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Krista V.’s Christmas Trip – PREP295

Krista V.’s Christmas Trip – PREP295

Krista, her husband, 12 year old daughter, and 9 year old twins split their stay between Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach December 19-26, having a wonderful Christmas trip, doing lots of holiday things and utilizing Genie+.

The Basics

Krista V. and her family went to Disney World with her family Dec. 18 through Dec. 27. They drove so her Disney park days are Dec. 19-26.

She went with her husband and three children: 12 year old daughter and 9 year old son and daughter.

They drove from Houston, Texas because her husband prefers to drive. He did all of the driving and they drove 18 hours straight there and 16 hours back.

She used a Disney Visa Reward discount and because of limited availability with that discount, Krista booked a split stay for the following resorts: Port Orleans Riverside (Dec. 19-23) and Caribbean Beach (Dec. 23-26).

Because they have 3 children, it was important that the hotel room could accommodate 5 people.

The biggest reason they booked this trip is because there was a discount available over Christmas. Her children really wanted to have a Christmas trip and specifically be in the parks on Christmas Day.

Krista and her family had previously been to Disney World in June and because this was the children’s Christmas present they were allowed to do the planning – this is unusual for their family.

They planned lots of park hopping and favorite (new and old!) restaurants.

There were a lot of changes in Lightning Lanes and Genie+ between when Krista planned her trip and when she arrived, but her veteran family made the best of it and had a wonderful holiday trip!

Arrival Day (December 19)

Because of bad weather in Houston, Krista and her family left Houston around 11am on the 18th. They drove straight for 18 hours and arrived in the Orlando area around 6 a.m.

She was able to get a Steakhouse 71 reservation for breakfast for 7:30 a.m. They had previously been to The Wave and said they ordered food from the menu that they’d had previously.

It was a decent breakfast and the server they had was fantastic.

The only disappointment was Krista’s daughter had been looking forward to the EARidescent sip-a-bration non-alcoholic lemonade. It was on the menu but was not available for their breakfast.

Krista got the text that their room was ready at Port Orleans Riverside as they were walking into their reservation. From breakfast they headed to their room at Port Orleans Riverside and immediately went to Disney Springs. (Having a car makes this so much easier!)

Disney Springs was already getting crowded and Gideon’s Bakehouse was high on their list. The line was already forming at 9:20 a.m when they arrived and Gideon’s wasn’t scheduled to open until 10am.

Thankfully because they arrived so early, the standby line had them in and out by 10:30 a.m. They got 6 cookies that somehow survived the trip and ended up coming home with Krista and her family!

They grabbed Pizza Ponte for a quick lunch and were back to their room for a nap by 1 p.m.

On the drive to Orlando, Krista got an alert for a dining reservation for Ohana and cancelled her reservation for Boathouse for that night. She was also able to modify the Ohana reservation from 8 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.

They had a table right next to the windows and were able to watch Enchanted while they ate. It was a fantastic experience. Krista says it was wonderful to do once.

Animal Kingdom/Epcot (December 20)

Krista and her family got to Animal Kingdom for Early Theme Park Entry at 7 a.m. She was on the fence about purchasing Genie+ for this day of her trip but she did and is thankful they had it.

They rope dropped Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest twice before going to their 8:10 a.m. Lightning Lane at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

They began booking Lightning Lanes for Epcot after tapping in at the Safari. They also rode Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur. Surprisingly, Krista rode Dinosaur with just her daughter because her other two children don’t like the smell.

Thinking ahead, Krista mobile ordered Satu’li Canteen for noon. Because they were doing so well on time, she adjusted the time to 11:30am and they picked up their food and went straight to Epcot – with plenty of time to ride the monorail and hang out before they could officially scan in at 2 p.m.

They were able to enter a few minutes early to ride and wait for their dinner reservation at La Hacienda de San Angel. While they were waiting they experienced some rain and a long (but worth it!) line for a crepe.

Their dinner at La Hacienda was good. They went primarily for the Chocolate “Fiesta” Pyramid. The food was good, Krista said, and the Pyramid was fun but wasn’t fantastic.

After dinner they went shopping. They decided to head back to the hotel around 6:30 p.m. because of the rain.

Magic Kingdom/Hollywood Studios (December 21)

Before her trip, Krista knew today would be a very rainy day. They started their day with Genie+ and Early Theme Park Entry at Magic Kingdom. They drove to the Ticket and Transportation Center and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

While they waited to enter, they purchased an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance for later in the day when they’d be park hopping over to Hollywood Studios.

Krista and her family got to the Tomorrowland Entry point and the downpour started. That rerouted them from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to Peter Pan’s Flight, a very long “it’s a small world” boat ride, and Winnie the Pooh.

The rain slowed down enough for them to ride on Big Thunder Mountain twice in a row before Pirates of the Caribbean.

They did all of this before 9 a.m! While they waited for Pirates, they mobile ordered lunch at Columbia Harbour House, and went to their Lightning Lane for Space Mountain. The standby line wasn’t long (probably because of the rain keeping people out of the park) so they probably didn’t need the Lightning Lane.

After scanning into Space Mountain, Krista booked another Lightning Lane for The Haunted Mansion for 9:45 a.m.

After this, Krista began booking her Lightning Lane selections for Hollywood Studios.

They were able to get so much accomplished in the morning at the Magic Kingdom and would be hopping to Hollywood Studios at 2 p.m. At 9:45am she booked Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run but not until 8 p.m.

Before their 11-11:30 a.m. lunch, Krista and her family did Splash Mountain – they were already wet, so why not?

Dole Whips, a little Main Street shopping, and Krista’s family headed back to their hotel to freshen up and change out of their wet clothes before heading to Hollywood Studios.

This is what her plan looked like when they arrived at Hollywood Studios at 2 p.m:

However, things don’t always go according to plan and Rise was down when they arrived to the park.

Krista knew that if it didn’t come back up around 4 p.m. they likely wouldn’t have a chance to ride it. So they switched up their plans and did Star Tours via the standby line.

By around 4 p.m. when Rise was still down, Krista went to a blue umbrella to talk to member of the Guest Experience Team about the concern. She was given the option to either wait and see if it came back up, or receive a refund.

She opted to receive a refund and felt good about that knowing that even if it did come back up, there would be a long line of people who had been waiting while it was down.

After receiving her ($80!) refund, Krista and her family opted to wait in the Standby Lane for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway around 4 p.m. and then immediately to their Tower of Terror Lightning Lane.

They had to wait a while to be seated at The Hollywood Brown Derby, but dinner was very good. Krista said it was one of the better in-park Table Service options.

Because dinner took a little longer than expected, they let their Star Tours Lightning Lane go (also because they’d done it earlier) and went to Alien Swirling Saucers.

Their night ended with Toy Story Mania and Millennium Falcon before leaving the park at 8:30 p.m.

Hollywood Studios/Animal Kingdom/Epcot (December 22)

Today was very cold and overcast all day.

Krista purchased Genie+ for her family and also went to select an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance.

Unfortunately there was miscommunication between her and her husband and they ended up missing the Lightning Lane for Rise – they were gone by 7:03 a.m. They did book a Lightning Lane for Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run for 10:35 a.m.

They rope dropped Slinky Dog Dash and learned that the line is deceptively long and moves very quickly! After Slinky, she and her daughters did Tower of Terror as a walk-on before stopped for coffee and a little shopping.

By the time they walked over to Star Tours, the wait was up to 45 minutes so they opted to fill up their popcorn bucket and head to their Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run Lightning Lane.

After the parent’s piloted the ship, they took a mid-day break at Disney Springs for lunch. Krista was able to get a 12:15 p.m. reservation at The Boathouse for lunch, which they enjoyed. After shopping around, they hopped over to Animal Kingdom!

They went immediately to their Lightning Lane for Expedition Everest at 3 p.m. and waited about 5 minutes when the standby line wait was 60 minutes. Then they went to Kali River Rapids before their Yak and Yeti reservation at 4 p.m.

From dinner they went back to the hotel for a quick refresh before hopping to their third park of the day – Epcot!

They had Lightning Lanes for Spaceship Earth at 5:45 p.m. and Soarin’ at 5:50 p.m. and left the park after that. But the day didn’t end there, they went back to French Quarter for Beignet Sundaes!

After such a long day, they went back, cleaned up, and packed for their hotel switch!

Epcot (December 23)

After sleeping in, Krista and her family got packed up to switch hotels to Caribbean Beach. Their room was ready at 7:06 a.m. so they left for their new room (in building 52!) at 8:30 a.m. From there, they hopped on the Skyliner to Epcot. There weren’t any lines at 8:40 a.m. and were at Test Track by 8:47 a.m.

After Test Track they stopped for breakfast, a popcorn refill, and coffee.

In a continuation of taking things slower, they took the Friendship Boats and grabbed School Bread for Krista’s daughter.

They went to the 11:45 a.m. America Adventure show. They grabbed chicken nuggets for the kids and fish and chips for Krista and her husband, and went to the Gazebo to eat and listen to Christmas music.

Krista was able to get Group 123 for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure virtual queue.

After lunch they rode Spaceship Earth via the standby line and make a reservation for the La Crêperie de Paris where they shared a dessert crepe.

At 3:30 p.m. they left Epcot and took the Skyliner back to their room to rest before driving to dinner at Narcoossee’s. This is a family favorite and they sat on the upper level near the bar.

The meal was good but they really miss some of the old options. After dinner they did some shopping before heading back to the hotel, missing getting called for their Remy’s virtual queue.

Hollywood Studios (December 24)

The holiday crowds really began to pick up! In the morning, they took the skyliner to Hollywood Studios with Genie+ and an individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance for 3:40 p.m.

They also got a Lightning Lane at 8:40 a.m. for Smuggler’s Run. They rope-dropped Slinky Dog Dash again and were off the ride by 7:40 a.m. to ride Tower of Terror and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

For breakfast they split a ronto wrap at Ronto Roasters before riding Smuggler’s Run, Star Tours, and Alien Swirling Saucers all around 9 a.m.

They took a break to do some shopping and were pleased to find much more 50th Anniversary merchandise.

They ordered lunch at Docking Bay 7 for their kids and got wraps at Ronto Roasters for Krista and her husband. They also got some special snacks for the kids and watched the Pixar Cavalcade before leaving the park at 11:45 a.m. to rest.

Krista’s husband heard that the pool bar at Caribbean Beach served the Bread Pudding from Ohana, so he went straight there and got that as his after lunch snack once returning to the hotel.

They rested and Krista booked more lightning lanes for the afternoon and evening.

She did have one challenge and deleted the wrong lightning lane when she was trying to modify times. She used the chat feature in the app which wasn’t helpful but was able to talk with someone in the parks that gave her an anytime pass.

They took the skyliner back at 2:45 p.m. for a lightning lane for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the individual Lightning Lane for Rise at 3:40 p.m.

From there they went immediately to Oga’s and it was very crowded and busy.

At 5:15 p.m. they did Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster with the anytime pass, Toy Story Mania with a Lightning Lane, and Mama Melrose for a dinner reservation by 6 p.m.

They appreciate Mama Melrose and the service was very good. They went right to the skyliner and hopped to Epcot to see Harmonius.

They split up, grabbed some snacks, and grabbed a spot for Harmonious by 8:15 p.m. at the patio between France and the UK. Unfortunately, the show was delayed and at 10 p.m., without watching Harmonious, Krista and her family left via the skyliner back to the hotel.

They heard the fireworks begin around 10:10 p.m. after they were back at the hotel.

Magic Kingdom (December 25)

It’s Christmas Day at Disney World! When everyone woke up they opened a small gift and went to early entry at Magic Kingdom at 8 a.m.

They drove to the TTC and took the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom. They were in line, purchasing Gene+, and entered the park around 7:45 a.m. They rope-dropped Space Mountain and the PeopleMover.

While on the PeopleMover, they used that time to mobile order lunch to order Casey’s Corner for lunch.

When it’s Christmas, you get churros for breakfast! Krista says the best churros are in the hub between Adventureland and Frontierland because they are made fresh!

This was a convenient stop on their way to Splash Mountain to use their lightning lane. However, when they got there, the ride was down.

They were told that they could rebook a lightning lane within 15 minutes. While in line for Thunder Mountain Railroad, Krista continued trying to book another lightning lane without success. It wasn’t until 9:35 a.m. to book another one.

After Thunder Mountain, they went to Starbucks. The line was very long and it took about 45 minutes to get through.

While her husband got coffee, Krista and the kids saw the special Christmas cavalcade!

They filled their popcorn bucket and went on the Haunted Mansion before their Casey’s Corner lunch.

After lunch they got a Dole Whip and used a Lightning Lane for Pirates of the Caribbean at 12:20 p.m. Splash Mountain was back up so they rode that and chose to go back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

They left their hotel room at 4:30 p.m. for their dinner at Kona Cafe at 5:15 p.m.

Her husband was also able to get the Bread Pudding from Ohana at their dinner.

From the Polynesian Resort, they took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom to do the Lightning Lanes they’d stacked up during their break. They started at Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, and a Christmas dance party in Tomorrowland.

They headed to Dumbo at 7 p.m. and watched Enchanted from the Churro cart, rode Thunder Mountain during the fireworks, and got to the front of the park by 8:15 p.m. beating the crowds to the monorail back to the Polynesian to drive back to their hotel.

Final Day (December 26)

They woke up, packed up their hotel room, and drove over to their breakfast reservation at Grand Floridian Cafe. Her daughter was finally able to get the the EARidescent sip-a-bration non-alcoholic lemonade she’d been waiting for the entire trip!

They got in the car at the Grand Floridian at 8:50 a.m. and drove straight home. They didn’t hit much traffic and made it home in about 16 hours!

Key Takeaways

  • Using the Early Entry hour gave them plenty of time to get a lot of rides in. They used this advantage to take a mid-afternoon break most days.
  • If you plan to Park Hop and use Genie+, only book one or two Lightning Lanes at your first park. You can get a lot done earlier in the morning and can book your Lightning Lanes at your next park.
  • Never give up on dining reservations! The subscriptions help, but checking on them on your own is often quicker. If you hit the modify button within the app it can be much quicker than relying on the subscription alerts.


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