Monday, October 10, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 9

Day 9 – 5/29 –Epcot & Departure Day

We took our time packing up and checked out right about 11am.We put our luggage in the back of the SUV and headed over to Epcot. We had latelunch reservations (2pm). We started off with some family photos in front ofSpaceship Earth, grabbed some FastPasses for Soarin’ and then headed over tosee Captain Eo.

DW and I remember seeing Captain Eo on our honeymoon. Let’sjust say, it doesn’t hold up. At all. The 3D technology was horrible, the printwas dark, the special effects looked like claymation and story was prettylaughable. Plus we had to wait about 20 minutes for the show to start.

After Captain Eo we rode Figment, and DD spent some timeplaying with the interactive exhibit at the exit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 8

Day 8 - 5/28 –Magic Kingdom & Yehaa Bob

This was our “Fantasyland at Rope Drop” day, also known asthe “Dumbo Dash.” We arrived at the Magic Kingdom in time for the Welcome Show,counted down with Mickey and quickly headed down Main Street U.S.A., throughCinderella’s Castle and into Fantasyland to the Flying Dumbos. They werecompleting a test run when we arrived.

We got onto the first cycle. I rode with DD while DW and DGMrode together.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 7

Day 7 - 5-27 –Animal Kingdom & Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Our rope drop plan at Animal Kingdom is different fromanyone else we’ve heard of. DD has tried Expedition Everest a couple of times,but has firmly decided that she doesn’t like it. Any EE riding that DW and Iget to do is usually done Single Rider Line style.

So, while most of the park opening crush is to get to EE orthe Safari, we head straight to Kali River Rapids. We poncho it up, get onboard, and stay on as long as they’ll allow (or until we see people starting toqueue up). We usually ride 3-4 times, but DW and DD set a record of riding fivestraight times a couple of years ago.

After a couple of times riding, I got off and let DW and DDcontinue. My mother (DGM) was driving in from Tampa and I went over to meet her near theSafari. Shortly after she arrived, DW and DD came over excited to inform usthat they had tied their record of five straight times on Kali.

I grabbed us FastPasses for Safari, and then we boarded thetrain for Conservation Station/ Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

After the train pulls into the station, you have about afive minute walk to the building where the exhibits are. They were going to bedoing a physical on a Golden Tamarin, so while I staked out a spot by theviewing window, DD and DGM were brave enough to pet this snake.

Monday, October 3, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 6

Day 6 - 5/26 – Hollywood Studios and a Birthday Luau

She had been wearing her birthday pin religiously throughoutthe trip thus far, but today was DD’s actual birthday. When we had startedlooking at weeks in May for a trip, our initial priority was to pick a weekbefore it got ridiculously hot (we have frequently gone in August) orridiculously busy. Since most schools would still be in session in May, wethought that would be a great time to go. It dawned upon us that we couldcombine the trip with DD’s birthday – what better party could you hope for?

We packed some of DD’s birthday presents (books, Star Warsaction figures) but left her largest present (a Littlest Pet Shop set) at home.We printed a picture of it and included it with her card and a note explainingthat it would be waiting for her when we returned. Here she is pointing to thepicture we printed.

After presents and a hurried breakfast, we hustled over toHollywood Studios, arriving a little later than we usually do. We were a littlenervous when we saw how long the lines at the turnstiles were.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 5

Day 5 – 5/25 - Magic Kingdom & PhotoPass Phun

After staying out late the night before watching fireworks,we slept in a little this morning, got ready in a leisurely fashion and arrivedat the Magic Kingdom around 10:00. We grabbed someFastPasses to see Mickey Mouse at the Town Hall, and headed straight forFrontierland to see what kind of waits were in store at Big Thunder MountainRailroad.

We grabbed a FastPass for Splash Mountainand hopped on BTMRR. This time DD was much better about holding the ‘big arms”a little longer…

…but not too much longer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 4

Day 4 – 5/24 – Magic Kingdom& Wishes

The morning started with more homework before we left forthe parks.

There’s some debate about whether its faster to drive to theMagic Kingdom, park at the Ticket & Transportation Center, then take amonorail or ferry to the turnstiles, or simply take a bus from your resortdirectly to the MK, bypassing the T&TC altogether. Whenever we’ve had arental car, we’ve driven. It’s usually 25 minutes or so from the time we getinto our car in the AKL parking lot until we get to the turnstiles.

Monday, September 26, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 3

Day 3 – 5/23 – LeCellier

After a late night at Hyperspace Hoopla, we decided to takeit easy and sleep in a little bit. Since we had pulled DD out of school for theweek, her teacher was kind enough to prepare an assignment for her to do eachday. It was a travel journal with questions to answer about each day, and aplace for drawing a picture.

After homework was done and we were up and at ‘em, we headedover to Epcot. After grabbing some FastPasses for Soarin, we rode the Seas withNemo and Friends, and headed over to Turtle Talk with Crush. In the queue areaare a couple of tanks with some rays and fish. This puffer fish kept comingover to DD and it seemed like it was looking right at her.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 - 5/22 - Star Wars Weekend

About a year before our trip, DD started getting into StarWars. I don’t remember how it started, but over that period of time we watchedthe original trilogy together, she watched most of the first season of Clone Wars,as well as the Clone Wars movie, and I found some old Star Wars toys on ebaythat she enjoyed playing with. Santa even brought her a lightsaber and someStar Wars books.

When I told her that Star Wars Weekends would be happeningwhen we were at Walt Disney World, she had no idea what I was talking about.After I explained what Star Wars Weekends were, she got crazy excited.  If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a fantastic sitethat will have all the details:

In preparation for our trip, we made a couple of StarWars-themed shirts for DD.

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 1

Day 1 – 5/21 - Departure Day & Epcot

After visiting Walt Disney World in late August/earlySeptember a few times, we wanted to mix things up a little bit, so we scheduleda May trip. On our last trip we had renewed our annual passes, and since theywere running a special 15-month renewal, we figured we would be able to use ourDVC points for a value studio at Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House, and usethe remaining Southwest Rapid Rewards tickets that were due to expire later in2011. That would enable us to go in May and October, with the onlyout-of-pocket expenses being for food!

We woke up early and were out the door a little before6:00am.  We live about an hour and 15minutes east of Buffalo,which is the closest city that Southwest flies to. It was a little foggy aroundour house, but when we hit the NYS Thruway, the fog really got thick.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 8 & 9

9/5 & 9/6 – Last Days and Trip Wrap-up

We slept in a little after being out late the night before. My mother drove up from Tampa in the morning. We spent some time swimming and participating in some of the activities around the resort. 

In the evening we ate dinner at LeCellier, which was excellent (as always). DD loves steak and mushrooms (what 7-year-old likes mushrooms – weird kid), so we split a side order of mushrooms, which is way too much for one person, two people and probably three. The mushroom filet and mushroom risotto completed my mushroom trifecta. 

After dinner we went back to the hotel to start packing things up. We had an 11:20am flight the following morning. The morning was uneventful and, despite the ridiculous backup at security at the airport (when is that NOT a madhouse?) our travel home went very smoothly.

On the way back home DW and I talked a little about the trip, and we agreed that with all of the special experiences that we had, the fantastic (albeit hot) weather and the nonexistent crowds, there would be no way to top this trip – it simply, and literally, couldn’t get any better. But we’ll certainly give it a try – we’ve got vacations planned for May and October 2011 to get the biggest bang for our Annual Pass buck!

Thanks for reading! I promise to get our next trip report in a lot more timely fashion...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 7

9/3 MK

Unlike our last trip to Magic Kingdom a couple of days prior, we arrived around 8:30 to grab a good viewing spot for the Welcome show. If you get there early enough, cast members will set out hula hoops to amuse the kids (and parents). It looks like DD is a great hula hooper, but trust me when I tell you that this picture captures the split second between her letting go and the thing hitting the ground…

Monday, May 16, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 6

Epcot – 9/2

Because DD was up past her bedtime at Simba’s Cubhouse last night, we planned for a sleep-in morning and spending the afternoon at Epcot. Indeed, we got up at a leisurely pace and got to Epcot a little before 11:00am. Our first two stops were to grab FastPasses for Soarin’ and the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure.

Because we still had a little time before World Showcase opened at 11:00am, we hopped on Living with the Land, which had its typical 0 minute wait. DW and I hadn’t been on it forever, and DD had never been on it, so it was a great chance for her to learn about growing pumpkins shaped like Mickey ears.

It must have been very confusing to me at the time…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 5

9-1 Our Quest to be Family of the Day

This was the day we would do everything we could to be the Family of the Day at Magic Kingdom. But first, a little back story…

Before our trip to WDW in February, DW called around to different Disney Reservations phone numbers, to see if she could “schedule” us for being Family of the Day as a surprise to me. Of course, she quickly found out that you can’t reserve that magical experience – you kind of have to get lucky. But we all really wanted to do it. So between our Feb and Aug trips, I did the research and decided that if we were going to try, we were going to give it our best shot.

I found a number of trip reports where families had been chosen as the Magic Kingdom Family of the Day (or “First Family,” as it’s officially known). The experience sounded incredible. Allowed into the park before it opened, greeted in ToonTown by a dozen or more characters. Riding the train with all of them to the front of the park, where the dancers would be singing “Zip a Dee Doo Dah,” awaiting our arrival. Helping Mickey countdown from ten to one to mark the opening of the park.

All of the families had apparently been chosen at random. But I noticed some common threads between them all and started making a list of little things we could try to improve our chances at being selected.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 4

Day 4 – Reunited with Cousin Joey

The plan for the day was to do a three-quarters day at Hollywood Studios. Unlike the other three parks, it’s tricky to take a midday break at DHS. That’s because the various shows and performances are staggered in such a way that you can’t do more than one or two unless you stay a while. At the same time, because more of the in-park time at DHS is spent watching shows and performances, it’s not as draining a day as the other parks.

We started the morning off with breakfast on the balcony, overlooking a relatively vacant savanna.

Monday, March 7, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 3

Day 3 - Pixie Dust at Epcot

After the room-shuffling of the previous morning, it was nice to be able to just wake up, have some breakfast and get ready for Rope Drop at Epcot.

Staying in a DVC studio means having a kitchenette, which includes a medium-sized refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee maker (picture courtesy of

We use the Disney Dining Plan for lunch and dinner, and prepare a light breakfast in the room – usually bagels or english muffins, cereal, some fruit, that kind of thing. What’s unique about having breakfast at Animal Kingdom Lodge is doing so overlooking the savanna.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 – Check-in to Kidani and “Let the Adventure Begin” at Animal Kingdom

I woke up about 6:00am, showered and headed over to Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village to check in. I had used a similar strategy in February to snag an available room by being early to check in. When I arrived I had to wait about five minutes behind another guest checking in, and then it was my turn.

The front manager was training one of the new Cast Members on the check-in procedure, and he asked if it would be OK if she checked me in with him right there to help. I said it would be fine.

It took a little longer than usual, especially since we had done Online Check-in, but the best news was that we had gotten our request for a room close to the pool on the Sunset Savanna.  They told me we would be on the same floor as the lobby, just a handful of rooms away from the Lobby, and that it was a great location. The room wasn’t ready, though, so we’d have to wait to find out exactly what room we’d be in.

Armed with my packet of check-in material, I headed back to Pop Century to finish re-packing, gather up the family, and head over to our park for the day - Animal Kingdom.

We got there about 8:30, plenty of time for a Photopass picture in front of the Animal Kingdom sign. The photographer told us to make claws and growl, so we did. As you can see, I really wasn’t into it so much, while DD give it her all…

Saturday, March 5, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 1

Day 1 - Take Off and Splashdown

We spent a week at Walt Disney World August/September 2010. We had a really great time and some very magical experiences. Here's a trip report.

Our flight left from Buffalo at 7:40am. Since the airport is about an hour and 15 minutes from our house, DW and I were up at 4:00am to shower, make a quick breakfast for the trip, load the van, and get DD ready. We were out the door at 5:00, and were at the airport, through security and waiting at the gate by 6:30. The flight took off on time, and we were off!

I had copied some movies and episodes of Kim Possible to my laptop for DD to watch on the plane. As soon as the pilot gave the OK, I set it up for her to watch. My battery must not have been fully charged, though, because it gave out after about 90 minutes – it usually lasts about 5-6 hours – plenty for our two and a half hour non-stop direct flight. So DD listened to Disney Theme Park music on her ipod.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Family of the Day at Magic Kingdom

Here's some video of us helping to open the Magic Kingdom on September 1, 2010, when we were chosen to be Family of the Day. Eventually I'll get around to posting my tips for giving yourself the best opportunity to be selected.