We got up around 4AM to finish packing. We got the kids up, dressed (Logan wasn’t cooperating so he wore his jammas the whole way) and fed, then drove to the airport. It was extra to fly from Sioux Falls, but we both agreed it will be so much nicer not to have to drive several hours (from Minneapolis or Omaha) when we return. We had a layover in Atlanta before continuing on to Orlando. Shortly after arriving at our room in the Caribbean Beach Resort we took a bus to the Magic Kingdom. We grabbed lunch/supper at Casey’s Corner (Foot-longs and fries) then went on the Aladdin Flying Carpet ride. It was too childish for the kids so we decided to change up our Fast Pass choices. We then went on Pirates of the Caribbean ride twice. I forgot to pack shirts, so all I had was the one I was wearing and the emergency shirt in my backpack in case our luggage got lost. Looks like I will be buying a shirt or two in one of the parks…
Friday: Hollywood Studios
Star Tours – This is an awesome 3D ride that makes you feel like you actually are flying around in a star wars movie. Everyone liked it.
MuppetVision 3D – Done in an actual theater with a few special effects besides the 3D glasses. Everyone liked it.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano – They had a three-course meal, which was a lot of food. The choice of appetizers didn’t really appeal to any of us. The main course was good. Logan was too full to eat his cupcake, so we got it to go only to end up throwing it away. Susan’s favorite restaurant.
The Great Movie Ride – This was a boat ride through a salute to the history of movies. We waited in line for 45 minutes, and would not go back.
Tower of Terror – This was the scariest, and for us the most exciting ride in the park. Even Logan liked it – he wasn’t the least bit scared.
Toy Story Mania – This is a 3D arcade game that also happens to be a ride. Lots of fun for everyone.
We left early and went back to the resort so the kids could go swimming.
Saturday: Magic Kingdom
It’s a Small World – A boring boat ride through all the different continents, all while hearing “It’s a Small World” over and over. Skip it.
Splash Mountain – The kids liked the ride, but it combines an element of story-telling which I found boring. There are more exciting flume rides.
Crystal Palace – This was a character lunch with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. Both kids really enjoyed getting autographs and posing for pictures. The lunch was a buffet and I found the barbecue ribs to be very good. Susan liked the dessert bar.
Haunted Mansion – The first time we tried this ride we waited in the normal line for 45 minutes. We got on the ride, went five feet and the ride broke down. It took staff 30 minutes to decide to evacuate people, but we all got single-ride fast passes for our trouble. The second time we tried the ride we fast passed it and I didn’t think it was overly scary. There was a part at the end when you saw yourself in a mirror and I was sitting next to a ghost who switched heads with me. That part alone made the ride worth it.
Seven Dwarves Mine Train – There was a three hour wait for this one, but we fast passed it. A definite must.
The Barnstormer – This ride was mostly for Logan, but we all enjoyed it.
Tomorrowland Speedway – Cars are on guides so you can’t pass the slow cars in front. Go karts are more fun.
Planet Earth – Hard to describe. A journey through the history of technology combined with a little bit of thrill. We liked it.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends – At first it seemed lame (short), but at the end of the ride you come out in a giant aquarium with sea turtles and sharks. We all liked it.
The Garden Grill – We had a character lunch here with Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto. They bring a skillet of food right to your table. The food was quite good and the kids (and adults) enjoyed that the restaurant slowly revolved.
Soarin’ – Very cool ride that makes it feel like you are flying around the globe. A must.
Living with the Land – Somewhat boring for me and the kids. Kind of interesting how Disney grows it’s own food.
Test Track – This is way cool. Design your own vehicle, then test it in a live simulation. A must.
Disney Springs – We went there for a little while. Shopped at the “Design your own t-shirt store” and Lego Land. Kids were very tired and whiny.
Monday: Animal Kingdom
Kali River Rapids – Typical, sit in a big round raft, water ride with a environmental theme. Recommended, we went twice.
Tusker House Restaurant – se This was the last of our character meals with Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Mickey. It was also a buffet and it was quite good. They also served adult beverages which was a plus!
Expedition Everest – This was the only ride that Logan could not go on. The height requirement for everything else was 40 inches and Logan was 41. I think the requirement for this ride was 48, and I can understand. It is a roller coaster ride where at one point you are going backwards in a tight circle in the dark. The rest of us enjoyed it, especially Seth who went three times.
Kilmanjaro Safari – Safari bus ride through the animals habitat. Saw giraffes, Ostriches and a lion in addition to other animals. Recommended.
TriceraTop Spin – This was for Logan, and is an exact copy of the Aladdin Flying Carpet Ride at the Magic Kingdom.
We got up around 4AM so we could get packed before the bellhop came for our suitcases. We got the kids up and dressed and went to checkout. We were on the bus by 5:15 for our ride to the Orlando airport. We had breakfast at Burger King in the airport. Our flight went to Minneapolis, then we got on a plane to Sioux Falls. Both the planes from Atlanta to Orlando and from Orlando to Minneapolis had screens mounted in the back of the headrests. A person could play one of a number of games or watch movies. I played Texas Hold-Em and won, and I also watched the newest Star Trek movie. We should have encouraged the kids to play on them as Seth ran the battery down on his tablet on the flight home.
- Logan was 41 inches, which was just over the minimum height requirement for the “big kid” rides, which worked really well for us. If you are going with a kid over 40 inches and a kid under then expect the older kid to get bored with the rides.
- Bring your own snacks, prices in the parks are quite high as expected. We actually bought several bags of beef jerky on sale here and packed it in our luggage.
- Be prepared to stand in line at the security checkpoint before even getting in the park. It takes a while as they will search all bags and compartments in strollers. After that, there is “random” secondary screening. I say “random” because I was “randomly” selected 4 out of the 5 times we entered the parks. The fifth time I snuck past the security person while they were escorting someone else to the secondary screening tent.
- The noon, character meals take 90-120 minutes which is really great for having a little down time, and the kids enjoyed the characters.
- Definitely use your available fast passes. If you don’t understand how they work, read up on it or ask people who have gone. Fast passes can save you hours of standing in line.
- If you have a smart phone install the official Disney app. You can use the GPS to find your way around the parks, check wait times for the rides, find the nearest restroom and administer your fast pass choices. Bring an extra, charged battery or an external charger with you.
- If you use a stroller, there is designated “parking” for it all over the parks. You may need to walk a little ways to find the parking nearest the attraction you are visiting, but there are signs. At some parking areas employees will shuffle the strollers arount to optimize the amount of strollers that can be parked, so don’t freak out if yours is not where you left it. It also helps to tie a colored streamer or construction tape to the handle to aid in identifying which stroller is yours.
- Have a couple of bottles of water with you. It is easy to get dehydrated and not know it until you start feeling sick.
- If you have a meal plan, pay cash or credit for any snacks you purchase that are under $4. Use the snack allotment for the pricier snacks. You can also associate a credit card with your magic band and use that, just make sure and state you want to use the credit card or the cashier may assume it should be a snack purchase on your meal plan.
- The photo pass package is a nice way to get souvenir photos of your vacation. Not only do you get pictures at a lot of the rides, but there are photographers scattered out throughout all the parks who can get a semi-professional picture of your whole family. If you sign up for the photo pass you will need to watch the monitors at the end of the ride, and when you see yourself scan your magic band on the scanner below the monitor. Photographers will also scan your magic band with a handheld unit after they take your pictures.
- Save room in your luggage for souvenirs on the return trip, and be careful your bags are not overweight.
- Make sure your magic bands are securely fastened, especially on the kids. Disney used those for everything, including ride admission.