Our First Trip to WDW

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by HerbivoreMom, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. HerbivoreMom

    HerbivoreMom Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
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    I spent a lot of time planning our first trip to Orlando. Virtually everything went according to plans and we were exceptionally lucky the entire time!

    We are a family of 3. My husband and I are late 30s/early 40s and our son is 6 turning 7. We live in the west so Disneyland is closer. We have been there twice and really enjoyed it. But my son and I loved it more than my husband. My husband is from "the south" and was excited about a trip to Orlando so we settled on WDW.

    We traveled the first week of December because:
    - Lighter crowds since most kids are still in school
    - Holiday decorations and events would be up
    - December is our son's birthday so we took this trip in lieu of a big party

    Because this trip was for our son's birthday we let him wear a birthday button all three park days. He loved being told "happy birthday' by all the staff. And he received a free popsicle as well as a Disney pin. He and I wore 'first visit' buttons the first day, too, but there wasn't anything very exciting about that so we didn't wear them to the other parks.

    Our trip cost about $2000 - $3000 depending on how you do the math. Details are listed in this thread: How much was/is the cost of your trip?

    We used MagicBands and loaded our tickets and fastpasses to them. We did not link a credit card since we planned to use a Disney CC and you have to show the card to get the discounts (10% off at some restaurants and stores) so it didn't make sense. Next time I will link a prepaid card for my son to use to buy whatever he wants. About the fastpasses: I set up attractions that my son and I had decided together would be good and then in the park when we had done our three fastpasses I would schedule another one on my iphone. It worked out really well so that when combined with unbusy rides and shows we never waited in a long line.


    Day 1 - TRAVEL DAY / DISNEY SPRINGS
    We arrived in Orlando in the later afternoon and expected to simply get our rental car and checkin and enjoy the resort. We rented our car from Alamo and we stayed at Bluegreen's Fountains. No problems with any of our reservations. My son and I were itching for Disney and we were 3 hours earlier in our minds (from the time change) so we headed to Disney Springs after checking in. We saw a 'street performance' wherein I was called up to the stage area to dance with 3 other audience members while the performers did a rap about our dances. Then we went to the Dinosaur place and our son built a stuffed animal. He also got a cupcake from Erin McKinna's.

    Day 2 - MANATEES (not Disney) & DISNEY SPRINGS
    We planned to avoid Disney due to weekend crowds so we headed out to see wild manatees for the first time. We went out to Tampa power plant and saw manatees as well as sharks and rays, too! My son loved it and we got him a cute little PJ set that has manatees on it and says "No Wake Zone." After the manatees visit we went back to Disney Springs where we visited the Disney shop for some souveniers. We also watched Moana at AMC theater (our 2nd time seeing that film). Note: AMC has two types of theaters - one is dine in and the other is not. If you want dine in be sure to buy tickets for that. Also, they are not connected - they have separate entrances and you cannot get from one to the other inside the AMC building.


    Day 3 - KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (not Disney)
    They have a 'meet an austronaut' experience that I thought my son would enjoy. I checked the website often to see which astronauts might be available to meet and when... Most are white men so I was excited when I saw a Black astronaut - Winston Elliott Scott. We chose to visit that day so my son could meet an austronaut who looked like him. Winston gave a great talk (I'm sure all the astronauts give good talks). He was funny and smart and informative without taking above or below us. We toured the space center a bit (could easily have spent two or three days to see everything) and had a veggie burger for lunch. We enjoyed the Shuttle Launch experrience in the Atlantis exhibit and it was good to have something to compare to Epcot's Mission: Space.

    Day 4 - MAGIC KINGDOM
    We took the monorail to the park after the shuttle trolley from the parking area. By the time we arrived it was about an hour later than I had intended. I wanted to be there as soon as it opened so we could bypass some long lines. Alas, WDW is really enormous. And MK is the most popular park so it was busy.
    We started with It's a Small World (fastpass). Very similar to the one in Disneyland. Our kiddo called it "creepy" and did not want to do it again. I was a little disapointed that the screens did not say our names on the goodbye page. Then onto Mickey's Philhar-Magic - This is a 3D show, which can sometimes bother my eyes. It was short enough that I was fine, however. Our son enjoyed it but he was not super impressed. As we were walking to go meet Mickey, we were stopped by a parade: Move it, Shake it, Dance and Play it Street Party parade. Our son immediately started dancing (I swear he's a natural born dancer) and he got really excited to see the Zootopia characters as well as Phineas and Ferb.

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    Meeting Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater (fastpass) got me some of the best video! My son absolutely loved this. He won't admit it to his school friends but he just adores Mickey and thought meeting him was super cool. We had lunch at Skipper Canteen. We reall enjoyed our falafel dish and our curried veggies and rice dish. Our server was particularly nice and helpful as well.
    Then we headed to Monster's Inc Laugh Floor - All three of us thought this was very cute and funny. There is a lot of audience participation. Our son saw the PeopleMover and was excited by it. I thought he was being silly but it's actually kind of fun. This was just about the right speed for our son. It has a little darkness and heights, you get a good overview of the rides in Tomorrowland. Our son loved it and we did it twice. Next up was the Carousel of Progress - We all hated this. It was just so old and odd. After that we drove at Tomorrowland Speedway (fastpass) - Our son absolutely loved driving. He got such a kick out of it. We did this ride twice and would have done it more times if we could have done unlimited fastpasses for it. Next was Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (fastpass) - We loved this ride. It's a game and a ride at the same time.
    We had time to kill before our next fastpass so we did the Prince Charming Regal Carousel - Just another carousel, not really exciting. But it was made more exciting but an unscheduled stop during the ride after a loud noise. We're not sure what happened but the theories gave us some funny conversations. Then we went to Plaza Ice Cream Parlor - Our son loved his vanilla Tofutti ice cream.
    We finished with Under The Sea (fastpass) - Silly animatronic style ride about The Little Mermaid. Very cute. And then Walt Disney World Railroad - We did it at night so we couldn't see a whole lot. But the aligators were kind of exciting. At the end of the day the monorail was broken and we had to take the ferry back. The wait was long but the ride was pleasant and something different.


    Day 5 - HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
    We went straight to Toy Story Mania as soon as the park opened and did that game/ride. So much fun! Then we met Moana. It was cheesy and weird but the gentleness with which the Disney staff handled the wide variety of excited people (for instance a young girl in a Moana costume so excited to meet 'the real Moana' and her mom trying to conceal her own excitement as well as the autistic man who introduced himself as a king and said he hadn't yet had the pleasure to meet Moana til now)... I got a tiny bit teary-eyed at the Disney magic of it all, I have to admit.

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    Next up we watched the Muppets 3D show. Our son loved it. We enjoyed the humor. Then off to Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine (Disney Junior Play 'n Dine Breakfast) so our son could meet some characters and eat yummy waffles. This type of thing went over really well in Disneyland so we tried to recreate it. I think next trip he will be too old for these kinds of character meet and greets. He met Handy Manny, Doc McStuffins, Jake, and Sophia the First. He also received a birthday card signed by Mickey and friends. He was disappointed he didn't meet Minnie Mouse, which I didn't really think was a big deal for him but now I regret not scheduling that into our MK day.
    After that we used our fastpass at Toy Story Mania to do the ride again. And then we did the Frozen Sing Along (fastpass), which we all three immensely enjoyed. It's funny and cute and playful and you sing... just great. My hubby said we should do it again. But we didn't - too long of a wait. While we were inside it rained hard outside. We were just so lucky to miss it all. We watched the Beauty and the Beast show and our son stood up to give them a standing O. (For reference, he has seen the touring Disney musical of Beauty and the Beast - this show at Hollywood Studios is similar but not the same.)
    We saw Buzz Lightyear but our son was not interested in meeting him. We had vegan pizza at Pizzerizzo - yum yum yum (they have Follow Your Heart cheese) and then we did the Great Movie Ride, which was a huge mistake. It was way too scary for our son. He spent nearly the whole ride crunched over hiding his eyes and covering his ears.
    On the way to our next attraction we were stopped by the Storm Trooper parade. This was rather scary and we did not like it. I really wish there were easy ways to avoid all the things you or your kids might find scary at WDW. For example, I'd really like to know not just if something is loud or dark or spins etc, but I want to know if there's violence or guns. I know I should have done more research ahead of time and marked which attractions were violent.
    Lastly, we went to see the Little Mermaid show (fastpass) which was great. Her voice was fantastic!
    Final thoughts: for the time of year and the weather that day, we did not need fastpasses for anything except Toy Story Mania. That was the only busy thing that we wanted to do. If you or your kiddo likes Star Wars, this is the park to go to. There is tons of Star Wars stuff. They are building more Toy Story themed things for this park, which could be fun. On the day we went, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster was closed.

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    Day 6 - EPCOT
    We got to the park as soon as it opened and went straight Test Track. The line was short and we all three got to make our own car. We absolutely loved it. We had a fastpass scheduled for it for later so we came back and then scheduled another fastpass after that one. In between the two fastpasses the ride was closed for a half hour or so... it was a good thing we didn't let our son talk us into waiting in line!
    Next was Soarin (fastpass). We all enjoyed pretending to fly around the world. I thought it was amazing and I would love to do it again and again. A little girl seated near us, however, hated it and was crying the whole time poor thing. We ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons and had the vegan korma. It was a bit too salty but out son loved it.
    We signed up to by spies for Phineas and Ferb in a cute game that helps you explore the countries. But we only did one mission since it took quite a while and we wanted to get back for other rides. We did Test Track again. Then we did the 'intense version of Mission Space. My son and I loved it but my husband didn't feel right after. He didn't get queasy or dizzy, he just wasn't 'right.' His heart was racing for many minutes after and he was sweating a lot. He should have done the 'less intense' version.
    Our next fastpass was for The Seas with Nemo which was cute and fun. After that we watched Turtle Talk with Crush. It's very funny. We did Test Track for the third time.
    We saw but did not meet Baymax from Big Hero Six and Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. Our son was done with characters it seemed. We watched a short show about Hanukkah and another one about Kwanza - both involved singing and they were excellent. We walked around the world, country to country, stopping for veggie sushi in Japan and mango sorbet in France. We picked up a few souvenirs along the way and then headed to Ellen's Energy Adventure. This ride is just weird, very weird. It is old fashioned (made in the 90s) and simply out of date. By then my son was done, he was literally melting, just crumbling to the ground and refusing to walk. It was time for us to leave. We headed back to our hotel where I checked our pedometers. My husband and I walked about 20,000 steps each but our little son did over 30,000 that day. No wonder he was dead tired by the end of the day.

    Day 7 - TRAVEL DAY
    We did not have any travel hiccups. Everything went smoothly.

    Reviews:
    My husband called the trip "epic" and said he was really glad we went. He said his favorite parts were a) the shows because the performers were all so good and b) the newer rides because they were so immersive and well-designed. He also liked that the people working in the countries at Epcot were really from those countries. He did not like the food and said he wished Disney could do better vegan food. His favorite park was Epcot. He said he would not expect to enjoy Hollywood Studios again.

    My son said he had a great time and his 'favorite' parts keep changing. He really did seem to love the fast driving style rides and he enjoyed getting to spend so much quality time with both of us. He loved using his MagicBand and really liked having fastpasses. He also loved having his birthday button. (NOTE ABOUT BUTTONS: ask the staff to put a piece of tape over the marker. We didn't know about this and the ink rubbed off onto my arm when I gave him a piggy back ride. It was on my arm and chin and we were so confused about the source of this black ink... then he was sad his button no longer had his name on it. So yeah, put a piece of scotch tape over the ink on the buttons.)

    I had a great time. I am really proud that all my planning seemed to have helped us have a great experience for our family. My favorites were: Soarin, Test Track, Toy Story Mania, Frozen Sing Along, Moana, Muppets, and Turtle Talk. I'm thoroughly worn out and I think I will be OK if it's a while before we go again.

    Edit to add: although we strayed from our diet a bit my hubby still managed to lose 4 pounds and I lost 1 pound over the trip. We attribute it to eating breakfasts and most dinners in our room, avoiding all but one dessert and walking a lot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  2. BigRed321

    BigRed321 Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the report.. Glad yall had fun. We are leaving Sunday heading to wdw..
     
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  4. dmea10

    dmea10 Dmea10

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    What a great trip! I would love to go see the manatees one day. Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. erinsalas

    erinsalas Earning My Ears

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    We have always wanted to do the Manatees! I will defiantly try to get there this time.
     
  6. minoh

    minoh Somewhere over the rainbow

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    It sounds like a really great trip! Our first trip to Disney is in a few weeks and we're really looking forward to it. My twin nieces are 6 and I wonder how long they will last in the parks each day. Did you take many rest breaks?
     
  7. SCSteve

    SCSteve Earning My Ears

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    Congratulations on a great trip! Great to see a well planned and well executed trip! Its not easy!
     

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