“It’s how you frame your mind,” is how Jude reflected on her recent 10-day trip to Walt Disney World with her husband and three children. Jude shares with Shannon about special interactions with a cast member at the Grand Floridian, her extensive plans, what is like to adjust at Disney and what she would do differently. Listen as she tells of special little moments. “The stuff I think about isn’t the rides. It’s twirling my girls in the Grand Floridian lobby. A lot of the things we loved the most were things we couldn’t have planned.”
Post trip begins: 59 minutes
Jude, her husband, and their three kids ages 13, 10, and (turning!) 5 drove through the night from Illinois on August 30th. Their trip included a split stay at the Grand Floridian until September 4th and the Riviera until the 10th. They used DVC points rented in two different contracts.
This was basically the first trip for everyone as Jude was the only one who had been to Disney World and that was years ago.
They picked these trip dates because Jude’s husband is Air Force Reservist and everything is aligned with the kids’ schedules. It’s also Jude’s youngest’s 5th birthday!
They have 5 day park hopper plus through the military discount. They also used a military discount to get Memory Maker at Guest Services for $100. They used Disability Access Services and Genie+ during their trip.
Their trip had some sickness involved. The week prior to leaving, Jude’s middle daughter had covid. She didn’t seem very sick but they tested everyone and she was out of her quarantine period on their departure day.
Her husband tested positive as soon as they arrived home but they’d all been in the car with him so they all started testing positive as they got home.
Departure (August 30)
Jude and her family left Illinois to drive to Orlando. They began loading the car but because they have a hybrid they had to weigh their luggage to make sure they were under their weight limit.
They loaded up the kids (showered and in their jammies). The drive was very long, but the kids slept the whole day. Jude drove the bulk of the drive.
Arrival (August 31)
They stopped at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast but then arrived at the Grand Floridian. It was magical! They got buttons for the kids and made some room requests. Jude wanted to be sure they got an upper floor with a balcony.
On their way to change into their swimsuits to head to the pool, they ran into Esther, a greeter that was just delightful. After that, they went to their cabana at the pool.
They rented a cabana so that dad and kids can swim and play while mom naps. Their attendant was Barry and he was wonderful. The cabana was about $300 but it was just lovely and well worth it. There’s a couch, safe, TV, snacks, and mini-fridge with drinks.
They checked into the cabana at noon and the kids played the pool games while Jude relaxed. Jude’s youngest played with the kids next to their cabana.
At 2 p.m. the storms rolled in and they had just gotten their room text so they went to their room. Because of the rain, they refunded 50% of their cabana rental.
They loved their room – they had a resort studio. There was a lot of storage and her son said it was the fanciest hotel room he’d ever seen. They were in 9307 and had a great view of the water and the Polynesian.
Jude and her son unpacked the room while her husband took the girls to the lobby. Once they were unpacked and ready to go, they took a boat to the Polynesian for their 6:50 p.m. reservation at Ohana.
They really loved the Polynesian but were thankful to be at the Grand Floridian because the Polynesian was so crowded. They checked in at Ohana and were seated near the windows and could see the castle.
Everyone really loved the chimichurri chicken and potstickers. They were so full but of course they ate the bread pudding! They had a wonderful experience.
They went to the beach to try to catch the Electric Water Pageant but they just missed it. So they took the monorail to get back to the Grand Floridian for the fireworks and they ended up on the monorail for the fireworks and missed them as well.
It was a really magical day.
Magic Kingdom (September 1)
This is Jude’s daughter’s 5th birthday! They got up early and got to the monorail security around 6:50 a.m. Unfortunately they didn’t have great luck with security and things took a while.
Jude planned to use Genie+ to stack lightning lanes at Hollywood Studios later in the day. This was complicated because Magic Kingdom was not crowded and couldn’t book anything for later in the day for Hollywood Studios.
On their way in, they purchased Memory Maker with the Military Discount for $100. This has to be done in person. The next stop was the castle. They took their time and enjoyed the magic.
Their first ride was Haunted Mansion. This was wonderful for the birthday girl who loves all things spooky!
They went to it’s a small world next and walked on before going to the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. Jude made a DAS return time for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but hadn’t clicked the second confirm on the app, so they had to wait a bit longer.
They waited and then tapped in for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before going to Adventureland. They went on Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. They had a Lightning Lane for Jungle Cruise and had an almost immediate return time.
It was then time for their 10:45 a.m. reservation at Crystal Palace. They paid breakfast pricing, but at 11 a.m. they brought out lunch. They had great character interactions, but because they were between meals, it took them a very long time to meet all of the characters.
Their TRON boarding group was called during their meal, so they went their next. It was starting to get very hot. They were going to do rider switch because Jude’s youngest wasn’t tall enough to ride.
However, Jude’s daughter was very hot and tired, but couldn’t sleep in the stroller, so they decided to leave. On their way out, they had a DAS return time for meeting Mickey at Time Square Theatre.
Everyone went back and took a nap. Jude had to wake everyone up at 4 p.m. After waking up, they met Esther again. She made them the family of the day for the Grand Floridian.
They got to the bus dock to take a bus to Hollywood Studios. As soon as they arrived, it started to rain. Thankfully they had ponchos and flip flops for the rain.
Jude had stacked lightning lanes for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, and Tower of Terror. Jude’s daughter was so excited about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and she just loved it!
They originally had scheduled dinner at Hollywood and Vine for the Halloween package and Fantasmic package. However, they canceled the Fantasmic package thinking that the crowds would be so low they wouldn’t need it.
The rain finally stopped and Jude changed back into her tennis shoes. The flip flops she brought were really hurting her feet.
They went to Rise of the Resistance. Jude had a DAS return time but it wasn’t needed because the wait time was only 20 minutes. When they got off, the wait time was only 15 minutes! They wanted to rise again, but they had to go to their dinner at Hollywood and Vine.
The food and character interaction were really good. However, it was a longer meal because their server was very busy. While her husband waited for the check, she took the kids to wait in line to get into Fantasmic.
It was a very long line but they did get a good spot. Thankfully Jude brought a microfiber towel and was able to wipe down the seats.
They left the park and went to bed.
Typhoon Lagoon (September 2)
Their plan was to arrive at Typhoon Lagoon at opening but they arrived about 30 minutes later. It felt very crowded to Jude and it was a little chilly. In retrospect she would have gone to Epcot instead.
This was one of Jude’s least favorite experiences because it doesn’t feel like Disney. The wave pool was terrifying for her.
They left at 3 p.m. and drove back to their resort. Jude’s husband and older two kids had a 5:45 p.m. reservation for foot golf. This is part of their ticket package. They had a voucher to take a cab to foot golf, which they did to avoid having to drive on vacation.
They all had a good time playing foot golf. They enjoyed it but wouldn’t have paid for it because it’s more expensive than it was worth.
While they were golfing, Jude and her youngest had a really good time. She had purchased bubble wands on shopDisney before their trip. They spent about 30 minutes playing with bubbles in the courtyard.
They also got mac and cheese at Gasparilla Grill. When they got back to their room they had a cake and card from Esther for a birthday celebration!
Everyone got ready for bed while Jude and her husband were going to go to dinner at Steakhouse 71. However, they opted to cancel that over the phone and instead watched the fireworks from the Grand Floridian.
After the fireworks, they missed a boat so they decided to take a monorail, which was the wrong call. They got stuck in a very busy monorail. They considered walking, but Jude had horrible blisters.
Mini Golf (September 3)
Everyone slept in because they were all so tired. Jude’s daughter wanted to go to Basin at the Grand Floridian. They had so much fun. The boys played chess on the yard while they did some shopping. They also got a beautiful gift from the front desk at the Grand Floridian thanking them for being such a great guests.
They got a delicious lunch at Gasparilla Grill. They’d originally planned to go to Winter Summerland with a 11 a.m. for the sand course and a 12 p.m. reservation for the snow course. However, Jude ended up canceling both reservations.
They ended up going to mini-golf anyway. They had a lot of fun because it was so interactive. Everyone got a hole in one!
They went right from mini-golf to Disney Springs. They had a 3 p.m. appointment to make mini figs. They really loved this and had so much fun!
Disney Springs was VERY crowded. They had a 4 p.m. early dinner reservation at The BOATHOUSE. It was delicious.
After dinner they were walking around and her husband decided he wanted to listen to music at Raglan Road while she took the kids to World of Disney.
Jude’s oldest wanted to go the Coca Cola Store as well. They walked over there so that he could go there and try some of the drinks as well. They had a lot of fun and Jude’s husband met them there.
After Disney Springs, they went back to the room to load up the car and watch the fireworks from the Grand Floridian. Jude also wanted to do some laundry, which was the only downfall of the Grand Floridian.
They watched the fireworks and it was magical. However, the dryer was very slow and there were several loads in front of Jude’s load.
They called a bellhop to bring their bags downstairs. They got the coolest bellhop who used to be a character. It was so cool! He drove them and their stuff to their van. They were able to move their van closer, which was wonderful.
Jude is still waiting for a dryer to dry their clothes. They load up more things in the car while they wait but it’s still not ready.
Resort Switch and Magic Kingdom (September 4)
When they woke up, they finished packing the van and Jude went to check on their clothes in the dryer. They weren’t dry yet so Jude opted to take the girls to their 8:05 a.m. reservation at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservation.
Jude took the girls but got almost to security and she realized she forgot their dresses. Her son ran them down to her and they were on their way!
It was a magical experience. The girls had a great time and it was so wonderful. While they were there, the boys entered the park and went on Space Mountain.
The girls got some great photos prior to breakfast. Jude also got a DAS return time for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They loved it again!
They all met together at 9:30 a.m. for their breakfast reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
While some went on the Barnstormer, Jude and her girls played in the splash area. Then they all went on Dumbo. After that, the girls changed out of their dresses into more comfortable dresses.
It was then time for their 12 p.m. DAS return time to meet Tiana and Rapunzel. They then got a DAS return time for Winnie the Pooh and rode on that. They stopped for snacks at the Cheshire Cat Cafe.
Jude’s husband took the kids on the Mad Tea Party before it was time for their 1 p.m. DAS return time for Enchanted Tales with Belle. This was a really cute experience!
They were able to see the parade from Frontierland. Around 4 p.m. they received their text that the room was ready at the Riviera. Jude’s husband and son took the stroller and used Disney transportation to get to the Riviera while Jude and the girls drove.
They will got some food at Primo Piatto for dinner before going on the skyliner to Epcot. They arrived shortly before the fireworks started. Jude had gotten a DAS return time for Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt on their way to Epcot.
While they waited for Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt, they got some food and drinks from the food booths. When it was time for them to go on Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt, they walked over there. At this point, Jude’s feet were hurting so much. Her daughter also fell asleep after Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt.
They’d planned to go back after Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt but they decided to go to a blue umbrella to see if they could get on Cosmic Rewind. They went over to the ride and were able to get on all together. They woke up her daughter to ride and got in line.
They perked up in the line and absolutely loved the ride. When they got off Cosmic Rewind they asked if they could ride it again and they could! They got right back on and it was amazing!
This was the end of their night. Jude’s husband took the kids because she was still moving fairly slow.
Hollywood Studios (September 5)
Everyone was very tired and they arrived to Hollywood Studios about an hour after opening. Their first stop was the baby care center for baby wipes. They have a vending machine there, which is so convenient.
Jude had a DAS return time for Smuggler’s Run, so they started in Galaxy’s Edge. They hopped into some shops because they were taking their time and cooling off in the air conditioning.
Now it was time for their DAS return time for Smuggler’s Run. After this they took photos around Galaxy’s Edge before walking over to Toy Story Land.
They had a DAS return time for Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash. Sadly, Slinky Dog Dash was down most of the day. Jude’s husband took the kids on Alien Swirling Saucers. They all went on Toy Story Mania.
The next DAS return time was for Disney Jr. Play and Dance. Jude highly recommends using DAS or a lightning lane for the shows. You get to enter first and have preferred seating.
Jude and her daughter met Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, and Fancy Nancy while her husband took the older kids to Rock N Roller Coaster with the anytime pass they had. Jude’s daughter LOVED the character interaction. They did have some trouble with the anytime pass, but the cast member did honor it.
Jude and her daughter went over to meet Olaf and then they all met together to see the Mickey Shorts. Jude isn’t a big fan of these but they kids liked it and it was really cute.
Jude’s husband left there and took her son to their 6 p.m. reservation to make droids. Jude and the girls took their time walking over to meet them at the play pad.
While her son was playing on the play pad, Chewy came over and startled her son. It was precious. They had some great character interactions in Galaxy’s Edge.
Jude and her daughter had trouble in there because of some sensory processing issues. So she took the girls and went to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They walked out for the projection show, which was so great.
They shopped their way out and because the skyliner line was so long they just waited on a bench. When the line was shorter, they got on the skyliner back to their resort. The boys weren’t that far behind them.
Animal Kingdom (September 6)
Jude had planned to rope drop every day and take a middle of the day break, but they opted to sleep in. They took a bus from the Riviera to Animal Kingdom.
As soon as they got into the park they got a DAS return time for Kilimanjaro Safaris. The wait was only 15 minutes so they were able to get on as soon as they got to the back of the park.
They did pick up the Wilderness Explorers but the kids weren’t as interested in it as Jude and her husband.
Outside of the safari they got African corn. They went on the Safari and it was great except for a child having a meltdown. After the Safari they went to Flame Tree Barbecue and tried to meet Kevin.
Everyone needed a minute so they went to Tough to be a Bug! This helped everyone’s mood. Their next stop was to use a DAS at 12 p.m. for Kali River Rapids. Everyone wanted to get went except Jude’s youngest and she was the only one who got wet.
When they got off they were finally able to meet Kevin, which was really fun. After that they got frozen cokes before going to Feathered Friends in Flight. They loved this!
After this Jude and her youngest went to Dinoland and her husband took the big kids to Expedition Everest. They met back up and the kids played in the Boneyard before going to Dino Bites for the giant ice cream sandwich.
They all rode DINOSAUR. Jude loved it and the kids weren’t that impressed. When they got off, they raced to the train to the Animation Experience. This was such a fun time for all of them.
After this they ran back to make it to Festival of the Lion King and were seated on the front row! The girls were chosen to come up at the end, which was so special.
Next they went over to Pandora because they had a DAS return time for Flight of Passage. Jude left her oldest with their youngest so that they could rider switch and her husband could ride twice. He’s a big Avator fan.
After Flight of Passage they went to Navi River Journey together. The girls especially loved this ride! There was a guy in front of them who had his phone out recording the whole ride. It was distracting.
Jude’s husband and oldest son went back to Flight of Passage while Jude and the girls went on Navi River Journey again. They did a mobile order from Satu’li Canteen and they picked it up right at park close.
At this point they realized the virtual queue was still open for Cosmic Rewind. They decided to take the Epcot bus to ride. However, it closed while they were on the bus to Epcot.
When they got to Epcot, they decided to take the bus to Hollywood Studios and then took the skyliner back to the resort. When they got back to the room, her oldest was very concerned about the school work he needed to do.
Jude originally had a babysitter booked but canceled when they got back to the room. Her son stayed in the room to do homework while her youngest slept. Jude, her husband, and their daughter went to Magic Kingdom Extra Evening Hours.
They got a virtual queue for TRON and were able to convert it to a Lightning Lane with their DAS. This was great because the line was so long.
Epcot (September 7)
They slept in and went to Epcot around 10 a.m. When they entered, they were able to meet Daisy immediately, which was fun! Jude bought the Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. In retrospect she wished they’d gotten the passports instead.
They walked around to France and got ice cream; it was delicious. They did some shopping and then went on Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt made Jude a little motion sick so she had to take some medicine when she got off.
The Jamminators were near Connections and they stopped to see them before leaving that section of Epcot. They wandered around the World Showcase, riding and walking around. It was very hot outside and all inside areas were very crowded.
After they met Anna and Elsa, the kids were starting to melt down. Jude’s oldest son was rallying everyone. They had a DAS return time for Frozen Ever After. After that Jude’s husband needed a break so he got a beer while Jude took the girls to do some shopping.
Jude’s oldest son was handling the bag and stroller like a champion. He was doing great and helping keep everyone positive.
They continued around and did the Pearl Experience in the Japan Pavilion. Jude’s son really wanted to stay for the fireworks and he’d done such a great job they decided to stay to do that. They got some snacks and watched the fireworks. It was a good experience.
Rest Day and Halloween Party (September 8)
They’d originally planned to take the skyliner to the Riviera but because of some storms, they hopped on a bus at the skyliner station. This ended up being really cool because it was behind the scenes.
When they got back to the resort, Jude did laundry. There was a large laundry room with lots of washers and dryers, which was lovely. It was cutting it close, so Jude sent her husband and son to Magic Kingdom while she got the girls ready.
Jude’s husband and son got in and went immediately to Jack and Sally. In the midst of some chaos, Jude and the girls get on the bus and get to the Magic Kingdom. However, she gets to security and realizes she doesn’t have the diaper bag. She thought it was on the bus, but it wasn’t. Turns out, it was left in the room.
They got the diaper bag because it had their autograph books in it. It was a very sensitive time. They got another bus to get back to the Magic Kingdom. They arrive around 4:30 p.m. and Jude’s husband and son are getting closer to the front. They also found out the DAS line was very short and you could get right in.
They met Jack and Sally and it was magical. After meeting Jack and Sally they got their treat bags and went to Tomorrowland. The PeopleMover had a really long line, so they skipped that and never ended up doing it later.
They went to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and then the treat station. They went to the Zom-beatz Bash and her son went to ride PeopleMover, but got in the wrong line. He went on AstroOrbiter instead and enjoyed it.
They all were enjoying themselves and stayed for the whole thing. They met the characters and loved it. After that Jude took her youngest to the Disney Junior Dance party while her husband took the big kids on Space Mountain. Jude loved the Disney Junior Dance party!
The line for Cosmic Rays for food looks very long but it moves really quickly so Jude was able to get food. They were in there for at least an hour and really enjoyed it! Everyone had a blast.
On their way to Haunted Mansion they saw the Step Sisters and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They got to go on Haunted Mansion. They went to Pirates of the Caribbean after Haunted Mansion. The overlay was okay, but there weren’t live pirates on the ride.
They also were able to catch the parade. Sadly, Jude’s youngest fell asleep before the parade. They woke her up for the parade.
The fireworks went off while they were on Pirates of the Caribbean so they got off and caught the end of the fireworks. Then Jude ran to get in line for Stitch. Jude’s daughter was dressed as Lilo and really wanted to meet Stitch.
Jude’s family met her in line for Stitch. No one was in a good mood and her youngest fell asleep again. They decided to let her sleep. They did wake her up for the stage show.
They loved the Hocus Pocus Spelltacular! After that they were all hungry and tired, ready to go back to the room.
Last Day (September 9)
After a very late night, they slept in. They just relaxed in the room. There were characters in the lobby which was really magical. They had breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace but it was difficult because everyone was so tired and melting down.
When Donald came around he sat in the booth with the kids and it was just perfect. It really made everything better.
Jude took the kids to the Character Warehouse. Everything took such a long time. They went to two of them but couldn’t find what they wanted. So they went to Disney Springs to find a specific Loungefly. No one was ready to leave Disney.
They went back to the resort and did some arts and crafts. Jude purchased a special Donald plush for her daughter to remember their Topolino’s Terrace experience.
While Jude was doing this, her husband was in the room resting because he didn’t feel good. They got Primo Piatto for dinner and Jude did the rest of their laundry. The kids got cleaned up and got some rest.
Jude got the van loaded while everyone else rested. They left around 2 a.m. They took turns driving back but it was very long and everyone was very tired.
As soon as they got back, Jude’s husband tested positive for Covid and they all tested positive as well.
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