Friday, January 14 | Southbound
With the car loaded, we picked Laney up from school a little after 10:30am and began to make our way south. Luckily traffic was fairly uneventful. We made a quick pit stop for a Chick-fil-A lunch, got movies queued up on the girls’ iPads and off we went again.
This trip I did something a little different. Because the girls knew we were going to Disney world, i knew that we would be hearing “are we there yet?” a lot. (When we went in April 2021, we kept it a surprise and it was so fun seeing their reactions when we got there! You can find that post here.) So prior to our trip I went to Dollar Tree and Target and grabbed some Disney themed goodies to keep them occupied in the car. To take it up a notch in the fun factor, I wrapped all of them separately in some Disney wrapping paper I have. Then every once in awhile I would pass back one of these surprises. They were a big hit and I actually didn’t need all of them so that left a few more surprises to assist with the trip back home.
Sunglasses from Target Dollar Spot
Mickey Notebooks & Crayons from Dollar Tree
Mini Magnadoodle from Dollar Tree
Disney Princess Stickers from Dollar Tree
Magic Ink Coloring Pads from Target Dollar Spot
Tupperware with String & Beads from our home stash
Mirabel Play Figurine from Target
Isabela Play Figurine from Target
Luisa Play Figurine from Target
Bruno Play Figurine from Target
We made several stops but were able to keep things moving on our 7 and a half hour trip. One of our stops was at Buc-ee’s which has now become part of our trips to Orlando now.
We arrived on Disney property at 7:30 pm, drove to our resort and took our things to the room since we had received the ‘room ready’ notification with our room number.
This trip we stayed in the Copper Creek Villas wing at Wilderness Lodge. Once we were partially unpacked, we went downstairs to grab a quick dinner at Roaring Fork. Afterwards, it was back to the room to head to bed since we would be up first thing the next morning to take advantage of the resort guest entry for Magic Kingdom. But first Laney enjoyed her first birthday cupcake of the trip.
Saturday, January 15 | Magic Kingdom & Hollywood Studios
We woke up to lots of excited giggles! It was going to be a fun day! When we vacationed at Disney last April, we booked a 1 bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower. It was a game changer with 2 kids so that everyone could have their own space. It was also amazing to have the larger kitchen and eating area. So I don’t think we will ever be able to go back to a standard room. We booked the 1 bedroom at Copper Creek and it was so nice to be able to still have our lights on once the girls went to bed and for them to watch tv in their room while we slept a littler bit longer in the mornings.
Our day began at Magic Kingdom. Because we were staying in a deluxe resort on Disney property, we were able to enter the parks 30 minutes earlier than other guests. Since having kids, we have never gotten up early to get to the parks when they opened but this time with the girls being a little older and morning routines less involved, we figured that would be good to do this this time around to be able to knock out a few rides before the crowds came in, especially since we decided to forgo purchasing Genie+. We hadn’t quite wrapped our heads around it to understand all of the ins and outs and honestly weren’t feeling inclined towards spending even more money on our park tickets. Also, because we try to come once a year, we never feel pressured to have to do it all. However, I could see the benefit in paying for it to be able to do everything if Disney was an infrequent family vacation.
Brad had never done a rope drop before so he was surprised to see that we could actually enter the park before the opening time. We decided to head towards Tomorrowland and that’s where cast members were waiting to scan our magic bands to confirm that we were deluxe resort guests. Everyone else was still allowed to enter the park, they just couldn’t do rope drop. Many of them took advantage of being able to take people-free pictures in front of the castle.
Once the ropes dropped we followed the swarm of people, dropped our stroller at the Tomorrowland stroller parking to retrieve later in the day when the girls were tired of walking and decided to try the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. That stand-by line is always so long during the day and we hadn’t ridden since before kids. But within minutes the line was full and completely wrapped around the attraction all the way towards Dumbo so we diverted and decided to go ride Goofy’s Sky School rollercoaster. Unfortunately it was down, so we backtracked slightly and our first ride of the day was Dumbo.
We then went and rode a bunch of other rides: Tomorrowland Speedway, the Carousel, Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Cruise. At one point we saw Chip & Dale in Frontierland as well as Buzz in Tomorrowland! Morgan wanted to ride Goofy’s Sky School again but Laney didn’t so while Brad got in line with Morgan while Laney and I went and found a snack. Morgan’s wait for the ride was short lived when she got one of her bloody noses. Even though I wasn’t with Brad with the backpack there were plenty of other moms around throwing baby wipes at him to help until the bloody nose subsided.
We decided to order a cream cheese filled pretzel from the quick service below Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland. It was so yummy and sweet but it was better suited for 2 people splitting it, not 4. Not long after this, it was lunch time and we decided to get Mexican from Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn. We eat there almost every trip and it’s always good! The weather was so nice and we lucked out with getting an outside table facing Splash Mountain. We got even luckier when not but a few minutes after we sat down, the music came on for a cavalcade to go by! The girls were so excited to see Mickey & gang go by on their 50th anniversary floats. It was awesome!
Morgan snoozed on our way out of the park and Brad and I grabbed Starbucks on Main Street USA. I also couldn’t resist trying the 50th anniversary Mickey cinnamon roll. Unfortunately it was dry therefore looking better than it actually tasted.
After our afternoon rest, we decided to go to Hollywood Studios. We haven’t done Hollywood Studios the last few trips just because they’re aren’t as many things there that the girls are interested in doing so we haven’t wasted our park reservations there. But this time we thought it would be fun to park hop and check out the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride. Judging by the pictures, you can see who didn’t nap in the room and was out like a light on the bus ride to the park.
When we got there, we went straight to get in line for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The line was long but luckily moved pretty well and there were lots of new things to see since the last time I had been in there when it was The Great Movie Ride. This was the girls’ first time in this building.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was SO cute and we all LOVED it! The pre-show was great and had a fun, unexpected surprise. Leave it to Disney to always blow you away with their creativity and theming!
Our time was limited since we got there at dinner time and only had a few hours before the park closed but we were able to do the Frozen Sing-a-Long that is always fun for kids and hilarious for adults as well as walking around to check out Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. We decided to jump on Toy Story Mania prior to park close. Good news is we had a blast and the girls absolutely love their first time on this ride. Bad news, we hadn’t yet eaten dinner and everything was shut down since we got off the ride after the park had closed.
We hadn’t been particularly impressed with the quick service menu at our resort so I spent the walk to the buses looking up other resort menus. The Grand Floridian had a ton of great choices that our family would like, so we made our way to that bus stop. Luck was with us because as soon as we turned the corner, the bus was waiting and we were able to get right on.
We enjoyed a late night dinner of flatbreads and grilled cheeses as well as the biggest Mickey chocolate cake pops I’ve ever seen. They are exclusive to Grand Floridian for the 50th anniversary and are 100% worth the trip over there to get one, especially if you have kids that love cake pops like our girls. After our dinner, we grabbed the monorail to Magic Kingdom and then took a boat back to Wilderness Lodge.
Saturday, January 16 | Animal Kingdom + Epcot
The next morning was our reservation for Animal Kingdom. We were up so late the night before, being able to get to the park early was looking a little iffy. I had been trying to get us a reservation for the character breakfast at Tusker House but never had any luck. This worked out in our favor because a huge storm rolled through early that morning and the rain continued through midmorning. This allowed us to sleep in a little and have a slower morning getting ready as we waited out the rain. Once we felt we could make the venture over to Animal Kingdom without getting everyone wet, we did so.
The day ended up turning out to be pretty nice, sun with some clouds just with a lot of winds in the afternoon. We did our favorites — Kilimanjaro Safari and Festival of the Lion King show (it’s still the abbreviated version). This time we also watched the Feathered Friends in Flight bird show for the first time and it was really entertaining!
We continued our walk from Africa through Asia until we got to DinoLand USA. The girls always enjoy the the Triceratop Spin ride and we like to grab lunch at Restaurantosaurus. We had timed everything to catch one of the Kite Tails shows that is new, but unfortunately they had been canceled due to the winds. We will have to save that for another trip.
The girls were getting tired and we had promised ice cream so we decided to start making our way to the exit to go back from some quiet time at the resort. As we crossed the big bridge we lucked into seeing another character boat with Donald, Daisy and Launchpad. We had seen several others throughout our time at Animal Kingdom including one with Pocahantas and Meeko who freaked out because the poor boat captain’s hat blew off into the water. As we got closer to the park exit, we realized that we missed the opportunity to grab ice cream, so we turned around to go back to the bridge to get Mickey ice cream sandwiches.
I’m so glad this happened because we saw another boat come around the corner right as we were going over it with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto onboard! It was also super special because literally no one else walking by noticed so Laney and Morgan got all of the characters’ attention — they were waving, blowing kisses and drawing hearts. And you better believe I caught all of that Disney magic on video. Not 10 seconds after putting Morgan back in the stroller, she was passed out, so Laney enjoyed her ice cream in peace on the way to the bus.
Monday’s reservation was for Epcot but with the new 50th anniversary enhancements made to the Epcot ball, I really wanted to be able to see those lights at night. So after our afternoon reset at the resort, we spent our evening at Epcot. The park wasn’t overly crowded so we were able to ride Nemo & Friends, Spaceship Earth and Figment. It was such a nice low key night. Back at our resort, we ordered dinner from Geyser Point (we wondered why we hadn’t thought about doing this the other nights) and enjoyed another late dinner in our room.
Monday, January 17 | Epcot + Magic Kingdom
The busy days and late nights were starting to take their toll, so it took a little longer than planned to get going. Not to mention, we had a lengthy wait for the bus from our resort. Once we got to the park, we had about 10 minutes before the crowds would be allowed in and boy, were they lined up! We were there during the initial Figment Popcorn Bucket Craze and I’m pretty sure that’s where most of those people were headed. We were making a beeline for Frozen Ever After.
We rode Frozen Ever After and stumbled into the line to do the Meet & Greet with Elsa. Poor Laney got so nervous to actually get to meet Elsa she had a mini meltdown right as it was our turn but she was able to pull herself together at the end to take a picture. Morgan and I enjoyed a chat with Anna about hot chocolate, Olaf and marshmallows. After visiting with them at their Summer House, we noticed that the line for Frozen Ever After was even shorter than it was when we rode the first time so we decided to go for round 2.
Once we got off that ride, we did the world showcase loop but noticed it had gotten SO crowded. We hadn’t felt like that at any of the other parks on any of the other days. Granted Epcot had just kicked off their Art Festival so we knew that probably had a lot to do with the number of people there. But it was so crowded that we didn’t even stop in France to check out the new area with the Ratatouille ride. We looped back around to The Land and I went in with Laney to get lunch. Morgan had fallen asleep and they don’t allow strollers inside. We had a little picnic lunch outside and then ventured just around the corner to get the artist palette cookie. It was a fun treat for the girls! It was a huge chocolate chip cookie that came with three colors of icing and a paint brush. They had the best time swirling around the icing! Brad then split Laney’s cookie with her and Morgan and I shared hers. Highly recommend this if you’re there during the festival! Brad and I also shared the Blood Orange Cosmo, it was pretty good. We were also near the Figment Popcorn Bucket kiosk and they sold out while we were there that day. Wild.
We were so thankful we had come the night before to do some of the other rides. We were so over the crowds that after we ate our cookies, we walked around to look at a few of the character statues, went shopping in the new Creations store to get all of the souvenirs we had been making note of and then started making our way out. I really wanted to do the paint by numbers mural wall but between the two lines you have to stand in to get the paint and then wait for your spot at the wall, we knew the girls wouldn’t want to wait through all of that. If anything, it made Brad and I want to plan an adult trip where he and I could indulge in more of the activities and fun food & drinks.
We wanted to let the girls ride the monorail one last time on our trip, so we decided we would take the monorail back to the Transportation & Ticket Center and from there grab the resort monorail so that we could then get a boat back to the resort at the next stop. However, when the monorail stopped at Magic Kingdom and we started walking towards the boats, we realized that because it was later in the afternoon than we anticipated, if we went back to our room to rest, there was no way we would rally to come back later on. So we grabbed some family pictures in front of the train station with the 50th anniversary decor and then went back in to Magic Kingdom to end our trip.
We focused on trying to do the rides we didn’t get to the first day so we did The Little Mermaid and Spinning Tea Cups as well as some repeats like Space Ranger Spin and Tomorrowland Speedway. It was a relaxing evening enjoying the sights and smells of Magic Kingdom one last time for this trip.
We ended the night with a big bath and getting packed up for the next morning.
Tuesday, January 18 | See Ya Real Soon!
The day of departure is always bittersweet — sad to be leaving the happiest place on
earth but happy to be taking a bunch of fun memories back home. We are usually down to the wire getting checked out and this trip was no different. But we pulled out of property around 10:30am and made the 8 hour trip back home. Luckily traffic wasn’t bad and the trip was pretty uneventful. We made it home at dinner time, got unpacked and reorganized best we could be with jumping right back into our school day routine the next morning. The next day was also Laney’s 5th birthday and she was excited to celebrate her day with her friends!
It’s never good-bye, always just See Ya Real Soon, Mickey!