Brief introduction, our family is myself, DH (husband), DS (son) 6 and DS 3. We live in NC. I finished a workweek of call early on Friday, December 15th at 10 am. DS 6 had early release from school at 11 for the winter holidays.
DH and I had partially packed the car on Thursday night after the kids were in bed. Once I finished work, we finished packing the car with lunch, snacks and electronics to entertain the kids on the long drive. We then picked DS up at school and immediately hit the road. We didn’t tell the kids where we were going. Eventually they started asking and we told them we were going to deliver some rather large toys to our former neighbors, who now live in Orlando (the truth, by the way). We thought they might ask about going to WDW, but they didn’t really. We ate lunch in the car and made pretty good time. We stopped for dinner at a Chick-fil-A in Georgia. Taking hints we’d found on Lines chat, we ate while the kids played on the playground, and then got them cleaned up and took their food to go to eat in the car.
We made it to the bubble just before 9 pm. DS3 was paying more attention than DS6 and realized where we were first. “I see the village of Disney World!” Anywhere with hotels is a village, according to DS3. DS6 then realized that we might be staying at WDW before delivering the toys to our friends. We told him, yes; we are staying at a hotel here. He then asked, “can we get some tickets to do things?” At that point, we revealed that the next day we would be going to Magic Kingdom.
We checked in at All Star Music for our first night and got a room just 4 doors down from what I had requested via Touring Plans fax. I did have to go to the desk, there was apparently some issue with our magic bands, even though we’d done online check in. We made our way to the room, got the boys bathed and ready for bed. We had plans for an early morning with 8 am opening at MK. We had initially planned to stay offsite for the first night, but after adding in resort fees at the Disney Springs hotels, we figured we’d be paying the same to be in the bubble. We could handle double beds in exchange for booking FPPs one day earlier and even saving a few dollars.
We were up by 6 am to get dressed, ready, and check out of All Star Music. Our next destination was Bay Lake Tower. Our room reservation for Saturday night was at BLT. We love the proximity of walking to MK. Plus, we knew we could park and walk over that morning, and check in later in the afternoon. We stopped at the desk just to make sure our magic bands should work for the park. Then, we even had time to make a brief detour over to the Garden Wing to catch a rare Pokémon.
We were walking to MK by 7:30 am and in the park at 7:40 am. We headed up Main Street to the castle to watch the new welcome show (it was at the Train Station last time we saw it). We had essentially front row “seats” to watch the show. We actually hung back and leaned against the castle ramp/wall, but there was no one in front of us to obstruct our view. After the show, we headed straight for Barnstormer. I can’t stand waiting for Barnstormer, since the ride is SO short, but my kids love it. We walked on to the front cars. DH and DS6 even got to ride again without getting off, but DS3 wasn’t quite up for back to back rides that early in the morning.
Next we headed for Dumbo. Play area isn’t open when the ride is a walk-on. Next we went to the Speedway, a favorite of DS3. The UG recommends riding before 10 am or with FP. But, we didn’t find it a great use of prime touring time. They were only running 1 lane, so there was still a bit more of a wait than we would have liked. Then we headed over to another walk-on at the Carousel before our first FP. Initially, I had only been able to get a late afternoon (4:45 pm) FP for 7DMT. However, when MK extended hours mid-November, I was able to modify it to 8:45 am, which worked great for us. The kids loved 7DMT and wanted to get back on immediately. They’ll have to wait til next trip though…
After 7DMT, DS6 begged for teacups. We rode, spun, and laughed like mad. Then we headed to Gaston’s to try the cinnamon roll. Unfortunately, while we were in line at Gaston’s, one of the registers broke down, so it took a long time to get breakfast. It was probably the longest line we waited in all day.
Next, we hit It’s a Small World. About half way through the line, the cast member manning the FP tap point opened the gate and funneled a bunch of the standby line into the Fast Pass lane (us included). Yay for pixie dust. I had been trying to time the wait for Touring Plans, but messed it up at this point. Then we made it to our next FP at Peter Pan’s flight.
After Pan, we headed for lunch at Be Our Guest. Thanks to the reservation finder, I was able to get BoG lunch even though we only planned this trip about 2.5 months in advance. The roast pork was delicious, but DH liked the old roast beef sandwich compared to the current French dip. The kids also aren’t terribly interested in the choices there, except for the cupcakes of course. We’ll probably skip the extra expense of BoG lunch on future trips.
After lunch, we took the train from Fantasyland over to Frontierland. We were a little early for our BTMRR FP, so we took the raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. The kids had fun running off some steam on the playground there. Then we hit BTMRR, which everyone loves. Next we started working on some Pirate Adventures. The park was pretty crowded at this point, but we didn’t have to wait too long at any of the portals. We completed 2, but weren’t given a FP for Pirates yet, so we headed to find a spot for the parade.
We camped out right outside the churro cart. Churros for DH and Mickey pretzels for the boys made for an easier wait for the start of the parade. The Festival of Fantasy parade was at 2 pm this trip due to the Christmas party hours. We’d never caught it before, because the 3 o’clock parade falls during naptime. After the parade, we finished our third Pirate Adventure map and were given the paper FPs for Pirates of the Caribbean. After riding Pirates, we headed out of the park.
A quick monorail ride over to the Contemporary and we were back at the BLT desk checking in. Our room unfortunately was not ready yet, and we were hoping to get the kids a nap. The CM made some phone calls and then assigned us to room 8008. This is a lake view studio (what we had booked) with views of the lake and tennis courts, but if you stood at the very edge of the window, you could see Space Mountain. The kids crashed hard and DH and I fell asleep too, until the alarm woke us back up for dinner.
We had reservations at Crystal Palace at 7:35, but wanted to catch the Frozen castle lighting at 6:15, so we were walking back to MK around 5:50. The castle lighting was cool, and the hub wasn’t too too crowded for it. Then we headed over to Tomorrowland before dinner. We planned on going to Carousel of Progress, since the kids love it, but it went down as we arrived. We thought we’d hit People Mover instead, but the line was insanely long. So, we ended up just hanging out dancing at the Dance Party in Tomorrowland. We positioned ourselves where we could see CoP, and hopped over there when it opened up again a little while later. After CoP, we headed to dinner at Crystal Palace.
We arrived for dinner about 15 minutes early, and were on our way to be seated about 5 minutes after our ADR time. The kids met Eeyore for his autograph on the way in, then we made it to our table. We were actually seated one table over from where we ate in June on our last trip. We had good interactions with the characters, especially Winnie the Pooh this time. The food was decent, better than in June, but still not as good as other non-buffet places. The desserts suffered from too much peppermint (I know, it’s popular at Christmas time, but it can be overdone when it’s in everything!).
We finished dinner just before Happily Ever After started. We could have stayed to watch from the porch at Crystal Palace, but DH doesn’t really care for the projection show (liked Wishes better), so we pushed our way through the crowd and over to Frontierland. Splash was posted 35-minute wait, and even TP said 30 min estimated, but we walked on. It takes a little while to walk the queue, but there was zero wait.
We then headed back to Adventureland. I really wanted to experience the Jingle Cruise, so I had snagged it as a 4th FP after our last one at 1. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it before 10 pm without too much work (I probably could have gotten earlier or better ones with dividing the party and overlapping times, etc., but I wasn’t willing to do that while having fun with my family). So after Splash, we headed to Magic Carpets and the Tiki Room. I have the worst timing when it comes to Tiki Room, we always seem to just miss being let in to the show and have to wait for the next one.
Then we headed to Jingle Cruise and used our 4th Fast Pass. After that, I picked up a 5th for Philharmagic. This turned out to be completely unnecessary, because, just like Tiki Room, we arrived just in time to miss the show and had to wait for the next one. Then the theater wasn’t really full at almost 11 pm. We enjoyed the show regardless.
We headed back for Main Street to hit the Emporium on our way out. The boys picked a toy each and we got some Christmas presents for family. We then hopped on the resort monorail back to BLT. We accomplished a lot of rides, attractions, and eating on a crowd level 9 day, even without really successfully using more than 3 FPs.
Sunday morning we got up in time to pack up our room before breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. The kids love seeing the Fab Five and DS6 remembered the dessert buffet from his 5th birthday trip. Everything we ate was good. Advice for those who come after us, they seat the areas all together for timing of characters. The opposite side of the buffet is much less crowded, but still adequately stocked. So, it you don’t like waiting in line for food, walk to the other side!
After breakfast, we headed out to the marina to catch a boat to the Wilderness Lodge. We wanted to see the decorations there and at Grand Floridian. While at Wilderness Lodge, we splurged on the Disney Christmas train to go around the tree. Poor DH had to carry it back on the boat. We took the boat to MK since it came first. DH then walked the train back to the car, while I took the boys on the monorail to Grand Floridian. DH had intended to join us at GF, but the monorails were crazy crowded on Sunday the week before Christmas. Apparently, bunches of people were resort hopping that weekend. DH decided to head back to the car and rest before driving. The boys and I waited in line to buy treats from the massive gingerbread house, which felt especially long since both boys were overtired and upset that they couldn’t personally go inside the house.
We hopped on the monorail back to Contemporary, grabbed a few more souvenirs at the gift shop there, and headed to meet DH at the car. We then drove about 20 minutes to our former neighbors’ and dropped off the hand-me-down toys we were delivering (a thank you to the same people who stood in line for me and another neighbor to buy us the Disney Dooney Dogs totes). We then hit the road home for North Carolina. We made it back right around midnight.
We had a fantastic time despite the crowds and brief nature of our visit. We decided that, though crazy, heading down for just a weekend is completely doable for us. So, we are now annual pass holders. We hope to head down this spring, again in the fall for either Halloween or Christmas decorations again, and then spring 2019 for a big bash for DS3’s 5th birthday.
Thanks for reading about our adventures.