‘Beignets All Day!’ May Trip Report 2023 *Update 6/30 : Last Park Day Parts 4 & 5


Jan 9, 2008
Hello! Welcome to my most recent trip report! (Hopefully there will be many, many more!)

Way back in June of 2022 I decided 2023 was the best time to return to the Mouse. It would be my first year teaching high school, we had gone to WDW after my first year teaching 8 years prior, what better reason for a girls road trip!

On June 17, my mom, my daughter, my sister and I made our reservations at Port Orleans French Quarter arriving on May 30, checking out on June 3. Two rooms preferring ground floor facing the river.
I started planning mode…updated my TripAdvisor.com account, decide which park was best on what day, what are our ’must dos’, what is Genie+ and how do I use it to our best advantages…you know the drill.

The 4 who started it all:

Me and my DD (Haley) in the front; my Mom - the grandma to three in attendance and great-grandma to four (GG), and my DS (Sheri) in the back.

Fast forward to Christmas of 2022 and key changes started to happen - my sister’s son, his wife, and their 8 month old twins would be traveling to WDW the same week as us, and by the end of the January, my niece, her husband, and two daughters (4 and 2) would be going as well. Lots of moving parts started happening but …

Here is what I know for sure:
5 members traveling out Saturday, May 27th - 1 Grandma (my sister), 1 Dad, 1 Mom, and 2 granddaughters - 8 months old- staying at Pop Century
4 members traveling by plane Sunday, May 28th - 1 Dad, 1 Mom (my niece), 2 more granddaughters (4 and 2) - staying at Art of Animation
3 members traveling by CAR, leaving Monday, May 29th, arriving at POFQ Tuesday, May 30th - picking up my sister from PC to join us at POFQ.
Tuesday - Disney Springs for Chef Arts Homecoming (must do for my DD) then Hollywood Studios
Wednesday - Animal Kingdom
Thursday - Breakfast for 8 at Ohana, Epcot with a horseback riding reservation for 2 at Tri Circe D Ranch at Fort Wilderness - myself and DD
Friday - Magic Kingdom
Saturday - 9 fly out, 3 make the 2 day drive home

So many moving parts and people … any regrets… Just one - not one picture of the whole group taken together.
Time to Travel!

My responsibilities at school ended on May 26 after a broken tooth incident and two back to back emergency trips to the dentist. On May 27th, my sister flew to WDW with her son and his family. We would transport extra diapers, formula, and an empty suitcase for them. They would check into Pop Century that afternoon. Report was the babies did great!

On Sunday, May 28th, my niece and her family flew to WDW in the wee hours of the morning and checked into Art of Animation for the duration of their stay.

On Monday, May 29th, my 48th birthday, my daughter and I bid farewell to my husband and our most important family member, our pure bred good boy River. Apparently they did just fine in my absence … I have my doubts. :rolleyes1

We left our driveway at 6:30am, making it to my moms house by 6:55am - she lives within 15 min of our house but a certain person in our car forgot her toiletry bag in her room and had to turn around halfway to her grandma’s house. (Clearly it wasn’t me ☺️)

Once our first u-turn of the trip had us once again going in the right direction, we transferred luggage - we would be driving my moms car - and was on the road by 7:15am. We stopped once that morning to fill up the car, and us, at on of our favorite Quik-Trips and headed out of St Louis and into Illinois.


On The road (well, just before leaving the driveway).

I tried really hard not to stop in Illinois, but made our first stop as soon as we crossed into Kentucky. My mom as a thing for AAA TripTiks - which have saved us a few time when the GPS was failing us. I had to take the first paper map photo of the trip:

By 11:30am we had crossed into Tennessee and after driving into the Cumberland Plateau and surviving the very curvy, 5 pt grade downward treck complete with ‘Oh Sh**‘ ramps for truckers, we had made it through Chattanooga and crossing into Georgia by 2:40pm.

We had made a couple of stops by this point but my main destination in Georgia, besides our hotel room in Valdosta, was Buc-ees convenience store. We had never been to one and if you are going to pass not one, but two opportunities, these should not be wasted.

I chose this opportunity to fill up the car then we moseyed on in, used the fabulously clean and private bathroom, purchased a small branding letter ‘Q’ because…why not, along with some refreshments and sour balls I would devour throughout the week.

When in Georgia…

We got back on the road after a stop at McDonalds for the girl and Wendy’s for the ladies, we pulled into our hotel in Valdosta, GA (Hampton Inn - highly recommend) at around 8:30pm Georgia time.

At least I think that’s the right time, I text my husband we made it at 7:30 but that‘s logged in my phone as Missouri time, we time traveled forward an hour somewhere past Chattanooga. At 8:30 is my best guess.

Up next... IT’S DISNEY DAY!!!

Hope you follow along for all the magic :cool1:
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There are a lot of moving parts this trip so I feel it’s important to make things a bit easier to read.

Cast of Characters:
Me - I tend to write in first person so this one shouldn’t be too confusing.
My Mom - Grandma or Great Grandma to several on this trip = GG
My Daughter (20) = DD
My Sister (older than me 😜 = S
Her son - dad to twin girls = H
H’s wife - mom to twin girls = M
The twins I’ll just address as T1 or T2 - honestly I’ll get them mixed up either way.
My niece - mom to two beautiful girls and about 6 months pregnant with a 3rd = SS
Her husband - Girl Dad extraordinaire = MS
My two great nieces will be N1 and N2

That about covers it…onto the trip report!

It’s DISNEY Day!!

That is exactly what I said as I sat straight up in bed this morning to wake up GG and DD for our last, and shortest, leg of the trip. The alarm went off at 5:45am but I was already awake and ready to go. It was torture to lay quiet and let my two passengers get a few more minutes of rest…before they rest in the car of course.

From our hotel (Hampton Inn & Suites) in Valdosta, GA to Pop Century in Disney World (we were picking up S to join us at POFQ for the rest of her stay) was estimated at 3 hours and 14 minutes. We had to fill up the car first, get some warm breakfast from McDonalds, and then we were on our way.

My mom had been walking at home to prepare herself for the thousands of steps she’d take at Disney and had woke up the day before our drive with really bad shin splints - she’s never had them before and was very alarmed by the pain. Because of her age, she was advised by her doctor to elevate her leg in the car and get out and walk around each time we stopped. She wore a compression sock to give her leg muscles some support and we rented a ECV for the week from scooterbug.com (very easy to work with, good prices, and they deliver directly to your resort).

Mom slept in the back seat with her foot elevated most of thIs final trip, DD sat up front with me, as we passed under this sign we sang Disney songs loud and proud.


We had a few slow downs but none that lasted more than 10 minutes. It wasn’t long and this popped up on the GPS:


As we passed under ‘The Villages’ I started pointing out the covered back yards of the homes around us…you know, to keep the alligators out. My mom was not having that reason mentioned again :rotfl:

Finally, after 15 hours of driving (probably more with the stops made) we saw the most beautiful sign in all of the US of A…


We pulled into Pop Century where I quickly used the restroom and left all my anxious driving nerves in my sisters bathroom before she checked out, gave a rather large box of diapers to H and found space for S’s luggage and S in the car for the short drive to POFQ.

In no time at all we were finally HOME. GG picked up her ECV from bell services while S and I checked on our rooms. They were ready! We were in 6145 and 6146 - river view ground floor rooms. I had requested building 2 and connecting rooms but these turned out to be perfect.

The only photo I took of the inside of the room.

Our view standing at our door:

Our building : No. 6
Our rooms were just to the right of the brick pillars.

After a quick throwing of the luggage in the room, parking the car, and gathering things we needed for the afternoon, we headed to the boat dock for our first ride on Disney Transportation and our first reservation. We were headed to Disney Springs!

Up next : Our first meal at Disney and various modes of transportation.
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Yes, this is the way…

We had our first technical difficulty as we checked in. Apparently GG and S’s room had not been used in over a year, they were the first Magic Band+ to be linked to this room. They both had to go to registration - my sister right away, my mom when we came back later, to get all linked up. Easy-Peasy. But we didn’t have time for all this nonsense…we had our first dining reservation to get to at Disney Springs.

We took our first boat ride of the trip. Very convenient and gave GG a chance to tell the drive she had driven a school bus for 46 years so she should be able to maneuver a ECV - for anyone who is curious, this statement was made 3 times before we got to our reservation, and we were running late… I DO NOT like running late…
This would also be the first of many ‘Is this the right way?’ Or ‘Can I take this on that?’ till we met up with H and his family at DS.

We may have been running late but I had time to take this picture:

I showed it to my mom later - who was very worried about seeing one of these - she never saw the sign (or an alligator).

We waited less than 5 minutes for the boat.

I’m only slightly happy here :rotfl:

Within 15 minutes we were pulling up to Disney Springs - one of the cars was out on the water.

This was my first time entering DS from the boat ramp. I knew where we were going but not exactly how to get there - what little faith my family members had in me leading the way was slowing dwindling.

Walking towards the first security entrance we came to, we passed some friendly Disney snowmen that S stopped to take a picture of. I tried to get her to jump the partition for a proper photo and an opportunity to be banned for life but she didn’t want to take that chance. :confused3

After patiently waiting for GG to get a handle on driving through a crowd - ask me on day 4 if she ever gets a handle on it - and a phone call to H to make sure I was leading us in the right direction, we ended up at our first dining destination:
photo ‘borrowed’ from WDWMagic

We were a party of 8 (includes T1 & T2) and we were 15 minutes late 😬. They were very nice and we had maybe a 5 min wait before we were receiving a text that our table was ready.

DD and I shared as many meals as we could. I’ve never gone to Disney without the dining plan. Saving where we could, it was better to share than to throw away $$$ in the form of food.

Today we shared the Thigh High Chicken Biscuits:
Three biscuits topped with Chef Art's famous fried chicken thighs and bread and butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey

and the Kitchen Plate:
A sampling of three different house-made sides. Yum, yum, and yummy!
We chose the mashed potatoes, Mac & Cheese, and Green Beans. Each served in a tiny cast iron pot. I took a picture but my half eaten place is in the shot and I don’t want to trigger anyone.

I have a slight dairy allergy developed from psoriasis - it is very minor compared to when it first materialized a few years ago. The staff at Chef Art’s was AMAZING with my allergy even though I can now self manage it with very few reactions - they checked with me three times before our order was complete. Chef wanted to know if I knew the chicken was soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours and there was cheddar in the biscuits. Yes and yes, I assured them I had consumed their chicken before and was okay.

GG and S shared the Chicken and Donuts plate - the donuts looked like your everyday average glazed donuts and not the funnel cake type donuts we had our first visit back in 2020. They like the chicken but passed on the donuts. I’m not sure what H and M had but the twins looked like they enjoyed whatever was being passed to them.

Happy for the AC and ready to fill our Bellies.
There are twins - DD is leaning a bit too far.
You might be counting heads and thinking ‘I thought she said there were 12 people going’. There were 12 of us on property - SS, M, and their girls don’t leave the parks once they are there. We saw them each day but they did their own thing (super smart looking back).

We decided to head to our first park of our trip - Hollywood Studios - via the Skyline. We took a bus to the Richie Rich resort - as S refers to it (Disney prefers The Riviera) and jumped on the Skyline from there.

As diapers were being changed - and babies passed around - these two became fast friends: T1 and DD

We followed H towards the busses and waited less than 10 minutes for our first experience loading the ECV and being the family that loads first (best perk). Yes GG told the driver her own driving experience but welcomed the help backing it in to it’s place.

Bus Ride #1

We strolled through the Richie Rich resort gift shop, DD and I used the fancy bathrooms and apparently ‘disappeared’ on everyone even though I told H and GG where I was headed - middle child syndrome rears it’s ugly head again - they never listen to me. :scratchin

Once reunited - and feeling good - we used the elevator to go down one floor. This is where GG slammed into the back of the elevator and I had to remind her we couldn’t afford to stay here let alone any maintenance fees - slow yo roll GG! H wisely took his girls on another elevator but we all exited at the same time.

THIS is why we chose this route - I have wanted to see these in person for soooo long!

I mean, that smile just will not fade…
The intricacies to this artwork is incredible.

The Skyline with the ECV was super easy, even with the change of tracks at Caribbean Beach. They mark the car so it automatically follows the side track for slower on/off passengers and so the cast members at the next station are waiting for you. The ease of the Skyline almost made me wish I chose a resort on its path…almost.

Up Next…Let’s Go to Hollywood!



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