Super belated review of our trip from this past November (aka the non-Wedding Trip). Got side-tracked with all the drama of life and just didn’t have time to organize my thoughts on this, but for every moment since our trip, the sentiment in my mind has been that this Disney trip saved our family. I know it seems bizarre to a lot of people that we would still go as a family to Disney World after canceling our Disney wedding for that week, but as I’ve told countless therapists (ha), Disney makes things better, not worse. There’s no sad days in Disney World. Imagine how sad that non-wedding day would have been if we were at home after canceling the trip altogether, yikes.
So aside from some obvious uniqueness to this trip that I will touch on (we had some catered dinner parties because we were trying to use some of our nonrefundable wedding deposit, and we still had some friends down there with us that couldn’t cancel their travel plans), this trip was definitely noteworthy in that we stayed at three resorts for a total of 8 nights, experienced multiple new rides, and RODE THE SKYLINER, WOOHOOO (I’ve been a big Skyliner fan since it was announced in 2017).
Our trip was mid-November (November 15-23rd to be exact) and for anyone who is curious, Christmas decorations were up everywhere that we went, excluding the main Epcot Christmas tree at the entrance to the World Showcase because Food and Wine Festival was still going on (extended longer than usual). With regards to weather, it varied drastically, similar to our trip last November. The first few days were chilly enough that we couldn’t pull off shorts and had to go with long pants during the day, much to my dismay coming from NJ and insisting anything would feel warm. At night it felt pretty darn cold, which is weird because it couldn’t have dipped below 50 degrees, but when you are outside for a long time in the wind, I guess 50 degrees starts to feel cold. Sweatshirts did not quite feel like enough and there was plenty of shivering going on. During the fireworks, people were literally wrapped up in blankets. However, by the end of the week, it was BEAUTIFUL weather and we were sitting at the pool at 9:30 in the morning enjoying nearly 80 degree weather. So pack for some pretty big temperature swings.
Aside from obviously being excited for this trip for wedding reasons initially, I was very excited for this trip because not only was last year’s trip with our son amazing, but we had ordered a Shutterfly album of our Disney photos afterwards, and our son (28 months old at the time of this second trip) spent the whole year looking at the album literally daily. He was so excited and seemed to somewhat “remember” the concept of a Disney trip as a result of looking at the album so much. He also had come to love his Mickey, Pluto, Minnie, etc stuffed animals and was much more familiar with Frozen by the time of this second trip, so he was actually excited at the prospect of meeting characters when we named them at home. There was much more anticipation for this trip on his end than the trip when he was only 15 months old.
So, resort by resort, this was our stay:
1st night – Grand Floridian Standard Room (room type was categorized as “Outer Building – Garden View/Standard View”)
We stayed in this room for one night simply because we had “earned” a free night at a resort of our choice as a result of filling our wedding block of rooms (oy). I wasn’t about to pass up on any freebies offered by Disney, no matter how depressing, so we picked the generally unanimously agreed upon most luxurious/prestigious Disney resort, the Grand Floridian, and started our trip there.
We took the Magical Express from the airport with no issues, as always, with one additional item to note: our bags were transported by Disney, which I have never done before because I typically don’t check bags, and it worked flawlessly. This trip we checked one big family bag (we got a nice Mickey suitcase from our wedding registry and the gifter said we didn’t need to return it – hooray?) and one stroller. We didn’t even have the yellow Magical Express baggage tags, but we gave the Cast Member our baggage claim information and flight information when we were checking into the Magical Express, and they said they’d handle finding the bags. Our bags weren’t even on our flight, because things got messed up at Newark airport and they were put on a later flight, and still there were no issues and the bags were waiting in our room that evening.
I didn’t set my expectations too high with regards to the room and/or the view given that the complimentary rooms offered for filling your wedding block are always the lowest tier of rooms at each resort. We were automatically put in a Standard View Standard Room in an “Outer Building.” So I was thrilled that we had a lovely pool view of the main Grand Floridian pool. The room was also a little bigger than I expected. It had the normal area with 2 queen beds and a bathroom, but also had a separate sitting area with a million windows and multiple couches, as well as a second TV. We set up our son’s pack n’ play (actually housekeeping set it up when we weren’t in the room – which was unexpected and nice) over in that separate sitting area, which was convenient. Our luxurious stay was short lived though and the next morning we checked out. We loved the luxury of getting on the monorail and going straight to MK in the morning, much to our choochoo-obsessed toddler’s delight.
One funny note specific to the room we were in: I believe this was a handicapped-accessible room because there was a wheelchair button on the door inside the room to automatically open the door to leave. Our toddler had a field day opening and closing the door. So if you have a toddler and you want privacy, maybe avoid a handicapped accessible room, or do what we did and put the lock across the door because we had some close calls with the door swinging open while getting changed and our son laughing like an evil little hyena.
I hadn’t done a split-stay in over a decade, and this was my first time as the adult on the reservation, so I wasn’t sure how much of a pain it would be moving around, but Disney makes it as easy as possible (although I still prefer not to do split-stays). We brought our luggage to bell services at GF, although I believe we could have left it in the room, but don’t quote me on that, and let them know we were moving to the Boardwalk. All we needed to give them was our name and the hotel name, and they took the bags and said they’d be waiting for us at the next resort. We made sure we had enough diapers and other necessities for the day just in case.
Worth noting, the Grand Floridian’s lobby was as beautiful as always. The Christmas decorations are always some of the best on the property. The gingerbread house is the same giant house every year and it never gets old. Also worth noting, we saw no fewer than 3 brides taking photos in the lobby during our 20 hour stay at the hotel, so that was just wonderful and not remotely depressing.
Nights 2-7 (6 nights) – Boardwalk Villas – 2 Bedroom Lock Off Boardwalk View split with Grandma and Grandpa in the lock-off part
This is our “home” resort under my mom’s DVC membership (since 1996), so this is where we typically stay. This is also where we were supposed to get married on November 17th, so some people thought it would be way too sad for us to stay there, but they just don’t get that this is my happy place! Home away from home. Nothing makes me happier than walking into the Boardwalk lobby at the start of a trip. Just writing about it gives me butterflies.
We had a Boardwalk view, which we never get (since it was a special occasion and all), which is such a wonderful luxury if you can ever grab ahold of one while they are available. Boardwalk views are the same # of points as garden/pool views, they are just very limited in inventory, so you have to grab them early. We were on the 4th floor and approximately right over the Big River Grill. Perfect view of ferry boats in the morning. We could even see the Skyliner in the distance from our room. Our balcony was fully enclosed, with no railing, since there was a roof area in front of it, so our son was very safe out there (not that we leave him unattended – relax). My stepdad whined a bit about our view because it was kind of obstructed by the roof in front of the balcony, but he tends to whine about every view we’ve ever had, so that really is barely worth mentioning.
Our luggage actually took FOREVER to arrive at the Boardwalk from the Grand Floridian, which is one of my only 2 complaints on this trip (both of which are minor). I had to call a few times to check on if the luggage had arrived, and they seemed to get things mixed up because I gave my name to the Grand Floridian Bell Services Cast Member, but our reservation at the Boardwalk was under my mom’s remarried last name, so that contributed to the delay. We also ordered groceries from Amazon Prime (Whole Foods) which were delivered super timely to the resort. Bell services held them until we were ready to go pick them up. I actually think Bell Services brought the groceries up to us with our luggage as a courtesy since they were already coming up and they felt bad about the luggage delay. Normally there is a small fee for holding grocery deliveries and bringing them to your room (no fee if you pick them up at bell services yourself).
It was a good experience ordering groceries for the first time (last trip we had just ordered diapers and wipes), although the milk was only 2 days away from expiring, which kind of defeated the purpose, so I let Amazon know and they gave us a credit for a replacement order, which was great. I kind of rushed my grocery order and did it on the app while in bed at the Grand Floridian, so I didn’t put as much thought into the groceries as I should have. I ordered things that I thought would allow for good in-room breakfasts and occasional lunches for Copper (chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, milk, eggs, some frozen veggies). I had packed oatmeal packets and fruit/veggie pouches in our luggage. I foolishly ordered ketchup and butter with the groceries, thinking that Copper can’t eat nuggets without ketchup and can’t eat mac and cheese without butter, but we could have easily gotten handfuls of these items down at the bakery. That was amateur hour on my part for sure. Live and learn. I’m still trying to get this whole “travel with a toddler” thing down to a science. We picked Amazon as opposed to Dizzy Dolphin or Garden Grocer solely because those two have minimum order requirements and I didn’t think we would meet them. I also am just an Amazon junkie so I figured I would stick with what I know.
One different thing that happened at the Boardwalk this trip as compared to last trip was that Housekeeping gave us a crib instead of a pack n’ play. Oddly none of the rooms we stayed in had a pack n’ play in the closet, whereas last year it was in the closet when we arrived. The crib worked out way better than the pack n’ play. It felt bigger, although it definitely was the same dimensions (the same size sheet fit on it). It also had a nice cushioned mattress, which definitely helped Copper sleep better. Sadly, I think this was his last trip where he can sleep in a crib, since he was around 37.5″ at the time and if he were any taller I think he would have been pretty uncomfortable. At his height (and massive size ….he was about 35 lbs at that point too), he slept just fine in the crib though. The sides of the crib were taller than the sides of a pack n play, and he just felt a lot safer and more comfortable in there.
We love, love, love staying in a one bedroom DVC villa as a family (technically a two bedroom, but I’m not counting the lock off part that grandma and grandpa were in), because we put the crib in the living room/kitchen area, set up the monitor on the counter looking into the crib, and then we can close the door and stay up later in the bedroom watching TV/eating/watching the fireworks on the balcony. It makes the whole need to be in the room early with a toddler much more bearable than if you are crammed in a normal hotel room and have to have the lights out at 8pm. One night of our trip, we actually were able to sneak out past him sleeping in the crib, leave the monitor with Grandma and Grandpa in the studio lock off part of the room, and go enjoy Extra Magic Hours in Epcot. There isn’t a better set up for a family traveling with a young kid and/or grandparents. Especially being walking distance to two parks.
Night 8 – Beach Club Villas One Bedroom Villa
We added one night at the end of this trip at Beach Club simply because I saw it available one day, we had just enough points, and I figured why not, we would be celebrating our wedding after all, why not make it a long trip!? There are a lot of people that swear by the Beach Club being the best DVC resort, and it is damn near impossible to get a room in a popular time like Food and Wine Festival, so I jumped at the opportunity when there was a room available. For decades, I have sworn that Boardwalk was the superior of the two Epcot Resort area DVC resorts. We stayed at Beach Club one time when the villas first opened, and we were pretty unimpressed after always staying at the Boardwalk, so we wrote it off as being a one-and-done situation for us. However, DF and I stayed in a Beach Club studio this past summer when we went down to Florida to do our wedding planning (yes we actually went down to WDW for a night to meet with the wedding planners and do a menu tasting, which was glorious), and it was better than I remembered. It is nearly identical to the Boardwalk. I am a believer that the DVC folks realized what a gem that had with the Boardwalk and desperately scrambled to add more rooms to the same resort area by plopping the Beach Club Villas down across the lake in what used to be a parking lot by the Yacht/Beach Club. The goal was just to get more DVC rooms in the highly sought after Boardwalk/Epcot area. The location is the best part, so in that regard, both resorts are pretty much equal. I will post a comparison of the two separately. The reason we were excited for our night at Beach Club was because we have been dying to use the Beach Club pool, Stormalong Bay, to which Boardwalk guests are no longer allowed to “pool hop.” It did not disappoint, but more about that below in the more detailed review of the hits and misses of this trip.
We walked our carry-on luggage and groceries over from the Boardwalk to the Beach Club, and left the big stuff for bell services to bring over, similar to how they moved our luggage from GF to BW at the start of the trip. No issues at all. The room was ready early. We got all the groceries in the fridge, then headed to the parks for the day. We made a request right away to have a crib (as opposed to a pack n play) brought to the room because we loved the crib so much at the Boardwalk. This is my 2nd complaint of the trip: major issues getting the crib at the Beach Club. Huge communication issues with Housekeeping. They kept saying, no problem it’ll be there when you get back. Then, no crib. We would call again, they’d say its on its way, then no crib. We’d call again and they’d say we actually don’t have cribs. Tons of confusion. Twice people came to our door with pack n plays. Very confusing. Finally we received a crib. They said there was an electrical outage and it caused confusion and delay (to quote Sir Toppem Hat, for my Thomas the Tank Engine Fans). Very un-Disney Like. That was our only issue though. Otherwise, we loved the room. In typical Beach Club Villas fashion, there wasn’t much view. Most rooms have a view of the woods or the quiet pool. We were looking at the woods. We did have a good view of Epcot Forever at night, much to Copper’s terror (LOL). We also could see the Skyliner in the distance! That was a major improvement to the typically bland Beach Club view.
Hits and Misses of the Trip:
I won’t go day by day of our trip and say what we did every minute, but our meal planning and fast pass planning was definitely better this time around. We booked reservations for brunches/lunches most days at character meals for the most part, since Copper is character-crazy. We also did a couple character dinners, but those are a few dollars more expensive per person, so we tried to stick with lunches. The major perk is the kids under 3 eat free at buffets and family-style meals, so we took full advantage of that.
The meals that we would definitely, 100% rush to do again were: Garden Grill (Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale – great family style food, big comfortable booths), Chef Mickey’s (again this was absolute perfection – view of the monorail while getting visits from Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald – although last year we saw all five characters within 15 minutes of being seated, and this year it took at least an hour, but that was just bad luck with when and where we were seated), and Cape May Cafe (amazing buffet breakfast, very fun interactions with Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy – plus a quick walk from the Boardwalk/Beach Club).
The restaurants that we were neutral towards, but it was potentially just bad timing due to sleepy, cranky toddler: Tusker House (this is so highly recommended! Unfortunately, Copper was very tired after a long day in Animal Kingdom and was falling asleep. It was also very, very crowded and we had awhile to wait before we saw the characters. For some reason it didn’t have a character meal feel to it, but more of a quick service restaurant feel, maybe because it used to be quick service and that is how I remember it. Everyone seemed happy with the food, except Copper who was just too grumpy, although it did upset the sensitive stomach of Grandpa later than night – We will need to try it again to give it a fair shot) and 1900 Park Fare (we went for brunch when they have Alice, Mary Poppins, Pooh, Mad Hatter, and Tigger – Copper was only familiar with Tigger and Pooh, so the other characters were wasted on him really – the food was AHHHHMAZING – I hope we can go back when he is more interested in the characters).
For our other non-table-service meals, we did a lot of quick service dining throughout the parks, taking advantage of the advance ordering on the Disney app. I highly recommend using this feature. Our food was always ready and waiting for us when we walked into the restaurants. We did this in each park with no issues anywhere. I hate standing in lines, and I certainly don’t want the lines I stand in in Disney to be for anything but an awesome ride, so I’m so glad they added this to the app.
Best rides/experiences of the week:
-Carousel – this one was still a winner. He might not have loved it quite as much as last year, but he still really loved it. We all rode it together. There wasn’t much of a line when we went – we waited maybe 10 minutes.
-Speedway – We didn’t do this one last year! Yay for new experiences every year! He rode with Daddy and I rode in another car behind them. He had a ton of fun pretending to steer while Daddy did the real driving.
-Watching Splash Mountain – Yes, we sat on the bridge and watched Splash Mountain several times on several different days. This blew Copper’s mind. Then I actually rode it and he watched me go around and then come down the hill and holy moly was he terrified/thrilled.
–The train to Conservation Station and the petting zoo when you get there – I don’t think I have ever done this. I honestly didn’t even know there was a train until someone told me about it when I was complaining about the MK train being closed for two years. I believe this was under refurbishment on our last trip, but thankfully it was open this time, because we rode it one of the early days of the trip and then Copper kept talking about it and we rode it twice more later in the week. One time we just rode it back and forth without even getting off. He loved that it was an open train with the benches facing sideways. The petting zoo is very fun too since you can brush the animals and it feels special to be inside the enclosure with them. This is a must if you have a train lover and are missing the MK train during its closure.
-Triceratops Spin – He loves this one more than Dumbo/Aladdin for some reason. I think it is just because kids love dinosaurs.
-Dinoland playground – definitely the best playground for Copper in WDW. Sandbox areas are always a win.
-Frozen Ever After – Before coming on this trip, we watched a lot of short Frozen videos (he hasn’t sat through a movie yet) on Youtube, so he knew all the songs and was fairly obsessed with Anna and Elsa, so he was mindblown to see them on the ride and to hear Elsa singing Let it go. The backwards part and the drop made him wimper a bit, but no tears.
-Slinky Dog Dash (without our son)- This was our first time riding SDD! I frantically grabbed fastpasses for a day late in our trip the second the fastpass window opened and I was successful. I actually only got one fastpass for DF and used rider swap for me with no issues. I posted specifically about rider swap experiences in another post, but the jist is, we went to the ride during the fastpass window, spoke to the lady in charge of rider swap, she scanned our bands and gave me a return time 10 minutes later, DF rode the ride using his fastpass, then I rode 10 minutes later as though I had a fastpass, but without needing one. Copper loved watching the ride go by thankfully so he didn’t mind waiting for us both to ride. He called it the Dog Choochoo, and we sat and watched it several times throughout the week. My verdict is that it is worth the hype. So smooth like Aerosmith, but fun and happy with its kid-like theme. Slightly less nauseating since there are no inversions (I’m very susceptible to motion sickness). I also believe its a little longer than Aerosmith maybe? I could be making that up. We will definitely prioritize riding it on every trip. I think Copper could potentially handle it next year. I saw some 3 year olds going on it. Copper is already almost 38 inches, so we will see how courageous he is in a year. It seems pretty terrifying to imagine him on it right now, but I’m a big pansy, so hopefully I can get a little braver in the next year as well.
-Popcorn buckets – Get a refillable popcorn bucket. Just do it. Maybe not one of the super cool souvenir ones themed after a character or whatever because they fit less popcorn, but get one of the legit buckets. We never went to Hollywood Studios without refilling our bucket. Perfect afternoon snack to cheer up a cranky kiddo.
-Mickey’s Clubhouse on TV in the morning – Before the trip, Copper liked his Mickey stuffed toy. He had no idea who he was though. Every morning on the trip, we turned on the TV and watched Mickey’s Clubhouse in bed together and he was IN LOVE. When we got home we had to keep watching Mickey’s Clubhouse every day for months. This made him even more excited to meet the characters throughout the week after watching them on the TV.
-THE MONORAIL – Our son is a huge, huge lover of all moving vehicles, so he was mesmerized with every form of transportation in WDW, but the monorail still takes first place in his heart. Given that we stayed at an MK resort and then Epcot resorts, we were able to utilize the monorail a lot throughout the week. To get to MK from the Boardwalk/Beach Club area, we always walk through Epcot and take the monorail to the TTC and then transfer over to the MK monorail, so we get two monorails everytime, as opposed to one frustrating bus (my son might love the buses, but I sure don’t). If you have a park hopper pass, I highly recommend taking this route. It might be longer but you are constantly moving and never waiting for more than a few minutes for your transportation to arrive.
–THE SKYLINER (aka gondola-gondola!) – I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Skyliner since it was announced in July 2017, and it did not disappoint. I have a tendency to get motion sickness on almost everything, but did not have significant issues on this. There were a couple moments where I started to feel it kicking in, but it seemed to be exclusively when we were riding on a gondola with one of the character screenprint image wrap-things on it, so I think it was related to looking through the obscured windows. My motion sickness is always vision related (maybe everyone’s is? I’m not a doctor….) so I was 100% perfect on any gondolas without an image printed on it. Even in the ones with the images, I still only felt a slight twinge of nausea here and there, nothing significant enough to deter me from riding more. We rode all of the tracks 3 times each during our stay. Copper always would say “gondola gondola!” when we walked past the back of Epcot, so we would take a 20 minute detour and take a ride. There was never any line whatsoever at the Skyliner at the back entrance of Epcot. We also experience 0 lines at the Caribbean Beach transfer station. We saw one seemingly lengthy line at Hollywood Studios, but it moved so fast that we waited probably 2 minutes total. Of all of our rides, we experienced one slow down that lasted under a minute. It never stopped at any point while we were on it. I’ll eventually write a full review of the Skyliner, but suffice it to say, we loved it and consider it the best transportation option in WDW. It goes SO fast out of the station (my son would always say “ZOOOOOM!!!” at that part) and moves so smoothly. Granted November isn’t the hottest time of year, but we were always very comfortable up there, if not a bit chilly from the breeze. It did get a little rocky in the wind, so I imagine my motion sickness could act up a lot more on a very windy day.
-Stormalong Bay (the pool at the Yacht/Beach Club) – There should never be any debate about what the best resort pool in WDW is. Stormalong Bay is the best resort pool I’ve been to anywhere, forget just WDW. When we bought our family DVC points in 1996 at Boardwalk, part of the draw was the we could walk over to Stormalong Bay and use that pool. Then crowding became an issue when the Beach Club Villas were built and other resort guests were no longer allowed to use this pool (pool hopping to other resort pools is a DVC perk except for certain excluded pools). I didn’t have much trouble accessing the pool until the past 5 or so years when they started enforcing the no pool hopping really strictly. They have lifeguards at every entrance that scan your Magic Bands to confirm you are a guest at the Yacht/Beach Club and then give you a special pool wrist band to access the pool for the day. The wrist bands change every day. I’ve seen them enforcing this even at off times, and when its raining. So we figured we needed to stay at night at the Beach Club to give Copper a change to enjoy my favorite childhood pool. I should first note that Copper is pretty unimpressed with pools in general. He spent maybe 10 minutes in the Boardwalk pool then said “all done!” Since he can’t swim or reach the bottom, I guess he just gets a little bored being carried around. Stormalong Bay has a wonderful beachy kiddie area that is shallow and full of sand (the whole pool has a sand-bottom). We went out in the morning, he found a bucket and a shovel, he sat in the shallow water on the sand and we couldn’t get him to leave. He had so much fun and we had to drag him back to the room 90 minutes later to get ready for our lunch reservation. This pool experience basically cemented the fact that our trip next year will be at the Beach Club instead of the Boardwalk (I feel like such a traitor).
-Meeting Mickey x12 (and every other character) – For anyone unfamiliar with travelling to WDW with a child under 3….they are free for a reason: they aren’t tall enough for 90% of the rides. These are not trips where you have a million rides to squeeze in. Sure we rode a ton of kiddy rides and had a great time, but the main objective of every day was meeting characters. We planned numerous character dining experiences, as mentioned above, and also tried to meet as many characters in the park as possible without waiting on any foolish lines. The only line we really stood on for a character was 20 minutes for Anna and Elsa, but our son is in love with them, so we had to do it. We used fastpasses for meeting Mickey in MK and AK. Otherwise we just went to whatever characters we came across that had no wait. Since DF was heading to Star Wars Land early one morning to ride Smugglers Run, we were in the park when Olaf started meeting people, as well as Mickey and Minnie, so we met all of them in the first 15 minutes after park opening. We also met Mickey and friends a couple times at the Visa character meet and greet spot with no wait (if you have a Disney Visa card, you can go into this spot in Epcot by Imagination and it is different characters every time). We got to hug Mickey at least once per day, every day of the trip, and each time it was basically the equivalent for my son of me getting to meet Derek Jeter. Kids are so star struck by the characters. Honestly everyone is. I felt like such a dope being so excited to meet people dressed in character costumes, but hey I guess Disney does that to you. Our little boy started off so shy and tentative at the start of the week, and by the end he was waltzing up to giant Goofy and giving him hugs and high fives like it was no big deal. I can’t overstate what this trip did for his confidence, and I really think the character meet and greets played a huge role.
-Flight of Passage – This was another ride that we did for the first time ever on this trip. We grabbed fastpasses for late in our trip as soon as the fastpass window opened (I actually grabbed these 2 before Slinky Dog because I knew we wanted to ride this one together, whereas with Slinky Dog, we were okay doing rider swap). Prior to this, DF’s favorite ride in WDW was Soarin. He just loves flying and simulators and so I knew this would be a big hit with him. I also knew that I would probably die of motion sickness, so I was pretty terrified and refused to ride alone using rider swap. My mom hung out with Copper in the Dinoland Boneyard while we used our fastpasses on FOP. We loved all of the theming in the queue. Disney did what Disney does best, fully immersing guests in the queue and the pre ride movie and everything. I thought there would be a little more relevance to the pre-ride show where you create your own avatar by moving around. I thought maybe they’d show that avatar in the actual ride, but my expectations are clearly pretty high. Anyway, suffice it to say, this is DF’s new favorite ride by a landslide. He went on it again later in the week using one of my mom’s fastpasses/rider swaps. I on the other hand, made it halfway through before breaking out in a cold sweat and fearing that I was not going to make it. I had to sit down for awhile outside the ride afterwards until I felt better. I felt worse than I feel after Everest, but not quite as bad as I feel on/after Star Tours. I’ve never tried Mission Space, so I can’t compare. Sadly, I don’t think I can do this one again unless Copper talks me into it many years down the road.
-Christmas decorations! The Christmas trees were up at all of the resorts we visited. The tree in the grassy green area by the boardwalk was a favorite place for kids to play it seemed. Grand Floridian had their typical beautiful Victorian tree. We also visited wilderness lodge and saw their beautiful tree. The grand Floridian gingerbread house was also up, but the boardwalk one was not yet. The trees in the parks were up, excluding Epcot which still had food and wine festival decorations up while we were there. The Christmas parties were going on at night at MK after the park closed so everyone was fully in the Christmas spirit by mid November.
Flops (not terrible – just didn’t cause the amazement/joy that I was going for):
-Finding Nemo show – This year Copper unfortunately did not do well with shows. He did not have the patience to sit in a theater and watch a show when he was so excited to go, go, go! Nemo was a perfect example, we lasted 5 minutes and had to leave. It was no fault of the show, just not right for our very excited 2 year old who wanted to be out and about in the park.
-Fantasmic – Make no mistake about it, Fantasmic is my favorite show in Disney World. It is in my top 3 favorite attractions overall. I have never once gone to Fantasmic and not shed a happy tear or two. I even say that if I’m ever in a coma, just play the Fantasmic sound track and I will wake up happy. That being said, this was our first attempt at bringing our 2 year old to a firework show. Big mistake. After such a long exhausting day with no nap, why did we even consider taking him out for an 8pm show. This was just not smart thinking. He even fell asleep in his stroller on the walk over to HS from Boardwalk. So we had to wake an exhausted toddler up at the start of the show, confuse him by the massive crowd in the dark, and force him to sit through some frightening villain sequences and loud noises. Thankfully, Fantasmic doesn’t have too many actual fireworks, which we learned terrify our son that night (fun development), but the rest of it was enough to cause a lot of crying and screaming. He wasn’t even able to enjoy the happy sequences with all the characters on the boats because he was too busy crying from the scary parts. It was just a bad idea all around. I don’t have any intention of keeping him up for any more fireworks on any upcoming trips. At home he still says “no like fireworks” as a result of this one experience.
-Jungle Cruise – It took me 3 trips with him, but I finally got DF on Jungle Cruise. I had no luck getting fastpasses for it for the last 2 trips we went on, but finally got them this time (that super long wait is just way too much for me, even though it is a classic). I love this classic ride, although the awesomeness definitely faded when Animal Kingdom opened and there were real safari rides. Oddly our son was a bit scared of this one. He was due for a nap, so his crankiness may have come into play, but he was not feeling the (very funny) skipper and her jokes. He really, really didn’t care for the cave/tunnel area. I think it was a fluke though and we will try again next time and he will probably love it.
-Kilimanjaro Safari – OKAY, let me just say, that I consider this to be maybe the best ride in Disney World. It is definitely one of the top two on my favorites list, always. That being said, Copper fell asleep on it two out of two times this trip. We rode it right before dinner one time and the bumping and rocking just lulled him off to sleep right away. It was an exceptionally long ride also because rhinos were blocking the path (awesome – I love it), so he got some quality snoozing in. So yea, he was not impressed. I show him photos of the giraffes right next to his sleeping face and he is amazed, but at the time, not so much.
-Navi River Ride – I don’t have any excuses for this one. He was a happy, non cranky boy, we went on this first thing in the morning, and he hated it and wanted to get off. I think he was bored. He liked “the big blue lady,” but other than that, he just kept saying “no boat!”
-Our Magic Bands not working with all the rides’ photos – I was under the impression that Magic Bands work for 2ish years. That is what I’ve always been told. We used our Magic Bands from our November 2018 trip (so just over a year old) and they seemed to work fine as far as we were aware on our trip. There were no issues with our room doors, entering parks, making payments, etc. However, in the Disney app, some of our ride photos were not showing up. I figured there was some sort of glitch or delay, and we’d just wait a couple days. However, after our trip, I called the Photopass customer service number and was informed that some of the rides don’t work well with older Magic Bands because the sensors aren’t as close to the rides, or something to that affect. We had issues on Splash Mountain, Pirates, Frozen, Slinky Dog, Buzz Lightyear, Seven Dwarfs, Test Track, and Haunted Mansion. Honestly the only ride photos we successful got were from Space Mountain, and one of our Frozen Ever After pictures (we rode twice). We got all pictures from character meet and greets where you actually scan your band. It was only situations where the ride has to detect your presence without you actually touching anything, where we had issues. This experience led me to learn a wonderful piece of Disney customer service trivia though….they have a whole team of people who look through the ride photos and retriever your lost photos if you send in a request. You can send in requests online via email or you can call in and they will try to find them with you on the phone. They can narrow down the time window to sift through by seeing when you entered the park, when you used fastpasses on other rides, etc. They also ask you questions like what you were wearing. What a job. I think I’d lose my mind. They found all of our photos though! Hooray! Moral of the story: we are going to use new Magic Bands for every trip.
Once in a lifetime things unique to this trip: (because we had to put our nonrefundable wedding deposit towards catered events or we would lose it all)
OK, at this point, I’m just going to list these awesome meal/events we got to have using our nonrefundable wedding money and leave it at that. Not going to get into the menus or anything. If you have any interest in that info, let me know. The menus were the same as the actual wedding menus actually. We went all out because we had a super huge deposit to use up and only like 10 people at each of these meals, so we ordered literally every item on them menu at each event (LOL). All of the food was awesome. The waiters kept bringing me out fake meat and whispering to me that it was Impossible Meat but they hadn’t announced their partnership with Impossible Meat yet so they couldn’t call it that (I’m a vegetarian, and yes it was delicious):
-Catered Fantasmic Dinner and Dessert Party
-Catered Dinner in the Attic at the Boardwalk
-Epcot Forever Dessert Party
-Catered breakfast buffet in Morroco in Epcot (this was probably the coolest one because the park wasn’t open yet and the World Showcase was beautiful and empty)