Here Now! May 14-21

mshanson3121

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
I thought I would do a day by day trip report. Myself, my FIL and my two kids, DS 12 and DD 9. The trip is an early birthday gift for my son from his grandfather.

Day 1:

Flew from Maine, first time on a plane for the kids - they we're thrilled (mostly). MCO ended up shut down due to a storm so we got stuck in holding, and it was a bit turbulent. My daughter has ASD, so this definitely made her anxious, but she did ok. Landed only 10 minutes late (at 2:14), but got stuck on the tarmac for an hour as the gates we're full due to the backlog/refuelling. This delay meant we scrapped our plans to head into a park that night.

We waited about 20 minutes for ME, and made it to our resort (All Star Movies) at 5:00. Check in was easy, Bell Services delivered our groceries. We had supper (we think the food is great, no idea why people complain) and then hit the pool, which the kids loved. After, we went to the gift shop and started each kid with a pin set. Magic Moment #1: the CM gifted each of our kids with a 6-pack of pins!

They are absolutely LOVING pin trading and it has been an amazing experience so far. They have already met some awesome people.

The kids love the resort. We are in Love Bug 7, renovated room, and is no more than a 2-3 minute walk to the pool. To me, definitely not worth spending the extra for preferred, especially Fantasia which is right next to the pool, which happens to be open till 11 pm.

Initial impression: love aspects of on site, and still prefer aspects of off site. I do not sleep well in hotels, they're too noisy. I miss the space, quiet and privacy of a rental home/condo. I find it a pain to have to walk to the cafeteria for breakfast, then come back to brush teeth etc... I miss having our own kitchen. But, the atmosphere is very fun, lots of activities for the kids etc... I "get" now why people like on site, and the travel is convenient. Next time I can see us doing a split stay - mostly off site for a more comfortable vacation, but 2-3 nights on site, to get that resort experience for the kids.

Weather: light showers when we landed, changed to partly cloudy, mid 70s and breezy.
 
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mshanson3121

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Day 2: Animal Kingdom.

Got on the bus at 7:50 from All Star Movies and was only about 10 there. Waited for security, set up our DAS, rented a stroller, slathered ourselves in sunscreen and were exploring by 8:30. We did photopass in front of the tree of life, got in line at 8:45 for Mickey and Minnie, they opened it up at 8:55 and we were through by 9:10. It was a wonderful experience, great way to kick off vacation.

From there we went to Mahrahjah Jungle Trek, then did the 10:00 Up! show, rode Kali at 10:30 which was only a 5 minute wait standby. The park was pretty dead for the first couple hours, but crowds built quickly after 11. Thought it was never bad.

We went and got a snack and sat down for a bit, went to the gift shop, did some pressed pennies, pin trading, more Photopass, then the Gorilla Falls trail. Went back and rode Kali again - standby now had a 70 minute wait. We used DAS and waited 15 minutes - and only because it shut down briefly. Left the park for a break.

Came back for a swim, and had supper. Cool moment: we were offered the secret menu at the cafeteria and OMG was it ever good. But HUGE portions. We have enough leftovers from last night, for supper tonight.

More to come... Gotta get ready for MK!

Ok ..

So, we got back to AK around 6:00, and went for It's Tough to Be a Bug, sadly that was too much for my kids (ASD/SPD) so we had to leave after a few minutes. We went to the Safari next, which we got on around 6:30 and we loved, lots of animals and the weather was gorgeous - cloudy, mid 70s and breezy. We then walked around, taking our time, making our way to Pandora - which blew us all away. I mean, WOW. You truly have to see it to believe it. We rode Na'Vi which the kids LOVED, and then just hung out in Pandora, waiting for it to get dark. We watched the drummers which was cool. We finally headed to Rivers of Light about 8:20, since we had a FP+ that was good til 8:45.

Here is my complaint: Pandora is incredibly dark. As in, very difficult to navigate in the dark, and we found Rivers of Light to be very poorly marked, as we tried to make our way there in the dark. We had to stop a couple times for directions. We made it there by 8:40, with 5 minutes left on our FP, but they had already stopped and just opened it up to general seating!! The place was already packed, so we were in one of the very last rows. It wasn't bad viewing, bit could have been better had we gotten there sooner.

Lesson learned: never decide against a show based on YouTube. On YT I thought it looked boring. In person we all loved it, especially my son.

We stopped and watched some of the projections on the way out on the Tree of Life but mostly focused on getting to the bus. The kids were exhausted. Yet suddenly, the second we got off the bus, they took off running and by the time FIL and I made it to the room, they were already in swimsuits heading out for a late dip LOL.
 
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mshanson3121

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Day 3: Magic Kingdom

We are on our second day and once again I am reminded that making touring plans is a waste of time, LOL. Our plan was for an afternoon entry after our 11:20 1900 Park Fare. We were on the bus to MK at 7:55, LOL.

We grabbed our stroller and did pin trading with 3 awesome CMs there, shopped a bit on Main Street, then got in line for Adventureland at 8:45, we were only second row back. When the park opened we walked on Jungle Cruise, then did Magic Carpets, walked on Splash with only a 5 minute wait, which DD hated and absolutely lost it on, unfortunately. But she calmed down quickly thankfully after the ride was over.

Happy dance: given our change of plans I tried to adjust our evening FP+, and managed to score a 7D!

After splash, we went back and rode Carpets again, met Jasmine and Aladdin, walked through the Treehouse and then left at 10:50 for 1900 Park Fare, which was AMAZING. Pooh is one of my daughter's obsessions, and she literally RAN into his arms when he started to our table and cried she was so happy to meet him (which made us cry). My son sang "A Very Merry Unbirthday" to Alice and traded jokes with the Mad Hatter (he loves this movie!). Breakfast was FAST. We were seated just before 11:30 and we were done eating and had met all 5 characters by 12:20.

The new plan was to go back to the hotel for a rest. Instead the kids wanted to go back for "one more ride". So we made it back to MK by 12:45, just in time to catch the Dance Party which the kids loved. We then rode Pooh, picked up a DAS return for 7D, and we're back to the resort at 2:05.

Definitely more crowded today and hotter.

Kids are now swimming, and we're headed back this evening for some more rides and the dessert party. More to come!
 
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  • mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Day 3, Part Two. Magic Kingdom.

    We got back to the park shortly after 5, and knocked out back to back rides on 7D (one FP+, one DAS). Then did Barnstormer. Spent some time at Casey's splash pad cooling off, and then shopped some. Did Buzz Lightyear - which surprisingly had an almost 20 minute wait WITH FP+! But the kids loved it.

    We got in line to check in for our 7:30 HEA Dessert Party shortly after 7:00, and we were seated and eating by 7:20. We really enjoyed the selections, and the cheeseburger egg rolls were delicious! We headed over to the garden viewing area around 8:15, and took the spot at the far right back. Perfect viewing, IMO, as there were no posts or trees in our view. The kids had a blast pin trading and playing/talking with other kids while waiting. They said the party was sell out but there was lots of space and many people sat for the show. We all agreed we would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I doubt we will ever do MK fireworks again without it.

    As for the fireworks, we all loved both HEA and OUAT. The projections were beautiful.

    After HEA we went and rode Tea Party and the Carousel, then made it back to the castle for OUAT. Walked out with the hoardes, and only waited about 5 minutes for our bus, and were back to our hotel by 10:30.

    Weather was much warmer during the day (around 85, I believe and full sun) but dropped to low 70s and breezy by 8:30. We are finding the weather much better than our last trip (late June/early July). The evenings really cool down fast, as soon as the sun goes down or it clouds over. Not nearly as humid, either. And thus far, no storms. Hopefully that lasts!

    DD (with ASD) is doing ok, needs to know every detail of every ride before she goes on it, and is pretty tired after 2 long days with late nights, so we are definitely taking tomorrow morning off, and then keeping our time at HS tomorrow afternoon low key.
     
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    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Day 4: Hollywood Studios

    We hung out at the resort for the morning, and then entered the park around 1. We went to the new Lightning McQueen show which was walk on, and the kids loved. Took photos with the cars after. Watched part of A Galaxy Far Far Away, then went to Launch Bay. On the way there we saw Darth V, Kylo, Chewy and Rey (!!!!) marching to the LB. My daughter was thrilled to see her. The Storm Troopers were also marching around and interacted with us several times. We went to LB and met BB8 (20 minute wait), Chewy (about 10 minutes) and Kylo Ren (about 5 minutes). We had an.amazing interaction - Disney Magic.

    So - DH was not able to come, and as it turns out, a good thing. The day after we left, I got a call he was on his way to ER, as an issue on his foot he had been ignoring, turned into a serious, full blown infection and is scheduled for surgery as soon as it clears. DD however has never traveled without her Dad, and is really struggling (ASD). We've had a lot of tears. My husband LOVES Star Wars, and especially Chewy. DD was really sad in a way at LB, because she knew DH would have loved it. So, as a surprise to both DH and DD, we Skyped my husband during the M&G, and Chewy interacted with my hubby on the phone, and then the photographer did photos with DH on the phone, so he got his pic with Chewy, too. I think we all cried, and my daughter's cry of surprise, when she "saw" Daddy...omg. Anyways. A moment we'll never forget.

    After that, we went to Voyage, then Frozen, then went and nabbed a DAS for Slinky. The kids were getting pretty tired by this point, especially DD, so we went and ate/rested for a good hour or more at Backlot.

    We caught the 6:00 Muppets show, then headed into Toy Story Land which we LOVED!!! Slinky Dog is awesome, and my son rode it twice (used his grandfather's DAS time since Grandfather's stomach wasn't feeling well). We had a FP+ for Aliens which was also great, and then also got a DAS for Midway Mania. We wanted to ride Aliens again, but just wasn't time.

    We finished our day with Fantasmic.

    Tonight was the worst night for busses. We waited probably 20 minutes for a bus and the drive was slow.

    I will say, I far prefer having my own vehicle, to using Disney busses, and it's definitely faster. There's not much magical about having an aching back after a long day in the park, having to then stand (or sit) for 20 minutes on the concrete with tired children, then sit or stand crammed in with a bunch of people for another 15-20 minutes.

    Weather was great again, hot, hit 88, but sunny, no rain, and again, anytime a cloud passes over or the sun goes down, it drops quickly. Beautiful evening temps.
     
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    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Day 5: Rest Day.

    We decided to scrap our AK plans and take a rest day as DD wasn't feeling well, and was really getting worn out. So, we made no plans other than our 10:40 at O'Hanas. Which we were almost late for since we were all still sleeping at 9:15 lol. But we made it with 1 minute to spare.

    Unfortunately they were way behind, and we didn't get seated until 11:35. That was a bit rough. We were actually getting ready to cancel because DD was nearing her limit, when they called us.

    The food was good, though 1900 Park Fare was better. I've seen people rave about this pineapple bread they serve you, but ours was incredibly dry and pretty bland. But, the character interaction was excellent.

    After, we came back to the resort and the kids spent the afternoon playing in the arcade and swimming. After supper DD and her grandfather hung out in the room (she is exhausted), and DS and I went to Disney Springs. We wanted to do the balloon ride but it was too windy. So we went to the Lego and Disney stores, then back to the resort. I loved the vibe of DS and would enjoy having some adult time there someday!

    All in all, a good day. Off to our final MK day tomorrow.

    PS. Great weather again - hot (86ish) sunny and breezy, no rain.
     
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    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Day 6: Magic Kingdom

    Phew! A busy day, exhausting, but good. Sunny and HOT (93).

    We were on the bus to MK at 7:55, stopped for a pic on Main Street and were only a few rows back for Fantasyland. When it opened we went and lined up for Merida, first in line. No archery shooting, which disappointed DD. We then did Tea Cups 3x, and Barnstormer 2x. Then Little Mermaid using FP+ (which we didn't need, it was a 10 min standby), and then 7D using DAS. That was all done by 10:30. We then split up, DS and I went to Pirates and DD and her grandfather watched the stage show. Met back up after and did Dumbo using FP+, then 7D again using DAS. Had a long lunch/break at Pinocchio Haus, then did Peter Pan using DAS around 1:00. Then walked into Mickey's Philharmagic, then over for the Tiana and Rapunzel M&G at 1:40 using FP+. Scored a 4th FP+ for Small World, and then we headed over to Frontierland for the parade. Arrived about 2:30 and sat on a bench in the shade outside Liberty Tree Tavern. PERFECT viewing spot, not crowded, we sat the whole time, and even after the parade had started people were able to nab front row spots - granted, it's a low crowd day (2 according to TP). Walked through the Treehouse and called it a day. Hanging out at the resort tonight.
     
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  • mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Day 7: Epcot

    Rope dropped Epcot, and by 9:30 we had met Joy, Sadness, Baymax, Ralph and Vanellope. Ralph and Vanellope were some of our best interactions. We then went to the Nemo ride and explored the seas. My kids LOVED it there. We then went and rode Soarin with DAS at 10:30. We loved that ride, wow (though DD was so so). We then spent the rest of our day (about 11-4) in the World Showcase, which we all enjoyed, though I definitely thinking the additional Ratatouille ride will be good for kids, to help break it up some. It was incredibly beautiful at EP with the Flower and Garden Festival. The kids really enjoyed the two boat rides in Mexico and Norway. We wanted to meet A&E but the wait was 35 minutes and DD was getting overheated, so we left.

    Sunny, and not a drop of rain, so we definitely lucked out on weather, but it was definitely the hottest day. A bit too hot.
     
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  • suse66

    Mickey Bars should be a daily food group!
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2008
    Sounds like an amazing trip so far! I just love the interactions your two had with the characters at 1900 Park Faire. I would have been crying too!
     

    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Final Thoughts:

    This may be a bit random, since I'm tired.

    - Rope drop/afternoon break/back for evenings was my preference with the heat
    - Rope drop rocks! You get so much done!
    - Next time only 2 days before a rest day for us.
    - I prefer having my own car and driving to using Disney busses, especially at the end of the day.
    - I prefer off site - give me a kitchen and private bedrooms, any day over spending a week in a value hotel room where you have to walk 5 minutes to make toast, do laundry, get good drinking water etc... The exception to off site would be if I could afford Deluxe, which we can't, so.... off site it is.
    - I would however consider doing a split stay with a couple days on site, since the kids absolutely LOVED the resort experience, and, it really is a neat experience.
    - People were amazing - all the CMs, bus drivers etc...they were great. Not a complaint at all.
    - Pin trading was AWESOME. The kids loved it, and I'm so glad we did it.
    - Disney is LOUD. Honestly I forgot how loud. The rides, the people, the restaurants, the busses, the pools etc... Loud loud loud. Even down to other noises - corridor noise, the air exchange system in our room - I really wish we could've gotten away from the noise some. Again, I assume a deluxe might be quieter, and I know off site can be. I also wish Disney could turn the volume down some on their attractions, but...fat chance of that. Though honestly, a Sensory Day offering would be awesome.
    - May is definitely better than late June for weather and crowds. We were pleased with both. I would love to try January next.
    - I think that's all for now! Will try and get some photos up when we get home!
     
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    kimmie316

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 22, 2019
    Day 3: Magic Kingdom

    We are on our second day and once again I am reminded that making touring plans is a waste of time, LOL. Our plan was for an afternoon entry after our 11:20 1900 Park Fare. We were on the bus to MK at 7:55, LOL.

    We grabbed our stroller and did pin trading with 3 awesome CMs there, shopped a bit on Main Street, then got in line for Adventureland at 8:45, we were only second row back. When the park opened we walked on Jungle Cruise, then did Magic Carpets, walked on Splash with only a 5 minute wait, which DD hated and absolutely lost it on, unfortunately. But she calmed down quickly thankfully after the ride was over.

    Happy dance: given our change of plans I tried to adjust our evening FP+, and managed to score a 7D!

    After splash, we went back and rode Carpets again, met Jasmine and Aladdin, walked through the Treehouse and then left at 10:50 for 1900 Park Fare, which was AMAZING. Pooh is one of my daughter's obsessions, and she literally RAN into his arms when he started to our table and cried she was so happy to meet him (which made us cry). My son sang "A Very Merry Unbirthday" to Alice and traded jokes with the Mad Hatter (he loves this movie!). Breakfast was FAST. We were seated just before 11:30 and we were done eating and had met all 5 characters by 12:20.

    The new plan was to go back to the hotel for a rest. Instead the kids wanted to go back for "one more ride". So we made it back to MK by 12:45, just in time to catch the Dance Party which the kids loved. We then rode Pooh, picked up a DAS return for 7D, and we're back to the resort at 2:05.

    Definitely more crowded today and hotter.

    Kids are now swimming, and we're headed back this evening for some more rides and the dessert party. More to come!
    You did a lot in such a short amount of time. We plan on RD MK in a few weeks. We have a 1045 ADR at 1900 then our first FP at 1240. I hope we get to ride a few things before we head over. How long was the ride to 1900?
     

    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    You did a lot in such a short amount of time. We plan on RD MK in a few weeks. We have a 1045 ADR at 1900 then our first FP at 1240. I hope we get to ride a few things before we head over. How long was the ride to 1900?
    We waited maybe 10 minutes for the monorail and the trip took a good 10-15 minutes, too, since it's the last stop. I would allow 45 minutes - we started walking from Adventureland to the front at 10:45, our ADR was 11:20, and we were 5 minutes late. If you can move it later, I would. That extra 30-40 minutes helps (we originally had a 10:30 but I changed it on advice from others).
     

    elaine amj

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2012
    Sounds like it was an awesome trip!! Glad you guys had soooo much fun. Sounds like the kids loved so much of what you all did, which is fantastic.

    We are huge onsite fans and generally stay at the values. Every once in a while I wonder about an offsite villa/condo but I don't know if I can give up the onsite amenities. Being able to split up and take Disney buses any time we feel like it makes a big difference to us.
     

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