing so hard.

After dinner we walked on the Gorilla Falls Trail. DS definitely slow played each viewing spot. He just did not want to move on he was so enthralled with all of the animals. If we had more time we would have done more trail walking for sure. That was a question mark in my planning the whole time, and the evidence was right there. After that was TtBaB with no wait, which was great IMO, but I enjoy all the 4-D shows in each park.

We started camping out for 8:00 pm ROL by 7:25 pm and were rewarded with great seats and some interaction with a performer in the preshow. As she came right up to DS and had a bit of a staring contest.

ROL is very pretty, but the projections on the water spray got “old” to me after a while (again early onset grumpiness #EOG). Afterward, we checked out the Tree of Life on our way out of AK with another solid day under our belts.

Day 2 was another success, with really short waits all around (FOTLK may have been the longest at 20-30 minutes). The banshee and all other animals conquered we went to bed dreaming of flying. Tomorrow will be a two-pronged attack.


Great report! Glad to see another KC family on here! And you’re right…midwesterners can be too nice some times :slight_smile:

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LOL - that guy in front of you on Dinosaur!

Loving this trip report, especially your style.

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Haha…yeah that is wife’s cousin (DWC). He knew all the spots for photos on each ride and was ready with a pose. He was a touring pro in 2004, by 2018 he has linked up with the parks like a banshee riding avatar.


Sunday, September 23nd, 2018 - Day 3 “Two-Pronged Attack”

Clearing the rest of HS in the morning with a shoot and scoot in TSL. Then a flanking maneuver to EP for the afternoon/evening.

With the free dining plan and my research, I knew I wanted to end the day in EP a couple of times, and eating in HS was sustenance/snacks only. I also thought afternoon FP+ would be easier to get for some of the EP attractions over HS. Tiered FP+ in TSL meant I wanted to get TSM for arrival day and try to get SDD on day 3. Well SDD was no-joy at any time on day 60+2 (and subsequent searches), so I shifted FP+ to EP.

That meant more rope dropping, but the troops dutifully complied. I was able to calm them a bit when I said we would not have to get up as early since we could walk to HS and lines aren’t as crazy as FOP.

*Side note - I am definitely the passive one at home (go along to get along) unless I have a real strong opinion to overrule DW, so being almost completely in charge was a big change for me, but I think it was welcomed by all since they knew how much planning I did.

Sunday morning we were getting into a routine as the well-oiled machine I knew we could be. All got dressed went down to mess hall on their own. DMIL was getting some blisters on her heels. Turns out she didn’t do the walking routine in the new shoes prior to the trip…So they were brand new shoes. :frowning: I knew she could head back to the room/resort at any time and she would have if she didn’t want to miss all the fun.

We arrived around 7:30 for an 8:00 am EMH rope drop at HS. Later than we did at AK, but it felt like we waited longer. Maybe less exciting stuff to look at waiting for the tapstiles, or the fact that it was one hold on the main walkway instead of multiple hold points prior to Pandora. We were in the middle of the pack and waited for 15-20 minutes to board SDD, then went directly to ASwSa. Arrived at the Swirl at 8:23 am and we were riding by 8:39 am.

We scooted over to RnR and ToT for the tail end of EMH. After getting off of RnR I was the only one that wanted to do ToT, others would have “put up with it.” So we skipped it and went on to our next touring plan item.

Meeting Chewbacca was the only character greeting we had the whole week outside of meals. I am a star wars enjoyer but am not a crazy-fan. I don’t think I have ever seen all three prequels??? DS had watched the animated series and I had the family watching SW originals along with some of the newer ones before our trip. The wait was about 30 minutes long, and sitting down on the carpet boring for DS and DD. We got our picture and scooted on, lesson learned by Trip General.

It was after 10:00 am by now and the skies were opening up for a brief shower. We sat outside Launch Bay just enjoying it and waiting for it to pass, when both DS and DD said they were STARVING. Trip General was getting agitated that we would miss the Frozen Sing-Along at 10:30 am (in hindsight we could have just attended the 11:30 am show) #EOG.

While the rest of the troops waited in line at a cart for popcorn/nachos it started raining again. I ran in the second brief shower to ask the CM outside of Frozen if it would likely fill up and we would miss it…and also if we could bring drinks/food in. She let me know I should be fine on timing and the food/drinks were fine. So everyone dodged rain drops as we headed into the back of the theater for the Frozen show, wet and now cold with the A/C blowing.

Frozen Sing-Along was one of my favorite things at Disney World. The CMs in the show were excellent and funny. I was belting out songs so loud the little girl in front of us turned around to look at who it was. 100% Team Anna for this guy.

After that was Star Tours at 11:05 am and apparently, your Trip General is truly a rebel spy-WIN!. Then the Muppets around 11:30, which was a strong memory of mine from 2004…and PizzaRizzo because…starving troops. We had the restaurant to ourselves and ate outside on the balcony and people watched in the relative quietness of a restaurant that is failing.

We took the boat back to BC (definitely wasn’t faster) and had to wait 10-15 minutes for one to arrive, but it saved some steps for everyone. Around 1:30 pm the Trip General took DS and DD to recon a pirate ship that had crashed near our resort (aka the pool and slide) for an hour, while DMIL and DW relaxed/refreshed in the room. Recon team joined in the mandatory rest time in barracks for 45 minutes.

At 3:15 pm we headed to international gateway out a side door down the hall from our room. I thought we aren’t close to the lobby so we must be close to the side entrance, and I was right. The exit spits us right out on the walkway to EP.

By 4:00 pm we had met up with DWC and were on Living with the Land with less than 5-minute wait in standby. FP+ for Soarin right when our window opened at 4:20. Then on to Club Cool, and a long stint in The Seas with Nemo & Friends and SeaBase. I knew from our AK day that the animals would be a big hit with DS. DD and DMIL also lingered in multiple places. It was very light crowds, so exploring and going around a corner never bothered DW or Trip General.

After our research into marine life we got to eat at Coral Reef which was our first “nice” dinner at Disney World. The junior officers did great and we really enjoyed looking at the aquarium while we ate the excellent food. I couldn’t see paying that much without the plan, but I am pretty frugal.

After dinner, we went to Spaceship Earth and got ready for Illuminations in UK, which was a nice short walk back to IG. The lingering in SeaBase meant we skipped out on Mission Space Green and Figment. MS-Green would be hit tomorrow, Figment never got another shot.

Friday’s travel to and from HS from BC was great, but today’s hopping from BC to HS to BC to EP and back to BC was a real treat of staying at the BC/YC/BW area.


I feel your pain, been accused of that also.
Just accused, never convicted!

Monday, September 24nd, 2018 - Day 4 “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”

Full Day at Epcot, another rope drop, but this time a non-EMH morning so the later starts kept creeping back. We were able to “sleep in” and eat a sit-down meal on the patio at the BC.

Rope Dropping Frozen, FP+ for Test Track, MS-Orange, and Short Film Fest (unnecessary filler).

We got to IG shortly after tapstiles opened and were in the inside queue by 9:00. Something gummed up the works because we were still in the queue with little movement at 9:15. By 9:40 we were off the ride and headed towards TT, which was down. No surprise there as I had studied up. Our only issue was not discovering this fact until we had walked up to it.

So with our FP+ turned into an anytime we pivoted to MS. The wait in line for Green was next to nothing and we walked on. After that experience, DW and Trip General decided to chill out in the Advanced Training Lab (also quiet) while DMIL, DD, and DS used FP+ for Orange.

TT was still not up so we decided to take in the Short Film Festival and let the space cadets cool their jets. At that point, we started around World Showcase. My original plan was to have us go through Canada, UK, France and maybe Morocco/Japan before heading back to the room…but to check out the side of WS close to IG. Well, DW said let’s just keep going and make Germany (an already early dinner) the end of the day, rather than the start of our evening. I think she was not feeling the edu-tainment as much as I was and didn’t want DD, DS, and DMIL feet to fall off or meltdowns to incur.

SO that is what we did. Kids did not want to watch Canada film so they hung out coloring with only CM supervision. Trip General and DW are not helicopter parents but are also not free range. This was a bit odd to me, but there were so few people in EP and our kids were starting to get older. They ended up being fine. My biggest issue would be them fighting with each other, but even that didn’t occur.

Some fun photos, but not as many as I would have liked around WS.

We ended up doing a lot drive-bys of countries which frustrated me, but I decided to lose the battle win the war. Saw France film. DD wanted face paint in HS/AK, but we convinced her it would be rough in the heat and just wash off. Well Morocco to the rescue, with henna tattoos. Which she and DS enjoyed all week.

Caught the end of some singing in the American Adventure.

At this point (2:30 pm) TT was back up and running, so we scooted over there to get that in with DD and DS going through the Single Rider line two more times after our family run. Again felt weird to just let them go, but being in the bubble felt pretty safe and they were together/older now. That ate quite a bit of time with the glut of FP+ TT had to work through from the morning.

By 3:45 we were back to WS and entering the Mexico pavilion. The whole planning phase had us watching some Disney movies, with me trying to introduce some they had not seen before. Three Caballeros was one they bounced off of after 45 minutes, but they at least had the reference point. Local Library-WIN!

Saw the China film.

Dinner was early at 4:45 pm. I’ll blame that and the time of year for the lack of crowd in Beirgarten. We were only one of about 5 groups in the place, and it is a spot that should feel raucous. We did get some good live entertainment in. I absolutely STUFFED myself and the lovely German waitress was a delight to talk to.

I’d like to say I am exaggerating in this photo, but I had a lot of schnitzels and a giant beer hiding in that stomach. Believe it or not, I actually lost a little weight on this trip with all the walking.

It was raining when we came out from under the German stars and back to Orlando. After the rain let up we blitzed back to the room. The early evening meant DW and I both went down to the pool with the kids and got to relax together while the kids played in the sand bar.

Epcot turned out to be a shorter stint than I had hoped, but it was ok, with nary a street performance caught. I reminded myself, we didn’t have to conquer the whole world…just one particular castle.


Tuesday, September 25nd, 2018 - Day 5 “Have Fun Storming the Castle”

Today is our first MK day, and a MNSSHP event as well. Knowing we had two days at MK, and that we may not want to attempt a mid-day break logistically, I thought i would be perfect to zig when others zag today.

This turned out fantastically we spent the day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in next to zero crowds and left before the bulk of MNSSHP guests arrived.

We arrived in plenty of time for pictures on Main street with all of the fall decorations and then get to watch the opening show right in front of the castle. We did not have to rush for SDMT as we had FP+ for it at 9:25.

So after the show, we had some need a bathroom break……ughh….hurry up :). Then we went on Pooh (9:07 am), Mad Tea Party (9:17 am), and rode the Carousel (9:32 am) with the Step Sisters, each with no real wait. Now our FP+ was open we headed to SDMT (9:39 am) and were cooking right along.

After that, we headed to Enchanted Tales with Belle, and things ground to a halt. Mirror at 10:13 am. It felt like we waited in the same staging room for sooooo long without any movement. Maybe we arrived right when a show started or capacity is just that low??? In any event, the troops enjoyed it enough and got some good pictures with Belle by 10:30 am.

After that we headed over to use FP+ at Haunted Mansion by 10:45 am, and got “stuck” in the ride for a few minutes in the bridal area which was nice and not at all scary for DS. By 11:15 am we were departing sanity on an IASM boat with only a 5-10 minute wait. Then on to FP+ Peter Pan boarding at 11:38 am.

We had a bit of time before our ADR at BOG and followed the TP to Philharmagic (again I love all the 4D shows). We had done 9 attractions at a leisurely pace before lunch, and I was feeling really good about the decision to go on a MNSSHP day with no break in the middle of our plan.

BOG was acceptable, but only a must for the building. Otherwise, just go to some other QS spot near your travels. I did hunt for other FP+, but found very very little. After lunch, we went through Under the Sea as a walk on. It is funny how the other dark rides in Fantasyland have such a long line compared to this one. I think that has a lot to do with location location location.

Then on to Plaza Ice Cream parlor for gigantic unfinishable ice cream sandwiches and to watch the parade outside of the Hall of Presidents under the Liberty Tree. I had asked a cast member in the loop where she recommended we watch the parade and she rightly said what are you looking for. DW said shade and maybe even a seat, and this was the perfect recommendation.

We definitely were not the first to show but had excellent viewing. It was a bonus that we were headed that direction anyway with our TP. Hall of Presidents started immediately after the parade, then caught most of Muppets Great Moments 3:00 pm show.

DW had Country Bears on her must-do list so we watched it around 3:40 pm. I could not understand a word they said and only heard the clicking and clacking of the animatronics. I will assume it wasn’t working right, but a couple of international guests from Asia definitely got up and left in the middle of the show. DW didn’t seem to mind, and I didn’t even mention it. Sleeping dogs and all that.

BTMR was next on the list at 4:00 pm and a short enough wait that DS and I rode it multiple times. Followed by a ride on the train to Barnstormer 4:30 pm and a wholly unnecessary FP+ for Dumbo 5:00pm. I didn’t do a ton of “modifying”. Our day was supposed to be done after Frontierland. I had not planned on even entering Storybook Circus with the family. Barnstormer was a silly short ride and walk on thankfully. Dumbo had my kids playing in the kids’ area even though there was no wait to get on the ride. Then a train ride back to the front of the park and on the monorail by 5:35 pm.

That trip to Storybook circus was partly to kill time as we had an ADR for Ohana that we still arrived early for. That extra time in the park did a number on DW. I had originally had Ohana at 5:15 but was nervous we wouldn’t be ready to leave the park by then. So our ADR was for 6:45…well we asked and were denied checking in early, so we sat and sat in the Poly lobby for a LONG time. Sorry troops, I’ll take that hit. In bed early as we felt the full day with no break.

We stormed the castle but didn’t find any plunder…maybe pirates stole it.


I’m loving your trip report I can’t wait for more, we are staying at BC in 3 weeks time.

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Such a great report! You must have taken really good notes to remember your Sept trip this well! Can’t wait to read more!

I love this line I use it myself often.

Great trip report! Thanks for sharing!

Really enjoying your report! Thank you for sharing with us!

We spent a week at Beach Club a few weeks ago so I’m loving reading your report - can’t beat the location!

Awesome trip report! I love your ride photos, your “military style” touring and especially “early onset grumpiness” #EOG! I’ll have to use that on my hubby!

Apologies for resurrecting my trip report after a hiatus, but this post will wrap up the trip and let me have a clear conscious that it is all written down now.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 - Day 6 “To Pirates…and Beyond”

We started the morning off with, comparatively to the rest of our trip, a late stroll from BC to Trattoria al Forno on the boardwalk around 8:25 am, and were sitting down with mimosas in hand by 8:55 am.

TaF was a relatively late addition to our weekly plan, once we noticed how our days at each park worked out, how many dining credits we had available and when we might be at the parks. It was also another opportunity to see some characters while relaxing at a meal.

Food was very good and everyone loved the treats in the min-frying pan. DD was enamored with Rapunzel and wanted to share a moment with her. DD never had much hair as a baby/toddler and even decided to cut/keep it short as she grew up. She was wanted to tell Rapunzel how short was awesome and cutting her hair in Tangled gave DD all kinds of empowerment, yada yada yada. Well Rapunzel half-listened and walked off. So a bit of a dud there. I’d blame it partly on us doing things backward with the picture then talk time instead of talk then the picture.

After each character came out and made their way around the room (Flynn who actually came out before Rapunzel, Eric, and Ariel) I noticed that Flynn and Ariel were all kinds of interacting with each other and jovial with guests. Eric was a good guy, but stout and similar to the source materials which isn’t much to go off of. We almost wished Ariel and Flynn were a couple. DD loves the speaking characters and DS loves the ones who don’t speak…or at least was really shy with the ladies.

After our relatively late breakfast, we went back to the room and allowed DW to relax in the room while the rest of us went back out to StormAlong Bay. DMIL was asleep on a lounge chair by 12:30 pm, DD and DS were happily exploring the pools and I was content to do a little of both.

All of this was in service to and made possible by, a late start and evening EMH at MK. We arrived around 3:15 pm by bus and met DWC at the train station.

The Main Street to Frontierland section was the only we had not seen yet, so it was nice to complete the loop. Our first FP+ was for Splash Mountain, and we arrived just before it ended at 3:40. A little closer of a call than I would have liked, but close enough. DMIL thought I was joking when I said it was a 10-15 minute ride. All those intricate scenes and animatronics were great.

After that, we made our way to FP+ #2 for PotC riding by 4:30 pm. Our later arrival and subsequent 5-minute wait for DWC meant we scrapped the Pirate Tutorial which was a known risk and buffer (something for next time I guess). We did still have time for “A Pirates Adventure” and split up so that each kid could be in charge of their own pirate crew. The kids enjoyed it, but I think DW and I were more into it (and the things that “happened”) than DS on our crew.

We then went to Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner at 5:15 pm by DWC request/recommendation. I enjoy Thanksgiving food and he definitely does, but this was definitely not up DD or DS alley. We did have to wait a long time to eat (relative to other meals) and the meal itself came out quickly, but still felt like it absorbed our evening too much. Maybe it was the fact this was our second TS of the day and I was revved up for more touring.

After dinner we went on JC around 7:00 pm with our third FP+ skipping a standby wait of 30 minutes. Then Trip General led a forced march through Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at 7:20 pm. I had a good memory watching this movie as a child and I made sure to show the film to DS and DD during one of our pre-trip family film sessions. Without that background, a mutiny might have ensued, but they enjoyed it enough. The adults very much appreciated the beautiful views the top of the treehouse allows for.

After our descent from SFRT we made our way to the hub for HEA and were in a great spot by 7:35 pm. By 8:25 pm we were done with our pictures in front of the castle and on to Tomorrowland for EMH.

My thought was that Tomorrowland was a great land for night time touring with all of the lights and contemporary visuals, and it was, but looking back it felt like there was enough walk-on stuff or shows that could have been used in a mid-day plan to get out of the heat.

Carousel of Progress was great and a nice off-our-feet break after standing around waiting for FEA. It also allowed the park to clear out some. I could see it as a great mid-day break type of show (back to back with Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and Peoplemover) for a family that could not leave the park. Everyone enjoyed it which was good. You never know what DS and DD will think of stuff that might sneak in some learning or old people reminiscing.

After that, we went over to Space Mountain, which had a line out to the middle of Tomorrowland. That had me really nervous, but we quickly saw it was just a backup of people getting bands checked. Once that bottleneck got through it was a walk-on.

Next, we walked on and toured Tomorrowland in the People Mover, which was much faster than I had imagined it would be. Less sit-down escalator, and more electric train ride with some sharper turns.

One of our longest lines all week was for the Speedway, but we were driving by 9:45 pm. Post drive ice cream at 10:25 pm, and Buzz Space Ranger at 10:30 as a walk-on. Buzz was pretty dead which made it feel a little cheap inside and during the ride (or maybe I was just salty our trip was coming to an end), but maybe I also was comparing it to TSMM which is slick-city.

I tried to talk the troops into a 25-minute wait for SDMT before park close at 11:00 pm, but they were done so we headed back to the room.


Thursday, September 27th, 2018 - Day 7 “Extraction by Force”

We had FP+ for FOP at 9:15 am in case we could not rope drop successfully (like we did) on Day 2, so I tried to leave it open if anyone had strong opinions to visit a different park. Well, it is no surprise everyone wanted to go back and ride FOP again.

This was the major FP+ that we could not add or overlap for DMIL. I knew I could suggest she take my magic band and ride in my place, but that she would not accept. I had seen the “technique” of DWC a few other times this week, so I pulled up the courage to approach the CM at the entrance. See this post for my success story.

Then on to a favorite of the kids in EE, and out of the park. Had to leave the park by 11:00 so we could catch a DME, a plane, and a case of post-trip blues. We ended up with a decent number of snack credits so we stocked up on trail mixes and mickey shaped treats at the BC Marketplace to bring home, but they didn’t cure my sadness.

I’ve thought about that trip a ton since we went. Not sure when I will be able to get DW to go again, but maybe we will trek out to DL in 2020 or 2021 after SWGE is slightly less crazy.