This year has been beyond full of unexpected twists and turns, and far busier than I had anticipated. I am happy to be back to writing and excited about the topic that sparked it! Without much more of an introduction, let’s get to it:
Levi flew out to Phoenix the weekend before my mom and I were set to go to Disney World to help me pack and prep the house to be gone for 17 days.
As per usual operating rhythm with trips, we had a couple of date things set up. One of these was getting up and going to the Phoenix Zoo with coffee during the member’s only hour and walking the park looking at animals (as is becoming a standard part of our Phoenix trip routine). Another was getting reservations at Undertow – an effort to get our tiki themed bar fix in the interim while Trader Sam’s is not an option.
On Wednesday, Sept 29th we drove from Phoenix to Fresno with Shay in tow. She was the neediest baby alternating who’s shoulder she was resting her head on between naps.
I used the next few days to knock out a few appointments, visit with family, and do both my mom’s nails and my own (since COVID I have been doing dip gel myself at home).
Saturday, October 2nd
My dad and brother dropped my mom and me off at the airport in Fresno first thing in the morning. We had a layover in Salt Lake City and then were on our way to Orlando. Prior to our trip I had finally caved and bought a Kindle, and I must say that is one of the best decisions I have made.
When we arrived in Orlando, we gathered our luggage and moved to the Magical Express. We had a great time and appreciated this service, and with Disney discontinuing it at the end of the year, I’m interested to see how the paid options pan out.
We opted to stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort which was the perfect choice for us. We did not want a rental car and knew we would need to rely on Disney Parks transportation. We also wanted to be centrally located. Pop Century has buses and access to the Skyliner, and both were perfect.
When we got to our hotel, I had our room number on the app and our Magic Bands were already set up as our room keys, so we got our luggage off the bus and got to go straight to our room. We got semi unpacked and went to the main building of the hotel to get food.
We also took a little time that evening to wander around the hotel property.
Sunday, October 3rd
We got up and went to the main building food court so I could snag my Mickey Waffles. Once we wrapped up breakfast, we gathered what we needed for the first part of the morning and started exploring.
We started by going over to Art of Animation – accessed by crossing the bridge over Hourglass Lake and passing the Loading Dock for the Skyliner – to explore that hotel. The way that hotel was set up brought me so much joy.
Once we walked the property of Art of Animation we went to the Skyliner and boarded. We ended up taking a trip to Hollywood Studios and then back to the hotel.
After doing a little more exploring that way, we decided to go to Disney Springs to preview what was there.
We ate lunch at Polite Pig which was AH-mazing.
In the afternoon, we returned to our room and got ready to take the Skyliner to the Riviera Resort to see the mosaics.
Monday, October 4th
Monday was our first in-park day and one of two park days where we would need to rely on the bus system for transportation.
We arrived at Animal Kingdom during the early entry hours for folks staying at the resorts. We stopped at a couple of photo spots and got some good pictures in, and then made our way to Pandora.
The first ride we did for the day was Flight of Passage knowing full well it was 3D and that we both ran the risk of having motion sickness. We only had to wait a little over an hour and it was so worth they hype and the wait, however we definitely needed something a little calmer after that.
We worked our way back through Pandora and went to the Na’vi River ride. Once we made it through that ride we made our way over to the Starbucks near Discovery Island before moving towards Dino Land USA for Dinosaur.
Once we rode Dinosaur, I wanted to trek to Expedition Everest. My mom was such a trooper and on this ride came one of the best quotes of the trip.
We made it to the point of the track where the whole train is angled up and comes to a stop where the track looks like it has been pulled up by the Yeti. There was a child in front of us that said “oh, this is the part where it goes backwards!” and my poor, sweet mom who did not know what she had gotten herself into started yelling “What!? NO NO NO NO” as we switched and flew backwards. Clearly it didn’t scar her too much because we ended up doing the ride again later in the day.
After Expedition Everest it was time for food, and we decided to mobile order from the Satu’li Canteen. Mom got the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods and I got Combination Bowl.
After lunch we wandered over and got in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari. Once we got off of the Safari truck we took the Rafiki Train on a full loop before deciding it was high time for Dole Whip.
After Dole Whip we wandered back over to Pandora so I could buy a puzzle. We also got alcoholic beverages and found a place to sit where we could talk through the game-plan for the next day. After we sat for awhile we wandered towards Expedition Everest for it’s 2nd run, and took our time walking through Discovery Island as we did so.
We had a dinner reservation for 4p at Tiffins Restaurant, and when it was our time we made our way over.
Yes, I am being that person and uploading a picture of food. I would eat there and order this again in a heartbeat.
Overall, we could have started our day a little later in Animal Kingdom and still gotten to everything we wanted to. As it was, we left the park early and the only thing we did not do that we had on our list of potentials was see the Tree of Life lit up at night, though we don’t regret missing that.
Tuesday, October 5th
In-Park Day 2 of our trip showed us that mindset is everything. Our day started off with us in a broken-down bus on the side of the highway. The bad news: it was hot in the bus. The good news: we were in the ‘fun’ part of the bus, in true Disney fashion we had replacements in ~5 min, and we still made it to the park in time for park open (not rope drop).
First order of business once we were in Magic Kingdom was to knock out the key 3 pictures:
I cannot get over how long my mom’s hair is or how dang happy she is.
With our pictures at the Park Gates, on Main Street, & in front of the Castle out of the way, we made our way to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train.
Between our morning bus delays, pictures, and the wait for Mine Train, it was time for the first coffee of the day around 10:30a. I have never been so grumpy to wait for coffee in my life and I regret not stopping at a coffee cart prior to that adventure.
Once I had coffee in hand and refilled our waters, it was time to see The Mansion.
I personally like the style of the exterior of the mansion in Disneyland more, however the ride portion of the WDW rendition holds the new spot to beat in my heart. I don’t know if I loved the library or the staircase room more, and can say they are both reasons why Magic Kingdom is my favorite of the two. Once we got off the ride, I got pictures in front of the building, and mom and I wandered through the shop just outside the queue.
Following that, it was time for lunch, and we once again opted to mobile order. We ordered Lobster Rolls from Columbia Harbor House and sat upstairs in that building. I must say, Disneyland can hide some people, but Walt Disney World can make them disappear into buildings you don’t even think are able to be the size they are.
Once we finished eating, we went on The Little Mermaid ride (which is identical to the one in DCA). On my “required rides” list I had the PeopleMover, so once we were done with Ariel we wandered toward Tomorrowland. It moved faster and had a much longer track than I was anticipating, and none of that is a complaint!
After the PeopleMover we wandered over to Carousel of Progress and then went to the Monsters Inc. Comedy Show. From there, we crossed to the other side of the park and went on Pirates. While on that side of the park we also went to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.
After Big Thunder we made our way to First Aid near the park entrance as I had not properly bandaged the burn I got on my wrist Sunday afternoon curling my hair – to add to the fun, the burn was where my Apple Watch band sits.
While there we poked on over to City Hall to pester our favorite Guest Relations cast member:
Next up, I got a Churro and my mom and I headed back to Haunted Mansion for our 2nd round on the ride.
Around the time we got off of Haunted Mansion, the Taylor family was getting off of the Mine Train, so we met them behind the castle. That day it was Traci’s birthday, and we had planned to see them that day anyway. The last time we had seen Traci was when she and Tyler were in Disneyland at the same time we were back in June 2018. To add to the fun, Tyler and his fiancée Katelynn flew out from Alaska to surprise Traci!
Once we had spent a little time catching up with them, my mom and I went to the Mine Train for the 2nd time that day. It was once again time for food and we mobile ordered Mac & Cheese w/ Bacon Hot Dogs and I have 0 shame about that.
After we ate, we decided to go for one more round on Haunted Mansion and since it was now dusk, we wandered over to see Rapunzel’s Tower with the lanterns lit up.
We decided to close out our night by riding Mine Train one more time because my mom and I are absolutely the people who like to “experience it at night, too.”
On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Emporium for final purchases of the day before finding our bus and going back to the hotel for the night.
Days 3 & 4 in park and our trip home to be continued in Part 2…