Our Magical Vacation


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UPDATE: Here's a link to our TRIP VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO-4jpkyhRY

With our trip finished and no reason to obsess over Disney planning I thought posting a trip report might help ease me back to real life. I started a "report" months ago but our plan changed quite a bit since then so I wanted to start a new one. I won't re-introduce our family, you can read the original report for all the specifics on who we are (http://www.easywdw.com/forums/showthread.php?7245-Is-it-too-early-to-post-a-trip-report-I-say-no).

Briefly: Myself, DH and DD4. Traveled from January 26-February 2. Stayed at Animal Kingdom.

Jan 26, Sat - Arrive MCO 2:20, ME to AKL, visit MK just for atmosphere
Jan 27, Sun - HS
Jan 28, Mon - EP
Jan 29, Tues - MK
Jan 30, Wed - MK
Jan 31, Thurs - AK
Feb 1, Fri - MK
Feb 2, Sat - Leave AKL at 7:30 (AHHHH!!! IT'S TOO EARLY!!!!), ME to MCO, fly home

DD had never flown and tends to have ear issues - lots of ear infections (though none in recent months, thank goodness!) and very sensitive hearing. I was nervous about how she'd tolerate the noise and pressure changes. Thanks to tips from the board, I found Earplanes and had them with me just in case. We also brought along her noise canceling headphones - she wears them anytime there's going to be loud noise and they tend to comfort her and help her tolerate otherwise upsetting situations. Our travel went beautifully. Everything was on time and frustration free. DD LOVED "riding the airplane". She had no issues at all. Other passengers giggled at her holding her hands up and saying "WEEEEEEE!" as we took off. She had no ear trouble at all and even took off her headphones shortly after take off. It was a great way to start our vacation.


Walked straight from the plane onto the ME bus at MCO. Went straight to AKL, arriving about 3:15/3:30. Our room was ready and was in a great location near the lobby/bus stop. We had tickets from Undercover Tourist (so, paper tickets, not RFID) but visited the concierge desk and had them added to our Key to the World Card. No issues at all - the CMs were quite helpful and willing to add our paper tickets to our RFID card and it made entering the parks much, much smoother. We looked around the resort for a few minutes then headed to MK with no real agenda other than to see the castle.

During our travel I had noticed the thread about heading to Enchanted Tales being a nightmare at RD if you aren't right up at the rope. I know my family (mostly, me) and I know that the likelihood of us actually being there early enough was slim. So since we had no real plan for MK that evening, and since it was so stinkin crowded anyway, we decided a wait in line wasn't such a bad thing.

We entered the park about 5:00 and went straight to Town Square theater to meet Mickey. We were the only family in the room and Mickey visited with DD for a long time - it was fantastic! DD LOVED seeing Mickey for so long. We did not bring an autograph book as DD doesn't really care about that but the CMs rummaged around for a piece of paper so Mickey could give her his autograph. They were really sweet and made it a really special visit to start our trip.


Then we went to Columbia Harbor House for quick dinner. DD had to ride the carousel. Then we got in line for ETwB. It was 6 something by this point, I don't remember the exact time. It was getting dark and it was nice and cool. The que line is beautiful and we did not mind our wait at all. The park was so crowded, we wouldn't have been doing anything else anyway. We waited for 40 minutes and our total wait/attraction time was 55 minutes. We had talked about staying for MSEP but we were tired and didn't want to push ourselves on the first day so we cut across through the Liberty Square area and exited through the shops on Main Street.


Turned out to be a great arrival day. I was so glad to have ETwB "out of the way" for our first MK RD and it made for a relaxing arrival day rather than rushing around trying to do a bunch of stuff.
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Day 2 - Hollywood Studios

Our first full park day is DH's favorite park - HS. We were slow about getting started this morning - not sure what happened really. I think we all got up on time but were just slow moving. We had planned to leave our room at 7:50 but it ended up being 8:15. Great - 25 min behind on our first day for our first RD at the park where it matters most.

But - we must've had some magic following us around. We walked to the bus stop to see a waiting bus! So we already made up the 10-15 minutes I had built in just incase we had to wait for a bus. The trip there only took about 15 minutes - 10 minutes less than I'd planned. Woohoo for short bus rides! We got through bag check and got in line right as they opened the turnstiles. I didn't look at the exact time but it was around 8:45.

Our HS day was ambitious. We split up for most of the morning to allow DH to ride his favorites without DD having to just sit and be bored. DH went to TOT and RNR and rode each twice. DD and I went straight to TSMM, grabbed FP and got in standby line. It was probably a 25 min wait at this point - more than I wanted to really wait but decided to stick with my plan anyway. The magic was still with us because the family of 6 in front of us was let up the handicap ramp (considerably shorter than the wait all the way up and down the stairs in the que line) and since they need 8 to fill two carts DD and I were let up with them. Our wait was only 10 minutes!!


Next we got in line to meet Buzz and Woody with only 4 groups in line ahead of us. Fantastic! Our late start ended up not affecting us at all...whew! DD and I saw the Voyage of the Little Mermaid then DH met us at the new Pirates thing. It wasn't the most impressive thing ever, but fine for what it is. Then DH took DD back to TSMM to use the FPs I pulled earlier while I rode TOT. They ended up getting to ride twice in a row because DD's gun wasn't working on the first ride. The CM let them get out and stand to the side so they could get right back on for a second ride!! Not sure how often that happens but we thought it was great that they let them ride again. She got 3 rides on TSMM before 11 am. DD met this guy again...


Lunch at Starring Rolls was delicious! I've always had a hard time with HS QS but had never tried this. I'll only eat here from now on. Saw Beauty and the Beast, took a couple more turns on RNR. I rode RNR and TOT once, DH rode RNR three times and TOT 4 or 5 total. He was in heaven. Headed over to Star Tours and then grabbed spots for the parade.


Roamed around the shops till dinner at 50's Prime Time Cafe. Love the pot roast! We decided not to stay for Fantasmic! It had been a long day and we were tired. It was a great day though and we finished our "itinerary" really early. Crowds were low, waits were low, temps were low...we had a lot of fun!


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I looked for you at Liberty Square on the 26th, especially when I knew Josh was coming, but I didn't really know what to look for. If you exited just before the 7pm parade, then you walked right past Josh and I!

Your DD is incredibly expressive. I bet you never have to wonder how she's feeling, huh? :)


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I looked for you at Liberty Square on the 26th, especially when I knew Josh was coming, but I didn't really know what to look for. If you exited just before the 7pm parade, then you walked right past Josh and I!

Your DD is incredibly expressive. I bet you never have to wonder how she's feeling, huh? :)
I looked around for you as we walked through but there were so many people. We cut across the road at 7:10 or close to it. I read through your trip report this morning. Sounds like you guys had a great trip!!

And, yes, DD is quite expressive. Thankfully she's usually happy because when she's not...she's also really expressive. :)


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Day 3 - Epcot

We got up and got moving on time today. Made it through bag check as the turnstiles were opening. Went straight to Soarin' and grabbed FPs before riding standby. Soarin' is my favorite, favorite attraction. I don't know why...because its really not all that spectacular...but I love it. DD is about 40.5" so I was excited about getting to share this with her for the first time. She loved it too!

DH and DD then rode Living with the Land. I couldn't sit through it again so I just people watched while they rode. They got back with one minute to spare before our FP was good so we grabbed another set of FPs for Soarin' and rode a second time with our first FPs. Loved it again. This is DD in line for the second ride...she's a bit excited.


Then we walked over to the Seas. Rode Nemo twice...it's just that good. :) And, roamed around looking at fish and such till our FPs were good. Walked back over to Soarin' and rode a third time. By now it was lunch time and even though we hadn't really done much it is a lot of walking back and forth in those pavilions. We were ready to sit for a few minutes. I wanted to just eat at Sunshine Seasons - I really liked the food there on our last trip. But, there are so few things about the trip that DH got to choose so I let him pick lunch. He picked the QS in Japan. It wasn't very good. He doesn't get to pick anymore. :RpS_tongue:

We roamed around WS for a couple hours. Rode Maelstrom and had DD take a picture with this guy. She thought he was a character. Waved bye and told him "thank you". HAHAHAHA! We thought it was hilarious.


We stopped in the Character Spot because apparently DD can't let one day go by in Disney without seeing Mickey. And did some shopping in Mouse Gear - my favorite store on property. By about 2:00 we were ready for another sit down. Epcot is a lot of walking. We were pretty much done with everything we wanted to do but had dinner ADR for 5:30. Three and a half hours to fill... So we went to the bakery in France and split a couple pastries. DELICIOUS! I can see how that place would be cramped and overwhelming at busier times but we found it quite peaceful.

We happened upon several performances that we otherwise wouldn't have seen and it made for a really nice, relaxing afternoon. Thankfully it was cool because I think it would be miserable to sit on the street in the summer. We watched Serveur Amusant, the British Revolution (which DD thoroughly loved), and the World Showcase Players. Dinner on the patio at Rose and Crown was fantastic. It was new for us and one of my new favorite places to eat.

Made our way to the exit. Road Spaceship Earth and called it a day. On our next trip we are looking forward to letting DD get a passport and go to all the countries to have it stamped/signed. Meeting people is one of her favorite things in life and I think she would absolutely love doing that. We didn't do it this time because she's a tad young to really understand the significance but I think it will be something fun to look forward to in a couple years.


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Day 4 - Magic Kingdom (aka - the day of princesses)

Our third rope drop day in a row - I was concerned that DD would be too tired. But when she woke me up at 6:30 saying it was time to go to a park, I knew we'd be just fine. Thanks to her tad-too-early wake up we made it to MK with time to spare before the opening show. Since we'd already done ETwB, I'd planned to go straight to Merida and get in line for her first meet at 9:15.

But, I got swept up in the excitement of the morning and made a rookie mistake. As we walked through the tunnels I got the great idea to duck into Town Square Theater to meet princesses. I was so excited I didn't even pay attention to who was there. I was hoping for Rapunzel but only Aurora and Jasmine were there. It was great to meet Jasmine (DH thought so especially) but it was the wrong time and made us late for Merida. We ended up having to wait about 25-30 minutes for Merida.

From there we went to Ariel's grotto, waited 15 min to meet her. Rode Under the Sea. And got in line for Be Our Guest lunch. It was a few minutes before 11 when we got in line and we had to wait probably 35 minutes before ordering. The wait was ridiculous and the ordering process was incredibly frustrating. BUT the restaurant is really beautiful and our food was fantastic. I'd heard reports of the food being bad but I guess we lucked out - I had the carved turkey sandwich, DH had braised pork, DD had mac w/ marinara - all of it was very good.

We spent the afternoon riding all Fantasyland rides. We met the characters at Pete's - Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy. I really liked the circus area - it is so pretty and the theming is very well done. Once again we were done with our itinerary early! So we headed up to Liberty Square, met Tiana and Tink and Periwinkle. Tiana and Tink were really great meets. Rode Pirates and then caught the monorail to 'Ohana.



I'm glad we left earlier than we needed to because the monorail stopped three (maybe four) times on the way over. They were "moving trains around on the tracks". What would usually be just a few minutes ended up being a 30 minute ride over to the Polynesian. 'Ohana is our favorite restaurant ever. We love the noodles and the salad and the dumplings and the pork and the peanut sauce...mmmmmm.

Monorail back to MK to get a bus back to AKL wraps up our day of princess greets.


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Day 5 - MK day 2

Second MK day in a row - for the record, MK is exhausting! We planned to arrive late and stay through Wishes. DD's over-eager internal alarm clock woke us up bright and early again. We took our time getting ready and just laying around and ended up getting to MK around 10 (I think, I can't remember exactly). This was our Adventureland/Frontierland/Liberty Square day.

As we walked through the tunnels I was drawn to the princesses again. Not sure what's wrong with me but I couldn't seem to walk past Town Square Theater without going inside! This time I did at least check first and Rapunzel was there, as was Cinderella - DD was thrilled. Rapunzel is a great princess and lots of fun to meet.


We headed toward Big Thunder Mountain and happened to walk up on the Frontierland Hoedown. DD absolutely loves Claribelle so it was so fun to get to see her in person.


DD's first roller coaster (Barnstormer was down for two days) - BTM - was a huge success. She giggled and squealed the whole time then begged to ride the "really fast train" again and again. We pulled FPs for after lunch but got over there and the wait was really short. DD and DH decided to ride standby before we used our FPs. They got to the gate and then the ride got shut down. They emptied the entire line. For those at the front of the line they gave "anytime fast passes" so they could come back and ride later. Thanks to all the great advice on here, I knew that they would honor our regular fastpasses once the ride came back online - which they did. So we saved our anytime passes for something else later in the day.

DD had an appointment at the Pirate's League. It was so much fun and she loved every minute of it. She loves make up and nail polish and frequently asks for mine so this was right up her alley. We thought she might like to do BBB instead but every time we asked she said she wanted to be a pirate. We were fine with that as it's cheaper. :) We lucked out with the lady that did all of DD's make up - she was really great with kids and lots of fun. Pirate Hannah was her name and DD's favorite baby sitter at home is named Hannah - I think that helped her be more comfortable.


It was a lot of fun and an experience I'd definitely recommend. Make sure you make an appointment - even on one of the lowest crowd days of the year they were packed.

I really don't remember what order we did things the rest of the day - we had no waits at all and rode tons of things and multiple times. BTM, HM, JC, PotC, plus re-riding some of the FL rides. We pulled FPs for PP to use after dinner. ADR at BOG for dinner. This was our second most expensive meal all week. The dining room was uncomfortably dark. Our waitress was way to chatty (I know this is a subjective thing...). The food was not good - edible but far from good. I've made better steaks at home - and that's saying something. Even given the long wait and frustrating order process at lunch, I'd choose lunch over dinner if we were to go back. It just wasn't enjoyable. But, we just chalk it up to experience - we did it once, now we know.

We had time to kill between dinner and Wishes so we rode UtS again (a couple times I think). DH ran to Tomorrowland and was planning to use the three anytime fastpasses to ride three times on Space Mtn. He ended up not needing them as he walked on three times in a row with no wait. DD and I happened to be standing in front of Gaston's when he walked out for his meet & greet so we jumped in line. It was so much fun and possibly one of the best character meets I've experienced. Gaston is funny. Really funny. I'd say make it a point to meet him if you can. Of course he makes a big deal of his handsomeness and DD was completely enamored with him. People around were cracking up because she wouldn't take her eyes off him. He played it up too. It was just a lot of fun. DH says I thought it was so great because I thought Gaston was so handsome. But that's not the reason...not the only reason. :)


Rode Dumbo again. They were only running one side and were bypassing the playground entirely in order to keep the line moving. No waits at all.


We ended up using our anytime FPs to ride Pooh. I think it was a 20 min wait when we walked by. Seemed like a waste to use such valuable FPs on Pooh but there just wasn't a wait anywhere else!

We found a spot on Main St. near Casey's to watch the castle show and Wishes. The new castle show is really neat. I liked it much better than the one with pictures of people. DD was nervous about the fireworks because she knows they're loud. But we had her noise-cancelling headphones and once they started she loved them. Great day at MK! Exhausting, but great.
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Day 6 - Animal Kingdom

This was our "take it easy day". We slept in (or tried to - DD was still over-eager about getting out of bed). We did finish watching Downton Abbey on DH's phone before we got up and headed to the parks. Talk about an emotional way to start the day!!

Arrived at AK a little after 10. Rode Triceratops Spin a few times then went to get a seat for the 11 Nemo show. DD LOVED it. Once it was over she said "watch Nemo again!" We did not. But I was glad she liked it so much.

Lunch ADR at Yak & Yeti. We had eaten Y&Y QS and it's one of my favorite QS locations on property. The TS meal was good - but I wouldn't do it again. We ordered the same food you can get from the QS location just it's in larger portions (which we couldn't finish anyway). Plus it was REALLY slow. Not sure if they are always like this or if it was just our waitress but our meal took an hour and a half. Really frustrating. I should've tried to get a dinner ADR at our resort and just eaten Y&Y QS for lunch - you live you learn, right? On the plus - the dessert wontons were amazing!

We ran, "literally", to catch the 1:30 Festival of the Lion King show. DH took DD and headed straight there. I detoured up to Safari to collect FPs. Made it in a few minutes after it started. But the beginning is just them introducing themselves and telling each section which animal we're supposed to be so we didn't miss much. We were giraffes, in case you were wondering.

Rode Safari with FPs. That stinkin lion was asleep. As usual. And the zebras were "migrating". I suspect that's code for "all the zebras died and we haven't replaced them yet" but I could be wrong. And here's that dead tree they get so excited about...


Walked to Y&Y QS to get egg rolls - my favorite snack - and took them into the 3:00 Flights of Wonder show. DD freaks out about the bird show at our local aquarium but she really liked this one - even though two birds flew right to where we were sitting. I think having an egg roll in her hand helped distract her from the owl and hawk that nearly landed on her head.

Walked out of FOW and sat right out front next to the sign to watch the parade. It was a great spot as there were only trees across the road from us. Nearly every character stopped right at DD to shake her hand. She felt famous, I'm sure.


We walked over to Everest and I rode in the single rider line. Waited about 45 seconds. I really love that ride but my equilibrium gets all wonky if I ride the fast/thrill rides more than once. So with about 30 minutes left before park closing DH rode EE over and over and over - 6 times I think. DD and I walked the Jungle Trek and went shopping. :)

Went back to the resort to start packing and rest up for our last park day.
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Day 7 - MK...again

Yet another MK day. Honestly, by this point I'd had enough of MK. A few hours on arrival day plus two, full, really low crowd days and we had already done pretty much everything we wanted to do. But - we had a dinner ADR at the castle and didn't have park hoppers so we were kinda stuck.

Once again - stopped in TST. Had to say bye to Mickey. Maybe next time I should always enter from the other side so I'm not tempted to dash to the theater.


We just kinda flew by the seat of our pants this day. Headed to AL/FL/LS. BTM was down again so we rode pirates a couple times...I don't really remember what else. Move It! Shake It! Lunch at Columbia Harbor House. Used FPs to ride BTM once it came back. Visited Tomorrowland for Buzz and Monsters Inc. Then back to Fantasyland because (apparently) we hadn't had enough of that yet. :)

It was really crowded this day. We made good use of FPs and rode the less popular (but still loved by DD) attractions several times - Carousel, tea cups, etc. Rode the train that goes around the park. That was a first for us and a nice way to step away from the madness for a few minutes. Watched Philharmagic for the first time. DD is terrified of 3D so we just didn't let her wear the glasses. It was all fuzzy but she didn't seem to care.

Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table - another first for us. And another "probably won't do that again". The food was really good - no complaints there. But we felt very rushed - meal finished and the waiter trying to clear the dishes and bring us our check before even one princess had made an appearance. I don't mind getting through a meal quickly - but the point of eating at the castle is to see the princesses. If you think we're leaving before even one comes to our table...you will be disappointed. We ate at Akershus on our last trip and for the price I'd go there again rather than to the castle if we wanted to eat with princesses. That said, I'm glad we had the opportunity to experience dinner in the castle - it was a nice treat and a fun way to end our trip.

One more glance at the castle on our way out...



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Day 8 - Going Home

ME picked us up at 7:30. Flew home to snow and ice on the ground. Yuck!

We had a fantastic trip! I loved going this time of year for the crowds and the temperature. We are hoping to go back in 2015...if I can wait that long!

One take away for anyone planning a trip - just because you see a line doesn't mean you have to stand in it. There are almost always two options - don't automatically go for the one with people in it. At QS locations, bag check, turnstiles, FP machines, even in que lines - check for open lines before you get behind people. I can't tell you how many times I said "people must like standing in lines" as we walked right past them to an open spot.

At BTM the que splits and allows for loading on both sides - the left hand side was backed way up while no one at all was in the right side. We walked right down the ramp and onto a train. Even with a CM yelling "please use both sides" people just stood in line. At bag check people only used one side of the table. At FP distribution for Kilimanjaro Safari there were 3 or 4 people standing at every single machine waiting in line while the machine on the end was wide open. At Yak & Yeti QS people were lining up just on one side of the "order taker", we walked right up on the other side and were next to have our order taken. I guess you could look at this at "cutting" all those people in front of us but if the line is wide open I'm not going to stand behind 7 people who just like standing there. Moral of the story - if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Don't just stand in line because that's what everyone is doing - look for shorter lines or even better, the empty lines!!

Thanks to all the advice and help from everyone in the forum. And to Josh for his amazing advice/reviews/tips/pictures. We really had a great time!!


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Awesome tips, definitely going to use them. Didn't know about using the anytime passes for any ride. As much as Btmrr seemed to go down on your trip I'm kinda expecting it to go down on ours as well. I didn't know Jasmine sometimes meets in town square as well. I'm going to Try to get as many characters done at EP as possible to cut down on waits at MK. Looking at your daughter makes me smile!:RpS_biggrin: I love that big smile of hers, it looks like she had the best trip ever!


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Thanks everyone. DD truly loves being at Disney. I see cast member in her future. :)

And Brandi - food is the main point of any vacation for me. :) or really - the fact that I don't have to cook it myself. The first thing I plan when planning a trip is our meals. We have several favorites that we try to visit each trip but this time we wanted to try some new places. I really liked rose and crown and will plan to eat there again. The others are fun to try once even if I don't fall in love with them.