Sept/October 2019 Family Trip


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We have a trip that is coming up quickly. I hope to be able to share a quasi-trip report. It has become harder to keep up with one as my kids have gotten older since they keep us running at Disney now that they are 8 (going to turn 9 on this trip) and 6. I hope to share as much as I can.

Some details... we are staying at Pop Century again with 7 day park hoppers.

Some dining reservations:

California Grill (dinner)
Garden Grill (dinner)
Teppan Edo
Mama Melrose
Boma (dinner)
Be Our Guest (lunch)
Storybook Dining
Ohana (Dinner) - Son's request for birthday plus ordered the small Mickey cake for his birthday

I'll share what I can along the way....


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Whew we are back.

I planned to write about some of my thoughts while we were down there, but those early morning hours had me wiped out most nights that I would fall to sleep the second we hit the room. It was a great week. Low crowds, great weather, and lots of new experiences for us even after multiple trips.

I think even just changing up the time of year we went made the trip feel different. I'll start by giving the basics of the trip then share some daily thoughts and reviews on experiences.

Original Plan:

Saturday: Travel day with dinner at California Grill
Sunday: Magic Kingdom with the night open
Monday: Epcot with dinner at Garden Grill
Tuesday: Magic Kingdom and dinner in Epcot at Teppan Edo
Wednesday: Hollywood Studios with lunch at Mama Melrose w/Fantasmic Package
Thursday: Animal Kingdom with dinner at Boma
Friday: Magic Kingdom with dinner at Storybook Dining
Saturday: Hollywood Studios with dinner at Ohana
Sunday: Afternoon flight home

As mentioned above we stayed at Pop Century with free dining and did not have a rental car. We use Uber a lot during our trips as needed.
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Day 1 - Saturday

We had a midday flight and arrived in Orlando about 1pm. We let the kids hang out in the Universal Store for a bit since I hadn't received word about our room ready. Trying to stall a bit hoping we would before we arrived at Pop. After a bit we headed down to the Magical Express. For a Saturday there wasn't much of a line and we were quickly loaded onto a waiting bus. Took this already as a good sign of low crowds compared to our last Saturday arrival.

About half way through our bus ride (at 2pm) I got the email that our room was ready. We were in the building I requested. 70s sections building 6 fourth floor. I also took the time we were on the bus to place an Amazon Prime Now food order to be delivered that night to the resort. So we were quite happy when we arrived at Pop to go grab some refillable mugs, get some drinks, and head straight to our room to get settled.

The kids quickly of course wanted to get in the pool so that was next up for a bit. By the time we got back to our room. The bags were already there so I was able to unpack before dinner too which was perfect.

Then after we got cleaned up we got an Uber to dinner at California Grill. Our reservation time was 7:35pm. A little later then I would have liked with the kids, but as you will see turned out better then I thought.

So we arrived a little bit prior to 7:35pm and received a text from the stand that our table was ready at 7:38pm. So there was no real wait. We took the elevator up to the restaurant and was sat at a fantastic table. As our server, Walter, said we had one of the best seats in the place to view the fireworks. We were right in front of the window just a few tables back from the balcony area so a great view right towards the castle.

We ordered our drinks and a salad as an appetizer to share. The bread though with what I think was a polenta sauce was fantastic though. I had the filet and my husband the lobster and scallops. Both were fantastic. My filet came with a side of mac n cheese this was ok. I actually enjoyed my son's sweet potato mash more that came with his chicken. My other son had the pizza.

Right as we were finishing up our meal, Happily Ever After began. It was so amazing to be able to sit there and view the fireworks after a great meal.

I just wish we had ordered our desserts prior to the start of the fireworks. As did not see our waiter again for some time. I think he just wanted us to be able to watch, but with two kids and now being after 9 I knew we would be ready to leave once they were over. About the time the fireworks were over a large party was sat in our section. That then kept our waiter busy. We didn't end up getting our desserts until 9:40pm. I asked for the check as well as this was really stretching on now much longer then I wanted at this point. At 9:45pm he brought my son a piece of cake for his birthday (his actual bday is the following Saturday).

We didn't end up getting out of there until about 10:15pm. Just way too long in my opinion. I am glad we weren't rushed things just could have been timed a lot better as in bringing our desserts out during the fireworks so we could have had our check and be leaving right after. Of course while this was all stretching on I knew then and there we would not be making rope drop at 7am the next morning.

We made it back to Pop by Uber. I picked up our Amazon order from bell services and by about 10:50pm the kids had their annual gift of new pajamas from Mickey Mouse waiting on the bed with a note. They were new ones with star wars icons on them from GAP. So we all quickly fell asleep for the night. I, of course, was up an extra few mins. getting my park bag ready for the next day. The things moms do.


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I plan to give a pretty good run down of this day as I think it helps show our mindset on this trip and how quickly things shifted. The other days I'll likely just hit the highlights in one post.

Day 2 - Sunday

Due to a late start we got to the bus at 7:15am. Still good, but the Magic Kingdom did open at 7am that day and all the days of our trip. So keeping in mind all of our past trips during other times of the year I knew we would be behind on our schedule and already hitting lines.

When we got to the Magic Kingdom we were hit with a long line at security. Again started to slightly worry about how crowded things would be based on past experiences. Though once it got moving (apparently they had stopped screening for a while due to something) it went fast. Since I felt like my plan was already out the window because all the rides would surely be crowded more then an hour after opening we went to Tinkerbell first.

Yearly I get a picture of my kids with Tink in the same style shirt. So it was good to get this over with before hot and sweaty. We then crossed paths with my brother and his family who were also on vacation that week. We posed for some pictures in front of the castle then wandered on to Merida (we had never met her before as the waits have always been long) with no wait.

I would quickly find out just how much lower the crowds were this week compared to some of the trips of the past. This trip reminded me so much more of when we were there in 2014 with low crowds. We went through the morning hitting various rides and actually just relaxing more. I didn't really follow a set plan. I felt like we could just relax since we knew we would be back two other days and also the crowds were not bad.

While doing other rides, we did carousel of progress and astro orbiter which the kids had never done so it was nice to feel like we were mixing in new experiences too. We saw the special characters at the flag pole Chicken Little and Abby Mallard then met Mickey and Minnie in their birthday suits with a fastpass. Our other two fastpass were Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain. So we were able to do Space Mountain twice that day due to the light crowds and then Buzz turned out to be a good choice as it was down earlier in the morning (hence why we did Carousel of Progress while we waited) so had a longer line then what it probably would have been.

By 2pm we were hot and tired so we headed back to Pop Century by bus.

We relaxed by the pool in the afternoon and took a nice break.

By 5:30pm we were off to the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. This was opening day of the Skyliner. My husband did not want to take it at all this trip. He was worried. Felt he needed to hear good things about it for a while before getting on. My kids of course have no worries and wanted to do it. So off we went.

There was no line at Pop Century, but when we got to the transfer station at Caribbean Beach. Wow were there people. Turns out it was mostly people just wanting to try it out and were looping from Epcot to the station and back around.

There was no line for Hollywood Studios so right on again we were. It honestly was so quick. Much more comfortable then the buses and is a game changer to Hollywood Studios from Pop.

(of course we would be there the night it had its accident no true info on what when wrong has come out, but from taking many trips on it during our stay I think I have a pretty good idea so I hope it gets worked out as we really enjoyed it)

From there we went straight of Galaxys Edge. My husband had been itching to get here I know. It was a sunday night so it was slightly crowded, but not bad at all. It has a lot of space to walk around in so we just wandered. Checked out everything. My husband decided he wanted to go ahead and see if he could get into Savi's that night so he didn't have to take up time on our planned Hollywood Studios day to build his lightsaber. So he requested to wait in stand by to see if he could get in a time slot.

So the kids and I wandered the land. We ate at Docking Bay 7 (which was unique and pretty good). We rode rock n roller coaster together with a fastpass. My son got some free painting down on his arm (the lady there was so sweet and said she would do it for him since it shows people she is open... sure enough some others then came over to get their faces done). My husband then met up with us and took our other son to get pictures with the light saber while my younger son and I did his favorite Tower of Terror.

We then (still under the mind set of massive crowds) wanted to get out prior to Fantasmic being over. Even when we hit these crowds leaving we were on the skyliner with no wait and back at Pop Century in no time. (I am meaning within 15 mins if that - I honestly wished I had timed it)


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So overall thoughts after our first day...

Its of course much hotter then what we are use to with November/December time frames. We have been to Florida plenty of times during the heat, but doing a theme park with the heat can wipe you out. We just knew then we wouldn't be able to stay much later then 2pm most days without going back for a break.

Our plans quickly shifted back to trying to do our best to get to the parks when they open. Stay through midday and then have a break. This was good and bad for the trip. Good as we did overall avoid the heat, but bad due to the very very early hours the parks were opening on this trip (6am for hollywood studios, 7am for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and 9am for Epcot) we would be wiped out even for the evenings we found.

The crowds were so much better then we were use to. This is even more apparent on Tuesday of our trip we didn't go on Peter Pan until 8am (an hour after park opening) and it was still only a 5min. wait. We were able to do certain rides mid morning that we were use to seeing long lines form even at opening with no waits. It made us feel like we had so much more flexibility in our days. Which was a nice change.

We loved the skyliner as I stated. Its a shame there was an issue already and I hope that they get it worked out and people can find trust in them. Its such a nice addition to get from Pop to Hollywood Studios. On the other hand we did not care for the trip to Epcot as much. We took it one night when coming back for dinner at the International Gateway. The line has a bunch of extra turns and kinks and the stopping point at Riviera clearly has issues. We noticed this even before the accident that happened there. Due to a lot more issues with this line there seemed to be a lot more times it stopped. The line from Pop to the transfer station is a straight shot and again from the transfer station to Hollywood Studios so it was quick and no issues. We ended up going to Hollywood Studios more times then we planned due to this and how quick it was to get over there.

We had some great new meals this trip. Just changing this up made the trip feel different. I did miss a good Disney breakfast, but due to knowing we would need to be enjoying the parks in the morning versus eating we didn't plan any sit down breakfasts.

Also we did not have a specific break day this trip. We did not do a park on arrival day however due to this. We figured since we would have shorter days in the park due to the heat it made more sense to go every day and just have more breaks in the afternoon/evenings since staying in a park all day would really not be ideal. I enjoyed this. Staying at Pop is great at Disney due to the very little time we spend in the room so on break days I always wished we were at a different resort, but this worked out perfectly.