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Marin M.’s family celebration trip to Walt Disney World – PREP 364

Marin M.’s family celebration trip to Walt Disney World – PREP 364

Marin planned a family trip to Walt Disney World in 2020 to celebrate her retirement. Delayed due to the pandemic shutdowns and life changes, Marin, her husband, their daughter, son-in-law, and son finally made the trip from Kansas City to Orlando and added a couple of other celebrations to the list. Marin shares with Shannon about their experiences of reconnecting with each other, a 30th anniversary dinner at Victoria and Albert’s, and VIP tour, what they thought of the Disney’s Riviera Resort, and more!

The Basics

Marin and her adult children (son, daughter, and son in law) took a trip to Florida that included a beach trip and several park days. They used a military discount to book their trip.  

This trip was a long time in the works! Their original trip was for the summer of 2020 to celebrate Marin’s retirement. They decided they didn’t want to go back until things were relatively back to normal. In 2022 Marin’s daughter got engaged and they were having a wedding! 

That meant they would go in 2023. Marin and her husband also just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their entire trip was technically June 14-28 which included some travel, a few different arrivals, and a few days at the beach.

Marin’s daughter and son in law were both active military when they booked the trip. Her son in law is still in the Navy but her daughter is a nurse and has gotten out of the military.

They will have a split stay at Pop Century and then moving to the Riviera. They will be staying at the Riviera with the Military Salute. 

Travel Day (June 14)

Marin and her son left early in the morning to drive to Orlando from Kansas City. They stayed overnight just north of Atlanta for the night. 

Marin really likes to drive because they have the time and space to do that. 

Arrival (June 15)

They arrived around 3 p.m. to Orlando. They spent some time wandering around Pop Century. They’ve never stayed here before, so they enjoyed looking around.  

She and her son got on the skyliner and wandered around Caribbean Beach. They spent some time at the Riviera as well. They loved that, especially how lovely it smells!

They are used to staying at the Beach Club and they took the skyliner over there to visit as well. They got ice cream for dinner on the Boardwalk and had a great time together enjoying the Boardwalk entertainment.

They were able to see some of the fireworks on the skyliner on their way back to Pop Century.

Marin’s husband flew in and arrived late – around 1 a.m. via a Lyft from the airport.

Disney Springs (June 16)

Marin and her husband had coffee together before going to Disney Springs. They got on a bus to Disney Springs at 9:55 a.m. and got in line immediately for Gideon’s. They each got a cookie and went to Earl of Sandwich.

They’d planned to take a boat to French Quarter but the boats weren’t running due to water levels.

Then they went to see Elemental at Disney Springs. They all really loved it! Her son stayed to see the new Spiderman movie before getting dinner at Polite Pig. He said he had a great meal!

Marin and her husband went back to the resort to get ready for their reservation at Victoria and Albert’s to celebrate their anniversary. They had special clothes so that they could dress up for dinner.

They left their resort around 5:40 p.m. and took a Lyft to Grand Floridian. They went to Enchanted Rose first and enjoyed themselves. Marin had a Lavender Fog and it was fantastic.

They got some photos and waited for their reservation. They arrived to their table and a harpist was playing. It was very special.

Marin said the restaurant was not quite full but they brought in a new reservation every 20 minutes or so. They had the most wonderful meal in the dining room.

They were able to order off of the regular menu and the chef’s tasting menu. They opted to order off of the chef’s tasting menu with the wine pairings.

Their meal was 12 courses over 4 hours. Their wait staff was Sherry and Lizar. Sherry had recently celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary as well! It was a wonderful experience.

Their son picked them up after their dinner and they went back to their resort.

Check into the Riviera (June 17)

Marin got up early and booked Individual Lightning Lanes. She booked three for Tron for herself, her husband, and their son. She also booked 5 for Cosmic Rewind for their group of five for later in the evening.

She also got Standby Skipper set up with lightning lanes for the evening for Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track. Marin really enjoyed Standby Skipper and felt that it was incredibly helpful. They got to do almost everything they wanted to do without much of a wait.

Marin had assumed that they would be rope-dropping this trip like they have on previous trips. However, they ended up staying out later and sleeping in a bit. The weather was also wet in the mornings so they decided to stay in.

They intended to rope drop, but they didn’t. They drove over to the Riviera and dropped their luggage around 9:30 a.m. Marin was under the impression she couldn’t check in without her children for their military status, but she could.

She checked in, dropped their bags, and were on a bus by 10:30 a.m. They arrived at the Magic Kingdom by 11 a.m. Their intention was to take it easy and enjoy themselves, and they did!

They had an 11:15 a.m. Individual Lightning Lane for Tron so they went right there. They had not experienced motion sickness before, but they all suffered a little bit. It also started raining while they were on Tron.

After waiting for the rain to settle a bit, they walked over to the PeopleMover. There wasn’t a wait at all. After they got off they went back through the hub and continued wandering the whole park.

They wandered back toward the castle and got in line for cheeseburger spring rolls. There was a bit of a line and they waited 15 minutes but it was well worth it.

They took the train around the park and exited the park at 2 p.m. or so to head back to the resort. They’d received a text that their room was ready at noon. They grabbed their grocery pick-up and waited for their daughter in law and son to arrive.

They have a two bedroom villa booked with the military discount at the Riviera. Marin notes that it was plenty of space for everyone. The pull down bed was a wonderful option for her son.

Their flight was a bit delayed but they all met up around 4 p.m. and went over to Epcot. They got memory maker using their military discount. In order to use the military discount, they needed to do it in person and they were able to do it for just $99. They got into Epcot by 5:40 p.m.

The standby wait for Soarin’ was 20 minutes but they had a lightning lane, so they went right on. Their next stop was Spaceship Earth with another lightning lane before their 7 p.m. lightning lane for Cosmic Rewind.

In order to see about motion sickness, her husband and daughter let the rest of the family ride first to see if it would be okay for them to ride. The verdict was that it was an awesome ride, but it wasn’t great for anyone prone to motion sickness. Their song was September and they really loved it.

At 7:30 p.m. they made their way to Test Track for a lightning lane. Marin and her husband went to check in for their Epcot Forever package dinner at Rose and Crown’s. The kids met them about 15 minutes later.

They ate their dinner and it was lovely. Then they were able to watch the fireworks without the crowds. They were under a covered patio so they were able to watch the fireworks in the rain without getting wet.

When they left, they got on their ponchos because it was raining really hard. They’d planned to take the skyliner but it wasn’t running. They were given the option to walk to the front of the park to catch a bus. They opted to walk to the Beach Club to catch a Lyft.

However, as they walked past the skyliner, the cast member let them know that they could wait for a bus there. They went behind the skyliner and caught a bus quickly and were back to the Riviera by 10:30 p.m.

Hollywood Studio (June 18)

Marin had grand plans to get up early to rope drop, but it was raining so much that they decided to stay in for the morning. The weather was beautiful and they arrived to Hollywood Studios at 8:15 a.m.

They were able to catch a little bit of Early Entry. They did Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway first. This was their first time on it and they all really enjoyed it. Then they got a lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash at 8:40 a.m. The posted wait time was 60 minutes.

Next they used their lightning lane for Toy Story Mania before stopping for some photos. They had a lightning lane at 9:55 a.m. for Tower of Terror. Marin’s husband and daughter didn’t want to ride, so they took turns riding and swapping magic bands. The standby wait time was about 40 minutes.

At 11 a.m. they went for their Fantasmic Dining Package reservation at 11 a.m. at Sci-fi Dine-in. They had a great meal.

After lunch they went to Frozen Sing-Along and went to the 1:15 p.m. show of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. After that they had an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance and loved it!

After this, they did Smuggler’s Run and Star Tours. Those who have motion sickness sat those out and the others were able to ride twice, thanks to swapping magic bands.

The rain was coming back so they opted to take the skyliner back to their resort for dinner at Primo Piatto. It was a wonderful meal and mobile order makes it super easy.

At 7:15 p.m. they took the skyliner back to Hollywood Studios. They had a lightning lane for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Marin’s daughter and husband skipped this one and enjoyed some time together.

They got their seats for Fantasmic and the show began at 9:15 p.m. At 9:18 p.m. the show was over due to technical difficulties. They stayed there until about 9:30 p.m. to see if it would come back up but it didn’t.

Slowly, they walked through an empty park for their 9:50 p.m. reservation at Oga’s Cantina. They had a wonderful time. It was fairly busy but it emptied out and they were the last folks out at 10:45 p.m.

They took a lot of photos on their way out because it was so beautiful. They took the skyliner back to their resort and it was wonderful.

Epcot (June 19)

Marin and her family got up early. Marin got individual lightning lanes for Cosmic Rewind for 10 a.m. They got through security and lined up for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at 7:40 a.m.

By 8:25 a.m. they were off Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and walked over to Frozen Ever After. It was down for a bit so they took photos while they waited for it to come back up. They enjoyed them both!

Then it was time for the boys to ride Cosmic Rewind. They were able to ride twice and got Everybody Wants to Rule the World and I Ran.

The next thing was their lightning lane for Soarin’ and a lightning lane for The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It was 11 a.m. now and Marin wanted to get a photo with everyone and Mickey Mouse.

They got some food from Honey Beestro to get some food before snacks and drinks around the world. Their tour around the world began in Canada.

As they wandered around the World Showcase they got drinks and shared everything. They got Viking Coffee in Norway and loved it. They also really liked the Grand Marnier slush in France.

They finished up in Mexico and shared an avocado margarita at La Cava around 6 p.m. They hadn’t had anything to eat in several hours so they were hungry for dinner. They didn’t want to wait another hour for their 7 p.m. reservation.

Thankfully Marin was able to move up their reservation and they were seated at 6:30 p.m. at Biergarten. This was a great meal with wonderful entertainment.  

They originally planned to stay at Epcot for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours but they’d already done everything they wanted to do. They went to the skyliner but it was down because of mechanical errors.

They walked to the front to get a bus back to their resort. When they got back to their resort they chatted on the balcony and went to bed early.

Rest Day (June 20)

Everyone slept in a bit and Marin and her husband enjoyed coffee on the balcony. This is a choose your own adventure day.

They took a bus to Disney Springs and went to Gideon’s right away. Everyone got lunch at the Polite Pig because her son had raved about it so much.

After wandering around and shopping, they took a bus back to their resort at 2:45 p.m. Mousekeeping was in their room at that time, so they went down to the lobby and hung out.

Around 7:10 p.m. they went up to the lounge and had cocktails on the terrace while they waited for their 7:50 p.m. reservation at Topolino’s Terrace. They had an incredible dinner.

The restaurant wasn’t crowded but when the fireworks began, the terrace was very crowded. They ended up going inside to watch the fireworks instead because of the crowd.

Marin says that she thought her reservation was a little bit late for the 9 p.m. fireworks. If they’d finished their meal a bit earlier they might have been able to go out to the terrace early to get a better spot.

Magic Kingdom (June 21)

Marin woke up and got individual lightning lanes for Tron and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They got a later start and didn’t get to the Magic Kingdom until 10:15 a.m.

They started with a lightning lane at 10:55 a.m. for Jungle Cruise. This was a great lightning lane because the posted wait time was 80 minutes. Their next stop was it’s a small world and they waited about 20 minutes. This was their longest wait the whole trip.

They had a lightning lane for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and skipped the 55 minute posted standby. The boys rode Tron twice with their Individual Lightning Lanes.

Next they went to Carousel of Progress. Marin’s always enjoyed this show, but because of changes in the world, the themes weren’t as entertaining. She did enjoy that it was cool in there though.

After that, they used their individual lightning lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The posted wait time was 120 minutes.

When they got off, they had to all get some cheeseburger spring rolls. There was a long line again today but again, worth it! There was a 35 minute standby for Pirates of the Caribbean so they used their lightning lane around 2:45 p.m.

It was getting hot so they went into the Hall of Presidents to cool off. At 3:20 p.m. when they got out, there was a lot of lightning so they left the park. They took the bus back to their resort.

Marin’s daughter and son in law are celebrating their first wedding anniversary and had a dinner reservation at Jiko. Marin with her son and husband grabbed dinner at Sebastian’s Bistro. She was able to get a last minute reservation.

Everyone had a really wonderful dinner. Marin, her husband, and son went back to the Magic Kingdom and hoped to see the projections during Happily Ever After. It was very crowded so they ended up goin to Frontierland to watch the fireworks.

They all met back up again at 9:30 p.m. at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Standby Skipper was able to grab a lightning lane at 9:59 p.m. for Haunted Mansion. When they got off it was Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.

They rode Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and then Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Then the boys rode Space Mountain and then Tron. Marin had gotten them a boarding group at 6 p.m. but they ended up waiting a full 60 minutes.

While the boys waited for Tron, Marin, her daughter, and husband went on Peter Pan’s Flight. Marin loves the nostalgia of that ride. They wandered back down Main Street and got a bus back to the Riviera around 11:40 p.m. The boys were back to the Riviera around 12:45 a.m.

Animal Kingdom (June 22)

Marin got up early and booked an 11 a.m. individual lightning lane for Flight of Passage. They arrived at Animal Kingdom at 10:30 a.m. and went right to their 10:35 a.m. lightning lane for Na’vi River Journey.

Marin really enjoyed Na’vi River Journey. They went right over to their 11 a.m. individual lightning lane for Flight of Passage. Marin’s husband and daughter went to have a cocktail while everyone else went to Flight of Passage.

Right before getting on, Marin was worried about motion sickness and ended up not riding. They gave a motion sickness warning 4 times and the 4th time was more than enough for Marin.

They went to Satuli Canteen for lunch and it was delicious. After lunch, they had a lightning lane for Kilimanjaro Safaris. They got right on even though the posted wait time was 100 minutes.

After the Safari, the kids all used a 1:30 p.m. lightning lane for Expedition Everest. Marin stayed back with her husband. Marin’s daughter’s must-do ride was Kali River Rapids. They had a lightning lane at 2 p.m. but right as they were getting on, weather came in and it was closed.

They used that lightning lane for Finding Nemo the Musical. They probably didn’t need the lightning lane for that. Marin really enjoyed the musical a lot.

At 3 p.m. it was raining and they took the bus back to the resort. At 4:30 p.m. they started for the skyliner but the storms were rolling in so they had to take a bus to Epcot.

They had a 5:10 p.m. reservation at Le Cellier. Marin, her husband, and son took a bus and stopped at every stop at Caribbean Beach before going to Epcot. However, her daughter and son in law took the skyliner when it came back up so Marin, her husband, and son joined them!

They had a great dinner and then walked over around 7 p.m. to Jelly Rolls after dinner. They got there early so it wasn’t very crowded. The musicians came out around 8 p.m. They all had a really great time.

Marin and her husband left around 10:30 p.m. but the children opted to stay beyond 11 p.m. They were all able to take the skyliner back to the resort.

Epcot and VIP Tour (June 23)

They woke up and unfortunately the skyliner was down for weather. They ended up taking a bus around 9:45 a.m. for Epcot. Marin, her husband, and son enjoyed wandering the world showcase.

At 11:30 a.m. everyone met together for a reservation for lunch at Space 220. It was a good meal, but it was a lot of food. After lunch, they wandered around until 2 p.m.

They met their VIP Tour Guide Megan at 2 p.m. for their 7 hour tour until 9 p.m. They planned to do all four parks, starting in Epcot and ending at Magic Kingdom with Happily Ever After VIP viewing. 

When they met with Megan, she asked what they wanted to do and their list included everything they hadn’t done before or wanted to do again. They started with Soarin’ because they just love it. They had to wait a bit in the lightning lane.

Their next stop was Test Track but unfortunately it was down so they opted to skip it. Half the group did Cosmic Rewind and the other half did Spaceship Earth.

Megan drove them to Animal Kingdom next and going backstage made everything take less time. They were finally able to ride Kali River Rapids. Then Marin got to ride Flight of Passage and she LOVED it. Her husband and daughter enjoyed a drink while they waited.

Their next stop was DINOSAUR. Marin’s children were still completely terrified of the dinosaur. However, they survived. They ended with Na’vi River Journey again before leaving Animal Kingdom.

Their next park was Hollywood Studios. They started with Toy Story Mania and went to Slinky Dog Dash. After Toy Story Land they went to Rise of the Resistance one more time before heading to Magic Kingdom.

Their first stop at Magic Kingdom was the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This is one of Marin’s favorites.

Next they all rode Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean together. It was time for Happily Ever After so they mobile ordered Casey’s Corner and got to the VIP area for the fireworks.

The VIP area was crowded but everyone sat down for the fireworks, which was nice. Marin was disappointed because Tinker Bell didn’t fly, but everything else was wonderful.

After Happily Ever After they walked slowly to the bus to head back to the resort.

Leaving Disney World (June 24)

After packing up, they went up to breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at 9 a.m. Their tradition includes a character meal before they leave. The food was really good and they had a good time.

Marin’s son in law needed to go home for work, so he left for the airport around 11 a.m. The rest of the group drove about an hour to the beach for a few days.

They have a beachfront condo rented for the original 4 family members. This is something that Marin’s family has done for years.

Beach (June 25-28)

In the mornings they set up an umbrella on the beach and just relaxed all week.

On June 28 Marin and her husband dropped their kids at the airport so they can fly to their homes. Marin and her husband will drove home and arrived on the 29th around 5 p.m.


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