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Giselle from Australia’s First-Timer Trip Report – PREP 328

Giselle from Australia’s First-Timer Trip Report – PREP 328

Giselle and her boyfriend planned a long vacation that included Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Miami. While some things went according to plan, some were derailed by Hurricane Ian.

Thankfully, Giselle says it was the best vacation ever!

The Basics

Giselle and her boyfriend flew from Sydney, Australia on September 23 and arrived in Orlando on September 24. They planned time at each of the 4 theme parks, Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party, Universal Studios, and some time in Miami. They flew home on October 6.

Giselle and her boyfriend had a split stay across Caribbean Beach Resort (September 24-28), Animal Kingdom Lodge (September 28-30), a friend’s home in Miami, and Hard Rock Hotel.

Giselle is a vegetarian and she and her boyfriend love food. They planned much of their trip around where to eat! They also purchased Memory Maker and Genie+ for the entirety of their trip.

Hurricane Ian hit right in the middle of their trip and while it did change some elements, they were still able to have a wonderful trip.

Magic Kingdom (September 24)

After a long day of flying, landing in Los Angeles, and flying to Orlando, Giselle and her boyfriend landed just after 6 a.m. They went to the Sunshine Flyer and arrived at their hotel, Caribbean Beach, at 7:15 a.m

They had breakfast at the hotel and they were so excited to start their vacation with Mickey waffles. They had planned to go to Disney Springs, but it was so early and Disney Springs wasn’t open yet. So they decided to go to Magic Kingdom! 

They took the bus and walked right into the park. It was amazing. The setup is very similar to Disneyland Paris. 

Their first ride was Jungle Cruise. The posted wait time was 35 minutes and they waited 22 minutes. 

They had a Lightning Lane time for Haunted Mansion. This was their first time using Genie+. They went over to it’s a small world. The posted wait time was 20 minutes but they only waited 9 minutes.

Their next stop was to get Magic Band+. This made things very convenient for Giselle. They stopped for food at Pinocchio Village Haus. Giselle asked for the Garlic Sticks that are not on the menu but were good!

After that they had a lightning lane for Pirates of the Caribbean and liked this. Giselle especially liked the Jack Sparrow additions!

They took the monorail to the Contemporary in order to take a bus to Disney Springs. They loved seeing the Contemporary while they were there.

They went straight to the Lego Store for their appointment to make their Mini Figures. They were 15 minutes late to their appointment, but it wasn’t a problem. They also had an appointment for later in the day but they were able to do both at the same time.

After some more shopping, they took the bus to Caribbean Beach in order to check in! They were able to get their luggage and go to their room. They were in a pirate room in the Trinidad area. They had two double beds which actually worked out very well. 

They went for a swim and got cleaned up before heading back to Magic Kingdom. They arrived at 7:30 p.m. They went to Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor and only waited 12 minutes. They loved this.

Their next stop was Carousel of Progress, which was wonderful. Giselle loves the history of this ride, especially because of her love for the Imagineering Story

While they waited for their mobile order Casey’s Corner, they went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. They loved this and they were slightly late for picking up their order. 

They made a priority to get a good spot to watch the fireworks. They were uncomfortable with all of the moving around. Giselle wanted to be sure she saw the whole thing.

They waited about 25 minutes for Splash Mountain after the fireworks. Giselle found this very entertaining!  

Giselle was very excited to have Memory Maker because she was able to get so many photos of her boyfriend and herself. 

After this, they took the bus back to their hotel and slept! It was a long day 1. 

Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party (September 25)

They started their day by getting a bus to Magic Kingdom and the monorail over to the Polynesian. Giselle was very excited about going to Captain Cooks for Tonga Toast. She said it was okay but not as good as she’d hoped.

After breakfast, she and her boyfriend made pressed pennies and got photos taken! Then they got dole whips before heading on the boat to the Magic Kingdom and then took a bus to Disney Springs. 

Giselle got in the virtual queue for Gideon’s Bakehouse. Because she has an international number, she was just told to come back in 2 hours. 

After that, they went to the Coca-Cola Store. Giselle had the lavender lemonade and she did not like it at all. 

They went back to Gideon’s and bought one of everything! It ended up being way too much to eat. However, they didn’t regret it because “it is an awful long way to go to not buy the thing!”

After that, they went back to the resort to get ready for the Halloween Party! They were dressed as Miles Morales and Gwen Stacey costumes. 

They took the bus to the Magic Kingdom. They got their bands, candy bags, and got on the PeopleMover! When they went through Space Mountain they saw the ride stuck! 

They received buttons for the best Spiderman couple from a cast member. She’d written on the buttons and Elaine and her boyfriend wore them the rest of the night. 

Next they used a lightning lane for Tomorrowland Speedway. The wait was only 10 minutes, but they were able to miss some of the line.

They wanted to get licenses in the shop afterward and between purchases, her boyfriend’s credit card was canceled! Thankfully, it was okay and he got it fixed a few days later.

Their next stop was to get the Donald Candy Corn sipper and then Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The posted wait time was 40 minutes but they only waited 14 minutes. 

If you spin the barrels while you are in line, a dwarf appears, but if you spin all 7 of them, Snow White appears on the ceiling! They loved this ride.

They walked on Under the Sea without a wait before waiting 6 minutes for Peter Pan’s Flight. Then they rode Barnstormer twice in a row. 

They got photos taken with Goofy and then went to Main Street to see the parade! Then they walked to the bus and took it back to the resort. 

Epcot (September 26)

They woke up and had breakfast at Spyglass. They also booked an individual lightning lane for Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. They walked over to the skyliner and arrived at 7:31 a.m. 

Their first stop was Soarin’ and Giselle loved it so much. It made her cry especially because of her experience with the Imagineering Story

Then they went over to Living with the Land before getting a lightning lane for Journey into Imagination. The Seas with Nemo and Friends was their next stop and it was a walk-on. 

It was then time for their Cosmic Rewind Lightning Lane. They got the song Disco Inferno and the only part that made Giselle feel sick was going backwards. 

Then they went over and met Joy. It was very emotional and wonderful. Giselle was so excited. 

They had a lunch reservation at Coral Reef. They were moved to sit right next to the glass. Their lunch was delicious. 

After lunch they did Turtle Talk with Crush and rode Soarin’ again. They went over to the DVC tent and had a great conversation with Scott. Then they went to guest services to upgrade their tickets to park-hopper tickets. While they were there they got first visit buttons.

They then went over to the World Showcase and got the Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese – Giselle was really looking forward to this. 

At 1 p.m. they were able to get a 7 p.m. virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind to ride again. They were also able to go to Space 220 and get a reservation for 7:30 p.m. for that evening. They were really excited to get that! 

They wandered around the World Showcase and then got in line for Cosmic Rewind. They really enjoyed the queue this time! They got off the ride at 7:35 p.m. and went immediately to their Space 220 reservation. 

They had a wonderful dinner! Giselle says the best part of the meal was the Coconut Panna Cotta. Their server Joseph was excellent. 

That was the end of their day. 

Magic Kingdom (September 27)

Giselle and her boyfriend woke up and took the bus to the Magic Kingdom. They went straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and it had a posted wait time of 50 minutes but they only waited 25 minutes.

They went to Princess Fairytale Hall next and met princesses! Giselle even showed them her planning book and they were astonished by her organization.

Giselle tried the Oh My Gourd cupcake next. She expected it to be completely frosting, but it was cake and she liked it. They also tried the I Lava You Float before getting a lightning lane for Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain closed down before they could use the lightning lane so it converted to an any use pass. Then they walked over and went on Space Mountain. They had done it during the Halloween Party so it was nice to try the other version.

They stopped for Sleepy Hollow waffles. She got the fruit waffle and her boyfriend got the chicken and waffles. 

After lunch they took a shuttle over to the Riviera Resort for a DVC tour. They enjoyed this and are considering DVC as an option in the future.

They met Daisy at the Riviera Resort before going over to their resort. They thought they would go over to Epcot but as soon as they got back to their room they received the notification that the parks would be closed due to the hurricane for the next two days.

In a panic, as Giselle is trying to reorganize their plans, her boyfriend suggests just going to Hollywood Studios right then. 

So they went to the Skyliner and went right to Hollywood Studios. Their first stop was Millennium Falcon. The posted wait time was 65 minutes but they only waited 18 minutes! 

They went to Rise of the Resistance next and really loved it. Next they tried the green and blue milk but Giselle didn’t like either of them! 

The hurricane was shutting things down the next couple of days but everything seemed like business as usual in the parks today. Giselle’s dad sent her a text message asking how she was doing…she was in line for Slinky Dog Dash

It was nice to continue to have the magic for a bit longer. They rode Slinky Dog Dash in the rain before riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which is the same as it is in Disneyland Paris. 

The posted wait time for Tower of Terror was 105 minutes but they only waited 20 minutes. It was very different from the ride in Disneyland Paris!

Next they went on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Giselle thought this was very cute. Then Giselle got a BB8 cup and Skyliner popcorn bucket. They took the skyliner back to their resort and went to bed! 

Switch to Animal Kingdom Lodge (September 28)

They were supposed to transfer to Animal Kingdom Lodge. They’d gone to the front desk to find out more about their reservations and transfer. 

They were told that all of their reservations were canceled. At 9:05 a.m. they were told by the front desk to go to Animal Kingdom Lodge as quickly as possible. They had a ride take them at 10 a.m. 

They arrived at 10:15 a.m. and their Savanna View room was ready to go! They checked in and loved it. 

Rafiki and Timon were in the lobby for the kids. Giselle felt very safe even in the midst of a hurricane because of the way the resorts were built.

They wandered around the resort and the mood was very positive. It was very joyful and Giselle felt cared for. 

They had an early dinner at Boma and it was incredible. They sat next to the window and it was pouring rain and very intense wind. It was so nice to be in a resort that was all under one roof! 

After dinner they went to bed early because they needed the rest. They woke up some during the night due to the hurricane. 

Hurricane (September 29)

They woke up early and saw the debris from the hurricane the night before. Cast members were already around cleaning things up.

Giselle did some laundry first thing and taught everyone else who came in after how to use the machines. It was so nice to have the joy and camaraderie around the resort. They had some breakfast and just hung around the resort. 

There was a two hour wait for the buffet for dinner at 6 p.m. so they came back at 8 p.m. There were characters in the lobby but they missed getting photos with them. 

Miami (September 30-October 1)

Giselle and her boyfriend woke up and wandered around the resort again. They found the game room and played in there for a bit because everything was free. 

They had a rental car reserved with Green Motion to go to Miami, so even though things had not gone according to plan, they kept with this part of the schedule. 

They drove to Miami and it took about 6 hours to get there. They stayed with friends during their time in Miami. 

On Saturday, October 1 they drove to Primark – it was incredible!! They had a lot of Disney things which was wonderful. 

Giselle used their time in Miami to reorganize their Disney park days. Their two park tickets were extended and they were given a third day! 

Originally they’d planned to go to Universal Studios, but Giselle still had so much she wanted to do at Disney, so they opted to go back to Disney from Miami. 

Animal Kingdom (October 2)

Giselle and her boyfriend woke up very early and drove straight from Miami to Animal Kingdom. They arrived before 11 a.m. They were pixie dusted by Aaron at the parking lot to upgrade to Preferred Parking! 

They went right to Animal Kingdom and spoke with Jack at the guest services to get Genie+ added to their tickets. 

Giselle loved seeing the Tree of Life. Their first stop was Expedition Everest – Giselle loved it so much that they ended up riding it 4 times! 

Next they went to Mr. Kamal’s and had the fries. They enjoyed them sitting by the water and watching the Tree of Life. 

Their next stop was the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Giselle was excited that it was the same as on Sabrina the Teenaged Witch. 

They loved the Festival of the Lion King! Then they had a lightning lane for Na’vi River Journey

The posted wait time for Flight of Passage was 70 minutes but they only waited 50, including the pre-show. This ride made Giselle feel slightly sick.

They stopped for the Night Blossom drink and then did It’s Tough to be a Bug. Giselle called it interesting.

They left Animal Kingdom and returned their rental car before going to the Hard Rock Hotel. They loved their room. 

They had dinner at The Cowfish on Citywalk before going back to their room for the night. Before they went to bed they ordered a Mears shuttle to take them back to Animal Kingdom the next day. 

Animal Kingdom (October 3)

They got their Mears shuttle and while they were in the wrong location, they did find their driver. They were picked up just past 7 a.m. and got to Animal Kingdom before 8 a.m. 

They went right to meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventure Outpost. They had a lightning lane for DINOSAUR and Giselle wasn’t expecting the scary part at the end! 

Their next stop was Kali River Rapids and Giselle got very wet! She wasn’t anticipating getting that wet, but it was all based on where she was sitting. 

They enjoyed the Affection Section and then did Flight of Passage again. She loved the queue! 

Their next stop was Feathered Friends in Flight and then Na’vi River Journey. They also grabbed some snacks. Giselle was very pleased with the plant-based options.

They took a bus to Epcot and went right to Test Track. Giselle really liked this. Then they got some impossible sliders and some cookies. 

At 6 p.m. Giselle’s phone died. They’d booked a Mears bus for later that night but she was so tired they wanted to leave earlier. She wasn’t sure where to meet and cast members weren’t sure either. 

They ended up getting a taxi back to their resort. 

Universal Studios (October 4)

When they arrived, Hagrid’s had a 240 minute wait. The line was all the way to Poseidon’s Fury. Giselle decided she had other things she wanted to do rather than wait in line.

They went to Jurassic Park and Giselle loved VelociCoaster. They had Express Pass and found that to be very helpful.

Giselle was surprised by Escape from Gringotts. It made her feel queasy. They then rode Rip Ride RockIt and Giselle was fine just riding it one time. It was difficult going from the smoothness of the Disney rides to more jerky rides at Universal. 

The Incredible Hulk was their next ride and Giselle liked this one but it was also very jerky. They liked The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman but it also made Giselle nauseous. 

Giselle was thrilled to learn that Revenge of the Mummy was open! It wasn’t supposed to be open but it was for rehearsal. They couldn’t use the express pass, but they were able to ride. 

Then they walked over to Hogsmeade and had a wonderful walk. Then they rode on The Simpson Ride. Giselle did not enjoy that at all. 

Next they went to Skull Island: Reign of Kong. The combination of screens and ride was very interesting. 

Next they did Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster and MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack before going on Transformers: The Ride 3-D. She didn’t like Transformers either because it was a lot like The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman

They went to the Hello Kitty shop and Giselle really liked it. Then they got Crepes at the Central Park Crepe Shop, which is somewhere Giselle wanted to try. 

They went through Diagon Alley next. Giselle really enjoys Harry Potter. Next they went to the Animal Actors On Location

They did E.T. Adventure Ride next before making friends with a couple from England on a 7-week holiday in Orlando. 
They had dinner at Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom and that was the end of their day!

Epcot (October 5)

This was their busiest day! At 7 a.m. Giselle booked an Individual Lightning Lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The return time was 8:15 a.m. 

Giselle thought she booked a Mears Shuttle to pick them up at 8 a.m.but she accidentally booked it for the wrong day. They ended up getting an Uber to Epcot. 

They arrived at Epcot at 9 a.m. and she went right to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for their lightning lane while her boyfriend went to Connections to look for Baymax for Giselle. 

They were able to get the gift and ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure! When they arrived, Giselle thought that she was late for her Lightning lane, but it turns out her return time was for PM and they were early! 

Their next stop was Soarin’ for the last time of their trip. Then they went to Turning Red in the Canada Pavilion. Giselle really wanted the Pand-Ade cup, so she got that.

Her boyfriend was ready to go to Disney Springs for a bit so they went to the Skyliner to the Riviera and took a bus to Disney Springs. 

They did some shopping and used mobile check-out at World of Disney. The lines to check out were so long so they were glad to do that.

They also went to Days of Christmas and promptly lost the Pand-Ade cup. Then they stopped for incredible sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich. Giselle had the vegan Cannonballs! and it was wonderful. 

They raced back to Riviera and took the skyliner to Epcot to ride Cosmic Rewind. All of this with bags of glass Christmas ornaments! This time their song was Everybody Wants to Rule the World, which is one of Giselle’s favorite songs ever! 

As soon as they got off, they took the skyliner to Hollywood Studios. Their first stop was to get a locker for all of their things! Giselle was really starting to get rundown. 

Giselle was able to get into the walk-up line at Droid Depot and made a BB8 model. Giselle’s boyfriend also purchased his own pre-made BB8 droid as well. 

They took a break and got some blue popcorn and cokes. Then they went to Muppet*Vision 3D and they liked it. They hoped to get on Tower of Terror but the posted wait time was 40 minutes and they had a Mears Shuttle picking them up in 40 minutes as well.

They decided to do some shopping on their way out to their shuttle instead. They had trouble finding their shuttle, but they eventually found it. They took the shuttle back to the resort.

Universal Studios (October 6)

All of Jurassic Park was closed, but they were able to ride Flight of the Hippogriff. Then they did The Incredible Hulk again and the first time it was lovely. The second time was a little too much. 

Then it was about time to check out of the hotel. They went back, packed up, and got ready to go. They weren’t getting a taxi until later in the day, so they took their bags to guest services and went to City Walk.

Giselle got a plant-based Orange Chicken at Panda Express. Then they went back into the park but the lines were too long so they went back to Panda Express for her boyfriend to get lunch. They did some shopping before going back to the hotel to get their Uber.

The first Uber wouldn’t let them in because they had “too many suitcases”. They only had 3. But their second Uber took them to the airport without issue.

Giselle had packed the snow globes in her carry-on and they gave her some trouble getting through security, but they eventually allowed her to bring them with them.

They flew from MCO to Dallas. They had a delay in Dallas and got some red licorice that Giselle hasn’t been able to purchase in years! 

Giselle says it was one of the best vacations she’s ever had! She hopes to bring her whole family with her to Walt Disney World in 4 years for her 40th birthday! 

Quick Tip

Tammy from Ohio talks about the badges on display at the Fire Department at Magic Kingdom. Tammy learned that you can take a badge from your fire or EMS department to Town Hall. They will exchange your badge with a special badge. It can take a while for those badges to be posted and they rotate the badges. This is a great tip for other first responder families! 

Links Mentioned

Giselle’s Sunscreen

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