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Jenn A. shares her runDisney trip and need to pivot – PREP 354

HomeJenn A. shares her runDisney trip and need to pivot – PREP 354
Jenn A. shares her runDisney trip and need to pivot – PREP 354

 Jenn A. talks with Shannon about her recent trip to Walt Disney World. She, her husband, and three children embraced “flow” and the need to pivot due to sickness and family preferences. Their trip at the Boardwalk villas was their first as Disney Vacation Club owners and Annual Passholders, and included a runDisney race and sweet unexpected moments. Listen until the end to hear Jenn’s daughters chime in on what were their favorite parts of the trip.

The Basics

Jenn, her husband, and their three children (ages 10, 7, and 3) will be traveling for their welcome home DVC trip April 13-20th. They are staying in a Boardwalk one-bedroom villa. 

This trip is to celebrate her husband’s birthday and Jenn will also be running in the Springtime Surprise Toy Story 10 miler. Their first trip as a family was last October and there were a few difficulties, which influenced their planning for this trip.

First trip was last October and there were some hiccups but they did buy DVC on that trip. Their biggest plan for this trip was flow – this was their motto. If it didn’t have flow, they weren’t going to do it.

Arrival Day (April 13)

Jen and her family left their home around 2 a.m. to get to the airport. They arrived smoothly in MCO and they used a car service to get to their resort. Even with a grocery store stop, they arrived at Boardwalk by 9 a.m. 

No one got much sleep so they arrived very tired. Everyone was hungry, so they got a last minute reservation at Trattorio al Forno. They had a great meal – Mary was their server who was great. 

After breakfast, they took a bus to Disney Springs and got in line for Gideon’s. At noon the line was only 20 minutes! They got two of each cookie and it was such a fun experience. 

Their next stop was to go to Guest Services and they upgraded to Annual Passes. It was a delightful experience. Because of her husband’s birthday button, they received some lightning lanes for later in the week. 

Jenn considers it a good value because they had already spent so much for 4 day tickets for everyone. It was a wonderful start to the trip, especially for her husband who really started to catch the Disney spirit.

They left Disney Springs to go to ESPN for the runDisney Expo. They took a Lyft, which was a long walk, especially because they were so tired. Jenn left them to rest while she got her bib. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a quick experience, but Jenn was able to get her merchandise and her bib. Her kids got a rest and they were able to take a bus back to the Boardwalk. On their way back to the resort, they got a text that their room was ready around 3:30 p.m.

They had a ground floor room on the Hollywood Studios side of the building. The room wasn’t renovated, but it was lovely. She loved the king bed and layout. They brought an inflatable mattress for their middle daughter while her other two shared the bed together. 

Jenn shipped things from home to put in an owners locker. They had filled one on their previous trip and got a second one. This kept them from having to check any bags. 

They were so tired that evening that they canceled their Flying Fish reservation and got dinner at Boardwalk Bakery. They went to bed early in hopes to all feel better. 

Epcot (April 14)

They have a stroller rental arriving at 7 a.m. from Kingdom Stroller. They plan to rope drop Magic Kingdom. 

They purchased Genie+ for $35 each. They got a Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue and an individual lightning lane. They also got a lightning lane for Test Track.

They got to Epcot and went straight to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. They’d hoped to avoid using Rider Switch with their youngest, but after Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure they realized he wasn’t going to be as adventurous as they’d thought. 

After Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, they got some coffee in the UK Pavilion. They started walking to Cosmic Rewind and at that point Jenn thought that her youngest was going to be able to ride. However, he was not interested at all.

Jenn’s husband and daughters rode together, but they were in the last car and it was very intense. They were all so thankful that her youngest wasn’t on it because it was so fast and thrilling. 

While her husband and daughters rode the ride, Jenn sat on a bench and waited. They were able to ride again immediately and Jenn took her middle daughter. 

At this point, they opted to have a meeting to determine that their youngest wouldn’t be riding any intense rides. 

They were very excited to ride Test Track but because they decided to use Rider Switch, it was a very long experience. The Rider Switch doesn’t work well with Genie+ because if it takes longer than an hour, you can lose your time slot. 

Jenn’s husband and daughter rode Test Track and it took so long that Jenn and her other daughter opted to skip it. 

At this point they started stacking lightning lanes for the evening at Magic Kingdom. They had a 1 p.m. Via Napoli lunch and it was great. Jenn highly recommends the Carciofi Pizza. 

By 3 p.m. they were back at their resort to regroup for the rest of the day. Jenn was not feeling great, but they took a short break and were on a bus on the way to Magic Kingdom by 4:30 p.m.

Their first stop was to meet Mickey at Town Square. Because they had a lightning lane, there wasn’t a wait. Jenn’s husband really enjoyed this experience and started to see that Disney isn’t just for kids.

On their way out of Town Square, they experienced the flag folding ceremony. It was unexpected and really interesting. This happens right at 5 p.m.

Their next stop was Peter Pan’s Flight and PhilharMagic. While walking around, Jenn’s daughter seemed to have a reaction to the sun, so her husband took her to first aid to get her checked out. 

After having a break in the shade, they walked over to Carousel of Progress. Jenn really liked this because it shows the progress in the world. 

They had a great dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. They were able to see the fireworks from the bridge near Liberty Square. They also caught some fireworks from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. 

Jenn’s youngest was asleep in the stroller so they didn’t want to rush out. They sat down on the grass at the hub waiting for the crowds to leave. They took a Minnie Van back to their resort. Jenn highly recommends this! 

Hollywood Studios (April 15)

Jenn purchased Genie+ today and liked that the price was less than previously. She got lightning lanes for Rise of the Resistance for her husband and daughters. They also got lightning lanes for Slinky Dog Dash.

When they woke up, Jenn’s daughter’s face was very swollen. They took a slower morning in order to attend to her. 

They got to Hollywood Studios around 11 a.m. and slowed down to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Rather than getting rides in at rope drop, they decided to stack lightning lanes. Jenn was able to do this by modifying times all day. 

Their first stop was their Sci-fi Dine-in lunch reservation. She enjoyed getting to eat in the dark, but she didn’t think it was the best meal she’s ever had. 

After lunch they went to meet Olaf, Mickey Shorts, and Frozen Sing-Along before getting on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They stayed in the shade and air conditioning as much as possible.

Their next stop was to Walt Disney Presents. Jenn really loved this. She loves the acceptance and inclusion found at Disney World. 

They did Toy Story Land next and saw the toy soldiers. They did Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers before stopping for their early dinner reservation at Woody’s Round-up Rodeo.

Alejandro was the chef here and they spoke to him because of Jenn’s husband’s allergy. Unfortunately, he was unable to eat any of the meat. The food was okay and the experience was very long. 

Jenn wasn’t feeling great and they had some lightning lanes they wanted to use, so they left before dessert. After their meal, they went to Star Tours. Jenn’s husband and daughters did Rise of the Resistance next and then they were all able to ride Smuggler’s Run together. 

They had a really fun time at Smuggler’s Run because they had a vehicle to themselves and the girls were able to be the pilots. When they got off, it was starting to rain and they had a lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash

They raced over and were able to ride using rider swap without issue before the lightning really started. They waited out the crowds and did Toy Story Mania a few times. Thanks to the weather, they did Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway without a wait. 

They got some ice cream sandwiches and had a great time walking in the rain. They chose to have a positive attitude. 

Toy Story 10 Miler (April 16)

Throughout the trip, Jenn was not feeling well at all. By the night before, Jenn felt good enough that she could show up and at least receive her medal. 

She got up and went to the race. The energy carried her and while she didn’t feel the best, she was grateful that she went. Jenn is not a runner but she is showing up and doing hard things. She is running with a friend she knew online and was excited to meet in person. 

Jenn and her friend were in their corral until about 6 a.m. She made it 7.5 miles before tapping out. She got on the bus and got some water. She says it was such a positive experience. 

Jenn tried to skip out on breakfast, but her friend pushed her to enjoy time together. They had Cape May Cafe reservations with her running friend and family as well as her family. 

Jenn was really not feeling great at this point, so she went to bed after breakfast and spent the day in bed. They had pizza delivered and everyone rested all day. They were in bed by 9 p.m.

Magic Kingdom (April 17)

They purchased Genie+ again today and were excited the price continued to go down. Jenn got individual lightning lanes for her husband and girls to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They also got individual lightning lanes for Tron and lightning lanes for Space Mountain. 

They moved a Steakhouse 71 reservation from earlier in the week to today for lunch. They didn’t have any issues getting the time they wanted. 

Their first stop in Magic Kingdom was to get a Cheshire Cat Tail and it was not a win for Jenn’s family. Their next stop was it’s a small world. They were going to go to Peter Pan’s Flight, but by 8:50 a.m. the line was already very long. 

They did Under the Sea and got a cinnamon roll. It was raining so they were moving from inside to inside to stay dry.

They used some of their lightning lanes they got at guest services earlier in the trip. They did Dumbo in the rain and it was not pleasant. Jenn does not recommend Dumbo in the rain. 

Their next stop was Space Mountain. While they used rider swap, her youngest played in the rain. Jenn was stacking lightning lanes for later.

They did Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and her husband got chosen as “That Guy.” He just loved it! 

It stopped raining and they walked over to the Contemporary for their Steakhouse 71 reservation. It was a really great lunch. They especially enjoyed the chocolate cake. 

Rather than going back to their resort, they decided to take a rest at the Contemporary. They hung out on a couch to rest as their mid-day break. 

Jenn was feeling much better at this point in the trip. The crowds were also much lighter at this point in the trip. 

They took the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom and started using their stacked lightning lanes. They did Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

The highlight was entering the Magic Kingdom was listening to the Dapper Dans. Jenn absolutely loved this. She says she could have stayed there all night. 

They had some orange dole whip while they did the Tiki Room. They had some lightning lanes and saw characters before heading to their reservation for dinner. 

They arrived at Cinderella’s Royal Table at 7 p.m. and were told that the wait would be 45 minutes but they were seated right away. 

It was a fine experience but it was rushed. They were empathetic toward the servers who seemed like they needed to flip the tables quickly.

The princesses didn’t show up until they were done with their meal. The kids loved meeting the princesses but they don’t know that they will need to do this again.

After dinner, they were going to use some lightning lanes, but they opted to watch the fireworks from behind the castle. 

They happened to sit near a cast member on her day off and it was a wonderful experience. Her name was Melanie and she was just having a great time with Jenn’s children. She got them a really good spot to see Tinker Bell flying and the kids just loved this. 

This part of the trip was one of the very best from the whole trip. 

After the fireworks they did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Jenn and her middle daughter rode Tron. Jenn was very disappointed that her legs did not fit in the ride vehicle. The cast members were lovely and she was able to ride in the accommodation seat. 

Jenn says that it’s a poorly designed ride and it’s okay if you don’t fit. But it was cool to ride at nighttime. 

Her son fell asleep in the stroller and they took a Minnie Van back to their resort.

Epcot (April 18)

Because they upgraded to Annual Passes, this was an added day to their original plans. They decided to have an easy day at Epcot. 

Jenn opted not to purchase Genie+ today but they did get Individual Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind. 

They slept in and had breakfast at Topolino’s. Their breakfast was really wonderful. 

After breakfast they had some pool time at their resort. The weather was perfect. 

They arrived at Epcot around 4 p.m. The crowds were so low and most of the rides were walk-ons. They did Soarin’ and Living with the Land without a wait. 

They walked around looking at things and getting snacks. Cosmic Rewind was down this evening and it came up right before their dinner reservation. Jenn’s husband and daughter were able to ride but because they needed to use Rider Switch, no one else did.

This is stressful as a parent with multiple kids because you want to make it fair but it’s hard to make things fair and even.

They had a good dinner at La Hacienda. The food was delicious but their table was near the back at the kitchen, which wasn’t ideal. 

During Epcot Forever they walked back to their resort.

Typhoon Lagoon (April 19)

Originally Jenn and her family had planned to do 4 parks in one day. Earlier in the week however, Jenn decided she couldn’t do it. They gave their children the option of two parks to visit that day.

They decided to do Typhoon Lagoon and then going to Hollywood Studios. They ended the night at Extended Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.

They slept in a bit and then went to Typhoon Lagoon. Jenn says it was a one and done due to the ages of their kids. Her youngest didn’t have the best time because he got sand in his eye. They spent a couple of hours there before leaving.

They hung out at the Boardwalk for a bit and while they were resting, Jenn was able to reschedule a cancelled dinner from earlier in the week at Toledo. It was a delightful meal!

After dinner, they took a Lyft to Hollywood Studios. They had lots of stacked lightning lanes Rise of the Resistance, Smuggler’s Run, Tower of Terror, and more. They weren’t able to use all of their lightning lanes because they wanted to do Fantasmic and get to Magic Kingdom as well.

Fantasmic was delayed, which worked to their advantage. It didn’t start until 9 p.m. and Jenn’s youngest fell asleep. They left Fantasmic early to get to Magic Kingdom and were walking in around 10 p.m.

Jenn stayed in the hub on the grass with her sleeping son while her husband and girls went on all the rides. Everyone was thrilled. Jenn loved how quiet the park was and how much they could do.

Their son woke up at midnight and they were able to do a couple of things as a whole family, which was lovely. It was a nice and exhausting end to their trip.

Departure Day (April 20)

They slept in, packed up, got the stroller off, and were rushing around in the morning. They had everything packed and ready to go at 11:06 a.m.

They took a car to Boma and loved it! They had a great time hanging out in the lobby and just enjoyed themselves.

They took a car back to Boardwalk to get back to their bags and get to MCO to fly home.

Favorite Part of the Trip

Shannon was able to ask Jenn’s children their favorite part of the trip.

One daughter loved seeing the fireworks at Magic Kingdom and hanging out with Melanie, the cast member. She loved how sweet and kind the cast member was and how she showed the kids how to see Tinker Bell fly. She also loved seeing Fantasmic and staying at Magic Kingdom at 1 a.m.

Her other daughter also said that meeting Melanie was a favorite part. She also really liked Tron and said she would ride it a million times again. She said it was fast at the beginning but then wasn’t that intense.

Jenn says her favorite part of the trip was seeing the Dapper Dans and the moment with Melanie. Jenn also mentioned that her whole family is going back to Disney in 32 days to celebrate some birthdays!

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Shannon Albert