What we all need right now is a TRIP REPORT! From October 2019, before the apocalypse started

Why did I never get around to sharing my trip report here? I don’t know, let’s say I was saving it for such a time as this. First, thank you all so much for helping me plan this trip and sharing your advice and experiences! We had a great trip, and I couldn’t have done it without this forum. I actually wrote this trip report when it was all fresh in my mind, and most definitely included too much detail. Whatever, nobody’s paying me to edit it. Here goes!

My history: I’ve been to WDW once, when I was around 11. There were two things I wanted to do: Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. The first was closed for repairs, and the second was not yet open. (The California version was, and all the publicity on the Disney Channel implied that the WDW one was up and running). Super disappointing. I would have loved to meet some characters, but I was too preteen to admit it, and since there weren’t any roaming around freely, I never saw a single one. The whole thing was a pretty big let down, and I was still holding a grudge. My mom remembers this trip differently — she says we had such a great time we extended our stay.

Cast of characters: Me, my husband, our five children — four girls ages 4-9, and a 1yo boy — and my mom. I’ve been having a variety of health issues over the last few years, so I rented an ECV to get around. My stamina is a fraction of any other member of this group, including the toddler, and I didn’t want to be the one slowing us down. One of my daughters and I can’t eat gluten, and my mom can’t eat dairy, so we got familiar with a lot of allergy menus. Lucky for my gf daughter, she likes grilled chicken breast, which was on every single kids allergy menu we encountered.

Lodging: We stayed offsite. It was free, because my grandfather is no longer enjoying his timeshare and allowed us to use it. It’s a points based timeshare. We chose The Fountains by Bluegreen on International Drive. We had an awesome two bedroom unit with kitchen and laundry, and my mom had a matching one next door. We used our laundry every day. We barely took advantage of any of the amenities outside our units, because Disney World was the whole point of this trip. Nice place, though. My mom served our breakfast in her unit every day.

Travel: We drove. All seven of us in our large family sized vehicle. (Mom doesn’t live near us, so she drove separately.) There were several factors in this choice, chiefly that our kids aren’t mature enough to be responsible for their own luggage, and I’m not capable of manhandling suitcases or pushing a stroller very far, so airplane travel would have meant DH was doing all the heavy lifting at once. We’re also experienced roadtrippers, so the 14 hour driving time isn’t intimidating — we drive farther for family Christmas. Plus if we flew, we’d require a large family sized rental car. And all those car seats. Nope.


Arrival day/Sunday: Rather than dividing our 14 hours of driving time into two even days, I booked our overnight stop 10 hours from home. On our arrival day, we had a lunch reservation at Sanaa. We didn’t love it. I think every one of us had something on our plate we didn’t like, which is pretty unusual for us. There’s construction happening, so there’s no view. If I were going back, I’d consider a quick service lunch at AKL, because the best part was walking out to the public viewing area to see the animals. CMs invited us (well, the kids) to join in some activities, but lunch ran late and we had places to be.

It didn’t occur to me until late in the planning process that we could arrive early enough to do something fun on our arrival day, so I had trouble getting decent dinner reservations for a party of eight. About six weeks out, MouseDining found an opening at HDDR for the 4:00 show. (I don’t think I had the TP reservation finder looking for this one — I mostly had them running different searches). This show is so fun! It was exactly the thing to do on our arrival day. We had a great table right in the middle of the floor. My kids loved it, my mom loved it, my husband raved about the food. I’d heard from others that the GF “plain chicken” wasn’t very good, and to order GF chicken fingers instead. But they offered me “smoked chicken,” so I tried that, and it was delicious. My GF kid loves a good rotisserie chicken, and this was nearly as juicy. I think the only other GF substitutes were the cornbread (meh) and dessert (delicious).

It does take a ridiculous amount of time to get there, so show up stupid early. You can’t park near the restaurant, and the bus that takes you there isn’t clearly labeled and stops at a ton of other places along the way. This was my first experience with WDW transportation on this trip, and I still don’t know how anybody was supposed to know what “Purple & Orange” was supposed to mean, or whatever color combination the bus route was called. I looked around for maps, signs, CMs, or any other form of directions, and the only option was to ask the bus drivers. I definitely missed a bus or two because I was waiting for one labeled with the place I was actually going, before I got nervous enough to just start asking every driver.

After dinner, my mom offered to put the kids to bed so DH and I could run a few errands. First, we picked up our rental ECV and double stroller from the front desk. The resort made this process super easy. Our stroller was from Kingdom Strollers. I got a laugh at how faded it was — like it’s spent a lot of time in the Florida sunshine. It was otherwise in excellent condition, and perfect for our needs. It was the city mini GT. The difference between the mini and the GT was a few dollars and an adjustable handlebar — I figured having the right height handlebar could make a big difference over all the long days DH would spend pushing it. My ECV was from Buena Vista. I’ll talk more about the ECV later. Tonight’s challenge was figuring out how best to fit our equipment into the back of our vehicle, because DH was going to have to get really good at it.

Second, we headed to Disney Springs, because we needed to talk to guest services. There was a 30 minute wait (at 9pm on a Sunday!). But it only took one CM to upgrade my 4 day PH ticket to an annual pass, sign up for Tables in Wonderland, and buy MagicBands for the rest of my party. Strangely, the only place a new AP holder can pick up their free MagicBand in person is at the Liberty Square ticket office in MK. Both guest services in DS and that office had the “standard eight” colors and nothing else: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and gray. Tables in Wonderland is a big deal when you’re taking 8 people to all the character meals. It paid for itself FAST. My math said we’d more or less break even after getting the AP + TiW + discounts, so I guessed which direction my math would most likely be inaccurate. I haven’t done the math on whether it saved me any money in the end . . . maybe I’ll get around to that at the end of the trip report.

Our last errand was Publix, which was conveniently 4 minutes from our hotel. It was plenty late when we got back, but at least the kids were asleep. Rope drop MK in the morning! That was the plan, anyway.




Yes we all need a trip report, thank you for this

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Best thing to wake up to today!! We do need a trip report :slight_smile:


Thanks! Looking forward to following along.
Great to have a trip report pop up!!!

Great pics! I’m looking forward to reading more.


The plan was to rope drop Magic Kingdom, but everything about this morning took longer than we expected. I couldn’t figure out the logistics of resort parking, so we just drove to the TTC like normal people. I’d heard the ferry was easier than the monorail with an ECV, and we thought the view of the castle over the lagoon would be fun for the kids. Turns out, there’s really no view from the ferry, and the monorail is equally easy, but the ferry got us there this morning. My TP called for Let the Magic Begin, followed by Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway (for separate sets of kids). By the time we got into the park, got a family photo taken, waited on my mom to look for a t-shirt, found a bathroom, got sidetracked by Snow White meeting next to guest services (Did you know she has a M&G there? I had no idea!), we’d long missed LTMB and it seemed prudent to head straight to ETwB before we lost our 8-9am FPP. Whatever, it’s fine. I put Space Mountain on both our MK days for a reason.

My kids LOVED ETwB. Anybody under the age of 12 should go. Boys included. I couldn’t quite understand how this worked until I saw it. They bring in visitors in fairly small groups, maybe around 20 people. They assign parts to all the kids who want to participate, starting with crucial roles and moving on to dancing dishes and the barking footstool. There were a LOT of spare dishes in the props cabinet. When Belle arrives, Lumiere narrates the story and the kids go through the motions while Belle acts utterly charmed by the whole thing. Then she poses for photos with each of the kids.

Next we lined up to meet Merida. There were only two families ahead of us. Merida is not in TP, and I couldn’t figure out what would be the best placeholder for walking time (Cheshire Cafe, it turns out), so I’d just used Ariel’s m&g in hopes of similar wait times. Merida was lovely. We totally forgot to get her autograph. Darn.

At this point, I think I started optimizing my plan in Lines. We looked for snacks, but nothing nearby was open yet. Friar’s Nook and Storybook Treats open at 11. We were in a weird Disney food desert.

We went on the carousel, used our FPPs for WtP (surprisingly long wait anyway), and made it back to Friar’s for cheesy tater tots (they opened early, maybe 10:40) before heading over to Barnstormer. I sat this one out with the baby. Then we rode Under the Sea (I wish I’d known how to track wait times when I started this trip — this wait felt like forever, but I have no idea how long it actually was), got some family photos outside the sea castle, and saw Mickey’s Philharmagic. Philharmagic was a huge hit with my family. I’ve never seen 3D done that well.

Next, we went to the Crystal Palace for lunch. I was afraid it would be crazy and hectic — and it is a little bit crazy, with everyone on the lookout for the characters — but the overall atmosphere was cool and calm and peaceful. It’s a wonderful place to have lunch on a miserably hot day. Some of the food was boring, but none of it was bad. Plenty of options for food allergies and picky eaters. My 4yo is a big Pooh fan, so this was mostly for her. I lifted her up so she could hug Eeyore, and then she wouldn’t let go! This meal was also the test of how our 1yo would react to the characters. I didn’t care if he liked them, I was just hoping he wouldn’t cry. He did not. He was unconcerned and generally uninterested. My almost-6yo told the waitress we were celebrating her birthday, and the waitress brought her a birthday button and a small cupcake.


Photos: a bunch of my PhotoPass photos have mysteriously gone missing! I’m horrified. I can’t find the ones from the Magic Kingdom entrance, or either of the character meets we did this day. I know I had them at one point, but in going through my downloads, they’re nowhere. :sob:



I wasn’t sure how my little guy would feel about the characters, so this was as far as I pushed him the first day. He was confused about being taken away from his food that he wasn’t finished eating.

I have a ton of photos of my children mobbing the characters. I love how Pooh is just pretending to hug the whole mob.


Meltdown partly averted. I logged back in to MDE and found some of the missing photos that I knew I’d seen before. For whatever reason, they didn’t ALL download when I said to download all of them, and they were in such a jumble that I didn’t notice what was missing until today when I finally sorted them.

Unfortunately, Snow White is nowhere to be found. I know I saw her in my photos before, but I’m afraid they’re long gone. :cry:


I’m glad you found some of the photos, but so sorry about the ones you lost. All your pics are amazing!

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I just read about someone Who visited Disneyland last fall calling in and they were able to find her missing photos. It’s worth a try if you know the date(s) and time(s) of the photos.

I’ve already reached out about the missing Snow White photos. Thankfully, most of the photos I KNEW I was missing on my computer showed up in PhotoPass. There’s at least one more thing missing, but it’s a ride photo and I have part of our group (same train), so as long as Disney still has that one it should be really easy for them to find it.

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I discovered why my downloads were missing so many photos – I went poking around, thinking maybe I’d left them in my downloads folder by accident. Instead, I found all these unfinished downloads from the day in October I attempted to download everything at once. I guess my computer went to sleep or the wifi went down or whatever, and I didn’t realize it had happened. Lesson learned – in the future, I’ll try downloading my photos one park at a time (since they don’t let you sort by date or anything else useful) so they’ll be in smaller groups.


On the bright side, I had a lightning fast connection in the stupid hours of the morning, and it appears that my repeated attempt to DOWNLOAD ALL did, in fact, download everything I can see from PhotoPass. Whew.


Too Bad, I usually download them to my phone as they come in, then transfer them to my computer when I transfer all my photos. Less daunting that way

Lol, my phone does NOT have room. I deleted all my photos before the trip, and filled it up again while we were there.

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They found the Snow White photos! And whatever they did added a missing ride photo back to my account. Hooray for customer service!