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Casey’s Thanksgiving Trip – PREP294

HomeCasey’s Thanksgiving Trip – PREP294
Casey’s Thanksgiving Trip – PREP294

Casey, her husband, and 11 year old daughter had their 3rd Thanksgiving trip, staying at Pop Century for the 5th time. They drove from Louisiana, did an After Hours event at Magic Kingdom, and even went to Give Kids the World Village.

The Basics

Casey, her husband, and their 11 year old daughter drove from Louisiana for their 3rd Thanksgiving trip at Walt Disney World.

They had 6 day park hoppers and were there from November 19-27 and stayed at Pop Century.

They utilized Disney Genie+, went to an event at Give Kids the World Village, and did an after hours event at Magic Kingdom.

Casey and her family love the great weather in November and don’t mind the crowds because they can navigate it with a good plan.

Casey - PREP294

Arrival Day (November 19)

Casey and her family drove straight from Louisiana to Pop Century. While she’d planned to arrive around 7 p.m. they didn’t arrive until 9 p.m. due to traffic.

On their drive, Casey got a text that they needed to go to the front desk. It turned out that they just needed their magic bands reprogramed.

She didn’t get the room they requested, but it ended up being great. Their room was very close to the car and very quiet.

They ate very quickly in the room and crashed after a long travel day. 

Magic Kingdom (November 20)

Casey had a big day planned for their first day!

Casey woke up at 6 a.m., purchased Genie+.

She booked Jungle Cruise first and times were going very quickly.

They walked to the bus top at 7:10 a.m., got on the bus at 7:26 a.m., and arrived at 7:42 a.m.

It was sprinkling and let in at 8:30 a.m. Their plan was to go immediately to even Dwarfs Mine Train because they didn’t want to have to pay for it!

The posted wait was 5 minutes and they waited 15 minutes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Then they rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean with almost no wait.

After 4 rides in the first hour, they walked back to Frontierland and filled their popcorn bucket for a snack.

At 11a.m. Casey booked Haunted Mansion for 12:55 p.m. then scanned in for their Jungle Cruise at 11:05 a.m. and got right on a boat. 

At this point, she was able to utilize a loophole and booked another Lightning Lane for Peter Pan for 3:55 p.m.

They walked across to PeopleMover and waited 10 minutes.

Then they did Carousel of Progress and got stuck. They were stuck in the ‘40s section for three rotations! 

12:50 p.m. they got on Haunted Mansion and were stuck several times there as well.

At 1p.m. Casey was able to book another Lightning Lane for 2:05 p.m. for Splash Mountain.

After Haunted Mansion it was time for their Liberty Tree Tavern reservation and Casey learned that you check in for dining reservations in the app.

The whole meal took a full 90 minutes but the food was great and the cast members were incredible. They really enjoyed the break. 

After lunch they ran over and were able to make it to Splash Mountain for their Lightning Lane.

Once they scanned in, Casey made Lightning Lane for Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The Peter Pan’s Flight Lightning Lane line was all the way to the carousel, but only took them 10 minutes to get through.

They ran across to PhilharMagic and loved the new Coco scene

They left the park and waited about 20 minutes for a bus before getting back to their room at 5:40 p.m.

Then they hopped in their car to go to Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village! They loved this event.

There was food and drinks in a very peaceful environment while learning about Give Kids the World.

They arrived back to Pop around 9 p.m. and grabbed food at the food court before going to sleep.

After Hours Event at Magic Kingdom (November 21)

After a busy day yesterday, Casey and her family slept in, ate some snacks in the room, and left at noon to pick up cookies at the original Gideon’s Bakehouse location.

It took about 30 minutes to get there, but getting the cookies was very easy because Casey pre-ordered them. They stopped at Publix on their way back and picked up some sandwiches and food for the room. 

They rested in the room before heading to their Steakhouse 71 reservation. They drove over to the Contemporary and had a 90 minute meal. It was excellent!

Everything they ordered was delicious, but the chocolate cake for dessert was the best. They were so full that they didn’t have any snacks at Very Merriest After Hours.

From the Contemporary they walked over to Magic Kingdom.

They went straight to meet Mickey because there was no line – it was a magical experience.

They went from there to the PeopleMover and rode that without a wait.

The fireworks were about to begin so Casey and her family went over to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

While the posted wait time was 60 minutes, the line didn’t look near as long, so they showed their wristbands and got in line. The line was 15 minutes! 

Casey - PREP294

They walked on it’s a small world at 8:45 p.m. and got drinks at one of the drink carts.

They met their goal of riding lots of rides by going to Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and back to Big Thunder again on a ride all by themselves! 

They watched the end of the parade before walking over to Pirates of the Caribbean without a wait. PeopleMover didn’t have a line, so they did that again before riding Space Mountain.

This was Casey’s daughter’s first time riding and she loved it. Casey hadn’t ridden in years and wasn’t interested in riding again. 

After that they found a spot in the garden area near the hub, spread out their ponchos, and waited for the fireworks. They loved it!

Afterwards they went to the cookie and cocoa station at Columbia Harbour House, and split one cookie, saving the rest. Casey’s husband had come cocoa and said it was good. 

After that, they went to Haunted Mansion and they had a great ride before riding Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and PeopleMover again! They considered the event a huge success for their family because they were able to ride so many rides. 

They watched the end of the stage show on their way out, experienced the snow on Main Street, got their car from the Contemporary, and were back at their room at Pop Century by 1:30 a.m.

Epcot (November 22)

Casey and her family set the goal to try lots of 50th anniversary desserts. They also have a 7pm reservation for La Hacienda de San Angel.

After their late night the night before, they woke up slowly and Casey checked the wait times at Epcot at 11:30 a.m. and they were long.

Because of this, they opted to purchase Genie+ and see if it was worth it. She immediately booked Soarin’ for 5pm because they didn’t want to miss that.

They got on the skyliner and made it to Epcot by 1:40 p.m. – too late for Remy’s virtual queue and all of the Lightning Lanes were gone. 

They bought a 50th Anniversary Popcorn bucket and enjoyed a snack and some shopping. 

After some shopping, they checked out the new layout of Club Cool. It was very well organized and they liked it a lot.

Casey was then able to book another Lightning Lane at 1:43 p.m. She booked Spaceship Earth at 2:05 p.m. 

When they scanned in at Spaceship Earth she was able to book Journey into Imagination with Figment at 3:45 p.m. 

They walked over to Port of Entry for the Starbucks “You are here” mug. They grabbed some snacks and coffee before watching Winnie the Pooh chase butterflies. 

Casey - PREP294

After Figment, Casey was able to book a Lightning Lane for Living with the Land for 5:30 p.m. 

While waiting for that, they went to Sunshine Seasons for some desserts. They got the lemon chiffon cake (it turns your mouth blue!) and the chocolate bundt cake. They loved everything. 

After their Soarin’ Lightning Lane Casey was able to book The Seas with Nemo and Friends before riding the Christmas version of Living with the Land. They loved it! 

Before heading to Nemo, Casey and her family watched the Spaceship Earth lights and loved it. The line for Nemo was very long, the park was incredibly busy and she was glad she was able to grab a Lightning Lane so they didn’t have to wait. 

After Nemo, they walked over to the Mexico pavilion for their La Hacienda de San Angel dining reservation at 7:25 p.m. 

Casey said this was the best meal of their entire trip. They ordered the queso fundido, polano pollo with cream sauce and brussels sprouts, chicken breast with rice and beans, and lobster tacos.

Of course they finished their meal with the chocolate pyramid. 

They took their time walking through, even stopping between Italy and Germany because they could see Enchantment in the distance! 

It wasn’t very busy and got on the skyliner at 8:30 p.m. and were back at Pop Century at 8:50 p.m.

Casey was conflicted about their Epcot day because everything felt different.   

Hollywood Studios (November 23)

Casey woke up at 6a.m., purchased Genie+, and right at 7 a.m. she tried to get Slinky Dog Dash. She continually got errors.

She gave up and booked Rise for 2:20p.m. because it was a must-do. (She’d avoided spoilers!!)

She then booked Tower of Terror for daughter and husband. She was still unable to book Slinky Dog Dash until 7:15 a.m. 

They took the skyliner over and got in line for Mickey& Minnie’s Runaway Railway at 7:45 a.m. 

They were able to get through to ride Mickey& Minnie’s Runaway Railway right at 8:30 a.m, were off by 8:45 a.m. and really enjoyed the ride! 

Her husband and daughter went to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror twice while Casey got Starbucks. 

At 9:50 a.m. they went to Muppet*Vision and then immediately to Star Tours

At 11 a.m. Casey booked another Lightning Lane for Toy Story Mania for 5:15 p.m. and then mobile ordered lunch at ABC Commissary. They loved the meal – food was great and they had no trouble finding a seat. 

They had nothing to do and knew they would have to wait somewhere, so they opted to wait for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. The posted wait time was 120 minutes and they waited 90 minutes. 

At 1 p.m. she was able to book a Lightning Lane for Tower of Terror for 1:25 p.m. Her daughter and husband ran from Smuggler’s Run to ride Tower of Terror again while Casey waited in Galaxy’s Edge.

While they rode, Casey was able to book a Lightning Lane for Alien Swirling Saucers for 3:50 p.m. 

After Tower of Terror, her husband and daughter ran back to meet her at the Rise because their queue time was almost over. And the ride went down so they were given a recovery pass good through the rest of the day. 

In order to salvage the time, they went to Baseline Tap House for a snack. 

They then walked over to Toy Story Land and used all three Lightning Lanes for Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, and Slinky Dog Dash back to back.

They walked back to Galaxy’s Edge because Rise of the Resistance was back up and the Lightning Lane line was very long. The cast member estimated that it would be about an hour, but they ended up waiting 15 minutes! 

They were blown away by Rise and loved it. 

They shopped their way out, said hi to a friend in the shops, and got on the skyliner.

They grabbed some dinner at the food court at Pop when they got back.

Casey said she thought that Genie+ was very useful for this day at Hollywood Studios. 

Animal Kingdom (November 24)

Casey was up at 5:45 a.m. to purchase Genie+. They previously decided that they would be hopping to Epcot from Animal Kingdom and would want to use Genie+ there.

They left the room and drove to Animal Kingdom at 6:45 a.m. 

At 7 a.m. she booked Remy at 7 p.m. and Flight of Passage for 10:10 a.m. and Safaris for 12:30 p.m. but was able to change it to 9:30 a.m.

They went immediately to Flight of Passage and while the line looked very long, they were to the linking chambers within 24 minutes. The line moved the whole time.

They were off the ride at 8:10 a.m. to realize that the whole bridge to Africa was closed. 

Casey went to Starbucks and her husband and daughter went to Expedition Everest. They rode twice while Casey enjoyed her coffee and went to the Everest observation area. 

When her husband and daughter were done on Everest (he rode another time using the single rider line!) they walked over to the Safari. They had a wonderful safari! 

She then booked Soarin’ for 5:05 p.m.

When they walked out of the Safari, it looked like the hub on the 4th of July! The park was so busy!

But once they got to the bridge to Pandora, things settled down a bit. It was a very peaceful walk. 

They went to Flight of Passage for their Lightning Lane. Following that ride, they got on the walk-up list for Nomad Lounge and were seated within 10 minutes. 

They had drinks and some food. Casey’s daughter was getting sleepy and almost fell asleep in Nomad lounge. They opted to leave Animal Kingdom to get some rest back at the hotel. 

They rested in the room until about 3:30 p.m. when they took the skyliner to Epcot. 

While they were in the room Casey booked Lightning Lanes for Spaceship Earth at 4:15 p.m. and Living with the Land at 4:45 p.m. 

The crowds were a lot lower than Monday at Epcot. 

They did Spaceship Earth and the Land Pavilion before walking over to World Showcase for some food. They mobile ordered fish and ships and ate while sitting next to the water.

They went to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure after that and thought that it was just okay. The area was wonderfully updated but the ride itself was just okay.

The ice cream they enjoyed was better than the ride… 

Because they’d had such a long day, they opted to go back before Harmonious. Everyone needed a break. 

Casey said all of the cast members were wonderful but she missed the international cast members. 

Hollywood Studios (November 25/Thanksgiving)

It’s Thanksgiving day! Casey and her family don’t wake up early on Thanksgiving, so they planned to sleep in.

Casey woke up at 6 a.m. but she let her husband and daughter sleep. 

She was able to get a Slinky Dog Dash Lightning Lane at 7:12 a.m. for 3 p.m.

At 11 a.m. she was able to get a Tower of Terror Lightning Lane for 6:30 p.m. and at 1 p.m. she booked a Toy Story Mania Lightning Lane for 7 p.m. 

They took the skyliner to Hollywood Studios and did some shopping on their way in. 

They got coffee before using their Slinky Dog Dash Lightning Lane, walking through Galaxy’s Edge (it was very crowded!), and Casey waited while her husband and daughter rode Star Tours with a 20 minute wait. 

While they rode, she was able to get an Alien Swirling Saucers Lightning Lane for 6:50 p.m. 

Muppet*Vision 3D only had a 10 minute wait, so they did that before watching some characters and relaxing. 

Their Hollywood Brown Derby reservation was at 5:10 p.m. but they were seated 15 minutes late because of the crowds. 

Service was very slow but the cast members were wonderful. The food was great. 

After dinner, they watched Sunset Season’s Greetings. Then Casey got ice cream while her husband and daughter rode Tower of Terror. 

When they got off the ride, they walked over to Toy Story Land and used all of their Lightning Lanes. 

At 8:55 p.m. (with a 9 p.m. park close) they opted to get in line for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The posted wait time was 45 minutes and they waited 35 minutes.

They left the park after that and were back in their room by 9:25 p.m.

Magic Kingdom and Epcot (November 26)

They loved the convenience of parking at the Contemporary that Casey got a Steakhouse 71 breakfast reservation for 10:15 a.m. 

They were excited to eat there again and excited to park at the Contemporary. 

At 7:20 a.m. Casey purchased Genie+ and booked a Big Thunder Mountain Lightning Lane for 2:40 p.m. 

They arrived at Steakhouse 71 for their reservation, were seated quickly, and had a great breakfast. Their server Edgar was incredible! 

At 11 a.m. Casey booked another Lightning Lane for Splash Mountain for 3:10 p.m.

After breakfast they walked over to the Magic Kingdom and shopped their way in, stopping to complete their Starbucks “You are here” mug collection! 

They rode the PeopleMover twice in a row and booked a Haunted Mansion Lightning Lane for 6:45 p.m. 

They walked over to Liberty Square and saw the Hall of Presidents – they enjoyed it. From there, they did Pirates of the Caribbean and Country Bears Jamboree before their Big Thunder Mountain Lightning Lane.

They had time for a little break before they went to their Splash Mountain Lightning Lane. They booked another Lightning Lane for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at 6:30 p.m.

Dinner was 50th Anniversary Spring rolls and cheeseburger spring rolls with churros and pretzels. They sat and relaxed before more rides! After PeopleMover again they took a break at Cheshire Cafe for coffee and a Cheshire Cat Tail. 

Then they did Carousel of Progress, Winnie the Pooh, and Haunted Mansion

It was time to get ready for Enchantment. They walked over to Main Street to get a spot near the Christmas tree. 

Casey really loved Happily Ever After and loved elements of Enchantment, but wants to see it again to really judge it. 

As soon as the fireworks were over, they walked back to the Contemporary to get their car and were back at their room by 8:45 p.m.

Final Day (November 27)

They hit some traffic so it took longer to get home than they planned, but they drove straight all day!

Key Takeaways

  • Grab some extra drinks to have in the room if you attend an after hours event!
  • Be sure to purchase Genie+ early because they often need to send a verification code!
  • She used a prepaid gift card for meals and tipped in cash. They added 20% tip to her charge and she tipped in cash. Check your receipts! 
  • Even if it’s really busy in the parks, a plan helps ensure that you can do everything you want to do! It’s not fun to get up early, but it’s a great way to ride and do what you want without big crowds. 
  • Being in large crowds all day when you aren’t used to it can be challenging. It’s difficult to get used to again! 

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Shannon Albert
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